The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 61,
No. 378, April, 1847, by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 61, No. 378, April, 1847

Author: Various

Release Date: December 3, 2007 [EBook #23690]

Language: English

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[Pg 393]


Mr Carlyle's services to history in collecting and editing these letters[1] and speeches of Cromwell, all men will readily and gratefully acknowledge. A work more valuable as a guide to the study of the singular and complex character of our pious revolutionist, our religious demagogue, our preaching and praying warrior and usurper, has not been produced. There is another portion of Mr Carlyle's labours which will not meet so unanimous an approbation. As editor, Mr Carlyle has given us a valuable work; as commentator, the view which he would teach us to take of English Puritanism is, to our thinking, simply the most paradoxical, absurd, unintelligible, mad business we ever encountered in our lives.

Our Hero-worshipper, it must be allowed, has been more fortunate this time in the selection of his object of devotion than when he shouted to the skies his Mirabeaus and Dantons. But he makes an unfortunate species of compensation. In proportion as his hero is more within the bounds of humanity has his worship become more extravagant and outrageous. He out-puritans the Puritans; he is more fanatic than his idol; he has chosen to express himself with such a righteous truculence, such a sanguinary zeal, such a pious contempt for human virtue and human sympathies, as would have startled Old Noll himself. It is a bad religion this hero-worship—at least as practised by Mr Carlyle. Here is our amiable countryman rendered by it, in turn, a terrorist and a fanatic. All his own intellectual culture he throws down and abandons. Such dire transformation ensues as reminds us of a certain hero-worship which Milton has celebrated:

"Horror on him falls,
And horrid sympathy; for what he sees
He feels himself, now changing; down his arms,
Down falls the spear and shield; down he as fast;
And the dire hiss renews, and the dire form,
Catched by contagion."

But to our task—which is no light one; for in our survey of this book we have to keep in view both hero and hero-worshipper, Cromwell and Carlyle, both somewhat slippery personages, abnormal, enigmatical.

The speeches of Oliver Cromwell have a formidable reputation for prolixity, confusion, and excessive tediousness; yet we have not, for our own part, found these volumes to be of the dry and scarce readable description which their title foreboded; and we would caution others not to be deterred by any fears of this nature from their perusal. They will [Pg 394]find an interest grow upon them as they proceed, and the last volume to be more attractive than the first. As the work advances, the letters and speeches of Cromwell become more intimately connected with the great transactions of the period, and the editor himself more frequently favours us with some specimen of his happier manner, where concentration of style, a spirit of humour and reflection, and a power of vivid portraiture, have not degenerated into mere quaintness, into a species of slang, into Carlylisms, into vague generalities about infinitudes and eternities. At all times the interspersed commentary—written in that peculiar, fantastic, jingling manner which, illegitimate as it is, disorderly and scandalous to all lovers of propriety in style and diction, is at all events the very opposite to dulness—forms perhaps the most fortunate contrast that could have been devised with the Cromwellian period, so arid and colourless, so lengthy and so tortuous, tinged often with such a dismal obscurity, and valuable in fact only as showing the man, utterly valueless as an exposition of thought. Perhaps, as models of style, a critic would be as little disposed to applaud the writing of Mr Carlyle as the compositions of Cromwell, but they form here all admirable relief the one to the other; taken together, one can consume a considerable quantity of both. Your dry bread is weary mastication, and your potted anchovies have a somewhat too stinging flavour; but taken together, sandwich-fashion, as they are here, the consumption may go on rapidly enough.

But, whether dry or not, the letters and speeches of Cromwell should be read by every one desirous of obtaining an insight into the character of not the least extraordinary, nor the least misrepresented personage in history. If there is any one who still believes that Cromwell was a thorough hypocrite, that his religion was a systematic feint to cover his ambitious designs, the perusal of these volumes will entirely undeceive him. We look upon this hypothesis, this Machiavelian explanation of Cromwell's character, as henceforth entirely dismissed from all candid and intelligent minds. It was quite natural that such a view should be taken of their terrible enemy by the royalists of the Restoration, hating his memory with a most cordial hatred, and accustomed, in their blinding licentiousness, to look upon all religion as little better than cant and hypocrisy. It was quite natural that such a portrait of him should be drawn by the men who unearthed his bones, and vented their rage upon a senseless corpse. We see it was quite inevitable that some such coarse caricature should be thus limned and transmitted to us. But it has lasted long enough. We believe, indeed, that by most persons it has already been dismissed and disowned. It may now be torn into shreds, and cast aside as utterly faithless.

Cromwell was a genuine Puritan. There is no doubt of that. He was no youth when the war broke out, nor a man who had yet to seek his religious party or principles. As the farmer of St Ives, we see him, as distinctly as if he still lived upon the earth, the man of fierce sectarian piety, in natural temper not unamiable, somewhat gloomy and hypochondriacal, but, above all, distinguished by whatsoever of good or ill the sort of Calvinistic divinity prevalent at the time could infuse into its professors. Such the war found him, and such he continued to be; throughout his whole career we never for a moment lose sight of "the saint," the title which, then as now, the profane world gave to this class of men.

Was Cromwell, then, always sincere in his utterances? was there no cant, no hypocrisy? Did he never conceal the ambition and domineering spirit of the soldier under the humility of the saint? Another matter quite. Because a man is religious in the main, it follows not that he is incapable of occasionally practising hypocrisy: he may lapse as well into this, as into any crime of the decalogue. Although we might find it difficult to put our finger exactly upon the spot, and say, Here speaks the hypocrite, we are not without suspicion that Cromwell was at times practising dissimulation. But if he dissembled, if he used with artifice the language of religion, it was no new and foreign[Pg 395] disguise that he put on. He had but to draw the folds a little higher over his face of a robe that he had long worn in all times and seasons, and which was verily his own.

In common with almost all men who in times of civil broil have risen from a lowly station to great power, Cromwell had occasion, no doubt, at times for dissimulation. His religion, genuine as it was, would no more prevent him from the practice of this necessary craft than from the sanguinary deeds not more necessary to the triumph of his cause. Nay, it was precisely of that enthusiastic order which, in the most liberal manner, justifies the means for the end. Now, at a period when the saints were in the ascendant, dissimulation would unavoidably take a religious form, and when most deceiving men, or most faithfully addressing them, he would still colour all his language with the same hue of piety. As, in an age of chivalry, the dissembler would have the boast of honour and the parade of knightly courtesy for ever on his lips, so in these times of saintship he would lull the suspicions of men by a gross emblazonry of religion. It might well happen, therefore, that such a man as Cromwell, working his way upward to the highest post of authority, would deal in much insincerity of phrase, and yet have "the root of the matter" in him. Indeed, nothing is more common in the world than this combination of genuine feelings of piety with a great abundance of cant, habitual or designed. It would betray a very slender knowledge of mankind, and none at all of what is called the religious world, to conclude that a man is destitute of sincere piety because he sometimes makes use of the language of religion for ulterior purposes not peculiarly pious.

It is to be observed, moreover, that to readers unfamiliar with the peculiarities of professing Christians, whether Puritans or of other denomination, the expressions of humility and self-abasement which Cromwell frequently makes use of have appeared to be plain symptoms of hypocrisy. They are nothing but the habits of the sect. Such expressions are supposed to have been employed to blind men to his ambitious projects, to shelter him from the jealous scrutiny of rivals and superiors. Such a purpose they may have sometimes answered, and been intended to answer; but in the main they are nothing more nor less than the dialect of the tribe. Because is a Christian virtue, certain religious people have thought fit to indulge in a false vituperation of themselves. Striving avariciously after all virtues, however incompatible the one with the other, they counterfeit vice and meanness, that, good men as they are, they may have abundance of contrition. How far there can be Christianity or piety in an abuse and degradation of ourselves, when that abuse and degradation must be felt all along to be untrue—if any reflection whatever accompanies such language—we leave such people to settle amongst themselves. Certain it is that the Puritans excelled in this as in every other kindred extravagance. The elect of the Lord were fond of describing themselves as the most contemptible of sinners; the salt of the earth as being rottenness and corruption. It is to this habit of unmeaning self-disparagement that we are to attribute many of those phrases which have been thought in Cromwell to be studied artifices to cloak ambitious designs.

They are rife on all occasions, and their frequency and energy bear no relation to the supposed exigencies of his political career. Take the following instance. No man surely knew better than he, that at the conclusion of the civil war the army had become paramount. He could sometimes speak of this army with the natural pride of a soldier, with the full consciousness of the power it possessed, and had conferred on him; and yet, at other times, he would talk of this terrible force in the puling strain, in more than the drawl and drivel of the conventicle. As Lord High Protector, addressing his first parliament, he says:—"I had the approbation of the officers of the army, in the three nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland. I say of the officers: I had that by their express remonstrances, and under signature. But there went along with that express consent of theirs, an implied consent also of a body of persons who had had somewhat[Pg 396] to do in the world; who had been instrumental, by God, to fight down the enemies of God, and his people, in the three nations. And truly, until my hands were bound, and I was limited, (to my own great satisfaction, as many can bear me witness,) while I had in my hands so great a power and arbitrariness—the soldiery were a very considerable part of these nations, especially all government being dissolved. I say, when all government was thus dissolved, and nothing to keep things in order but the sword!" There can be no doubt of it—the soldiery were a very considerable part of the nation. But the Lord High Protector, in a speech he makes to his second parliament, referring to the very same period, narrating the very same events, can talk of this army as "a company of poor men," "your poor army," "those poor contemptible men." To attempt to detect any political motive for this absurd phraseology, would be a very idle speculation, mere waste of ingenuity: he was simply more in the puritanic vein in the one case than the other.

In his letters to the parliament, giving an account of his successes in the war, he generally concludes with some expression of this strained evangelical modesty, and seems very much afraid lest Speaker Lenthall and other honourable members should attribute the victories he announces, in any measure to the army and the general who won them. He might be very sure, however, that, notwithstanding these self-renunciations, the parliament knew very well who was fighting their battles. Such a mode of speech would not endanger his reputation, nor diminish from his claims; might perhaps—though we will not say this was present to his thoughts—induce the parliament to presume that he would not insist on any very egregious reward for services he was so anxious to disclaim. We will quote one instance of this self-denying style; and perhaps the following passage contains altogether as much of a certain fanatical mode of reasoning as could be well found in so short a compass. Prince Rupert, then at Worcester, had sent two thousand men across the country, to his majesty at Oxford, to convoy his majesty's person and the artillery over to him at Worcester. Cromwell attacked and routed this convoy; he also took Bletchington House. After giving an account of the transaction, he continues:—"This was the mercy of God; and nothing is more due than a real acknowledgment. And though I have had greater mercies, yet none clearer: because, in the first place, God brought them to our hands when we looked not for them; and delivered them out of our hands, when we laid a reasonable design to surprise them, and which we carefully endeavoured. His mercy appears in this also, that I did much doubt the storming of the house, it being strong and well manned, and I having few dragoons, and this being not my business; and yet we got it. I hope you will pardon me if I say, God is not enough owned. We look too much to men and visible helps: this hath much hindered our success." This from Oliver, who so well knew how "to keep his powder dry!" from Oliver, who, enthusiast himself, could yet shrewdly calculate on the military efficacy of enthusiasm, and set it down amongst the ways and means! Cant or not, it is sad stuff.

But, Puritan as he was, we can admire Cromwell. Every great man, in whatever times, or in whatever part of the world he has made his appearance, has earned his title to fame and distinction, not by qualities peculiar to the sect or religion to which he may have belonged, but qualities which, though connected with his own especial faith or tenets, are recognised as the common property of mankind; he has been great not as Catholic, as Puritan, as Pagan, as Mahometan, but as man; he has been great, because he was pious, brave, patriotic, sagacious, resolute, and has achieved great enterprises on the theatre of life. The greatness of Cromwell was indeed allied to Puritanism, inasmuch as his mind grew up under this peculiar form of religion; but what we, and all posterity must admire in Cromwell, is by no means the puritan. His steadiness of purpose, his unshaken resolution, his military prowess, his eminent talent to govern and command, and his religious sense of duty to the Supreme,[Pg 397] might all have existed under other modes of religion. In our admiration we entirely separate these qualities from that least gainly and least wholesome of the forms of Christian piety with which they are here found connected. History gives us examples of every kind of virtue, and every kind of talent, united with every species of fanaticism that has afflicted civilised life. It follows not that we applaud the fanaticism. The early caliphs were several of them distinguished by exalted virtues, temperance, self-denial, justice, patriotism: we praise these virtues, we acknowledge, too, that they are here linked with the profession of the faith of Islam; but for all this we do not admire the religion of Mahomet, nor that fanaticism which writ its texts upon the sword.

We insist upon this obvious distinction, because, whilst agreeing—to a certain extent—in Mr Carlyle's view of the character of Cromwell, we beg not to be implicated in that esteem and reverence which he professes to entertain for Puritanism, or the Puritans as a body. And this brings us to the extraordinary part of Mr Carlyle's performance—his ardent sympathy, nay his acquiescence with, and adherence to the Puritans, to that point that he adopts their convictions, their feelings, and even some of their most grotesque reasonings. Their violence and ferocity, we were prepared to see Mr Carlyle, in his own sardonic fashion, abet and encourage; his sympathy is always with the party who strikes; but that he should identify himself with their mumming thoughts, their "plentiful reasons," their gloomiest superstitions, was what no one could have anticipated. On this subject we must quote his own words; our own would not be credited; they would seem to any one who had not read his work to be scandalous misrepresentations. The extravagance runs through the whole book, but we have it perhaps more concentrated in the Introduction.

This Introduction, which we sat down to with keen expectations, disappointed us extremely, at least in those parts where any general views are taken. We feel, and have elsewhere ungrudgingly expressed, a certain admiration for the talents of Mr Carlyle. We shall never forget the surprise and pleasure with which we read the "Sartor Resartus," as it one day burst suddenly and accidentally upon us; and no one who has once read his graphic and passionate history of the French Revolution, can ever forget the vivid pictures that were there presented to him. We opened this book, therefore, with a sort of anticipatory relish. But we found very little of his genius, and very much of his extravagance; less of the one and more of the other, than we thought could possibly have been brought together. Metaphors and allusions, already worn thread-bare, are introduced as stock phrases, as if he had inserted them in his dictionary of the English language. All his vices of manner are exaggerated, while the freshness of thought, which half excused them, is departed. These strange metaphors, these glaring colours, which are ready spread out upon his palette, he transfers with hasty profusion to his canvass, till—(as it has been said of Mr Turner's, pictures)—the canvass and the palette-plate very nearly resemble. But were it otherwise, were there all and more than the wit, and humour, and sarcasm, and pungent phrase, and graphic power, which may be found scattered through Mr Carlyle's best performances, there is here a substratum of sheer and violent absurdity, which all these together would fail to disguise or compensate. Certainly there are pages of writing in this Introduction which contain such an amount of extravagant assertion, uttered in such fantastic jargon, as we think could nowhere be paralleled. Dulness could never have attained to any thing so extraordinary; and surely genius never before condescended to such workmanship.

"What and how great," thus commences the book, "are the interests which connect themselves with the hope that England may yet attain to some, practical belief and understanding of its history during the seventeenth century, need not be insisted on at present, such hope being still very distant, very uncertain. We have wandered far away from the ideas which guided us in that century,[Pg 398] and indeed which had guided us in all preceding centuries, but of which that century was the ultimate manifestation. We have wandered very far, and must endeavour to return and connect ourselves therewith again! It is with other feelings than those of poor peddling dilettantism, other aims than the writing of successful or unsuccessful publications, that an earnest man occupies himself in those dreary provinces of the dead and buried. The last glimpse of the godlike vanishing from this England; conviction and veracity giving place to hollow cant and formalism—antique 'Reign of God,' which all true men in their several dialects and modes have always striven for, giving place to the modern reign of the No-God, whom men name devil; this, in its multitudinous meanings and results, is a sight to create reflections in the earnest man! One wishes there were a history of English Puritanism, the last of all our heroisms, but sees small prospect of such a thing at present."

Then, beginning to quote himself, as his manner is, changing his voice and adopting another key, as if by this thin disguise to obtain somewhat more license for the wildness and vehemence of his speech—an artifice surely not necessary here—he thus continues:—

"'Few nobler heroisms,' says a well-known writer, long occupied on this subject, 'at bottom, perhaps, no nobler heroism, ever transacted itself on this earth; and it lies as good as lost to us, overwhelmed under such an avalanche of human stupidities as no heroism before ever did. Intrinsically and extrinsically it may be considered inaccessible to these generations. Intrinsically, the spiritual purport of it has become inconceivable, incredible to the modern mind. Extrinsically, the documents and records of it, scattered waste as a shoreless chaos, are not legible. They lie there printed, written, to the extent of tons of square miles, as shot-rubbish; unedited, unsorted, not so much as indexed; full of every conceivable confusion; yielding light to very few; yielding darkness, in several sorts, to very many.' ...

"'This, then,' continues our impatient friend, 'is the Elysium we English have provided for our heroes! The Rushworthian Elysium. Dreariest continent of shot-rubbish the eye ever saw. Confusion piled on confusion to your utmost horizon's edge; obscure in lurid twilight as of the shadow of death; trackless, without index, without finger-post, or mark of any human foregoer; where your human footstep, if you are still human, echoes bodeful through the gaunt solitude, peopled only by somnambulant pedants, dilettants, and doleful creatures, by phantasms, errors, inconceivabilities, by nightmares, pasteboard norroys, griffins, wiverns, and chimeras dire! There, all vanquished, overwhelmed under such waste lumber mountains, the wreck and dead ashes of some six unbelieving generations, does the age of Cromwell and his Puritans lie hidden from us. This is what we, for our share, have been able to accomplish towards keeping our heroic ones in memory.'"

After some further diatribe against all preceding historians, collectors, and editors, he drops his ventriloquism, and, resuming a somewhat more natural voice, he proceeds:—

"Nay, in addition to the sad state of our historical books, and what indeed is fundamentally the cause and origin of that, our common spiritual notions, if any notion of ours may still deserve to be called spiritual, are fatal to a right understanding of that seventeenth century. The Christian doctrines, which then dwelt alive in every heart, have now in a manner died out of all hearts—very mournful to behold—and are not the guidance of this world any more. Nay, worse still, the cant of them does yet dwell alive with us, little doubting that it is cant, in which fatal intermediate state the eternal sacredness of this universe itself, of this human life itself, has fallen dark to the most of us, and we think that, too, a cant and a creed."

So!—as our honest German friend would exclaim, puffing from his mouth at the same time a huge volume of symbolic smoke. We have withdrawn it seems, from the path of light ever since the reign of the army and its godly officers established a.d. 1649. We must return and connect ourselves therewith; it is our only salvation;[Pg 399] though, indeed, if Puritanism was the manifestation of the ideas of all preceding centuries—if the same current of thought can be traced from William the Conqueror to Oliver the conqueror—a very little ingenuity would suffice to trace the same ideas, the same current of thought, somewhat farther still. But this reign of the puritanical army was really "the last glimpse of the godlike!"—it was "the reign of God!" and we live under the reign of ——, psha! Why, he does not even give us a substantial devil, but coins a strange personification of a negative. Such was not the devil, by the way, at the time of "the noblest heroism ever transacted on the earth." Such a definition of the "roaring lion," would, in those days of light and happiness, have procured its author, at the very least, a trip to Barbadoes. Even Cromwell himself would have Barbadoesed him.

"This last of our heroisms!" God grant it is the last! It is only out of another religious war that another such heroism can arise. If church and dissent should take up arms, and, instead of controversies carried on in pamphlets, upon tradition and white surplices, should blow out each other's brains with gunpowder, then Mr Carlyle would see his "heroic ones" revive upon the earth.

"The Christian doctrines which then dwelt alive in every heart, have now in a manner died out of all hearts." Only the cant of them dwells alive with us. The same clear-sighted author, who sees the Christian doctrines so beautifully and pre-eminently developed in the Ironsides of Cromwell, in the troopers of Lambert and Harrison, sacking, pillaging, slaughtering, and in all that tribe of men who ever shed blood the readier after prayer-time—men who had dropped from their memory Christ's own preaching, to fill their mouths with the curses which the Hebrew prophets had been permitted, under a past dispensation, to denounce against the enemies of Judea, who had constructed their theology out of the darkest parts of the New, and the most fearful portion of the Old Testament;—this same author, opening his eyes and ears upon his own day and generation, finds that Christianity has died out of all hearts, and its phraseology, as he expresses himself elsewhere, "become mournful to him when spouted as frothy cant from Exeter Hall." If Mr Carlyle would visit Exeter Hall, and carry there one tithe of the determination to approve, that he exhibits in favour of the Puritan, he would find a Christian piety as sincere, as genuine, and far more humane, than his heroes of Naseby, or Dunbar, or Drogheda were acquainted with. He would see the descendants of his Puritans, relieved, at least we may say, from the necessity of raising their psalm on the battle-field, indulging in none of the ferocities of our nature, assembling in numerous but peaceful meetings, raising annually, by a quiet but no contemptible sacrifice, their millions for the dissemination of Gospel truth. But Mr Carlyle would call this cant; he sees nothing good, or generous, or high-minded in any portion of the world in which he lives; he reserves his sympathies for the past—for the men of buckram and broad-sword, who, on a question of church government, were always ready "to hew Agag to pieces," let Agag stand for who, or what number it might.

If there is one spectacle more odious than another of all which history presents to us, whether it take place amongst Mahometan or Christian, Catholic or Protestant, it is this:—to see men practising all the terrible brutalities of war, treading down their enemies, doing all that rage and the worst passions prompt, and doing all amidst exclamations of piety, devout acknowledgments of submission to Divine will, and professions of gratitude to God. Other religious factions have committed far greater atrocities than the Puritans, but nowhere in history is this same spectacle exhibited with more distasteful and sickening accompaniments. The Moslem thanked God upon his sword in at least a somewhat soldierly manner; and the Catholic, by the very pomp with which he chants his Te Deum, somewhat conceals the meaning of his act, and, keeping God a little out of sight, makes his mass express the natural feeling of a human triumph. But the sleek Puritan, at once grovelling and presumptuous, mingles with his sanguinary[Pg 400] mood all the morbid sickly conceit, all the crawling affected humility of the conventicle. All his bloodsheds are "mercies," and they are granted in answer to his long and miserable prayers—prayers which, to a man of rational piety, sound very much like blasphemies. He carries with him to the battle-field, to the siege, to the massacre, not one even of those generous feelings which war itself permits towards a foe. He chooses to call his enemy the enemy of God, and kneels before he fights, that the inexpressible mercy may be granted of cutting his throat!

"That the sense of difference between right and wrong," says Mr Carlyle, "had filled all time and all space for man, and bodied itself forth into a heaven and hell for him,—this constitutes the grand feature of those Puritan, old-Christian ages; this is the element which stamps them as heroic, and has rendered their works great, manlike, fruitful to all generations." Quite on the contrary. The sense of right and wrong was obscured, confused, lost sight of, in the promptings of a presumptuous enthusiasm; and it is exactly this which constitutes the perilous characteristic of such men as the Puritans and Cameronians, and similar sectaries. How can the sense of right and wrong keep its footing in an enthusiasm which has brought itself to believe that all its successes are a direct answer to its prayers? Success becomes the very measure of right and wrong. The two extremes of Atheism and Fanaticism have met; they may both dispense with conscience, and make the event the criterion of the deed. Hear how the pious heroes of Mr Carlyle reason on one of the most solemn occasions of the civil war. The army is remonstrating with the Parliament because it appeared slow to shed the blood of their conquered and captured King, and it actually speaks of the death of Charles "as appeasing the wrath of God" against that sovereign! and bids the Parliament "sadly to consider, as men accountable to the Highest," how far an accommodation with the King, "when God hath given him so clearly into your power to do justice, can be just before God or good men." The power to do the act is full authority, is absolute command to do it. What other doctrine could a Cæsar Borgia, or an Eccelino, the tyrant of Padua, desire to be governed, or rather to be manumitted by from all government?

The argument drawn from the success given to their cause, is perpetually in the mouth of Cromwell and of his Puritans. It establishes, without a doubt, that they have used the sword justly, and are still further to use it. Every "mercy" of this kind is in answer to prayer. Basing-House, a private residence, cannot be sacked and plundered, and the inhabitants put to the sword, but the pious historian of the feat, Mr Peters, adds, that it, and the like triumphs, were "answers to the prayers and trophies of the faith of some of God's servants." When Greek meets Greek, when the Scottish Covenanter encounters the English Puritan, and the former, being worsted, finds out "that he had not so learned Christ as to hang the equity of a cause upon events," Cromwell answers, "Did not you solemnly appeal and pray? Did not we do so too? And ought not you and we to think, with fear and trembling, of the hand of the Great God, in this mighty and strange appearance of His, instead of slightly calling it an 'event'? Were not both your and our expectations renewed from time to time, whilst we waited upon God, to see which way He would manifest himself upon our appeals? And shall we, after all these our prayers, fastings, tears, expectations, and solemn appeals, call these bare 'events'? The Lord pity you."

Men prayed in those days! says Mr Carlyle, "actually prayed! It was a capability old London and its preachers and populations had; to us the incredibilest." Beyond a doubt the Puritans and the Covenanters prayed, and in such a manner and at such a length, that the strange doctrine on which Southey has founded his "Curse of Kehama," of the essential and irresistible force of prayer, seems to have got mixed up with their Christianity.[2] But we do not think[Pg 401] that the voice of prayer has quite died out amongst us. It is curious to observe what a vivid perception this author has for the historical past, and what a voluntary blindness and deafness for the actually present. It is a fact! he frequently exclaims, with all the energy of a discoverer,—a fact! that men in these ages prayed, and had a religious faith. Our churches and chapels are not facts. The control—none the worse for being exercised without pike or musket—which the religious public, meeting in that very Exeter Hall, have over the measures of government, and all political transactions,—is not a fact. Were he writing, some centuries hence, the history of this our age, he would detect these facts. What facts, indeed, might he not detect, and what exaggerated significance might he not give to them! Why, in those days, he might exclaim, in his enthusiasm, the very beggars in the street, in asking charity, poured God's blessing on you! It was a credible thing, in those days, God's blessing!—and men gave their money for it!

A passage in one of Cromwell's letters instances, in rather a touching manner, what school of piety this army of saints must have proved. At the battle of Marston Moor a Colonel Walton had lost his son. "He was a gallant young man, exceedingly gracious," and Cromwell, giving an account of his death, in his consolatory letter to the father, writes thus,—"A little after, he said, one thing lay upon his spirit. I asked him what that was. He told me it was that God had not suffered him to be any more the executioner of his enemies!"

But nothing disturbs the equanimity of our editor, or interrupts his flow of rapture over the fanaticism of these times, especially when expressed in the letters of Cromwell. Over the theological effusions which the general of the Puritan army addresses, from his camp, to the Edinburgh clergy, Mr Carlyle thus expatiates:—"Dryasdust, carrying his learned eye over these, and the like letters, finds them, of course, full of 'hypocrisy,' &c. Unfortunate Dryasdust! they are corruscations terrible as lightning, and beautiful as lightning, from the innermost temple of the human soul; intimations, still credible, of what a human soul does mean when it believes in the Highest—a thing poor Dryasdust never did, nor will do. The hapless generation that now reads these words ought to hold its peace when it has read them, and sink into unutterable reflections, not unmixed with tears, and some substitute for 'sackcloth and ashes,' if it liked. In its poor canting, sniffling, flimsy vocabulary, there is no word that can make any response to them. This man has a living God-inspired soul in him, not an enchanted artificial 'substitute for salt,' as our fashion is. They that have human eyes can look at him; they that have only owl-eyes need not."

And then follows something upon light and lightning. "As lightning is to light, so is a Cromwell to a Shakspere. The light is beautifuller. Ah, yes; but, until by lightning and other fierce labour your foul chaos has become a world, you cannot have any light, or the smallest chance for any!... The melodious speaker is great, but the melodious worker is greater than he. Our Time cannot speak at all, but only cant and sneer, and argumentatively jargon and recite[Pg 402] the multiplication-table: neither, as yet, can it work, except at mere railroads and cotton-spinning. It will, apparently, return to chaos soon, and then more lightnings will be needed, lightning enough,—to which Cromwell's was but a mild matter,—to be followed by light, we may hope!"—by another Shakspeare, as the tenor of the passage would imply.

Strange jumble this of Cromwell and Shakspeare, of light and lightning! There is one species of light which we are often reminded of here; a certain fitful, flickering beam, which partakes indeed of a luminous nature, but which chooses its path for ever over bottomless bog.

The sincerity of Oliver Cromwell, in these his letters and speeches, has been questioned and discussed; the sincerity of their present editor may become a question at least as difficult and perplexing. Is there any genuine conviction at the bottom of all this rant and raving? Our extravagant worshipper of the "old heathen" Goëthe, stands forth the champion and admirer of certain harsh, narrow-thoughted, impetuous sectaries, proclaims them the only "Reformers" of the world; descends to their lowest prejudices, to their saddest bigotries, to their gloomy puerilities; arguing with them solemnly against the sinfulness of drinking healths, and quite fraternising with them in all their animosity against Popery and Prelacy. What does he mean? Is it a case of conversion? Is it an outpouring merely, by a strange vent, of certain acrid humours? Is he honest, and in earnest? or is he making sport of those hapless Englishmen whom he pronounces "in human stupidity to have no fellow?"

Observers of a curious and speculative turn might, perhaps, explain it thus:—Mr Carlyle is evidently a writer of strong religious feelings. Marry, when he would exhibit them to the world, he is under the necessity of borrowing a creed from some one else. His own philosophy has nothing palpable enough for ordinary vision; nothing, as we remember, but vague infinities and eternities, with an "everlasting yes," and an "everlasting no." As the choice lay quite open to him, there was no reason why he should not select the very hottest creed he could any where find lying about in our history. From contemporaries it was not likely that he should borrow: he loves nothing, praises nothing, esteems nothing of this poor visible present; but it was an additional recommendation to the Puritanic piety, that it had left a detestable memory behind it, and was in declared hostility with all contemporaneous ways of thinking. What could he better do, therefore, than borrow this old volcanic crater of Puritanism, and pour out from it his religion and his anger upon a graceless world?

Others, not given to such refinements, would explain the phenomenon upon more ordinary principles, and reduce the enigma to a case merely of literary monomania. Mr Carlyle, they would say, has been striving to understand these Puritans till he has grown, for the time, to resemble them. In the effort to project his mind into their mind, he has overshot the mark; he has not been able yet to get his own mind back again. It is a case, they would say, of mere imagination. Could you bring Mr Carlyle into contact with a live Puritan, the charm would be instantly dispelled. If one of Harrison's troopers would but ask him to step aside with him, under a hedge, to wrestle for a blessing, or would kindly undertake to catechise him on some point of divinity,—on that notion of his, for instance, of "Right and Wrong bodying themselves into Hell and Heaven,"—the alliance would be dissolved, not, perhaps, without violent rupture.

For ourselves, we sometimes think that Mr Carlyle is in earnest. Men should be honest. One who talks so loudly about faith, ought to be sincere in his utterances to the public. At other times, the mummery becomes too violent, grows too "fast and furious," to permit us to believe that what we witness is the sane carriage of a sane man. At all events, we can but look on with calm surprise. If our philosopher will tuck his robe high up about his loins, and play the merry-andrew, if he will grimace, and paint thick, and hold dialogue with himself, who shall hinder him?—only we would rather not wear, on such an occasion, the docile[Pg 403] aspect of admiring pupils; we prefer to stand aside, and look on with Mr Dryasdust.

It is worthy of note, that however Mr Carlyle extols his "Heroic Ones" in a body, Cromwell is the only individual that finds a good word throughout the work. Every one else, Hampden not excepted, is spoken of with slight and disparagement. Amongst all the "godlike," there is but one who finds favour in his sight,—him, however, he never deserts,—and the very parties who have before been applauded, in general terms, become the subjects of ridicule or castigation the moment they are seen in opposition to Cromwell.

To Cromwell, then, let us turn our attention. Him we also can admire. We admire his great practical sagacity, his eminent talents for war and for government, the moderation and the conscientiousness which, though a usurper and a zealot, he displayed in the use of power. He was, as we have said, a genuine Puritan. This must be understood, or no intelligible view of his character can be taken. It is not only hostility to his memory which has attributed to him a studied hypocrisy; the love of the marvellous has lent its aid. Such a supposition was thought to magnify his talents and his genius. It was more dramatic to make him the "honest Iago" of the piece. A French writer, M. Villemain, in his History of Cromwell, expresses this feeling very naïvely, and speaks of an hypocrisy "que l'histoire atteste, et qu'on ne saurait mettre en doute sans ôter quelque chose à l'idée de son génie; car les hommes verront toujours moins de grandeur dans un fanatique de bonne foi, que dans une ambition qui fait des enthusiastes. Cromwell mena les hommes par la prise qu'ils lui donnaient sur eux. L'ambition seule lui inspira des crimes, qu'il fit executer par le fanatisme des autres." That he thus employed the spirit of the age without sharing it, is a theory which will not stand the light for a moment. Besides, it is not in this manner that history is transacted: we may all be puppets, if you will, upon the scene, but it is not in this fashion that any one man gets hold of the wires. The supposition, whatever honour it may do the genius of Cromwell, will do very little honour to the speculative genius of any writer who adopts it. But this is evident, that to whatever extent Cromwell shared the distempered feelings of a sectarian party, nothing ever clouded his penetration upon any affair of conduct, any question of means to an end. The hour never came that found him wanting. At every phase of the revolution he is there to lead, or control, or predominate over it.

Starting from this point of view—understanding him, in the first place, as the conscientious zealous Puritan, and endeavouring to estimate, as the history proceeds, the modifications which the soldier and the general, and finally the Protector, would induce upon this original substratum—the character of Cromwell becomes intelligible, and his conduct, in a measure, consistent. Whilst yet a private man, he had warmly espoused the extreme opinions of that religious party who looked on Popery as antichrist, and the Church of England as little better than Popery in disguise, as the same scarlet lady in a somewhat more modest attire. He was one of a class occasionally met with in the most quiet walks of life, men who torment their spirit on some public question till it becomes a personal grievance, or rather a corroding passion. What were bishops personally to him? He might have prayed, and expounded, and walked meditative in his fields, and left a public question to be decided by the movements, necessarily slow, of public opinion. But no; he was constituted quite otherwise. From a spiritual jurisdiction, claimed though not exercised over him, his soul revolted. And this hatred to prelacy, to any spiritual authority over him or his—this determination to be his own priest—is, if not the strongest, certainly the steadiest and most constant feeling that he manifests. We trace it throughout his whole career. The first thing we hear of him in the House of Commons is a protest, a sort of ominous growl, against the promotion of some Arminian or semi-Popish divine. "If these are the steps to church preferment, what are we to expect!" Almost the first glimpse we catch of him when he has taken arms,[Pg 404] is as the captain of a troop entering some cathedral church, and bidding the surpliced priest, who was reading the liturgy, "to cease his fooling, and come down!" And throughout the letters which he addresses to the Speaker from the seat of war, he rarely omits the opportunity of hinting, that the soldiers are worthy of that religious liberty for which they have fought so well. "We pray you, own His people more and more; for they are the chariots and horsemen of Israel." And in one of his latest speeches, he describes it as the great "extremity" of past times, that men were not permitted to preach in public unless they were ordained.

A rooted animosity to prelatical or other spiritual domination, is the key-note of this "melodious worker," as Mr Carlyle calls him. Cromwell entered the civil war provided with no theory or plan of civil government, animated with no republican zeal; it was not patriotism in any ordinary sense of the word, it was his controversy with the church of England that brought him on the field of battle. After fighting against episcopacy, he fought with equal zeal against presbyterianism; but against monarchy, or for the republic, he can hardly be said to have drawn the sword. We all applaud the sagacity which saw at once that the strongest antagonist to the honour and fidelity of the royalist, was to be found in the passion of the zealot. He enlisted his praying regiment. From that time the battle was won. But the cause was lost. What hope could there be for the cause of civil freedom, of constitutional rights, when the champion who won its victories was fanatical zeal, and the rage of theological controversy?

It is the glaring defect in Cromwell—a defect which he had in common with many others of his time—that he threw himself into a revolution having for its first object to remodel the civil government, animated only with the passions of the collateral controversy upon ecclesiastical government. He fought the battle which was to destroy the monarchy, without any fixed idea or desire for the republican government which must be its substitute. This was not the subject that had engaged his thoughts or inflamed his ardour. When, therefore, the royalists had been conquered, it is not at all surprising that he should have seen nothing but the difficulties in the way of forming a republic. At this point of his history some excuse for him may be drawn from the very defect we are noticing. His mind had dwelt on no theory of civil government—to the cause of the commonwealth his heart had never been pledged—and we can hardly call him, with justice, as Godwin does, a traitor to the republic. But, on the other hand, what a gap, what a void, does this disclose in the mind of our hero? What should we say of one who had plunged heart and soul into the French Revolution, conducted only by his rage against the Roman Catholic hierarchy? Such a one, had he risen to take a leading part in that drama, might have acted with greater wisdom and moderation than ardent and patriotic men; the very absence of any political opinion or passion might have enabled him to see more clearly than others the position which they all occupied; but this would not justify or palliate the original error, the rash, exclusive, self-blinding zeal which had brought him into that position.

To the ecclesiastical controversy, Cromwell clings throughout with an utter recklessness of the fate of civil government. When episcopacy had been vanquished, and presbyterianism threatened to take its place, he was quite as willing to plunge the whole kingdom into confusion and anarchy in his opposition to this new enemy, as to the old. Those who would defend him from the charge of personal ambition—all who excuse his conduct at this period of the history, put this plea upon record,—and without a doubt his hostility to presbyterianism was a very great and leading motive with him in his opposition to the Parliament, and his determination to prevent a reconciliation between the House and the King. When Charles was a prisoner at the Isle of Wight, it is well known that the Parliament were anxious to come to some terms of reconcilement, and the concessions which he then made were voted to be "a sufficient ground for the future settlement of the kingdom." Why[Pg 405] did Cromwell interfere at this juncture between the two parties, in such a way as entirely to destroy both? His best public ground is his hostility to presbyterianism. And what was the presbytery, that to him it should be so distasteful, and an object of so great animosity? Its forms of worship, the doctrines preached by its divines, were exactly those he himself practised and approved. There were no altars here, no surplices, no traditions, no sympathies with Rome, no stealthy approximations to her detested idolatries. But there was a claim put forward to ecclesiastical supremacy, to ordain, and authorise, and control public preachers, which he could not tolerate; and if no other motive had existed, he was ready to oppose every settlement, at every risk, having for its object to establish a claim of this description.

We will open the Letters and Speeches of Cromwell at this period of the history, and present our readers with a specimen of his epistolary style, and one which will go far to show how little his mind was influenced, even at this great crisis, by any thing which we should describe as political reasoning. Cromwell was a great administrator, but he had no vocation for speculative politics, and little attachment to forms of government. Framers of constitutions are not in repute at present; they have not covered themselves with applause, rather with confusion; and this defect in Cromwell's mind will probably be looked upon with great indulgence. Nevertheless, people who go to war to demolish an existing government, ought to have taken thought for a substitute; on them it is incumbent to have a political creed, and a constitution to set up. At this very moment when the question is no less, than whether the king should be put to death, and monarchy rooted out of the land—ay, and the Parliament coerced, in order to effect these objects—our Puritan general reasons—like a Puritan and nothing better.

The following letter was addressed to Colonel Hammond, then governor of the Isle of Wight. The colonel had been distressed by his scruples at the extreme course the army was disposed to take, and had solicited this appointment to the Isle of Wight as a retreat from the scene of faction and violence. But it was precisely in this quiet little island that the king took refuge; his perplexities, therefore, were increased and not diminished. Cromwell writes to him to remove his scruples, and makes a characteristic allusion to this circumstance—improves it, as we should say.

We must apprise the reader, however, that it would be dangerous to form any opinion upon the religious sincerity or insincerity of Cromwell, upon extracts from his letters and speeches, or even upon any single letter or speech. From the incongruity we feel between the solemnity of the subject of religion, and the manner and occasion in which it is introduced, and from the use of certain expressions long since consecrated to ridicule, it is impossible for a modern reader, on falling upon some isolated passages, not to exclaim, that this is cant and hypocrisy! But when the whole series, or the greater part of it, is read—when the same strain of thought and feeling, in season and out of season, is constantly observed—it is equally impossible not to feel persuaded that these letters and speeches body forth the genuine character of the man, and that the writer was verily a solemn and most serious person, in whom religious zeal was the last quality which needed reinforcement.

"Dear Robin,—No man rejoiceth more to see a line from thee than myself. I know thou hast long been under trial. Thou shalt be no loser by it. All things must work for the best.

"Thou desirest to hear of my experiences. I can tell thee, I am such a one as thou did formerly know, having a body of sin and death; but I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, there is no condemnation though much infirmity; and I wait for the redemption. And in this poor condition I obtain mercy, and sweet consolation through the Spirit. And find abundant cause every day to exalt the Lord and abase flesh—and herein I have some exercise.

"As to outward dispensations, if we may so call them, we have not been without our share of beholding some remarkable providences and appearances of the Lord. His presence hath been amongst us, and by the light of his countenance[Pg 406] we have prevailed (alludes to the battle of Preston.) We are sure the goodness of Him who dwelt in the bush has shined upon us; and we can humbly say, we know in whom we have believed; who can and will perfect what remaineth, and us also in doing what is well-pleasing in His eye-sight.

"I find some trouble in your spirit, occasioned first not only by your sad and heavy burden, as you call it, but also by the dissatisfaction you take at the ways of some good men whom you love with your heart, who through the principle, that it is lawful for a lesser part, if in the right, to force a numerical majority, &c. &c.

"To the first: call not your burden sad or heavy. If your Father laid it on you, He intended neither. He is the Father of light, from whom comes every good and perfect gift; who of His own will begot us.... Dear Robin, our fleshly reasonings ensnare us. These make us say 'heavy,' 'sad,' 'pleasant,' 'easy.' Was there not a little of this when Robert Hammond, through dissatisfaction too, desired retirement from the army, and thought of quiet in the Isle of Wight? Did not God find him out there? I believe he will never forget this. And now I perceive he is to seek again; partly through his sad and heavy burden, and partly through his dissatisfaction with friends' actings.

"Dear Robin, thou and I were never worthy to be door-keepers in this service. If thou wilt seek, seek to know the mind of God in all that chain of providence, whereby God brought thee thither, and that person (the king) to thee; how, before and since, God hath ordered him, and affairs concerning him; and then tell me, whether there be not some glorious and high meaning in all this, above what thou hast yet attained? And, laying aside thy fleshly reason, seek of the Lord to teach thee what that is; and He will do it. I dare be positive to say, It is not that the wicked should be exalted that God should so appear as indeed He hath done. For there is no peace to them. No; it is set upon the hearts of such as fear the Lord, and we have witness upon witness, that it shall go ill with them and their partakers.

"As to thy dissatisfaction with friends' actings upon that supposed principle—I wonder not at that. If a man take not his own burden well, he shall hardly others'; especially if involved by so near a relation of love and Christian brotherhood as thou art, I shall not take upon me to satisfy; but I hold myself bound to lay my thoughts before so dear a friend. The Lord do His own will.

"You say, 'God hath appointed authorities among the nations, to which active or passive obedience is to be yielded. This resides, in England, in the Parliament. Therefore, active or passive resistance,' &c. &c.

"Authorities and powers are the ordinance of God. This or that species is of human institution, and limited some with larger, others with stricter bands, each one according to its constitution. But I do not therefore think that the authorities may do any thing, and yet such obedience be due. All agree that there are cases in which it is lawful to resist. If so, your ground fails, and so likewise the inference. Indeed, dear Robin, not to multiply words, the query is,—Whether ours be such case? This, ingenuously, is the true question.

"To this I shall say nothing, though I could say very much; but only desire thee to see what thou findest in thy own heart to two or three plain considerations. First, Whether Salus populi be a sound position? Secondly, Whether, in the way in hand (the parliamentary treaty with the king,) really and before the Lord, before whom conscience has to stand, this be provided for—or if the whole fruit of the war is not likely to be frustrated, and all most like to turn to what it was, and worse? And this contrary to engagements, explicit covenants with those who ventured their lives upon those covenants and engagements, without whom, perhaps in equity, relaxation ought not to be? Thirdly, Whether this army be not a lawful power, called by God to oppose and fight against the king upon some stated grounds; and being in power to such ends, may not oppose one name of authority, for those ends, as well as another name—since it was not the outward authority summoning them that by its power made the quarrel lawful, but the quarrel was lawful in itself? If so, it may be, acting will be justified in foro humano. But truly this kind of reasoning may be but fleshly, either with or against: only it is good to try what truth may be in them. And the Lord teach us.

"My dear friend, let us look into providences; surely they mean somewhat. They hang so together; have been so constant, so clear, unclouded. Malice, swoln malice against God's people, now called 'saints,' to root out their name;—and yet they these poor saints getting arms and therein blessed with defence and more! I desire he that is for a principle of suffering (passive obedience) would not too much slight this. I slight not him who is so minded; but let us beware lest fleshly reasoning see more safety in making use of this principle than in acting![Pg 407] Who acts, if he resolve not through God to be willing to part with all? Our hearts are very deceitful, on the right and on the left.

"What think you of providence disposing the hearts of so many of God's people this way—especially in this poor army, wherein the great God has vouchsafed to appear! I know not one officer but is on the increasing side (come over to this opinion.) ...

"Thou mentionest somewhat as if by acting against such opposition as is like to be, there will be a tempting of God. Dear Robin, tempting of God ordinarily is either by acting presumptuously in carnal confidence, or in unbelief through diffidence: both these ways Israel tempted God in the wilderness, and He was grieved by them. Not the encountering of difficulties, therefore, makes us to tempt God; but the acting before and without faith. If the Lord have in any measure persuaded His people, as generally He hath, of the lawfulness, nay of the duty,—this persuasion prevailing upon the heart is faith; and acting thereupon is acting in faith; and the more the difficulties are the more the faith. And it is most sweet that he who is not persuaded have patience towards them that are, and judge not; and this will free thee from the trouble of others' actings, which thou sayest adds to thy grief....

"Robin, I have done. Ask we our hearts whether we think that after all these dispensations, the like to which many generations cannot afford, should end in so corrupt reasonings of good men, and should so hit the designings of bad? Thinkest thou in thy heart that the glorious dispensations of God point out to this? Or to teach his people to trust in Him and wait for better things—when, it may be, better are sealed to many of their spirits (indubitably sure to many of them.)

"This trouble I have been at because my soul loves thee, and I would not have thee swerve or lose any glorious opportunity the Lord puts into thy hand. The Lord be thy counsellor. Dear Robin, I rest thine,

"Oliver Cromwell."

For ourselves, we cannot read this, and other letters breathing the same spirit, without being convinced that Cromwell fully shared in those fanatical sentiments which prompted the army to insist upon the king's death. A contemporary account, from which Mr Carlyle, some pages before this letter occurs, has quoted largely, represents this chief of the Puritans in exactly the same point of view. The officers of the army had made certain overtures to the king, certain efforts at a reconciliation, which had been fruitless; and which had been, moreover, attended with much division and contention amongst themselves. They had turned aside, it seems, from "that path of simplicity they had been blessed in, to walk in a politic path," and were, accordingly, afflicted, "as the wages of their backsliding hearts," with tumults, and jealousies, and divisions. But the godly officers, says the pious record of Adjutant Allen, met at Windsor Castle! "and there we spent one day together in prayer; inquiring into the causes of that sad dispensation. And, on the morrow, we met again in the morning; where many spake from the Word and prayed; and the then Lieutenant-General Cromwell did press very earnestly on all there present, to a thorough consideration of our actions as an army, and of our ways particularly as private Christians; to see if any iniquity could be found in them; and what it was; that, if possible, he might find it out, and so remove the cause of such sad rebukes as were upon us, (by reason of our iniquities, as we judged,) at that time. And the way, more particularly, the Lord led us to herein was this: to look back and consider what time it was when, with joint satisfaction, we could last say, to the best of our judgments, The presence of the Lord was amongst us, and rebukes and judgments were not, as then, upon us.... By which means we were, by a gracious hand of the Lord, led to find out the very steps, (as were all there jointly convinced,) by which we had departed from the Lord, and provoked Him to depart from us, which we found to be those cursed carnal conferences, our own conceited wisdom, our fears, and want of faith, had prompted us, the year before, to entertain with the king and his party. And at this time, and on this occasion, did the then Major Goffe, (as I remember was his title,) make use of that good word, Proverbs 1st and 23d, Turn you at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." In fine, their "iniquities," their want of faith, their carnal conferences—that[Pg 408] is to say, all desire for peace, all humanity, all moderation, all care for their country—were cast aside, and they came to the solitary gloomy resolution, "That it is our duty to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for that blood he had shed, and mischief he had done to his utmost, against the Lord's cause and people in these poor nations."

Let no one suppose that, because Cromwell, and other officers of the army, had been negotiating with the king, bidding for him, in fact, against the Parliament, and offering terms such as it was mere infatuation upon his part not to accept, that they were, therefore, not sincere in this their fanaticism, which now so clearly told them they should be doing the express will of God in putting him to death. Those who have paid attention to this disease of the mind, know well, that while nothing is more violent at one moment, nothing is more flexible at another. Against the assaults of reason it is rock,—it is adamant; but to self-interest, or a covert passion, it is often surprisingly ductile. The genuine fanatic is gifted with a power which will equally uphold him, whether he walks to the right or to the left, and lets him change his course as often as he will. He has a logic that is always triumphant—which proves him always in the right—whether he would advance or recede. Success—it is God's own sanction; failure—it is what you please,—God's disapproval if you would retreat—a trial only of your faith, if you have the heart to advance. In the present case, our pious army, having found it impossible to treat with the king, has but to spend "its day in prayer," and its fierce zeal resumes its former channel with greater violence than ever. It has been led astray, it finds, by carnal reasonings and sinful weakness; and, rushing back to its old "path of simplicity," it raises the cry of death!

This account, which Adjutent Allan gives of diseased piety and perilous fanaticism, Mr Carlyle accompanies with interjections of applause, and cheers of encouragement. To him, also, it seems quite fit that the army should return to its path of "simplicity." The King must die.

