The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 62,
Number 385. November, 1847., by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 62, Number 385. November, 1847.

Author: Various

Release Date: August 25, 2008 [EBook #26433]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Brendan OConnor, Erica Hills, Jonathan Ingram
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
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Transcriber's Note

Spellings are sometimes erratic. A few obvious misprints and punctuation omissions have been corrected, but in general the original spelling has been retained.




The Navigation Of The Antipodes515
American Copyright.534
Evenings At Sea.—no. II.
Henry Meynell547
Was Rubens A Colourist?564
The American Library.574
Units: Tens: Hundreds: Thousands.593
Research And Adventure In Australia.602
Magus Muir.614
A November Morning's Reverie.618
Valedictory Visits At Rome.
The Villa Borghese.622
The Villa Albani.625
Highland Destitution.630
[Pg 515]


One of the most striking, and perhaps the most intellectual advances of the age, is in the progress of geographical discovery. It is honourable to England, that this new impulse to a knowledge of the globe began with her spirit of enterprise, and it is still more honourable to her that that spirit was originally prompted by benevolence. Cook, with whose voyages this era may be regarded as originating, was almost a missionary of the benevolence of England, and of George III.; and the example of both the great discoverer and the good king has been so powerfully impressed on all the subsequent attempts of English adventurers, that there has been scarcely a voyage to new regions which has not been expressly devised to carry with it some benefit to their people.

When the spirit of discovery was thus once awakened, a succession of intelligent and daring men were stimulated to the pursuit; and the memorable James Bruce, who had begun life as a lawyer, grown weary of the profession, and turned traveller through the South of Europe at a period when the man who ventured across the Pyrenees was a hero; gallantly fixed his eyes on Africa, as a region of wonders, of which Europe had no other knowledge than as a land of lions, of men more savage than the lions, and of treasures of ivory and gold teeming and unexhausted since the days of Solomon. The hope of solving the old classic problem, the source of the Nile, pointed his steps to Abyssinia, and after a six years' preparation in his consulate of Algiers, he set forward on his dangerous journey, and arrived at the source of the Bahr-el-Azrek, (the Blue River,) one of the branches of the great river. Unluckily he had been misdirected, for the true Nile is the Bahr-el-Abiad, (the White River.)

His volumes, published in 1790, excited equal curiosity and censure; but the censure died away, the curiosity survived, and a succession of travellers, chiefly sustained by the African Association, penetrated by various routes into Africa.

The discovery of the course of the Niger was now the great object. And Mungo Park, a bold and intelligent discoverer, gave a strong excitement to the public feeling by his "Travels," published towards the close of the century. His adventures were told in a strain of good sense and simplicity which fully gratified the public taste. And on his unfortunate death, which happened in a second exploration of the Niger in 1805, another expedition was fitted out under Captain Tuckey, an experienced seaman, to ascertain the presumed identity of the Congo with the Niger. But the[Pg 516] sea-coast of Africa is deadly to Europeans, and this effort failed through general disease.

The next experiment was made by land—from Tripoli across the Great Desert—under Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney. This effort was partially baffled by sickness, but still more by the arts of the native chiefs, who are singularly jealous of strangers. In a second attempt Clapperton, the only survivor of the former, died.

The problem of the course of the Niger was reserved for Richard Lander, who in 1830, sailed down the Niger from Baossa, and reached the Atlantic by the river Nun, one of its branches.

Other travellers, more highly accomplished, but less fortunate, had in the meantime explored the countries to the east and north of the Mediterranean. Of these, Burckhardt, a German, was among the most distinguished. After preparing himself for the most complete adoption of Mahometan life by a sojourn of two years at Aleppo, and even risking the pilgrimage to Mecca, he was on the point of travelling to Fezzan, when he died of a country fever. His works throw much light on the habits and literature of Syria and Palestine. The narratives of Hamilton, Leigh, Belzoni, and of Salt the consul in Egypt, largely increased the public interest in countries, universally known to have been the birth-places of religion, science, and literature; and Lane and Wilkinson have admirably availed themselves of those discoveries, and added important information of their own.

The old connexion of trade with China naturally suggested a wish for more direct intercourse with that mysterious region, and in 1792, an embassy conducted by Lord Macartney was sent to Pekin. The narrative of the embassy, by Sir George Staunton, contributed largely to our knowledge of the interior. But the late Chinese war, and the freedom of our commerce, will probably open up all the secrets of this most jealous of empires.

The geographical discoveries of this embassy were of more value than its diplomatic services. The coast of Corea was found to be bordered by a vast and fertile Archipelago. The sea is actually studded with islands; and the narratives of Macleod, and Captain Basil Hall, the latter one of the liveliest narrators of his time, gave the impression, that they contained scenes of singular beauty.

On the cessation of the war in 1815, the British Admiralty directed their leisure to the promotion of science; and the exploration of the northern coasts of America was commenced in a series of expeditions under the command of Parry, Ross, Back, Franklin, and other enterprising officers. Their narratives gave us new islands and bays, but the great problem of the north-west passage continues unsolved.

It has been alleged, that such expeditions are useless. But it must be remembered, that true philosophy disdains no advance of knowledge as useless; that, however difficult, or even to our present means impassable, the route may be, no man can decide on the means of posterity; that we may yet find facilities as powerful for passing the ice and the ocean, as the railroad for traversing the land; and that the evident design of Providence in placing difficulties before man is, to sharpen his faculties for their mastery. We have already explored the whole northern coast, to within about two hundred miles from Behring's Straits, and an expedition is at present on foot which will probably complete the outline of the American continent towards the Pole.

Within the last quarter of a century, discovery has turned to the islands of the Pacific, perhaps the most favoured region of the globe. Our great continental colony of Australia, its growing population, and its still more rapidly growing enterprise—its probable influence on our Indian empire, and its still more probable supremacy over the islands which cover the central Pacific, from the tenth to the forty-fifth degrees of south latitude; have for the last thirty years strongly directed the observation of government to the south. And a succession of exploring voyages, from the days of Vancouver to the present time, have been employed in ascertaining the character[Pg 517] of superb shores, and the capabilities of vast countries, which will perhaps, in another century, exhibit the most vivid prosperity, cultivation, and activity, of any dominion beyond the borders of Europe.

Australia has an importance in the eyes of England, superior perhaps to all her other colonies. The climate is obviously more fitted for the English frame than that of Canada or the West Indies. The English settler alone is master of the mighty continent of New Holland; for the natives are few, savage, and rapidly diminishing. The Englishman may range over a territory of two thousand miles long, by seventeen hundred broad, without meeting the subject of any other sovereign, or hearing any other language than his own. The air is temperate, though so near the equator, and the soil, though often unfertile, is admirably adapted to the rearing of sheep and cattle. The adjoining islands offer the finest opportunities for the commercial enterprise of the Englishman; and its directness of navigation to India or China, across an ocean that scarcely knows a storm, give it the promise of being the great eastern depôt of the world. Van Diemen's Land, about the size, with more than the fertility of Ireland, is said to resemble Switzerland in picturesque beauty; and New Zealand, a territory of fifteen hundred miles in length, and of every diversity of surface, is already receiving the laws and the population of England.

The distance is the chief drawback. Sydney is, by ordinary ship's course, sixteen thousand miles from London, and the voyage, under the most prosperous circumstances, has hitherto occupied about four months. But better hopes are at hand.

On the 20th of last May, a charter was obtained by a company for establishing a steam communication with Sydney, which proposes to make the whole course within about two months. The route is as follows,—making twelve thousand seven hundred and thirty miles in sixty-four days:—

From England to Singapore, by Egypt, eight thousand three hundred and ninety miles. From Singapore to Fort Essington, by Batavia, two thousand miles. From Port Essington to Sydney, two thousand three hundred and forty miles; the rate being one hundred and ninety-nine miles a-day. The first portion occupying forty-two days,—the second, ten,—and the third, twelve.

The subject was, for a considerable time, before government, and various plans of communication had been suggested.—A route by the Isthmus of Darien, and a route by the Cape with a branch to the Mauritius. The route by Egypt and India has at length been chosen, and the most sanguine hopes are entertained of its success. The steam establishment will have the farther advantage of shortening the distance by one-half between Calcutta and Sydney; and reducing it to thirty days, or perhaps less.

Bright prospects, too, are opening for India herself. The great railway is decided on, the engineers are about to embark, and the harvests of cotton and the thousand other tropical productions with which that most magnificent of all countries is covered, will be poured into the bosom of Australia and the world.

It is scarcely possible to look upon the results of establishing railroads in India, without something of the enthusiasm which belongs more to poetry than to statistics. But, "in the Golden Peninsula," there spreads before the Englishman a space of nearly a million and a quarter of square miles, inhabited by about one hundred and thirty-four millions of souls, with a sea-coast of immense extent, washed by two oceans, and bordering on vast countries of hitherto unexplored opulence. The resources of Birmah, Siam, and the Eastern Archipelago, have been scarcely touched by the hand of man. Savage governments, savage nations, and savage indolence, have left those countries almost in a state of nature; yet it is within the tropics that the true productiveness of the earth is alone to be looked for. Our long winters, our mountains, and the comparative sterility of Europe, prohibit that richness of produce which only waits the hand of man in the South, and it is only when the industry of the European shall be suffered to throw its strength into the Asiatic soil, that man will ever be able to discover[Pg 518] the true extent of the bounties provided for him by creation.

The three great divisions, or rather three zones of India—the country comprehending the great northern chain of mountains, the belt of plains, from the foot of the mountains to the head of the peninsulas, a breadth of twelve hundred miles; and the peninsula itself, a territory extending from thirty-five degrees north latitude to the equator—give every temperature and every product of the world. The mighty rivers intersecting this region, the Indus, the Ganges, and their tributaries, will soon be occupied by the steamboat; and the railway, running through immense plains on which the harvests of thousands of years have been suffered to perish, will soon develope the powers of the people and the fertility of the soil, by opening to India the market of all nations.

It is to India, that the chief enterprise of British commerce and civilisation should be directed by an intelligent legislature. The country will naturally become a vast British province, and this, not by violence or injustice, but by the course of things, and the interests of India itself. The native princes, reared in vice and indolence, will be speedily found unfit to meet the requisitions of a people growing in instruction. The race will perish, and their power will be made over to England. The Indian, hitherto the slave of a capricious tyranny, will then become the object of a judicious protection,—his property secure, his person safe, his rights guarded, and with equal law, in place of the grasping avarice of a crafty minister, or the hot fury of a drunken tyrant. The Indian subject of England will then form a contrast to the wretched serf of a Rajah, that will be a more powerful pledge of obedience than fifty conquests.

Even now, it can be no longer said, in the words of the eloquent appeal of Burke, that if we left India, we should have no more monuments of our sojourn to show, than if we had been lions and tigers. We shall have to show the steamboat, the railroad, and the true origin and foundation of both,—public honour, public intelligence, and a sense of the rights of subjects and the duties of sovereigns.

The increasing passage of the southern commerce through Torres Strait, had attracted the notice of the British government to the peculiar perils of the navigation. The Strait is one of difficult passage from the state of the currents, reefs, &c., and the difficulty was enhanced by the imperfect nature of the charts. Along the east coast of Australia, and as far to the north as New Guinea, an immense ridge of coral rock extends; and through the gaps in this barrier reef, vessels must find their way to the Torres Strait. The two government vessels, the Fly and the Bramble, were sent out to make a survey of the barrier reef. The especial objects of the expedition being—the survey of the eastern edge of the great chain of reefs—the examination of all the channels through the barrier reef, with details of those which afford a safe passage—and the erection of beacons on their outer islands as guides to the navigation.

The commanders of the vessels were directed to give marked attention to all circumstances connected with the health of the crews, the climate, temperature, products, and science; and especially the phenomena of magnetism. A geologist and a zoologist were added to the expedition, the whole under the command of Captain Francis Blackwood. In order to make the subsequent details more intelligible, we give a brief abstract of the voyage. The Fly, with her tender the Bramble schooner, sailed from Falmouth, April 11, 1842, and made the usual course to the Cape, touching at Teneriffe on the way, where a party ascended the Peak, and determined its height to be twelve thousand and eighty feet above the sea. Reaching Van Diemen's Land in August, and Australia soon after, they sailed from Port Stephens December 19, to commence their survey. After an examination of the Capricorn Group, they commenced the survey of the northern part of the great barrier-reef, up to the Murray Islands.

In the next year, they erected a beacon on Raines Islet to mark the entrance of a good passage through the reef. The rest of the year was spent in surveying Torres Straits. They remained thus occupied till the beginning of 1845, when they sailed for Europe, and anchored at Spithead[Pg 519] in June 1845, after an absence of three years.

The result of those investigations was, a large accession to our previous knowledge of the sea to the eastward of Australia, now become important from our settlements; and a survey of five hundred miles of the great chain of coral reefs which act as the breakwater against the ocean.

We have heard much of coral islands, certainly the most curious means of increasing the habitable part of the world; in fact, a new insect manufacture of islands. They are of all sizes. We give the description of a small one of this order in the Capricorn Group, an assemblage of islands and reefs on the north-east coast of Australia, so called from the parallel of the Tropic of Capricorn passing through them.

"The beach was composed of coarse fragments of worn corals and shells bleached by the weather. At the back of it, a ridge of the same materials four or five feet high, and as many yards across, completely encircled the Island, which was not a quarter of a mile in diameter. Inside this regular ridge was a small sandy plain. The encircling ridge was occupied by a belt of small trees, while on the plain grew only a short scrubby vegetation, a foot or two in height. Some vegetable soil was found, a few inches in thickness, the result of the decomposition of vegetable matter and birds' dung. On the weather side of the island was a coral reef of two miles in diameter, enclosing a shallow lagoon. In this lagoon were both sharks and turtles swimming about. The island was stocked with sea-fowl, and the trees were loaded with their nests."

It was a sort of bird-paradise, into which the foot of man, the destroyer, had probably never entered before.

There is considerable beauty in a small coral reef, when seen from a ship's mast-head, at a short distance, in clear weather. A small island with a white sand-beach and a tuft of trees, is surrounded by a symmetrically oval space of shallow water, of a bright grass-green colour, enclosed by a ring of glittering surf as white as snow; immediately outside of which is the rich dark blue of deep water. All the sea is perfectly clear from any mixture of sand or mud. It is this perfect clearness of the water which renders navigation among coral reefs at all practicable; as a shoal with even five fathoms water on it, can be discerned at a mile distance from a ship's mast-head, in consequence of its greenish hue contrasting with the blue of deep water. In seven fathoms water, the bottom can still be discerned on looking over the side of a boat, especially if it have patches of light-coloured sand; but in ten fathoms the depth of colour can scarcely be distinguished from the dark azure of the unfathomable ocean. This bed of reefs stretches along the coast of Australia, and across Torres Strait, nearly to the coast of New Guinea, a distance of one thousand miles!

One of the charms of Natural History is, that it gives a perpetual interest to Nature,—that things, to the common eye of no attraction, have the power of giving singular gratification; and that, in fact, the intelligent naturalist is indulged with a sense of beauty, and an accession of knowledge in almost every production of nature. We cannot avoid quoting the example in the writer's own words. The subject was a block of coral, accidentally brought up by a fish-hook from the bottom of one of the anchorages. Nothing could have been less promising, and any one but a naturalist would have pronounced it to be nothing but a piece of rock, and have flung it into the sea again. But what a source of interest does it become in the hands of the man of science.

"It was a mere worn dead fragment, but its surface was covered with brown, crimson, and yellow Nulliporæ, many small Actinæ, and soft branching Corallines, Flustra, and Eschara, and delicate Reteporæ, looking like beautiful lace-work carved in ivory. There were several small sponges and Alcyonia, seaweeds of two or three species, two species of Comatula, and one of Aphiura, of the most vivid colours and markings, and many small, flat, round corals, something like Nummulites in external appearance.

"On breaking into the block, boring shells of several species pierced it in all directions, many still containing their inhabitants; while two or three[Pg 520] Nereis lay twisted in and out among its hollows and recesses, in which, likewise, were three small species of crabs."

If it should be supposed that the receptacle or nidus of all those curious and varied things was a huge mass of rock, we are informed that,—

"The block was not above a foot in diameter, and was a perfect museum in itself, while its outside glared with colour, from the many brightly and variously coloured animals and plants. It was by no means a solitary instance; every block which could be procured from the bottom, in from ten to twenty fathoms, was like it."

The reflection on this exuberance of nature is striking and true.—"What an inconceivable amount of animal life must be here scattered over the bottom of the sea! to say nothing of that moving through its waters; and this through spaces of hundreds of miles: every corner and crevice, every point occupied by living beings, which, as they become more minute, increase in tenfold abundance."

And let it be remembered, too, that those creatures have not merely life, but enjoyment; that they are not created for any conceivable use of man, but for purposes and pleasures exclusively suited to their own state of existence; that they exist in millions of millions, and that the smallest living thing among those millions, not merely exceeds in its formation, its capacities, and its senses, all that the powers of man can imitate, but actually offers problems of science, in its simple organisation, which have baffled the subtlest human sagacity since the creation, and will probably baffle it while man treads the globe.

In the navigation along the coast, the officers had frequent meetings with the natives, who seemed to have known but little of the English settlements, for their conduct was exactly that of the savage. They evidently looked with as much surprise on the ships, the boats, and the men, as the inhabitants of Polynesia looked upon the first navigators to their shores. They were all astonishment, much craft, and a little hostility on safe occasions.

But some parts of the coast still invite the settler, and the communication of this knowledge from a pen so unprejudiced as that of the voyager, may yet be a service in directing the course of colonisation. We are told that the tract of coast between Broad Sound and Whitsunday Passage, between the parallels of twenty-two degrees fifteen seconds, and twenty degrees twenty seconds, exhibits peculiar advantages. Superior fertility, better water, and a higher rise of tide, are its visible merits. A solid range of hills, of a pretty uniform height, cuts off from the interior a lower undulating strip of land from five to ten miles broad, the whole seeming to be of a high average fertility for Australia. The grass fine, close, and abundant; the timber large-sized and various. The coast is indented with many small bays and inlets. The great rise and fall of tide is, of course, admirably adapted for the construction of docks for the building and repair of ships.

Nor are those advantages limited to the soil. The coast is protected, as well as enriched and diversified, by numerous small islands, lofty, rocky, and picturesque, covered with grass and pines.

The most vexatious part of the narrative relates to the natives; whether they have been molested by the half-savage whalers, or are treacherous by habit, it was found necessary to be constantly on the watch against their spears. The parties who were sent on shore merely to take astronomical observations, were assailed, and were sometimes forced to retaliate. Instead of the generally thin and meagre population of Australia, some of those tribes were numerous, and of striking figure, especially in the neighbourhood of Buckingham Bay. These were friendly and familiar at first, often coming to the ships; and so much confidence was at last placed in them, that the boats' crews neglected to take their arms with them when they went for water, or to haul the seine; but this was soon found to be perilous confidence.

"On the very last night of our stay, after catching a good haul of fish, and distributing some of them to the natives, the boats were suddenly assailed by a shower of spears and stones from the bushes. The boatswain was knocked down by a large stone and much hurt. Luckily, one[Pg 521] of the men had a fowling-piece, and after firing it without producing any effect, a ball was found in the boat, with which one of the black fellows was hit, and the attack immediately ceased.

"The man who was struck, after giving a start and a scream, showed the marks on his breast and arms to his companions; and then going to the water, and washing off the blood, seemed to think no more of it, but walked about with perfect unconcern."

Their spears exhibited a degree of ingenuity, which deserts them in every instance of supplying the better wants of life. Into a piece of bamboo, six feet three inches long, is inserted a piece of heavy wood, two feet seven inches long, the junction being very neatly and firmly secured with grass and gum. This piece of wood tapers to a point, on which is fastened an old nail, very sharp, and bent up, so as to serve for a barb; behind which, again, are two other barbs, made of the spines from the tail of the stingray. All these are so secured by fine grass and gum, that while quite firm against any ordinary resistance in entering the body, a much less force would tear them off, in endeavouring to withdraw the spear.

The beauty of some of the coral reefs occasionally excited great admiration.

"I had hitherto," observes the writer, "been rather disappointed by the coral reefs, so far as beauty was concerned; and though very wonderful, I had not seen in them much to admire. One day, however, on the lee side of one of the outer reefs, I had reason to change my opinion.

"In a small bight of the inner edge of the reef was a sheltered nook, where every coral was in full life and luxuriance. Smooth round masses Mœndrina and Astrœa were contrasted with delicate leaf-like and cup-shaped expansions of Explanaria, and with an infinite variety of Madreporiæ and Seriatoporæ, some with more finger-shaped projections, others with large branching stems, and others again exhibiting an elegant assemblage of interlacing twigs, of the most delicate and exquisite workmanship. Their colours were unrivalled—vivid greens, contrasting with more sober browns and yellows, mingled with rich shades of purple, from pale pink to deep blue. Bright red, yellow, and peach-coloured Nulliporæ clothed those masses that were dead, mingled with beautiful pearly flakes of Eschara and Retepora.

"Among the branches of the corals, like birds among trees, floated many beautiful fish, radiant with metallic greens and crimsons, or fancifully banded with black and yellow stripes. Patches of clear white sand were seen here and there for the floor, with dark hollows and recesses, beneath overhanging masses and ledges. All those, seen through the clear crystal water, the ripple of which gave motion and quick play of light and shadow to the whole, formed a scene of the rarest beauty, and left nothing to be desired by the eye, either in elegance of form or brilliancy and harmony of colouring."

This description we recommend to the rising generation of poets. It may furnish them with a renewal of those conceptions of the dwellings of sea nymphs and syrens, which have, grown rather faded, from hereditary copying, but which would be much refreshed by a voyage to the Great Barrier Reef, or its best substitute, a glance at Mr Jukes's clever volumes.

We now pass generally over the prominent features of this part of the expedition. As it had been among the directions given by the Admiralty, to mark the principal passage through the great reef by a beacon, they fixed on Raine's Island, where they disturbed a colony of another kind. The whole surface of the island, (a small one, of one thousand yards long by five hundred wide, and in no part more than twenty feet above high-water mark,) was covered with birds, young and old; there were frigate birds, gannets, boobies, noddies, and black and white terns; the only land birds being land-rails. The description is very peculiar and picturesque. The frigate birds, (who may have acted as a sort of aristocracy,) had a part completely to themselves; their nests were a platform of a foot high, on each of which was one young bird, (the heir to the estate.) But there were young of all growths,[Pg 522] some able to fly, some just hatched, and covered with a yellowish down. Those which could not fly assumed a fierce aspect at the approach of strangers, and snapped their beaks. The boobies and gannets each also formed separate flocks, but few of them had either eggs or young ones. All the rest of the island was covered with the eggs and young ones of the terns and noddies. The terns' eggs lay scattered about the ground, without any nest; the young terns also seemed each unalterably attached to the spot where it had been hatched, and immediately returned to it on being driven off.

As night closed in, it was curious to see the long lines and flocks of birds streaming from all quarters of the horizon towards the island. The noise was incessant and most tiresome. On walking rapidly into the centre of the island, countless myriads of birds rose shrieking on every side, so that the clangour was absolutely deafening, "like the roar of some great cataract." The voyagers could see no traces of natives, nor of any other visitors to the island.

Among the wonders of creation is the existence of those myriads of creatures, wholly beyond the uses of man, living where man had probably never trod since the Deluge, enjoying life to the full capabilities of their organisation, sustained by an unfailing provision, and preserved in health, animation, and animal happiness, generation after generation, through thousands of years. Such is the work of divine power; but can it be doubted that it is also the work of divine benevolence; that the Great Disposer of all takes delight in giving enjoyment to all the works of his hand; that He rejoices in multiplying the means of enjoyment, its susceptibilities and its occasions, to the utmost measure consistent with the happiness of the whole; and that—even in those vast classes of inferior being which can have no faculty of acknowledging their benefactor, from whom He can obtain no tribute of affection, no proof of obedience, and no return of gratitude—His exhaustless desire, of communicating happiness acts throughout all?

This view certainly cannot be got rid of by saying, that all classes of nature are essential to each other. What was the importance of a flock of sea fowl in the heart of the Pacific to the human race for the last four thousand years? or what may it ever be? Yet they pursue their instincts, exert their powers, sweep on the winds, range over the ocean, and return on the wing night by night to their island, nestle in their accustomed spots, and flutter over their young, without a shock or a change, without a cessation of their pleasures or a diminution of their powers through ages! What must be the vigilance which watches over their perpetual possession of existence and enjoyment; or what conclusion can be more just, natural, or consolatory than that, "if not a sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge and supervision of Providence," a not less vigilant care, and a not less profuse and exalted beneficence will be the providential principle of the government of man, and the world of man!

The examination of Torres Strait was a chief object of the expedition; and we therefore give a sketch of a passage which is constantly rising in importance.

All the islands which stretch across the Strait have a common character; all are steep and rocky, and some six hundred feet in height. They are, in fact, the prolongation of the great mountain chain of the eastern coast of Australia. The especial importance of Torres Strait is, that it must continue to be almost the only safe route to the Indian Ocean from the South Pacific—the S.E. trade-wind blowing directly for the Strait nearly the whole year within the tropics, and during the summer being the prevailing wind over a large part of the extra-tropical sea. The attempt to pass to the north of New Guinea would encounter a longer route, with dangers probably much greater, in a sea still comparatively unexamined.

But it is admitted that the navigation of the Torres Strait and the Coral Sea, however exactly surveyed, must always be hazardous. Hazy weather, errors of reckoning, errors in the chronometer, &c., must always produce a considerable average of[Pg 523] casualties in the Strait. Yet, from the nature of the reef, when these casualties do occur, the vessel will generally be fixed on the rocks long enough for the crew to escape in their boats. There, however, a new hazard begins. The only places of refuge for these boats at present are Port Essington, six hundred miles beyond Cape York; or Coupang, in Timor, five or six hundred miles further to the westward.

Mr Jukes strongly recommends the formation of a post at Cape York, as not merely enabling the shipwrecked crews to arrive at an immediate place of safety, but as affording assistance to the vessel, and securing her cargo. From Cape York there would be easy opportunities of a passage to Singapore. In case of war, the advantages of having a military station at this point would be of the highest value; as, otherwise, an enemy's corvette might command the Strait. It would also make a valuable depôt for stores necessary for the relief of vessels. In case of the further extension of steam navigation between India and New South Wales, of which there can now be no doubt, Cape York would make an excellent coal depôt. In short, unless the narrator's imagination runs away with him, it would answer any necessary purpose of navigation, and ought to attract the consideration of government without loss of time.

Allowing for all the ardour of fancy, there can be no question that the period is coming rapidly when the mind of Europe will be strongly directed to the natural wealth of the vast chain of islands reaching from New Caledonia to New Guinea. China, the Moluccas, and the great islands of the South, will hereafter supply a commerce unequalled in the East, or perhaps in the world. Of this Torres Strait must inevitably be the channel; a new city will be necessary to concentrate that commerce, and Cape York offers the foundation for a new Singapore.

If a philosopher were to inquire, in what portion of the globe man might enjoy the largest portion of physical happiness; or if a politician were to search for a new seat of empire, combining the capacity of sustaining the largest population and the most direct action on the great adjoining continent; or if the merchant were to examine the Asiatic hemisphere, with a mere view to the richness and variety of products—each would probably decide for the Indian Archipelago; that immense region of immense islands lying between Sumatra and New Guinea, east and west, and the Philippines and Timor, north and south.

They are at least a wholly new region; for though peopled for hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years, and visited in the old times of European commerce with more frequency than even in our active day, their actual condition remains nearly unknown: their fertility is comparatively neglected; their spontaneous products are left to waste; their singular beauty is disregarded, and their mineral wealth is unwrought. Their people are content with savage existence, and the bounty of Heaven is thrown away in the loveliest portion of the globe. Piracy at sea, war on land, tyranny, vice, and ignorance, are the habits and characteristics of a zone which could sustain a population as numerous as that of Europe, and supply the wants and even the luxuries of half the world. Celebes, New Guinea, Timor, Java, Borneo, that most magnificent of all islands, if it should not rather be called a continent: the vast group of the Philippines, only await the industry and intelligence of Europe. They will yet be brilliant kingdoms and mighty empires.

Why such noble realms should have been long given over to barbarism is among the most curious questions of the philosopher, and of the Christian. May they not have been kept back from European possession and utility on the providential principle, which we discover so often in the general order of the divine government; namely, to be reserved as a reward and a stimulant to the growing progress of mankind? They may have been suffered to remain in a state of savage life as a penalty for the profligacy of their people, or they may have been condemned to their mysterious obscurity until the impress of British power on India and China should have been deeply made, and England should be led, by the possession of India and the[Pg 524] opening of the Chinese coasts, to follow the new course of wealth prepared for her in the commerce of the Indian Ocean.

Whatever may be the truth of those suggestions, nothing can be more evident, than that British discovery and British interests are now involuntarily taking that direction. The settlement on Borneo by the enterprise and intelligence of Mr Brookes has given our commerce, a sudden and most unexpected footing in this queen of the Indian Ocean. The English colonisation of Australia will inevitably sustain that intercourse. The flourishing settlement of Singapore, and the growing population of the west coast of America, from Oregon down to California, all converge toward the same result, the increased commerce and civilisation of the Indian islands.

It is also to be remembered, that those are all events of the last ten years. But when Mexico shall have given up the Californias, which there seems every probability of her being compelled to do, or to see them overrun by the active emigration from the United States, the impulse will be still more rapid, powerful, and extensive. We look upon the whole series of these coasts as all indication of some striking advance prepared for the general family of man.

In October 1844 the Fly left Port Essington, on her way to Java to refit. On the way they passed a succession of islands, known by scarcely more than name to the English navigator. They all seem to be volcanic, though their volcanoes may sleep; and rapid as the glance of the voyagers was, they all, even in the wildness of precipitous shores and mountain peaks, exhibited beauty.

They steered up the channel which passes between the shores of Java and Madura, an island which seems to have been cut out of Java. The Madura shore showed a continuous belt of the richest tropical vegetation. The Java shore, though flat and swampy in this part, showed a back ground of mountains, some of them from ten thousand to twelve thousand feet high. They were now in Dutch territory; and, passing by some Dutch steamers and vessels of war, cast anchor near the town of Sourabaya. Here the captain and some of the officers landed, found a large new fort or citadel in the act of fortifying; walked through the town, which contained many good European houses, mingled with hovels of the natives and Chinese; dined at a good table-d'hôte, got into a calèche, and drove round the town, which seemed very extensive, and its suburbs still more so. Here, except for the visages of the natives and the lamps of the Chinese, they might have imagined themselves in Europe again. They drove up one road and down another for several miles, under avenues of trees, interrupted here and there by the country-houses of Europeans. Many of those seemed spacious; and all were thrown open, and lighted with many lamps. In front of the houses were parties of ladies and gentlemen, sitting in verandas and porticoes, taking tea or wine, smoking or playing cards, and chatting. They met one or two carriages of ladies in full dress, driving about without bonnets to enjoy the cool of the evening.

Then came a scene of another kind. They re-entered the town by the Chinese quarter. There they found grotesque-looking houses, lit up with large paper lanterns of gaudy colours, with Chinese inscriptions or monsters on them, and long rows of Chinese characters up and down the door-posts or over the windows. Crowds of people swarmed along the streets, and strange cries, in a Babel of languages, resounded in their ears, and every variety of Eastern figure flitted about them, from the half-naked Couli to the well-clothed Chinese in a loose white jacket like a dressing-gown, the Arab merchant in his flowing robes, and the Javanese gentleman in smart jacket and trousers, sash petticoat, curious pent-house-like hat, and strange-handled creese or dagger stuck in his girdle. The view of the country in the morning was, however, much less captivating; it was flat and marshy, and intersected by large ditches. The roads are on dykes four or five feet above the level of the fields, and lined with rosewood trees, an Eastern Holland.

The Dutch have introduced a club, which they call Concordia, with billiard-tables,[Pg 525] magazines, a reading-room, and a department for eating and drinking. Of this the voyagers were invited to be ordinary members. There was a book club among the English residents, where they enjoyed the sight of several new publications and periodicals. All this was a pleasant interchange for cruising among coral reefs, and being tossed about or starved in Torres Strait; and they seem to have enjoyed it completely. Besides the Dutch civilities, they had a general invitation from an English merchant, Mr Frazer, to his house a few miles in the country.

In those climates fresh air and cool rooms are the chief points. Mr Frazer's house was on the Indian model. It had but one story and one principal room, in the centre of the house, opening both before and behind, by two large doorways, into spacious porticoes, as large as the room itself, and supported by pillars. Each of the wings was occupied by three good bed-rooms. It stood in an enclosure of about an acre, with lawn, stables, and servants' offices. The floors were tiles, covered with cane matting in the principal room. As soon as it grows dusk, the central saloon is lighted up with many lamps, the doors and windows still remaining open; and every now and then a carriage drives up, some acquaintance drops in for an hour or two, joins the dinner-table, if he has not dined, or smokes a cigar if he has, and drives away again. This seems an easy life: and the colonist who can thus lounge through the world certainly has not much reason to exclaim against fortune. Yet this is the general life of all foreign settlements. Among the guests a Mr Frazer's they met a remarkable character, a Mr M'Cleland, a Scotsman. His history was adventurous; he was the individual mentioned in Washington Irving's Astoria, who, on the return of the party overland, left them, and pushed on ahead by himself across the Rocky Mountains. From America he went to China, and then fixed in Java, where, by energy and intelligence, he has made an ample fortune. He is now possessor of a large foundery in the island. The population of the town was about sixty thousand. The Javanese are described generally as an excellent race of people, patient, good-tempered, and very handy. The man who is to-day a carpenter, will turn blacksmith the next, and the peasant will become a sailor. They seem also to be as candid, as they are ingenious. One of the officers at table said that a servant who had been for several years his coachman, asked one day for permission to leave his service and go as a sailor. On his being asked in turn whether he had any complaint to make, the answer was, that he was only "tired of seeing the Colonel's face every day."

The Javanese gentleman is fond of dress, and his dress argues considerable opulence among his class. He usually wears a smart green velvet or cloth jacket with gold buttons, a shirt with gold studs, loose trousers, and sometimes boots, and a petticoat and sash, in the latter of which is always a large creese or dagger, ornamented with gold and diamonds. The women of the higher class live retired, those of the lower are seen every where.

Life seems singularly busy in Sourabaya. The Chinese gentleman is driving about all day in his pony chaise; the Chinese of the lower order is running about with his wicker-cases as a pedlar, or else selling fruit or cooked provisions, with a stove to keep them warm; or sitting, in the primitive style, under a tamarind tree, with silver and copper coinage before him to cash notes. And the river is as busy as the shore; there are always groups of people bathing; men and women are washing clothes; boats of all sizes, and for all purposes, laden with produce, or crowded with people, are constantly passing along. Then there are the troops, who, under the Dutch uniform, exhibit all castes and colours, from the European to the Negro—a force amounting to about two thousand infantry, besides artillery and cavalry; and all this goes on amid a perpetual clamour of voices, cries of every trade, tongues of every barbarism, and that wild haste and restless eagerness in every movement which belongs to seaport life in every portion of the globe.

The present discussions with the[Pg 526] Dutch government on the subject of labour make it of importance to know something on the subject of their colonies in the East. It is a curious circumstance in the history of a people priding themselves on the liberty of commerce and their openness of dealing with mankind, that they seem to have always hidden their Indian policy under the most jealous reserve. They adopted this reserve from the first hour of their Indian navigation. But then Holland was a republic, and a republic is always tyrannical in proportion to its clamour for liberty, always oppressive in proportion to its promise of equal rights, and always rapacious in proportion to its professed respect for the principle of letting every man keep his own.

But though the cap is now exchanged for a crown, and the stadtholder is a monarch, the policy seems to flourish on the old footing of their close-handed fathers.

The Eastern dominions of Holland are under the authority of a governor-general and a council, composed of four members, and a vice-president; the governor-general being president. This sounds well at least for the liberty of discussion. But the sound is all. The power of the council consists simply in giving its opinion, to which the governor may refuse to listen. The governor receives his orders directly from the colonial minister at home, and the colonial minister, though apparently responsible to the sentiment of the Chambers, yet echoes those of the King.

But there is another authority which is supposed to rule the government itself. This invisible prime mover is a joint commercial company, the Maatschappy, established in 1824, with a charter giving it a strict monopoly of all commerce to the Indies for twenty-five years, which has been recently renewed for ten years more. The late King was a large shareholder, the present King is presumed to inherit his father's shares; most of the members of the Chambers are shareholders; and the Maatschappy, besides the supply of the islands with all necessaries, acts as agent for the Crown, receives the produce gathered by the authorities of Java, carries it home, sells it, and accounts for the proceeds to the Dutch government. But the company have a still heavier hold on the government, a debt for £3,340,000 sterling; and for this they have in mortgage the whole produce received in the East, the company deducting their own interest and commission before they pay the proceeds.

But we have the gratification of being told that even the Maatschappy does not carry every thing in triumph, and that there is a proposal to release one-third of the sugar produced by parties having contracts with them, on condition of the other two-thirds being delivered of a superior quality; and it is added that this relaxation has taken place simply from the distresses of the colonies, and in the hope of introducing specie, there being nothing in use at present but a debased copper coin. This measure would add to the trifling free produce of Java about 18,500 tons.

The Dutch possessions in the East are very large, and under due management would be of incalculable value. They comprise part of the island of Sumatra; the islands of Banca and Billiton; the islands of Bintang and Linga; the Macassar government, including parts of Celebes and Sumhana; the Molucca islands; the south-west half of Timor; some late conquests in Bali; and large portions of the southern part of Borneo, which have been recently formed into two residencies. For these statistics we are indebted to the narrative of Mr Jukes.

Java was first made known to us, with any degree of historical or physical accuracy, by the late Sir Stamford Raffles, the amiable and intelligent British Resident during its possession by our government between 1811 and 1816. But it was known to Europe for three centuries before. The Portuguese, once the great naval power, and most active discoverers in Europe,—so much do the habits and faculties of nations change,—had made to themselves a monopoly of eastern possession, after the passage round the Cape by De Gama, and fixed upon Java for their first settlement in the Indian Ocean. Almost a century passed, before their supremacy was[Pg 527] disturbed. But then a new and dangerous rival appeared. The Dutch, already an enterprising and warlike nation, sweeping every sea with their commercial or military ambition,—so much have times been changed with them, too,—also fixed on Java, and formed a vigorous and thriving settlement at Bantam. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the English, making a first and feeble attempt at eastern commerce, to the south of India, formed a factory at Bantam. But the Dutch, indignant at even the shadow of rivalry, broke down alike the decaying influence of the Portuguese and the rising influence of the English, planned a new and stately Eastern Capital, which, in the spirit of the Hollander, they planted in the most swampy part of the island; and, surrounded with ditches, in the closest resemblance to Holland, led a pestilential existence in the fatness of fens passable only through canals. Batavia was built, the proverbial place of filth and opulence. The Dutch gradually became masters of this fine island; divided it into seventeen provinces, and occupying the commercial coast, left the southern to the divided and helpless authority of the two native princes, the Sultan and the Susuhunan.

The French revolutionary war naturally involved the Dutch in the general conquest of the Netherlands. The rash republicanism of the factions which had expelled the stadtholder, was speedily punished by the plunderings and corruptions of their new allies, and the insolent and atrocious annexation of Holland to the French empire was followed by the additional calamity of a war with England, which stripped her of all her colonies. An English expedition sailed for Java, stormed its defences, and took possession of Batavia and the Dutch possessions on the island in 1811. An English government was established, Sir Stamford Raffles was placed at its head, and Java with its infinite natural resources and incomparable position, promised to become one of the most important of the Indian colonies of England.

But at the peace of Paris, in 1815, the British policy, which was directed to the conciliation of the Dutch, and the erection of Holland into a barrier against France, induced the restoration of Java. This act of liberality met with strong remonstrance; and a memorial from the British Resident placed in the fullest point of view the probable value and actual advantages of retaining Java. But the policy was already determined on. It is said that, on the Resident's return to England, he found his original memoir in some of the depositories of strangled remonstrances, with its seals unbroken. The reason however, may have been, that the restoration was un fait accompli.

But the sacrifice was useless. The sudden whim for Radicalism at home, and revolution abroad, which seized British statesmen in the first frenzy of the Reform Bill, instead of punishing the revolt of the Belgians, suffered the dismemberment of the kingdom of the Netherlands; a measure of the most shortsighted policy, which has now placed Belgium in the most serious hazard of being absorbed by its all-swallowing neighbour France, on the first convulsion of the continent. But, as England has no inclination to disturb her neighbours, and is never guilty of that last atrocity of nations, breach of treaties; the great colony is still left in Dutch hands, and will be left, until some new folly compels its resumption.

Java is a noble island; singularly shaped, for its length is about four times its average breadth; six hundred miles by about one hundred and fifty. Its whole extent is fifty thousand square miles, or nearly the size of England. But its fertility of all kinds is incalculably superior. From its diversity of climate, it is obviously capable of raising European as well as tropical productions. Its climate, too, is healthful, notwithstanding the illfame of Batavia. Even there, the inhabitants have at length learned to prefer fields to swamps, and fresh air to the vapour of ditches; for the greater portion have either gone into the interior, or live in suburbs extending to considerable distances. In fact, the original fen-loving Hollander has passed away, and another generation has sprung up, which prefers health and long life even to dollars and dyspepsia. Yet, what is Java, to the[Pg 528] islands almost within her view? To Sumatra, with her one hundred and sixty thousand square miles, and Borneo, with her two hundred and eighty-six thousand—almost a continent; and those vast territories not wild and barren plains, like the huge spaces of Australia, nor frozen for one half of the year, like our settlements in America, but overflowing with the richest vegetable products of the earth, covered with herds of the buffalo and other cattle, and sheeted with forests up to the summits of their ranges of mountains. What their mineral wealth may be, remains for European investigation; but gold has been found in their rivers, and from the various heights of their hills, we may fairly suppose them, in some instances at least, metalliferous.

Yet Java—of the same extent with England, produce almost spontaneous, without any endemic disease, and with the dissensions of the natives kept down by the Dutch authority—is calculated to have but nine millions of people, about less than half of the souls of England. So little does population depend upon plenty, climate, or even upon peace. The Dutch government appears to be honest, and the reverse of severe; its offices are well conducted, its salaries seem to be substantial and sufficient, and its general rule of the island appears to be directed to suppressing violence among the native tribes.

But the sudden impulse which now urges European enterprise to the extremities of the earth; which sends expeditions to invade the territories of the seal and the whale at the South Pole, and plants cities within the gales of the arctic snows, must at length turn to the golden islands of the Indian Ocean. There, new powers will be awakened, new vigour will take place of old stagnation, and those matchless portions of the globe will give their treasures to the full use of man.

As it was determined to refit the ship in Java, time was given for the curiosity of Mr Jukes and the officers to employ itself in examining the interior. After various difficulties, connected with official forms in passing through the different Dutch provinces,—in which, however, it is only justice to the governors to acknowledge, that in general they conducted themselves with much civility,—the party, consisting of four, at length set out. They found post-houses at every half dozen miles apart, with a good carriage-road; they passed by a succession of villages, through a flat country covered with rice and sugar-cane, interspersed with large belts of wood. But those were villages concealed by groves of fruit trees. On their way, they stopped to see a sugar manufactory—a Belgian partnership. The house was large and handsome, and the establishment complete. This is a new manufacture in Java. They were now running along the northern coast of the island, and after a drive of forty miles in six hours, they arrived at Passarouan, which they unexpectedly found to be a large town with several wide streets, Chinese houses in court yards, and European residences, having lawns and carriage drives. The native Javanese resided in separate quarters, each of which is surrounded by a fence of bamboo paling, or a wall. We should conceive these people to lead a primitive and pleasant life, for in those quarters the bamboo houses seemed to be scattered indiscriminately under the shade of bananas, cocoa nuts, and other fruit trees.

The Dutch residents or governors, appear also to be very much at their ease. The salary of the resident of Passarouan, though nominally but £1,500 a-year, amounts to £3,400 sterling besides, as it is the custom that each resident has a per centage on the coffee, sugar, tobacco, rice, &c., raised in his district. An income of this order, when we consider the cheapness of all the necessaries of life in the island, must be regarded as a very liberal provision.

They saw, as they passed through the rice fields, a curious but simple contrivance for preserving the growing crops from the flocks of sparrows. In the centre of the fields small sheds were erected on posts, from which strings with feathers radiated in every direction. A boy, or girl, was stationed in the shed to keep the strings in motion, in order to frighten away the birds.

On the road they passed a large market, crowded with people. They[Pg 529] found rows of stalls or long sheds, in some of which European articles, such as cutlery and drapery, were offered for sale; in others were drugs, fruit, confectionery, or salt fish. The traffickers, too, seemed to be enjoying themselves, as some of the stalls had benches before them, on which sat people drinking coffee, and eating rice, hot sweet potatoes, fruit, and sweet-meats. Their next stage was a town named Probolingo, and they were again surprised at the extent of a place perfectly new to them. Broad roads with avenues of lofty trees intersected each other at right angles, bounded by the fences of the native Kampangs, or Javanese quarters, which looked like large orchards. There were also at intervals European houses of good size and appearance, each in its own grounds, with a carriage-drive under the trees. They found, also, the still rarer evidence of a comfortable condition of general intercourse,—a good hotel; of which the master, however, spoke "but little English." Our curiosity is left in doubt, whether his accomplishments were Dutch or Javanese.

There were some English settlers in this neighbourhood; and some of the party drove out to visit the sugar establishment of Mr Etty—brother of the well-known artist—about three miles from the town. He was in England, but his sons came down in the evening to the hotel to offer their civilities. They had been out pig-shooting, and had enjoyed their sport, such as it is, for they had killed thirteen pigs. The party were invited to similar shooting for the next day.

On the next day they went; but an old carriage and a clumsy charioteer delayed them, and they arrived some three hours after their appointment. But etiquette does not seem to have been the order of the day, for the inviters had gone out to enjoy their pig-shooting by themselves. The invited were left to amuse themselves as they might until seven or eight o'clock, when the inviters returned, and the whole party sat down to dinner. At dinner, their talk was of tigers.

Whether Mr Jukes gives this incident in wrath, or simple recollection, we know not; but we surmise, that he and his friends would have been just as well pleased if the owners of the sugar establishment had not brought them out so far for nothing.

Next day they proceeded on their excursion, and found native civility on the alert every where. Some orders to this effect appeared to have been sent to the Dutch authorities. At the first post-house where they stopped, a man stepped forward with a tray of cups of tea, glasses of cocoa and water, and rice-cakes; and a large party were awaiting them with ponies. Each of them also found a man on horseback ready to attend him, and carry his gun and game-bag. A petty chief rode before them, and another with a small party brought up the rear, so that they formed quite a cavalcade. But the natives with their gaily-coloured dresses, blue and red coloured saddles, silver trappings to their horses, and ornamented creeses in their girdles, "quite cut out the Englishmen in appearance, with their dingy shooting-jackets and soiled trousers."

