The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Continental Monthly, Vol. 6, No 2, 
August, 1864, by Various

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Title: The Continental Monthly, Vol. 6, No 2,  August, 1864
       Devoted to Literature and National Policy

Author: Various

Release Date: February 11, 2007 [EBook #20565]

Language: English

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[Pg 121]




Literature and NationaL Policy.

VOL. VI.—AUGUST, 1864.—No. II.

Transcriber's Note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected. All other inconstencies in spelling or punctuation are as in the original.



As a nation we are fast losing that reverence for the powers that be which is enjoined by Holy Writ, and without which no form of government can be lasting, no political system can take a firm hold upon the affections of the people. The opposition press teems with vituperation and personal abuse of those whom the people themselves have chosen to control the public policy and administer the public affairs. The incumbent of the Presidential chair, so far from receiving that respect and deference to which his position entitles him, becomes the victim of slander and vilification, from one portion of the country to another, on the part of those who chance to differ with him in political sentiments. Even beardless boys, taking their cue from those who, being older, should know better, are unsparing in the use of such terms as 'scoundrel,' 'fool,' 'tyrant,' as applied to those whom the people have delighted to honor, either unconscious or utterly heedless of the disgust with which their language inspires the older and more thoughtful. And thus it has become a recognized fact that no man's reputation can withstand the trial of a four years' term of service in the Presidential office. While this is in a great measure the reaction from the king worship of the Old World, it is nevertheless a blot upon our civilization, a departure from those lofty and noble sentiments which characterize every advanced stage of human intellect, in which the supremacy and inviolability of the law is acknowledged, and in which the ruler is reverenced as the representative and impersonation of the law. And as, in such a stage, respect for the magistrate and the law mutually react upon each other, so in the present state of affairs the tendency is, in the course of time, to reach from the ruler to the edict which he administers, and thus to beget a disrespect and disregard of law itself, paving the way to that violence and mob rule which, in the present state of humanity, must inevitably attend the establishment of the democratic principle.

The remedy is to be found in reform in the education of our youth, whereby the utmost respect for the law and for those by whom it is administered shall be inculcated as the groundwork of all patriotism and [Pg 122]national progress, while at the same time cultivating a loftier appreciation of the blessings of social order and harmony, and of well-regulated liberty of thought, speech, and action, and a purer standard of right. Yet even this will be of little avail except in connection with the abatement, through the strong good sense of a thinking and upright people, of that national nuisance of bitter and unmerciful political partisanship of which we have spoken, all of whose tendencies are to evil, and so removing from the eyes of our youth a low, unworthy, and degrading example, which they are too prone to follow. The child will tread, to a great degree, in the steps of the father, and the whole course of his intellectual life be governed, more or less, by the principles and prejudices which he is accustomed every day to hear from the lips of a parent, who is necessarily the teacher and, in a great measure, the moulder of his infant mind. How careful, then, ought every parent to be of the principles which he inculcates and the examples which he sets in his conversation, especially when that conversation is directed to a condemnation of the motives or the acts of the ruling powers!—lest the child be some time inclined to enlarge upon his views, and carry his deductions farther than he himself ever dreamed, till he shall finally be led into a contempt of the institutions as well as of the rulers of his native land, through a father's teaching, and so grow up an embryo traitor, ready at the first signal to embark in any revolutionary scheme or wild enterprise of visionary reform, such as have been and are still the disturbers of our national prosperity. For an example of such a result in our day we have but to look at the youth of the Southern States, whose fiery treason, far exceeding that of their elders, is nothing more than the outgrowth, the legitimate extension and development of that bitter denunciation of rulers who chanced to be unpopular with their fathers, of that unrestrained license of speech which left nothing untouched, however sacred, however holy it might be, which chanced to stand in the way of gross and sordid interest. The ideas of the hot-blooded, fire-eating Southern youth of to-day, the recklessness and the treason, the denationalizing spirit of revolution and blood which so readily manifests itself in contempt of the old flag, and the direst hatred of all that their fathers held sacred and laid down their lives to sustain—all this is but the idea, intensified and developed, of the Southerner of a bygone generation; it is but the natural deduction from his conversation and life, pondered over by the child, fixed deeply in his heart as the teaching of a revered tutor, and carried out, by a natural course of reasoning, to its extreme in the parricidal rebellion of to-day. And yet that idea was, in its inception, apparently harmless enough, being nothing more than that denunciation and vituperation of the political leaders and the ruling powers which chanced to be in the opposition, whereby the child was in due course of time weaned from his country, and taught to look lightly upon and speak lightly of that which of old time was only mentioned with love and reverent awe.

Nor is this the only reform which is needed in the education of our youth. The phrase 'completing one's education' is used to-day with utter looseness, and applied to that period when the youth leaves the school or college for the busy walks of life. How much of error is contained in such an application of the term he well knows who, after some years of world life, can look back upon his college days and see what a mere smattering of knowledge he gained within the 'classic shades,' and how poorly educated he was, in any and every sense of the word, how ill fitted for the realities of work-day life, when first he emerged in self-sufficient pride from the sacred walls, and launched boldly out upon the world. At the time[Pg 123] when, according to the popular acceptation of the term, the education is completed, it is in truth but just begun; and he who, upon the slender capital of college lore, should set himself up for a finished man, one competent to take upon himself the duties, responsibilities, and labors of active life, would soon find to his sorrow that he was yet but a babe in wisdom, and yet needed a long and severe discipline ere he could be considered one of the world's workers. In the few years devoted, in our country, to the education of youth, little more can be done than to teach them the value of knowledge and the proper method and system of its acquisition, leaving to the exertions of the after years that education of the mind and development of the intellectual powers which constitute the finished man. And this should be the object of all our schools, for females as well as for males, to inculcate the truth that the true education begins where the schools leave off, and depends entirely upon the scholar himself, aided only by that groundwork of preparation, that systematizing of effort, imparted by the tutor in the tender years. This end should be ever before the teacher's eyes, and the whole course of study adjusted with a view thereto. And the instruction imparted should be of such a character as most thoroughly to fit the student for future study, giving him a firm foothold upon the most essential branches of knowledge, from which he may advance steadily and securely when left to himself; frequently warning him that this is but the beginning of great things, and that the abstrusities of wisdom, wherein is all its æsthetic beauty and its holiness—all its moral good—lies far beyond, where it can only be reached by the most patient, persevering, and unremitting toil; not forgetting, at the same time, to point out the glorious reward which awaits the seeker of truth. The effect of such a system would soon be felt, not only in our national life, but in our very civilization. For thus would be thrown out upon our society, year after year, a class of thinkers, of earnest, working, strong-minded men and women, searchers after truth and disciples of the highest good, instead of the crowd of half-fledged intellectual idlers who yearly emerge from our schools with the conceited idea that the course of study is finished, the paths of investigation fully explored, and that life is henceforth a holiday from study. Under such a giant impulse our society could not but advance with enormous strides in all that pertains to true civilization, since thinkers would then be the rule instead of the exception, and talent almost universal, which is now, like angels' visits, comparatively 'few and far between.' This is no Utopian vision: it is a reality within the scope of human exertion and the capacity of our people of to-day, if men would but exert themselves to such an end, and properly apply the energy and labor which is now too often excited upon unworthy and trifling objects. The realm of knowledge is so boundless that a lifetime is little enough and short enough to give to mortals even a smattering of that sea of wisdom which swells around the universe, and he alone can claim to be a seer who devotes the whole of a long existence to the investigation of truth; and only when this fact is impressed upon the minds of youth can they be made to appreciate their true position in existence, and made efficient workers in the great cause of humanity.

Yet all education is vain, all intellectual development is of little benefit, all civilization hollow in its nature and ephemeral in its duration which lacks the moral element. And by the word moral in this connection is intended to be understood not only what is usually conveyed in the term morality, but also all religion. It is a well-established fact, more particularly exemplified in our own history, that all political parties founded upon an ephemeral is[Pg 124]sue, inevitably disappear with the final adjustment of the questions upon which they are based, having nothing left to rest upon, so it is in the affairs of nations. In the weakness of human nature and the fallibility of all human prescience, no system or theory can be devised which shall endure through all time, which shall not become effete, useless, and even erroneous in the progress of human development, and in the ever-shifting condition of human society. Hence any government and society founded upon a system of merely human devising, must, in the progress of events, fall to pieces, and give place to the results of a new and younger development. The law of God, as contained in Divine revelation, is alone unchangeable, unmodifiable. It is adapted to meet the requirements of all lands and all ages, to answer all the necessities of which human nature is capable, even to its extremest verge of development. Hence all political systems are durable only in proportion as they, in their organization, conform to the precepts of Divine law.

We have used the term 'moral element' as necessarily comprehending all religion, for the reason that upon religion is necessarily based all true morality. There is nothing in the physical, and more especially in the intellectual world, without a final cause; and that so-called morality which exists entirely separate and distinct from religion, can be based upon nothing other than self-interest, which, under different conditions and circumstances, would as unhesitatingly lead to evil. The 'moral man' without religion could as easily be evil minded and dissolute in a community purely evil as he is upright and honorable in a civilized and enlightened community of to-day, for the reason that his morality is nothing more than deference to a certain standard of honor—in other words, to the tone of the society by which he is surrounded, bringing with it all the benefits of high public estimation and a lofty position in society, which tone it must follow, be it good or bad: it is founded and built up in self-interest. Yet this very tone of society, and all these standards of honor and uprightness, when traced to their origin, are found to arise from the precepts of revelation. We are all, physically and intellectually, the creatures of circumstance. Experience moulds and develops the intellect. Our moral natures are not innate, but solely and entirely the result of the influences by which we are surrounded. There is in the soul no absolute standard of right; if there were, uprightness would be the same the world over. But the right of the heathen is a different thing from that of the Christian; the right of the Chinese or the Japanese is a different thing from that of more enlightened nations; the right of one Christian community is different from that of another; and this because right, considered distinct from religion, is relative, and subject to all the modifications of different conditions of society. The 'Evil, be thou my good' of Milton's Satan is a delicate recognition of this fact. But absolute right is a thing unknown to human nature; it can never be innate, but comes from without. It can only be apprehended by the intellect as a thing of God, a part of His nature, given to us as a law, a rule of action, which we can accept or not, taking upon ourselves the consequences of its rejection. There can be no standard of absolute right other than the law of God; there can be no other invariable and eternal rule of human action.

And if this position be true of individuals, most assuredly is it true of nations, which are but individuals in the concrete, subject to the same vicissitudes, governed by the same laws, physical and moral, and following the same path of development. Only that form of government which recognizes the Supreme Being as the chief of rulers, and His law as the source and model of all human law, can be sure[Pg 125] of truth and justice on its side, both in its dealings with other nations and in its regulation of its own internal affairs. Only such a form can work steadily for the advancement of its people, both by leading them forward and by smoothing the rugged path to perfection, and removing every obstacle which impedes the national progress. However near the principles of our Government may approach to those of the Divine law, there is still room and urgent necessity for reform. Yet, in the universal disfavor into which theocracies have fallen, and in the intense desire which pervades our people to avoid the complicated evils of a union between church and state, every attempt to unite religious principles with those of government is looked upon with positive alarm; and justly so, since the experience of past centuries proves that both thrive best in separate spheres, however near they may approach each other in the abstract, and that when united, the one is apt to prove a hamper on the other, through the introduction of error and corruption; while, separated, they act as a mutual restraint, each tending to control the abnormal development of the other. For these reasons reform in this particular must move from the people to the government, not from the government to the people.

And here we come to the root of the whole matter, to the field where reform is most needed, that is, in the moral condition of our society. While there are few nations in which there is such a diversity of religious views and multiplicity of religious sects, there are few peoples which are so proverbially irreligious as our own. Yet our condition in this respect is rather a neutral one than otherwise, for while we are without any positive immorality which should make us preëminent above other nations for vice, there is, nevertheless, in our midst, little of that simple, trusting, unquestioning faith, which is the 'substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen'—little of that all-pervading and all-powerful reverence for sacred things, that deep religious feeling which forms a portion of the very life of most of the nations of the Old World. This is nothing more than the reaction of the stern Puritan tenets of the colonial times. It is the logical result of those dark and gloomy theories which aimed to make religion not only unpalatable but absolutely repelling to the young and the ardent, causing them to fly to the opposite extreme of throwing aside religion to 'a more convenient season,' when the pleasures of life should have lost their charm, and they themselves should be drawing near the close of their pilgrimage. That theory which made a deadly sin of that which was at worst but a pardonable misdemeanor and perhaps wholly innocent in its nature, could not fail in time to react violently, first through the process of disgust, then through that of inquiry, and finally to the carrying of speculation to extremes, and practically pronouncing harmless and innocent that which was really vice. The popular mind, rebounding from the Puritan ideas, did not pause to discriminate between the truth and error which were so intimately mingled in their system, but, sweepingly denouncing all the theories whose most prominent characteristics were revolting, involved in the denunciation and rejection much of pure and simple truth, and ran rapidly along the path of revolution, heedless of every warning, unchecked by the obstacles which Truth threw in its way, down to the present time of almost universal looseness.

Another effect of this rebellion of the national mind against the Puritan theories is seen in the almost yearly inauguration of some new sect in religion, in a land which is already so crowded with diverse and antagonistic religious organizations that it might be termed the land of sects. However right or wrong in a religious point of view, the Puritans committed the great social[Pg 126] mistake of establishing a new church, instead of working earnestly to reform the old in those respects in which it seemed to them to have fallen into error, thereby destroying the unity of the Christian world. Had the movement stopped here, less harm would have been done; but it was not of the nature of things that it should be so. The establishment of the principle that purity of worship and of belief was to be sought, and diversity of religious opinion to be gratified in separation and the erection of new organizations, rather than in the endeavor to purify the old and established form, at once threw wide open the door of schism, and with it, in the end, that of scepticism. The movement once begun could neither be checked nor controlled by any human effort. Others claimed the right which they themselves had exercised, and the result was soon seen in the separation of one after another denomination from the Puritan Church, each, in its turn, to be divided into a score of sects, according as circumstances should alter religious views. Were the principles of true religion in themselves progressive, were the teachings, of the gospel inadequate to or unfitting for all possible stages of human progress, or were they capable of development, the world might then have been the gainer. Or, again, were reason infallible, the separation of the churches would be an incalculable blessing, by securing to all minds a free investigation upon religious subjects. But infidelity desires no more powerful coadjutor than human reason in its freest exercise, because it is so liable to be led away by sophistry, and its invariable tendency is to reject as myths and fables all things which it cannot comprehend or for which it cannot see a material cause. Perfect reason is the twin brother and strongest supporter of faith; but reason as it exists in the present development of humanity is its most deadly antagonist. The age of reason has fallen upon us, and its result is seen in a practical scepticism pervading the whole of our society, which in its extent and its injurious effects put to the blush the wildest speculations of the most radical German metaphysicians. Every day we see around us men of no religious profession, and little if any religious feeling, calmly facing death without a tremor, without a thought of the awful beyond. And though the application of the term infidel to such a man would not fail to arouse his fiercest indignation, his indifference to the events and the fate of the great hereafter can arise from nothing else than an utter disbelief in the teachings of Holy Writ, in the truths of Christianity. Such men are but types of a class, and that class a very large portion of our population.

The evils of religious divisions are plain to be seen, even if they consisted in nothing more than the division and consequent weakening of Christian effort. The church of God, torn by internal dissensions, becomes almost powerless for the spread of the gospel, the greater portion of its strength and energy being exhausted in bolstering up its different branches as against each other, and in proselytizing within itself. Where, if united, a small portion of its wealth and energy would suffice to support in a nourishing condition the worship of a great people, leaving an immense surplus to be directed to the evangelization of the heathen world, now, in its divided state, its power and immense material resources are squandered in the support of innumerable fragments, each one of which costs as much in labor and in means as would suffice to sustain the religion of the whole country if united.

Worse than even this, the incessant bickerings of the Christian world tend to invalidate, in the minds of the unbelievers, not only among the heathen, but among ourselves, the teachings of that Word which is its professed guide. The 'See how these Christians hate each other!' is to reflecting minds out[Pg 127]side the church's pale, an almost unconquerable argument against that religion which professes to be founded upon love. Hence arises a great portion of that practical infidelity of which we have spoken, and which is the bane of our civilization. No nation can be truly great or noble or progressive without religion, and by as much as we are departing, in our every-day life, from the pure teachings of the gospel, by so much are we tending to our inevitable downfall. The people must have some high standard of moral excellence, something to elevate and purify the tone of society, to lead their aspirations upward away from the petty toils and cares and vexations, from the sordid desires and the animal propensities of life, in order to prevent them from falling into that decay which is inevitably the result of corruption, following hard upon a devotion to mere self-interest. We are, in a great measure, a nation of materialists, too much devoted to the pursuit of selfish and so-called practical aims, too little to the spiritual and the ethereal. Reform must come, else the soul will become gross and grovelling, and the nobler part of our natures, the more delicate and refined sympathies of the heart, the finer faculties of the intellect, will rust away with disuse, and the whole race become sensual, and finally effete, however brilliant may be its individual exceptions. From what direction the needed reform is to come it is not for us to say. That Almighty Providence which overrules an erring world will doubtless provide a way for the regeneration of His people. The first great step is to awaken the people to a sense of the necessity of such a change, and some more powerful means must be employed to the accomplishment of that end than have ever yet been applied to our civilization. And the apostle who, in the hands of God, shall be the means of arousing the slumbering faith of our people, of awakening them to a full sense of the danger, and of imparting new energy to the recuperative powers of the race, will win for himself a loftier position in the world's appreciation than has yet been conceded to any mere mortal.

Another great and manifest evil in our society, and one closely connected with that of which we have just spoken, is the inordinate love of wealth, and the elevation of the money god to the highest seat in our temple of worship. Human nature craves distinction. The divisions and castes in the society of the Old World, from the present day back to the remotest ages, is not only an evidence, but a practical exemplification of this fact. The abolition of all these distinctions consequent upon the establishment of our republican government upon the ground of political equality, swept away from our ancestors almost the only means of gratifying this innate propensity. A hard-working, practical, agricultural people, with no literature, and little if any cultivation of the fine arts, there was but one road to distinction open to the mass of the population, and that lay through the avenues of wealth. Hence it was but natural that affluence should take the place of the hereditary honors of the olden times, and that the people should bow to the only distinction, however spurious it might be, which elevated any portion of themselves above their fellows. With all the evils connected with a hereditary aristocracy, the distinction which attends upon a nobility is in a great measure an ideal one. It is not either its wealth or power which constitutes its charm, but a certain nameless something pertaining to the ideal, which affects not only the tenants and retainers, but even our republican selves. It may well be questioned whether we have been the gainers by substituting for such distinctions a gross and material one, affecting the bodily senses alone—the animal part of our nature—and which contains little either to expand the mind or exalt the aspirations. With us but comparatively[Pg 128] few can become distinguished in the ranks of literature or of art, or, indeed, in any of the higher or intellectual branches of human attainment; hence for the great mass there is but one road to distinction, one object to claim every exertion—the pursuit of wealth. And as a natural consequence, we see every art, every profession hinging upon this motive. Most of the evils connected with the administration of our public affairs, the fraud and corruption which are so prominent, the quadrennial scramble for place, with its consequent degrading of those positions which should be those of the highest honor, may be traced to this one source. More than this, we find the so-called aristocracy of our great cities—a moneyed one purely—excluding from its ranks those who earn their livelihood in the pursuit of literature and art, and who, if true to their professions, are entitled to the very highest rank in society. There are of course exceptions, but not more than sufficient to prove the rule. A striking exemplification of the power of wealth among us is seen in these days of shoddy, when those who have hitherto moved in the humblest circles suddenly take their positions among the 'upper ten thousand,' and are treated with a deference to which they have all their lives been strangers, by virtue of a successful contract or a towering speculation. The effect of such a state of things upon our civilization is easy to be seen. A low motive is sure to bring down its followers to its own level. A people without a lofty and ennobling object is sure to fall into decay. The grasping spirit which everywhere pervades our society is fast lowering our people to the level of a race of mercenary jobbers. Truth, justice, honor, purity, and even religion, are in a great measure lost sight of in the general scramble for gold, until the strictest integrity, the most self-sacrificing honesty, are beginning to be looked upon as marvels, and we have won for ourselves among the nations of the world the unenviable title of worshippers of the 'almighty dollar.' Religion itself is twisted and distorted into every imaginable shape to bring it into harmony with our all-absorbing pursuit: all our ideas of public policy and of social progress are made to depend upon and modified by this unworthy motive. We mean not to include those individuals who, with loftier motives and a true appreciation of man's spiritual capabilities, are prominent among us, battling earnestly in the cause of true progress; we are speaking of the mass of our population. Those few are the goodly leaven who are yet to prove the regeneration of our race. Bad as is the state of affairs in this respect, it will, if left to itself, become infinitely worse as each succeeding year rolls around, for the spirit of greed is progressive in its nature, growing fatter and fatter upon its success.

Yet, in another point of view, this same strife for wealth is one great secret of American prosperity and progress. It is the motive power to that energy which has peopled the wilderness, erected as if by magic a mighty republic among the savage wilds, and, above all, spread American ideas, and with them the germ of human liberty, over the whole broad earth. To this spirit of greed upon our shores the Old World owes much of its advancement and most of those useful inventions which are fast revolutionizing humanity itself. But we are not considering it in this light; we are viewing it in its moral aspect, that respect in which it most strongly affects true civilization, which must soon fall away and lapse into the condition of the ages long past, if it be not sustained by an enduring moral and religious element. The moral advancement must keep pace with the intellectual, else the latter will some day reach that point where extremes meet, and have its weary journey to commence again.

It is to be hoped that this evil is al[Pg 129]ready on the wane. It is to be hoped that the present stirring up of our society from its uttermost depths, with its consequent exploding of worn-out theories, which have hitherto held their places only through our national lethargy—with its sweeping away of old-time prejudices, and mingling together of elements which have hitherto existed distinct and aloof from each other, will result in bringing true merit to the surface, in awakening our people to a loftier appreciation of the good and the true, thereby establishing a higher moral standard among us; that purer motives will henceforth actuate our society. The fears which are entertained by some that the present war will prove a severe shock to our civilization, are not sustained by the facts which are everywhere appearing around us. The frequent demands upon the generosity and forbearance of a great people, the constant calls for the exercise of the noblest qualities, the most self-sacrificing devotion, and that too in support of a great principle rather than of any present material interest, the very necessity for an exalted civilization and intellectual development on the part of the masses, which shall enable them to see in that principle the groundwork of all their future well-being, both as regards material prosperity and political position, are constantly bringing before the people, in a clearer light than ever before, the blessings of honor and uprightness, the necessity of national purity, and developing a moral element in our midst, whose good effects will far outbalance the ephemeral and spasmodic immorality and vice which a state of war usually engenders. Our people are becoming acquainted with those blessings of individual well-doing and those principles of philanthropy to which they have for so long been comparative strangers. And it is this, together with the unveiling, through the present convulsion, of those errors, both in our political system and in our society, which have so nearly proved our ruin, which will make this war in very truth the greatest blessing that has ever befallen us. And if this moral progress shall be such and so great as to throw down the golden calf from his throne and make the place of honor the reward of true merit alone, then shall we have cause, for the remotest generations, to thank God for this seeming calamity which has fallen upon us.

And these same facts, standing out as shining lights in the darkness, tend to show that we are, after all, not quite so sordid as we seem; that, with all our worship of the money god, there is yet, away down in the great American heart, a wealth of strong, true, generous feeling, ready at the first call of sorrow and of suffering to spring forth and scatter its golden blessings even beyond the seas. It is not alone that, years ago, when we were at peace and at the height of prosperity, many ships left our shores laden down with food, the voluntary contributions of the American citizen to his starving brethren of the Emerald Isle; though this of itself was enough to place our civilization on a level with that of the most polished nation of the Old World. But even now, when we are struggling for our very existence, when every energy and every material resource is being exerted to stem the tide of internal dissensions and crush out the hydra of internal treason; at a time when the mother country has gone to every length short of open war to aid and assist those who are striving for our downfall, and her press is exhausting every epithet of vituperation and scurrilous abuse of us, who are battling so earnestly in our own defence, and who are entitled by every truth of human nature to her warmest sympathy—a press which, adopting the phraseology of its Secession friends and allies, scruples not to place the civilization of the slaveholding States far in advance of that of the 'Northern mudsills'—even now, when the cry of the starving operatives[Pg 130] of the English mills comes to us across the water, forgetting for the time all the abuse and maltreatment we have received, all the enmity and bitter hostility which the traitorous perfidy of England has engendered, more than one full-freighted vessel has left our ports bearing grain to those whom their own proud aristocracy is either powerless or too niggardly to sustain. Is this not evidence of a civilization considerably advanced beyond any which history has yet recorded?—a civilization based upon the golden rule of Christianity, and upon that still more precious command: 'Love those that hate you, and do good to those that persecute you.' For it is in its moral aspect that every civilization must in the end be judged; and that society which develops such noble principles and feelings as these, which manifests itself in this higher region of spiritual excellence, in the exercise of these finer feelings of the heart, is certainly nearest to perfection, in that it follows most closely the law of God, the truths of divine revelation. When instances such as these occur on the part of any of the older nations of the world, it will do for them to boast of a civilization superior to ours; but until their faith is shown by their works, suffering humanity the world over will accord to us the palm. Nor will it answer to ascribe to us an unworthy motive in this matter—a desire to win credit in the eyes of the world. An individual might, with some degree of plausibility, fall under such an imputation, but a great people does not move spontaneously and unitedly in one direction from such a motive, since none but a pure and just principle can produce unity in the masses. Such an unworthy and degrading motive is the property of individuals, not of nations, even if it were possible for such an idea to be conceived at one and the same time by a multitude of minds. No! it was the spontaneous expression of a deep and pervading principle of American society—of American humanity—a free outpouring of the American heart; and as such it will stand upon the page of history as the evidence of a civilization behind none of its age.

Nor is this the only mark of the moral awakening of our people. Instances are every day appearing in our midst of this truest of charity, not the least of which are the 'wood processions' of the Western cities and towns; those long lines of wagons laden with fuel and provisions for the families of the absent soldiers, whose sole object and motive is the comfort of those whose protectors and supporters are sustaining the country's honor in the field; evidences more striking than the founding of charitable institutions or benevolent societies, since the latter may, and too often does, arise from the most selfish and vainglorious motive, while in the former the individual is lost in the many who press eagerly to bear their part in a noble work, in this spontaneous outpouring of true and heartfelt benevolence. From this same spirit arises the wonderful success which attends the efforts of sanitary commissions and soldiers' aid associations in alleviating the sufferings and softening the privations of our soldiers in the field. With such evidences constantly appearing before our eyes of the deep and noble feelings of the American heart, who can doubt that our civilization is a progressive one, our enlightenment equal? Who can doubt the capacity of the American people for good, or look with foreboding upon our future?

Another important sign of the times, as evincing our advancing civilization, is the revival of art in our midst. In the midst of all our bustle and toil and eager strife for gain, there has ever been a something wanting to the completeness of our life, a something to fill and satisfy that yearning of the soul for æsthetic beauty, which is at once an evidence of its progress and its capacity for diviner things. Too long have we been absorbed by the desires[Pg 131] of our animal nature, in whose pursuit there is little gratification to that finer portion of our inner selves which will not be silenced by anything short of the deepest degradation. The people—the great people—need something—something higher, more ennobling, more tender—to fill the vacant spot in their hearts and homes, to preserve the balance between the animal and the spiritual part of their lives, and to clothe their surroundings with a higher and holier significance than can arise from the events and associations of the work-day life. In art the missing link is found, and whether it be the simple ballad in the evening circle or the modest print that graces the humble cottage walls—and the humbler the habitation the deeper the manifestation, because the more touching—it is but the expression of the people's appreciation of the needs, the capacities, and the holier aspirations of the better part of humanity. Hence the revival of art has a deep significance; it is something more than a forced, an exotic, and hence ephemeral growth; it is the manifestation of the awakening of the people to the æsthetic sentiment; it is the actual result of the intellectual and moral needs of society; it is in itself the striving of a great people for the beautiful and true. And as such it has a broad and deep foundation in the godlike in human nature, which shall insure not only its permanence but its progress as long as the good and the true have any influence whatever upon our society. That we have had, until a comparatively late period, no art among us, is the result not of a lack of capacity to comprehend the beautiful, but of the intense and all-absorbing passion for gain which has so nearly proved the bane of our society by shutting out the consideration of better things: that art has so suddenly revived in our midst is a proof that, so far from having our humanity, our political position, our very civilization itself swallowed up in the love of the almighty dollar, as has been predicted of us by foreign wiseacres, we have been aroused to our danger and to a true appreciation of the better part of existence; which is itself an evidence of the elasticity and the recuperative energy of our social system.

In literature our progress is not so flattering. In its effects upon civilization a literature can only be judged by that portion of it which touches the popular heart, which descends to the humblest fireside, and is most eagerly sought after by the ploughboy and the operative. All other, however brilliant it may be—and the more brilliant or profound the farther it is generally removed from the minds of the masses—is to them but as the stars of a winter night, cold and distant, radiating little warmth to the longing soul, too far away to awaken more than a faintly reflected admiration. He who said, 'Give me to write the songs of a people, and I care not who makes their laws,' touched the tender spot in the great heart of humanity; he was a sage in that truest of philosophy, the study of human nature. Though we have our princes in every branch of literature, who are the result of and an honor to our civilization, yet for their own results in moulding the tastes, the habits, and the intellects of the common people, in contributing to their advancement, they fall far below the efforts of the veriest penny-a-liner. It is a lamentable fact of our society that while the more solid literature scarcely pays, the flashiest of so-called 'flash literature' brings down the golden shower. The writer of the lowest possible order of literary productions is enriched, and his name is familiar in the remotest corners of the land, while our monarchs of literature are oftentimes poverty stricken and comparatively obscure; and that because the latter is confined to a comparatively small audience and patronage, while the former speaks to and for the masses; and, as a natural consequence, the for[Pg 132]mer controls the tastes of the greater portion of the reading community, and that too for anything but good, since he reaps his golden harvest by pandering to the basest of appetites, the lowest of sensibilities and sympathies; thus retarding rather than accelerating the intellectual advancement of the people, this being his material interest.

And how great is the responsibility of those who thus speak to the ear of the simple and the unlearned! how terrible the retribution they are heaping up for themselves in the great hereafter, for thus prostituting talent which might be made eminently useful in leading the minds of the common people to the highest and noblest of truths; in making purer and better in every sense of the word! The idea that the province of literature, even of fiction, is simply to amuse, is exploded in the light of advancing civilization. Every writer has a higher mission, and accordingly as he discharges the duty which his faculty lays upon him, is he true or false to the true end of his existence, a success or a failure in the world of intellect and morality. The mission of all literature is to make mankind both wiser and better, and the writer who fails to appreciate and act upon this truth is worse than a useless cumberer of society; he is a curse to his age, and, however great his present fame, will most assuredly be forgotten with the passing away of his generation. For does not all human effort resolve itself into this one thing? Is there any work which we call good or great, or even important, which is not intended in some way to benefit mankind? Else we were but butterflies, and our works but mists. In the past ages the world has not seen and appreciated this fact; but the world of to-day does appreciate it, and will certainly set every worker upon his proper pedestal, high or low, according as his efforts have conduced or not to the welfare of humanity.

Present reform in this particular is not to be looked for; it must be external rather than internal. Could the whole mass of light literature be at once and forever swept out of existence, the people would soon acquire a love of solid reading as ardent as that which now pervades the lower stratum of our society for 'yellow-covered' trash. For the love of knowledge is innate, and the people would necessarily seek for and find amusement in such reading as could not fail to instruct and educate, to revive this love of knowledge, and fan it into an ardent flame. But this cannot be done. The people will ever seek that reading which is most congenial to their present tastes and habits, and there will ever be found a legion of those who are eager to supply this sort of mental pabulum—if it can be so called—for the sake of the golden equivalent. For these reasons, the literature of the common people must ever follow, not lead, their civilization; it must continue to be the outward and visible sign of their progress, instead of the inward and spiritual grace by which it is pervaded and sustained; and reform must be inaugurated and consummated in those other influences which tend to mould the moral man, and which must be so guided as to destroy all these low and grovelling tastes, by lifting the man into a higher plane of being, in which the animal shall be wholly subservient to the spiritual. Hence the province of the true philanthropist lies in those other paths which we have pointed out, rather than in this, since in them lies the prospect of success whose fruits will in this most clearly appear.

It is a significant fact that the foreign view points to but two blots upon our society, and that foreign detractors harp continually upon these, and these alone, as evidences of the backwardness of our civilization—the institution of slavery and the riots which occasionally disgrace our large cities. For in the light of the facts and experience of to-day, such a position is[Pg 133] simply a yielding of the whole question. When it is considered that the few riots with which we are afflicted—few in comparison with those which so often convulse European society—are almost invariably incited and sustained by our foreign population, and that portion of it, too, latest arrived upon our shores, it will be seen with what injustice the evil is laid at the door of American society. It is, in fact, nothing else than the outbreak of the long-accumulated and long-suppressed discontent and misery of European lands, which, for the first time for centuries, finds vent upon the shores of a land of political and social liberty—a reaction of the springs long held down by the iron hand of tyranny—a violent restoration of that natural elasticity which had so nearly been destroyed by ages of social degradation. The mob law, the frequent resort to the pistol and the bowie knife, and the universal social recklessness of our own citizens of the Southern States, is the effect of the institution of slavery, and falls within the discussion of that question, with the disappearance of which they must inevitably depart.

Were African slavery a permanent feature in our midst, the argument against our civilization would be unanswerable. But it has maintained its ground in spite of, rather than as the result of or in connection with the spirit of our institutions. It has hitherto been suffered to exist as an acknowledged evil, solely because the disastrous results attending its sudden abolition have been justly feared as greater than any which could at present arise from its continuance. Yet at no period has the American people ceased to look forward to some future time when it might safely be rooted out. Our faith has ever been strong, and our confidence in the ultimate triumph of the right unshaken. That time has come. The present war, from whose inauguration the question of slavery abolition was—on our part, at least—entirely absent, has given the opportunity which our people have not failed to seize. To crush out the rebellion without meddling with the institutions of the South was at first the main spring of the war; fiat justitia, ruat cœlum, is now the voice of the whole people; and the very fact that the nation has so earnestly taken hold of the work, so sternly determined to sacrifice everything but its existence to the demolition of this bloody god, is of itself an evidence of the purity of our civilization. We have not been dead to the principles of truth and justice involved in this question; we have been but biding our time, plainly seeing and carefully noting the direful effects of slavery upon our social organization, and 'heaping up wrath against the day of wrath.' And now, with the blessing of God upon our efforts, the present war will not cease until the death blow is given to the accursed institution with all its attendant evils. We, as a people, are fully aroused and sternly determined henceforth to let nothing stand in the way of our social advancement, however time-honored and cherished may have been the obstacle. And when these evils have all been swept away, as they assuredly will be, we shall stand forth among the nations in all the glory of a pure and enlightened civilization, and challenge the world to produce a nobler record, to point out a happier, more prosperous, more truly progressive people.

With the close of the present war will arise another important question, bearing not less strongly than that of slavery upon our ultimate civilization. The slaveholding States are to be, in a measure, repeopled. The tide of immigration which has so long and so steadily streamed toward the West will be for some time diverted to the fertile plantations of the South. Not only the soldiers of the North, to whom the war has opened what has hitherto been to them almost a terra incognita, will seek new homes within the sunny[Pg 134] climes; but the flood of foreign immigration, which, upon the vindication of our national integrity and power, will quickly double itself in comparison with that of former years, and sweep toward this new and inviting field; and the distinctive feature of Southern society—of so-called 'Southern chivalry'—will soon be swallowed up in the torrent. And what then shall we have to fill its place? The crude ideas of foreign tyros in the school of freedom, the conflicting religious, social, and political theories of European revolutionists, the antagonistic policies of a hundred different nationalities. All this, in connection with the difficulties arising from the freeing of so large an African population, will prove a severe trial to our national civilization, and call for the exercise of the profoundest wisdom, the most careful discrimination, and the most patient forbearance on the part of our rulers and statesmen. And most assuredly the times will themselves produce the men most fitted for the care of such interests and the decision of such questions. Though there is need of the firm hand, the utmost watchfulness, and the strongest exertion on the part of every citizen as well as statesman, it is not to be feared that the result will in the end be disastrous to our progress. For the genius of the American people was never yet at fault. We have handled similar questions before; we are handling a more important one now, and our capabilities and our power of development are such that we need not fear but that we shall be enabled to cope with the exigencies of the future. That genius which has built up a powerful nation here in the wilderness, which has developed to such a degree the resources of the laud and the capacities of the people, which has conceived and executed in so short a time such a social and moral revolution, has in it too much of the godlike to suffer the work to fall through from any incapacity to deal with the legitimate consequences of its action. The power to inaugurate and carry through the work necessarily implies the capacity to establish and render permanent its results, to guide the ship when the storm is past. It will find the ways and means; the times themselves will develop new truths, which will make the task less difficult than it seems to us of to-day. Such is the feeling of the people; and this same noble faith and confidence in our own capacities, this turning a deaf ear to all the possibilities of failure, and looking with a never-failing trust, a soul-felt faith, to the triumph of our cause and of our civilization, is our greatest strength, while it is, at the same time, a conclusive evidence that we are on the high road of true progress, that our civilization is not a thing of yesterday, to-day, or to-morrow, but of the eternal ages.


'It is a frequent result of poverty to make men rich—a common curse of wealth to make them poor.' Poverty, making us feel our dependence upon God, almost compels us to an acquaintance with Him—this leads us to accept Him as the one Infinite Benefactor; and so gives us wealth that can never fail: but riches, by encouraging our natural love of independence, is too apt to keep us away from our Heavenly Father, and thus plunge us into such poverty as admits of no actual relief. In this view there is something to hope for in the present distresses of our country. Rarely have so many people felt that their dependence must be upon the mercy of God; and rarely, if ever, have so many, with such earnestness, appealed to the Father of all on the occasion of a widespread calamity. This must result in a closer union with the Infinite Giver, and thus in a great increase of true riches.[Pg 135]



How had The Times been getting on all these years? Slowly but surely. At first, as has been already stated, feeling its way with difficulty amid a host of obstacles, long-established and successful rivals, Government prosecutions abroad, and personal crotchets and peculiarities at home. John Walter, its founder, retired from the management of the paper in 1803, and died in 1812, having lived to see his literary offspring grow up into a strong young giant, with thews and sinews growing fuller and firmer every day, tossing his weighty arms in every direction, but never aimlessly; and with his vigorous feet firmly planted, expanded chest, and head boldly erect, fearlessly standing forward in the very first rank of the champions of freedom. Mr. Walter's son John succeeded him in the management in 1803; and, under his abler and more enlightened administration, the paper rapidly increased in importance. He opened his columns to all comers, and whenever any communication appeared to possess more than average ability he endeavored to engage the writer of it as a regular contributor. He perfected the system of reporting, and the reports in The Times soon began to be fuller and more exact perhaps even than Perry's in The Chronicle. He especially turned his attention to the foreign department of his journal, and no trouble or expense was spared in obtaining intelligence from abroad. This had been one of the strong points with the elder Walter, and he had always striven to be the first to communicate important foreign news to the world—thus, for instance, The Times was the first newspaper which announced the execution of Marie Antoinette. This element was now greatly strengthened and developed, correspondents were engaged in all the chief cities of Europe, and, as time progressed, in other quarters of the world as well, letters from whom appeared as regularly and as early as the post-office authorities would allow; and a regular system of expresses from the Continent was organized. But the Government, who saw and felt the growing greatness of The Times, placed every possible hinderance in the way—it was not then the custom for the Premier to invite the editor to dinner—and the letters and foreign packages were delayed in every possible manner—the machinery of the custom house being even employed for that purpose—in order that the Government organs might at least get the start. But fair means and foul alike failed to win over the young journalistic athlete to the ministerial side, and this illiberal and selfish policy was at length compelled to give in, beaten at all points. But there was one thing which was destined to give The Times supremacy, at which the younger Walter began to work soon after the reins of power fell into his hands—and that was steam. Great strides had been made in the art of printing. The first metal types ever cast in England were those of Caxton, in 1720. Stereotype printing had been first suggested by William Ged, of Edinburgh, in 1735, and was perfected and brought into general use by Tillock, in 1779. The printing machine had been originated by Nicholson, in 1790, and an improved form of it, made of iron, the invention of Earl Stanhope, was in general use in 1806. Thomas Martyn, a compositor of The Times, invented some further modifications, and was aided by the younger Walter. Owing, however, to the violent opposition of his fellow workmen, the ex[Pg 136]periments were carried on under the greatest secrecy; but the elder Walter could not be induced to countenance them, and consequently nothing came of them. In 1814, Koenig and Bauer, two German printers, conceived the idea of printing by steam, and the younger Walter, now by his father's death permitted to do as he liked, entered warmly into their project. The greatest silence and mystery was observed, but the employés of The Times somehow or other obtained an inkling of what was going on, and, foreseeing a reduction in their numbers, vowed the most terrible vengeance upon everybody connected with the newfangled invention. Spite of their threats, however, the necessary machinery was quietly prepared and erected, and one morning, before day had broken, Mr. Walter called his printers together, and informed them that that day's issue was struck off by steam. This ever-memorable day in the history of journalism was Monday, the 28th of November, 1814. Loud murmurs and threats were heard among the workmen, and burning down the whole affair was the least thing suggested; but Mr. Walter had taken precautions, and, showing his work people that he was prepared to meet any outbreak on their part, no violence was attempted. Since then The Times has been regularly printed by steam. Various improvements in steam machinery have from time to time been patented, and Hoe's gigantic machines—the production of that country the most prolific of all the world in useful inventions, America—seemed to show that the limit of the application of steam to printing had been reached. But a machine still more wonderful—a machine that possessed all the skill of human intelligence and ten times the quickness of human fingers—a machine for composing by steam, was shown at the International Exhibition in London, in 1862. Printing by steam at once raised the circulation of The Times enormously, as was but natural, from the facilities which it afforded of a rapid multiplication of copies; and under the editorship of Thomas Barnes it soon reached the first place in journalism. But Walter himself was not idle, and was always on the lookout for fresh and rising talent. On one occasion, being at a church in the neighborhood of his country seat in Berkshire, he was very much struck by the sermon which was preached by a new curate. After the service he went into the vestry, and had a long conversation with the preacher, the result of which was that he told him that a curacy was not a very enviable position, and that he would do much better to go to London, and write for The Times at a salary of £1,000 a year. It is needless to add that the offer was not declined.