How little, up to the very last, did that unfortunate monarch know of the terrible spirit of those enemies into whose hands he had fallen! He saw himself necessary to the tranquillisation and stable government of a nation still imbued with the love of monarchy, he therefore thought himself and the monarchy were safe; he knew not that he was contending with men who, when they rose to their high "heroic" mood, had a supreme contempt for all considerations touching mere human polity,—the mere peace and government of mankind. He trusted much to the sacredness of royalty, the majesty of the purple, the divinity of a King; he was delivered over to the power of enemies, whose glory it was to tread down the glories of the world; who, so far from finding any sacredness in his royalty, had classed him amongst all the wicked kings of the Old Testament, sentenced to be exterminated with the idolatry they fostered, and with whom the very audacity and fearful temerity of the deed, (if this at all affected them,) would add only to its merit. Unfortunate monarch! The tide of sympathy runs now against him, but we confess still to retain our compassion for the fallen prince,—our compassion, very little, it may be, of admiration. We see him contending against fearful odds, keeping up a high and kingly spirit to the last. So far he braved it nobly, and played a desperate game, if not wisely, yet with unshaken nerves. His character, without a doubt, bears, as Lingard writes, "the taint of duplicity." But it was a duplicity which, in his father's court, would have been chuckled over as good practice of state-craft. We are strangely fashioned—kings, and all of us—made up of fragments of virtue, ill-assorted parcels of morality. Charles, when he had given his parole of honour, would not escape from his imprisonment in the Isle of Wight, though the means of escape were offered to him. But the wily and diplomatic monarch thought he was entitling himself to the praise of all men of spirit and intelligence, when, by fallacious promises and protestations, he strove to play off one party of his enemies against the other. He was practising, to the best of his ability, all the traditionary maxims and manœuvres of a subtle policy. Nor was[Pg 409] it ability that he wanted. On an Italian soil, these Italian arts might have availed him. But what were the sleights and contrivances of a traditionary state-craft against the rude storm of tumultuous passions which had been conjured up around him! He was fencing with the whirlwind. Perhaps no prince, trained in a court, can be a match for the rude adversaries which revolutionary times raise up against him. What chance is there that he should ever learn the nature of his new and terrible enemy? You have taught him, according to all the laws of woodcraft, to chase the stag and the fox, and now you let loose upon him the wild beast of the forest! How was Charles to learn what manner of being was a Puritan, and how it struck its prey? His courtiers would have taught him to despise and ridicule—his bishops to look askance with solemn aversion,—but who was there to teach him to fear this Puritan?—to teach him that he must forthwith conciliate, if he could not crush?

It is worth while to continue the narrative a little further. We adopt Mr Carlyle's words. "At London, matters are coming rapidly to a crisis. The resumed debate, 'shall the army remonstrance be taken into consideration?' does not come out affirmative; on the contrary, on Thursday the 31st, it comes out negative, by a majority of ninety. 'No, we will not take it into consideration.' 'No?' The army at Windsor thereupon spends again 'a day in prayer.' The army at Windsor has decided on the morrow, that it will march to London; marches, arrives accordingly, on Saturday, December 2d; quarters itself in Whitehall, in St James's, 'and other great vacant houses in the skirts of the city and villages about, no offence being given any where.' In the drama of modern history, one knows not any graver, more note-worthy scene; earnest as very death and judgment. They have decided to have justice, these men; to see God's justice done, and his judgments executed on this earth."

Adjutant Allen and Mr Carlyle are both of the same mind,—take the same views of public matters, political and religious. But the Adjutant himself would open great eyes at the sentence which next follows:—

"The abysses where the thunders and splendours are bred—the reader sees them again laid bare and black. Madness lying close to the wisdom which is brightest and highest;—and owls and godless men who hate the lightning and the light, and love the mephitic dusk and darkness, are no judges of the actions of heroes! Shedders of blood? Yes, blood is occasionally shed. The healing surgeon, the sacrificial priest, the august judge, pronouncer of God's oracles to man, these and the atrocious murderer are alike shedders of blood; and it is an owl's eye, that, except for the dresses they wear, discerns no difference in these! Let us leave the owl to his hootings; let us get on with our chronology and swift course of events."

By forcibly expelling more than one hundred of the members of Parliament, and thus converting a minority into a majority, these "sacrificial priests" contrived to accomplish their very righteous act. In the face of raving such as this, it would be absurd to enter seriously upon any consideration, moral or political, touching the King's death. We would rather that Mr Carlyle occupied the field alone. We saw him just now dealing with his "abysses," and his "lightning;" we quote his concluding comment on this event, which will present a specimen of his more facetious style of eloquence, and the singular taste he is capable of displaying:—

"This action of the English regicides did in effect strike a damp like death through the heart of flunkeyism universally in this world. Whereof flunkeyism, cant, cloth-worship, or whatever ugly name it have, has gone about incurably sick ever since; and is now at length, in these generations, very rapidly dying. The like of which action will not be needed for a thousand years again. Needed, alas! not till a new genuine hero-worship has arisen, has perfected itself; and had time to degenerate into a flunkeyism and cloth-worship again! which I take to be a very long date indeed.

"Thus ends the second civil war: in regicide, in a Commonwealth, and keepers of the liberties of England: In punishment of delinquents, in abolition of cobwebs;—if it be possible, in a government of Heroism and[Pg 410] veracity; at lowest of anti-flunkeyism, anti-cant, and the endeavour after heroism and veracity."

Flunkeyism! Such is the title which our many-sided man thinks fit to bestow on the loyalty of England! But serious indignation would be out of place. A buffoon expression has this advantage, it is unanswerable. Yet will we venture to say, that it is a losing game this which you are playing, Mr Carlyle, this defiance of all common sense and all good taste. There is a respectability other than that which, in the unwearying love of one poor jest, you delight to call "gig respectability," a respectability based on intelligence and not on "Long-Acre springs," whose disesteem it cannot be wise to provoke, nor very pleasant to endure.

The Commonwealth is proclaimed by sound of trumpet. The king and the lords are cashiered and dismissed. A house of representatives and a council of state form the constitution of England. Cromwell is one of the council. But for the present the war in Ireland carries him away from the scene of politics.

On this Irish campaign, Mr Carlyle breaks out, as may be supposed, in a strain of exultation. He always warms at blood and battle. His piety, or his poetry—not admirable whichever it may be—glows here to a red heat. We are as little disposed perhaps as himself, to stand "shrieking out" over the military severities of this campaign, but if we could bring ourselves to believe that Mr Carlyle is really serious in what he writes, we should say that the most impracticable maudlin of peace societies, or "Rousseau-sentimentalism," were wisdom itself compared to his own outrageous and fanatical strain. If the apologist of Cromwell will be content to rest his case on the plain ground open to all generals and captains on whom has devolved the task of subjecting a rebellious and insurrectionary country—on the plain ground that the object is to be more speedily effected, and with less bloodshed and misery to the inhabitants, by carrying on the war at the commencement with the utmost severity, (thus breaking down at once the spirit of insurrection,) than by prolonging the contest through an exercise of leniency and forbearance—we are not aware that any decisive answer can be given to him. It is an awful piece of surgery to contemplate—one may be excused, if one shudders both at it and the operator—but, nevertheless, it may have been the wisest course to pursue. As a general rule, every one will admit that—if war there must be—it is better that it should be short and violent, than long and indecisive; for there is nothing so mischievous, so destructive of the industry and moral character of a people, as a war which, so to speak, domesticates itself amongst them. Put aside "the saint" entirely,—let us see only the soldier,—and Cromwell's campaign in Ireland may present nothing more terrible than what elsewhere, and in the campaigns of other generals, we are accustomed to regard as the necessary evils of war; nothing more than what a Turenne, a Condé, or a Frederic of Prussia, might have applauded or practised. But this is precisely the last thing our editor would be disposed to do; any so common-place, and commonsense view of the matter, would have been utterly distasteful: he does bring the saint very prominently upon the field, and we are to recognise in Cromwell—"an armed soldier, terrible as Death, relentless as Doom; doing God's judgments on the enemies of God!"

"It is a phenomenon," he continues, "not of joyful nature; no, but of awful, to be looked at with pious terror and awe. Not a phenomenon which you are taught to recognise with bright smiles, and fall in love with at sight:—thou, art thou worthy to love such a thing; worthy to do other than hate it, and shriek over it? Darest thou wed the Heaven's lightning, then; and say to it, Godlike One? Is thy own life beautiful and terrible to thee; steeped in the eternal depths, in the eternal plendours?"—(Vol. ii. p. 53.)

In the despatch which Cromwell addresses to the Speaker, Lenthall, after the storm of Tredah, otherwise Drogheda, we observe that the Puritan is as strong as ever, but that the Soldier and the great Captain speak out with increased boldness. Our[Pg 411] sectarian farmer of St Ives, who brooded, by the dark waters of the Ouse, over the wickedness of surpliced prelacy, whose unemployed spirit sank at times into hypochondria, and was afflicted with "strange fancies about the town-cross," has been moving for some time in the very busiest scene the world could furnish him, and has become the great general of his age. The spirit of the "big wars" has entered, and grown up side by side with his Puritanism. The ardour of the battle fully possesses him; he is the conqueror always in the tremendous charge he makes at the head of his Ironsides; and he lets appear, notwithstanding his self-denying style, a consciousness and a triumph in his own skill as a tactician. He is still the genuine Puritan; but the arduous life, the administrative duties of a soldier and a general, have also been busy in modifying his character, and calling forth and exercising that self-confidence, which he will by and by recognise as "faith" and the leading of Providence, when he assumes the place of dictator of his country.

From one passage in this despatch it would appear that his severity at the storm of Drogheda was not wholly the result of predetermined policy, but rose, in part, from the natural passion which the sword, and the desperate struggle for life, call forth.

"Divers of the enemy retreated into the Mill-Mount, a place very strong and of difficult access. The Governor, Sir Arthur Ashton, and divers considerable officers being there, our men getting up to them, were ordered by me to put them all to the sword. And, indeed, being in the heat of action, I forbade them to spare any that were in arms in the town; and, I think, that night they put to the sword about 2000 men: divers of the officers and soldiers being fled over the bridge into the other part of the town, where about 100 of them possessed St Peter's church steeple, some the west gate, and others a strong round tower next the gate called St Sunday's. These being summoned to yield to mercy, refused; whereupon I ordered the steeple of St Peter's church to be fired, when one of them was heard to say in the midst of the flames, 'God damn me, God confound me! I burn, I burn.'"

In the same despatch there is rather a noticeable passage, which illustrates the manner in which the Puritan general was accustomed to regard the Roman Catholics and their worship. There may be some who have been so far deceived by the frequent use of the terms "religious toleration" in conjunction with the name of Cromwell, as to attribute to him a portion of that liberal spirit which is the greatest boast of cultivated minds in the present century. His religious toleration extended only to the small circle of sects whose Christian doctrine, whose preaching, and whose forms of worship were almost identical; it was just the same toleration that a Baptist dissenter of our day may be supposed to extend towards an Independent dissenter, or a member of the Countess of Huntingdon's connexion. The Independents differed from the Presbyterians in no one definite article of creed, with this exception—that they set no value upon ordination, and violently objected to the restraining any good man from public preaching, or any of the ministrations of a pastor, because he wanted this authorisation of a visible church. For this point of "religious freedom" (an expression which in their mouths has little other than this narrow signification) they had to contend with the Presbyterians. The sect which has to resist oppression, or the restraints of power, uses, of course, the language of toleration. The Independents used it in their controversy with the Presbyterians, just as the latter had employed it in their controversy with Episcopacy. But Independents and Presbyterians were alike intolerant of the Episcopalian or the Roman Catholic. All sects of that age preached toleration when a powerful adversary was to be deprecated—preached it then, and then only. The Independents coming last upon the field, preached it last; but they have no title beyond others to the spirit of toleration. Cromwell put down the mass as he would put down a rebellion—as openly, as decidedly, as rigorously.[Pg 412]

"It is remarkable," continued the despatch, "that these people, at the first, set up the mass in some places of the town that had been monasteries; but afterwards grew so insolent, that, the last Lord's day before the storm, the Protestants were thrust out of the great church called St Peter's, and they had public mass there; and in this very place near 1000 of them (the Catholics—a clear judgment) were put to the sword, fleeing thither for safety. I believe all their friars were knocked on the head promiscuously but two; the one of which was Father Peter Taaff, brother to the Lord Taaff, whom the soldiers took the next day and made an end of. The other was taken in the Round Tower, under the repute, (the disguise) of a lieutenant, and when he understood that the officers in that tower had no quarter, he confessed he was a friar; but that did not save him."

Ireland was no sooner subjected by this unflinching and terrific severity, than the presence of the great general of the Commonwealth was needed in Scotland. The Scots had no predilection for a republic, no desire whatever for it; they were bent solely on their covenant, their covenant and a Stuart king. It was a combination very difficult to achieve. Nevertheless they took their oath to both, and marched into England to establish them both over the United Kingdom. Here was sufficient enthusiasm at all events; sufficient, and of the proper kind, one would think, to earn the sympathies of our editor. And he does look upon the Scots at this time as an "heroic nation." But, unfortunately, it is precisely the heroic nation that his own great hero is about to combat and subdue. He is compelled, therefore, upon his part, as the faithful bard and minstrel of his chosen champion, to give them up—them, and their covenant, and Stuart king—to merciless sarcasm. Indeed, he tells us, that the great, the sole fault of the Scots, was precisely this—that they did not produce a Cromwell. "With Oliver born Scotch," he says or sings, "one sees not but the whole world might have become Puritan!"

However, he launches his Puritan hero against the godly and heroic nation with full sound of trumpet, not unmixed with a certain vague and solemn voice of prophecy.

"In such spirit goes Oliver to the wars—a god-intoxicated man, as Novalis elsewhere phrases it. I have asked myself, if any where in modern European history, or even in ancient Asiatic, there was found a man practising this mean world's affairs with a heart more filled by the idea of the Highest? Bathed in the eternal splendours—it is so he walks our dim earth: this man is one of few. He is projected with a terrible force out of the Eternities, and in the Times and their arenas there is nothing that can withstand him. It is great; to us it is tragic; a thing that should strike us dumb! My brave one, thy noble prophecy is divine; older than Hebrew David; old as the origin of man; and shall, though in wider ways than those supposed, be fulfilled."—(P. 172.)

We feel no disposition to follow Cromwell to the Scottish wars, though "bathed in the eternal splendours." We hardly know of any thing in history to our taste more odious than this war between the Scottish Covenanter and the English Puritan; the one praying clamorously for victory against "a blaspheming general and a sectarian army;" the other animating his battle with a psalm, and charging with a "Lord, arise! and let thy enemies be scattered," or some such exclamation. Both generals, in the intervals of actual war, sermonise each other, and with much the same spirit that they fight. Their diplomacy is a tangled preachment, and texts are their war-cries. Meanwhile, both are fighting for the gospel of Christ! only one will have it with, the other without the covenant! Such "eternal splendours" are not inviting to us. We will step on at once to the battle of Worcester, which concluded both the Scottish war, and all hopes for the present of the royalist party.

This last of his battles and his victories dismisses the great Puritan from the wars. It is a striking despatch he writes from the field of Worcester. He is still the unmitigated Puritan; he still preaches[Pg 413] to Speaker Lenthall, but he preaches somewhat more dogmatically. There is an air of authority in the sermon. We all know that godly exhortation may be made to express almost every shade of human passion; as what son and what wife has not felt who has lived under the dominion and discourse of one of these "rulers in Israel." The Parliament felt, no doubt, the difference between the sermons of their general and those of their chaplain.

Cromwell and the army return to London. It is now that the Commonwealth is to be really put upon its trial. Hitherto the army, that had made and could unmake it, had been occupied first in Ireland, then in Scotland; and the minds of people at home had been equally occupied in watching its achievements. The Commonwealth has lived upon the expectations of men. It has been itself an expectation. It is now to be perfected, its organisation to be completed, its authority established.

But Cromwell was not a Washington. Not only did he want that serene and steady virtue which counselled the champion of American independence to retire into the ranks of the constitution—commander in the field, private soldier in the city—not only did he fail in this civic virtue, and found it hard to resign the sway and authority he had so long exercised; but the inestimable advantages of a constitutional government his mind had not been cultivated to appreciate. His thoughts had hitherto taken another direction. His speculative habits theology had moulded; his active habits had been formed in the camp. He felt that he could administer the government better than any of the men around him: we will give him credit, too, for the full intention to administer it conscientiously, and for the good of the nation; but for those enlarged views of the more enlightened patriot, who is solicitous to provide not alone for the present necessities, but for the future long life of a people—he had them not. He grew afterwards into the statesman, as he had grown into the soldier; but at this time the Puritan general had very little respect for human institutions.

We are far from asserting, that even with the assistance of Cromwell a republic could have been established in England. But he lent no helping hand; his great abilities, his fervent zeal, were never employed in this service. He kept aloof—aloof with the army. He gathered himself to his full height, standing amidst the ruins of the civil war: all men might see that he alone kept his footing there. When the unhappy Parliament, struggling with its cruel embarrassments, not knowing how to dissolve itself with safety, had brought down on it the impatience, the distrust, the contempt of men—when he had allowed its members to reap the full harvest of a people's jealousies and suspicions—when at length they were on the point of extricating themselves by a bill determining the mode of electing a successor—then he interfered, and dissolved them!

A question may be raised, how far Cromwell had the power, if such had been his wish, to take over the army to the side of the Parliament, to lead it into due allegiance to the Commonwealth. The officers of the army and the members of the Parliament formed the two rival powers in the kingdom. Cromwell, it may be said, could not have united them, could only make his choice between them. It would have been only a fraction of the army that he could have carried over with him. The division between the council of officers and the Parliament was too wide, the alienation too confirmed and inveterate, to have been healed by one man, though it was the Lord General himself. Thus, it may be said that Cromwell, in the part he acted against the Long Parliament, was thrust forward by a revolutionary movement, which, according to the law of such movements, must either have carried him forward in the van, or left him deserted or down-trodden in the rear.

This would be no flattering excuse. But whatever truth there may be in this view of the case, Cromwell never manifested any intention or any desire to quit the cause of the army for that of the Parliament. He was heart and soul with the army; it was there his power lay; it was there he found the[Pg 414] spirits he most sympathised with. He walked at the head of the army here as in the war. It was alone that he entered the House of Parliament—alone "in his gray stockings and black coat," with no staff of officers about him, no military parade, only a few of his Ironsides in the lobby. Though aware he should have the support of his officers, there is no proof that he had consulted them. The daring deed was his. And it is one of the most daring deeds on record. The execution of the King—in that day when kings were something more in the imagination of men than they are now—was indeed an audacious act. But it was shared with others. This dissolution of the Parliament, and assumption of the dictatorship—this facing alone all his old compeers, met in due legislative dignity, and bidding them one and all depart—strikes us as the bolder deed.

The scene has been often described, but nowhere so well, or so fully, as by Mr Carlyle. We cannot resist the pleasure of quoting his spirited account of this notable transaction.

"The Parliament sitting as usual, and being in debate upon the bill, which it was thought would have been passed that day, 'the Lord General Cromwell came into the House, clad in plain black clothes and gray worsted stockings, and sat down, as he used to do, in an ordinary place.' For some time he listens to this interesting debate on the bill, beckoning once to Harrison, who came over to him, and answered dubitatingly. Whereupon the Lord General sat still for about a quarter of an hour longer. But now the question being to be put, That this bill do now pass, he beckons again to Harrison, says, 'This is the time; I must do it!' and so 'rose up, put off his hat, and spake. At the first, and for a good while, he spake to the commendation of the Parliament, for their pains and care of the public good; but afterwards he changed his style, told them of their injustice, delays of justice, self-interest, and other faults,' rising higher and higher into a very aggravated style indeed. An honourable member, Sir Peter Wentworth by name, not known to my readers, and by me better known than trusted, rises to order, as we phrase it; says, 'It is a strange language this; unusual within the walls of Parliament this! And from a trusted servant, too; and one whom we have so highly honoured; and one—' Come, come,' exclaims my Lord General, in a very high key, 'we have had enough of this'—and in fact my Lord General, now blazing all up into clear conflagration, exclaims, 'I will put an end to your prating,' and steps forth into the floor of the House, and 'clapping on his hat,' and occasionally 'stamping the floor with his feet,' begins a discourse which no man can report! He says—Heavens! he is heard saying: 'It is not fit that you should sit here any longer!' You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing lately, 'You shall now give place to better men! Call them in!' adds he, briefly, to Harrison, in way of command; and some 'twenty or thirty' grim musketeers enter, with bullets in their snaphances; grimly prompt for orders; and stand in some attitude of carry arms there. Veteran men: men of might and men of war, their faces are as the faces of lions, and their feet are swift as the roes upon the mountains; not beautiful to honourable gentlemen at this moment!

"'You call yourselves a Parliament,' continues my Lord General, in clear blaze of conflagration. 'You are no Parliament! Some of you are drunkards,' and his eye flashes on poor Mr Chalmer, an official man of some value, addicted to the bottle; 'some of you are'—and he glares into Henry Martin and the poor Sir Peter, who rose to order, lewd livers both—'living in open contempt of God's, commandments. Following your own greedy appetites, and the devil's commandments. Corrupt, unjust persons,' and here I think he glanced 'at Sir Bulstrode Whitlocke, one of the Commissioners of the Great Seal, giving him and others very sharp language, though he named them not.' 'Corrupt, unjust persons, scandalous to the profession of the Gospel:' how can you be a Parliament for God's people? Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name, of God—go!

"The House is of course all on its feet—uncertain, almost, whether not on its head: such a scene as was never seen before in any House of Commons. History reports with a shudder that my Lord General, lifting the sacred mace itself, said, 'What shall we do with this bauble? Take it away!'—and gave it to a musketeer. And now—'Fetch him down!' says he to Harrison, flashing on the Speaker. Speaker Lenthall, more an ancient Roman than any thing else, declares, He will not come till forced. 'Sir,' said Harrison, 'I will lend you a hand;' on which Speaker Lenthall came down, and gloomily vanished. They all[Pg 415] vanished; flooding gloomily, clamorously out, to their ulterior businesses, and respective places of abode: the Long Parliament is dissolved! 'It's you that have forced me to this,' exclaims my Lord General, 'I have sought the Lord night and day, that He would rather slay me than put me upon the doing of this work.' 'At their going out, some say the Lord General said to young Sir Harry Vane, calling him by his name, That he might have prevented this; but that he was a juggler, and had not common honesty.' 'O Sir Harry Vane,' thou, with thy subtle casuistries and abstruse hair-splittings, thou art other than a good one, I think! 'The Lord deliver me from thee, Sir Harry Vane!' 'All being gone out, the door of the House was locked, and the key, with the mace, as I heard, was carried away by Colonel Otley,' and it is all over, and the unspeakable catastrophe has come, and remains."—(Vol. ii. p. 361.)

The usurpation of Cromwell is, we believe, generally considered as the most fortunate event which, under the peculiar circumstances of the country, could have occurred. The people, it is said; were not prepared for a republic. The attempt, therefore, to establish one, would have been attended by incessant tumults; its short and precarious existence would have been supported by the scaffold and the prison. It would have terminated indeed, as did the Protectorate, in a Restoration, but the interval between the death of Charles I. and the accession of his son, would have been passed in a very different manner. Under the Protectorate the country rallied its strength, put forth its naval power, obtained peace at home, and respect abroad. Under a republic, it would have probably spent its force, and demoralised itself, in intestine strife and by a succession of revolutionary movements.

But if this view be quite correct, it will not justify Cromwell. It is one thing to be satisfied with the course of events, quite another with the conduct of the several agents in them. Cromwell, in the position in which he stood, as an honest man and a patriot, should have done his best for the establishment of the Commonwealth; and this he did not. We are far, as we have said, from venturing to give a decisive opinion on the probability (with the united efforts of the victorious general and the Parliament) of forming a republic. But we are not disposed to think that the cause was hopeless. Had the Parliament been allowed to recruit its numbers without dissolving itself—the measure which it constantly desired, and which Cromwell would not hear of, though, without a doubt, it was the very line of conduct which his own practical sagacity would have led him to, if his heart had been in the business—the minds of men would have had time to settle and reflect, and a mode of government, which had already existed for some years, might have been adopted by the general consent.

We look upon the Restoration very calmly, very satisfactorily, for whom a second revolution has placed another dynasty upon the throne, governing upon principles quite different from those which were rooted in the Stuarts. We see the Restoration, with the Revolution of 1688 at its back, and almost consider them as one event. But a most loyal and contented subject of Queen Victoria, would have been a Commonwealthsman in those days. How could it then have been foreseen that all the power, and privilege, and splendour of royalty, should exist only to protect the law, to secure the equal rights of all—that monarchy, retaining a traditionary awe and majesty derived from remote times, should remain amongst us to supply to a representative government that powerful, constant, and impartial executive which, from the mere elements of a republic, it is so difficult to extract? Who could have imagined that a popular legislature, and the supremacy of the law, could have been so fortunately combined and secured under the shadow of the monarchy? Enlightened minds at that time could not have looked calmly towards a Restoration; they probably thought, or would have been led to think, that, in the position they then were, it was better to take the constitution of Holland, than the government of France, for their model.

But the multitude—with what enthusiasm they welcomed the restoration of the Stuarts! Very true. But the Protectorate was no antagonist to monarchy. Republican pride was never called forth to contend in the[Pg 416] public mind against the feeling of loyalty, and an attachment to kings. The Protectorate was itself a monarchy without its splendour, or the prestige of hereditary greatness. It was a monarchy under the Geneva gown. Was it likely that the populace would accept of this in lieu of the crowned and jewelled royalty which was wont to fill its imagination?

However, the experiment—fortunately for us, as the result has turned out—was never destined to be made. Cromwell dissolved the Long Parliament. He now stood alone, he and the army, the sole power in the state. His first measure, that of sending a summons in his own name, to persons of his own choice, and thus, without any popular election whatever, assembling what is called the Little Parliament, or Barebones Parliament, shows a singular audacity, and proves how little trammelled he was himself by traditionary or constitutional maxims. He who would not allow the Long Parliament to recruit its numbers, and thus escape the perils of a free election of an altogether new assembly, extricates himself from the same embarrassment by electing the whole Parliament himself. Some historians have represented this measure as having for its very object to create additional confusion, and render himself, and his own dictatorial power, more necessary to the state. It has not appeared to us in this light. We see in it a bold but rude assay at government. In this off-hand manner of constituting a Parliament, we detect the mingled daring of the Puritan and the Soldier. In neither of these characters was he likely to have much respect for legal maxims, or rules of merely human contrivance. Cromwell was educating himself for the Statesman: at this juncture it is the Puritan General that we have before us.

The Little Parliament having blundered on till it had got itself entangled in the Mosaic dispensation, resigned its power into the hands of him who had bestowed it. Thereupon a new Instrument of Government is framed, with the advice of the council of officers, appointing Cromwell Protector, and providing for the election of a Parliament.

This Parliament being elected, falls, of course, on the discussion of this very Instrument of government. Henceforth Cromwell's great difficulty is the management of his Parliaments. The speeches he delivered to them at various times, and which occupy the third volume of the work before us, are of high historical interest. They are in every respect superior to his letters. Neither will their perusal be found to be of that arduous and painful nature which, from the reputation they have had, most persons will be disposed to expect. The sermon may weary, but the speech is always fraught with meaning; and the mixture of sermon and speech together, portray the man with singular distinctness. We see the Puritan divine, the Puritan soldier, becoming the Puritan statesman. His originally powerful mind is excited to fresh exertion by his onerous and exalted position. But he is still constant to himself. Very interesting is the exhibition presented to us of this powerful intellect, breaking out in flashes of strong sense, and relapsing again into the puerilities of the sect. But as it falls upon the strong sense to act, and on the puerilities only to preach, the man comes out, upon the whole, as a great and able governor.

The reputation which Oliver's speeches have borne, as being involved, spiritless, tortuous, and even purposely confused, has resulted, we think, from this—that an opinion of the whole has been formed from an examination of a few, and chiefly of those which were delivered on the occasion of his refusing the offered title of king. His conduct on this occasion, it would be necessary for an historian particularly to investigate, and in the discharge of this duty he would have to peruse a series of discourses undoubtedly of a very bewildering character. They are the only speeches of Cromwell of which it can be said that their meaning is not clearly, and even forcibly expressed. And in this case it is quite evident, that he had no distinct meaning to express; he had no definite answer to give the Parliament[Pg 417] who were petitioning him to take the title of king. He was anxious to gain time—he was talking against time—an art which we moderns only have thoroughly mastered. How could Cromwell, who was no great rhetorician, be otherwise than palpably confused, and dubious and intricate? Nothing can be clearer than that he himself leant towards the opinion of the Parliament, that it would be good policy to adopt the royal title. It was so connected with the old attachments and associations of Englishmen, it had so long given force to the language of the law, its claims were so much better known, its prerogatives so much better understood than those of the new title of Protector, that the resumption of it must have appeared very advisable. But the army had been all along fighting against the King. Whilst to the lawyer and the citizen the title was still the most honourable and ever to be venerated, to the soldier of the Commonwealth it had become a term of reproach, of execration, of unsparing hostility. Oliver Cromwell might well hesitate before assuming a title which might forfeit for him the allegiance of a great portion of the army. He deferred his answer, to have an opportunity for estimating the nature and amount of the resistance he might expect from that quarter; and he came to the conclusion, that the risk of unsettling the affections of the army was not to be incurred for either any personal gratification to himself (which we take to have not weighed much with him) in assuming the title of king, or for the advantages which might accrue from it in the ultimate settlement of the nation. His addresses, therefore, to the Parliament on this occasion not being definite answers to the Parliament, nor intended to be such, but mere postponements of his answer, were necessarily distinguished by indecision, uncertainty, and all sorts of obscurities. But, these excepted, his speeches, however deficient in what pertains to the art of composition, in terseness, or method, or elegance of phrase, are never wanting in the great essentials—the expression of his meaning in a very earnest and forcible manner. The mixture of sermon and speech, we allow, is not inviting; but the sermon is just as clear, perhaps, as any which the chaplain of the House would have preached to them, and it must be remembered, that to explain his meaning, his political sentiments, the sermon was as necessary as the speech.

By the new instrument of government, the Protector, with his council, was authorised, in the interval before the meeting of Parliament, to issue such ordinances as might be deemed necessary. This interval our Puritan governor very consistently employed, first of all, in establishing a gospel ministry throughout the nation. Thirty-eight chosen men, "the acknowledged flower of English Puritanism," were nominated a Supreme Commission, for the trial of public preachers. Any person holding a church-living, or pretending to the tithes or clergy-dues, was to be tried and approved of by these men. "A very republican arrangement," says Mr Carlyle, "such as could be made on the sudden, but was found in practice to work well."

This and other ordinances having been issued, his first Parliament meets. It cannot be said that our Puritan Protector does not rise to the full level of his position. One might describe him as something of a propagandist, disposed to teach his doctrine of the rights of Christian men to the world at large. It is thus he opens his address:—"Gentlemen, You are met here on the greatest occasion that, I believe, England ever saw; having upon your shoulders the interests of three great nations, with the territories belonging to them: and truly I believe I may say it without any hyperbole, you have upon your shoulders the interest of all the Christian people in the world. And the expectation is, that I should let you know, as far as I have cognisance of it, the occasion of your assembling together at this time."

But this Parliament fell upon the discussion, as we have said, of the very instrument of government under which they had been called together. Mr Carlyle is as impatient as was Oliver himself at this proceeding of the "Talking apparatus." But how could it be otherwise? Every thing[Pg 418] that had taken place since the dissolution of the Long Parliament was done by mere arbitrary authority. The present Parliament, however called together, must consider itself the only legitimate, the only constitutional power: it must look into this instrument of government. But if it was impossible not to commence the discussion, it was equally impossible ever to conclude it. We all know to what length a debate will run upon a constitutional question; and here there was not one such question, but a whole constitution to be discussed. In vain they debated "from eight in the morning to eight at night, with an hour for refreshment about noon:" there was no probability of their ever coming to a conclusion.

This would never do. Oliver shuts up the Parliament-house, stations his musketeers at the door, calls the members to him, presents them with a parchment, "a little thing," to sign, acknowledging his authority, and tells them he will open the door of the House to such only as shall put their names to it. We will quote some parts of the speech he made to them on this occasion, and our readers shall judge whether such a speech, delivered by the living man Cromwell, was likely to fail in effect, whether it was deficient in meaning or in energy. We shall omit the parenthetical comments of the editor, because, however these may amuse and relieve the reader who is making his way through the whole work, and who becomes familiarised with their style, they would only confuse and distract the attention in a brief extract. The single words or phrases which he has introduced, merely to make the sense clear, are retained whenever they are really necessary for this purpose, and without the inverted commas by which they are properly distinguished in the text. We will premise, that the protestations which Cromwell here makes, that he did not seek the government, but was earnestly petitioned to undertake it, may well, in part, be true. When he had once dissolved the Long Parliament, it was no longer a matter of choice for himself or others whether he would take the reins of government. To whom could he commit them? From that time, the government rested upon his shoulders. If he had manifested a wish to withdraw from the burden he had thus brought down upon himself, there is no doubt but that he would have been earnestly petitioned to remain at his post. The greatest enemy of Cromwell, if he had been a lover of his country, would have joined in such a petition; would have besought him to remain at the helm, now he had thrown all other steersmen overboard. No; he must not quit it now. He is there for the rest of his life, to do battle with the waves, and navigate amongst rocks and quicksands as best he may.

Let us hear his own statement and defence of the manner in which he became advanced and "captive" to his high and perilous place.

"Gentlemen,—It is not long since I met you in this place, upon an occasion which gave me much more content and comfort than this doth. That which I have now to say to you will need no preamble to let me into my discourse; for the occasion of this meeting is plain enough. I could have wished, with all my heart, there had been no cause for it.

"At our former meeting I did acquaint you what was the first rise of this government which hath called you hither, and by the authority of which you have come hither. Among other things which I then told you of, I said you were a Free Parliament; and so you are, whilst you own the government and authority which called you hither. But certainly that word (Free Parliament) implied a reciprocity, or it implied nothing at all. Indeed, there was a reciprocity implied and expressed; and I think your actions and carriages ought to be suitable. But I see it will be necessary for me now a little to magnify my office, which I have not been apt to do. I have been of this mind, I have been always of this mind, since I first entered upon my office. If God will not bear it up, let it sink!—but if a duty be incumbent upon me, to bear my testimony to it, (which in modesty I have hitherto forborne,) I am, in some measure, necessitated thereunto: and therefore that will be the prologue to my discourse.

"I called not myself to this place. I say again, I called not myself to this place! Of that God is witness: and I have many witnesses who, I do believe, could lay down their lives bearing witness to the truth of that, namely, that I called not myself to this place! And,[Pg 419] being in it, I bear not witness to myself or my office; but God and the people of these nations have also borne testimony to it. If my calling be from God, and my testimony from the people, God and the people shall take it from me, else I will not part with it! I should be false to the trust that God hath placed in me, and to the interest of the people of these nations if I did.

"I was by birth a gentleman; living neither in any considerable height, nor yet in obscurity. I have been called to several employments in the nation—to serve in Parliament and others; and, not to be over-tedious, I did endeavour to discharge the duty of an honest man, in those services, to God and his people's interest, and to the Commonwealth; having, when time was, a competent acceptation in the hearts of men, and some evidences thereof. I resolve not to recite the times, and occasions, and opportunities, which have been appointed me by God to serve him in; nor the presence and blessing of God, therein bearing testimony to me.

"Having had some occasion to see, together with my brethren and countrymen, a happy period put to our sharp wars and contests with the then common enemy, I hoped, in a private capacity, to have reaped the fruit and benefit, together with my brethren, of our hard labours and hazards: the enjoyment, to wit, of peace and liberty, and the privileges of a Christian and a man, in some equality with others, according as it should please the Lord to dispense unto me. And when I say God had put an end to our wars, or at least brought them to a very hopeful issue, very near an end,—after Worcester fight,—I came up to London to pay my service and duty to the Parliament which then sat, hoping that all minds would have been disposed to answer what seemed to be the mind of God, namely, to give peace and rest to his people, and especially to those who had bled more than others in the carrying on of the military affairs,—I was much disappointed of my expectation. For the issue did not prove so. Whatever may be boasted or misrepresented, it was not so, not so!

"I can say in the simplicity of my soul, I love not, I love not,—I declined it in my former speech,—I say, I love not to rake into sores, or to discover nakednesses! The thing I drive at is this: I say to you, I hoped to have had leave to retire to a private life. I begged to be dismissed of my charge; I begged it again and again; and God be judge between me and all men if I lie in this matter! That I lie not in matter of fact, is known to very many; but whether I tell a lie in my heart, as labouring to represent to you what was not upon my heart, I say the Lord be judge. Let uncharitable men, who measure others by themselves, judge as they please. As to the matter of fact, I say it is true. As to the ingenuity and integrity of my heart in that desire—I do appeal, as before, upon the truth of that also. But I could not obtain what my soul longed for. And the plain truth is, I did afterwards apprehend some more of opinion, (such the differences of their judgment from mine,) that it could not well be.

"I confess I am in some strait to say what I could say, and what is true, of what then followed. I pressed the Parliament, as a member, to period themselves; once and again, and again, and ten, nay twenty times over. I told them, for I knew it better than any one man in the parliament could know it, because of my manner of life, which had led me every where up and down the nation, thereby giving me to see and know the temper and spirits of all men, and of the best of men—that the nation loathed their sitting. I knew it. And so far as I could discern, when they were dissolved, there was not so much as the barking of a dog, or any general or visible repining at it.

"And that there was high cause for their dissolution, is most evident: not only in regard there was a just fear of that parliament's perpetuating themselves, but because it actually was their design. Had not their heels been trod upon by importunities from abroad, even to threats, I believe there never would have been any thoughts of rising, or of going out of that room, to the world's end. I myself was sounded, and by no mean persons tempted; and proposals were made me to that very end: that the parliament might be thus perpetuated; that the vacant places might be supplied by new elections, and so continue from generation to generation."

He proceeds to object to the measure which the Parliament was really about to pass, that it would have established an uninterrupted succession of Parliaments, that there would have been "a legislative power always sitting," which would thereby have encroached upon the executive power. The speech then enlarges on the general assent of the people, of the army, of the judges, of the civic powers, to the instrument of government, to the Protectorate, and on the implied assent[Pg 420] which they themselves had given by accepting their commissions under it.

"And this being so, though I told you in my last speech that you were a free Parliament, yet I thought it was understood withal that I was the Protector, and the authority that called you! That I was in possession of the government by a good right from God and man. And I believe, that if the learnedest men in this nation were called to show a precedent equally clear of a government so many ways approved of, they would not in all their search find it. And if the fact be so, why should we sport with it? With a business so serious!... For you to disown or not to own it; for you to act with parliamentary authority especially, in the disowning of it, contrary to the very fundamental things, yea against the very root itself of this establishment, to sit and not own the authority by which you sit—is that which I believe astonisheth more men than myself; and doth as dangerously disappoint and discompose the nation, as any thing that could have been invented by the greatest enemy to our peace and welfare."

After drawing the distinction between fundamentals, which may not be shaken, and circumstantials, which it is in the power of Parliament to alter and modify, he continues:—

"I would it had not been needful for me to call you hither to expostulate these things with you, and in such a manner as this! But necessity hath no law. Feigned necessities, imaginary necessities, are the greatest cozenage which man can put upon the providence of God, and make pretences to break known rules by. But it is as legal, as carnal, and as stupid to think that there are no necessities which are manifest and real, because necessities may be abused or feigned. I have to say, the wilful throwing away of this government, such as it is, so owned by God, so approved by men, so witnessed to, as was mentioned above, were a thing which—and in reference to the good of these nations and of posterity—I can sooner be willing to be rolled into my grave and buried with infamy, than I can give my consent unto!

"You have been called hither to save a nation—nations. You had the best people, indeed, of the Christian world put into your trust, when you came hither. You had the affairs of these nations delivered over to you in peace and quiet; you were, and we all are, put into an undisturbed possession, nobody making title to us: Through the blessing of God, our enemies were hopeless and scattered. We had peace at home; peace with almost all our neighbours round about. To have our peace and interest, whereof those were our hopes the other day, thus shaken, and put under such a confusion; and ourselves rendered hereby almost the scorn and contempt of those strangers who are amongst us to negotiate their masters' affairs!... Who shall answer for these things to God or to men? To men, to the people who sent you hither? who looked for refreshment from you; who looked for nothing but peace and quietness, and rest and settlement? When we come to give an account to them, we shall have it to say, 'Oh, we quarrelled for the Liberty of England; we contested, and went to confusion for that!—Wherein, I pray you, for the Liberty of England? I appeal to the Lord, that the desires and endeavours we have had—nay, the things will speak for themselves,—the liberty of England, the liberty of the people, the avoiding of tyrannous impositions either upon men as men, or Christians as Christians,—is made so safe by this act of settlement, that it will speak for itself."

The Protector then tells them that, "seeing the authority which called them is so little valued and so much slighted, he had caused a stop to be put to their entrance into the Parliament-house," until a certain "somewhat," which would be found "in the lobby without the Parliament-door"—an adhesion to the government in its fundamentals—should be signed.

This extract, as will be readily supposed, would lead to a far too favourable opinion of Cromwell's oratory, if understood as a specimen of his usual manner of speaking; but our readers will probably confess, that they did not expect that the speeches of Cromwell would have yielded such an extract.

Oliver has, it will be observed, a singularly modest way of speaking of his political remedies and projects. In referring, on a later occasion, to his major-generals, he says, "Truly when that insurrection was, we did find out a little poor invention, which I hear has been much regretted. I say there was a little thing invented, which was the erecting of your major-generals, to have a little inspection upon the people thus divided, thus discontented, thus dissatisfied." On the present[Pg 421] occasion, the "somewhat which was to be found at the lobby of the Parliament-door," was, after a little demur, accepted and signed by all but a certain number of declared republicans. The parliament afterwards fell from the discussion of a whole constitution, to debates apparently as warm, and as endless, upon poor Biddle the Quaker, and other kindred subjects. Thus their allotted session of five months passed; at the end of which time Cromwell dissolved them.

"I do not know what you have been doing," he tells them in his speech on this occasion. "I do not know whether you have been alive or dead. I have not once heard from you all this time—I have not—and that you all know."

Cromwell's second parliament manifested a wiser industry, and a more harmonious temper—thanks to one of the Protector's "little inventions." Each member was to be provided with a certificate before entering the house; "but near one hundred honourable gentlemen can get no certificate—none provided for them—and without certificate there is no admittance. Soldiers stand ranked at the door; no man enters without his certificate!" The stiff republicans, and known turbalent persons, are excluded. From this Parliament Cromwell accepts again the title of Protector, and is installed with great state; things take a more legal aspect; the major-generals are suppressed; a House of Lords is instituted; and a settlement of the nation seems at last effected.

But the second session of this Parliament relapsed again into a restive and republican humour. The excluded members had been admitted, and debates arose about this "other house," as they were disposed to nominate the Lords. So much confusion resulted in the country from this unsettled state of the representative assembly, and so many insurrectionary designs were fostered by it, that the Protector was compelled abruptly to dissolve the Parliament. He tells them:—

"That which brought me into the capacity I now stand in, was the petition and advice given me by you, who, in reference to the ancient constitution, did draw me to accept the place of Protector. There is not a man living can say I sought it; no, not a man nor a woman treading upon English ground. But, contemplating the sad condition of these nations, relieved from an intestine war into a six or seven years' peace, I did think the nation happy therein. But to be petitioned thereunto, and to be advised by you to undertake such a government, a burden too heavy for any creature—and this to be done by the House which then had the legislative capacity—certainly I did look that the same men who made the frame, should make it good unto me. I can say, in the presence of God, in comparison with whom we are but like poor creeping ants upon the earth, I would have been glad to have lived under any woodside, to have kept a flock of sheep, rather then have undertaken such a government as this. But, undertaking it by the advice and petition of you, I did look that you who had offered it unto me, should make it good."

He concludes thus:—

"It hath been not only your endeavour to pervert the army while you have been sitting, and to draw them to state the question about a 'Commonwealth;' but some of you have been listing of persons, by commission of Charles Stuart, to join with any insurrection that may be made. And what is like to come upon this, the enemy being ready to invade us, but even present blood and confusion? And if this be so, I do assign it to this cause—your not assenting to what you did invite me to by your petition and advice, as that which might prove the settlement of the nation. And if this be the end of your sitting, and this be your carriage, I think it high time that an end be put to your sitting. And I do dissolve this Parliament! And let God be judge between you and me!"

It is at this latter period of his career that the character of Cromwell, to our apprehension, stands out to greatest advantage, becomes more grave, and solemn, and estimable. Other dictators, other men of ambitious aims and fortunes, show themselves, for the most part, less amiable, more tyrannous than ever, more violent and selfish, when they have obtained the last reward of all their striving, and possessed themselves of the seat of power. It was otherwise with Cromwell. He became more moderate, his views more expanded, his temper milder and more pensive. The stormy passions of the civil war[Pg 422] were overblown, the intricate and ambiguous passages of his political course had been left behind; and now, whatever may have been the errors of the past, and however his own ambition or rashness may have led him to it, he occupied a position which he might say with truth he held for his country's good. Forsake it he could not. Repose in it he could not. A man of religious breeding, of strong conscientiousness, though tainted with superstition, he could not but feel the great responsibility of that position. A vulgar usurper is found at this era of his career to sink into the voluptuary, or else to vent his dissatisfied humour in acts of cruelty and oppression. Cromwell must govern, and govern to his best. The restless and ardent spirit that had ever prompted him onwards and upwards, and which had carried him to that high place, was now upon the wane. It had borne him to that giddy pinnacle, and threatened to leave him there. Men were now aiming at his life; the assassin was abroad; one-half the world was execrating him; we doubt not that he spoke with sincerity when he said, that "he would gladly live under any woodside, and keep a flock of sheep." He would gladly lay down his burden, but he cannot; can lay it down only in the grave. The sere and yellow leaf is falling on the shelterless head of the royal Puritan. The asperity of his earlier character is gone, the acrimony of many of his prejudices has, in his long and wide intercourse with mankind, abated; his great duties have taught him moderation of many kinds; there remains of the fiery sectarian, who so hastily "turned the buckle of his girdle behind him," little more than his firmness and conscientiousness: his firmness that, as he truly said, "could be bold with men;" his conscientiousness, which made the power he attained by that boldness, a burden and a heavy responsibility.

"We have not been now four years and upwards in this government," says the Protector, in one of his speeches, "to be totally ignorant of what things may be of the greatest concernment to us." No; this man has not been an idle scholar. Since the Lord General took the reins of civil government, and became Lord Protector, he has thought and learned much of statemanship. But as a statesman, he is still first of all the Puritan. It is worth while to observe how his foreign policy, which has been justly admired, took its turn and direction from his religious feelings. He made alliances with the Protestant powers of the north, and assumed a firm attitude of hostility towards Spain—and reasons of state may have had some sway in determining him to these measures; but his great motive for hostility with Spain was, that she stood "at the head of the antichristian interest"—"was described in the Scriptures to be papal and antichristian."

"Why, truly your great enemy is the Spaniard. He is a natural enemy. He is naturally so throughout, by reason of that enmity that is in him against whatever is of God.... Your enemy, as I tell you, naturally, by that antipathy which is in him,—and also providentially, (that is, by special ordering of Providence.) An enmity is put in him by God. 'I will put an enmity between thy seed and her seed,' which goes but for little among statesmen, but is more considerable than all things. And he that considers not such natural enmity, the providential enmity as well as the accidental, I think he is not well acquainted with the Scripture, and the things of God,"—(Speech 5.)

In fine, we see in Cromwell, every where and throughout, the genuine, fervid Puritan—the Puritan general, the Puritan statesman. He was a man, and, therefore, doubtless ambitious; he rose through a scene of civil as well as military contest, and, doubtless, was not unacquainted with dissimulation; but if we would describe him briefly, it is as the Great Puritan that he must, ever be remembered in history.

In parting company with the editor of these letters and speeches, we feel that we have not done justice to the editorial industry and research which these volumes display. Our space would not permit it. For the same reason we have been unable to quote several instances of vivid narrative, which we had hoped to transfer to our own pages. And as to our main quarrel[Pg 423] with him—this outrageous adoption of Puritanical bile and superstition,—we have been haunted all along by a suspicion we have occasionally expressed, that the man cannot be in earnest. He could not have been so abandoned by his common sense. He has been so accustomed to mingle sport, and buffoonery, and all sorts of wilful extravagance, with his most serious mood, that he perhaps does not know himself when, and how far, he is in earnest. In turning over the leaves of his work, we light, towards the end of the second volume, upon the following passage, which may, perhaps, explain the temper of the writer, when he is abetting and encouraging his fanatical heroes. He is uttering some sarcasms upon the poor "art of speech."

"Is there no sacredness, then, any longer in the miraculous tongue of man? Is his head become a wretched cracked pitcher, on which you jingle to frighten crows, and makes bees hive? He fills me with terror, this two-legged rhetorical phantasm! I could long for an Oliver without rhetoric at all. I could long for a Mahomet, whose persuasive eloquence, with wild-flashing heart and scimiter, is, 'Wretched moral, give up that; or by the Eternal, thy maker and mine, I will kill thee! Thou blasphemous scandalous misbirth of Nature, is not even that the kindest thing I can do for thee, if thou repent not, and alter in the name of Allah?'"

To this sort of satirical humour—to "the truth of a song,"—not Dryasdust himself would call upon him to swear. And may not all his rhapsodies upon his "sword-in-hand" Puritans be little more than an amplification of this one passage? And, if we insist upon it, that a reform by the pen, or even by speech-making, is better than one by pike and musket—if we should suggest that matters of civil government are better decided by civil and political reasoning than by metaphorical texts of Scripture, interpreted by prejudice and passion—if we contend for such truisms as these, shall we not be in danger of occupying some such position as the worthy prelate whose sagacity led him to discover that some facts in Gulliver's Travels had surely been overcharged?


[1] Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, with Elucidations by Thomas Carlyle.

[2] Take the following instance from the early and more moderate times of the Revolution, and wherein the most staid and sober of this class of people is concerned. When Essex left London to march against the king, then at Oxford, he requested the assembly of divines to keep a fast for his success. Baillie informs us how it was celebrated. "We spent from nine to five graciously. After Dr Twisse had begun with a brief prayer, Mr Marshall prayed large two hours, most divinely confessing the sins of the members of the assembly in a wonderful, pathetic, and prudent way. After Mr Arrowsmith preached an hour, then a psalm; thereafter Mr Vines prayed near two hours, and Mr Palmer preached an hour, and Mr. Seaman prayed near two hours, then a psalm; after Mr Henderson brought them to a sweet conference of the heat confessed in the assembly, and other seen faults to be remedied, and the conveniency to preach against all sects, especially anabaptists and antinomians. Dr Twisse closed with a short prayer and blessing. God was so evidently in all this exercise that we expect certainly a blessing."—Baillie, quoted from Lingard.


Part III.

----On passing the little village of Erith, once one of the prettiest rustic spots in Kent, where the parson and the surgeon formed the heads of the community, and its only intelligence of the living world depended on the casual arrival of a boat from the Margate Hoy in search of fresh eggs for the voyage, a small house was pointed out to me, embosomed in a dell, which would have completely suited the solitary tastes of a poet weary of the world:

"Oh, for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful, or successful war,
Might never reach me more!"

Fifty years ago, a weekly newspaper was the only remembrancer to either parson or doctor, of the world which they had left, and that one only sent by the member for the county, when he thought it desirable to awake the general gratitude on the approach of a general election. The Thames certainly might remind the village population that there were merchants and mariners among mankind; but what were those passing phantoms to them? John the son of Thomas lived and died as Thomas the father of John had lived and died from generation to generation. The first news of the American war reached it in the firing of the Woolwich guns for peace; and the original tidings of the French Revolution, in similar rejoicings for the Battle of Waterloo.

"O happy ye, the happiest of your kind,
Who leave alike life's woes and joys behind!"
[Pg 424]

says the philosophic Cowley; and with Cowley I perfectly agree.