And here we may fairly ask the question, why those gentlemen should have appeared in "dingy shooting-jackets and soiled trousers?" This is not a question of dandyism. They were to appear before the authorities of another country, before the gentlemen of another nation. They were also to be presented to native gentlemen and rajahs, who have as quick an eye for the outward man as any people in the world. And while those showy costumes—even in so trifling a matter as the attendance on a shooting-party—exhibited the taste of the people in those matters, why should the Englishman exhibit his own, in dingy shooting-jackets and soiled trousers? In fact, in matters of this kind, a man in foreign countries, and especially in the military and naval service of his country, should recollect the effect of this beggarliness on the mind of strangers. The party must have been the objects of ridicule and contempt to the very peasants around them.

As they rose towards the hills, the country appeared to be in general richer and more picturesque. From the summit of the first ridge the country before them was gently undulating, interspersed with patches of wood, that looked like a wide-spread[Pg 530] park, till at some miles distance it rose up the slopes of a volcanic mountain—the Lamongan. On the sides of this huge volcano, the woods became thicker and more continuous, till they reached the bare piles of ashes and cinders forming the upper cone.

The road then lay through coffee plantations. These were very pleasant-looking places. The coffee shrubs were planted in rows, with tall trees between each row to shelter the coffee from the sun. The alleys between the trees were carpeted by rich green turf, forming pleasant glades. The plantations were generally neatly fenced and often extensive; as much as twenty or thirty acres in one plot. Every now and then they passed on the roadside a noble tree, with wide-spread, drooping branches, a species of banyan tree, under which was often seen a bullock-waggon with its team.

All this was oriental and picturesque; but the scenery sometimes reminded them of spots in Devonshire, so green and fresh was all the vegetation, and so pleasant were the deep narrow lanes and sparkling brooks. Their halting-place for the day was a large and lofty bamboo-house on a raised terrace of brick, having a broad veranda all round, a large central saloon, and two or three good and well-furnished bed-rooms on each side. This veranda had the advantage also of a noble landscape. At the back, it looked down a steep bank to a beautiful circular lake about a quarter of a mile across, bordered by a thick belt of wood, and right over it at a few miles' distance, the stately cone of the Lamongan, upwards of four thousand feet high, with a wreath of white smoke curling from its summit.

To this feast of natural beauty was added the more substantial one of the table. In the veranda they found a table spread with a snow-white cloth, and all the conveniencies of plate, glass, and cutlery. A troop of willing servitors was in attendance, who covered the table with a smoking-hot breakfast, piles of rice curries, pillaus, and fruits, with tea and coffee. All this seemed to be done by enchantment; there was no host, no master of the house to trouble them with ceremony; the house and all that belonged to it seemed to be theirs as long as they chose to stay. Whose was the furniture, or who provided the entertainment, they knew not. In those comfortable quarters, they determined to halt for the next day, and try to get a little shooting.

The naturalist, however, on this evening, employed himself more rationally than his companions. While they went out shooting, he took his hammer and went to the ravine, to learn something about the masses of lava and basalt which lay every where. The whole ground gave evidences of the existence of an ancient volcano. The circular lake seemed to have been a crater; its depth was said to be three hundred and ninety feet. But the noble proportions of the landscape still attracted the eye, and within the horizon shot up the pile of the Semmi,—the loftiest, most perfect, and most majestic-looking cone that they ever saw in Java, its height being twelve thousand two hundred and ninety-two feet—a greater elevation than that of the Peak of Teneriffe. Every thing was lovely in form and colour, and glittered in the hot sunshine, while a fine fresh breeze from the south tempered the heat, and gave it the feeling of a summer day at home.

Still, though all this seemed a land of magic, to those who probably had never thought of Java but as a place of pestilence, of burning soil, and scorching sunshine, it was not all fairy land. After dinner, at dusk, as Mr Jukes was strolling round the house smoking a cigar, a man with a long spear came up to him, and began to turn him back with an earnest speech, of which the only word he understood was machan; but it was an important one, and the point of the whole oration, for it is the Javanese for tiger.

Having recourse to one of the party as interpreter, he found that the spearman was begging of him not to walk in the dark, as tigers were abundant there; which, he emphatically assured them, eat men, and that they had even sometimes come into the house. In the veranda they found a guard of four spearmen, keeping watch for the same purpose. The Englishman thought that they were[Pg 531] jesting, until he saw that none of the people themselves went a few yards beyond the house without a torch. One man going to bathe in the lake just below, another accompanied him with a torch. They also saw four men coming up the road with two large torches, who, they said, were returning from their work from the village hard by. They still thought their fears a little exaggerated; but on that very night a man was killed by a tiger at a village about two miles off, as he was going to his work before daylight with two others. His body was recovered the next day.

In the morning, the party went out to shoot any thing that came in their way. Their success, however, was limited to a pig, and a brace of jungle fowl. Some of the party saw tracks of tigers, but they attack nobody during the day; the night being their time for retaliation. Another division of their party coming home by a straight course across the country, and just before it got dark, found themselves on the borders of a district which had been mentioned to them as the most noted haunt of tigers in the whole country. Cocking their guns, however, they pushed through the grass, that rose often three feet above their heads, for about half a mile, not without a feeling of half hope, half fear, of the rush of a tiger through the jungle. From this nervous predicament, however, they escaped. Half an hour later they might have told a different story, or perhaps would have been left without the power of telling one. Their shot-pouches would have made but an indifferent defence against the charge of a supperless tiger; and the philosopher might have finished his earthly career in the retaliatory jaws of the lord of the jungle.

We recommend Java to all country gentlemen tired of time; they will have plenty of shooting of every kind there—the lion alone excepted; bears are in abundance and great ferocity; wild boars in droves: with the wild buffalo, the most dangerous of all animals to meet with, and far more dreaded by the natives than the tiger himself. The tiger is to be found every day throughout the year, and every where from twilight to sunrise. For the more récherchés in shooting, there is the rhinoceros, the most capital of all sport, as it is called; for in nine instances out of ten he kills his man. Unless the sportsman hits him in the eye, double barrels are unavailing; his hide would turn off every thing but a cannon ball. If the shot is not imbedded in his brain, he dashes after the sportsman at once; escape then can only be by miracle, for unwieldy as he looks, he runs like a race-horse, rips up the fugitive with his horn, and finishes by trampling him into a mass of mortality that leaves not a feature distinguishable. Thus, field-sports are not altogether confined to gentlemen.

But for glories of this order, the amateur must travel to some distance; he must penetrate the deep and trackless forests of the southern Sultan, or ascend to the volcanic regions of the interior.

We now hasten to the close of these interesting volumes. The whole party seem to have been treated with remarkable civility, and to have been shown all kinds of strange things. Among the other curiosities, they were taken to visit the Sultan of Madura, a hospitable old man, who treated them like fellow sultans, paraded his guards for them, gave them a feast which seemed to be all but interminable, played the native fiddle for them, led his own royal orchestra with some skill, played vingt-et-un with them, and finished by a species of ombres Chinoises, or shadowy drama, which lasted through the whole night. As the Englishmen began to droop, he exercised all the English which he possessed, to offer them "a glass of grog," which he evidently considered to be essential to English enjoyment; and after his visitors had retired to rest, he continued to sit out the play—which lasted the mortal measure of ten hours; a feat exceeding the endurance, though probably not the ennui, of a regular amateur of the Italian Opera. The populace, too, exhibited the same dramatic ardour, for they continued gazing, laughing, and shouting, with all the perseverance of their old sovereign.

The revenues of this chief are enormous, though they amount only to £8,000 sterling; but then we are to recollect that the wages of a Javanese[Pg 532] workman are but five duits, or five-sixths of an English penny; and that for this he can "live very well." Man gets plantains and fruits for almost nothing. His clothing is made of a simple wrapper, and a day or two's cutting of bamboo gives him a very sufficient house. Let this be compared with the Irish peasant, shivering through three months of winter, and six months of wet, paying five pounds an acre for his swampy potatoes, and out of his holding paying tithe, tax, county rates, and all the other encumbrances of what the political economists call "a highly civilised state of society." We say "vive le systéme féodal, vive la sauvagerie Javannaise."

One half of the Sultan's revenue arises from a singular source—the sale of birds' nests, which are found in the rocks, and which the Chinese purchase as a restorative. The Chinese, a remarkably gross and voluptuous people, are the greatest quacks on earth, and are continually attempting to reinstate by medicine, what they have ruined by excess. But soup is pleasant physic, and they boil these birds' nests into soup, in full reliance on the miracle.

The Englishmen tasted some of this soup, among the luxuries of the Sultan's table, and highly approved of it; but its merits depended on many capital ingredients, the birds' nests merely acting as a sort of connective, an isinglass to the whole. It is probable that their whole virtue is in the fashion.

In looking at the future, through all the mists which beset the vision of man, it seems scarcely possible to doubt that these regions are intended for a vast and vigorous change. It may not be a European change. Society may not be cast into the furnace, as it has been by those struggles, wars, and revolutions, which were essential to the working of the iron temperament of Europe. But Providence, if we may so speak without irreverence, evidently delights in the variety, multitude, and novelty of its highest expedients. If no two great portions of the physical world are like in form, climate, product, and even in the colouring of their skies, why are we to insist on uniformity in government, in human feeling, or in those national impulses which shape society? The throne, the constitution, and the laws of England, noble advances as they are to the perfection of the social system, may be unfit for the man sitting under his palm tree within the tropics, the navigator in the summer seas of the Indian Ocean, or even for the rude vigour and roving enterprise of Australia. But we have no fears of the failure of that glorious and beneficent Cycle, by which happiness seems revolving, by whatever slow degree, through every race of mankind. There is but one thing which is indispensable among all, and that one thing is, the only nation on earth qualified to give Christianity; and we, with no presumptuous glance, but with no hesitating belief, regard the almost boundless colonial empire of England as conferred upon our island for the express purpose of spreading pure religion through the various regions of the globe. With all our sense of the caution necessary in struggling against the rude prejudices of the barbarian, and with no inferior sense of the caution necessary in the admixture of human conceptions, with the will of Him who "walketh in clouds;" with all our regret for the extravagance of enthusiasm, and all our conviction of the evil which is daily done to truth by the rashness of conjecture, we yet believe that a time is approaching, when the elements of society will be, at least, partially dissolved, for the sake of their replacement in higher purity and power; when the general frame of dominion throughout the world, will be, at least, dislocated, that it may be renewed in higher activity and beauty; and when a world in which a new obedience, a new integrity, a new beneficence to man, and a new homage to heaven, will be the characteristics, shall be formed to vindicate the justice of Providence, and complete the happiness of man.

Then we shall see the original powers of those neglected nations brightened, enlarged, and elevated into forms and uses, of which they themselves have been unconscious since their birth. Then shall we see governments on principles adapted to the nature of the dweller in the Asiatic plains, of the hunter of the everlasting Himmalaya, and the navigator of the[Pg 533] waveless Pacific; calling out the native faculties of those vast divisions of mankind, raising, the natural products of inexhaustible soils, whose fertility is now buried in their bosom, and sharing with the nations of the earth the countless mineral treasures which have been locked up in their hills since the Creation; the whole being poured out, to meet the new demands, increase the new engagements, and stimulate the new animation of the increasing millions of mankind.

The observations made by Mr Jukes on the mental effect of the southern climates of Asia, are striking, but they are the same which have been made for thousands of years. The European is not made for those climates. Carrying with him, in his first adventure, his original energy of mind and frame, he is astonished to see the land tenanted by human beings who are content with mere existence. The bold climber of the hills,—the daring mariner,—the intelligent and delighted inquirer into all the wonders of earth and ocean, sees himself surrounded by men lying on sofas, living only to eat, and careless of the whole brilliant profusion which tissues the ground, or fills the forest, or variegates the shore.

But the second generation inevitably feels the influence, and the son of the sinewy and susceptible European becomes the languid, self-satisfied, and voluptuous Oriental.

In fact, the two races are totally different. The Asiatic has some noble qualities. The Creator has not altogether effaced his own image in any region of human habitancy. He has fancy, keenness of conception, desperate but unwilling bravery, scientific faculties, and a quiet delight in the richness of his own lovely islands and pyramidal mountains.

But, to the European alone is allotted the master quality of energy; and by that gift he drives the world before him. This resistless quality he perhaps owes chiefly to his sullen skies and rugged soils. Even in the East, the man of the desert, the son of the storm and the snow, has always been the conqueror of India. The Osmanli sultans were forced to raise the boldest of their battalions among the Christians of the north of Greece. And we shall yet see the Australian sweeping before him the indolence of the Birman and the Javanese. This he will owe to the sterility of his fields and the half European blasts of his more salubrious and stringent atmosphere. The maxim of Montesquieu, that "poverty always conquers wealth," solves but half the problem. The true solution is, that the poverty of the soil compels the exertion of a vigour, which severity of climate alone can generate among a people. For three hundred years the population of Jutland and Denmark almost annually swept the southern shores of Europe itself. The Norman was invincible on land. Even the great barbarian invasions which broke down the Roman empire, were the work of nerves hardened in the forest and in the desert. The same causes have made the storm-beaten Englishman lord of India. But India will never be a British colony. It will never be, like America, a land of Englishmen. The second generation will be Indians, while Australia will be the southern England. This is evidently the law of a Will above man.

We must congratulate Mr Jukes on the value of his publication. Scientific without being abstruse, and picturesque without being extravagant, he has made his volumes a striking and graceful addition to our knowledge of countries, highly interesting in themselves, and, assuming hourly importance in the eyes of the people of England.

[Pg 534]


[1] Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H. M. S. Fly; in Torres Strait, New Guinea, and other Islands of the Eastern Archipelago. By J.B.Jukes, Naturalist to the Expedition. 2 Vols. Boone, London.


New York, August, 1847.

My Dear Godfrey,—I am sorry to begin my letter with an apology, but I feel that one is due for the very unsatisfactory manner in which, on a former occasion, I answered your grave inquiries about the pirates who thrive on the plunder of Maga. The jocular vein which I incontinently struck and perseveringly followed up, led me very wide of your mark, and I was obliged to leave you quite unsatisfied on another point, about which, for one who is not an author, you seem to be singularly excited. To waive my astonishment at the Benthamism of the phrase, pray what is "International Copyright" to Godfrey, that he should weep for such a Hecuba? I should have been as little surprised, had you asked me to inquire the opinion of the Indians as to the best regimen for infants. A veritable author, suffering by wholesale American rapine, would have commanded my sympathies, and I should have replied instinctively, in that tone of consideration which is always due to dignified misfortune; but when you, with your rod and gun, soberly popped me a query in which I could not see that either widgeon or gudgeon were particularly concerned, I confess I feared you were quizzing me, and was fairly off my guard. Forgive me that I was so slow to appreciate the true state of the case. It has only very lately occurred to me that both you and I are somewhat changed since we placed the summum bonum in Waltonian idleness, and that you have very possibly renounced fly-fishing, and settled down into a literary incubation, likely to bless the world with a brood of booklings. With this consideration, I now again address you, intending to preserve that propriety of thought and speech, which on the subject of literary property, I feel due to the future Great Unknown of Southern Britain. You observe that I take it for granted, you will affect the anonymous; and I would venture to add my counsel to your choice of a course so judicious. You have no idea how great an inconvenience you would suffer, should Godfrey Hall be turned prematurely into another Abbotsford—an event which is certain, should you allow the secret of your new character to transpire. Your comparative nearness to the metropolis would greatly facilitate the irruption of bores; especially as there would probably be a branch railway chartered forthwith, for the express purpose of setting down company at the nearest possible point of access to your venerable gateway. Besides, even you have too much regard to the land of Kit North, to entertain any desire to see its most attractive shrine of pilgrimage too suddenly eclipsed; and why should you court such an exposure of popular fickleness, when about to become yourself "the comet of a season," and to go through that brilliant perihelion, in which, reversing the feat of Horace with his lofty head, you will sweep away all other stars with a swinge of your luminous caudality? Yes, Godfrey—spare your own feelings, and treat us to another Great Unknown! I am sure such will be your determination, and so I will simply subjoin the hope that nothing will interfere with the speedy completion of your maiden effort—"Napper Tandy; or, 'Tis Fifty Years Since." Don't startle at my naming your hero, and suggesting your plot; for though I will venture to say that I have hit the nail on the head, I assure you it is only a happy surmise. You must know that nothing could be so interesting as a recurrence to the exciting epoch of Ninety-eight; and why should not the sister kingdom have its romance, as well as the land of the Scots? I have always thought that Stuart rising very much overrated—a mere scratch to what happened in Ireland. Kilmarnock was a poor-spirited fellow compared with Emmet; and though there were many better men than Balmerino among the United Irishmen, it would be hard to find a worse one than Lord Lovat. I suspect, therefore, that besides your design, I have[Pg 535] actually discovered your title page; though it is barely possible that the melancholy fate of Wolfe Tone, with the indistinct tone of ferocity that is perceptible in his name, may have suggested the compellation of that unfortunate gentleman, as more significant of the wolfish atrocities with which your tale will necessarily abound. Whatever be the name, make haste with the book, and do not wait ten years in order to have another "Sixty Years Since." You must see that congruity requires the semi-centenary, and that Sir Walter was a full decennium behind-hand. The demise of O'Connell at this interesting juncture, must be regarded as a coincidence every way satisfactory, whether we consider the fulness of his fame, the conclusion of an era, or the interests of your forthcoming work. It has prepared public sympathy, and tuned the strings upon which you call successfully play for the next quarter of an age; and I hazard little in arguing that your literary nativity will be accomplished under the ascendant of the most favourable planet.

Regarding you, then, as what you will speedily become—a successful adventurer, with a whole navy of American corsairs in chase of your literary cargo—the question takes this shape:—How does the American law of copyright affect you as a British author, and what can be done to save "Napper Tandy"? To answer you properly, let me first expound the law itself, which, for your special benefit, I have taken pains to examine.

You are doubtless aware that the constitution of this republic is one which answers the great test proposed by Tom Paine, who imagined it to be of the essence of a free constitution that it should be capable of being put into the pocket! That splendid capability was never more fully realised by the laws of a sixpenny club, than by the great charter of American liberties. It is a thing written on paper, and may be thrust into the breeches, or hung up on the wall, as best suits the notions of its worshipper, and his manner of exhibiting respect. Now the law of copyright is not here, as you suppose, a mere matter of statute; nor is the doctrine that an author has no perpetual property in what his intellect creates, a simple decision of courts. It is a part of the constitution, which empowers the national Congress "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times, to authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." An American writer has remarked, that its equivalent would have been the concession of a power to promote the fisheries, by allowing to fishermen a limited number of the cod-fish and herrings which they take on a Newfoundland fog-bank. Here then, you will say, is a fundamental obstruction to literary justice in America! But your hasty conclusion will show that you have thought but little on written constitutions. I agree with the Count de Maistre, that such instruments are of all things the most slippery. What is easier than for Congress to evade its restriction, and make the limited time exactly the years of Methusaleh! Such a limit would be about as good as "to one's heirs for ever." But there is yet another facility in written constitutions: "a breath unmakes them, as a breath has made." In America, a constitution is as easily overhauled, new-ribbed, and launched again, as ever a sloop-of-war was dry-docked and new-coppered. Here, for instance, is the great "Empire State" of New York, with a constitution hardly a year old! The stripling who has just attained his majority, has actually survived the whole life of its predecessor; and he who lives half as long again, will see the new one superannuated and going the way of all written constitutions. The late constitution of this State was in many respects a noble one; but its successor plays the mischief with every thing; and I have heard an old freeholder complain that he hardly knows whether he has a house, a wife, or a head on his shoulders; so radically has the revolution affected whatever is social and civil. This will show you that there is, after all, no necessary perpetuity in the present condition of things; and so I come to the statute, which is the only just cause of complaint.

[Pg 536] The English origin of the law is very apparent. It retains some features of the old statute of Queen Anne, with others of 54 Geo. III., which has lately been made so familiar in parliamentary reports. It secures authors in their property for a term of twenty-eight years, and provides for renewing this security for half that period, upon a renewal of entry. One copy of every work thus protected, must be deposited with the Clerk of the United States' Court for the District where it is entered; and by a late enactment, the author must contribute another copy to the library of "the Smithsonian Institute,"—that unmeaning benevolence of an unfortunate scion of the Northumberland family, which is already beginning to be regarded as a folly, and which one would think might have been made to subserve the interests of authors, rather than furnish another occasion for the exercise of legislative ingenuity, in adding to their many annoyances. The other important features of the Act are the penalty for piracy, and the restriction of protection to citizens and residents; in other words, the punishment of piracy in certain cases, and its license in others. Thus the same Act is dainty of rights, if the craft swim in rivers and bays, but hands over to the black flag whatever is found on the highway of nations. Persons pirating a copyright work are liable to a forfeiture of every copy in their keeping, whether of their own manufacture or otherwise; and besides this, to a fine of one dollar a sheet upon the same, of which one moiety goes to the author, and the residue to the government. Why should it be culpable to steal from a resident, and laudable to do the same thing with a stranger? If a foreign mechanic exports his goods, they are as safe in New York, as the wealth of John Jacob Astor; but no kind of mercy is shown to the product of a foreigner's brain—than which one would think nothing but his soul should be more sacred among all Christian men. On the contrary—not content with leaving him unprotected, there is in the tariff an express provision for the encouragement of plunder. No one pretends that the revenue of the United States requires the tax of ten per cent. ad valorem, upon all importations of "books printed, magazines, pamphlets, and illustrated newspapers, bound or unbound;" yet, such are the terms of the tariff of 1846, and it was designed expressly to prevent importations, and encourage the piratical, manufacture of such things at home. I say so, because it is notorious, and has been exposed by American writers themselves.

Now, let us see how "Napper Tandy" is likely to fare under regulations like these! Can it be possible, you will say, that the Model Republic cherishes designs so predatory; and is there no other explanation of a law which seems so outrageous? There are laws, I am aware, which are by no means what they seem, and British law is the last to dispense with a concession so important. I have, therefore, put this American statute into every light that seemed likely to show it to better advantage, and I confess there is one view of the subject, which, as being myself a resident, it gives me pleasure to suggest. Is it not conceivable, after all, that the original purpose of the statute was merely to extend, to exactly such worthies as the author of "Napper Tandy," a polite invitation to a literary sojourn in America? You know how many British authors, with no such inducements, have preferred Italy to their native land; and why should not this country, at least in the partial eyes of its own legislators, be worthy of a share of their company? The suggestion is equally complimentary to the law-givers, and to those whose society is thus held at a premium. It is true, that, excepting Will Cobbett, few English writers of eminence have taken the hospitable hint; but who could have foreseen this result, when so many of the literary race are perpetually sighing for lodges in the wilderness, and dwellings in the desert! Monsieur Dumas might indeed be reluctant to accept the flattering overtures of a country which is known to cherish such antipathies to his great ancestor Ham, and all that interesting family; and is quite, excusable for preferring the persecutions of French courts of justice, to[Pg 537] the patronage which American law would more fully accord to his books than to his person; but why should not you, my dear Godfrey, become as original in your manner of life, as I am sure you will be in the productions of your genius? Why should you not court a "boundless contiguity of shade," and issue your immortal works from the depths of a Pennsylvanian forest, as gracefully as Lord Byron sent forth his from the more vulgarised retirement of Tuscany? Residing here, you could hold the sons of rapine at bay, enjoying at once your American harvests, and the golden remittances of your publishers in England. But the crowning consideration is this, that should you undertake the protection of your darling Maga, an arrangement with Mr Blackwood, and the publication of "Napper Tandy" in his incomparable pages, would seal the fate of the counterfeit, and forcibly recall to the mind of Reprint & Co. the sigh of Othello over his lost occupation. You stare—but it follows, by demonstration—

"For the intent and purpose of the law,
Hath full relation to the penalty."

You enter "Napper Tandy" in the "Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New York." The next number of Blackwood comes out with your first chapter, which Reprint unguardedly produces in his fac simile. Don't you see, my dear fellow, that if you ever hooked a gudgeon, you have as certainly caught the republisher? You seize ten thousand copies in his warehouse, just as they are about to be distributed over the land. On each copy, he must pay, in addition to his forfeiture, one dollar a sheet; that is to say, ten thousand dollars for your first chapter; of which, after the government has gone snacks, one thousand guineas are your guarantee for the interest which the Republic takes in her invited guests; and (to the dismay of piracy,)

"The law allows it, and the court awards."

Mr Blackwood will doubtless take care that your work shall not be completed too fast: and as long as the interminable "Napper Tandy" continues, the press of the fac-simile must stand still. Meanwhile, you commence a legitimate reprint, under the genuine Ebony arms, and reign as a kind of lord-lieutenant, under his ambrosial majesty, Christopher the Great. The stereotype plates of Maga reach you every month, and the American public discern the difference between a true fac-simile and a cunning counterfeit. Instead of the sham tête-de-Buchanan, they see the very "trick of Cœur-de-lion's face;" and finding themselves as little taxed for the original, as ever they were for the humbug, vote you a public benefactor, and send a round-robin to Congress demanding the instantaneous enactment of a universal copyright law, if not the grant of a gold medal to the beneficent Godfrey. I anticipate, however, your reply. Ten thousand copyrights would not tempt you to pass more than three months in the year away from your Kentish comforts and cousins! Very well—then perish dreams of lord-lieutenancy; and learn the inevitable fate of your neglected literary offspring. The same day that Import and Profits advertise their London copies of "Napper Tandy," at five dollars a volume, any number of shirtless little vagabonds will be crying it in a pamphlet edition from Astor House to Wall Street, and through all the thoroughfares, for a currency shilling. I wish you might see your own degradation, as I shall be forced to behold that of my friend. Think of an illustrated edition coming out, under the auspices of Napper Tandy M'Dermot, Esq., in which that namesake of your hero undertakes to give your biography, and describes you as the occupant of a garret, in the receipt of wages from government, for manufacturing false representations of characters inestimably dear to patriots, and odious to tyrants only! Think of that person actually taking out a copyright for his edition of your own book, on the grounds of his thus doing for your character the very thing which he reprobates as your detestable trade; and so enjoying for no very "limited time," the enormous profits of the "standard American edition" of your outcast work. Permit me to add, significantly—

"The fault, dear Godfrey, is not in the laws,
But in yourself, if you are pirated!"

However, if you seriously ask me[Pg 538] whether there is no chance of an alteration in the laws, even should you persist in refusing the invitation to America, I will candidly answer, that the progress of civilisation is probably independent even of you, and may very likely win the honours which would be yours, had you the boldness which fortune delights to favour. If you think me too sanguine, you can possibly obtain an interview with Mr Dickens, and qualify my representations by the discouraging views he will give you. They say here, that he came out to America on purpose to dun brother Jonathan, and it is still spoken of with surprise, that though shrewdly invited to dinner, he was not deterred from presenting his bill at the table. The slight misunderstanding to which such a manœuvre very naturally gave rise, may have seemed to justify his doubts, as they did to check the good intentions of his entertainers, with regard to the speedy adjustment of grievances; yet I think I am not mistaken in believing that popular sentiment in this country is just now setting strongly in favour of a community of copyright between America and Great Britain.

As a mere question of ethics, it can hardly be expected that while doctors disagree, the popular conscience should be much disturbed by the flagrancy of the present laws; yet it is only justice to the tone of moral feeling which characterises what may fairly be called society in America, to say that it is correct, if not even generous. The leading periodicals, which may be taken as an index of the opinions of educated men in general, have always been true to principle in the discussion of this matter. The New York Review, which, during a brief but honourable career was regarded as speaking the high-toned sentiments of American churchmen, contained an elaborate article, as early as in 1839, in which the conduct of Congress, reference to the famous "British Authors' petition," was severely rebuked, and criticised as scandalously unprincipled and disgraceful. About the same time, under cover of its provincial blue and yellow, the North American, or, as Mr Cooper calls it, the East American came out in defence of justice as toweringly as even Maga herself. The "British Authors' petition" had been fiercely opposed by a "Boston booksellers' memorial," which, among other things addressed to the lowest passions of the mob, argued against a copyright law, that it would prevent them from altering and interpolating English books, to accommodate republican tastes! Hear then how the Boston reviewers—who in spite of that snobbish sectarian air of perkiness and pretension which is usually ascribed to them, can now and then do things very handsomely—pounce upon their townsmen's morality. "We cannot help expressing our surprise," say they,[2] "that the strange and dishonourable ground assumed in that memorial, has not been more pointedly reprobated. We can only account for the adoption of such a document at all, by a body of respectable men, on the supposition that its piratical doctrine, respecting literary property, escaped the notice of the convention; ... for in our view, the doctrine to which those respectable gentlemen seemed to give their public support, was one to be mentioned, not in the company of honest men, but only in the society of footpads, housebreakers, and pickpockets." In an earlier number of the same work[3] —which was lashed by the New York Review for its astounding ignorance of the most celebrated letters of Junius, and for quoting a judicial opinion of Lord Kaimes's as a speech in the House of Lords—the reviewer, whose blundering intrepidity is only saved from the ridiculous by the honesty of his attempt, comes down on a nobler quarry, and thwacks the memory of Lord Camden as if he had been another Thersites. Sir Joseph Yates gets a sound drubbing from the same sturdy avenger of literary property, for his share in the celebrated case of Millar versus Taylor, as given in Burrow's Reports.[4] I have been pleased too with the succinct decision of a writer[5] [Pg 539] who has produced an elaborate work on political ethics, in which he lays it down that "the right of property in a book seems to be clearer and more easily to be deduced from absolute principle than any other." Except among the most ultra and radical of theorists, I have met with nothing in American society, but a most hearty subscription to such views as these: but, alas!—said one in conversation upon this subject,—it is nothing that we think right, nor would it be much to bring the people to agree with us, unless something shall force it upon our demagogues.

Public opinion is not always sovereign in America, as the remark of my friend implies. It is curious to see how often a written constitution deprives a people of the very privileges it was intended to perpetuate and secure; and how the practical working of the American constitution is frequently the very reverse of its design. By the constitutional provisions, it would seem apparent, for instance, that the president of this confederacy must always be the choice of a majority of the nation's wisest men, themselves the free choice of the majority of the people. Yet here I have lived under three successive presidents, General Harrison, Mr Tyler, and Mr Polk, not one of them succeeding by the free choice of any one, and Mr Tyler against the suffrages of all. The undefiled patriotism which is the hypothesis of the constitution, does not exist; party, which it seems hardly to anticipate, carries every thing; and parties are ruled by cabals. Thus the greatest national measures, instead of originating with the people, and taking shape in the hands of their servants, are begotten in closets and conclaves, dictated to time-servers and adventurers, and forced on the people, they cannot tell how—but in the name of democracy and freedom. Yet, after all, public opinion is important, because when even demagogues are inclined to do right, it is fatal to their action if public opinion be wrong. For this reason, it may be well for you to understand how far public opinion has advanced with regard to our question. Its progress has been slow, but I believe always in the right direction. Things promised well, when the Oregon dispute became the occasion of an unnatural animosity against Great Britain, and every measure which she was supposed to approve. In the hurly-burly of wind and dust that was blown up under that passing cloud, it is not to be wondered that Dickens and copyright were as completely forgotten as orthography, etymology, syntax and prosody, and whatever else goes to the art of using language correctly. A strip of land that would not purchase the copyright of an almanac, became the subject of the fiercest congressional interest; and the rights of authors, and with them the noblest relations of the republic to the other estates of the world, for the time were wholly lost sight of. "Copyright" then passed into a watchword with some of those underlings of literature, who thought to ride into favour as Cobden has been carried into fortune, by taking the tide at its ebb and ("like little wanton boys that swim on bladders") invoking the flood, as if their yelping and outcries would bring the turn any sooner. A copyright club was got up, it is said by a mere clique in this city, to which, from the mere justice of its proposed ends, large numbers of respectable men, throughout the country, gave in their nominal adhesion. I am not aware that it has accomplished any other result than to favour some ambitious young gentlemen in acquiring the autographs of eminent persons abroad, with whom they opened an officious correspondence; for it has been very generally voted a humbug, and has served to disgust many with the very sound of "copyright," which has thus been degraded into harmony with the scream of "Repeal" and "Free Trade." For awhile, none joined the vociferation, according to my informant, but persons whose stake in literary property was about as deep as the grievances of others in England under the income-tax, or the impost on wheel-carriages, hair-powder, and coats-of-arms.

From temporary stagnation, however, the question has again revived; and during the last six months it has been debated in the daily newspapers, with very encouraging tokens of an[Pg 540] improvement in the moral sensibility of journalists. Even the tone of those who oppose the progress of principle, has become so much modified, that they rather excuse than defend the existing laws, representing them as practically less grievous than is imagined. A journal which has signalised itself by its resolute anti-copyright spirit, endeavours to support this representation, by asserting that about as much is now paid to British authors, for their proof-sheets, as would ordinarily be paid for their copyrights! It is asserted in this gazette, that Bulwer receives regularly from one hundred-and-fifty to two hundred guineas for a copy of every novel, which he sends out in advance of its publication in London. For similar proof-copies of their works, James is said to command very nearly as much; and such writers as Dr Dick, of Scotland, from fifty to a hundred guineas. What of it! It is plain that if a single edition of such books be worth these prices, the copyright must be considerably more valuable; and one would think it apparent, that such occasional premiums have no more to do with justice, than a levy of black mail, paid by its victim, because he would fare no worse. The New York Express exposes the sophistry of its contemporary, by simply asking what is paid to authors of less reputation, who may possess even superior merit; and The Literary World—a periodical of The Spectator class,—though it growls a little at Punch, and now and then takes too much in dudgeon the provocations of Maga, by no means allows its moral optics to be put out, by the pepper occasionally thrown into them by foreign jesters and critics. Perhaps it should be added, as somewhat significant, that Mr Bryant, the poet, a prominent democrat and editor of the New York Evening Post, has exerted himself in behalf of another memorial to Congress for justice to authors; which is the more observable, because Mr Legget, his late coadjutor and intimate friend, was perhaps the most radical writer on the other side that has ever appeared in this country, and regarded the maintenance of his extraordinary opinions as essential to genuine democracy. It seems evident to me that no one's political creed will be able to exclude much longer a principle, which, if not instinctively discerned to be sound by every man's conscience, commends itself so much the more forcibly to him who subjects it to a rigid and thorough examination.

So much for those great manufacturers and exponents of popular opinion, the periodical and daily press. The influence of "the trade" is next worthy of consideration; and I shall be able to report as favourably of it. Although the "Boston memorial" was the doing of a convention of booksellers, who faithfully represented, at that time, the sentiments of their brethren of the craft, it is now very evident that they are generally ashamed of it, and that another such convention would be very likely to terminate in precisely the opposite result. The North American Review [6] some time since announced the conversion of no less important a personage than the chairman of the committee which emitted the remarkable memorial itself; and the gentleman is certainly to be congratulated upon the improved condition of his moral health. Perhaps you saw in The Times—I think it was in May last—the letter of an eminent American publisher, who not only resented the impeachment of his professional species, as "the Fagins of literature," but adroitly retorted the compliment upon divers respectable houses in London. You must have noticed his declaration, that the commercial house of which he is a member has uniformly exerted its influence on the side of right. With some qualification, I am happy to say that I believe the worthy bibliopole claims no more than his due. Theoretically, his house has encouraged the copyright movement; but I hope I am mistaken in fearing that it has not always exhibited a practical consistency. The "Proverbial Philosophy" of Mr Martin Farquhar Tupper was lately published in Philadelphia, with an announcement, by the author himself, that his publisher had purchased the privilege of its manufacture[Pg 541] and sale; and this announcement was accompanied by an appeal to respectable booksellers to regard the moral right, in the absence of legal protection. The book has had remarkable success, and more than one publisher, who would be called respectable, has shown himself too weak to resist even the poor temptation to disregard this reasonable claim. I am sorry to add, that an advertising sheet is now lying on my table which describes the "Proverbial Philosophy" of Tupper as part of Messrs Wiley and Putnam's library of choice reading. Perhaps this internecine piracy among booksellers themselves has had something to do with the convictions of the craft, that the protection of authors would be their own best defence and security.

It needs now some resolute friend in Congress, and the copyright measure would not long fail of success. Unhappily, the gentleman who seemed best fitted for this purpose, and whose former exertions deserve honourable mention, Mr Senator Preston, of South Carolina, has retired from his public career, under the depressing influence of disease; and my knowledge of the public men of America does not enable me to mention any one who will immediately supply his place. Few men of letters sit in Congress. It is too much the paradise of hack politicians and menials of party. Great questions of right have little interest in the eyes of such men. Nothing gains from them a natural patronage, unless it be capable of being manufactured into "political capital." It is surprising that the Americans endure the selfishness with which their legislators will devote the greater part of a session of Congress to personal intrigues and private interests, while great national measures, demanded often by the whole people, are trifled with, or absolutely neglected. The great matter of "cheap postage," for example, though strongly urged by the mass of citizens, without distinction of party, can scarcely gain a hearing; and the fate of literary property must be the same, until some one arises to emulate the examples of Talfourd and Lord Mahon, and give completeness to their achievements, by carrying a corresponding measure through the American Congress. Till then, we must leave them to their responsibilities in "extending the area of freedom," which are, just now, too great to afford them an opportunity of doing as much for the area of copyright.

Meantime, I may safely say, that public sentiment cannot but mature into an eager desire of the consummation: not because of its justice, but because of its policy. I should look for a triumph of principle, rather than of interest, were I not pained to observe how seldom political leaders in America are wont to address the conscience, and rest any cause upon abstract right. The fathers of the republic knew better than to leave the moral powers of the people unexercised; but their successors seem to lack such faculties themselves, or to doubt their existence in the people. The copyright measure, however, may be safely left to the national sense of expediency. America is beginning to feel the value of literary eminence, and must be pardoned, on this account, for absurdly overrating at times the little that she already possesses. You will be surprised to see in how many ways her literature suffers by her present laws, and how safely avenging justice may be trusted to repair its own injuries. Let me show you.

The political theorist would say beforehand, that under the proposed copyright law the people would be deprived of cheap books; and this is one of the popular delusions that experience must dispel. The present laws do indeed make books very cheap, if cheapness is to be estimated only by the cost per copy, and if legibility, convenience, durability, and honesty are to go for nothing: and if the price which a whole nation pays for such books in many serious losses, is also to be excluded from the calculation. The present laws encourage the rapid manufacture of such books as will sell rapidly. Novels and light reading of all kinds are thus multiplied, to the exclusion of more valuable books, which sell slowly; and in consequence, an entire nation becomes infected with the depraved appetite of mawkish school-girls. But these novels must be printed at the lowest rate; for being unprotected, some one[Pg 542] will bring them out as cheaply as possible, and he who does so command the market. Thus book-making becomes a mean and debased art; and books are crowded upon the public, at prices merely nominal; having much the appearance, and sharing the fate, of newspapers, which perish in the using. At the same time, these worthless books affect the prices of all books. Valuable works required for libraries must be printed with the least possible investment of capital, or not printed at all. If any one undertakes such publications, he must stint the editor, shave the papermaker, grind the printer, starve the stitchers, and make the binder slight his work. This is the kind of "living" which the report of Congress says is furnished to thousands of persons by the republishing of English works; and such it must be, where every publisher has to make books to sell. The books thus published are dear at any price; and the best works do not get before the public at all. No choice American editions can be found of Burke, of Gibbon, of Hume, or even of Robertson, the historian of the continent; but if one imports such an edition, he finds himself taxed at the Custom-house to pay for the miserable thing he refuses. You look in vain for an edition of Jeremy Taylor; and if you import that of Bishop Heber, you pay a guinea to the Customs to sustain the privilege of American publishers to publish it if they choose. The writings of Lord Clarendon cannot be had in an American edition; your importation is taxed, because at some future day it may be convenient for some one to get up the whole in one volume. The same is the case with the whole works of Milton, of Dryden, and many others quite as essential to libraries: but the case is still more provoking with the better class of modern works, such, for instance, as Alison's "History of Europe." Under a copyright law, it could be published in New York from the English plates, and sold almost as cheap as the poor affair now in the market, which cannot be better, because it would be immediately ruined by a less expensive rival reprint. Yet, if I import a copy, to save my eyesight, I must pay for refusing this. Thus every time an American buys a foreign book—and such books are bought by thousands—he is paying for the broad privilege of booksellers to make the books they import; a privilege which they do not in general care to use, except in the case of new and chiefly ephemeral works.

Cheap books are now furnished, because the manufacturers dread competition; but better books, for the same money, will be readily supplied when the publisher has the market to himself, and fears no competitor. You remember the article on Copyright, which appeared in Blackwood in January 1842, in which it is noticed that Campbell's "Pleasures of Hope" sells at a shilling; that Moore, Wordsworth, and Southey, are handsomely published at three shillings and sixpence a volume; and that such a work as "Hallam's Middle Ages," is as cheap in the London market as books can be made: yet all these pay their authors, and are published in cheap editions, because they find it for their interest. Under a community of copyright, the plates of these very editions would be sent to New York, and the works would be in the market at a slight advance upon the cost of press-work and paper—the latter item being much less expensive here than in England.

But the nation pays for its cheap books more dearly still, when you consider the effect of its present system upon its literary men. It forces this class of its citizens to "make brick without straw." For the reasons I have shown, the books from which authors collect their materials are not to be found at home, and can only be imported at an aggravated expense, and often with great delays and trouble. Think of my waiting ninety days in New York, to procure a work like "Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion!" Now, I hazard nothing in saying that many an American author has given up projected works of great importance, from the discouragement of similar delays; whilst proofs are manifold, that the chief defects of valuable works actually produced in America may be traced to such inconveniences.[Pg 543] The patient author often confesses as much in his preface, without seeming to know that his country, in stimulating the almost exclusive, publication of trash, and taxing him to support such publications, is the fostering patron to which he owes his difficulties. Thus does America nip her young genius in the bud; and when it perchance comes to flower and fruit, she is not behind-hand with a blight. The unknown production of the American author is brought into a depressing competition with works which have been tried in England, and found certain of success in America. The popular British author, whom the public have long demanded, is furnished at the lowest price—while the yet unheard-of native aspirant, who can only hope for a limited patronage, an cannot dispense with his copyright, must of course be paid more. Whilst all the poems of Mr Tennyson, or his betters, maybe had for a dollar, the maiden effort of an American youth cannot be furnished for much less. Of course, his country has crushed her child, under the weight of an unnatural disadvantage; and in proportion as he is worth any thing, the chances are less that he will persevere against such odds. I know of a man of sterling genius, whose early writings attracted the notice of Maga, who has long since ceased to write for the public, in consequence of the evils I now depict. His country may thank herself that he has not taken rank with the first English authors of his class. But the same system which thus deprives American authors of natural patronage, destroys their chances abroad. Until their own country relieves them, by putting foreign works on a level with theirs as to chance of success, England gives them no copyright, and they cannot get aid from her as heretofore. Cooper and Irving were encouraged by England under a different state of things; and it is safe to say, that under present circumstances there will be no more Irvings and Coopers. I am surprised that American scholars submit with such equanimity to grievances under which genius must languish and emulation dies.

I have now in my mind the case of a man of learning—whom I should rejoice to name—of whom this country might well be proud, but whom she hardly knows; a man, of whom I venture to say, that had he been born an Englishman, he would have bequeathed his country another immortal name. He would have done as much to ennoble his native land, had she known how to foster instead of depressing his early enthusiasm. With a mind fitted for the deepest and most accurate research, and an education, of which the perfection is attributable to his natural love of learning, he undertook, in the prime of life, to accomplish a certain literary work, still a desideratum. With untiring zeal and diligence under many discouragements, he devoted to his grand design the best years of his manhood. In the collection of materials—doubly difficult by reason of the evils of which I have spoken—he spent much time, and exhausted his patrimony. After gathering a noble store, and traversing the ocean to perfect his acquirements in foreign libraries, he at length completed his task, and laid before competent judges the results. These were pronounced of the richest intrinsic value, and the earnest of future works in the same department of letters, yet more honourable to their author and more important to learning. But the very devotedness with which my admirable friend has pursued his one great object, has deprived him of a popular reputation. Though by birth and habits of life a gentleman, refined by intercourse with the choice society of Europe, and furnished with the best introductions, his overtures to publishers here were repulsed with a rudeness of negative, which would have shocked the sensibilities of a footman. Who cared for him, with his parcel of manuscript, when some European work, which had gone through the experiment of success, could be produced with a smaller expenditure, and without per centage to the author! Can it be wondered at that Harpy & Co. refused to treat with him, when a new treatise on the inside of the moon, for which lunatics in general were gaping, and for which twenty guineas had actually been paid to the learned Dr Snooks, of North Britain, was actually waiting its turn[Pg 544] for immediate reproduction? Would Snatchett and Brothers cast an eye on their compatriot's scrawled and blotted quires, when they had just run the pen-knife through a new "Dombey," for which fifty compositors waited stick-in-hand, and which the million expected with insatiable greediness? The excellent person to whom I refer ran the gauntlet of such patrons with no better success than my questions imply; and if the dignified production to which I have referred shall ever see the light, I am informed that it will first issue from the English press; for should its author publish it here, at his own expense, he will be forced to put it at a price which, compared with the pirated works of British authors, will appear unreasonable, and kill it in the birth. No American is patriot enough to buy a book, simply because it is valuable, and the product of national genius: and Congress takes care that if any be found to do so, they shall be roundly taxed for their patriotism.

I have given this instance because it has come under my immediate notice; but you will not doubt, dear Godfrey, that the country which, even in existing circumstances, has bred such writers, in their several departments, as Prescott, and Audubon, and Wheaton, and Kent, and Story, has crushed at least as many more by the pressure of her copyright laws: and, if so, America has deprived herself of intellectual sons, whose gifts, in their stimulated exercise, would have made her rich, as well as illustrious in the sure sequel of their fame. The "Calamities of Authors" are indeed proverbial, but few are the unnatural mothers who, to prevent them, destroy genius in the embryo. Yet there is an ingenuity of mischief in this government, from which every thing that can be of benefit to letters, is sure to suffer. Even the poor permission to import books duty free, which has heretofore been enjoyed by the few public libraries that are struggling into existence from private liberality, was, by the tariff of 1846, peremptorily withdrawn; whether through a niggard parsimony, or a besotted indifference to learning, more worthy of Caliph Omar than of an enlightened state, it is difficult to conjecture.

If things continue as they are, one thing is certain—it will be long before America will have a literature. Nor am I disposed to sneer, when I think of it, at the alarm of the New York Gazette, which is afraid lest the Tories of Maga should gain a preponderating influence in the minds of educated American youth. Why is it absurd to suppose that, if given up to such teachers, the next generation of educated Americans will be less democratic? In republican countries, the studiosi novarum rerum are always the well-bred and the travelled. Wealth and foreign associations must produce, in a nation, the same effects that fortune and admission to society create in a family. A love of simplicity and of home give place to a sense of the importance of fashion, and the value of whatever is valued by the world at large. Give us a king that we may be like other nations, was not an outcry peculiar to antiquity and to the Hebrews. In like circumstances, 'tis the language of man's heart. It is an appetite to which all nations come at last. Cincinnatus and his farmer's frock may do at the beginning; but the end must be Cæsar and the purple. Republics breed in quick succession their Catilines and their Octavius. They run to seed in empire, and so fructify into kingdoms—the staple form of nations. The instinctive yearning for the first change is sure to be developed as soon as the exhilaration of conquest makes evident the importance of concentrated strength, and imperial splendour. If so, the hour that will try the stability of this republic cannot be distant. Already I have heard Americans complaining of the thanklessness of bleeding for such a government as theirs; and remarking, that under an empire, the army would return from Mexico with Field-Marshal the Earl of Buena Vista, and Generals Lord Viscount Vera-Cruz, Lord Worth of Monterey; Sir John Wool, Bart, and Sir Peter Twiggs, Knight; and that the other officers would have as many decorations on their breasts as feathers in their caps! The truth is, that for lack of such baubles, they will all take their turns as Presidents of the United[Pg 545] States. But I cannot say that honest democrats are altogether to be laughed at, for rightly estimating the effects of a literature exclusively foreign, and generally adverse to the manners and institutions of a people whose strength is to "dwell alone, and not to be numbered among the nations."