In 1817, The Literary Gazette was brought out by William Jordan, as an organ of literature and the fine arts, and, until The Athenæum was established, it was without a rival of any consequence. But its circulation declined, and, after Jordan's death, dwindled down to a very small number. In 1862 its name was changed to The Parthenon, or rather, to speak more correctly, The Parthenon arose as a new publication from the ashes of The Literary Gazette. But change of name did not produce change of circumstances, and, before many numbers had appeared, The Parthenon was privately offered for sale at the low sum of £100, but, failing to meet with a purchaser, it gave up the ghost early in 1863. In 1817, Lord Sidmouth made a terrific onslaught upon the press. He issued a circular to the different lord lieutenants of the counties, to the effect that any justice of the peace might issue a warrant for the apprehension of any person charged with printing a libel. One result of this circular and the vigorous prosecutions which ensued was that William Cobbett for a while gave up printing his Political[Pg 137] Register, and went away to America, from whence he did not return for two years. He stated his reasons for adopting this course in his paper, as follows:

'I do not retire from a combat with the attorney-general, but from a combat with a dungeon, deprived of pen, ink, and paper. A combat with the attorney-general is quite unequal enough; that, however, I would have encountered. I know too well what a trial by special jury is; yet that or any sort of trial I would have stayed to face. But against the absolute power of imprisonment, without even a hearing, for time unlimited'—an act had been passed which gave the secretary of state power to suspend the habeas corpus act—'in any jail in the kingdom, without the use of pen, ink, and paper, and without communication with any soul but the keepers—against such a power it would have been worse than madness to attempt to strive.'

But the Government met with a notable check in the case of William Howe, the bookseller. Howe was thrice tried for libel, and, despite the exertions of Lord Ellenborough, who descended from the judicial bench to the barrister's table, was thrice acquitted. Persecution after this languished for a while, but in 1819 were passed those stringent measures which are known as the Six Acts. One of these gave the judges the power, upon the conviction of any person a second time of the publication of a seditious libel, to punish him with fine, imprisonment, banishment, or transportation. But such monstrous enactments were not suffered to pass unchallenged, and the result of several animated debates was that the obnoxious words banishment—a novelty in English jurisprudence—and transportation were withdrawn, but the remaining provisions of the Six Acts were carried in all their rigor. But amid much harm, some good was doubtless effected, for certain provisions were introduced into the act which declared certain inferior newspapers, which had hitherto evaded the stamp act, by calling themselves pamphlets and not newspapers, because they only commented upon the news of the day, to be henceforth liable to the stamp duties. This really did good service to the better class of journals, by sweeping away a swarm of newspapers which, by the quibble above mentioned, were enabled to undersell them.

John Bull was started in 1820, with the avowed object of espousing the King's side, and covering the Queen and her friends with obloquy. Theodore Hook was the editor, but very few persons were in the secret. Every man or woman who was conspicuous as a friend of the Queen was duly gibbeted, and any tittle-tattle gossip or scandal that could be ferreted out against them was boldly printed in the most unmistakable terms. Trial for libel failed to discover the real proprietors, editor, and writers, and the men who stood their trial as printer, publisher, proprietor, etc., were manifestly mere shams, men who would swear to anything and undergo any amount of imprisonment for the consideration of the smallest coin of the realm. The scandalous details in John Bull attracted the public at once, and by the time it reached its sixth number, the circulation had risen to ten thousand, while the first five numbers were reprinted over and over again, and the first and second were actually stereotyped. But it began to be whispered about that Hook was the editor, whereupon he printed and signed a letter denying the rumor in the most indignant terms. This letter was supplemented by an editorial, from which the following is an extract:

'The conceit of some people is amusing, and it has not unfrequently been remarked that conceit is in abundance where talent is most scarce. Our readers will see that we have received a letter from Mr. Hook, disowning and disavowing all connection with this paper.... We are free to confess that two things surprise us in this business. The first, that anything which we have thought worthy of giving to the public should have been mistaken for Mr.[Pg 138] Hook's; and secondly, that such a person as Mr. Hook should think himself disgraced by a connection with John Bull.'

After the death of the Queen, Hook devoted himself to the demolition of the Whigs and Radicals. Joseph Hume was his especial target, and was dished up week after week with a decidedly original Latin garnish: 'Ex humili potens—From a surgeon to a member of Parliament;' 'Humili modi loqui—To talk Scotch like Hume;' 'Nequis humasse velit—Let no one call Hume an ass,' etc., etc. John Bull sustained a great many convictions for libel, and its dummies were frequently imprisoned, but they never betrayed Hook, who retained the editorship until his death in 1841. Somewhere about this time The Britannia, a Conservative journal, of a few years' standing, was incorporated with it. It had meanwhile considerably moderated its tone, and at the present day enjoys a fair circulation among steady-going people—chiefly country gentlemen, old ladies, and parsons—who obstinately cling to Tory principles.

John Bull was not the only newspaper which was prolific in libels, and perhaps at no time were scandalous attacks upon public and private persons more common. Mr. Freemantle, writing to the Marquis of Buckingham, in 1820, says:

'The press is completely open to treason, sedition, blasphemy, and falsehood, with impunity.... I do not know whether you see Cobbett's Independent Whig, and many other papers now circulating most extensively, and which are dangerous much beyond anything I can describe.'

This is a sweeping censure, but, allowing for a little personal irritation, natural enough under the circumstances—he had been lampooned himself—is true of a great portion of the press. The supply was regulated by the demand, and the character of the wares purveyed depended upon the wants of the market. Editors found that scandal was eagerly devoured by their subscribers, and they did not therefore hesitate or scruple to gratify the prevailing tastes of the day. But the better class of papers were not able to keep clear of the law of libel, even though they did not condescend to pander to the vitiated tastes of the multitude. Many of them had to sustain actions for merely reporting proceedings before the police magistrates and in the law courts, and many a rascal solaced himself for the disagreeables attending a preliminary examination at the police court for a criminal offence, by a verdict in his behalf in a civil action against any newspaper that had been bold enough to print a report of the proceedings. This kind of action originated from a ruling of Lord Ellenborough, that it was 'libellous to publish the preliminary examination before a magistrate previously to committing a man for trial or holding him to bail for any offence with which he is charged, the tendency of such a publication being to prejudice the minds of the jurymen against the accused, and to deprive him of a fair trial.' This monstrous and at the same time absurd doctrine remained in force for many years, but is now happily no longer the law of the land.

The Times had now reached the pinnacle of prosperity, and its claims to be considered the foremost of journals were no longer disputed. The circulation of The Morning Chronicle had dwindled during the latter years of Perry's life, and after his death did not revive very much under Black, his successor. Brougham, Talfourd, and Alderson were among the writers in The Times, and Captain Sterling, whose vigorous, slashing articles first gained for The Times the title of the 'Thunderer,' was regularly engaged upon the staff at a salary of £2,000 a year and a small share in the profits. But the Government still steadily set its face against it, and in 1821 Mr. Hume loudly inveighed against the ministry in the[Pg 139] House of Commons for not sending Government advertisements to The Times, instead of to other journals, which did not enjoy a tithe of its circulation. The arrangements of the post office were a great hinderance to the diffusion of newspapers, since the charge for the carriage of a daily journal was £12 14s., and for a weekly £2 4s. a year. The number, therefore, that was sent abroad by this channel, either to the Continent or our own colonies, was very small. In 1810 the whole number thus despatched was but three hundred and eighty-three, and in 1817 it had fallen to two hundred and seventy-one, owing to the increase in the charges demanded by the post-office authorities, who were actually allowed to put the money in their own pockets; and in 1821 it was only two hundred and six. The circulation through the kingdom of Great Britain itself was not entirely free, inasmuch as every newspaper sent through the post office was charged for by weight, at an exorbitant rate, unless it was franked by a member of Parliament. This regulation continued in force until 1825, when an act was passed which provided that newspapers should be sent through the post free, on condition that they were open at both ends, and had no other writing upon the cover than the necessary address. At the same time the ridiculous acts which limited the size of newspapers were done away with, and every printer was henceforth permitted to print his journal upon any sized sheet he pleased. Two important concessions were also made to the press at this date, one in the House of Commons, and the other in the House of Lords. In the former, a portion of the strangers' gallery was set apart for the exclusive use of the reporters; and in the latter, reporters were permitted to be present for the first time. Previously to this, if any one had been rash enough to attempt to take any notes, an official would pounce upon him, and, with an air of offended dignity well befitting that august assembly, strike the offending pencil from his grasp!

In 1825, Joseph Hume attempted to get the stamp duty reduced on newspapers to twopence, and the advertisement duty to one shilling; and in 1827 he tried to gain an exemption from the stamp act for political pamphlets; but he was defeated on each occasion. In 1827, The Standard was started as a Tory organ, under the auspices of a knot of able writers, the chief of whom were Dr. Giffard, the editor, Alaric Attila Watts, and Dr. Maginn. It has always possessed a good connection among the Conservative party, but has never been a very profitable concern. After the abolition of the stamp duty its price was reduced to twopence, and in 1858 to one penny, and it was the first of the daily journals to offer a double sheet at that price. In recent times the Letters of 'Manhattan' have given an impulse to its circulation, from their novelty of style—an impulse which was probably further aided by the ridiculous but widely believed assertion that those letters had never crossed the Atlantic, but were penned beneath the shadow of St. Paul's.

The following statistics of newspapers in the chief countries of Europe in 1827, will probably prove interesting: France, with a population of—in round numbers—thirty-two millions, possessed 490 journals; the Germanic Confederation, with a population of thirteen millions, 305; Prussia, with a population of twelve millions, 288; Bavaria, with a population of four millions, 48; the Netherlands, with a population of six millions, 150; Sweden and Norway, with a population of four millions, 82; and Denmark, with a population of two millions, 80. Great Britain, with a population of twenty-three millions, far outstripped them all, for she boasted 483 newspapers; but was yet compelled to yield the palm to her Transatlantic kinsmen, for the United States, at the same date, with a population of twelve millions, circulated the unequalled num[Pg 140]ber of 800. In looking at these figures, one cannot help being struck with the enormous disproportion between the journals of Roman Catholic and Protestant countries—a disproportion which is so significant that comment upon it is unnecessary. But the difference is still more plainly shown if we take two capitals. Rome, with a population of one hundred and fifty-four thousand, possessed only 3 newspapers, while Copenhagen, with a population of one hundred and nine thousand, enjoyed the advantage of having 53. The London papers were 100, the English provincial papers 225, the Irish papers 85, the Scotch 63, and the Welsh 10. The number of stamps issued was more than twenty-seven millions, of which London alone consumed more than fifteen millions; the number of advertisements was seven hundred and seventy thousand, of which London supplied nearly a half; and the amount of advertisement duty was £56,000, of which London contributed £22,000.

The year 1829 is remarkable for the first appearance of The Times with a double sheet, consisting of eight pages, or forty-eight columns. This great step in advance must have quite answered the expectations of its spirited proprietor, for in 1830 The Times paid to Government for stamps and advertisement duty no less than £70,000. The day of perfect freedom was beginning to dawn upon the press, although it took a quarter of a century to remove the last fetter, the stamp, and still longer, if we take into consideration the paper duty, which was removed in 1862. First came the abolition of the most oppressive portion of Lord Castlereagh's Six Acts, next the advertisement duties, and finally the stamp. The high price of the stamp, fourpence, kept the better journals at sevenpence, but a numerous class of unstamped journals at twopence sprang up in defiance of the law, and were allowed for a time to go on unchecked. They had a large circulation, one of them, The London Dispatch, attaining to twenty-five thousand a week. Growing bolder with their impunity, they indulged in the most abominable trash and the most frantic sedition and treason. They were of course prosecuted and punished, but they were never finally destroyed until the reduction of the stamp duty. They did good indirectly, for they formed one of the strongest arguments in favor of the abolition of that obnoxious impost.

In 1833 a battle royal raged between Daniel O'Connell and the press; but, as might have been expected, Dan was no match for the hydra-headed antagonist he had been rash enough to provoke. The quarrel originated in a complaint made by the Liberator of a misrepresentation of a speech of his, and he did this in so intemperate a manner that the reporters published a letter in The Times, in which they expressed their determination never again to report a speech of O'Connell's until he had apologized for the insults he had levelled at them. O'Connell vainly attempted to put the machinery of the House of Commons in motion against them, but, after repeated efforts, was obliged to give in. His attacks were principally levelled at The Times—which then counted among its contributors the brilliant names of Macaulay, Thackeray, and Disraeli—for he and John Walter were bitter foes. But he evoked several powerful defenders of the press, first and foremost among whom was Sir Robert Peel.

In 1834 the system of condensing the speeches in Parliament, and placing the summary before the leading articles, was first introduced into The Times by Horace Twiss. At this date there occurred a great schism between the proprietors and writers of The Sun, some of whom seceded, and brought out The True Sun, in opposition to that eccentric planet which always rises in the evening despite the general conviction of mankind that the sun is the luminary of the day. Douglas Jerrold, La[Pg 141]man Blanchard, and, greatest of all, Charles Dickens, commenced their apprenticeship to literature in this journal, which enjoyed, however, but a fleeting existence. Jerrold afterward started a paper of his own, which failed, and then became editor of Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, a post which he retained until his death, and which has since been ably filled by his son Blanchard Jerrold. Laman Blanchard became the editor of The Courier, but resigned it when it became a Tory organ, and was one of the original writers in and proprietors of Punch. Dickens transferred his services to The Morning Chronicle, in the columns of which the Sketches by Boz first appeared. Several acts of Parliament relating to newspapers were passed at this period. In 1833 the advertisement duty was reduced from three shillings and sixpence to one shilling and sixpence in England, and one shilling in Ireland. In 1834 an act was passed by which the newspapers of those foreign countries in which English journals were admitted free of postage, were allowed to enter Great Britain on the same terms. In 1835 a bill was passed to relieve the press from the action of common informers, and placed them under the jurisdiction of the attorney-general alone; and another, which forbade newspapers to publish lectures delivered at literary and scientific institutions, without the permission of the lecturer.

The time was now fast approaching for the reduction of the stamp duty. Government was getting wearied of the war with the hydra-headed unstamped monster, and at last adopted the only expedient likely to be successful in putting it down, which was to place the higher-class journals in a position to rival them. From 1831 to 1835 there had been no less than seven hundred and twenty-eight prosecutions, of which the year 1835 alone had produced two hundred and nineteen. This fact, joined to the influential agitation which was now being made for the repeal, caused the Government to decide upon bringing in a measure of relief. It took six months and an immense deal of speechifying to bring this measure to maturity; but at last, in 1836, the stamp duty was reduced from fourpence to one penny, being one halfpenny less than it had been originally fixed at in 1760. The Tories were the great friends of this reduction, and Lord Lyndhurst, who had been instrumental in abolishing many of the most oppressive enactments with which the measure had been clogged, wished to do away with the duty altogether. There was of course a loss to the revenue at first. In the first half year of the new duty, the number of stamps issued was 21,362,148, realizing £88,502. In the corresponding previous half year, under the old scale, the number of stamps had been 14,874,652, and the amount paid, £196,909, so that in six months the number of stamped newspapers had increased by about one half.

In 1837, The Economist was started by John Wilson, and attracted great attention by its statistical and politico-economical articles, Wilson afterward became secretary of the treasury, and, having been sent to India, died there, to add one more to the many illustrious victims that our Indian empire has exacted. In 1838 a most amusing hoax was perpetrated upon The Morning Post and Morning Chronicle, which announced the death of Lord Brougham, and published a most elaborate biography of him. But the next day there came a letter from Lord Brougham, declaring that he was still alive and hearty. The joke, however, did not end here—for people were ill natured enough to assert that he had been the author of the rumor himself, in order to learn what the world would say about him; and so widespread had this second rumor become, that Lord Brougham was compelled to write another letter contradicting it.[Pg 142]

The next great event in the history of journalism is the commercial libel case, Boyle versus Lawson, the printer of The Times. Barnes had died, and had been succeeded by John T. Delane, a nephew of Mr. Walter, as editor, who still continues to occupy that responsible post. The matter originated thus: In May, 1841, The Times published a letter from the Paris correspondent, containing the particulars of an organized system of forgery on a gigantic scale, which had been agreed on by certain persons, whose names were published in full. The plan was to present simultaneously at the chief Continental cities letters of credit purporting to emanate from Glynn & Co., the London bankers. The confederates had fixed the sum they meant to realize at one million, and had actually secured more than £10,000 before the plot was discovered. One of them was Boyle, a banker, of good position, at Florence, and he brought an action for libel and defamation. He pressed on the trial, but The Times maintained its ground, and at an enormous expense despatched agents all over the Continent to collect evidence. The Times triumphantly succeeded in proving the truth of what it—The Times is always spoken and written of as an individual—had printed; but as the old law—the greater the truth the greater the libel—still existed, the jury were compelled to find a verdict for the plaintiff, which they did, with one farthing damages, and the judge clinched the matter by refusing the plaintiff his costs. Universal joy was expressed at the result of the trial, and public meetings were called together in London and the chief Continental cities for the purpose of making a subscription to defray the expenses of The Times in defending the action. The proprietors, however, declined this, but said that, at the same time, they should feel much gratified if a sum of money were raised for some public object in commemoration of the event. Accordingly it was decided to found two scholarships in perpetuity for Christ's Hospital and the City of London School at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, to be called the Times' Scholarships, and the nomination to them to be placed in the hands of the proprietors of The Times in perpetuity. Two marble tablets were also voted, at the cost of a hundred and fifty guineas each, with commemorative inscriptions, one to be placed in The Times office and the other in the Royal Exchange. Two somewhat similar tablets were also placed in Christ's Hospital and the City of London School. For these purposes the sum of £2,700 was very quickly subscribed, the lord mayor leading off with ten guineas. If anything had been wanting to place The Times upon the pinnacle of preëminence among journals, this famous trial firmly established it there, and ever since it has been looked up to as an oracle of the commercial world. But The Times was not contented to rest quietly on its oars. It was ambitious, and looked farther afield. In 1845, its vigor, enterprise, and disregard of expense were exemplified in a remarkable manner. The Times had been in the habit of sending a special courier to Marseilles, to bring its Indian despatches, and thus anticipate the regular course of the mail. The French Government threw every possible obstacle in the courier's way, and The Times took Lieutenant Waghorn, the originator of the Overland Route, into its pay. In October, 1845, a special messenger met the mail on its arrival at Suez on the 19th. Mounted on a dromedary, he made his way, without stopping, to Alexandria, where Waghorn awaited him with a steamer. Waghorn came viâ Trieste—special post horses and steamers and trains being ready for him at the various points of the route—and he reached London on the morning of the 31st, in time for his despatches to appear in the morning's issue of the paper. The re[Pg 143]sult of this was that The Times reached Paris with the Indian news from London before the regular mail had reached that city from Marseilles. The next noticeable enterprise of The Times was the sending out commissioners to investigate the condition of the poor and laboring population of London in 1847, an enterprise which was crowned with the moat satisfactory results. The Times has always been the firm friend of the poor, and its columns are always open to the tale of distress. No case is advocated until it has been thoroughly investigated; but when once it has been mentioned in The Times, subscriptions pour in on all sides. At the commencement of each year especially, The Times publishes gratuitously appeals from public charities, and during last January the sums received through those appeals reached the large amount of £12,000. The last great exploit of The Times was the sending forth a special correspondent with the English army to the Crimea, a precedent which it has followed up since in China, India, Italy, America, and Schleswig-Holstein. But this was not the first occasion that reporters had accompanied our armies, for Canning despatched reporters with the troops sent to Portugal in 1826. The tactics of The Times are very generally misunderstood and misrepresented. Whatever objections cavillers and opponents may urge, and with truth too—for the course taken by The Times is not to be praised on all occasions—it cannot be denied that The Times is the first journal in the world, a position which it has reached by its enterprise, vigor, and ability. It has frequently proved its disinterestedness, and during the great railway mania of 1845, while it was receiving no less a sum than £6,000 weekly for advertisements, constantly cautioned its readers against the prevailing madness, and persistently predicted the crash that was certain to follow. The Times, while it appears to lead, in reality waits upon public opinion, and hence the accusations of inconsistency and tergiversation so freely lavished upon it. The Times is the printed breath of public opinion. It throws out a feeler, perhaps, though not quite at first, accompanied by some decided expression of opinion, and carefully watches the effect upon the public mind. Should that effect be different to what was expected, The Times knows how to veer round with the popularis aura. This is not always, however, done so skilfully but that the act is apparent. It is not the most dignified course that a journal which aspires to be—and which is—the leading journal of Europe ought to pursue; but The Times knows human nature, and knows, too, that were it to adopt any other course, it would fall from its high estate, and become a mere party organ. Moreover, The Times possesses an enormous prestige—deservedly won, as this article has endeavored to show—and that, in a conservative country like England, is considerably more than half the battle.

In 1842 appeared the first pictorial newspaper, The Illustrated London News. It was started by Herbert Ingram, who began life as a provincial newsboy, and died, in the vigor of his age, member of Parliament for his native town. It was a success from the first, so great that numerous competitors sprang up and endeavored to undersell it. But these were all vastly inferior, and one by one withered away, the most persistent of them at last passing into the hands of The Illustrated London News, which now enjoys a larger circulation than any other weekly newspaper, amounting to about six millions a year!

There was a satirical paper at this time, called The Age, which, being of a strongly libellous character, was continually feeling the weight of the law. It did not improve in character as it grew older, and its editor, Tommy Holt, was proved upon a trial to have received bribes to suppress a slander[Pg 144] that he had threatened should appear in his paper. This same Tommy Holt was very successful in inventing 'sensation' headings for his columns, and by no means either delicate or scrupulous in so doing. There was another rascally paper of the same description, called The Satirist, which was at last finally crushed by the Duke of Brunswick, the result of several actions for libel. Among other new literary oddities at this time may be mentioned The Fonetic Nūz, the organ of those enthusiastic reformers who were endeavoring to accomplish a revolution in our orthography. It lasted, however, but a very short time.

The year 1850 saw the initiation of the final campaign directed against the only remaining burdens of the press. Mr. Ewart and Mr. Milner Gibson brought forward a motion for the repeal of the advertisement duty, but were defeated by two hundred and eight votes to thirty-nine. But they were not cast down by their want of success, but manfully returned to the charge. In 1851, they procured the appointment of a committee to inquire into the question, and in 1852, gathering strength, like William of Orange, from each successive defeat, they brought forward a triple set of resolutions, one for the abolition of the advertisement duty, another levelled at the stamp, and the third for the repeal of the paper duties. They carried the first, but lost the others. In 1854, Mr. Gibson made a fresh motion concerning the laws affecting the press, and received a promise that the subject should receive the early attention of the House; and in 1855, Sir G.C. Lewis, then chancellor of the exchequer, who had hitherto opposed the repeal of the duty, brought in a bill for its abolition. After a struggle in both Houses the measure passed, and received the royal assent on the 15th of June.

In following up this final struggle, we have passed over one important period, the railway mania in 1845, which gave birth to no less than twenty-nine newspapers, entirely occupied with railway intelligence, in London, besides many others in the provinces. Only two of these have survived, for the other two railway newspapers which still exist were established before that memorable madness fell upon the nation. Of these, Herapath's Journal is the oldest and best, and is the oracle of the Stock Exchange on railway matters. There are some slight symptoms of the madness returning in the present year, as far at least as the metropolis is concerned, and one new railway journal has just been started in consequence. There are many amusing anecdotes told of newspapers at this epoch, of which we will quote one. One of these railway organs had published and paid for, from time to time, lengthy and elaborate reports of the meetings of a certain company, supplied by one of the staff of reporters. At length the editor told the reporter that he thought it was high time for the company to give the paper an advertisement, after all the favorable notices that bad been given to the undertaking in question. The reporter acquiesced, and promised to get the order for an advertisement, but putting it off from time to time, the editor was induced to make inquiries for himself; whereupon he had the extreme satisfaction of learning that no such company had ever existed, and that the elaborate reports of meetings, speeches, etc., had been entirely fabricated by his ingenious employé! An endeavor was made last year to resuscitate one of these defunct daily journals, The Iron Times, and Tommy Holt was the editor. It lingered for some weeks, and then smashed utterly. The editor called the contributors together, and told them that there was nothing to pay them with—nothing in fact remained but the office furniture. 'Take that, my boys,' said he, 'and divide it among you.' This was accordingly done, and one man marched off with a table, another with a chair, a[Pg 145] third with a desk, a fourth with an inkstand, and so on!

When the stamp duty was abolished as a tax, it remained optional with the publishers to have any number of their issue stamped they pleased for transmission through the poet. The number of stamps thus issued in the first six months after the repeal was 21,646,688, whereas the number in the corresponding period of 1854, when the tax still existed, was 55,732,499. The number of stamps issued in the year 1854 to the principal newspapers was as follows: Times, 15,975,739; Morning Advertiser, 2,392,780; Daily News, 1,485,099; Morning Herald, 1,158,000; Morning Chronicle, 873,500; The Globe, 850,000; and The Morning Post, 832,500. Of the weeklies, The Illustrated London News was then the second, 5,627,866; The News of the World, a Liberal, unillustrated journal, started in 1843, standing first, with 5,673,525 (the price of this paper is now reduced to twopence, and it is an admirably conducted journal); Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 5,572,897; The Weekly Times, price one penny, 3,902,169; Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, also a penny journal, which is best described by the epithet 'rabid,' 2,496,256; The Weekly Dispatch, price fivepence, an advanced Liberal journal, which is emphatically the workingman's newspaper, and originally started in 1801, 1,982,933; Bell's Life in London, 1,161,000. Of the provincial newspapers, The Manchester Guardian heads the list with 1,066,575, followed by The Liverpool Mercury, with 912,000, and The Leeds Mercury, with 735,000. Foremost among the Scotch newspapers stands The North British Advertiser, with 808,002; and the Irish paper with the largest circulation was The Telegraph, with 959,000. Of the London literary papers the chief was The Examiner, with 248,560. With one or two exceptions, the circulation of these journals may be considered to have increased enormously. There are now published in Great Britain 1,350 different newspapers, of which 240 are London papers, 20 being dailies, 776 English provincial papers, 143 Irish, 140 Scotch, 37 Welsh, and 14 are published in the British Isles. Many of these enjoy but a limited circulation, as naturally follows from the narrow limit they assign to themselves. Thus several trades have their special organs, as for instance, the grocers, the bakers, and even the hairdressers among others.

Before concluding this article it will be well to notice a few of the leading journals which have not been mentioned. The Daily Telegraph was originally started at twopence, in 1855, by Colonel Sleigh, but he, getting behindhand with his printers to the amount of £1,000, sold them the paper for another £1,000, and in their hands it has since remained. The price was reduced to a penny, and, under the new management, its circulation rapidly increased. The Standard dealt a heavy blow at it in 1858, by coming out suddenly one morning, without any previous warning, as a double sheet. This first number was given away in the streets, in vast quantities, thrown into omnibuses and cabs, pitched into shops and public houses, and so on. The sale of The Telegraph so decreased that it was found necessary to enlarge it to the same size as The Standard, when its circulation rose again immediately. It has now the largest circulation in the world, more than 100,000 daily, a much larger London circulation than The Times, though a smaller provincial and foreign sale; and its clear profits are variously stated by persons who profess to be well informed, at different sums, the least of which is £20,000 a year. The chief causes of its success are its independent and uncompromising tone, the great pains it takes to gain early intelligence—it has frequently anticipated The Times itself in foreign news—and the vigorous and able social articles of Mr. George Augustus Sala. The Daily News was started as a Liberal and Reform journal in 1846. An enor[Pg 146]mous sum of money was sunk in establishing it, for it was not at first successful. Charles Dickens was the first editor, but politics were not much in the line of the genial and unrivalled novelist, and he was soon succeeded by John Forster and Charles Wentworth Dilke, whose connection with the South Kensington Museum and the great Exhibition has made him a knight, a C. B., and a very important personage. The Daily News is now one of the ablest and most successful of London journals, and has had and still enjoys the assistance of the best writers of the day in every department. The line which this journal has always maintained toward America will forever earn it the admiration and gratitude of the United States. Another firm friend of the great republic is The Morning Star, the organ of Mr. Bright and the Manchester school, started in 1856. In addition to its political claims, it has a great hold upon the public as a family newspaper, by the careful manner in which everything objectionable is excluded from its columns. Its twin sister, born at the same time, is called The Evening Star. Bell's Life in London, a weekly journal, was originally brought out in 1820, and, although it has more than one successful rival to contend against, it still maintains its preëminence as the first English sporting paper. It is very carefully edited, each department being placed under a separate editor, and is the great oracle in all matters relating to sports and games. The history of one of the ablest contributors to this journal, who wrote some most charming articles on fly-fishing and other kindred topics, under the signature of 'Ephemera'—though he was said never to have thrown a fly in his life—is a very sad one. His name was Fitzgerald, a man of good family and connections, married to a lady with £1,200 a year, and living in a good house at the West End. But the alcoholic demon had got hold of him. He would disappear for days together, and then suddenly present himself at the office of the paper with nothing on but a shirt and trousers. He would then sit down and write an article, receive his pay, go away and purchase decent clothes, return home, and live quietly perhaps for a month, when he would—to use a prison phrase—break out again as before. He was last seen, in the streets of London, in a state of complete intoxication, being carried upon a stretcher by two policemen to the police cell, where he died the same night.

At the head of the Sunday papers stands The Observer, founded in 1792. Like The Globe, it is extremely well informed upon all political matters, for very good reasons. It spares no expense in obtaining early news, and is an especial favorite with the clubs. The Era is the great organ of the theatrical world, but joins to that specialité the general attributes of an ordinary weekly journal. It was established in 1837. The Field, which calls itself the country gentleman's newspaper, is all that it professes to be, and a most admirable publication, treating of games, sports, natural history, and rural matters generally. It was started by Mr. Benjamin Webster, the accomplished actor manager, in 1853. But to particularize the principal papers, even in a short separate notice of a few lines, would far transgress the limits at our disposal. All the professions are well supplied with journals devoted to their interests, and it is impossible here to dwell upon them or those which represent literature and the fine arts. With regard to religious papers, their name is legion, and they would require a separate article to be fairly and honestly considered. Punch, too, and his rivals, dead and living, are in the same category, and must, however reluctantly, be passed over. Two curiosities, however, of the press must be mentioned. Public Opinion was started about two years and a half ago. It consisted of weekly extracts from the leading articles of English and for[Pg 147]eign journals, and scraps of news, and other odds and ends. It has succeeded mainly from its cost of production being so slight, owing to its paste-and-scissors character, and also because it freely opens its columns to correspondents de rebus omnibus, who are willing to buy any number of copies for the pleasure of seeing themselves in print. The Literary Times, in addition to reviews of books, professed to criticize the leading articles in the various papers, but, after an existence of some six months or so, one Saturday morning The Literary Times was non est inventus.

In concluding this series of articles, which has run to a much greater length than he originally intended, the writer is conscious of many shortcomings and omissions, which he trusts will be pardoned and overlooked when his principal object is borne in mind. That object has been to give a general outline of the history of the press, and especially of its struggles against 'the powers which be;' and, though tempted now and again—he fears too often for the patience of his readers—to wander away into particularities, he has always endeavored to keep that object in view. Above all, he hopes he has at least been successful in showing the truth of that sentiment which was first publicly expressed as a toast at a Whig dinner, at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in 1795: 'The liberty of the press—it is like the air we breathe—if we have it not, we die!'


Lightly the river runs between
Hanging cliffs and meadows green.

Blackly the prison, looking down,
Frowns at its shadow's answering frown.

Shut from life in his life's fresh morn,
Crouches a soldier, wounded and worn.

Chained and starved in the dungeon grim,
Day and night are alike to him;

Save that the murmurous twilight air
Stings his soul with a deeper despair.

Day by day, as the taunting breeze
Wafts him the breath of orange trees,

He fancies in meadows far away
The level lines of odorous hay;

And sees the scythes of the mowers run
In and out of the steady sun.

Night by night, as the mounting moon
Climbs from his eager gaze too soon,

The gleams that across the gratings fall,
[Pg 148]Broken and bright, on the prison wall,

Seem the tangles of Northern rills,
Like threads of silver winding the hills.

When, sinking into the western skies,
The sun aslant on the window lies;

And motes that hovered dusty and dim,
Golden-winged through the glory swim:

He drops his head on his fettered hands,
And thinks of the fruitful Northern lands.

Between his fingers' wasted lines,
Tear after tear into sunlight shines,

As, wandering in a dream, he treads
The ripened honey of clover heads;

Or watches the sea of yellow grain
Break into waves on the windy plain;

Or sees the orchard's grassy gloom
Spotted with globes of rosy bloom.

Through the shimmer of shadowy haze
Redden the hills with their autumn blaze.

The oxen stand in the loaded teams;
The cider bubbles in amber streams;

And child-like laughter and girlish song
Float with the reaper's shout along.

He stirs his hands, and the jealous chain
Wakes him once more to his tyrant pain—

To festered wounds, and to dungeon taint,
And hunger's agony, fierce and faint.

The sunset vision fades and flits,
And alone in his dark'ning cell he sits:

Alone with only the jailers grim,
Hunger and Pain, that clutch at him;

And, tight'ning his fetters, link by link,
Drag him near to a ghastly brink;

Where, in the blackness that yawns beneath,
Stalks the skeleton form of Death.

Starved, and tortured, and worn with strife;
Robbed of the hopes of his fresh, young life;—

Shall one pang of his martyr pain
Cry to a sleepless God in vain?
[Pg 149]




But though Ænone's sanguinely conceived plan for Cleotos's happiness had so cruelly failed, it was not in her heart to yield to his passionate, unreflecting demand, and send him away from her, even to a kinder home than he would have found at the house of the captain Polidorus. It would but increase his ill fortune, by enforcing still greater isolation from every fount of human sympathy. Though the affection of the wily Leta had been withdrawn from him, her own secret friendship yet remained, and could be a protection to him as long as he was at her side; and in many ways she could yet extend her care and favor to him, until such time as an outward-bound vessel might be found in which to restore him to his native country.

Whether there was any instinct at the bottom of her heart, telling her that in the possibility of trying events to come his friendship might be equally serviceable to her, and that, even in the mere distant companionship of a slave with his mistress, she might feel a certain protecting influence, she did not stop to ask. Neither did she inquire whether she wished to retain him for his own benefit alone, and without thought of any happiness or comfort to be derived by her from his presence. Had she been accustomed closely to analyze her feelings, she might have perceived, perhaps, that, in her growing isolation, it was no unpleasant thing to look upon the features and listen to the tones which carried her memory back to her early days of poverty, when, except for a short interval, her life had been at its happiest. But had she known and acknowledged all this, it would not have startled her, for she would have felt that, in her heart, there was not the slightest accompanying shade of disloyalty. Her nature was not one to admit of sudden transfers of allegiance. It was rather one in which a real love would last forever. When the first romantic liking for Cleotos had consumed itself, from the ashes there had sprung no new passion for him, but merely the flowers of earnest, true-hearted friendship. And it was her misfortune, perhaps, that the real love for another which had succeeded would not in turn consume itself, but would continue to flourish green and perennial, though now seemingly fated to bask no longer in the sunshine of kindly words and actions, but only to cower beneath the chill of harsh and wanton neglect.

Cleotos therefore remained—at first passing weary days of bitter, heartbreaking despondency. His lost liberty he had borne without much complaint, for it was merely the fortune of war, and hundreds of his countrymen were sharing the same fate with him. But to lose that love upon which he had believed all the happiness of his life depended, was a blow to which, for a time, no philosophy could reconcile him—the more particularly as the manner in which that loss had been forced upon him seemed, to his sensitive nature, to be marked by peculiar severity. To have had her torn from him in any ordinary way—to part with her in some quarrel in which either side might be partially right, and thenceforth never to see her again—or to be obliged to yield her up to the superior claims of an open, generous rivalry—any of these things would, in itself, have been sufficient affliction. But it was far worse than all this to be obliged to[Pg 150] meet her at every turn, holding out her hand to him in pleasant greeting, and uttering words of welcoming import; and all with an unblushing appearance of friendly interest, as though his relations with her had never been other than those of a fraternal character, and as though, upon being allowed her mere friendship, there could be nothing of which he had a right to complain.

At first, in the agony of his heart, he had no strength to rise above the weight which crushed him, and to obey the counsels of his pride so far as to play before her a part of equally assumed indifference. To her smiling greetings he could return only looks of bitter despair or passionate entreaty—vainly hoping that he might thereby arouse her better nature, and bring her in repentance back to him. And at first sight it seemed not impossible that such a thing might take place; for, in the midst of all her change of conduct and wilful avoidance of allusion to the past, she felt no dislike of him. It was merely her love for him that she had suppressed, and in its place there still remained a warm regard. If he could have been content with her friendship alone, she would have granted it all, and would have rejoiced, for the sake of olden times, to use her influence with others in aid of his upward progress. Perhaps there were even times when, as she looked upon his misery and thought of the days not so very far back, in which he had been all in all to her, her heart may have been melted into something of its former affection. But if so, it was only for a moment, nor did she ever allow the weakness to be seen. Her path had been taken, and nothing now could make her swerve from it. Before her enraptured fancy gleamed the state and rank belonging to a patrician's wife; and as she wove her toils with all the resources of her cunning, the prize seemed to approach her nearer and nearer. Now having advanced so far, she must not allow a momentary weakness to imperil all. And therefore unwaveringly she daily met her former lover with the open smile of friendly greeting, inviting confidence, mingled with the same indescribable glance, forbidding any renewal of love.

And so days passed by, and Cleotos, arousing from his apathetic despair, felt more strongly that, if the lapse of love into mere friendship is a misfortune, the offer of friendship as a substitute for promised love is a mockery and an insult: his soul rebelled at being made a passive party to such a bargain; and he began himself to play the retaliatory part which a wronged nature naturally suggests to itself. Like Leta, he learned to hold out the limpid hand in careless greeting, or to mutter meaningless and cold compliments, and, in any communication with her, to assume all the appearances of indifferent acquaintanceship. At first, indeed, it was with an aching heart struggling in his breast, and an agony of wounded spirit tempting him to cast away all such studied pretences, and to throw himself upon her mercy, and meanly beg for even the slightest return of her former affection. But gradually, as he perceived how vain would be such self-abasement, and how its display would rather tend to add contempt to her indifference, his pride came to rescue him from such a course; and he began more and more to tune the temper of his mind to his actions, and to feel something of the same coldness which he outwardly displayed.

Not but that for a while such a disposition was forced and unnatural; and however steadily composed he felt, and strongly fortified in his stubborn pride, a look or a word from her would have brought him again a willing slave to her feet. But that look or word was not given. Perhaps, in her eager struggle after the glittering prize which she had held out before herself, she disdained the love which had once delighted her; perhaps, actuated by a purer and less selfish motive, her friend[Pg 151]ship for Cleotos forbade her, in mere wanton pride, to keep open the wound which she had made. Whatever the reason, the withdrawal of the fascinations which had once attracted him, gave his mind leisure and opportunity to reason with itself in more quietude and composure than could have been expected. And, as he more and more began to realize how closely she was wrapped up in her ambition, to the exclusion of any gentler feeling, and how, under the stimulant of her infatuated hopes, she was allowing herself each day to act with less guarded resolution, there were times when he found himself asking whether she had indeed changed from what she had been, or whether, on the contrary, she had not always, at heart, been the same as now, and his conception, of her true character been at fault.

But, in proportion as the veil of error seemed lifted from his soul, letting calm content once more shine in upon him, so, on the other hand, did a night of despair slowly settle upon Ænone. By no reasoning could she longer urge upon herself the belief that the neglect with which her lord treated her could be traced to any inoffensive cause. Claims of court—urgency of military duties—exactions of business might easily account for transitory slights, but not for long-sustained periods of indifference, unbroken by a single word of kindness. And as days passed by and this indifference continued, until at times seeming ready to give place to openly expressed dislike, and her ears became more and more accustomed to words of hasty petulance, and Sergius grew still deeper absorbed in the infatuation which possessed him, and less careful to conceal its influences from her, and the Greek girl glided hither and thither, ever less anxious, as she believed her triumph more nearly assured, to maintain the humble guise which she had at first assumed, Ænone felt that there had indeed come upon her a sorrow from which there could be no escape. There were a hundred methods of relief from it which hourly occurred to her agitated mind, but one after another was in turn laid aside, as she felt that it would but aggravate the evil, or as the opportunity to employ it was not given her. To make open complaint of her wrongs and try to drive Leta from the house—to humble herself before her, and thereby strive to move her pity—to reproach Sergius for his neglect, and demand that, since he no longer loved her, he would send her back to her native place, away from the hollow world of Rome—to assume toward him, by a strong effort of will, a like indifference—to watch until she could find some season when his better nature appeared more impressible, and then to throw herself before him, as she had once before done, and plead for a return of his love—these and like expedients fruitlessly passed in review before her. All in turn failed in promise of relief; and at times it seemed as though the only course left to her was to lie down in her sorrow and die.

It was no uncommon thing then, as now, for the husband to neglect his wife. All Rome rang with the frequent story of marital wrong. But those were days in which the matron did not generally accept her desertion with meekness. Brought up in a fevered, unscrupulous society, she had her own retaliatory resources; and if no efforts were sufficient to bring back the wandering affection, she could recompense herself elsewhere for its loss, secure that her wrongs would be held as a justification, and that her associates, equally aggrieved and avenged, would applaud her course. But with Ænone, brought up in a provincial town, under the shelter of her own native purity and innocence, no such idea could find countenance. Even the thought which sometimes dimly presented itself, that by some harmless coquetry she might perhaps excite her husband's jealousy, and thereby chance[Pg 152] to win back his love, was one which she always stifled in its beginning as weak and unworthy.

But the recompenses of friendship were still left to her, and it was surely doing no wrong to accept them. Therefore the more she realized that her source of real happiness was becoming estranged from her, so much the more did she feel naturally drawn toward the society of Cleotos. To her, of course, he was not a mere slave, but rather a person of equal birth with herself, who had been beaten down by the same fate which had elevated her. And in conversation with him, it was easy to carry her mind back to her early home, and for a little while forget her present misery. And he, in turn, having been repulsed where he had placed his highest hopes of happiness, and imbittered with the disappointment, was not at all loth to transfer, in all innocence, his devotion to one who extended such kindly condescension toward him. It therefore happened that the two were naturally drawn much together, and, for a time, without attracting invidious notice. Those were days in which the association between master and slave was often of an intimate character. To the lower class of slaves, indeed, there could be no familiar approach. It was sufficient for them that at times they could look upon the faces of their owners from a distance. But above these, were converging circles, each rising in rank and responsibility, until there were those who stood at their owners' right hands, more in the position of friends and confidants than of menials. Of these was Cleotos, whose winning face and graceful mien, joined to his natural abilities and his valued accomplishments, would have insured him a higher position than that of most captives, even if he had not been assisted by the partiality of his mistress.

It was his duty to announce her guests, to trim the lamps at which she read, to read to her when she felt indisposed to do so for herself; to indite her correspondence—and generally to superintend all those little elegancies and demands of social life which require grace or mental ability in their execution. These offices naturally kept him near her during much of each day—and when Ænone and he were alone, and no task was before him requiring immediate completion, it was but to be expected that a mingling of curiosity and friendly interest should lead her to question him upon his past life, his home, his associates, even his thoughts. And often it as naturally happened that, while he spoke, the music of his voice lulled her into forgetfulness of all but the past, and she would find herself unconsciously relaxing from the somewhat frigid dignity which she felt called upon to assume, until her features must have glowed with some expression of her former familiar kindness. For she would be suddenly startled back into her forced propriety by a strange and troubled look of puzzled thought flitting across his face—a look which she could read and analyze better than he could; for it told her that, without any real suspicion of the truth, he was wondering at the likeness of that beaming face which bent over him to something which he had seen elsewhere in the past.