But Erith is this scene of philosophy no more. It has now shared the march of mind: it has become almost a watering-place; it has a library, a promenade, lodgings for gouty gentlemen, a conventicle, several vigorous politicians, three doctors, and, most fatal of all, four steam-boat arrivals every day. Solitude has fled, and meditation is no more.

But, to my story. In that lonely house, lived for several years, in the beginning of the century, a singular character, of whom nothing more was known, than that he had come from some distant place of abode; that he never received a letter; and that he never hunted, shot, or fished with the squiredom of the country. He was of large form, loud voice, had a sullen look, and no trust in her Majesty's ministers for the time being. At length, on some occasion of peculiar public excitement, the recluse had gone to Gravesend, where, tempted by the impulse of the moment, he had broken through his reserve, dashed out into a diatribe of singular fierceness, but of remarkable power, accused England of all kinds of oppression to all kinds of countries, and finished his speech by a recapitulation of all the wishes, wants, woes, and wrongs, as he called them, of Ireland,

"First flower of the west, and first gem of the ocean."

Within the next twelve hours, a pair of Bow Street officers were seen galloping into the village in a post-chaise and four. They brought a warrant from the Secretary of State to arrest the Irish orator, as a leader of the late Rebellion returned from transportation, on his own authority. He was captured, and conveyed to the Tower. And this was the last intelligence of the patriot; except that he appealed to the government against all repetition of his Australian voyage, and swore that he preferred the speedier performance of the law to the operations on the Coal-mine river. A remarkable tempest, which broke all the windows, and threw down half the chimneys of the city, a few weeks after; was supposed by the imaginative to be connected with his disappearance. At all events, he was heard of no more.


Thunder pealed and lightning quivered,
Gusts a prison's casements shivered.
From its dungeon rose a scream,
Where, awakened by the gleam,
From his pallet rose and ran,
Wild with fear, a stalwart man.
Saw he in his tortured sleep,
Things that make the heart-veins creep?
Swept he through the world of flame,
Chased by shapes that none may name?
Still, as bars and windows clanged,
Still he roared—"I will be hanged."
Sleep had swept him o'er the seas,
To the drear antipodes;
There he saw a felon band,
Chains on neck, and spade in hand,
Orators, all sworn to die
In "Old Ireland's" cause—or fly!
Now, divorced from pike and pen,
Digging ditch, and draining fen,
Sky their ceiling, sand their bed,
Fed and flogged, and flogged and fed.
"Operatives!" he harangued;
"Ere I'm banished—I'll be hanged."
[Pg 425]
Now, he strove to strike a light,
But, a form of giant height
Through the crashing casement sprang;
Shattered stanchions round him rang,
From his eyes a light within
Showed the blackness of his skin;
In his lips a huge cigar
Smouldered, like a dying star;
Holding to the culprit's eyes,
Writ in flame, a scroll of lies,
Champing jaws with iron fanged,
"Friend," cried he, "you shall be hanged."
'Twixt the tempter and the rogue,
Then began the dialogue:
—"Master—shall I rob the state?"
"Not, unless you'd dine off plate."
—"Shall I try my hand at law?"
"You'll be sure to make a flaw."
—"Shall I job in Parliament?"
"You'll be richer, cent per cent."
—"Shall I truckle, or talk big?"
"You'll but get a judge's wig,
Blockheads may be conscience-panged,
Knaves are pensioned, but, not hanged!"
—"Master, must I then escape?"
"No," exclaimed the knowing shape,
"You shall perish by Lynch-Law."
Through his skull he struck a claw,
On the tempest burst a wail,
Through the bars a serpent-tail,
Flashing like a lightning spire,
Seemed to set the cell on fire;
Far and wide was heard the clang,
Through the whirlwind as they sprang.
Many a year the sulphurous fume
Stung the nostril in that room.

The river widens, and we sweep along by the rich slopes and deep wooded vales of the Kentish shore. From time to time little pastoral villages emerge, from plantations of willows and poplars, and all water-loving trees. Before coming to Purfleet, we had passed a noble hill, looking over a vast expanse of country, on which stands a princely mansion,—Belvedere, with its battlements glittering above groves as thick as the depths of the Black Forest. This was once the mansion of Lord Eardley, one of the greatest humorists of the age,—the companion of George the Fourth, before he ceased to be a wit and became a king.

How many delightful things are lost to the world, by the world's own laziness. Why have we not a Boswell in every city? Her majesty pays a laureate, who writes nothing but the annual receipt for his pension. Why not transfer the office to a Boswell? why not establish a Cabinet-dinner Boswell? a Buckingham-palace Boswell? a Windsor Boswell? with orders to make their weekly returns of gaiety and gossipry to the Home Department; to be thence issued by instalments of anecdote, in volumes, like "Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors," or in columns, like the protocols of the Montpensier marriage, for the laughter of mankind?

But the report of a heavy gun, and all eyes turned to a huge shell, making its curve a mile above our heads, reminded us that the artillery had a field-day as we passed Woolwich, and that there was every possibility that this vagrant messenger of destruction, might plump into our midships.[Pg 426] The consternation on board grew, as it descended, looking bigger and blacker every instant. If it had come on board, it must have torn us up like paper. The catastrophe would have been invaluable to the journals of the empire, at this moment of a dearth of news, enough to make bankrupts of all the coffee-houses in London, and close every club from Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner. We should all have been immortal in paragraphs without number. Coroners, surgeons, poets, and special juries, would have made their reputation out of us; and for a month of hot weather, we should have been a refreshing topic in the mouths of mankind. But it was otherwise decreed: the shell dropped within a foot of the steamer, and we were quittes pour la peur.

I fired a poetic shot at Woolwich in return.


The Thames is thy ditch,
And stout hearts are thy fortification.
Let come who come may,
All is open as day,
Thy gates are as free as thy nation.
Let the King of the French
Build wall, or dig trench,
Though he has no more princes to marry,
Our trench is the sea,
And our walls are the free,
And we laugh at thy "grande enceinte, Paris."
Deep and dark on their quay,
Like lions at bay,
Stand the guns that set earth at defiance;
With mountains of ball,
Which, wherever they fall,
With their message make speedy compliance.
Along the Parade
Lies the brisk carronade,
With Wellington's joy, the twelve-pounder.
And the long sixty-eight,
Made for matters of weight,
The world has no arguments sounder.
There stands the long rocket,
That shot, from its socket,
Puts armies, pell-mell, to the rout, sir;
At Leipsic, its tail
Made Napoleon turn pale,
And sent all his braves right about, sir.
And there gapes the mortar,
That seldom gives quarter,
When speaking to ship or to city;
For, although deaf and dumb,
Its tongue is a bomb—
And so, there's an end of my ditty.

The sun had now overcome the mists of the morning, and was throwing a rich lustre over the long sheets of foliage which screened, but without concealing, a large and classic villa on the Essex side. The park reached to the water's edge, in broad vistas, green as the emerald; deer were moving in groups over the lawn, or on standing still to gaze on the wonder[Pg 427] of our flying ship. A few boats were slowly passing near the shore, along with the tide; the water was without a ripple,—the air was soft and fragrant, as it flowed from grove and garden; and the whole was a scene of sylvan and summer beauty. The thought suddenly shot across my mind, what a capital prize this would be, in a revolution! How handsomely it would repay a patriot for his trouble in uprooting lords and commons! What a philosophic consummation of a life of husting harangues, and league itinerancy, it would be, to lie on the drawing-room sofa of a mansion so perfectly Greek, railing at the tyranny of thrones, the bigotry of bishops, and the avarice of aristocracies; lamenting the privations of the poor, over a table of three courses, and drinking confusion to all monopolies in Vin de Comete!

But, who was the present possessor? I asked the name and heard it. But, from the captain to the cabin-boy, not a soul could give me another syllable of information. Like the gravedigger in Hamlet, they might "cudgel their brains," but all came to the gravedigger's confession at last,—"Mass, I cannot tell."

Such, thought I, are the chances of the world. The owner of this marine palace,—of these gardens, groves, deer, and dovecotes,—cannot have less than £10,000 a-year; yet his name has never reached the auricular sensibilities of man, beyond the fence of his own park. Was he philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, historian? inventor of steam-engine, of spinning jenny, of gunpowder, or of gun-cotton? No, I searched every cell of memory for some "trivial fond record" which might justify his title to a mansion and grounds fit for Sophocles, Schiller, or Shakspeare, the master of them all. I could not find, in all the rolls of the court of reminiscences, a single scrape of the pen to inform me; not so much as the commemorative smoke of a candle on the ceiling of the alcove of Mnemosyne; not a vestige of the "light fantastic toe," of those sylphs who treasure the flippancies of noble pens, and live in the fragrance of albums, otto-perfumed. Still I was driven to the confession, "Mass, I cannot tell."

I had brought a volume of poor Tom Campbell in my pocket, and had been glancing over his chef-d'œuvre, "Ye Mariners of England," when this stately edifice first checked my inspiration. In the wrath of my spirit I tossed the volume overboard. "Psha!" I involuntarily exclaimed, "what is the use of being a genius? What is the gratitude of a country, where a cotton-spinner can purchase the fee-simple of a province, while the man who spreads its fame over the world is left to gather his contemplations over a stove in an attic, watch the visage of his landlady, and shudder at the rise of coals!

'England, with all thy faults I love thee still.'

But it must be confessed, that thou art the most pitiful, paltry, beggarly, blind—" I shall say no more. Thy whole munificence, thy whole magnanimity, thy whole generosity, to the living lights of thy sullen region of toil, trimming, and tribulation, of the dulness of dukes and the mountainous fortunes of pinmakers—is exactly £1200 a-year! and this to be divided among the whole generation of the witty and the wise, of the sons and daughters of the muse,—the whole "school of the prophets," the lustres of the poetry and the science of England! £1200 a-year for the only men of their generation who will be remembered for five minutes by the generation to come. £1200 a-year, the salary of an Excise commissioner, of a manipulator of the penny post, of a charity inspector, of a police magistrate, of a register of cabs, of any thing and every body: and this, reduced to decimals, is to be the national prize, the luxurious provision, the brilliant prospect, the illustrious tribute of a treasury of fifty millions sterling a-year, to the whole literature of a land which boasts of its being the intellectual leader of the world!

I have found the poems of our living bards on the shores of Hudson's Bay, and heard men talking of them round a stove, while the thermometer outside the window was 30° below zero. I have found them in a plantain-thatched hovel on the banks of the Niger, and forgotten while I read them that the thermometer was 110°[Pg 428] in the shade. I have found them in the hands of a learned pundit on the banks of the Ganges, whom they were seducing into dreams of dewy pastures and crystal rills. And one of the pleasantest evenings I ever remember to have spent, was, by the help of the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," as I sat at a supper of rice milk, after a day of fire on the eastern branch of the Nile, a thousand miles above Tourists, sheltered under the wagon of a Moorish ambassador from Sultaun Abderahman to the monarch of Gondar. "England!" exclaimed this ebony-visaged worshipper of the Beaux Arts, as he displayed the volume before me. It was the only civilised word in his vocabulary. But I felt the compliment with patriotic fervency, and in spirit thanked the bard for the barbarian's acknowledgment of my poetic and penurious country.

I have not done with the theme yet. On returning from the equator, I saw Campbell's funeral. Westminster Abbey was a mob of dukes, statesmen, privy-councillors, and men of countless acres. Poor Tom's whole life had been thankless toil; wasting in meagre industry the powers which ought to have been cherished by his country for purposes of national honour. Such is always the course of things. The very stones of Burns' pillars would have made the great poet happy for life, if their price had been given to him to cheer his melancholy fireside. Why has the poetic spirit of England folded its wings, and been content to abandon its brilliant region to the butterflies of albums, but that the spirit of England has suffered itself to be fettered by the red tape of a peddling parsimony? Should we have had a Shakspeare without the smiles of an Elizabeth, and the generosity of a Southampton? No. He would have split his pen after his first tragedy; have thrown his ink-stand into the Thames; have taken the carrier's cart to Stratford, and there finished his days in writing epitaphs in the churchyard, laughing at Sir Thomas Lucy, and bequeathing deathless scoffs, to the beggary of mankind.

I was growing into what the dramatists call a "towering passion," and meditating general reforms of Civil Lists, Chancellors of the Exchequer, and Lord Chamberlains, when my attention was turned to a very animated scene going on between a pair who seemed perfectly unconscious of all the external creation. One of the parties was a showy-looking fellow, with the mingled expression of rouéism and half-pay, which is so frequent and so unmistakeable in the neighbourhood of St James's. The lady was a calm and composed personage, whom, on a second glance, I remembered to have seen wherever the world could bow down to the fair possessor of countless "consols." But the passion for a handsome mansion, a handsome stud, and a handsome rental, is indefatigable, and the ex-staff man poured his adorations into her ear with all the glow of a suitor ten thousand pounds worse than nothing.

Poesy! sweetest of all the maids of Parnassus! it is thou that givest thy votary power to read the soul: it is thou that canst translate the glance into a speech, and give eloquence to the clasp of a hand. It is thou alone to whom the world is indebted for this true version of the pleadings of the Guardsman.


Exquisite Miss Millionaire!
Hear a lover's genuine prayer:
Let the world adore your charms,
Swan-like neck, or snowy arms,
Rosy smile, or dazzling glance,
Making all our bosoms dance;
For your purse alone I care,
Exquisite Miss Millionaire!
[Pg 429] Ringlets blackest of the black,
Ivory shoulders, Grecian back,
Tresses so divinely twined,
That we long to be the wind,
Waiting till the lady's face
Turns, to give the coup de grace.
All those spells to me are air.
Truth is truth, Miss Millionaire.
Let them talk of finger-tips,
Pearly teeth, or coral lips,
Cheeks the morning rose that mock,
Still there is a charm in Stock!
Solid mortgage, five per cent,
Freehold with "improving" rent,
Russia bond, and railroad share,
Steal my soul, Miss Millionaire.
Let your rhymers (all are crackt)
Rave of cloud or cataract;
On the Rhine, or Rhone, or Arve,
Let romancers stroll and starve.
Cupid loves a gilded cage,
(Let me choose your equipage,)
Passion pants for Portman Square,
(Be but mine,) Miss Millionaire.
There you'll lead a London life,
More a goddess than a wife;
Fifty thousand pounds a-year
Making our expenses clear;
Giving, once a-week, a fête,
Simply to display our plate.
Never earth saw such a pair,
Exquisite Miss Millionaire!

But a steeple starts up from its green thickets; not one of the hideous objects which the architects of our district churches perpetrate, to puzzle the passer-by as to the purpose of its being,—whether a brewer's chimney, or a shot-tower,—a perch for city pigeons, or a standing burlesque on the builders of the nineteenth age of the fine arts in England. This steeple is an old grey turret, ivy-mantled, modest, and with that look of venerable age which instinctively makes us feel, that it has witnessed memorable things in its time.

And it has witnessed them. On the slope of the hill above this church once waved the banners of a king, and the opposing banners of his nobles: the one receiving the lesson, that kings have duties as well as their subjects; and the others enforcing the lesson by the sight of lines and columns of the stout bowmen and billmen of the Norman chivalry.—On this spot, just this day six hundred and thirty years ago, was held the grand conference between John and the Barons.

Further inland, but rising on the view, is Swainscomb, the hill on which the Danish armies encamped, in their pirate rovings of the British seas, and their invasions of the Thames.

What a contrast between the green landscape of this moment, and the camp of Sweno. All before me was the luxury of cultivation, the yellowing crop, the grazing cattle, the cottage smoke curling slowly upward on the back-ground of noble beech, ash, and sycamore. On the summit, the sun gleamed on a rectory house, half buried in roses, where the most learned of our Orientalists perused the Koran in the peace of a Mahometan paradise, and doubtless saw, on the dancing waters of the mighty river at his feet, perpetual visions of houris.

Yet those pastures once echoed with the barbarian cries of the Cimbric warriors; tents of seal-skin and white bear fur covered the hill; the[Pg 430] smokes of savage feasting and Scandinavian sacrifice clouded the skies; and on the summit, surrounded by iron guards and spectral-looking priests, stood the magic standard of the north, the image of the Raven, which flapped its wings on the coming of battle, and gave the oracular cry of victory.

But, what sounds of harmony sweep along the water! I see a range of showy figures on the shore; it is a whole brass band, seducing us, in the style of the syrens of old, to bring our ship to an anchor, and hazard the enchantments of the most delicious of tea-gardens.—We are within a hundred yards of the pier of Rosherville.

Within five minutes, we might be roaming through this paradise of the Thames, climbing rustic slopes carpeted with flowers, or gazing at a menagerie, where the monkeys bound, chatter, and take apples out of your hand; or sipping coffee of the most fragrant growth, or dancing the polka under alcoves of painted canvass, large enough to manœuvre a brigade of the Horse-guards. By day the scene is romantic, but by night it is magical. By day the stranger roams through labyrinths of exotic vegetation, but by night he is enchanted with invisible music, dazzled with fireworks, and goes to his pillow to dream of the Arabian Nights. Honour to the name of Jeremiah Rosher, the discoverer of the "capabilities" of this Garden of the Hesperides. He found it a lime quarry, and made it a bower of Armida. If, as the great moralist said, "the man who makes two blades of grass grow where but one grew before, is a benefactor to mankind," what honours should be paid to the genius, which substituted human beings for lime-burners, and made the élite of the east end of the mighty metropolis dance by thousands, where nothing but the top of a thistle ever danced before. There have been more "first affections" awakened in the rambles through the shades of Rosherville than in fifty Almacks, and five hundred times more matches in consequence, than ever took refuge in Gretna; and all this—for a shilling!

As we neared the pier, I observed a small but elegant yacht, lying to; with several groups of dark-featured and cloak-covered men listening, with all the eagerness of foreign gesture, to the brazen harmony. My Italian compagnon de voyage, instantly bounded from his seat, ran to the ship's side, and held a rapid dialogue with the crew of the little vessel. They were just from Rome, and were bringing over the newly appointed Archbishop from the Vatican! The novelty of the voyage did not seem to agree with the pleasurable faculties of those sons of "Bella Italia," for nothing could be conceived more deplorable than their physiognomies.

The scene reminded me of one which I had witnessed at Naples, on the arrival of the first steam-boat from Rome, conveying the Cardinal Legate to the Court of his Majesty of the Two Sicilies.

I disdain all the formalities of poetry. Let others prepare their parchment-bound portfolios, throw their visages into the penseroso, fling their curls back from their brows, unbutton their shirt-collars, and, thus Byronised, begin. To me all times and places are the same.—The inspiration rushes on me, and I pour out my "unpremeditated song" in the original rapture of Bardism!


I have seen some queer things,
Both in people and kings,
Since first I began as a dreamer;
But I ne'er thought to hear
Any thing half so queer
As a Cardinal's trip in a steamer.
I once saw a Rabbi,
The prince of the shabby,
In a gale of wind playing the screamer,
[Pg 431] Till we plumped him o'erboard,
Towed along by a cord,
For a bath at the tail of the steamer.
'Tis true, the Chinese
Looked as black as their teas,
When battered by brave Sir John Bremer:
But John Chinaman's slaughter
Was all milk and water,
To the havoc on board of the steamer.
On a coil of the cable,
Right under the table,
With the glass at 500 of Reaumur,
Busy "making his soul,"
As he felt every roll,
Lay his Highness, on board of the steamer.
Around him ten chaplains,
And none of them saplings,
Lay pale as a quarantine streamer.
With six dozen of monks,
All as helpless as trunks,
All rolling about in the steamer.
As she steered down the Tiber,
It shook every fibre
Of the conclave from forehead to femur;
But, 'twas when in her glee,
She got sight of the sea,
That she showed them the tricks of the steamer.
At Civita Vecchia,
Oh, mie orecchie!
What howls called the Saints to redeem her.
But she darted along
Like a stone from a thong,
In the style of a true British steamer.
She now ruled the roast,
As she sprang from the coast,
Through such surges no buckets could teem her:
The Lipari Isles
Got but very few smiles
From the brethren on board of the steamer.
"As sure as we're born,
We'll ne'er see Leghorn."
"Peccavi!" cried out every schemer:
The whole of the friars.
In that court were "criers,"
While thundered the wheels of the steamer.
I'd not stand in their shoes,
As they passed Syracuse,
Where thy frigate lay moored, Captain Seymour:
At the top of their throats
Yelling out for thy boats,
While teeth to the wind went the steamer.
As they swept by Messina—
Thy birth-place, Christina!—
Old Etna was scarce such a beamer:
In vain they cried—"Stop!"
With a blaze at her top,
Like a pillar of flame rushed the steamer.
[Pg 432]
She bounced by Charybdis,
With limestone which ribb'd is;
A touch from a pebble might seam her;
Made a curtsey to Scylla,
As the Turks say, "Bismillah,"
'Twas a very close shave for the steamer.
But the surges grew brown,
And the night hurried down,
And they saw in each flash a death-gleamer;
While the peals from the clouds,
And the wind in the shrouds,
Made them all very sick of the steamer.
When they made Capri's lights
It redoubled their frights,
And the friars all bellowed—"Tenemur!"
One and all made confessions,
(E'en popes have transgressions,)
There was some heavy work in the steamer.
But they soon smelt the apples
And fish-shops of Naples,
And the cargo began to esteem her—
"No witch in a sieve,
They could ever believe,
Had sailed half so fast as the steamer."
Could my pen give a sketch
Of each wo-begone wretch,
Like Gilray, H. B., or old Damer,
You should have the whole troop
That lay stretched on the poop,
As up by the mole dashed the steamer.
Were I Guizot, or Florian,
Or "Oxford Historian,"
Or "Orator" like Dr Cremer,
In my grand paragraphs,
You should have all the laughs
Of the mob as they rushed from the steamer!



Dear Archy,—In acknowledging my former letter, you express an eager desire to learn, as you phrase it, "all about vampyrs, if there ever were such things." I will not delay satisfying your curiosity, wondering only how my friend, your late tutor, Mr H., should have left you in a state of uncertainty upon a point on which, in my time, schoolboys many years your juniors had fully made up their minds.

"Were there ever such things as vampyrs?" tantamne rem tam negligenter? I turn to the learned pages of Horst for a luminous and precise definition of the destructive and mysterious beings, whose existence you have ventured to consider problematical.

"A vampyr is a dead body, which continues to live in the grave, which it leaves, however, by night, for the purpose of sucking the blood of the living, whereby it is nourished, and preserved in good condition, instead of becoming decomposed like other dead bodies."

Upon my word, you really deserve—Since[Pg 433] Mr George Combe has clearly shown in his admirable work "On the Constitution of Man, and its adaptation to the world around him," that ignorance is a statutable crime before Nature, and punishable, and punished by the laws of Providence,—you deserve, I say, unless you contrive to make Mr H. your substitute, which I think would be just, yourself to be the subject of the nocturnal visit of a vampyr. Your scepticism will abate pretty considerably, when you see him stealthily entering your room, yet are powerless under the fascination of his fixed and leaden eye—when you are conscious, as you lie motionless with terror, of his nearer and nearer approach,—when you feel his face, fresh with the smell of the grave, bent over your throat, while his keen teeth make a fine incision in your jugular, preparatively to his commencing his plain, but nutritive repast.

You would look a little paler the next morning, but that would be all for the moment; for Fischer informs us, that the bite of a vampyr leaves in general no mark upon the person. But he fearfully adds, "it (the bite) is nevertheless speedily fatal, unless the bitten person protect himself by eating some of the earth from the grave of the vampyr, and smearing himself with his blood." Unfortunately, indeed, these measures are only of temporary use. Fischer adds, "if through these precautions the life of the victim be prolonged for a period, sooner or later he ends with becoming a vampyr himself; that is to say, he dies, and is buried, but continues to lead a vampyr life in the grave, nourishing himself by infecting others, and promiscuously propagating vampyrism."

Now this is no romancer's dream. It is a succinct account of a superstition, which to this day survives in the east of Europe, where little more than a century ago it was frightfully prevalent. At that epoch, vampyrism spread like, an epidemic pestilence through Servia and Wallachia, causing innumerable deaths, and disturbing all the land with apprehension of the mysterious visitation, against which no one felt his life secure.

This is something like a good solid practical popular delusion. Do I believe it?—to be sure I do; the facts are matter of history. The people died like sheep, and the cause and method of their dying was, in their belief, what has just been stated. You suppose, then, they died, frightened out of their lives; as men have died, whose pardon has been proclaimed when their necks were already on the block, of the belief that they were going to die? Well, if that were all, the subject would be worth examining; but there is more in it than that, as the following o'er true tale will convince you, the essential parts of which are attested by perfect documentary evidence.

It was in the spring of 1727 that there returned from the Levant to the village of Meduegna, near Belgrade, one Arnod Paole, who, in a few years of military service and varied adventure, had amassed enough to purchase him a cottage, and an acre or two of land in his native place, where he gave out he meant to pass the remainder of his days. He kept his word. Arnod had yet scarcely reached the prime of manhood; and though he must have encountered the rough, as well as the smooth of life, and have mingled with many a wild and reckless companion, yet his natural good disposition, and honest principle, had preserved him unscathed amid the scenes he had passed through. At all events, such were the thoughts expressed by his neighbours, as they discussed his return and settlement among them in the stube of the village Hof. Nor did the frank and open countenance of Arnod, his obliging habits, and steady conduct, argue their judgment incorrect. Nevertheless, there was something occasionally, noticeable in his ways, a look and tone that betrayed inward inquietude. Often would he refuse to join his friends, or on some sudden plea abruptly quit their society. And he still more unaccountably, and as it seemed systematically, avoided meeting his pretty neighbour, Nina, whose father occupied the next tenement to his own. At the age of seventeen, Nina was as charming a picture as you could have seen, of youth, cheerfulness, innocence, and confidence in all the world. You could[Pg 434] not look into her limpid eyes, which steadily returned your gaze, without seeing to the bottom of the pure and transparent spring of her thoughts. Then why did Arnod shrink from meeting her? He was young, had a little property, had health and industry, and he had told his friends he had formed no ties in other lands. Why, then, did he avoid the fascination of the pretty Nina, who seemed a being made to chase from any brow the clouds of gathering care? But he did so. Yet less and less resolutely; for he felt the charm of her presence; who could have done otherwise? and how could he at last resist—he didn't—the impulse of his fondness for the innocent girl who often sought to cheer his fits of depression?

And they were to be united; were betrothed; yet still an anxious gloom would fitfully overcast his countenance even in the sunshine of those hours.

"What is it, dear Arnod, that makes you sad? it cannot be on my account, I know; for you were sad before you ever noticed me; and that I think," and you should have seen the deepening rose upon her cheek, as she added, "surely first made me notice you."

"Nina," he answered, "I have done, I fear, a great wrong in trying to gain your affections. Nina, I have a fixed impression that I shall not live; yet, knowing this, I have selfishly made my existence necessary to your happiness."

"How strangely you talk, dear Arnod! Who in the village is stronger and healthier than you? You feared no danger when you were a soldier; what danger do you fear as a villager of Meduegna?"

"It haunts me, Nina."

"But, Arnod, you were sad before you thought of loving me. Did you then fear to die?"

"Ah, Nina, it is something worse than death:" and his vigorous frame shook with agony.

"Arnod, I conjure you, tell me."

"It was in Cossova this fate befel me. Here we have hitherto escaped the terrible scourge. But there they died, and the dead visited the living. I experienced a first frightful visitation, and I fled, but not till I had sought his grave, and exacted the dread expiation from the vampyr."

Nina uttered a piercing cry, and fell senseless. Afterwards, they found a consolation in the length of time, now months, that had elapsed, since Arnod had left Cossova, during which no fearful visitant had again approached him; and they fondly began to hope that gave them security. For the poor girl well knew from many a village tale the danger to which Arnod had been exposed.

It is a strange world. The ills we fear often never befall us: the blows that reach us are for the most part unforeseen ones. One day, about a week after this conversation, Arnod missed his footing and fell from the top of his loaded hay-wagon. He was picked up stunned and insensible. They carried him home; where, after lingering some hours, he died; was buried; but not forgotten.

Twenty or thirty days after his decease, says the perfectly authenticated report of these transactions, several in the neighbourhood made complaints that they had been haunted by the deceased Arnod; and four of the number (among whom, there being nothing in the report to the contrary, I am afraid we may include poor Nina) died. To put a term to this fearful evil, the villagers were advised by their Heyduke, who had had before some experience in such matters, to disinter the body of Arnod Paole. This step was accordingly taken forty days after his burial.

"The body," says the report, "was found in a perfectly fresh state, with no sign of decomposition. Fresh blood had recently escaped from its mouth, with which its shirt was wet. The skin (the epidermis, no doubt) had separated together with the nails, and there were new skin and nails underneath. As it was perfectly clear from these signs that he was a vampyr, conformably to the use established in such cases, they drove a stake through his heart.

"Whereupon he gave an audible groan, and a quantity of blood flowed from him. The same day his body was burned to ashes, which were returned to the grave."

The authorities further staked and burned the bodies of the four others, who[Pg 435] were supposed to have been infected by Arnod: but no mention is made of the condition in which they were found.

The adoption of this decisive, measure did not, however, entirely extinguish the evil, which continued still to hang about the village. About five years afterwards it had again become rife and very prevalent, and many again died of it. Whereupon the authorities determined to make a general clearance of the vampyrs in the churchyard of Meduegna, and for that purpose they had all the graves to which suspicion was directed, opened, and their contents dealt with conformably to the state in which they were found, of which the following is the medical report, here and there abridged only:—

1. A woman of the name of Stana, 20 years of age, who had died 3 months before of a 3 days' illness following her confinement. She had before her death avowed that she had anointed herself with the blood of a vampyr, to liberate herself from his persecution. Nevertheless she, as well as her infant, whose body through careless interment had been half-eaten by dogs, both had died. Her body was entirely free from decomposition. On opening it, the chest was found full of recently effused blood. The heart and blood-vessels contained no coagulated blood, and the bowels had exactly the appearances of sound health. The skin and nails of the hands and feet were loose and came off, but underneath lay new skin and nails.

2. A woman of the name of Miliza, who had died at the end of a 3 months' illness. The body had been buried 90 and odd days. In the chest was liquid blood. The viscera were as in the former instance. The body was declared by the Heydukes who recognised it, to be in better condition and fatter than it had been in the woman's legitimate lifetime.

3. The body of a child of 8 years old, that had likewise been buried 90 days; it was in the vampyr condition.

4. The son of a Heyduke, named Milloc 16 years old. The body had lain in the grave 9 weeks. He had died after 3 days' indisposition, and was in the condition of a vampyr.

5. Joachim, likewise a Heyduke's son, 17 years old. He had died after a 3 days' illness; had been buried 8 weeks and 4 days; was found in the vampyr state.

6. A woman of the name of Rusha, who had died of an illness of 10 days' duration, and had been buried 6 weeks, in whom likewise fresh blood was found in the chest.

[The reader will understand, that to see blood in the chest it is first necessary to cut the chest open.]

7. The body of a girl of 10 years of age, who had died 2 months before. It was likewise in the vampyr state, perfectly undecomposed, with blood in the chest.

8. The body of the wife of one Hadnuck, buried 7 weeks before; and that of her infant, 8 weeks old, buried only 21 days. They were both in a state of decomposition, though buried in the same ground, and closely adjoining the others.

9. A servant of the Heyduke of the place, by name Rhade, 23 years old; he had died after an illness of 3 months' duration, and the body had been buried 5 weeks. It was in a state of decomposition.

10. The body of the Heyduke Stanco, 60 years of age, who had died six weeks before: there was much blood and other fluid in the chest and abdomen, and the body was in the vampyr condition.

11. Milloc, a Heyduke, 25 years old. The body had been in the earth 6 weeks. It was in the perfect vampyr condition.

12. Stanjoika, the wife of a Heyduke, 20 years old; had died after an illness of three days, and had been buried 18 days. The countenance was florid, and of a high colour. There was blood in the chest and in the heart. The viscera were perfectly sound. The skin remarkably fresh.

The document which gives these particulars is signed by three regimental surgeons, and formally countersigned by the lieutenant-colonel and a sub-lieutenant, it bears the date of June 7, 1732, Meduegna near Belgrade. No doubt can be entertained of its authenticity, nor of its general fidelity; the less so, that it does not stand alone, but is supported by heaps of parallel evidence, only less rigorously verifiable. It appears to me to establish beyond a question, that,[Pg 436] where the fear and belief of vampyrism is prevailing, and there occur several deaths after short illnesses, the bodies, when disinterred, weeks after burial, present the appearance of corpses, from which life has only recently departed.

What inference shall we draw from this fact?—that vampyrism is true in the popular sense, and that these fresh-looking and well-conditioned corpses had some mysterious way of preternaturally nourishing themselves? That would be to adopt, not to solve the superstition. Let us content ourselves for the present with a notion less monstrous, but still startling enough: That the bodies, which were found in the so-called vampyr state, instead of being in a new and mystical condition, were simply alive in the common way; that, in short, they were the bodies of persons who had been buried alive; and whose life was only extinguished by the ignorance and barbarity of those who disinterred them. In the following sketch of a similar scene to that above described, the truth of this inference comes out with terrific force and vividness.

Erasmus Francisi, in his remarks upon the description of the Archdukedom of Krain, by Valvasor, speaks of a man of the name of Grando, in the district of Kring, who died, was buried, and became a vampyr, and as such was exhumed for the purpose of having a stake thrust through him.

"When they opened his grave, after he had been long buried, his face was found with a colour, and his features made natural sorts of movements, as if the dead man smiled. He even opened his mouth, as if he would inhale fresh air. They held the crucifix before him, and called in a loud voice, 'See, this is Jesus Christ who redeemed your soul from hell, and died for you.' After the sound had acted on his organs of hearing, and he had connected, perhaps, some ideas with it, tears began to flow from the dead man's eyes. Finally, when, after a short prayer for his poor soul, they proceeded to hack off his head, the corpse uttered a screech, and turned and rolled just as if it had been alive, and the grave was full of blood."

Alive, then, the bodies surely were. And it is from this position, as a starting point, that we must follow and unravel the whole mystery, if we dare.

Not that there is any particular virulence in this superstition, but that all superstitions are awkward things to deal with. They have their own laws, and run through definite stages, but always menace those who meddle with them. A superstition waxes and flourishes—that is its first stage; it then wanes in public opinion, is discredited, and is declared obsolete; that is stage the second. Eventually comes more enlightenment; its wonders are again admitted, but explained; the false in it separated from the true; this is its third and last period. And it may be remarked, that society is never safe against the reproduction of a superstition, till it has gone through this third stage (analogous to the disinterment and dissection of a vampyr); till then, it is always capable of "walking" again. But, which is singular, to the end the operation of explaining a superstition is unsafe, that is to say, if you step a quarter of an inch before the sagacious nose of the public. Of course, if any one should attempt to explain away a flourishing superstition, he would encounter, not martyrdom, perhaps, any more, but the persecution of opinion certainly, and the ban of society. But if he ventures upon the same process, even with one that is already put down, he is liable to be viewed and attacked as a credulous person, disposed to revive forgotten rubbish; for he has unwittingly affronted public opinion by asserting that to be worth examining, which society had proclaimed an error. Doubly wo to him if his explanation contain some startling novelty! But, courage! again,—

The bodies disinterred and found in the so-called vampyr state, were then alive.

But how could they, you ask, be alive after an interment of days or weeks? How is it possible they could lie without air, boxed up in a manner which would certainly kill a strong and healthy person in a few minutes or hours, and yet retain their vitality? I will not bring forward as favourable cases in point, the[Pg 437] instances of frogs and toads that have been discovered in rocks, where they must have been encased for years or centuries, alive: first, because, although they are true, you might equally question these; secondly, because a human being cannot compete in vitality with a cold-blooded reptile. I shall content myself with falling back upon the evidence already adduced. The disinterred bodies proved, by their appearance, some even by their behaviour, that they were alive; and I shall retort upon you the question, how came you not to know that bodies could live under such circumstances a considerable length of time, and that many cases have transpired in which, totally apart from vampyrism, bodies have been found turned over in the coffin, through efforts made by them, when, after their burial, they had unhappily recovered consciousness?

But what, then, was the pathological condition in which these persons continued to exist, after they had ceased to appear alive?

It is just one of the profitable results of examining the superstition before us, that the above question becomes explicitly propounded, and its solution demanded of physiologists. Its solution cannot fail of being full of interest, but it is yet, unluckily, a desideratum, or, like the principle which gives motion to the divining rod, as yet only indicated and partially outlined.

What is wanted is direct scientific examination, and verification by competent persons, of all the phenomena the body presents in these strange circumstances. In the absence, however, of recorded observation, let us imagine how the thing might come about.

The series of effects surmised would not begin in the heart; analogy leads us to suppose that primary interruption of the heart's action for a very brief period is fatal. Somewhere in the Indian seas, death is inflicted by a backward blow with the elbow on the region of the heart; a sudden angina is produced, which is promptly fatal. Neither, upon similar showing, can it commence in obstructed breathing. Then the commencement of the changes must be sought in the brain. Now it is analogically by no means very improbable, that the functions of the nervous system admit of being brought to a complete stand-still, the wheels of the machinery locking, as it were, of a sudden, through some influence directly exerted upon it, and that this state of interrupted function should continue for a very considerable period, without loss of power of recovery. Nor would it be contrary to analogy that such an arrest of activity in the nervous system should stop, more or less completely, the act of breathing and the action of the heart, without at the same time the consequences following which result from either of these changes, when they are primary. The heart, when not acting by order, need not be supposed to lose its contractile force and tendency. The blood, though not moving, being in contact with living vessels, need not coagulate. There is no physiological absurdity in supposing such a general arrest of function, originating in the nervous system, and continuing an indefinite period without life being extinguished. If a swimmer be taken with cramp and sink, he is irretrievably dead in five minutes. But if he sink from a fit of epilepsy, he may remain a longer time under water, yet recover. But epilepsy is a form of loss of consciousness beginning in the nervous system—a kind of fit which may, under certain circumstances, be thus preservative of life. So may we presume, that in the singular cases we are considering, the body is but in another and deeper fit, which suspends the vital phenomena, and reduces its vitality to that of the unincubated egg, to simple life, without change, without waste or renewal. The body does not putrefy, because it is alive; it does not waste or require nourishment, because every action is stilled within it.

But this must be a dull subject of speculation for you, and your mind is perhaps wandering thence to more practical views. It has struck you possibly, not without an uncomfortable misgiving, that this obscure, but unpleasant event may happen to yourself, and what on earth is there to prevent your being buried alive?

If you wish individually to be as safe as possible, leave by will to some[Pg 438] eminent surgeon, not your habitual attendant, £50, and his railway expenses, &c., to be paid him for opening your body, when you are certainly dead; £25 if he opens you, finds you alive, and succeeds in sewing you up, and keeping you so; £200, on the contrary, to be expended in indicting him for manslaughter if you die under his hands. I do not venture to affirm that with all these precautions you would be perfectly safe. The eminent Vesalius, surgeon, and a favourite of the Emperor Charles V., with all his experience and knowledge, was unlucky enough to open a Spanish nobleman by mistake, while he was yet alive. The consequences, no doubt, were more serious than they would be now. Vesalius hardly escaped the claws of the Inquisition, and died during his expiatory pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

If, more comprehensively, you should wish to save others, as well as yourself, from this awful risk, and have a friend in the legislature, urge him, or otherwise Mr Wakley, to move for the insertion in any convenient bill a clause to appoint in every district a qualified officer to license burials; he had better not be a practising doctor, but his office might embrace necroscopic inquiries for the coroner, and the registrarship of births and deaths.

In either case, I would recommend you to offer publicly a premium of £500, to be paid at the expiration of three years, for the best treatise upon the signs of death; the same being calculated to form a useful body of instruction, as yet wanting, either for your private surgeon, or the new officials.

In England, indeed, our decent respect for the dead, which leads us to postpone interment as long as possible, is a tolerable security against being buried alive. The coffin is seldom closed upon the remains, before decomposition has already commenced. That is death's certain seal; nor, in the present state of our knowledge, special cases of course excepted, is it right to consider life surely extinct, till the impress of that seal is perceptible to the senses.

On the Continent, generally, the interval observed before burial is far too short for safety. They calculate that in France from twenty to thirty are annually interred alive, computing from the number of those who, after supposed death, come to life before the funeral is completed. I cannot help imagining that this seeming death must be much less frequent in England than in some other countries; (is that owing to the more vigorous practice for which English medical men are celebrated, they either cure or kill?) In Germany, interment is forbidden by law for three days after death. And there is a curious and humane provision in the grave-houses attached to the cemeteries of some of the principal towns: Bodies which are brought too soon, not having performed the three days' quarantine, are received and lodged, being disposed upon tressles, with rings on their toes and fingers which are attached to bell-pulls. The corpse thus, on coming to itself, may have immediate attendance merely by ringing for it; some one is always there on the watch. But the humanity of this arrangement, though perfect as long as it lasts, is finite in duration. As soon as the seventy-two hours prescribed by law are expired, it is another thing. The body is then legally dead, and must comport itself accordingly. At any rate, it is at its own risk if it behaves otherwise than as a corpse, and gives itself any airs of vitality. This is appalling enough, and would certainly justify any body, if it could, in getting out at nights and turning vampyr.

And now, to return again to our inquiry. We have got thus far. The bodies found in the so-called vampyr state are alive. They are in a sort of fit, the possible duration of which is undetermined. The same fit may occur, and does occur continually, with no reference to the superstition of vampyrism. But where the belief in vampyrism is rife, these fits are more prevalent, and spread sometimes like an epidemic.

The question naturally follows, how is this malady, viewing it as one in these cases, propagated?

At such seasons, it is far from improbable that there is some physical cause in operation, some meteorological influence perhaps, electrical or otherwise, disposing the system to be[Pg 439] a readier prey to the seizure. As certain constitutions of the year alter the blood and lead to fever or cholera, why should not others render the nervous system irritable and proner to derangement?

Then it is well known that fright will bring on certain kinds of fits—in women hysteric fits, in the youth of either sex epileptic fits; and certainly no ghastlier terror can there be than the accredited apprehension of vampyrism. And it deserves remark, that impressions upon the mind are known to be capable of shaping particular kinds of fits, and especially of exciting and determining the features of sensorial illusions, that seem adjuvants in vampyrism.

We are able to creep yet a step nearer to the mark. There is great reason to believe that some human beings have had the power of throwing themselves into the state of seeming death, voluntarily. In Gooch's surgical works, there is an account of a Colonel Townsend, who asserted this of himself, and challenged Gooch to witness the performance. And you may read in the narrative of Gooch, how he and two or three other competent witnesses saw Colonel Townsend dispose himself to favour the invasion of this fit, and how he gradually fell into a state apparently devoid of animation. A very few years ago there was a story in the papers of a native in India, who undertook for a reward to do the same feat, and to allow himself to be buried for a stipulated period. A gentleman, certainly not of a credulous turn in general, told me he was in India at the time with his regiment; and, though not on the spot, that he knew the parties who brought the conjuror to work; and that he believed they positively buried him, and, at the end of the time agreed upon, disinterred him, and found him alive. But be this story true or false, the case of Colonel Townsend remains to show the thing asserted to have been possible—and this remark may be safely added: Whatever change of the kind the will can bring about, can be twice as readily wrought by fear or a disturbed imagination.

You are, I hope, or fear rather, by this time satiated with the marvellous and with the subject. What!—yet another question? Ay. How came this superstition to arise?

The answer is ready. In those days the belief in ghosts was absolute, and a vampyr was a sort of ghost. When an ignorant person, that is, when any one in those days became the subject of a sensorial illusion representing a human being, to a certainty he identified the creation of his fancy as somebody he had seen or heard of; then he would tell his acquaintances that the ghost of such a person haunted him. If the fright brought on a fit, or seemed to cause his death, the neighbours would remember how he had before been haunted. Then, in any case, what more natural than to disinter the body of a supposed visitant, to know why he is unquiet in the grave? Then, if once a body so disinterred were found in the fresh and undecomposed state, the whole delusion would start into existence. The violence used would force blood from the corpse; and that would be construed into the blood of a victim. The absence of a scar on the throat of the victim, would throw no difficulty in the way to the vampyr theory, because vampyrs enjoyed the ghostly character, and all its privileges. Supposing, again, that at any time chance had brought to light a body interred alive, and lying still in this fit, the whole yarn of superstition might again have been spun from that clue.

Do you want more than this? I shall begin to think you at heart superstitious. I tell you it is contrary to the rules of inductive logic, to look for, or to use more principles than are sufficient for the reasonable explanation of phenomena. Yet you urge, do you, that it is no less unphilosophical, in an obscure and unsettled inquiry, wholly to exclude the consideration of unlikely possibilities?—Well! it is nothing to me. Have it your own way: suppose, if you like, that the man in the grave had something to do with spreading the disease, and that his nervous system, in its abnormal state, could put itself in relation with that of another person at a distance. If you like it, have it so. In one sense, it simplifies the matter. But though I cannot deny your supposition to be possible, you will excuse[Pg 440] me if I profess to hold the solution, which I have myself given, to be sufficient.

Well! there is an end of the subject, at all events; and I accept your thanks for having told you all I know about vampyrism. I deserve them more than you are aware. At the churchyard in Meduegna, my dear Archy, I had you thoroughly in my power. I saw how your curiosity was raised, and that an picture I had drawn would have been accepted by you with avidity; and I must confess it did at one moment occur to me, to describe to you the exact dress and deportment of the three regimental surgeons, or Feldscherers, (a handsome word signifying field-barbers), John Flickinger, Isaac Stegel, and John Fredrick Baumgartner, as well as the behaviour and remarks of a drummer boy, who held the instrument case during the intermortem examination, an event he witnessed for the first time. But I would not abuse my advantage; so I let you off cheaply with the sole fabrication of Nina, and the personal characteristics of Arnod Paole, of whom unfortunately nothing has come down to posterity, but that he was haunted by a vampyr at Cossova, fell from a hay-cart at Meduegna, and died, and lived a vampyr himself.

I remain, dear Archy,
Yours, &c.
Mac Davus.



Dear Archy.—On what subject shall I next address you? Elves, goblins, ghosts, real and unreal; dreams, witchcraft, second-sight? Bless me! the field of marvels seems more thronged, as I approach it closer. The spirits I have evoked begin to scare me with their numbers. How on earth shall I ever get them fairly laid? But some, I see, can now only limp along—they are scotched already; I will begin with finishing these. Yet they deserve gentle treatment. They sprang from our nature, which seems expressly made to procreate and rear them. Thick, within and around us, lie the rich veins of illusive suggestion from which they spring.

The thing nearest us is our mental constitution, the world of consciousness. It is of it we first learn, though it be the last we understand. It is that through which we perceive and apprehend all other things; and nothing becomes part of our knowledge but as it has been shaped and coloured by its magic reflexion. Nay, more, it is not only our mirror but our archetype for every thing. So we spiritualise the material universe, and afterwards, by an incongruous consistency, anthropomorphise spirit.

Reason in vain reclaims against this misuse of analogy. Feeling, imagination, instinct are too many for her; and any mood, from fun to earnest, from nonsense to sublimity, may hear a responsive note when this chord is touched.

Address to that ingenuous young American a remark upon the slightness of the legs of her work-table,—she blushes—her lively fancy has given them personality. Were she a wealthier miss, she would give them, besides, neat cambric trowsers with lace borders. With less refinement, and with inexcusable warmth, I take shame to myself for having bestowed a kick upon a similar mahogany limb, which had, however, begun the contest by breaking my shin.

To the poet's eye, nature is instinct with life. Greece may be "living Greece no more"—in the soul of her people; but her immortal plains, and streams, and hills have their own vitality.

"The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea."

You go to visit them; they meet you half-way: "spectatum veniunt."

Amid the Alps—with glacier, torrent, forest around—you still evoke[Pg 441] the fancied spirit of the scene, though it be but

"To gaze upon her beauty—nothing more."

And where, in sublimer grandeur, snowclad, upreared against the nearer sun, are seen the towering Andes; to the poet's eye, the Cordillera lies no huge backbone of earth; but lives, a Rhœtus or Enceladus of the West, and

"over earth, air, wave,
Glares with his Titan eye."

This is but the calm, the dignified, the measured march of poetical conception. No wonder, when superstition steps in to prick on imagination, that all should vividly team with spirit life. Or that on Walpurgis' night, bush and streamlet and hill bustle and hurry, with unequal pace, towards the haunted Brocken: the heavy ones lag, indeed, a little, and are out of breath—

"The giant-snouted crags, ho! ho!
How they snort and how they blow!"

No wonder that to the dreamer's eye, in tranquil scenes of sylvan solitude the fawn of yore skipped in the forest dell, the dryad peeped from behind the shadowy oak, the fay tripped lightly over the moonlit sward.

But enough, and too much, of "your philosophy." Yet there are those still who may be the wiser for it. Let me sketch you a believer in the creed it would dispel.

He was a Spanish West-Indian—in his active years had been an extensive planter and slave-owner in Porto Rico. His manners were grave and dignified, as due to himself; courteous, as not denying equal or superior worth in others. He had seen the world, and spoke of it habitually with a fine irony. We had many a walk together. He was nervous about his health. One day, as our path lay along the banks of the Rhine, his conversation took this turn:—

"Do you believe in spirits?" he asked me; and upon my intimating the polite but qualified assent which suited the tone in which the question was put—"It may be superstition," he continued, "but I am often inclined to think that the pucks and goblins, which, as they say, once haunted these scenes, are not entirely visionary beings. You may smile—but this has happened, nay, often, happens, to me in my walks. I see a big clod before me in the path, and form the intention of avoiding it; when close to it, I step to one side, when pr-r-rt, my toe strikes against it."

I edged slightly away from my companion with the disagreeable impression that he was gone mad.

He went on;—"When I lived in the West Indies, the children of the slaves, about my house, were treated with great kindness and indulgence. They would come about my table at dessert, and often had little presents given them. So they grew into objects of affection. But, out of several, some, of course, took ill and died. I cannot tell you what grief it caused me. Then this has happened several times, after the death of one or other of my little favourites:—a bird has flown into the hall, and into my sitting-room, and has hovered near me, and, after a while, has flown away. For a few days it has regularly returned, and then finally disappeared. I thought it was tenanted by the spirit of my lost favourite, which had come to bid me farewell."

I drew nearer again to my companion. I felt I was in all events safe from violence from him. And I contrasted, with humiliation, his beautiful superstition with the commonplace remembrance of a school-boy conviction of my own, one dark night, upon Blackheath, that a direction-post was a ghost.

My friend had not, indeed, always been a dreamer: and although this is no place to narrate his course of daring and hazardous adventure, on which I am therefore silent, yet I wish to be allowed to re-establish his credit for intelligence, by reporting the answer which he made, on another occasion, to a question, as to what he thought of the emancipation of the Negroes in our colonies. "The principle," answered my friend, "was good, but you were in too great a hurry. Before giving them freedom, you should have made them fit for it. They were not impatient. Slavery is an African institution. Some outlay of public money, and extreme care and prudence in your measures, would have enabled you to secure their humane treatment in the interval. As[Pg 442] fast as they became innoculated with the wants and habits of civilised life, you might have made freedmen of the most advanced, and given them official occupation, or allotted them land under proper conditions. One sheep would have followed another. The fag-end you might have emancipated together. Thirty or forty years, and a million of money, would have done the thing. The results would have been, from first to last, beneficial to the colonists. It would have set an example which other nations could have followed. It would have been a noble return for having, temporarily, used the race as unmitigated slaves. It would have been an act of enlightened philanthropy. It would have become statesmen. What you did reads and works like the puerile suggestion of a school-boy's theme. What you are further doing, to suppress, by force, the trade in slaves, would have been worthy my distinguished countryman whose biography has immortalised Cervantes. Humanity would smile at it, but that she shudders and sickens."