If you are meditating an article for Maga on American copyright, you may employ my information for the purpose; but it will not be fair to leave out of view the most efficient objections which are urged by anti-copyright politicians, two of which I have not as yet mentioned. It is said to be against American interests to grant copyright, because the American value of British copyrights will far exceed the British value of American copyrights. Whether this be true or not, the argument is worth nothing, unless it be followed by the conclusion—therefore it is expedient to steal. Yet, perhaps, if the experiment were tried, the assertion would not prove to be true. The most valuable American copyrights are those of children's schoolbooks, in which extraordinary ingenuity has been shown, and which are generally such as, with small emendations, would become very popular in England. But however it may be at present—since the present standard literature of England can never be copyrighted, who can doubt that, with a more liberal system, the land of Washington Irving would breed such popular authors, as would soon very nearly equalize the exchanges, while America would still be immensely the gainer in the increase of her celebrated men, commanding no longer a merely provincial reputation, but taking rank in the broad world, and ensuring foreign rewards, with universal renown. At all events—honesty is always policy. Rising to the great standard of right, this country would soon find her reward; if but in that wealth of self-respect which comes only with a conscience void of offence, and which no country can possess that is not nationally great and generous, or at least honest enough to pay for what it needs, and appropriates, and enjoys.

The only remaining objection which need be mentioned has been very operative with the vulgar, for whom alone it could have been intended. It is said that England, however nearly allied, is still a foreign country; that her writers write for their own countrymen; that, so far as they are concerned, America is a mere accident; and that, consequently, right has nothing to do with the case. It is conceded that the comity of nations may furnish grounds for a fair consideration of what is policy; but it is denied that moral obligation invests the British author with any claim to literary property in America. I must let you know how handsomely the answer has been put by Americans themselves. The Boston reviewers say,[7] —"It is true we are distinct nations—scarcely more so, however, than the different Italian states. We have, like them, a community of language, and although an ocean rolls between us, the improvements in navigation have brought us nearer to each other, for all practical purposes, than is the case with some of the nations of Italy. Yet such is the indifference of our government to the interests of a national literature, that our authors are still open to the depredations of foreign pirates; and what is not less disgraceful, the British author, from whose stores of wisdom and wit we are nourished, is turned over, in like manner, to the tender mercies of our gentlemen of trade, for their own exclusive benefit, and with perfect indifference to his equitable claims." The New York Review[8] strongly reprobates the same outrages, "especially between two nations descended from a common stock, speaking the same language, whose political and civil institutions, though differing in form, are essentially the same in their liberal spirit and free principles—between two nations who are ONE PEOPLE." This is a sentiment which even you, my dear Tory, will not be unwilling to reciprocate; and I'll tell you when I felt its truth with peculiar force. I was walking in a quiet part of this city the other day, when I saw at a little distance a mutilated statue of marble, representing[Pg 546] some one of senatorial dignity in a Roman toga. As I drew near I discovered an inscription at its foot, which informed me that it was a grateful tribute, erected by the people of the province of New York in 1775, to William Pitt. During the revolution which immediately followed, it had been lost, and was only dug up this year from the dirt and rubbish of an obscure part of this great metropolis. It comes again to light, to remind America that, when she reckons up the earliest champions of her rights, she must never forget how much she owes to that noble British statesman. It thrilled me to stand before that silent witness of a brotherhood which revolutions cannot change. That England and America are twain is politically for the benefit of each; that they are one flesh is the unalterable fact which perfects the prosperity of both. The reality of their union, which that marble attests, is as fixed as the immoveable past; and I felt it enough that each people can boast,—

"That Chatham's language is their mother tongue."

How good it is, then, to strengthen the bond by which Almighty God has made two households still one family, especially when so many ties of mutual interests, commerce, and literature work together to corroborate the operation of nature!

Speaking of Chatham, I am reminded of America's great friend in the other House, and wish I could quote to Congress what was uttered in her behalf, in her darkest hour, by the noble-hearted Burke. [9] —"Every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. We balance inconveniences; we give and take; we remit some rights that we may enjoy others.... As we must give away some natural liberty to enjoy civil advantages, so we must sacrifice some civil liberties for the advantages to be derived from the communion and fellowship of a great empire." This is what the orator called so beautifully "the chords of a man;" and when America has well digested a principle thus laid down for her sake in the Parliament of England, she will feel that her political right to refuse just protection to the British author will be a moral right only when she is able to forego the advantages of literary communion and fellowship with the British empire.

This matter of copyright has been so naturally debated as concerning the Anglo-Saxon race alone, that I too have written as if the same principles (though with less glaring necessity) did not extend to all nations and languages of the earth. But I, for one, shall not be content with less than their universal application. Happy, indeed, will be the day when a British author puts pen to paper, feeling that he addresses himself at once to—what is almost equivalent to posterity—twenty millions of men in another hemisphere, and extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the mouths of the St Lawrence, among whom the author's is a sacred name, and when the aspiring American youth can thank his Government for making him proprietor of his literary creations wherever the law of England prevails upon the surface of the round world. But there are interests in which all men are brethren, and in which their brotherhood should be mutually and heartily conceded. Next to our holy religion is that interest which belongs to the interchange of ideas and a knowledge of each other's humanities. Best of all will be the time, then, when the literature of all Christian nations acquires an essential unity, not by spoliation and wrong, but by mutual good offices; promoting the fraternization of contemporary literatures, and holding together that precious wealth bequeathed to the world by the bountiful and often suffering genius of bygone generations.

Forgive me, dear Godfrey, that my letter, which began with a song, should thus conclude with a sermon. It is a very long letter, and I wish I could advise you to defer the reading of it till our friend the Vicar comes again to dine at the Hall. I would get you to read the first half to him, and ask him to declaim the remainder to you; but I know you would fall into your inveterate failing of shutting your eyes to meditate, and going into a sound sleep at the most interesting point of the discourse. Yours, &c.

To Godfrey Godfrey, Esq., &c. &c. &c.
[Pg 547]


[2] N. A. Review, vol. lvi. p. 227.

[3] N. A. Review, vol. xlviii. p. 257.

[4] Vol. iv. 2354.

[5] Lieber's Political Ethics, vol. i. p. 132.

[6] Vol. lvi., p. 227.

[7] North American Review, vol. liv., p. 355.

[8] Vol. iv., p. 300.

[9] Speech on Conciliation with America.


Our next narrator was a retired officer of the army, who had become a settler in South America, after many years unprofitable service at home and abroad. He had rapidly advanced in worldly wealth in the country of his adoption, but memory seemed ever to do him a kindness, when it bore him back to the days when he first entered on life's journey; his sword, and a hopeful heart, his sole possessions. When the subjects of our discourse chanced to awaken any of these recollections, he would usually hold forth with such an energy of prosiness, that we were fain to submit with as good a grace as possible, where there was no escape, and endeavour to interest ourselves in the adventures he had met with, and the fates and fortunes of the companions of his youth. The story I give here, was one he told us of a young officer, who had served in the regiment with him.


In the Gazette, dated "War Office, 14th June, 1828," was contained the following announcement:—"Henry Wardlaw Meynell, gentleman, to be ensign"—the regiment does not matter, but its mess-room was honoured by the presence of the above-named military aspirant one day, about two months after the date of his commission. He was introduced to his brother officers, examined by them from head to foot, shown into a bare uncomfortable garret—of which he was installed proprietor, allotted a tough old grenadier as his valet-de-chambre, and then left to his own devices till dinner-time.

While the iron-fingered veteran was extracting the smart new uniform from the travelling chest, and arranging it on the oak table, under the directing eye of his master, the officers in the mess-room were forming their opinions of the appearance of the newcomer, with the balmy assistance, in this mental effort, of strong military cigars. His age was nearly twenty-one years, and he looked perhaps older. His figure was tall, slight, and graceful, more formed than is usual in early youth, and bespeaking strength and activity. His face was almost beautiful in feature and form when silent, but as he spoke, a certain thinness of the lips betrayed itself, and somewhat marred its singular attractiveness. Dark brown hair, high clear forehead, teeth perfect, in regularity and whiteness, oval outline, head and neck shapely, and well set on—in short altogether such a person as one rarely sees, either in a regiment, or elsewhere.

As the "who is he?" is always a most important point of English introduction, and I would fain hope that you may take some interest in this person as we proceed, you should be told, that he is the second son of the only brother of a bachelor squire of very large estate in Yorkshire; his father, a profligate and spendthrift living at Boulogne, while he and his brother are adopted by the uncle. His poor broken-hearted mother has slept sweetly for many years near the village church where she was wed.

Eton received him when very young; he there lost his Yorkshire manners, learnt to row and swim, and acquired a certain precocious knowledge of the world, and proficiency in tying a white neckcloth. The labours of the classics and science were alike distasteful to him; study of any kind he abhorred; yet so acquisitive was his intellect, retentive his memory, and powerful his ability, that when he left Eton at eighteen, few youths presented a more showy surface of information. He had had one or two narrow escapes from expulsion for offences, in which the vices of maturer years were mixed up with boyish turbulence; but a certain element of depth and caution, even in these outbreaks, saved him from incurring their usual penalties. He was admirable in all active exercises, had a magnificent voice, and singular taste and talent for music and[Pg 548] painting. As a social companion, he was brilliant when he thought fit to exert himself; at other times he was silent and rather thoughtful, perhaps too thoughtful for his years. Though he always lived with the most dissipated and uproarious set, in his vices there was a degree of refinement, less of the brute, more of the devil; he did not err from impulse, but when opportunity presented itself, he considered whether the pleasure were worth the sinning, and if he thought it was, he sinned. He was more admired than liked among his young companions; and those in authority over him were quite uncertain whether he would turn out a hero or a villain.

From Eton he went to Oxford, there took to dissipation and extravagance, neglected all rules and application, wore out the patience of the authorities, and the liberality of his uncle, and, after about a year's trial, was withdrawn from the University to save him from retiring by compulsion. He was then sent to travel for a year under the prudent care of his elder brother. It will be unnecessary to track them through their wanderings; suffice it to say, that they did what young gentlemen travelling usually do, and visited the places that every body visits, but with this difference, with regard to Henry Meynell, that he acquired the principal European languages as he went along, and travelled with his eyes open; what was gained with great labour by others seemed to be as a gift to him. He had also begun to consider that he might at last provoke his uncle too much, and injure his prospects; so that he conducted himself with caution and tolerable steadiness during his time of travel. To finish this apparent reformation, a commission was obtained for him in an infantry regiment under a martinet colonel, and a moderate allowance provided for his support. Having given this sketch of his appearance, family, character, and antecedents, he is now fairly entitled to take his seat at the mess-table.

His corps was what the young warriors of the present day, call "rather slow," it had, indeed, been very much distinguished in the Peninsula, but since then a severe course of Jamaica and Demerara had excluded from it all wealthy and aristocratic elements; and the tablets it left behind in the West Indies were only raised to the memory of Smiths and Joneses, whose respective vacancies had since been filled up with Joneses and Smiths. In those days the rotation system had not been yet adopted, and the young gentlemen in "crack regiments," only knew of yellow fevers and land-crabs, through reading of them in books; and even through that channel, it would, perhaps, be unsafe to assert that they were much informed on these subjects, or indeed on any other.

At the head of the mess-table sat a gray-headed captain, who had been frost-bitten in Canada, wounded in the Peninsula, and saved by an iron constitution from the regimental doctor and yellow fever on Brimstone Hill, St Kitts; and, despite his varied adventures and ailments, had contrived to accumulate an immense rotundity in his person, and quantity and vividness of colour in his countenance. At the foot, was a tall young gentleman, with high cheekbones and a Celtic nose, who had lately joined from Tipperary. The colonel sat in the centre of one side of the table, stiff in attitude, sententious in discourse, invulnerable in vanity; a fierce-looking navy captain, and the meek mayor of the town, supported him to the right and left. A few diners out, fathers of families, and men who played a good game of billiards, and preferred the society of ensigns, were the remainder of the guests; the other gentlemen in red were variations on the fat captain and the Tipperary lieutenant.

The mess-room was long and narrow, with a profusion of small windows on both sides, causing the light to fall on every one's face. There were two doors at each end of the room, and one at the side, which last, as it led nowhere, and made a draught like a blow-pipe, had been lately stopped up with a different coloured plaster from the rest of the wall. But indeed there was such a curious variety of draughts, that one was scarcely missed; every door and window in the room sent in its current of[Pg 549] air, to search under the table, flare the candles, bear in in triumph the smell of burnt fat from the kitchen, and poke into the tender places of rheumatic patients; while, in spite of all these, the room was so close and redolent of dinner, that fish, flesh, and fowl were breathed in every breath. A scant and well-worn carpet covered the space on which the dinner-table stood; and portable curtains of insufficient number and enormous size ornamented a few favoured windows, waved in the erratic draughts, and tripped up incautious attendants, diffusing all the while the stale odour of tobacco smoke through the other varied smells. At one end of the room was a round table with a faded red cloth, strewn with newspapers, the corners of which had generally been abstracted for the purpose of lighting cigars,—the "Army List," the king's regulations, and the Racing Calendar. At the other end, a large screen, battered at the edges from frequent packings, diverted the course of the kitchen steam which entered by the door next it; this piece of furniture was covered with prints, some caricatures of other days, some sporting sketches—breaking cover—the Derby—fast coaches—the ring, &c.—some opera beauties, on whom sportive and original ensigns had depicted enormous moustaches, and others of rather an equivocal description.

At a given signal, the covers were removed, and some dozen of iron-heeled soldiers, dressed in various liveries, commenced scattering the soup and fish about with the same reckless indifference to consequences with which they would have stormed a breach. While Meynell was gradually coughing himself into a recovery from the effects of some fiercely peppered mulligatawney, he was asked by the stiff colonel to take wine, when the fat captain, and all the others at brief intervals followed the example. For some time, there was steady attention paid to eating and drinking, and but few words spoken, beyond "mutton if you please—thank you—rather under done—glass of sherry—with pleasure—your health—I'll trouble you for a wing, &c." But as the dinner progressed, and the fiery wine began to tell, horses and dogs, wine and women, guards and grievances, promotion and patronage, began to exert their influence on the discourse, and by the time the cloth was removed, every one seemed to talk louder than his neighbour, and the din was almost insupportable. Then, through the roar of the many voices, was heard an ominous shuffling behind the screen, now extended all across the room; an attuning scream of the clarionet, moan of the violin, and grunt of the bassoon, faintly foretold the coming storm, which in a few seconds burst upon the ears in the most furious form of the "overture to Zampa" by the regimental band; this continued, with variations, but scarcely a lull, for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile the bottles pass freely round, and the roar of voices continues louder and thicker than ever; some of the younger officers, mere boys, have yielded to their potent draughts, and sought their rooms; others, maddened with the wine and din, shout snatches of songs, argue vociferously, and loudly offer absurd bets, which the sporting gentlemen, who are strong in billiards, note down in little pocket-books. The band retires, whist tables are laid, brandy and water and cigars make their appearance, and the mess-room is soon in a cloud. After a couple of rubbers of whist, the colonel, and most of the older officers and guests, retire. As the door closes behind them, a flushed youth with swimming eyes and uncertain step, rushes to the table and shouts, "Now we'll make a night of it,—the bones! the bones!" Dice are soon brought, and the work of mischief begins. "Don't you play, Meynell?" said the flushed youth. "Not to-night, thank you," was the answer. Not to-night—for to-night he is cautiously feeling his way,—the scene's new to him,—he does not yet find himself at home, or on his strong point. He sits quietly down on the well-worn sofa and looks on; his head, in spite of the fiery wine and distracting band, is quite cool; he has watched himself and drunk but sparingly, and now he watches others.

The players are seated at the round table, with eager faces and straining eyes watching the chances of the game. One of the guests is among[Pg 550] them, a man with black moustaches and rather foreign appearance, a billiard-room acquaintance of the flushed youth; a capital fellow, they said, up to every thing, and very amusing. It was unlucky, however, for the cause of conviviality, that he was rather indisposed that day, and could take very little wine. But fortune now seemed to make amends to him for this deprivation, for he won at almost every throw. The flushed youth curses his luck, but doubles his stakes till he has lost a heavy sum. Meynell's quick eye observed that the foreign-looking gentleman lowered his hand under the table before each of these very successful throws. "You had better change the game," said he coolly to the loser, "luck is against you." The youth dashed the dice on the floor, seized the cards, and challenged the party to "vingt-et-un;" as he had been the heaviest loser, the others agreed, and the cards were dealt rapidly around.

It is by this time well on towards the dawn, the gray light already shows the shadowy outline of the distant hills, the dewy morning air breathes softly in through the open windows, on the parched lips and fevered brows of the gamblers; but it is an unheeded warning. Stake after stake is lost, some light, others heavy, all, perhaps, more than can be spared; but the worst loser is losing still. The loss is very great, ruinous indeed; the pale man with the black moustaches has the same strange luck as ever; he says he quite wonders at it himself. He is dealer, and turns up a "vingt-et-un" almost every time. Now the flushed youth flushes deeper, his teeth are set—his eyes fixed on the table—an enormous sum is risked upon this chance, he has drawn winning cards, but the dealer may have a "vingt-et-un," and beat him still. The foreigner's hand is pressed on the table, outspread close to his cards. All this time Meynell had keenly watched the play; he had risen from the sofa noiselessly, taken a large carving-fork from the supper table, and, unobserved by any of the excited players, stood behind the dealer's chair; his thin lips firmly compressed, and the fork grasped in his right hand, he leant over the table. This was at the point of the game when the decisive card was to be turned. Quick as thought, Meynell drives down the heavy fork through the dealer's hand, nailing it to the table—there is an ace underneath it; writhing with pain and shame, the unmasked cheat is hunted from the house.

Meynell at once became the leading man of the regiment; petted by the colonel on account of his aristocratic connexions, admired by the older officers for his knowledge of the world, and looked up to by the younger as the most daring in adventure, the most reckless in dissipation and expense. He repaid himself for the moderation of the first night at mess, when he was feeling his ground, by constant self-indulgence when he knew his power,—while the influence of his popularity and extraordinary social gifts, drew most of the youths, already, perhaps, too much disposed for such pleasures, to follow his example. The regiment had been rather dissipated before, but Meynell's presence in it was oil to the flame; drinking, waste, and gambling, became general, ruining the circumstances and constitution of many, and injuriously affecting the morals of all. Scarcely a year had passed after this time, when several mere boys, who had entered this fatal corps with fair prospects and uncorrupted minds, were sent back to their unhappy parents with blasted characters and broken fortunes. In these sad catastrophes Meynell found a secret pleasure, strange as it was diabolical. Though he used all his address to gain followers and companions in his career, there was something flattering to his malignant pride when any one broke down in the attempt to keep pace with him. Sometimes after deep play, in which he was rarely a loser, he would confer apparent kindnesses on the sufferers, forgive them their liabilities, and render them pecuniary assistance; but such help only postponed for a season the ruin that was almost sure to follow his fatal patronage, while his seeming generosity increased his influence, and silenced those who might have spoken against him. In equipage, appearance, and manners, he was the ornament of the regiment, and considered by those authorities who did not inquire into[Pg 551] morals, as a most promising young officer of high character and attainments.

I shall not weary you with any details of the next five years of his military life, of his peace campaigns, and marches from one town to another. But his track was marked with mischief wherever he went. He had several times, from his expensive mode of living, been obliged to appeal to his uncle for assistance, which was always rendered, accompanied, of course, by long and ineffectual lectures on the necessity of reformation. But the old man was flattered at his nephew's popularity, and pleased with his varied powers and accomplishments; by plausible representations, too, he was convinced that the irregularities which occasionally reached even his ears, were but the exuberance of youth, and the effervescence of a high spirit. Latterly, however, when the applications for money became more frequent, and the rumours of his dissipated life more numerous and authentic, the Squire, after having discharged all existing debts, communicated his determination to limit his nephew strictly within the allowance for the future, and to refuse to meet any further liabilities.

Cautious, cool-headed, and able as Meynell was, he was wanting in that self-command necessary to alter his mode of life; his expensive habits and vices had, through long indulgence, become almost necessaries of existence. With his eyes fully open to his danger, he still kept on in the dark path that led to the ruin to which he had ruthlessly consigned many an other, supported the while by a vague hope that some lucky chance would turn up to carry him through his difficulties. Tradesmen became pressing with their accounts,—he drew bills on his agent, renewed these when they became due, and drew others. This could not last long; the value of his commission was soon mortgaged; he borrowed money of advertising bill-discounters at enormous interest, and, in short, by the summer of 1834, Henry Meynell was a ruined man.

At this period he had just marched with his regiment into a large seaport town in the south of England, where they were to be quartered for some time. About two miles inland from this town there is a small country place of singular beauty. The house stands on the brow of a green hill, the front looking over a magnificent neighbouring park, varied with grove, and lake, and rivulet. At the back is a trimly kept garden of tufts of flowers, like enormous bouquets thrown on the green velvet sward, with here and there a sombre cypress or cedar in pleasant contrast. A succession of small terraces, with steep grassy steps, leads down to a rapid brook that forms a little waterfall below. Half an arch of a bridge, ruined, no one knows how, many years ago, now covered with thick clustering ivy, projects over the stream. Beyond, lie rich undulating pastoral lands, where cattle and sheep are grazing peacefully; on either side of the garden thick woods of beech and sycamore reach from the brook up to the house, shutting in this lonely spot with their dark green wall. The dwelling was originally Elizabethan, but had been so often added to or diminished, that it would be hard to say now what it is; but somehow the confusion of gables and excrescences have altogether a very picturesque effect, and luxuriant clematis and ivy conceal the architectural irregularities, or at least divert the eye from their observation. At the entrance to the house from the garden there is a porch, up a short flight of gray stone steps; its sides are of trellis-work, covered with flowering creepers.

One sunny afternoon towards the end of June, in the year mentioned above, a fresh breeze rustled through the leaves, shook the rich clusters of fragrant roses that hung about the porch, and fanned the cheek of a young girl standing on the steps, who looked as fair and innocent as the flowers themselves. She was her mother's only child, and had seen but eighteen years. Her father had been a gallant sailor, knighted for his conduct in one action, and slain in the next. Her mother, Lady Waring, was thus left widowed while yet young; but her loved husband's memory, and the care of her little daughter Kate, proved enough of earthly interests for her, and she remained single ever afterwards. Sir William Waring had possessed a considerable share, as[Pg 552] sleeping partner, in an old-established banking-house that bore the name of his family, as well as the residence I have tried to describe, so that his widow and child were left in very affluent circumstances. He was a first cousin of old Mr Meynell, the Yorkshire squire.

Lady Waring was seated on a rustic bench in the garden with a book in her hand, but her eye fixed with fond admiration on her daughter. The fair girl stood on the steps in the porch as on a pedestal surrounded with a frame-work of flowers. A straw hat, with a wide leaf, was placed coquettishly on one side of her head, and from its shade an abundance of black glossy ringlets fell over the sunshine of her face. She had never known a moment's sickness or sorrow; her eye had never met a frown; her ears never heard a chiding. She seemed almost radiant with health and happiness—her joyous smile the overflow of her glad heart.

Lady Waring beckoned her over, and as she moved to obey the summons, the shadow of her graceful sinuous figure scarcely appeared to touch the sward more lightly than herself. Kate sat down beside her mother, put an arm round her, and looked up joyfully into her face. It was one of those peculiar English days, when the sun shines with a fierce heat, but the east wind is sharp and cold, and the air ungenial where the rays do not reach. At the moment when Kate joined her mother, a thick cloud passed above their heads, throwing a heavy shade over them, while a breeze sweeping up from the brook cast a sudden chill. With an involuntary shudder they pressed for a moment closer together. At the same time a servant ushered a tall, strange gentleman into the garden, "Mr Henry Meynell," he announced, and then withdrew.

The kinsman received a cordial greeting, and, of course, an invitation to remain that day, which was accepted. The charm of his manner and conversation was irresistible when he strove to please: he strove his utmost that night, and fully succeeded—mother and daughter were alike won by him. When he rode away from the door at a late hour, Lady Waring was eloquent in his praise. Kate's eloquence was silence, but it spake quite as much, and that night she did not sleep so tranquilly as was her wont.

As Henry Meynell galloped home over the lonely road, the bland and winning smile which had played over his face all the evening contracted into a moody and sinister expression. The thin lips became compressed, and his arched brows extended into a hard dark line over his eyes. He was planning evil, and had no witness; at such times his features seemed to take this peculiar appearance as their natural cast; yet it was scarcely possible to believe that one, before so handsome, could suddenly become repulsive and painful to behold. His self-indulgent and dissipated life had already marked him with some of the symptoms of premature decay. Though still in early manhood, a slight wrinkle or two was perceptible; his cheek was pale when not flushed with excitement; and his eye, betimes glassy and bloodshot, would betray the excesses of the previous night. But still, with the assistance of a judicious toilet, he could make his appearance present a very respectable degree of youthfulness; and this had been an occasion where no pains were spared to create a favourable impression. He had an object in view. In the desperate state of his finances, an advantageous marriage suggested itself to him as the easiest and readiest mode of extricating himself from his difficulties, and continuing his career of self-indulgence. His regiment having been ordered into the neighbourhood of his wealthy cousin appeared an opportunity too favourable to be neglected, so he had not lost a day in making her acquaintance. He hated the prospect of marriage as an inconvenience, but mocked at the idea of its being a restraint. The fair girl he had marked for his own rather pleased him; he liked her beauty, and was amused at her trusting innocence. He probably would have made love to her for pastime even had she not been rich. As it was, the sacrifice to his necessities which he intended to make was somewhat mitigated in its severity. "I must have her money, so I am in for the stupid folly of virtuous love-making[Pg 553] and marriage," was the sum of his thoughts as he dismounted at his stable-door. His spaniel had been watching for his return, and ran out, barking joyously, and leaping upon him. He was irritated at being thus disturbed in his calculating reverie, and struck the faithful brute with his heavy whip, driving it yelping away. "Go, stupid cur, you plague me with your fondness," cried he, as he struck at the dog again. Alas for the fair girl who filled this bad man's thoughts, and who thought but of him that night! down in his cold heart she may not find one solitary gem of tenderness or love to light her with its ray to hope and happiness.

Henry Meynell's visits to the Warings became very frequent, and at length daily occurrences. These simple-minded people, who had lived so long secluded from the world, had little opportunity of hearing the unfavourable rumours of their guest's character, which were pretty generally abroad; and if now and then a suspicion was suggested to the elder lady, the tact and plausibility with which it was discovered and removed, rather tended to strengthen than weaken his position in her esteem. As for Kate, the advice and cautions of meddling friends of course only fixed her more firmly in her preference.

About six weeks thus passed away. He had played his game coolly and steadily; his attentions were evident, but they were yet so mixed up with respectful regard to Lady Waring and apparent interest in her conversation, that the good lady had been more accustomed to look upon him as the kinsman and friend of the family than as the suitor of her child. So gradual had been his advances, that one, day, when she found her daughter depressed and weeping, and at length guessed that Meynell's temporary absence was the cause, the state of affairs flashed upon her with the suddenness of a surprise. When enlightened, she wondered with reason at her dulness in not having before discovered a matter of such surpassing interest. "Why should I have any secret from you, mother?" said Kate; "it is true I love him, and dearly, and I am sure he loves me too, though he has never told me so. I wonder why he has not come to-day; he promised to bring me the song he sang to us last night on the broken bridge." Nevertheless, Meynell came not that day; and it was getting late in the evening when Kate's quick ear recognised the sound of his horse's feet on the approach—the sweetest music she could hear.

She was alone in the house when he entered, her mother being in the garden on the favourite rustic seat. After the usual greetings, and some hurried apologies for his late arrival on the ground of business or duty, they walked out together to where Lady Waring sat. Her mind was on them as they drew near; she had thought of them for hours in anxious consultation within herself. She reflected on the lonely condition of her child in case of her death; the apparent attachment of the young people to each other; the amiable manners and brilliant accomplishments of her kinsman; and her own affluence, which would enable her to make amends for the want of fortune on his part. When she looked on the manly and graceful soldier bending to her daughter's ear, and saw the pale cheek of the fair girl become red, and the face, lately sad and tearful, now beaming with happiness and content, she thought she had found a fitting protector for her child, and that to him it should be given to love her, comfort her, honour and keep her, in sickness and in health.

The mother held out a hand to each as they joined her, and welcomed Henry Meynell with peculiar kindness of manner; then, as they strolled down the terrace to the brook side, followed them with loving eyes, suffused and dim with tears of pleasure.

I would fain dwell upon this happy meeting and lengthen it to the utmost. Why do the shadows fall so quickly? Why does dark night chase away this gentle twilight, and the murmur of the brook grow loud and hoarse, as all other sounds are sinking into silence? The winged hours have flown rapidly away; the fair girl still wanders by the water's edge, or leans over the parapet of the broken bridge. Through the stillness of the evening air a voice has fallen softly on her ear that fills her heart with happiness. Joy! joy! his love is spoken; his[Pg 554] manly troth is plighted. And she, too, in a few broken words of maiden modesty but deep affection, has pledged away her faith, wealth, youth, and beauty. Then the fond mother comes to seek her child; she needs no tongue to tell her what has passed, for that fair young face is radiant with happiness, bright and pure as a star in heaven; and Henry Meynell's glance is full of fond and silent admiration. She bestows an approving blessing. But while the group stands, as it would seem, lost to all consciousness of the world beyond, the night has fallen dark and sombre, and louder and hoarser than before is heard the murmur of the brook in the silence of all other sounds.

Meynell had been detained in the morning by a most disagreeable visit from one of his discounting acquaintances. A large bill had become due that day, and the man to whom it was owed insisted on immediate settlement, under the threat of an arrest for the amount. Of course there were no funds forthcoming, and credit was quite exhausted. Something was necessary to be done; the scandal of being seized would probably damage his hopes of success with Kate Waring; and he felt that if he could only stave off this difficulty for a week or a little more till the affair was concluded and her property in his power, that all might yet be well. When other persuasions, entreaties, and promises had failed to move his obdurate creditor, he at length confided the hopes which he entertained of being very soon able, by a judicious marriage, to meet his engagements; and gave a full account of the progress which, he flattered himself, he had made in the lady's good graces. The only terms, however, that he could obtain were, that he should have two hours more allowed him to be introduced to a Jewish gentleman, who might perhaps advance him the money required at a remunerative rate of interest. There was nothing for him but to accept this offer, and the Jewish gentleman was shown into his room.

The money-lender was a slight, sallow man, with black hair, cut very short, and face close shaven. As Meynell was introduced, he thought he had a confused recollection of having met the man before, but a second glance persuaded him that the face was strange. Exorbitant terms were required and acceded to for the loan of the required sum for a fortnight, but that signified little; he had no doubt of success, and then a few hundreds more or less would be of little consequence. He was, to say truth, agreeably surprised at the loan being given at any price under his apparently desperate circumstances, when the only security was the chance of a mercenary marriage. The usurer seemed, indeed, quite in a hurry to write the check and receive the bond for the debt. As he wrote, Meynell leant over him and observed that he moved his pen with some difficulty and stiffness; on the back of his right hand were two small, but deep scars close together.

Never was bridegroom more eager to hasten the hour of his happiness. The tedious arrangement of the necessary legal affairs was hurried on by every means in his power; a fortnight was but little law, and he now knew well that he must fall into the hands of one that would not spare him; for though he did not appear to have recognised the detected and punished cheat of his first night's mess party in the money-lender, nor did the other show any knowledge of him, he could not but suspect that there was something more than an accident in his being thus put into the power of a man he had so dangerously provoked. Lady Waring and Kate only attributed his pressing haste to the ardour of affection, and with undoubted confidence received his plausible explanations. The tenth day after that eventful evening was fixed for the marriage—but the hour of wo was nearer still; the storm was about to burst over the widow and her child.

One morning, as Meynell was preparing to ride out to his daily visit, a brother officer entered the room with a newspaper in his hand, and the eager air of a man who has news of interest to communicate. "These bankers, from the name, are probably some relations of your friends," said he; "it seems a tremendous smash; a shilling in the pound, or something of that sort, is talked of."

Meynell's thin lips closed like a[Pg 555] vice for one moment, but the next he asked to see the paragraph spoken of, in a tone of apparent indifference. He read it coolly, laid the paper aside, and changed the conversation. When he was again alone his face grew dark as night, and that demon expression swept over it like a tempest as, with an awful curse, he struck his clenched hand on the table. He remained motionless for many minutes, holding counsel in his ruthless, selfish mind. Not a thought of others' wo suggested itself—not one doubt or hesitation held him back from trampling on a trusting and devoted heart. "But it may still not be true!" The hope, faint as it was, aroused him to exertion. He rang the bell, and with his usual calmness of manner and voice, said that he should not want his horse that day, but that he might probably have to go away for a short time, and gave directions to have every thing ready for his departure in an hour. He then walked out into the town, made some inquiries, which resulted in confirming the disastrous intelligence, wrote a cold and hurried note to Lady Waring, in which "circumstances over which I have no control" held a principal place, and a "necessary absence" was announced. Before the message was despatched, he was on his route for the Continent.

The news of her ruin had also reached poor Lady Waring that morning; she was for a time stupified by the suddenness and severity of the blow, and, pale and speechless, still held up the letter before her eyes. Kate, alarmed at her mother's silence, hastened to her side, and a glance over the fatal paper told the cause. She put her soft, white arm round the widow's neck, and looked into her face with a smile of love and hopeful courage that, even in the first moment of misfortune, made the burthen light.

"I wish Henry were come, mother," said she. "He will cheer you. All shall still be well. We shall be just as happy in poverty as we were in wealth, and be kinder than ever. How I hope he may not hear of this till we tell him! He would be so pained for our sakes; but when he sees we bear it bravely he will rejoice."

Alas, poor child! while you were speaking these words of trusting consolation, he on whom you placed your fond faith, with cool head and icy heart, was tracing the lines that were to tell of his base desertion.

It was long ere Kate could receive the dreadful conviction of the truth. There was the note. Could she mistake the handwriting? The bearer, too, had said that Meynell was gone; and the distant, chilling tone—and no mention made of his return—and the news of her sudden poverty! None but a woman that loved with a trusting and devoted heart could doubt what all this meant. Days, weeks, months passed away, till time wore out hope, for he never came. As some fainting wretch in a famine visits his scanty store in trembling secrecy, bit by bit consumes it to the last, and then despairs, so she lived on till her faith grew less and less, and she hid its last remnant in her heart, lest it should be torn from her; but it wasted fast away, and not a shred was left.

In the meantime Lady Waring had sold her place, discharged her servants, except those who were indispensable, and made arrangements to reside in a small house in the neighbouring town, where her pension and the remnant of her fortune might enable her to live in comfort and respectability. But, in the first instance, she went to live for a time with some relations near their former residence, while the necessary preparations were being made for the change. Kate's state of mind and health were constant and increasing anxieties to the poor mother, almost to the exclusion of the recollection of her other misfortunes. Henry Meynell was never mentioned, but his handiwork was plainly seen. Kate had rapidly grown old; the look of radiant happiness and trustingness was gone. Her spirits were not altogether depressed, but rather subject to pitiful variations; and at times the hectic excitement of her manner was even more distressing than her fits of despondency.

Her kind friends tried to engage her in any amusements and occupations that were attainable, and prevailed upon her to enter into the society and gaiety of the town, where she was no sooner known than she became a universal favourite. Lady[Pg 556] Waring was conscious that Kate submitted to these instances only to please her, and induce her to believe that she was recovering her tranquillity of mind. But the mother felt that the effort, however painful, might be useful, and in the end attain to realise what was then but an appearance; so she always accompanied her daughter, and did her utmost to maintain a cheerful countenance. This painful struggle and simulation continued with more or less of success till the end of August, when a newspaper announcement informed them that Henry Meynell had been married a fortnight before at Rome to his cousin Miss Susan Meynell, a lady some years older than himself, who had always lived with his uncle as the prime favourite, and had accompanied him to the Continent that year, on a journey undertaken for his health. Henry had joined them not long before, in a state of great poverty, but by the influence of an old preference which the lady entertained for him, he had been reconciled to his uncle, who made a comfortable settlement upon his favourite and the professedly reformed prodigal. The news of his conduct to the Warings had not reached the old man at that time.

Lady Waring was astonished, indeed alarmed at the calmness with which Kate appeared to receive the news of the consummation of Henry Meynell's treacherous desertion. For an hour or two she seemed depressed and absent, but afterwards set about the usual pursuits of the day without any apparent change of manner. They were to be present at a large ball that night; and Lady Waring could not but wonder when she saw her daughter busied in arranging some simple ornaments for the dress she was to wear, and preparing for the evening gaieties as if nothing had occurred to disturb the current of her thoughts. At the ball she entered into the spirit of the dance with apparently more than usual zest: some among the many who sought her, almost fancied they were gaining ground in her good graces, and that this unwonted gaiety was the result of her being pleased with them. Her mother watched her with alarm and surprise; her cheek was flushed, her eye bright, her smile beaming on all around her. Was this real or unreal? Could one so fair and good be without heart, and indifferent to the unworthiness of him to whom she had given her troth?

The weary ball is at last ended,—they reach home,—she bids her mother good-night; as they separate, her cheek flushes furiously, and her eye is brighter than ever, but she speaks quite calmly—so calmly, indeed, that her mother is almost re-assured, and overcome with fatigue lies down to rest and sleeps. Kate occupies the adjoining room.

At about six o'clock in the morning, Lady Waring, awoke from a troubled and unrefreshing sleep. She fancied she heard light footsteps in her daughter's chamber; they seemed regular and measured, as of some one pacing slowly. She tried to collect her scattered thoughts, and separate her confused dreams from her waking perceptions. The gray light of morning already crept in through the crevices of the closed windows, and threw a cold uncertain light on the familiar objects around, only rendering them strange and indistinguishable. While yet she lay uncertain, the footsteps left the next room and approached hers, with the same light but measured sound. Her door opened and Kate entered, still in her ball-dress, with her long black ringlets forced back off her forehead. She drew the curtains aside gently and leant over the bed, then pressed her little white hands over her temples, and muttering some indistinct words, gazed upon her mother.

Were the widow's life to be lengthened out into eternity itself, she never might forget that look of her lost child. As a flash of the destroying lightning, it blasted her heart's hope, and turned it to ashes. She sprang up and clasped her arms round her daughter: "Mercy, mercy, Kate!" she cried, "speak to me once more. Are you ill? Do you suffer?" Oh! the sad, sad voice! Each word the poor girl spoke in answer, froze her hearer's blood, as though that gentle breath had been the ice-blast of the pole. "I do not know, mother," she replied, "but I have such a pain here." She pressed her hands slowly[Pg 557] over her brow, and with her white taper fingers put back the loosened hair. Then in hurried accents whispered,—"Do not tell him—do not let them take me away—but God help me, mother!" she added wildly: "I think I am MAD!" and it was true. She sank beneath her first and only sorrow. In the effort to bear up against it, her mind gave way; and she who might have diffused happiness on all around her, as a fountain sends forth its waters, is to smile no more.

She was attacked that morning by a violent fever which lasted many weeks. At length she gradually seemed to amend, but remained quite unconscious of her mother's unceasing care. The bright red spot that burned upon her pale cheek, and the sharp hard cough that every now and then shook her wasted frame, forbade awakening hope. "When she is able to move," said her medical attendant, "the climate of Malta may be beneficial, but it is my sad duty to say that there is no prospect of her mind being re-established." "Save her for me," said the wretched mother, "even should I never hear her bless me again. Darkened though she may be, she is still the lesser light that rules my night."

After some time they went to Malta, and for nearly two years, Lady Waring watched the alternations of her daughter's health with fond and unceasing care. Almost a hope sometimes arose, but there soon again came a relapse, and month by month she was plainly sinking, but very, very slowly; the decay was so gradual, that her evidently approaching end came on her wretched mother suddenly at last. She had been for some time unable to leave her bed, or indeed even to move, and her breathing became painful and difficult.

It was on a January morning that the doctor felt it necessary to tell Lady Waring that the end of her hopes and fears was at hand, for the patient could not last beyond that day. So she sat down by the bedside in calm despair to watch the expiring lamp. About seven in the evening, a sudden change seemed to come over the dying girl,—an animation of countenance, and a look of re-awaking intelligence. She motioned feebly with her hand that her bed might be moved close to the window, and when there, looked out anxiously upon the strange sea and sky. She appeared to be making some mental effort, and after a little while, turned her eyes towards the watcher, and murmured one blessed word of recognition,—"Mother."

Her setting sun, long hid by heavy mists, ere it sank below the horizon, threw one level ray of pure unclouded light back over the troubled sea of life. At the approach of death—out of the chaos of her mind—the memories of the past rose up, and stood in a broad picture before her sight; and from the ruins of her broken heart its first and holiest affection ascended like an incense. "God will love you, as you have loved me, mother;" she said. "Forgive him—I pray for him—God will forgive him, and watch over you—good-bye—kiss me, mother." As she lay wan, wasted, feeble, her voice was so faint and low that it almost seemed to come from beyond the portals of the grave itself, to pardon and to bless.

The widow bent over the death-bed, and—oh, how tenderly!—pressed the cold lips of her lost darling. At that loved touch, the failing tide of life flowed back for a moment and flushed the pale cheek with joy unspeakable—then ebbed away for ever.

Now that we have left poor Kate where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest," we must follow the dark course of him for whom she died. His marriage had but a short time taken place, when he resumed his former habits, and totally neglected his wife. She at first tried to win him back by increased tenderness, but he spurned it; then by tears and entreaties, but he derided them. As a last effort, she tried to pique him by coldness—this pleased him best, for it relieved him from her presence. He made no attempt to conceal his dislike and contempt for his unhappy helpmate, or to throw a veil over his irregularities and dissipation. He had been much disappointed in the discovery that he could not obtain possession of any of the capital of his wife's fortune; and the sale of his commission,[Pg 558] which was soon arranged, proved far from sufficient to meet the liabilities awaiting him on his return to England. This knowledge of the nature of the settlement was the ostensible ground of a quarrel with his wife, which ended in her returning to her uncle's house, and his establishing himself at a fashionable hotel in London, soon after their return from the Continent.

He had not been many days in England, before the implacable creditor who held the largest bond against him found him out, and arrested him for the amount, while riding in the Park, with all the insulting vexation that the greatest publicity could create. That he could raise the sum required for his release, appeared very unlikely indeed, under the present circumstances, to be accomplished. When within the precincts of the jail, Henry Meynell did not hesitate to write imploringly to the wife he had outraged and the uncle he had so often deceived, praying that they would pity his fallen condition, and release him from the grasp of the law. He was not sparing in words of humiliation and penitence, and promises of future good conduct. These arts had been so often tried before, that they might well have lost their effect on those to whom they were addressed; but his poor wife, who was still fondly attached to him, in spite of his unpardonable misconduct, could not bear the idea of his wasting in a jail, and used her utmost efforts to get together whatever means she was possessed of, and to persuade her uncle to assist him once more.

After some months' delay the necessary sum was procured, and to the chagrin and surprise of his creditor, Henry Meynell was once more at liberty. He visited his wife for a short time, but very soon left her again; she had deprived herself of the means of giving him any future assistance by her sacrifices on this occasion. He, having no further object to gain, determined to be burthened with her no more.

From this time he appears to have been utterly lost; but little is known of his proceedings for the next year and a-half. He was seen occasionally haunting the billiard tables and gambling houses in London and Paris, where his polished manners and prepossessing appearance gave him many advantages, in carrying on his designs against those inexperienced victims who were unfortunate enough to attract his notice. But he was evidently liable to great reverses of fortune at this time, for he was met by a former brother officer on one occasion at Boulogne, so much reduced that he was fain to make himself known, and pray for a small sum to take him over to London. Finally, in the summer of 1836, he was concerned in some swindling transaction which, on its discovery, brought him within the grasp of the law. He had, however, so extensive an acquaintance and influence among such as himself, who were in no small number in London at that time, that for a while he managed, with their assistance, to elude the police, and in a well-contrived disguise, as an old man, still ventured to frequent houses of play.

One night he recognised among the crowd, at a table in Leicester Square, the well-known face of the detected cheat. He watched narrowly to observe whether or not he was recognised. He feared to leave the room suddenly lest it might excite a suspicion, but was reassured when he saw that the pale man seemed so much absorbed in his game, as not to notice the other faces round the board.

When, after a time, the object of his anxiety rose much excited and left the room, having lost all the money he appeared to possess, he felt convinced that the danger had passed, and breathed freely again.

It was early morning before he sallied out from the polluted atmosphere where he had passed the night. He was proceeding slowly along toward home, when, from out a narrow court, as he passed, a policeman pounced upon him, and grasped him by the collar, while the inveterate enemy from whom he thought he had escaped without recognition, seized him at the same time. Henry Meynell saw at a glance that there was no hope but in escape, so with all the exertion of his powerful strength, he shook off his assailants. The foreigner fell heavily to the ground, but the policeman tried to close again, till a blow from Meynell struck him violently[Pg 559] to the earth. Before they recovered themselves, the object of their attack was beyond the reach of capture.

Meynell did not venture to go again to his lodgings: he changed his dress at the house of an acquaintance, and, warned by his narrow escape, determined at once to leave England. He wandered along by the wharves, making inquiries about any vessels that were to sail immediately, little caring what their destination might be. It so happened that he heard of one at hand that was to sail for Canada that day. He was at once resolved. A favourable night's play had put him in possession of sufficient funds. He purchased a few necessary articles for the voyage, and before evening fell, was sailing down the river—an exile—an outcast from the land of his birth, which he was never to see again.

During the voyage, his great powers of conviviality made him a special favourite of the captain of the vessel; of course, he bore an assumed name, and professed to be merely going out with the intention of becoming a settler, if he liked the promise of the country. He also made up a plausible story, of having been disappointed in his passage by another ship, and forced at the last moment to hurry on board this one. With the captain, however, he held a greater confidence; and although no particulars were entered into, it transpired during their carouses that he and the law were at variance.

The voyage passed without any event worth recording, and early on a bright September morning they awoke under the shade of the bold headland of Quebec. Meynell's critical taste was gratified by the mingled grandeur and softness of the scene; he was in no hurry to go ashore, friendless and objectless as he was, so he leant his head upon his hand, and gazed out quietly over the side of the vessel, enjoying the view so far as his diseased mind was capable of receiving gratification from a harmless pleasure. He took little notice of the boats that came to, and left the ship, nor did he ask the news of any one. What cared he for news? He saw old friends or long separated relatives meet on the deck with warm and happy recognition. But there was none to welcome him. It would be hard to say what thoughts then crossed the dark stage of his mind; some long hidden spring of feeling may have been touched by what was passing round that lost and lonely man; by little and little his head sank lower and lower, till his face was buried in his hands, and so he stood.