There was one morning that he sat before her by a little table where he had been writing a letter at her dictation. The letter was folded and sealed, and then ensued one of those vacant intervals when each, having no pressing task at hand, remains for a few moments listlessly thinking what shall be done next. At that instant Leta passed through the room—bowing low as she moved before her mistress, and throwing out toward Cleotos from the corner of her dark eye one of those aggravating looks in which friendly interest in him and pleasure at his sight were mingled with a certain cruel warning against any renewal of past memories. Cleotos retorted with a[Pg 153] similar careless greeting, expressive of simple friendliness, unconscious of any warmer emotion. But he had not yet perfectly learned his part; for, as Leta passed out of the room, the quiver of his lip showed how difficult had been the task of mastering his forced smile even for that moment.

'Poor boy!' said, Ænone, as she witnessed the effort. 'You have not yet learned not to love her.'

'Not yet, indeed, my mistress,' he responded. 'But it seems as though I knew the task better than last week, and would know it still better a week hence. What can I say? It is not to be thought that I should lapse in a moment into real indifference, even though I may find out that she is unworthy of love. There cannot but be an interval during which the heart will struggle against the judgment, and lead to foolish longings after what has passed.'

'True, indeed,' said Ænone.

'And still, in my heart, I sometimes almost think that I have never loved her,' he continued in a reflective, dreamy tone; 'that I have been under a spell—have been made the slave of certain outward fascinations, which have fettered my judgment. Can it be that one will think he loves and yet does not?'

'It is indeed hard to answer, I suppose.'

'It must be hard; for wherein, after all, is the difference between being and thinking to be? But yet it seems as though there were times, even long past and before this captivity, when, being in our own land, and with nothing to disturb us or make us doubtful of the future, I looked upon her with a strange kind of fear—wondering whether, though I loved her with so strong a passion, it might not rather be the passion of an unlasting, unsatisfying slavery of thought, than of a calm, lifelong trustfulness. And now it seems to me that if I ever had this feeling—for I cannot certainly tell whether I ever had or only now imagine it—it seems to me as though it were an inner instinct warning me against evil; for day by day I see more clearly that there has been some veil over my soul, hiding it from a clear perception of what was suitable for it.'

'And you begin to dislike her?' inquired Ænone.

'Not so,' he said. 'Nor do I know whether I ought to do so, if I could. I believe now that she does not, and perhaps never has loved me, but I must forgive her for all that. She may have tried to do so, and for a time have thought that she did, and the true blame may all the while have rested with me alone. With her strong, unbending temperament, fearless of correction, and jealous of all control, how, indeed, could she long cling to one of such a tranquil and yielding nature as myself? That she loved me not, proves not that she could love no one; and though she now seems so coldly heartless and so rashly heedless of her fame, yet who knows what she might have been if fettered by the love of a spirit more imperious than her own? Who can tell how the great good that is within her might then have conquered the evil, and her soul have spurned its present headstrong course, and gloriously aroused itself to its sole great duty of love and innocent trustfulness?'

'These, indeed, are very far from being words of dislike,' said Ænone; 'and they only prove that you still love her, or you would not so readily excuse her.'

'Neither have I denied that I love her yet,' he said. 'But it is not with as blind an affection as before. Her touch, her words, her smile—if given with real love—would still please me as of old; and yet I should feel that there was something gone from me forever. Even if we were restored to our own isle, with no enemy near or rival to interrupt us, I could not but henceforth[Pg 154] feel that destiny had not meant her for me, so much would her stronger nature be ill assorted with my own. And sometimes—'


'Sometimes—now that this thraldom of my spirit is passing off—there comes back to me the memory of another face, a gentle, loving face—which, if it were possible ever to see it again, I have too long forgotten, but which, if I may not see it more, I should, for my own sake, have forgotten long ago. But all this, honored mistress, can be of no interest to you, and therefore it were foolish to mention it.'

'Nay, speak to me of it,' murmured Ænone; and, struggle as she would, the telltale blood began to flow up into her face. 'Is there any woman who does not care to listen to a love story?' she added, as though in excuse for her curiosity.

'It is but a common love tale,' he said, 'and the more so that nothing came of it. A few stolen interviews—a few promises exchanged—and then a parting forever. That is all.'

'But where and when was this?'

'Six years ago, at Ostia. For, though a Greek, I have been in this land before now. I was a sailor then, and in that port I met her. Met her and loved her, and promised to return again. And for a while I meant to do so; but on our passage back our ship was wrecked. I could not at once find place upon another, and so took employment on the shore—none the less, however, intending some day to come back and claim her. What shall I say? It is the old story. The sea is wide, and I could interchange no tidings with her. Ill success followed me, and I could not return to Ostia. Then, little by little, as the months drifted past, and I believed her lost to me, her image began to fade from my memory. And then I saw Leta; and under the spell of that new charm, it seemed to me as though the other one had lost all grasp upon my mind. Not altogether, though, for even at the height of my later love, I have always borne about me the last keepsake that she had given me.'

'Let me see it, what it is like,' said Ænone, faintly; and in obedience to her command, and perhaps wondering a little that she should take such interest in so simple a story, Cleotos drew from beneath his tunic a thread with a coin dangling at the end.

The tears struggled into Ænone's eyes as she gazed upon the token. It was a poor little silver coin of the time of the first Cæsars—one of the few curiosities of her father's family—and which she had given to her lover as the most precious thing belonging to her. She remembered that when, in that last stroll by the shore, she had hung it about his neck with her own hands, and had made him promise always to keep it, she had received from him a similar token—a bright silver piece of Vespasian, and had placed it near her heart, while murmuring similar vows. He had kept his word, and she had not kept hers. For the moment, she felt even guilty of bad faith, forgetting that when she afterward gave her more mature affection to Sergius, it was only her duty to lay aside all that even whispered of past promises.

'I could not bear to part with it,' he said; 'for it still spoke to me of her friendship, if not of her love. And a superstitions thought came into my mind that I might some day see her again, and that, though we should not meet as lovers, yet she might, perhaps, be pleased to learn that I had not entirely forgotten her. Would she not, noble lady, do you think?'

'She does—that is, it surely should so move her,' said Ænone.

'So have I still worn it,' he continued. 'And somehow each day brings back the recollection of her more faithfully to me. Whether it is because this other absorbing love is passing[Pg 155] from my heart, and leaving to me greater freedom of thought—or whether it is that Ostia is now so near to me that I daily hear of it and see its costumes in the streets, and thus my recollection of the place is kindled anew—or whether it is—'

'Is what?' said Ænone, encouragingly.

'I know not how to dare say it,' he stammered. 'It is a presumption, indeed, but I mean it not for such. I would say that there is something in your face, most noble mistress—a look—a flash of thought—a glance of the eye—a something I know not what, which reminds me of her whom I knew so many years ago. So that sometimes, were it not for the difference of dress and all else around you, so much at variance with what had been her state, I could almost forget the lapse of years, and imagine that—Pardon, most noble lady! I meant not to offend!'

For she had arisen; and now, drawn to her full height, was looking down upon him with all the coldness of patrician dignity that she could summon to her aid. He, too, arose, and stood trembling opposite her. For a moment they remained gazing upon each other; he aghast at the apparent consequences of his remark, reproaching himself for having so inconsiderately raised her anger by daring to compare, even in feature, a lowly country girl with her, and despairingly asking himself what he should do to restore himself to her favor—she more and more wrapping herself in a disguise of outward pride and haughty bearing, lest by some chance his unsuspecting eyes might detect the truth, and yet inwardly bleeding at the heart to think that she could not reveal herself to him and promise him her friendship, in full confidence that his love for her would not return and bring new distress upon them. Then suddenly, while each stood wondering what course to take, a light step was heard in the outer hall, and the poet Emilius entered.


At the interruption, Ænone hastily reseated herself; while Cleotos, in obedience to a quick and significant motion of her finger, remained in the room, and, resuming his position at the table, prepared to continue his writing. The poet Emilius could not, of course, fail to notice this somewhat confused alteration of posture, but no suspicion of having intruded upon an embarrassing scene crossed his mind. He merely saw a proudly erect mistress and a cowering slave; and it was no unusual thing to interrupt a Roman lady in the act of giving even corporeal correction to her attendant, nor did the stranger's entrance always cause the punishment to cease.

'Has the caitiff been insolent?' he exclaimed, in gallant tone, as he approached and seated himself before her. 'Has he dared to look too rebelliously upon so charming a mistress? If so, permit that I may chastise him for you. It is not fit that such fair hands should be obliged to wield the rod.'

'Nay, it is nothing,' she said. 'Nothing, indeed, needing much reproof; and it is all past now. And wherefore have we lately seen so little of you?'

'Commands of court—the claims of Parnassus—all these, fair lady, have withheld me from heretofore giving to beauty its proper meed of admiration and worship. To speak more plainly, I have undertaken, by order of our emperor, the not ungrateful task of weaving a few poetical sentiments to be recited at the opening of our new amphitheatre. And in order that the results of my labor might not lessen my already acquired fame, I judged it most prudent to seclude myself for the past few days from the gayeties of the world, and give myself up to study and meditation. Though, after all, I could not deny, if closely questioned, that my seclusion was but little productive of results; for, upon being tempted out one evening, sorely against my judgment, to a feast at the house of the[Pg 156] comedian Bassus, the true poetic inspiration overtook me at the end of my third goblet, and, calling for parchment, I there accomplished, in one short hour, the greater portion of my task.'

'Then, I presume that your ode, unlike your other works, will be of a cheerful and lively character, more especially as it is written for such a festive occasion.'

'Scarcely, perhaps, what the world would call altogether lively, though here and there a thread of playful thought may gleam upon the more sober texture of the basis. I have rather judged it proper that, for the due celebration of an event of such wondrous magnificence, I should give utterance to deeper and more lasting sentiments, so as to fit the minds of the spectators for a higher comprehension of its true significance. But, if you wish, I will read aloud a few of my thoughts; and be assured that so far no eye has seen the scroll, not even the august eye of the emperor Titus himself.'

Ænone inclined her head in assent, and he drew from the breast of his tunic a small roll of parchment, carefully wrapped in a covering of embroidered silk.

'I commence, of course, by an address to the emperor, whom I call the most illustrious of all the Cæsars, and liken unto Jove. I then congratulate the spectators not only upon living in his time, but also upon being there to bask in the effulgence of his majesty; his countenance being the sight most to be desired, and the games and combats being merely accessory thereto. After which, I speak to the gladiators and captives; and prove to them how grateful they should be to the gods for allowing them the privilege of dying in such an august presence.'

'Is it such a privilege, do you think?' inquired Ænone.

'Perhaps not a privilege, but certainly no great hardship. The trained gladiators surely cannot complain, for they have voluntarily assumed the risks; and as for the captives, the most of them will some day die a violent death of some kind or another, and, therefore, why not now, attended by the decent observances of the games and the applause of all the Roman people? But to proceed. From thence I speak of death—its pleasures and its recompenses; showing that, if there be a future life, the gods have done wisely to withhold its exact nature from us, and that, whatever uncertainties may exist in other respects, nothing can be more true than that those who now die in the arena will, in another world, find their highest felicity in the privilege of looking up from a distance at the loved emperor in whose honor they perished, and beholding him enjoying, through adoption, the society of the inhabitants of Olympus. I then—but it is useless to detail all the argument. I will read the poem itself; or rather, if you so permit, I will let this scribe of yours read it for me. Perhaps, upon hearing it from another's mouth, I may be led to make still further corrections.'

Handing the manuscript with all care to Cleotos, the poet leaned back with eyes closed in delicious revery, now and then arousing himself to correct some defective emphasis or unsatisfactory intonation, the tolerance of which, he imagined, would mar the proper effect of the production, or, with persistent desire for praise, momentarily calling closer attention to such passages as appeared to him deserving of especial commendation—and generally omitting no opportunity of exacting that entire admiration to which he believed his genius entitled him. Apart from a somewhat extravagant display of high-strained metaphor, the poem had merit, being bold in scope, sonorous and well rounded in tone, and here and there gracefully decked with original and pleasing thoughts. Throughout the whole, however, the singular propensity of the[Pg 157] author for indulgence in morbid and gloomy reflection found its usual development, while every line was laden with lofty maxims of moral philosophy, mingled with urgent incentives to the adoption of a virtuous career;—all, in themselves, both unexceptionable and praiseworthy, but, nevertheless, having a strange sound in the ears of those who recognized them as the utterances of one whose conversation was always flippant and puerile, and whose daily life, in the enormity and uninterrupted persistency of its profligacy, rendered him the acknowledged leader of all that was most disreputable and contaminating in Roman society.

At length, the reading having been fully completed, and the listener's powers of flattery exhausted, the author carefully rewrapped his poem in its silken cover and carried it away, to read it, in turn, to other noble ladies, with the same transparent pretence of giving exclusive hearing of it to each. For a few moments Ænone remained in thoughtful silence, with her head bowed upon her hand; recalling the scattered fragments of the sonorous verses, and wondering why it was that, when each line had seemed so perfect in itself, and every thought so pure and noble in its purport and conception, the whole should have left upon her mind such an undefinable impress of dissatisfaction.

Cleotos, with unobtrusive scrutiny, seemed to read her thoughts, for, at the first intimation of her perplexity, he said:

'It is because the author of those verses has not sincerely felt the full meaning of what he has there written. For, with whatsoever display of ingenious and artistic skill fair sounding maxims of morality may be expressed, yet, if they come not from the heart, their utterance must seem hollow and unreal. I do not know this author—how or where he lives. It may be that in his daily life he is outwardly all that could be desired. But I know this—that he has written about virtue and death, not because he loves the one and fears not the other, but simply because, by a display of well-toned periods, he may more surely hope to gain the applause of the arena and the smiles of the court.'

'But why should not these sentiments, though called into being by personal ambition alone, give equal pleasure as if springing directly from the heart? Are they not, after all, as true?'

'Nay, honored mistress, neither are they true. This is again where they fail to please; for in your soul there is an instinct, though you may not know of it, which forbids that such cold and unsatisfactory reasoning should bring you comfort. He speaks of death: is it cheering to be told that, though the gods have appointed death to every person, they have given it, not as a veiled mercy, but rather as a dreadful fate—that there is no certainty about our future condition, but that, if we are destined to live again, it may be with the same evils encompassing us which bind us now—and that the slave may then still be a slave, destined forever to look up to and worship the high and mighty ones who trampled on him here?'

'That is, in truth, no comfort,' said Ænone. And she bowed her head upon her hands, and sadly thought how worthless to her would be the gift of eternal life, if her present sorrows were to follow her. 'But what can we do? If it were possible to discover and believe in some other fate, telling us that death, instead of being a dreaded pang, is a boon and relief to the sick and weary and oppressed—'

'There is a book,' said Cleotos—and for a moment he hesitated, as though fearful of proceeding—'there is a book which I have read, and which tells us all this. It says that death is not merely a fate, but is a source of blessing; since it leads to a world where the sufferings of this life shall be recom[Pg 158]pensed with abundant joy, not to the rich merely, but more especially to the poor and lowly.'

'Where is that book?' cried Ænone, with sudden energy, as the wondrous depth and power of the sentiment flashed upon her. 'Where can I see and read it? He who can talk like that, must surely have said still more?'

'I have not that book,' answered Cleotos. 'I have only this little copy of a small portion of it;' and he hesitatingly drew from beneath his tunic a single small leaf of discolored parchment, closely filled with Greek characters. 'But being at Corinth, a year ago, I was permitted to see the book itself, and to hear portions of it read. It was written to a Christian church there, by one Paul, a leader of that sect.'

At the word 'Christian' the first impulse of Ænone was to shrink back, not knowing but that even the presence of one who had ever come into contact with any of that despised sect might be injurious to her. For at once she began to recall many of the tales which she had heard to its discredit—its members hiding as outcasts in the caves and dens of the earth—their repeated insults to the gods—their proud and unaccountable worship of a malefactor—their sacrifice of infants—and other exaggerations and calumnies, begotten in malice or ignorance, and thence widely spread, making it not hard to believe that the only fate fit for those to whom they related was a life of persecution and a cruel death in the arena.

But only for a moment did this instinctive horror control her. The single doctrine which she had just heard advanced already began to bear its fruits. It seemed, indeed, not unlikely that one who could write such truths, and those, his disciples, who could so gratefully treasure them up, might not, after all, be wantonly wicked, but, at the worst, might be merely victims of mistaken zeal. And then, in turn, she thought of much that had been related to her in their favor. During her life at Rome, indeed, she had heard no mention of the Christian sect, unless accompanied with sneers or contempt. But she remembered how that in Ostia, while she was yet a very young girl, she had heard it sometimes whispered that the Christians were kind and loving to all the world, and free from many sins in which other men openly exulted, and that, through their great love for their founder, they organized charities which had never before been even thought of—and how that once, when she had been very sick, a strange woman had nursed her into health and refused all payment for it, alleging that her religion bade her give herself up to such tasks—and how that she had once seen pass by, one who was pointed out to her as a holy man among the sect—whose name indeed she could not remember, but whose mild and serene expression yet lived in her recollection. It was hardly possible that one whose face was so radiant with universal love and benevolence as to impress itself thus lastingly upon the heart of a young child could have been very wicked. Nor did it seem likely that Cleotos, whose greatest weakness was that his life had been almost too innocent and trusting, could speak well of a sect which worthily ought to be persecuted. And then again she thought upon that little book to the sect at Corinth, and she bade Cleotos to read a verse or two. He did so. At another time she might have listened as she had listened to the moral maxims of the poet Emilius—judging well of it, perhaps, for the beauty of its words, but, beyond that, regarding it simply as some new and more original expression of long-accepted philosophy. But now, in her trouble, she felt that there was something in it beyond all known philosophy—a new development of faith, appealing to the heart, and speaking comfort to all who were in misery. It surely could not be that[Pg 159] such words were the emanations of an evil influence.

'Art thou—answer me, Cleotos—art thou one of the sect of Christians?' she inquired.

'How can I tell?' he responded. 'I have so often asked that question of my heart, and yet have not been able to understand what it has said to me. There are times when I think that I must pray only to the gods of Olympus, and that all I have heard or read about other gods must be untrue. And again, when I read this little parchment of mine, and remember other like things that have been told to me, and see how they all speak of death as a relief to the sorrowing, and of another life in which the down trodden and the captive shall be recompensed for what they have suffered here, and know that I am one of those who need such recompense—then I think that perhaps the only true God is the God of the Christians. But I can learn so little about it all, that I cannot, from my own judgment, determine which must be right.'

'Perhaps,' thoughtfully responded Ænone, 'it may be that if you tell me all you know about it, I may be able to assist your conclusions. Who knows what light I myself need, or how much of good we may borrow from this new religion? It cannot be wrong to examine for one's self, and the gods will not be angry if we gain good doctrine even from wrong sources, so long as it may make us better. To-morrow, therefore, let us begin.'

Upon the morrow, therefore, and for many succeeding days, the mistress and the slave spent stolen moments in groping after the truth of that faith which makes the high and the low equal. It was a blind search, for neither of them had any definite comprehension of the history and doctrine upon which the new religion had been founded. Cleotos had enjoyed the best opportunities of acquainting himself with it, having naturally, in his wanderings about the East, and in his contact with the poor and enslaved of many lands, heard much respecting the Christian churches and their belief; but having had no instructor, a great portion of what he had thus received came to him in but distorted and puzzling array. And Ænone could not comprehend how, when the gods ruled Rome, and Rome had scattered the Jews, one whom the Jews had had the power to slay could be greater than all. But between them, for their study, lay the leaf of parchment, closely covered with writing, beside which the proudest and choicest philosophy of Rome seemed mockery; and though they could not understand its full meaning, they knew that it spoke such good words that, at the least, though it may have come from erring men, it was no less worthy to have come from a God. Whatever the real nature of the faith itself, here was certainly a proof that among its attributes were mercy and peace and brotherly love toward all.

What might have been the consequences if Ænone had been free to pursue the investigation as far as she wished—to send for other books to aid her—to consult more learned teachers, who, though perhaps hiding in secret shelter, were yet attainable with proper search, cannot be known. It is not improbable that, in the end, one more might have been added to the list of those few Roman women of high degree who even then gave up all their rank and state in order to share the persecutions of the Nazarenes. But it was otherwise ordered. Already indications, each slight in itself, but altogether of important bearing, began to present themselves before her, warning her that jealous eyes were watching her, and that, if she would avoid the consequences of misconstruction, she must bring her feeble investigations to a close.

Until now, Leta, in her struggle to alienate the husband from the wife, had been actuated simply by the exigencies[Pg 160] of her ambitious policy. Bearing in her heart no especial hatred toward her mistress, she would willingly have spared her, had not the circumstances of the case seemed to require the ruin of the one preliminary to the exaltation of the other. But now, other incentives to her efforts were added. First in her mind came jealousy of Cleotos; for though she had cast him off, and bade him stifle the yearnings of his heart, and, by the cool exercise of intellect and craft alone, seek a better fortune for himself, it was hardly natural that she should feel pleased to have him so soon appear to take her at her word. She would have better liked to see him display more prolonged sorrow for her loss. Then came jealousy of Ænone, who had apparently been able to console him so early. And mingled with all this, there began to press upon her a startling thought—one which she at first contemned as unlikely and absurd—but which, though continually driven away, so obstinately returned and commended itself to her attention with newer plausibility, that at last she began to give bitter and anxious heed to it. What if this constant communication between Ænone and Cleotos were to result in a mutual love? It was no uncommon thing in those days for the high-born lady to cast her eyes upon the slave. How mortifying to herself, then, if, while she had been exerting all her powers of fascination, taxing the utmost resources of her intellect, and making of her whole existence one labored study for the purpose of gaining an undue influence over the lord, Cleotos, without art or disguise or apparent effort, or any advantage other than that afforded by his simple-hearted, trusting nature, should have quietly won from the other side of the house a victory of almost equal importance? And further than this—what if the lord were to perish in some brawl or by the hired assassin of a rival house; and Ænone, released from her thraldom, and despising conventional scruples—as again was not uncommon among the Roman ladies of that day—were to exalt her favorite with legal honors, and thus make herself, Leta, his slave? This, to be sure, was an improbable chance; but a mind as active as her own did not disdain to foresee and provide against all contingencies.

Then, in addition to everything else, she became absorbed in the one overwhelming and bitter reflection, that after all her sacrifice and labor, the anticipated success might be escaping her. It is true that, thanks to her efforts, the distance between Sergius and Ænone had widened, until it seemed that there could never be a perfect reunion; but all this, if the state of partial neglect which had existed in the beginning could be relied upon as an indication, was a consequence which might easily, in time, have come of itself. It is true that Sergius had yielded himself a willing victim to the unlawful fascinations thrown around him; but yet Leta could not avoid seeing that he regarded her not with the deep, earnest love which she had hoped to inspire, but rather with the trifling carelessness of one giving himself up to the plaything of the hour. Not having, from the very first, been chary of the sidelong glance and the winning smile, and whatever grace of style or manner could tempt him to pursuit, as an illusive appearance of success seemed to beckon her onward, her heart at times grew desperate with the apprehension that all had been in vain. For Sergius, content that the wife whom he neglected did not disturb his repose with idle complaints, had no thought of inflicting any deeper injury upon her, being well satisfied to have her remain and confer honor upon him by the grace with which she maintained the dignity of his house. And though well pleased to sun himself in Leta's smile, there never came to him the thought that the slave could be worthy of any exaltation, or that her highest ambition could prompt her to desire more than[Pg 161] a continuance of the companionship with which he honored her. All this Leta began to dimly see; and there were times when, strive to hide it from her heart as she would, it seemed as though he might be even growing weary of her.

Thus tormented with doubt and jealousy and the constantly increasing suspicion of baffled ambition, how was she to act? To accept her situation as a decree of fate, to fawn upon the mistress like a patient slave, and, if the lord were to tire of her in the end and give himself up to other captivations, to submit unmurmuringly to the unavoidable necessity? All this some might consent to do; but surely not one like herself, gifted with indomitable will, and stung to desperation with the sense of great and irreparable sacrifices. To her there could be but one course. She must abandon her slow and cautious policy, and seek the earliest opportunity to urge the matter to its crisis. If, by sparing no watchfulness or ingenuity, or by the exercise of bold and vigorous manœuvring, she could produce a quarrel and final separation between Sergius and his wife, it might not be impossible for her to impress upon him how much she was necessary to his happiness, and thereby elevate herself into the vacant place. And if unsuccessful, at the least she would be but sharing a ruin which would fall like an avalanche upon all alike.


The last great imperial persecution of the Christians under Diocletian and Galerius, which was aimed at the entire uprooting of the new religion, ended with the edict of toleration of 311 and the tragical ruin of the persecutors. Galerius died soon after of a disgusting and terrible disease (morbus pedicularis), described with great minuteness by Eusebius and Lactantius. 'His body,' says Gibbon, 'swelled by an intemperate course of life to an unwieldy corpulence, was covered with ulcers and devoured by innumerable swarms of those insects which have given their name to a most loathsome disease.' Diocletian had withdrawn from the throne in 305, and in 313 put an end to his imbittered life by suicide. In his retirement he found more pleasure in raising cabbage than he had found in ruling the empire; a confession we may readily believe. (President Lincoln, of the United States, during the dark days of the civil war, in December, 1862, declared that he would gladly exchange his position with any common soldier in the tented field.) Maximin, who kept up the persecution in the East, even after the toleration edict, as long as he could, died likewise a violent death by poison, in 313. In this tragical end of their last three imperial persecutors the Christians saw a palpable judgment of God. The edict of toleration was an involuntary and irresistible concession of the incurable impotence of heathenism and the indestructible power of Christianity. It left but a step to the downfall of the one and the supremacy of the other in the empire of the Cæsars.

This great epoch is marked by the reign of Constantine I. He understood the signs of the time, and acted accordingly. He was the man for the times, as the times were prepared for him by that Providence which controls both and fits them for each other. He placed himself at the head of true[Pg 162] progress, while his nephew, Julian the Apostate, opposed it, and was left behind. He was the chief instrument for raising the church from the low estate of oppression and persecution to well-deserved honor and power. For this service a thankful posterity has given him the surname of the Great, to which he was entitled, though not by his moral character, yet doubtless by his military and administrative ability, his judicious policy, his appreciation and protection of Christianity, and the far-reaching consequences of his reign. His greatness was not indeed of the first, but of the second order, and is to be measured more by what he did than by what he was. To the Greek Church, which honors him even as a canonized saint, he has the same significance as Charlemagne to the Latin.

Constantine, the first Christian Cæsar, the founder of Constantinople and the Byzantine empire, and one of the most gifted, energetic, and successful of the Roman emperors, was the first representative of the imposing idea of a Christian theocracy, or of that system of policy which assumes all subjects to be Christians, connects civil and religious rights, and regards church and state as the two arms of one and the same divine government on earth. This was more fully developed by his successors, it animated the whole Middle Age, and is yet working under various forms in these latest times; though it has never been fully realized, whether in the Byzantine, the German, or the Russian empire, the Roman church-state, the Calvinistic republic of Geneva, or the early Puritanic colonies of New England. At the same time, however, Constantine stands also as the type of an undiscriminating and harmful conjunction of Christianity with politics, of the holy symbol of peace with the horrors of war, of the spiritual interests of the kingdom of heaven with the earthly interests of the state.

In judging of this remarkable man and his reign, we must by all means keep to the great historical principle, that all representative characters act consciously or unconsciously as the free and responsible organs of the spirit of their age, which moulds them first before they can mould it in turn, and that the spirit of the age itself, whether good or bad or mixed, is but an instrument in the hands of Divine Providence, which rules and overrules all the actions and motives of men.

Through a history of three centuries Christianity had already overcome the world, and thus rendered such an outward revolution, as has attached itself to the name of this prince, both possible and unavoidable. It were extremely superficial to refer so thorough and momentous a change to the personal motives of an individual, be they motives of policy, of piety, or of superstition. But unquestionably every age produces and shapes its own organs, as its own purposes require. So in the case of Constantine. He was distinguished by that genuine political wisdom, which, putting itself at the head of the age, clearly saw that idolatry had outlived itself in the Roman empire, and that Christianity alone could breathe new vigor into it and furnish its moral support. Especially on the point of the external catholic unity, his monarchical politics accorded with the hierarchical episcopacy of the church. Hence from the year 313 he placed himself in close connection with the bishops, made peace and harmony his first object in the Donatist and Arian controversies, and gave the predicate 'catholic' to the church in all official documents. And as his predecessors were supreme pontiffs of the heathen religion of the empire, so he desired to be looked upon as a sort of bishop, as universal bishop of the eternal affairs of the church. All this by no means from mere self-interest, but for the good of the empire, which, now shaken to its foundations and threatened by barbarians on every side, could only by some new bond of unity be consolidated[Pg 163] and upheld until at least the seeds of Christianity and civilization should be planted among the barbarians themselves, the representatives of the future. His personal policy thus coincided with the interests of the state. Christianity appeared to him, as it proved in fact, the only efficient power for a political reformation of the empire, from which the ancient spirit of Rome was fast departing, while internal civil and religious dissensions and the outward pressure of the barbarians threatened a gradual dissolution of society.

But with the political he united also a religious motive, not clear and deep, indeed, yet honest, and strongly infused with the superstitious disposition to judge of a religion by its outward success, and to ascribe a magical virtue to signs and ceremonies. His whole family was swayed by religious sentiment, which manifested itself in very different forms, in the devout pilgrimages of his Helena, the fanatical Arianism of Constantia and Constantius, and the fanatical paganism of Julian. Constantine adopted Christianity first as a superstition, and put it by the side of his heathen superstition, till finally in his conviction the Christian vanquished the pagan, though without itself developing into a pure and enlightened faith.

At first Constantine, like his father, in the spirit of the Neo-Platonic syncretism of dying heathendom, reverenced all the gods as mysterious powers; especially Apollo, the god of the sun, to whom in the year 308 he presented munificent gifts. Nay, so late as the year 321 he enjoined regular consultation of the soothsayers in public misfortunes, according to ancient heathen usage; even later, he placed his new residence, Byzantium, under the protection of the God of the Martyrs and the heathen goddess of Fortune; and down to the end of his life he retained the title and the dignity of a Pontifex Maximus, or high priest of the heathen hierarchy. His coins bore on the one side the letters of the name of Christ, on the other the figure of the sun-god, and the inscription Sol invictus. Of course these inconsistencies may be referred also to policy and accommodation to the toleration edict of 313. Nor is it difficult to adduce parallels of persons who in passing from Judaism to Christianity, or from Romanism to Protestantism, have honestly so wavered between their old and their new position, that they might be claimed by both. With his every victory over his pagan rivals, Galerius, Maxentius, and Licinius, his personal leaning to Christianity and his confidence in the magic power of the sign of the cross increased; yet he did not formally renounce heathenism, and did not receive baptism until, in 337, he was laid upon the bed of death.

He had an imposing and winning person, and was compared by flatterers with Apollo. He was tall, broad shouldered, handsome, and of a remarkably vigorous and healthy constitution, but given to excessive vanity in his dress and outward demeanor, always wearing an oriental diadem, a helmet studded with jewels, and a purple mantle of silk richly embroidered with pearls and flowers worked in gold. His mind was not highly cultivated, but naturally clear, strong, and shrewd, and seldom thrown off its guard. He is said to have combined a cynical contempt of mankind with an inordinate love of praise. He possessed a good knowledge of human nature and administrative energy and tact.

His moral character was not without noble traits, among which a chastity rare for the time, and a liberality and beneficence bordering on wastefulness were prominent. Many of his laws and regulations breathed the spirit of Christian justice and humanity, promoted the elevation of the female sex, improved the condition of slaves and of unfortunates, and gave free play to the efficiency of the church throughout the whole empire. Altogether he was one of the best, the most fortunate, and the[Pg 164] most influential of the Roman emperors, Christian and pagan.

Yet he had great faults. He was far from being so pure and so venerable as Eusebius, blinded by his favor to the church, depicts him, in his bombastic and almost dishonestly eulogistic biography, with the evident intention of setting him up as a model for all future Christian princes. It must, with all regret, be conceded, that his progress in the knowledge of Christianity was not a progress in the practice of its virtues. His love of display and his prodigality, his suspiciousness and his despotism, increased with his power.

The very brightest period of his reign is stained with gross crimes, which even the spirit of the age and the policy of an absolute monarch cannot excuse. After having reached, upon the bloody path of war, the goal of his ambition, the sole possession of the empire, yea, in the very year in which he summoned the great council of Nicæa, he ordered the execution of his conquered rival and brother-in-law, Licinius, in breach of a solemn promise of mercy (324). Not satisfied with this, he caused soon afterward, from political suspicion, the death of the young Licinius, his nephew, a boy of hardly eleven years. But the worst of all is the murder of his eldest son, Crispus, in 326, who had incurred suspicion of political conspiracy, and of adulterous and incestuous purposes toward his stepmother Fausta, but is generally regarded as innocent. This domestic and political tragedy emerged from a vortex of mutual suspicion and rivalry, and calls to mind the conduct of Philip II. toward Don Carlos, of Peter the Great toward his son Alexis, and of Soliman the Great toward his son Mustapha. Later authors assert, though gratuitously, that the emperor, like David, bitterly repented of this sin. He has been frequently charged besides, though it would seem altogether unjustly, with the death of his second wife Fausta (326?), who, after twenty years of happy wedlock, is said to have been convicted of slandering her stepson Crispus, and of adultery with a slave or one of the imperial guards, and then to have been suffocated in the vapor of an overheated bath. But the accounts of the cause and manner of her death are so late and discordant as to make Constantine's part in it at least very doubtful.

At all events Christianity did not produce in Constantine a thorough moral transformation. He was concerned more to advance the outward social position of the Christian religion, than to further its inward mission. He was praised and censured in turn by the Christians and pagans, the orthodox and the Arians, as they successively experienced his favor or dislike. He bears some resemblance to Peter the Great, both in his public acts and his private character, by combining great virtues and merits with monstrous crimes, and he probably died with the same consolation as Peter, whose last words were: 'I trust that in respect of the good I have striven to do my people (the church), God will pardon my sins.' It is quite characteristic of his piety that he turned the sacred nails of the Saviour's cross, which Helena brought from Jerusalem, the one into the bit of his war horse, the other into an ornament of his helmet. Not a decided, pure, and consistent character, he stands on the line of transition between two ages and two religions; and his life bears plain marks of both. When at last on his deathbed he submitted to baptism, with the remark, 'Now let us cast away all duplicity,' he honestly admitted the conflict of two antagonistic principles which swayed his private character and public life.

From these general remarks we turn to the leading features of Constantine's life and reign, so far as they bear upon the history of the church. We shall consider in order his youth and training, the vision of the cross, the edict[Pg 165] of toleration, his legislation in favor of Christianity, his baptism and death.

Constantine, son of the co-emperor Constantius Chlorus, who reigned over Gaul, Spain, and Britain till his death in 306, was born probably in the year 272, either in Britain or at Naissus (now called Nissa), a town of Dardania, in Illyricum. His mother was Helena, daughter of an innkeeper, the first wife of Constantius, afterward divorced, when Constantius, for political reasons, married a daughter of Maximian. She is described by Christian writers as a discreet and devout woman, and has been honored with a place in the catalogue of saints. Her name is identified with the discovery of the cross and the pious superstitions of the holy places. She lived to a very advanced age, and died in the year 326 or 327, in or near the city of Rome. Rising by her beauty and good fortune from obscurity to the splendor of the court, then meeting the fate of Josephine, but restored to imperial dignity by her son, and ending as a saint of the Catholic church: Helena would form an interesting subject for a historical novel illustrating the leading events of the Nicene age and the triumph of Christianity in the Roman empire.

Constantine first distinguished himself in the service of Diocletian in the Egyptian and Persian wars; went afterward to Gaul and Britain, and in the Prætorium at York was proclaimed emperor by his dying father and by the Roman troops. His father before him held a favorable opinion of the Christians as peaceable and honorable citizens, and protected them in the West during the Diocletian persecution in the East. This respectful, tolerant regard descended to Constantine, and the good effects of it, compared with the evil results of the opposite course of his antagonist Galerius, could but encourage him to pursue it. He reasoned, as Eusebius reports from his own mouth, in the following manner: 'My father revered the Christian God, and uniformly prospered, while the emperors who worshipped the heathen gods, died a miserable death; therefore, that I may enjoy a happy life and reign, I will imitate the example of my father and join myself to the cause of the Christians, who are growing daily, while the heathen are diminishing.' This low utilitarian consideration weighed heavily in the mind of an ambitious captain, who looked forward to the highest seat of power within the gift of his age. Whether his mother, whom he always revered, and who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in her eightieth year (A. D. 325), planted the germ of the Christian faith in her son, as Theodoret supposes, or herself became a Christian through his influence, as Eusebius asserts, must remain undecided. According to the heathen Zosimus, whose statement is unquestionably false and malicious, an Egyptian, who came out of Spain (probably the bishop Hosius of Cordova, a native of Egypt, is intended), persuaded him, after the murder of Crispus (which did not occur before 326), that by converting to Christianity he might obtain forgiveness of his sins.

The first public evidence of a positive leaning toward the Christian religion he gave in his contest with the pagan Maxentius, who had usurped the government of Italy and Africa, and is universally represented as a cruel, dissolute tyrant, hated by heathens and Christians alike. Called by the Roman people to their aid, Constantine marched from Gaul across the Alps with an army of ninety-eight thousand soldiers of every nationality, and defeated Maxentius in three battles; the last in October, 312, at the Milvian bridge, near Rome, where Maxentius found a disgraceful death in the waters of the Tiber.

Here belongs the familiar story of the miraculous cross. The precise day and place cannot be fixed, but the event must have occurred shortly before the final victory over Maxentius in the[Pg 166] neighborhood of Rome. As this vision is one of the most noted miracles in church history, and has a representative significance, it deserves a closer examination. It marks for us on the one hand the victory of Christianity over paganism in the Roman empire, and on the other the ominous admixture of foreign, political, and military interests with it. We need not be surprised that in the Nicene age so great a revolution and transition should have been clothed with a supernatural character.

The occurrence is variously described, and is not without serious difficulties. Lactantius, the earliest witness, some three years after the battle, speaks only of a dream by night, in which the emperor was directed (it is not stated by whom, whether by Christ, or by an angel) to stamp on the shields of his soldiers 'the heavenly sign of God,' that is, the cross with the name of Christ, and thus to go forth against his enemy. Eusebius, on the contrary, gives a more minute account, on the authority of a subsequent private communication of the aged Constantine himself under oath—not, however, till the year 338, a year after the death of the emperor, his only witness, and twenty-six years after the event. On his march from Gaul to Italy (the spot and date are not specified), the emperor, while earnestly praying to the true God for light and help at this critical time, saw, together with his army, in clear daylight toward evening, a shining cross in the heavens above the sun, with the inscription: 'By this conquer;' and in the following night Christ himself appeared to him while he slept, and directed him to have a standard prepared in the form of this sign of the cross, and with that to proceed against Maxentius and all other enemies. This account of Eusebius, or rather of Constantine himself, adds to the night dream of Lactantius the preceding vision of the day, and the direction concerning the standard, while Lactantius speaks of the inscription of the initial letters of Christ's name on the shields of the soldiers. According to Rufinus, a later historian, who elsewhere depends entirely on Eusebius, and can therefore not be regarded as a proper witness in the case, the sign of the cross appeared to Constantine in a dream (which agrees with the account of Lactantius), and upon his awaking in terror, an angel (not Christ) exclaimed to him: 'Hoc vince.' Lactantius, Eusebius, and Rufinus are the only Christian writers of the fourth century, who mention the apparition. But we have besides one or two heathen testimonies, which, though vague and obscure, still serve to strengthen the evidence in favor of some actual occurrence. The contemporaneous orator Nazarius, in a panegyric upon the emperor, pronounced March 1, 321, apparently at Rome, speaks of an army of divine warriors and a divine assistance which Constantine received in the engagement with Maxentius; but he converts it to the service of heathenism by recurring to old prodigies, such as the appearance of Castor and Pollux.

This famous tradition may be explained either as a real miracle implying a personal appearance of Christ, or as a pious fraud, or as a natural phenomenon in the clouds and an optical illusion, or finally as a prophetic dream.

The propriety of a miracle, parallel to the signs in heaven which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, might be justified by the significance of the victory as marking a great epoch in history, namely, the downfall of paganism and the establishment of Christianity in the empire. But even if we waive the purely critical objections to the Eusebian narrative, the assumed connection, in this case, of the gentle Prince of peace with the god of battle, and the subserviency of the sacred symbol of redemption to military ambition, is repugnant to the genius of the gospel and to sound Christian feeling, unless we stretch the theory of divine accommodation to the spirit of the age and the passions and interests of individuals[Pg 167] beyond the ordinary limits. We should suppose, moreover, that Christ, if he had really appeared to Constantine either in person (according to Eusebius) or through angels (as Rufinus and Sozomen modify it), would have exhorted him to repent and be baptized rather than to construct a military ensign for a bloody battle. In no case can we ascribe to this occurrence, with Eusebius, Theodoret, and older writers, the character of a sudden and genuine conversion, as to Paul's vision of Christ on the way to Damascus; for, on the one hand, Constantine was never hostile to Christianity, but most probably friendly to it from his early youth, according to the example of his father, and, on the other, he put off his baptism quite five and twenty years, almost to the hour of his death.

The opposite hypothesis of a mere military stratagem or intentional fraud is still more objectionable, and would compel us either to impute to the first Christian emperor, at a venerable age, the double crime of falsehood and perjury, or, if Eusebius invented the story, to deny to the 'father of church history' all claim to credibility and common respectability. Besides, it should be remembered that the older testimony of Lactantius, or whoever was the author of the work on the Deaths of Persecutors, is quite independent of that of Eusebius, and derives additional force from the vague heathen rumors of the time. Finally the Hoc vince, which has passed into proverbial significance as a most appropriate motto of the invincible religion of the cross, is too good to be traced to sheer falsehood. Some actual fact, therefore, must be supposed to underlie the tradition, and the question only is this, whether it was an external, viable phenomenon or an internal experience.

The hypothesis of a natural formation of the clouds, which Constantine by an optical illusion mistook for a supernatural sign of the cross, besides smacking of the exploded rationalistic explanation of the New Testament miracles, and deriving an important event from a mere accident, leaves the figure of Christ and the Greek or Latin inscription, 'By this sign thou shalt conquer!' altogether unexplained.