But, to leave the region of dreams, which are no longer realisable, let us shift the scene.

The churchyard has its nightly terrors. One heard of corpse-lights seen dancing over graves—but over some alone. A few only had witnessed this; but they had no doubt on the matter. Things looked "uncanny;" but time did not pause, and the story was forgotten. Even when the tale was fresh, what was it but superstition? Who of those who hugged its sympathetic terrors by the Christmas fireside, thought they could be true on the bright frosty morning of the morrow? It was mere fancy. There was nothing in it. Yet there was something. And now and then a striking and mysterious event would occur to bring back the old idea. There was a cottage, (this I heard of a certainty,) in a hamlet I could name, to which a bad report attached. A room in it was haunted. More than one who had slept there had seen, at midnight, the luminous apparition of a little child standing upon the hearth-stone. At length suspicion became active. The hearth-stone was raised, and there were found, buried beneath it, the remains of an infant. A story was now divulged, how the former tenant and a female of the neighbourhood had, a very few years before, abruptly left the village. The apparition here was real and significant enough.

"It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.
Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak:
Augurs and understood relations have,
By magot-pyes, and choughs, and rooks, brought forth
The secret'st man of blood."

But tales like these, though true, gradually lose the sharpness of their evidence for want of an accredited contemporary narrator, and so become valueless. But time brings round every thing.

And at length a marvellous narrative, to the same effect with the above, made its appearance in a trustworthy German work, P. Kieffer's Archives, the complete authentication of which caused it to make a deep impression. The narrative was communicated by Herr Ehrman of Strasburg, the son-in-law of the well-known German writer Pfeffel, from whom he received it.

The ghost-seer was a young candidate for orders, eighteen years of age, of the name of Billing. He was known to have very excitable nerves,—had already experienced sensorial illusions, and was particularly sensitive to the presence of human remains, which made him tremble and shudder in all his limbs. Pfeffel, being blind, was accustomed to take the arm of this young man, and they walked thus together in Pfeffel's garden, near Colmar. At one spot in the garden Pfeffel remarked, that his companion's arm gave a sudden start, as if he had received an electric shock. Being asked what was the matter, Billing replied, "nothing." But, on their going over the same spot again, the same effect recurred. The young man being pressed to explain the cause of his disturbance, avowed that it arose from a peculiar sensation which he always experienced when in the vicinity of human remains; that it was his impression a human body must be interred there; but that if Pfeffel would return with him at night, he should be able to speak with more confidence. Accordingly, they went to the garden[Pg 443] together when it was dark, and as they approached the spot, Billing observed a faint light over it. At two paces from it, he stopped and would go no further; for he saw hovering over it, or self-supported in the air, its feet only a few inches from the ground, a luminous female figure, nearly five feet high, with the right arm folded on her breast, the left hanging by her side. When Pfeffel himself stepped forward and placed himself about where the figure was, Billing said it was now on his right hand, now on his left, now behind, now before him. When Pfeffel cut the air with his stick, it seemed as if it went through and divided a light flame, which then united again. The visit, repeated the next night, in company with some of Pfeffel's relatives, gave the same result. They did not see any thing. Pfeffel, then, unknown to the ghost-seer, had the ground dug up, when there was found at some depth, beneath a layer of quicklime, a decomposing human body. The remains were removed, and the earth carefully replaced. Three days afterwards, Billing, from whom this whole proceeding had been kept concealed, was again led to the spot by Pfeffel. He walked over it now without experiencing any unusual impression whatever.

This extraordinary phenomenon, it is now generally known, has been completely elucidated through the discoveries of Von Reichenbach, to which, in a former letter, I had occasion to make allusion.

You are probably aware, that the individuals whose nerves Von Reichenbach found to be so sensitive to the proximity of crystals, magnets, &c., would, in the dark, see flames issuing from the same substances. Then, in the progress of his inquiries, Von Reichenbach found that chemical decomposition was a rich source of the new power he had discovered, by its action on the nerves. And being acquainted with the story of the ghost in Pfeffel's garden at Colmar, it occurred to him as not unlikely, that Billing had just been in the same condition with his own sensitive patients, and that graves very likely would present to all of them a luminous aura; and that thus the mystery might find a very simple explanation.

Accordingly, Miss Reichel, one of his most sensitive subjects, was taken at night to an extensive burying-ground, near Vienna, where many interments take place daily, and there were some thousand graves. The result did not disappoint Von Reichenbach's expectations. Whithersoever Miss Reichel turned her eyes, she saw masses of flame. This appearance manifested itself most about recent graves. About very old ones it was not visible. She described the appearance as resembling less bright flame than fiery vapour, something between fog and flame. In several instances, the light extended four feet in height above the ground. When Miss Reichel placed her hand in it, it seemed to her involved in a cloud of fire. When she stood in it, it came up to her throat. She expressed no alarm, being accustomed to the appearance.

The mystery has thus been entirely solved. For it is evident that the spectral character of the luminous apparition in the two instances I have narrated had been supplied by the imagination of the seers. So the superstition has vanished, leaving, as is usual, a very respectable truth behind it.

It is indeed a little unlucky for this new truth, which reveals either a new power in nature or an unexpected operation of familiar ones, that the phenomena which attest it are verifiable by a few only who are possessed of highly sensitive temperaments. And it is the use of the world to look upon these few as very suspicious subjects. This is unjust. Their evidence, the parties having otherwise a character for honesty, should be accepted with the same faith and the same distrust with which all evidence is to be viewed; with neither more nor less than in other cases. Nothing should be received in scientific inquiry which it is not compulsory on our understanding to believe. It is not a whit more difficult in these than in other cases to obtain inductive certainty. Nature is not here peculiarly coy or averse from being interrogated.

Philosophers occasionally regret the limited number of their senses, and think a world of knowledge would flow from their possessing but one[Pg 444] more. Now, persons of highly-wrought nervous systems have what is equivalent to a new sense, in their augmentation of natural sensibility. But philosophers will not accept this equivalent. They must have the boon from nature their own way, or not at all.

To turn elsewhere.—We may now look into a broader seam of illusive power—one which lies entirely within ourselves, and needs no objective influence to bring its ghost-producing fertility into play. Let me exemplify it in operation.

A young gentleman, who has recently left Oxford, told me, that he was one evening at a supper-party in college, when they were joined by a common friend on his return from hunting. They expected him, but were struck with his appearance. He was pale and agitated. On questioning him, they learned the cause. During the latter part of his ride home, he had been accompanied by a horseman, who kept exact pace with him, the rider and horse being facsimiles of himself and the steed he rode, even to the copy of a newfangled bit he sported that day for the first time. The apparition vanished on his entering the town. He had, in fact, seen his double or fetch, and it had shaken his nerves pretty considerably. His friends advised him to consult the college tutor, who failed not to give him some good advice, and hoped the warning would not be thrown away. My informant, who thought the whole matter very serious, and was disposed to believe the unearthly visit to have been no idle one, added, that it had made the ghost-seer, for the time at all events, a wiser and better man.

In more ignorant times, the appearance of one's fetch was held to be of very alarming import, and to menace either death or serious personal harm. Now, it is known to be one of the commonest forms in which sensorial illusions shape themselves. And these are matters of every-day occurrence.

It would seem, that when the blood is heated or the nervous system over-strained, we are liable to attach reality to the mere productions of the imagination. There must be few who have not had personal experience of this affection. In the first night of a febrile attack, and often in the progress of fever, the bed-hangings appear to the patient swarming with human faces, generally of a disagreeable and menacing expression. With some, opium will produce a host of similar visitants. In much illness, I have often myself taken this drug, and always hoped it would provide me a crop of apparitions that I might analyse. But I was disappointed; opium I found to give me only a great tranquillity and clearness of thought. Once or twice only have I had a vision, and that but a transitory landscape. I used in vain to look upon that black mixture which lies before one in the dark, and try to make its fragmentary lights arrange themselves into definite shapes. And I have imaged to my mind familiar scenes or faces, (as in the daytime a strong conception will half realise such,) but they were not more distinct then than formerly,—ideas only and perfectly transient. But, as I have said, once or twice I have had the satisfaction of seeing a bright and coloured landscape spread before my view; yet unlike reality, and more resembling a diorama, occupying a rectangle on the black mixture before my eyes. It was not a known and familiar scene, but a brilliant sketch, made out of materials I remembered, but could not by a deliberate effort have combined so effectively. It was a spontaneous throe of the imagination, which had force to overpersuade the organs of perception.

How well did Shakspeare understand this creative power of the fancy!—the air-drawn dagger of Macbeth, and his test—"come, let me clutch thee!" are physiologically perfect. Nor less perfect or true to nature, is the conception of the ghost of Banquo haunting the kingly murderer. The ghost, it is obvious, however, should not in the play appear bodily. The audience are in the position of the guests at the royal supper-table, who saw it not. I wonder how in Shakspeare's time the stage-directions ran upon this point. Probably as now. Though Shakspeare wrote for all times, he was probably wise enough to act for the present. Or perhaps, with no disrespect to his unequalled genius, he understood not the principles[Pg 445] of which he exactly portrayed the workings, and was, like Shelley's poet,

"Hidden in the light of thought."

So, some say the sun may be dark as another planet; and that the spots on it are its common earth seen through the gaps in its luminous atmosphere.

To the world, the alpha and omega of this piece of philosophy were furnished by the publication of the case of Nicolai, the bookseller of Berlin. Its details were read before the Academy of Sciences at Berlin, in 1799. The substance ran thus. Nicolai had had some family troubles which much annoyed him. Then, on the 21st of February 1791, there stood before him, at the distance of ten paces, the ghost of his eldest son. He pointed at it, directing his wife to look. She saw it not, and tried to convince him that it was an illusion. In a quarter of an hour it vanished. In the afternoon, at four o'clock, it came again. Nicolai was alone. He went to his wife's room—the ghost followed him. About six other apparitions joined the first, and they walked about, among, and through each other. After some days the apparition of his son stayed away; but its place was filled with the figures of a number of persons, some known, some unknown to Nicolai—some of dead, others of living persons. The known ones were distant acquaintances only. The figures of none of Nicolai's habitual friends were there. The appearances were almost always human: exceptionally, a man on horseback, with dogs and birds would present themselves. The apparitions came mostly after dinner, at the commencement of digestion. They were just like real persons; the colouring a thought fainter. The apparitions were equally distinct whether Nicolai was alone or in society, by day as in the dark, in his own house or those of others; but in the latter case they were less frequent, and they very seldom presented themselves in the streets. During the first eight days they seemed to take very little notice of each other, but walked about like people at a fair, only here and there communing with each other. They took no notice of Nicolai, or of his remarks about them to his wife and physician. No effort of his would dismiss them, or bring an absent one back. When he shut his eyes, they sometimes disappeared, sometimes remained; when he opened his eyes, they were there as before. After a week they became more numerous, and began to converse. They conversed with each other, and then addressed him. Their remarks were short and unconnected, but sensible and civil. His acquaintances inquired after his health, and expressed sympathy for him, and spoke in terms comforting him. The apparitions were most conversible when he was alone; nevertheless they mingled in the conversation when others were by, and their voices had the same sound as those of real persons. This illusion went on thus from the 24th of February to the 20th of April; so that Nicolai, who was in good bodily health, had time to become tranquillised about them, and to observe them at his ease. At last they rather amused him. Then the doctors thought of an efficient plan of treatment. They prescribed leeches: and then followed the denouement to this interesting representation. The apparitions became pale and vanished. On the 20th of April, at the time of applying the leeches, Nicolai's room was full of figures moving about among each other. They first began to have a less lively motion; shortly afterwards their colours became paler—in another half hour fainter still, though the forms still remained. About seven o'clock in the evening, the figures had became colourless, and they moved scarcely at all, but their outline was still tolerably perfect. Gradually that became less and less defined. At last they disappeared, breaking into air, fragments only remaining, which at last all vanished. By eight o'clock all were gone, and Nicolai subsequently saw no more of them.

Other cases are on record in which there was still greater facility of ghost-production than Nicolai evinced. One patient could, for instance, by thinking of a person, summon his apparition to join the others. He could not, however, having done this, subsequently banish him. The sight is the sense most easily and frequently tricked; next, the hearing. In some[Pg 446] extraordinary cases the touch, also, has participated in the delusion.

Herr von Baczko, already subject to visual hallucinations, of a diseased nervous system, his right side weak with palsy, his right eye blind, and the vision of the left imperfect, was engaged one evening, shortly after the battle of Jena, as he tells us in his autobiography, in translating a brochure into Polish, when he felt a poke in his loins. He looked round, and found that it proceeded from a Negro or Egyptian boy, seemingly about twelve years of age. Although he was persuaded the whole was an illusion, he thought it best to knock the apparition down, when he felt that it offered a sensible resistance. The Negro then attacked him on the other side, and gave his left arm a particularly disagreeable twist, when Baczko pushed him off again. The Negro continued to visit him constantly during four months, preserving the same appearance, and remaining tangible; then he came seldomer; and, after finally appearing as a brown-coloured apparition with an owl's head, he took his leave.

The illusion and its principle having been thus elucidated, it is hardly worth while to look into its operation in tales of vulgar terror. But it is highly interesting to trace its effects on minds of a high order, when its suggestions have been received and interpreted as the visits and communications of superior beings. You have heard, I dare say, my dear Archy, of the mysticism of Schwedenborg. Now that they are explained, the details of his hallucinations are highly gratifying to one's curiosity.

Schwedenborg, the son of a Swedish clergyman of the name of Schwedberg, ennobled as Schwedenborg, was, up to the year 1743, which was the fifty-fourth of his age, an ordinary man of the world, distinguished only in literature, having written many volumes of philosophy and science, and being Professor in the Mineralogical school, where he was much respected. On a sudden, in the year 1743, he believed himself to have got into a commerce with the world of spirits, which so fully took possession of his thoughts, that he not only published their revelations, but was in the habit of detailing, with the greatest equanimity, his daily chat with them. Thus he says, "I had a conversation the other day on that very point with the Apostle Paul," or with Luther, or some other dead person. Schwedenborg continued in what he believed to be daily communion with spirits till his death, in 1772. He was, without doubt, in the fullest degree convinced of the reality of his spiritual commerce. So in a letter to the Wirtemburg prelate, Oetinger, dated November 11, 1766, he uses the following words:—"If I have spoken with the Apostles? To this I answer, I conversed with St Paul during a whole year, particularly on the text, Romans iii. 28. I have three times conversed with St John, once with Moses, and a hundred times with Luther, who allowed that it was against the warning of an angel that he professed 'fidem solam,' and that he stood alone upon the separation from the Pope. With angels, finally, have I these twenty-two years conversed, and converse daily.

"Of the angels," he says, "they have human forms, the appearance of men that I have a thousand times seen; for I have spoken with them as a man with other men, often with several together; and have seen nothing in the least to distinguish them from ordinary men." [They had evidently just the appearance of Nicolai's visitors.] "Lest any one should call this an illusion, or imaginary perception, it is to be understood that I am accustomed to see them, when perfectly myself wide awake, and in full exercise of my observation. The speech of an angel or of a spirit sounds like, and as loud as, that of a man, but it is not heard by the bystanders; the reason is, that the speech of an angel or a spirit finds entrance first into a man's thoughts, and reaches his organs of hearing from within outwards." This is indeed cum ratione insanire! how just an analysis of the illusion, when he is most deceived by it!

"The angels who converse with men, speak not in their own language, but in the language of men, and likewise in other languages which are inwardly known to man, not in languages which he does not understand." Schwedenborg here took up the angels, and[Pg 447] to explain their own ideas to them observed, that they most likely appeared to speak his mother tongue, because, in fact, it was not they who spoke, but himself by their suggestion. The angels held out, however, and went away unconvinced.

"When approaching, the angels often appear like a ball of light; and they travel in companies so grouped together—they are allowed so to unite by the Lord—that they may act as one being, and share each others' ideas and knowledge; and in this form they bound through the universe, from planet to planet."

I will, in conclusion, add another different, but equally interesting sketch.

"It is now seven years ago," so spoke, before her judges, the simple, but high-minded Joan of Arc—"the beginning of the year 1431; it was a summer day, towards the middle hour, I was about thirteen years old, and was in my father's garden, that I heard for the first time, on my right hand towards the church, a voice, and there stood a figure in a bright radiance before my eyes. It had the appearance and look of a right good and virtuous man, bore wings, was surrounded with light on all sides, and by the angels of Heaven. It was the Archangel Michael. The voice seemed to me to command respect; but I was yet a child, and was frightened at the figure, and doubted very much whether it was the archangel! I saw him and the angels as distinctly before my eyes as I now see you, my judges." With words of encouragement the archangel answered to her, that God had taken pity upon France, and that she must hasten to the assistance of the king. At the same time he promised her that St Catherine and St Margaret would shortly visit her; he told her that she should do what they commanded her, because they were sent by God to guide and conduct her. "Upon this," continued Joan, "St Catherine and St Margaret appeared to me, as the angel had foretold. They ordered me to get ready to go to Robert de Beaudricourt, the king's captain. He would several times refuse me, but at last would consent, and give me people, who would conduct me to the king. Then should I raise the siege of Orleans. I replied to them that I was a poor child, who understood nothing about riding on horseback and making war. They said I should carry my banner with courage; God would help me, and win back for my king his entire kingdom. As soon as I knew," continued Joan, "that I was to proceed on this errand, I avoided, as much as I could, afterwards taking part in the sports and amusements of my young companions."——"So have the Saints conducted me during seven years, and have given me support and assistance in all my need and labours; and now at present," said she to her judges, "no day goes by, but they come to me."——"I seldom see the Saints that they are not surrounded with a halo of light; they wear rich and precious crowns, as it is reasonable they should. I see them always under the same forms, and have never found in their discourse any discrepancies. I know how to distinguish one from the other, and distinguish them as well by the sound of their voices as by their salutation. They come often without my calling upon them. But when they do not come, I pray to the Lord that he will send them to me; and never have I needed them but they have visited me."

Such is part of the defence of the high-spirited Joan of Arc, who was taken prisoner by the Duke of Burgundy on the 23d of May 1430—sold by him for a large sum to the English, and by them put on her trial as a heretic, idolatress, and magician—condemned, and finally burned alive, the 30th of May 1431. Ill-fated heroine! I seem to be thinking of writing her epitaph, but I am considering only that there is more to come out of her evidence. For although her heavenly visitants were simply sensorial illusions, there yet remains something unexplained. How came she to foresee the path she was destined to follow? The inquiry would launch us on a broad and wild sea of conjecture, for the navigation of which we have not yet the requisite charts on board, and it grows late—so good-night, dear Archy.

"Suadentque cadentia sidera somnum."
"Cras ingens iterabimus æquor."
Yours, &c.,
Mac Davus.
[Pg 448]



There is a tremendous valley opening all the way down, from the central summits of the ridge of the Monts Dor, quite into the undulating, and thence into the flat country, lying westward of this mountain chain. Where the valley commences, it is nothing more than a combination of mountain gullies, and is like a wild and precipitous ravine; but by degrees it widens out into spacious amphitheatres, and at times contracts itself again so as barely to allow of a struggling river to make its way betwixt the rocky sides. In some places, the valley makes a straight reach four or five miles in extent, but in others, winds and turns about in abrupt and varied curves; its descent is now gradual, and now rapid, where the stream dashes over ledges of rock or cuts its way through some rough and stubborn pass. Nearly all the ravines and smaller valleys that open into it bring down their contributions of mountain torrents; and the whole collection of waters, thus wending their way to the ocean, form what is called the Dor. This river meets with the Dogne lower down in its course; and, under the joint name of the two waters, the flood rushes broad and strong through Guienne into the Gironde. The high and bare mountain whence the Dor derives its principal source is the Pic de Sancy, the loftiest hill in the middle of France; it is the king of all the volcanoes of this vast igneous chain, and has its sides deeply furrowed and excavated into immense craters or volcanic vents. From it proceed numerous branches or arms, composed of basaltic currents congealed into columnar masses in the early days of the world. These stretch out league after league, away from their parent head, and present on their tops vast plateaux of green and moory pasture-land; while their sides are either abrupt precipices of basaltic columns, or else are clothed with primeval forests, which have sprung up and still flourish on the rich materials of their decomposing slopes. The valley of the Dor is therefore shut in either by precipitous volcanic walls, or is guarded by sombre woods. Once on the tops of the plateaux, and you may ride a whole day on unbroken turf; or, if you penetrate within the forest lands, you may wander for any time you please, days or weeks, without seeing either their beginning or their end. On the summits of the mountains around, snow is to be found in patches, even in the hottest days of summer; and as the Pic de Sancy is more than six thousand feet above the level of the sea, almost every gradation of climate is to be found amongst these lonely hills. In the dog-days, the valleys are so hot that you gladly escape to the upper lands for air and coolness; but the winter sets in, in October, and the valley of the Dor is then covered deep with snow for many a long month. The Dor itself is a pleasant lively stream: it can boast of some picturesque falls here and there, but it is commonly a "brawling brook," winding about at its pleasure; allowing itself to be forded every now and then; and producing plenty of small trout for those who like to waste their time in fishing.

The urchins of the peasant tribe know how to get these finny creatures more cannily than the professed angler; you may see them on a summer's morning wading up the stream, and hunting under every stone, and in each little pool, for the objects of their search. As soon as they see a trout, they drive it into little convenient nooks that they know of, and there—how they manage it nobody knows, but the result is certain—they catch them with their hands or knock them on the head with their sticks; and will always produce you a respectable dish at a few hours' notice.

About a couple of leagues below the Pic de Sancy, towards the west, one of the plateaux on the northern side of the valley assumes an exceedingly bold and regular appearance; it is called the Plateau de l'Angle—perhaps from its making, by an abrupt termination, the corner of two valleys; and it towers out like a promontory[Pg 449] at sea, soaring some four or five hundred feet above the bed of the river. Not very far from where this plateau is cut off—a mile or so—there is a bold cascade dashing over its side, and carrying off the superfluous waters of a pool and morass higher up in the bosom of the mountains. Here the basaltic precipice is hollowed out into a circling chasm, and over its black face rushes the impetuous stream upon a huge chaos of rocks and debris below, foaming and roaring until it finds its way into the Dor far down in the valley at its foot. A few hundred feet to the westward of this cascade, and at the lowest part of the precipitous columnar cliff, burst forth several copious fountains of hot mineral waters, half-way to boiling heat when they leave their rocky cells, and ever keeping up the same degree both of heat and quantity. These are the springs which give celebrity to the place, and constitute the baths of Mont Dor.

The Romans—those true "rerum domini"—knew of the spot, as they did of most other good things within their wide empire; and they frequented these springs so much that they erected over them a magnificent bathing establishment, and adorned the spot with a beautiful temple. In the midst of the present village stand the remains of one and the other of their buildings; and thus the hydropathic system of the ancients is allied with the practice of the modern Académie de Médecine. No records of the destruction, nor indeed of the existence, of this Roman watering-place have been preserved; probably, the buildings fell into natural decay, and during the middle ages were allowed to remain unrepaired and unheeded. Only foundations, broken shafts of columns, cornices, capitals, and altars are now discernible; but they are enough to add greatly to the interest of the locality.

At Saint Nectaire, two leagues further down the valley, and indeed at other spots in it, thermal sources not much inferior to those of Mont Dor are to be met with; the whole district bears intimate evidence of its volcanic nature, and the rheumatic or dyspeptic invalid may here get stewed or washed out to his full satisfaction and lasting benefit.

The village of Mont Dor-les-Bains is, however, that which has been selected by the beau monde of France as one of their choicest places of resort; and here public money has been added to the efforts of private speculation in order to render the baths at once ample and commodious. Over the best sources is erected a large edifice, the lower story of which is occupied by halls, and bathing-rooms for every variety of medical purpose; while above are assembly-rooms, and the apartments of the Government physician.

The distribution below is most convenient. The water, after issuing from the rock, is conveyed by distinct channels into numerous baths contained in small chambers on either side of a large central hall: while other conduits take it to plunging and swimming baths, to douches, and to other medical contrivances. In the small single baths you receive the water piping hot from the rock, at about one hundred degrees of Fahrenheit; and you may lie there, bolling away—for a constant supply of the same natural water keeps running into and through your bath—for hours together, upon payment of a franc. The water costs nothing; the building has been erected at the public expense, and the visitor therefore enjoys this luxury at a moderate rate. For the poorer class of patients gratuitous baths are provided; and in fact the gifts of nature are here grudged to no one, but every man's wants may be gratified in a liberal manner.

By four o'clock in the morning of a summer day, you may see a train of ghost-like beings winding along the village street, clad in the simple attire of a chemise, a blanket, and the eternal nightcap—lean, sallow-faced, or crippled mortals, who have had the wise precaution to undress at home, and not being afraid of shocking the wood-nymphs from their propriety, sally forth to court the Goddess of Health. They congregate in a dark cellar-like chamber, round an ample and steaming pool, and then sink into it, to forget for a while all their pains and maladies, and to enjoy that indescribably delightful sensation of having the joints gently unscrewed and fresh oiled. Others, whose shoulders and[Pg 450] backs have known the pangs of lumbago and acute rheumatism, are put under one of the douches; and down comes on them a discharge of the hot fluid as if from the hose of a fire-engine, or as though shot out from some bursting steam-boiler. Away fly the pains and troubles of humanity; the rickety machine is put in order for that day at least, and twenty-four hours of peaceful enjoyment is the almost invariable consequence.

Later on in the morning, the fashionable visitors crawl forth to the baths; but not so late that nine o'clock does not see them all safely housed again after their ablutions, shaving or curling away with might and main to get ready for a grand déjeuner. For here, as at Bath, not only is it well to remember the inscription,—

"αριστον μεν υδωρ"

but it would be advisable to add,

"βρωμα δε μεγιστον:"

seeing that the appetite which is got up by all this early rising, and steaming, and washing, is doomed to be satisfied in a way fully worthy of the most refined French cuisine.

In the village there are numerous hotels and boarding-houses, capable of suiting the pockets and the wishes of all the middling, and even of the lower classes of society:—but there are three or four principal houses,—and especially two, reserved for the aristocracy; and here all the élite of the visitors congregate. We wealthy English may laugh at the moderate expense for which this kind of thing can be done in France, but we are not apt to grumble at it when we find it suit our pockets; and, therefore, take with you at once the description of the kind of fare you are likely to meet with here, and the amount of damage it will do to your fortune. In these large hotels, then, which are commodious houses, a vast number of bedrooms are provided for the guests, and two good reception-rooms; besides an immense salle-à-manger. Some sixty or a hundred guests can be accommodated in each house, and can sit down at table together. Breakfast is served between nine and ten,—and a glorious breakfast it is! All kinds of good things, which an old artiste from Paris comes down for the season to cook: ending with fruits of many kinds and café-au-lait—that Continental beverage which John Bull can no more imitate than he can the wines of the Rhone or the Rhine:—in short, 'tis as good a breakfast as they could put on the table at Verey's. Dinner is ready at six, and maintains its proper superiority over the breakfast, both in the number of dishes and in the length of its service. The wines are good, and the fruits delicious, for they all come from Clermont—whence many a wagon-load of comestibles is tugged weekly over the mountains to satisfy the exigencies of the fastidious invalids!

Well: they give you these two glorious spreads, your room, your light, your linen, and your attendance, for five francs a-day.

And how is this day passed? Why, 'tis a true castle of indolence, is Mont Dor-les-Bains; "a pleasing land of sleepy-head," where every one follows the bent of his own fancy, and where the only serious occupation is, to forget all care and to do nothing. After rising from the breakfast table, parties are immediately formed for the promenade or the distant excursion; and, for the latter, some two or three score of boys and girls are stationed on the Grande Place, each in charge of an animal disguised with the name of a horse, which you hire for the whole day, to go where, and how far you please, for the enormous sum of two francs. It is true that the animal has neither symmetry nor blood, but it is the indigenous pony of these mountains; it is a slow, sure-footed beast, and it will carry you up and down the steepest hill-side with exemplary patience and sagacity. Do not lose your own patience, however, if you mount one of them. They have no trotting, nor galloping, nor any other pace whatever in them, out of the half-amble half-walk at which they commonly proceed. But then, they know no better food than mountain-grass, or the occasional luxury of some chopped straw, and they will follow you all round the village for a slice of bread held before their noses. Nevertheless they suit the country; they accommodate the visitors; and there is not a spare horse to be got[Pg 451] in the village by half-past ten, for love or money.

The day's ramble ended, and dinner duly dismissed, every body—that is to say, every body who is any body at all—adjourns to the salle de réunion, the large assembly-room built over the baths. This is really a handsome well-arranged ball-room, full of mirrors, ottomans, and benches; at one end is a billiard and card room, and behind are rooms for robing. Here, upon the payment of a napoleon, you have the entrée for the season; and here the guests meet, more upon the terms of a large family than as though they were strangers. Etiquette is relaxed; every body knows every body. The elder men take to billiards and écarté,—the graver ladies form into little côteries; a younger one goes to the piano, a circle is made, a romance is sung; and then, as the strain becomes lighter, the feet beat in sympathy, and the gay quadrille is formed. At eight or nine o'clock the room is at its fullest; the village minstrels are called in—some half-dozen violins, a clarionet, and a cornet; the music becomes louder, the mazy waltz is danced, and the enjoyment of the day is at its crowning point.

Happy, happy days! still happier, still more delightful nights! No trouble, no excess—health and cheerfulness going hand-in-hand. The most refined society in France, and yet the most simple and most unaffected; good-humour and politeness ruling all things: all calculated for enjoyment, nought for disquietude and regret!

At eleven o'clock it is understood that every body vacates the room; and, within half an hour after, not a sound is to be heard in the village, save the dash of the cascade, and the murmuring of the silvery Dor.


Well: 'tis a motley assemblage this! The world is checkered here not less than in the noisy and elegant capital; and man's peculiarities, man's excellencies, and man's defects, follow him even into the heart of these wild mountains, showing themselves in these smaller groups, not less strongly than amid the crowded streets of Paris! How should it be otherwise? Does not every one come hither to unbend, to throw off the stiff mask of metropolitan society for the moment, and to become themselves natural while they invoke the aid of nature's healthy influence? The strict etiquette of the Faubourg St Germain may here be safely laid aside awhile; and the inspirations of country life, the happy the delightful inspirations of youth, may be once more resumed. What a comfort to be able to get out of the buckram and taffetas of the court, to put on one's négligé, or one's shooting-jacket, and to keep company awhile with no less cheerful companions than the songsters and the rangers of the forest! Why it does one's inmost soul good to fly away from the din and turmoil, even of the pleasure-seeking Parisians, and to revert to the simple, yet grand and expansive ideas which scenery such as this of Mont Dor brings into the mind in an instant.

True: the mountains increase in magnitude and grandeur as you approach them; once within their lofty and austere recesses, and their sublimity makes itself felt. You are brought into immediate contact with some of the mightiest works of the Creator, and the mind expands of itself, unconsciously and irresistibly, till it becomes capable of imbibing, of comprehending, and of enjoying the full magnificence of nature!

But does the courtier, does the citizen lay aside his pack of habits, as well as his pack of cares, when he becomes a temporary denizen of the country? Would that it were so! He is cast in a mould—his mind has been warped: his body requires moistening with the freshest and the earliest dews of many an "incense-breathing morn," ere it can resume the full elasticity and joyous lightness of rustic activity; and his soul wants a long oblivion of all conventional preoccupation, all trouble and all intrigue, ere it can recover the tone and temper of younger days.

Now, I had been saying all this to myself, and should have gone on moralising till the weary hour of noon,[Pg 452] perhaps; but while I was leaning over the balustrade of my window, looking down into the Grande Place——Oh yes, to be sure! there is a Grande Place at Mont Dor-les-Bains, as well as at any other town, village, or city. Did you ever in your life hear or see any thing French to which the epithet of Grand had not been, by some means or other, tacked on? From the Grand Monarque at the head of the Grande Armée of the Grande Nation, down to the Grand limonadier of the Grand Café of the Grande Place, it is all Grand. Oh, this villanous spirit of exaggeration! this attempt at the sublime so inevitably linked to the ridiculous!—--Just so! I was leaning over the balustrade of my window, which, from the third story of the hotel, "gave," as they term it, into the Grande Place. Now it is one of the most delightful things imaginable, after you have indulged in your morning's ablutions, and have produced that indefinable lilac tint on your chin, which tells of easy shaving soap and a Rogers's true old English razor, to don your shawl dressing-gown, and, having adjusted your bonnet grec towards the right side of your head, so as to allow the glossy curl to escape and hang pendant on the left; when all this is done, to "light the brown cigar," to put yourself in an elegant reclining posture between your opening jalousies, and, with both elbows resting on the red velvet cushion that crowns the hard edge of the balustrade, to puff forth light wreaths of blue vapour into the balmy air, and to see the bathers come back from the baths. There you may "think down hours to moments:" and so was it with myself; for I took my post at my window by half-past six, and at nine I was still there. Every now and then went forth my curling column; then my eye would catch the glorious "mountain-tops bathed in the golden light of morn;" then I would give a glance at sublunary things awhile, and speculate on the moving animals below; then puff, and gaze, and speculate again; and all that while be the happiest of men, in the absolute absence of any thing but perfect idleness.

You may say what you please, but it does the mind good to think of nothing at times; to let the impressions of passing events glide through the soul, and titillate the imagination, but to "leave no trace behind." Oh yes! this fairy dancing on the sands of life's dull shore, is very pleasant occupation for a summer morn, and eke a summer eve. It is poetical, to say the least of it; and day-dreams may sometimes prove not less agreeable than those mysterious scenes of night, when the soul quits her corporeal shackles, and roams in pure fancy through the world of thought, seeing sights of beauty, and scenes of paradisaical splendour, which the dull organs of bodily vision can never attain unto. Why! the happiest portion of my life is that which I have passed in the land of dreams: one third of my existence has been spent there—and I have friends, and well-known faces, and peaceful valleys, and bright streams, and strains of ethereal music, which are still and ever vivid in my waking mind, but at night call me to themselves, and wrap me in a state of enjoyment which certainly this poor weak body of mind never could be capable of experiencing. I have positively new, altogether new and unheard-of ideas—I do not mean irrational ones, nor those phantasmagoric combinations that haunt the diseased brains of some wretched mortals—but reasonable, possible, natural ideas of form and substance, which I am persuaded have their types in some corner or other of the universe, and which it may perhaps be hereafter my too happy destiny to witness, and to dwell amongst for ever and for aye. I would not exchange my dreams for all the realities of——

"Monsieur! veut-il déjeuner au salon?" said the slip-shod garçon of the hotel, tapping me on the shoulder. "The company have all taken their seats, and I have kept a chair for Monsieur. Does Monsieur prefer Burgundy or claret? The vin ordinaire is not sufferable: au reste, here is the carte, and Monsieur has only to choose."

"'Tis a reality, my friend, that I was not then exactly thinking of—but breakfast I must, and will. But just tell me, for a minute, where these people come from, that I see down in the Place there, at that corner—the old[Pg 453] gentleman in nankeen, with the green shade over his eyes, and the fat little dame by his side; and those young ladies at the door of the large hotel opposite, and the spruce militaire there at the window, and that knot of men in long brown surtouts, one of whom is gesticulating so vehemently."

"Excusez, Monsieur, those gentlemen are great politicians," (grand again, thought I!) "and one of them is deputy for the Department—M. de Beauparler: he has just been voting against the Ministry, sir; he is a great friend of M. Lafitte, sir; oh, sir! c'est le plus grand orateur de notre pays! You ought to hear him, sir. As for the young ladies, sir, they are les Demoiselles Leroy: it was their father that you were remarking just now—the old gentleman—very short-sighted, sir—he is immensely rich; Pardi! que sais-je?" (here he shrugged up his shoulders to his ears,) "they say he has 50,000 francs a-year!—c'est assommant!" (here he shut his eyes and raised his nose at an angle of forty-five degrees.) "Quant aux demoiselles, elles sont"——(he was evidently at a loss for an expression; so he extended his first two fingers to his lips, closing tightly the others and his thumb, and then blew a kiss with them to the winds.)

Tap! tap! at the door. "Pierre! are you coming down, then? they are asking for you every where!" And the tightly girded, and somewhat altius accincta, fille-de-chambre—a spruce little black-eyed Auvergnate,—tripped into the room. "Excusez, milor! but Pierre is such a gossip!" "My good girl, I will detain neither Pierre nor yourself: give me my coat, dust my room well, and now show me to the salle-à-manger."

As good luck would have it, Pierre had placed a chair for me next to Madame de Mirepoix, her husband was on the other side of his lady,—'twas impossible to be in better company. Opposite to me was a venerable white-haired mustached gentleman, evidently a military man, and next to me was a lady, some five-and-forty, or thereabouts, with a strong Spanish cast of countenance and complexion, and her husband, a short thick-necked apoplectic-looking man, by her side. The rest of the company, though various enough in their physiognomical aspect, were evidently persons of the upper ranks of society, and among them were several choice specimens of the best and oldest nobility of France. They seemed all to make one joyous family party, as if they had been relations rather than strangers; every body was laughing and chatting with his neighbour; they were plying their forks most vigorously, and the noise and bustle was excessive.

"What do you think of our baths?" said my lovely neighbour; "for of course you have already been immersed in, and have tasted the waters." I humbly alleged the negative. "Well! I declare this phlegme Britannique is insupportable. Why, sir, we were at the bath-house before six this morning."

"Had I but known it, Madame"——

"Ah, just so!" said the little apoplectic gentleman leaning across his wife to me: "Monsieur est Anglais! c'est très bien, c'est très bien! Monsieur, you do us great honour to come to visit this savage wilderness. But voyez-vous, you would have done much better to have stopped at Paris; there's nothing here, sir—absolutely nothing! What are these mountains? Bare rocks! forests, indeed, there are; but there are forests every where. Give me, sir, the Forêt de Montmorency, even the Bois de Boulogne; and for rocks, I wish for nothing better than the Rocher de Cancale." (Here he rubbed his hands excessively, and looked round the table for a smile at the bon-mot.)

"M. Bouton will pardon me," observed the old officer, "but if he had travelled all over Europe as I have done, he would not wonder at the desire to change an every-day scene for something new. When our corps d'armée was traversing the Mont St Bernard, I assure you I never felt the slightest regret at having quitted Paris:—we could have gone on to the end of the world with the spirits we then were in. It was the same in the Pyrenees:—for more reasons than one I was extremely sorry when we had to quit Pampeluna for Bayonne"—and the old gentleman sighed, and looked wistfully up at the ceiling, as though many a painful recollection came across his mind at that moment.

"Which are the finer mountains[Pg 454] sir," was my inquiry—"the Pyrenees or these of Auvergne?"

"You can hardly draw a comparison between them," he replied. "There is vast extent, width, and height in the Pyrenees, and a certain degree of savage horror about them, which you do not feel even amidst the Alps:—they partake of the nature both of France and Spain:—they are unlike any mountains I know of. But for all this, sir, do not allow yourself to hold a poor opinion of these heights of Mont Dor: you will find here scope and exercise for all your enthusiasm, all your love of the picturesque. Are you fond of shooting and hunting?—well, then, if you were to remain here during September and October, braving the early snows which come upon these mountains even in autumn, you would have your choice of all animals from the wolf to the chevreuil and the hare, and of all birds from the eagle to the partridge. There are plenty of snipes on these hills."

"M. le Baron de Bretonville," said Madame Bouton, "do not go to tempt the English gentleman to any of your hare-brained expeditions: he is come here to enjoy the baths:—he is a victim to the spleen; he must be danced and talked and bathed into good health, and a little vivacity first of all. When we all leave the baths, we will give him permission to stop behind with you, and you may kill all the game you can find. At present we want a cavalier for our expedition: there is Madame d'Arlincourt, and Madame de Tourzel, and the Duchesse de Vauvilliers, and Madame de Mirepoix there, on your right—why these ladies are all here by themselves; they want a cavalier this very morning. Figurez-vous, Monsieur!" and the lady turned towards me—"we want somebody to come and find our ponies for us, and to take care of our shawls, and to carry our books, and our stools, and positively, with the exception of two officers who are at the other hotel, I do not know whom to ask. We engage you, sir, for the whole of this very day: our husbands"——

"I thought, Madame, that these ladies were all alone here."

"Ah!—our husbands, ça va sans dire!—but gentlemen of that kind do nothing else than play billiards all the morning."

"It is only the young and the gallant," here interposed Madame de Mirepoix "that dare to face our forests.—You shall teach us all some English as we ride along: I could give any thing to master your barbarous language:—you have only one musical word in it—moonlight."

Now, I know not what there was in the pronunciation of Madame de Mirepoix, but though the word had never before entered into my imagination as any thing but one of the most commonplace of our vocabulary, there was a witchery in the sound as it flowed forth from her swelling lips that riveted my attention, and set my imagination on fire. 'Tis the same with French:—how refined and how mellow soever may be the utterance of the most polished courtier of France, of the most learned academician of the Institute, there is sometimes a rich pouting sound, a sort of velvety and oily intonation, that distinguishes the speech of the women of high birth such as I never heard in any other country. It is not to be defined: but whoso has drunk in the golden tones of such a syren, will know what I mean. Moonlight! yes, 'tis a pleasing word, by its signification and its associated ideas, if not by its own innate harmony: yes; I have learned the full influence and sweetness of moonlight, whether in the summer woodland or in the wintry cloister; true, there is both music and poetry, ay and something else, in moonlight.

"I agree to the thing, Madame la Marquise, if not to the sound; nothing could be more beautiful than the latter as you have pronounced it, except the reality, amidst these mountains and these retired deep-green glades."

"Nous le verrons, peut-être."


All the great valleys that branch out from the sides of the volcanic chain of Auvergne were once, no doubt, filled with impenetrable forests: gloomy wildernesses, thick as those of American wilds, where scarcely the[Pg 455] light of the sun could penetrate, and tenanted only by the wolf, the bear, the boar, and the stag. Now these forests have disappeared from the eastern and western skirts of the chain, and are to be found in primitive luxuriance only in the centre, where civilisation and the destroying step of man have not made their way. Here the original forest is still to be seen in all its pride; untouched, untrimmed, unheeded by man: full of all its sublime grandeur—solemn, vast, and mysterious as forests have ever been; sobering, soothing, and beautiful as forests will ever be. In some of the valleys the trees are principally of the deciduous kind; enormous oaks, and chestnuts, and beeches, filling up the vacant space left by the granitic walls on either side: but in the higher regions of the mountainous district, in the more hidden recesses of the hills, they are all of the silver-fir species, and they attain a luxuriance of growth not to be imagined but by those who have studied this, the noblest of the whole tribe of pines. Here forests occur, leagues upon leagues in extent, filling up wide and winding valleys; running out upon the elevated plateaux of the mountains; and wrapping the whole country in gloomy majesty. You may ride day after day through these intricate sylvan scenes, and never cross the track of a human being: or you may emerge from the depth of the wood, at some unexpected turn of a valley, upon a delightful little farm or village in a green glade of welcome verdure; and you may there witness the extreme simplicity of the hardy mountaineers. Still higher up on the hills, and on the vast pasture grounds that reach up to their summits, along the gently descending plateaux, occurs the birch, luxuriating in the cold exposure of its habitation as though it were in Siberia instead of France: and ever and anon, whether high up or low down the sides of the hills, you will find the box and the juniper bushes flourishing in perennial perfection.

It is curious to see the enormous size to which the silver-fir will here attain. Sometimes this tree rises with the utmost regularity—sending out its branches at equal intervals, tier above tier—itself tapering upwards, and each circle of branches decreasing in diameter until a hundred and fifty feet are gained. The stems of some of these giants of the forest are eighteen feet in circumference at the height of a man from the ground, and their lower branches would of themselves form trees such as many a trim and well-kept park could never boast of. At other times the original tree will have met with an accidental fracture when young, and after going up twenty or thirty feet from the ground, as an immense wooden column, will throw out three or four other trees from its summit, which will all shoot up parallel to each other into the air and form a little forest of themselves. Very frequently, however, it happens that the tree has been contorted in its early growth, and then broken afterwards: in such cases it seems to have forgotten its nature completely, and to have gone mad in its spirit of increase; for it turns and forces itself into the strangest convolutions and intricacies of form. It becomes like a short stunted oak, or a thickly knotted thorn: or it might sometimes be mistaken for a willow, at others for a cedar—for any thing but one of the same species as the stately spire of wood that soars up into the heaven close by its side.

When the tree becomes quite dead, blasted by lightning, or injured by the attacks of animals at its base, it does not therefore lose all its beauty; for it becomes immediately covered with a peculiar gray lichen of great length and luxuriance; occupying every branch and twig of the dead tree, and clothing it, as it were, with a second but a new kind of foliage. This lichen will sometimes hang down from the branches in strings of weeping vegetation to the length of five feet and more. You may sometimes ride under the living tree where this parasitical foliage is mixed with the real covering of the boughs, forming the most anomalous, and yet the most picturesque of contrasts.

In forests of this kind, the undergrowth of brushwood of every variety is exceedingly abundant and beautiful: every woodland shrub is to be found there—the hazel especially—and the thickets thereby formed are quite impenetrable. As the older and larger[Pg 456] trees decay, they lose their footing in the soil, and fall in every variety of strange position—presenting a picture of desolation, the effect of which is at first strange to the mind, and at last becomes even painful. But wherever a tree falls, there a luxuriant growth of moss succeeds: a little peat-bed forms itself underneath: generations after generations of mosses and watery plants succeed one another; and in time the prostrate trunk is entirely buried under a bright-green bed, soft as down, but treacherous to the foot as a quicksand. Often may the wanderer amid these wild glades think to throw himself on one of these inviting couches; and, bounding on to it, he sinks five or six feet through moss and weed and dirty peat, till his descent is stopped by the skeleton of the vast tree that lies beneath. Wild flowers grow all around: and every spot of ground that will produce them is covered in the summer season with the tempting little red strawberry, or the wild raspberry, or the blushing rose. Above all, still keep peering, in solemn and interminable array, the vast monarchs of the wood, the stately and elegant silver-firs.

When you attempt to leave the forests and advance towards the upper grounds, you commonly find yourself stopped by a precipitous wall of basaltic columns, ranging from sixty to seventy feet in height in one unbroken shaft, and forming a vast barrier for miles and miles in length. In some places, these gray basaltic walls come circling round, and constitute an immense natural theatre, sombre and grand as the forest itself. No sound is there heard save the dashing of a distant cascade, or the wind in deep symphony rushing through the slow-waving tops of the trees. Below is a carpet of the most lively green, variegated with turfs of wild flowers and fruits—one of nature's secret, yet choicest gardens. Through the midst trickles a silvery stream, coming you know not whence, but musical in its course, and soon losing itself in the thick underwood that borders the spot all around. Such is the Salle de Mirabeau—one of the loveliest of the many lovely hiding-places of these sublime forests.

The feathered tenants of these woods are mostly birds of prey, or at all events such as the raven, the jay, the pie, and others which can either defend themselves against, or escape from, the falcons that consider these solitudes as their own especial domains. The voices of few singing-birds are to be heard; they have taken refuge nearer the habitations of man: but the hooting of the owl, the beating of the woodpecker, and the screaming of kites and hawks, are all the living sounds that proceed here from the air. Red-deer, wolves, wild-boars, roebucks, and foxes, are the denizens of these forests and these mountains: there is room here for them all to live at their ease; and they abound. No one with a good barrel and a sure aim, ever entered these forests in vain: his burden is commonly more than he can carry home. It is in fact a glorious country for the sportsman; for the lower ranges of the hills abound in hares, the cultivated grounds have plenty of partridges and quails, and the forests are tenanted as has been seen. He who can content himself with his gun or his rod—for the streams are full of trout—may here pass a golden age, without a thought for the morrow, without a desire unfulfilled.

Certainly, if I wished to retire from the world and lead a life of philosophic indifference, not altogether out of the reach of society when I wanted it, these hills and these forests of Auvergne, and the Mont Dor, would be the spots I should select. The mind here would become attuned to the grand harmonies of nature's own making; here, philosophy might be cultivated in good earnest; here, books might be studied and theories digested, without interruption and with inward profit. Here, a man might cultivate both science and art, and he might become again the free and happy being which, until he betook himself to congregating in towns, he was destined to be. Yes! when I do withdraw from this world's vanities and troubles, give me forests and mountains like those of Mont Dor.[Pg 457]


The pugnacity of Irishmen has grown into a proverb, until, in the belief of many, a genuine Milesian is never at peace but when fighting. With certain nations, certain habits are inseparably associated as peculiarly characterising them. Thus, in vulgar apprehension, the Frenchman dances, the German smokes, the Spaniard serenades; and on all hands it is agreed that the Irishman fights. Naturally bellicose, his practice is pugnacious: antagonism is his salient and distinctive quality. Born in a squabble, he dies in a shindy: in his cradle he squeals a challenge; his latest groan is a sound of defiance. Pike and pistol are manifest in his well-developed bump of combativeness; his name is fight, there can be no mistake about it. From highest to lowest—in the peer and the bog-trotter, the inherent propensity breaks forth, more or less modified by station and education.

Be its expression parliamentary or popular, in Donnybrook or St Stephen's, out it will. "Show me the man who'll tread on my coat!" shouts ragged Pat, flourishing his shillelagh as he hurls his dilapidated garment on the shebeen-house floor. From his seat in the senate, a joint of the "Tail" intimates, in more polished but equally intelligible phrase, his inclination for a turn upon the turf. Wherever blows are rife, Hibernia's sons appear; in big fights or little wars the shamrock gleams in the van. No matter the cloth, so long as the quarrel be there. In Austrian white, or Spanish yellow, or Prussian blue,—even in the blood-coloured breeks of Gallia's legions, but especially, and preferred above all, in the "old red rag" of the British grenadier, have Irishmen displayed their valour. And on the list of heroes whom the Green Isle has produced, a proud and prominent place is justly held by that gallant corps, the Rangers of Connaught.

Those of our civilian readers to whom the word "Ranger" is more suggestive of bushes and kangaroos, or of London parks and princes of the blood, than of parades and battle-fields, are referred to page 49 of the Army List. They will there find something to the following effect:—

88th, Connaught Rangers.
The Harp and Crown.
"Quis Separabit?"
The Sphinx, "Egypt."
"Talavera." "Busaco."
"Fuentes d'Onore."
"Cindad Rodrigo."
"Badajoz." "Salamanca."
"Nivelle." "Orthes."