He had remained for a long time silent and motionless, when he was suddenly aroused by a hand being placed on his shoulder. He turned round with surprise, and found the captain of the ship by his side, who said to him hurriedly. "The sooner you are out of this the better, friend. A chap has been looking after you already, and I am sure he will be back again." The post had arrived long before them, and Meynell's implacable enemy had contrived to find out his destination, and to prepare the authorities for his arrival by a description of his person, that they might arrest him at once. In this difficulty his friend the captain proved a ready counsellor. There chanced to be a schooner alongside freighted with stores for the Indians of the Saguenay, that was to sail almost immediately; the captain knew the skipper of this craft, and arranged with him to take Meynell, who was to remain in that remote part of the country till the danger blew over.

In a short time Meynell was steering down the river again, on his way to the lonely Saguenay, little caring where he went; indeed, perhaps, he would have chosen this adventure to a remote district, with the novelty of the Indian life, as readily as any thing else, even had he not been impelled to it by necessity.

It may not be known to all that the Saguenay is a large river that flows from a lake of considerable size, eastward into the St Lawrence, which it joins on the north side, a hundred and forty miles below Quebec. It is of great depth, the waters dark and gloomy, and the scenery through which they pass magnificent, but of a desolate and barren character. About seventy miles up this great tributary is an infant settlement called Chicontimi, a station of the fur-traders. Here[Pg 560] the navigation ends, and, beyond, the labour of man has left but slight traces. At the time of Meynell's arrival this district was inhabited, or rather hunted over, by a tribe called by the Canadians, "Montaignais Indians,"—a friendly honest race, expert fishers and hunters, and valuable neighbours to the fur-traders. The schooner was laden with stores of various kinds, to be exchanged with those people for the produce of the chase.

In three days Meynell reached Chicontimi. The fur-traders were surprised at the unexpected visitor, but as he proved to be a smart active fellow, and was not without means, they did not object to his presence, and in a short time he made himself very useful. At this period of the year, the Montaignais tribe always encamped near the settlement, and bargained for the guns, powder and shot, blankets, and other necessaries, for the hunting expeditions of the winter. Meynell soon became a favourite among them; his facility in learning their language, his strength and activity, and skill with the rifle, gave him a great influence over their simple minds. He particularly attached himself to an old hunter of much consideration, called Ta-ou-renche, who had an orphan niece under his care, Atàwa by name, the acknowledged beauty of the tribe. After a time Meynell adopted altogether the Indian mode of life. His days were passed in the chase, or in wandering with his rod and gun by the shores of the beautiful and almost unknown lakes of that lone and distant land. He soon became as expert as the Montaignais themselves in their simple craft.

The autumn passed away, and winter closed in with its accustomed severity, locking up all nature in its icy grasp. The fish in the lakes were then only to be obtained by laboriously cutting channels in the massive ice, and all the birds and smaller animals had gone into their mysterious exile. It was then time for the tribe to make their usual journey to the distant hunting grounds of the north-east, where the Moose and Carribboo deer were wont to supply them with abundance for their winter's store. Meynell determined to accompany them, and imitated and improved upon their simple preparations. He obtained from the stores of the fur-dealers warm clothes, blankets, and ammunition for the expedition; a small supply of pemican or preserved meat, and a little flour, completed the loading of the light sleigh he was to drag after him over the snow; this tobogan, as the Indians call it, is of a very light structure, and carries a burthen of fifty or sixty pounds weight, with but little labour to him who draws it along.

The tribe started in the middle of December, crossing the frozen waters of the Saguenay at Chicontimi, and then journeyed through the forest towards the inland valleys of Labrador. For the first two days, their route lay along the bank of a considerable river, which, on account of its rapid current, in many parts was not frozen over; and they rested at night at places where they had supplies of fish and water. Their encampments were but rudely made, as the stay only lasted for a night, and the severest cold of the winter was not yet come, to demand a more elaborate and perfect shelter. Nearly eighty huge watch-fires threw their glare over the dark woods at night; round each was a family of the Montaignais, the hunters, their wives and children. Meynell, Ta-ou-renche, and Atàwa, formed one of these groups. The Englishman was sadly fatigued and foot-sore after the first day's journey, although it had been but a short one. The heavy and unaccustomed snow-shoe hurt his feet, though Atàwa's careful hands had tied them on; and the weight of the tobogan wearied him, though both of his companions had given him great aid. They watched him with the tenderest care, and long after he slept soundly on his snowy couch, Atàwa sat with her eyes fixed upon his still beautiful face, lighted up by the red flame of the watch-fire. The next day he got on better, and in a week he was able to take his share in the labour, and walk as stoutly as any of them.

After they left the river's bank, they crossed a dreary table-land of great extent, nearly a hundred and fifty miles across, where there was no brook or lake, and but little wood, and that[Pg 561] of a stunted and blasted growth; under the thick covering of the snow was nothing but rock and sand and sterile soil, for all that weary way. In a few places they found masses of ice, which they melted down for water, but there was neither fish nor game. Here they were obliged to consume nearly all their store of provisions, but for this they were prepared, and cared but little. Beyond this barren land lay the land of plenty, where they and their forefathers, from time immemorial, had feasted on the abundant forest-deer. About the thirteenth evening of their journey, they encamped within sight of this deeply wooded undulating country that they sought, and celebrated their arrival with rude rejoicings.

The next morning they started equipped for the chase, the women following the hunters slowly with their burdens. Ta-ou-renche pushed on among the foremost, Meynell nearly by his side, while their dogs, half-starved and ravenous, dashed on in front. They had advanced for an hour or two without meeting a quarry, to their great surprise, when they heard the dogs giving tongue far ahead in a deep woody valley. Ta-ou-renche and Meynell pushed on rapidly, full of hope, and excited at the prospect of the chase; they reached the brow of the hill, and descended at a run into the valley, where they found the dogs all collected round the skeleton of a moose-deer, tugging furiously at its huge bones. The snow around was much beaten down, and there was the mark of a recent fire against the root of a tree close by. The Indian stopped short, and remained motionless, as if frozen at the sight; after a little while, other hunters came up, and all seemed equally paralysed with terror. When they found voice, they cried, "The Great Spirit is angry with his children; other hunters have slain the moose and carribboo, and are many suns before us; for us there will be none left, and we must die."

They pushed on further till the evening, and passed other skeletons of moose and carribboo deer, picked clean by the carrion-birds. They saw the marks of many fires, and the remains of a large encampment, deserted perhaps three weeks before. Some of the older hunters said that, from the prints of the snow-shoes, they knew the Mic-Mac Indians of New Brunswick were those who had swept the hunting grounds before them, and that they were many in number. That night they held counsel together as to what they should do; some were for returning at once, to throw themselves on the charity of the fur-traders; but there arose the appalling thought of the barren land they had passed through. Others were for pushing on after the Mic-Macs to pray for a share of their spoil—but how could they reach them? Some had consumed all their provisions, the others had but enough left for one, or at most two days. To remain where they were was death, and, on every side, starvation stared them in the face. At last, they agreed to separate, and that each family should take its chance alone. Ta-ou-renche determined at once to push for Chicontimi, and Atàwa and Meynell followed his fortunes.

The next morning they started on their return, and made a long day's march back into the barren land. Poor Atàwa was very weary, and could give but little assistance in making the fire, and their rude shelter for the night, and her uncle seemed oppressed and dejected; but Meynell's vigorous health and bold spirit stood him in good stead. He divided the scanty store of provisions that was left into three parts, the travellers being each to carry their own share; he ate very sparingly. Ta-ou-renche was not so discreet, but consumed nearly all his portion at once, and the next morning finished what was left! The weary journey continued—the cold became intense,—the north wind swept over that awful solitude with a terrible severity; but still the wanderers, in pain and weariness, pushed bravely on to the south-west. Could they but reach the river's bank, they might find fish and fresh water and still live.

On the seventh night they halted in a small grove of stunted trees, after a long day's travel, worn out with fatigue and hunger. The Indian had not, for the last five days, had a morsel of food, and was terribly emaciated; the others had fasted[Pg 562] three days, and were almost as much reduced and enfeebled. They had scarcely sufficient strength among them to cut down wood for their fire, and collect and melt the ice to slake their thirst; when they had heaped up a small bank of snow, as shelter against the wind, they lay down almost helpless. A few carrion moose-birds which had followed them for the last day, but always out of reach of the guns, chattered among the trees. These ill-omened visitors came closer and closer, as they saw the group lying motionless, and chattered and hopped from branch to branch over head, impatient for their prey. Meynell, making the exertion with difficulty, cautiously seized his gun; but as he moved, the carrion birds flew up into the air, and circled screaming above him; when he became still, then again they approached. At last, by skilfully watching his opportunity, he brought one of them down with a lucky shot, and pounced on it greedily. The carrion and scanty spoil was soon divided into three portions, and their share ravenously devoured by the two men. After a little time they became deadly sick, the fire spun round and round before their eyes, but at length Meynell fell back in a heavy and almost death-like sleep. Atàwa had just strength enough left to fold the blanket close round the sleeper, and cast a little more wood on the fire, when she too sank down exhausted.

The Indian had till now borne the pangs of hunger with courage and patience, but the morsel of food—the taste of blood, seemed to work like intoxication upon him. As his sickness passed away, his eyes glowed in their deep sockets, with a fierce and unnatural brightness. His cheeks were withered up, and his black parched lips drawn back, exposed his teeth in a horrible grin. Possessed with a momentary strength, he raised himself on his hands and knees, and, grasping an axe, moved stealthily towards the sleeper, madly thirsting for his blood. Atàwa saw him coming, and guessed his terrible intent; she shook Meynell faintly, and called to him to awake. He slowly opened his eyes, and thought it but a horrid dream, when he saw the wild glaring eyes of the savage fixed upon him, and the gaunt arm upraised to strike, while Atàwa feebly tried to hold it back. The blow descended the next moment, but the generous girl, unable to restrain the maniac's force, threw herself in the way, and fell stricken senseless on the snow. Her efforts had happily turned the edge of the axe, and she was only stunned, not wounded. Meynell seized the Indian by the throat; they struggled to their feet, and grappled closely together: the madman's furious excitement lent him force for a time to meet the greatly superior strength of his opponent but he failed rapidly, his grasp relaxed, his eyes closed; Meynell, mustering all his remaining energies, threw him back with violence, and then, utterly exhausted in the struggle, fell himself also fainting to the ground.

When he began to recover, the dim morning light was reflected from the snowy waste, the fire was nearly burnt down, and the intensity of the cold had probably awakened him. Atàwa still lay motionless; he tried anxiously to arouse her, and at the same time to collect his scattered thoughts, after the dreadful dream of the night before. She slowly recovered, and opened her eyes to the sight of horror that presented itself to their returning consciousness. Ta-ou-renche lay dead, and half consumed in the fire: he had fallen stunned across the burning logs, and perished miserably.

Then a sudden terror seized the survivors, and lent them renewed strength; they scarcely cast a second look on the charred corpse, but rose up and fled away together, leaving every thing behind. For hours they hurried on, and exchanged never a word, Atàwa often casting a terrified look behind, as though she thought she were pursued. About mid-day, their failing limbs refused to carry them any farther, and they lay down on the trunk of a fallen pine. The winter sun stood high up in the cloudless heaven, pouring down its dazzling but chilly light upon the frozen earth. To the dark line of the distant horizon, far as the eye could reach lay the snowy desert. There was not a breath of wind, no rustling leaves or[Pg 563] murmuring waters, not a living thing beside themselves breathed in that awful solitude; not a sound awakened the echoes in its deathlike silence. Meynell's heart sank within him; the brief energy lent him by the terror of the dreadful scene he had left, yielded now to the reaction of despair. Their throats were parched with thirst; the gnawing pangs of hunger racked their wasted frames; they scarcely dared to look upon each other, so fiercely burned the fire in their sunken eyes. He had ceased to hope; with his feeble limbs stretched out, and his head rested on a branch, he waited helplessly for death.

The Indian girl dragged herself slowly to his side, put a small phial to his parched lips, and poured a few drops of brandy down his throat. He immediately revived, and the failing pulse resumed its play. "You shall still live," she said; "a few hours' journey more, and we shall reach the river; by this time the white man will be selling the pine trees on its banks. I have kept this fire-water hidden till there was no other hope, and now it must save me too, that I may guide you." She tasted the invigorating cordial sparingly, and now, animated with new strength, they set out bravely once again. Slowly and painfully they press on, often falling through exhaustion, but the strong hope and the stronger will urges them still on. The character of the country begins to change, the trees become thicker and of a larger growth, the ground varied with rise and hollow; and at length, to their great joy, a well-known hill appears in sight, beyond which they know the wished-for river runs. They drain the last drop from the phial, and again refreshed press on,—on, through the thick woods and falling shades of night.

Then the moon arose in unclouded splendour; her silver rays, piercing through the tall pine-trees, lighted them on their way, and in a little time showed them a column of smoke rising from the far side of the hill beyond the river into the still air. Hope was now almost a certainty: they reached the high bank over the stream, but stumbling and falling at nearly every step. In the vale beyond, they saw two or three woodcutters' huts, lighted up by blazing watch-fires.

Meynell rushed impatiently on, his eyes fixed upon the hope-inspiring lights. "Hold! hold!" cried Atàwa, vainly trying to restrain him, "one step more, and you are lost!" But she spoke too late: ere the echoes of her cry had ceased, Meynell's soul had gone to its last account. He had approached too near the edge of the precipice: the snow gave way beneath his feet; a moment more, and he lay a bleeding corpse upon the ice-bound rocks below. Atàwa's despairing shrieks brought out the inmates of the huts. They were obliged to use force, to separate her from the lifeless body; she rent her hair, and tried to lay violent hands upon herself, long refusing all sustenance. From her incoherent words, they at length gathered something of her story, and the probable fate of the rest of her tribe. Some of the woodmen immediately started in hopes of rendering assistance to the unhappy Montaignais; they found six of the families on their way, in the last stage of starvation, and saved them, but all the rest of the tribe perished in that barren land.

The following night the woodmen dug a hole, and laid the mangled corpse to rest. It was so light and emaciated, that a child might have borne it thither. They then heaped some snow over it, and, threading their way by torchlight through the trees back to their huts, left it without a blessing. So there he sleeps—unwept, save by the poor Indian girl! his fate for years unknown to those who had wondered at his gifts and beauty. His bones lie whitening in that distant land, no friendly stone or sod to shelter them from the summer sun and wintry frost.

Let us yet dare to hope, that in those last dark days of toil and suffering, where life and death were in the balance, He, whose love is infinite, may have made the terrible punishment of this world the furnace wherein to melt that iron heart, and mould it to His ends of mercy.[Pg 564]


I do not ask if Rubens was a man of genius. I am only questioning the title, which has been so generally conferred upon him, of a colourist. I am aware that a host of artists and connoisseurs will rather admire the audacity of making the inquiry, than pursue it, through the necessary disquisition, into the true principles of art. It may be possible that the taste of the English school, and of our English collectors, may have become to a degree vitiated. And with regard to the former, the artists, (and I say it without at all denying their great abilities,) it may be very possible, nay, it is certain, that any vitiation of taste must be a blight upon their powers, natural or acquired, however great. I believe this very reputation of Rubens as the great colourist, has been extensively injurious to the British School of Art, (if there be such a school.) It has been so often repeated, that artists take it up as an established fact, not to be denied; and have too blindly admired, and hence endeavoured (though for lack of the material they have failed) to imitate him in this one department, his colour. The result has been melancholy enough; an inferior, flimsy, and flashy style has been engendered, utterly abhorrent from any sound and true principle of colouring. Even in Rubens, there is this tendency to the flimsy, to the light glitter, rather than to the substantial glory of the art: but it is much disguised under his daring hand, and by the use of that lucid vehicle which, independent of subject, and even colour, is pleasing in itself. There is always power in his pictures, for his mind was vigorous to a degree; a power that throws down the gauntlet, as it were, with a confidence that disdains any disguise or fear of criticism: a confidence the more manifest in the defects, particularly of grossness and anachronism, bringing them out strongly palpable and conspicuous by a more vivid colouring, more determined opposition of dark and light,—as if he should say, behold, I dare. And this power has the usual charm of all power; it commands respect, and too often obeisance. But Rubens' colour requires Rubens' power in the other departments of art. To endeavour to imitate him in that respect, with any the least weakness either of hand or design, is only to set the weakness in a more glaring light, dressing it up, not in the gorgeous array and real jewellery of the court, but in the foil and tinsel glitter, and mock regality of a low theatrical pageantry. And this would be the case even if we had in use his luscious vehicle; but with an inferior one, too often with a bad one, the case of weakness is aggravated, and not unseldom the presumption and the failure of an attempt the more conspicuous.

I do not mean to say, that Rubens is universally imitated among us; but where his peculiar style is not imitated, the vitiation to which it has led is seen, in the general tendency of our artists, to shun the deep and sober tones of the Italian school, and, as their phrase is, to put as much daylight as possible into their works. But even here I would pause to suggest, that light, daylight, in its great characteristic, is more lustrous than white, and will be produced rather by the lower than the lighter tones, as may be seen in the pictures of Claude, whose key of colouring is many degrees lower than in pictures which affect his light, without his means of attaining it.

It is surprising that there should be such inconsistency in the decisions of taste; but this title of colourist has been bestowed chiefly upon two painters, who in this very respect of colour were the antipodes to each other, Titian and Rubens. Are there no steady sure principles of colour? If there be, it is impossible that such discordant judgments can be duly and justly given.

It will be necessary to refer to something of a first principle, before we can come to any true notion of good colouring. And it is surprising, when we consider its simplicity, that[Pg 565] it should, at least practically, have escaped the due notice of artists in general.

There are two things to be first considered in colour. Its agreeability per se,—its charm upon the eye; and its adaptation to a subject,—its expressing the sentiment.

However well it may express the palpable substance and texture of objects that are but parts, if it fail in these first two rules, the colour of a picture is not good. With regard to the first, its agreeability. Is it a startling assertion to say, that this does not depend upon its naturalness? That it does so is a common opinion. Aware, however, that the term naturalness would lead to a deeper disquisition than I here mean to enter upon, I shall take it in its common meaning, as it represents the common aspect of nature. Now, besides that this aspect is subject to an almost infinite variety by changes of atmosphere, and other accidents, affording the artist a very wide range from which to select, it has a characteristic as important as its light and its dark of colour,—its illumination; so that a sacrifice (for art is a system of compensation) of one visible truth, say a very light key, does not necessarily render a picture less natural, if it attain that superior characteristic, which by the other method it would not attain.

Then, again, that very variety of nature, by its multiplicity, disposes the mind ever to look for a constant change and new effect, so that we are not easily startled by any actual unnaturalness, unless it be very strange indeed, and entirely out of harmony, one part with another, as we should be were one aspect only and constantly presented to us. This may be exemplified by a dark mirror—and, better still, by a Claude glass, as it is called, by which we look at nature through coloured glasses. We do not the less recognise nature—nay, it is impossible not to be charmed with the difference, and yet not for a moment question the truth. I am not here discussing the propriety of using such glasses—it may be right or it may be wrong, according to the purpose the painter may have; I only mean to assert, that nature will bear the changes and not offend any sense. The absolute naturalness, then, of the colour of nature, in its strictest and most limited sense, local and aerial, is not so necessary as that the eye cannot be gratified without it. And it follows, that agreeability of colour does not depend upon this strict naturalness.

I said, that it is of the first importance that the colouring be agreeable per se; that, without any regard to a subject, the eye should be gratified by the general tone, the harmony of the parts, and the quality—namely, whether it be opaque or transparent, and to what degree. There are certain things that we greatly admire on this very account—such as all precious gems, polished and lustrous stones and marbles, especially those into which we can look as into a transparent depth.

A picture, therefore, cannot be said to be well coloured unless this peculiar quality of agreeability be in it. To attain this, much exactness may be sacrificed with safety. It should be considered indispensable.

And this perfect liberty of altering to a certain degree the naturalness of colouring, leads properly to that second essential—its adaptation to a subject, or its expressing the sentiment. For it is manifest, that if we can, without offending, alter the whole aspect of nature in most common scenes, we can still more surely do so when the scenes are at all ideal or out of the common character. And we can do it likewise without a sacrifice of truth, in the higher sense of truth, as a term of art or of poetry.

For the mind also gives its own colouring, or is unobservant of some colours which the eye presents, and makes from all presented to it its own selections and combinations, and suits them to its own conception and creation. It has always been admitted that the painter's mind does this with objects of form, omitting much, generalizing or selecting few particulars. Now if this power be admitted with regard to objects themselves, as to their forms and actual presence, why should it not, with equal propriety, be extended to the colours of those objects, even though they have a sensible effect upon the scenes which are before us? But, as was said,[Pg 566] the mind colours; it is not the slave to the organ of sight, and in the painter, as in the poet, asserts its privilege of making, delighting even to "exhaust worlds" and "imagine new." It takes for an imperial use the contributions the eye is ever offering, but converts them into riches of its own. It will not be confined by space, nor limited by time, but gathers from the wide world, and even beyond its range. Thus, in the simple yet creative enthusiasm of his passion, did Burns gather, at one moment, the flowers of all seasons, and all

"To pu' a posy for his ain sweet May;"

and cold would be the criticism that would stop to note the impossibility; yet was it a great truth, the garden was his own heart, and his every wish a new flower. Here they all were.

It is the misfortune of art that this great power of the mind over materials is not sufficiently and practically admitted. In colouring we seem to have altogether abandoned the idea of invention. We go quite contrary to the practice of those good architects of other ages, who spoke and painted by their art; who invented because they felt the religious awe, that solemn chiaro-scuro—and the painted windows, not gorgeous and flaring with large masses of unmixed colours, (as are the unmeaning windows the modern Templars have put up in their ill-painted church, in which, too, the somewhat tame and dead Byzantine colouring of the walls agrees not with the overpowering glass of the windows;) these old architects, I say, affecting the "dim religious light," and knowing the illumination and brilliancy of their material, took colours without a name, for the most part neither raw reds, nor blues, nor yellows, but mixed, and many of a low and subdued tone; and so, when these windows represented subjects, the designs had a suitable quaintness, a formality, a saint-like immutability, a holy repose; and the very strong colours were sparingly used, and in very small spaces; and the divisions of the lead that fastened the parts together had doubtless, in the calculation of the architect, their subduing effect. Religious poetry—the highest poetry, consequently the highest truth—was here. There are who might prefer the modern conventicle, with its glare of sunshine, and white glass, and bare, unadorned, white-washed walls, and justify their want of taste by a reference to nature, whose light and atmosphere, they will tell you, they are admitting. And like this is the argument of many an artist, when he would cover the poverty of his invention under the plea of his imitation of nature—a plea, too, urged in ignorance of nature, for nature does actually endeavour—if such a word as endeavour maybe used where all is done without effort—to subdue the rawness of every colour, and even to stain the white-wash we put upon her works, and covers the lightest rocks with lichen.

But as the mind colours, and absolute naturalness is not necessary, it results that there must be a science by which the mind can effect its purpose.

For the cultivation of a sense arises from a want which the mind alone at first feels, and to the mind in that state of desire things speak suggestively that were before mute; discoveries are made into the deeper and previously hidden secrets of nature, and new means are invented of gratifying the awakened senses. Hence all art which is above the merely common and uncultivated sense. All we see and all we hear takes a vitality not its own from our thoughts, mixes itself (as aliment does, and becomes our substance) with our intellectual texture, and is anew created.

Winds might have blown, and wild animals have uttered their cries, but it was the heightened imagination that heard them howl and roar. And it was from a further cultivation of the sense, giving forth, at every step, new wants, that the nature of all sounds was investigated and music invented—science but discovering wonderful mysteries, secrets, and gifted faculties drawing them out of their deep hiding-places, making them palpable, and combining and converting them into humanities whereby mankind may be delighted and improved.

If, then, the ear has its science, so has the eye. There is the mystery of colours as well as of sounds. Nor can it be justly said that we are out of[Pg 567] nature because we pursue that mystery beyond its commonly perceptible and outward signs to its more intricate truths; nay, on the contrary, as we have thereby more of those truths, we have more of nature; and we know them to be truths by their power and by their adoption.

This science of colour has been, perhaps, too much neglected. In conversing with artists, one is surprised how little attention they have paid to it; and even where it has been studied, it is only upon its surface, and by those well known diagrams which show the oppositions.

Few, indeed, consider colouring as a means of telling the story—as at all sympathetic. In an historical subject, more attention is paid to the exact naturalness of the light, the time of day, the local colouring of the objects, as they probably were, than upon those tones and hues which best belong to the feeling which the action represented is meant to convey: by which practice an unnaturalness is too often the result; for there is forced upon the eye a vividness and variety of colours, in dresses, accessories, and the scene, which one present at the action would never have noticed—which, as the feeling would have rejected, so would the obedient eye have left undistinguished; and we know how the eye is obedient to the feelings and withholds impressions, and in the midst of crowds, to use a common expression, will "fix itself on vacancy." It will do even more; it will adopt the colouring which the feeling suggests—will set aside what is, and assume what is not. Thus, in reading some melancholy tale, the very scene becomes

"Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;"

and thus it is that actually the eye aids tile imagination while it

"Breathes a browner horror o'er the woods."

This neglect of colour as an end, as a means of narration, and as a sympathy, is peculiar to modern art. And hence it is, that there is less feeling among us for works of the Italian schools, than for those less poetical, and too often mean and low ones of the Dutch and Flemish. I mean not here to pass any censure on the colouring of the Dutch and Flemish schools; it was admirable in its lucid and harmonious, but mostly so in its imitative, character. Their subjects seldom allowed scope for any high aim at sympathetic colouring: both appealed to the eye,—not without exceptions, however,—to mention one only, Rembrandt, whose colouring was generally ideal, and by it mostly was the story told. But one perfection of colour they almost all of them had, that agreeability, that gem-like lustre and richness, which I spoke of as one of the essentials of good colouring. And in this, even where modern art has professed to work upon the model of the Flemish school, it has failed, and by endeavouring to go beyond that school in brightness, has fallen very far short of its excellence; for in the very light key that has been adopted, and the prevalence of positive white, it has lost sight of that mellowness and illumination which is so great a charm in the Dutch and Flemish pictures. It has, too, mistaken lightness for brightness, and a certain chalkiness has been the result. And artists who have fallen into this error, perceiving, as they could not fail to do, this bad effect, have endeavoured to divert the eye from this unpleasantness, by force, by extreme contrasts of glazed dark, by vividness of partial crude colours, and by the violence of that most disagreeable of all pigments, as destructive of all real depth and atmosphere—asphaltum.

In our assuming, then, this very high, this white key, we deviate from the practice of every good school. It is not desirable that this should be the peculiarity of the English school; but it certainly has too great a tendency that way. The Dutch and Flemish are of a much lower key, and the Italian of a lower still. Even in their landscape it is remarkable, that the painters whose country was the lightest, should have adopted the deepest tones; and that the landscapes of their historical painters are of all the deepest, and they were the best landscape painters. What exquisite richness and depth, and jewel-like glow, is there in the landscape of Titian, and Giorgione; and what illumination, that superior characteristic of nature, so much overlooked now a-days. [Pg 568] And yet our country is, from our atmosphere, darker than theirs, and presents a greater variety of deep tones and nameless colours. And as I before mentioned, the admired Claude, whom I rank of the Italian school, is of a very low key, delighting in masses of deep tones. And it is remarkable that his trees are never edged out light with Naples yellow, as our artists are fond of doing, but are mostly in dark masses, and whether near or distant, singly or in groups, are always without any strong and vivid colour. His object seems to have been to paint atmosphere not light, or rather that free penetrating light which he best effected by his lower key. And from this cause it is, that the eye rests, is filled, satisfied by the general effect, is never irritated either by too much whiteness, or too vivid colours; for he knew well that such irritation, though at first it attracts and forces attention, is after a while painful, and should therefore at any sacrifice be avoided.

But, to return to colouring as an expression. Here is a great field for practical experiment. On this subject I will quote a passage from the Sketcher in Maga of Sept. 1833.

"As in music all notes have their own expression, and combinations of them have such diversity of effect upon the mind, may not the analogy hold good with regard to colours? Has not every colour its own character? And have not combinations of them effects similar to certain combinations in sounds? This is a subject well worth the attention of any one who has leisure and disposition to take it up: and I am persuaded that the old masters either worked from a knowledge of this art, or had such an instinctive perception of it, that it is to be discovered in their works. Suppose a painter were to try various colours on boards, and combinations of them—place them before him separately with fixed attention, and then examine the channels into which his thoughts would run. If he were to find their character to be invariable, and peculiar to each of the boards put before him, he would learn that before he trusts his subject to the canvass, he should question himself as to the sentiment he intends it to express, and what combination of colours would be consentient or dissentient to it.

"This will certainly account for the colours of the old (particularly the historical) painters being so much at variance with common nature, sometimes glaringly at variance with the locality and position of the objects represented." "This knowledge of the effect of colours is certainly very remarkable in the Bolognese school. Who ever saw Corregio's backgrounds in nature, or indeed the whole colour of his pictures, including figures? Examine his back-ground to his Christ in the garden—what a mystery is in it! The Peter Martyr, at first sight, from the charm of truth that genius has given to it, might pass for the colour of common nature; but examine the picture as an artist, and you will come to another conclusion, and you will the more admire Titian."

Some critics have been misled by the simplicity of art in this masterpiece of Titian's, and have greatly admired the exactness with which he has drawn and coloured every object; but they have been deceived by that perfect unity which exists in all its parts, and have wrongly conceived the kind of naturalness of the picture. It is full of this sympathetic naturalness of colour; we are thoroughly satisfied, and ascribe that general naturalness to each particular part. Indeed if it were altogether in colour and forms no more than common nature, there would be no real martyrdom in it—it would be but a vulgar murder; but every part is in sympathy with the sentiment. Had Titian merely represented the clear sky of Italy, and brought out prominently green-leaved trees and herbage, because such things are, and were in such a scene where this martyrdom was suffered, the picture would not have been as it is, and must ever be, the admiration of the world and a monument of the genius of Titian. There was wanted a sky in which angels might come and go, and hover with the promise of the crown and glory of martyrdom, and there must be an under and more terrestrial sky, still grand and solemn, such as might take up the tale of horror, and tell it among the congenial mountains; and such there is in the voluminous clouds about the distant[Pg 569] cliffs. And it is very observable that, in this picture, Titian, the colourist, is most sparing of what we are too fond of calling colour.[10] Colour, indeed, there is, and of the greatest variety, but it is all of the subdued hues, with which the very ground and trees are clothed, that nothing shall presume to shine out of itself in the presence of the announcing angels, and to be unshrouded before such a deed.

I remember, I think it was about three years ago, a picture which well exemplifies this ideal colouring. It was exhibited at the Institution; it was of a female saint to whom the infant Saviour appears, by P. Veronese. The very excellence of the colouring was in its natural unnaturalness; I say natural, because it was perfectly true to the mystic dream, the saintly vision; a more common natural would have ruined it. No one ever, it is true, saw such a sky—but in a gifted trance it is such as would alone be seen, acknowledged, and remembered as of a heavenly vision. All the colouring was like it, rich and glorifying and unearthly, and imitative of the sanctifying light in old cathedrals. The sky was of very mixed tones and hues of green. The entire scene of the vision was thus hemmed in with the light and glory of holiness, apart from the world's ideas and employments. Why should modern painters be afraid of thus venturing into the ideal of colouring? Never was there a greater mistake, than that the common natural can represent the ideal. Wilkie with all his acuteness and good sense was bewildered with a notion of their union, and thought his sketches from the Holy Land would assist him in painting sacred subjects; whereas the truth is, that the very realities before his eyes would unpoeticise his whole mind; instead of trusting to his feeling, to his visionary dream, he would begin to doubt, as he did, what should be the exact costume, if his figures should stand or sit as Asiatics. As we are removed from events by time, so should we be by thought; we pass over an extensive region, and the clouds of days and of nights pursue us out of it, and we look back upon it in our memory, as under another light—the land itself, by distance and by memory making it a part of our minds, more than of our vision, becomes fabulous; it is no longer one for common language, but for song; and so the pencil that would paint it must be dipped in the colours of poetry. Memory glazes, to use a technical word, every scene. "The resounding sea and the shadowy mountains are far between us," as Homer says, and those fabulous territories that we love to revisit in the dreams of poetic night. There are no muses with their golden harps on Highgate Hill; nor would the painter that would paint them be over wise to expect a glimpse of their white feet on the real Parnassus.[11] As to nature in art, we make too much of a[Pg 570] little truth, neglecting the greater. It is not every creation that is revealed to the eye; even to adore and to admire properly, we must imagine a more beautiful than we see. The inventions of genius are but discoveries in regions of a higher nature.

"God's work invisible,
Not undiscover'd, their true stamp impress
On thought, creation's mirror, wherein do dwell
His unattained wonders numberless."

Of late years some painters have taken up the novelty of representing scriptural subjects as under the actual scenery and climate of the holy land, and attempted besides to portray the characteristics of the race,—a thing never dreamed of by the great painters of history. They are partial to skies hot and cloudless, and to European feelings not agreeable; forgetful of a land of promise and of wonder, and that these subjects belong, and must be modified to the mental vision of every age and country. They abhor the voluminous and richly coloured clouds, as unnatural. Can they not feel the passage—

"Who maketh the clouds his chariot?"

Let then, not only their forms, but their colours too, be as far as may be worthy Him whom they are said to bear. They are, as it were, the folding and unfolding volumes wherein the history of all creation is written. As they are prominent in the language of poetry, so should they ever be the materials for poetic art.

I speak of this noble character of cloud skies, because a writer of more persuasive power than mature judgement,—the Author of "Modern Painters,"—has condemned them; that he has not felt them is surprising. He has, however, in his second, in many respects admirable part, manifested such change of opinion, and has shown such a growing admiration for the old masters, whom in his first volume he treated with so little respect, nay, with perfect contempt, that I cannot doubt the operation of his better judgment, when in prosecuting his subject, he will be led to consider the use of these materials of nature to poetic art.

I must not, however, forget that I began this paper with questioning the title of Rubens as a colourist. It has been shown, that I consider no painter a colourist, who does not unite the two essentials of colour,—agreeability, and its perfect sympathy with the subject.

I have endeavoured to show in what this agreeability consists. I have not presumed to lay down any definite rules for the second great essential; but I have endeavoured by illustration to enforce its necessity; in this confident that a proper practice will follow, and be the necessary result[Pg 571] of a proper feeling. Now to speak of Rubens; what are his characteristics as a colourist? Wherein lies his excellence? I do not stop to repeat any of the extravagant praises that have been so freely lavished upon him. But I would ask, is there one important picture by his hand, wherein the colour is of a sentiment? Is there any one which, if you remove from it to such a distance as not to see the subject in its particulars, will indicate by its colouring what sort of narrative is to be told by a nearer inspection? Try him by those in our National Gallery. I will take first, his most powerful, and one of a subject most advantageous perhaps to his manner, because there is no very striking sentiment to be conveyed by it; for he seems scarcely serious in his treatment of this passage in the Roman history. I speak of his "Rape of the Sabines." Inasmuch as it is a picture of glare, and fluster, and confusion, it may be said to represent the subject; but such ought not to be the sentiment of it. But inasmuch as it has this glare, and is entirely deficient in all repose of colour, (for it is not requisite to representation of violent action, that there should not be that character of repose of colour which the essential agreeability demands,) the eye cannot rest upon it with satisfaction as a whole. You must approach it then nearer, to see how the particular objects are coloured. You will be pleased with the skill with which one colour is set off by another; and, doubtless, you will acknowledge a certain truth in the flesh tints: but all this while you are led away from the subject, draw no conclusion from it as a whole, and are induced to examine a detail which, however coloured with skill, and powerfully executed, is vulgar and disgusting. A mere trifle more of gross vulgarity would turn it into caricature, and you would think, that Rubens had been a successfully laborious satirist upon the narrative of the Roman historian. I confess that, but for its technical merits, which are lost upon most of the visitors of the Gallery, the picture would give me no pleasure whatever, nay, much disgust, as altogether derogatory to the dignity of art.

I purposely pass by his allegorical pictures as mere furniture for walls, not being subjects of sentiment; nor should I very much care if his "Peace and War" were in the sorry condition which has been wrongly given to it.

Examine then the Judgment of Paris. Here is a subject most favourable for him. It shows glaringly the defect of his manner. Admit that his flesh tints are most natural, that they are beautiful; has he not sacrificed too much to make them so? All, excepting these nude figures, is monotonous, has no relation by any tint to the figures, or to any idea of sentiment such a subject may be supposed to convey. The single excellence lies in the flesh-colouring of the three goddesses. But when I use the word excellence, I do not mean to say that in this respect he surpasses any other painter, as I will presently show. Now, there is a peculiarity in Rubens' method, and which strictly belongs to his colouring, from which arises what may be not improperly designated flimsiness, that is, the leaving too much of the first getting in of his picture, the first transparent sketchy brown. If in some respect this gives force to the more solid parts, by the contrast of the transparent with the opaque, yet is it rather a flashy force, in which the means become too visible; an entire substance is wanted; we come too immediately to the bare ground of the canvass. And this first colouring being a mere brown, not deserving the name of colour, as it is not the real colour of the objects upon which it is disposed, is in entire disagreement with the studied truth to nature in the other parts. There is every reason to believe that Rubens, after his return from Italy, was aware of this, by his partially adopting the Italian method of more generally solid painting and after glazing; but he returned to the Flemish method, and as it certainly was the more expeditious, it may have better suited his hand, and the demands upon it. Now, here it may be remarked, that even for the first essential—agreeability of colouring, that is, of the substance of the paint—it is necessary that it should be rich, really a substance, not a merely thin wash: such was the positive depth of even the[Pg 572] shadowy parts in the back grounds of Corregio; the paint itself is a rich substance, with the lustrous depth of precious stones. So that it would appear that there is in Rubens' style of colouring an original incompleteness, destructive in part of the naturalness he would aim at; it is a mannerism, very tolerable in such light works as those lucid and charming pictures by Teniers where all is light and unlaboured; but becoming a weakness where the other labour and the subject are important.

Now, with regard to this celebrated excellence of his, in colouring the nude, (and here it should be observed, that it is almost exclusively in his female figures,) however natural it may be, is it nature in its most agreeable, its most perfect colouring? It has been said, and intended as praise, that the flesh looks as if it had fed upon roses; but is it a praise? I should rather say it would not unaptly express the thinness, the unsubstantialness of it, as of a rose leaf surface merely. In form, indeed, the figures are any thing but thin and unsubstantial: but I am considering only the colouring; it is not rich; it has indeed the light and play of life, but it has not the glow; it is a surface life, not life, warm life to the very marrow, such as we see in the works of Titian and Giorgione. They did not, as Rubens did, heighten the flesh with pure white; they reserved the power of that for another purpose, preserving throughout a lower tone, so that the eye shall not fasten upon any one particular tint, the whole being of the character of the "nimium lubricus aspici." Their white and their dark, they artfully placed as opposition, the cool white to set off the warmth, the life-glow of the flesh, and the dark to make the low tone shine out fair; so that in this very excellence of flesh painting, they were more perfect, that one only approach to excellence, by which it should seem Rubens had acquired his title as a colourist. But these painters, as well as many others—though take only these, as the most striking contrasts to Rubens—excelled also in the agreeability of their colouring, without reference to subject, and in the sympathy with regard to it. So that in them were united the two essentials. Whereas Rubens had in any perfection neither; the one not at all, and the other only in a minor part and degree.

Such was the general character of Rubens' colouring. I do not mean that there are no felicitous exceptions. I would notice—but there the human figure is not—his lioness on a ledge of rock; there is an entire absence of his strong and flickering colours: on the contrary all is dim—the scenery natural to the animal, for it partakes of its proper colours, (and this is strictly true, as the hare and the fox conceal themselves by their assimilating earths and forms.) The spectator advances upon the scene, unaware of the stealthily lurking danger. The dimness and repose are of a terror, that contrast and forcible colour would at least mitigate; the surprise would be lost, or rather be altogether of another kind; it would arm you for the danger, which becomes sublime by taking you unprepared. And there is his little landscape with the sun shedding his rays through the hole in the tree, where the sentiment of the obscure—the dim wood—is enhanced by the bright gleam—and there is in this little picture a whole agreeability of colour. His landscapes in general are, however, very strange; rather eccentric than natural in colour, yet preserving the intended atmospheric effect by an idealism of colouring not quite in keeping with the unromantic commonness of the scenery.

But these exceptions do not indicate the characteristics of Rubens as a colourist; he is more known, and more imitated, as far as he can be imitated, in the mannerism of his style which has been described.

Deficient, then, as I think him to have been in these two essentials, I am still disposed to question his claim to the title, and to ask, "Was Rubens a colourist?" If the answer be in the negative, it may be worth while to consider the precise point from which his style may be said to have deviated from the right road; nor is it here necessary to particularise, but to refer to the Italian practice generally, which will be found to consist chiefly in this—in the choosing a low key; and for the greatest perfection of colouring, the proper union of the two essentials[Pg 573] of good colouring, it may be safe to refer, first to the Venetian, the Lombard, and then to the Bolognese schools. Not that the Roman school is altogether to be omitted. Out of his polished style, Raffaelle is often excellent—both rich in tone, and, where he is not remarkably so, often sentimental. Some of his frescoes, as the Heliodorus, are good examples. And in that small picture in our National Gallery, the "St Catherine," the sentiment of purity and loveliness is admirably sustained in the colouring. There is in the best pictures of that school no affected flashiness of high lights—no flimsiness in the unsubstantial paint in the shadows; there is an evenness throughout, which, if it reach not the perfection of colouring, is the best substitute for it.

Power is not inconsistent with modesty—with forbearance. In the flashy style, all the force is expended, and visibly so; and as in that excess of power the flash of lightning is but momentary, we cannot long bear the exhibition of such a power rendered continuous. In the more modest—the subdued style—the artist conceals as much as may be the very power he has used, thereby actually strengthening it; for while you have all you want, you know not how much may be in reserve, and you feel it unseen, or may believe it to be unseen, when in fact it is before your eyes, though half veiled for a purpose.

Let not any painter who would be a colourist deceive himself into the belief that the most vivid and unmixed colours are the best for his art, nor that even they are the truest to nature, in whatever sense he may take the word nature. It is easy enough to lay on crude vermilion, lake, and chrome yellows; yet the colours that shall be omitted shall be infinite, and by far more beautiful than the chosen, and for which, since the generality are not painters, nor scientific in the effects of colours, there are no names. Let a painter who would have so limited a scale and view of colour do his best, and the first flower-bed he looks at will shame him with regard to those very colours he has adopted, as with regard to those thousand shades of hues, mixed and of endless variety, which are still more beautiful. We scarcely ever in nature see a really unmixed colour; and that the mixed are the most agreeable may be more than conjectured, from the fact that, of the three, the blue, the red, and the yellow, the mixture of the two will be so unsatisfactory, that the mind's eye will, when withdrawn, supply the third.

A few words only remain to be said. To complete, practically, agreeability of colouring, there is wanting a more perfect vehicle for our colours. Much attention has, of late years, been directed to this subject; and there is every reason to believe not in vain. I wait, impatiently enough, Mr Eastlake's other volume, in which he promises to treat of the Italian methods. He has been indefatigable in collecting materials,—has an eye to know well what is wanted; and, as a scholar and collector of all that has been written on art, in Italian, as well as other languages, has the best sources from which to gather isolated facts, which, put together, may lead to most important discoveries.

Mrs Merrifield, also, whose translation from Cennino Cennini, and whose works on fresco painting are so valuable, has been collecting materials abroad, and will shortly publish her discoveries. The two proofs to which we are to look are documents and chemistry. The secret of Van Eyck may have been found out, but its modification under the Italian practice will be, perhaps, the more important discovery. I am glad also to learn, that Mr Hendrie intends to publish entire with notes, the "De Magerne MS." in the British Museum. I believe artists are already giving up the worst of vehicles, the meguilp, made of mastic, of all the varnishes the most ready to decompose, as well as to separate the paint, and produce those unseemly gashes which have been the ruin of so many pictures.

Whether colour be considered in its agreeability, per se, or in its sympathetic, its sentimental application,—for the attainment of either end, it is of the highest importance to resume the very identical vehicle, and the mode of using it, which were the vehicle and the methods of Titian, Giorgione, and Corregio, and generally of the old masters. Yours ever,

4th June, 1847.


[10] Titian's palette was most simple: the great variety in the colouring of his pictures was effected by the fewest and most common colours—browns I believe he did not use, of which we boast to possess so many; the ochres, red and yellow, with his black and blue, made most or all of his deepest tones, the great depth being given, by glazing over with the same, and touching in here and there slight varieties, more or less of the red or yellow, lighter or darker being used in these repetitions. Hence the harmony of his general tones—upon which, as the subject required them, he laid his more vivid colours. I believe the best painters have used the simplest palette—the fewest colours. Our own Wilson is said to have replied to one who told him a new brown was discovered, "I am sorry for it." But by far the most injurious of all our pigments is asphaltum; it always gives rather rottenness than depth.

[11] Mr Etty has written a letter, which has been lithographed and widely circulated, bearing so directly upon this subject, that I cannot refrain from noticing it. And this I do, because the authority of a Royal Academician, and one, I believe, selected to be judge in the distribution of the prizes in Westminster Hall Exhibition, cannot but have an influence, both with the public and the rising professors of the art.

He speaks of his high purposes in his choice of the subject of Joan of Arc and other pictures, and the process by which those purposes were brought to completion. He tells us, that in his enthusiasm he visited, as a pilgrim, the spot where the heroic and tragic scenes of his subject were enacted. He presumes that the houses there are now pretty much what they were then; and he has thought an exact representation of them necessary to historical truth, and he has accordingly introduced them.

Enthusiasm is good, but it should in this, as in all human concerns of importance, be under the guidance of strong principles. Now here the principles of historical painting, which separate that great act from the lower and imitative, are violated.

Had an eyewitness described as he felt the event which Mr Etty has undertaken to paint, would he have told of or portrayed to the mind's eye, and prominently, the very houses, with all their real accidents of material and colours, so that, were a tile off a roof, your sympathy must be made to stay for the noticing it?

This precision is not for historical painting, for it is in antagonism with poetry, (which is feeling high-wrought, by imagination.) It is wrong in colouring as in design. With regard to the first, the question should be asked—How would memory have coloured it to the spectator in his after vision? How would imagination colour it in the page of history? Details of this kind are sure to vulgarise a subject, and by their little truths destroy the greater—the heroism, the devotion—to which the eye would most naturally have been riveted, so as to have seen little else, and to have been quite out of a condition to arithmetise the pettinesses of things. Such treatment would better suit the levity of the author of the "Pucelle" than the grave historian or the still more serious and impressive historical painter. It is very important that Mr Etty, if he is likely to be again selected to pronounce judgment upon works of the competitors for rewards in historical painting and honour, revise his opinions, and test them by the established principles which are applicable alike to poetry and to painting; and without the practical use of which, genius, if it could co-exist, would be but an inane and objectless extravagance.

[Pg 574]


We are not—as the title placed at the head of this paper, till further explained, might seem to imply—we are not about to pass in review the whole literature of America. Scanty as that youthful literature is, and may well confess itself to be, it would afford subject for a long series of papers. Besides, the more distinguished of its authors are generally known, and fairly appreciated, and we should have no object nor interest just at present in determining, with perhaps some nearer approach to accuracy than has hitherto been done, the merits of such well-known writers as Irving, Cooper, Prescott, Emerson, Channing, and others. But the series now in course of publication by Messrs Wiley and Putnam, under the title of "Library of American Books," has naturally attracted our attention, bringing as it were some works before us for the first time, and presenting what—after a few distinguished names are bracketed off—may be supposed to be a fair specimen of the popular literature of that country.