We are shut up, therefore, to the theory of a dream or vision, and an experience within the mind of Constantine. This is supported by the oldest testimony of Lactantius, as well as by the report of Rufinus and Sozomen, and we do not hesitate to regard the Eusebian cross in the skies as originally a part of the dream, which only subsequently assumed the character of an outward objective apparition, either in the imagination of Constantine or by a mistake of the memory of the historian, but in either case without intentional fraud. That the vision was traced to supernatural origin, especially after the happy success, is quite natural and in perfect keeping with the prevailing ideas of the age. Tertullian and other ante-Nicene and Nicene fathers attributed many conversions to nocturnal dreams and visions. Constantine and his friends referred the most important facts of his life, as the knowledge of the approach of hostile armies, the discovery of the holy sepulchre, the founding of Constantinople, to divine revelation through visions and dreams. Nor are we disposed in the least to deny the connection of the vision of the cross with the agency of Divine Providence, which controlled this remarkable turning point of history. We may go farther and admit a special providence, or what the old divines call a providentia specialissima; but this does not necessarily imply a violation of the order of nature or an actual miracle in the shape of an objective personal appearance of the Saviour. We may refer to a somewhat similar, though far less important, vision in the life of the pious English Colonel James Gardiner. The Bible itself sanctions the general theory of providential or prophetic dreams and nocturnal visions through which divine[Pg 168] revelations and admonitions are communicated to men.

The facts, therefore, may have been these: Before the battle, Constantine, leaning already toward Christianity as probably the beat and most hopeful of the various religions, seriously sought in prayer, as he related to Eusebius, the assistance of the God of the Christians, while his heathen antagonist, Maxentius, according to Zosimus, was consulting the sibylline books and offering sacrifice to the idols. Filled with mingled fears and hopes about the issue of the conflict, he fell asleep, and saw in a dream the sign of the cross of Christ with a significant inscription and promise of victory. Being already familiar with the general use of this sign among the numerous Christians of the empire, many of whom no doubt were in his own army, he constructed the labarum,[A] afterward so called, that is, the sacred standard of the Christian cross with the Greek monogram of Christ,[B] which he had also put upon the shields of the soldiers. To this cross-standard, which now took the place of the Roman eagles, he attributed the decisive victory over the heathen Maxentius.

Accordingly, after his triumphal entrance into Rome, he had his statue erected upon the forum with the labarum in his right hand, and the inscription beneath: 'By this saving sign, the true token of bravery, I have delivered your city from the yoke of the tyrant.' Three years afterward the senate erected to him a triumphal arch of marble, which to this day, within sight of the sublime ruins of the pagan Colosseum, indicates at once the decay of ancient art and the downfall of heathenism; as the neighboring arch of Titus commemorates the downfall of Judaism and the destruction of the temple. The inscription on this arch of Constantine, however, ascribes his victory over the hated tyrant, not only to his master mind, but indefinitely also to the impulse of Deity; by which a Christian would naturally understand the true God, while a heathen, like the orator Nazarius, in his eulogy on Constantine, might take it for the celestial guardian power of the urbs æterna.

At all events the victory of Constantine over Maxentius was a military and political victory of Christianity over heathenism; the intellectual and moral victory having been already accomplished by the literature and life of the church in the preceding period. The emblem of ignominy and oppression[C][Pg 169] became thenceforward the badge of honor and dominion, and was invested in the emperor's view, according to the spirit of the church of his day, with a magic virtue. It now took the place of the eagle and other field badges, under which the heathen Romans had conquered the world. It was stamped on the imperial coin, and on the standards, helmets, and shields of the soldiers. Above all military representations of the cross the original imperial labarum shone in the richest decorations of gold and gems; was intrusted to the truest and bravest fifty of the body guard; filled the Christians with the spirit of victory, and spread fear and terror among their enemies; until, under the weak successors of Theodosius II., it fell out of use, and was lodged as a venerable relic in the imperial palace at Constantinople.

Before this victory at Rome (which occurred October 27, 312), either in the spring or summer of 312, Constantine, in conjunction with his Eastern colleague, Licinius, had published an edict of religious toleration, now not extant, but probably a step beyond the edict of the still anti-Christian Galerius in 311, which was likewise subscribed by Constantine and Licinius as co-regents. Soon after, in January, 313, the two emperors issued from Milan a new edict (the third) on religion, still extant both in Latin and Greek, in which, in the spirit of religious eclecticism, they granted full freedom to all existing forms of worship, with special reference to the Christian. This religion the edict not only recognized in its existing limits, but also—what neither the first nor perhaps the second edict had done—allowed every heathen subject to adopt it with impunity. At the same time the church buildings and property confiscated in the Diocletian persecution were ordered to be restored, and private property-owners to be indemnified from the imperial treasury.

In this notable edict, however, we should look in vain for the modern Protestant and Anglo-American theory of religious liberty as one of the universal and inalienable rights of man. Sundry voices, it is true, in the Christian church itself, at that time and even before, declared firmly against all compulsion in religion. But the spirit of the Roman empire was too absolutistic to abandon the prerogative of a supervision of public worship. The Constantinian toleration was a temporary measure of state policy, which, as indeed the edict expressly states the motive, promised the greatest security to the public peace and the protection of all divine and heavenly powers, for emperor and empire. It was, as the result teaches, but the necessary transition step to a new order of things. It opened the door to the elevation of Christianity, and specifically of Catholic hierarchical Christianity, with its exclusiveness toward heretical and schismatic sects, to be the religion of the state. For, once put on an equal footing with heathenism, it must soon, in spite of numerical minority, bear away the victory from a religion which had already inwardly outlived itself.

From this time Constantine decidedly favored the church, though without persecuting or forbidding the pagan religions. He always mentions the Christian church with reverence in his imperial edicts, and uniformly applies to it, as we have already observed, the predicate of catholic. For only as a catholic, thoroughly organized, firmly compacted, and conservative institution did it meet his rigid monarchical interest, and afford the splendid state and[Pg 170] court dress he wished for his empire. So early as the year 313 we find the bishop Hosius of Cordova among his counsellors, and heathen writers ascribe to the bishop even a magical influence over the emperor. Lactantius, also, and Eusebius of Cæsarea belonged to his confidential circle. He exempted the Christian clergy from military and municipal duty (March, 313); abolished various customs and ordinances offensive to the Christians (315); facilitated the emancipation of Christian slaves (before 316); legalized bequests to catholic churches (321); enjoined the civil observance of Sunday, though not as dies Domini, but as dies Solis, in conformity to his worship of Apollo, and in company with an ordinance for the regular consulting of the haruspex (321); contributed liberally to the building of churches and the support of the clergy; erased the heathen symbols of Jupiter and Apollo, Mars and Hercules from the imperial coins (323); and gave his sons a Christian education. This mighty example was followed, as might be expected, by a general transition of those subjects who were more influenced in their conduct by outward circumstances than by inward conviction and principle. The story, that in one year (324) twelve thousand men, with women and children in proportion, were baptized in Rome, and that the emperor had promised to each convert a white garment and twenty pieces of gold, is at least in accordance with the spirit of that reign, though the fact itself, in all probability, is greatly exaggerated.

Constantine came out with still greater decision, when, by his victory over his Eastern colleague and brother-in-law, Licinius, he became sole head of the whole Roman empire. To strengthen his position, Licinius had gradually placed himself at the head of the heathen party, still very numerous, and had vexed the Christians first with wanton ridicule, then with exclusion from civil and military office, with banishment, and in some instances perhaps even with bloody persecution. This gave the political strife for the monarchy between himself and Constantine the character also of a war of religions; and the defeat of Licinius in the battle of Adrianople, in July, 321, and at Chalcedon, in September, was a new triumph of the standard of the cross over the sacrifices of the gods; save that Constantine dishonored himself and his cause by the execution of Licinius and his son.

The emperor now issued a general exhortation to his subjects to embrace the Christian religion, still leaving them, however, to their own free conviction. In the year 325, as patron of the church, he summoned the council of Nice, and himself attended it; banished the Arians, though he afterward recalled them; and, in his monarchical spirit of uniformity, showed great zeal for the settlement of all theological disputes, while he was blind to their deep significance. He first introduced the practice of subscription to the articles of a written creed and of the infliction of civil punishments for non-conformity. In the years 325-329, in connection with his mother, Helena, he erected magnificent churches on the sacred spots in Jerusalem.

As heathenism had still the preponderance in Rome, where it was hallowed by its great traditions, Constantine, by divine command as he supposed, in the year 330, transferred the seat of his government to Byzantium, and thus fixed the policy, already initiated by Domitian, or orientalizing and dividing the empire. In the selection of the unrivalled locality he showed more taste and genius than the founders of Madrid, Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, or Washington. With incredible rapidity, and by all the means within reach of an absolute monarch, he turned this nobly situated town, connecting two seas and two continents, into a splendid residence and a new Christian Rome, 'for which now,' as Gregory of[Pg 171] Nazianzen expresses it, 'sea and land emulate each other, to load it with their treasures, and crown it queen of cities.' Here, instead of idol temples and altars, churches and crucifixes rose; though among them the statues of patron deities from all over Greece, mutilated by all sorts of tasteless adaptations, were also gathered in the new metropolis. The main hall in the palace was adorned with representations of the crucifixion and other Biblical scenes. The gladiatorial shows, so popular in Rome, were forbidden here, though theatres, amphitheatres, and hippodromes kept their place. It could nowhere be mistaken, that the new imperial residence was, as to all outward appearance, a Christian city. The smoke of heathen sacrifices never rose from the seven hills of New Rome, except during the short reign of Julian the Apostate. It became the residence of a bishop, who not only claimed the authority of the apostolic see of neighboring Ephesus, but soon outshone the patriarchate of Alexandria, and rivalled for centuries the papal power in ancient Rome.

The emperor diligently attended divine worship, and is portrayed upon medals in the posture of prayer. He kept the Easter vigils with great devotion. He would stand during the longest sermons of his bishops, who always surrounded him, and unfortunately flattered him only too much. And he even himself composed and delivered discourses to his court, in the Latin language, from which they were translated into Greek by interpreters appointed for the purpose. General invitations were issued, and the citizens flocked in great crowds to the palace to hear the imperial preacher, who would in vain try to prevent their loud applause by pointing to heaven as the source of his wisdom. He dwelt mainly on the truth of Christianity, the folly of idolatry, the unity and providence of God, the coming of Christ, and the judgment. At times he would severely rebuke the avarice and rapacity of his courtiers, who would loudly applaud him with their mouths and belie his exhortations by their works. One of these productions is still extant, in which he recommends Christianity in a characteristic strain, and in proof of its divine origin cites especially the fulfilment of prophecy, including the sibylline books and the Fourth Eclogue of Virgil, with the contrast between his own happy and brilliant reign and the tragical fate of his persecuting predecessors and colleagues.

Nevertheless he continued in his later years true, upon the whole, to the toleration principles of the edict of 313, protected the pagan priests and temples in their privileges, and wisely abstained from all violent measures against heathenism, in the persuasion that it would in time die out. He retained many heathens at court and in public office, although he loved to promote Christians to honorable positions. In several cases, however, he prohibited idolatry, where it sanctioned scandalous immorality, as in the obscene worship of Venus in Phenicia; or in places which were especially sacred to the Christians, as the sepulchre of Christ and the grove of Mamre; and he caused a number of deserted temples and images to be destroyed or turned into Christian churches. Eusebius relates several such instances with evident approbation, and praises also his later edicts against various heretics and schismatics, but without mentioning the Arians. In his later years he seems, indeed, to have issued a general prohibition of idolatrous sacrifice; Eusebius speaks of it, and his sons in 341 refer to an edict to that effect; but the repetition of it by his successors proves that, if issued, it was not carried into general execution under his reign.

With this shrewd, cautious, and moderate policy of Constantine, which contrasts well with the violent fanaticism of his sons, accords the postponement of his own baptism to his last[Pg 172] sickness. For this he had the further motives of a superstitious desire, which he himself expresses, to be baptized in the Jordan, whose waters had been sanctified by the Saviour's baptism, and no doubt also a fear that he might by relapse forfeit the sacramental remission of sins. He wished to secure all the benefit of baptism as a complete expiation of past sins, with as little risk as possible, and thus to make the best of both worlds. Deathbed baptisms then were to half Christians of that age what deathbed conversions and deathbed communions are now. But he presumed to preach the gospel, he called himself the bishop of bishops, he convened the first general council, and made Christianity the religion of the empire, long before his baptism! Strange as this inconsistency appears to us, what shall we think of the court bishops who, from false prudence, relaxed in his favor the otherwise strict discipline of the church, and admitted him, at least tacitly, to the enjoyment of nearly all the privileges of believers, before he had taken upon himself even a single obligation of a catechumen?

When, after a life of almost uninterrupted health, he felt the approach of death, he was received into the number of catechumens by laying on of hands, and then formally admitted by baptism into the full communion of the church in the year 337, the sixty-fifth year of his age, by the Arian (or properly Semi-Arian) bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, whom he had shortly before recalled from exile together with Arius! His dying testimony then was, as to form, in favor of heretical rather than orthodox Christianity, but merely from accident, not from intention. He meant the Christian as against the heathen religion, and whatever of Arianism may have polluted his baptism, was for the Greek Church fully neutralized by the orthodox canonization. After the solemn ceremony, he promised to live thenceforth worthily of a disciple of Jesus; refused to wear again the imperial mantle of cunningly woven silk, richly ornamented with gold; retained the white baptismal robe; and died a few days after, on Pentecost, May 32, 337, trusting in the mercy of God, and leaving a long, a fortunate, and a brilliant reign, such as none but Augustus, of all his predecessors, had enjoyed. 'So passed away the first Christian emperor, the first defender of the faith, the first imperial patron of the papal see, and of the whole Eastern Church, the first founder of the holy places, pagan and Christian, orthodox and heretical, liberal and fanatical, not to be imitated or admired, but much to be remembered, and deeply to be studied.'

His remains were removed in a golden coffin by a procession of distinguished civilians and the whole army, from Nicomedia to Constantinople, and deposited, with the highest Christian honors, in the Church of the Apostles, while the Roman senate, after its ancient custom, proudly ignoring the great religious revolution of the age, enrolled him among the gods of the heathen Olympus. Soon after his death, Eusebius set him above the greatest princes of all times; from the fifth century he began to be recognized in the East as a saint; and the Greek and Russian Church to this day celebrates his memory under the extravagant title of Isapostolos, the 'Equal of the Apostles.' The Latin Church, on the contrary, with truer tact, has never placed him among the saints, but has been content with naming him 'the Great,' in just and grateful remembrance of his services to the cause of Christianity and civilization.

Constantine marks the beginning of the downfall of ancient and classical paganism. Still it dragged out a sickly old age for about two hundred years longer, until at last it died of incurable consumption, without the hope of a resurrection.

The final dissolution of heathenism in the Eastern empire may be dated[Pg 173] from the middle of the fifth century. In the year 435, Theodosius II. commanded the temples to be destroyed or turned into churches. There still appear some heathens in civil office and at court so late as the beginning of the reign of Justinian I. (527-567). But this despotic emperor prohibited heathenism as a form of worship in the empire on pain of death, and in 529 abolished the last intellectual seminary of it, the philosophical school of Athens, which had stood nine hundred years. At that time just seven philosophers were teaching in that school, the shades of the ancient seven sages of Greece—a striking play of history, like the name of the last West-Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, or, in contemptuous diminutive, Augustulus, combining the names of the founder of the city and the founder of the empire.

In the West, heathenism maintained itself until near the middle of the sixth century, and even later, partly as a private religious conviction among many cultivated and aristocratic families in Rome, partly even in the full form of worship in the remote provinces and on the mountains of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and partly in heathen customs and popular usages, like the gladiatorial shows still extant in Rome in 404, and the wanton Lupercalia, a sort of heathen carnival, the feast of Lupercus, the god of herds, still celebrated with all its excesses in February, 495. But, in general, it may be said that the Græco-Roman heathenism, as a system of worship, was buried under the ruins of the Western empire, which sank under the storms of the great migration. It is remarkable that the northern barbarians labored with the same zeal in the destruction of idolatry as in the destruction of the empire, and really promoted the victory of the Christian religion. The Gothic king Alaric, on entering Rome, expressly ordered that the churches of the apostles Peter and Paul should be spared, as inviolable sanctuaries; and he showed a humanity, which Augustin justly attributes to the influence of Christianity (even perverted Arian Christianity) on these barbarous people. The Christian name, he says, which the heathens blaspheme, has effected not the destruction, but the salvation of the city. Odoacer, who put an end to the Western Roman empire in 476, was incited to his expedition into Italy by St. Severin, and, though himself an Arian, showed great regard to the catholic bishops. The same is true of his conqueror and successor, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, who was recognized by the East-Roman emperor Anastasius as king of Italy (A.D. 500), and was likewise an Arian. Thus between the barbarians and the Romans, as between the Romans and the Greeks, and in a measure also the Jews, the conquered gave laws to the conquerors. Christianity triumphed over both.

This is the end of Græco-Roman heathenism, with its power, wisdom, and beauty. It fell a victim to a slow but steady process of incurable consumption. Its downfall is a sublime tragedy which, with all our abhorrence of idolatry, we cannot witness without a certain sadness. At the first appearance of Christianity it comprised all the wisdom, literature, art, and political power of the civilized world, and led all into the field against the weaponless religion of the crucified Nazarene. After a conflict of four or five centuries it lay prostrate in the dust without hope of resurrection. With the outward protection of the state, it lost all power, and had not even the courage of martyrdom; while the Christian church showed countless hosts of confessors and blood-witnesses, and Judaism lives to-day in spite of all persecution. The expectation that Christianity would fall about the year 398, after an existence of three hundred and sixty-five years, turned out in the fulfilment to relate to heathenism itself.

The last glimmer of life in the old[Pg 174] religion was its pitiable prayer for toleration and its lamentation over the ruin of the empire. Its best elements took refuge in the church, and became converted, or at least took Christian names. Now the gods were dethroned, oracles and prodigies ceased, sibylline books were burned, temples were destroyed, or transformed into churches, or still stand as memorials of the victory of Christianity.

But although ancient Greece and Rome have fallen forever, the spirit of Græco-Roman paganism is not extinct. It still lives in the natural heart of man, which at this day as much as ever needs regeneration by the spirit of God. It lives also in many idolatrous and superstitious usages of the Greek and Roman Churches, against which the pure spirit of Christianity has instinctively protested from the beginning, and will protest, till all remains of gross and refined idolatry shall be outwardly as well as inwardly overcome, and baptized and sanctified not only with water, but also with the spirit and fire of the gospel.

Finally, the better genius of ancient Greece and Rome still lives in the immortal productions of their poets, philosophers, historians, and orators—yet no longer an enemy, but a friend and servant of Christ. What is truly great and noble and beautiful can never perish. The classic literature had prepared the way for the gospel, in the sphere of natural culture, and was to be turned thenceforth into a weapon for its defence. It passed, like the Old Testament, as a rightful inheritance, into the possession of the Christian church, which saved those precious works of genius through the ravages of the migration of nations and the darkness of the Middle Ages, and used them as material in the rearing of the temple of modern civilization. The word of the great apostle of the Gentiles was here fulfilled: 'All things are yours.' The ancient classics, delivered from the dæmoniacal possession of idolatry, have come into the service of the only true and living God, once 'unknown' to them, but now everywhere revealed, and are thus enabled to fulfil their true mission as the preparatory tutors of youth for Christian learning and culture. This is the noblest, the most worthy, and most complete victory of Christianity, transforming the enemy into friend and ally.


[A] Λἁβωρον, also λἁβουρον; derived, not from labor, nor from λἁφυρον, i.e., præda, nor from λαβεἱν, but probably from a barbarian root, otherwise unknown, and introduced into the Roman terminology, even before Constantine, by the Celtic or Germanic recruits. Comp. Du Cange, Glossar., and Suicer, Thesaur. s.h.v. The labarum, as described by Eusebius, who saw it himself (Vita Const. i. 30), consisted of a long spear overlaid with gold, and a cross piece of wood, from which hung a square flag of purple cloth, embroidered and covered with precious stones. On the top of the shaft was a crown composed of gold and precious stones, and containing the monogram of Christ (see next note), and just under this crown was a likeness of the emperor and his sons in gold. The emperor told Eusebius (I. ii. c. 7) some incredible things about this labarum, e.g. that none of its bearers was ever hurt by the darts of the enemy.

[B]X and P, the first two letters of the name of Christ, so written upon one another as to make the form of the cross: glyph (i.e. Christos—Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end),

and similar forms, of which Münter (Sinnbilder der Alten Christen, p. 36 sqq.) has collected from ancient coins, vessels, and tombstones more than twenty. The monogram, as well as the sign of the cross, was in use among the Christians long before Constantine, probably as early as the Antonines and Hadrian. Yea, the standards and trophies of victory generally had the appearance of a cross, as Minucius Felix, Tertullian, Justin, and other apologists of the second century told the heathens. According to Killen (Ancient Church, p. 317, note), who quotes Aringhus (Roma Subterranea, II. p. 567) as his authority, the famous monogram (of course in a different sense) is found even before Christ on coins of the Ptolemies. The only thing new, therefore, was the union of this symbol in its Christian sense and application with the Roman military standard.

[C] Cicero says, pro Raberio, c. 5: 'Nomen ipsum crucis absit non modo a corpore civium Romanorum, sed etiam a cogitatione, oculis, auribus.' With other ancient heathens, however, the Egyptians, the Buddhists, and even the aborigines of Mexico, the cross seems to have been in use as a religious symbol. Socrates relates (H.E. v. 17) that at the destruction of the temple of Serapis, among the hieroglyphic inscriptions, forms of crosses were found which pagans and Christians alike referred to their respective religions. Some of the heathen converts, conversant with hieroglyphic characters, interpreted the form of the cross to mean the Life to come. According to Prescott (Conquest of Mexico, iii. 338-340) the Spaniards found the cross among the objects of worship in the idol temples of Anahnac.


If great public phenomena do not come by chance, then there were causes for the Minnesota massacres, by the Sioux, in 1862-'3, quite apart from the aboriginal cruelty and ferocity of the Indian nature. We all know that the carnal Indian man is a bad enough fellow at the best, and capable of dreadful crimes and misdemeanors, if only to gratify his whim or the caprice of the moment. And when he is bent upon satiating his revenge for some real or imaginary wrong, I would back him in the horrible ingenuity of his devices for torture, in the unrelenting malice of his vengeance, against any—the most fierce and diabolical—of all the potentates in the kingdoms of eternal and immutable evil!

But the white man has always had the advantage of the red man. He was his superior in knowledge, power, and intellect; and came, for the most part, of that lordly race, the issue of whose loins already occupy all the chief countries within the zones of civilization. He knew, therefore, when he first began to deal with the Indian,[Pg 175] what manner of man he was, what his enlightenment was, and how far it reached out into the darkness where all is night! He knew that this wild, savage, untamable redskin could not be approached, reconciled, traded with, or stolen, from, by adopting, in his case, the usages and courtesies of civil life, as we understand them, but that his own peculiar laws, customs, and manners must be studied and conformed to, if any headway were to be made in his regard and confidence.

At no time, from the beginning to the present day and hour, has any white man been so fuddled in his wits as to suppose that the Indian could either act or talk like a clergyman of any recognized Christian denomination. It was too much, therefore, to expect from him that he should exhibit any of the fine charities and warm affections which distinguish the Christian character. He was a redskin, implacable in his hate, not altogether trustworthy even in his friendships, and jealous of his reputation and the traditions of his race. Nor was he without manhood either. A brave, bloody, mocking and defiant manhood! capable of the endurances of the martyr, exhibiting sometimes the sublimest self-sacrifice and courage.

Whether out of these wild and savage materials there lay anywhere, at any time, the human or divine power to mould a civilized community, does not appear upon the record. It is certain, however, that after all the far-too-late attempts to transfigure these savages into the likeness of a down-East Yankee, or, better still, into the similitude of a Western farmer, no permanent good results are likely to ensue.

The red man and the white are separated indeed by the prodigious distances (ethnologically speaking) not only of race and language, but of noble tradition and glorious history. They could never amalgamate in blood, or in the so-called natural sympathies of man. They seem to be born enemies! as their feelings and their instincts apparently reach them when they come into contact with each other. They cannot exist side by side. A mightier than they holds the destinies of both in His hands. He has tried the redskins. He has given them a good chance upon the earth, and they have failed to do anything but kill buffalo and breed like rats—often burrowing like rats—refusing to dig and plant the teeming, beneficent earth which had been committed to their charge; and preferring, generally, the life of a vagabond loafer to that of a thrifty, careful husbandman.

I do not blame them. They are as God made them, and man left them; for, I suppose, their forebears—somewhere afar off in Asia, perhaps, in the dim, immemorial ages—had all passed through the various phases of the civilization of their time, and that they did not grow out of the tail of any gorilla. It is not for profane man to inquire what possible reason there could be for the perpetuation—let alone the creation—of such a useless, bootless race. There they are, occupiers of the soil for unknown centuries—before the white man ever saw their faces—many thousands of them still squatting there, cleaving, like bereaved Autochthons, to the bosom of the dear old mother who had whelped and so long nurtured them; and trying to make themselves believe that they are still masters of the continent.

What they were made for at all, I do not pretend to divine. The Divine Maker of all knows best, and what He does is its own justification—satisfying the wellnigh insatiable cry of the universe for universal justice. They are the saurians of humanity; and it is remarkable that the idea of 'progressive development'—if I may be pardoned for making use of a term in modern philosophy about which there has been so much assumption and canting—it is remarkable that this idea, which the name of saurian suggests, should run[Pg 176] through all nature, and be embodied in her finest forms and intelligences. There is a considerable distance between the saurian and good Master Adam, the gardener of Eden; but it seems to me, after all, that this brutal, foul, obscene monster of the prime, was only Adam in the making. He came after him, a long way, at all events; and if geology had been fashionable in his time, and he a savant, he might have chalked out for himself a very fine pedigree.

For this strange, eccentric Nature, who meant man from the beginning, and failed to realize her ideal because of those horrible nightmare dreams of which these saurians, mastodons, mammoths were the visible representatives, did, nevertheless, make, in every succeeding world (for every crust of this planet is the crust of a dead world), higher and higher organizations—until, at last, she gave to man his inscrutable birth!

That was, no doubt, a great triumph of power and genius! Man is a noble animal, the finest of all living fellows! et cetera! et cetera! But what sort of a fellow was he when he came, in his spindles and shacklebones, from the womb of the All-mother? Was he a Caucasian, or a Mongolian, a Negro, a Malay, or a Bosjesman?—this last being an effigy of man so abominable that no race that I have heard of will include him even as a lodger in the parish settlements!

Mark! what a sameness, and yet what an infinite variety, there is in all the operations and purposes of Nature! She does not grow us men out of our mothers, but babes—helpless, pitiably, tearfully helpless babes!—ignorant; who must grow into the perfect stature and the mature mind of men. Is not this babe also a saurian in its little way? Does a wider gap separate the saurian from the man, than that which separates the tiny babe from some Bacon or Raleigh? The law of nature is progress. It is often, nay, always, a very slow thing—but how sure! how inevitable! how beneficent in its results! She never makes worse after bad—and those weird opium monsters of the foreworlds were unspeakably bad!—but always she makes of bad better; and of better she has made her best, at present. In the light of this law, were any one mad enough to grope, he might come to the conclusion that the first man (or race of men) was anything but a grandee in mind, person, or estate; and that our seemingly puzzled but at last most wonder-working mother, ycleped Nature, made some very ugly attempts at man before she reached the climax of her imagination and her power as it obtains in the man Caucasian!

I regard all the colored races—and with no malice or evil of any sort in my heart toward them—as first experiments in the gamut of human creation. Neither ethnology nor any other ology will pull out of my consciousness—let alone my active intellect—the belief that these were the oldest, the primordial races, or the descendants of such, and that the white Caucasian man, with his noble brain and heart, his matchless person, was an afterthought, the brightest since her birth-thought of the earth's creation. Look into the face of any upgrown modern Indian! It is an old face, as if the accumulated wrinkles of, not 'forty,' but a hundred 'centuries' had ploughed their marks there. They seem to belong to the dawn of time; while our Caucasian man is ever young and beautiful, the born master of all things.

We must deal with races according to their faculty, and credit them according to their faculty. If we fail, we fail in wisdom—and in prudence, which is a valuable attribute of wisdom. Expect not grapes from thistles! Expect no virtue—unless it relates to his own selfishness or his own tribe—from an Indian, or from very many other men!

It must not be forgotten, however, that Indians are people who, to say[Pg 177] the least of them, are fashioned in the likeness of men. Here, as elsewhere, Nature sticks to her old plan, and will not budge an inch. In the chart of the Indian's nature are mapped out the same feelings, instincts, passions, the same organs and dimensions as belong to the highest race, or the highest race of the mixed races. She will have no nonsense about her red children, nor about her black. There they are, as she (for purposes of her own, not particularly clear) intended them to be—men, alive, oh!—not descendants of Monboddo's ape, nor of Du Chaillu's gorilla, but men proper and absolute! with their duties, responsibilities, and destinies.

Seeing, therefore, that the Indian (our American Indian, with whom we have now to do) has all the faculties—however defaced and blurred by long centuries of bloody crimes, which they regard not as crimes, but as virtues—seeing that these red, thriftless, bloody-minded Indians have all the human faculties intact—although, it may be, not so bright as those of some of our own people who call themselves Americans—is it not possible that by fair and manly dealing with them, by a just trade, and conscientious regard for the sanctity of treaty rights and obligations—that you, whom it may more particularly concern, might so win their good will as to make them friends instead of enemies? The devil that lies at the bottom of all savage natures is easily roused, not at all so easily laid again, and as easily kept in his own place. Indians are not incapable of friendship, nor of good faith, although the best require a great deal of looking after—and close looking, too! But what I want to urge is this: that if you always appeal to the worst passions of the redskin, rob him of his rights and property, cheat him by false promises, deceive him at all hands, and then mock him when he knocks at your door for credit or charity, that he and his may live, you cannot much wonder if, obeying his traditions, his religion, and the dictates of his savage nature—now maddened into fury and reckless of consequences—he indulges in the frightful havoc, the relentless murders and burnings, which have so lately marked his trail in Minnesota.

Let no one suppose for a moment, from what I have now said, that I design to offer any apology, any excuse for the nameless and unpunishable crimes which these miscreants have perpetrated. I have no pity and no compassion for them, and surely no word either which I desire should be construed, in this respect, to their favor. I go with the old Scotch judge—a rigid Antinomian! who, having tried and convicted a Calvinist as rigid as himself, asked him what he had to say why the sentence of the law should not be pronounced against him.

'My lord,' said the prisoner, 'it's a bad job; but I was predestined to do it!'

Whereupon his lordship replied: 'Ay! ay! my cannie laddie! an' I was predestined to hang ye for't.'

So while I set forth the necessary, evil nature of the Indian, and the consequent necessity of his bloody deeds, I also insist upon the necessity of hanging him for it.

I plead not for the Indian of Minnesota, after these most shocking, most appalling butcheries. I love my own race; and not a man, woman, or child, who was sacrificed by these monsters, but their wounds were my wounds, and their agonies tore my heart to the very core. Henceforth I shall never see an Indian but I shall feel the 'goose flesh' of loathing and horror steal over my Adam's buff! But you, my beloved friends of Minnesota! you who have suffered so much in your families and homes during the massacre, are you sure that you did all you could do as citizens and rulers in this land to see even-handed justice dealt out between the corrupt Government agencies and storekeepers, and the helpless Indians? Had these last no just and reasonable[Pg 178] ground of complaint? complaint of the General Government, complaint of the delays in their payment, complaint of the swindling of the storekeepers and traders?

They had sold their lands, and gone away to their reservations. But the money for their lands—promised so faithfully at such a time—where was that money? Non est! The Indians depended on it, trusted to the certainty of its coming as the saint trusts in the promises. They came for it—often, in their history, in the depth of winter, for hundred of miles, through an inhospitable forest; their wives, children, and braves starving—many of them left behind in the wilderness to die; their only weapon made of coarse nails, lashed with wire, and this they called a gun barrel, and with this they killed what game was killed by the way.

This did not happen in Minnesota, it is true; but events as horrible and sickening as this did happen, and brought with them consequences more horrible still, which will never be forgotten while the State exists or the language lasts. Scenes were enacted at that 'Lower Agency' which were disgraceful to human nature, and the victims were invariably the redskins. Once when Red Iron came there, at the summons, or rather after the repeated summons of Governor Ramsay, it turned out that nearly four hundred thousand dollars of the cash payment due to the Sioux, under the treaties of 1851-'2, were paid to the traders on old indebtedness! How much of this enormous sum was really due to the traders it is bootless now to inquire; although it is pretty certain, from what we know of similar transactions, that not a twentieth part of it was due to them. Mr. Isaac V. D. Heard, who has written a 'History of the Sioux War and Massacres of 1862 and 1863,' who is an old resident of Minnesota of twelve years' standing, acted with General Sibley in his expedition against the savages in 1862, and was recorder of the military commission which tried some four hundred of the participants in the outbreak—has not been deterred by the just hatred which the Minnesota people nurture against the Indians, and which they will keep hot until their rifles have exterminated the whole brood of them, from saying a brave word respecting the iniquities perpetrated by rascal peddlers and official prigs against the Indians which were the immediate causes of the massacre and the subsequent wars.

The Indian was subjected to all sorts of frauds, little and big—the smaller thieves thinking that they also must live, no matter at whose expense, although I demur to the proposition. Why should they stop at stealing a thousand or two, more or less, while that four hundred thousand swindle leered at them so wickedly over the left shoulder, mocking at all law and justice, and scot free from all punishment? These 'traders' could charge what sums they liked against the Indian, and get them too; for there was no one to defeat or check their rapacity. Mr. Heard tells us that no less a sum than fifty-five thousand dollars was claimed by one Hugh Tyler, as due to him by the Indians, when the great swindle just alluded to was committed; and that he was paid out of the accruing funds. This man was a stranger in the country, an adventurer, who went out into the wilderness 'for to seek his fortune;' and it is curious to read the items of which his little bill, fifty-five thousand, is composed. Here they are: For getting the treaties through the Senate; for 'necessary disbursements' in securing the assent of the chiefs. Very curious and instructive items they are, to all who consider them. To say nothing of the corruption of the Senate which the first item signifies, if it has any meaning at all, there is the guilty record of the 'necessary disbursements,' or, in other words, bribes, paid to chiefs for betraying their country and their race. This was a part of[Pg 179] the regular machinery of the Agencies. All their plans were cut and dried, and they had men to carry them out. They could not stir a peg without the assent of the chiefs; and when they found a man too noble to be a traitor, they got the Governor to break him as a chief, and invest a more pliable, accommodating redskin with his rank and title. Through the influence of bad men, and by the forging of lying documents, which the Indians could not read, and which were never interpreted to them except to cheat them as to their contents and meaning, they have always managed to get their treaties signed; after which the newly made chiefs could not so much as take the liberty to beg a pipe of tobacco of them.

As a sample of their infamous dealings, we take the following excerpt from Mr. Heard's book, page 41:

'In 1857, a trader, pretending that he was getting them to sign a power of attorney to get back the money which had gone to the traders under the treaty of 1851 and 1852, obtained their signatures to vouchers, by which he swindled them out of $12,000. Shortly after, this trader secured the payment of $4,500 for goods which he claimed (falsely, it is said) to have been stolen. About the same time a man in Sioux City was allowed a claim of $5,000 for horses, which he also alleged to have been stolen.

'In 1858, the chiefs were taken to Washington, and agreed to treaties for the cession of all their reservations north of the Minnesota, for which, as ratified by the Senate, they were to have $166,000; but of this amount they never received a penny until four years afterward, when $15,000, in goods, were sent to the Lower Sioux, and these were deducted out of what was due them under former treaties. The Indians, discovering the fraud, refused to receive them for several weeks, and only consented to take them after the Government had agreed to rectify the matter. Most of the large amount due under these treaties, went into the pockets of traders, Government officials, and swindlers generally.

'The Indians were grievously disappointed with their bargains, and from that time the control of affairs passed from the chiefs—who, it was believed, had been bribed—to the young men. They had now nearly disposed of all their lands, and received scarcely anything for them. They were six thousand two hundred in number, and their annuities, when paid in full, were hardly fifteen dollars apiece.

'Their sufferings,' continues Mr. Heard, 'were often severe, especially during the winter and spring previous to the massacres.'

Their crops failed them; a heavy fall of snow, late in the season, came to increase their miseries, and delayed the spring hunts. The Sissetons, of Lac Traverse, had to eat their horses and dogs—and at least fifteen hundred of the old men, women, and children had to be supported by the Government at an extra expense; and this was so inadequately done that some died of starvation.

The history of these iniquities is no new thing in Indian affairs. It is, from first to last, a record of the most shameless lying and fraud. The Agency seems to have been established there as a sort of Jonathan Wild's shop, for the purpose of carrying on the trade of thieving. What did these storekeepers—who credited the Indians for tobacco and rum, for bread and beef, for clothing, and such other luxuries as they had come to regard as necessaries—care for the winter prospects of the wretched Indians, after they had lined their pockets with that four hundred thousand dollars? Not a dime! And when subsequently it was found that only half the regular Government payment would be handed over to the Indians during the next year, these storekeepers—on the 'Wild' plan—not only refused to give them credit for articles indispensable to life in the wilderness, but insulted them to boot; and this so exasperated the proud, revengeful nature of the Indian, that he remembered it afterward in many a bloody murder which he committed, and the innocent suffered for the guilty!

Mr. Heard acquits the Agency, and[Pg 180] all connected with it, of being in any way the causes of this outbreak. But his own statements of their dealing with the Indians hardly bear him out in his judgment. I do not mean to say that the people of the Lower Agency were a whit worse in such dealings than those of the Upper, or any other similar Agency. It is an understood thing, and mercilessly practised, that the Indian shall be fleeced whenever the white man has a chance to fleece him. It is the law and the gospel of these Agencies; and we must not allow ourselves to be hoodwinked in this matter by the mistaken humanity of Mr. Heard.

And yet, if we think of it, there could not have been devised a more evil scheme, either against the natives or the settlers, than these wellnigh irresponsible Agencies. From all parts of the Union, from every country of the Old World, emigrants had come to settle in the beautiful Minnesota State; they had built themselves good, substantial houses, ploughed, fenced, and planted their rich and prosperous farms, conquered the savage wilderness into blooming cornfields, orchards, and gardens—and here was their true El Dorado! where they hoped to live in peace, plenty, and security. They were not afraid of the savages, but their wont was to make friends of them, and to be their friends, entertaining them at their homes when they visited the settlements, and doing all they could—with some exceptions—to perpetuate among them a good feeling and an intelligent understanding.

To a certain extent, and in some cases, they succeeded in this straight-forward diplomacy. But the predisposition of the reds to enmity with the whites was still there, slumbering only, not eradicated; nor could all the kindness and generosity of the whole Caucasian heart, heaped upon them in the most lavish profusion, ever root it out. Nature put it there—I wish she hadn't—for reasons of her own, just as she put murder into the cruel heart and brain of the tiger in the jungle.

There was this 'original sin,' therefore, to contend against always, without reference to any tangible causes or provocations. All knew this. All knew, from the youngest to the oldest, that the true policy of the whites was to conciliate the Indians. They knew his inextinguishable memory of wrongs, his dreadful vengeance, his power, and his constant opportunity to do irreparable mischief. And, as I said, the settlers were, for the most part, anxious to smoke the pipe of peace and friendship with him.

But what was the good of all this? What, think you, did it avail in the councils of the savages, when they sat over their fires discussing their wrongs and prospects? What the good-hearted settlers did in the way of reconciliation and good will was undone a thousandfold at the Agency. It is true that the Agency had become necessary to the subsistence of the Indian, and that this fact made him bear much which, under other circumstances, he would instantly have resented and punished. But they well knew how they were robbed; and when did a wrong of that, or any sort, pass muster upon the Indian's roll of vengeance? Every fraud against an Indian, every lie told him, every broken promise, every worthless article sold to him at the Agency, was more than a set-off to any act of kindness shown to him by the settlers. Add to these local crimes, the great error of the Government in unduly withholding the Indian payment for their lands—and you have the Indian's casus belli, the grounds, or some of them, on which he justified himself to his own bloody and remorseless conscience, for his inhuman deeds! For the Indian beeps a conscience, such as it is; but of a truth, better no conscience than an Indian's conscience! It is like an appeal to hell, one's appeal to this! all the accursed passions imprisoned there coming up from their limbos, their eyes glaring[Pg 181] with the malice of ineradicable hate, and bloodshot with murder, to support the conscience, and strengthen its resolution for an unspeakable vengeance.

But, after all, this poor devil is really to be pitied for his ignorance and brutality, and as really to be killed without mercy. He is in the way of civilization, and must go to the wall. I find that Nature herself is utterly pitiless; that she cares neither for white nor red, nor for any other color or person, but, like a horrible, crashing car of Juggernaut, she rolls steadily forward, astride the inevitable machinery, crushing all who oppose her.

But this digression is no apology, in the matter of its argument, for the Indian Agents, who must have been aware, long before the outbreak took place, that their frauds were fast culminating in the Indian mind, and that every fresh wrong they did to them was only bringing nearer by a step the indiscriminate massacre of the settlers.

There were other causes, however, besides these, to enrage and madden them, which must not be lost sight of. Our Government had prohibited their sanguinary wars upon the Chippewas, and they regarded this as an act of wanton tyranny. They were bred in the faith that war is the true condition of an Indian man, and that peace was made for women and children. War was the only outlet for their power, the only field in which they could distinguish themselves and win immortal renown. All the great kingdoms of knowledge and literature were shut against them as with walls of brass. They could not read or write, and their leisure was passed in idle gossip, or in deliberations on infernal schemes against the white man to revenge themselves for their wrongs.

It was not a wise thing to do, I think; although, no doubt, it was humane enough, as we understand humanity. Did not the 'dragons of the prime tear other in their slime,' and so thin out the horrible race, until Nature herself put the final claws of annihilation upon them? Why, in mercy, then, do we try to prevent the inevitable? War is a great clearer of the atmosphere; and one of our poets, Coleridge, I believe, says that 'Carnage is God's daughter'! a bold figure of rhetoric, not without its apparently sufficient apologies. Why not let the Sioux and Chippewas, or any other of the wild, irreclaimable brood, fight their bloodiest, and do their prettiest to help Nature, who seems bent on the extermination of all inferior races? They have got to die, any way!—that is a great consolation!—and if the philanthropists at Washington had only left them to themselves, they would have died by mutual slaughter—great numbers of them—long ago, and saved said philanthropists from the crime of killing them, which they are now doing, by inches!—a far more cruel way of dying.

I was much pleased, when last summer they were upbraided for doing a little war against the Chips, in spite of Washington, with the sarcastic reply of a chief, who said: 'Our Great Father, we know, has always told us it was wrong to make war; yet now he himself is making war, and killing a great many. Will you explain this to us? We do not understand it!' This was a hit, a palpable hit, let who will reconcile it.