There is a forest of well-won laurels in this dozen of names. They form a proud blazon for any corps, and one that might satisfy the most covetous of honour. But of all men in the world, old soldiers are the hardest to content. They are patented grumblers. Napoleon knew it, and christened his vieille garde his grognards: tough and true as steel, they yet would have their growl. Now the lads of the Eighty-Eighth, having proved themselves better men even than the veteran guards of the Corsican corporal, also claim the grumbler's privilege, setting forth sundry griefs and grave causes of complaint. They are not allowed the word "Pyrenees" upon their colours, although, at the fight of that name, they not only were present, but rendered good service:—whilst for Waterloo many a man got a medal who, during the whole battle, was scarce within boom of cannon. During more than four years of long marches, short commons, severe hardships, and frequent fighting, the general commanding the third division—the fighting division, as it was called—viewed the Connaughters with dislike, even stigmatised them as confirmed marauders, and recommended none of their officers for promotion, although many greatly distinguished themselves, and some,—the brave Mackie, at Ciudad Rodrigo, for instance—successfully[Pg 458] led forlorn-hopes. Finally, passing over the old sore of non-decoration for Peninsular services, since that, common to many regiments, is at last about to be healed,—Mr Robinson, the biographer of Sir Thomas Picton, has dared, in order to vindicate the harsh and partial conduct of his hero, to cast dust upon the facings of the brave boys of Connaught. It need hardly be said that they have found defenders. Of these, the most recent is Lieutenant Grattan, formerly an officer of the Eighty-eighth, and who, after making a vigorous stand, in the pages of a military periodical, against the calumniators of his old corps, has brought up his reserves and come to its support in a book of his own. His volumes, however, are not devoted to mere controversy. He has understood that he should best state the case, establish the merits, and confound the enemies of his regiment, by a faithful narrative of his and its adventures, triumphs, and sufferings. Thus, whilst he has seized the opportunity to deal out some hard knocks to those who have blamed the conduct (none have ever impugned the courage) of the Connaught Rangers, he has produced an entertaining book, thoroughly Irish in character, where the ludicrous and the horrible, the rollicking and the slaughtering, mingle and alternate. Even when most indignant, good humour and a love of fun peep through his pages. His prologue or preamble, entitled "An Answer to some attacks in Robinson's Life of Picton," although redolent of "slugs in a sawpit," is full of the national humour. "Frequently," Mr Robinson has asserted, "just before going into battle, it would be found, upon inspection, that one-half of the Eighty-eighth regiment were without ammunition, having acquired a pernicious habit of exchanging the cartridge for aguardiente, and substituting in their places pieces of wood, cut and coloured to resemble them." Such things have been heard of, even in very well-regulated regiments, as the exchange of powder and ball for brandy and other creature comforts; but it is very unlikely that the practice should have prevailed to any thing like the extent here set down, in a British army in active service and under Wellington's command, and the artfully prepared quaker-cartridges increase the improbability of the statement. Lieutenant Grattan scouts the tale as a base fabrication, lashes out in fine style at its propagator, and claims great merit for the officers who taught their men to beat the best troops in the world with timber ammunition. He puts forward a more serious refutation by a string of certificates from men and officers of all ranks who served with him in the Peninsula, and who strenuously repel the charge as a malignant calumny.

It was at the close of the campaign of 1809, that the historian of the Connaught Rangers, then a newly commissioned youngster, joined, within a march of Badajoz, the first battalion of his regiment. The palmy and triumphant days of the British army in the Peninsula could then hardly be said to have begun. True, they had had victories; the hard-earned one of Talavera had been gained only three months previously, but the general aspect of things was gloomy and disheartening. The campaign had been one of much privation and fatigue; rations were insufficient, quarters unhealthy, and Wellington's little army, borne on the muster-rolls as thirty thousand men, was diminished one-third by disease. The Portuguese, who numbered nearly as many, were raw and untried troops, scarce a man of whom had seen fire, and little reliance could be placed upon them. In spite of Lord Wellington's judicious and reiterated warnings, the incompetent and conceited Spanish generals risked repeated engagements, in which their armies—numerous enough, but ill disciplined, ill armed, and half-starved—were crushed and exterminated. The French side of the medal presented a very different picture. Elated by their German victories, their swords yet red with Austrian blood, Napoleon's best troops and ablest marshals hurried southwards, sanguinely anticipating, upon the fields of the Peninsula, an easy continuation of their recent triumphs. Three hundred and sixty thousand men-at-arms—French, Germans, Italians, Poles, even Mamelukes—spread themselves over Spain, occupied her towns, and invested her fortresses. Ninety thousand soldiers, under Massena,[Pg 459] "l'enfant chéri de la Victoire," composed the so-called "army of Portugal," intended to expel from that country, if not to annihilate, the English leader and his small but resolute band, who, undismayed, awaited the coming storm. In the ever-memorable lines of Torres Vedras, the legions of Buonaparte met a stern and effectual dike to their torrent of headlong aggression. Upon the happy selection and able defence of those celebrated positions, were based the salvation of the Peninsula and the subsequent glorious progress of the British arms. Whilst referring to them, Mr Grattan seizes the opportunity to enumerate the services rendered by the army in Spain. "The invincible men," he says, "who defended those lines, aided no doubt by Portuguese and Spanish soldiers, afterwards fought for a period of four years, during which time they never suffered one defeat; and from the first commencement of this gigantic war to its final and victorious termination, the Peninsular army fought and won nineteen pitched battles, and innumerable combats; they made or sustained ten sieges, took four great fortresses, twice expelled the French from Portugal, preserved Alicant, Carthagena, Cadiz, and Lisbon; they killed, wounded, and took about two hundred thousand enemies, and the bones of forty thousand British soldiers lie scattered on the plains and mountains of the Peninsula." And thereupon our friend, the Connaughter, bursts out into indignation that warriors who did such deeds, and, on fifteen different occasions received the thanks of parliament, should have been denied a medal for their services. Certainly, when men who went through the whole, or the greater part, of those terrible campaigns, which they began as commissioned officers, are now seen holding no higher than a lieutenant's rank, one cannot but recognise their title to some additional recompense, and marvel that the modest and well-merited badge they claim should so long have been refused them. Mr Grattan puts much of the blame of such refusal at the door of the Duke of Wellington. Not that he is usually a depreciator of his former leader, of whose military genius and great achievements he ever speaks with respect amounting to veneration. But he does not hesitate to accuse him of having sacrificed his old followers and friends to his own vanity, which petty feeling, he maintains, made the Duke desire that the only medal granted for the war against Napoleon, should be given for the only victory in which he beat the Emperor in person. We believe that many Peninsular officers, puzzled to account for the constant and seemingly causeless refusal of the coveted decoration, hold the same opinion with Mr Grattan. We esteem it rather plausible than sound. The names Of Wellington and Waterloo would not the less be immortally associated because a cross bearing those of Peninsula and Pyrenees, or any other appropriate legend, shone upon the breasts of that "old Spanish infantry," of whom the Duke always spoke with affection and esteem, and to whom he unquestionably is mainly indebted for the wealth, honours, and fame which, for more than thirty years, he has tranquilly enjoyed. Moreover, we cannot credit such selfishness on the part of such a man, or believe that he, to whom a grateful sovereign and country decerned every recompense in their power to bestow, would be so thankless to the men to whose sweat and blood he mainly owed his success—to men who bore him, it may truly be said, upon their shoulders, to the highest pinnacle of greatness a British subject can possibly attain. Waterloo concluded the war: its results were immense, the conduct of the troops engaged heroic; but when we compare the amount of glory there gained with the renown accumulated during six years' warfare—a renown undimmed by a single reverse;—still more, when we contrast the dangers and hardships of one short campaign, however brilliant, with those of half-a-dozen long ones crowded with battles and sieges, we must admit that if the victors of La Belle Alliance nobly earned their medal, the veterans of Salamanca and Badajoz, Vittoria and Toulouse, have a threefold claim to a similar reward. They have long been unjustly deprived of it, and now comparatively few remain to receive the tardily-accorded distinction.

The first action to which Mr Grattan refers, as having himself taken[Pg 460] share in, is that of Busaco. The name is familiar to every body, but yet, of all the Peninsular battles, it is perhaps the one of which least is generally known. It was not a very bloody fight—the loss in killed and wounded having been barely seven per cent of the numbers engaged; still it was a highly important one, as testing the quality of the Portuguese levies, upon which much depended. Upon the whole, they behaved pretty well, although they committed one or two awkward blunders, and one of their militia regiments took to flight at the first volley fired by their own friends. Mr Grattan does not usually set himself up as a historical authority with respect to battles, except in matters pertaining to his own regiment or brigade, and which came under his own observation. Nevertheless, concerning Busaco, he speaks boldly out, and asserts his belief that no correct report of the action exists in print. Napier derives his account of it from Colonel Waller, whose statement is totally incorrect, and has been expressly contradicted by various officers (amongst others, by General King) who fought that day with Picton's division. Colonel Napier's strong partiality to the light division sometimes prevents his doing full justice to other portions of the army. In this instance, however, any error he has fallen into, arises from his being misinformed. He himself was far away to the left, fighting with his own corps, and could know nothing, from personal observation, of the proceedings of Picton's men. Opposed to a very superior force, including some of the best regiments of the whole French army, they had their hands full; and the Eighty-eighth, especially, covered themselves with glory. At one time, the Rangers had not only the French fire to endure, but also that of the Eighth Portuguese, whose ill-directed volleys crossed their line of march. An officer sent to warn the Senhores of the mischief they did, received, before he could fulfil his mission, a French and a Portuguese bullet, and the Eighth continued their reckless discharge. But no cross-fire could daunt the men of Connaught. "Push home to the muzzle!" was the word of their gallant lieutenant-colonel, Wallace; and push home they did, totally routing their opponents, and nearly destroying the French Thirty-sixth, a pet battalion of the Emperor's. Stimulus was not wanting; Wellington stood by, and, with his staff and several generals, watched the charge. The Eighty-eighth were greatly outnumbered, and Marshal Beresford, their colonel, "expressed some uneasiness when he saw his regiment about to plunge into this unequal contest. But when they were mixed with Regnier's division, and putting them to flight down the hill, Lord Wellington, tapping Beresford on the shoulder, said to him, 'Well Beresford, look at them now!'" And when the work was done, and the fight over, Wellington rode up to Colonel Wallace, and seizing him warmly by the hand, said, "Wallace, I never witnessed a more gallant charge than that made by your regiment!" Beresford spoke to several of the men by name, and shook the officers' hands; and even Picton forgot his prejudice against the regiment, whom he had once designated as the "Connaught foot-pads," and expressed himself satisfied with their conduct. Many of the men shed tears of joy. So susceptible are soldiers to praise and kindness, and so easy is it by a few well-timed words to repay their toils and perils, and renew their store of confidence and hope. And numerous were the occasions during the Peninsular contest when they needed all the encouragement that could be given them. After Busaco, when blockaded in the lines of Torres Vedras, their situation was far from agreeable. The wet season set in, and their huts, roofed with heather—a pleasant shelter when the sun shone, but very ineffectual to resist autumnal rains—became untenable. Every device was resorted to for the exclusion of the deluge, but in vain. Fortunately, the French were in a still worse plight. In miserable cantonments, short of provisions and attacked by disease, the horses died, and the men deserted; until, on the 14th November, Massena broke up his camp, and retired upon Santarem. The Anglo-Portuguese army made a corresponding movement into more comfortable quarters, and rumours were abroad of an approaching engagement;[Pg 461] but it did not take place, and a period of comparative relaxation succeeded one of severe hardship and arduous duty. Men and officers made the most of the holiday. There was never any thing of the martinet about the Duke. He was not the man to harass with unnecessary and vexations drills, or rigidly to enforce unimportant rules. Those persons, whether military or otherwise, who consider a strictly regulation uniform as essential to the composition of a British soldier, as a stout heart and a strong arm, and who stickle for a closely buttoned jacket, a stiff stock, and the due allowance of pipe-clay, would have been somewhat scandalised, could they have beheld the equipment of Wellington's army in the Peninsula. Mr Grattan gives a comical account of the various fantastical fashions and conceits prevalent amongst the officers. "Provided," he says, "we brought our men into the field well-appointed, and with sixty rounds of good ammunition each, he (the Duke) never looked to see whether their trousers were black, blue, or grey; and as to ourselves, we might be rigged out in all the colours of the rainbow, if we fancied it." The officers, especially the young subs, availed themselves largely of this judicious laxity, and the result was a medley of costume, rather picturesque than military. Braided coats, long hair, plumed hats, and large mustaches, were amongst the least of the eccentricities displayed. In a curious spirit of contradiction, the infantry adopted brass spurs, anticipatory, perhaps, of their promotion to field-officers' rank; and, bearing in mind, that "there is nothing like leather," exhibited themselves in ponderous over-alls, à la Hongroise, topped and strapped, and loaded down the side with buttons and chains. One man, in his rage for singularity, took the tonsure, shaving the hair off the crown of his head; and another, having covered his frock-coat with gold tags and lace, was furiously assaulted by a party of Portuguese sharpshooters, who, seeing him, in the midst of the enemy's riflemen, whither his headlong courage had led him, mistook him for a French general, and insisted upon making him prisoner. And three years later, when Mr Grattan and a party of his comrades landed in England, in all the glories of velvet waistcoats, dangling Spanish buttons of gold and silver, and forage caps of fabulous magnificence, they could hardly fancy that they belonged to the same service as the red-coated, white-breeched, black-gaitered gentlemen of Portsmouth garrison.

The embarkation of the British army, which in the summer of 1810 was deemed imminent both in England and the Peninsula and considered probable by Lord Liverpool himself, was no longer thought of after Busaco, save by a few of those croaking gentlemen, who, in camps as in council-houses, view every thing through smoked spectacles. Reinforcements, both English and Spanish, reached the lines of Torres Vedras, which Wellington continued to strengthen, and Massena dared not attack. The accession of General Drouet's corps increased the army of the Prince of Essling to upwards of 70,000 men. His cavalry, too, was twice as strong as that of the British; but, notwithstanding this superiority, and the desire which he must have felt to retrieve his fame, tarnished by the repulse at Busaco, and by his fruitless movement on the lines of Lisbon, Massena remained inert, in front of the man whom Napoleon's Moniteur contemptuously designated as the "Sepoy General." Spring approached without either army assuming the offensive, until, on the 5th of March 1811, the French began their retreat from Portugal, closely followed up by Wellington. There was little difficulty in tracing them: they left a broad trail of blood, and desolation. With bare blade, and blazing brand, they swept across the land; church and convent, town and village, the farm and the cottage, were given to the flames; on the most frivolous pretexts, often without one, women, children, and unarmed men were barbarously murdered; and many a Portuguese lost his life for refusing to point out treasures which existed only in the imagination of the fierce and greedy Frenchman. Enraged at the dearth of provisions, of which they stood in great need,[Pg 462] and which had been every-where removed or destroyed, the retreating army abandoned themselves to frightful cruelties and excesses. All along the line of march, the pursuers found piles of bodies, groups of murdered peasantry, and, mingled with them, the corpses of Frenchmen, often hideously mutilated, according to the barbarous usage which has been continued in more recent wars by the vindictive population of the Peninsula. The retaliation was terrible, but the provocation had been extreme. Mr Grattan's details of some of the scenes he himself witnessed, are painfully minute and vivid; and whilst reading them, we cease to wonder that, after the lapse of a third of a century, hatred of the French exists almost undiminished in the countries they so cruelly and wantonly ravaged.

However orderly and well-conducted, there is always something discouraging in a retreat, as there is a cheerful and exhilarating feeling attendant on an advance. Nevertheless, during their progress across Portugal, the French maintained their high reputation. Their rear-guard, commanded by Marshal Ney, made good fight when pressed by the British, but their losses were heavy before they reached the Spanish frontier. This they crossed early in April, and a month later they had to recross it, to convey supplies to the fortress of Almeida, the only place in Portugal over which the tricolor still floated. The result of this movement was the bloody combat of Fuentes d'Onore, a complete but dearly-bought triumph for our arms. Here the Eighty-eighth nobly distinguished themselves. At first they were in reserve, whilst for eight hours two Highland regiments, the Eighty-third and some light companies, fought desperately in the town, opposed to the fresh troops which Massena continually sent up. Their loss was very heavy, the streets were heaped with dead, the heat was excessive, and ammunition grew scarce. The Highlanders and the French grenadiers fought in the cemetery, across the graves and tombstones. "Wallace, with his regiment, the Eighty-eighth, was in reserve on the high ground which overlooked the churchyard, and was attentively viewing the combat which raged below, when Sir Edward Pakenham galloped up to him, and said, 'Do you see that, Wallace?'—'I do,' replied the colonel; 'and I would rather drive the French out of the town than cover a retreat across the Coa.'—'Perhaps,' said Sir Edward, 'his lordship don't think it tenable.' Wallace answering, said, 'I shall take it with my regiment, and keep it too.'—'Will you?' was the reply; 'I'll go and tell Lord Wellington so.' In a moment or two, Pakenham returned at a gallop, and waving his hat, called out, 'He says you may go.—Come along, Wallace!'"

Poor Pakenham! ever foremost to lead a charge or brave a peril. He deserved a better fate, after his glorious exploits in the Peninsula, than to be picked off by a sneaking Yankee rifle, in the swampy plains of New Orleans. But the same "boiling spirit and hasty temper" that won him laurels in Europe, led him to his death in another hemisphere. Over-confidence may be pardoned in a man who had so often driven before him the redoubtable cohorts of the modern Alexander. And one mistake cannot obliterate the memory of fifty gallant feats.—Full of fight, and led on by Pakenham, Mackinnon, and Wallace, the Eighty-eighth advanced at a smart trot into the town, where the French Ninth regiment and a few hundreds of the Imperial Guard awaited them. Their charge was irresistible; they cleared the place and drove the enemy into the river. They even pursued them through it, and several Rangers fell on the French side of the stream. About a hundred and fifty of the Old Guard ran into a street, of which the further end was barricaded. Mr Grattan, whose account of the affair is a graphic and interesting piece of military narrative, is amusingly cool and naïf in referring to this incident. "Mistakes of this kind," he says, "will sometimes occur, and when they do, the result is easily imagined.... In the present instance, every man was put to death; but our soldiers, as soon as they had leisure, paid the enemy that respect which is due to brave men." We apprehend that, with the Connaughters, leisure, in this sense, was scanty, at least at Fuentes d'Onore; but, in so close and desperate[Pg 463] a fight, hot blood is apt to drown mercy. The dashing charge of the Eighty-eighth nearly closed the day's performances, although the French batteries, admirably served, still peppered the town. Men and officers sheltered themselves as well as they could, but many were killed; whilst Pakenham, with reckless bravery, rode about the streets, a mark for the enemy's shot, which tore up the ground around him whenever he stood still. "He was in a violent perspiration and covered with dust, his left hand bound round with a handkerchief, as if he had been wounded; he was ever in the hottest of the fire: and, if the whole fate of the battle had depended on his exertions, he could not have fought with more devotion."

Amongst the many daring acts witnessed on the bloody day of Fuentes d'Onore, that of the Spanish guerilla chief, Julian Sanchez, deserves notice. At the head of his ragged and ill-disciplined band, he had the temerity to charge a crack French regiment, and, as might be expected, was sent back with a sore head. Whilst on the subject of guerillas, Mr Grattan combats an opinion which he believes many persons in this country entertain, "that the Spaniards and Portuguese did as much, if not more, during the Peninsular contest, than the British." Here he is certainly mistaken. Very few persons, out of the Peninsula, have any such notion. The French know well enough by whom they were beaten. Loth as they are to acknowledge a thrashing at the hands of their old antagonists, they do not dream of attributing their defeats to the "brigands," of whom they declare they would have had a very cheap bargain, but for the intervention of the troublesome English. And certainly, if the Spaniards and Portuguese had been left to themselves, although, favoured by the mountainous configuration of the country, they might long have kept up a desultory contest, they would never have succeeded in expelling the invaders; for the simple reason that they were wholly unable to meet them in the plain. Most true it is that, during the war of independence, the people of the Peninsula gave numerous examples of bravery and devotion, and still more of long suffering and patient endurance for their country's sake. The irregular mode of warfare adopted by the peasantry, the great activity and constant skirmishings, stratagems, and ambuscades of Mina, the Empecinado, Sanchez, and many other patriotic and valiant men, greatly harassed and annoyed the French; and, by compelling them to employ large bodies of troops in garrison and escort duty, prevented their opposing an overwhelming force to the comparatively small army under Wellington. But all that sort of thing, however useful and efficacious as a general system, and as weakening the enemy, was very petty work when examined in detail. The great victories, the mighty feats of war that figure in history's page, were due to British discipline, pluck, and generalship. And whatever merit remains with the Spaniards, is to be attributed to their guerillas and irregular partisans. As to their regular troops, after they had overthrown Dupont at Baylen, they seemed to think they might doze upon their laurels, which were very soon wrenched from them. Baylen was their grand triumph, and subsequently to it they did little in the field. Behind stone walls they still fought well: Spaniards are brave and tenacious in a fortress, and Saragossa is a proud name in their annals. Nothing could be better than old General Herrasti's valiant defence of Cuidad Rodrigo against Ney and his thirty thousand Frenchmen. The garrison, six thousand strong, lost seven hundred men by the first day's fire. Only when their guns were silenced, when the town was on fire in various places, and when several yards of wall were thrown down by a mine, did the brave governor hoist the white flag. Other instances of the kind might be cited, when Spanish soldiers fought as well as mortal men could do. But with respect to pitched battles, another tale must be told. At Ocaña, Almonacid, and on a dozen other disastrous fields, Baylen was amply revenged. The loss at Ocaña alone is rated by Spanish accounts at thirty thousand men, chiefly prisoners. Mr Grattan estimates it at twenty-five thousand men, and thirteen thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven guitars.[Pg 464] Of these latter, he tells us twelve thousand seven hundred and fifty-two were in cases, and the remainder without; Indeed he is so exceedingly circumstantial that we presume he counted them himself. Otherwise, although well aware of the Spaniard's predilection for the fascinating tinkle of his national instrument, we could hardly credit the accuracy of the figures. Even a Spanish general, we should think, would hardly allow his men thus to encumber themselves with harmony. The march of such an army of Orpheuses, in which every third soldier shouldered a fiddle-case as a pendant to his musket, must have been curious to behold; suggesting the idea that the melodious warriors designed subduing their foes by the soothing strains of jotas and cachuchas, rather than by the more cogent arguments of sharp steel and ball-cartridge. Great must have been the tinkling at eventide, exceeding that of the most extensive flock of merinos that ever cropped Castilian herbage. Was it because they were certain of a dance that these barrack-yard minstrels came provided with music, sure, in any case, to have the piper to pay? If the instruments were provided to celebrate a triumph, they might as well have been left at home. In Spain, however, time has effaced, or greatly weakened, the remembrance of many reverses, whilst slight and dubious successes, carefully treasured up, have swollen by the keeping into mighty victories; and at the present day, foreigners who should be so uncourteous and impolitic as to express, in the hearing of Spaniards, a doubt that Spanish valour was the main agent in driving the French from the Peninsula, might reckon, not on a stab—knifeing being less in vogue beyond the Bay of Biscay than is often imagined—but certainly on a scowl, and probably on an angry contradiction. And in every province, almost in every town, in Spain the traveller may, if he so pleaseth, be regaled with marvellous narratives of signal victories, gained over the gavachos, in that immediate neighbourhood, by valiant generals whose names, so partial is fame, have never transpired beyond the scenes of their problematical exploits. Under the constitutional system, and owing to the long civil war, Spanish troops have improved in discipline and in various other respects; and with good generals, there is no manifest reason why they should not successfully cope with Frenchmen, although we doubt whether they could. But in Napoleon's day matters were very different, and in the open field their chance was desperate. The Portuguese were doubtless of a better quality; and in the pages of Napier and other historians, we find them spoken of in terms of praise. They had British officers to head them, and there is much in good leading; they had British troops to emulate, and national pride spurred them on. At the same period, Italians—certainly very poor soldiers when left to themselves—fought gallantly under French generals, and with French example before them. Of the general bearing of the Portuguese, however, we have heard few Peninsular men speak very highly. They appear to have been extremely inconsistent; brave one day, dastards the next.

At, Ciudad Rodrigo, Mr Grattan greatly lauds their gallantry, which struck him the more as being unexpected. At Salamanca, on the other hand, he records their weakness, and the easy repulse of Pack's brigade, two thousand strong, by four hundred Frenchmen. "Notwithstanding all that has been said and written of the Portuguese troops, I still hold the opinion that they are utterly incompetent to stand unsupported and countenanced by British troops, with any chance of success, against even half their own numbers of Frenchmen." Again, after Salamanca, when Wellington and his victorious army advanced on Madrid, the Portuguese dragoons fled, without striking a blow, before the French lancers, exposing the reserve of German cavalry to severe loss, abandoning the artillery to its fate, and tarnishing the triumphal entry of the British into the capital—within a march of which this disgraceful affair occurred. Still, to encourage these wavering heroes, it was necessary to speak civilly of them in despatches; to pat them on the back, and tell them they were fine fellows. And this has sometimes been[Pg 465] misunderstood by simple persons, who believe all they see in print, and look upon despatches and bulletins as essentially veracious documents. "I remember once," says Mr Grattan, "upon my return home in 1813, getting myself closely cross-examined by an old lawyer, because I said I thought the Portuguese troops inferior to the French, still more to the British. 'Inferior to the British, sir! I have read Lord Wellington's last despatch, and he says the Portuguese fought as well as the British; and I suppose you won't contradict him?' I saw it was vain to convince this pugnacious old man of the necessity of saying these civil things, and we parted mutually dissatisfied with each other; he taking me, no doubt, for a forward young puppy, and I looking upon him as a monstrous old bore."

The Eighty-eighth, we gather from Mr Grattan's narrative, whilst respected by all as a first-rate battle regiment, was, when the stirring and serious events of that busy time left a moment for trifling, a fertile source of amusement to the whole third division. This is not wonderful. Many of the officers, and all the men, with the exception of three or four, were Irish, not Anglicised Irishmen, tamed by long residence amongst the Saxon, but raw, roaring Patlanders, who had grown and thriven on praties and potheen, and had carried with them to Spain their rich brogue, their bulls, and an exhaustless stock of gaiety. The amount of fun and blunders furnished by such a corps was naturally immense. But if in quarters they were made the subject of much good-humoured quizzing, in the field their steady valour was justly appreciated. No regiment in the service contained a larger proportion of "lads that weren't aisy," which metaphorical phrase, current among the Rangers, is translated by Mr Grattan as signifying fellows who would walk into a cannon's month, and think the operation rather a pleasant one. Whenever a desperate service was to be done, "the boys," as they, more Hibernico, familiarly termed themselves, were foremost in the ranks of volunteers. The contempt of danger, or non-comprehension of it, manifested by some of these gentlemen, was perfect. "My fine fellow," said an engineer officer, during the unsuccessful siege of Badajoz in May 1811, to a man under Lieutenant Grattan's orders, who sat outside a battery, hammering at a fascine; "my fine fellow, you are too much exposed; get inside the embrasure, and you will do your work nearly as well." "I'm almost finished, colonel," was the reply, "and it isn't worth while to move now. Those fellows can't hit me, for they've been trying it these fifteen minutes." Just then, a round-shot gave the lie to his prediction by cutting him in two; and, according to their custom, the French gunners set up a shout of triumph at their successful practice. Some of the Connaughters, who had never lost sight of their native bogs till exported to the Peninsula, understood little or no English beyond the words of command. On an inspection parade, one of this class was asked by General Mackinnon, to whose squad he belonged. Bewildered and puzzled, Darby Rooney applied to his sergeant for a translation of the general's question—thus conveying to the latter an idea that this was the first time he had heard such a thing as a squad spoken of. The story got abroad—was, of course, much embellished—and an hour afterwards the third division was enjoying a prodigious chuckle at the notion that not one of the Connaughters knew what a squad meant. The young men laughed, the old officers shook their heads and deplored the benighted state of the Irishmen; whilst all the time, Mr Grattan assures us, "the Eighty-eighth was a more really efficient regiment than almost any two corps in the third division." As efficient as any they undoubtedly were, when fighting was to be done; but in some other respects their conduct was less irreproachable. According to their historian and advocate's own showing, their knapsacks were often too light and their havresacks too heavy. "A watchcoat, a piece of pipe-clay, and a button-brush," compose rather a scanty kit: yet those three articles formed—with the exception of the clothes he stood in—the entire wardrobe and means of personal adornment of the Rooney above-named; and many of his comrades were scarce better provided. But if[Pg 466] the back was neglected and left bare, the belly, on the contrary, was cared for with vigilant affection. On occasion, the Eighty-eighth could do their work on meagre diet as well, or better than any other corps. They would march two days on a pipe of tobacco; or for a week, with the addition of a biscuit and a dram. But when they did such things, it was no sign of any abstract love of temperance, or wish to mortify the flesh; it was simply a token of the extreme poverty of the district in which they found themselves. For the article provend they always kept a bright look-out. A greasy havresack, especially on the line of march, is the soldier's first desideratum; and it was rare that a very respectable workhouse soup could not have been produced by infusing that of a Connaughter in a proper quantity of water. When rations were scanty, or commissaries lagged in the rear, none understood better than the Eighty-eighth how to forage for themselves. "Every man his own quartermaster" was then their motto. Nothing came amiss to them; sweet or savoury, from a pig to a bee-hive, they sacked every thing; and their "taking ways" were often cast in their teeth. The natives were compelled to mount guard over their sheepfolds; but the utmost force they could muster was of small avail against the resolute onslaught of the half-famished Irishmen. Even the exertions of the Provost-marshal, and the liberal application of the cat, proved ineffectual to check these depredations; whilst the whimsical arguments used by the fellows in their defence sometimes disarmed the severity of Picton himself.

It would have been quite out of character for an Irish regiment to march without ladies in their train, and accordingly the female following of the Rangers was organised on the most liberal scale. Motley as it was numerous, it included, besides English and Irish women, a fair sprinkling of tender-hearted Spaniards and Portuguese, who had been unable to resist the fascinations of the insinuating Connaughters. The sufferings of these poor creatures, on long marches, over bad roads and in wet and cold seasons, were of course terrible, and only to be equalled by their fidelity to those to whom they had attached themselves. Their endurance of fatigue was wonderful; their services were often great; and many a soldier, stretched disabled on the field of some bloody battle, and suffering from the terrible thirst attendant on wounds, owed his life to their gentle ministry. In circumstances of danger, they showed remarkable courage. At the assault of Ciudad Rodrigo, the baggage-guard, eager to share in the fight, deserted their post and rushed to the trenches. Immediately a host of miscreants—fellows who hung on the skirts of the army, watching opportunities to plunder—made a dash at the camp, but the women defended it valiantly, and fairly beat them off. Of course feminine sensibility got a little blunted by a life of this kind, and it was rarely with very violent emotion that the ladies saw their husbands go into action. Persuaded of their invincibility, they looked upon success as certain, and if, unfortunately, the victory left them widows, they deemed a very short mourning necessary before contracting a new alliance. Now and then a damsel of birth and breeding would desert the paternal mansion to follow the drum; and Mr Grattan tells a romantic history of a certain Jacinta Cherito, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy judge, who blacked her face and tramped off as a cymbal boy under the protection of the drum-major of the Eighty-eighth—a magnificent fellow, whose gorgeous uniform and imposing cocked hat caused him to be taken by the Portuguese for nothing less than a general of division. The young lady had not forgotten to take her jewels with her, and the old judge made a great fuss, and appealed to the colonel, who requested him to inspect the regiment as it left the town. But the sooty visage and uniform jacket baffled his penetration, and at the first halt, the drummer and the lady were made one flesh. Thorp, the lucky bridegroom, was a fine dashing fellow, bent upon distinguishing himself. He was often wounded, but never missed an engagement, even when his hurts were unhealed. He fell gloriously at Toulouse, and the next day came the gazette with his promotion to an ensigncy, which, if it was then of little value to him, was at any rate "a great consolation to his poor afflicted widow, and[Pg 467] the means of reconciling her father to the choice she had made; and her return once more to her home was a scene of great rejoicing." When the British troops embarked at Bordeaux, for America and England, a crowd of poor Spanish and Portuguese women, who had long followed their fortunes and were now forbidden to accompany their husbands and lovers, watched their departure with tearful eyes. "They were fond and attached creatures, and had been useful in many ways, and under many circumstances, not only to their husbands, but to the corps they belonged to generally. Many of them, the Portuguese in particular, had lived with our men for years, and had borne them children." But the stern rules of the service prevailed. The battalions bound for America were allowed but a limited number of soldiers' wives, and the surplus were of necessity left to their fate. Some had money; more were penniless, and nearly naked. Men and officers were then greatly in arrear, but nevertheless a subscription was got up, and its amount divided amongst the unfortunates, thus abandoned upon a foreign shore, and at many hundreds of miles from their homes.

General Picton was a man of action, not of words. There was no palaver about him, nothing superfluous in the way of orations, but he spoke strongly and to the point. Long harangues, as Mr Grattan justly observes, are not necessary to British soldiers. Metaphor and flowers of rhetoric are thrown away upon them. Something plain, pithy, and appropriate is what they like; the shorter the better. "Rangers of Connaught!" said Picton, as he passed the Eighty-eighth, drawn up for the assault of Ciudad Rodrigo, "it is not my intention to expend any powder this evening. We'll do this business with the cold iron." This was a very unpretending speech; nothing of the clap-trap or melodramatic about it; a mere declaration in the fewest possible words, of the speaker's intentions, implying what he expected from those he addressed. That it was just what was wanted, was proved by the hearty respondent cheer of the brave Irishmen. The result of the attack is well known; the Rangers took a gallant share in it. The next morning the troops were ordered out of the captured town, which they had ransacked to some purpose, and the Eighty-eighth, drawn up on their bivouac ground, were about to march away to the village of Atalaya, when Picton again rode past. "Some of the soldiers, who were more than usually elevated in spirits," (they had passed the night in bursting open doors and drinking brandy,) "called out, 'Well, General, we gave you a cheer last night: it's your turn now!' The general smiled, took off his hat, and said, 'Here, then, you drunken set of brave rascals—hurrah! we'll soon be at Badajoz.'" A prophecy which was not long unaccomplished. With all deference to Mr Grattan, we cannot but think that the Eighty-eighth were very appropriately placed under Picton's orders. Excellent fighting men though they were, they certainly, according to their champion's own showing, needed a strict hand over them. We should like to know how they would have got on under such an officer as Mr Grattan tells us of, who, when in command of a regiment, came to mess one day in very low spirits, because, having sent his adjutant to inquire of an ensign why he did not attend parade, the ensign returned no answer, and, on subsequently meeting his commanding officer, cut him dead. The colonel told the story at the mess-table, and concluded by saying, "I thought nothing of his not answering my message, but I cannot express how much I am hurt at the idea of his cutting me as he did when I wished to speak to him!" Field-officers of such susceptible feelings, and such very loose ideas on the subject of discipline, were not plentiful in the Peninsula, and this one, we are given to understand, did not long retain his regiment. He would hardly have done at the head of the high-spirited Connaughters. But if Picton's severity to the men of the Eighty-eighth may be justified, his neglect of the officers is far more difficult to excuse. "Not one of them was ever promoted through his recommendation." The conduct of Lieutenant Mackie at Ciudad Rodrigo was chivalrous in the extreme. General Mackinnon—who commanded the brigade[Pg 468] and was blown to pieces at its head by the explosion of a mine—wished to confer a mark of distinction on the gallant Eighty-eighth, and ordered that one of its subalterns should lead the forlorn-hope. The moment this was announced to the assembled officers, "Mackie stepped forward, and lowering his sword, said, 'Major Thompson, I am ready for that service.'" Mackinnon had promised a company to the forlorn-hope leader, if he survived. But it must be observed that Mackie was senior lieutenant, and consequently sure of early promotion. The Eighty-eighth was to be in the van at the assault, and the probabilities were that at least one captain would be knocked off. Or, if not that day, it would happen the next. So that Mackie, in volunteering on the most desperate of all services, could have little to actuate him beyond an honourable desire for glory. How was he repaid? Gurwood, who led the forlorn-hope at the lesser breach, got his company; Mackie remained a lieutenant—no captain of the Eighty-eighth having been killed, and General Mackinnon not being alive to fulfil his promise. And whilst all the other officers who had been forward in the attack, had their names recorded in Picton's division-order, poor Mackie was denied even the word of barren praise so gratifying to a soldier's heart.

The loss of Ciudad Rodrigo was a stunning blow to the French. They could not understand it at all. Herrasti and his Spaniards had held out the place a month against Ney and Massena, with thirty or forty thousand veterans, and that in fine weather, a great advantage to the besiegers—in eleven days, and in the depth of winter, Wellington reduced it, with twenty thousand men and opposed by a French garrison. The contrast was great, and quite inexplicable to the French. "On the 16th," wrote Marmont to Berthier, "the English batteries opened their fire at a great distance. On the 19th the place was taken by storm, and fell into the power of the enemy. There is something so incomprehensible in this event, that I allow myself no observation. I am not provided with the requisite information." No testimony could be more complimentary to the brave captors of Rodrigo. That great success, however, was only a forerunner of greater ones. Badajoz was the next place to be taken, preparatory to marching into the interior of Spain. To conceal his intentions from the enemy, Wellington had recourse to an elaborate stratagem. A powerful battering train, supplied by the men of war in the Tagus, was shipped at Lisbon, on board vessels of large size, which put out to sea, and, when out of sight of land, transhipped their cargo into smaller craft. These carried them up the Tagus into the heart of the country. At the same time the necessary magazines were formed; and at Elvas, only three leagues from Badajoz, a large quantity of fascines and gabions were prepared. All this, however, was done so quietly, Wellington appeared so supine, and Badajoz was so well provided, that Soult was lulled into security; and when at last he took the alarm, and marched from Seville at the head of twenty-five thousand men, it was too late. Philippon, and his brave garrison, did all that skill and courage could; but in vain. When Soult reached Villafranca, two days' march from Badajoz, the fortress had already been two days in the power of the English. This, to the French, was another unaccountable business; they, even yet, had not learned fully to appreciate the sovereign virtues of British bayonets. "I think the capture of Badajoz a very extraordinary event," Lery, Soult's chief engineer, wrote to General Kellerman, "and I am much at a loss to account for it in a clear and distinct manner." This comes at the end of a mysterious sort of epistle, in which the engineer general talks of fatality, and seems to think that the British had no right to take Badajoz, defended as it was. But Wellington and his army were great despisers of that sort of right, and, in spite of the really glorious defence, in spite of the strategy of the governor and the valour of the garrison, of chevaux de frise of sword-blades, and of the deadly accuracy of the French artillery and musketeers, Badajoz was taken. The triumph was fearfully costly. Nearly four thousand five hundred men fell on the side of the besiegers;—Picton's division was reduced to a skeleton,[Pg 469] and the Connaught Rangers lost more than half their numbers.

Shot through the body at Badajoz, Mr Grattan was left there when his division marched away. He gives a terrible account of the sacking of the town; but on such details, even had they not been many times recapitulated, it is not pleasant to dwell. The frightful crimes perpetrated during those two days of unbridled excess and violence, rest at the door of the man whose boundless ambition occasioned that most desolating war. From an ignorant and sensual soldiery, excited to madness by a prolonged resistance, and by one of the most sanguinary conflicts recorded in the history of sieges, forbearance could hardly be expected. The horrible saturnalia, in which murder and rape, pillage and intoxication, are pushed to their utmost limits, are the necessary condition of a successful assault on a desperately defended fortress; and supposing them prohibited, and that such prohibition could be enforced, we agree with Mr Grattan in believing that many a town that has been victoriously carried, might have been found impregnable. But one must ever deplore the disgraceful scenes enacted in the streets and houses of Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, and St Sebastian. Unsurpassed in atrocity, they remain everlasting blots upon the bright laurels gathered by the British in the Peninsula. And it is small palliation, that under similar circumstances, the armies of all nations have acted in like manner. Here the sufferers were not enemies. To the garrison, when their resistance ceased, quarter was given; they were marched away scatheless, and treated with that humanity which England, notwithstanding the lying assertions of foreign historians, has ever used towards her prisoners. No, the victims were friends and allies. The very nation in whose behalf our soldiers had fought, saw their houses ransacked, their property wasted, their wives and daughters brutally outraged, by those whose mission was to protect and defend. Let us hope they have forgotten, or at least forgiven, such gloomy episodes in the struggle for their liberation.

The advocates of universal peace might adduce many potent and practical arguments in favour of their doctrine from the pages of Mr Grattan's book. He is unsparing in his details of the inevitable horrors of war; and some of his descriptions, persons of tender hearts and sensitive nerves will do well to pass over. They may be read with profit by those who, accustomed to behold but the sunny side of military life, think too lightly of the miseries war entails. Let such accompany Mr Grattan though the streets of Badajoz, on the morning of the 7th April, 1812, and into the temporary hospital of Villa Formosa, after the fierce conflict of Fuentes d'Onore, where two hundred soldiers still awaited, twenty-four hours after the action, the surgeons' leisure, for the amputation of their limbs. Let them view with him the piles of unsuccoured wounded on the breach of Badajoz, and hear the shrieks and groans of men dying in helpless agony, without a friendly hand to prop their head, or a drop of water to cool their fevered lips. From such harrowing scenes it is pleasant to turn to the more humane and redeeming features of civilised warfare, and to note the courteous and amicable relations that existed between the contending armies when, as sometimes happened, they lay near together without coming to blows. This occurred previously to the battle of Salamanca. From the 3d to the 12th of July, the French and British were in presence of each other, encamped on either side the Douro, at that season little more than a rivulet. Of course all were on the alert; there was no laxity or negligence that could tempt to surprise; but neither was there any useless skirmishing or picket firing; every thing was conducted in the most gentlemanly and correct manner. The soldiers bathed together and exchanged their rations, and the officers were on equally good terms. "The part of the river of which I speak was occupied, on our side, by the Third division; on the French side by the Seventh division. The French officers said to us at parting, 'We have met, and have been for some time friends. We are about to separate, and may meet as enemies. As friends we received[Pg 470] each other warmly; as enemies we shall do the same.' Ten days afterwards the British Third and the French Seventh division were opposed to each other at Salamanca, and the Seventh French was destroyed by the British Third." Mr Grattan's wound was healed in ample time for him to assist at the battle of Salamanca; a glorious victory, which would have been even more complete had the British been properly seconded by their Portuguese allies. The behaviour of these was any thing but creditable to their nation. One detachment of caçadores actually threw themselves on their faces to avoid the enemy's fire, and not all the blows showered on them by their commander, Major Haddock, could induce them to exchange their recumbent attitude for one more dignified. Notwithstanding this, and the more fatal feebleness of Pack's brigade, the French were totally beaten, and their loss was nearly four times that of the British. Lord Wellington's opinion of the battle—a particularly honourable one to our troops, inasmuch as they not only fought better, but (which was not always the case) moved and manœuvred better, than the picked veterans of the French army—is sufficiently shown by the fact that "he selected it in preference to all his other victories, as the most fitting to be fought over in sham-fight on the plains of St Denis, in the presence of the three crowned heads who occupied Paris after the second abdication of the Emperor Napoleon, in 1815."

At Salamanca, the right brigade of the Third division, including the Connaught Rangers, charged the entire division of the French General Thomière. So awful was the volley that welcomed them, that more than half the officers, and nearly the whole front rank, were swept away. Doubtless the French thought this would prove a sickener, for great was their consternation when, before the smoke had well cleared away, they saw the shattered but dauntless brigade advancing fiercely and steadily upon them. Panic-stricken, they wavered; "the three regiments ran onward, and the mighty phalanx, which a moment before was so formidable, loosened and fell in pieces before fifteen hundred invincible British soldiers fighting in a line of only two deep." In this memorable charge, the standard-pole of the Eighty-eighth was struck by a bullet, the same that killed Major Murphy, who commanded the battalion. New colours have since been presented to the regiment, but the wounded pole is still preserved, and on it is engraved, on a plate of silver, the day and the manner of its mutilation.

An advance on Madrid was consequent on the triumph at Salamanca, and on the 12th of August, Wellington and his army reached the Spanish capital. Their entrance has often been described, but in default of novelty, Mr Grattan's account of it possesses spirit and interest. It was one of those scenes that repay soldiers for months of fatigue and danger. The troops were almost carried into the city in the arms of the delighted populace. The steady, soldier-like bearing of the men, the appearance of the officers, nearly all mounted, inspired respect and increased the general enthusiasm. For miles from Madrid, the road was thronged; when the army got into the streets, it was no longer possible to preserve the order of march. The ranks were broken by the pressure of the crowd, and the officers (lucky dogs!) were half-smothered in the embraces of the charming Madrileñas. Young and old, ugly and handsome, all came in for their share of hugs and kisses. Still, although patriotism impelled the Spanish fair to look with favour upon the scarlet-coated Britons, the painful confession must be made that as individuals they gave the preference to the lively, light-hearted Frenchmen. Napoleon was the fiend himself, incarnate in the form of an under-sized Corsican, and the gavachos were his imps, whom it was praise-worthy to shoot at from behind every hedge, and to poniard whenever the opportunity offered. Such was the creed inculcated by the priests, and devoutly entertained by their petticoated penitents—that is to say, by every Christian woman in the Peninsula. But somehow or other, when French regiments were quartered in Spanish towns, the female part of the population forgot the anathemas of[Pg 471] their spiritual consolers, and looked complacently upon those they were enjoined to abhor. It was a case of "nos amis les ennemis," and the French, beaten every where in the field, obtained facile and frequent triumphs in the boudoir. "It is a singular fact, and I look upon it as a degrading one," says Mr Grattan with diverting seriousness, "that the French officers, whilst at Madrid, made in the ratio of five to one more conquests than we did." The dignity of the admission might be questioned; the degree of degradation is matter of opinion; the singularity is explained away by Mr Grattan himself. He blames his comrades for their stiff, unbending manners, and for their non-conformance to the customs of the country. They were nearly three months at Madrid, and yet he declares that, at the end of that time, they knew little more of the inhabitants than of the citizens of Pekin. And he opines that the impression left in Spain by the Peninsular army was rather one of respect for their courage, than of admiration of their social graces and general affability. If Mr Grattan, whilst reposing at ease upon his well-earned bays, would devise and promulgate an antidote to the mixture of shyness, reserve, and hauteur, which renders Englishmen, wherever they travel, the least popular of the European family, he would have a claim on his country's gratitude stronger even than the one he established whilst defending her with his sword in the well-contested fields of the Peninsula. Notwithstanding, however, the unamiability with which he reproaches his companions in arms, there was much fun and feasting, and sauntering in the Prado, and bull-fighting and theatre-going, whilst the British were at Madrid. But it was too pleasant to last long. The best a soldier can expect in war-time, is an alternation of good quarters and severe hardship. The "quart-d'heure de Rabelais" was at hand, when all the dancing, drinking, masking, and other pleasant things should be paid for, and the brief enjoyment forgotten, amidst the sufferings of the most painful retreat—excepting, of course, that of Corunna—effected by a British army during the whole war. We refer to the retrograde movement that followed the unsuccessful siege of Burgos.

The high reputation of the British soldier rests far more upon his arms than upon his legs; in other words, he is a fighting rather than a marching man. Slowness of movement, in the field as on the route, is the fault that has most frequently been imputed to him. One thing is pretty generally admitted; that, to work well, he must be well fed. And even then he will hardly get over the ground as rapidly, or endure fatigue as long, as the lean lathy Frenchman, who has never known the liberal rations and fat diet the other is accustomed to. When a certain period of active service and long marches has given the English soldier his campaigning legs, he must still have his regular grog, or he soon flags, if he does not grumble and become insubordinate. Rations were bad, and hard to be got, on the retreat from Burgos. Then, Mr Grattan tells us, the superior marching qualities of the Irish were manifest. There had been very little beef-steak and bacon expended in their bringing up; scanty fare was nothing new to them, and by no means affected their gaiety and good-humour. And when shoes were scarce, what cared they? The stones in Connaught are not a bit softer than those in Spain; and nine-tenths of the boys had trotted about, from infancy upwards, with "divel a brogue, save the one on their tongues." Some of the English regiments—the Forty-fifth for instance, chiefly composed of Nottingham weavers—would, under ordinary circumstances, march as well as any Irishman of them all: "But if it came to a hard tug, and that we had neither rations nor shoes, then, indeed, the Connaught Rangers would be in their element, and out-march almost any battalion in the service." On the retreat from Burgos to Portugal, they gave proof of their toughness and endurance; for whilst other regiments were decimated by fatigue and sickness, the Eighty-eighth scarcely lost a man, except by the enemy's fire. It was a time when the good qualities of all were severely tested. The movement began in a most unfavourable season. The roads were nearly impassable from heavy rains, and for days together there was not a dry jacket in the army. At night[Pg 472] they lay in the open country, often in a swamp, without a tent to shelter them; the baggage was detached, and they never saw it till they reached Ciudad Rodrigo. It was share and share alike amongst men and officers, and many of the latter were mere striplings, who had but lately left the comforts of their English homes. When they halted from their weary day's march, the ill-conditioned beasts collected for rations had to be slaughtered; sometimes they came too late to be of any use, or the camp-kettles did not arrive in time to cook them; and the famished soldiers had to set out again, with a few pieces of dry biscuit rattling in their neglected stomachs, and driven to satisfy the cravings of hunger with the acorns that strewed the forests. There was little money afloat, for pay was four months in arrear, but millions would have been useless where there was nothing to buy. The country was deserted; every where the inhabitants fled on the approach of the two armies. Disease was the natural consequence of so many privations; ague and dysentery undermined the men's strength, and many poor fellows, unable to proceed, were left upon the road. Horses died by hundreds, and those which held out were for the most part sore-backed, one of the greatest calamities that can happen to cavalry and artillery on the march. Fortunately Soult, who, with ninety thousand men, followed the harassed army, had some experience of British troops. And what he had seen of them, especially at Albuera and on the Corunna retreat, had inspired him with a salutary respect for their prowess. They might retreat, but he knew what they could and would do when driven to stand at bay. And therefore, although Wellington was by no means averse to fight, and actually offered his antagonist battle on the very ground where, four months previously, that of Salamanca had occurred, the wary Duke of Dalmatia declined the contest. He played a safe game: without risking a defeat by a general action, or attempting to drive the British before him with the bayonet, he hovered about their rear, disquieted them by a flank movement of part of his force, and had the satisfaction of knowing that their loss by the casualties and fatigues of the march and inclemency of the weather, was as great as it would probably have been had he engaged them. For, besides those who perished on the road, when the army got into winter quarters, a vast number of men and officers went into hospital, and months elapsed before the troops were fully reorganised and fit for the field. At a day's march from Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington's rear-guard had a smart skirmish, and then Soult desisted from his pursuit, and the Anglo-Portuguese were allowed to proceed without further molestation. Although disastrous, and in some respects ill managed, the retreat was in no way disgraceful. The French, very superior in numbers, had, whenever they pressed forward, been bravely met, and invariably repulsed.