It will be seen that we have taken up a pretty large handful for present examination. Our collection will be acknowledged, we think, to be no bad sample of the whole. At all events we have shaken from our sheaf two or three unprofitable cars, and one in particular so empty, and so rotten withal, that to hang over it for close examination was impossible. How it happens that the publishers of the series have admitted to the "Library of American Books" as if it were a book—a thing called "Big Abel and The Little Manhattan," is to us, at this distance from the scene of operations, utterly inexplicable. It is just possible that the author may have earned a reputable name in some other department of letters; pity, then, he should forfeit both it, and his character for sanity, by this outrageous attempt at humour. Perhaps he is the potent editor of some American broad-sheet, of which publishers stand in awe. We know not; of this only we are sure, that more heinous trash was never before exposed to public view. We read two chapters of it—more we are persuaded than any other person in England has accomplished—and then threw it aside with a sort of charitable contempt. For the sake of all parties, readers, critics, publishers and the author himself, it should be buried, at once, out of sight, with other things noisome and corruptible.

On the other hand, we shall be able to introduce to our readers (should it be hitherto unknown to them) one volume, at least, which they will be willing to transfer from the American to the English library. The "Mosses from an old Manse," is occasionally written with an elegance of style which may almost bear comparison with that of Washington Irving; and though certainly it is inferior to the works of that author in taste and judgment, and whatever may be described as artistic talent, it exhibits deeper traces of thought and reflection. What can our own circulating libraries be about? At all our places of summer resort they drug us with the veriest trash, without a spark of vitality in it, and here are tales and sketches like these of Nathaniel Hawthorne, which it would have done one's heart good to have read under shady coverts, or sitting—no unpleasant lounge—by the sea-side on the rolling shingles of the beach. They give us the sweepings of Mr Colburn's counter, and then boastfully proclaim the zeal with which they serve the public. So certain other servants of the public feed the eye with gaudy advertisements of every[Pg 575] generous liquor under heaven, and retail nothing but the sour ale of some crafty brewer who has contrived to bind them to his vats and his mash-tub.

The first book we opened of this series is one called, with a charming alliteration, "Views and Reviews," by the author of "The Yemassee, &c." whom we fortunately learn, from another quarter, to be a gentleman of the more commodious name of Mr Sims; and the first words which caught our eye were "Americanism in Literature," printed in capital letters, it being the title of an essay which has for its object to stimulate the Americans to the formation of a national literature. This appears to be a favourite subject with a certain class of their writers, more distinguished for ardour than for judgment. Mrs Margaret Fuller, in her Papers on Literature and Art, is also eloquent on the same theme. Let us first hear Mr Sims. There is in this gentleman's enthusiasm a business-like air which is highly amusing.

"Americanism in Literature. This is the right title. It indicates the becoming object of our aim. Americanism in our literature is scarcely implied by the usual phraseology. American literature seems to be a thing certainlybut it is not the thing exactly. To put Americanism in our letters, is to do a something much more important. The phrase has a peculiar signification which is worth our consideration. By a liberal extension of the courtesies of criticism, we are already in possession of a due amount of American authorship; but of such as is individual and properly peculiar to ourselves, we cannot be said to enjoy much. Our writers are numerous—quite as many perhaps as, in proportion to our years, our circumstances, and necessities, might be looked for amongst any people. But, with very few exceptions, their writings might as well be European. They are European. The writers think after European models, draw their stimulus and provocation from European books, fashion themselves to European tastes, and look chiefly to the awards of European criticism. This is to denationalise the American mind. This is to enslave the national heart—to place ourselves at the mercy of the foreigner, and to yield all that is individual in our character and hope, to the paralysing influence of his will, and frequently hostile purposes."—(P. 1.)

All the literati of Europe are manifestly in league to sap the constitution and destroy the independence of America; and, at this very time, its own men of letters:—the traitors!—are seeking a European reputation. Truly a state of alarm which may be described as unparalleled. "A nation," says our most profound and original patriot, "must do its own thinking, as well as its own fighting, for as truly as all history has shown that the people who rely for their defence in battle on foreign mercenaries, inevitably become their prey; so the nation falls a victim to that genius of another to which she passively defers." Fearful to contemplate. There can be no safety for the United States as long as people will read Bulwer and Dickens instead of our "Yemassee," and our "Wigwams and Cabins."

But a national literature—will it come for any calling to it? Will it come the sooner for the banishment of all other literature? If Mr Sims makes his escape into the woods, and sits there naked and ignorant as a savage, will inspiration visit him? Will trying to uneducate his mind, however successful he may be in the attempt,—and he has really carried his efforts in this direction to a most heroic length—exactly enable him, or any other, to compete with this dreaded influence of foreign literature? And if not, what other measures are to be taken against this insidious enemy? We see none.

But no nation was ever hurt, as far as we have heard, by the light of genius shining on it from another. And as to this national literature—though it will not obey the conjurations of Mr Sims, we may be quite sure that, in due time, it will make its appearance. America can no more begin a literature, no more start fresh from its woods and its prairies, than we here in England could commence a literature, neither can it any more abstract itself from the influence of its own institutions, the temper of its people, its history, its natural scenery,[Pg 576] than we here in England can manumit ourselves from the influence of the age in which we live. These things determine themselves by their own laws. You may as well call out to the tides of the ocean to flow this way or that, as think to control these great tidal movements of the human mind. America cannot begin a literature, for it must look up to the same wellhead, or rather to the same mountain streams as ourselves; neither do we suppose that it is seriously anxious to disclaim all connexion with Bacon and Shakspeare, Milton and Locke; but it can, and will, continue and carry on a literature of its own in a separate stream, branching from what we must be permitted to call, for some time at least, the main current; and which, now diverging from that, and now approaching to it, will at length wear for itself a deep and independent channel.

But such slow and gradual progress of things by no means suits the impetuous patriotism of Mr Sims. He is possessed evidently with the idea that some great explosion of national genius would suddenly take place, if the people would but resolve upon it. It is an affair of public opinion, like any other measure of policy; if but the universal suffrage could be brought to bear upon it, the thing were done; it is from the electoral urn that the whole scroll of poets and philosophers is to be drawn. "Let the nation," he solemnly proclaims, "but yield a day's faith to its own genius, and that day will suffice for triumph!... Our development," he continues, "depends upon our faith in what we are, and in our independence of foreign judgment." One would think Mr Sims was fighting over again the war of independence. Or has some old speech of Mr O'Connell's on the repeal of the union got shuffled amongst his papers? One expects the sentence to close with the reiterated quotation,—

"Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow!"

As the freedom Mr Sims is struggling for, is the release from superior genius, superior intelligence, from philosophy and taste, we may surely congratulate him, at least, on his own personal attainment of it. He has "struck the blow" for himself—whatever blow was necessary. He is free. Free, and as barren, as the north wind. Free as the loose and blinding sand upon a gusty day—and about as pleasing and as profitable. His "Views and Reviews" demonstrate in every page that he has quite liberated himself from all those fetters and prejudices which, in Europe, go under the name of truth and common sense.

Mrs or Miss Margaret Fuller—the titlepage does not enable us to determine which is the correct designation, but, in the absence of proof to the contrary, we shall bestow, what we hope we shall not offend a lady who has written upon "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" by still calling the more honourable title—Mrs Margaret Fuller has touched upon the same theme in her papers upon literature and art. She, too, sighs impatiently after a national literature. In an essay devoted to the subject, she thus commences:—"It does not follow, because many books are written by persons born in America, that there exists an American literature. Before such can exist, an original idea must animate this nation, and fresh currents of life must call into life fresh thoughts along its shores."—(Vol. ii. p. 122.)

An original idea!—and such as is to animate a whole nation! Certainly it sounds fit and congruous that the new world, as their continent has been called, should give us a new truth; and yet, as this new world was, in fact, peopled by inhabitants from the old, who have carried on life much in the same way as it has been conducted in the ancient quarters of the globe, we fear there is little more chance of the revelation of a great original idea in one hemisphere than the other.

"We use the language of England," continues the lady, "and receive in torrents the influence of her thought, yet it is, in many respects, uncongenial and injurious to our constitution. What suits Great Britain, with her insular position, and consequent need to concentrate and intensify her life," (we hope our readers understand—we cannot help them if they do not,) "with her limited monarchy and spirit of trade, does not suit a mixed[Pg 577] race, continually enriched with new blood from other stocks the most unlike that of our first descent, with ample field and verge enough to range in, and leave every impulse free, and abundant opportunity to develop a genius, wide and full as our rivers, flowery, luxuriant, and impassioned as our vast prairies, rooted in strength as the rocks on which the Puritan fathers landed."

If the future genius of America is to write "to order," as some appear to think, it would be difficult to give him, a more perplexing programme than the lady here lays down. This rock of the Puritans, standing amongst the luxuriant, flowery, and impassioned prairies, presents a very heterogeneous combination. And whether one who had rooted himself upon such a rock would altogether approve the "leaving every impulse free," may admit of a question.

But it is altogether a superfluous and futile anxiety which agitates these writers. A national literature the Americans will assuredly have, if they have a literature at all. It cannot fail to assume a certain national colour, although it would be impossible beforehand to fix and determine it. No effort could prevent this. And how egregious a mistake to imagine that they would hasten the advent of an American literature by discarding European models, and breaking from the influence of European modes of thought! It would be a sure expedient for becoming ignorant and barbarous. They cannot discard European models without an act of mental suicide; and who sees not that it is only by embracing all, appropriating all, competing with all, that the new and independent literature can be formed?

And, after, all, what is this great boast of nationality in literature? Whatever is most excellent in the literature of every country is precisely that which belongs to humanity, and not to the nation. What is dearest and most prized at home is exactly that which has a world-wide celebrity and a world-wide interest—that which touches the sympathies of all men. Are the highest truths national? Is there any trace of locality in the purest and noblest of sentiments? We invariably find that the same poets, and the same passages of their works, which are most extolled at home, are the most admired abroad. If there were any wondrous charm in this nationality it would be otherwise. The foreigner would fail to admire what is most delectable to the native. But the readers of all nations point at once, and applaud invariably, at the same passage. Who ever rose from the Inferno of Dante without looking back to the story of Ugolino and of Francesca? If a volume of choice extracts were to be culled from the works of Dante, Ariosto, Petrarch, an Englishman and an Italian would make no greater difference in their selection than would two Englishmen or two Italians.

Nationality one is sure to have, whether desirable or not, but the great writers of every people are unquestionably those who, without foregoing their national character, rise to be countrymen of the world. Mr Sims, instead of complaining that his fellow-countrymen are European, (may more of them become so!) should be assured of this, that it is only those who rise to European reputation that can be the founders of an American literature. The day that sees the American poet or philosopher taking his place in the high European diet of sages and of poets, is the day when the national literature has become confirmed and established.[13]

Mr Sims is, at all events, quite consistent[Pg 578] with himself in his wish to break loose from European literature—he who is disposed to break loose entirely from all the past. History with him, as history, is utterly worthless. It is absolutely of no value but as it affords a raw material for novels and romances. One would hardly credit that a man would utter such an absurdity. Here it is, however, formally divulged.

"The truth is—an important truth, which seems equally to have escaped," &c., &c., —"the truth is, the chief value of history consists in its proper employment for the purposes of art!—Consists in its proper employment, as so much raw material in the erection of noble fabrics and lovely forms, to which the fire of genius imparts soul, and which the smile of taste informs with beauty; and which, thus endowed and constituted, are so many temples of mindso many shrines of puritywhere the big, blind, struggling heart of the multitude may rush—in its vacancy, and be made to feel;—in its blindness, and be made to see;—in its fear, and find countenance;—in its weakness, and be rendered strong;—in the humility of its conscious baseness, and be lifted into gradual excellence and hope!"—(P. 24.)

Here is truth and eloquence, at one blow, enough to stagger the strongest of us. "It is the artist only who is the true historian," he again resolutely affirms. We should apprehend that, unless history were allowed to stand on a separate basis of its own, supported by its own peculiar testimony, it could be of little use even in enlarging the boundaries of art. History is said to enable the artist to transcend the limits which the modes of thought and feeling of his own day would else prescribe to him. But if the rules by which we judge of truth in history be no other than those by which we judge of truth or probability in works of fiction, (and to this the views of Mr Sims inevitably conduct us)—if history has not its own independent place and value—it can no longer lend this aid—no longer raise art above, or out of the circle in which existing opinions and sympathies would place her. Each generation of artists would not learn new truths from history, but history would be rewritten by each generation of artists. How, for example, could a Protestant of the nineteenth century, with whom religion and morality are inseparably combined—with whom conscience is always both moral and religious—how could he, guided only by his own experience, represent, or give credit to that entire separation of the two modes of feeling, moral and religious, which encounters us frequently in the middle ages, and constantly in the Pagan world? Surely a fact like this, learned from historical testimony, has a value of its own, other and greater than any fictitious representation which an artist might supply. But even this fictitious representation, as we have said, would grow null and void if not upheld by the independent testimony of history; the past would become the attendant shadow merely of the present.

[Pg 579] We have the old predilection in favour of a true story, whenever it can be had. Mr Sims has written some tales under the title of "The Wigwam and the Cabin." They seem to be neither good nor bad;—it would be a waste of time to cast about for the exact epithet that should characterise them;—and in these tales we live much with the early settlers and the Red-skins. All his stories put together, had they twice their merit, are not equal in value to a few words he quotes from the brief authentic memoir of Daniel Boon. What were any picture from the hands of any artist whatever to the certainty we feel that this stout-hearted, fearless man did verily walk the untrodden forest alone, with as little disquiet as we parade the streets of a populous city? Can any paradoxical reasoning about eternal truths, and the universal reality of human sentiments, assimilate this history of Daniel Boon to the very best creation of the novelist? Here was the veritable hero who did exist. "You see," says Boon, "how little human nature requires. It is in our own hearts, rather than in the things around us, that we are to seek felicity. A man may be happy in any state. It only asks a perfect resignation to the will of Providence." Commonplace moralities enough, in the mouth of a commonplace person. Illustrated by the life of Boon, how they tell upon us! They are the words of the steadfast, solitary man, who could go forth single, amongst wild beasts and savages, braving all manner of dangers, and hardships, and deprivations. "I had plenty," he says, "in the midst of want; was happy though surrounded by dangers; how should I be melancholy? No populous city, with all its structures and all its commerce, could afford me so much pleasure as I found here."

Boon, though he never wrote so much as a single stanza about it, as we hear, added to his love of enterprise a sincere passion for the beauties of nature. No poet, therefore, could venture to draw upon his imagination for a bolder picture than we have here in the true story of Daniel Boon, breaking upon the sublime solitudes of nature, fearless and alone, and relying on his single manhood. The picture could gather nothing from invention. Shall any one pretend to say that it gathers nothing from being true?

Mr Sims is very indignant that Niebahr should rob him of many heroic and marvellous stories. How can Niebahr rob him of any thing—who looks not for truth in history, but for novel and romance? The great German critic will not interfere with his history—will leave him in undisturbed possession of all his novels and romances—all his noble fabrics—"temples of mind,"—"shrines of purity," &c. &c.—where he may walk as "big and as blind," as he pleases.

The new American literature which Mr Sims is to originate, will be as little indebted, it seems, to science as to history. This, too, has disturbed his faith in certain pleasing and most profitable stories. "That cold-blooded demon called Science," he exclaims, "has taken the place of all other demons. He has certainly cast out innumerable devils, however he may still spare the principal. Whether we are the better for his intervention is another question. There is reason to apprehend that in disturbing our human faith in shadows, we have lost some of those wholesome moral restraints which might have kept many of us virtuous where the laws could not."

A wholesome moral restraint in starting at every bush, and hating every old woman for a witch! Mr Sims, from his own intellectual altitude, pronounces these faiths to be "shadows;" he does not believe—not he—in the walking about at night of impalpable white sheets; but if you should happen to be of the same opinion with himself, then the cold-blooded demon of science has seized you for his prey. In this, there are many others who resemble Mr Sims; one often meets with half-educated men and women, who would take it as an affront, an unpardonable insult, if you were to suppose them addicted to the childish superstitions of the nursery, who nevertheless cannot endure to hear those very superstitions decried or exploded by others. They want to "disbelieve and tremble" at the same time.

We must state, in justice to Mr[Pg 580] Sims, that this outbreak against science is the preluding strain to his "Wigwams and Cabins," where he has the intention of dealing with the supernatural and the marvellous. Let him tell his marvels, and welcome; a ghost story is just as good now as ever it was; but why usher it in with this didactic folly? Of these tales, as we do not wish again to refer to the works of Mr Sims, we may say here, that they appear to give some insight into the manner of life of the early settlers, and their intercourse with the savages. In this point of view they might be read with profit, could we be sure that the pictures they present were tolerably faithful. But a writer who has no partiality whatever for matter of fact, and who systematically prefers fiction to truth, comes before us with unusual suspicion, and requires an additional guarantee.[14]

"Paperson Literature and Art." Our readers have already had a specimen, and not an unfavourable one, of the eloquence of Mrs Margaret Fuller. This lady is by no means given to the flagrant absurdities of the gentleman we have just parted with, but in her writings there is a constant effort to be forcible, which leads her always a little on the wrong side of good taste and common sense. There is an uneasy and ceaseless labour to be brilliant and astute. The reader is perpetually impressed with the effort that is put forth in his favour,—an ambiguous claim, and the only one, that is made upon his gratitude.

America is not without her army of critics, her well-appointed and disciplined array of reviewers. The North American Review betrays no inferiority to its brethren on this side of the Atlantic. Let there be therefore no mistake in regarding Mrs Margaret Fuller as the representative of the critical judgment of her country. But there is a large section, or coterie, of its literary people, whose mode of thinking we imagine this essayist may be considered as fairly expressing. Even this section, we do not suppose that she leads; but she has just that amount of talent and of hardihood which would prompt her to press forward into the front rank of any band of thinkers she had joined. She is not of that stout-hearted race who venture forth alone; she must travel in company; but in that company she will go as far as who goes farthest, and will occasionally dart from the ranks to strike a little blow upon her own account. The writings of minds of this calibre may be usefully studied for the indications they give of the currents of opinion, whether on the graver matters of politics, or, as in this instance, on the less important topics of literature.

Amongst this lady's criticisms upon English poets, we remarked some names, very highly lauded, of which we in England have heard little or nothing. This, in our crowded literature, where so much of both what is good and what is bad escapes detection, is no proof of an erroneous judgment on her part. We, on the contrary, may have been culpably[Pg 581] neglectful. But when we looked at the quotations she makes to support the praise she gives, we were speedily relieved from any self-reproach of this description. Passages are cited for applause, in which there is neither distinguishable thought, nor elegance of diction, nor even an attempt at melody of verse; passages which could have won upon her only (and herein these quotations, if they fail of giving a fair representation of the poet, serve at least to characterise the critic,) could have won upon her only by a seeming air of profundity, by their utter contempt of perspicuous language, and a petulant disregard of even that rhythm, or regulated harmony, which has been supposed to distinguish verse from prose. For very manifest reasons, however, these are not the occasions on which we prefer to test the critical powers of Mrs Margaret Fuller. It is more advisable to observe her manner when occupied upon established reputations, such as Scott, and Byron, and Southey.

Our critic partakes in the very general opinion which places the prose works of Sir Walter Scott far above his poetry. It is an opinion we do not share. Admirable as are, beyond all doubt, his novels, Sir Walter Scott, in out humble estimation, has a greater chance of immortality as the author of the Lay of the Last Minstrel, than as the author of Waverley. That, perhaps, is our heresy, and Mrs Fuller may be considered here as representing the more orthodox creed. And thus it is she represents it.

"The poetry of Walter Scott has been superseded by his prose, yet it fills no unimportant niche in the literary history of the last half century, and may be read, at least once in life, with great pleasure. Marmion, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, &c., cannot, indeed, be companions of those Sabbath hours of which the weariest, dreariest life need not be destitute, for their bearing is not upon the true life of man, his immortal life." (If Mrs Fuller wrote in the language of the conventicle this would be intelligible; but she does not; what does she mean?) "Coleridge felt this so deeply, that in a lately published work, he is recorded to have said, 'not twenty lines of Scott's poetry will ever reach posterity; it has relation to nothing.'" (Vol. i. p. 63.)

If Coleridge said this in the haste and vivacity of conversation, it was great in justice to his memory to record and print it. "Not twenty lines!"—"relation to nothing!" Why, there are scores of lines in his earliest poem alone, which will ring long in the ears of men, for they have relation to the simple unalterable, universal feelings of mankind.

"Oh, said he that his heart was cold!"

We will not believe it. We are tempted to answer with a torrent of quotation; but this is not the place.

"To one who has read," continues Mrs Fuller, "Scott's novels first, and looks in his poems for the same dramatic interest, the rich humour, the tragic force, the highly wrought, yet flowing dialogue, and the countless minutiæ in the finish of character, they must bring disappointment." He who looks for all and exactly the same things in the poems which he had found in the novels, will assuredly, like other foolish seekers, be disappointed. Sir Walter Scott did not put his Bailie Nicol Jarvie nor his Andrew Fairservice into rhyme; nor does a lay of border chivalry embrace all that variety of character, or of dialogue, which finds ample room in the historical romance.

Amongst a certain class of critics, it has been long a prevailing humour to decry one Alexander Pope. Mrs Margaret Fuller is resolved that if not first in the field against this notorious pretender, no one shall show greater hardihood than herself in the attack upon him. It is one of those occasions when, though surrounded by a goodly company of friends, she yet finds opportunity for an individual act of heroism. They are but a few words she utters—but match them if you can! We do not flinch, we Amazonian warriors. It is a-propos of Lord Byron that she takes occasion to point a shaft, or rather to throw her battle-axe, at the head of this flagrant impostor. The whole passage must be quoted:

"It is worthy of remark that Byron's moral perversion never paralysed or obscured his intellectual powers, though it might lower their aims.[Pg 582] With regard to the plan and style of his works, he showed strong good sense and clear judgment. The man who indulged such narrowing egotism, such irrational scorn, would prime and polish without mercy the stanzas in which he uttered them." (Wonderful! that an egotist and a misanthrope should have been kept from defacing his own verses. Then follows our terrible bye-blow.) "And this bewildered idealist was a very bigot in behoof of the common-sensical satirist, the almost peevish realistPope!" (P. 76.)

With what consummate disdain does she condescend to give the coup-de-grace to the unhappy lingering author of the "Epistle to Arbuthnot," and "The Rape of the Lock!" These poems of the "peevish realist," shall have no place, since Mrs Margaret Fuller so determines it, in the new literature of America. We will keep them here in England—in a casket of gold, if we ever possess one.

One other specimen of the lady's eloquence and critical discrimination must suffice. She is characterising Southey.

"The muse of Southey is a beautiful statue of crystal, in whose bosom burns an immortal flame. We hardly admire as they deserve, the perfection of the finish, and the elegance of the contours, because our attention is so fixed on the radiance which glows through them."—(P. 82.)

Of this poet, who has so much flame in him that we cannot distinctly see his features, it is said in almost the next sentence, "Even in his most brilliant passages there is nothing of the heat of inspiration, nothing of that celestial fire which makes us feel that the author has, by intensifying the action of the mind, raised himself to communion with superior intelligences.(!) It is where he is most calm that he is most beautiful; and, accordingly, he is more excellent in the expression of sentiment than in narration." (The force of the "accordingly" one does not see; surely there may be as much scope for inspiration in sentiment as in narration.) "Scarce any writer presents to us a sentiment with such a tearful depth of expression; but though it is a tearful depth, those tears were shed long since, and Faith and Love have hallowed them. You nowhere are made to feel the bitterness, the vehemence of present emotion; but the phœnix born from passion is seen hovering over the ashes of what was once combined with it."

The young phœnix rises from the ashes of the old; so far we comprehend. This, metaphorically understood, would infer that a new and stronger passion rose from the ashes of the old and defunct one. But into the allegorical signification of Mrs Fuller's phœnix, we confess we cannot penetrate. We have a dim conception that it would not be found to harmonise very well with that other meaning conveyed to us in so dazzling a manner by the illuminated statue. Pity the lady could not have found some other poet to take off her hands one of those images: we are not so heartless as to suggest the expediency of the absolute sacrifice of either.

It is not to be supposed that this authoress is always so startling and original as in these passages. She sometimes attains, and keeps for a while, the level of commonplace. But we do not remember in the whole of her two volumes a single passage where she rises to an excellence above this. If we did, we should be happy to quote it.

"Tales, by Edgar A. Poe," is the next book upon our list. No one can read these tales, then close the volume, as he may with a thousand other tales, and straightway forget what manner of book he has been reading. Commonplace is the last epithet that can be applied to them. They are strange—powerful—more strange than pleasing, and powerful productions without rising to the rank of genius. The author is a strong-headed man, which epithet by no means excludes the possibility of being, at times, wrong-headed also. With little taste, and much analytic power, one would rather employ such an artist on the anatomical model of the Moorish Venus, than intrust to his hands any other sort of Venus. In fine, one is not sorry to have read these tales; one has no desire to read them twice.

They are not framed according to the usual manner of stories. On each occasion, it is something quite other[Pg 583] than the mere story that the author has in view, and which has impelled him to write. In one, he is desirous of illustrating La Place's doctrine of probabilities as applied to human events. In another, he displays his acumen in unravelling or in constructing a tangled chain of circumstantial evidence. In a third, ("The Black Cat") he appears at first to aim at rivalling the fantastic horrors of Hoffman, but you soon observe that the wild and horrible invention in which he deals, is strictly in the service of an abstract idea which it is there to illustrate. His analytic observation has led him, he thinks, to detect in men's minds an absolute spirit of "perversity," prompting them to do the very opposite of what reason and mankind pronounce to be right, simply because they do pronounce it to be right. The punishment of this sort of diabolic spirit of perversity, he brings about by a train of circumstances as hideous, incongruous, and absurd, as the sentiment itself.

There is, in the usual sense of the word, no passion in these tales, neither is there any attempt made at dramatic dialogue. The bent of Mr Poe's mind seems rather to have been towards reasoning than sentiment. The style, too, has nothing peculiarly commendable; and when the embellishments of metaphor and illustration are attempted, they are awkward, strained, infelicitous. But the tales rivet the attention. There is a marvellous skill in putting together the close array of facts and of details which make up the narrative, or the picture, for the effect of his description, as of his story, depends never upon any bold display of the imagination, but on the agglomeration of incidents, enumerated in the most veracious manner. In one of his papers he describes the Mahlstrom or what he chooses to imagine the Mahlstrom may be, and by dint of this careful and De Foe-like painting, the horrid whirlpool is so placed before the mind, that we feel as if we had seen, and been down into it.

The "Gold Bug" is the first and the most striking of the series, owing to the extreme and startling ingenuity with which the narrative is constructed. It would be impossible, however, to convey an idea of this species of merit, without telling the whole story; nor would it be possible to tell the story in shorter compass, with any effect, than it occupies here. The "Murders of the Rue Morgue," and "The Mystery of Marie Roget," both turn on the interest excited by the investigation of circumstantial evidence. But, unlike most stories of this description, our sympathies are not called upon, either in the fate of the person assassinated, or in behalf of some individual falsely accused of the crime; the interest is sustained solely by the nature of the evidence, and the inferences to be adduced from it. The latter of these stories is, in fact, a transfer to the city of Paris of a tragedy which had been really enacted in New York. The incidents have been carefully preserved, the scene alone changed, and the object of the author in thus re-narrating the facts seems to have been to investigate the evidence again, and state his own conclusions as to the probable culprit. From these, also, it would be quite as impossible to make an extract as it would be to quote a passage from an interesting case as reported in one of our law-books. The last story in the volume has, however, the advantage of being brief, and an outline of it may convey some idea of the peculiar manner of Mr Poe. It is entitled "The Man of the Crowd."

The author describes himself as sitting on an autumnal evening at the bow-window of the D—— coffee-house in London. He has just recovered from an illness, and feels in that happy frame of mind, the precise converse of ennui, where merely to breathe is enjoyment, and we feel a fresh and inquisitive interest in all things around us.

The passing crowd entertains him with its motley variety of costume and character. He has watched till the sun has gone down, and the streets have become indebted for their illumination solely to the gas lamps. As the night deepened, the interest of the scene deepened also, for the character of the crowd had insensibly but materially changed, and strange features and aspects of ill omen begin to make their appearance.

With his brow to the glass of the[Pg 584] window, our author was thus occupied in scrutinising the passengers, when suddenly there came within his field of vision a countenance, (it was that of a decrepid old man of some sixty-five or seventy years of age) which at once arrested and absorbed all his attention. It bore an expression which might truly be called fiendish, for it gave the idea of mental power, of cruelty, of malice, of intense—of supreme despair. It passed on. There came a craving desire to see the face of that man again—to keep him in view—to know more of him. Snatching up his hat, and hastily putting on an over-coat, our excited observer ran into the street, pursued the direction the stranger had taken, and soon overtook him.

He noticed that the clothes of this man were filthy and ragged, but that his linen, however neglected, was of finest texture. The strong light of a gas lamp also revealed to him a diamond and a dagger. These observations it was easy for him to make, for the stranger never looked behind, but with chin dropped upon his breast, his glaring eyes rolling a little to the right and left in their sunken sockets, continued to urge his way along the populous thoroughfare.

By and by he passed into a cross street, where there were fewer persons. Here a change in his demeanour became apparent. He walked more slowly, and with less object than before—more hesitatingly. He crossed and re-crossed the way repeatedly without apparent aim. A second turn brought him to a square, brilliantly lighted and overflowing with life. The previous manner of the stranger now re-appeared. With knit brows, and chin dropped upon his breast, he took his way steadily through the throng. But his pursuer was surprised to find that having made the circuit of this crowded promenade, he turned, retraced his steps, and repeated the same walk several times.

It was now growing late, and it began to rain. The crowd within the square dispersed. With a gesture of impatience, the stranger passed into a bye-street almost deserted. Along this he rushed with a fearful rapidity which could never have been expected from so old a man. It brought him to a large bazaar, with the localities of which he appeared perfectly acquainted, and where his original demeanour again returned, as he forced his way to and fro, without aim, amongst the host of buyers and sellers, looking at all objects with a wild and vacant stare.

All this excited still more the curiosity of his indefatigable observer, who became more and more amazed at his behaviour, and felt an increased desire to solve the enigma. The bazaar was now about to close; lamps were here and there extinguished, every body was preparing to depart. Returning into the street, the old man looked anxiously around him for an instant, and then with incredible swiftness, threaded a number of narrow and intricate lanes which led him out in front of one of the principal theatres. The amusements were just concluded, and the audience was streaming from the doors. The old man was seen to gasp as he threw himself into the crowd, and then the intense agony of his countenance seemed in some measure to abate. He took the course which was pursued by the greater number of the company. But these, as he proceeded, branched of right and left to their several homes, and as the street became vacant, his restlessness and vacillation re-appeared. Seized at length as with panic, he hurried on with every mark of agitation, until he had plunged into one of the most noisome and pestilential quarters, or rather suburbs of the town. Here a number of the most abandoned of the populace were reeling to and fro.

"The spirits of the old man," the author shall conclude the story in his own words, "again flickered up, as a lamp which is near its death hour. Once more, he strode onward with elastic tread. Suddenly a corner was turned, a blaze of light burst upon our sight, and we stood before one of the huge, suburban temples of intemperance—one of the palaces of the fiend, Gin.

"It was near day-break; but a number of wretched inebriates still pressed in and out of the flaunting entrance. With a half shriek of joy, the old man forced a passage within, resumed at once his original bearing,[Pg 585] and stalked backward and forward, without apparent object among the throng. He had not been thus long occupied, however, before a rush to the doors gave token that the host was closing them for the night. It was something even more intense than despair that I then observed upon the countenance of the singular being I had watched so pertinaciously. Yet he did not hesitate in his career, but, with a mad energy, retraced his steps at once to the heart of the mighty London. Long and swiftly he fled, while I followed him in the wildest amazement, resolute not to abandon a scrutiny in which I now felt an interest all-absorbing. The sun arose while we proceeded, and when we had once again reached that most thronged mart of the populous town, the street of the D—— Hotel, it presented an appearance of human bustle and activity scarcely inferior to what I had seen on the evening before. And here, long, amid the momently increasing confusion, did I persist in the pursuit of the stranger. But, as usual, he walked to and fro, and during the day did not pass out of the turmoil of that street. And, as the shades of the second evening came on, I grew wearied unto death, and stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly in the face. He noticed me not, but resumed his solemn walk, while I, ceasing to follow, remained absorbed in contemplation. 'This old man,' I said at length, 'is the type and the genius of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. He is the man of the crowd. It will be in vain to follow, for I shall learn no more of him, nor of his deeds.'"

In this description it would be difficult to recognise the topography of London, or the manners of its inhabitants. That Square brilliantly illuminated and thronged with promenaders, the oldest inhabitant would scarcely find. He closes his gin-palace at the hour when, we believe, it would be about to re-open; and ejects his multitude from the bazaar and the theatre about the same time. When he lays his scene at Paris there is the same disregard to accuracy. There is no want of names of streets and passages, but no Parisian would find them, or find them in the juxtaposition he has placed them. This is a matter hardly worth remarking; to his American readers an ideal topography is as good as any other; we ourselves should be very little disturbed by a novel which, laying its scene in New York, should misname half the streets of that city. We are led to notice it chiefly from a feeling of surprise, that one so partial to detail should not have more frequently profited by the help which a common guide-book, with its map, might have given him.

Still less should we raise an objection on the manifest improbability of this vigilant observer, a convalescent too, being able to keep upon his legs, running or walking, the whole of the night and of the next day, (to say nothing of the pedestrian powers of the old man.) In a picture of this kind, a moral idea is sought to be portrayed by imaginary incidents purposely exaggerated. The mind passing immediately from these incidents to the idea they convey, regards them as little more than a mode of expression of the moral truth. He who should insist, in a case of this kind, on the improbability of the facts, would find himself in the same position as that hapless critic who, standing before the bronze statue of Canning, then lately erected at Westminster, remarked, that "Mr Canning was surely not so tall as he is there represented;" the proportions, in fact, approaching to the colossal. "No, nor so green," said the wit to whom the observation had been unhappily confided. When the artist made a bronze statue, eight feet high, of Mr Canning, it was evidently not his stature nor his complexion that he had designed to represent.

Amongst the tales of Mr Poe are several papers which, we suppose, in the exigency of language, we must denominate philosophical. They have at least the merit of boldness, whether in the substratum of thought they contain, or the machinery employed for its exposition. We shall not be expected to encounter Mr Poe's metaphysics; our notice must be here confined solely to the narrative or inventive portion of these papers. In one of these, entitled "Mesmeric Revelations," the reader may be a little startled to hear that he has[Pg 586] adopted the mesmerised patient as a vehicle of his ideas on the nature of the soul and of its immortal life; the entranced subject having, in this case, an introspective power still more remarkable than that which has hitherto revealed itself only in a profound knowledge of his anatomical structure. As we are not yet convinced that a human being becomes supernaturally enlightened—in mesmerism more than in fanaticism—by simply losing his senses; or that a man in a trance, however he got there, is necessarily omniscient; we do not find that Mr Poe's conjectures on these mysterious topics gather any weight whatever from the authority of the spokesman to whom he has intrusted them. We are not quite persuaded that a cataleptic patient sees very clearly what is going on at the other side of our own world; when this has been made evident to us, we shall be prepared to give him credit for penetrating into the secrets of the next.

In another of these nondescript papers, "The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion," Mr Poe has very boldly undertaken to figure forth the destruction of the world, and explain how that great and final catastrophe will be accomplished. It is a remarkable instance of that species of imaginary matter of fact description, to which we have ventured to think that the Americans show something like a national tendency. The description here is very unlike that with which Burnet closes his "Theory of the Earth;" it is confined to the natural history of the event; but there is nothing whatever in Mr Poe's manner to diminish from the sacredness or the sublimity of the topic. With some account of this singular and characteristic paper we shall dismiss the volume of Mr Poe.

The world has been destroyed. Eiros, who was living at the time, relates to Charmion, who had died some years before, the nature of the last awful event.

"I need scarcely tell you," says the disembodied spirit, "that even when you left us, men had agreed to understand those passages in the most holy writings which speak of the final destruction of all things by fire, as having reference to the orb of the earth alone. But in regard to the immediate agency of the ruin, speculation had been at fault from that epoch in astronomical knowledge in which the comets were divested of the terrors of flame. The very moderate density of these bodies had been well established. They had been observed to pass among the satellites of Jupiter without bringing about any sensible alteration either in the masses or in the orbits of these secondary planets. We had long regarded the wanderers as vapoury creations of inconceivable tenuity, and as altogether incapable of doing injury to our substantial globe, even in the event of contact. But contact was not in any degree dreaded; for the elements of all the comets were accurately known. That among them we should look for the agency of the threatened fiery destruction, had been for many years considered an inadmissible idea. But wonders and wild fancies had been, of late days, strangely rife among mankind; and although it was only with a few of the ignorant that actual apprehension prevailed upon the announcement by astronomers of a new comet, yet this announcement was generally received with I know not what of agitation and mistrust.

"The elements of the strange orb were immediately calculated, and it was at once conceded by all observers that its path, at perihelion, would bring it into very close proximity with the earth. There were two or three astronomers, of secondary note, who resolutely maintained that a contact was inevitable. I cannot very well express to you the effect of this intelligence upon the people. For a few short days they would not believe an assertion which their intellect, so long employed among worldly considerations, could not in any manner grasp. But the truth of a vitally important fact soon makes its way into the understanding of even the most stolid. Finally, all men saw that astronomical knowledge lied not, and they awaited the comet.

"Its approach was not, at first, seemingly rapid, nor was its appearance of very unusual character. It was of a dull red, and had little perceptible train. For seven or eight days we saw no material increase in its apparent diameter, and but a partial alteration in its colour. Meantime the ordinary affairs of men were discarded, and all interest absorbed in a growing discussion, instituted by philosophers in respect to the cometary nature."

That no material injury to the globe, or its inhabitants would result from contact (which was now, however,[Pg 587] certainly expected) with a body of such extreme tenuity as the comet, was the opinion which gained ground every day. The arguments of the theologians coincided with those of men of science in allaying the apprehensions of mankind. For as these were persuaded that the end of all things was to be brought about by the agency of fire, and as it was proved that the comets were not of a fiery nature, it followed that this dreaded stranger could not come charged with any such mission as the destruction of the globe.

"What minor evils might arise from the contact were points of elaborate question. The learned spoke of slight geological disturbances, of probable alterations in climate, and consequently in vegetation, of possible magnetic and electric influences. Many held that no visible or perceptible effect would in any manner be produced. While such discussions were going on, their subject gradually approached, growing larger in apparent diameter, and of a more brilliant lustre. Mankind grew paler as it came. All human operations were suspended.

"It had now taken, with inconceivable rapidity, the character of a gigantic mantle of rare flame, extending from horizon to horizon. Yet a day, and men breathed with freedom. It was clear that we were already within the influence of the comet; yet we lived. We even felt an unusual elasticity of frame and vivacity of mind. The exceeding tenuity of the object of our dread was apparent; for all heavenly bodies were plainly visible through it. Meantime our vegetation had perceptibly altered; and we gained faith, from this predicted circumstance, in the foresight of the wise. A wild luxuriance of foliage, utterly unknown before, burst out upon every vegetable thing.

"Yet another day, and the evil was not altogether upon us. It was now evident that its nucleus would first reach us. A wild change had come over all men; and the first sense of pain was the wild signal for general lamentation and horror. This first sense of pain lay in a rigorous constriction of the breast and lungs, and an insufferable dryness of the skin. It could not be denied that our atmosphere was radically affected; and the conformation of this atmosphere, and the possible modifications to which it might be subjected, were now the topics of discussion. The result of investigation sent an electric thrill of the intensest terror through the universal heart of man.

"It had been long known that the air which encircled us was a compound of oxygen and nitrogen gases, in the proportion of twenty-one measures of oxygen and seventy-nine of nitrogen in every one hundred of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which was the principle of combustion and the vehicle of heat, was absolutely necessary to the support of animal life, and was the most powerful and energetic agent in nature. Nitrogen, on the contrary, was incapable of supporting either animal life or flame. An unnatural excess of oxygen would result if it had been ascertained, in just such an elevation of the animal spirits as we had latterly experienced. It was the pursuit, the extension of the idea which had engendered awe. What would be the result of a total extraction of the nitrogen? A combustion, irresistible, all-devouring, omniprevalent, immediate;—the entire fulfilment, in all their minute and terrible details, of the fiery and horror-inspiring denunciations of the prophecies of the Holy Book.

"Why need I paint, Charmion, the now disenchained frenzy of mankind? That tenuity in the comet which had previously inspired us with hope, was now the source of the bitterness of despair. In its impalpable gaseous character was clearly perceived the consummation of fate. Meantime a day again passed, bearing away with it the last shadow of hope. We gasped in the rapid modification of the air. The red blood bounded tumultuously through its strait channels. A furious delirium possessed all men; and with arms rigidly outstretched towards the threatening heavens, they trembled and shrieked aloud. But the nucleus of the destroyer was now upon us;—even here in Aidenn, I shudder while I speak. Let me be brief—brief as the ruin that overwhelmed. For a moment there was a wild lurid light alone, visiting and penetrating all things. Then—let us bow down, Charmion, before the excessive majesty of the great God!—then there came a shouting and pervading sound, as if from the mouth itself of Him; while the whole incumbent mass of ether in which we existed, burst at once into a species of intense flame, for whose surpassing brilliancy and all-fervid heat even the angels in the high heavens, of pure knowledge, have no name. Thus ended all."

"Mosses from an Old Manse," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the somewhat quaint title given to a series of tales, and sketches, and miscellaneous papers, because they were written in[Pg 588] an old manse, some time tenanted by the author, a description of which forms the first paper in the series. We, have already intimated our opinion of this writer. In many respects he is a strong contrast to the one we have just left. For whereas Mr Poe is indebted to whatever good effect he produces to a close detail and agglomeration of facts, Mr Hawthorne appears to have little skill and little taste for dealing with matter of fact or substantial incident, but relies for his favourable impression on the charm of style, and the play of thought and fancy.

The most serious defect in his stories is the frequent presence of some palpable improbability which mars the effect of the whole—not improbability, like that we already remarked on, which is intended and wilfully perpetrated by the author—not improbability of incident even, which we are not disposed very rigidly to inquire after in a novelist—but improbability in the main motive and state of mind which he has undertaken to describe, and which forms the turning-point of the whole narrative. As long as the human being appears to act as a human being would, under the circumstances depicted, it is surprising how easily the mind, carried on by its sympathies with the feelings of the actor, forgets to inquire into the probability of these circumstances. Unfortunately, in Mr Hawthorne's stories, it is the human being himself who is not probable, nor possible.

It will be worth while to illustrate our meaning by an instance or two, to show that, far from being hypercritical, our canon of criticism is extremely indulgent, and that we never take the bluff and surly objection—it cannot be!—until the improbability has reached the core of the matter. In the first story, "The Birth Mark," we raise no objection to the author, because he invents a chemistry of his own, and supposes his hero in possession of marvellous secrets which enable him to diffuse into the air an ether or perfume, the inhaling of which shall displace a red mark from the cheek which a beautiful lady was born with; it were hard times indeed, if a novelist might not do what he pleased in a chemist's laboratory, and produce what drugs, what perfumes, what potable gold or charmed elixir, he may have need of. But we do object to the preposterous motive which prompts the amateur of science to an operation of the most hazardous kind, on a being he is represented as dearly loving. We are to believe that a good husband is afflicted, and grievously and incessantly tormented by a slight red mark on the cheek of a beautiful woman, which, as a lover, never gave him a moment's uneasiness, and which neither to him nor to any one else abated one iota from her attractions. We are to suppose that he braves the risk of the experiment—it succeeds for a moment, then proves fatal, and destroys her—for what? Merely that she who was so very beautiful should attain to an ideal perfection. "Had she been less beautiful," we are told, "it might have heightened his affection. But, seeing her otherwise so perfect, he found this one defect grow more and more intolerable, with every moment of their united lives." And then, we have some further bewildering explanation about "his honourable love, so pure and lofty that it would accept nothing less than perfection, nor miserably make itself contented with an earthlier nature than he had dreamed of." Call you this "pure and lofty love," when a woman is admired much as a connoisseur admires a picture, who might indeed be supposed to fume and fret if there was one little blot or blemish in it. Yet, even a connoisseur, who had an exquisite picture by all old master, with only one trifling blemish on it, would hardly trust himself or another to repair and retouch, in order to render it perfect. Can any one recognise in this elaborate nonsense about ideal perfection, any approximation to the feeling which a man has for the wife he loves? If the novelist wished to describe this egregious connoisseurship in female charms, he should have put the folly into the head of some insane mortal, who, reversing the enthusiasm by which some men have loved a picture or a statue as if it were a real woman, had learned to love his beautiful wife as if she were nothing else than a picture or a statue.

[Pg 589] Again, in the "Story of the Artist of the Beautiful," we breathe not a word about the impossibility of framing out of springs and wheels so marvellous a butterfly, that the seeming creature shall not only fly and move its antennæ, and fold and display its wings like the living insect, but shall even surpass the living insect by showing a fine sense of human character, and refusing to perch on the hand of those who had not a genuine sentiment of beauty. The novelist shall put what springs and wheels he pleases into his mechanism, but the springs and wheels he places in the mechanist himself, must be those of genuine humanity, or the whole fiction falls to the ground. Now the mechanist, the hero of the story, the "Artist of the Beautiful," is described throughout as animated with the feelings proper to the artist, not to the mechanician. He is a young watchmaker, who, instead of plodding at the usual and lucrative routine of his trade, devotes his time to the structure of a most delicate and ingenious toy. We all know that a case like this is very possible. Few men, we should imagine, are more open to the impulse of emulation, the desire to do that which had never been done before, than the ingenious mechanist; and few men more completely under the dominion of their leading passion or project, because every day brings some new contrivance, some new resource, and the hope that died at night is revived in the morning. But Mr Hawthorne is not contented with the natural and very strong impulse of the mechanician; he speaks throughout of his enthusiastic artisan as of some young Raphael intent upon "creating the beautiful." Springs, and wheels, and chains, however fine and complicate, are not "the beautiful." He might as well suppose the diligent anatomist, groping amongst nerves and tissues, to be stimulated to his task by an especial passion for the beautiful.

The passion of the ingenious mechanist we all understand; the passion of the artist, sculptor, or painter, is equally intelligible; but the confusion of the two in which Mr Hawthorne would vainly interest us, is beyond all power of comprehension. These are the improbabilities against which we contend. Moreover, when this wonderful butterfly is made—which he says truly was "a gem of art that a monarch would have purchased with honours and abundant wealth, and have treasured among the jewels of his kingdom, as the most unique and wondrous of them all,"—the artist sees it crushed in the hands of a child and looks "placidly" on. So never did any human mechanist who at length had succeeded in the dream and toil of his life. And at the conclusion of the story we are told, in not very intelligible language,—"When the artist rose high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he made it perceptible to mortal senses became of little value to his eyes, while his spirit possessed itself in the enjoyment of the reality."