Mr. Heard gives us the following brief statement of the manner in which treaties are made with the Indians; and I earnestly call the attention of the Government and all just citizens to its statements. He says:

'The traders, knowing for years before, that the whites will purchase lands, sell the Indians goods on credit, expecting to realize their pay from the consideration to be paid by the Government. They thus become interested instruments to obtain the consent of the Indians to the treaty. And by reason of their familiarity with the language, and the associations of half-breed relatives, are possessed of great facilities[Pg 182] to accomplish their object. The persons deputed by the Government to effect a treaty are compelled to procure their cooperation, and this they do by providing that their debts shall be paid. The traders obtain the concurrence of the Indians by refusing to give them further credit, and by representing to them that they will receive an immense amount of money if they sell their lands, and thenceforth will live at ease, with plenty to eat, and plenty to wear, and plenty of powder and lead, and of whatever else they may request. After the treaty is agreed to, the amount of ready money is absorbed by the exorbitant demands of the traders, and the expenses of the removal of the Indians to their reservations!

'After that the trader no longer looks to the Indian for his pay; he gets it from their annuities. He, therefore, does not use the same means to conciliate their good will that he did when he was dependent upon their honesty. Claims for depredations upon white settlers are also deducted out of their moneys before they leave Washington, on insufficient testimony; and these are always, when based on fact, double the actual loss; for the Indian Department is notoriously corrupt, and the hand manipulating the machinery must be crossed with gold! The 'expenses' of obtaining a claim enter into the amount demanded and allowed. The demand is not only generally unjust, but, instead of its being deducted from the moneys of the wrong doer, it is taken from the annuities of all! This course punishes the innocent and rewards the guilty, because the property taken by the depredator is of more value than the slight percentage he loses.

'Many of the stipulations as to establishing schools and furnishing them with farming utensils, are never carried out. Building and supply contracts are entered into without investigation at outrageous prices, and goods belonging to the Indians are put into the traders' stores, and sold to their owners, and the moneys realized shared by the trader and the Agent!'

Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota, in his appeal for the red man, confirms this statement beyond doubt or question:

'There is not a man in America,' he says,'who ever gave an hour's calm reflection to this subject, who does not know that our Indian system is an organized system of robbery, and has been for years a disgrace to the nation. It has left savage men without Governmental control; it has looked on unconcerned at every crime against the laws of God and man; it has fostered savage life by wasting thousands of dollars in the purchase of paint, beads, scalping knives, and tomahawks; it has fostered a system of trade which robbed the thrifty and virtuous to pay the debts of the indolent and vicious; it has squandered the funds for civilization and schools; it has connived at theft; it has winked at murder; and at last, after dragging the savage down to a brutishness unknown to his fathers, it has brought a harvest of blood to our door!'

The Bishop continues:

'It was under this Indian system that the fierce, warlike Sioux were fitted and trained to be the actors in this bloody drama, and the same causes are to-day, slowly but surely, preparing the way for a Chippewa war. There is not, to-day, an old citizen of Minnesota who will not shrug his shoulders as he speaks of the dishonesty which accompanied the purchase of the lands of the Sioux. It left in savage minds a deep sense of injustice. Then, followed ten years of savage life, unchecked by law, uninfluenced by good example. They were taught by white men that lying was no disgrace, adultery no sin, and theft no crime. Their hunting grounds were gone; the onward march of civilization crowded them on every side. Their only possible hope of being saved from starvation was the fidelity with which a great nation fulfilled its plighted faith, which before God and man it had pledged to its heathen wards. The people here, on the border, and the rulers at Washington, know how that faith has been broken.

'The constant irritations of such a system would, in time, have secured an Indian massacre. It was hastened and precipitated by the sale of nearly eight hundred thousand acres of land, for which they never received one farthing; for it was all absorbed in claims! Then came the story (and it was true) that half of their annuity money had also been taken for claims. They waited two months, mad, exasperated,[Pg 183] hungry—the Agent utterly powerless to undo the wrong committed at Washington—and they resolved on savage vengeance. For every dollar of which they have been defrauded we shall pay ten dollars in the cost of the war. It has been so for fifty years; it will be so again. God's retributive justice always has compelled a people to reap exactly what they have permitted to be sown!'

These extracts from the Bishop's Plea confirm what I have stated in the preceding paragraphs; and the last sentence—which I have marked in italics—is well worth the while of every reader to ponder well.

Mr. Heard dates the commencement of the massacre to the breaking of a stray nest of hen's eggs on the prairie, and what came of the transaction; but the date lies farther back than that, so far as the resolution to seize the first favorable opportunity for slaughtering the whites is concerned—and belongs to the era of the great crimes of our Government against them, as shown in the forcible seizure of their lands without their receiving any payment, even 'a farthing' for them; the hucksters, under the connivance of the Government agents, getting the whole of it, and, in the instance alluded to a while ago, keeping back from them, as payment for old debts, about three hundred boxes of the money upon which they had depended to keep themselves alive during the winter and the following year.

Such enormous crimes were sure to reap a bloody harvest. The Indian is no fool, although he can't do addition and subtraction. He knows when he is about fairly dealt with, and he knows when he is mightily plucked. In this case of the 'old debt payment' he knew that he was robbed wholesale, and through the mouth of Red Iron he proclaimed the fact to Governor Ramsey, in council assembled. Alluding to this robbery, he said:

'We don't think we owe them so much. We want to pay all our debts. We want our Great Father to send three good men here, to tell us how much we do owe; and whatever they say, we will pay; and (pointing to the Indians) that's what all these braves say; our chiefs and all our people say this!'

At which all the Indians present responded:

'Ho! ho!'

This Red Iron was the principal chief of the Sissetons, and his indignation at the wrongs done to his race made him so 'boisterous' that Governor Ramsey was imprudent enough to break him of his chieftainship. The scene and its results were by no means creditable to the Governor. This latter personage had summoned Red Iron to meet him at a council, held December, 1852, and he did not turn up as expected. So, I suppose, he was sent for, and brought in by the soldiers. He is described by one who was present, as about forty years old, tall and athletic; six feet high in his moccasons, with a large, well-developed head, aquiline nose, thin, compressed lips, and physiognomy beaming with intelligence and resolution. He was clad in the half military, half Indian costume of the Dacotah chiefs, as he sat in the council room; and no one greeted or noticed him. A very poor piece of revenge! In a few minutes the Governor, turning to the chief in the midst of a breathless silence, by the aid of an interpreter, opened council. The Governor asked the chief what excuse he had for not coming to the council when he sent for him.

Whereupon Red Iron rose to his feet, 'with native grace and dignity,' says Mr. Heard, his blanket falling from his shoulders, and, purposely dropping the pipe of peace, he stood erect before the Governor, with his arms folded and his right hand pressed upon the sheath of his scalping knife. With the utmost coolness and self-possession, a defiant smile playing upon his thin lips, and his eyes sternly fixed upon his excel[Pg 184]lency, the Indian, with a firm voice, replied:

'I started to come, but your braves drove me back.'

Governor. 'What excuse have you for not coming the second time when I sent for you?'

Red Iron. 'No other excuse than I have given you.'

Governor. 'At the treaty, I thought you a good man; but since, you have acted badly, and I am disposed to break you. I do break you.'

Red Iron looked at the Governor for a moment with a look of withering contempt and scorn, and then burst out in a voice full of derisive mockery.

Red Iron. 'You break me! My people made me a chief. My people love me. I will still be their chief. I have done nothing wrong.'

Governor. 'Red Iron, why did you get your braves together, and march around here for the purpose of intimidating other chiefs, and prevent their coming to council?'

Red Iron. 'I did not get my braves together; they got themselves together, to prevent boys going to council to be made chiefs to sign papers, and to prevent single chiefs going to council at night, to be bribed to sign papers for money we have never got.' And then the inexorable fellow continued, without any regard to his excellency's nerves or conscience: 'We have heard how the M'Dewakantons were served at Mendota; that by secret councils you got their names on paper, and took away their money. We don't want to be served so. My braves wanted to come to council in the daytime, when the sun shines; and we want no councils in the dark. We want all our people to go to council together, so that we can all know what is done.'

The Governor is nothing abashed at these damaging charges, but returns once more to the assault.

Governor. 'Why did you attempt to come to council with your braves, when I had forbidden your braves coming to council?'

To which Red Iron, with the same masterful, defiant smile upon his 'thin lips,' answers:

Red Iron. 'You invited the chiefs only, and would not let the braves come too. This is not the way we have been treated before; this is not according to our customs; for among Dacotahs, chiefs and braves go to council together. When you first sent for us there were two or three chiefs here, and we waited, and we wanted to wait till the rest would come, that we might all be in council together, and know what was done, and so that we might all understand the papers, and know what we were signing. When we signed the treaty, the traders threw a blanket over our faces, and darkened our eyes; and made us sign papers which we did not understand, and which were not explained or read to us. We want our Great Father at Washington to know what has been done.'

This last speech—whose words hit like bullets—made the Governor wince, and he replied, with more sharpness than wit:

Governor. 'Your Great Father has sent me to represent him; and what I say, he says. He wants you to pay your old debts, in accordance with the papers you signed when the treaty was made' ['which we did not understand; which were never read nor explained to us; which we were forced to sign,' as Red Iron had just told the Governor!]. 'You must leave that money in my hands to pay those debts. If you refuse to do that, I will take the money back.'

The Governor was getting deeper and deeper into the pit which he had dug for the Indian. This last speech was most unhappy and impolitic for the side he was advocating. It put dreadful weapons into the hands of Red Iron, which the crafty 'old man eloquent' did not fail to use against his antagonist.[Pg 185]

He makes this manly answer, not at all abashed in the presence of the chief magistrate:

Red Iron. 'You can take back your money! We sold our land to you, and you promised to pay us. If you don't give us the money, I will be glad, and all our people will be glad; for we will have our land back if you don't give us the money. That paper was not interpreted or explained to us. We are told it gives about three hundred boxes ($300,000) of our money to some of the traders! We don't think we owe them so much. We want to pay all our debts. We want our Great Father to send three good men here to tell us how much we do owe, and whatever they say, we will pay; and (pointing to the Indians) that's what all these braves say. Our chiefs and all our people say this.'

And the Indians responded with the usual 'Ho! ho!' of acquiescence.

But the Governor don't see it. A poor devil of an Indian, according to his Christian conviction, ought to be content to pay unaudited, untaxed bills, wherein the margin is broad enough for any scoundrel to do his robberies by tens of thousands. So his excellency told Red Iron:

Governor. 'That can't be done!' [Nay, more confounding and appalling still, he added:] 'You owe more than your money will pay, and I am ready now to pay your annuity, and no more; and when you are ready to receive it, the Agent will pay it.'

Red Iron replies in a speech full of pathos:

Red Iron. 'We will receive our annuity, but we will sign no papers for anything else.' [You've swindled us enough, lied to us deep enough already, and we have no belief in your words or agreements.] 'The snow is on the ground, and we have been waiting a long time to get our money. We are poor; you have plenty. Your fires are warm; your tepees (wigwams, tents) keep out the cold. We have nothing to eat. We have been waiting a long time for our moneys. Our hunting season is past. A great many of our people are sick for being hungry. We must die because you won't pay us. We may die! but if we do' [hold on, reader! no curses on the white men are coming next, as one might naturally expect, either from Christian or heathen orator, under the circumstances!]—'but if we do,' he continues, 'we will leave our bones on the ground, that our Great Father may see where his Dacotah children died!' [He has seen many such shambles, O thou eloquent Indian! eloquent to ears of flint and hearts of granite! and I never heard that the 'Great Father' ever shed a single tear over them.] He goes on: 'We are very poor. We have sold our hunting grounds, and with them the graves of our fathers. We have sold our own graves.' [Out of all those hundreds of thousands of acres, not six feet of earth, which they could call their own, left for any one of them!] 'We have no place to bury our dead, and you will not pay us the money for our lands.'

I give this interview, and what transpired there, as a sample of the treatment which the Indians were in the habit of receiving at the hands both of the General Government and the State authorities. Not the wisest kind of treatment, one would think, this which Red Iron received, taking all the circumstances into account. The reader will be surprised, however, that Governor Ramsey, not content with 'breaking' the chief, as he called it—the greatest dishonor which he could inflict upon an Indian of rank—sent him, when the council broke up, to the guard house, under an escort of soldiers! This impolitic official ought to have remembered that the fire was even then ready for the kindling, which finally burst out in such fearful devastation over his devoted State; that it was enough to have cheated the Indians, without thus inflaming their already excited passions, by heaping so[Pg 186] great an indignity upon the person of their chief. But he was regardless of everything except the display of his own power and authority. No doubt he thought he was acting for the best, and that the dirty redskins needed to be held with a high hand. But it was bad thinking and doing, nevertheless; a most shortsighted and foolish policy, which came wellnigh, as it was, to an Indian outbreak.

The braves of Red Iron retired under the leadership of Lean Bear, a crafty fellow, eloquent in his way, and now irreconcilably mad against the whites; and when he had led them about a quarter of a mile from the council house, they set up a simultaneous yell, the gathering signal of the Dacotah. Ere the echoes died away, Indians were hurrying from their tepees toward them, prepared for battle. They proceeded to an eminence near the camp, where mouldered the bones of many warriors. It was the memorable battle ground where their ancestors had fought, in a Waterloo conflict, the warlike Sacs and Foxes, thereby preserving their lands and nationality.

A more favorable occasion, a more fitting locality for the display of eloquence which should kindle the blood of the Indian into raging fire, and persuade him to any the most monstrous and inhuman deeds, could not have been chosen even by Indian sagacity. An old battle ground, where the Sioux had been victorious over their enemies; the whitened bones of the ghastly skeletons of their ancestors who fought the battle, bleaching on the turf, or calling to them from their graves below to take God's vengeance in their own hands; the memory of the old and new wrongs inflicted upon them by the whites; the infuriating insult just offered to their favorite chief—all conspired with the orator's cunning to give edge to his eloquence and obedience to his commands.

Governor Ramsey has a good deal to thank God for, that, stimulated by Lean Bear's rhetoric, the Sioux did not that night attack the whites, and make an indiscriminate slaughter of the population, as they would have done, if it had not been for the friendly Indians and half breeds. Perhaps he thought he was strong enough, for the hour, to defeat them in any attempt at an outbreak. But it is not strength so much as strategy which is needed in Indian warfare. To whip the Indians, we must become Indians in our plan and conduct of battle. The civilization and mathematics of war, as practised by cultivated people, are useless in the wilderness, and all our proud and boasted tactics are mere foolish toying and trifling—a waste of time, strength, and opportunity. No one doubts that if our troops could meet the Indians in open field, they would slaughter them like rats; but they know better than to be caught on the open field, except they are pretty sure of an advantage. They steal upon you like thieves, shod with moccasons which have no sound; they think it equally brave to shoot a man from behind a tree as to sabre him in a hand-to-hand encounter.

It is dreadful to contemplate what an incarnate fiend we have roused in this cheated, wronged, and despised Indian. I tremble to think of it. I tremble when I remember also what Bishop Whipple says in the 'Plea,' from which I have already quoted; they are words which ought to be thundered continually into the ears of the 'Great Father,' until he compels a total revolution in our Indian affairs—words which all settlers in those regions should keep forever present in their minds; and, with the Minnesota massacres still fresh in their memory, they should be taught by them never for a moment to trust an Indian, and never knowingly to give him just cause for complaint; to go always armed; to organize, in towns, districts, and counties, the yeomen of the soil, who must be ready at any moment, by night or day, to meet the treacherous, ubiquitous enemy. These[Pg 187] last will be found of more value than the 'thundering' suggestion contained in the first of these precautionary propositions. For it is upon themselves that they must chiefly rely for defence, these hapless settlers! and upon no Government, and no soldiers.

Think of it, our 'Great Father' at Washington! and you, his unruly children, you Senators and Congressmen! One of your most loyal citizens in the State of Minnesota, a Christian bishop, well acquainted with all the facts, the dodges, lies, frauds, and all the ins and outs of your Indian administration, declares, with the fullest solemnity which his office and functions can give to words, and with the voice, not of prophecy, but of logical deduction, that the same causes which brought about the Sioux massacre, 'are to-day, slowly but surely, preparing the way for a Chippewa war!' What a Chippewa war means, those who did not know in 1861, found out through the Sioux in 1862 and 1863, to their perpetual sorrow. Like the Bourbons, however, our Government either cannot or will not learn lessons from experience. If they were compelled to bear the penalties of their neglect and wanton maladministration of affairs in the Indian districts, the loss would be small and the retribution just. But they sit at ease, far away from the scene of carnage, and 'get' nothing but the 'news,' which they read as they would any other record of human passion and depravity. It is the innocent settlers who pay the penalty for the guilt and transgressions of their rulers.

It is time somebody, or some vast numbers, banded as one man, began to think upon this threatening question, and to act upon it. It concerns the faith and honor of this great republic before all the world, that the wrongs alluded to should be speedily righted. We are not, in reality, what our Indian legislation would almost seem to accuse and convict us of, a nation of man-catchers, baiting our trap with fine farms, and free government, and happy homes, and abundant prosperity of all sorts, that so we may inveigle the simple minded, and then hand them over to the tender mercies of the Indians! God forbid that such crimes should be ours! But there is a coloring of truth about the whole programme. We invite settlers to populate our vast and wellnigh boundless wilderness, promising them protection from enemies abroad and a happy peace at home; and in the same breath we cheat the savages, and stir them up to hatred and violence against every white man, woman, and child in the country. This is like preaching security and peace while your lighted match is applied to the powder barrel. It is a logic which confutes itself, and needs no sillygism to prove its lying.

Why should we not bravely and manfully, with all the wisdom we possess, confront and reform the evils and iniquities of this system? It is a part and parcel of the work committed to our charge, that we shall wisely deal with this people, until God, by His own mysterious means and agencies, removes them finally from the continent and the planet. There is no room for the red man where the white man comes. He must give way. It is destiny, and there is no help for it. He knows this as well as we do; and he gnaws the grim fact with the teeth of the hopeless damned. But why imbitter him needlessly against us, against the Government, against the people among whom he resides, and over whose dear lives and properties he holds suspended the scalping knife and the flaming pine brand? We are unworthy of the sovereign possessions reserved for us from before the foundations of the world—making the title deeds, therefore, unusually sound and wellnigh unquestionable—if we cannot deal like rational men with the hordes of savages, whose lands we have robbed them of, whom we have reduced to mere pensioners upon our[Pg 188] caprice—not bounty—and so satisfy them and their claims that the business of human life may be carried on safely in their vicinity and actual presence. 'Who art thou that saith 'there is a lion in the way'? Rise, sluggard, and slay the lion! The road has to be travelled.'

We are certainly not afraid of any lion, whether he be red or black; and, until lately, both these monstrous red and black animals lay in the direct path of the nation, on which it must travel or perish. We have pretty well mauled and knuckled the black animal, and wellnigh settled with his keepers, one and all! but this red lion is of a different sort, and requires altogether another kind of treatment. We shall yet save the bruised and bleeding black to the service of civilization and humanity. He never was half a bad fellow at the bottom of his leonine bowels, and he already takes to white civility and customs, like an educated, intelligent, and trusty dog of the 'poor dog Tray' sort! And I, for one, have more than a sneaking affection for his old black mug, and a world of hope in his future behavior, if we don't spoil him for the field and for watch and guard at home, by our infernal 'culture,' as the thing is called.

Is this red lion a more terrible devil to combat, or harder to trick into civility, or more impervious to the injunctions of the Ten Commandments? I suppose it will be said that he is; that the black fellow bolted the whole code at a gobble, and wagged his tail, as if the feat must surely please his new masters; that he had long had the benefit of civilized cooking, and knew a gentleman by his toggery; that, moreover, he was of a teachable, plastic nature, and was meant to lie down in due time upon the hearth rug before the fire, in any gentleman's sitting room in the land. It may be true. I believe all this myself, and a good deal more, about him; and I take renewed hope also for this great republic—which is the hope of the world!—that it has thus, at last, tamed him, and fitted him for exhibition upon a nobler theatre than that of Barnum.

But the red lion, you say, is untamable—cannot be dealt with successfully by the wit of white men; and that it is best, therefore, to rob him of the golden apples which he guards, and which are his only food, and so starve him out. But you can't deal that way with the Indian lion, my friend, without feeling the taste of his claws. You have tried it long enough. Bishop Whipple says, 'for fifty years'! And I ask you how much nearer are you to the taming of him now, than you were those 'fifty years' ago? Echo answers: 'That's an impudent question!' and I reply, so be it! but you can't shuffle it off in that way. I have tried my hand at suggesting how imminent dangers, calamities, and horrors may even yet be averted from the Western settlements; and if those who urge that justice shall be done to them, equal to that which we here render, or try or pretend to render to each other—if those who urge this are not listened to now, their plea will be remembered when it is all too late, and thousands of innocent people are again murdered, and their homes laid waste and desolate.

I again say, let no one think by these statements that I am making a special pleading for the Indians, or that I sanction their butcheries. God knows how far all this is from my thought or feeling! I am a white man right through all the inmost fibres of my being: too white, I often fear; for I find my love of race, and pride of blood and ancestry, often encroach too far upon the proper regions of my humanity, and threaten to blear my eyesight to the fair claims of the inferior races.

But I have to do with a thoughtful, reflective, and, at the bottom, just and humane people; and knowing this, I felt safe, or nearly so, against all misconstruction, in this my attempt to show that the late Indian massacres were not[Pg 189] instigated merely and solely by the passion of the Indian for blood, but that they had deeper, broader, more tangible causes than this, some of which I have briefly hinted at. Woe to them by whom these butcheries came! Woe also to them who, knowing what must inevitably result from their foul dealings, continued to deal foully with the Indian—until the doomsday came!

I have not put in a single tithe of the evidence which I might adduce to prove my case. It is of no use appealing to the higher powers for redress. 'I am sick at heart,' says the good Bishop Whipple; 'I fear the words of one of our statesmen to me were true: 'Bishop, every word you say of this Indian system is true; the nation knows it. It is useless; you will not be heard. Your faith is only like that of the man that stood on the bank of the river, waiting for the water to run by, that he might cross over dryshod!'' And then he continues, with solemn emphasis and pity: 'All I have to say is this, that if a nation, trembling on the brink of anarchy and ruin, is so dead that it will not hear a plea to redress wrongs which the whole people admit call for reform, God in mercy pity us and our children!'


A Dirge.

"There may be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily."

"A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted."

Deep, deep in the tender heart
Make a grave for the joys of the Past!
Let never a tear fall hot on their bier,
But hurry them in as fast
As we bury the Beautiful out of our sight,
Ere corruption and horror have saddened our light.

Deep, deep in the sinking heart
Make a grave for the dreams of the Past!
Let the shrill cries of pain still assail thee in vain,
Though they follow so wild and so fast:
Through the fibres and sinews, and hot, bloody dew
Let the sharp strokes fall piercing, unceasing, and true.

Call, call on the feverish brain
To bring aid to the gasping heart!
To sustain its quick throbs, to suppress its fierce sobs,
As it must with its idols part:
While the ruthless spade in the grave it has made
[Pg 190]Hurries forever the beautiful Dead!

Call, call on the tortured soul
To stand close by the sinking heart,
While the nervous mesh of the writhing flesh,
Shuddering and shivering in every part,
Its strange anguish renews as the hot, bloody dews
Follow the track of the rude spade through.

Call, call on the gifted brain
To send on in the funeral train
Her fair children enwrought from the tissue of thought—
Though their wailing will all be in vain—
Yet shrouded in robes of funereal woe
Let them move on to monotones, solemn and slow!

Rouse, rouse the immortal soul
With its hopes and its visions so bright,
To send them in the train with the thoughts of the brain,
Though their vesture seemed woven of light,
To sigh, wail, and weep o'er the pulse-rhythmed sleep
Of the Dead in their living urn!

Heave, heave the weird sculptured stone;
Press it deep on the throbbing grave!
With a wildering moan leave the Buried alone
In their tomb in the quivering heart:
While it pours its wild blood in a hot lava flood
Round its beautiful sepulchred Dead.

But my God, they are not at rest!
Can they neither live nor die?
See, they writhe in their throbbing grave!
While the nervous mesh of the quivering flesh
Its strange anguish renews as the hot, bloody dews
Follow the track of my Beautiful back
As they rush into life again,
Bringing nought but a sense of pain!

We may bury deep the Past—
Vain is all our bitter task!
It is throbbing, living still, for beyond all power to kill,
It can never find a rest in a woman's stormful breast,
It can never, never sleep rocked by anguish wild and deep,
It can never quiet lie with shrill sobs for lullaby;
And since woman cannot part from the idols of her heart,
And as severed life is Hell for the souls that love too well,
Better far the tender form whose lorn life is only storm,
With the coffined dead should seek
To lie down in a dreamless sleep—
[Pg 191]And find rest in the dust with the worm.

Dig a quiet, lowly grave
In the earth where willows wave!
Round the burning anguish deep wrap the cooling winding sheet,
Shroud the children of the brain, and the soul's high-visioned train:
Ah, o'er the snowy sleep let no pitying mortal weep,
For the weary seek repose with the worm!

Creeping pines and mosses grow
O'er the fragile form below!
Violets, bright-eyed pansies wave o'er the lowly, harmless grave;
Let the butterfly and bee all the summer flutter free,
O'er the flowers grown from a heart which no wrongs could ever part,
Nor torture e'er remove from the creatures of its love;
With the wild and feverish brain, and thought's bright but blighted train,
With strong heart, but anguished soul, and pain's weird and heavy dole—
Let the weary, tired form, whose lost life was only storm,
In the shroud's pure snow
Find release from woe,
Nor hope, nor joy, nor love it e'er again would know!


There was a time not long since when the serious consideration of a question like this would have met with little favor. We remember seeing, in this city of New York, one genial October day, not very many years ago, a small company of negro soldiers. They were marching in Canal street, not in Broadway, and seemed to fear molestation even there. The writer was a schoolboy then, cadet in a military school (one of the first established of those excellent institutions), and had, of course, a particular interest in all military matters. So he stopped to look upon these black soldiers—marching with all the more pride (as it seemed to him) because they marched under the floating folds of the stars and stripes. His boy's heart was stirred by the spectacle, and full of a big emotion; but the fashion of the times overpowered the generous impulse, and he treated the negro soldiers with contempt.

This was in the palmy days of the old régime. The stifling of that generous impulse was one of the glories of the old régime. Not a decade of years went by, and the writer stood again in the streets of New York city, and saw another sight of negro soldiers. It was, indeed, and in all respects, another sight. This time the black men marched in Broadway; this time they feared no molestation. It was a balmy day in spring, and God's sunshine glistened gladly from the bright bayonets of United States black soldiers. What a spectacle it was! There marched the retributive justice of the nation—'carrying the flag and keeping step to the music of the Union.' That march was a march of triumph, and its sublime watchword was: 'Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!'

What a marvellous change in public opinion! Now, negro companies are treated with respect, negro regiments[Pg 192] are honored; because we honor the defenders of our national ensign, which is the representative and symbol of our national life. The men who joined so gallantly in the assault on Port Hudson; who fell so nobly at Milliken's Bend, in repelling the attack of men whose blackness was not, like theirs, of the outside skin, but of a blacker, deeper dye, the blackness of treason in their inner hearts; the men whose blood drenched the sands of Morris Island, and made South Carolina more a sacred soil than it had ever been before, because it was blood poured out in defence of the nation's honor, and to wash out the stain of Carolina's dishonor; these men cannot be contemned now. They have shown themselves noble men. They have made for themselves a place in American history, along with their fathers at New Orleans, and their grandfathers under Washington. And the rebel epitaph of the brave Colonel Shaw, who led them unflinchingly against the iron hail of Wagner, is no reproach, but a badge of honor: 'We have buried him under his niggers.'

Since that memorable assault, another State has witnessed the patriotic gallantry of these despised 'niggers;' and in the first Virginia campaign of Lieutenant-General Grant, negroes have borne an honorable part. There is a division of them attached to the old ninth corps, under Burnside, in the present organization of the Army of the Potomac. While that noble army was fighting the battles of the Wilderness, this division was holding the fords of the Rapid Ann. When Grant swung his base away from the river, after the disaster to his right wing, and moved upon Lee's flank, the ninth corps, with its negro division, held an honorable post in the marching column; and at Spottsylvania Court House the correspondents tell us how, with the war cry of Fort Pillow in their mouths, these 'niggers' rushed valiantly to the assault, and elicited the highest praise for their steadiness and courage. Not less honorable is the record of the negro troops attached to the coöperating Army of the Peninsula. The three extracts from official despatches, which follow, show what the record is.

May 5th, General Butler telegraphs to Secretary Stanton: 'We have seized Wilson's Wharf Landing. A brigade of Wild's colored troops are there. At Powhatan Landing two regiments of the same brigade have landed.'

May 9th, General Butler telegraphs from Bermuda Landing: 'Our operations may be summed up in a few words. With seventeen hundred cavalry we have advanced up the Peninsula, forced the Chickahominy, and have safely brought them to our present position. These are colored cavalry, and are now holding position as our advance toward Richmond.'

May 25th, the War Department announced, in a bulletin, that 'General Butler, in a despatch dated at headquarters in the field, at seven o'clock this morning, reports that Major-General Fitzhugh Lee, lately promoted, made, with cavalry, infantry, and artillery, an attack upon my post at Wilson's Wharf, north side of James River, below Fort Powhatan, garrisoned by two regiments, all negro troops, Brigadier-General Wild commanding, and was handsomely repulsed. Before the attack, Lee sent a flag, stating that he had force enough to take the place, demanding its surrender, and in that case the garrison should be turned over to the authorities at Richmond as prisoners of war(!); but if this proposition was rejected, he would not be answerable for the consequences when he took the place. General Wild replied: 'We will try that.' Reinforcements were at once sent, but the fight was over before their arrival.'

It has been not unfrequently said that negroes were cowards and would not fight. The best answer that can be made to that charge is the official order, hereto annexed, of General[Pg 193] 'Baldy' Smith. It will be remembered that Grant had just accomplished the transfer of his army from the swamps of the Chickahominy to the south side of the James River, and had immediately thereupon attacked the earthworks in front of Petersburg. The time was June—a month later than the official despatches from Butler already quoted:

'To the Eighteenth Army Corps:

'The General commanding desires to express to his command his appreciation of the soldierly qualities which have been displayed during the campaign of the last seventeen days. Within that time they have been constantly called upon to undergo all the hardships of the soldier's life, and be exposed to all of its dangers.

'Marches under a hot sun have ended in severe battles, and, after the battle, watchful nights in the trenches gallantly taken from the enemy.

'But the crowning point of the honor they are entitled to has been won since the morning of the 15th instant, when a series of earthworks on most commanding positions and of formidable strength have been carried, with all the guns and materials of war of the enemy, including prisoners and colors. The works have all been held, and the trophies remain in our hands.

'This victory is all the more important to us as the troops never have been regularly organized in camps where time has been given them to learn the discipline necessary to a well-organized corps d'armée, but they had been hastily concentrated and suddenly summoned to take part in the trying campaign of our country's being. Such honor as they have won will remain imperishable.

'To the colored troops comprising the division of General Hinks, the General commanding would call the attention of his command. With the veterans of the Eighteenth Corps they have stormed the works of the enemy and carried them, taking guns and prisoners, and in the whole affair they have displayed all the qualities of good soldiers.

'By command of
'W. F. Smith, Major-General.

'Wm. Russell, Jr.,
'Assistant Adjt.-General.

'Official: Solon A. Carter,
'Captain and A. A. A.-G.'

It may be added that 'Baldy' Smith has never been known as being particularly partial to the use of negro troops. He is reported to have said, after the assault on Petersburg, that the war was virtually ended, because the negroes had now shown that they could fight, and so it was only a question of time.

The man is not to be envied who can contemptuously disregard this record. And while we give unstinted honor to the heroes whose valor has made the Army of the Potomac immortal in history, and made its campaign of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania a campaign of glory, let us not forget that negro troops in that army, and in other armies in the same campaign, have borne their part faithfully, and deserve well of the republic. Nor let us forget the damning atrocities at Fort Pillow, where black men in United States uniform were massacred in cold blood, because they were willing rather to die freemen with their white comrades of the United States army, than live slaves to rebel masters:[D] thus vindicating their claim to freedom, and reflecting upon our country's flag the especial honor which such determined bravery has ever been awarded among men—reminding us of the Three Hundred at Thermopylæ, and the Old Guard at Waterloo, disdaining to surrender.

So strange are the events of history! So mysterious is the plan of Providence, choosing now, as in the days of the apostle Paul, 'base things of the world, and things which are despised, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are!' What a stinging example of time's revenges, to be sure, that negroes should have a part in bringing to nought the rebellion of negro-holders! that they should be found fighting for the very Government whose power had aided to keep them[Pg 194] in bondage to these negro-holders! In face of such facts, will any one impiously declare that fate, or blind chance, rules the affairs of men!

We might well pause at this point to consider the philosophy of revolutions. It would be an interesting study to investigate the efficient or radical causes of these singular phenomena of God's providence—these crises in history, when 'the fountains of the great deep are broken up,' and the experience of centuries is crowded into the limits of a single year, and we see the old landmarks all swept away before the overwhelming tides of a new era. Then it is that precedents avail us nothing, and we are driven to lay hold of those principles of justice and right which are alone eternal. For in the storm and wreck of revolution those principles are our sure beacon lights, shining on, like the stars, forever. Thus philosophizing, the question would be: Have revolutions a fixed law? Is there a recurring sequence in the mighty 'logic of events,' that will enable us to define a formula for the revolutions of systems in society? So science has demonstrated a law for the revolutions and changes of systems of worlds in infinite space. Or, are the revolutions of history, like the volcanic disturbances of our planet earth, in a sort, abnormal? They seem to come, like the deus ex machina of the Roman poet, to cut the Gordian knots that perplex statesmen and bewilder nations. The affairs of men get so tangled up sometimes, that to prevent anarchy and chaos, God sends revolutions, which sweep away the effete institutions and old, worn-out systems, to replace them with new and living systems. And thus there is a perpetual genesis, or new creation, of the world. Let any one read Carlyle's vivid description of the badness of the eighteenth century, 'bad in that bad way as never century before was, till the French Revolution came and put an end to it,' and he will understand something of this question of revolutions. It suggests the old scholastic dispute of the free agency of man, and looks as though, granting that freedom, it were, after all, too great a gift for us. For history seems to teach, as its one grand lesson, confirming, as always, the revelation in Christ, that men cannot take care of themselves; and that God leaves them to their own ways long enough to satisfy them that human agency is inadequate to solve the question of reform, and then, when the times are ripe, He takes the reins into His own hand, and starts society anew. It is the patient process of education by centuries, or by ages—only to be made perfect in the millennial age. So it is that the world moves. It moves by the free agency of man, kept in its balance by the guiding hand of God.


Thus it is that the second American revolution is settling for us the vexed question of the negro. What should be done with him, or for him, or to him, had been the disturbing element in our political system ever since the African slave trade expired by limitation of the Constitution in 1808. The devices of human ingenuity (inspired, as we fervently believe, by the purest patriotism) to stave off the inevitable final settlement of this account, innumerable as they were, and only limited by the predestined decree of Supreme Benevolence (which is Supreme Justice), were, at last, exhausted. The statesmanship of '50 had been outgrown. The giants of those days had gone, one by one, to their reward ere yet the first breaths of the revolution that has opened the decade of '60. Nought remained to their lesser associates, who still survived, but to bow reverently before the storm, 'as seeing in it Him who is invisible.' Such recognition, indeed, is the measure of men's patriotism to-day. The man who so perverts his mind and reason as to shut out the evidence of the stars[Pg 195] and his own consciousness (the German metaphysician's proof of Deity), and deny that God is, is simply a fool; and every reflecting mind is ready to sanction and adopt the Psalmist's word: 'The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.' Equally a fool is he who shuts his eyes to the overwhelming facts of the last two years, refusing to be taught by the Providence behind them. Such and so vast is the revolution by which God has intervened in our history. Such is the Providence that still guides and guards the nation ordained by Him to be. Such is the revolution that has swept away the slave system, and opened for us a new path, and given us a new power of progress.

Now, these views need not make one a negro-enthusiast. Because the system of slavery has been swept away, it is not necessary to assert, as some do, the negro's equality with the white man in those things wherein he is plainly not his equal. Yet there is an equality that cannot be denied. The negro is certainly a man, and not a brute animal; although so demoralized and corrupt had grown to be the tone of society that we have actually heard the opinion avowed, in all seriousness, that the negro had no soul. Shylock, in 'The Merchant of Venice,' pleads for himself and his Jewish brethren, in one of the most pathetic passages of even Shakspeare's genius, as though the Hebrew race were considered less than men. And such, indeed, was nearly the case in Shylock's time. On the other hand, the Moor of Venice disdains to plead as to his superiors. His conscious equality in presence of the 'grave and reverend signiors,' gives to his renowned address a consummate dignity, unknown elsewhere in literature. He felt, indeed, that his victories under the flag of the republic entitled him not only to equality, but especial honor. Is it not singular that in this nineteenth century there should be found men who gladly accord to the Jew, the descendant of Shem, that of which they refuse even the possibility to the dark descendant of Ham? Surely the republic of Venice was not so far behind our boasted civilization. Our civilization still clings to the idea of privilege. The privilege of caste is only exchanged for the privilege of color.

Nor need we commit ourselves to the doctrine of some, who would appear to think that the negro is to be the dominant race of the future; if not in himself, yet in virtue of his supplementing the composite Anglo-Saxon race, and thus giving to it a completeness it is assumed not to have at present. Such we understand to be the doctrine of what styles itself Miscegenation. It would be pertinent, and, perhaps, conclusive, to cite on this point the Latin maxim, De gustibus non disputandum.

There are those who admire a certain new style of music, of which the melody is chiefly hidden from the appreciation of common folk, and which has received the title, 'Music of the Future;' looking forward to a time when, perhaps, men's senses will be preternaturally quickened to comprehend its discordant harmonies. It is something akin to that vagary of religious sentiment, which, whatever may be its merits, whatever its satisfaction for a spiritually illuminated chosen few, is, nevertheless, beyond the present ken and comprehension and spiritual compass of most mortals, and may be called the Religion of the Future. The fatal defect of all these theories is that they serve no purpose of utility. Considered as creations of ideal beauty, they may charm the fancy and quicken the imagination, and even exalt the mental habitudes, of a few devotees. Or, allowing that they are a sort of morning twilight vision, they may, we cannot dogmatically deny, hereafter develop into a splendid fulness, in the perfect day. All this may be. But they do not meet the practical needs of our working life, the wants of weary men and weary women.[Pg 196]

So, what we want for the negro is not a metaphysical theory of his perfect equality with the white man. Nor, on the other hand, are we at liberty to say that he is, by virtue of any physical conformation and structure, something inferior to the white man. Neither of these positions can be sustained. The one plainly contradicts our observation and experience; the other needs the proof of science that inferiority is determined by physical structure. We must face the fact of the negro's present degraded condition; and we must accept the equal fact of his being a man, with a soul as precious, in the sight of God, as the soul of his white brother. For the day when the sublime exordium of the Declaration of Independence could be stigmatized as a 'glittering generality,' is gone by. The basis of our American system of government, it is no longer doubted, is the equality of all men before the law, as the basis of our Christian faith is the equality of all men before God. Accepting, then, the two undeniable facts above named, the question is, What shall we do now with the negro?


Without attempting to discuss this interesting question in all its various aspects, we may briefly advert to some of the problems in the discussion which would seem to be fairly solved in the employment of the negro as a United States soldier.

Thus much is certainly true of the American negro, and herein he is doubtless superior to the white man; namely, that he is docile, patient, buoyant of spirit, full of affection, and endowed with a marvellous apprehension of things spiritual. His patience is shown by his long bondage, borne without serious murmuring; awaiting the day of deliverance, confident that the year of jubilee was to come. This point is lucidly elaborated in a late article, of great interest, in The Edinburgh Review, said to have been written by a negro escaped from slavery. The negro's docility appears in his aptitude to catch quickly the tone of his master's mind, and guide himself by it; in the readiness with which he yields to superior authority—which may or may not be due to his spirit-crushing bondage, but which certainly has in it little of the stupidity we should expect to find if such were the case. The buoyancy of his spirit overflows in the perpetual music of his laugh and song amid the hard fortunes of his race. The fulness of his capacity of affection is attested by his remarkable devotion to master or mistress, surviving strong amid all vicissitudes, and rising above the iniquitous injustice that holds him in bonds into that exalted triumph of the apostle's doctrine: 'Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.' As for his readiness to apprehend spiritual things, the experience of every person who has lived at the South furnishes abundant proof. Who that has stood on the banks of a Southern river, when a negro was baptized, and heard the loud chorus of joy of his brethren and sisters when the sign of the Church was put upon him, and seen the sympathy of eye and hand that welcomed him to the blessed company, has not felt that for this poor, despised race there are riches laid up in that kingdom 'where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal'? Who that has stood in a Southern forest on some Sunday afternoon, in the early Southern spring, when the woods are resonant with the songs of birds, and heard a negro congregation of believers in their meeting-house near by, joining with all the fervor of their tropical temperament in this glad hymn of nature, in the immortal verse of Wesley and Whitfield, has not felt that to the negro the vision of the New Jerusalem is more of a reality than has yet been granted to his worldly favored white brother and master? Ah, no one who has witnessed such scenes all the years of his[Pg 197] childhood and youth, can deny that among the disciples of Christ are to be reckoned especially the negro race; who bear His blessed cross in our day, amid the jeers of a sceptical world, just as in His own day upon earth the negro Simon of Cyrene bore to the Mount of Calvary the cross on which the Saviour died.

What these things prove is just this: the negro's capacity for freedom; his capacity to know what is the 'perfect law of liberty,' keeping irresponsible license in check; his absolute freedom from the bloodthirstiness that seems to horrify so many unthinking persons, who affect to fear the consequences of putting a musket in a negro's hand. The incontestable points above enumerated show the groundlessness of such an alleged fear. It needs only to consider them candidly to be disabused on that score. No one who has seen and knows the tenderness of the negro toward the children of his master, and his never-failing respect toward his mistress, dares say he fears the negro's savageness. No one who knows the negro's religious sensibility and his unshaken faith in Christ, dares say he fears. No. Only those fear who know nothing at all about the negro. They fear whose creed is given them by men thirsting for the negro's blood, that it may be coined into ungodly gold.

Thus much will suffice for objections to negro troops, on the ground of their incapacity. It is seen that the negro is capable to comprehend the limitations of liberty; that his nature is not essentially savage, or, if so, has been softened and tempered into a gentle docility under the benign influences of civilized society; that, above all, his Christian education has elevated him to a dignity that despises mean revenge. If further proof is necessary, the regiments of negro slaves recruited in Louisiana and the Carolinas, acquiring a discipline that has stood them in good stead at Olustee (day of gloom) and elsewhere on their native soil, may be cited in evidence of their capacity.