With this retreat, Mr Grattan's Peninsular campaigns closed. He returned to Ireland, and in the summer of 1814, embarked for Canada. He rather refers to, than records the service he saw there; taking occasion, however, for a strong censure on Sir George Prevost, who, after forcing our ill-appointed fleet on Lake Champlain into action, refused to allow Brisbane and his brigade of "Peninsulars" to take the fort of Platsburgh, an enterprise easy of achievement, and which would have placed the captured ships, and the victorious but disabled American flotilla, at the mercy of the British. But we have not space to follow the Ranger across the Atlantic, nor is it essential so to do; for, although he gives some amusing sketches of Canada and the Canadians, the earlier portion of his book is by far the most interesting, and certainly the most carefully written. We could almost quarrel with him for defacing his second volume with perpetual and not very successful attempts at wit. We have rarely met with more outrageous specimens of punning run mad, than are to be found in its pages. Barring that fault, we have nothing but what is favourable to say of the book. Its tone is manly, and soldier-like, and it is creditable both to the writer and to the service, by which, during the last thirty years, our stores of military and historical literature have been so largely and agreeably increased.


[3] Adventures of the Connaught Rangers, from 1808 to 1814. By W. Grattan, Esq. London. 1847.

[Pg 473]


To read a memoir of the late Lord Sidmouth, is like taking a walk through Westminster Abbey. All the literature, is inscriptions; all the figures are monumental; and all the names are those of men whose characters and distinctions have been echoing in our ears since we had the power to understand national renown. The period between 1798, when the subject of this memoir made his first step in parliamentary life as Speaker, and 1815, when the close of the war so triumphantly finished the long struggle between liberty and jacobinism, was beyond all comparison the most memorable portion of British history.

In this estimate, we fully acknowledge the imperishable fame of Marlborough in the field, and the high ability of Bolingbroke in the senate. The gallantry of Wolfe still throws its lustre over the concluding years of the second George; and the brilliant declamation of Chatham will exact the tribute due to daring thought, and classic language, so long as oratory is honoured among men. But the age which followed was an age of realities, stern, stirring, and fearful. There was scarcely a trial of national fortitude, or national Vigour, through which the sinews of England were not then forced to give proof of their highest power of endurance. All was a struggle of the elements; in which every shroud and tackle of the royal ship of England was strained; and the tempest lasted through nearly a quarter of a century. England, the defender of all, was the sufferer for all. Every principle of her financial prosperity, every material of her military prowess, every branch of her constitutional system, every capacity of her political existence, her Church, her State, and her Legislature, were successively compelled into the most perilous yet most powerful display; and the close of the most furious hostility which Europe had ever seen, only exhibited in a loftier point of view the victorious strength which principle confers upon a people.

Compared with this tremendous scene, the political conflicts of the preceding age were a battle on the stage, compared with the terrors of the field. The spectators came to enjoy a Spectacle, and sit tranquilly admiring the brilliancy of the caparisons and the dexterity of the charge; but perfectly convinced that all would end without harm to the champions, and that the fall of the curtain would extinguish the war. But, in the trials of the later time, there were moments when we seemed to be throwing our last stake; when the trumpets of Europe, leagued against us, seemed to be less challenging us to the field, than preceding us to the tomb; and when the last hope of the wise and good might be, to give the last manifestation of a life of patriotic virtue.

In language like this, we are not abasing the national courage. We are paying the fullest homage to the substantial claims of the English heart. It is only by the severest national struggles that the superiority of national powers can be developed; and without doubting the qualities of the Marlboroughs and Chathams—or even without doubting, that if thrown into the battle of the last fifty years, they would have exhibited the same intellectual stature and powerful adroitness which distinguished their actual displays—yet they wanted the strong necessities of a time like ours, to place them on a similar height of renown. Still their time continues in admirable study. But it is like the story of the Volscian and Samnite combats, read in the day when the consul, flying through the streets of Rome, brought the news of Cannæ.

The wars and politics of the eighteenth century were the manœuvres of a garde du corps, and the intrigues of a boudoir. Our fathers saw no nation[Pg 474] of thirty millions rushing to the field; frantic with the passion for overthrow, no Napoleon thundering at the head of vassal Europe against England; no conspiracy of peoples against thrones; no train of crouching sovereignties, half in terror and half in servility, ready to do the wildest will of the wildest despot of the world; no army of five hundred thousand men ready to spring upon our shores, and turning off only to the overthrow of empires. All was on a smaller scale; the passions feebler, the means narrower, the objects more trivial, the triumphs more temporary, the catastrophe more powerless, and the glory more vanishing.

All has since subsided; and the mind of man is turned to efforts in directions totally new. All now is the rigid struggle with the physical difficulties of society. The grand problems are, how to level the mountain, and to drain the sea: or, if we must leave the Alps to be still the throne of the thunder, and suffer even the Zuyder-zee to roll its sullen waves over its incorrigible shallows; yet to tunnel the mountain and pass the sea with a rapidity, which makes us regardless of the interposition of obstacles that once stopped the march of armies, and made the impregnable fortresses of kingdoms. But the still severer trials of human intelligence are, how to clothe, feed, educate, and discipline the millions which every passing year pours into the world. The mind may well be bewildered with a prospect so vast, so vivid, and yet so perplexing. Every man sees that old things are done away, that physical force is resuming its primitive power over the world, and that we are approaching a time when Mechanism will have the control of nature, and Multitude the command of society.

There are many families in England which, without any change of circumstances, without any increase of fortune, or any discoverable vicissitudes, have existed for centuries, in possession of the same property, generally a small one, and handed down from father to son as if by a law of nature. The family of Lord Sidmouth is found to have held the proprietorship of the small estate of Fringford, in Oxfordshire, from the year 1600, and to have had a residence in Bannebury about a century and a half before;—the first descendant of this quiet race who became known beyond the churchyard where "his village fathers sleep," being Dr Addington, who died in 1799. Genealogies like those give a striking view of the general security of landed possession, which the habits of national integrity, and the influence of law, must alone have effected, during the turbulent times which so often changed the succession to the throne of England.

Dr Addington, who had been educated at Winchester school, and Trinity College, Oxford, having adopted medicine as his profession, commenced his practice at Reading, where he married the daughter of the Rev. Dr Niley, head-master of the grammar-school. The well-known trial of the wretched parricide, Miss Blandy, for poisoning, in which he was a principal witness, brought him into considerable notice; and probably on the strength of this notice, he removed to London, and took a house in Bedford Row, where the late Lord Sidmouth, his fourth child, but eldest son, was born. He next removed to Clifford Street, a more fashionable quarter, which brought him into intercourse with many persons of distinction. Among these were Louth, Bishop of London, the Duke of Montagu, Earl Rivers, and, first of the first, the great Earl of Chatham. With this distinguished man, Dr Addington seems to have been on terms of familiar friendship, as the following extracts show:—Chatham writes from Burton Pynsent, in 1771.

"All your friends here, the flock of your care, are truly sensible of the kind attentions of the good shepherd. My last fit of the gout left me as it had visited me, very kindly. I am many hours every day in the field, and, as I live like a farmer abroad, I return home and eat like one. * *

"Ale goes on admirably, and agrees perfectly. My reverence for it, too, is increased, having just read in the manners of our remotest Celtic ancestors much of its antiquity and invigorating qualities. The boys all long[Pg 475] for ale, seeing papa drink it, but we do not try such an experiment. Such is the force of example, that I find I must watch myself in all I do, for fear of misleading. If your friend William saw me smoke, he would certainly call for a pipe."

Lord Chatham died May 11th, 1788, which event was thus notified by Dr Addington to his son Henry.

"You will be grieved to hear that Lord Chatham is no more. It pleased Providence to take him away this morning, as if it were in mercy that he might not be a spectator of the total ruin of a country which he was not permitted to save."

The doctor was a croaker, as was the fashion of the time, with all who pretended to peculiar political sagacity. Of course the family physician of the ex-minister was in duty bound to echo the ex-minister's discontent. It is clear that, whatever professional gifts the doctor inherited from Apollo, he did not share the gift of prophecy. The doctor, after realising enough by his profession to purchase an estate in Devonshire, retired to Reading, where, in 1790, he died, having had, in the year before, the enviable gratification of seeing his son elected to the Speakership of the House of Commons.

Henry Viscount Sidmouth was born in 1757, on the 30th of May. At the age of five years, he was placed under the care of the Rev. William Gilpin, author of the Essays on the Picturesque, who for many years kept a school at Cheam, in Surrey.

Lord Sidmouth had but one brother, Hiley, who subsequently figured so often in the caustic rhymes of Canning, and who, under his brother's auspices, was successively secretary of the treasury, paymaster of the forces, and under-secretary of state. In his twelfth year, Henry, followed by Hiley, was sent to Winchester, then under the government of the well-known Dr Joseph Wharton, with George Isaac Huntingford as one of the assistants.

The author of the biography gives Huntingford credit for the singular degree of attachment exhibited in his occasional letters to his pupil. It certainly seems singular; when we know the slenderness, if not sternness of the connexion generally subsisting between the teachers at a great English seminary, and the pupils. In one of those epistles Huntingford says to this boy of fifteen.

"For my own part, to you I lay open my whole heart without reserve. I divest myself of the little superiority which age may have given me. With you I can enter into conversation with all the familiarity of an intimate companion. The few hours of intercourse which we thus enjoy with each other give more relief to my wearied body and mind than any other amusement on earth. What I am to do when you leave school, a melancholy thought, I cannot foresee. May the evil hour be postponed as late as possible. Yet let me add, whenever it shall be most for your advantage to leave me, I will not doubt to sacrifice my own peace and comfort for your interest. I love myself, but you better."

We hope that this style is not much in fashion in our public schools. Dean Pellew tells us that numerous letters of this kind were written by this tutor to his pupil in after life, and adds with a ludicrous solemnity, "It will readily be imagined how efficacious they must have proved, in forming the character of the future statesman, and erecting Spartan and Roman virtues on the noble foundation of Christianity."

For our part, we know not what to make of such communications: they seem to us intolerably silly, and we think ought not to have been published. In later life, their writer was made Bishop of Hereford and Warden of Winchester. He seems to have been a fellow of foresight!

In 1773, Henry and Hiley were both removed from Winchester, and put under the tuition of Dr Goodenough, who took private pupils at Ealing, and who was afterwards Bishop of Carlisle. In the next year, Henry entered as commoner in Brazen-Nose College under the tuition of Radcliffe, then a tutor of some celebrity. In this college he became acquainted with Abbot, afterwards Lord Colchester, and William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell. He took his degree in 1778, and in this year had the misfortune to lose his mother, who seems to have been an amiable and sensible person. In the next year, he obtained the[Pg 476] Chancellor's prize for an English essay on "the affinity between painting and writing in point of composition;" and at the recital of this essay in the theatre he first became acquainted with Lord Mornington, afterwards Marquis Wellesley, an intimacy which lasted for sixty-two years. He now adopted law as his profession, took chambers in Paper Buildings, and kept his terms regularly at Lincoln's Inn. In 1781, he married Ursula Mary, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Leonard Hammond, Esq. of Cheam, in Surrey, and took a house in Southampton Street, Bloomsbury, where he determined to follow the profession of the law. But this determination was speedily over-ruled by the success of the celebrated son of Chatham. On the 26th of February, 1781, William Pitt, then only in his twenty-second year, made his first speech in the House of Commons, in support of Burke's bill for the regulation of the civil list. This epoch in parliamentary annals is noticed in a brief letter from Dr Goodenough to Pitt's early tutor, Wilson, who sent it to Mr Addington, among whose papers it was found:—

"Dear Sir,—I cannot resist the natural impulse of giving pleasure, by telling you that the famous William Pitt, who made so capital a figure in the last reign, is happily restored to his country. He made his first public re-appearance in the senate last night. All the old members recognised him instantly, and most of the young ones said he appeared the very man they had so often heard described: the language, the manner, the gesture, the action were the same; and there wanted only a few wrinkles in the face, and some marks of age, to identify the absolute person of the late Earl of Chatham."

Addington, at this period, had a good deal of intercourse with Pitt, who became Chancellor of the Exchequer at the age of twenty-three, and whose brilliant success in parliament evidently stimulated his friend to political pursuits. But the infamous coalition broke in, and Pitt was dismissed from the ministry. Its existence, however, was brief: it not merely fell, but was crushed amidst a universal uproar of national scorn; and Pitt, not yet twenty-five, was appointed prime minister. In the course of the month, an interview took place between Pitt and Addington, which gave his friends strong hopes of seeing him in immediate office. His friend Bragge thus writes to him:

"I give you joy of the effects of the interview of last Sunday, of which I am impatient to hear the particulars. Secretary, either official or confidential, I should wish you, and indeed all the boards are already filled."

Still, he remained unappointed, though his intimacy with the minister grew more confidential from day to day. Pitt was at this time engaged in a desperate struggle with the Opposition, who, ruined as they were in character, yet retained an overwhelming majority in parliament. On this occasion, the young statesman gave perhaps the most triumphant evidence of his remarkable sagacity. Every one was astonished, that he had not at once dissolved a parliament which it seemed impossible for him either to convince or conquer. But, with the House of Lords strongly disposed towards him, and the King for his firm friend, Pitt fought the House night after night, until he found the national feeling wholly on his side. Then, on the 25th of March, 1784, he dissolved the parliament, and by that act extinguished the whole power of Whiggism for twenty years. There never was a defeat more ruinous; more than a hundred and sixty members, who had generally been of the Foxite party, were driven ignominiously from their seats, and the party was thenceforth condemned to linger in an opposition equally bitter, fruitless, and unpopular. In the new parliament, Addington was returned for the borough of Devizes in place of Sutton, his brother-in-law, who, being advanced in life, made over his interest to his young relative. On this occasion, he received a letter from his old master, Joseph Wharton:—

"I cannot possibly forbear expressing to you the sincere pleasure I feel, in giving you joy of being elected into a parliament that I hope and trust will save this country from destruction, by crushing the most shameful and the most pernicious coalition[Pg 477] that I think ever disgraced the annals of any kingdom, ancient or modern. I am, dear sir, with true regard, yours, &c.—Joseph Wharton."

There are few more remarkable instances of contrasted character and circumstance than Addington's ultimate rise to power. The anecdote is mentioned, that on one occasion, when they were riding together to Holl Wood, then Mr Pitt's seat near Bromley in Kent, that on Pitt's urging him to follow up politics with vigour, and the latter alleging in excuse the distaste and disqualification for public life created by early habits and natural disposition, Pitt burst forth in the following quotation from Waller:—

"The lark that shuns on lofty boughs to build
Her humble nest, lies silent in the field:
But should the promise of a brighter day,
Aurora smiling, bid her rise and play;
Quickly she'll show 'twas not for want of voice,
Or power to climb, she made so low a choice:
Singing she mounts, her airy notes are stretch'd
Towards heav'n, as if from heav'n alone her notes she fetch'd."

With these words, he set spurs to his horse, and left his companion to ponder on the moral of the poetry.

But neither poetry nor prose could inspire Addington's mind with the ardour of his glowing friend. Parliament was indeed open to him, but the true gate to parliamentary distinction would never have been opened by his own hand. There are two kinds of speaking, and but two, which ever make distinguished way in the House. The first is, that superior order which alone deserves the name of eloquence, and which must carry distinction with it wherever men are gathered together. The next is, that adroit and practical style of speaking by which the details of public business are carried forward; a style which requires briskness of capacity, united to extent of information, and in which the briskness must not be suffered to become flippant, and the detail to become dull. We are perfectly confident, that, beyond those two classes, no speaker can ever expect to retain the ear of the House. Our theory, however, is not the favourite one with that crowd, whose diatribes nightly fill the columns of the newspapers; where bitterness is perpetually mistaken for pungency, and petulance for power, dryness for business and commonplace for conviction. But failure is the inevitable consequence; the archer showers his shafts in vain; they are pointed with lead, and they always fall blunt on the ground. Some of the noisiest haranguers of our time utterly "waste their sweetness on the desert air," their hearers drop away with fatal rapidity, and the orator is reminded of his triumph only by the general flight of his auditory. Then comes some favourite of the House: the coffee-room is thinned in its turn; the benches are crowded once more; and some statesmanlike display consoles the House for its lost time. Addington's habits were those of a student, and he brought them with him into parliament. In the House of Commons, there are nearly as many classes of character, as there are in life outside the walls. There are the men made for the operations of public life, bold, active, and with an original sense of superiority. Another class is made for under-secretaries and subordinates, sharp, and ingenious men, the real business-men of the House. Another class, perfectly distinct, is that of the matter-of-fact men, largely recruited from among opulent merchants, bankers sent from country constituencies, and others of that calibre, who are formidable on every question of figures, are terrible on tariffs, and evidently think, that there is no book of wisdom on earth but a ledger. Then come the country gentlemen, generally an excellent and honest race, but to whom a life in London, in the majority of instances, has a strong resemblance to a life in the Millbank Penitentiary; driven into parliament, by what is called a "sense of their position in the country," which generally means the commands of their wives, &c., &c., their sojourn within the circuit of the metropolis is a purgatory. They sicken of the life of lounging through London, where they are nothing, and long to get back to the country where they are "magistrates;" generally too old to dance, the fashionable season has no charms for them: even the clubs[Pg 478] seem to them a sort of condemned cell, where the crowd, guilty of unpardonable idleness, cluster together with no earthly resource but gazing into the street, or poring over a newspaper. If this service is severe enough to shake their philosophy during the sleety showers of February, and the withering blasts of March; the first break of sunshine, and the first streak of blue sky, makes their impatience amount to agony. The rest of the season only renders their suffering more inveterate; until at last the discharge of cannon from the Park, and the sound of trumpets at the doors of the House of Lords, a gracious speech from the throne, and a still more gracious smile from the sitter on it, let them loose from their task, and they are free, facetious, and foxhunters once more. There are still half-a-dozen other classes, "fine by degrees, and beautifully less," which may be left to the imagination of the reader, and the experience of the well-bred world.

Addington soon made himself useful on committees. The strong necessities of the case, much more than the Reform Bill, have remarkably shortened the longevity of election committees. The committee, in general, was fortunate, which could accomplish its business within three months. Some took twice the number, some even crossed over from session to session. The first committee on which Addington was engaged had this unfortunate duration, and he was re-appointed to it in the second session of the parliament of 1785.

At this period, whether from a sense of disappointment, or from the silent dulness of this drudgery, his health appears to have been in a feeble state. In a letter to his father, he apologises for listlessness and stupidity by illness, and says, "that he does not come up to the definition of man as a risible animal." Yet the man who could live to eighty-seven, and retain his health in a retirement of nearly a quarter of a century, could not complain of his constitution.

In 1786 Pitt availed himself of the opening of the session to induce his friend to break ground. He proposed that he should second the address; and almost condescended to coax him into further exertion of his abilities.—"I will not disguise," says his letter, "that, in asking this favour of you, (the speech,) I look beyond the immediate object of the first day's debate; from a persuasion that whatever induces you to take a part in public, will equally contribute to your personal credit, and that of the system to which I have the pleasure of thinking you are so warmly attached. Believe me to be, with great truth and regard, my dear sir, faithfully and sincerely yours,—W. Pitt." Addington complied with a part of the proposal, seconded the Address, and was considered to have performed his task with effect. But the effort went no farther. His ability lay in another direction; and though a clear, well-informed, and influential debater in his more public days, and when the urgency of office compelled the exertion, he left for four years the honours of debate to the multitude of his competitors.

In the course of the memoir, there is a letter of Addington's, speaking of Sheridan's famous speech on the Begum question. Addington voted in the majority against Hastings; but, though he does not exactly say that Sheridan's famous speech was the cause of his vote, he yet joins in the general acclamation.

It has been the habit of late critics to decry the merits of this famous oration, and even to charge it with being frivolous, outrageous, and bombastic, an immense accumulation of calumny and clap-trap, which the craft of Sheridan would not submit to the public ordeal, and which he has therefore left to its chance of a fantastic and visionary fame. But this we find it impossible to believe. That in a speech of five hours and a half, there may have been—nay, there must have been, passages of extravagance, and even errors of taste, is perfectly probable; but they must have been overcome by countless passages of lustre and beauty,—by powerful conceptions and brilliant examples of language; at once resistless and refined,—by living descriptions, and thoughts of daring and dazzling energy, sufficient to have made it one of the most memorable triumphs of senatorial eloquence in the world. How, on any[Pg 479] other supposition, is it possible to account for the effects which we know it to have produced?

Addington's letter, alluding to this subject, says "The papers will convey but a faint idea of a speech, which I heard Fox declare to be the most wonderful effort of the human mind that perhaps had ever been made. Mr Pitt, and indeed the whole House, spoke of it in terms of admiration and astonishment, scarcely inferior to those of Mr Fox."

The papers, indeed, convey a worse than inadequate idea of this wonderful oration, for they give merely a few fragments, in which they have contrived either to select their examples with the most curious infelicity, or to blunder them into bombast. But nothing can be more childish than to suppose, that Pitt would have given his praise to tawdry metaphor, that Burke would have done honour to feeble truisms, that Fox should have been unable to distinguish between logic and looseness of reasoning, or that the whole assembly, who had been in the habit of hearing those pre-eminent orators, should have been tricked by theatric dexterity or charlatan rhetoric into homage. The oration must have been a most magnificent performance, and we have only to deplore the loss of a great work of genius.

Another young phenomenon shot across the parliamentary horizon within the same month. It was the late Earl Grey. A letter of Addington to his father thus describes the debut of this young Liberal.

"Feb. 22, 1787.—We had a glorious debate last night, upon the motion for an address of thanks to the King, for having negotiated the commercial treaty. A new speaker presented himself to the House, and went through his first performance with an éclat that has not been equalled within my recollection. His name is Grey; he is not more than twenty-two years of age, and he took his seat, which is for Northumberland, only in the present session. I do not go too far in declaring, that in the advantages of figure, elocution, voice, and manner, he is not surpassed by any one member of the House; and I grieve to say, that he was last night in the ranks of Opposition, from which there is no prospect of his being detached."

It is curious to see, how easily the exigencies of party mould men, and how readily under that pressure they unsay their maxims, and retract their principles. The object of the commercial treaty was, to put our commerce in some degree on a fair footing with that of France. The object of Mr Grey's rhetoric was, to show that the commercial treaty was altogether a blunder, which, as being a Tory and ministerial performance, it must be in the eyes of a Whig and an oppositionist. But the maxim on which he chiefly relied, was the wisdom of that established system of our policy, in which France had always been regarded with the most suspicious jealousy at least—if not as our natural foe. Of course this Whig maxim lasted just so long as the Whigs were out of office, and could use it as a weapon against the Minister. But, from the moment when France became actually dangerous, when her councils became demoniac, and her factions frenzied, Whiggism, despairing of turning out the Minister by argument, resolved to make the attempt by menace. Hopeless in the House, it appealed to the rabble, and France was extolled to the skies. We then heard nothing of the "natural enmity," but a vast deal of the instinctive friendship. England and France were no longer to be two hostile powers sitting on their respective shores, with flashing eyes and levelled spears, but like a pair of citizen's wives loaded with presents and provisions for each other, and performing their awkward courtesies across the Channel.

It must be acknowledged, however, that the Whig maxim, though a watchword of faction, was no blunder of fact. A commercial treaty with the French in that day, or in any other day before or since, was a dream. To bring the Frenchman to any rational agreement on the subject of trade, or to keep him steady to any agreement whatever, has been a problem, which no British statesman has been able to solve. No commercial treaty, even with all the genius of Pitt, has ever produced to England the value of the paper on which it is written. Whether,[Pg 480] if they were two Englands in the world, they might not establish commercial treaties with each other, may be a question. But we regard it as an absolute waste of time, to think of trading on fair terms with any of the slippery tariffs of foreign countries. In fact, this is now so perfectly understood, that England has nearly given up the notion of commercial treaties. She trades now, where the necessities of the foreigner demand her trade. The foreigner hates John Bull, Just as the Athenian peasant hated Aristides, and for the same reason. He hates him for being honest, manly, and sincere; he hates him for the integrity of his principles, for the purity of his faith, and for the reality of his freedom; he hates him for his prosperity, for his progress, and for his power. And while the Frenchman capers in his fetters, and takes his promenade under the shadow of the fortifications of Paris; while the German talks of constitutions in the moon; and while the Holy Alliance amuses itself with remodelling kingdoms, John Bull may be well content to remain as he is, and leave them to such enjoyment as they can find in sulkiness and sneering.

Grey's brilliant debut appears not to have been sustained: he spoke little during the session, but talked much—a fatal distinction to a parliamentary aspirant. Ambitious of figuring, he attempted to figure on all occasions; and, once or twice, unluckily daring the great champion of the treasury bench to the field, he was driven from it with wounds which, if they did not teach him a sense of his weakness, at least taught him a sense of his danger. Mr Grey's credit, says Addington in a letter, "as a man of discretion and temper, remains to be established. His reputation for abilities has not increased within the last two months, while he has in all respects enhanced that of the person (Pitt) to whom he ventured to oppose himself."

In alluding to the intercourse of Addington with Wilberforce, the biographer, we think very justly, complains of the sillinesses which have transpired in the latter's diary. Addington took higher views on ecclesiastical subjects; and was less rapid in his movements for the abolition of the slave-trade; being of opinion that precipitate measures would only increase the traffic to an enormous extent, deprive England of all power of restraining the frightful atrocities of the middle passage; and, by throwing the whole trade into the hands of foreigners, leave it open to all the reckless abominations of mankind.

The result was, unfortunately, all that rational men anticipated. The trade carried on by the foreigner has been tripled, or even quadrupled; the horrors of the middle passage are without restraint; and the sufferings of the victims, on their march to the coast, by fatigue, want of food, and the cruelty of their treatment, are estimated to destroy nearly twice the number of those who ever cross the Atlantic. The very powers with whom we have already made treaties for the purpose of extinguishing this infernal traffic, are deepest in its commerce; and its extinction now seems hopeless, except through some of those tremendous visitations, by which Providence scourges crimes which have grown too large for the jurisdiction of man.

Lord Sidmouth, then far advanced in life, when he saw those remarks in the diary, naturally felt offended, but he bore the offence with dignity, merely saying, as he closed the volume, "Well, Wilberforce does not speak of me as he spoke to me, I am sorry to say." Of Wilberforce, no one can desire to doubt the general honesty; but that he was singularly trifling and inconstant, was evidently the opinion of his contemporaries in the House. The following anecdote is given from the author's notes on this point. "Lord Sidmouth told us, that one morning, at a cabinet meeting, after an important debate in the House of Commons, some one said, 'I wonder how Wilberforce voted last night:' on which Lord Liverpool observed, 'I do not know how he voted, but of this I am pretty sure, that in whatever way he voted, he repents of his vote this morning.' Lord Sidmouth added, 'It was odd enough, that I had no sooner returned to my office, than Wilberforce was announced, who said,—Lord Sidmouth, you will be[Pg 481] surprised at the vote I gave last night, and, indeed, I am not myself altogether satisfied with it;'—to which I replied, My dear Wilberforce, I shall never be surprised at any vote you give.'"

During this session the abolition of Negro slavery first seriously attracted the notice of parliament. The conduct of it, in the House of Commons, was intrusted to Wilberforce; but, in his absence, in consequence of indisposition, Pitt, on the 9th of May 1798, moved the resolution, "that the House would, early in the next session, proceed to take into consideration the circumstances of the slave trade." In a cause like this, the humane and magnanimous mind of Burke naturally enlisted at once. But he was by no means of that school of humanity which gains the race, only by riding over every thing in its way. Red-hot humanity had no charms for the great philosopher; and, philanthropist as he was, he could discover no wisdom in measures which changed only one violence for another, pauperised the whites without liberating the blacks; and, while it cost twenty millions sterling to repair about third of the injury, left the unhappy African at the mercy of avarice round the circumference of the globe.

A letter from Huntingford says:—"Dr Lawrence, our Winchester acquaintance, called on me lately. He talked much on Mr Burke's ideas respecting the slave-trade. I found by him that Mr Burke foresaw the total ruin of the West-India colonies, if the trade were at once prohibited. He is for a better regulation of the ships which carry on that infamous commerce: he would lay the captains under restrictions, and punish them with rigour for wanton severity or brutal inhumanity to the slaves; and, when the poor creatures are purchased at the West-India islands, he would have them instructed in religion; and be permitted to purchase their own freedom, when by industry they should acquire a sufficient sum for that purpose. For their religious instruction he would erect more churches; and, to enable them in time to accumulate the price of their ransom, he would enact that the property of a slave should be as sacred as that of a freeman." Burke went further than opinions, for he embodied his sentiments in a paper entitled, "Sketch of a Negro Code," all outline of a bill in parliament, which is to be found in the collection of his works.

In August of this year, Addington mentioned that Lord Grenville passed a month with him at Lyme, and that one day visiting Lord Rolle, a party were speculating on the probable successor to the Speaker (Cornwall)—Grenville and Addington giving it as their opinion, that neither of them had any chance. He adds, "within twelve months, we were both Speakers ourselves."

An important and melancholy event, however, threw the cabinet and the country alike into confusion. Early in November, it was ascertained that the King was taken dangerously ill. Three successive notes from Grenville represented the illness as most alarming, and giving room for apprehening of incurable disorder. As Dr Addington was known to have paid particular attention to cases of insanity, Pitt proposed his being summoned to visit the royal patient. In consequence, he visited his Majesty for several days, and on examination with the other physicians before the Privy Council, expressed a strong expectation of the royal recovery, founded on the circumstance that this illness had not, for its forerunner, any of the symptoms which usually precede a serious attack of this nature. The debates on the Regency Bill now brought out all the vigour of the House. The Whigs thundered at the gate of the cabinet; but there was a strong hand within, and it was still kept shut. The Prince of Wales, then under all the captivations of Whig balls and banquets, and worshiping at the feet of Fox, was no sooner to be master of the state by an unlimited Regency Bill, than Fox was to be master of every thing. Pitt still fought the battle with all the cool determination of one determined never to capitulate. Fox became in succession fierce, factious, and half frantic; still his great adversary stood on the vantage ground of law, and was imperturbable. But the contest now began to spread beyond the walls of parliament. The spirit of the nation, always siding[Pg 482] with the brave defence, daily felt an increasing interest in the gallantry with which Pitt almost alone fought the ablest Opposition that had ever been ranged within the walls of Westminster, and inflamed by the sight of power almost within their grasp.

But the announcement of a sudden change in his Majesty's indisposition abated the contest at once. From the 8th to the 20th of February, the progress to health was palpable. On the 19th, the discussions on the Regency Bill were suspended in the House of Lords; and on the 6th of March, the Speaker and several members of the administration were admitted to present their congratulations to the King, at Kew, on his recovery.

We cannot resist the temptation of exhibiting Lord Sidmouth in the unsuspected character of a poet. As several millions of verses were poured out as the offerings of the Muse on the joyful occasion, as Parnassus was rifled by the Universities, and as every village school in the kingdom hung a pen-and-ink garland on the altar of Æsculapius or Hygeia; it was felt to be the bounden duty of every candidate for cabinet honours, to put his desk "in order," and rhyme, to the best of his power. Addington, in consequence, produced the following—


"When sinks the orb of day, a borrow'd light
The moon displays, pale Regent of the night.
Vain are her beams to bid the golden grain
Spread plenty's blessings o'er the smiling plain;
No power has she, except from shore to shore
To bid the ocean's troubled billows roar.
With hungry cries the wolf her coming greets;
Then Rapine stalks triumphant through the streets;
Avarice and Fraud in secret ambush lurk,
And Treason's sons their desperate purpose work.
But, lo! the Sun with orient splendour shines,"——
&c. &c. &c.

We cannot indulge ourselves with any more of this loyal lucubration—we think that the slur at the Regency was not quite fair; we were by no means aware that the moon was so mischievous; and, as our general conclusion, we must admit that, if his lordship did not gain the Laureateship, he amply deserved it. However, better times were at hand. Pitt, like all other eminent men, had a keen insight into character, and he had long known the especial qualities of Addington. This solves the difficulty of accounting at once for his continued personal intercourse, and yet his apparent official neglect. He knew him to be well-informed, intelligent, and honest; although his retiring habits had already given full evidence of his indisposition to face the storms of party.

On Mr Grenville's promotion to the Home department, in 1789, Addington was proposed for the Speaker's chair, and was elected by two hundred and fifteen to one hundred and forty-two, who voted for the Opposition candidate, Sir Gilbert Elliot. In the private correspondence which was so frequent between him and the minister, various suggestions had been thrown out by Pitt of the Irish secretaryship, a seat at the treasury, &c. But the man and the place were now found together, incomparably adapted to each other. The place implies an honourable neutrality, and Addington was true to the trust. It requires the favourable opinion of the House to the man as well as the officer; and Sheridan's first address to him, as the spokesman of the Opposition, was, "we were all very sorry to have voted against you." It required considerable knowledge of general and parliamentary law, and the new Speaker had devoted years to their acquisition. Even the minor merits of a grave and commanding presence were there; for Addington, in his early years, was of as striking[Pg 483] a countenance and figure as in old age he was gentle and amiable.

Characteristic anecdotes are scattered through the volumes: these we think their most attractive portion; and of such Addington's memory was full in his later years. One night, on his crying out, in the usual form, to hush some chattering in the House, "Order, order, or I shall name names!" Charles Fox, then standing beside the chair, told him that Wilkes once asked the Speaker, Onslow, what would be the consequence of his naming names? "Heaven above only knows," was the solemn reply.

One night Fox himself put the same question to Sir Fletcher Norton (the Speaker,) who nonchalantly answered, "Happen! hang me, if I know or care!"

A substantial proof of the general approval was given to the new official, in the addition of £1000 a-year to his salary; thus giving him £6000 a-year—which, besides a house, with some other emoluments on public and private bills, and the sale of certain clerkships connected with the business of the Commons, is generally calculated as equivalent to about £10,000 yearly. For this, however, the Speaker is expected to keep up considerable state, to give occasional banquets during the session to successive parties of the members; to have evening receptions and levées; and, in general, to lead a rather laborious life; the least part of whose labour is in the Speaker's chair. He has also the appointment of a chaplain to the House, which is equivalent to the disposal of valuable church patronage, the chaplain being always provided for, after a few years' attendance, by a request of the House to the crown. To complete this accumulation of good things, the Speaker who exhibits intelligence, is frequently promoted to the higher offices of the cabinet, and generally receives a peerage.

But those were the "piping times of peace;" times of trouble and terror were at hand. The French democracy had already burst on Europe; and every throne was heaving on the surge which it had raised. Pitt alone, of all the great ministers of Europe, seemed to disregard its hazards. Customary as it is for the pamphleteers of later times to assail his memory, as the promoter of hostilities, the chief outcry against Pitt in the year 1790, was his tardiness in thinking that those hostilities could ever force England to take a share in the struggles of the Continent. The whole aristocracy, the whole property, the whole mercantile interest, and even the whole moral feeling of the empire, had become from hour to hour more convinced that a war was inevitable. Even the Opposition, whose office it was to screen the atrocities of every national enemy, and who, for a time, had looked to Jacobinism as an auxiliary in the march to power, had at last shrunk from this horrible alliance—had felt the natural disgust of Englishmen for an association with the undisguised vice and vileness of the Republic, and had at last sunk into silence, if not into shame. Burke had published his immortal "Reflections," and their sound had gone forth like the tolling of a vast funeral bell for the obsequies of European monarchy. Still, nothing could move Pitt. By nature, a financier, and by genius the most magnificent of all financiers, he calculated the force of nations by the depths of their treasuries; and seeing France bankrupt, conceived that she was on the verge of conviction, and waited only to see her sending her humbled Assembly to beg for a general loan, and for a general peace at the same moment.

But those were days made to show the shortsightedness of human sagacity. The lesson was rapidly given; it was proved in European havoc, that utter powerlessness for good was not merely compatible with tremendous power for evil, but was actually the means of accumulating that power; that the more wretched, famishing, and haggard a nation might become at home, the more irresistible it might prove abroad: that, like the madman, it might be fevered and tortured by mental disease, into preternatural strength of frame, and might spring out of the bed where it had lain down to die, with a force which drove before it all the ordinary resistance[Pg 484] of man. Pitt had still to learn, that this was a war of Opinion; and had to learn also, that Opinion was a new material of explosion, against whose agency all former calculation was wholly unprovided, and whose force was made to fling all the old buttresses and battlements of European institutions like dust and embers into the air.

It is not worth the trouble now to inquire, whether Pitt's sagacity equally failed him in estimating the probable effect of the French Revolution on England. His expression at a dinner party, where Addington, Grenville, and Burke formed the guests, "Never mind, Mr Burke, we shall go on as we are until the day of judgment;" shows his feeling of the stability of the constitution. As we have no love for discovering the

"Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise,"

we are gratified by thinking that both were partly in the right: Burke, in regarding the Revolution as destined to sweep the Continent with long and tremendous violence, and Pitt as believing it likely to make but little permanent impression on the habits, the power, or the heart of England. Burke argued from the weakness of the Continental governments; Pitt from the strength of the British constitution: the former having no connexion with the national interests, the latter being formed from those interests, for those interests, and being as much supported by them as a tree by its roots. There was not a portion of that stately tree, from its solid trunk to the highest ornament of its foliage, which was not fed from the ground. The truth was, that the Jacobinisim of England was confined to adventurers, and never obtained any hold on the great body of the proprietors and the people. Its spirit evaporated in tavern harangues, to which the multitude went to listen, as to the chattering and grimaces of a mountebank.

No man of distinction, no man of birth, and no man of property was ever engaged in those coffee-house conspiracies; their Jaffiers and Pierres were cobblers and tinkers, with a sprinkling of petty pamphleteers, and ruined declaimers. When Hardy and Horne Took, were the priests, what must be the worshippers at the Jacobin shrine? But in France, the temple of that idol of confusion was crowded with the chiefs of the Noblesse, the Church, the Law; headed by the Prince of the blood next to the throne; all stimulated by a ferocity of folly unexampled in the history of infatuation, and all unconsciously urged to their ruin by a race of beings inferior in rank, and almost objects of their scorn, yet, rather embodied malignities, and essential mischiefs, than men. France in that fearful time reminded the spectator of Michael Angelo's great picture of the "Last Judgment"—general convulsion above, universal torment below; the mighty of the earth falling, kings, nobles, hierarchs, warriors, plunging down, and met by fiends, at once their tempters, their taunters, and their torturers; a scene of desolation and destiny.

Pitt's sentiment on the safety of England from revolutionary movements was so decided, that if France had not invaded Holland, and thus actually compelled a war, we should probably have had none at this period.

A distinction between the state of France and England not less memorable, if not still more effective, than in property, was religion. In France infidelity was not merely frequent, but was the fashion. No man of any literary name condescended even to the pretence of religion; but in England, infidelity was a stigma; when it began to take a public form, it was only in the vilest quarter; and when it assailed religion, it was instantly put down at once by the pen, by the law, and by the more decisive tribunal of national opinion. Paine, the chief writer of the Satanic faction, was a bankrupt staymaker, and a notorious profligate: his pamphlet had only the effect of making the public protest against its abominations; he was prosecuted, was forced to leave the country, and finally died in beggary in America.

It is remarkable to find so cautious a man as Addington at this period speaking of the Church as "an honest[Pg 485] drone, who, if she did not stir herself very soon, would be stung by the wasps of the conventicle." The metaphor is not good for much, for the drone can sting too, and does nothing but sting. But what is it that, at any time, makes the church ineffective? The abuse of the ministerial patronage. The clergy altogether depend on the guidance, the character, and the activity of their bishops. If ministers regard the mitre as merely a sort of donative for their own private tutors, or the chaplains of their noble friends, or as provision for a relative, dependent, or the brother of a Treasury clerk, they not merely degrade the office, but they paralyse the church. Of the living prelacy we do not speak: but it is impossible to look upon the list of archbishops and bishops (a few excepted) during the last century, without surprise that the inferior clergy have done so much, rather than that they have done so little. Where there was no encouragement for literary exertion, ability naturally relaxed its efforts; where preferment was lavished on heads "that could not teach, and would not learn," disgust extinguished diligence; and where character for intelligence, practical capacity, and public effect, were evidently overlooked in the calculation of professional claims, it is only in the natural course of things that their exercise should be abandoned, in fastidiousness or in contempt, in disgust or in despair. The church was never in a more ineffective condition than at the close of the last century; and if the sin was to be laid at the right threshold, it must have been laid at the door of Whitehall.

Addington certainly deserves the credit of having formed a just estimate of the French Revolution from the beginning. In a letter to his brother he inserts this stanza,—

"France shall perish, write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt."

He, however, fell into the common error of the time, and looked upon her overthrow as certain in the first campaign.

It was on the second reading of the Alien Bill that the dagger scene, of which so much was said at the time, occurred in the House of Commons—thus described by the Speaker: "Burke, after a few preliminary remarks, the house being totally unprepared, fumbled in his bosom, and suddenly drew out the dagger, and threw it on the floor. His extravagant gesture excited a general disposition to smile, by which most men would have been disconcerted; but he suddenly collected himself, and by a few brilliant sentences recalled the seriousness of the house. 'Let us,' said he, 'keep French principles from our heads and French daggers from our hearts; let us preserve all our blandishments in life, and all our consolations in death; all the blessings of time, and all the hopes of eternity.'"

As all partisanship hated Burke, who had trampled it in the mire, this dagger scene was sneered at as a stage trick; but Burke was above all pantomime. The dagger was one which had been sent from France to a Birmingham manufacturer, with an order for a large number of the same pattern: and Burke had received it only on that day—and received it from Sir James Bland Burgess only on his way down to the house—so that there could have been no preparation for public exhibition. It was a natural impulse of the moment, in a time when all was emotion.

The murder of the unfortunate King of France, on the 21st of January 1793, perhaps the most wanton murder in all royal history, instantly brought out a full display of the real feelings of England. The universal sentiment was horror, mingled with indignation; and when the royal message came down to the house on the 28th, stating that, in consequence of the regicide, the king had ordered M. Chauvelin, minister from the late king, to leave the country, as being no longer accredited by the sovereign, the message seemed rather the echo of the national voice than the dictate of the government.

From this period the Whig party diminished day by day. They were chiefly the great landholders of the kingdom, and they saw in this atrocious act a declaration against all[Pg 486] property; but they had also the higher motive of its being a declaration against all government. The chief persons of the Opposition at once crossed the house; but as Horne Tooke, in his apt and short style, described the party on his trial, "We all," said he, "entered the revolutionary coach at Reading; but one got out at Maidenhead, another at Slough, a third at Hounslow, and a fourth at Brentford. It was my misfortune, my lord, as it was also Mr Fox's, to go on to London."

The French now threw off all political form, and all diplomatic decorum, and exhibited the whole savagism of republicanism. On the motion of a ruffian of the name of Garnier, the Convention publicly resolved that "Pitt was an enemy to the human race." The same ruffian then proceeded to move, "that every body had a right to assassinate him." This, however, was not carried; but an order was sent, on the proposal of Robespierre, to the armies, that "no quarter should be given to the English troops;" an order which was not repealed until his death by the guillotine.

Those were stirring times, and in every instance of success in the campaign, Pitt sent an immediate courier to Addington when out of town, of which the Speaker gave the signal to the surrounding country by lighting up his house. On one occasion of this kind, a friend of his, travelling on the coach from Bath, heard the coachman say, "I'm sure there's good news come, for there's the Speaker's house all in a blaze."

In this year Addington was offered the high promotion of Secretary of State, in the room of Dundas. He consulted Huntingford, who strongly advised him against giving up his pleasant, safe, and lucrative office, for the toilsome, hazardous, and unpopular office of the secretary. A letter from the Solicitor-general Mitford, (afterwards Lord Redesdale,) confirmed the opinion. It is justly observed by the biographer, that Mitford, who could be so wise for his friend, was not equally so for himself; for, after having obtained the speakership in his own person, he gave it up to assume the office of Irish Chancellor, a situation of great responsibility, and great labour, in which he was assailed on all sides, and from which, on the first change of the cabinet, he was insultingly recalled.

The war had now become almost wholly naval, and it was a war of successive triumphs. The dominion of Europe seemed about to be divided between England and France: England mistress of the sea—France sweeping every thing before her on the land. The famous battle of the 1st of June extinguished the first revolutionary fleet, seven sail of the line being captured, and the remainder of the fleet escaping with difficulty into the French ports.

The minister was also triumphant at home, and the chief persons of the Whig party were gazetted as taking office under his administration. Earl Fitzwilliam as President of the Council, the Duke of Portland as Secretary of State, Earl Spencer, Privy Seal, the Duke of Gordon, Privy Seal of Scotland, and Windham, Secretary at War.

It had been frequently remarked, that Pitt never sought for coadjutors of any remarkable ability, from confidence in his own extraordinary attainments. As Fox candidly and bitterly concluded one of his speeches in Parliament, saying, "There is one point, and only one on which I entirely agree with the right honourable gentleman, and that is, in the high opinion he entertains of his own talents."

It is certain that those accessions to his cabinet were not likely to excite any jealousy on his part, yet there was one whose absence from the cabinet may have been justly regretted as detracting at once from the strength of the administration, and the glory of the minister. The name of Burke was not found there, though no man had operated so powerfully in producing the change; no man had so amply deserved the distinction; and no man would have thrown so permanent a lustre round the councils in which he shared. There can be no doubt that Burke felt this neglect, and that he was justified in feeling himself defrauded of an honour conferred before his face on men who were not fit to be named in the same breath.[Pg 487]

But he has had his noble revenge. Posterity, of all tribunals the most formidable, yet the most faithful, has done him Justice. While the favourites of fortune have passed away into the forgetfulness for which they were made, his services assume a higher rank in the records of national preservation, and his genius continually fills a prouder place among the intellectual triumphs of mankind.

In 1794 Burke closed his parliamentary career, by retiring from the borough of Malton, for which his son became member. In this year, also, closed the memorable trial of Warren Hastings, which had extended over ten sessions of parliament, (from February 1788 to 5th April 1795)—the actual trial lasting for seven years, two months, and ten days. The legal expenses of the defence amounted to seventy-one thousand and eighty pounds, which the proprietors of East India stock, by a majority of three hundred, on a ballot, paid. What the expenses of the prosecution were, is not told; probably twice the sum.

The whole holds forth an important lesson for the punishment of public delinquency. If, instead of the masquerade of an impeachment before the peers and king, Hastings had been called on to answer before the common law courts, for any one of the hundred acts of personal injury alleged against him, the decision would have been secured as soon as the witnesses could have been brought from Calcutta. Of course the world would have lost a great deal of parliamentary parade and some capital speeches; all the poetic pomp would have been wanting; and the court-dresses would have been left at the tailors. But justice would have been done, which no one now believes to have been done.

The obvious fact is, that the country had grown tired of a trial which seemed likely to last for life. After the first sounding of trumpets, the flourish excited curiosity no more. The topic had been a toy in the great parliamentary nursery, and the children were grown weary of their tinselled and painted doll. Even the horrors—and some of the details had all the terrible atrocity of barbarism with its passions inflamed by impunity—had ceased to startle; the eloquence of the managers had become commonplace by the repetition which had deprived the horrors of their sting. The prosecution was yawned to death.

Perhaps there was not a peer in the seats of Westminster Hall, nor a member of the committee, nor a man in the kingdom, except Burke and Pitt, who would not have forgiven Hastings twice the amount of his offences, to have silenced the subject at once and for ever.

With Burke, the impeachment was a vision, half Roman, half Oriental—the august severity of a Roman senate, combining with the mysterious splendour of the throne of Aurungzebe. He was the Cicero impeaching Verres in the presence of the eighteenth century, or a high-priest of some Indian oracle promulgating the decrees of eternal justice to the eastern world.

With Pitt, the whole event was a fortunate diversion of the enemy, a relief from the restless assaults of a Whig opposition, a perpetual drain on Whig strength, and by a result more effective still, a fruitful source of popular ridicule on the lingering impotence of Whig labours.

On the acquittal of Hastings, Burke wrote several letters to Addington as Speaker, which have a tone of the deepest despondency. He writes in the impassioned anguish of a man to whom the earth exhibited but one aspect of despair. They were letters such as Priam might have indited on the night when his Troy was in a blaze. It was evident that the powerful genius of Burke was partially bewildered by the bent of his feelings. He raised an imaginary sepulchre for England on the spot where he had contemplated the erection of a dungeon for Indian crime through all ages to come.

The Indian directors voted Hastings, an annuity of five thousand pounds, which he enjoyed to a very advanced age: yet his acquittal has not received the seal of posterity. A calmer view has regarded him as the daring agent of acts fitter for the meridian of Hindoo morality than European. To serve the struggling[Pg 488] interests of the Company seems to have been his highest motive, and there can be no doubt that he served them with equal sagacity and success. That he was a vigorous administrator, an enterprising statesman, and a popular governor, is beyond denial; that he was personally unstained by avarice or extortion, is admitted. But history demands higher proofs of principle; and no governor since his time has ever attempted to imitate his example, or ever ventured to excuse his own errors, by alleging the conduct or the acquittal of Hastings.

There are some men, whom no position can render ridiculous, and there are some quite the reverse: of the latter class was Ferguson of Pitfour. Ferguson's notion of the essential quality of a Lord Advocate was tallness. "We Scotch members," said he, "always vote with the Lord Advocate, and we therefore require to see him in a division. Now I can see Mr Pitt, and I can see Mr Addington, but I cannot see the Lord Advocate." His lordship evidently not rising to Ferguson's regulation size of a statesman.

One evening as Ferguson was taking his dinner in the coffee-room, some one ran in, to say, that "Pitt was on his legs." Every one rose to leave the room, except Ferguson. "What!" said they, "won't you go to hear Mr Pitt?" "No," he replied, "Why should I? do you think Mr Pitt would go to hear me?"

At a dinner given by Dundas, at Wimbledon, where Addington, Sheridan, and Erskine were present, the latter was rallied on his not taking so prominent a part in the debates as his fame required. Sheridan said (with a roughness unusual with him,) "I tell you how it happens: Erskine, you are afraid of Pitt, and that's the flabby part of your character."

This piece of candour, however, was probably owing to the claret. But Erskine's comparative taciturnity in the House may be accounted for on more honourable terms. Erskine was no poltroon: he was the boldest speaker at the bar. But the bar was his place, and no man has ever attained perfection in the two styles of oratory. It is true, that distinguished barristers have sometimes been distinguished in the House of Commons, but they have not been of the race of orators; they have been sharp, shrewd, bitter men, ready on vexatious topics, quick in peevish speech, and willing to plunge themselves into subjects whose labour or license is disdained by higher minds. But Erskine was an orator, vivid, high-toned, and sensitive; shrinking from the common-place subjects which common-place men take up as their natural portion; rather indolent, as is common with men of genius; and rather careless of fame in the senate, from his consciousness of the unquestioned fame which he had already won at the bar.

Of Fox some pretty anecdotes are told, substantiating that eminent man's character for courtesy. One day, as Addington was riding by the grounds of St Ann's Hill, he was seen over the palings by Fox, who called out to him to stop, invited him in, and displayed the beauties of his garden, to which he had always devoted a great deal of care. As Addington particularly admired some weeping ash trees, Fox promised him some cuttings. Some months elapsed, when one evening, Fox, after going through a stormy meeting, in Palace-yard, went up to the Speaker in the chair, and said—"I have not forgotten your cuttings, but have brought them up to town with me," giving him directions at the same time for their treatment. In a few minutes after, he was warmly engaged in debate with Pitt and Burke.

Fox's enjoyment of St Ann's Hill was proverbial. On some one's asking General Fitzpatrick, in the midst of one of the hottest periods of the debates on the French war—Where is Fox? the answer was, "I daresay he is at home, sitting on a hay-cock, reading novels, and watching the jays stealing his cherries."