It is not, perhaps, to the stories we should be disposed to refer for the happier specimens of Mr Hawthorne's writing, but rather to those papers which we cannot better describe than as so many American Spectators of the year 1846—so much do they call to mind the style of essay in the days of Steele and Addison.

We may observe here, that American writers frequently remind us of models of composition somewhat antiquated with ourselves. While, on the one hand, there is a wild tendency to snatch at originality at any cost—to coin new phrases—new probabilities—to "intensify" our language with strange "impulsive" energy—to break loose, in short, from all those restraints which have been thought to render style both perspicuous and agreeable; there is, on the other hand—produced partly by a very intelligible reaction—an effort somewhat too apparent to be classical and correct. It is a very laudable effort, and we should be justly accused of fastidiousness did we mention it as in the least blameworthy. We would merely observe that an effect is sometimes produced upon an English ear as if the writer belonged to a previous era of our literature, to an epoch when to produce smooth and well modulated sentences was something rarer and more valued than it is now. It will be a proof how little of censure we attach to the characteristic[Pg 590] we are noticing, when we point to the writings of Dr Channing for an illustration of our meaning. They have to us an air of formality, a slight dash of pedantry. We seem to hear the echo, though it has grown faint, of the Johnsonian rhythm. They are often not ineloquent, but the eloquence seems to have passed under the hands of the composition-master. The clever classical romance, called "The Letters from Palmyra," has the same studied air. It is here, indeed, more suited to the subject, for every writer, when treating of a classical era, appears by a sort of intuitive propriety to recognise the necessity of purifying to the utmost his own style.

In some of Mr Hawthorne's papers we are reminded, and by no means disagreeably, of the manner of Steele and Addison. "The Intelligence Office" presents, in some parts, a very pleasing imitation of this style. This central intelligence office is one open to all mankind to make and record their various applications. The first person who enters inquires for "a place," and when questioned what sort of place he is seeking, very naïvely answers, "I want my place!—my own place!—my true place in the world!—my thing to do!" The application is entered, but very slender hope is given that he who is running about the world in search of his place, will ever find it.

"The next that entered was a man beyond the middle age, bearing the look of one who knew the world and his own course in it. He had just alighted from a handsome private carriage, which had orders to wait in the street while its owner transacted his business. This person came up to the desk with a quick determined step, and looked the Intelligencer in the face with a resolute eye, though at the same time some secret trouble gleamed from it.

"'I have an estate to dispose of,' said he with a brevity that seemed characteristic.

"'Describe it,' said the Intelligencer.

"The applicant proceeded to give the boundaries of his property, its nature, comprising tillage, pasture, woodland, and pleasure ground, in ample circuit; together with a mansion-house replete with gorgeous furniture and all the luxurious artifices that combined to render it a residence where life might flow onward in a stream of golden days.

"'I am a man of strong will,' said he in conclusion, 'and at my first setting out in life as a poor unfriended youth, I resolved to make myself the possessor of such a mansion and estate as this, together with the revenue necessary to uphold it. I have succeeded to the extent of my utmost wish. And this is the estate which I have now concluded to dispose of.'

"'And your terms?' asked the Intelligencer, after taking down the particulars with which the stranger had supplied him.

"'Easy—abundantly easy!' answered the successful man, smiling, but with a stern and almost frightful contraction of the brow, as if to quell an inward pang. 'I have been engaged in various sorts of business—a distiller, a trader to Africa, an East India merchant, a speculator in the stocks—and in the course of these affairs have contracted an encumbrance of a certain nature. The purchaser of the estate shall merely be required to assume this burden to himself.

"'I understand you,' said the man of intelligence, putting his pen behind his ear. 'I fear that no bargain can be negociated on these conditions. Very probably, the next possessor may acquire the estate with a similar encumbrance, but it will be of his own contracting, and will not lighten your burden in the least.'"

Mr Hawthorne is by no means an equal writer. He is perpetually giving his reader, who, being pleased by parts, would willingly think well of the whole, some little awkward specimen of dubious taste. We confess, even in the above short extract, to having passed over a sentence or two, whose absence we have not thought it worth while to mark with asterisks, and which would hardly bear out our Addisonian compliment.

"But again the door is opened. A grandfatherly personage tottered hastily into the office, with such an earnestness in his infirm alacrity that his white hair floated backward, as he hurried up to the desk. This venerable figure explained that he was in search of To-morrow.

"'I have spent all my life in pursuit of it,' added the sage old gentleman, 'being assured that To-morrow has some vast benefit or other in store for me. But I am now getting a little in years, and must make haste; for unless I overtake To-morrow soon, I begin to be afraid it will finally escape me.'

"'This fugitive To-morrow, my venerable[Pg 591] friend,' said the man of intelligence, 'is a stray child of Time, and is flying from his father into the region of the infinite. Continue your pursuit and you will doubtless come up with him; but as to the earthly gifts you expect, he has scattered them all among a throng of Yesterdays.'"

There is a nice bit of painting, as an artist might say, under the title of "The Old Apple-dealer." We have seen the very man in England. We had marked it for quotation, but it is too long, and we do not wish to mar its effect by mutilation.

In the "Celestial Railroad," we have a new Pilgrim's Progress performed by rail. Instead of the slow, solitary, pensive pilgrimage which John Bunyan describes, we travel in fashionable company, and in the most agreeable manner. A certain Mr Smooth-it-away has eclipsed the triumphs of Brunel. He has thrown a viaduct over the Slough of Despond; he has tunnelled the hill Difficulty, and raised an admirable causeway across the valley of Humiliation. The wicket gate, so inconveniently narrow, has been converted into a commodious station-house; and whereas it will be remembered there was a long standing feud in the time of Christian between one Prince Beelzebub and his adherents (famous for shooting deadly arrows) and the keeper of the wicket gate, this dispute, much to the credit of the worthy and enlightened directors, has been pacifically arranged on the principle of mutual compromise. The Prince's subjects are pretty numerously employed about the station-house. As to the fiery Apollyon, he was, as Mr Smooth-it-away observed, "The very man to manage the engine," and he has been made chief stoker.

"One great convenience of the new method of going on pilgrimage we must not forget to mention. Our enormous burdens, instead of being carried on our shoulders, as had been the custom of old, are all snugly deposited in the luggage-van." The company, too, is most distinguished and fashionable; the conversation liberal and polite, turning "upon the news of the day, topics of business, politics, or the lighter matters of amusement; while religion, though indubitably the main thing at heart, is thrown tastefully into the background." The train stops for refreshment at Vanity Fair. Indeed, the whole arrangements are admirable—up to a certain point. But it seems there are difficulties at the other terminus which the directors have not hitherto been able to overcome. On the whole, we are left with the persuasion that it is safer to go the old road, and in the old fashion, each one with his own burden upon his shoulders.

The story of "Roger Malvin's burial" is well told, and is the best of his narrative pieces. "The New Adam and Eve," and several others, might be mentioned for an agreeable vein of thought and play of fancy. In one of his papers the author has attempted a more common species of humour, and with some success. For variety's sake, we shall close our notice of him, and for the present, of "The American Library," with an extract from "Mrs Bullfrog."

Mr Bullfrog is an elegant and fastidious linen-draper, of feminine sensibility, and only too exquisite refinement. Such perfection of beauty and of delicacy did he require in the woman he should honour with the name of wife, that there was an awful chance of his obtaining no wife at all; when he happily fell in with the amiable and refined person, who in a very short time became Mrs Bullfrog.

An unlucky accident, an upset of the carriage on their wedding trip, giving rise to a strange display of masculine energy on the part of Mrs B. and disarranging her glossy black ringlets and pearly teeth, so as to occasion their disappearance and reappearance in a most miraculous manner, has excited a strange disquietude in the else happy bridegroom.

"'To divert my mind,' says Mr Bullfrog, who tells his own story, 'I took up the newspaper which had covered the little basket of refreshments, and which now lay at the bottom of the coach, blushing with a deep red stain, and emitting a potent spirituous fume, from the contents of the broken bottle of kalydor. The paper was two or three years old, but contained an article of several columns, in which I soon grew wonderfully interested. It was the report of a trial for breach of promise of marriage, giving the[Pg 592] testimony in full, with fervid extracts from both the gentleman's and lady's amatory correspondence. The deserted damsel had personally appeared in court, and had borne energetic evidence to her lover's perfidy, and the strength of her blighted affections. On the defendant's part, there had been an attempt, though insufficiently sustained, to blast the plaintiff's character, and a plea, in mitigation of damages, on account of her unamiable temper. A horrible idea was suggested by the lady's name.

"'Madam,' said I, holding the newspaper before Mrs Bullfrog's eyes—and though a small, delicate, and thin visaged man, I feel assured that I looked very terrific—'Madam,' repeated I, through my shut teeth, 'were you the plaintiff in this cause?'

"'Oh my dear Mr Bullfrog,' replied my wife sweetly, 'I thought all the world knew that!'

"'Horror! horror!' exclaimed I, sinking back on the seat.

"Covering my face with both hands, I emitted a deep groan, as if my tormented soul were rending me asunder. I, the most exquisitely fastidious of men, and whose wife was to be the most delicate and refined of women, with all the fresh dew-drops glittering on her virgin rosebud of a heart! I thought of the glossy ringlets and pearly teeth—I thought of the kalydor—I thought of the coachman's bruised ear and bloody nose—I thought of the tender love-secrets, which she had whispered to the judge and jury, and a thousand tittering auditors—and gave another groan!

"'Mr Bullfrog,' said my wife.

"As I made no reply, she gently took my hands within her own, removed them from my face, and fixed her eyes steadfastly on mine.

"'Mr Bullfrog,' said she, not unkindly, yet with all the decision of her strong character, 'let me advise you to overcome this foolish weakness, and prove yourself, to the best of your ability, as good a husband as I will be a wife. You have discovered, perhaps, some little imperfections in your bride. Well, what did you expect? Women are not angels.'

"'But why conceal these imperfections?' interposed I, tremulously.

"'Now, my love, are you not a most unreasonable little man?' said Mrs Bullfrog, patting me on the cheek. 'Ought a woman to expose her frailties earlier than on the wedding day? Well, what a strange man you are! Pooh! you are joking.'

"'But the suit for breach of promise!' groaned I.

"'Ah! and is that the rub?' exclaimed my wife. 'Is it possible that you view that affair in an objectionable light? Mr Bullfrog, I never could have dreamt it! Is it an objection, that I have triumphantly defended myself against slander, and vindicated my purity in a court of justice? Or do you complain, because your wife has shown the proper spirit of a woman, and punished the villain who trifled with her affections?'

"'But,' persisted I, shrinking into a corner of the coach, however; for I did not know precisely how much contradiction the proper spirit of a woman would endure; 'but, my love, would it not have been more dignified to treat the villain with the silent contempt he merited?'

"'That is all very well, Mr Bullfrog,' said my wife, slily; 'but in that case where would have been the five thousand dollars which are to stock your drygoods' store?'

"'Mrs Bullfrog, upon your honour,' demanded I, as if my life hung upon her words, 'is there no mistake about these five thousand dollars?'

"'Upon my word and honour there is none,' replied she. 'The jury gave me every cent the rascal had; and I have kept it all for my dear Bullfrog?'

"'Then, thou dear woman,' cried I, with an overwhelming gush of tenderness, 'let me fold thee to my heart! The basis of matrimonial bliss is secure, and all thy little defects and frailties are forgiven. Nay, since the result has been so fortunate, I rejoice at the wrongs which drove thee to this blessed lawsuit—happy Bullfrog that I am!'"


[12] Views and Reviews of American Literature. By the author of The Yemassee, &c. &c.
The Wigwam, and The Cabin. By the same.
Papers on Literature and Art. By S. Margaret Fuller.
Tales. By Edgar A. Poe.
Mosses from an old Manse. By Nathaniel Hawthorne.

[13] For that strong nationality which ballads and other rude productions written in a rude age exhibit, America comes, of course, too late. But we doubt not that an attentive examination would already detect in the productions of the American mind as striking traits of national character as are usually seen in the works of civilized epochs. A new species of wit is one of the last things which a student of Joe Miller would have thought it possible to invent. Yet this the Americans have achieved. Whatever may be the value attached to it, many a laugh has been created by that monstrous exaggeration, so worded as to give a momentary and bewildering sense of possibility to something most egregiously absurd, which as decidedly belongs to America as the bull does to Ireland. "A man is so tall that he has to climb a ladder to shave himself." Not only is the feat impossible, but no conception can be formed of its manner of execution, yet the turn of the expression for an instant disguises, before it reveals, its most flagrant nonsense. There is also a certain grave hoax, where some fabulous matter is most veraciously reported, in which the Americans have shown great success and something of a national predilection. Some time ago we were all mystified by what seemed a most authentic account of the sudden subsidence of the falls of Niagara. The wall of rock over which the waters rush had been worn away, and, contrary to the expectations of geologists, the bed of the river, immediately behind it, had proved to be of a soft soil that could not resist the torrent. The river had therefore formed for itself an inclined plane, and the great fall had been converted into a rapid of equally astonishing character. If we do not mistake, the true and particular account of certain animals which Herschel discovered in the moon at the time he moved his great telescope, we believe, to the Cape of Good Hope, came to us from the same quarter. It is a pity that Gulliver's Travels are already in existence. It is a book the Americans should have written; they have been unjustly forestalled and defrauded by that work. No doubt, other peculiar and national traits, and of a higher order, would suggest themselves to any one who made it a subject of examination.

[14] The following summing-up by a judge on a trial for murder gives us a singular specimen (if it can be depended on) of the dignity of the ermine as sustained in South Carolina some half century ago. A murder had been committed on one Major Spencer; the details, natural and supernatural, we have no space for; suffice it to say, that the evidence against the accused left no doubt of his guilt. The judge (an Irishman by birth,) "who it must be understood was a real existence, and who had no small reputation in his day in the south," thus charged the jury. "'Fore God," said the judge, "the prisoner may be a very innocent man, after all, as, by my faith, I do think there have been many murderers before him; but he ought nevertheless to be hung as an example to all other persons who suffer such strong proofs of guilt to follow their innocent misdoings. Gentlemen of the jury, if this person Macleod, or Macnab, didn't murder Major Spencer, either you or I did; and you must now decide which of us it is! I say, gentlemen of the jury, either you, or I, or the prisoner at the bar, murdered this man; and if you have any doubts which of us it was, it is but justice and mercy that you should give the prisoner the benefit of your doubts; and so find your verdict. But, before God, should you find him not guilty, Mr Attorney there can scarcely do any thing wiser than to put us all upon trial for the deed." (P. 31.)

[Pg 593]



The first long vacation of my career as a barrister was at hand: and as my professional gains had already exceeded the sum of £5, 4s. 11d., I considered myself entitled to a few months' recreation. Of my learned brethren there were numbers in similar circumstances with myself; all of whom seemed convinced that the labours of the winter required some pleasing way of renewing the elasticity of the mind. It was soon evident that "travel," was to be the order of the summer. And as the days grew longer and the sun brighter, a change gradually came over the general topics of conversation among us. There was less of the politics of the day, and the ordinary chit-chat of bar appointments and doings: while on every side you heard of "the Rhine," "the Danube," "the Pyramids," and even "the Falls of Niagara." Frequent mention was made also of "the Land o' Cakes;" and some adventurous men, it was said, were even preparing kilts for their excursion. The more confined imaginations of others reached no farther than Wales, or the Cumberland Lakes. Ireland, however, was scarce ever named. It was the year derisively named "the Repeal year:" and the alarming accounts of proceedings in it diverted the feet of "Saxon" travellers to other lands. For my own part, I had made up my mind to follow the herd at large, and submit to foreign extortion and uncleanness, when circumstances occurred to alter my plans. Unforeseen family affairs rendered it imperative on me to go to Dublin, on business connected with a brother who was quartered there; and who, in consequence of the prevailing alarms, was unable to procure even one fortnight's leave of absence. Hitherto, among my companions, I had talked merely of "the Geysers," "the Ural Mountains," or "the Caspian Sea:" but when I found how matters stood, I determined to make the best of my position. Accordingly, a day or two after, when solicited by some acquaintances to join a "Rhine party," I expressed my resolution of visiting Ireland. It was with difficulty I could persuade them that I was not in jest: and when they did feel convinced that I was really in earnest, numerous arguments were advanced to dissuade me from so suicidal an act. Argument was followed by advice; and numerous were the cautions I received, and the precautions I was recommended to take. Among those present, was a friend of mine named Thomson, who was rather given to be cynical in his remarks, and was besides addicted to the study of phrenology. He declared that for his part he was not so apprehensive concerning me on account of the pikes of the Repealers as of the darts of Cupid.

"Beware," said he, "of the Irish ladies. Truly they are bewitching; but alas! they are seldom helps-meet for the Briefless."

He then went on to say, that his hopes of my safety consisted principally in my deficiency in "Constructiveness;" for that "Amativeness" was developed, while "Caution," was all but absent.

"Be sure," said my worthy aunt as I took leave of her,—"be sure not to venture out of Dublin, else you will certainly be killed; and promise me that you will join me in a fortnight at Cheltenham."

I promised faithfully.

"Invariably wear a bullet-proof dress," said Thomson; "to be sure, it will reduce you to a skeleton; but it is better (for the present) that the skeleton should have a soul than be without one!"


Edward Russell had been my school-fellow and college chum. Like myself, he had been destined for the Lord Chancellorship, when the death[Pg 594] of an elder brother freed him from the probable burden of keeping her majesty's conscience. The same event also relieved him of certain obstacles in the way of proposing for, and obtaining the hand of Fanny Felworth. Mrs Russell—at this time about two years married—was the only daughter of Col. Felworth, who some years previous had held a staff appointment in the south of England. Her brother, Russell, and I, had been school-fellows some ten years before the time I speak of; and I may add, that the Emerald Isle, fruitful as it is in such characters, never produced a more light-hearted youth than Frederick Felworth. The days of school are quickly followed by the active business and the varied events of life. Russell and I went to Cambridge; Felworth obtained a commission in a regiment then in India. Soon after, Col. Felworth retired from the service, and went to reside on his property in Ireland, accompanied by his daughter and a widowed sister, his wife having died several years before.

In early youth, correspondence is seldom regularly persevered in for any length of time. Felworth wrote twice or thrice from India, and then his letters ceased. Russell succeeded to his property some time before his collegiate course was finished; and as soon as he took his degree, went to Ireland. In his travels there, he visited the Felworths, (which I suspect was his principal object,) and the natural consequences followed. Immediately on his marriage, Russell went to the Continent, where he remained until a few weeks previous to the time of which I speak. Of Frederick Felworth, I saw occasional mention in the Indian newspapers; such as his distinguishing himself in tiger-shooting expeditions, riding horse-races, and the like. Latterly, however, I had heard nothing of him.

On my way to Ireland, I diverged a few miles from the line of railway, for the purpose of spending a day with the Russells. I found the "little Fanny" of former years now the staid matron, with the apartment called the nursery not altogether untenanted. When Russell and I were alone, we fell (as persons in such circumstances invariably do) into conversation about old times and old friends. It is needless to say that I made special inquiry after Frederick Felworth. I found that he had returned from India a short time before Russell's marriage: and that, when about to rejoin his regiment after a few months' leave of absence, the Colonel feeling lonely after the departure of his daughter, and finding infirmities growing upon him, compelled him to sell out.

"You remember," said Russell, "the passion he had for horses when a boy; well, this madness (for it can be called by no other name) has ever since continued on the increase;—and between farming, magisterial duties, and his horses, he finds occupation and amusement sufficient. The Colonel is daily feeling more and more the effects of age, so that all matters devolve on Frederick. I was writing to him this morning, and I promised that you would pay him a visit when in Ireland. The house is called Craigduff, about forty miles from Dublin."

"I will very gladly do so," I replied; "but my stay will be short, as I am under a positive promise of speedy return."

"I am happy," added Russell, "to hear you will go. I have only to add that the country about Craigduff is tranquil;—and (you are still single,) though there is no charmer in the house, there is one not far off."

I did not see much of Mrs Russell during my stay, as some matters seemed to engage a good deal of her attention. In a brief conversation, however, which I had with her in the evening, I found that she, like my friend Thomson, was a believer in the science of Phrenology.

Having been always accustomed to treat the subject as a butt for the shafts of ridicule, I fear I did not then speak of it with due respect. Conjecturing that "the baby" must have a fine development, I ventured to ask what bumps were the most prominent.

She immediately replied, that "number" was as largely developed on his head as on his Uncle Frederick's. "But there is little use," she said, "in talking to an unbeliever like you on the subject:—but this I have[Pg 595] to say, now that you are going to Craigduff, beware of Units! (Edward, recollect you are not to explain.) Mark my words, Beware of Units! And now, good-night! You are to go, you say, by the early train, so that I shall not see you in the morning; but when you come to visit us on your return, I trust you will be able to tell me that you did beware of Units."

After her departure, in every way, and with all legal ingenuity, did I tempt the allegiance of her husband, but in vain. At last, when I felt sure, that my cross-examination had left him no loophole for escape, he gravely replied—"That he was not yet long enough married to disobey his wife; but he hoped for better times in the future."


The life of officers in garrison, and the dinners at mess; the charms of the daughters of Erin, and the splendid residence of viceroyalty; the Wellington testimonial, and the late Mr Daniel O'Connell—have all been described by competent and incompetent hands. At the period of my visit, the Government, prepared for any emergency, had fortified the barracks throughout the country, and poured a large body of troops into every available position. There never was a more agreeable time for those stationed at Dublin. The number of organised forces at the disposal of the Government was so great, that no alarm of personal danger prevailed in the capital; while the frightful state of the provinces (the northern parts excepted) not only drove a number of families into it, but prevented many from leaving it who otherwise would have done so. These circumstances served to render the town much gayer than it would otherwise have been at that period of the year.

The business which took me to Ireland was not finished until the end of the allotted fortnight. However, I determined to pay my promised visit at Craigduff. Accordingly I addressed a letter to my respected relative, stating that three days more were all that were required for me to remain in Ireland; and that on the fifth I hoped to be with her at Cheltenham. I need scarcely say that I took care not to alarm the worthy lady, by telling her how I intended to spend the intervening time.

The last evening of my stay in Dublin was spent at a Mr Flixton's, in one of the squares. This gentleman had a son who was in the same regiment to which Felworth had belonged, and who, about a month previous, had been on a visit to his former friend. This young man spoke of him in the highest terms. He said he had talents for any subject to which he might turn his attention; but that his horses altogether engrossed him; "and such a collection as he has!"

I had no further conversation with young Flixton at that time; but at a subsequent part of the evening he came up to me with his partner, to whom he introduced me. The lady appeared about eighteen years of age. Her expression was one of combined intelligence and sweetness, while her figure was symmetry itself.

"I have just told Miss Vernon," said he, "that you are a friend of Frederick Felworth, and that you are going to Craigduff in the morning; and she says that you will most effectually show your friendship for him by shooting Units. In this I perfectly agree with Miss Vernon."

Ere I had time to make any reply the music commenced, and they moved off to take their places in the dance, but not before I observed a semi-malicious smile pass over the countenance of the lady, at the conclusion of her partner's remark. Presuming on the introduction my young friend had given me, no sooner did I see her disengaged, than I requested the honour of her hand in the next dance. She declined, however, saying that her mamma was just about to leave the party, as they had a journey before them the next day. At a signal from an elderly lady, she arose and left the room. I was now doubly anxious to unravel the mystery of "Units," whoever or whatever he, she, or it might be; whom the one lady advised me to "beware of," for my own sake—the other to "shoot," for my friend's[Pg 596] sake. I resolved to ask young Flixton, but he was nowhere to be found.

"What a nice girl Miss Vernon is!" said my brother on our way home; "and she has got twenty thousand pounds, too."

"She is the most lovely girl that was in the room to-night," said I; "but tell me all you know about her."

"I can do so in a few words. Her father was a West India merchant; her mother and she have been in Dublin for a few weeks; they are going back to their residence to-morrow, which is situated somewhere near Craigduff. I believe they are related to the Felworths. And now my story is finished. But you had better retire to rest as soon as you can, for you have but a few hours to sleep."

Though I lay in bed, sleep forsook my eyelids. This may, in some degree, have been owing to the excitement of the party; but still my mind was strangely perplexed with the expression "Units." I felt that Mrs Russell's expression, though uttered in jest, contained a good deal of seriousness. "Shoot Units!" "Beware of Units!" What could be the meaning? There are times certainly in which one is more given to superstitious feelings than he is at others, and such, perhaps, was my case at that time; I could not banish the thought that my future fate in life was somehow connected with the unknown "Units."

"After all," said I, throwing myself out of bed, "the nearest expression to Mrs Russell's that I know of is, 'Take care of Number One.' It is an older precept, and most likely a wiser one; and henceforward I will be doubly careful to observe it."


The day after (or, more correctly, the same day) I arrived at Craigduff, where I received a hearty Irish welcome. The first evening with young Felworth was passed much in the same manner as a previous one with Russell. After tea, three rubbers of long whist closed the evening. Though I listened with close attention, I never heard the word "Units" mentioned.

The following morning, Frederick Felworth took me over the grounds and farm, where I saw much to admire. Every thing was well arranged; and even in the minutest matters I could detect the constant superintendence of a master.

"We will keep the stables for the last," said Felworth, "because they are the best; and I flatter myself I can show you a stud unrivalled in numerous respects."

These words were spoken with an increased animation, giving clear evidence wherein his tastes lay.

"These two stables on this side of the yard each contain four horses. There is a harness-room, you see, between them, and a loose-box at the lower end of the farthest. We may as well go into the first one, although you will see nothing in it but two fat family carriage-horses and two ponies. The first of these lesser quadrupeds is my Aunt's, which she drives in a small car on her numerous charitable visits. The other is the Governor's, which he occasionally rides. Now let us come to the next stable, which is mine solely and peculiarly; and if my stud does not astonish and delight you, all I can say is I will be much disappointed."

With this preface we entered. The stable was well fitted up in every respect. There were three horses in the stalls, and one in a loose-box, which opened into the stable. Felworth stood for several minutes in a sort of admiring gaze, merely remarking that he had not seen his "pets" that day before, while they showed every symptom of pleasure at his appearance. During this time I took a preliminary look at the favourites individually. The first was an active-looking, compact, black horse, with a fierce, unsettled expression of eye, and several blemishes on his legs, while a chain attached from the wall to the post prevented the unwary stranger from approaching too close. The second was a powerful bay mare, with many good points, but little beauty. The third was a remarkably handsome bay horse, of high breeding. He was out of work, however, one of his legs being bound up. The fourth was a thoroughbred gray horse, one of the finest animals I ever beheld.

[Pg 597] "Now," said Felworth, "I would much like to have an 'opinion' from you. Tell me candidly what you think of my nags."

"I am no great critic," I replied; "but every one nowadays must be a judge of horse-flesh. Whether or not the schoolmaster is abroad, there is no excuse for ignorance on that subject. It strikes me that there is great variety in your stud."

"You are right there."

"I do not much like the bearing of the black horse. I fear he is rather eccentric."

"He is a little wayward."

"I cannot say that I admire the mare very much; she appears a homely, useful sort of animal."

"She is a real good one though; much better than she looks. She is famous in the shafts with the black horse before her; but I hope you will have ocular demonstration of that to-morrow. What think you of the bay?"

"He is a very nice horse; but he is in the stall of sickness, and therefore we will pass over him; but the gray delights me. I would say he is a Ganymede, a regular cupbearer."

"Well," said Felworth, "since you have spoken so discreetly, I will tell you all about them; and, first of all, their names. The black horse I call 'Units.'"

"Units! Units! Units!!!" exclaimed I.

"Yes, Units. The bay mare 'Tens;' the bay horse 'Hundreds;' and the gray 'Thousands.' I must give you the reasons of their nomenclature. The first cost me £5; the second £20. I bought her from a tenant on the property who was emigrating to Canada; and, very unjockey-like, I gave him just what he asked. I designed her for the farm; but her paces proved so good that she was advanced to the exalted position in which you see her. The bay horse I purchased in England, and gave 70 guineas for him. I call him 'Hundreds,' because he is worth hundreds. He is a beautiful horse in appearance, and then he is an excellent roadster, and a well-trained hunter. He met with an accident at the end of the season, but is in the fair way of recovery. His temper is unequalled."

"I presume he resembles Units in that particular," said I.

"Indeed he is far from it; but here we are with my gallant gray. Ganymede you are, and Ganymede I hope you will be! Win the county cup but once more, old fellow, and then it will be our own! This horse was bred on the farm here; he is the produce of a gray mare that you may recollect my father mounted on in our birch-rod days. He deserves the name of 'Thousands' undeniably; for Lord Oxfence, who was in the regiment with me, offered a 'carte blanche' for him."

"No wonder," said I, "that your sister is so devout a believer in phrenology, when she sees such effects of the development of 'number.' But you have said nothing as yet of Units. I have heard of him before, and I confess I have a singular interest in him."

"Oh! never mind what Fanny says about him, for she entertains unfounded prejudices against him."

"Perhaps she does; but tell me what is that contrivance in the ceiling right above him? A pulley, is it not?"

"It is a pulley," replied Felworth; "but, since you are desirous to hear, I had better begin from the commencement, and tell you the entire history of this extraordinary animal, whose fame has reached Westminster Hall. The man who owns the coach which passes this house attended an auction in Dublin of cast horses from a dragoon regiment about a year and a half since, and among them was exhibited the horse before you. Of course he had managed to get a private opinion from the sergeant in charge; and the account he heard of my dark friend was, 'that they had had him only three months, and that he was an untamable devil.' When a regiment could not subdue him, who could? Notwithstanding, from his superior shape, the proprietor bid for him, and purchased him for something under five pounds. When he took him to his stables, he found that the horse would not suffer an article of harness to be put on him. This was bad enough. However, some days after, by the assistance of all the men about the yard, they did succeed. The horse was allowed to remain in that state all night, and was[Pg 598] put in as near-side wheeler in the coach which was to leave Dublin that morning. The proprietor himself undertook to drive him—for he is a famous hand in that way, and many a vicious horse has he brought to reason. By good luck I happened to be a passenger myself.—(Look, I beg of you, at the intelligence of his expression! He knows we are talking of him.) Well, as I said, I was on the coach, and beside the proprietor, while the regular coachman was immediately behind us. The horse started pretty fairly. To be sure he made a plunge or two, but the traces were strong, and his companions stout and steady. For several miles we came along as pleasantly as needs be, and never did I see a horse do his business in better style. It was during this period that I heard the horse's previous history; and further, I was told that, in the way of harnessing him, once the saddle was on his back, (though it was no easy task to get it there,) the remainder of the business had been easy. I hope you are not tired.—Well, as you wish me, I will finish my history. Just at the third milestone I felt a shock on the soles of my feet as if I had been receiving the bastinado. I need not say this was from the heels of Units on the under side of the board on which my feet rested. In a moment after, the performance was repeated, with this difference, that the blow was rather lower. But it was more serious; for on this occasion he struck the front-boot with such force, that he was unable to withdraw his foot, which went right through the board; and the consequence was, that he fell against the pole. Had the other wheel-horse not been as steady as a rock, we would have gone right over. As it was, the driver pulled up at once; and immediately the coachman and I were at the heads of the other horses. After several terrific struggles, Units contrived to disengage himself. You see the marks of the transaction still on his pastern; but do not go too near him, for he is too thoroughly Irish to endure a Saxon. As soon as we had loosed him from the coach, the proprietor directed the coachman to take him back to Dublin, and to bring another horse. 'And tell the fore-man' said he, 'to have him shot before I return this evening. I shall lose only five pounds, and I will have no person's blood on my head for that sum.' 'Stay,' said I, 'I will give you five pounds for him, and take him with all his imperfections on his head, and on his heels too.' I must say that the man was unwilling, but I carried my point."

"And what on earth did tempt you to buy such a brute?"

"The fact was, the hunting season was over, and I wanted some amusement, as I was rather in delicate health. India is severe on the liver."

"Had you foreseen your circumstances, you might have brought a tiger home with you. But how did you get the horse to Craigduff?"

"In the neatest and quickest possible way. I borrowed a rope from the guard, and having made a temporary halter, I went to the back part of the coach, and led him the whole way. It is forty miles, at seven miles an hour, and he did the journey with ease. I was sure then that I was possessed of a trump. But I must cut the matter short; for it would keep you the whole day if I told you how we succeeded in managing him. It was altogether by kindness, and a gradual discovery of his little peculiarities. The pulley you inquired about, I look upon as the greatest invention. It lets down the saddle upon his back, and then, as I told you, he is quiet. It annually saves the life of a man or two."

"I told you," said I, taking advantage of a momentary pause, "that I had a great interest in the horses: pray tell, me, can you make any use of him?"

"Any use of him! why he is the most useful animal in the world:—an excellent saddle-horse; a first-rate jumper. He was not in my possession three weeks when I won the five pounds he cost me. My neighbour, Sir Edward, rode over here one morning on his famous horse Thunderbolt, and he thought proper to call my new purchase 'Beelzebub.' This rather provoked me; and I offered to bet him the sum I spoke of that I would pound him in twenty minutes; and this I did, in half the time, by jumping his own park wall, which is near six feet high. The horse must be ridden in a snaffle, as young Flixton could tell[Pg 599] you. He thought himself very wise, and insisted on having a curb: the consequence was, that the very moment 'Units' felt it, he started off right across the country, and his rider and he parted company in the river below, near Mrs Vernon's house. Flixton was not the least hurt; but a muddier, wetter, or angrier man you never saw. Alice Vernon and I happened to be witnesses of the whole affair; and she laughed,—how she did laugh!" (I will not display my horsemanship before her, thought I.) "He is a pleasant horse in single harness," continued Felworth; "and, if he did kick the market-cart to pieces, it was owing to the carelessness of the servant in letting the reins fall down about his feet. And if he did upset the gig and break my collar-bone, it was my own fault. I knew he could not bear the sudden opening out of an umbrella; and I ought to have called out to the man, or turned the horse's head away. He is an excellent leader in tandem, and very safe. He is certainly playful in starting with the other horse behind him; but then we know his ways. But you will have ocular demonstration of his performance in that way to-morrow, for I am obliged to attend at sessions, in a village about seven miles off, and we shall drive over after breakfast. Your curiosity about 'Units' is now, I am sure, more than satisfied."


As we were entering the house, Felworth informed me that Mrs and Miss Vernon were to join their family party at dinner that day; and that we would be obliged to walk home with them in the evening. The time passed most agreeably, and the walk was delightful! I shall not attempt to describe the younger lady, for no words of mine can do her justice. A great variety of the fairest and loveliest of the sex have been depicted by writers of fiction from Sir Walter Scott downwards: and few young gentlemen exist who have not at some time been "over head and ears" in love. Now, it is a matter of fact, that the latter look upon their Lucys, or Amys, or Dianas (for the time being) as considerably excelling any of those with whose verbal portraiture they are familiar. Need I say that I formed any exception? On that moonlight night, as I parted from her, I felt satisfied that there was no more lovely person in the world than Alice Vernon.

The first words spoken on our return were by Felworth. "Perhaps you are aware that Miss Vernon has a large fortune?"

Rather surprised by the abruptness of the remark, I answered that I was so; but that I would admire her just as much if she had not a farthing in the world.

"I have no doubt you would," was my companion's reply; "but that is not the matter in consideration at present. I merely wish to tell you an anecdote of Lieutenant Flixton. He is very easily roused, but soon calms again. On this hint I spoke; and in the evening of the day of the river business, as he and I were sitting together, I delicately hinted to him the amusement he had afforded to Miss Vernon in the morning. I wish you had seen him: his face grew red as scarlet, and he exclaimed, "Put a side-saddle on 'Units,' and put 'tens of thousands' on it, and they will be a well-matched pair!" I kept him in a state of fever the whole time he remained, by threatening to tell the lady the compliment he paid her. You know the Vernons are connexions of ours, and that is one reason why they are residing at Violet-Bank now. But I am sorry they are soon going away: for when Richard Vernon returns from the West Indies, (and he is expected in two months,) his mother and sister are going to live with him in London."

These remarks of Felworth served to remove some unpleasant matters from my mind. I saw that I would experience no rivalry from him; and I thought myself a match for Flixton if I had but a fair field.

I must confess that the next morning I did entertain serious apprehensions of the proposed tandem expedition. And, had I been able to devise any feasible plan of carrying Mrs Russell's advice into execution, I would eagerly[Pg 600] have adopted it. My difficulties, however, seemed to be removed, as I perceived that the gig was brought to the door with "Tens" alone in it but vain was my expectation!

"You will please take your seat," said Felworth, "and make yourself comfortable, and I will follow your example."

We did so. "Units" was now led forward to his place in front by one man, who held a cloth over his eyes, while another arranged the reins, and gave them into Felworth's hand. The traces were still unfastened.

"Now we go, Tens, Units! get along!"

At the signal given, the horse made a tremendous plunge forward, while Felworth, adroitly yielding his hand for the moment, drew him in firmly but gently, while the two men, running alongside, attached the traces.

"Strange way 'Units' has of leaving home!" quietly remarked Felworth; "but he is a peaceable animal after all, for you remark he never kicks back. And can any thing be more steady than 'Tens?' You would not depreciate her now."

"Certainly not; a female Socrates is a good companion to that male Xantippe."

Felworth then went on to say, that the horse was perfectly safe as a leader; and that, if he was not sure that he was so, he would not consider himself justified in risking the life of any one. He added that there were only two things of which he had the least dread;—the one was, the sudden opening of an umbrella; but there was no risk of that in weather such as we were then enjoying; the other was, a shot fired near the horse; but then there was little danger in that way either, for there was not a gun in the neighbourhood, nor any thing at which to fire. When I expressed an opinion that he and I afforded pretty fair marks ourselves, and that I had heard of such being selected, he burst out laughing, and asked me if I had made my will before I left England; and did I believe the half of the stories I heard there about Ireland? He then remarked that a whip would last for several generations if one always drove horses like "Units" and "Tens." Before we arrived at our destination, he said he had directed his servant to be in readiness to take home the gig from Violet-Bank, for that we could return by another road, and call there.

"I like your arrangement much," said I, "as I wish to pay my respects to Mrs Vernon before I leave."

"It is all very proper," said Felworth, "but there was no occasion to lay such emphasis on the 'Mrs.'"

After strolling about the village for an hour, Felworth despatched his business, and we turned homewards. He did not appear so much inclined for conversation as he had been in the morning; and we both soon lapsed into comparative silence. The very act of driving has at any time a tendency to produce a ruminating mood; and my thoughts naturally turned on Alice Vernon. It was true, I had seen her only twice, and on the first occasion only for a few minutes; yet, even now, I could not bear the thought of her becoming the wife of another. I knew I would probably see her in London when her brother returned; but how many things might happen in the mean time? I felt she could look on me only as a stranger. I wished much that I could have remained longer at Craigduff; but for several reasons that was out of the question. It was true I had been much pressed to prolong my stay, but I had said that my visit was a stolen one. And now would I not look excessively foolish, when it appeared that "imperative circumstances" were turned into moonshine by a moonlight walk? I was aroused from my reveries by an exclamation from Felworth, "There is Alice Vernon, I am positive! You see her walking on the road before us under the row of beech-trees. We will overtake her by the time she comes to the end of them, by the quarry on the right." He proved himself accurate; for we were only a few yards behind her, as she came into the bright sunshine. At this moment (as was natural for any lady to do) she opened out her parasol in the direct view of Units. The consequence was that he made a sudden stop, so that the mare came against him; this was followed by a quick bound to one side, so as almost to[Pg 601] pull "Tens" off her balance. Felworth, however, had the horses well in hand; and even yet all matters might have gone right. But just at that moment an explosion took place at the quarry beside us. I saw the infuriate beast make a jump at the fence on the left. I fancy I heard a crash—but I have no recollection of any thing more.


"He lives!—thank God, he lives!—and it was all my fault!" were the first words I heard in returning consciousness. I felt very faint and weak, but the tones sounded sweetly in my ears. I then heard some directions to keep me "perfectly quiet."

But I need not detail the progress of my recovery. I was in Violet-Bank, near to which the accident had occurred. My brother soon after came to see me; and even my worthy aunt, in her anxiety, ventured into "that horrid country." Pleasant, indeed, were the hours I passed in the period of my convalescence.

As soon as was permitted by the doctor, I had a visit from Felworth.

"Thank Providence," said he, "all is right with you now, but it was a very doubtful matter for some hours. It was a bad business altogether. Units was killed, and you nearly so."

"But tell me exactly how you got off yourself: I perceive your forehead cut, and your arm in a sling."

"You see the whole of the injuries I received; but the mare is much cut and bruised; both shafts of the gig were broken. I have preserved, as a sad memorial of the day, the stone against which your head came when you were pitched out. Fortunately, for me, I fell in a soft place; and I was on my legs before the quarry-men gathered about you, and carried you into the house. What presence of mind Alice had! She sent for the doctor without a moment's delay; but women always act best in such circumstances."

"But Units, what of him?"

"Why, one trace broke in his attempt to leap into the field; and, fortunately for Tens, the other soon gave way; and then he galloped home."

"I thought you said he was killed."

"And so he was, but not by fair play. My father, unfortunately, met the man who was leading home the mare; and when he heard what had occurred, he brought down his own pistols, and had the horse led out, and shot on the spot. It was not out of vengeance that he did so, for he was not aware at the time of the dangerous state you were in; but he said that the horse would be the cause of death to some one yet. It was from a kind motive he did so, but it was a sad blow to me. I will never see the like of Units again."

It was arranged that Alice and I were to be married in the following September.

"You were a sad truant," said my aunt, "to go from Dublin after the cautions I gave you; but I give my full pardon under the circumstances."

I had a silent but powerful, advocate near me.

Shortly after my recovery, I went to London, for the purpose of making necessary arrangements for my marriage. When there, I called upon Thomson, and narrated to him the entire events.

"You are a very lucky fellow!" he said. "I look upon this horse 'Units' as having been your guardian angel. I told you you were deficient in 'Constructiveness,' and your story proves it. Had it not been that you got your head broken, or some other fortuitous event occurred, you would have remained a bachelor to the end of your days."[Pg 602]


The confident mariner, spreading his canvass to the fickle gale, and launching forth upon unknown seas in search of uncertain shores, to combat the kraken and fish the pearl, scarcely exhibits more daring, or braves greater perils, than the hardy landsman, who, on horse's back or dromedary's hump, or his own mocassined feet, plunges into tangled jungle and pathless prairie, adventuring himself, a solitary pioneer, thousands of miles from the abodes of civilisation. If shoal and squall and treacherous reef, pirates and storms, and tropical calms scarce less terrible, when parched lips blacken for thirst in the midst of boundless waters, await the seaman, dangers equally imminent and inevitable, and more incessant beset the path of the wanderer in the desert. The sailor has his days and weeks of safety and repose and rude luxury, whilst the stately ship scuds merrily before favouring breezes over a summer sea, and the light routine of duty is but sufficient to give zest to the junk ration, the grog kid, and the tobacco pipe. The storm over, he swings easily in his hammock, recruiting strength for fresh exertion; and even when the winds howl their worst, give him a tight ship and sea-room, and he holds himself safe and laughs at the tempest. The explorer of trackless plain and aboriginal forest is in a very different predicament. He is never safe; his toils and tribulations are unceasing; danger may not exist, but he must ever guard against it, for he knows not where it may lurk. With him, security is temerity and eventual destruction. The ambushed savage, the crouching beast of prey, the silent and deadly reptile, the verdant swamp, flower-strewn and fathomless, wooing to destruction, the rushing torrent and resistless hurricane, are but a few of the dangers through which he threads his way. And when, at close of day, weary and hungry, foot-sore or saddle-galled, he halts for refreshment and repose, it seems but the beginning of his labours. Wood must be cut and collected, the fire lit, the meal prepared, often its very materials must be sought in pool and thicket, before the wanderer can be at rest, and the cravings of appetite appeased. The hardly-won repast concluded, the ground offers a comfortless couch to his stiffened and jaded limbs, where to snatch such sleep as the necessity of strict guard, and the ominous and mysterious noises of a night in the desert, allow to descend upon his eyelids.

With a thorough knowledge and appreciation of the many difficulties, dangers, and discomforts, inseparable from such an expedition, Dr Ludwig Leichhardt, a German gentleman, remarkable for enterprising spirit and scientific zeal, left Moreton Bay, upon the east coast of Australia, in September 1844, to proceed overland in a north-westerly direction to Port Essington, on the north coast, a distance of more than three thousand miles. The Doctor was no novice in such wanderings; he had already devoted two years to exploring the district north of Moreton Bay; undaunted by hardship, his thirst for knowledge unappeased, he had scarcely returned when he was ready to start again. Many dissuaded him, pointing out the vast field of research afforded within the limits of New South Wales, urging innumerable dangers—some imaginary, but more real—taxing him with overstrained enthusiasm, and inordinate lust of fame; even blaming him as a madman and a suicide. He was neither to be deterred nor cajoled from his expedition, but made his preparations, limiting as much as possible the amount of provisions and stores, in consideration of the difficulties of the route and encumbrance of baggage. He was also compelled, in conformity with the plan he had formed, and with the smallness of his means, to restrict the number of his companions, and reject the offers of many adventurous young men eager to accompany him. His party, at first composed of six persons,[Pg 603] had swelled to ten, when, upon the 30th September, it left Jimba, the advanced post of the white man. The stores consisted of sixteen head of cattle, twelve hundred pounds of flour, two hundred pounds of sugar, eighty pounds of tea, and twenty of gelatine, eight bags of shot, and thirty pounds of powder. Each man had two pairs of strong trousers, three shirts, and two pairs of shoes,—certainly no very sumptuous equipment for a journey expected to last seven months, but which occupied fifteen. Fortunately, as they advanced, game and wild animals, at first rare, became more plentiful; and although the flour was expended at the end of the eighth month, they managed, with the aid of kangaroos, emus, waterfowl, and other beasts and birds, to protract their beef till their arrival at Port Essington. The party comprised (besides Dr Leichhardt) Messrs Calvert, Roper, Hodgson and Gilbert, John Murphy, a lad of sixteen, a convict of the name of William Phillips, Caleb, an American negro, and Messieurs Harry Brown and Charley, Australian aborigines, mutinous but useful, of whose character and propensities we learn more than of those of any other member of the party. The Doctor is, indeed, remarkably silent with respect to his fellow-labourers in the vineyard of Tasmanian discovery. Eight men of the adventurous disposition implied by their engaging in such an expedition, could hardly be thrown together for a year or more without displaying flashes of character, and greater or less eccentricity, the result of their exceptional position, of the many shifts and devices they had to resort to. Of characteristic traits, however, we obtain few hints from Dr Leichhardt, the most amiable, but the most matter-of-fact of travellers. His sympathies and attention are engrossed by the stocks and stones, the beasts, birds, trees and flowers around him. In them he finds tongues and books, and with and of them he loves to discourse. Although evidently a good comrade and considerate chief, his enthusiasm as a naturalist and man of science preclude much heed of his companions' peculiarities—if such they had. Enough that they are at hand, ready to aid him in catering for a meal, in chasing stray bullocks, replacing fallen baggage, and in the many other toils and labours in which he manfully bears his share. Nothing less than the departure of one, and the death of another, can elicit a passing hint of their character and qualities. Mr Hodgson shot a kangaroo; Mr Roper brought in eight cockatoos; Mr Phillips found a flesh-coloured drupaceous fruit; Mr Calvert shot a native companion—not one of the aborigines, but a bird so called; and thus the book goes on, every thing put down with the dry brevity of a seaman's log. Hence Dr Leichhardt's volume, though highly valuable and interesting to naturalists and emigrants, will scarcely be appreciated by the general reader. Learned and well written, the amusing element, which readers of the present day are apt to make a condition for their favour, is but scantily scattered through its pages. But it is a work of unquestionable merit and utility, and its author's name will justly stand high upon the honourable list of able and enterprising men, whose courage, perseverance, and literary abilities, have contributed so largely to our knowledge of the geography and productions of our distant southern colonies.