But what about our rights in the matter? For we are considering now the case of the slaves, not the free negro? The proper and sufficient answer to that question is, What about the rights of slave-holders? What rights of theirs are we bound to respect now? They have taken the law into their own hands, and if they cannot enforce it, is it any part of our business to aid them? Certainly and undoubtedly not. It is part of the penalty of treason; part of the price they are paying for their ignoble thrust at the nation's life; and a very light penalty, and cheap price it is, that they lose their right to hold slaves. Such rights as they possessed they held under the Constitution. We have been willing, for the sake of peace (bearing in mind the apostle's injunction, 'If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men'), to protect, under the sacred covenant of the nation, what they called their rights to property; albeit not willing ourselves to touch the 'accursed thing.' The history of the country is a witness to our good faith. But plainly the injunction of the apostle becomes impossible of obedience when men transform themselves into fiends, and hang up in their railway cars, as trophies, the ghastly skulls of such of us as have been slain in defence of the national covenant.[E] By their own acts the slave-holders have cancelled our obligations as to such permissive rights under the Constitution. We shall not probably hasten to incur any more such obligations. They say that slavery is the strength of their society. Doubtless it is. Then, Samson-like, they have pulled down upon themselves the pillars of their whole fabric, and they cannot complain if they and all their rights, immunities, and titles are buried[Pg 198] in the ruins. In other words, they have appealed from the Constitution, or the law civil, to the sword, or the law military; and they must abide the result of that appeal. Such is a brief statement of the question of negro troops, as affecting the slaves of the South and their traitor masters.


There is another phase of the question, less difficult of solution than the preceding, perhaps, but by no means less important. It is the case of the free negro, and especially the free negro of the North. Here again we need not stop to discuss abstract questions of equality, nor declare our adherence to the philosophy of Miscegenation. We need not stop to consider the nature, or justice, of the prejudice which prevails against the negro at the North. It is undeniable that there is such a prejudice. Accepting the undoubted fact, we see that it shuts nearly every avenue of honest industry against the man with a black skin, restricting him to the most menial offices; and that it is fostered in many ways by the conventions and usages of our society, so as practically to put him in a worse condition than his bonded brother at the South—always except as to his God-given right to his liberty and labor. Experience has shown that even this is not always fully assured to the negro; and the July riots of New York indicate the uncertain tenure of his liberty and life, even under the protection of equal laws. What then? Shall we remand him to the servitude of the South? Shall we enact for him a sort of Napoleonic law of general safety, to deprive him of the poor liberty he has—however profitless the boon may seem to us to be? Certainly not. Every instinct of humanity rises up against so monstrous a suggestion. Yet something very like it has a place in the legislation of some States in the American Union.

Then what a Providential solution of the question is offered in the employment of the negro as a soldier! There cannot surely be any well-founded objection to it. Such opposition as the plan has encountered seems to spring from the same unreasoning prejudice that keeps the black man out of all decent industries in our free North. It is that very prejudice which this plan will overcome. For the first thing to be done is to raise the negro from his degradation; and to do this we must obviously begin with teaching him a proper self-respect. This will bear its fruit in making him respected by others. No one will say that it is well to foster a feeling which outlaws any single class in the community from the respect of all. This would be to glorify the slave system of the South, and lay a basis for possible revolutions. Thus the employment of the negro as a soldier, while it must inspire the bondman of the South with a truer sense of his worth and capacity, and thus tend to weaken the foundation of the whole rebel fabric, will also correct the unquestioned evil of a growing class of outlaws in the midst of our society. And if we clothe the negro in the uniform of a soldier of the United States, the respect of the nation for its brave defenders will teach him self-respect; at the same time that it will teach the nation to put a new value upon its idea of loyalty.

The epitaph commemorative of the Spartan valor that has made Thermopylæ a name forever, serves to show the conclusion of our whole discussion:

'Go, stranger, and at Lacedæmon tell,
That here, obedient to her laws, we fell.'

For the man who is loyal to his flag will not quarrel with the color of a comrade in arms who has shed blood, red like his own, in defending that flag from dishonor; just as the man who is loyal to the altar feels a fellowship for every one, however humble, who bears the name of their common Master, and is made in the image of their common Father.[Pg 199]


[D] Late Southern newspapers speak of the obstinacy of the garrison at Fort Pillow, and assert that Forrest would have stopped the massacre at any time after the capture, if our soldiers had manifested any disposition to yield.

[E] The writer's father saw these skulls hanging in the cars on a railway in Georgia, after first Bull Run, and saw them handed through the cars amid the jeers of passengers.


In order to a due understanding of the signification of colors, it is necessary we should commence at the foundation. Accordingly I shall begin by saying that colors are primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary colors are three: red, yellow, and blue.

Red is the color of greatest heat.

Yellow is the color of greatest light.

Blue is the color of chemical change.

In accordance with this philosophical truth, we should naturally expect to find a preponderance of blue rays from the sun in the spring time, and so it is.

These rays preponderate at the time of ploughing, sowing, and germination.

In the summer time, after the plant has started from the ground, and requires vigorous leaves to bring it to perfection ere the cold winter rolls around once more, we have the yellow rays. 'Light, more light,' is then the cry of nature, and as not even length of days affords this element in sufficient completeness, the sun darts his brightest beams in 'the leafy month of June.'

Later still in the year, after germination is past and growth perfected, comes the necessity of heat rays to ripen fruit, vegetables, and grain, and nature's behests are obeyed in the then preponderance of the red rays. Much of this effect may be due to the media through which the sun's rays pass. A sensitized photographic paper is not colored as much at an altitude of three miles in half an hour as is a similar paper upon the earth's surface in one moment. At any season of the year, gardeners can either stimulate or retard germination as they place a blue or yellow glass over the nursling. That the growth of plants is not due alone to the rays of the sun we can, without experiment, convince ourselves, as even ordinary observers are well aware that upon some days plants shoot up so rapidly as to grow almost visibly under their eyes, and in other conditions of the atmosphere seemingly remain dormant for days.

The germinating influence, let it be due either to peculiar rays alone, or to atmospheric state, does not contain much coloring matter. The first spring flowers are of a pale color; as summer advances we have brighter hues, but not until the approach of fall do we see Flora in all her gorgeousness of coloring. The paleness of mountain and arctic flowers, and the brilliancy of those of the tropics, point to the same cause which gives the temperate zones their brightest flowers when heat rays preponderate.

As depth of color seems connected with the red or heat rays; so perfume belongs rightfully to the summer blossoms; when light is the strongest, then we have our pinks, and roses, and lilies.

There are also in the spectrum four secondary colors: orange, green, indigo, and violet. The secondary colors are alternate with the primary in the spectrum, and are formed by a mixture of the two primary nearest them—as orange, formed by a union of red and yellow; green, by a mixture of yellow and blue; indigo and violet, of blue and red. Thus:

Tertiary colors are many more than both primary and secondary. They are hues not found in the spectrum. They[Pg 200] are nature's stepchildren rather than children, and many of them might not inappropriately be called children of art; yet although most of them are of inventions that man has sought out, they are at best but shades, and must all look back to the spectrum as their common parent.

Each of the primary colors forms a simple contrast to the other two; thus blue is contrasted by yellow and by red, either of which forms a simple contrast to it; but as it is a law of color that compound contrasts are more effective than simple in the proportion of two to one, it follows that a mixture of either two of the primitive colors is the most powerful contrast possible with the other.

Red and yellow form orange, the greatest and the most harmonious contrast to blue; red and blue form violet or purple, so much admired in contrast with yellow in the pansy; yellow and blue form green, the contrast to red, and the color needed to restore the tone of the optic nerve when strained or fatigued by undue attention to red. This is the most common and admirable contrast in the vegetable kingdom; the brilliant red blossom or fruit, with green leaves, as instance the fiery tulip, the crimson rose, the scarlet verbena, the burning dahlia, the cherry and apple trees, the tomato or loveapple of my childhood, and the scarlet maple and sumach of our American October.

There are two distinct harmonies of color: the harmony of contrast, and the harmony of shading. The former is the harmony of striking diversities found in nature, and the other a mellowing of colors, or blending of similar hues, attributable to art.

From this little synopsis of the effects and uses of the prismatic colors, we shall be enabled the better to understand both the ancient and modern popular ideas as to colors as representatives and correspondences. Colors have a mental, moral, and physical significance—a good and a bad import. The one to which I shall first direct your attention is that which most readily strikes the eye.


Which Thoreau called the 'color of colors,' in the Hebrew signified to have dominion, and in early art was symbolical or emblematic of Divine love, creative power, etc. The word Adam, we have been taught, signifies red man; it does mean 'the blood,' which, of course, originated 'to be red,' as a secondary signification. Lanci, the great interpreter of Sacred Philology at the Vatican, deems 'The Blusher,' to be the true meaning of the word Adam. God created man, male and female created He them, and called their name Adam. A blush, so becoming on the countenance of feminine beauty, is generally deemed a sign of weakness when visible upon a man's face. But if the above interpretation be correct, a blush is a man's birthright, which no sense of false shame should prevent him from modestly claiming. Red, as signifying perfection, dominion, fruition, was appropriately the name of our first parents, whether we regard the account of the creation to be literally understood, as the old theologians believe, or spiritually and typically, as the modern ones insist.

Red is the color of what is intense, be it love or hatred, kindness or cruelty. It denotes the fulness of strong emotions; alike the glowing of conscious love or the blazing of fierce anger, the fiery ardor of daring and valor, or the fierce cruelty of hatred and revenge. Of our own star-spangled banner, we sing:

'The red is the blood of the brave.'

The red garments of cardinals, and especially their red hats, are supposed to betoken their readiness to spill their blood for Jesus Christ.

Red is the color of undeveloped ideas. It is the hue which most quickly attracts the attention of children and[Pg 201] savages. All barbarous nations admire red; many savages paint their faces vermilion before entering battle, to which they look forward as the means of attaining enviable position in their tribe; for with barbarians physical prowess is the only superiority.

Some animals are excited to madness by the sight of this color. The bull and the turkey take it as a signal of defiance, which they rush to meet. 'Come, if you dare,' they read it, and impetuously hasten to the onset.

When the bloody Jeffreys was in his bloodiest humor, he wore into court a red cap, which was the sure death warrant of those about to be tried.

The death garment of Charlotte Corday was a red chemise—fit emblem of the ungovernable instincts, the wild rioting in blood of that reign of terror.

Christ was crucified in a scarlet robe, and in that color of love and perfection, perfected his offering of love for mankind.


Anciently symbolized the sun, the goodness of God, marriage, faith, and fruitfulness. Old paintings of St. Peter represent him in a yellow mantle. The Venuses were clothed in saffron-colored tunics; Roman brides of an early day wore a veil of an orange tinge, called the flameum, a flame—a flame which, kindled at Hymen's torch, it is to be hoped was ever burning, never consuming. As every good has its antipodal evil, so every color has its bad sense, which is contrary or opposite to its first or good signification.

In a bad sense, yellow means inconstancy, and the æsthetic Greeks, fully carrying out this meaning, compelled their public courtesans to distinguish themselves by mantles of saffron color. The radical sense of saffron is to fail, to be hollow, to be exhausted. In tracing customs, it is easy to see the bias unknowingly received from natural significations, significations which take their rise in the spiritual world. The San Benito or auto-da-fe dress of the Spanish Inquisition was yellow, blazoned with a flaming cross; and, as a mark of contempt for the race, the Jews of Catholic Spain were condemned to wear a yellow cap. Distinguishing colors in dress have ever been one of the most common methods of expressing distinction of class and differences of faith, until thence has arisen the imperative adage: 'Show your colors;' and he who refuses to do so is despised as a hypocrite or changeling.

Yellow, as a color, finds but few admirers among modern enlightened nations; it is recognized as the color of shams; but in China, that country of contrarities, where printing, fish breeding, gas burning, and artesian wells have been known and stationary for centuries, where almond-shaped eyes, club feet, and long cues are types of beauty, where old men laughingly fly kites, and little boys look gravely on, where white is mourning, and everything is different from elsewhere—there yellow is the most admired of colors, restricted to the use of royalty alone under penalty of death.

Yellow is the most searching of colors, as indeed it should be from its correspondence with light. It is gaudy, and does not inspire respect, for it brings into view every imperfection. Every defect in form or manner is rendered conspicuous by it, and we involuntarily scan the whole person of the unfortunate and tasteless wearer of it.


In early art, represented truth, honor, and fidelity, and even at this day we associate blue and truthfulness. Christ and the Virgin were formerly painted with blue mantles, and blue is especially recognized as the Virgin's color. We can never turn our eyes upward without seeing truth's emblematical color. How appropriate that the heavens should be blue! Of truthfulness and faithfulness it should be our constant reminder.

Primary blue enters as a compound[Pg 202] into three other colors of the spectrum: green, indigo, and violet. As a primary color, it is much more rarely seen in nature than either red or yellow. We have few blue birds, few blue flowers, few blue fruits. As one of a compound, it is oftener found than red. The grass, the leaves, everywhere proclaim the marriage of good, as yellow anciently represented, and truth, as blue symbolized. There is a deep significance in the change that has come over mankind's view of the meaning of the first of these colors. With the loss of faith, the tearing apart of truth and goodness, has come a change of correspondence. Men have everywhere turned away from the light, though still professing to strive for truth.

Each color possesses a character of its own, which proclaims to the close observer the peculiar qualities of that to which it belongs. The horticulturist reads the peculiarities of the fruit as readily by its color as the phrenologist reads his by his 'bumps.' The red one, he will tell you, is sour, the white one sweet, the pale one flat, and the green one alkaline; that one is a good table apple, this one a superior cider apple; and if you further ask the characteristics of a good cider apple, he will tell you again it is known by its color, not only of the skin, but also of the pulp, and that it can be foretold whether cider will be weak, thin, and colorless, or possess strength, or richness, or color.

The botanist, too, regards color as indicative of quality, the yellow flower having a bitter taste and a fixed, unfading hue, the black, a poisonous, destructive property, etc., etc.

Truth, of which we have seen blue was the correspondent, is never superficial, and, although apparent truths lie upon the surface, yet a common adage locates truth at the bottom of a well. Seamen acknowledge deep indigo blue of water to be indicative of profound depth. Of the three or primitive colors, the red or heat color, which has been termed light felt, the yellow or light color, which has been called heat seen, and the blue, a color of chemical change, which is the color of growth, these correspond in an unknown degree to the love, wisdom, and truth of the Supreme One; heat to love, for love is heat; light to wisdom, for wisdom is light; and germination and growth to truth, for by truth souls grow into wisdom and love. The more we explore the arcana of nature the more we will be enabled to discover the correspondence of the natural with the spiritual world.


Is the emblem of light, every white ray of light containing all the prismatic colors; and as it symbolizes innocence and purity, it is the color must appropriate for clothing infants, brides, and the dead. We think of the angels as clothed in white. At the transfiguration of our Lord and Master, his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, as no fuller on earth can white them; and in one of the Evangelists his raiment is described as at that time as white as the light, and so our highest comparison of whiteness is 'as white as the light.'


Formed by a combination in equal proportions of the three primitive colors in equal intensity, is the color of despair. As mourning, it is only suitable for those who despair of the future of their friends; but it is preëminently unsuitable to be worn for those who die in Christian faith with a Christian hope. Despite its gloomy hue, it has almost become a sacred color among Christian nations, being worn as the dress of the priest in his ministerial office, and doubly hallowed from its association with the dead.

Black, as an ornamental color, should be below all others, for artistic effect. An artistic dressmaker places the dark or black plaids or stripes beneath the[Pg 203] others. This natural correspondence is almost universally recognized among enlightened nations in clothing for the feet. They not only look smaller and more tasteful in black shoes than in colored, but economy also sanctions them as more useful. The universal tendency of the nineteenth century is to utilitarianism; the one question asked is: What is the use? and in use is beauty ever found.

Ethnological investigation shows that black or dark-colored races have invariably preceded settlement by the whites. This is in accordance with the law of color above laid down, viz., that, artistically, black is below the other colors (and now, in order that I may not be misunderstood, I explicitly say that because, artistically, black is the lowest color, it by no means follows that I deem black or olive or yellow races subjects for slavery, or unworthy of social and political rights). In accordance with the above axiom, savage and half-civilized races are found to be at the present day black haired and black eyed. I will also venture the assertion that nine tenths of all the people in the world have black hair.

The Hindoo legend of the eighth incarnation of Vishnu under the name of Crishna, makes him then of a bluish-black color, which the name Crishna signifies. His supposititious father, Wanda, said:

'When I named him Crishna, on account of his color, the priest told me he must be the god who had taken different bodies, red, white, yellow, and black, in his various incarnations, and now he had assumed a black color again, since in black all colors are absorbed.'

Although among Caucasian nations, and especially in cosmopolitan America, we do not adduce intellectual superiority from the shades or degrees of whiteness, yet it is said of the Moors that the more the color approaches the black, the handsomer and of more decisive character are the men.

It is a physiological fact brought to light partially through the census, that black-eyed races and black-eyed people are more subject to blindness than others. It has also been shown that black-eyed men are not as good marksmen as blue-eyed or light-eyed men.

Not only are different races of men subject to different diseases, but statistics prove that among Caucasian nations, complexion and disease are in some way connected, as for instance, consumption is more rife among dark-haired and dark-eyed people than others, and more rapid with those dark-haired and dark-eyed people who have very fair complexion. As the difference between golden and black hair lies in that there is in the one case an excess of sulphur and oxygen with a deficiency of carbon, and in the other an excess of carbon and a deficiency of sulphur and oxygen, it can easily be seen why such deficiency or excess, if arising from idiosyncrasy of the system, should predispose to dissimilar diseases. But here a wide field yet lies open for experimental and physiological research.


There is scarcely a color but has been or is held sacred by some nation or religion. With Mahommedans green is the sacred hue. The prophet originally wore a turban of that dye, and the sultan shows due preference for that color.

The tomb of David, which is in possession of the Mahommedans, and which was at great hazard visited by a lady within the past few years, is covered by a green satin tapestry, and over it hangs a satin canopy of red, blue, yellow, and green stripes, the three primitive and the sacred, compound color.

Green also seems to have been the sacred color in ancient Peru, virgins of the sun wearing robes of that hue. The ancient Mexican priests also, in the performance of their functions, wore crowns of green and yellow feathers, and at their ears hung green jewels.[Pg 204] Precious stones of a green color were held in higher estimation by the Aztecs than any other. When the Spaniards were first admitted to an audience with Montezuma, he wore no other ornament on his head than a panache of plumes of royal green.

Green comes in the class of secondary colors, being a compound of yellow and blue, and signifies pale, new, fresh, growing, flourishing (like a green bay tree); and also unripe, when applied to either fruits or men, which, as far as the human is concerned, is a term of reproach. A person without experience, either in position, behavior, or use of anything, is termed green, and laughed at. They are fresh, new, and, instead of the admiring exclamation, How green it is! as applied to a plant, is the reproachful one, How green he is!

At different seasons of the year, different colors are appropriate in dress. Light green is the color of freshness, youth, and spring, and more suitable to be worn in the spring of the year and by young persons, than later in the season or by mature women. Dark green, like crimson and orange, is a warmer, more intensified color, with less of liveliness and freshness.


Is the type of monarchical enlightenment. With Caucasian nations it has been the symbolic color of royalty, until 'invest with the purple,' in the course of ages, comes to mean kingdom, government, power, to rule. Purple is formed by the union of blue and red, truth and valor. Happy the people who are truly governed by truth and valor! The Tyrian purple was famous in Homer's days, and our dreams of Tyre and its splendor are all colored by this most gorgeous of dyes, the manufacture of which from a species of shell fish gave this ancient city a celebrity which all its other arts combined could not equal. This was one of the symbolic colors with which the high priest's robe was wrought in figures of pomegranates upon its skirt; and when Solomon sent to Hiram, king of Tyre, for a cunning workman to assist in building the temple, he did not fail to require he should be skilled in purple. During the time of the Roman emperors, the Tyrian purple was valued so highly that a pound of cloth twice dipped was sold for about one hundred and fifty dollars. Even a purple border about a robe was a mark of dignity.


Is a color that has often been worn by martyrs; formed of a union of red and blue, it signifies love and truth, and their passion and suffering. It is the court mourning color all over Europe, with the exception of England. It is the softest of the prismatic colors, and its very name carries us in thought to the modest sweet flower which is Flora's emblem of humility.

Of one of the colors of the spectrum I have failed to speak, because there was so little to say. Orange is a bright, warm color, not quite as intense as red, still one which the eye does not readily seek. Its suitableness in dress is confined mainly to children. Upon them our eye naturally seeks for bright, warm colors, and rests with a kind of pleasure upon rich hues. There is nothing upon which the public taste requires more education than upon the arrangement and modification of colors. Gardeners need it in setting their plants and putting in their seeds; florists, in the arrangement of their bouquets; furnishers, in the decoration of apartments; and especially the fashion leaders, who decide what colors or shades must or must not be worn together. Sometimes hues are conjoined by them, that, no matter how loudly proclaimed au fait, the height of style, or à la mode, are never artistic, and no dicta can make them so. A fashion framer should needs be a natural philosopher, and hold the rudiments of all science in her grasp. Botany, miner[Pg 205]alogy, conchology should walk as handmaidens to philosophy; optics should steer the rudder of color's bark when launched upon the sea of taste.

If, when dressed, the aim is to present a light and graceful toilet, light and delicate shades of color must be worn; no crimson, dark green, purple, or indigo, but rose, light green, azure, or lavender, with a due admixture of white, must be the hues chosen. White serves as an admirable break, and prevents the appearance of violent transition. It is none the less requisite in bouquets, where no two shades of the same color should be allowed without either white or green as a separator. Very handsome self-colored bouquets can be arranged by giving a finish of the complementary shade. One of the most beautiful I ever remember to have seen was scarlet verbenas with a base of rose-geranium leaves, the whole set in a small antique green-and-gold vase.

Although the mature fall of the year clothes itself in gay colors, it is deemed an evidence of immaturity for women in the fall time of life to sport crimson and scarlet and orange. Sober grays (which mean old, mature), quiet brown, and even sombre blacks, are rather what are looked for. To dress young when people are old, deceives no one. There is a beauty of age as well as a beauty of youth. Those who live to be old have had their share of the former: why should they seek to deprive themselves of the latter? Aside from the appropriateness of color as to age, there are yet others as to size and complexion. Light-haired men should always wear very dark cravats, in order to give tone and expression to the face. Large women should wear warm colors, if they wish to create a pleasant impression. They cannot attain grace by any aid of color, while they will lose the dignity they might naturally claim if they confined themselves to warm, grave shades.

An unartistic arrangement of light or drapery in an apartment will totally destroy the harmony of the most carefully prepared toilet. Rooms can be toned warm or cold, but, unless some especial object is sought, neutral tints should predominate, and violent contrasts should be avoided.

Who has failed to notice the fantastic tricks played at times upon some body of worshippers, where light to the church is admitted through stained glass windows? A lambent red flame lighting up the hair of a man's head, while at the same moment his beard is blue and luminous. Over the shoulders of another, the purple mantle of royalty seems about falling, investing him for a moment with regal splendors, while perhaps the cadaverous hue of his next neighbor's face well fits him to be some imagined victim of his new majesty's anger.

Color ranks as one of the earliest arts. No nation is so low but it makes some attempt at decorative color, and we may be well assured it was one of the earliest, if not the earliest method employed in transmitting intelligence. When this country was first discovered, the Peruvians were making use of small knotted cords of various colors, termed quippu, as mediums of records and messages. Our own North American savages employed wampum, made from various colored shells, for a similar purpose. Color played its part in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It speaks to the eye sooner than form. A black flag hoisted upon the battle field proclaims louder than words the demoniac cruelty that reigns, while a white signifies that submission has been decided upon. Joseph's coat of many colors proclaimed the father's favoritism to his brothers, and worked a mighty change in the history of the race to which he belonged. This very instance, if we possessed no other, would prove to us the high estimation in which color was held, and its symbolic meaning, in the most ancient times.

The ermine is an animal of such[Pg 206] spotless purity it will tolerate no stain on its fur, and by this symbolic name we designate the judge, who should be stainless, unbiassed, and incorruptible.

The highest art of the florist is put forth to procure change of color. Self tulips are valueless beside sports, and to induce this breaking various methods are put in requisition, as there is no sporting of colors from natural causes among flowers. A green rose, a blue verbena, are hailed as triumphs, and secure the propagator an enviable name either as an amateur or professional florist.

Perhaps the most curious thing connected with color is that some stars give colored light; and in one instance, in a northern constellation, a double star gives forth blue rays from one and red from the other. How our fancy might be permitted to soar away beyond the stars themselves in wondering fancies as to the meaning of this—truth and love united in a star, not as a compound color, but each retaining its own hue of blue and red! What a happy abode of truthful, loving spirits we can imagine this the dwelling place! And may there not here be a symbol of such a union?

The art of color is yet in its infancy, and although Tyrian purple was magnificent and famous, and the highly prized Turkey red unfading, yet modern chemical discovery has opened a wide variety of hues unknown to the ancients.

Colors obtained from vegetable substances have been the most numerous, those from the animal kingdom the most brilliant, and from the mineral the greatest variety from the same substance. A buff, a blue, and a black, and again a red, a blue, a purple, and a violet, are produced from the same metal.

The recent discovery of aniline colors, to be extracted from coal refuse, has given art new, beautiful, and durable shades of red, blue, purple, and violet. We know but by description what the lauded Tyrian purple was, for monopoly caused the art to be lost; but for softness, richness, and beauty of purple we have none to approach that extracted from this refuse. Nature means nothing to be lost, and waste arises from ignorance. She is a royal mistress when royally represented.

To the mineral kingdom we are indebted for most of the mordants which fix the hues derived from other sources. That in union is strength is taught by the most common art.

Much is yet to be learned in regard to color. Men have understood its correspondence sufficiently to associate red and cruelty as its lowest expression, so that the men of the bloody French Revolution received an undying name from the red cap of the Carmagnole costume—and yellow with shame, for a ruff of this color on the neck of a woman hanged drove this fashion out of England—and white with purity, as the ermine of the judge shows; although, thousands of years ago, the men of Tartary and Thibet prized the wool of the Crimean sheep stained of a peculiar gray by its feeding upon the centarina myriocephala, and although modern gardeners deepen the hues of plants by feeding them judiciously, yet few attach the requisite importance to color as history. Writers for the most part pass silently by this great aid to a correct understanding of past events. Color in costume is no less essential to a true description or representation than form; in some instances it is more so.

The color of the silken sails of Cleopatra's vessel, as she sailed down the Cydnus, proclaimed her royalty as no other could have done.

A fairy could not be depicted without her green robe, or young Aurora unless tinted with the hues of morn.

Here lies the great fault of all sun pictures. The distinctive hues of complexion, hair, and eyes are not preserved. The flaxen, the auburn, the brown hair alike take black. Light eyes and dark are undistinguishable; the clearest complexion becomes muddy[Pg 207] and full of lines if the color of the dress is such as to throw the shade upon it.

A mixture of colors in dress in which either two of the primitives predominate, is a token of barbarism, even if occurring among so-called enlightened people.

Color is an exponent of the degree of civilization.

Red finds its fitness among savage races, and with undeveloped natures.

Yellow indicates transition from barbarism to civilization.

Green, advanced civilization.

Purple, monarchical enlightenment, which is will individualized in but one.

Modification and harmony are only with people free to follow taste and select for themselves. Among the most enlightened nations these five states are all found. The highest type, shown by culture, discovery, art, literature, science, equity, and government, exists with but a few. The mass are civilized, and continue 'the mass.' It is the natural tendency of enlightenment to individualize. In proportion to genius, culture, and perseverance, is one set apart, becomes a leader of the masses, and should be a teacher of the harmony and correspondence of color, both by precept and example.

Strong contrasts are admissible in what is designed to illustrate particular things, and especially if to be viewed from a distance. To me no sight is ever more beautiful than the American flag, red, white, and blue, as the breeze opens every fold and waves it abroad for the gaze of men; the blue signifying a league and covenant against oppression, to be maintained in truth, by valor and purity; the very color proclaiming to despots and tyrannized man that in one land on the broad face of the earth liberty of conscience prevails, and freedom of speech exists. We shall not want to change it when this war is over. It is the symbol of an idea which has never yet found its full utterance. When Liberty and Union become one and indivisible, it will be the harmonious exponent of those grand ideas rooted, budded, blossomed, and bearing fruit forevermore.


Oh, how our pulses leaped and thrilled, when, at the dead of night,
We saw our legions mustering, and marching forth to fight!
Line after line comes surging on with martial pomp and pride,
And all the pageantries that gild the battle's crimson tide.
A forest of bright bayonets, like stars at midnight, gleam;
A hundred glittering standards flash above the silver stream.
We plunged into the Wilderness, and morning's early dawn
Disclosed our gallant army in line of battle drawn.
An early zephyr fresh and sweet breathed through the forest shade;
A thousand happy warblers, too, a pleasant music made;
And modest blossoms bathed in dew the morning light revealed:
Oh, who could deem those pleasant shades a savage foe concealed?
With lagging pace the morning hours dragged heavily away,
And yet we wait the coming strife, in battle's stern array.
A solemn stillness reigns around—but hark! a savage yell,
[Pg 208]As if ten thousand angry fiends had burst the gates of hell,
Now thrills upon our startled ears. By heaven! the traitors come!
We see their gleaming banners, we hear the throbbing drum.
In solid ranks, their countless hordes from the dense woods emerge,
And roll upon our serried lines like ocean's angry surge.
Our ranks are silent—on each face the light of battle glows:
'Ready!' At once our polished tubes are levelled on our foes.
Now leaps a livid lightning up—from rank to rank it flies—
A fearful diapason rends the arches of the skies.
The wooded hills seem reeling before that fierce recoil;
With fire and smoke the valleys like Etna's craters boil:
From red volcanoes bursting, hissing, hurtling in the sky,
A thousand death-winged messengers like fiery meteors fly:
Within that seething vortex their shattered cohorts reel.
'Fix bayonets!' At once our lines bristle with burnished steel.
'Charge!' And our gallant regiments burst through the feu d'enfer.
Before their furious onset the rebel hosts give way;
And, surging backward, hide again within the forest's shade,
Whose mazes dark and intricate our charging columns stayed.

Now sinks the fiery orb of day, half hidden from our sight
Amid the sulphurous clouds of war dyed red in lurid light;
And soon the smoking Wilderness with gloom and darkness fills;
The dense, damp foliage on the sod a bloody dew distils.
Sleepless we rest upon our arms. Dim lights flit through the shade:
We hear the groans of dying men, the rattle of the spade.
And when the morning dawns at last, resounding from afar
We hear the crash of musketry, the rising din of war.
O comrades, comrades, rally round, close up your ranks again;
Weep not our brethren fallen upon the crimson plain;
For unborn ages shall their tombs with freshest laurels twine;
Their names in characters of light on history's page shall shine:
We all must die; but few may win a deathless prize of life—
Close up your ranks—again the foe renews the bloody strife.
Two days we struggled fiercely against our stubborn foes—
Two days from out the Wilderness the din of conflict rose.
But when the third aurora bathed the eastern sky in gold,
And to our soldiers' anxious gaze the field of death unrolled,
Lo! all was silent in our front. The rebel hosts had fled,
Abandoning in hasty flight their wounded and their dead.

Come, friends of freedom, gather round, loud shouts of triumph give:
The field of blood is won at last—let the republic live!
Our country, O our country, our hearts throb wild and high;
Your cause has triumphed. God be praised! Freedom shall never die.
Our eagle proudly soars to-day, his talons bathed in gore,
For treason's hydra head is crushed—its reign of terror o'er.
Wake, wake your shouts of triumph all through our mighty land,
From California's golden hills to proud Potomac's strand.
Atlantic's waves exulting Pacific's billows call,
And great Niagara's cataracts in louder thunders fall.
We've stayed the tempest black as night that on our country lowers,
[Pg 209]And backward dashed its waves of blood. The victory is ours!

A light shines from the Wilderness—far up time's pathway streams—
Through death, and blood, and agony, on Calvary's cross it gleams;
It lights with radiance divine Mount Vernon's humble tomb,
And sparkles on Harmodius' sword bright flashing through the gloom.
Ho! slaves of yesterday, arise, now will your chains be riven.
Ho! tyrants, tremble, for behold a day of vengeance given.
Gaze on our banners stained with blood—think of your brethren slain;
Say, has not freedom, crushed to earth, sprung forth to life again?
Freedom, high freedom, friend of man, sheath not thy crimson steel;
Still let thy cannon thunder loud, still let thy trumpet peal;
Stay not the justice of thy wrath, stay not thy vengeful hand,
Till slavery and treason have been blotted from our land.


Under the heading of 'Tardy Truths' The New Nation, of May 7th, republished a compendium of matter some time back given to the world by M. Emile de Girardin, in his paper La Presse, and in pamphlet form. This matter purports to have been written by a so-called ex-commandant in the late Polish insurrection, a certain M. Fouquet, of Marseilles.

Poland has no reason to fear truth. On the contrary, the difficulty has been to find means to set it forth, avenues to the public intelligence and sense of justice, whereby those might be reached who forget the Latin saying: Audi et alteram partem. The Poles are willing to hear reproaches, if such as may be profited by, or if the self-constituted judges be conscientious and unprejudiced.

But, may we not ask why it is that many of these so-called truths, professedly founded upon personal acquaintance with Polish localities, men, and institutions, spring from sources in many respects similar to that of the recent publication in La Presse, from individuals who never were in Poland beyond a few hours spent in Warsaw—who have seen nothing of the country, except as passing in a passenger car from Kracow to Mohilew, a distance of about seven hundred miles, traversed in about twenty-four hours—who never understood one word of Polish, of Rossian, or of any of the cognate tongues—who have never conversed freely with the inhabitants—who may have been entertained during a few hours by Government employés or by cautious and distrustful patriots—who were in a hurry to see St. Petersburg and its elephant, and who learned Polish history in the Kremlin, in the saloons of some former prince from the Altay or the Caucasus, or, at best, in the work of M. Koydanoff?

La Presse, in Paris, undertook the charge of saying things which her franker sisters, Le Nord and La Nation, the avowed organs of Rossian czarism, did not venture to propound. M. de Girardin, whose paper has, since a certain period, taken a liberalistic, even socialistic, infection, is a living example of sundry anomalous eccentricities, such as Alcibiades, Gracchus, Mirabeau, etc., who speak most liberally, and act in a contrary manner. He seems to have been adopted by Rossian diplomatists, and those sanguine of Rossian destiny,[Pg 210] as a most convenient defender of czarish ambition—the more so that they found in him a revealer of things never thought of by the czar; as for instance, liberality and even democracy in Great Rossia, on the plains of Okka and Petschora.

We might compare M. Fouquet's account of Poland with Neumann's account of Kosciusko, or Freneau's of Washington, but will content ourselves with referring the reader to better European sources of knowledge, as the Breslau Zeitung, Ost Deutsche Zeitung, Czas, Wiek, La Pologne, etc.

Indeed, it would not be worth our while to pay any attention to M. Fouquet's allegations, had not the Paris letter of April 4th appeared in the above-mentioned paper, and were it not likely to mislead many ignorant of the facts.

The writer tells us that he has 'experienced a great temptation to tell what he has seen,' and to 'expose the result of experience acquired at his own cost, with all attendant risk and danger.' Probably we do not understand the fear of the author of 'Tardy Truths,' and wish to give no extended explanation to his conclusion: 'A rare opportunity occurs at present, and he profits by it.' We have been taught that we must always have courage to speak the truth. Surely no great amount of that noble quality is required to make accusations in a paper far from the scene of action, and pronounce a verdict where there can be no adequate defence, no judges, only the advantage of the fashion of the day, and the craving for problematical benefits and friendship, to which we must apply Moore's comparison:

'Like Dead Sea fruits, that tempt the eye,
But turn to ashes on the lips.'

Let us never be deceived: a free nation in the embrace of absolutism must, sooner or later, fall a prey to the cajoler's hypocrisy and greed.

The correspondent reports that the Polish Committee in Paris declined to give him information or furnish means, and even said that they did not wish volunteers. All this may readily be explained by the consideration that a man who thereafter proved to be so bitter an enemy was not sufficiently diplomatic to deceive even the obtuse perceptions of so undeserving a body as the author describes said committee. On the other hand, it would have been more prudent for the writer to have said less on this topic, as such hesitation in accepting his services might induce the reader to think that the Poles were not so anxious for external aid as he seemed to fancy. We also know that not only at present in Poland, but in former ages, and in our own days, in the happiest of countries, there can be no revolution, no war, which will not attract a host of men covetous of rank or fortune. Lately, in Poland, by certain judicious arrangements, this calamity has been prevented, to the great dissatisfaction of many.

No one can doubt or deny that the interest of various Governments, and the sense of justice among nations, gave the Poles a right to expect foreign aid. The assurances of certain politicians and statesmen even gave reasonable expectation of such a result. Such aid would of course neither be rejected nor treated with indifference. But the assertion that the Poles relied solely on such aid is (in the face of the manifesto of January 22d and July 31st, 1863) either a proof of ill will, or of entire ignorance of the resources upon which Poland was bound to rely, and which could not be intrusted to the discretion of every volunteer or pretended well-wisher to the Polish nation.

Continuing his imputations, the accuser says he only learned afterward why seven thousand Parisian workmen, registered at M. d'Harcourt's committee, 'were not sent forth.' The probable purport of this reproach is: 'They were not sent for fear of the introduction of liberal elements—and the prole[Pg 211]tariat—into Poland.' As to the latter, we may at once confidently answer that, were Poland free to-day, the condition of the laboring class in Western Europe need not be dreaded for a hundred years to come. As to the liberal element, does the author indeed think that Poland has had no Liberalists similar to Voltaire, La Mennais, Victor Hugo, L. Blanc, Mazzini, or Hertzen? Does he fancy that Modzewski (in the sixteenth century), Skarga (a Catholic preacher in the seventeenth), Morsztyn, Jezierski, Andrew Zamoyski, Hugo Kollontay, Loyko (in the eighteenth), Staszye, Lelewel, Mochnacki, Ostrowski, Czynski, Mieroslawski, and a host of others, contented with the private good they did, and forced to shun the jealous watchfulness of suspicious rulers—does he, we say, fancy that all these needed to be inspired by the liberality of Parisian workmen, or even that all the aforesaid workmen would apply themselves to the dissemination of liberal opinions? It is indeed a great disadvantage to Polish Liberalists, philosophers, and poets, that they speak and write in a tongue unknown to the noble philanthropists of the West. A greater amount of knowledge would have saved hasty tourists, veracious lecturers, and all-knowing diplomatists many errors in statement and conception, and much aversion toward a noble people, who, if vanquished, will not be crushed, and will always reserve the right of protest.

At all events, this last conclusion of our correspondent leads us to suspect that he may perchance never have been in Poland—perhaps never even in Paris—since this non-sending forth of seven thousand Parisians was better understood by every gamin du faubourg than apparently by the sincere narrator of 'Tardy Truths.'

The writer says further, that he expected to find in Kracow 'activity and infinite means.' Now, the author and the confidence of the Poles must have been quite strangers to one another, or his imagination must have misled him farther than was becoming in a man of knowledge and reflection. He does not mention the date of his journey, but we know about the period referred to. It is true that at that time Kracow had not yet been declared in a state of siege by M. Pouilly de Mensdorf, but, as a personal friend of the Czar, he had then held Galicia and Kracow during the past year under a more uncertain condition than even the declaration of a state of siege would have produced. Twenty thousand chosen officers and soldiers, with discretionary and greatly enlarged powers, and almost as many policemen and spies, with early fed and increasing covetousness for rewards, promotions, and orders, kept constant watch over the ancient capital of Poland, the last remnant of Polish nationality which had been engulfed in the European peace of 1846.

We may then safely assert that our author has given us sketches from his whims and fancies, rather than the mature results of his judgment, and that he has also neglected to direct his researches into the history of the past. It is doubtless true that he was not desired as a volunteer, and that he found danger only, and not fortune, which, indeed, we think his own sagacity might have taught him from the first.

We would be forced to doubt that any one understood the policy of the Polish Committee in Warsaw who should apply the epithet 'mercenary' to the Polish soldiers. We would not ask our author how much he gave per diem to those under his own command: we have no wish to rival the wit of a Russian proclamation which appeared last winter in Warsaw, in which the Poles in general, including those who fought at Orsza, Wielikie Luki, Kirchholm, Chocim, Smolensk, Vienna, Zurich, Hohenlinden, Samocierros, Pultusk, Grochow, Iganie, Zyzyny, Opatow, etc., etc., were stigmatized as poltroons and cowards![Pg 212]

It is certainly true that the battles of late have not represented a file of twenty thousand men, but to call them on that account frontier demonstrations, is to add subtle calumny to ungenerous irony; it is a deviation even from the very 'tardy truths.' It is an assertion not made in an impartial spirit, but calculated in favor of, and determinately stated with the intention of sustaining those who are exerting themselves to prove that Minsk, Grodno, Mohilew, Wolhynia, Podole, Plock, Augustow, Lithuania, Samogitia, Liefland, etc., were ancient dependencies of Russia, before she had herself an existence either in name or fact! If the originator of the term frontier demonstrations would take the trouble to study the map, he would not be able to cherish the delusion that his intelligent readers could believe that battles fought near Kowno, Oszmiana, Upita, Poniewiez, Lida, Ihumen, Dubno, Pinsk, Mscislaw, etc., were really frontier demonstrations!

This declaration of the letter from Paris to America would not be of much service to The Journal of St. Petersburg or The Invalid, of Moscow, or increase their exhilaration over the extermination of the Polish race, the destruction of Polish principles. There is nothing more natural than that a rebuke to the Siècle, Opinion Nationale, Patrie, and perhaps even others, should follow such statements—their views undoubtedly stand in complete opposition to those held by M. de Girardin, and advocated in La Presse.

The assertion that the Polish National Government had no object in view but to excite and await the intervention of France; that Galicia was the principal focus of the rebellion, and that the unknown Government had no actual existence, is, on the one hand, an unskilful attempt to justify the Governments of Russia and Austria, and, on the other, by the ignoring of all the reports of the Polish National Government—all its obvious facts, its printed documents, its acts everywhere known and seen, its seizures of papers and documents—and to portray it as a fraud, a myth, a dream of the imagination, a wild hallucination of a disordered brain, it suggests to us the thought that the tardy and present truths here given us of Poland may perhaps have the same origin as that famous description in one of the St. Petersburg papers, of 'the at last truly discovered leader of the Polish insurrection,' which was but a portraiture of a certain, not mentioned but easily guessed, personage in Paris.

We have no reply to make to this reproach (we can only wonder that under the circumstances they should ever have been made) that the Polish volunteers were badly armed and illy managed—possibly they might have been better even in a partisan war. But as to the want of skill in the officers, including such as Skarzynski, Bosak, Padlewski, we wonder that the writer or his friend F. could not succeed in making their talents known and valued, and become at least leaders among the blind. Of course he had to contend with cross-eyed jealousy. Yet if, as a foreigner, and a learned one too, he was, as he himself informs us, intimately admitted into various chateaux, it seems almost impossible he should have had no opportunity to become major, colonel, or even general, since it is well known, and every foreigner will bear witness to the fact, that in these chateaux there has always been too much attention and too great preference shown to foreigners—a preference, however, in which the lower classes do not participate.