The year 1796 was a formidable year for England. Prussia and Spain had given up her alliance. Belgium and Holland had been taken possession of by the French. Austria was still firm, but her armies were dispirited, her generals had lost their reputation, her statesmen had been baffled, her finances were supported[Pg 489] only by English loans, and France was already by anticipation marking out a campaign under the walls of Vienna. The English Opposition, at once embittered by defeat, and stimulated by a new hope of storming the cabinet, carried on a perpetual assault in the shape of motions for peace. The remnants of Jacobinism in England united their strength with the populace once more; and, taking advantage of the continental defeats, of the general timidity of our allies, and of the apparent hopelessness of all success against an enemy who grew stronger every day, made desperate efforts to reduce the government to the humiliation of a forced treaty of peace.

The necessity for raising eighteen millions, followed by seven millions and a half more, increased the public discontent; and, although the solid strength of England was still untouched, and the real opinion of the country was totally opposed to their rash demands for peace, there can be no question, that the louder voice of the multitude seemed to carry the day. A bad harvest also had increased the public difficulties; and, as if every thing was to be unfortunate at this moment, Admiral Christian's expedition—one of the largest which had ever left an English port, and which was prepared to sweep the French out of the West Indies—sailing in December, encountered such a succession of gales in the chops of the Channel that a great part of this noble armament was lost, and the admiral reached the West Indies with the survivors, only to see them perish by the dreadful maladies of the climate.

But, to complete the general disastrous aspect of affairs, a new phenomenon suddenly blazed over Europe. The year 1796 first saw Napoleon Buonaparte at the head of an army. Passing the Alps on the 9th of April, he fell with such skill and vigour on the Austrian and Italian troops, that in his first campaign he destroyed five successive Austrian armies; broke up the alliances of that cluster of feeble and contemptible sovereignties which had so long disgraced Italy in the eyes of Europe; trampled on their effeminate and debauched population, with the sternness of an executioner rather than the force of a conqueror; and after sending the plunder of their palaces to Paris, in the spirit and with the pomp of the old Roman triumphs, dragged their princes after him to swell his own triumphal progress through Italy.

The war now engrossed every feeling of the nation; and England showed her national spirit in her gallant defiance of the threat of invasion. The whole kingdom was ready to rise in arms on the firing of the first beacon;—men of the highest rank headed their tenantry; men even of those grave and important avocations and offices, which might seem to imply a complete exemption from arms, put themselves at the head of corps in every part of the empire; and England showed her prime minister as Colonel Pitt of the Walmer volunteers, and the speaker of her House of Commons, as Captain Addington of the Woodley cavalry.

But a brilliant change was at hand. In September, Addington received the following note from Pitt, enclosing the bulletin of the battle of the Nile:—

"I have just time to send you the enclosed Bulletin (vive la Marine Anglaise,) and to tell you, that we mean, (out of precaution) the meeting of Parliament for the 6th of November.

"Sir, ever yours, W. P."

The bulletin which gave value to this note, belongs to history, and gives to history one of the noblest events of our naval annals. It exhibits a singular contrast to the present rapidity of communication, that even the "rumour" of Nelson's immortal victory did not reach until fifty-seven days after the event. The Gazette could not be published until the 2d of October.

But the star of Pitt, which had hitherto shone with increasing brightness from year to year, and which had passed through all the clouds of time uneclipsed, was now to wane. The Irish attempt to establish a separate Regency, the Irish Rebellion, and the growing influence of the Popish party, combined with Liberalism in the Irish legislature, had determined Pitt to unite the parliaments of the two kingdoms. For this[Pg 490] purpose, he made overtures to the Popish party, whose influence he most dreaded in the Irish House; and, in a species of "understanding" rather than a distinct compact, he proposed to the Popish body the measure which has been subsequently called "Emancipation," with some general intimation of pensioning their priesthood.

The Union was carried; and Lord Castlereagh, who had conducted it in Ireland, was appointed to bring the Popish proposition forward. It had been a subject of deliberation in the cabinet for nearly six months before they mentioned it to the king. His Majesty virtually pronounced it irreconcilable to his conscience; and, after having received the opinion of Lord Kenyon, the chief-justice, in complete confirmation of his own, he sent for the speaker. Pitt had written, in the meantime, to the king, that he must carry the measure or resign. The king then proposed that Addington should take the conduct of the government. On his entreating to decline the proposal, the king said emphatically "Put your hand upon your heart, and ask yourself where I am to turn for support, if you do not stand by me?" Addington then honourably attempted once more to induce Pitt to be reconciled to the king's desire, who replied, as to Addington's taking the cabinet, "I see nothing but ruin if you hesitate." A letter from the king to Pitt still left an opening for his return, but his answer was still inflexible; and, on the 5th of January, 1801, the correspondence was concluded by the royal announcement that "a new arrangement would be made without delay."

The determination of George III. was personal and purely conscientious. An anecdote is given by General Garth strikingly in accordance with this opinion. The General, who was one of the royal equerries, was riding out with the king one day at this time, when his Majesty said to him, "I have not had any sleep this night, and am very bilious and unwell;" he added, "that it was in consequence of Mr Pitt's applying to him on the subject of Catholic Emancipation."

On his arrival at Kew, he desired Garth to read the Coronation Oath, and then followed the exclamation,—"Where is that power on earth to absolve me from the due observance of every sentence of that oath, particularly the one requiring me to maintain the Protestant religion? Was not my family seated on the throne for that express purpose? And shall I be the first to suffer it to be undermined, perhaps overturned? No. I had rather beg my bread from door to door throughout Europe, than consent to any such measure."

This was the language of an honest man, and it was also the language of a wise one. What has the introduction of Papists into parliament occasioned to England, but political confusion? What benefit has it produced to Ireland? No country in the wildest portion of the earth has exhibited a more lamentable picture of insubordination, dissension, and public misery. The peasantry gradually sinking into the most abject poverty; the gentry living on loans; the laws set at defiance; the demand for rents answered by assassination; a fierce faction existing in the bowels of the land, as if for the express purpose of inflaming every passion of an ignorant people into frenzy, and deepening every visitation of nature into national ruin. At this moment, England is paying for the daily food of two millions of people; employing seven hundred thousand labourers, simply to keep them alive; and burthening the most heavily-taxed industry in the world with millions of pounds more, for the sole object of rescuing Ireland from the last extremities of famine.

We take our leave of this most distressing subject, by the obvious remark, that Pitt and the politicians, in treating popery as a political object, have all alike overlooked the true nature of the question. Popery is a religion, and if that religion be false, no crime can be greater in the sight of Heaven, nor more sure to bring evil on man, than to give it any assistance in its temptations, progress, or power, by any means whatever. To propagate a false religion is to declare war against the Divine will, and in that warfare suffering must follow. But what Protestant can have a doubt upon the subject? England may regard[Pg 491] herself as signally fortunate, if the just penalty of her weakness is already paid.

Mr Addington's Ministry began auspiciously, with the peace of Amiens. The world was weary of war. France had just learned the power of the British army, by the capture of her army in Egypt; she was without a ship on the seas; Napoleon was desirous of consolidating his power, and ascending a throne; and thus, all interests coinciding, peace was proclaimed.

Lord Sidmouth's life from this period was connected with the highest transactions of the state, until 1822, when he retired from office, followed by the universal respect of the country, and bearing with him into his retirement a conscience as void of offence, as perhaps ever belonged to any Minister of England.

Then followed a period, which might have been regarded as, even here, the fitting reward of such a life. Prom 1822 to 1844, he lived in the enjoyment of health, and that honour, and those troops of friends, which are the noblest human evidence of a well-spent existence.

Old age came on him at last, but with singular gentleness. Some of his maxims exhibit the mild philosophy of his temperament. "In youth," said he, "the absence of pleasure is pain, in age the absence of pain is pleasure." He characteristically observed, "At my age, it strikes me very much, what little proportion there is between man's ambition, and the shortness of his life." Of the wars during his time he said, "I used to think all the sufferings of war lost in its glory; I now consider all its glory lost in its sufferings." In allusion to the desponding tone of some public men, he said, "I have always fought under the standard of hope, and I never shall desert it." At another time, he expressed the truth, which only the wise man feels—"It is a very important part of wisdom, to know what to overlook." He repeated a fine expression of George III, of which he acknowledged the full value,—"Give me the man who judges one human being with severity, and every other with indulgence."

His religious feelings were such as might be expected from his well-spent life,—pure, benevolent, and high-toned. Speaking to his family, in his last illness, he said, "Kind, dutiful, affectionate children, all have been to me; and if I am permitted to attain to that happy state to which I aspire, and am permitted to look down, how often shall I be with you, my children!"

On the 3d of February, 1844, he was seized with an attack of influenza, which on the 10th became hopeless; and on the 15th he calmly died, in his 87th year.

We have preferred giving an abstract of the leading portions of this able and amiable man's ministerial career, to following it minutely through his later public years, as the earlier were those which decided the character of the whole: and we have also preferred the tracing the course of the individual, to criticisms on the volumes of his biographer. But the work deserves much approval, for its general intelligence, the clearness of its arrangement, and the fulness of its information. It exercises judgment in the spirit of independence, and, expressing its opinions without severity, exhibits the grave sagacity of a man of sense, the style of a scholar, and the temper of a divine.


[4] The Life and Correspondence of the Right Honourable Henry Addington, First Viscount Sidmouth. By the Honourable George Pellew, D.D., Dean of Norwich. 3 vols. J. Murray.

[Pg 492]


In our last April number—on the appropriate Day of Fools—we laid before our readers a few stray flowers of speech, culled with little labour in that rich garden of oratorical delight—the Congress of the United States. Sweets to the sweet!—We confess that we designed that salutary exposure less for the benefit of our readers and subscribers in the Old World, than of those who are our readers, but not our subscribers, in the New. For, in the absence of an international copyright law, Maga is extensively pirated in the United States, extensively read, and we fear very imperfectly digested. This arrangement appears to us to work badly for all the parties concerned. It robs the British publisher, and impoverishes the native author. As to the American public, if our precepts had exercised any influence upon their practice, they would have learned long ago that ill-gotten goods never prosper, and that they who make booty of other men's wits, are not excepted from the general condemnation of wrong-doers. Some day, perhaps, they will consent to profit by what they prig, and thus, like the fat knight, turn their diseases to commodity—the national disease of appropriation to the commodity of self-knowledge and self-rebuke.

An American journalist, however, has put the matter in quite a new light, so far as we are concerned. Lord Demus, it appears, like other despots, is a hard master, and exacts from his most oppressed slaves a tribute of constant adulation. We, too, are invited to applaud his felonious favours, and assured that the honour and glory of being read by him on his own free and easy terms, is enough for the like of us.

"So long," says the editor of the New York Gazette and Times "as our National Legislature refuses to give the Republic an International Copyright Law, so that American periodicals of a higher class may be supported among us, the English reviews will do the thinking of our people upon a great variety of subjects. They make no money, indeed, directly, by their circulation here; but their conductors cannot but feel the importance, and value the influence of having the whole American literary area to themselves. Blackwood, whose circulation on this side of the Atlantic is, on account of its cheapness, double perhaps that which it can claim in the British islands, is more and more turning its attention to American subjects, which it handles generally with its wonted humorous point, and witty spitefulness."

This is very fine; but we can assure our friendly critic, that we feel no call whatever to undertake the gratuitous direction of the American conscience. Our ambition to "do the thinking" of our Yankee cousins is materially damped by the unpleasant necessity which it involves, of being "done" ourselves. They seem, however, to claim a prescriptive right to the works of the British press, as well as to the funds of the British public. They read our books, on the same principle as they borrow our money, and abuse their benefactors into the bargain with more than Hibernian asperity. After all, however, we believe that the candour of Maga has as much to do with their larcenous admiration of her pages, as the "cheapness" to which our New York editor alludes. To use their own phrase, "they go in for excitement considerable;" and, to be told of their faults, is an excitement which they seldom enjoy at the hands of their own authors. Now, we are accustomed to treat our own public as a rational, but extremely fallible personage, and to think that we best deserve his support, by administering to his failings the language of unpalatable truth. And we greatly mistake the character of Demus, and even of that conceited monster the American Demus,—

αγροικοϛ οργην, κυαμοτρωξ, ακραχολοϛ υποκωφοϛ—
[Pg 493]

if this be not the direction in which the interest, as well as the duty, of the public writer lies. Certain it is, that even in the United States those books circulate most freely, which lash most vigorously the vices of the Republic. Honest Von Raumer's dull encomium fell almost still-born from the press, while the far more superficial pages of Dickens and Trollope were eagerly devoured by a people who are daily given to understand, by their own authors, that they are the greatest, the wisest, the most virtuous nation under the sun. Let a European author be never so well disposed towards them, his partial applause contributes but little to their full-blown complacency. But, when they hear that the Republic has been traduced by a foreign, and especially a British pen, their vanity is piqued, their curiosity excited, and their conscience smitten. Every one denounces the libel in public, and every one admits its truth to himself—"What!" say they, "does the Old World in truth judge us thus harshly? Is it really scandalised by such trifles as the repudiation of our debts, and the enslavement of our fellow creatures? Must we give up our playful duels, and our convenient spittoons, before we can hope to pass muster as Christians and gentlemen beyond our own borders? O free Demus! O wise Demus! O virtuous Demus! Will you betake yourself to cleanly, and well-ordered ways at the bidding of this scribbler?" Thus "they eat, and eke they swear;" vowing all the time that they "will horribly revenge." No doubt, however, the bitter pill of foreign animadversion, though distasteful to the palate, relieves the inflation of their stomachs, and leaves them better and lighter than before. But when will a native Aristophanes arise to purge the effeminacy of the American press, and show up the sausage-venders and Cleons of the Republic in their true light? How long will the richest field of national folly in the world remain unreaped, save by the crotchety sickles of dull moralists and didactic pamphleteers?

Not that moral courage is entirely wanting in the United States; but it is a kind of courage altogether too moral, and sadly deficient in animal spirits. The New Englanders especially, set up, in their solemn way, to admonish the vices of the Republic, and to inoculate them with the virulent virtues of the Puritanical school. The good city of Boston alone teems with transcendental schemes for the total and immediate regeneration of mankind. There we find Peace Societies, and New Moral World Societies, and Teetotal Societies, and Anti-Slavery Societies, all "in full blast," each opposing to its respective bane the most sweeping and exaggerated remedies. The Americans never do things by halves; their vices and their virtues are alike in extremes, and the principles of the second book of the Ethics of Aristotle[5] are altogether unknown to their philosophy. At one moment they are all for "brandy and bitters," at the next, tea and turn-out is the order of the day, Here, you must "liquor or fight"—there, a little wine for the stomach's sake is sternly denied to a fit of colic, or an emergency of gripes. The moral soul of Boston thrills with imaginings of perpetual peace, while St Louis and New Orleans are volcanoes of war. Listen to the voice of New England, and you would think that negro slavery was the only crime of which a nation ever was, or could by possibility be guilty; go to South Carolina, and you are instructed that "the Domestic Institution" is the basis of democratic virtue, the cornerstone of the Republican edifice. Cant, indeed, in one form or other, is the innate vice of the "earnest" Anglo-Saxon mind, on both sides of the Atlantic, and ridicule is the weapon which the gods have appointed for its mitigation. You must lay on the rod with a will, and throw "moral suasion" to the dogs. Above all, your demagogue dreads satire as vermin the avenging thumb—'Any thing but that,' squeaks he, 'an you love me. Liken me to Lucifer, or Caius Gracchus; charge me with ambition, and glorious vices; let me be the evil genius of the commonwealth, the tinsel[Pg 494] villain of the political melodrama; but don't threaten me with the fool's cap, or write me down with Dogberry; above all, don't quote me in cold blood, that the foolish people may see, after the fever heat has subsided, what trash I have palmed upon them in the name of liberty!' Yet this is the way, Jonathan, to deal with demagogues. You make too much of yours, man. You are not the blockhead we take you for after all; but you delight to see your public men in motley, and the rogues will fool you to the top of your bent, till it is your pleasure to put down the show. So now that the piper has to be paid, and a lucid interval appears to be dawning upon you, to the pillory at once with these "stump" orators, and pot-house politicians, who have led you into such silly scrapes; turn them about, and look at them well in the rough, that you may know them again when you see them, and learn to avoid for the future their foolish and mischievous counsels.

It is remarkable that while a perception of the ridiculous, perhaps to excess, is characteristic of the British mind, and is at the bottom of many defects in the national manners, commonly attributed to less venial feelings, our Transatlantic descendants err in just the opposite direction. The Americans seldom laugh at any body, or any thing—never at themselves; and this, next to an unfortunate trick of insolvency, and a preternatural abhorrence of niggers, is perhaps the besetting sin of an otherwise "smart" people. As individuals, their peculiarities are not very marked; in truth there is a marvellous uniformity of bad habits amongst them; but when viewed in their collective capacity, whenever two or three of them are gathered together, shades of Democritus! commend us to a seven-fold pocket-handkerchief. The humours of most nations expend themselves on carnivals and feast-days, at the theatre, the ball-room, or the public garden; but the fun of the United States is to be looked for at public meetings, and philanthropical gatherings, in the halls of lyceums, female academies, and legislative bodies. There they spout, there they swell, and cover themselves with adulation as with a garment. From the inauguration of a President, to the anniversary of the fair graduates of the Slickville female Institute, no event is allowed to pass without a grand palaver, in which things in general are extensively discussed, and their own things in particular extensively praised. They got the trick no doubt from us, whose performances in this line are quite unrivalled in the Old World, but they have added to our platform common-places a variety and "damnable iteration" entirely their own. Besides, when Bull is called upon to make an ass of himself on such occasions, he seems for the most part to have a due appreciation of the fact, while Jonathan's imperturbability and apparent good faith are quite sublime. The things that we have been compelled to hear of that "star-spangled banner!"—and all as if they were spoken in real earnest, and meant to be so understood. We look back upon those side-rending moments with a kind of Lucretian pleasure, and indemnify ourselves for past constraint by a hearty guffaw. All this magniloquence and bad taste, however, is intelligible enough. It springs partly from a want of discipline in their society, and partly from the absence of those studies which purify the taste, enlighten the judgment, and make, even dulness respectable. American audiences are not critical—not merely because they are not learned, but because they all take it in turns to be orators, as they do to be colonels of militia and justices of the peace. Thus they learn to bear each other's burdens, and Dulness is fully justified of her children. In a country where all men, at least in theory, are equal, and where every man does in fact exercise a certain influence on public affairs, it is not surprising that a large number of persons should possess a certain facility of public speaking, which even in England is far from universal, and is elsewhere possessed by very few. No man in the United States is deterred from offering his views upon matters of state, by the feeling that neither his education nor his position justify his interference. It is difficult in England to realise the practical equality which obtains as a fundamental principle in the Republic.[Pg 495] There every man feels himself to be, and in fact is, or at least may be, a potential unit in the community. As a man, he is a citizen—as a citizen, a sovereign, whose caprices are to be humoured, and whose displeasure is to be deprecated. Judge Peddle, for instance, from the backwoods, is not perhaps as eloquent as Webster, nor as subtile as Calhoun, but he has just as good a right to be heard when he goes up to Congress for all that. Is he not accounted an exemplary citizen "and a pretty tall talker" in his own neighbourhood, and where on "the univarsal airth" would you find a more enlightened public opinion? It would never do to put Peddle down; that would be leze-majesté against his constituents, the sovereign people who dwell in Babylon, which is in the county of Lafayette, on the banks of the Chattawichee. Thus endorsed, Peddle soon lays aside his native bashfulness, and makes the walls of Congress vocal to that bewitching eloquence which heretofore captivated the Babylonish mind. He was "raised a leettle too far to the west of sun-down" to be snubbed by Down-easters, any how; he's a cock of the woods, he is; an "etarnal screamer," "and that's a fact"—with a bowie knife under his waistcoat, and a patent revolver in his coat pocket, both very much at the service of any gentleman who may dispute his claims to popular or personal consideration.

To meet the case of these volcanic statesmen,

"Aw'd by no shame, by no respect controll'd,"

and in order that the noble army of dunces (a potent majority, of course) may have no reason to complain that the principles of equality are violated in their persons, the House of Representatives has adopted a regulation, commonly called "the one-hour rule." Upon this principle, whenever a question of great interest comes up, each member is allotted one hour by the Speaker's watch—as much less as he pleases, but no more on any consideration. Of course it occasionally happens that a man who has something to say, is not able to say it effectively within the hour; but then, for one such, there are at least a dozen who would otherwise talk for a week without saying any thing at all. Upon the whole, therefore, this same one-hour rule is deserving of all praise—the time of the country is saved by it, the sufferings of the more sensible members are abbreviated, while the dunces, to do them justice, make the most of their limited opportunities. Who knows, but that the peace of the world may be owing to it? For as there are about 230 representatives, we should have had, but for it, just as many masterly demonstrations of the title of the Republic to the whole of Oregon—and something more. In such a cause, they would make nothing of beginning with the creation of the world, and ending with the last protocol of Mr Buchanan! Decidedly, but for "the one-hour rule" we Britishers should have been "everlastingly used up—and no two ways about it." Poor old Adams actually did begin his Oregon speech with the first chapter of Genesis. The title-deeds of the Republic, he said, were to be found in the words, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth!" Happily, the fatal hammer of the Speaker put down the venerable antediluvian, before he got to the end of the chapter.

In the Senate, on the other hand, which is a less numerous, and somewhat more select body, things still go on in the old-fashioned way. There, when a member has once caught the Speaker's eye, his fortune is made for the day—perhaps for the week. Accordingly, he takes things easy from the very first—kicks his spittoon to a convenient angle, offers a libation of cold water to his parched entrails, and begins. When he leaves off, is another matter altogether—but not generally till he has gone through the round of human knowledge, explored the past, touched lightly upon the present, and cast a piercing glance into the darkness of the future. Soon after three, the Senate adjourns for dinner, and the orator of the day goes to his pudding with the rest, happy in the reflection that he has done his duty by his country, and will do it again on the morrow. We have somewhere read of a paradise of fools. Undoubtedly, Congress is that place. There they enjoy a perfect impunity, and revel in the full gratification of their instincts. Nobody thinks of[Pg 496] coughing them down, or swamping them with ironical cheers. There—

"Dulness, with transport, eyes each lively dunce,
Remembering she herself was Pertness once,
And tinsel'd o'er in robes of varying hues,
With self-applause her wild creation views.
Sees momentary monsters rise and fall,
And with her own fool's colours gilds them all."

Indeed, all the arrangements of Congress favour the influence of the sable goddess. In the first place, the members are paid by the day—eight dollars each. Permit us to observe, Jonathan, that you scarcely display your usual "smartness" here. It would be much better to contract with them by the scrape. As for instance—To involving the country in a war with Mexico, so much—To ditto with Great Britain, so much more. One year you might lay down a lumping sum for a protective tariff, with an understanding, that it was to be repealed the next at a moderate advance. You would thus insure the greatest possible variety of political catastrophes, with the least possible friction and expense. Again, the furniture of the Capitol is altogether too luxurious. Each member is provided with a private desk, stationery ad lib., a stuffed arm-chair, and a particular spittoon. No wonder, then, that your Simmses and Chipmans are listened to with complacency. It's all in the day's work—it's considered in the wages. While these worthies hold forth for the benefit of distant Missouri and Michigan, their colleagues write their letters, read the newspapers, chew tobacco, as little boys do toffy in England, and expectorate at leisure. No one cheers, no one groans, no one cries Oh! Oh!—all the noise that is made is on private account, and not at all personal to the gentleman on his legs. Yet, such is the deceitfulness of the human heart, that the Americans are much given to boast of the dignity and decorum of their Legislature, and to thank God that it is not a bear-garden like another place of the kind that they wot of. We must have been asked at least six times a-day during our visit at Washington, "How Congress compared with the British Parliament?" To which we used to reply, "That they did not compare at all," an answer which fully met the truth of the case, without in the least wounding the self-love of the querist.

When these malignant pages arrive in New York, every inhabitant of that good city will abuse us heartily, except our publisher. But great will be the joy of that furacious individual, as he speculates in secret on the increased demand of his agonised public. Immediately he will put forth an advertisement, notifying the men of "Gotham," that he has on hand a fresh sample of British insolence, and hinting that, although he knows they care nothing about such things, the forthcoming piracy of Maga will be on the most extensive scale. Then, all the little newspapers will take us in hand, and bully us in their little way. It is perhaps a shame to forestall the acerbities of these ingenious gentlemen, but we know they will call us "anonymous scribbler," and "bagman," amongst the rest. They called us "bagman" for our last article, and we were sure they would. The fact is, that since Lord Morpeth's visit to the United States, the Americans have taken a very high tone indeed. Their gratitude to that amiable nobleman for not writing a book about them, is unbounded, and they put him down (why, it is difficult to say) as the aristocratic, and therefore impartial champion of Demus. Whenever we fell into the bilious moods to which our plebeian nature is addicted, we were gravely admonished of his bright example, and assured that to speak evil of the Republic was the infirmity of vulgar minds. There is, it would appear, a sympathy betwixt "great ones;" a kind of free-masonry betwixt the sovereign people and the British peerage, which neither party suspected previously, but which is confessed on the slightest acquaintance.

As generally happens in such cases, the conceit of the Americans takes the most perverse direction. It is certain that they do many things better than any people under the sun. Their merchant navy is the finest in the world—their river steamers are miracles of ingenuity,—at felling timber and packing pork they are unrivalled; and their smartness in the way of trade is acknowledged by those[Pg 497] who know them best. All this, and much more to the same effect, may be admitted without demur, but all these admissions will avail the traveller nothing. He will be expected to congratulate them on the elegance of their manners, the copiousness of their literature, and the refinement of their tastes. He will be confidentially informed that "Lord Morpeth's manners were much improved by mixing with our first circles, sir;" and what is worse, he will be expected to believe it, and to carry himself accordingly. "Ripe scholars" who make awful false quantities, second-rate demagogues passing for "distinguished statesmen," literary empirics, under the name of "men of power," will claim his suffrages at every turn; and in vain will he draw upon his politeness to the utmost, in vain assent, ejaculate, and admire—no amount of positive praise will suffice, till America Felix is admitted to be the chosen home of every grace and every muse. "Did Mr Bull meet with any of our literary characters at Boston?" Mr Bull had that happiness. "Well, he was very much pleased of course?" Bull hastens to lay his hand upon his heart, and to reply with truth that he was pleased. "Yes, sir, we do expect that our Boston literature is about first-rate. We are a young people, sir, but we are a great people, and we are bound to be greater still. There is a moral power, sir, an elevation about the New England mind, which Eur[=o]p[)e]ans can scarcely realise. Did you hear Snooks lecture, sir? the Rev. Amos Snooks of Pisgah? Well, sir, you ought to have heard Snooks. All Eur[=o]p[)e]ans calculate to hear Snooks—he's a fine man, sir, a man of power—one of the greatest men, sir, in this, or perhaps any other country."

"Semper ego auditor tantum, nunquam ne reponam,
Vexatus toties."——

You leave Boston somewhat snubbed and subdued, and betake yourself to the more cosmopolitan regions of New York. Here, too, "men of power" are to be found in great numbers—but "our first circles" divide the attention and abuse the patience of the traveller. Boston writes the books, but New York sets the fashions of the Republic, and is the Elysium of mantua-makers and upholders. We doubt whether any city in the world of its size can boast so many smart drawing rooms and so many pretty young women. Indeed, from the age of fifteen to that of five-and-twenty, female beauty is the rule rather than the exception in the United States, and neither cost nor pains are spared to set it forth to the best advantage. The American women dress well, dance well, and in all that relates to what may be called the mechanical part of social intercourse, they appear to great advantage. Nothing can exceed the self-possession of these pretty creatures, whose confidence is never checked by the discipline of society, or the restraints of an education which is terminated almost as soon as it is begun. There is no childhood in America—no youth—no freshness. We look in vain for the

"Ingenui vultus puer, ingenuique pudoris."


"The modest maid deck'd with a blush of honour,
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love."

There is scarcely a step from the school to the forum—from the nursery to the world. Young girls, who in England would be all blushes and bread and butter, boldly precede their mammas into the ball-room; and the code of a mistaken gallantry supplies no corrective to their caprice, for youth and beauty are here invested with regal prerogatives, and can do no wrong. In short, the Americans carry their complaisance to the sex beyond due bounds—at least in little things—for we by no means think that the real influence of their women is great, notwithstanding the tame and submissive gallantry with which the latter are treated in public. We doubt whether the most limited gynocracy would tolerate the use of tobacco as an article of daily diet, or permit ferocious murders to go unwhipped of justice under the name of duels. But the absorbing character of the pursuits of the men forbids any strong sympathy betwixt the sexes; and perhaps the despotism which the women exercise in the drawing-room arises from the fact that all that relates to the graces and embellishments[Pg 498] of life is left entirely to them. We do not know that this can be avoided under the circumstances of the country, but it has a most injurious effect upon social intercourse. The Americans of both sexes want tact and graciousness of manner, and that prompt and spontaneous courtesy which is the child of discipline and self-restraint. They are seldom absolutely awkward, because they are never bashful; they have no mauvaise honte, because they are all on an equality; hence they never fail to display a certain dry composure of bearing, which, though not agreeable, is less ludicrous than the gaucherie so commonly observed in all classes of English society, except the very highest.

It is curious to observe how the manners of two nations of the same origin, and, in a great degree, of similar instincts, are modified by their political institutions. Neither the British nor the Americans are distinguished for that natural politeness and savoir vivre, which is to be found more or less in all other civilised countries. They are both too grave, too busy, and too ambitious to lay themselves out for trifles, which, after all, go far to make up the sum of human happiness. As for the Americans, the general aspect of their society is dreary and monotonous in the extreme. Whatever "our first circles" may say to the contrary, there is a great equality of manners, as of other things, amongst them; but if the standard is nowhere very high, it never falls so low as with us; if there is less refinement and cultivation amongst the higher classes, (we beg Demus' pardon for the expression,) there is on the other hand less grossness, certainly less clownishness, among the mass. Of course there are many individuals in this, as in other countries, remarkable for natural grace and genteel bearing; but the class which is pre-eminent in these respects, is very small and ill-defined. The great national defect is a want of sprightliness and vivacity, and an impartial insouciance in their intercourse with all classes and conditions of men. For if inequality has its evils, it has also its charms; as the prospect of swelling mountains and lowly vales is more pleasing to the eye than that of the monotonous, though more fertile champaign. Now, as the relation of patrician and plebeian, of patron and client, of master and servant, of superior and inferior, can scarcely be said to exist in the United States, so all the nice gradations of manner which are elicited by those relations, are wanting also. The social machine rubs on with as little oil as possible—there is but small room for the exercise of the amenities and charities of life. The favours of the great are seldom rewarded by the obsequiousness of the small. No leisure and privileged class exists to set an example of refined and courtly bearing; but there are none, however humble, who may not affect the manners of their betters without impertinence, and aspire to the average standard of the Republic. Hence, almost every native American citizen is capable of conducting himself with propriety, if not with ease, in general society. What are fine ladies and gentlemen to him, that he should stand in awe of them? Simply persons who have been smarter or earlier in the field of fortune than himself, who will "burst up" some fine morning, and leave the road open to others. The principle of rotation[6] is not confined to the political world of the United States, but obtains in every department of life. It is throughout the same song—

"Here we go up, up, up,
And here we go down, down, down."

Law and opinion, and the circumstances of the country, are alike[Pg 499] opposed to the accumulation of property, so that it is rare for two successive generations of the same family to occupy the same social position. The ease with which fortunes are made, or repaired, is only equalled by the recklessness with which they are lost. Prosperity, at some time or other, appears to be the birth-right of every citizen; and, where all are parvenus alike, there are none to assume the airs of exclusiveness, or to crush the last comer beneath the weight of traditional and time-honoured grandeur.

It is not easy to dismiss the peculiarities of our British society in a paragraph. Bull, however, to be appreciated, must be seen in the midst of his own household gods, with his family and bosom friends about him. This is what may be called the normal state of that fine fellow—and here Jonathan can't hold a candle to him. American interiors want relief and variety of colouring. Their children are not like the children of the Old World: they don't romp, or prattle, or get into mischief, or believe in Bogie. They seem to take brevet rank, from the first, as men and women, and are quite inaccessible to nursery humbug of any kind. They are never whipped, and eat as much pastry as they think proper; whereby they grow up dyspeptic and rational beyond their years. Parents don't appear to exercise any particular functions, masters (we again beg Demus's pardon for the poverty of the vernacular) have nothing magisterial about them, and servants won't stomach even the name, at least if they wear white skins, and know it. After the first burst of admiration at the philosophy of the thing, it grows tiresome to live amongst people who are all so much alike. Now in England the distinctions of age, and rank, and sex, are much more strongly marked; while in those countries of Europe which are still less under the influence of the equalising spirit of the age, the social landscape is still more variegated and picturesque. With us, two adverse principles are at work; and this is the reason why our British society is so anomalous to ourselves, and so entirely beyond the comprehension of foreigners. Whenever our brave Bull is thrown into a mixed company abroad, or even at home, where the social position of those with whom he is brought into contact is unknown to him, there is no end to the blundering and nonsense of the worthy fellow. Go where he will, he is haunted by the traditions of his eccentric island, and desperately afraid of placing himself in what he calls a false position. At home, he has one manner for his nobleman, another for his tradesman, another for his valet; and he would rather die than fail in the orthodox intonation appropriate to each. Who has not observed the strange mixture of petulance and mauvaise honte which distinguishes so many of our English travellers on the Continent? Decidedly, we appear to less advantage in public than any people in the world. Place a Briton and an American, of average parts and breeding, on board a Rhine steam-boat, and it is almost certain that the Yankee will mix up, so to speak, the better of the two. The gregarious habits of our continental neighbours are more familiar to him than to his insular kinsman, and he is not tormented like the latter by the perpetual fear of failing, either in what is due to himself or to others. His manners will probably want polish and dignity; he will be easy rather than graceful, communicative rather than affable; but he will at least preserve his Republican composure, alike in his intercourse with common humanity, or in the atmosphere of more courtly and exclusive circles.

The art of pleasing is nowhere well understood in the United States: but the beauty of the women, though transient, is unrivalled while it lasts, and perhaps in no country is the standard of female virtue so high. The formal and exaggerated attention which the sex receives from all classes in public, is at least a proof of the high estimation in which it is held, and must, we think, be put down as an amiable trait in the American character.

We are quite sure, for instance, that females may travel unattended in the United States with far more ease and security than in any country of the Old World: and the deference paid to them is quite irrespective of the[Pg 500] rank of the fair objects—it is a tribute paid to the woman and not to the lady. Some travellers we believe have denied this. We can only say, that during a pretty extensive tour we do not recollect a single instance in which even the unreasonable wishes of women were not complied with as of course. We did remark with less satisfaction the ungracious manner in which civilities were received by these spoilt children of the Republic—the absence of apologetic phrases, and those courtesies of voice and expression, with which women usually acknowledge the deference paid to their weakness and their charms. But this is a national failing. The Americans are too independent to confess a sense of obligation, even in the little conventional matters of daily intercourse. They have almost banished from the language such phrases as, "Thank you," "If you please," "I beg your pardon," and the like. The French, who are not half so attentive to women as the Americans, pass for the politest nation in Europe, because they know how to veil their selfishness beneath a profusion of bows and pretty speeches. Now, when your Yankee is invited to surrender his snug seat in a stage or a railroad carriage in favour of a fair voyager, he does not hesitate for a moment. He expectorates, and retires at once. But no civilities are interchanged; no smiles or bows pass betwixt the parties. The gentleman expresses no satisfaction—the lady murmurs no apologies.

Even now we see in our mind's eye the pert, pretty little faces, and the loves of bonnets which flirt and flutter along Broadway in the bright sunshine—Longum Vale! In the flesh we shall see them no more. No more oysters at Downing's, no more terrapins at Florence's, no more fugacious banquets at the Astor House. We have traduced the State, and for us there is no return. The commercial house which we represent, has offered to renew its confidence, but it has failed to restore ours. No amount of commission whatever, will tempt us to affront the awful majesty of Lynch, or to expose ourselves to the tar-and-feathery tortures which he prepares for those who blaspheme the Republic. We have ordered our buggy for the Home Circuit, and propose, by a course of deliberate mastication, and unlimited freedom of speech, to repair the damage which our digestion, and we fear our temper, has sustained during our travels in "the area of freedom."


[5] Εστιν αρα η αρετη εξιϛπροαιξετικη, εν μεσοτητιξυϛα τη προϛ ημαϛ ωριϛμενη λογω

[6] The principle of rotation in office is a favourite crochet of the Democratic party, and is founded upon the Republican jealousy of power. General Jackson went so far as to recommend that all official appointments whatever should be limited by law to the Presidential term of four years. As it is, whenever a change of parties occurs, a clean sweep is made of all the officers of government, from the highest to the lowest. Custom-house officers, jailers, &c., all share the fate of their betters. It is only surprising that the business of the country is carried on as well as it is, under the influence of this corrupting system.

[Pg 501]



You are far more anxious, my dear Eusebius, to know somewhat of the progress or the result of the Curate's misfortune, than to read his or my translations from Catullus. I have a great mind to punish that love of mischief in you, by burying the whole affair in profound secresy. It is fortunate for him that you are not here, or you would surely indulge your propensity, and with malicious invention put the whole parish, with the Curate, into inextricable confusion. It is bad enough as it is. There!—it cannot be helped—I must tell you at once the condition we are in, if I would have you read the rest of my letter with any patience.

A committee has been sitting these two days, to sift, as they pronounce them, "the late disgraceful proceedings;" so that you see, they are of the school of Rhadamanthus,—condemn first, and hear afterwards. We have, in this little township, two "general shopkeepers," dealers in groceries, mops, calicoes, candles, and the usual "omnium-gatherum" of household requirements.

These are great rivals—envious rivals—back-biting rivals; both, in the way of tale-bearing, what Autolicus calls himself, "pickers-up of unconsidered trifles." And truly, in the trade of this commodity, if in no other, this may be called a "manufacturing district." Now the Curate, unhappily, can buy his tea and sugar, and trifling matters, but of one—for to patronise both, would be to make enemies of both; the poor Curate, then, in preferring the adulterated goods of Nicolas Sandwell, to the adulterated goods of Matthew Miffins, has made an implacable enemy. Really, Eusebius, here is machinery enough for a heroic poem: for Virgil's old Lady Fame on the top of the roof we have three, active and lusty—and you may make them the Fates or the Furies, or what you please, except the Graces. Prateapace, Gadabout, and Brazenstare—there are characters enough for episodes; and a hero—but what, you will say, are we to do for a heroine? Here is one, beat out of the brain of Mathew Miffins, a ready-armed Minerva. You will smile, but it is so. The three above-named ladies first made their way to the shop of Mr Miffins, narrated what had passed and what had not. Having probably just completed "sanding the sugar and watering the tobacco," he raised both his hands and his eyes, and, to lose no time in business, dropped them as soon as he decently could, and, pressing both palms strongly on the counter, he asked, if they entertained any suspicion of a particular person as being the object of the Curate's most unbecoming passion? Lydia Prateapace remembered, certainly, a name being mentioned—it was Lesby or Lisby, or something like that. "Indeed!" said Miffins, arching his brows, and significantly touching the tip of his nose with his forefinger—"ah! indeed! a foreigner, depend upon it—a Lisbon lady; that, Miss, is the capital of Portugal, where them figs comes from. Only think, a foreign lady—a lady from Lisbon—that is too bad!" to which the three readily assented. "I doubt not, ladies," he continued, "it's one of them foreigners as lives near Ashford, about five miles off—where I knows the Curate goes two or three times in a week."

Thus, Eusebius, is Catullus's Lesbia, who herself stood for another, converted into a Portuguese lady, whom the Curate visits some five miles off—or, as the three ladies say, protects.

If you ask how I came by this accurate information, learn that our Gratian's Jahn was at the further counter, making a purchase of mole-traps, and saw and heard, and reported. The first meeting was held in Miffins' back-parlour; but fame had beat up for recruits, and that was found far too small; so they have adjourned to the Blue Boar, where, the tap being good, and the landlord a busybody, they are likely to remain a little longer than Muzzle-brains can see to draw[Pg 502] up a report. The Curate's door is chalked, and adjacent walls—"No Kissing," "The Clerical Judas," "Who Kissed the School-mistress?" and many such-like morsels. But if fame has thus been playing with the kaleidoscope of lies, multiplying and giving every one its match, she has likewise shown them about through her magnifying glass, and brought the most distantly circulated home to the poor Curate. In a little town a few miles off, it has been reported that Miss Lydia Prateapace has been obliged to "swear the peace against him," which "swearing the peace" is, in most cases, a declaration of war.

Meanwhile the Curate has taken his cue, to do nothing and say nothing upon the subject; and, as in all his misadventures, that was the part taken by Yorick, if his friends do not rescue him, he may have Yorick's penalty. Thus much at present, my dear Eusebius; I will occasionally report progress, but it is now time that we resume our translations, hoping you will find amusement in our


I told you Gratian, worthy veracious Gratian, had hastened away to an Agricultural meeting, to vindicate the character of his Belgian carrots. This vindication inundated us for some days with agricultural visitors. And Gratian was proud, and, like Virgil, "tossed about the dung with dignity." We saw little of him, and when he did appear, "his talk was of bullocks;" so how could he "have understanding," at least for Catullus? Had not a neighbouring fair taken off the agriculturists after a few days, his ideas, like his stick, would have become porcine. He rode his hobby, and at a brisk pace; and, when a little tired of him, stabled him and littered him, and seemed glad of a little quiet and leg-tapping in his easy-chair. He had worked off the lessened excitement by an evening's nap, and awoke recruited; and, with a pleasant smile, asked the Curate if he had had recently any communication with his friend Catullus.

Curate.—We left him, I believe, in the very glory of kissing—his insatiable glory. He now comes to a check—Lesbia is weary, if he is not.

Aquilius.—It is a mere lovers' quarrel, and is only the prelude to more folly, like the blank green baize curtain, between the play and the farce. He affects anger—a thin disguise: he would give worlds to "kiss and be friends again." His vexation is evident.

Gratian.—Ah! it is an old story—and not the worse for that—come, Mr Curate, show up Catullus in his true motley. He was privileged at his age to play the fool—so are we all at one time or another, if we do it not too wisely. A wise fool is the only Asinine.—Now for Catullus's folly.

Curate.—Thus, then, to himself:—


Sad Catullus, cease your moan,
Or your folly you'll deplore;
What you see no more your own,
Think of as your own no more.
Once the suns shone on you clearly,
When it was your wont to go
Seeking her you loved so dearly,—
Will you e'er love woman so?
Then those coquetries amusing
Were consented to by both—
Done at least of your free choosing,
Nor was she so very loth.
Then, indeed, the suns shone clearly,
Now their light is half gone out;
She is loth—and you can merely
Learn the way to do without.
[Pg 503]
Cease, then, your untimely wooing,
Steel your purpose, and be strong;
If she flies you, why, pursuing,
Make your sorrow vain and long?
Farewell, Fair!—Catullus hardens;
Where he is, will he remain;
He is not a man who pardons
One that must be asked again.
She'll be sad in turn, the charmer,
When the shades of eventide
Bring no gallants to alarm her,
No Catullus to her side.
Lost to every sense of duty,
Say, what can you, will you do?
Who'll find out that you have beauty?
Who'll be loved in turn by you?
Whose will you be called of right?
Whom will you in future kiss?
Whose lips will you have to bite?—
O Catullus, keep to this!

Gratian.—Well, now, I think your choice of metre a little too much of the measured elegiac, for the bursts of alternate passion, love, and anger—those sudden breaks of vexation, which I see, or fancy I see, in the original Latin. Now, Aquilius, let us hear you personate the "vexed lover."



Foolish Catullus—trifling ever—
Dismiss so fruitless an endeavour;
Let by-gone days be days by-gone,
Though fine enough some days have shone,—
When if she but held up her finger
Whom you so loved—and still you linger,
Nor dare to part with—you observant,
Were at her beck her humble servant;
Follow'd her here and there: and did
Such things! which she would not forbid—
Love's follies, without stint or doubt:
Oh! then your days shone finely out.
But now 'tis quite another thing,—
She likes not your philandering:
And you yourself! But be it over—
Act not again the silly lover—
But let her go—be hard as stone;
So let her go—and go alone.
Adieu, sweet lady! 'Tis in vain!
Catullus is himself again—
Will neither love, want, nor require,
But gives you up as you desire.
Wretch! you will grieve for this full sore,
When lovers come to you no more.
For think you, false one, to what pass,
Your wretched days will come? Alas!
No beauty yours—not one to say
How beautiful she looks to-day!
[Pg 504] Whom will you have to love—to hear
Yourself called by his name, his dear?
Whom will you have to kiss,—be kiss'd
And bind your names, in true-love twist?
Whose lips to bite so?—yes—to bite.}
—Catullus, spare thy love or spite:}
Be firm as rock—or conquered quite.}

Curate.—I protest against this as a translation. He has indeed, as he professed, brought his puppet Catullus upon the stage, and, like Shakspeare's bad actor, has put more words in his mouth than the author bargained for. The very last words are quite contradicted by the text. Catullus does not hint at the possibility of being conquered, of giving in.

Gratian.—Oh! that, is always implied in these cases. Besides Catullus evidently doubts, or he would not have so enforced the caution; "At tu, Catulle"—the translation may be a little free, but still admissible.

Aquilius.—My friend the Curate has committed the fault himself, if it be one: his "O Catullus, keep to this!" so evidently means, If you do not, it is all over with you.

Gratian.—Give me the book.—Oh!—I see we have next that very elegant and very affectionate welcome home to his friend Verannius, on his return from Spain, whither he had gone with Caius Piso. There is much heart in it, and true joy and gratulation. This is the sort of welcome that throws a sunshine upon the path of the days of human life. There is no trouble when friend greets friend. Have you translated this?

Aquilius.—I fear your commendation will resemble too rich a frame to a poor picture, and make all more dingy by the glow of the genuine gold.

But here I venture to offer, my translation:—the warmth of the original—the tenderness, is not perhaps in it:


Sweet friend, Verannius, welcome home at last!
Had I a thousand friends, all were surpass'd
By my Verannius! Art thou home return'd,
To thine own household gods, and hearts that yearn'd
To greet thee—brothers happy in one mind,
And thy dear mother, too,—all fond, all kind?
O happy, happy news! and now again
To see thee safe! and hear thee talk of Spain—
Its history, places, people, and array,
Telling of all in thy old pleasant way!
And shall I hold thee in a friend's embrace,
Gaze on thy mouth, and in thine eyes, and trace
The features of the well-remember'd face!
Oh, if one happiest man on earth there be,
Amongst the happy, I, dear friend, am he!

Curate.—This Verannius, and his friend Fabullus, seem to have been upon the most intimate and familiar terms with our poet. Little presents, pledges of their mutual friendship, had doubtless been given and received. Catullus elsewhere complains against Marrucinus Asinius, that he had stolen a handkerchief, sent him out of Spain by Verannius and Fabullus.

Aquilius.—Have you not translated it?


Aquilius.—I have, and will read it, after yours to Verannius: and it is curious as showing that the Romans had the practice of using handkerchiefs, or napkins, of value,—perhaps such a fashion as is now revived by the other sex,—and embroidered with lace.

Gratian.—Now, Mr Curate.—If you let our friend digress thus, we shall never have your version.[Pg 505]



My friend, the dearest and the best,
E'en though ten thousand I possess'd!—
My own Verannius! art thou come
To greet again thy gods of home,
And brethren that so well agree
Together, and in loving thee—
And come to thy sweet mother, too?
O blessed news! and it is true,
That I shall see thee safe at last;
And hear thee tell thy travel pass'd—
Of Spanish places, things, and tribes,
(While every word my heart imbibes,)
In thine old way: shall I embrace
Thy neck—and kiss thy pleasant face?
Find me the happy where you can,
I still shall be the happiest man.

Gratian.—What are we to have next?

Aquilius.—An invitation to dinner, or, as the Romans made it, supper—and a curious invitation it is. Fabullus, to whom it was addressed, was companion to his friend Verannius—and both were with the pestilent Piso, in Spain.

Curate.—And brought little out of it; but returned poorer than they went—as did, it should seem, Catullus himself from Bithynia. So that I should imagine the invitation to Fabullus was a mere jest upon their mutual poverty. For it does not appear that Fabullus was in a condition to indulge in luxuries.

Aquilius.—Perhaps, when the invitation was sent, Catullus was not aware that his friend had been as unsuccessful, under Piso, as he had himself been, under Memmius. Thus stands the invitation:—


A few days hence, my dear Fabullus,
If the gods grant you that high favour,
You shall sup well with your Catullus;
For, to ensure the dishes' savour,
Yourself shall cater, and shall cull us
Best fruits—and wines of choicest flavour.
And with you bring your lass—fun—laughter—
All plenty: nor confine your wishes
To supernumerary dishes;—
Bring all—and pay the piper after.
Rich be your fare—and all fruition,
Taste, elegance, and sweet discourses
Familiar, on that one condition.
For, truth to tell, my wretched purse is
In its last stage of inanition,
And not a single coin disburses:
A cobweb's over it, and in it—
That Spider Want there loves to spin it.
Setting aside this lack of coffer,
Which you can supply, Fabullus,
Accept good welcome—and I offer,
For company, your friend Catullus.
Yet, though so hard my purse's case is,
With such rare unguents I'll present you,
Compounded by the Loves and Graces
For my dear girl, that you shall scent you
[Pg 506] With perfume more divine than roses;
And after, pray the gods, within you,
To change sense, nerve, bone, muscle, sinew,
And make you all compact of noses.

Curate.—There you are again bolting out of the course. Sending poor Fabullus to market, without money in his purse,—not a word in the original of fruit-culling and "paying the piper."

Aquilius.—If Gratian had not the book in his hand, I would boldly assert that it is all there. He will admit it is the entire meaning.

Curate.—With the elegant diction, "paying the piper," indeed! "Hæc si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster."

Gratian.—Well, I almost think "venuste noster," "my good fellow," or "my pleasant fellow," will allow the freedom of the translation, for it is a free and easy appellative. Come, then, Curate, let us have your accurate version.

Curate.—Perhaps you may think, when you hear it, that I am in the same predicament of blame with Aquilius, and that my criticism was a ruse, to divide the censure pretty equally.


Fabullus, if the gods will let you,
Before a table I will set you,
A few days hence, with welcome hearty,
To my domestic dinner-party.
That is to say—you bring the food,
(Which must be plentiful and good,)
With wine—remembering, I presume,
For one fair girl I've always room.
On these conditions you shall dine
Luxurious, boon-companion mine.
Seeing that your Catullus' purse
Has nought but cobwebs left to nurse,
I can but give you in return
The loves that undiluted burn;
And, something sweeter, neater still—
A scented unguent I'll impart,
Which Venus and her Loves distil
To please the girl that owns my heart:
Which when you smell, this boon—this solely
You'll ask the gods to recompose;
And metamorphose you, and wholly,
To one extensive Roman nose.