The first start of the expedition could hardly be called a good one; at least, it was not such as to encourage the faint-hearted, or falsify anticipations of extreme hardships and difficulties. A light spring-cart, which the doctor had fondly hoped to take with him through the wilderness, was broken the very first day. He was fortunate enough to exchange it for three bullocks, and proceeded to break in five of those animals for the pack-saddle, finding he could not depend upon his horses for carrying baggage. But the bullocks gave a deal of trouble, and were most unsatisfactory beasts of burthen. The weight they could carry without injury and exhaustion, was very small in comparison with their known strength,—not more than a hundred and fifty pounds, Dr Leichhardt found, for a constancy—without the advantage of roads. Mules would have been the proper carriers; and troublesome, kicking,[Pg 604] contrary demons as they often are, under a hot sun and with the aggravation of flies, they could hardly have been more refractory than their bovine substitutes. Persons whose whole experience of bullocks, as beasts of draught and burthen, consists in having seen a pair of them tugging, with painful docility and resignation, at a heavy continental cart—a ponderous yoke across their necks, or their heads attached with multitudinous thongs to the extremity of a massive pole—can form but a faint idea of the tribulations of the Doctor and his friends, who had to lead the beasts, as best they might, with iron nose-rings, and who, moreover, being wholly unused to cattle of that description, had at first a not unnatural dislike of the horns. Then the pack-saddles did not fit, and the immediate result was sore backs; the cargo would get loose and fall off, to the fracture and destruction of straps; or the hornets, whose nests, suspended from the branches, were disturbed by the passage of the caravan, would drive the unlucky oxen nearly mad, by a stinging assault upon their hind quarters. Finally, both horses and bullocks had a singular propensity to stray back during the night to the previous halting place, whence they had to be fetched in the morning, causing great delay, and often postponing the start till mid-day. Here is a significant little entry in the log, comprising the entire proceedings of one day, which gives an idea of the difficulty of progress. "Oct. 2—Bullocks astray, but found at last by Charley, and a start attempted at one o'clock: the greater part of the bullocks with sore backs. The native tobacco in blossom. One of the bullocks broke his pack-saddle, and compelled us to halt." Only one small plug of tobacco to all that peck of troubles! The nicotian flower the sole object in the scene of disaster, on which the eye can rest with a sensation of relief. Stray cattle, sore backs, broken saddles! The combination of calamities can only be appreciated by those who have encountered it, in the desert, and when anxious to prosecute their march. For some time, these pleasant incidents were of daily occurrence; added to which, the bullocks, in forcing their way through tangled thickets, frequently tore the sacks, and wasted large quantities of flour. And towards the latter part of the journey, when Dr Leichhardt, owing to the death of three horses, unfortunately drowned in a creek, had been forced to abandon, with tears in his eyes, a large portion of his valuable botanical collection, he had the intense mortification of seeing a reckless ox, foot-sore and heated by a long day's march, plunge deliberately into a deep pond, where the remainder of the dried plants, seeds, and the like, carefully packed upon the animal's back, underwent a thorough and disastrous soaking. As some amends for the trouble they gave, the bullocks proved useful in an unexpected capacity, namely, as guards. They conceived an antipathy to the natives, whom they charged in warlike style, whenever they had the chance. The aborigines held them in great respect, took them for large dogs (bull-dogs of course), and had a wholesome fear of their bite. These notions the travellers did not deem it advisable to dispel.

Opossums and flying squirrels, kangaroos, (some standing nine feet high,) and kangaroo rats, emus, ducks, and bronze-winged pigeons, were the principal beasts and birds encountered during the journey. Crocodiles were met with, and a few buffaloes. Fish of many kinds, now and then turtles, were seen and caught in the pools, rivers, and lagoons. Sand-flies, mosquitoes, and hornets, were very annoying, but the cool night-breeze usually swept them away. The melodious note of the glucking-bird, so named from the sound resembling "gluck, gluck," the noisy call of the "laughing jackass," the hoot of the barking owl, the howlings of native dogs, and the screech of the opossum, were the principal sounds that broke the stillness of the bush. Kangaroos were a great article of provender; the travellers chased them with dogs, so long as the dogs lasted, but these perished, little by little, until at last only one remained,—Spring by name,—a useful and valiant brute, covered with honourable scars. He was of the breed known as the kangaroo-dog, was exceedingly stanch and valuable, and the means of obtaining a vast deal of game. Of[Pg 605] course, he was an immense favourite, and his masters had reckoned on his accompanying them to the end of their journey. They carried a calabash of water for his private use, as they were frequently very long without meeting with any, and this precaution more than once saved Spring's life. At last, during the latter part of a toilsome day's march, poor Spring lagged in rear and was forgotten. The next day two of the party returned to seek him, and found him almost dead, "stretched out in the deep cattle track, which he seemed not to have quitted even to find a shady place. They brought him to the camp; and I put his whole body, with the exception of his head, under water, and bled him; he lived six hours longer, when he began to bark, as if raving." And Spring gave up the ghost, to the great comfort and relief of the emus and kangaroos, and to the deep distress of the worthy Doctor and his biped companions.

The party had been out but one month, when the scarcity of game, far less abundant than had been expected, and the rapid shrinking of the flour-sacks, rendered it necessary to diminish its numbers, lest famine should be added to the many dangers of the journey. Mr Hodgson and Caleb the negro accordingly returned to Moreton bay, the remaining eight persons continuing their route. Two of these eight, as we have already mentioned, were Australian aborigines, indebted to Christian god-fathers for the baptismal names of Charley and Harry. Early in the expedition, these two gentlemen became exceedingly troublesome; not more so, however, than might reasonably be expected from the very sullen and brutish expression of their uncomely physiognomies. Dr Leichhardt favours us with a portrait of the pair, and notwithstanding the embellishments of clean frocks, flowing neck-kerchiefs, and a comb, we have seldom set eyes upon more unprepossessing countenances. Any more hirsute we certainly never beheld, and their whole aspect gives the idea of men who, in the natural state, would deem a tender infant the most delicious of luncheons, and look upon a deceased relative with the one absorbing idea of a juicy roast. We may be doing injustice to the creatures, but appearances are not in their favour, however British missionaries and mutton may have weaned them from aboriginal barbarity and cannibal cravings. After they had been about four months out, they began to play truant, to desert Dr Leichhardt when reconnoitring, taking the provisions with them, and to wander away without permission in quest of honey and opossums. At first the Doctor overlooked their transgressions, or let them pass with a reprimand; but he soon found occasion to regret his leniency, and that he had not inflicted a severe and decided punishment. On the 19th February the travellers, who had halted two days for the purpose of jerking the beef of a bullock, were busy greasing their straps and saddles, an operation rendered very necessary by the dust and scorching heat, when Master Charley, thirsting after honeycomb and greedy of opossum, left the camp, and was absent several hours. On his return the Doctor reprimanded him, and threatened to stop his rations, but was met with threats and abuse. "Finding it, therefore, necessary to exercise my authority, I approached to show him out of the camp, when the fellow gave me a violent blow upon the face, which severely injured me, displacing two of my lower teeth." In return for which brutal assault we expected to find that the Doctor and his friends removed the surcingle and baggage-straps from the jaw-breaker's horse, tied him to a tree with the latter, and with the former flogged his black shoulders till he cried peccavi, and promised reform. Nothing of the sort appears to have taken place, the good Doctor contenting himself, as sole revenge for the injury done to his masticators, with expelling the delinquent, who was accompanied from the camp by his countryman and ally, Harry Brown. They soon got tired, however, of going afoot and shifting for themselves, returned submissive and sorry, and were allowed to rejoin the caravan. And though they subsequently again gave cause of complaint, upon the whole they were tolerably manageable during the rest of the expedition.

[Pg 606] The travellers were out a long time before falling in with natives, although they saw signs of their vicinity, and ascertained that they were objects of curious observation and some anxiety to the timid Australians. They stumbled upon various native camps, recently vacated, and occasionally took the liberty of helping themselves to kangaroo nets and cordage, leaving in exchange fish hooks, handkerchiefs, and other European articles. On the 6th of December, upon rousing from his bivouac, Dr Leichhardt found "the horses had gone back to Ruined Castle Creek, about twenty-one miles distant (!), and the bullocks to the last camp, which, according to Charley, had been visited by the Blackfellows, who had apparently examined it very minutely. It was evident they kept an eye upon us, although they never made their appearance." The Doctor's coolness in recording his disasters is quite provoking. If he exhibited the same laudable calm and resignation when he arose from his bed of reeds on the banks of the finch-haunted water-hole, and found his cattle had gone back a day's journey or more, as he does in writing down the fact, he is certainly the most Job-like of travellers. We could sometimes quarrel with him for making so very light of heavy inconveniences and positive misfortunes. It is necessary to pause and reflect in order to appreciate what he endured. The hasty reader, skimming the page without allowing his imagination to dwell on the Doctor's brief indications of the many sufferings, the wounds and sickness (the latter often caused by unwholesome diet), the hunger and thirst, the daily and nightly exposure, for fifteen months, to scorching suns and drenching rains, undergone by himself and his companions, might complete the perusal with the impression on his mind that the whole affair was rather pleasant than otherwise—a sort of prolonged pic-nic, varied by kangaroo hunts, fishing parties, and shooting excursions. Bread stuffs, he would have to admit, were scarce in that cornless land: but hard exercise and fresh air sharpen the appetite and strengthen the digestion; and a keen woodsman will not heed bannocks when he can get beef, varied by such an exotic viand as kangaroo venison, and by such delicate and fantastical volatiles as harlequin pigeons and rose-breasted cockatoos. Nay, so easy is it to fight battles in one's back parlour, and to endure hardships with one's feet on the fender, that this same imaginary and hastily-judging reader, whose flippant conclusions we now quote, may think lightly of the necessity in which our travellers found themselves of eating a horse, as recorded in the Leichhardtian journal, p. 247. A horse broke its thigh, and it was resolved to make the best of the meat. It proved tolerably palatable, especially the liver and kidneys, pronounced equal to those of a bullock. When the flour was gone, the only relief from the monotony of a carnivorous diet was obtained by experimentalising on seeds, fruits, and roots, of which many unknown species were met with. How the party escaped death by poison is a wonder, for they were very venturesome in their essays, and not unfrequently were punished for their boldness by severe vomitings and other unpleasant symptoms. The jerked meat they carried with them often became musty and tainted, having been imperfectly dried, or from the effects of rain. But their greatest difficulty was the frequent scarcity of water, which sadly afflicted their horses, and prolonged their route, compelling them to deviate from the direct course to encamp near pools or lagoons. These were not always to be found; and they often remained for very many hours, even for days, without other water than they could carry in their scanty kettles. Then the bullocks were allowed to stray in search of drink, and it was sometimes necessary, in order to save the horses' lives, to take them back to the previous night's camping place. The fatigues thus encountered might well have exhausted the endurance and physical energies of the strongest man. "I had been in a state of the most anxious suspense," says Dr Leichhardt on one of these occasions, "about the fate of our bullocks, and was deeply thankful to the Almighty when I heard they were all safe. I had suffered much from thirst, having been forty-eight hours without water, and which had[Pg 607] been increased by a run of two miles after my horse, which attempted to follow the others; and also from a severe pain in the head, produced by the impatient brute's jumping with its hobbled fore-feet on my forehead, as I lay asleep with the bridle in my hand; but after drinking three quarts of cold tea, which John had brought with him, I soon recovered, and assisted to load our horses with the remainder of our luggage, when we returned to join our companions. The weather was very hot during the day, but a cool breeze moved over the plains, and the night, as usual, was very cold." It needed men of iron frame to endure, without serious and frequent indisposition, such terrible privations and sudden contrasts of temperature. Nevertheless, none of the party seem to have suffered from illness produced by other causes than irregular and hazardous diet, except in the case of the Doctor, who once or twice had a touch of lumbago. These violent transitions from heat to cold were felt during only a portion of their journey. Towards the middle of the time, in the month of June, they were greatly favoured by climate. "The state of our health showed how congenial it was to the human constitution; for, without the comforts which the civilised man thinks essentially necessary to life, without flour, without salt, and miserably clothed, we were yet all in health, although at times suffering much from weakness and fatigue. At night we stretched ourselves upon the ground, almost as naked as the natives; and though most of my companions still used their tents, it was amply proved afterwards that the want of this luxury was attended with no ill consequences." All things are comparative; and to the Doctor, whose sole canopy during the whole expedition was the vault of heaven, the canvass covering enjoyed by his comrades evidently appeared a Sybaritical indulgence.

To return to the savages. The day after the retrograde movement of the cattle to Ruined Castle Creek, and just as Dr Leichhardt was about to start on a reconnoissance, the Blackfellows came down to where the horses were grazing, and speared one of them in the shoulder. This was the first act of hostility. The Australian aborigines are very cowardly, and the aggressors hastily retreated into the bush on the appearance of two or three white men. After this, in February, some friendly and respectable barbarians were met with, and there was an interchange of courtesy and presents. Generally the natives were shy, entertaining feelings of mingled fear, aversion, and contempt for the pale-skinned intruders upon their forest domain. Mr Roper and Charley, out in search of water, fell in with a Blackfellow and his gin or squaw. Like a brace of opossums, they were up a gum-tree in no time, although the lady was in an advanced state of pregnancy. "As Mr Roper moved round the base of the tree, in order to look the Blackfellow in the face, and to speak with him, the latter studiously avoided looking at Mr Roper, by shifting round and round the trunk like an iguana. The woman also kept her face averted." A day or two afterwards, Mr Gilbert and Charley met some more natives. "Two gins were so horror-struck at the unwonted sight, that they immediately fled into the scrub; the men commenced talking to them, but occasionally interrupted their speeches by spitting and uttering a noise like pooh! pooh! apparently expressive of their disgust." Meetings with the natives now became of common occurrence; but as they showed much timidity, and, when ill disposed, confined their hostile demonstrations to expectoration and grimaces, the travellers entertained little apprehension of attack. The night watch, regularly kept at the commencement of the expedition, was now little more than nominal, and although each man was supposed to take his turn of sentry, the guard was usually a sleepy one, and a mere matter of form. They had reason to repent their negligence. Encamped one evening in the dry bed of a lagoon, some in their tents, others platting palm-leaf hats, the Doctor himself dozing near the fire, a shower of spears fell amongst them, and the savages followed up the treacherous attack by a charge with their waddies or clubs. The Europeans were so completely off their guard that they did not know where to find[Pg 608] percussion caps for their guns. When the Doctor had procured these, two or three shots sent the assailants to the right about, with one of their number killed or wounded, for bloodstains were on their track, and they were heard next morning wailing in the woods. But the little caravan had suffered heavy loss. Gilbert was killed; Roper and Calvert were severely injured and disfigured by spear-wounds and blows from the waddies. It was a melancholy and untoward event, but time could ill be spared to mourn. The dead man was buried, a large fire made over his grave to prevent the natives from detecting and disinterring the body, and with sad hearts the little caravan prosecuted their march. The Doctor allows us to infer that the wounded would gladly have prolonged the halt, but, although feeling for their suffering state, he had duties to perform to himself and his other companions; and being of opinion that motion would not interfere with cure, he overruled objections, and insisted on proceeding. The event proved he was right; the sick men, although inconvenienced, were not injured by the march. Calvert was soon able to resume his share in the labours of the camp and the hunting-field, and Roper, although longer disabled, also eventually recovered.

The eighth chapter of Dr Leichhardt's journal will be esteemed by the general reader the most interesting in the book, for in it he deviates somewhat from his usual track, is more sparing than his wont of botanical and geographical details, and gives a few brief but interesting particulars of the daily life and habits of his party. "I usually rise," he says, "when I hear the merry laugh of the laughing-jackass (a bird) which, from its regularity, has been not unaptly named the settler's clock; a loud cooee then rouses my companions, Brown to make tea, Mr Calvert to season the stew with salt and marjoram, and myself and the others to wash, and to prepare our breakfast, which, for the party, consists of two pounds and a half of meat, stewed over night; and to each a quart pot of tea. Mr Calvert then gives to each his portion, and, by the time this important duty is performed, Charley generally arrives with the horses, which are then prepared for their day's duty." Towards eight o'clock the caravan usually started, and after travelling about four hours, selected a spot for that night's camp, which being pitched, the horses and bullocks unloaded, the fire lighted, and the dried beef put on to stew for the late dinner, the remainder of the afternoon was devoted to washing and repairing clothes, mending saddles, shooting, fishing, botanizing and writing up the log. The Doctor, who was of course provided with sextant, chronometer, compass, and the other instruments necessary to ascertain their whereabout in the wide desert, would take his observations, calculate the latitude, ride out reconnoitring, and plan the next day's route. Towards sunset came dinner, and soon after nightfall all retired to their beds. "The two Blackfellows and myself spread out each our own under the canopy of heaven, whilst Messrs Roper, Calvert, Gilbert, Murphy, and Phillips, have their tents. Mr Calvert entertains Roper with his conversation; John amuses Gilbert; Brown tunes up his corrobori songs, in which Charley, until their late quarrel, generally joined. Brown sings well, and his melodious plaintive voice lulls me to sleep, when otherwise I am not disposed. Mr Phillips is rather singular in his habits; he erects his tent generally at a distance from the rest, under a shady tree, or in a green bower of shrubs, where he makes himself as comfortable as the place will allow, by spreading branches and grass under his couch, and covering his tent with them, to keep it shady and cool, and even planting lilies in blossom (crinum) before his tent, to enjoy their sight during the short time of our stay." We would fain have heard something more of this Phillips, whose love of solitude and flowers contrast with his quality of a convict, and inspire interest and curiosity. Whatever his crime, his companions apparently did not repulse him, but he himself voluntarily avoided their society, perhaps from a feeling of unworthiness and humiliation. Dr Leichhardt casually mentions him here and there in his volume, and he[Pg 609] seems to have behaved steadily and well, for he was pardoned on returning to Sydney, and received a portion of the thousand pounds appropriated from the crown revenue to reward the adventurous party. Why he was originally selected to form part of it, when numbers of young men of enterprising spirit and untainted reputation were refused the privilege, the Doctor does not think it necessary to inform us.

To men far removed from the pleasures and luxuries of civilisation, isolated in a desert, and leading a life of unceasing hardship and privation, small treats afford great enjoyment. The pleasures of the palate, especially, acquire unusual importance, and the discovery of some fragrant fruit or succulent vegetable, the addition to the daily stew of a bird or beast unusually flavorous, causes amongst these grown children as much jubilation as a giant cake amongst a horde of holiday urchins. "I had naturally," says the Doctor, "a great antipathy against comfort-hunting and gourmandising, particularly on an expedition like ours.... This antipathy I expressed, often perhaps, too harshly, which caused discontent; but, on these occasions, my patience was sorely tried." Notwithstanding his anti-epicurean principles, the chief of the expedition good-humouredly gave in to the fancies of his followers, who loved a feast now and then, and were partial to celebrate notable days by such modest hors-d'œuvres and supplementary condiments as the niggard forest and their indifferently provided saddle-bags would afford. Homely indeed were the additions thus made to their daily ration of charqui beef, horse-flesh or kangaroo. Let us dwell a moment upon the magnificent preparation for a banquet on the natal day of her Majesty Queen Victoria.

"May 24. It was the Queen's birth-day, and we celebrated it with what—as our only remaining luxury—we were accustomed to call a fat cake, made of four pounds of flour and some suet, which we had saved for the express purpose, and with a pot of sugared tea. We had for several months been without sugar, with the exception of about ten pounds, which were reserved for cases of illness and for festivals."

Assuredly no sumptuary laws were needed to restrain such revels as these. "On another occasion, in consequence of the additional fatigues of the day, I allowed some pieces of fat to be fried with our meat." Horrible gluttony! After they had been some months out, an extraordinary desire for fat diet took possession of the wanderers. At first they felt disgust for it, and rejected it contemptuously, but suddenly a total change occurred. "The relish continued to increase as our bullocks grew poorer; and we became as eager to examine the condition of a slaughtered beast as the natives, whose practice in that respect we had formerly ridiculed." When they caught an emu, their first and eager care was to pluck the feathers and cut into the flesh, "to see how thick the fat was, and whether it was a rich yellow." The Spartan Doctor himself was not proof against the greasy fascination. Hear his confession of a frailty, and record of its quick-succeeding punishment. 'Tis à propos of kites, which filthy feeders, unaccustomed in the lonely bush to the sight of man, become exceedingly daring and impudent. "Yesterday, I cleaned the fat gizzard of a bustard to grill it on the embers, and the idea of the fat dainty-bit made my mouth water. But, alas! whilst holding it in my hand, a kite pounced down and carried it off, pursued by a dozen of his comrades, eager to seize the booty." It needs no great stretch of fancy to picture the Doctor, bereaved of his gizzard, sitting open-mouthed and aghast at the foot of a gum-tree, his fingers still shining from the unctuous contact, the moisture of anticipation oozing from his lips, his eyes watching the flight of the felon kite, whilst the 'possum on the branch above grins at his mishap. The loss was the more serious, that game was not abundant just then. They had got into a flat, sandy, uninteresting country; all box-trees and ant-hills, as Australian Charley described it, with no cover, and nothing to shoot at. Bad enough for the sportsman, but highly eligible squatting ground, where the settler would have few trees to fell and abundant grass for his cattle. As for[Pg 610] the game, it came in tracts and districts. Sometimes they thought themselves fortunate could they secure a few pigeons, at others, they revelled in pinguid plenty,—kangaroos roasted whole, fat ibis, flying foxes in scores, and ducks by the dozen. The atmosphere of these latitudes must be particularly favourable to the appetite, judging from the following passage.—"Charley Brown and John, who had been left at the lagoon to shoot waterfowl, returned with twenty ducks for luncheon, and went out again during the afternoon to procure more for dinner and breakfast. They succeeded in shooting thirty-one ducks and two geese; so that we had fifty-one ducks and two geese for the three meals; and they were all eaten, with the exception of a few bony remains, which some of the party carried to the next camp. If we had had a hundred ducks, they would have been eaten quite as readily, if such an extravagant feast had been permitted." A century of the web-footed for one day's consumption! And they were seven—no more! Surely this was playing at ducks and drakes with their resources. Fourteen ducks, a leg, a wing, and a bit of the breast, entombed, within twenty-four hours, in the stomach of each of these seven men! The very feathers in their pillows (had they had any) would have cried out against such voracity. Truly it is without a spark of compassion that we read of their reduction, precisely one week afterwards, to short and less palatable commons. "Oct. 26. We enjoyed most gratefully our two wallabies, which were stewed, and to which I had added some green hide, to render the broth more substantial. This hide was almost five months old, and had served as a case to my botanical collection, which, unfortunately, I had been compelled to leave behind. It required, however, a little longer stewing than a fresh hide, and was rather tasteless." We avow total unacquaintance with wallabies, their size and edible qualities, but, whatever their dimensions, the fact of a five-months'-old hide having been stewed with them to ameliorate the broth, says very little for their succulence. The sweetness, as well as the greenness of the "case to the botanical collection," may fairly be doubted. We should have an ill opinion of the pottage that needed an old portmanteau to improve its consistency, and strongly mistrust the nutritious qualities of the meagre wallabi-broth, which followed so closely on the heels of the Feast of Ducks.

It was very fortunate for Dr Leichhardt and his companions—who certainly had abundance of difficulties to encounter—that the country they traversed was nearly free from ferocious beasts and noxious reptiles. They had plenty to do without combating such formidable enemies. Throughout the whole journal there is no mention of any dangerous animal, except crocodiles and alligators,—easily avoided, and not much to be dreaded. On the 19th June, "Charley and Brown, who had gone to the river, returned at a late hour, when they told us they had seen the tracks of a large animal on the sands of the river, which they judged to be about the size of a big dog, trailing a long tail like a snake. Charley said, that when Brown fired his gun, a deep noise like the bellowing of a bull was heard, which frightened both so much that they immediately decamped. This was the first time we became aware of the existence of the crocodile in the waters of the gulf." Afterwards they not unfrequently fell in with them. Near the banks of a magnificent salt-water river—named by Dr Leichhardt the "Robinson," in honour of one of the promoters of the expedition—they came upon a native well. "When Charley first discovered it, he saw a crocodile leaning its long head over the clay-wall, enjoying a drink of fresh water." Of venomous snakes and insects, we also find little or no account in the Doctor's diary. Once only there was a suspicion of the kind. Upon leaving a camp on the river Lynd, the lad Murphy's pony was missing, and Charley went back to look for it. "He brought us the melancholy news that he had found the poor beast on the sands of the Lynd, with its body blown up, and bleeding from the nostrils. It had either been bitten by a snake or had eaten some noxious herb, which had[Pg 611] fortunately been avoided by the other horses." Sand-flies and mosquitoes were very troublesome, large yellow hornets savage in their attacks, and ants every where. Of these, the species called the funnel-ant is worthy of notice for the peculiarity of its nest. It digs a perpendicular hole in the ground, and surrounds the opening with an elevated wall, sloping outwards like a funnel; a style of architecture of which, upon a rainy day, the tenant of the dwelling must feel the disadvantage. The white ant is also met with, and builds itself massive hills of enormous size. "I followed the Casuarina Creek up to its head, and called it 'Big Ant-Hill Creek,' in consequence of numerous gigantic strangely-buttressed structures of the white ant, which I had never seen of such a form, and of so large a size." Within three days' journey of the gulf of Carpentaria, the box-tree flat was studded with turreted ant-hills, either single sharp cones, three to five feet high, or united in rows and forming piles of remarkable appearance.

Their arrival at the gulf of Carpentaria, which occurred on the 5th July, was a joyful event to the wanderers. From the map accompanying Dr Leichhardt's journal, it appears they did not take the most direct track from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, but inclined too much to the right, reaching the gulf on its eastern instead of its southern shore, and having consequently, as they were proceeding north-west, to strike off at right angles in a S.S.W. direction. For this deviation from the direct line, there may have been good reason in the nature of the ground, the forests, mountains, and other difficulties to be avoided, and in the necessity of preserving the vicinity of water. Hitherto the progress of the expedition was most satisfactory, the only important drawback being the death of poor Gilbert. A line of land communication between the eastern and northern coasts of Australia had been discovered and carefully mapped; it was well supplied with water, and the country was excellent—available almost throughout for pastoral purposes. The Doctor had special reason to rejoice at having got so far on his expedition, for the time occupied in reaching the gulf exceeded the period in which he had expected to arrive at Port Essington, and his companions had begun to despond, and even to question his abilities as a guide and leader. "We shall never come to Port Essington,"—the melancholy cry that too often reached Leichhardt's ears,—was exchanged for a joyful hurra at sight of salt water. Fatigues and privations were for the time forgotten as though the goal, instead of the half-way-house, had been attained. The caravan had been nine months out; they had still nearly six to pass before reaching their journey's end; and for various reasons, the latter portion was the most painful and difficult. They got amongst the salt creeks and lagoons, and fresh water was often very difficult to find. Then the little stock of comforts they had brought from Moreton Bay, became gradually exhausted. The flour was gone before they reached the gulf; the sugar was finished up, even to the boiling of the bags, that none of the saccharine particles might be lost—and at length they came to their last pot of tea. This was a great deprivation, for tea had been found most refreshing and restorative. Their diet now was dry beef and water. They tried various substitutes for the latter, but with no very good result. The M'Kenzie bean served as coffee, and although disagreeing at first, was finally relished. Mr Phillips, who discovered and adopted it, subsequently tried a similar preparation of acacia seeds, whose effects, however, were such as not to encourage consumers. To vary their edibles, they ate vine-beans in porridge, and the young leaves of bullrushes—coming, in fact, as near to grazing as human beings well can. Their animal food was not always of the choicest, as the following passage testifies: "During the night a great number of flying foxes came to revel in the honey of the blossoms of the gum-trees. Charley shot three, and we made a late but welcome supper of them. They were not so fat as those we had eaten before, and tasted a little strong; but in messes made, at night, it was always difficult to find out the cause of any particular[Pg 612] taste, as Master Brown wished to get as quickly as possible over his work, and was not over particular in cleaning them." A negligence deserving of the bastinado. The notion of any animal, bearing the name of fox, being served up with the trail, is too full-flavoured to be agreeable, and the dish might cause a revolt in the stomach of the least particular of Australian bush-rangers. By this time, however, Dr Leichhardt and his party were inured to every sort of abomination in the way of food, and were not difficult to please. Other troubles they had, more sensibly felt than the coarse quality of the vivers. Their scanty wardrobe threatened to fail them; and, already reduced to the produce of the forest for their daily food, it appeared by no means improbable they would have to resort to the same primitive source for raiment to cover their nakedness. "The few shirts we had with us became so worn and threadbare, that the slightest tension would tear them. To find materials for mending the body, we had to cut off the sleeves; and when these were used, pieces were taken from the lower part of the shirt to mend the upper. Our trousers became equally patched, and the want of soap prevented us from washing them clean." Worse than this, inflammation, boils, and prickly heat, tormented the travellers, and their cattle showed symptoms of breaking down. At first, there were plenty of spare horses, but these had perished from accidents and disease; those which remained became daily weaker from over-work and want of water, and were sore-footed and tired from travelling over rocky ranges, their shoes, useless in the grass-land, having been long since removed. Leichhardt, who, on reaching the gulf, had sanguinely hoped the worst of the journey over, soon found his mistake. Bad enough before, it was far worse now, and too much praise can hardly be accorded to the cheerful courage with which the Doctor endured hardships, wrestled with difficulties, sustained the spirits of his companions, and pressed on over all obstacles, to the termination of his long and weary pilgrimage. It was now (at the beginning of December) not very distant. "Whilst we, were waiting for our bullock," (they were reduced to their last, which they were unwilling to kill, and took to Port Essington) "which had returned to the running brook, a fine native stepped out of the forest with the ease and grace of an Apollo, with a smiling countenance, and with the confidence of a man to whom the whiteface was perfectly familiar. He was unarmed, but a great number of his companions were keeping back to watch the reception he should meet with. We received him, of course, most cordially; and upon being joined by another good-looking little man, we heard him utter distinctly, the words 'Commandant!' 'Come here!' 'Very good!' 'What's your name?' If my readers have at all identified themselves with my feelings throughout this trying journey, if they have imagined only a tithe of the difficulties we have encountered, they will readily imagine the startling effect which these, as it were, magic words produced; we were electrified—our joy knew no limits, and I was ready to embrace the fellows, who, seeing the happiness with which they inspired us, joined with a most merry grin in the loud expression of our feelings." The party were within a fortnight's march of Port Essington, where they arrived on the 17th day of December, and received a kind welcome and needful supplies from Captain MacArthur, commandant of the place. After a month's stay, they took ship, and reached Sydney at the end of March.

We have already referred to the strong feeling prevailing at Sydney against the practicability of Dr Leichhardt's projected expedition, to the numerous efforts made to induce him to abandon it, and to the confident predictions of its failure, and of the destruction of all engaged in it. It will be remembered, also, that about a month after the departure of the adventurers from Moreton Bay, it had been found necessary, in consequence of loss of stores and scarcity of game, to send back some of the party, and that Mr Hodgson, suffering and disheartened, had volunteered to return. His reappearance in the colony strengthened the doubts already entertained, and little surprise was[Pg 613] excited when, a month or two afterwards, news came through a party of natives, that the adventurous band had been attacked, and its members murdered, by a tribe to the northward. There could be small doubt of the catastrophe, which elicited from Mr Lynd of Sydney, a bosom friend of Leichhardt, and to whom the Journal is inscribed, some very beautiful stanzas. They were addressed to a party formed to proceed, under guidance of Mr Hodgson, in the footsteps of Dr Leichhardt, and to ascertain his fate. By favour of a near relative of Mr Lynd, resident in the environs of Edinburgh, we are enabled here to introduce them.

Ye who prepare, with pilgrim feet,
Your long and doubtful path to wend,
If—whitening on the waste—ye meet
The relies of my murdered friend,
Collect them, and with reverence bear
To where some mountain streamlet flows,
There, by its mossy bank, prepare
The pillow of his long repose.
It shall be by a stream, whose tides
Are drank by birds of every wing;
Where every lovelier flower abides
The earliest wakening touch of spring;
O meet that he, who so caress'd
All beauteous Nature's varied charms,
That he—her martyred son—should rest
Within his mother's fondest arms.
When ye have made his narrow bed,
And laid the good man's ashes there,
Ye shall kneel down around the dead,
And wait upon your God in prayer;
What though no reverend man be near,
No anthem pour its solemn breath,
No holy walls invest his bier,
With all the hallowed pomp of death,
Yet humble minds shall find the grace,
Devoutly bowed upon the sod,
To call that blessing round the place,
Which consecrates the soul to God:
And ye,—the wilds and wastes,—shall tell
How, faithful to the hopes of men,
The Mighty Power he served so well,
Shall breathe upon his bones again!
When ye your gracious task have done,
Heap not the rock upon his dust!
The Angel of the Lord alone
Shall guard the ashes of the just!
But ye shall heed, with pious care,
The memory of that spot to keep;
And note the marks that guide me where
My venturous friend is laid in sleep.
For oh, bethink,—in other times,
And be those happier times at hand,
When science, like the smile of God,
Comes bright'ning o'er that weary land,
How will her pilgrims hail the power,
Beneath the drooping miall's gloom,
To sit at eve, and mourn an hour,
And pluck a leaf on Leichhardt's tomb.

These charming verses were dated the 2d of July 1845. It was not till [Pg 614] the close of the following March, that the cloud suspended over the destiny of the expedition was suddenly dispelled by the appearance of Leichhardt himself. As may be supposed, an enthusiastic welcome awaited the pilgrim, whose bones were long since supposed to be bleaching in the wilderness. Subscriptions were set on foot, and soon amounted to fifteen hundred pounds, which, with another thousand pounds voted by the Legislative Council, were divided amongst the seven persons composing the expedition. Dr Leichhardt, to whom the lion's share was with justice awarded, received it at a meeting held in the School of Arts at Sydney, of which an account is given in the Sydney Herald under the head of "The Leichhardt Testimonial," and where Dr Nicholson, speaker of the Legislative Council, addressed the intrepid traveller, in a strain of high and well-merited eulogium. "It would be difficult," he said, "to employ any terms that might be considered as exaggerated, in acknowledging the enthusiasm, the perseverance, and the talent, which prompted you to undertake, and enabled you successfully to prosecute, your late perilous journey through a portion of the hitherto untrodden wilds of Australia." A flattering letter from the Colonial Secretary at Sydney, announcing the government grant, a gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society of London, and another from that of Paris, have further rewarded Dr Leichhardt's meritorious labours. Unflinching in pursuit of science, he again set forth, in December 1845, on an overland journey to Swan River, expected to occupy two years and a half. This time he is better provided. His party consists of only eight persons, but he has mules for the stores, fourteen horses, forty oxen, and two hundred and seventy goats. And he further takes with him—light but pleasant baggage—the warm sympathy and hearty good wishes of all to whom his amiable character and previous labours are known, a class which the publication of the present Journal will doubtless tend largely to increase.


[15] Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington. By Dr Ludwig Leichhardt. London: Boone, 1847.


The subject of the following ballad is the atrocious and dastardly assassination of James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews and Primate of Scotland.

More than one attempt was made upon the life of that eminent prelate. On the 11th of July, 1668, a shot was fired into his carriage in the High Street of Edinburgh, by one James Mitchell, a fanatical field preacher, and an associate of the infamous Major Weir. The primate escaped unharmed, but his colleague Honyman, Bishop of Orkney, received a severe wound, from the effects of which he died in the following year. The assassin Mitchell fled to Holland, but subsequently returned, and was arrested in the midst of his preparations for another diabolical attempt. This man, who afterwards suffered for his crimes, and who in consequence has obtained a place in the book of "Covenanting Martyrology," described his motive "as an impulse of the Holy Spirit, and justified it from Phinehas killing Cosbi and Zimri, and from that law in Deuteronomy commanding to kill false prophets!" This is no matter of surprise, when it is recollected that the "principles of assassination," as Mr C. K. Sharp observes, "were strongly recommended in Naphthali, Jus Populi Vindicatum, and afterwards in The Hind let Loose, which books were in almost as much esteem with the Presbyterians as their Bibles." Sir George Mackenzie states, "These irreligious and heterodox books, called Naphthali and Jus Populi, had made the killing of all dissenters from Presbytery seem not only lawful, but a duty among many of that profession: and in a postscript to Jus Populi, it was told that the sending of the Archbishop of St Andrews' head to the king would be the best present that could be made to Jesus Christ." [16][Pg 615]

These principles, at first received with doubt, were afterwards carried out to the utmost extent by the more violent of the insurgent party. Murder and assault, frequently perpetrated upon unoffending and defenceless persons, became so common, that the ordinary course of the law was suspended, and its execution devolved upon the military. Scotland was indeed in a complete state of terrorism. Gangs of armed fanatics, who had openly renounced their allegiance, perambulated the country, committing every sort of atrocity, and directing their attacks promiscuously against the clerical incumbents and the civil magistracy.

But the crowning act of guilt was the murder of the unfortunate Archbishop. On the 3d of May 1679, a party of the Fife non-conformists were prowling near the village of Ceres, on the outlook, it is said, for Carmichael the Sheriff-substitute of the county, against whom they had sworn vengeance if he should ever fall into their hands. This party consisted of twelve persons, at the head of whom were John Balfour of Kinloch, better known by his soubriquet of Burley, and his brother-in-law, David Hackstoun of Rathillet. Balfour, whose moral character had never stood high, though his religious fanaticism was undoubted, had been at one time chamberlain to the Archbishop, and had failed to account for a considerable portion of the rents, which it was his official duty to levy. Hackstoun, whose earlier life had been in little accordance with the ostensible tenets of his party, was also in debt to the Archbishop, and had been arrested by the new chamberlain. "These two persons," says Mr Lawson, "had most substantial reasons for their rancour and hatred towards the Archbishop, apart from their religious animosities."

It does not seem to be clearly ascertained, whether Carmichael was the real object of their search, or whether their design from the first had been directed against the person of the Primate. It would appear, however, from the depositions taken shortly after the murder, that the deed had been long premeditated, and that three days previously some of the assassins had met at a house in Ceres and concerted their plans. The incumbent of Ceres, the Rev. Alexander Leslie, was also to have been made a victim if found in company with the Prelate.

Fortunately for himself, Carmichael eluded their search, but towards evening the carriage of the Archbishop was seen approaching the waste ground near St Andrews, which is still known by the name of Magus Muir. A hurried council was then held. Hackstoun, probably from some remnant of compunction, declined to take the lead; but Balfour, whose bloodthirsty disposition was noted even in those unhappy times, assumed the command, and called upon the others to follow him. The consummation of the tragedy can best be told in the words of the historian already quoted.

"When the Primate's servants saw their master followed by a band of men on horseback, they drove rapidly, but they were overtaken on the muir about three miles west of St Andrews; the murderers having previously satisfied themselves, by asking a female domestic of the neighbouring farmer, who refused to inform them himself, that it was really the Archbishop's coach.

"Russell first came up, and recognised the Primate sitting with his daughter. The Archbishop looked out of the coach, and Russell cast his cloak from him, exclaiming,—'Judas, be taken!' The Primate ordered the postilion to drive, at which Russell fired at the man, and called to his associates to join him. With the exception of Hackstoun, they threw off their cloaks, and continued firing at the coach for nearly half a mile. A domestic of the Archbishop presented a carbine, but was seized by the neck, and it was pulled out of his hands. One of the assassins outrun the coach, and struck one of the horses on the head with a sword. The postilion was ordered to stop, and for refusing he was cut on the face and ankle. They soon rendered it impossible to proceed further with the coach. Disregarding the screams, entreaties, and tears of his daughter, a pistol was discharged at the Primate beneath his left arm, and the young lady was seen removing the smoking combustibles from her father's black gown. Another shot was fired, and James Russell seized a sword from one of his associates, [Pg 616]
dismounted, and at the coach-door called to the Archbishop, whom he designated Judas, to come forth." Sir William Sharp's account of what now occurred, which would be doubtless related to him by his sister, is as follows:—"They fired several shots at the coach, and commanded my dearest father to come out, which he said he would.—When he had come out, not being yet wounded, he said,—'Gentlemen, I beg my life!' 'No—bloody villain, betrayer of the cause of Christ—no mercy!' Then said he,—'I ask none for myself, but have mercy on my poor child!' and, holding up his hand to one of them to get his, that he would spare his child, he cut him on the wrist. Then falling down upon his knees, and holding up his hands, he prayed that God would forgive them; and begging mercy for his sins from his Saviour, they murdered him by sixteen great wounds in his back, head, and one above his left eye, three in his left hand when he was holding it up, with a shot above his left breast, which was found to be powder. After this damnable deed they took the papers out of his pocket, robbed my sister and their servants of all their papers, gold, and money, and one of these hellish rascals cut my sister on the thumb, when she had him by the bridle begging her father's life."

So died with the calmness and intrepidity of a martyr this reverend and learned prelate, maligned indeed by the fanatics of his own and succeeding ages, but reverenced and beloved by those who best knew his innate worth, unostentatious charity, and pure piety of soul. In the words of a worthy Presbyterian divine of last century,—"His inveterate enemies are agreed in ascribing to him the high praise of a beneficent and humane disposition. He bestowed a considerable part of his income in ministering to pressing indigence, and relieving the wants of private distress. In the exercise of his charity, he had no contracted views. The widows and orphans of the Presbyterian brethren richly shared his bounty without knowing whence it came. He died with the intrepidity of a hero, and the piety of a Christian, praying for the assassins with his latest breath."

Gently ye fall, ye summer showers,
On blade, and leaf, and tree;
Ye bring a blessing to the earth,
But nane—O nane, to me!
Ye cannot wash this red right hand
Free from its deadly stain,
Ye cannot cool the burning ban
That lies within my brain.
O be ye still, ye blithesome birds,
Within the woodland spray,
And keep your songs within your hearts
Until another day:
And cease to fill the blooming brae
With warblings light and clear,
For there's a sweeter song than yours
That I maun never hear.
It was upon the Magus Muir
Within the lanesome glen,
That in the gloaming hour I met
Wi' Burley and his men.
Our hearts were hard as was the steel
We bore within the hand;
But harder was the heart of him
That led that bluidy band.
Dark lay the clouds upon the west
Like mountains huge and still:[Pg 617]

And fast the summer lightning leaped
Behind the distant hill.
It shone on grim Rathillet's brow
With pale and ghastly glare:
I caught the glimpse of his cold gray eye—
There was MURDER glittering there!
     *     *     *     *     *
Away, away! o'er bent and hill,
Through moss and muir we sped:
Around us roared the midnight storm,
Behind us lay the dead.
We spoke no word, we made no sign
But blindly rade we on,
For an angry voice was in our ears
That bade us to begone,
We were brothers all baptised in blood,
Yet sought to be alone!
Away, away! with headlong speed
We rade through wind and rain,
And never more upon the earth
Did we all meet again.
There's some have died upon the field,
And some upon the tree,
And some are bent and broken men
Within a far countrie,
But the heaviest curse hath lighted down
On him that tempted me!
O hame, hame, hame!—that holy place—
There is nae hame for me!
There's not a child that sees my face
But runs to its mither's knee.
There's not a man of woman born
That dares to call me kin—
O grave! wert thou but deep enough
To hide me and my sin!
I wander east, I wander west,
I neither can stop nor stay,
But I dread the night when all men rest
Far more than the glint of day.
O weary night, wi' all its stars
Sae clear, and pure, and hie!
Like the eyes of angels up in heaven
That will not weep for me!
O weary night, when the silence lies
Around me, broad and deep,
And dreams of earth, and dreams of heaven,
That vex me in my sleep.
For aye I see the murdered man,
As on the muir he lay,
With his pale white face, and reverend head,
And his locks sae thin and gray;
And my hand grows red with the holy blude
I shed that bitter day!
O were I but a water drop
[Pg 618]
To melt into the sea—
But never water yet came down
Could wash that blude from me!
And O! to dream of that dear heaven
That I had hoped to win—
And the heavy gates o' the burning gowd
That will not let me in!
I hear the psalm that's sung in heaven,
When the morning breaks sae fair,
And my soul is sick wi' the melodie
Of the angels quiring there.
I feel the breath of God's ain flowers
From out that happy land,
But the fairest flower o' Paradise
Would wither in my hand.
And aye before me gapes a pit
Far deeper than the sea,
And waefn' sounds rise up below,
And deid men call on me.
O that I never had been born,
And ne'er the light had seen!
Dear God—to look on yonder gates
And this dark gulf between!
O that a wee wee bird wad come
Though 'twere but ance a-year!
And bring but sae much mool and earth
As its sma' feet could bear,
And drap it in the ugsome hole
That lies 'twixt heaven and me,
I yet might hope, ere the warld were dune,
My soul might saved be!
W. E. A.


[16] Lawson's History of the Episcopal Church of Scotland.