As to the easy chateau life led in Galicia, as in Russia, we have a remark to offer. In a country exposed during five or six centuries to incessant struggle against Asiatic craving for European allurements, or, to speak more definitely, after ninety-four Mongolian incursions, in which twenty millions of Polish people were carried off, and thousands of towns, bourgs, and vil[Pg 213]lages were destroyed; after numberless wars, plunders, and devastations by Jazygs, Turks, Muscovites, Crusaders, Wallachians, Transylvanians, Swedes, Brandenburgians, etc., etc.; after a hundred years of the so-called paternal spoliation of Russia, Prussia, and Austria—there could have been no opportunity, even under Graff Pouilly de Mensdorf, to build comfortable chateaux on the mouldering ruins, or for the accumulation of means for an easy life under the oppressions of an Austrian tariff, which exacted that goods manufactured in Lemberg should be sent for inspection to the Vienna custom house before being exposed to sale. There are, however, a few very splendid chateaux, like oases in the Desert of Sahara; they can be counted readily on one's fingers; among them few patriots; no conspirator, much less an insurgent or crippled invalid, ever called to ask hospitality.

The calumny so often repeated, so urgently insisted upon, that the aim of the Polish insurrection was inconsistent, foolish, and wicked, might not perhaps astonish the reader more than the report of the want of zeal and faith in the convictions of the Poles, a fact first revealed to the world in 'Tardy Truths.' This warning with regard to the true character of the struggle on the shores of the Vistula might prove of service in aiding the discrimination of the American people, and be useful in confusing the judgment of the liberal men and newspapers, which, whether in Germany, Belgium, France, or England, are not too much inclined to favor the cause of Polish independence; nay, it would spare France the useless demonstration in the Chambers, made in consequence of the speech of November 5th. The late efforts of the Poles are also shown to have been inspired and incited by, and carried on for the benefit of, the Catholic clergy, stimulated by fanaticism against the liberal, civilizing, enlightened, Rosso-Greek Church, a view which might and has proved very useful to modern lecturers and letter writers. The warning therein given might also serve to degrade the Polish revolution to the level of some of the slave-holders' rebellion. Let us reflect but for one single moment on the parallel attempted to be drawn, particularly in the New York papers, after the unfortunate Mexican imbroglio and subsequent visit of the Russian fleet, between things so utterly unlike. The Poles fought for everything most dear to the heart of man, for every right which he can justly claim, for independence, national existence, the right to use his own language, for the integrity of his country;—the States of the South had all these in full possession, nay, even the right to pass the law binding the North. These things might be shown to be essentially dissimilar in every respect, but this short statement is deemed sufficient to show the futility of the comparison.

Let us now proceed to say a few words with regard to the plausible arguments so generally set forth for the glorification of the Czar, in respect to the emancipation of the Polish serfs. The Czar gave in 1864 what had already been given by the Poles themselves in 1863; less the soil, which indeed never belonged to him, but for which he exacts payment. Besides, he has confiscated, without regulations or laws, the income from forests, rents, fields, and fisheries, belonging to old men, women, and children, whose only crime was that they had been born Poles, or whom it pleased the hungry throng of unscrupulous, greedy, and fanatical officials, unbounded in their zeal as in their power, to denounce, accuse, or dislike. We could fully prove the fact that the greater part of the peasants are now forced by bayonets to work for the exacted pay, and most of them venture to doubt entirely the propriety of the pretended Russian gift. This one circumstance makes this gift in the greater part of Poland and even, of Russia more burdensome than the[Pg 214] old state of regulated labor; for how is a peasant to procure money in provinces distant from markets, rivers, and towns? Under what conditions would it be possible to obtain it? And even in cases where the peasant may be able to make a sale, the value received for eight bushels of potatoes will not be sufficient to buy him a common axe. How many calves, cows, sheep, horses, and hogs are brought back from market from the impossibility of finding purchasers, even at the lowest prices? Now, by the decree of January 22d, the Polish National Government gave freedom, and land relieved from all claims, thus executing what was in accordance with the spirit and wishes of the Poles, without losing sight of the difficulties to be encountered. It was their imperative duty to satisfy and adjust the exigencies of the national political economy. Fortunately, it was found possible to harmonize the requirements of the country with the personal interests of the proprietors. The amount of land held by them was in general so large, that even after endowing the peasant with the allotted portion, considerable would still remain in their hands. Diminished in extent and value during the transitional phase, the remaining land would necessarily rise rapidly in value, because the emancipated peasant would now have the right to own and buy land. The calculation might be sustained that it would quintuple in value in the course of fifty years. Small farms from their possessions would soon be in the market, farms within the range of small purses and limited means, and the proprietors did not fail to see the advantage which would accrue to them in the almost unlimited increase of purchasers which would soon be found among the enfranchised laborers. The peasants gained freedom, land, and many advantages, nor were the proprietors ruined in their advancement. Hence the National Government effected what the Rossian never intended to do or ever will achieve: gain and loss were equalized in the national duty of sustaining the country in its progressive course, stimulating all to labor simultaneously to support its public burdens, to aid in the general advancement. The real freedom thus gained, in accordance with the far-sighted policy of the Polish National Government, opened wide the door to liberty, trade, commerce, and exchange; a policy which czarism, even in its most liberal mood, can never admit, because it would condemn itself, and give the death blow to its own existence. There is another specialty peculiar to the Rossian Government, never forgotten by those who live under its rule, viz.: the late emancipation was begun about three years ago by an ukase of no very decided purport, which was followed by many others of like uncertain character, according with the varying views of those by whom they were dictated, by the partisans of emancipation or by those standing in opposition to it. These ukases are ranged in their appropriate numerical titles, and there are at least five hundred thousand of them—whether imperial or senatorial, all legally binding. What memory could stand such a burden, or what might legal cavil not find therein?

It is an easy thing to 'speak for Buncombe,' as we say in America; it is an easy thing to proclaim measures when we take no thought of how they may be carried out; it is easy to excite the enthusiasm of the popular lecturer, always in search of novelty with which to feed his hearers; it may be pleasant to furnish venom to wounded self-esteem or disappointed and petty ambition—but it will be found an exceedingly difficult task to reconcile absolutism with freedom, czarism with liberalism, the division of men into appointed castes and classes with the existence of liberty and political equality. We are assured, not only by the writer of the letter in question, but by the sages of New York, that the Polish peasants[Pg 215] were not willing to fight for Poland, that they called their countrymen now in arms against Rossia 'dogs of nobles,' and 'that it was really their duty to rise against and denounce their former masters to Rossia and Austria!'

If these assertions are true, who then filled the ranks of the Polish insurgents? Who furnished food to those who lived for months in the depths of forests, the haunts of mountain gorges? How was it possible that without the connivance of the peasants the insurgents should pass to and fro, or lie hidden in woods and fields? It was stated authoritatively that the insurgents, were composed principally of Hungarian refugees, about ten Frenchmen, a few strangers from other nations, but of the number of the lesser nobility, men, in short, in search of shelter and fortune. A strange fortune, a marvellous shelter indeed to reward the greed of the ambitious—exile, death, and torture! Were the testimony of such witnesses to be relied upon, we might well exclaim: 'Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.' Yet how is it that we find among the seven hundred patriots who were hung so many Poles, less than a half of whom were Catholics, many of whom were Jews, Protestants, and even Rosso-Greeks of various classes? Among the forty thousand known deported, torn ruthlessly away from their native homes for centuries, we find nearly five thousand Israelites, ten thousand peasants (known), and from four to six thousand of Greek and other creeds. The two villages near Lida, two in the government of Grodno, the hundreds of villages and thousands of huts near Dwina, Rzezyca, Mohilew, Witebsk, burned, razed to the ground by an excited and hired rabble of Muscovite Muziks, who had sought and found hospitality in Poland for hundreds of years—certainly all these villages and huts were not inhabited even by the 'lesser nobility.' And it is also certain that the dwellers were not so cruelly punished for denouncing the 'dogs of nobles'—an expression, if we are not mistaken, taken from the vocabulary of the corporal or subaltern officials, and which has never reached the fourteenth class—from which the Rossian begins to reckon humanity.

The allegation of the existence of unrooted feudalism in Poland, because such a system was known to the whole of Middle Europe, must be accounted for by the evident ignorance of Polish history; and we assure both teachers and readers, notwithstanding the evident wish to find it in Poland, that it was unknown to her, nor could it subsist in the presence of Polish institutions, habits, customs, and geography.

We can scarcely suppose it possible that our author means to insinuate that thousands of noble families bought and transported arms for the purpose of speculation. Notwithstanding the evidence he had of one such bad business transaction for the purpose of sustaining and upholding the insurrection, his frequent intimations of the incorrigible and unruly character of the few Poles left, would almost authorize us in believing that such was the intention of the writer when speaking of the aforesaid arms.

Oh, in the name of common sense, for the sake of the men whose country has been torn from them, who may not speak their mothers' tongue in the land of their fathers, who are forbidden to worship in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, whose sacred homes are desecrated by the presence of privileged spies, who cannot sit down in peace in the holy quiet of evening, because they know that the morrow may see them dragged off to unknown and inaccessible dungeons, or summoned before brutal judges without defenders, where they will find accusers, but will be allowed to cite no witnesses; subjected to witness the horrible anxiety endured every spring and fall by Polish fathers and mothers lest the sons of their love should be unexpectedly seized in the night and hur[Pg 216]ried off over the Caucasus, the Ural, or to the mouth of the Amour, to serve in the army of the oppressor for life, or longer than home memories in such young bosoms could be expected to last, with no prospect of reward save such as may be reckoned in the number of palkis and pletnis (whips and lashes); sons, whether rich or poor, to be exposed to cavil, cunning, and vindictiveness, to the practices of gambling judges and a profligate soldiery, to a venal police, to fraudulent employés, themselves badly paid for service, but whose extortions and abuses always meet with approval, a single complaint against whom would expose the complainant to be sent through that hopeless gate always open on the route to Siberia;—oh, for the sake of common humanity, say not that men placed in such situations have, in spite of their glorious history, no rights, no claims on human sympathy, no cause to sacrifice life even when it has become a haunting horror!

Believe not that such complaints are inventions: the facts are known to everybody who will look upon them. They are no slanderous stories, but occurrences renewed with every morning, taking place under all circumstances and with every transaction patent to the world. They were appreciated and described in Prussia, and even in Austria verified, not long before the last campaign. Under such circumstances, what must be thought of the discoveries and conclusions of writers who assert that 'the Polish nation is a mere chimera'? As no individual, mighty as he may be, can by a blasphemous word suppress the existence of the Eternal Father, so neither passion nor love, favor nor animosity, interest nor purpose of the most talented or ambitious, can erase at pleasure a nationality which has a history of over a thousand years of existence, a nationality proved by the last hundred years of incessant struggle for independence with three giants. This nation has marked its boundaries with graveyards toward the Dniester, Dnieper, Niemen, and Dwina, where rest the beaten hordes of Batu or Nogays. Can the record be erased of the power that broke the sword of the Osmanlis, and was it a chimera that preserved Western Europe from such sights as Polowce and Pietschiniegs, etc.? You may perhaps to-day designate as a chimera the Vienna saved in 1683, that very Vienna which in 1815 first conceived the idea of sowing the seeds of distrust between Galicians and Lodomerians—an idea soon after adopted, perfected, and publicly propagated by Rossians, who applied the practice to Lithuanians, Volhynians, Podolans, Polans, Radymicians, etc.—an idea now held in the fierce grasp of Muraview, Anienkow, and probably at no very distant period to be recalled to the mind of the originator.

The gentleman's knowledge of Russians (the true name is Rossians, the other being assumed to effect a certain purpose in Western Europe), Prussians, and Austrians, to the exclusion of Poles, proves only that his geographic and ethnographic researches in Poland went no farther than those of the 'reliable gentleman' who described the Bunker Hill monument under President Lafayette.

In addition to the above, let us consult simply the sound of the names of places, and we can form some idea of the extent of races and nationalities. Nowgorod, Kaluga, Pskow—are Rossian; Telsze, Szawle, Rosienie—Lithuanian; Winszpilis, Gielgawa, Libosie—Courland; Lublin, Ostrolenka, Plock—Polish; Wlodrimirz, Zytomirz, Berdyczev—Volhynian. In Austria, are the inhabitants of Venice, Prague, and Buda, Austrian? The name of Prussia is an old one of Slavonians living at the mouth of the Vistula, and has no etymology in the Teutonic language. Those of Galicia and Lodomeria are unskilfully disfigured from Halitsh (Halicz) and Wlodzimir. The name[Pg 217] of Prussia was assumed by Frederic II., margrave of Brandenburg, when he took the title of king, at the same time giving solemn oaths never to pretend to the sovereignty of Dantzick (Gdansk), Thorn (Torun), etc.

The present empire of Alexander is not of Russia, but of Rossia, and the name of Russia is imposed on Polans near Kiow, on Radymicians near Nowogrodek, on Drewlans south of the river Pripec, etc.; and we must remember that Catharine II., in 1764, had solemnly declared by her ambassadors, Kayserling and Repnin, that she had no right to Russias or Ruthenias in Poland: 'Declaramus suam Imperatoriam Majestatem Dominam nostram clementissimam ex usu tituli totius Rossiæ, nec sibi, nec successoribus suis neque Imperio suo jus ullum in ditiones et terræ quæ sub nomine Russiæ a Regno Poloniæ magnoque ducatu Lithuaniæ possiduntur,' etc.

The prediction of the reëstablishment of serfdom as a result aimed at in the present Polish struggle, is not only rash but preposterous, and has no foundation except in a fixed purpose to direct all sympathy toward Rossia.

The true bondage that tied man in Poland to the soil, began with the introduction of police, passports, censors or skaski, recruiting, conscription, and taxation, introduced by Prussia, Austria, and Rossia, as so-called improvements. Poland had more free peasants, called Ziemianin, Kmiec, Kozak, than there were in France during the régime of the Gabeles or Leibeigenschaft in Germany. That they entirely disappeared after the fall of Poland was surely not her fault. The peasants on the estates attached to the clergy of all denominations, to public schools, to the crown, and to the nation, were in a much better condition, materially and morally, than are at present those in some parts of Hainault and Thuringen. Individual abuses by an unconscientious lord were to be seen as well in Connaught as near Debretschyn, near the Saone as on the Necker. Times—contemporary with independent Poland, and hence not very far back—beheld these sins against humanity committed on a larger scale, and in lands in otherwise happier conditions. The phrase bonded labor is known under the best institutions. But this excuses no one. Poland, without any compulsive cause, in 1764 and 1768, took these questions into consideration; in 1791, was even more explicit; and in 1792, Kosciuszko distinctly settled the condition of the Polish peasant, and that without opposition from the Polish nobility—a measure immediately overruled and suppressed by Prussia and Rossia, both accusing Poland of being a dangerous nest of Jacobinism. In 1807, in the grand duchy of Warsaw, after it was retaken from Prussia, the condition of the peasantry was far more clear and protected than even now promised by the Czar Alexander II., and was probably better preserved than it can be under the crowd of employés and magistrates, nominally elected by the peasants, but in fact imported from Saratow, Kazan, Penza, etc., for the purpose of teaching liberty and Siberian civilization in Warsaw and Wilna.

Common sense and the ordinary rules of logic force upon us the conviction that writings of the above stamp are gotten up to produce certain effects. Can any be found simple enough to believe that a whole people would be aroused, armed, and taught to what end and how to use the given arms, as was done by the manifesto of the Polish National Government, January 22d, 1863, only to be deceived and in the end deprived of that for which they had fought? By what right can bad faith be imputed to land owners whom experience, a sense of justice, and even interest, had already impelled to get rid of a useless and burdensome relation? These land owners, even under the Rossian Government (in 1818), had solemnly beg[Pg 218]ged the uncle of the present czar, Alexander I., to allow them to be freed from the onerous responsibilities caused by serfdom under Rossian surveillance and severity.

The letter from Paris further states, on what authority we know not, that the condition of the peasant or serf in Poland was dreadful until the seventeenth century. This is going very far back, and probably at that period, if facts could be found to sustain the writer's allegation, the condition of bondmen—vilains regardants—boors, Lebeigenschaft, manans, etc., was not better elsewhere. But here again we must differ in opinion, and beg leave to state, not only to the author of the letter, but to all other self-constituted authorities, whose knowledge of Poland is derived from The London Times, Chambers's Magazine, M. Hilperding, Kattow, or M. Morny, etc., that, with all due respect to their social positions, we must deny them the title of well-informed historians and profound judges of Poland and the Slavonic races. Up to the seventeenth century, the peasantry (Kmiec, Ziemiamin) had its representatives in the diet, and could find entrance into the ranks of the nobility, which had no divisions into classes or titular distinctions. Said nobility had the right to serve their country during war, and a peasant providing himself with a horse and suitable arms, was not excluded from that class. They could also take orders among the clergy, and hence rise to high dignities in the church. Public schools in Poland were never shut to the peasants, nor were any distinctions therein authorized in favor of one or other class of pupils. In schools then they enjoyed all privileges in common, and these were great—a separate jurisdiction, and the facilities of reaching higher ranks. Kromer, Janicki, Poniatowski, great names in Polish history, can show no other origin than one nearer to the Ziemianin than to any other class.

If the current of fashion did not warp all judgments in favor of Rossia, the writers of 'Tardy Truths' from Paris and elsewhere would have reflected a little longer, and would soon have discovered that the ignorance and poverty of the Polish peasantry were not due solely to the Poles themselves. Polish schools were formerly all completely free, and each school even had funds for the poor, called purses, foundations, etc. Rossia, in the last fifty years, charged as high as $625 for inscription alone in the higher classes, and about $25 for elementary beginners. How could a poor family rise in prosperity if this school was often the first cause of losing the favorite son; if they did send the child to school they might lose him as a recruit for the army or navy, as designated by the whim of the treacherous teacher and recruiting officer; and this did not exempt from public burdens, as they were still obliged to pay taxes for him during ten years, and contribute to all public services, as stations (stoyki), wagons and teams (rozgony), repairing and making public and private roads, extra post service, besides innumerable services imposed for his own personal benefit by a spravnik, straptschy, zasiedatel, sotnik, etc. Add to this the thwarting of intercourse and commerce by every imaginable means under the system of the famous M. Kankrin.

Could the peasant or the master become wealthy when a measure called a ton, weighing about eight hundred and forty pounds, of wheat brought the enormous sum of $4.25? a load of hay, drawn by one horse, seventy-five cents when well paid, and nothing when wanted by ulans or hussars garrisoned in the neighborhood? A hen, with a dozen and a half well-grown chickens, hardly brought enough to pay the value of the commonest apron.

Such things as these were never known in ancient Poland, now so unanimously accused and condemned by fashionable philanthropy. Even eighty[Pg 219] years ago such abuses would have been vainly looked for. We remember, in our younger days, when conversing with an old sowietnik (counsellor), to have heard him relate his bewildered astonishment at the comfort and well-being in Poland when sent under an escort of Cossacks to introduce Rossian improvements. 'What has become of them?' we asked innocently. 'Ha!' was his naïve reply; 'St. Petersburg has since then grown into a splendid city!'

Let us call the attention of Russo-maniacs to the fact that eighty years ago, soon after the second partition of Poland, flax in Riga brought eight hundred and seventy florins, while in 1845 it hardly brought two hundred and forty florins; and the famous wheat of Sandomir sold, at the first-named period, at sixty, while in 1856 it brought barely thirty-five. Yet money now is cheaper than before 1800.

Did the Polish nobleman, selfish and wicked as now seems the fashion to describe him, force the peasant of Samogitia to servile work, when the latter had an opportunity of drawing a good profit from the results of his labor in the neighboring marts of Memel, Liban, Riga, Mittau, Venden, etc.? No, must we answer to our readers. There might have been seen a boor's wife dressed in sky blue lined with fox fur, and drawn to church in a comfortable kolaska, by two excellent, plump, Samogitian ponies; and neither did the father of the family exhaust his strength in night watches or day labor, as he had twenty teams to dispose of, and could offer to an unexpected visitor a broiled chicken with milk sauce, and a couple of bottles of brown stout from Barclay, Perkins & Co., of London. Such prosperity, although then declining, was still to be found in 1830. Why does it not exist to-day? Let this question be answered by civilizers and democrats from Tambow, Saratow, or Penza, and their jealous apologists.

Our writer seems to think he has made a wonderful discovery when he exultingly exclaims: 'How surprised these pretended liberals would be to see that their efforts only tend toward reconstituting a monarchical Poland (was Poland really monarchical?—we may doubt) under the protection of a feudal and Catholic Church!' Such charges were also made in the eighteenth century, and were suggested by similar motives. I do not feel called upon to defend the Catholics of Poland. I would simply retort upon the authors of such suggestions, by referring to certain distinguished rabbis, as Heilprin, Meintzel, Jastrow, etc.; to Protestants, as Konarski, Potworowski, Kasaius, Krolikowski, Czynski, and hosts of others; and also to Mohammedans, as Baranowski, Mucha, Bielak, etc. I cannot condemn a man because he is a Catholic, because I have everywhere, and in every religious community, found both patriots and traitors to their country, to their origin, to principle, and to their religion. But this I must say, that of whatever denomination or sect be the minister or priest, he has a right to be a faithful son to his fatherland and race. It happened that in Poland the Catholic priest stood opposed to the Rossian pope. If the latter can be a Rossian patriot, why should a like sentiment render guilty a Polish priest? This animosity in certain circles proceeds from a partiality to the Rosso-Greek Church, which, some years ago, during the visit of the emperor Nicholas to England, certain ignorant or du. By way of parenthesis, we may add that the Rosso-Greek Church separated long ago from the Eastern Greek Church, preserving, however, all its outward forms. Peter I. abolished the patriarchate, introduced his own classes and reforms, and made himself head of the church. He gave the name of synod to a permanent council, nominated, appointed, dismissed, controlled, rewarded, and punished by himself, according to his[Pg 220] own judgment, passion, or will. The Græco-Rossian Church is kept under the same discipline as the army, and an offending pope is sent, with the rank of private, to some remote regiment.

The author of the letter from Paris somewhat contradictorily asserts that the women, being superior in Poland, govern the men, but are themselves governed entirely by the priests. This scarcely tallies with strict logic; but, for the sake of truth and of a just respect for our mothers, who taught us to love our country and freedom, who gave us strength in exile, and faith through persecution, and who instructed us how to think, and inspired us with those noble sentiments, seemingly denied to the mothers of the 'fashionable civilization' (of St. Petersburg), among whom there is not one lady writer—we will thank this writer for the refutation offered by him to an impudent slander, emanating from a contributor to Chambers' Magazine, of January last. We repeat that we thank him for his just tribute to Polish women, however inimical he may be to the Polish cause, and however much he may depreciate our sex. Yet it seems strange that, while accusing Polish women of being entirely under the control of the priests, and hence to have been chiefly instrumental in fomenting the last insurrection, the author did not notice, or is purposely silent regarding, a fact which, as he appears to have been longer in a Galician chateau than elsewhere, must have fallen under his notice, namely, that in Galicia, the Polish priest was the most decided opponent to any insurrection. How, then, could the active Polish women-patriots be instruments of the action condemned by the apologists of the absolute government of Rossia?

The admonition to France, on the ground that, after the revolution of 1789, she is committing a contradictory error by showing sympathy toward a revolution gotten up by priests, is but a consequence of the first judgment, and we may leave to France and her sense of her own interests to do what she may think right and profitable. We will simply mention that, for French glory, and for this error, as the author calls it, two hundred thousand Poles were slain in Egypt, Italy, San Domingo, Spain, Germany, Holland, and on the plains of Mozajsk, Kraslaw, Boryssow, Eylau, Friedland, etc. The monument seen from the balcony of the Tuileries has the names upon it, which we scarcely can suppose to have been inscribed for the sole purpose of filling space.

The friends of Poland believe that they serve the cause of progress by aiding in the reëstablishment of the Polish nation. We presume there are plenty of men in France who know that during the last thirty years Rossia has spread her dominion in Asia over twice the area of Germany and France together, that she is only eighty miles from Peking, and as far from India as Vienna is from the Black Sea. Moreover, Asiatic people, always dreaming of plunder in Europe, once armed with European Minié rifles and rifled cannon, may repeat anew the incursions of Attila, Tamerlane, Battu, etc. The end to be gained and the booty will create the temptation, and offer superior inducements.

The effort to palliate Rossian cruelty, skilful as it is, by the alleged necessities of war, by denials, or by asserting it to be mere revenge for similar atrocities committed by Poles, must be appreciated according to the sources whence it emanates. What the letter writer or similar twelve-hour visitors saw in Poland, particularly in Kracow, of people sharpening knives or preparing deadly poisons, need here be merely referred to by saying that in times of general confusion we have no means to foresee or to control personal revenge, and also that we will not here cite the reports of Polish papers or accounts of Germans. We will take our data[Pg 221] from the Moscow Invalid, the czar's Universal Journal at Warsaw, and the Journal de Petersbourg. From these we find it stated that the number of men hanged in three hundred and sixty-five days of insurrection was eight hundred and fifty, besides many others whose names were not given because it was simpler and more profitable to ignore their origin, class, and religion.

From Kiow alone Anienkow sent away fourteen thousand men, chiefly of Greek or other non-Roman-Catholic religion, over whom the Catholic priest had neither control or influence. From Warsaw, every Saturday during fifty-two weeks, an average of four hundred men, women, and children were deported, all separated from their natural guides and protectors. From Liefland, north of the Dwina, were sent off, in one month, thirty-five hundred of the better educated and comfortable class of people. A Government paper rejoices that Polish and Catholic principles, growing there during five centuries, were in a fair way of extinction, since, as it itself admits, forty-five thousand men had been transferred to the governments of Samara, Orenburg, Kazan, and similar localities. To burn the villages of Ibanie, Szarki, Hrodki, Smoloy, Zabolocie, etc., to destroy the furniture, horses, cattle, and all other property, to send the inhabitants on foot, only allowing for the aged and young children a few small wagons, far away into a cold, strange, savage country, without tools, means, etc.—was all this done merely as a military necessity, and was it excusable, or, at most, merely blamable?

Now, certain correspondents and lecturers, with other gentlemen, deny the use of the lash or whip on the backs of women and ladies, because the American people cannot countenance such barbarism. To say the least of such a denial—it is gratuitous. Austria daily publishes similar judgments as the result of police court trials. In Rossia, they are not published, because the administration of lash, whip, and scourge is left to the paternal discretion of every sergeant, lieutenant, police commissary, and district constable, and is enjoyed by them to their hearts' content. It is the method employed for ages by Rossia, and considered as an indispensable appendage to patriarchal czarism and its lieutenants. We cannot wonder at such denials, for their authors have ordinarily been brought up under a better state of things, and never learned in their youth the possibility of resort to such practices: the less also can we wonder when we know that they met only similar denials in the higher Rossian society, and when we consider that such denials came from a source one is naturally inclined to respect, when the man denying seems respectable. How can we fancy a lie told by a gentleman in golden uniform, or a lady in a lace dress? But if the defenders of the civilization of Rossia and of the noble manners of its aristocracy knew all the cruel judgments of Rossian masters, the lewdness, recklessness, indecency, and shallowness often concealed beneath their artificial good breeding and apparent courtesy, they would learn that laces may cover coarse tissues, and gold hide corroded brass. The gaudy dress and uniform serve but to permit more daring deeds; the more they glitter, the more impunity they confer. Under every Government, and more especially under a despotism, subaltern officers may be sure of impunity to abuse, provided it is done under the guise of zeal and devotion.

During the past year we have heard and read in lectures, newspapers, correspondences, etc., many flattering statements of the beauty of the Rossian Government, and the czar's liberality—and as many accusations and imputations detrimental to the Polish cause. Why the same views were not held and advocated during the Crimean war we will not ask, but merely hint at. These statements come from organs whose[Pg 222] purpose is readily divined. If we turn to the paper that has opened its columns to the Paris letter, we find close at hand the advertisement and recommendation of a programme for our own great country, and the pointing out of a new Garibaldi for the American Union. Now, neither said platform nor Garibaldi would be consistent with the condemnation, irony, and ridicule flung upon the champions for one thousand years of the growing progress, prosperity, and Christianity of Western Europe.

We of this generation are grown fixedly into our ancient habits of thought, and now can make no change; but our successors, perchance, may possibly be reduced to undersign the manifesto of Rossian Liberalism, published about a year ago in Moscow, and, in return for false promises and deceptions, consent to make common cause against Germany and the whole of Western Europe. What American liberties would gain by such an eventuality, is not for us, nor for to-day, to say.


'A man who has no wants has attained great freedom, and firmness, and even dignity.'—Burke.

'Mad wants and mean endeavors,' as Carlyle expresses it, 'are among the signal characteristics and great follies of our nature.'

But how can we attain to the freedom, firmness, and dignity of having no wants? Answer: By learning what our real necessities are, and limiting our sense of want by such knowledge. Otherwise there is little hope for us; for, as soon as we admit imaginary and factitious needs, we become the slaves of mere fancy, the sport of mere human opinion, and devoid of all true dignity.

How sublime, as compared with the ordinary condition of men, is the possibility suggested by Burke! Freedom, instead of such slavery as the love of pleasure occasions, or such as ambition entails upon men! Firmness, such as he has who does not feel compelled to ask how his conduct may affect the supply of his wants from day to day! Dignity, such as we see in every man who studies the great interests of his being, regardless of any harm that may thereby accrue to his earthly estate! So free, and firm, and dignified may each be that will.

But no such good is possible for men who allow their sense of want to be ruled by the common opinions of men. If the good at which we aim can be secured only by the possession of this world's favors, as they are dispensed by the wealthy or the powerful, or the suffrages of the multitude (votes for office, and the like), then each one becomes the servant of his fellow men—a servant just as really as if he were hired to perform any menial office. The party politician, for example, is just as fully bound by the will of others as a coachman or foot servant. For him neither freedom, firmness, or dignity is possible. He can do only as others bid him: he can resist no solicitations to evil on the part of those whom he would make his constituents: he has no dignity above that of a tool, in the hands, it may be, of a very unworthy master.

So in all cases where we allow ourselves to be dependent in such form and measure that in order to compass our own ends we must look to the will and behests of others.[Pg 223]



Cavalry! At this word whose mind does not involuntarily recall pictures of mailed knights rushing upon each other with levelled lances, and of the charging squadrons of Austerlitz, of Jena, of Marengo, of the Peninsula, and of Waterloo? Whose blood is not stirred with a throng of memories connected with the noble achievements of the war horse and his rider? Who does not imagine a panorama of all that is gay and glorious in warfare—prancing coursers, gilded trappings, burnished sabres, waving pennons, and glittering helmets—rank after rank of gallant riders—anon the blast of bugles, the drawing of sabres, the mighty rushing of a thousand steeds, the clash of steel, the shout, the victory? The chief romance of war attaches itself to the deeds accomplished by the assistance of the power and endurance of man's noblest servant. Every one has read so much poetry about valiant youths, mounted on fiery yet docile steeds, doing deeds of miraculous prowess in the ranks of their enemies—our literature is so full of tapestried representations of knightly retinues and charging squadrons—the towering form of Murat is so conspicuous in the narratives of the Napoleonic wars—and history has so often repeated the deeds of those horsemen who performed such illustrious feats in the combats of half a century ago, that we associate with the cavalry only ideas of splendor and glory, of wild freedom and dashing gallantry. But the cavalry service is far different from such vague and fanciful imaginations. Instead of ease, there is constant labor; instead of freedom, there is a difficult system of discipline and tactics; and instead of frequent opportunities for glorious charges, there is a constant routine of toilsome duty in scouting and picketing, with rarely an opportunity for assisting prominently in the decision of a great battle, or of winning renown in overthrowing the ranks of an enemy by the impetuous rush of a mass of horses against serried bayonets.

In many respects cavalry is the most difficult branch of military service to maintain and to operate. It is exceedingly costly, on account of the great loss of horses by the carelessness of the men, by overwork, by disease, and by the fatalities of battle. The report of General Halleck, for the year 1863, stated that from May to October there were from ten thousand to fourteen thousand cavalry in the Army of the Potomac, while the number of horses furnished them for the same period was thirty-five thousand; adding to these the horses taken by capture and used for mounting men, the number would be sufficient to give each man a horse every two months. There were two hundred and twenty-three regiments of cavalry in the service, which, at the same rate, would require four hundred and thirty-five thousand horses. This is an immense expenditure of animals, and is attributable in part to the peculiarities of the volunteer service—such as the lack of care and knowledge on the part of the officers, and the disposition of the men to break down their horses by improper riding, and sometimes out of mere wantonness, for the purpose of getting rid of animals they do not like, for the chance of obtaining better. A measure has recently been adopted to remedy these evils, by putting into the infantry cavalry officers and men who show themselves incompetent to take proper care of their animals, and who neglect other essentials of cavalry service. The[Pg 224] provision and transportation of forage for cavalry horses also constitute items of great cost.

To attain proficiency and effectiveness, cavalry soldiers require much longer instruction than those of any other arm. They must become expert swordsmen, and acquire such skill in equitation that horse and rider shall resemble the mythical centaurs of the ancients—shall be only one individual in will. The horses should be as thoroughly trained as the riders. In European armies this is accomplished in training schools. The Governments keep constantly on hand large supplies of animals, partly purchased and partly produced in public stables, and capable instructors are continually employed in fitting both men and horses for their duties.

To insure the provision of proper horses and to recuperate those which are sent from the army disabled or sick, an immense cavalry depot has been established at Giesboro', near Washington. Thousands of horses are kept there ready for service, and as fast as men in the army are dismounted by the loss of their animals, they are sent to this depot. It is one of the most useful and best-arranged affairs connected with our service, and has greatly assisted in diminishing the expense attending the provision of animals, and in increasing the efficiency of our cavalry.

We have had all the difficulties to contend with resulting from inexperienced riders and untrained horses. No one who has not beheld the scene, can imagine the awkward appearance of a troop of recruits mounted on horses unaccustomed to the saddle. The sight is one of the most laughable that can be witnessed. We have seen the attempt made to put such a troop into a gallop across a field. Fifty horses and fifty men instantly became actuated by a hundred different wills, and dispersed in all directions—some of the riders hanging on to the pommels, with their feet out of the stirrups, others tugging away at the bridles, and not a few sprawling on the ground. After a few months' drills, however, a different scene is presented, and an old troop horse becomes so habituated to his exercises that not only will he perform all the evolutions without guidance, but will even refuse to leave the ranks, though under the most vigorous incitements of whip and spur. An officer friend was once acting as cavalier to a party of ladies on horseback at a review, when, unfortunately, the troop in which his horse belonged happening to pass by, the animal bolted from the group of ladies, and took his accustomed place in the ranks, nor could all the efforts of his rider disengage him. Finally, our friend was obliged to dismount, and, holding the horse by the bit, back him out of the troop to his station with the party of ladies—a feat performed amid much provoking laughter.

Cavalry can operate in masses only when circumstances are favorable—the country open, and the ground free from obstructions. Yet it is in masses alone that it can be effective, and it can triumph against infantry only by a shock—from the precipitation of its weight upon the lines, crushing them by the onset. Before the time of Frederic the Great, the Prussian horsemen resembled those to be seen at a militia review—they were a sort of picture soldiers, incapable of a vigorous charge. He revolutionized the service by teaching that cavalry must achieve success by a rapid onset, not stopping to fire themselves, and not regarding the fire of their opponents. By practising these lessons, they were able to overthrow the Austrian infantry. But if the force of a charge is dissipated by obstructions on the ground, or is broken by the fire of the assailed, the effectiveness of cavalry, as a participant in the manœuvres of a battle field, is entirely destroyed.

The question of the future of cavalry is at present one of great interest among military investigators; for notwith[Pg 225]standing its brilliant achievements during our civil war, the fact is apparent that its sphere has been entirely changed, its old system has become obsolete, and former possibilities no longer lie within its scope. Since Waterloo there had not been, until our war commenced, any opportunity to test the action of cavalry; for its operations in the Crimea and in Italy were insignificant. The art of warfare had, meanwhile, in many respects, become revolutionized by the introduction of rifled arms. Military men waited, therefore, with interest, the experience of the war in this country, to judge from it as to the part cavalry was to perform in future warfare. That experience has shown that the day in which cavalry can successfully charge squares of infantry has passed. When the smooth-bore muskets alone were used by infantry, cavalry could be formed in masses for charging at a distance of five hundred yards; now the formations must be made at the distance of nearly a mile, and that intervening space must be passed at speed under the constant fire of cannon and rifles; when the squares are reached, the horses are frightened and blown, the ranks have been disordered by the impossibility of preserving a correct front during such a length of time at rapid speed, and by the loss of men; the charge breaks weakly on the wall of bayonets, and retires baffled. Infantry, before it learns its own strength and the difficulty of forcing a horse against a bayonet—or rather to trample down a man—has an absurd and unfounded fear of cavalry. This feeling was in part the cause of the panic among our troops at Bull Run—so much had been said about the Black Horse troop of the rebels. The Waterloo achievements of the French were then thought possible of repetition. Now adays it is hardly probable that the veteran infantry of either army would take the trouble to form squares to resist cavalry, but would expect to rout it by firing in line. Neither party in our war has been able to make its mounted forces effective in a general battle. Nothing has occurred to parallel, upon the battle field, those exploits of the cavalry—French, Prussian, and English—in the great wars of the last century, extending to Waterloo.

The enthusiastic admirers of cavalry still maintain that it is possible to repeat those exploits, even in face of the improved firearms now in use. All that is necessary, they say, is to have the cavalry sufficiently drilled. The ground to be crossed under a positively dangerous fire is only five hundred or six hundred yards, and once taught to continue the charge through the bullets for this distance, and then to throw themselves on the bayonets, horsemen will now, as heretofore, break the lines of infantry. All very true, if cavalry to fulfil the conditions named can be obtained; but in them lies the difficulty. Occasional instances of splendid charges will undoubtedly occur in future warfare; but it seems to be an established fact that the day for the glory of cavalry has passed. Once the mailed knight, mounted on his mailed charger, could overthrow by scores the poor, pusillanimous pikemen and crossbow men who composed the infantry; he was invulnerable in his iron armor, and could ride them down like reeds. But gunpowder and the bayonet have changed this; and now the most confident and domineering cavalryman will put spurs to his horse and fly at a gallop, if he sees the muzzle of an infantryman's rifle, with its glittering bayonet, pointed at him from the thicket.

Another revolution effected in the mounted service by the improvements in arms and the consequent changes of tactics, is the diminution of heavy and the increase of light cavalry—that is, the transfer of the former into the latter. These two denominations really include all kinds of cavalry, although the non-military reader may have been[Pg 226] puzzled by the numerous subordinate denominations to be found in the accounts of European warfare—such as dragoons, cuirassiers, hussars, lancers, chasseurs, hulans, etc.

Heavy cavalry is composed of the heavier men and horses, and is usually divided into dragoons and cuirassiers. It is designed to act in masses, and to break the lines of an enemy by the weight of its charge. Usually, also, it has had some defensive armor, and is a direct descendant from the knights of the Middle Ages. But the cuirasses, which were sufficient to resist the balls from smooth-bore muskets, are easily penetrated by rifles. Consequently the occupation of this kind of cavalry is gone, and it is likely to disappear gradually from the service. In this country we have never had anything except light cavalry—the only kind adapted for use in our Indian warfare. This kind of cavalry is intended to accomplish results by the celerity of its movements, and all its equipments should therefore be as light as possible. The chief difficulty is to prevent the cavalry soldier from overloading his horse, as he has a propensity not only to carry a large wardrobe and a full supply of kitchen utensils, but also to 'convey,' in the language of Pistol, or, in army language, 'gobble up,' or, in plain English, steal anything that is capable of being fastened to his saddle.

It is evident that the efficiency of a cavalry soldier depends as much upon his horse as upon himself; and it is requisite, therefore, that the weight upon the horse should be as light as possible. The limit has been fixed at about two hundred pounds for light, and two hundred and fifty for heavy cavalry; but both of these are too much. A cavalry soldier ought not to weigh over one hundred and fifty to one hundred and sixty pounds, and his accoutrements not over thirty pounds additional; but in practice, scarcely any horse—except where the rider is a very light weight—carries less than two hundred and twenty or two hundred and thirty pounds. One great cause of the evils incident to our cavalry service is the excessive weight imposed on the horses. The French take particular pains in this respect; while in England the cavalry is almost entirely 'heavy,' and, though well drilled, is clumsy. John Bull, with his roast beef and plum pudding, makes a poor specimen of a light cavalryman. English officers are now endeavoring to revolutionize their mounted service, so as to diminish its weight and increase its celerity.

The arms of cavalry have been various, but it is now well settled that its true weapon is the sabre, as its true form of operation is the charge. A great deal of ingenuity has been expended in devising the best form of sabre. Different countries have different patterns, but the one adopted in our army is very highly considered. It is pointed, so as to be used in thrusting; sharp on one edge for cutting; curved, so as to inflict a deeper wound; and the weight arranged, by a mathematical rule, so that the centres of percussion and of gravity are placed where the weapon may be most easily handled. The lance is a weapon very appropriate to light mounted troops, and is still used by some of the Cossacks and Arab horsemen. But to wield it effectively requires protracted training. For a long time in Europe it was the chief weapon for horsemen; with the knights it was held in exclusive honor, and continued in use for a considerable period after firearms had destroyed the prestige of the gentlemen of the golden spurs. Prince Maurice, of Orange, when he raised mounted regiments to defend the Netherlands against the Spanish, rejected it, and since his time it has become obsolete except in some regiments especially drilled to it. Such a regiment was raised in Philadelphia at the commencement of our war, but after eighteen months' experience the lances were abandoned. Besides the sabre, cavalry-[Pg 227]men are armed with pistols or carbines—the men having the latter being employed particularly in skirmishing, sometimes on foot.

The proportion of mounted troops in an army varies according to the nature of the country which is the theatre of military operations. In a level country it should be about one fourth or one fifth, while in one that is mountainous, it should not be greater than a tenth. As a general rule, improvements in firearms have produced a decrease in the proportion of cavalry and lessened its importance. When artillery was introduced, the cavaliers, who composed the Middle Age armies exclusively, commenced to disappear; knighthood passed out of existence, being superseded by mercenary bands. Infantry gradually assumed importance, which has constantly increased, until it has now attained the vast predominance. This has not only caused a general diminution of the proportion of cavalry, but has entailed on the Governments of Europe the necessity of keeping their cavalry service always at its maximum, so that the mounted troops may be perfect in their drill; whereas infantry troops can acquire comparative proficiency in a few months.

We will give a brief description of the different classes of cavalry, and close our subject by some remarks on the operation of this arm of service in our civil war.

The regiments raised by Prince Maurice, of Orange, above referred to, were the first known as cuirassiers, on account of the cuirasses which they wore for defence. All defensive armor is now being laid aside.

Dragoons originally were a class of soldiers who operated both on foot and mounted. They are supposed to take their name from a kind of firearm called a 'dragon.' In modern practice dragoons are almost entirely used as cavalry, and rarely have recourse to any extended service on foot. The denomination 'dragoons' has recently been abolished from our service.