Aquilius.—What nose would a Roman wish to have? I object to Roman, though it is not a bad one for the purpose. The metamorphosed would certainly have a ballad written on him and sung about the streets. Write it, and call him "The Man-mountain, or real and undoubted Promontory of Noses."

Gratian.—It should seem they were like enough to feast—like their gods they so irreverently prayed to—on the smell and the smoke only; so they needed good noses and bad appetites. There is something a little abrupt in the latter part, which I doubt if I like: the Loves and Graces should not be made parties to the making of such a monster; and as monster is now-a-days all adopted adjective, follow the fashion of speech, and call it "One extensive Monster-Nose."—Well, what next?

Aquilius.—A little piece of extravagant badinage. It seems Calvus Licinius had sent Catullus a collection of miserable poems, and that, too, on commencement of the Saturnalia, dedicated to joy, and freedom from care and annoyance. Our author writes to complain of the malicious present. There is some force, and a fair fling of contempt at the bad poets of the day in it.[Pg 507]


Now if I loved you less, my friend,
Facetious Calvus, than these eyes,
You merit hatred in such wise
As men Vatinius hate. To send
Such stuff to me! Have I been rash
In word or deed? The gods forfend!
That you should kill me with such trash,
Of vile and deleterious verse—
Volumes on volumes without end,
Of ignominious poets, worse
Than their own works. May gods be pliant,
And grant me this: that poison—pest
Light on 'em all, and on that client
Who sent 'em you; and you in jest
Transfer them, odious, and mephitic,
And execrable. I suspect 'em
Sent you by that grammarian critic,
Sulla. If so, and you have lost
No precious labour to collect 'em,
'Tis well indeed; and little cost
To you, with malice aforethought,
To send (and with intent to kill him,
And on this blessed day, when nought
But Saturnalian joys should fill him)
Your friend Catullus such a set
Of murderous authors; but the debt
I'll pay, be even with you yet—
For no perfidious friend I spare.
At early dawn, ere the sun shine, I
Will rise, and ransack shop and stall,
Collect your Cæsii and Aquini,
And that Suffenus: and with care
And diligence, will have all sent
To you, for a like punishment.
Hence, poets! with your jingling chimes:
Hence, miserables! halt and lame;
Be off, ye troublers of our times!
I send you packing whence ye came.

Gratian.—Kicking about the volumes, doubtless, as the "Friend of Humanity" did the "Needy Knife-grinder."

Curate.—I did not translate that—for I thought the authors might easily have been burned for writing bad verses (no hint to you, Aquilius; nothing personal); and that Calvus Licinius, having that remedy, need not have written about them. And I confess I don't see much in what he has written. This Suffenus, however, was no fool, but a man of wit and sense.

Aquilius.—Yes,—and Catullus writes to Varrus specially about him. I have translated that too. Here it is:—


This man Suffenus, whom you know,
Varrus, is not without some show
Of parts, and gift of speech befitting
A man of sense. Yet he mistakes
His talents wondrously, and makes
His thousand verses at a sitting.
And troth, he makes them look their best:
For, not content with palimpsest,
[Pg 508] He has them writ on royal vellum,
Emboss'd and gilded, rubb'd and polish'd:
But read 'em, and you wish abolish'd
The privilege to make or sell 'em.
You read them, and the man is quite
Another man: no more polite—
No more "the man about the town,"
But metamorphosed to a clown—
Milker of goats, a hedger, digger,
So thoroughly is changed his figure,
So quite unlike himself. 'Tis odd,
Most strange, the man for wit so noted,
Whose repartees so much were quoted,
Is changed into a very clod!
And stranger still—he never seems
Quite to himself to be himself,
As when of poetry he dreams,
And writes and writes, and fills his reams
With poems destined for the shelf.
We are deceived—in this twin-brothers
All. There's one vanity between us,
And our self-knowledge stands to screen us
From our true portraits. Knowing others,
We ticket each man with his vice;
And find, most accurately nice,
In all a something of Suffenus.
Thus every man one knowledge lacks;
Our error is—we read the score
Of each man as he walks before,
And bear our tickets at our backs.

Gratian.—True, indeed—as old fables mostly are. There is in them the depth of wisdom acquired by experience.

Curate.—I fear experience alone won't do much. It seems thrown away upon most people. They continue follies to the end. I suppose Cicero thought himself a poet; though it may be doubted if he wrote the line as Juvenal gives it,

"O fortunatam natam me consule Romam."

Perhaps most men's natural common sense has a less wide range than they think. For there are some things obvious to all besides, that the wisest cannot see.

Aquilius.—Cicero was less likely to see any defect in himself than most men. He had consummate vanity—which must have led him into many a ridiculous position. But there were no Boswells in those days. I never could understand how it is that so great an admiration of Cicero has come over mankind. Even in language he has had an evil influence; and our literature for a long period was tainted with it. Sensible himself, he taught the art of writing fluently without sense. The flow and period—the esse videatur—a style too common with us less than half a century ago—you might read page after page, and pause to wonder what you had been reading about. The upper current of the book did not disturb the under current of your own thoughts, perhaps aided by the lulling music.

Curate.—The vanity of Cicero was too manifest. It is a pity, for the sake of his reputation, that the letter to his friend, in which he requested him to write his life, is extant. To tell him plainly that it is the duty of a friend to exaggerate his virtues, is a mean vanity—unworthy such a man.

Gratian.—Come, come! let him rest; our business is with Catullus. Curate, let us have your translation.

Curate.—I pass by the account of Suffenus, as well as some other pieces, and come to that very short one in which he complains of the mortgage[Pg 509] which is on his villa. It is a wretched pun on the word "opponere," and was scarcely worth translating;—take it, however:


You, Furius, ask against what wind
My little villa stands—
If Auster, or Favonius kind
Who comes o'er western lands,
Or cruel Boreas, or that one
That rises with the morning sun?
Alas—it stands against a breeze
Which beats against the door,
Of fifteen thousand sesterces,
And twice a hundred more.
I challenge you on earth to find
So foul and pestilent a wind.

Aquilius.—What! do you look for a wind on earth,—it blows over it; and catch it who can.

Gratian.—It blows every where. The worst I know is that which blows down the chimney. And that reminds me to tell you what a town-bred chimney-sweeper said, the other day, to a friend of mine, in the valley yonder, who wanted to have a smoky chimney cured. My friend inquired if he could teach it not to smoke. "How can I tell?" said he, "I must take out a brick first and look into his intellects."

Curate.—Not the march—but the sweep of intellect spoke there.

Aquilius.—And spoke not amiss; it was merely to see if he had a mind to be cured.

Gratian.—Perhaps you have translated that sweep's language better than your passages from Catullus.

Aquilius.—I did not attempt to translate that little piece,—but ran quite out of course, as the Curate would tell me, in a long paraphrase. The idea is, however, furnished by Catullus,—so I dedicate it


You ask me if my villa lies
Exposed to north, east, west, or south:
I answer,—every wind that flies,
Flies at it, and with open mouth.
From every quarter winds assail,
But that which comes from quarter-day,
Though it four times a-year prevail,
It does but whistle, and not pay.
Some blow from far, and some hard by;
One, mortgage-wind, takes shortest journey,
Only across the way from Sly,
And blasts with "power of attorney."
But what is worse than windy racks is,
My windows leak at every pane,
And are not tight 'gainst rates and taxes.
My roof and doors let in the rain—
The only let my villa knows.
So that with taxes, wind, and wet,
From whatsoever point it blows,
My house is blown upon unlet.

[Pg 510]Now, I hope my friend the Curate will admit so far to be rather a lengthy translation. I say nothing of addenda—thus:—

"Winds blow, and crack your cheeks,"—alack,
Who said it, wanted house and halls,
Nor knew winds have no cheeks to crack,
In short crack nothing but my walls.
My friends console—"the winds will drop:"
'Tis equal trouble to my mind;
For if it tumbles on the top,
You know I cannot raise the wind.
To sum up all—for its location;—
The question's of importance vital;—
In Chancery—wretched situation;
A rascal there disputes my title.

Curate.—You are coming it pretty strong, and quite blowing up Catullus with your hurricane of winds. After all the household miseries in your lines, a cheering glass may set things to rights a little. Here, then, is what he says to his wine-server:—


Boy, that at my drinking-bout
Servest old Falernian out,
Fill me faster cups, and quicker,
With the spirit-stirring liquor.
So Posthumia's law doth say,—
Mistress of the feast to-day;
She more vinous than the grape.
Springs of water—bane of wine—
Where ye please for me and mine,
Avaunt, begone, escape!
Emigrate to men demure.
My bumper is Thyonian pure.

Gratian.—I am afraid, Curate, that if you were to take what you please to call "the cheering glass," such as the jade Posthumia would recommend, we should have to put you to bed pretty early. It was the custom, it should seem, of the ancients to make a throw of the dice to determine the arbiter of the feast—to appoint the drinking. Who threw Venus (three sixes) was the magister; but the magistra is a novelty; a "Venus Ebria," whose drinking law would throw all; for "wine is a wrestler, and a shrewd one too." Doesn't Shakspeare say so? Now for your version, Aquilius.

Aquilius.—Curate will say, I am not so close to the original. But, on such a subject, we may be allowed to walk not quite straight;—a little zig-zaggy. Spite the coming criticism I venture:—


(To his Wine-server.)
Pour me out, boy, the generous juice.
The racy, true, the old Falernus;
Such wines as, to Posthumia's thinking,
Are only fit for mortals' use;
When in her glory, drunk, and winking,
The dame would quaff, and wisely learn us
The good old simple law of drinking.
[Pg 511]
But water shun;—Hence, waters! go,
E'en as ye will, to chill Avernus,
Or whereso'er ye please to flow;—
Be drink for all the dull, the slow,
The sad, the serious, the phlegmatic;
But leave this juice, this pure stomachic,
Its own, its unadulterate glow;—
This—this alone is genuine Bacchic!

Gratian.—Well, then, that must be our parting cup for the night, and a pretty good "night-cap" it is. I was afraid, Aquilius, when you came to the "phlegmatic" you would rhyme it to "rheumatic," and so on to the "water-cure." You know that is recommended in rheumatic cases; but perhaps you don't know that I tried it. I had the water-drinking, the wet sheets, and all the rest of it.

Aquilius.—And are here to tell of it!

Gratian.—Yes, and return to the old tap, (tapping his thigh and leg pretty smartly;) and I suppose I must stick to it.

Curate.—A medical friend told me the other day of a discussion upon this subject, which I thought very amusing, as he narrated it remarkably well, imitating the tones and dialect (Somersetshire) of at least one of the speakers. He had some years before attended an old man in the country—a farmer well to do in the world—a man of very strong natural understanding, but entirely uneducated. He had lost sight of him for some years, when, not long since, he was sent for to the old farm-house. Instead of the old stone floor, there was a carpet laid down, and an air of smartness over every thing, which he had never seen before. It turned out, that the old man's daughter had married: a smartish man, the husband, was in the room, and to show his general knowledge of things, and acquaintance with the world, he advocated the water-cure, and questioned my medical friend as to his opinion. A voice from the chimney-corner (the settle in it) cried out, "It ain't na'tral." My friend had not before seen the old man, he was so retired into the recess. After having given his opinion to the bridegroom, he turned to his old acquaintance, and said "You remarked that it is not natural. What do you mean by natural?" "Why," replied the old man, "I do think, most dumb critturs knows what's good for 'em; and when a dog's sick doesn't he eat grass? If a sheep's ill, don't he lick chalk or salt if he can get it? And if a beast's ill," (I forget what he said was the cure for a beast);—"but did you ever see any of them go and lie down in the water, or fill themselves wi' it? There's plenty of it in ditches, and every where else, too, hereabouts. No, you never did." Then, looking up in the face of his orator son-in-law, he added, "And you don't know why you never see'd it, nor why they don't do it. No, I know you don't. Vy, I do—because they ha' got more zense." This was said with a kind of contempt which was quite a floorer to the new wiseacre.

Gratian.—Thanks for the story! now that is just the sense that I have acquired at some cost, and no cure; but I didn't get at it naturally as your old friend did. So now for sleep, and good-night.

The Curate and I did not part so soon. Time flew, and we seemed to shorten the night—"noctem vario sermone," as sayeth Virgil of poor Dido, who must have found the conversation considerably flag with the stupid Æneas.

"Noctem vario sermone trahebat—it was a sad drag. It must have become very tiresome, a little while before that, when ill-mannered Bitias drank up all the wine, and buried his face in the cup, "pleno se proluit auro." And they had been obliged to resort to singing, always the refuge from the visible awkwardness of nothing to say. And here I cannot but remark, Eusebius, what dull things their songs must have been on natural philosophy, sun, moon, and stars—songs, Virgil tells you, edited by the old Astronomer-general Atlas. But as this was before the foundation of Rome, they had not that variety for[Pg 512] their selection, which was as much in fashion afterwards in Rome as Moore's Melodies in England, as we learn from Mr Macaulay, and his version and edition of the "Lays." They had no piccolo pianofortes in those days, or they would have had something lighter than the Lays, as the better after-supper Poet calls it—a

"Something more exquisite still."

But I am apparently, Eusebius, leaving the Curate to sleep or to meditate upon his own unhappy condition while I thus turn the current of my talk upon you. Unhappy condition, did I say? He seems to bear it wonderfully lightly; and once or twice, when the subject has been mentioned, indulged in an irreverend laugh. Now, I know you will ask how a laugh can be irreverend. Don't you know the world well enough, Eusebius, to know, that before a very great number of men, women, and children, a curate must not laugh, dare not laugh—blessed indeed, and divested of the wretched rags of humanity, if he cannot laugh. None but a Bishop, or a Dean, who, in the eyes of the many, is a kind of extra-parochial nonentity, can really, in these times of severe reprobation for trifling peccadillos, afford to laugh; and they had better do it in private, and with aprons off—never before the Chapter, who all, themselves, laugh in private. Man, you know, is the only risible creature; but a Curate must begin to know, from the moment he has put on his surplice, that he is to discard at once, and for ever, this human and irreverend instinct. Had you lived in the triumphal days of the Puritans, what penalties would you not have had to undergo, what buffetings and duckings, ere you could finally have overcome your strong natural wicked propensity, and have sobered down, and riveted in iron gravity and moroseness those flexible, those mockingly flexible features of yours. As it is, in these days of "revival," you only meet with considerable contempt, and evil opinion, which, as it comes rather late upon you, comes as an amusing novelty and additional provocative. But you may be sure what you can afford to do, the Curate cannot. For the present, therefore, let his few indulgences that way be a secret. He will mend in time. For so it happens, that though the longer we live the more we have to laugh at, we lose considerably our power of laughing. And that—between ourselves be it said, Eusebius—is, I think, a strong proof of our deterioration. A man, to laugh well, must be an honest man—mind, I say laugh: when Shakspeare says

"A man may smile and smile,
And be a villain,"

he purposely says smile, in contradistinction to laugh. He cannot laugh and be a villain. A man cannot plot and laugh. A man may be much less innocent even when he thinks himself devout, than in his hour of merriment, when he assuredly has no guile; but a man may even pray with a selfish and a narrow mind, and his very prayers partake of his iniquity: no bad argument for a prescribed form. A man that laughs well is your half-made friend, Eusebius, from the moment you hear him. It is better to trust the ear than the eye in this matter—such a man is a man after your own heart. After your own heart, did I say, Eusebius? Words are the ignes fatui to thoughts, and lead to strange vagaries—of which you have here a specimen; but these few words remind me to tell you an anecdote, in this lull of the Horæ Catullianæ, which I would on no account keep from you. And you will see at once in it a large history in the epitome and the very pith of a fable—such as Æsop's. But I assure you it is no fable, but the simple plain truth; and I will vouch for it, for I had it from the month of our friend S., the truest, honestest of men, who saw with his own eyes, and heard with his own ears, the persons and the sayings. S. was travelling some time ago, beyond the directions of railroads, in a coach. There were two companions—preachers as he found, self-dubb'd Reverends of some denomination or other, besides that reverend one of their own. Their conversation, as is usual with them, was professional, and they spoke of their brethren. In speaking of different preachers, one was mentioned, of whom one of the speakers said emphatically—"Now[Pg 513] that's what I call a really good man—that's a man after my own heart—a man quite after my own heart!" The other said with rather doubtful and hesitating confirmation, "Ye-s." "You don't seem to think so highly of him as I do," said the first speaker. "Why," replied the doubter, "I can't say I do; you remember some time ago he failed, and certainly upon that occasion he behaved very ill to, not to say cheated, his creditors." "Ah!" said the first commendator again, "that is very likely—I should have expected that of him."—Henceforth, Eusebius, whenever I hear such a commendation, I shall look out for a map of the gentleman's heart who ventures upon this mode of expressing his admiration. Oh! what a world we live in! This is a fact which would have been immortal, because true and from nature, in the hands of Le Sage; and is worthy of a place in a page of a modern "Gil Blas."

And so all this digression has arisen from a laugh of the Curate's, to whom it is time to turn; or you will think we have been but bad company to each other. I will, however, end this passage with the remark, that a man may do a worse thing than laugh, and happy is he that can do a better.

The Curate and I, then, for the rest of the night conversed upon the affair of his, which so unaccountably was making no little stir in the place. The Curate told me, he was quite sure that his movements had been watched; for that only yesterday, as he was entering the gate of his friends, the family at Ashford, he saw Miffins's boy not far behind him on a poney; and he thinks he came out for the purpose of watching him, for he had scarcely reached the door, when he saw the lad ride hastily back. The Curate likewise confessed to me, that he did entertain some tender sentiments towards one of the inmates, Miss Lydia ——, that the family had lived much abroad, and that they had a French lady's-maid, whom on one or two occasions he had certainly seen in this township. You see the thread, Eusebius, which will draw out innumerable proofs for such a mind as Miffins's. Taking a paper out of his pocket, he said it was put into his hands as he was coming away, and he had not opened it. "Perhaps," said he, "it may throw some light on the affair, as it was given me by one who is, I know, on the all-important committee." He broke the seal, read, laughed immoderately for five minutes, and put it into my hands:—

"Rev. Sir,—Wishing to do the handsome to you, and straightforward and downright honest part, the committee inform you that they have reported your misconduct to the Lord Bishop, and I am desired accordingly to send you a copy of their letter. By order of committee.—I am, sir,

"James Jones."

Enclosed was the following, which these wiseacres had concocted—and I have no doubt it was their pride in the composition, and in the penmanship, which induced them to send the copy to the Curate.

"To my Lord, your Lordship the Bishop.

"We the undersigned, the respectable inhabitants parishioners, approach most dutifully our Bishop's worshipful Lordship. Hoping humbly that you will be pleased to dismiss our curate, who, we are credibly informed, and particularly by three exemplary and virtuous ladies, they having been cautioned against him by one who knows him well, and is a friend likewise to said ladies, and doing all the good kindness he can. We learn with sorrow, that our curate has confessed to unbecomingly behaviour, and that he has been seen even kissing. My Lord, our wives and daughters are not safe—we implore your Honour's Lordship to dismiss the curate, and take them under your protection and keeping: We are informed the curate has a foreign lady, not far from this, whom he almost daily visits—and a Papist, which is an offence to your Lordship, and the glorious Protestant cause, to which we are uniformly and respectfully attached, and to your worshipful Lordship very devoted—" here follow the names, headed by Matthew Miffins.

"And what steps do you intend to take?" said I.

"None whatever," said he.

"Let it wear itself out. I won't lengthen the existence of this scandal by the smallest patronage. I will not take it up, so it will die."

"But the Bishop?" said I.

"Is a man of sense," he replied,[Pg 514] "and good feeling; so all is safe, in his hands."

We parted for the night.

The Curate called rather early the following morning, and we thought to have an hour over Catullus, and went to seek our host Gratian. We found him in his library in consultation with his factotum Jahn. He was eloquent on the salting, and not burning his weeds, on Dutch clover—"and mind, Jahn," said he, "every orchard should have a pig-stye: where pigs are kept, there apple-trees will thrive well, and bear well, if there be any fruit going:" and he moved his stick on the floor from habit, as if he were rubbing his pigs' backs; and then turning to us he said,—"Why, Jahn has been telling me strange things: Prateapace and Gadabout have gone over to the chapel—left the church; not there last Sunday. But I saw that Brazenstare there, trying, as she sat just before you, to put you, Mr Curate, out of countenance. Well, Jahn tells me that the Reverend the Cow-doctor preached last evening a stirring sermon on the occasion, and was very hot upon the impurities and idolatries of the 'Establishment.' And Jahn tells me they don't speak quite so well of me as they should; for when he plainly told Miffins in his own shop, that he was sure his master would not countenance any thing wrong, the impudent fellow only said, 'May be not; but he and his master might not be of the same opinion as to what is wrong.' The rogue! I should like to have put all his weights in the inspector's scales."

"Yes," quoth Jahn, "but I am 'most ashamed to tell your honour what Tom Potts, the exciseman, said, who happened to be present."

"Out with it, by all means, Jahn," said our friend.

"Well then, sir, as true as you are there, he said that your honour was a very kind gentleman, and your word was worth any other ten men's in most things; but where it might be to get a friend out of trouble, and, for aught he knew, foe either, why then, he thought your honour might fib a bit."

"Surely," said Gratian, "he didn't say quite that?"

"Yes," quoth Jahn, "quite that, and more; something remarkable."

"Remarkable!" said I,—"what could that be?"

"Why, something I shan't forget; and I don't think it was religious and proper," said Jahn; and lowering his voice, and addressing me and the Curate rather than his master, he added,—"He thought his honour had a kind heart, too kind; for that if Belzebub should come of a wet and dark night, and knock at his honour's door, and just say in a humble voice that he was weary and foot-sore, that his honour would be sure to take him in, give him a bed, and a stiff tumbler of brandy and water, and send for the farrier in the morning to fresh shoe him unknowingly; for he would make him stoop, put his claws on the ground, and throw a blanket over him, and make the farrier believe that, out of a whim, he was only a shoeing a great big goat."

Gratian laughed at the whimsical idea of the exciseman, called him a true and good spirit-gauger; then giving some sharp taps to his hip, his knee, and his legs with his stick, rose from his seat, and said, "Come, Curate, you and I must take a walk amongst these people, and see what we can do: it is most time to put a stop to this mischievous absurdity, and, I fear me, of our own making."

Away they went, and I put up my remaining translations from Catullus, took down a book, read awhile, and then meditated this letter to you. And now, my dear Eusebius, when you publish it in Maga, as you did my last, folk will say—"Why, what is all this about? Horæ Catullianæ! It is no such thing." Be it, then, I say, what you will. Do you think I am writing an essay?—no, a letter; and I may, if I please, entitle it, as Montaigne did—"On coach horses," and still make it what I please. It shall be a novel, if they please, for that is what they look for now: so let the Curate be the hero,—and the heroine—but must it be a love story? Then I won't forestall the interest, so wait to the end; and in my next, Eusebius, we will repeat Catullus for the play, and say with the announcing actor, "to conclude with an after-piece which will be expressed in the bills."

My dear Eusebius, ever yours,

[Pg 515]


The two great parties into which the country was divided on the subject of our commercial relations with foreign states, maintained principles diametrically opposite on the effects to be anticipated from the adoption of their respective systems. The Free-Traders constantly alleged, that the great thing was to increase our importations; and that, provided this was done, government need not disquiet themselves about our exportations. Individuals, it was said, equally with nations, do not give their goods for nothing: if foreign produce of some sort comes in, British produce of some sort must go out. Both parties will gain by the exchange. The inhabitants of this country will devote their attention to those branches of industry in which we can undersell foreign nations, and they will devote their attention to those branches of industry in which they can undersell us. Neither party will waste their time, or their labour, upon vain attempts to raise produce for which nature has not given them the requisite facilities. Both will buy cheaper than they could have done if an artificial system of protection had forced the national industry into a channel which nature did not intend, and experience does not sanction. We may be fed by the world, but we will clothe the world. The abstraction of the precious metals is not to be dreaded under such a system, for how are the precious metals got but in exchange for manufactures? Their existence in this country presupposes the exit of a proportionate amount of the produce of British industry. Nobody gives dollars, any more than corn, for nothing. Our farmers must take to dairy and pasture cultivation to a greater extent than heretofore. A certain number of agricultural labourers, may, it is true, be thrown out of employment by the displacing of rural industry in making the transition from the one species of country labour to the other; but the evil will only be temporary, and they will speedily be absorbed in the vast extension of our manufacturing industry. High prices need never be feared under such a system: a bad season is never universal over the world at the same time; and free-trade will permanently let in the superfluity of those countries where food is abundant, to supply the deficiencies of those in which, from native sources, it is scanty.

The Protectionists reasoned after an entirely different manner. The doctrines of free-trade, they observed, perfectly just in their application to different provinces of the same empire, are entirely misplaced if extended to different countries of the world, the more especially if placed in similar, or nearly similar, circumstances. The state of smothered or open hostility in which they are in general placed to each other, if their interests are at all at variance; the necessity of sheltering infant manufacturing industry from the dangerous competition of more advanced civilisation, or protecting old-established agricultural industry from the ruinous inroad of rude produce from poorer states, in which it is raised cheaper because money is less plentiful, render it indispensable that protection should exist on both sides. If it does not, the inevitable result will be, that the cultivators of the young state will destroy the agriculture of the old one, and the manufacturers of the old one extinguish the fabrics of the young. This effect is necessary, and, to all appearance, will ever continue; for the experience of every age has demonstrated that, so great is the effect of capital and civilisation applied to manufactures, and so inconsiderable, comparatively speaking, their influence upon agriculture, that the old state can always undersell the new one in the industry of towns, and the new one undersell the old one in the industry of the country. The proof of this is decisive. England, by the aid of the steam-engine, can[Pg 516] undersell the inhabitants of Hindostan in the manufacture of muslins from cotton growing on the banks of the Ganges; but with all the advantages of chemical manure and tile draining, it is undersold in the supply of food by the cultivators on the Mississippi.

This being a fixed law of nature, evidently intended to check the growth of old states, and promote the extension of mankind in the uncultivated parts of the earth, it is in vain to contend against it. So violently does free-trade displace industry on both sides, where it is fully established, that it is scarcely possible to conceive that two nations should at the same time run into the same glaring mistake; and thence the common complaint that no benefit is gained, but an infinite loss sustained, by its establishment in any one country, and that reciprocity is on one side only. As no adequate exchange of manufactures for subsistence is thus to be looked for, there must arise, in the old state, a constant exportation of the precious metals, attended by frequent commercial crises, and a constant increase in the weight of direct taxation. Should it prove otherwise, and two nations both go into the same system, it could lead to no other result but the stoppage of the growth of civilisation in the young one, and the destruction of national independence in the old. The former would never succeed in establishing commerce or manufactures, from the competition of the steam-engine in its aged neighbour; the latter would become dependent for subsistence on the plough of the young one. The rising agricultural state would be chained for ever to the condition of the serfs in Poland, or the boors in America; the stationary commercial state would fall into the degrading dependence of ancient Rome on the harvests of Egypt and Lybia.

Had it not been for the calamitous issue of the last harvest, in a part of the empire, it might have been difficult to say, to which side the weight of reason preponderated in these opposite arguments; and probably the people of the country would have continued permanently divided on them, according as their private interests or wishes were wound up with the buying and selling, or raising and producing classes in society. But an external calamity has intervened;—Providence has denied for a season, to one of the fruits of the earth, its wonted increase. The potato-rot has appeared; and nearly the whole subsistence of the people in the south and west of Ireland, and in the western Highlands of Scotland, has been destroyed. Between the failure in the potato crop, and the deficiency in that of oats, at least £15,000,000 worth of the wonted agricultural produce has disappeared in the British Islands. And the appearances which we now see around us are solely and entirely to be ascribed to that deficiency. No one need be told what these appearances are, or how deeply they have trenched upon the usual sources of prosperity in the empire: they have been told again and again, in parliament, at public meetings, and in the press, usque ad nauseam. Government has acted, if not judiciously, at least in the right spirit; its errors have been those of information, not of intention. The monster meetings, the flagrant ingratitude, the broken promises of the Irish Catholics, have been forgotten. England, as a nation, has acted nobly; she has overlooked her wrongs: she saw only her fellow-subjects in distress. £10,000,000 sterling have been voted by parliament in a single year for the relief of Irish suffering. Magnificent subscriptions, from the throne downwards, have attested the sympathy of the British heart with the tale of Irish and Highland suffering. But, notwithstanding all these astonishing exertions, and notwithstanding the existence of an unprecedented demand for labour in most parts of the country, in consequence of vast railway undertakings being on foot, on which at least £30,000,000 a-year must be expended for three or four years to come, distress is in many places most acute, in all severely felt. And what is very remarkable, and may be considered, as a distinctive sign of the times, specially worthy of universal attention, the suffering has now spread to those classes which are furthest removed from the blight of nature, and[Pg 517] fastened upon those interests which, according to the generally received opinion, should have been benefited rather than injured by the calamity which has occurred.

That some millions of cultivators in the southwest of Ireland, and some hundred thousand in the west Highlands of Scotland, should be involved, literally speaking, in the horrors of famine, in consequence of the universal failure of the crop which constituted at once their sole object of labour and only means of subsistence, may easily be understood. That this alarming failure should raise prices of every sort of food to the scarcity-level in every part of the empire, is equally intelligible; and that government, in conformity with the universal sense of the nation, should, in such an extremity, throw open the ports to all kinds of food, and thereby let in an unexampled amount of foreign produce to supply the failure of that usually raised at home, is an equally intelligible consequence. It may not be considered surprising, that starving multitudes should issue in all directions from the scene of wo in the Emerald Isle, to seek relief in the industry or charity of Great Britain; and that all the great towns in the west of the island should be overwhelmed with pauperism and typhus fever, in consequence of their being the first to be reached by the destructive flood; although it was hardly to be expected that a hundred and thirty-two thousand applications for relief were to be made to the parochial authorities of Liverpool in a single week; and that they returned thanks to Heaven when the influx of Irish paupers was reduced to two thousand a-week! But the remarkable thing, and the thing which the commercial classes certainly did not expect, is this:—The calamity has now reached themselves, although the hand of Providence has only stricken the producing agricultural classes. Trade never was lower, monied distress never more severe, markets of all sorts never were more rapidly declining, than during a period when importations of all sorts have been most rapidly increasing. Nearly all the manufactories in Lancashire and Lanarkshire are put on short time; the public funds and stocks of all sorts are falling; the rate of bankers' advances in Scotland is raised to six per cent;[7] seven per cent is charged in Liverpool and Glasgow on railway advances, and permanent loans are taken on railway debentures by the most experienced persons for three years at five per cent; the Bank of England has raised its discounts; our exports are rapidly declining; and all at a time, when the importation of all sorts of rude produce is on an unprecedented scale of magnitude, and the warehouses of Liverpool and Glasgow are literally bursting with the prodigious mass of grain stored in them from all parts of the world!

Fortunately, statistical documents exist, derived from official sources, which demonstrate beyond the possibility of doubt the coexistence of this vast increase in the amount of subsistence imported, and vast diminution in the amount of manufactures raised or exported in all parts of the British empire. A paper has lately been presented to parliament, showing the amount of imports, exports, and shipping during the year 1846, compared with 1845; from which this important and luminous fact is decisively established, how hard soever it may be to comprehend on the part of a large and influential portion of our politicians. From it it appears that the amount of subsistence imported in 1846 was six times greater than in 1845, although free-trade only commenced in the middle of the former year. It had reached the unparalleled amount in the latter year, of grain or flour, equal to five millions and a half quarters of grain. The tonnage inwards had turned five millions of tons; the custom-house duties, notwithstanding the numerous reductions of duties on imported articles, had risen £700,000 above the preceding year, and still kept above £22.000,000 sterling. Here, then, were all the sources and[Pg 518] marks of prosperity, so far as they depended on importations, in a state of unexampled vigour and efficiency. Was this attended, as we were constantly told it would be, by a corresponding impulse given to our fabrics? Has the increased activity of our manufacturing cities compensated for the sterility of so large a part of our fields? The fact is just the reverse. Though free-trade has only been in operation for the last six months of 1846, they were signalised by a universal decline in all the principal articles of our exportation; and, by the unanimous voice of all practical men, trade, so far as exports or production is concerned, never was in a more depressed state than when, so far as imports are concerned, it had attained an unprecedented extension.

Never was a truer observation than is made by the Free-Traders, when they assert that goods will not be sent into a nation for nothing; and that, if our imports increase, something that goes out must have received a proportional augmentation. They forget only one circumstance, which, however, is of some little consequence, namely, that two things may go out, goods or specie. We have melancholy proof, in the present state of the money market, that the latter occurrence has taken place to an inconvenient and distressing extent, and that that is the direct cause of the extravagant rate of interest charged on bankers' advances, and the general scarcity of money felt throughout the country. That the capital of the country is not only sufficient, but abundant, is decisively proved by the fact that, notwithstanding the vast extent of the railway and other undertakings of a public character going on both in Great Britain and Ireland, government has borrowed the loan of £8,000,000 for the relief of Ireland at £3, 7s. 6d. per cent. The three per cents are about 90, yielding about the same return for money. But is currency equally abundant? So far from it, the bankers are charging six, and the persons making advances on railway concerns seven per cent. The holder of capital is glad if he can get three and a half per cent; but the holder of currency will not let his notes or sovereigns out of his hand for less than six or seven per cent. Can there be a more convincing proof that the currency of the country has been unduly drained away, and that the present monetary system, which forbids any extension of it in paper when the specie is abstracted, is based on a wrong foundation? Nor is it surprising that the currency should be straitened when it is notorious that every packet which goes out to America takes out vast sums to that continent to pay for the immense quantities of grain which are brought in. That drain only began to be felt in a serious manner within the last two months, because the great shipments from America took place in November and December last, when the failure of the potato crop in this country was fully ascertained; and consequently, the payments made in bills at three months, required to be made in February and March. And when it is recollected that the quantity of grain imported in seven months only—viz. from 5th July 1846, to 5th February 1847—exceeded six millions of quarters, at the very time that all our exports were diminishing; it may be imagined how prodigious must have been the drain upon the metallic resources of the country to make up the balance.[8]

[Pg 519]

Sorely perplexed with results so diametrically opposite to all their doctrines as to an increase of importation being necessarily attended with a proportionate increase of exportation, and of all apprehension of an undue pressure thence arising on the money market being chimerical, the Free-Traders lay it all upon the famine at home or abroad. The potato-rot, it is said, has concealed the effects of free-trade: distress in foreign nations has disabled them to purchase our manufactures in return for their rude produce; the increase of British importation has come too soon to operate as yet on their purchase of our manufactures. Here again the facts come decisively to disprove the theoretical anticipations. So far has the increase of our importations been from being sudden, and come last year for the first time on foreign nations, it has been remarkably gradual, and has gone on for years, having received only a great impulse in the articles on which the duty was lessened or removed last summer. Our general imports have steadily advanced for the last three years; and in particular articles the same progress has been conspicuous.[9] How, then, has it happened that this general, continued, and steady increase of imports has issued only in a diminution to an alarming extent of exports? And observe, the countries from which we have imported so largely last year of grain and articles of subsistence, have not only not suffered by the scarcity general on the Continent, but have profited immensely by it. America has been blessed with a splendid crop of every species of grain; and, in consequence of the famine in Ireland and severe scarcity in France, prices of grain have risen to triple their former amount in the United States. It has risen so much in the southern states of Russia, that the Emperor of Russia has prohibited the farther exportation of it from the Black Sea. But all these floods of wealth flowing into the great grain states from the failure of the crops in France and Ireland, have been unavailing to produce any increased activity in our manufactures. On the contrary, they are all declining; and our immense importations of food are almost all paid for in direct exportations of the precious metals.

In truth, the general depression of manufactures in all the chief seats of our fabrics is so serious, that it is evidently owing to a much more general and stringent cause than the decline, considerable as it is, in our exports. It is not a decrease of two millions out of fifty-three millions—in other words, of less than a five-and-twentieth part—which will explain the general putting of mills in Lancashire and Lanarkshire on short time, the fall in the value of all kinds of stock and general decline in the vent for all kinds of manufactured produce. It is in the home markets that the real and blighting deficiency is experienced. And what is the cause of this decline in the home market? The Free-Traders are the first to tell us what has done it. It is the famine in Ireland. The total manufactured produce of the island is certainly not[Pg 520] under £200,000,000[10] annually, of which somewhat above £51,000,000 is for the foreign markets of the world. What is a deficiency of £2,000,000 in such a mass? If that had been the only decline that had taken place, it would have been scarcely perceptible, and would have left no visible effects on our commercial activity or general prosperity. It is clear that the great falling off must have been in the home market. Nor is it difficult to see how this has happened. Fifteen millions' worth of agricultural produce has disappeared; prices of wheat have risen in consequence to 80s. a-quarter, and oats in a still higher proportion; and an alarming drain upon the metallic resources of the country taken place. It is this which has paralysed the manufactures and depressed the commerce of the country. And when it is recollected that the home market now consumes little short of £150,000,000 a-year, it may easily be conceived what a serious check to industry a diminution to the amount of even an eighth or a tenth of the usual domestic purchases must occasion.

The Free-Traders say, that the famine in Ireland has concealed the effects of the adoption of their system of policy; and that all the distress and suffering which has ensued is to be ascribed to that cause. From the observations now made, however, it is apparent that the effect of the famine has been, not to conceal the effects of free-trade, but to accelerate them. For what has the famine done? It has simply caused fifteen millions' worth of domestic agricultural produce to be exchanged for fifteen millions' worth of foreign agricultural produce. The potato crop, which has perished in Ireland, is estimated at fifteen millions' worth; and, supposing that statement is a little exaggerated, it is probable that, taking into account the simultaneous failure in the crop of oats, both there and in Great Britain, the total amount of home agricultural produce that is deficient may amount to that value. But foreign agricultural produce, to an equal or greater amount, has been imported. Six millions of quarters, between grain of all sorts and flour, have been entered for home consumption in seven months preceding 5th February 1847. Taking these quarters, on an average, as worth fifty shillings to the consumer—which is certainly no extravagant estimate, seeing wheat is up at seventy-nine shillings—we shall have, then, six millions of quarters, worth fifteen millions sterling. The home agricultural produce that has failed is just equal in value to the foreign agricultural produce that has been imported. The distress that prevails, therefore, is not owing to any deficiency of food for man or animals in the United Kingdom, for as much has come in, of foreign produce, as has disappeared of domestic. It is entirely to be ascribed to the supplanting, in the national subsistence, of a large part of home produce by an equally large part of foreign produce. And in the social, commercial, and national effects which we see around us, we may discern, as in a mirror, not merely the probable but certain effects of such a substitution if perpetuated to future times.

This view of the subject is of such vast importance that we deem it impossible to impress it too strongly on our readers. We have been always told that the great thing is to secure a great importation; that such a thing must necessarily lead to a corresponding increase of exportation;—that all apprehension about the imports being paid in gold, and not in manufactures, are chimerical;—that the sooner the inferior lands in the British islands go out of cultivation the better;—that ample food for the inhabitants will be obtained from foreign states; and that the agriculturists thrown out of employment by the change will be rapidly absorbed, and more profitably employed in sustaining our extended manufactures. Well, the thing has been[Pg 521] done, and the desired consummation has taken place, from an extraneous cause, even more rapidly than was anticipated. The Free-Traders contemplated the substitution of foreign for British agricultural produce to the extent of fifteen or twenty millions as a most desirable result; but they only lamented it could not be looked for for three or four years. It would take that time to beat down the British farmer; to convince the cultivators of inferior lands of the folly of attempting a competition with the great grain districts of the Continent. Providence has done the thing at once. We have got on at railway speed to the blessings of the new system. Free-trade was to lead to the much-desired substitution of six million quarters of home for six million quarters of foreign grain in three years. But the potato-rot has done it in one. The free-trade rot could not have done it nearly so expeditiously, but it would have done it as effectually. It is a total mistake, therefore, to represent the famine in Ireland and the West of Scotland, as an external calamity which has concealed the natural effects of free-trade. It has only brought them to light at once.

Had British agriculture, instead of being stricken with sterility by the hand of Providence, in the poorest and worst cultivated part of the two islands, been suffered gradually to waste away, under the effects of a great and increasing foreign importation in all parts of the empire, the destruction of home produce would have been equally extensive, but it would have been more general. It would have risen to as great an amount, but it would not have been so painfully concentrated in particular districts. Hundreds would not have been dying of famine in Skibbereen; seed-corn would not have been awanting in Skye and Mull; cultivation would not have been abandoned in Tipperary; but the cessation of agricultural produce over the whole empire would have been quite as great. Low prices would have done the business as effectually, though not quite so speedily, as the pestilence which has smitten the potato-field. Whoever casts his eye on the table of prices given below[11] for twenty years in London[Pg 522] and Dantzic, must at once see that, under a free-trade system, as large an importation of foreign produce, and as extensive a contraction of home, as has taken place this year is to be permanently looked for. The exportation and return of the precious metals, and contraction of credit now felt as so distressing, may be expected to be permanent. Providence has given us a warning of the effects of our policy, before they have become irreparable. We have only to suppose the present state of commerce and manufactures lasting, and we have a clear vision of the blessings of free-trade.

Nor is there any difficulty in understanding how it happens that the substitution of a large portion of foreign, for an equal amount of home-grown produce, occasions such disastrous effects, and in particular proves so injurious to the commercial classes, who in the first instance generally suppose they are to be benefited by the change. If two or three millions of rural labourers in the poorest and worst cultivated districts of the island, are thrown out of employment, either by a failure in the vegetable on which alone, in their rude state, they can employ their labour, or by the gradual substitution of foreign for home produce in the supply of food for the people, it is a poor compensation to them to say that an equal amount of foreign grain has been brought into the commercial emporiums of the empire—that if they will leave Skibbereen or Skye, and come to Liverpool or Glasgow, they will find warehouses amply stored with grain, which at the highest current prices they will obtain to any extent they desire. The plain answer is, that they are starving; that their employment as well as subsistence is gone; that they have neither the means of transport, nor any money to buy grain when they reach the neighbourhood of the bursting warehouses. But then they will be absorbed in the great manufacturing districts, where their labour will be more profitable to themselves and others, than in their native wilds! Yes, there is a process of absorption goes on, on the occurrence of such a crisis; but it is not the absorption of labour by capital, but of capital by pauperism. Floods of starving destitutes inundate every steam-boat, harbour, and road, on the route to the scene of wo; and while the interior of the warehouses in the great commercial cities are groaning beneath the weight of foreign grain, the streets in their vicinity are thronged by starving multitudes, who spread typhus fever wherever they go, and fall as a permanent burden on the poor-rates of the yet solvent portions of the community.

And the effect of this importation of foreign grain, from whatever cause it arises, necessarily is to prevent this absorption of rural pauperism by manufacturing capital, to which the Free-traders so confidently look for the adjustment of society after the change has been made. The nations who supply us with grain do not want our manufactures. They will not buy them. What they want, is our money. They have not, and will not have, the artificial wants requisite for the general purchase of manufactures for a century to come. Generations must go to their graves during the transition from rustic content to civilised wants. America has sent us some millions of quarters of grain this year, but there is no increase in her orders for our manufactures. On the contrary, they are diminishing. Even the Free Trade Journals now admit this; constrained by the evidence of their senses to admit the entire failure of all their predictions.[12] The reason is evident. They want our money, and[Pg 523] our money they will have; and if they find our manufactures are beginning to flow in, in enlarged quantities, in consequence of our purchase of their grain, they will soon stop the influx by a tariff. This is what we did, when situated as they are—it is what all mankind will, and must do, in similar circumstances. It was distinctly perceived and foretold by the Protectionists that this effect would follow from free-trade, and that, unless something was done to enlarge the currency to meet it, a commercial crisis would ensue. These words published a year ago might pass for the history of the time in which we now live:—"Under the proposed reduced duties during the next three years, and trifling duty after that period on all sorts of grain, there can be no doubt that a very great impulse will be given to the corn-trade. It being now ascertained, by a comparison of the prices during the last twenty years, that there is annually a difference of from twenty to thirty shillings a-quarter between the price that wheat bears in the British islands and at the shores of the Baltic, while the cost of importation is only five or six shillings a-quarter, there can be no question that the opening of the ports will occasion a very large importation of foreign grain. It may reasonably be expected that, in the space of a few years, the quantity imported will amount to four or five millions of quarters annually, for which the price paid by the importers cannot be supposed to be less, on the most moderate calculation, than seven or eight millions sterling. The experience of the year 1839 sufficiently tells us what will be the effect of such an importation of grain, paid for, as it must be, for the most part in specie, upon the general monetary concerns and commercial prosperity of the empire. It is well known that it was this condition of things which produced the commercial crisis in this country, led to three years of unprecedented suffering in the manufacturing districts, and, as is affirmed, destroyed property in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire, to the amount of £40,000,000."[13]

Lastly, the famine has taught the empire an important lesson as to Irish Repeal. For many years past, that[Pg 524] country has been convulsed, and the empire harassed by the loud and threatening demand for the Repeal of the Union, and the incessant outcry that the Irish people are perfectly equal to the duties of self-government, and that all their distresses have been owing to the oppression of the Saxon. The wind of adversity has blown, and where are these menaces now? Had Providence punished them by granting their prayer—had England cut the rope, as Mr Roebuck said, and let them go, where would Ireland have been at this moment? Drifting away on the ocean of starvation. Let this teach them their dependence upon their neighbours, and let another fact open their eyes to what those neighbours are. England has replied to the senseless clamour, the disgraceful ingratitude, by voting ten millions sterling in a single year to relieve the distresses which the heedlessness and indolence of the Irish had brought upon themselves. We say advisedly, brought upon themselves. For, mark-worthy circumstance! the destruction of the potato crop has been just as complete, and the food of the people has been just as entirely swept away in the West Highlands of Scotland, as in Ireland, but there has been no grant of public money to Scotland. The cruel Anglo-Saxons have given it all to the discontented, untaxed Gael in the Emerald isle.


[7] Viz. 5-1/2 per cent on all advances on cash or current accounts, and 1/2 per cent commission on all sums overdrawn.

[8] Table showing the quantity of grain, including flour and meal, entered for home consumption, from 5th July 1846, to 5th February 1847, from the London Gazette official returns:—

Quarters of grain (including flour and meal) entered for home consumption, in the months from 5th July to 5th January as reported, 1st February,5,148,449
Quantity duty paid in month ending 5th Feb.539,418
Do. do. flour and meal, 427,036 cwts.142,345
Quantity duty paid up to 5th January,5,830,212
In bond, 5th February,68,939
Do. do. flour and meal, 318,240 cwts.106,080
Quantity in qrs. of duty paid and presently in bond, from month ending 5th July to 5th Feb.6,005,231
Imports,total official value,£75,441,555£85,281,958
Sugar, cwts."4,139,9834,880,7805,231,818
Tea, lbs."41,369,35144,195,32146,728,208
Coffee, lbs."31,391,29734,318,12136,781,391
Butter, cwts."180,965240,118255,130
Cheese, cwts."212,286258,246327,490
Live animals, No."8,00734,426140,752

[10] In 1840, the total amount was estimated at £180,000,000, of which £47,000,000, at that period, was for exportation, and £133,000,000 for the home market. As this £47,000,000 had swelled, in 1846, to £53,000,000, it is reasonable to suppose that those for the home market had undergone a similar increase, and are now about £200,000 annually.—See Speckman's Stat. Tables for 1842, p. 45.


Table of Average Prices of Wheat in Prussia and in England, from 1816 to 1837.

 Average prices in Prussia Proper including Dantzig and Konigsburg.Average prices in Brandenburg and Pomerania.Average prices per London Gazette.Difference between English Prices and Mean of Prussian Prices.Foreign Wheat and Flour consumed in Great Britain.
  s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. Qrs.
1816 36 9 44 6 76 2 35 6 225,263
1817 52 7 60 9 94 0 37 8 1,020,949
1818 49 6 53 5 83 8 32 2 1,593,518
1819 34 3 37 6 72 3 36 4 122,133
1820 27 3 30 0 65 10 37 2 34,274
1821 25 6 28 9 54 5 27 3 2
1822 26 0 26 8 43 3 16 11 ——
1823 24 2 26 9 51 9 26 5 12,137
1824 18 6 20 0 62 0 43 3 15,777
1825 17 3 17 9 66 6 49 0 525,231
1826 18 6 21 0 56 11 37 2 315,892
1827 22 3 25 9 56 9 32 9 572,733
1828 27 2 28 9 60 5 32 5 842,050
1829 32 3 35 0 66 3 32 7 1,364,220
1830 29 6 34 0 64 3 32 6 1,701,885
1831 39 6 39 0 66 4 27 1 1,491,631
1832 34 0 33 6 58 8 24 11 325,435
1833 25 0 23 6 52 11 28 8 82,346
1834 23 9 23 0 46 2 21 10 64,653
1835 23 0 24 0 39 4 15 10 28,483
1836 21 0 23 0 48 6 26 6 30,046
1837 22 6 26 0 56 10 32 7 244,085

[12] "The excessive consumption of these and other articles has, however, only led to a drain of bullion to the extent of three millions and a half, while, upon a moderate computation, they would appear to call for three times that amount. This is to be accounted for by two facts—The first being that we have not imported, and paid for as much as we have consumed, since, conjointly with our importations, we have been steadily eating up former reserves, so that our stock of all kinds—coffee, sugar, rice, &c., are low; and, next, because we have diminished our importations of raw material in a remarkable degree, and hence, while paying for provisions, have lessened our usual payments on this score. Here, too, in like manner, we have been drawing upon our reserves. Our manufactures have been carried on with hemp, flax, and cotton, which had been paid for in former years, and we have left ourselves at the present moment short of all these articles, the stock of the latter alone, on the 1st of January last, as compared with the preceding year, being 545,790 against 1,060,560 bales. We are not only poorer, therefore, by all the bullion we have lost, but by all the stock we have thus consumed.

"This process cannot go on any longer. We have now no accumulations to eat into, and must, consequently, pay for what we use. Concurrently, therefore, with our importations of corn and other provisions, (which are now going on at a much greater rate, and at much higher prices than in 1846,) and just in proportion as they beget a demand for our manufactures, we must have importations of raw material. Large purchases of hemp and flax are alleged to have been made in the north of Europe, for spring shipment, and cotton from the United States is only delayed by the want of ships. Wool from Spain, and the Mediterranean, saltpetre, oil-seeds, &c., from India, and a host of minor articles, have also been kept back by the same cause, and will pour in upon us to make up our deficiencies directly any relaxation shall take place (if such could be foreseen) of the universal influx of grain. In this way, just as one cause of demand diminishes the other will increase, and the balance will be kept up against us for a period to which at present it is impossible to fix a limit.

"We thus see that no call that can possibly arise for our manufactures can have the effect of preventing a continuous drain of bullion. That a large trade will occur no one can doubt, but at present it is scarcely even in prospect. From India and China each account comes less favourable than before; from Russia we are told that 'no great demand can be expected for British goods under the present high duties' in that country; while even from the United States, the point from whence relief will most rapidly come, we hear of a shrewd conviction that we are approaching a period of low prices, and that, consequently, for the present 'the less they order from us the better.'"—Times, March 10, 1847.

[13] England in 1815 and 1845, pp. v-vii. Preface to third edition, published in June 1846.

Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume
61, No. 378, April, 1847, by Various


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