Carabineers were at first some Basque and Gascon horsemen in the French service, whose peculiarly distinguishing characteristic was a skilful use in the saddle of a short firearm.

Hussars originated in Hungary, taking their denomination from the word husz, which signifies twenty, and ar, pay—every twentieth man being required by the state to enter into service. From their origin they were distinguished for the celerity of their movements and their devotion to fine costumes.

The hulans were a species of Polish light cavalry, bearing lances, and taking their name from their commander—a nobleman named Huland.

Chasseurs are French regiments, designed chiefly to act as scouts and skirmishers. The chasseurs d'Afrique are cavalry which have been trained in Algeria, and have become exceedingly expert through conflicts with the Arabs. The spahis are Arab cavalry, in the French service, and are such admirable riders that they will charge over all kinds of ground, and dash upon a foe who judges himself secure amid rocks or trees or ditches.

At the commencement of the war the rebel cavalry was superior to that furnished by the North. For this there were many reasons. Southern plantation life had accustomed the aristocratic youth to the saddle, and great attention was bestowed on the training of horses. At the North the number of skilled riders was comparatively few. Gradually, however, Northern energy, endurance, and patient discipline began to tell, and the time soon arrived when the Southern cavalry were invariably driven, especially in sabre charges, to which Southerners have great aversion. At present, on account of the scarcity of horses, the difficulty of supplying forage, and the loss of so many gay youths of the chivalry, the Southern, cavalry has dwindled into such a[Pg 228] condition as to be no longer formidable.

The service of the cavalry in both armies during the war has been exclusively as light cavalry—scouting, picketing, raiding, etc. Its combats have been with forces of its own arm. No commander has yet succeeded in assisting to determine the issue of a pitched battle by the charges of his mounted troops. Our cavalry have rendered, however, brilliant and invaluable services in protecting the rear and flanks of the armies, and by their magnificent raiding expeditions into the enemy's country, destroying his supplies, injuring his communications, diverting his forces, and liberating his slaves. No sufficient accounts of such expeditions and of the numerous cavalry conflicts have been published; yet they are very desirable. They would furnish most interesting narratives, and be a valuable contribution not only to the history of the times, but to the history of warfare; for the operations of the cavalry in this war constitute a new era in the history of this branch of military service. Unless care is exercised to procure such narratives, our posterity will never know anything of many battle fields where fought and fell brave troopers from every Northern State.

The chief duties of officers belonging to the corps of engineers, when connected with an army acting in the field, are the supervision of routes of communication, the laying of bridges, the selection of positions for fortifications, and the indication of the proper character of works to be constructed. Should a siege occur, a new and very important class of duties devolves on them, relating to the trenches, saps, batteries, etc.

Not only is there in Virginia a lack of good roads, but the numerous streams have few or no bridges. In many cases where bridges have existed, one or the other of the contending armies has destroyed them to impede the march of its opponents. Streams which have an average depth of three or four feet are, however, generally without bridges, except where crossed by some turnpike, the common country roads mostly leading to fords. The famous Bull Run is an example. There were but two or three bridges over this stream in the space of country penetrated by the roads generally pursued by our army in advancing or retreating, and these have been several times destroyed and rebuilt. The stream varies from two to six feet in depth—the fords being at places of favorable depth, and where the bottom is gravelly and the banks sloping. Often such streams as this, and indeed smaller ones, become immensely swelled in volume by storms, so that a comparatively insignificant rivulet might greatly delay the march of an army, if means for quickly crossing should not be provided. The general depth of a ford which a large force, with its appurtenances, can safely cross, is about three feet, and even then the bottom should be good and the current gentle. With a greater depth of water, the men are likely to wet their cartridge boxes, or be swept off their feet. There is a small stream about three miles from Alexandria, crossing the Little River turnpike, which has never been bridged, and which was once so suddenly swollen by rain that all the artillery and wagons of a corps were obliged to wait about twelve hours for its subsidence. The mules of some wagons driven into it were swept away. Fords, unless of the best bottom, are rendered impassable after a small portion of the wagons and artillery of an army have crossed them—the gravel being cut through into the underlying clay, and the banks converted into sloughs by the dripping of water from the animals and wheels.

A very amusing scene was presented at the crossing of Hazel River (a branch of the Rappahannock) last fall, when the Army of the Potomac first marched to Culpepper. The stream was at least[Pg 229] three feet deep, and at various places four—the current very rapid—the bottom filled with large stones, and the banks steep, except where a narrow road had been cut for the wagons. The men adopted various expedients for crossing. Some went in boldly all accoutred; some took off shoes and stockings, and carefully rolled up their trousers; others (and they were the wisest) divested themselves of all their lower clothing. The long column struggled as best it could through the water, and occasionally, amid vociferous shouts, those who had been careful to roll up their trousers would step into a hole up to the middle; others, who had taken still more precautions, would stumble over a stone and pitch headlong into the roaring waters, dropping their guns, and splashing vainly about with their heavy knapsacks, in the endeavor to regain a footing, until some of their comrades righted them; and others, after getting over safely, would slip back from the sandy bank, and take an involuntary immersion. Some clung to the rear of the wagons, but in the middle of the stream the mules would become fractious, or the wagon would get jammed against a stone, and the unfortunate passengers were compelled to drop off and wade ashore, greeted by roars of derisive laughter. On such occasions soldiers give full play to their humor. They accept the hardships with good nature, and make the best of any ridiculous incident that may happen. At the time referred to, many conscripts had just joined the ranks, and cries resounded everywhere among the old soldiers: 'Hello, conscripts, how do you like this?' 'What d'ye think of sogering now?' 'This is nothing. You'll have to go in up to yer neck next time.'

Generally, when the exigencies of the march will permit, bridges are made over such streams, either by the engineers of the army, or detachments from the various corps which are passing upon the roads. They are simple 'corduroy bridges,' and can be laid very expeditiously. Two or three piers of stones and logs are placed in the stream, string pieces are stretched upon them, and cross pieces of small round logs laid down for the flooring. The most extensive bridges of this kind used by the Army of the Potomac were those over the Chickahominy in the Peninsular campaign. 'Sumner's bridge,' by which reinforcements crossed at the battle of Fair Oaks, was laid in this manner. Of course such bridges are liable to be carried away and to be easily destroyed. Some of the bridges over the Chickahominy were laid much more thoroughly. 'Cribs' of logs were piled in cob-house fashion, pinned together, and sunk vertically in the stream. Then string pieces and the flooring were laid, the whole covered with brush and dirt. Men worked at these bridges up to the waist in water for many days in succession.

Military art has devised many expedients for bridging streams, and use is made of any facilities that may be at hand for constructing the means of passage; but the only organized bridge trains which move with the army are those which carry the pontoons. Of these there are various kinds, made of wood, of corrugated iron, and of india rubber stretched over frames. But the wooden pontoon boats are most in use. They can be placed in a river and the flooring laid upon them with great rapidity. Several very fine bridges have been thus constructed—among them may be mentioned the one at the mouth of the Chickahominy, across which General McClellan's army marched in retreating from Harrison's Landing. It was about a mile long, and was constructed in a few hours.

To cross a river under the fire of an enemy is one of the most difficult operations in warfare. Yet it has been frequently accomplished by our armies. The crossing of the Rappahannock by General Burnside's army, previous to[Pg 230] the great battle of Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, is one of the most remarkable instances of the kind during the war. The rebel rifle pits lined the southern bank, and the fire from them prevented our engineers from approaching—the river being only about seventy-five yards wide. For a long time our artillery failed to drive the rebels away. About noon of the day on which the crossing was made, General Burnside ordered a concentration of fire on Fredericksburg, in the houses of which place the rebels had concealed their forces. A hundred guns, hurling shot and shell into every building and street of the city, soon riddled it; but the obstinate foes hid themselves in the cellars till the storm was over, and then emerged defiantly. They were only dislodged by sending over a battalion in boats to attack them in flank, when they retreated, and the bridges were laid.

It is impossible to explain in articles of this character the mysteries of intrenchment and fortification, so that they will be comprehensible. A few notes, however, on some of the principal terms constantly employed, may be found useful and interesting.

Rifle pits—as the term is now generally used—are small embankments, made by throwing up dirt from an excavation inside. They can be erected quickly, for it will be seen that those behind them have the advantage, not only of the height of the embankment, but also of the depth of the ditch. Thus an excavation of two feet would give a protection of four feet. This is the ordinary rifle pit, but when time permits it receives many improvements.

Breastworks are any erections of logs, dirt, etc., raised breast high, to shelter the men behind them.

An abatis consists of obstructions placed in front of a work to form obstacles to a storming party. The most convenient method of forming it is to cut down trees and allow them to lie helterskelter. When there is time, the trees are laid with the butts toward the work, and the branches outward—the small limbs being removed, and the ends of the remainder sharpened.


A redan is a letter V, with the point toward the enemy, and is used generally to cover the heads of bridges, etc.


A lunette is the redan with flanking wings.


A redoubt is an enclosed parallelogram.


These works are very imperfect, because they have exposed points. The angles are not protected by the fire from the sides. To remedy this difficulty, the next most usual work is the star fort, made in the form of a regular or irregular star. It will be perceived that the fire from the sides covers the angles.

The next and still more improved form of work is the bastioned fort, which consists of projecting bastions at the corners, the fire from which enfilades the ditches.

The following is a diagram of a vertical section of the parapet and ditch used in all fully constructed field works:


A B is the slope of the banquette.

B C head of the banquette, or place where the men stand to deliver their fire.

C D the interior slope of the parapet.

D E superior slope of the same.

F G the berme, or place left to prevent the parapet from washing down into the ditch.

G H the scarp or interior wall of the ditch.

H I the bottom of the ditch.

I K the counterscarp.

L M N the glacis, which, except the abatis near[Pg 231] the ditch, is left free and open, so as to expose the assailants to the fire from the parapet.

The proportions and angles of all the lines given are fixed according to mathematical rules.

The operations of a siege present many incidents of great interest; but we can do nothing more in this article than illustrate the methods in which the approaches are made to the works the capture of which is designed. When reconnoissances have established the conclusion that the works of an enemy cannot be carried by assault, the lines of the investing army are advanced as near to them as is compatible with safety; advantage is then taken of the opportunities afforded by the ground to cover working parties, which are thrown forward to the place fixed for the first parallel; sometimes these parties can commence their work only at night. The parallel is only a deep trench with the dirt thrown toward the enemy; and after the excavation has progressed, the trench is occupied by parties of troops to resist any sorties of the enemy, and to prevent attempts against the batteries established behind the parallel.

The first parallel being completed, zigzag excavations are made toward the front to cover the passage of men who proceed to dig the second parallel. Meanwhile the batteries have commenced to play, and riflemen have been advanced in trenches at convenient places, whose fire annoys the gunners of the enemy. The second parallel being made, the batteries are moved up to it, and the third parallel is proceeded with in a manner similar to that used for the second.

We give below a rough diagram of these operations:


A B C D E is the work of the enemy to be besieged. The working parties advance by the zigzag paths M N and O to the position chosen for the first parallel, K L. At the proper time they proceed by the zigzag paths to the second parallel, H I, and then to the third, F G. When this is reached, the enemy's work can generally be carried by storm, unless already evacuated, for ceteris paribus the advantages generally lie with the besieging party. The zigzags are called boyaux, and they are dug in the form represented, so that the bank of earth thrown up may be always in front of them. Were they in straight lines this could not be.

The above refers exclusively to the siege of a field work. The principles for besieging a walled fort or a fortified town are the same, but the operations are much more complicated.][Pg 232]


Popular Edition. Results of Emancipation. By Augustin Cochin, Ex-Maire and Municipal Councillor of Paris. Work crowned by the Institute of France (Académie Française). Translated by Mary L. Booth, Translator of Count de Gasparin's work on America, etc. Fourth thousand. Boston: Walker, Wise & Co., 245 Washington street. 1864.

A remarkable book, indicative of a new era in the discussion of social, religious, political, and economical questions. Prejudice, misstatement, and fanaticism are apparently so opposed to the clear, candid mind of the author, that he has needed no effort to avoid them, and in their stead give us simple truth, broad views of men and things, and the highest conceptions of duty and charity, together with the nicest consideration of the rights and material interests, even the local prejudices and misconceptions, of our fellow mortals. He shows clearly that a moral wrong can never long tend to material advantage, and that the laws of society cannot be made ultimately to triumph over the laws of nature; neither, in general, can a wrong be righted without some suffering by way of expiation.

Although filled with statistical details, the work cannot fail to be intensely interesting to the general reader. Lofty, hopeful, rational, and yet progressive in its tone, it is calculated to do great good, not only through the useful information and instructive generalizations it makes known, but also as a model of right feeling, and consequent good breeding, in its peculiar sphere.

The chapters upon the sugar question are wonderfully lucid and convincing. Their bearing upon mooted points of political economy recommend them to the study of all interested in that intricate subject. The distressing relations necessarily existing between slavery and religious instruction are also plainly set forth, and the general conclusion of the book (that 'emancipation' is not only possible, but most expedient, and that, with certain care upon the part of the Government and of slave owners, an immediate and simultaneous liberation is likely to breed fewer disturbances and less evil than gradual disenthralment) seems to be rapidly gaining ground in the convictions of our own countrymen. The conscience, and prophetic dreams of priests, women, and poets, have long given assurance of such results, but the world, of course, required definite experience and practical essays before instituting any extensive course of action in that direction.

'A council held in the city of London in 1102, under the presidency of St. Anselm, interdicted trade in slaves. This was eight hundred years before the same object was debated in the same city before Parliament. In 1780, Thomas Clarkson proposed to abolish the slave trade. In 1787, Wilberforce renewed the proposition. Seven times presented from 1793 to 1799, the bill seven times failed. Successively laid over, it triumphed at length in 1806 and 1807. All the Christian nations followed this memorable example. At the Congress of Vienna, all the Powers pledged themselves to unite their efforts to obtain the entire and final abolition of a traffic so odious and so loudly reproved by the laws of religion and nature. The slave trade was abolished in 1808 by the American United States; in 1811, by Denmark, Portugal, and Chili; in 1813, by Sweden; in 1814 and 1815, by Holland; in 1815, by France; in 1822, by Spain. In this same year, 1822, Wilberforce attacked slavery after the slave trade, and won over public opinion by appeals and repeated meetings, while his friend Mr. Buxton proposed emancipation in Parliament. The Emancipation Bill was presented in 1833. On the 1st of August, 1834, slavery ceased to sully the soil of the English colonies. In 1846, Sweden, in 1847, Denmark, Uruguay, Wallachia, and Tunis, obeyed the same impulse, which France followed in 1848, Portugal in 1856, and which Holland promised to imitate in 1860. An earnest movement agitated Brazil.'

[Pg 233]

In Poland, the serfdom of the peasants was never sanctioned by law, but existed in later times by reason of exception and abuse. Stanislas Leszczynski, King of Poland, in 1720 raised his voice in favor of the peasant population; the same principles were in 1768 defended, sword in hand, by the Confederation of Bar, discussed in the diets of 1776, 1780, 1788, and finally adopted by the famous Constituent Assembly of 1791. Thadeus Kosciuszko (May 7th, 1794), then Dictator of Poland, issued a document giving entire personal liberty to all serfs; and on the 22d of January, 1863, the members of the 'National Polish Government' decreed that the peasants were not only free, but were entitled to a certain portion of land, of which they should be the sole proprietors. In 1861, Russia emancipated all serfs within her borders. In the United States, the stern 'logic of events' seems to be rapidly bringing about similar results, although indeed 'slavery' and 'serfdom' should never be mentioned together, being so essentially different; the one the possession of the man, the other merely the ownership of his labor or of a portion of its results.

We cannot better conclude than by giving the following extract from the Introduction of M. Cochin, who, by the way, is a man of good family and ample fortune, an eminent publicist, and a Catholic of the school of Lacordaire, Montalembert, Monseigneur d'Orleans, and the Prince de Broglie:

'It was once exclaimed, Perish the colonies, rather than a principle! The principle has not perished, the colonies have not perished.

'It is not correct that interests should yield to principles; between legitimate interests and true principles, harmony is infallible; this is truth. Those who look only to interests are sooner or later deceived in their calculations; those who, exclusively occupied with principles, are generous without being practical, cease to be generous, for they lead the cause which they serve to certain destruction. It is the will of God that realities should mingle with ideas, and that material obstacles should compel the purchase of progress by toil.'

The publishers tell us that, a large demand for this work having arisen, they have issued this 'popular edition,' wherein the figures in the original are given as nearly as possible in the American currencies, measures, etc.

Stumbling Blocks. By Gail Hamilton, Author of 'Country Living and Country Thinking,' 'Gala Days,' etc. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, For sale by D. Appleton & Co., New York.

Gail Hamilton's religious position gives her vast advantages. She is thoroughly orthodox, Calvinistic, and Congregational, and being neither Unitarian nor Catholic, will not be regarded as one of the 'Suspect' by the great community of the so-called evangelical Christians. But she is a bold, independent thinker, and spurns the trammels of bigotry and prescription. No party spirit blinds her clear vision, no sectarian prejudice vitiates her statements of the creeds of others, or induces her to veil the faults and follies of those worshipping in the same church with herself. Ministers are by no means immaculate saints in her eyes. Seating herself in the pews, she preaches better sermons to them than they are in the habit of giving to their people; taking possession of their pulpits, she shows them what might and ought to be done from that throne of power. Petty vanities, subjective experiences recorded in morbid journals, religious frames of mind frequently dwelt upon until the tortured self-watcher is driven into insanity, fall under her scathing rebuke.

This volume deals chiefly with the shortcomings of the orthodox religious world. Its faults of temper, its repulsive manners, its custom of making home unlovely, its distaste of innocent amusement, its habits of censure, its self-sufficiency and pharisaical character, are touched with a caustic but healing power. Only the hand of a friend could have done this thing. No point of doctrine is questioned, no principle of faith invaded, no charity wounded. She probes in love—her object is cure. This book is fresh and vigorous, worth thousands of lifeless sermons and unprofitable religious journals. No prejudice or falsehood is spared, though it may have taken refuge in the very sanctuary. Her every shaft is well directed, every arrow powerfully sent, every shot strikes the bull's eye in its centre. Her words are hailstones rattling fell and fast, but melt into and soften the heart on which they fall. Delusions disappear, cant and want of courtesy become odious, shams grow shameful, while all lovely things bloom lovelier in the light of truth emanating from this large brain, and poured through this living heart. We bask in its[Pg 234] sunshine, growing strong and happy as we read. Christian fervor and charity, love for Redeemer and redeemed, for saint and sinner, cheer us through all these well-deserved denunciations. Her style is clear and rapid, her matter of daily and urgent import, her characterizations of classes and types of men worthy of La Bruyère himself, her satire melts into humor, her humor into pathos. She has been attacked by some of the religious papers, and has herein taken a true Christian and magnanimous revenge. O Gail! the clergy should open wide their hearts to take you in, their gifted child, the iconoclast within the temple, the faithful disciple of Christ, the lover of purity and truth!

We quote the following brave words from this remarkable book:

'We sometimes see religious newspapers charging each other with acts which should exclude the perpetrators from the fraternity of honest men; for, through the medium of religious newspapers, one church, or one fraction of a church, or one ecclesiastical body, or one member of it, accuses another of an act, or a course of action, which, in sober truth, amounts to nothing more or less than obvious, persistent deception, dishonesty and trickery.... Can such be correct transcripts of facts? Is it true that a church, or any body corporate, whose very existence as such is professedly to cultivate and disseminate the principles of sound morality and true religion, does fall so far short of the faith delivered to the saints—does so far forget its origin, and pervert its aims, as to violate common law and common honesty, and persist in its violation, deliberately, against repeated remonstrances, by sheer force? Yet we see no convulsion in the community. Nothing intimates that a great grief is fallen upon Israel. Everybody eats, drinks, and sleeps as usual. The pulpits still stand, and the law and the gospel are appealed to from that vantage ground. The sacramental cup is still raised to devout lips. The gray heads of the culprits still go in and out among the people with no diminishing of honor—no odium is attached to their persons; no stigmas to their names. What a state of things does this argue! A whole church plunges into darkness, and the

'Majestic heaven
Shines not the less for that one vanished star.'

'Can we wonder that the world will not let itself be converted? To what should it be converted, if it were willing? Would it be an advance for a community that sends its thieves to prison when it catches them to merge itself in a community that is content to print a few columns of exposé on the subject? If the stream where you wish to drink is muddy, you will scarcely find clear waters by descending. You want to go up, not down; up on the high lands where threads of crystal cleave the gray old rocks, and gather purity from earth's deep bosom and the sky's clear blue.

'If it is not so, if the acts only appear dishonest because we are looking at one side, why do we not say so, or why do we say anything about it? Every man is to be held innocent till he is proved guilty. If there is any standpoint from which we can view our opponent's position and find it not dishonest, we ought to mention it. We have no right to look at him from a standpoint, and hold him up to view as a criminal, and ignore another, from which he may be seen as simply mistaken, or deceived, or blameless. Still less have we a right to take innocent facts and construct upon them a guilty hypothesis to suit our foregone conclusion. A right to do it? It is sin. It is more than murder. It may rob a man of what is more precious to him than his life. It attempts to take away from a man what, taken, would leave him stripped of his manhood, and a man's manhood is worth more to him and his friends than his bone and muscle.'

Ah, Gail, thy keen aim has indeed struck the pupil of the bull's eye! If false statements of varying dogmas were held 'as criminal as they undoubtedly are,' if they were never viewed from 'foregone conclusions,' sects would perish in the death of misconceptions, and warring Christians would rush into each other's arms with the joy-cry, 'Brothers!' Through the misstatements of centuries, the good Protestant minister regards the Catholic priest, ready as he may be to die for the faith of his fathers, as a wilful liar, a conscious deceiver, selling the souls of his flock for a Judas bribe; while the equally good priest, in his turn, looks upon the conscientious minister as a despiser of authority, an enemy of the Church of Christ, refusing to hear what he believes to be its undoubted teachings, a blind man, leading the blind into the pit of perdition. The men may be both right from the standpoint of their 'foregone conclusions,' both wrong from the standpoint of fact. And so it goes on, through all the lesser sectarian divisions. Everywhere misstatement, misconception, and smouldering hatred. The first step to reconciliation among the antagonistic members of Christ's torn body, would be to put into instantaneous practice the wise, sound, and just maxims of Gail[Pg 235] Hamilton. Let us begin it, lovers of truth and justice!

The Maine Woods. By Henry D. Thoreau, Author of 'A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,' 'Walden,' 'Excursions,' etc. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. For sale by D. Appleton & Co., New York.

The first of the papers contained in this book was published in 'The Union Magazine;' the second, 'Chesuncook,' came out in the 'Atlantic Monthly,' in 1858; the last is now for the first time printed. The contents of the volume are as follows: Ktaadn, Chesuncook, The Allegash and East Branch; in the Appendix we have Trees, Flowers, and Shrubs, List of Plants, List of Birds, Quadrupeds, Outfit for an Excursion, and a List of Indian Words. Henry D. Thoreau was an enthusiastic lover of nature, but no blind adorer of her loveliness. He knew her in all her moods, was familiar with all her caprices. He was a man of strong brain, and of accurate knowledge in such fields as it pleased him to study. The woods have never before had such an accurate biographer, such a true painter. He saw them with the eye of the poet as well as that of the naturalist. Scholarship and imagination roam with him in the primeval forests. After the most accurate and detailed description of a moose which had been killed by his Indian guide, this anti-sentimentalist, but true forest lover says: 'Here, just at the head of the murmuring rapids, Joe now proceeded to skin the moose with a pocket knife, while I looked on; and a tragical business it was—to see that still warm and palpitating body pierced with a knife, to see the warm milk stream from the rent udder, and the ghastly naked red carcass appearing from within its seemly robe, which was made to hide it.' There is no joy of the hunter here! The words are as 'tragical' and tender as were those of the melancholy Jaques. That 'warm milk and rent udder' seems to make the stately creature half human. He proceeds:

'But on more accounts than one, I had had enough of moose hunting. I had not come to the woods for this purpose, nor had I foreseen it, though I had been willing to learn how the Indian manœuvred; but one moose killed was as good, if not as bad, as a dozen. The afternoon's tragedy and my share in it, as it affected the innocence, destroyed the pleasure of my adventure. This hunting of the moose merely for the satisfaction of killing him—not even for the sake of his hide—without making any extraordinary exertion or running any risk yourself, is too much like going out by night to some woodside pasture and shooting your neighbor's horses. These are God's own horses, poor timid creatures, that will run fast enough as soon as they smell you, though they are nine feet high (often eleven, with the antlers).... You strip off its hide, because that is the common trophy, and moreover you have heard it may be sold for mocassons—cut a steak from its body, and leave the huge carcass 'to smell to heaven' for you. It is no better, at least, than to assist at a slaughter house. This afternoon's experience suggested to me how base or coarse are the motives which commonly carry men into the wilderness. The explorers and lumberers generally are hirelings, paid so much a day for their labor, and as such they have no more love for wild nature than wood sawyers have for forests. Other white men and Indians who come here are for the most part hunters, whose object is to slay as many moose and other wild animals as possible. But pray, could not one spend some weeks or years in the solitude of this vast wilderness with other employments than these—employments perfectly sweet, innocent, and ennobling? For one that comes with a pencil to sketch or sing, a thousand come with an axe or rifle. What a coarse and imperfect use Indians and hunters make of nature! No wonder that their race is so soon exterminated. I already, and for weeks afterward, felt my nature the coarser for this part of my woodland experience, and was reminded that our life should be lived as tenderly and daintily as one would pluck a flower.'


'As I sat before the fire on my fir-twig seat, without walls above or around me, I remembered how far on every hand that wilderness stretched, before you came to cleared or cultivated fields, and wondered if any bear or moose was watching the light of my fire; for nature looked sternly upon me on account of the murder of the moose.

'Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its ever-green arms to the light—to see its perfect success; but most are content to behold it in the shape of many broad boards brought to market, and deem that its true success. But the pine is no more lumber than man is, and to be made into boards and houses is no more its true and highest use, than the truest use of a man is to be cut down and made into manure. There is a higher law affecting our relation to pines as well as to men. A pine cut down, a dead pine, is no more a pine than a dead human carcass is a man. Can he who has[Pg 236] discovered only some of the values of whalebone and whale oil be said to have discovered the true use of the whale? Can he who slays the elephant for his ivory be said to have 'seen the elephant'? These are petty and accidental uses; just as if a stronger race were to kill us in order to make buttons and flageolets of our bones; for everything may serve a lower as well as a higher use. Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

'Is it the lumberman, then, who is the friend and lover of the pine, stands nearest to it, and understands its nature best? Is it the tanner who has barked it, or he who has boxed it for turpentine, whom posterity will fable to have changed into a pine at last? No! no! it is the poet; he it is who makes the truest use of the pine—who does not fondle it with an axe, nor tickle it with a saw, nor stroke it with a plane—who knows whether its heart is false without cutting into it—who has not bought the stumpage of the town on which its stands. All the pines shudder and heave a sigh when that man steps on the forest floor. No, it is the poet, who loves them as his own shadow in the air, and lets them stand. I have been into the lumber yard, the carpenter's shop, the tannery, the lamp-black factory, and the turpentine clearing; but when at length I saw the tops of the pines waving and reflecting the light at a distance over all the rest of the forest, I realized that the former were not the highest use of the pine. It is not their bones or hide or tallow that I love most. It is the living spirit of the tree, not its spirit of turpentine, with which I sympathize, and which heals my cuts. It is as immortal as I am, and, perchance, may go to as high a heaven, there to tower above me still.'

Reader, was not this man a nature lover, a nature limner, worthy to take his place among our Giffords, Whittredges, McEntees, Bierstadts, and Beards? Truly original, natural, and American, who among our descriptive writers can surpass H. D. Thoreau?

Primary Lessons For Deaf Mutes. By J. A. Jacobs, A. M., Principal of the Kentucky Institution for the Education of Deaf Mutes. New York: John F. Trow, Printer & Publisher, 50 Greene street, between Broome & Grand. 1864.

An excellent little work, intended to impart some of the rudimentary branches of learning to that interesting class of our fellow beings who can neither speak nor hear. Every effort made for their instruction should be cordially welcomed, for sad indeed is their position, and very difficult the discovery of means to reach and develop their often very bright intelligence. These lessons can be used by parents, guardians, or elder brothers and sisters, before the deaf-mute child is old enough to send to a regular institution. They are divided into two parts, bound in separate little volumes, and filled with cuts illustrating the text—or rather, the text, as is proper in such a work, illustrates the cuts, which occupy the larger portion of the book. Teachers cannot but find these aids of incalculable value.

The Relations of The Industry of Canada With The Mother Country And The United States. Being a Speech by Isaac Buchanan, Esq., M. P., as delivered at the late Demonstration to the Parliamentary Opposition at Toronto; together with a series of Articles in defence of the National Sentiments contained therein, which originally appeared in the columns of the Hamilton Spectator, from the pen of Mr. Buchanan; to which is added a Speech delivered by him at the Dinner given to the Pioneers of Upper Canada, at London, Canada West, 10th December, 1863. Now first published in complete and collected form, with copious Notes and Annotations, besides an extended Introductory Explanation, and an Appendix containing various valuable Documents. Edited by Henry J. Morgan, Corresponding Member of the New York Historical Society, and Author of 'Sketches of Celebrated Canadians.' Montreal: Printed by John Lovell, St. Nicholas. 1864.

We recommend this book to such of our readers as may be interested in political economy, not as sound in theory, but as containing a vast array of facts and giving considerable information with regard to the internal affairs of our neighbor Canada. The Reciprocity Treaty comes in for its share of consideration. Mr. Buchanan is a Protectionist, and uses the arguments of his party with considerable ability. The question of annexation is also incidentally touched upon. We do not know that we can give our readers a better idea of the contents and policy of this book than by placing the dedication before them.

'To the leaders of the forthcoming Party of Order, I dedicate these pages, because I feel that the province is at the winning or the losing, and that we shall hereafter have to hail you as the honored instruments of our Political and Industrial salvation.

'In Mr. Buchanan's Letter to the Editor[Pg 237] of the Globe, assuring him publicly that Mr. Buchanan and all his friends, as in the Past, so in the Future, would be found opponents to the death of Annexation, and not its friends, as that journal basely insinuated, he states that he is of no party, though reluctantly compelled to be in opposition to the present ministry in consequence of their acts, Executive as well as Legislative; but that he is of a class far more numerous than the 'thick and thin' adherents of either of the present soi-disant parties. Those alluded to by Mr. Buchanan will form a new party—the Party of Order, which will probably be called the 'Constitutional Party'—its platform being broad enough to hold all who value and respect the time-honored Constitution, whether they be original Reformers or Conservatives in name. The new Party of Order will comprise these elements:

'First. Conservative Liberals, or old Reformers, who have been taught by experience, and are willing now to adopt the word 'Conservative,' at least in its adjective sense.

'Secondly. Liberal Conservatives, or old Tories, or their descendants, who have also been taught by experience, and are willing to adopt the word 'Liberal,' at least in its adjective sense.

'Thirdly. Conservatives, and Conservative Liberals, who have unwittingly been mingled up with the incendiary party, composed of 'Clear Grits' and 'Rouges.'

'And that in your discussions on the great question of the Reciprocity Law, now about to agitate both Canada and the United States, these pages may be of some service, is the fond hope of your obedient servant,

'The Editor.'

Family Pride. By the Author of 'Pique.' Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers, 306 Chestnut street.

Family Pride is a novel of still greater interest than 'Pique.' The plot is well conceived, the characters skilfully developed, and the attention is fascinated even to the end. The moral is unexceptionable, the style fresh and pure. We must however enter an earnest protest against the manifest injustice of the closing sentence, where the talented author has gone out of his way to find a blot for his book, the only stain upon his fair pages. It reads thus: 'After a variety of vicissitudes, she had embraced the Romish faith: that religion which relieves from all personal responsibility in spiritual matters; and which teaches that earthly penance and ascetic observances will open the gates of heaven to the vilest of criminals.' We have studied Westminster, Episcopal, and Catholic catechisms, the teachings in all three of which are that faith in Christ and sorrow for and renunciation of sin alone can open the gates of heaven. We regard it as the duty of a conscientious reviewer to point out an erroneous statement wherever it occurs, whether in regard to the faith of Protestants, Catholics, Hebrews, Mohammedans, Fire Worshippers, or any other classes of men whatsoever. Misstatement has caused an immense deal of bloodshed and bitterness among Christians. The walls of Zion must be built of the stones of truth.

The Tanner Boy, and how he became Lieutenant-General. By Major Penniman. 'The boy is father to the man.' Fifth thousand. Boston: Roberts Brothers, publishers, 143 Washington street. 1864.

A lively account of the boyhood and subsequent career of one likely to be famous in American history. The nation's eyes are at this moment turned hopefully upon the result of Gen. Grant's campaign in Virginia, and all will be glad to learn that his previous life offers so fair and pleasant a record. One observation, however, we feel called upon to make to the entertaining Major: the youth of America should be taught to love, to live for, and, if need be, to die for their country; but they should also be taught to shun narrow exclusiveness and boastful vanity. A government of a whole people should in this respect set a noble example to all other nations.

The 'Tanner Boy' has already reached its 'fifth thousand,' and will no doubt be eagerly read by all the patriotic boys and girls in the land.

Wax Flowers. J. E. Tilton & Co., Boston. 1864.

This little book contains somewhat over a hundred pages, and is gotten up in the attractive style for which the publications of this firm have become noted. A prefatory chapter sets forth the object of the work, and the claims of the art. The first part treats of Wax Fruit, giving the methods of making moulds and casting therefrom, of preparing the wax, of coloring the fruit and giving it the proper outward texture. The second part describes all the articles and materials required for making even the most elaborate of Wax Flowers; gives the way of prepar[Pg 238]ing the wax, including its formation into sheets of any required thickness, with all the minutiæ relating to coloring, &c. The text is clearly and simply written, and by the aid of ample illustrations everything is made plain to the learner.

It is wonderful how exquisitely flowers may be imitated—making one wish a device for the secreting of the appropriate perfumes.

The wax once gathered by bees through many a bower,
Glows again in the form of a beautiful flower.

The artist in wax enjoys the best of opportunities for learning Botany, both analytically and synthetically. A series of models in wax would make the ocular study of botany possible throughout the year. The taste for wax flowers is becoming widely extended, and high prices are brought by the finest specimens of the art. Humanity should heartily welcome an employment which enables many to escape the suicide of the needle!

Denise. By the Author of 'Mademoiselle Mori.' In two vols. New York: James G. Gregory, 540 Broadway.

There is a strange charm about this book. The story is common enough, the characters have nothing original in their conception, and yet we are fascinated by the detailed truth of the portraiture from the first page to the last. The scenes are laid in Farnoux, a town in the old Provençal districts. The ancient views and manners are still retained, and interest us by the force of contrast with our own. Mademoiselle Le Marchand, an odd old maid, with a genius for painting, is really the character of the book. Denise, the heroine, is quietly and faithfully drawn. Various picturesque phases of the Catholic faith are artistically managed, while the faith itself is not treated with much courtesy. As a general thing we do not like theological novels written from foregone conclusions. We can imagine however that such a subject might be made intensely interesting. If a master mind of perfect impartiality would give us the effect produced upon two minds of equal mental power, of equal moral worth, by Protestantism or Catholicity—such a study would both interest and instruct. All religious nicknames should be avoided, as offensive both to charity and refined taste. Episcopalians do not like to be called Anglicans; Friends, Quakers; Baptists, Hardshells; Unitarians, Pantheists; nor Catholics, Romanists. Let us use courtesy to all men, that so we may have more weight when we attack erroneous principles.

By all means read Denise; its studies of the heart are close and accurate.



[Furnished by a Friend of the Editor of The Continental.]

Three routes of operation are open to an army designing to proceed against Richmond: first, along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to Charlottesville; second, along the railroad from Fredericksburg to Hanover Court House; and third, by the way of Fortress Monroe. The first has the disadvantage of presenting a long line of communication, constantly exposed to inroads from guerillas, and for the purposes of warfare may be considered as utterly impracticable. It would not, in fact, be worth considering, had not some critics of Gen. Grant's movements absurdly insisted that he ought to have adopted this route. The second route is far more advantageous, and had Gen. Grant's purposes been confined simply to putting his army before the rebel capital, and lying there to seize such opportunities as the developments of the campaign should afford, it might have been expedient to maintain by this route communications with the Potomac. But the intentions of our Lieutenant-General were of a much more comprehensive character.[Pg 239] While, therefore, following this route in his march, because it gave the most direct and shortest line to Richmond, he did not use the railroad as a means of communication. His aim was fixed on an ulterior object. He designed to put his army in such a position that it should be constantly assailing Richmond by its presence, although not a gun should be fired. He, therefore, tried the strength of the rebel works, in passing, and finding that time would be spent uselessly in attempting to overthrow them either upon the north or the east, he proceeded to the new position south of the James, and adopted the third route mentioned for his communication with the North, having previously used it, also, for the transportation to the ultimate scene of conflict of a part of his forces under Gen. Butler.

Among military men, there have been, since the commencement of the war, many advocates for an attack on Richmond from the position at Petersburg. It has many advantages. The facilities for transporting supplies are easy, it isolates the capital of the Southern government from its southern and eastern connections, it interferes largely with the internal trade of the confederacy, it confines the rebel army in a narrow space, and it necessitates constant efforts on the part of the confederate commanders to expel the Northern forces, thus constraining them to leave their works and become assailants. In fine, the position affords more opportunities for strategically investing Richmond than any other which is accessible to our armies.

A clear perception of these advantages determined Gen. Grant to adopt the position at Petersburg. He was aware that Richmond could not be directly invested except with a very large army. He desired to accomplish the results which such an investment would give. He sought to cut off the city from its principal channels of communication—to deprive it of its main resources. Have these purposes been effected? At the time we write it is announced that the army occupies the railroad leading to Weldon, thus breaking the communication with North Carolina; that our cavalry has destroyed a portion of the road leading to Lynchburg; that the forces operating under Gen. Hunter have also destroyed portions of the Virginia Central and the road between Gordonsville and Lynchburg; they have also damaged the James River Canal. The only railroad communication now existing between Richmond and the South is that by way of Danville. Before this reaches our readers we trust that the effects of these efforts to isolate the capital of the confederacy will become evident; that the rebel army will be forced to leave its intrenchments and meet our brave soldiers in the field, and that the conflict may have resulted in victory for the cause of the country and of freedom.

The various steps of the process by which the army gained the position at Petersburg are already well known. From the time the camps at Culpepper Court House were broken up, until the lines were established south of the James river, the series of movements consisted in masterly marches by the left, compelling the enemy constantly to fall back from his intrenched positions to points farther in his rear. Such movements were not, however made until after trials of the enemy in the front, some of which resulted in splendid partial successes. They were, however, not conclusive. The flank movements of our army belong to that class which are considered among the most difficult in warfare, requiring great skill in commanders to arrange their details, and endurance and discipline in the troops to effect them. It is no easy matter to change position in the face of a wary and vigorous enemy, ready to fall upon any exposed point in the long array of a marching column. Yet, several times, the manœuvre has been skilfully and successfully performed, and each time the rebels have learned it too late to profit by the chances offered for a surprise.

Hundreds of miles distant from the principal point of attraction in Virginia, the other great army of the Union, under Gen. Sherman, has also been performing similar feats—turning by well-directed marches, one after another, the intrenched positions of the enemy in the mountainous district of Georgia. Atlanta, the object of its toils, is a great centre of railroad communication, and when our armies obtain possession of it, the confederacy will experience another severing stroke, almost as severe as that which cleft it in twain by the capture of[Pg 240] Vicksburg and the reopening of the Mississippi. By such strokes the pretentious imposture of a Southern nation must be broken into fragments, even should the armies supporting it remain for a time organized and defiant; for, under the appliances of modern civilization and commerce, the possession of a railroad or internal depot of trade is almost equivalent to the destruction of an army.

The campaigns of 1863 produced great results, as well geographically as in the capture of men and munitions from the rebels. At the commencement of the year they held the Mississippi, they threatened Kentucky and the borders of the Ohio, they were able to draw supplies from Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. They were, moreover, arrogantly defiant toward the North, and boasted of their ability to march to its great commercial centres. At the close of the year they were driven to the confines of Georgia, they were separated from the trans-Mississippi region, their boasting had been brought to humility at Gettysburg. The objects to be accomplished in the great campaign of 1864 are to drive in upon each other the two armies which resist our progress in Virginia and Georgia, and to compress the rebellion into the Southern Atlantic States. This done, the existence of secession is practically at an end, though it may brag as loudly as ever and keep on foot its armies. For without Virginia, and without the connections of Atlanta, the existence of an independent government in the South is impossible: sufficient country would not remain to support so magnificent an affair. The loss of Virginia in fact would be the fatal blow to the rebellion; for, however South Carolina may exalt herself, and however the other States of the South may aspire, yet it is Virginia which gives tone and respectability to the Southern confederacy. It is for this, far more than because it is the rebel capital, that the capture of Richmond is desirable.

But should it happen—which fortunately is not a reasonable surmise—that the objects of this year's campaign should not be attained, we consider that the Southern confederacy exists only in pretence. Should its ports be to-day opened, should our armies fall back to their primary bases of operation, should European Powers formally declare that a slave republic exists, yet the new nation would be practically a nonentity. Does any one suppose that the United States would yield Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, New Orleans, and the Mississippi; that the freemen of Western Virginia would be forsaken; that Fortress Monroe and Port Royal would be abandoned? How long would a nation so surrounded, so intersected, exist, or how could it achieve any prosperity, character, and stability? Constant war, in the effort to expand and perfect its borders, would be its necessity; but such a necessity would be its destruction. There is no possibility of compromise or arrangement in the contest in which we are engaged, except with the parallel of the Potomac and the Ohio as the dividing border; but such an arrangement is impossible; entire reconquest becomes the imperative; it may be delayed, our present hopes may be disappointed, but the march of our armies thus far has trodden out the life from the Southern attempt at independence, and any future existence it may have will be merely muscular paroxysms—not the steady, regular, automatic movements of freedom and spontaneity.

Any notice of the operations of our armies would be incomplete without tributes to the ability of commanders and the valor of our soldiers. In no previous period of the war have these been more strikingly exemplified. The capacity of man to endure and his ability to exert himself continuously without exhausting his energy, are very wonderful. The reader of military history is constantly struck with this, in perusing accounts of sieges and marches and battles. War is always accompanied with a host of terrors—exposures to heat, cold, and tempests, marches through swamps and snows, suffering by hunger and thirst and fatigue, lying with bleeding wounds for days and nights between the lines of friends and foes, toil, danger, privation, pain, in every form. But among the memorable campaigns in the history of war, none is more marked for its incessant activity and the cheerful alacrity with which every hardship was endured, than that in which our army marched from the Rapidan to the James. From Georgia, too, we have similar accounts of difficulties met only to be surmounted. Heaven bless our gallant soldiers everywhere! A nation's hopes and prayers are with them. May they know the soldier's dearest delight—victory!

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Continental Monthly, Vol. 6, No 2,
 August, 1864, by Various


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