Hast thou a chamber in the utter West,
A cave of shelter from the glare of day,
Oh radiant Star of Morning! whose pure eye,
Like an archangel's, over the dim Earth,
With such ineffable effulgence shines?
Emblem of Sanctity and Peace art thou!
Thou leavest man, what time to daily toil
His steps are bent—what time the bustling world
Usurps his thought; and, through the sunny hours,
Unseen, forgot, art like the things that were;
But Twilight weeps for joy at thy return,
With brighter blaze the faggots on the hearth
Sparkle, and home records its happiest hour!
Hark! 'tis the Robin's shrill yet mellow pipe,
That in the voiceless calm of the young morn,
Commingles with my dreams:—lo! as I draw
Aside the curtains of my couch, he sits,
Deep over-bower'd by broad geranium leaves,
(Leaves trembling 'neath the touch of sere decay,)
Upon the dewy window-sill, and perks
His restless black eye here and there, in search
Of crumbs, or shelter from the icy breath!
[Pg 619]
Of wild winds rushing from the Polar sea:
For now November, with a brumal robe,
Mantles the moist and desolated earth;
Dim sullen clouds hang o'er the cheerless sky,
And yellow leaves bestrew the undergrove.
'Tis earliest sunrise. Through the hazy mass
Of vapours moving on like shadowy isles,
Athwart the pale, gray, spectral cope of heaven,
With what a feeble, inefficient glow
Looks out the Day; all things are still and calm,
Half wreathed in azure mist the skeleton woods,
And as a picture silent. Little bird!
Why with unnatural tameness comest thou thus,
Offering in fealty thy sweet simple songs
To the abode of man? Hath the rude wind
Chilled thy sweet woodland home, now quite despoiled
Of all its summer greenery, and swept
The bright, close, sheltering bowers, where merrily
Rang out thy notes—as of a haunting sprite,
There domiciled—the long blue summer through?
Moulders untenanted thy trim-built nest,
And do the unpropitious fates deny
Food for thy little wants, and Penury,
With tiny grip, drive thee to dubious walls,—
Though terrors flutter at thy panting heart,—
To stay the pangs which must be satisfied?
Alas! the dire sway of Necessity
Oft makes the darkest, most repugnant things
Familiar to us; links us to the feet
Of all we feared, or hated, or despised;
And, mingling poison with our daily food,
Yet asks the willing heart and smiling cheek:
Yea! to our subtlest and most tyrannous foes,
May we be driven for shelter, and in such
May our sole refuge lie, when all the joys,
That, iris-like, wantoned around our paths
Of prosperous fortune, one by one have died;
When day shuts in upon our hopes, and night
Ushers blank darkness only. Therefore we
Should pity thee, and have compassion on
Thy helpless state, poor bird, whose loveliness
Is yet unscathed, and whose melodious notes,
(Sweeter by melancholy rendered,) steal
With a deep supplication to the heart,
Telling that thou wert happy once—that now
Thou art most destitute; and yet, and yet—
Only were thy small pinching wants supplied
By Charity—couldst be most happy still!—
Is it not so?
Out on unfeeling man!
Will he who drives the beggar from his gates,
And to the moan of fellow-man shuts up
Each avenue of feeling—will he deign
To think that such as Thou deserve his aid?
No! when the gust raves, and the floods descend,
Or the frost pinches, Thou may'st, at dim eve,
With forced and fearful love approach his home,
What time, 'mid western mists, the broad, red sun,
Sinking, calls out from heaven the earliest star;
And the crisp blazing of the dry Yule-log [Pg 620]
Flickers upon the pictured walls, and lights
By fits the unshutter'd lattice; but, in vain,
Thy chirp repeated earnestly; the flap,
Against the obdurate pane, of thy small wing;—
He hears thee not—he heeds not—but, at morn,
The ice-enamoured schoolboy, early afoot,
Finds thy small bulk beneath the alder stump,
Thy bright eyes closed, and tiny talons clench'd,
Stiff in the gripe of death.
The floating plume
Tells how the wind blows, with a certainty
As great as doth the vessel's full-swoln sheets;
So doth the winged seed; 'tis not alone
In mighty things that we may truliest read
The heart, but in its temper and its tone:—
Thus true Benevolence we ever find
Forgiving, gentle, tremblingly alive
To pity, and unweariedly intent
On all the little, thousand charities,
Which day by day calls forth. Oh! as we hope
Forgiveness of our earthly trespasses,—
Of all our erring deeds and wayward thoughts,—
When Time's dread reckoning comes,—oh! as we hope
Mercy, who need it much, let us, away
From kindness never turning, mould our hearts
To sympathy, and from all withering blight
Preserve them, and all deadening influences:—
So 'twill be best for us. The All-seeing Eye,
Which numbers each particular hair, and notes
From heaven the sparrow's fall, shall pass not o'er
Without approval deeds unmarked by man—
Deeds, which the right hand from the left conceals—
Nor overlook the well-timed clemency,
That soothed and stilled the murmurs of distress.
Enamour'd of all mysteries, in love
With doubt itself, and fond to disbelieve,
We ask not, "if realities be real?"
With Plato, or with Berkeley; but we know
Life comes not of itself, and what hath life,—
However insignificant it seem
To us, whose noblest standard is ourselves,—
Hath been by the Almighty's finger touch'd,
Or ne'er had been at all—it must be so.
Therefore 'tis by comparison alone
That things seem great or small; and noblest they
Whose sympathies, with a capacious range,
Would own no limit to their fond embrace.
Yea, there, as in all else, doth Duty dwell
With happiness: for far the happiest he,
Who through the roughnesses of life preserves
His boyish feelings, and who sees the world,
Not as it is in cold reality,
A motley scene of struggle and of strife,
But tinted with the glow of bright romance:
For him the morning has its star; the sun,
Rising or setting, fires for him the clouds
With glory; flowers for him have tales,
Like those which, for a thousand nights and one,
Enchained the East; each season as it rolls
Strikes in his bosom its peculiar chord,[Pg 621]
Yet each alike harmonious, to a heart
That vibrates ever in sweet unison:
Each scene hath its own influence, nor less
The frost that mimics each on pool or pane:
Delight flows in alike from calm or storm:
Delight flows in to him from nature's shows
Of hill and dale, swift river, or still lake:
To him the very winds are musical—
Have harmony Æolian, wild and sweet;
The stream sings to its banks, and the wild birds
To Echo—viewless tell-tale of the rocks—
Who in the wantonness of love responds.
Gifts, in the eye of Heaven, not always bear
The marketable value stamped by man
Upon them,—else the poor were truly poor,
The willing spirit destitute indeed.
In other balance are our actions weighed
By Him who sees the heart in all its thoughts;
Both what it wills and cannot, what it tries
And doth,—and with what motive, for what end.
Clouds clothe them like realities, and shine
Even so to human eyes; yet, not the less
Are only mockeries of the things they seem,
And melt as we survey them. Let us not
The shadow for the substance take, the Jay
For the true Bird of Paradise. A crust
Dealt, by the poor man, from his daily loaf,
To the wayfarer, poorer than himself—
A cup of water, in the Saviour's name
Proffered, with ready hand, to thirsting lips,—
Seem trifles in themselves, yet weigh for wine,
And gems, and gold, and frankincense. The mite,—
The widow's offering, and her all, put in
With grief, because she had no more to give,
Yet given although her all,—was in the sight
Of Heaven a sumless treasury bestowed,
And reckoned such in her account above:—
When Nineveh, through all her myriad streets,
Lay blackened with idolatry and crime,
God had preserved her—would have saved her whole—
Had but the Prophet, as a leaven, found
His righteous ten!
Therefore, Oh never deem
Thoughts, deeds, or feelings valueless, that bear
The balance of the heart to Virtue's side!
The coral worm seems nought, but coral worms
Combined heave up a reef, where mightiest keels
Are stranded, and the powers of man put down.
The water-drop wears out the stone; and cares
Trifling, if ceaseless, form an aggregate,
Whose burden weighs the buoyant heart to earth.
Think not the right path may be safely left,
Though 'twere but for one moment, and one step;
That one departure, slight howe'er it be,
From Innocence is nought. The young peach-bloom,
Rudely brushed off, can be restored no more,
By all the cunning of the painter's art;
Nor to the sered heart comes, in after life
Again,—however longed for, or bewailed,—
Youth's early dews, the pure and delicate!
[Pg 622]


Andiamo a Napoli; and so we will, in accordance with the repeated suggestions we have received during the last ten days from all the vetturini in Rome. Easter is gone by, the Girandola went off last week, the English are going, and so is our bell, tinkle! tinkle! tinkle!—as if its wire had a touch of vernal ague—while the old delf plate in the hall is filled and running with cards, every pasteboard parallelogram among them with two P's and a C in the corner; for we are becoming too polite, it seems, to take leave of each other in our own tongue. As the English quit Rome, the swallows arrive, and may be seen in great muster flitting up and down the streets, looking at the affiches of vacancies before fixing on a lodging. Unlike us, these callow tourists—though many of them on their first visit to Rome—are no sooner within the walls, than they find, without assistance, their way to the Forum, and proceed to build and twitter in that very Temple of Concord where Juvenal's storks of old made their nidus and their noise! Andiamo a Napoli; yes, but not yet; we are sure at this season to have an impatient patient or two to visit in the Babuino, or at Serny's; who, labouring under incipient fever which has not yet tamed them into submission, tell us they would—optative mood—be at Florence in a week, and add—in the imperative—that they must be in London in three! Vedremmo! These cases—may they end well—are sure, meanwhile, to be somewhat tedious in their progress; and besides, were there none such, two motives have we for always lingering the last in Rome: the one, to avoid the importunity of many indiscreet acquaintance, who would else be sure at this season to plague us with some trifling commission, on purpose to open a sudden correspondence, in the hope of learning all about the heat, the fever, the mosquitoes, the fare and the accommodation of Castellamare and Sorrento, thinking themselves, meanwhile, perfect Talleyrands in diplomacy, in employing a ruse which it is impossible not to see through; the other and more important, to secure the necessary quiet while we linger about favourite haunts, and refresh our memory with sites and scenes endeared by long and intimate acquaintance. To describe people or places accurately, requires a long and attentive familiarity, but to do so feelingly and with effect, we should trust principally to first and last impressions: either will be more likely to furnish a lively representation, as far as it goes, than when too great intimacy with details leads us to forget what is characteristic, and to dwell without emphasis, or with equal and tedious emphasis, upon all alike. New scenes, owing, perhaps, part of their charm to that circumstance, may occasionally betray us into exaggeration; but the records of a last coup-d'œil, when we dwell with sad complacency upon every feature, as upon those of a friend from whom we are about to part, are characterised at once by an equal freshness, and by more truth, feeling, and discrimination. We might proceed to exemplify this, from a long series of first and last views in Italy: with some of them the reader may be familiar, for we have frequently met in Maga's pages; with others he will—should it so please him—become acquainted, when, leaving the company of our present agreeable associates, we stand forth an author of "Travels," and have more ample scope for our egotism. We confine ourselves now to a few valedictory visits in and about Rome.


It was on 15th April, 1843, seven A. M., when we went to take farewell of the Borghese. In passing up the Via Babuino on our way thither, our ears catch some of the well-known street cries. These generally attract a momentary attention, even amidst all the bustle, activity, and din of a[Pg 623]great commercial city: how much more, then, in the comparative stillness of Rome, particularly in the morning, when few people are stirring, and we are most alive to sounds? Some of these cries are not unpleasing: the first to greet us, plaintive and melancholy in its character, is that of "Aqua acetosa," which announces the water of a mineral spring in the neighbourhood, brought in at sunrise for those who are too idle or too ill to drink it at its source. Another kind of water—also very matutinal in its delivery,—the "Aqua vita," is intonated by the Aquavitario, in a sharp kestrel key,—hear him! Now, list to two men carrying a large deep tub of honey between them, and bellowing in rapid alternation, "Miele, miele," and say if their accents are mellifluous! Next, comes a loud-tongued salesman, who out-brays Lablache, but confines his singing to "Che vuole, che vuole!" and oranges and lemons are his commodity. From an itinerant green-grocer, who passes with his panniered donkey, suddenly bursts forth, "Cimaroli, cimaroli!" The last cry we hear is that of "Tutti vivi, tutti vivi!" from the asparagaro, who is bringing frogs and wild asparagus into Rome. Now we are in the Piazza del Popolo, and having glanced a moment at those buxom goddesses, at the foot of the Pincian hill, who look right well this morning in their flowing robes, turn out of the Popolo Gate, just as a large drove of lean turkeys, driven in from the Campagna, besiege the entrance on their way to the bird-market, where they are to be presently slaughtered, drawn, and quartered; their "disjecta membra" exposed to sale at so many baiocchi a pound; and their blood, which is more esteemed than their flesh, hawked about the streets in cakes: of course we are too humane to hint to them their coming destiny. In front of the elegant Borghese entrance, and round the Park lodge, all strewn about in picturesque disarray, we behold one of those numerous herds of goats, which come in every morning, to be milked at the different house doors: their udders at present are brimful, and almost touch the lintel of the gate where they are standing—"gravido superant vix ubere limen;" and though they are emptied continually, soon fill again,—

"Et plus ta main avare épuise leurs mammelles
Plus la douce ambroisie entre tes doigts ruisselle."

Some are lying down to lighten their load; and some, with an air of patient expectancy, turn their heads towards an "osteria cacinante" opposite, knowing that so soon as their drover has finished his own cold broccoli breakfast, he will come out to accompany them into Rome to disperse theirs. And now we are within the enceinte of the Borghese grounds, have passed the good-humoured custode at the gate, responded a hearty "da vero," to the "che bella qiornata" with which we are greeted, tarried for an instant by the little pond to the left, and heard the Babylonian willow susurrate the same salutation to the water under its boughs, and then make for, and soon reach, the large ever-spouting fountain which is scattering its comminuted water-dust far and near, and bathes our cheek refreshingly as we pass it: and now we are at the Borghese dairy, and now by Raphael's little frescoed house, untenanted within, and with a solitary robin, the custode of the porch; but at the back premises we come upon an artist in a blouse making a sketch. He could not have chosen a more picturesque spot than this any where in the park: for foreqround, a beautiful green sward, well dotted with recumbent and standing cows, and interspersed with masses of acanthus-crowned ruin; and for the back, the graceful sweep of the old gray Roman walls, with the Villa Medici and the Pincian hill peering just above. Fain would we carry away some such souvenir; but as nature or our misfortune forbid this, our endeavour shall be to supply its place, however inadequately, by dotting down a few words of description of one or two of the principal trees, which here so greatly embellish the view.

The Ilex, interesting alike from its appearance and physiology, first engages our notice. Compact and solid while yet a shrub, (for hers is indeed an old head upon young shoulders,) she grows like a tree that is to count by centuries, and under no advantage of soil or situation does her sober[Pg 624]
aspect change; no premature overgrowth was ever known to weaken her fibres, those têtes mortées; the Lombardy poplars there, whose only merit is their height, may shoot up ever so tauntingly, for aught she cares, at her elbow; her ambition is not like that of the stately pines, to nurse a noisy aviary on high; nor does she seek to rival the fair sisterhood of the Acacias in the youthful vanity of overdecking her person; one dark-coloured investment lasts her, and remains unchanged the whole year through. But though she takes no improper "pride in dress," even the rigid Dr Watts would hardly be disposed to object to the exceedingly charming trimming of semi-transparent green flouncing, and the rich festoons of straw-yellow tassels, with which—not to appear insensible to the festivities of spring—she has just now fringed her winter apparel. Making less demands upon the earth than many of her neighbours, she turns her supplies to better account; her acorns from early youth are firm and mature; excrescences, the common result of excess, mar not the rough symmetry of her hardy frame—few insects feed upon that uncompromising rind, which, opposing itself to most cryptogamic alliance, seldom suffers moss or lichen to spread over its incised and tesselated surface,

"Save here and there in spots aye dank and dark,
When the green meshes fill the fissured bark."

Much does the Ilex gain by this prudent economy of her resources; for, long after the autumnal rains have stripped her companions bare, while they are shivering and sighing in the blast, she knows neither moult nor change. Immutably serene, she plants the dense screen of well-clothed boughs across the road, and affords shelter to the careless wight who has forgotten his umbrella, keeping him dry and warm under an impenetrable water-proof and winter-proof canopy. Of all trees that bloom, (especially when as now in full feather,) few can rival the acacia in delicacy of white, or in profusion of blossoming. Nodding their heavy plumes and parting their leafy tresses in the breeze, they are the charm of every spot where they grow; whether as here, alternating in beautiful relief by the lofty wall of the aqueduct, commingling their snowy bunches amidst thousands of red and white Banksian roses; or else standing sentinel with a weeping willow over some garden fountain. Whether alone or in company, there is not a more beautiful sylvan blonde than the acacia; but it is too apparent that such loveliness will not last, that her stature is fully beyond her strength. For example, there is a row of them; none counts her twelfth birth-day, and yet all are grown up! Turn we, now, to the great stone pines: here they stand in the morning sun, that has already cracked their fevered bark, and caused it to peel off in red laminæ from the rugged trunk. See the ground at their base strewn with these thin vegetable tiles; and large quantities of that most beautiful of funguses, the Clatharus Cancellatus, chooses this situation to blush and stink. This group is a well-known land-mark for miles around Rome; far off in the Campagna we recognise the clump; the dome of St Peter's itself meets not sooner the inquiring eye of the arriving tourist. They are also the artists' trees; not a bough of them but has been studied and depicted time after time for centuries; they have stood oftener for their portraits than they have cones to count, and are as familiar to the young painter, as the line-school that beset the Pincian hill. These are the principal trees which give character to the garden; but there are hosts of others that help to make up the beauty of the scene; Catalpas, Meleas, Brousenitias, &c. &c., all now in light green foliage. Some are still hung with pods and berries of their last year's growth, producing an insieme of pictorial effect rarely to be met with out of Italy, and in Italy only at this season of the year. Continuing our walk, we pass under the rose-crowned aqueduct, and strike into the green avenue that darkens beyond; listening to the distant water bubbling up from the deepest recesses, and to the fitful whistle of blackbird and thrush, as they flit athwart the moss-grown gravel, and perch momentarily on the[Pg 625]
heads of mutilated termini and statues; whilst the clipt trees vibrate under the wings of others extricating themselves on a piratical cruise against a whole flotilla of butterflies, which is rising and falling over the sunny parterres beyond. "The well-greaved grillus" bounds twenty feet at a spring, and having thighs as thick as a lark's to double under him, makes little use of his wings. Many a callow bee is buzzing helplessly in the path. The gray curculio walks with snout erect, snuffing the morning air; and here we fall upon a party of apprentice pill-beetles, learning to make up stercoraceous boluses, and forming nearly as long a line as the shopmen who are similarly engaged behind Holloway's counter in the Strand. Near us, hordes of "quick-eyed lizards,"—insect crocodiles, which much infest this region, start from their holes in the wall, and, rustling along the box hedge, suddenly pounce upon a butterfly, detach his wings—the whole walk is strewed with them—and having bolted his body, retire again to their resting—no—they never rest—lurking-places. Notwithstanding, however, these constant aggressions, from both birds and reptiles, the lepidopterous race is not, it seems, to be exterminated; and there, in evidence, lies that very blue-zoned peacock-butterfly, with his wings extended, and motionless as if pinned to the gravel, on the same sunny spot where we have been in the habit of noticing him for these three successive Aprils past. The eye that follows butterflies takes note also of the flowers on which they settle, but we must not indulge ourselves in pointing them out to the reader, who, unless a botanist, or inclined that way, might turn as restive as the young bride listening to her "preceptor husband."

"He showed the flowers from stamina to root,
Calyx and corol, pericarp and fruit;
Of all the parts, the size, the use, the shape:
While poor Augusta panted to escape:
The various foliage various plants produce,
Lunate and lyrate, runcinate, retuse,
Latent and patent, papilous and plain;
'Oh!' said the pupil, 'it will turn my brain!'"

And, therefore, though "flowers, fresh in hue and many in their class," absolutely "implore the pausing step," we forbear, and will let him off this time with rehearsing only three or four among them:—the Allium fragrans, he will join with us, if he has been in Italy, in the wish that all onions there were like it! the Anchusa Italica, through whose long funnel the proboscis of the ever-buzzing Bombylius finds its way to the sweet nectar prepared within; the Scilla Lilio-hyacinthus—a Squill masquerading it as a Hyacinth; the leaves of the Cnicus Syraicus, most beautiful of thistles, glistening here in abundance, and scarcely inferior in attractions to the far-famed Acanthus. But the society of plants is as promiscuous as our own, and accordingly we find here the jaundiced Chelidonium filled with bilious juices; the feculent-smelling flowerets of the Smyrnum olusatrum, and the stinking Geranium robertianum, mingle with the sweets of Calendula, Narcissus, and Jonquil; not to mention the Orchis tribe, which flourishes in profusion. Traversing the green arena of the amphitheatre,—where annual festas are held, and occasional cricket matches played—to the left, and leaving the Temple of Diana to the right, we come upon a deep descent just in front of the villa, and enter it for a minute to cast a hasty coup-d'œil at the ample frescoes of the ceiling and the grim mosaics of the floor; the subjects of the latter, however, not being congenial to an unbreakfasted stomach, we relinquish them presently, for the beauties of the park.... By the time we think of retracing our steps, the clock of Monte Citorio has struck ten; but the morning is still delightfully cool and exhilarating; we have been overtaken and passed by three pedestrians, each carrying away from the grounds something more than mere recollections; one, a semplicista of the Rotunda, with a collection of Galenicals for his shop; another with a pocket full of Arum roots, which he has been grubbing up for his wife, a lavatrice, to clear linen; and a third, whose handkerchief contains several pounds weight of prugnoliAgaricus prunulus—destined for his breakfast. These do not long keep pace with our lingering footsteps; we are loth to quit hastily, and[Pg 626]
for the last time, this scene of by-gone pleasures. Oh! Villa Borghese, well known to us from curly-pated boyhood, before Waterloo was won, and often at intervals since, till now, when half our hair has become gray, and the remainder has left our temples, while grown-up nephews and nieces declare to us, what our contemporaries will not—the progress of time—how many happy hours of careless childhood have we frolicked away among thine avenues and plantations—on which we cast a last sad look—with urchins now as bald as ourselves! In early youth we have read our favourite authors under thy trees; a little later, have botanised with friends who loved thee and nature as dearly as we did; and thus have we learned to know thee, in every dress, in every phase of light and shade, and in every month of the year. During our last sojourn, in particular, this has been our favourite haunt; in winter, when walking required speed, and stalactites of ice would glisten occasionally from the aqueduct; or when summer returned, and we could bask under the tall spread pines, and watch the cawing rooks as they went and came over head, or screened ourselves in some dark avenue from the fervency of the sun, from whence we could see him blazing at both ends of it. A long and endearing familiarity has indeed been ours, melancholy and unsating; and it has given rise to a host of trying associations, conjured up by each new visit after a brief absence from Rome, and now adds poignancy of regret to what we feel must be the last,—

"While at each step, against our will
Does memory, with pernicious skill,
Our captive thoughts enchain,
Recalls each joy that treach'rous smiled,
And of green griefs and sorrows wild,
Resuscitates the pain.


An Italian villa is like any other Italian belle; we would rather pay either a morning visit than summer and winter with them; both dress themselves out for strangers, and often at the expense of their rightful owners. An Italian villa is very charming for a brief spring, malarious in summer and autumn, and incommodiously furnished for every season. Comfort makes but slow progress abroad, and has not yet found its way into Italy at all; neither into her dictionaries as a name, nor into her dwellings as a thing. What should we, ease-loving English, think of a house, which, lined with marbles and frescoes, carpeted with mosaics and adorned with statues, offered nothing but niches and marble curule chairs to write on and to sit in? Yet such is the general scheme and internal arrangement throughout most villas in Italy; for as to the prime of the house, the piano nobile, that belongs as by prescriptive right to the Cæsars, being indeed only fitted for impassive marble and bronze emperors:—while the over-hospitable entertainer of these august guests is content to stow away himself and family in apartments which are frequently little better than our offices for menials, in which his few articles of rococo furniture, of all sorts and sizes, are crazy, cumbersome, undusted, and ill-matched; in short, more like the promiscuous contents of some inferior broker's shop, than the elegant ameublement we might have expected to correspond to the profusion of objects of vertu which grace the principal show-rooms of the mansion. At home, we may differ in our notions about comfort in the details, but there are certain conditions which are rightly held essential to its possible existence; and if "the cold neat parlour, and the gay glazed bed," have their admirers, it is because cleanliness and neatness are two of them: but in Italy we look in vain for either, and there is nothing to compensate their absence. Few Englishmen could engage in literary labour in the fireless, ill-furnished rooms which throughout Italy are a matter of course; where carpets, curtains, or an easy chair, are unknown luxuries; and into which, entering by various ill-placed and worse fitting windows and doors, confluent draughts catch you in all directions, turning the sanctum of study into a perfect Temple of the Winds! Yet, to some[Pg 627] men, comfort seems as unnecessary as it is unattainable. The Italian antiquary, in particular, had need be careless of his ease, and regardless of external temperature; as that degree of it necessary for the conservation of nude marble figures, is by no means congenial to flesh and blood. This reflection occurs to us to-day—not for the first time, certes—under the noble portico of the villa Albani, with a volume of Winkelmann in our hand; for in this palace, and in some such study as we have hinted at, must he have shivered over these recondite labours, while meditating, composing, and consulting authorities, to constitute himself hereafter the great oracle of the fine arts. Had Winkelmann been half as curious in his research after comfort as vertù, verily the world would have lost many an able dissertation and ingenious conjecture; and this villa in particular—to which we are now come to pay our respects—we fear our last respects—had been deprived of this renowned commentary on her treasures. Let us hope parenthetically that a recent perusal of the venerable antiquary, together with some slight acquaintance with the objects themselves, will on such an occasion excite in us a spark of that enthusiasm which animates all his descriptions. What a beautiful portico! we catch ourselves saying con amore for the hundredth time—and who will gainsay us?—with its thirty columns of different coloured granites and rare marbles, cipolino, porta santa, occhio di pavone (vide Corsi); its busts, its ornamented tazzas, its statues, and many other et cœteras too numerous to catalogue. Among the statues, our eye soon singles out the queenly figure of Agrippina seated in her marble chair. Stateliness and high rank apparent in her features, grace and perfect self-possession in her attitude, doubtless she is expecting a deputation of importance, or maybe a visit from the emperor, and has prepared her well-tutored countenance to receive either with dignity. Here are the busts of Nerva and of the first Cæsar, to whose characters, while history gives the key, we are apt to fancy, as we stare at them, that to Lavater we owe the discovery. Those ubiquitous emperors Hadrian, Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and Gordianus ditto, on whom as on other boring acquaintance you are sure to stumble in every gallery at Rome till you almost yawn in their faces, are here of course. Besides these, by way of novelty, we fall in with the grave, much-bearded, long-faced bust, Epicurus underwritten on the pedestal. If it be that sage, then has not his face any vestige of the jovial "live while you live" expression which we might have expected, were he true to his own philosophy; but, on the contrary, a dignified Melancthon sadness, as if, like Solomon, he had had enough of pleasure, and had found nothing but "vanity and vexation of spirit" from them all. Opposite to him, we look with interest on the much less apocryphal head of Scipio Africanus, not only exhibiting on his bald temple a large crucial cicatrice, in token of a wound which we know him to have received, but presenting the singular appearance of having been trefined, an operation of which there is certainly no record in his life. Just before we ascend, we glance up at those beautiful Caryatides, who give their name to one of the principal saloons, and, loitering for a few moments on the stair before a charming little group of Niobe and her children, are presently in the gallery above. There—omitting all minor objects of interest chronicled in the guide books, (which we have now no time to re-examine,)—we devote ourselves chiefly to the reconsidering two or three favourite marbles and bronzes. First among the former stands the Minerva, a specimen of Roman sublime, (vide Winkelmann)—perfect, say all the guide books; but how a lady with an artificial nose, and a right arm palpably modern, can be so considered, it would be difficult to explain. By the side of his wise daughter is niched a noble statue of Jupiter, executed by some great artist while the god was master of Olympus, and probably brought to Rome when he had ceased to reign, and his effects were sold. In the effeminate Antinous, an alto-relievo of whitest marble, we admire the prototype of that arrow-stricken youth, the comely St Sebastian. Nothing can exceed the grace of the bronze Apollo; but, on looking from his form[Pg 628] into his face, you are surprised to find him literally stone-blind; a shocking case of double cataract, produced by adopting for eyes two sardonyxes, whereof the second layer, representing the iris, is dark, while the white centre of the orb, corresponding to the pupil, exhibits a hopeless opacity. We pause in succession before those weird sisters, arranged stiffly à l'Etrusque, who are receiving the infant Bacchus, not to give him milk, you may be sure, but to dry-nurse him upon Burgundy; a perfectly intellectual head, planted upon misshapen shoulders, supposed to be Æsop, a beautiful deformity; a Hercules, leaning against a column, and reposing after some of his many labours; the large marble vase with Bacchante figures and attendant Fauns, carrying skins of wine to keep up the festivities; all these are well worthy of a longer inspection than we have now time to bestow. The mosaics on the floor, too, offer pleasing representations of different objects of natural history; many birds, "goldfinch, bullfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, and all the finches of the grove;" cicadæ and dragonflies, fruits and flowers, the arbutus and the ivy, commingling their various forms and colours, and all inimitably executed. Descending slowly, we find ourselves once more at Agrippina's side in the Portico; not this time to look at the statues, but out upon the prospect, sub dio, and amuse ourselves with tracking the broken and often interrupted lines of converging aqueducts that cross and recross the plain. The clear Italian atmosphere renders objects so distinct, that with a glass we can read the names of the locanda at Frascati, nine miles off, and almost determine what provisions the man in the white apron has in his hand. Tivoli and Frascati, not far distant from each other, stand high upon the hills; and still higher up is Rocca di Papa on its lofty site; while between us and them, in the dancing air, lies that malarious Campagna, which, though unfruitful in corn, wine, or olives, yields notwithstanding a rich harvest of its own. From it, every year are gathered bushels of imperial and consular coins; engraved stones, and other works of ancient art; and from the same "marble wilderness" many of the busts and bas-reliefs, which adorn not only this villa, but also most of the mansions in and about Rome. But we have to walk home; and we accordingly look with natural alarm at the garden, with its broad shadeless walks blazing in the sun; the sparrows can bear the heat no longer; a whole bevy, who for the last five minutes have been jargoning their uneasiness over our head, have finally gone off to seek shelter in the bushes;—their instinct having first prompted several expedients to relieve their distress, all of which failed them; thus, when they found that sitting either in company or "alone upon the house top" would not do, and that hopping on the tiles blistered their feet, they bethought them of the metal pipes, and tried to effect an entrance, but quickly issued screaming, having made the discovery, that they had only got out of the fire into a frying-pan. On issuing from the Portico, we pass a large fountain, in which the gold fish keep studiously at the bottom of the water, while the restless dragon-fly (who finds the glittering shell-work too hot to hold him) is as studiously skimming backwards and forwards over the surface, to cool and refresh himself; and the frogs, in a neighboring tank, while conjugal duties keep them also on the top, feebly croak as they float with their wives among the green feculence, and make love behind the bulrushes. On leaving the garden, we mount our green spectacles, hoist our umbrella, and resolutely set our face homeward and Romeward. Half an hour's broiling walk brings us up under the friendly covert of the city walls; following the giro of which, we arrive in about as much time as it has taken us to reach them, at the Popolo Gate, and enter the Piazza, which no mortal wight would now care to traverse, who could avoid it. The owls—how cruel to place owls upon an obelisk dedicated to the sun—never blinked to a brighter flood of light in the streets of Thebes, than that which here streams on every object to-day. The Tazza's fountain, at its base, is a perfect cauldron, in which the glowing water bubbles up against, the sides, as if it were actually[Pg 629] about to boil over; the domes of the two churches, opposite the city gate, will soon warm their capacious interiors, from the large, supply of caloric they are now rapidly absorbing; a stand of bayonets before the Dogana, sparkles as if it were on fire; and when we have arrived at the foot of the wide white Scalinata of the Trinita di Monti, the whole expanse from top to bottom shines with unmitigated and unsupportable splendour. No importunate beggar can stand and rattle his tin box on the summit, and if he could, there is no passenger to heed or hear him; the Sabine model belle is not there to offer herself to the first artist who wants a madonna or a saint, nor amateur bandits, nor faun-like children playing on the steps; even the patient goats, long since milked, lie panting under the convent wall; not a dog is visible on the large immondezaro in front of it; and had we not had already painful experience of the heat of the day, the donkey who lives below, in the court of the Palazzo Mignanelli, exhibits it most strikingly; there he stands, a fine subject for Pinelli, with a wo-begone countenance,—Sancho's ass not more triste—ruminating over a heap of fresh vegetables, which he feebly snuffs, and wants resolution to stoop his head and munch; whilst his adopted friend, the large house-dog, totally regardless of his charge, sleeps heavily in the opposite corner of the court.

It required an early dinner, and a long siesta afterwards, in our darkened, water-sprinkled rooms, to resuscitate us to any fresh exertion; but as the Ave Maria approached, we were sufficiently refreshed to climb the Quirinal Mount, in order to witness one of our few remaining Roman sunsets from its summit. We pass, to reach it, down the Via Felice, across the Piazza Barberini, and up the steepest hill in Rome, by the Via Quatro Fontani; from its brow, we look momentarily down on the Viminal side, to Santa Maria Maggiore, with all the other objects that present themselves to view from this spot; and presently find ourselves at the end of that long street of convents and churches, which issues at its other extremity in the Porta Pia, forming a straight line of nearly a mile and a half in length; and here we are in that well-known Piazza, which is bounded on one side by the Papal Palace and its gardens; on the opposite by the Colonna and its ruin-scattered grounds; backed by the palaces Ruspigliosi and Guardi Nobile, and an open view of the Campagna in front. No position could have been better chosen than this, for the display of the two finest colossal statues in the world; they stand in the midst, with the Theban Obelisk and the Roman Fountain between them, all blending into a matchless group. As we look from this lofty vantage ground, high over the roofs of Rome, we see the sun preparing to take farewell of us, behind the ridge of Monte Mario; but the convent walls on the height where we stand enjoy his beams a few minutes longer, though they have ceased to strike upon the city at its foot. Soon, however, he touches the horizon and begins to dip; the palace windows behind us blaze away as if for an illumination; and when the last golden speck has disappeared from the ridge, the whole landscape changes colour; the yellow tint is instantaneously transformed into a rosy light, deepening, and becoming more and more beautiful every minute, till the short southern twilight is over; the somewhat harsh outline of the obelisk is softened during this brief point of time; a gentle air, (the breath of evening,) fans our cheek; fire-flies light their lamps all around, and night suddenly overtakes us,—"ruit nox." Scarcely ten minutes have elapsed since we stood here, and already the dilated nostril and meaning eye of the restive coursers, then so strikingly exhibited, are scarcely any longer distinguishable; while the dark curvilinear outline of their bodies, and the towering forms of "the great Twin Brethren" at their heads, gain not only in stature, but in grandeur too, by this very indistinctness,—the obscure being a well-known element of the sublime,—and the eye becomes more and more conscious of their vast proportions the less it is enabled to enter minutely into details.[Pg 630]


The appalling horrors with which the Irish famine of last season set in, seemed to exceed any similar scene of national affliction that had been witnessed in modern times. It appeared as if the worst tragedies that had been enacted in sieges and shipwrecks were to be realised in the midst of comparative abundance, and within reach of friendly aid. It was right, however, that the clamant demands for relief, uttered by her starving millions, should not stifle the smaller voice of suffering that issued from our Scottish shores. Nor was this the case: the Christian philanthropy of Britain did justice to the cause of patience and fortitude. The fountains of private beneficence were opened, and Scotland was better protected from the miseries of this visitation by individual exertion, than Ireland with all the aid and apparatus of government interference.

Making every abatement for the natural exaggeration incident to such a calamity, no doubt can be entertained as to the general condition of our Highlands and Islands in the early part of the past year. Great distress was almost every where prevalent, and every day that passed was tending to increase it. A large portion of the food of the people had failed, and the remnant of the preceding year's corn crop was their only means of subsistence. That resource could not long be relied on; and the great problem was, in what manner the destitute thousands of our countrymen were to be fed till the returning harvest should visit them with its scanty and precarious bounty. Too many of them were habitually on the verge of starvation, and the crumbling away of the slender support on which alone they stood, brought them at once to the low abyss of wretchedness in which they would have been left if public generosity had not interposed.

The task of those who undertook to distribute the large relief fund subscribed was attended with great difficulty, and involved a solemn responsibility of the highest kind. They appear to us, on a review of their arrangements, to have proceeded with judgment and good feeling; anxious, on the one hand, to alleviate want, and on the other, to avert those moral mischiefs that follow in the wake of gratuitous or indiscriminate liberality. Their object necessarily was, to do as much good and as little harm as the emergency would permit.

Something has recently been said of the great extent to which the distress in those districts was originally over-stated by the individuals who came forward to rouse the benevolence of their countrymen on behalf of the Highlands. We are by no means prepared to join in this view. It is impossible to describe the consequences of a coming famine with mathematical precision. Besides, the destitution is not yet over. And it is at least clear, even as to the past, that except for the exertions of the proprietors, which might or might not have been so largely made, the destitution would have fully borne out the predictions which were uttered. It could not with certainty be assumed that the smaller and less wealthy proprietors, in particular, would have been able to make the great sacrifices which they have so generously submitted to, and without which the people of Wester Ross and Skye, of Islay and Colonsay, and many other places, would have laid on the relief fund a burden far heavier than it has had to bear.

This at least is certain, that the fund has not been dispensed upon any extravagant views of the existence of destitution. The large surplus that remains on hand, demonstrates the caution and economy with which the distribution has been conducted. The money has not been lavished merely because it had been subscribed; and the difficult object has been accomplished, of keeping in check those demands which were likely to become more clamorous and more unreasonable, in proportion as the means existed of satisfying them.

It would serve little purpose to examine in detail the operations of the Relief Board, which are already[Pg 631] before the public in the reports which they have published from time to time. It is, perhaps, sufficient to say, that they present, in a great degree, the features which might have been looked for in the working of a scheme devised on the spur of an emergency, and destined to be followed out in remote localities, and under influences partaking, in no ordinary degree, of the taint of human frailty. In some parts of the country, the local committees have done their duty conscientiously and respectably; in others we are afraid they are not entitled to the same praise. Yet, on the whole, things have answered better than could have been expected; and undoubtedly the greatest benefit was derived from the able superintendence of the two general inspectors employed by the board, Captain Eliott and Dr Boyter, whose services to the public in this important duty cannot be too highly commended.

It is quite clear, however, that the local machinery, which was necessarily or allowably resorted to at the outset, ought no longer to be kept up, if further operations are required for the relief of destitution. There must now be a more stringent examination of the claims which may be preferred, and a more rigid enforcement of the proper regulations, than could well be insisted for when the field was new and the urgency irresistible. A continuance of any past laxity would now be inexcusable and eminently mischievous, by tending to perpetuate in the Highlands those social evils and anomalies which the present calamity is naturally calculated to expose and extirpate.

It is almost needless to ask the question, whether the operations of the Relief Board are still necessary. Every one acquainted with the Highlands and Islands is aware that the results of last year's failure of the potato are still at work, and must necessarily prolong the distress for some time to come. The fund which has been subscribed for the relief of that distress must necessarily, therefore, be employed in its legitimate and destined purpose, until that purpose be accomplished or the fund exhausted. Independently of any blight in the present potato crop, great distress will arise from the limited breadth of potatoes that has been planted, and from the fact that the cottars, who, in other years, were allowed ground to plant potatoes for themselves, have been deprived of that resource, from the necessity of retaining the whole arable farms for the direct use of the tenants and crofters. It is believed, also, that the corn crops of this year, though highly favourable in the lower parts of the country, have neither been so early nor so productive in the Islands as was at one time expected.

It is, therefore, with perfect propriety and justice that the Board have determined to retain the balance in their hands, in the mean time, as a sacred deposit for the relief of that continued distress, which both the reports of their own inspectors, and the information of the government officers, establish to be still prevalent. On this point the late report of Sir John F. Burgoyne as to Ireland applies in a smaller degree to a very great part of the Highlands and Islands.

In continuing the system of relief, however, the board must keep in view more closely and constantly than ever the leading principles which originally guided them, and which we believe to be founded on the most solid grounds of humanity and social policy.

1. Nothing must be done to relieve of their legal obligations those who are bound by law to support the infirm poor. Wherever a poor law is established, it must, we conceive, be fully and fairly enforced against those liable in relief, to the extent of what is imposed upon them. In no other way will selfish or thoughtless men be taught a due interest in the social condition of their neighbours, and make the necessary exertion to raise or preserve them from a state of pauperism, the effects of which they are themselves to feel in their only sensitive part.

2. It must be a rule, all but inflexible, that the able-bodied, receiving relief, shall give, at the time, or engage to give afterwards, a corresponding amount of labour in return; and that engagement must be strictly enforced. This rule is not necessary merely for the purpose of economising the fund, and benefiting the public by useful employment. It is essential[Pg 632] for preserving the destitute both from the feeling, and from the reality, of that degradation which attends on eating the bread of idleness. We believe that much mischief was done, in 1837, by exonerating those who had obtained aid from the obligations of labour which they had undertaken, and which we know, in some districts, broke down all the restraints of self-respect, and implanted a spirit of dependence and mendicity, even in persons of a decent station. The evils of famine itself are great,—its moral no less than its physical effects are fearfully destructive. But the injury done is hardly less when the poor are deprived, by gratuitous and reckless largesses, of those habits of industry, independence, and self-respect, which are their best possessions, and their only means of rightly bearing their lot or raising themselves in the scale of existence.

3. A peculiar portion of the population, consisting chiefly of solitary females unfit for active employment, and yet not sufficiently disabled to be objects of parochial aid, will require a humane and indulgent consideration. The Committees hitherto seem to have advanced them little stores of wool and flax, to enable them to give some return for their support; and a great deal of meritorious exertion has in this way been fostered. We presume that at least to a certain extent this humane system may be continued.

4. Another obvious and incalculable boon will be conferred on the country, if we can bridge over the chasm that has hitherto divided the Highlands and Islands from the labour markets of the south. It was indeed a strange anomaly, that strong men should be lying down to die in the Isles, or even on the mainland of Scotland, and that within two or three hundred miles of their homes, and on Scottish soil, there should be a want of labourers, and the easy means of earning ample wages. This appears to us one of the great objects to be now consulted, and to which the attention of the Board has already been anxiously directed: to remove the obstacles that have existed to a free intercourse between different parts of the country, and more particularly between the Saxon and Celtic districts. There are many causes that combine to fix a Highlander to his home, even in the midst of misery. Among these are ignorance of better things, and that strangeness and helplessness, produced by a change of scene, which half-civilised men are apt to feel with almost the timidity of children. The diversity of the Highland and the Lowland tongue is another impediment, but one which is daily disappearing, and is never so likely to vanish as under the pressure of necessity. The very virtues of the Highland character contribute to keep them where they are, and are assisted in doing so by some of those defects which are akin to their good qualities. Their patient endurance of cold and privation cooperates with the congenial tendency towards indolence, to fix them in a state of miserable inaction, rather than submit to the active exertion that would increase their comforts. Every thing will now combine to overcome these difficulties; the res angusta domi will now be vividly felt, if it can ever be felt at all; while fortunately both the benevolence and the necessities, both the wishes and the interests of their Lowland neighbours, concur in desiring that a new supply should be obtained from that quarter, in aid of what the south itself affords. Not only railways now forming, but also the great amount of draining operations contemplated, or already in progress under recent enactments, must tend in an eminent degree to alleviate the sufferings of the distressed districts, if a free current of labour can be established, so as to redress the inequalities prevailing in different places. The labour market may not be so favourable this year as it was last, but it will still, we hope, be sufficiently so for this purpose.

We have a strong impression that a change of this kind, if prudently brought about without deranging local agriculture, will of itself do a great deal for the permanent relief of those localities where distress now prevails. Labourers thus obtained may in some respects be inferior, from want of skill, and even from want of strength. But our Highland countrymen have recommendations in their sober and orderly habits, which are not to be found in some of their competitors in[Pg 633] the labour-market. Even railway contractors, though not likely to be swayed, except by economical views, are beginning to tire of the scenes of disorder and disturbance too frequently exhibited by workmen from other quarters. If the natives of the Scottish Highlands can be fairly roused to exertion, at a distance from home, their characters will be improved, and their views enlarged. They will begin to taste the benefits of better subsistence, and of some command of money; and their frugal habits, as well as their kindly affections, will communicate the advantage and spread the example among their suffering countrymen whom they have left behind.

This resource, then, must be pressed by the Board with the whole force of their influence, upon all the able-bodied in the distressed districts who can with propriety be required to leave their localities; and we should not quarrel with a very strict administration of wholesome compulsion to effect so essential an object.

5. The most difficult and delicate duty which the Relief Board will have to discharge, regards the selection of works to be undertaken or sanctioned by them, as affording employment for those destitute persons whom they must relieve on the spot. It must here be kept in view, on the one hand, that the permanent improvement of the Highlands is no proper or direct object of the subscriptions received. On the other hand, it will clearly be necessary, after every attempt to remove labourers to the south, that some work should be provided in each locality, on which those persons may be employed who cannot be so removed, and who yet stand in need of relief. It would be mischievous and wasteful to relieve such persons without exacting labour from them, and just as reprehensible to employ them in digging holes and filling them up again, or in any other occupation equally useless and unproductive. If their work is to be obtained, it should be directed into some channel that will benefit themselves and the community. Public roads, harbours, piers, breakwaters, and the like, appear an obvious outlet for the labour thus placed at the command of the Board; and we are not even averse, within certain limits, to admitting their exertions in the improvement of their own crofts, provided, at least, the benefit thence arising be secured to the occupant by some reasonable tenure, and that no continuance is thus effected of an improper system of occupation. It seems no objection to such operations that proprietors will indirectly benefit by them. It is impossible to devise any local work that is not open to the same objection, which would indeed be insuperable, if it were proposed to expend the money on local improvements as a direct and substantive object. But where the relief must be given, and the work is only to be taken to the extent of the relief, and as a return for it, we think almost any employment better than none, as we know no evil that can outweigh the moral mischief arising from gratuitous distribution. At the same time, the Board must require the co-operation of proprietors where-ever they can, and must insist for such terms as the circumstances of each case may recommend.

Guarded by some such principles of action, we anticipate that the relief operations in Scotland will, on the whole, be attended with no small degree of moral as well as of physical benefit.

The subject of Emigration is too large and complicated to be now discussed. That remedy is perhaps essential to the thorough cure of the social disorders prevailing in the Highlands. But it must not be rashly resorted to; nor can it ever be safe or effectual without the cordial co-operation of the government.

The operation and effects of the calamity with which so large a portion of Scotland has now been visited, cannot be suffered to pass away without an effort to extract from them a moral law and a moral lesson for our future guidance.

It is obvious that the suffering which has been felt, arises from the social system being in so great a degree based upon the potato culture. The dependence of the great bulk of the destitute population on a plant which, though more productive of mere sustenance than any other, yet[Pg 634] stands lowest in the scale of all our articles of food, is demonstrated by the distress that has been occasioned by the failure of that crop, and is indeed implied in all the exertions that have been made to give relief. This is obviously an unsound foundation for social life. It places the labouring classes on the very border of starvation, and leaves no margin whatever for any contingencies. On the failure of the potato, the ground can only be applied to the cultivation of other produce, which on the same space would yield a far inferior quantity of food, and thus a large portion of the year is left unprovided for.

It is impossible to exclude from consideration at this time the important question of the state of the Scotch Poor Law. On this momentous subject we beg leave explicitly to decline at present any announcement of opinion; and we confess that we do not think a season of calamity is at all the proper period for legislating on a matter which involves so much feeling, and which yet requires such grave consideration, and so much cautious arrangement. It cannot, however, be denied, that the events which we have lately witnessed afford important elements and examples which must influence any opinion that we may form, and which should be treasured up as materials for ultimately arriving at a sound conclusion.

No one desirous of making up his mind on this point will fail to consult, on one side of this question, the very able "Observations"[17] which have just appeared from the pen of Dr Alison, and to which, without adopting all the writer's views, we have great pleasure in directing attention, as to a most powerful and temperate argument in favour of an able-bodied Poor Law. If talents of a very high order, if an enlarged and enlightened experience, and a long consideration of the subject,—if a life passed, whether professionally or in private, in the exercise of the most active and disinterested benevolence,—if these qualifications entitle a witness to be heard in such a cause, Dr Alison may well claim for his opinions the greatest deference and respect: and the logical precision, and clear and candid statement, which this essay exhibits, will secure even from his opponents a ready and cordial approbation. Again we say, that we do not wish to adopt his arguments as our own, but we willingly contribute to embody them in a more permanent form, and to offer them to the attention of our readers, that they may prevail, if they cannot be answered, or may receive an answer, if an answer can be given.

The general nature of Dr Alison's views will be understood by quoting his table of contents, which contains a synopsis of his argument:

"All questions regarding Poverty and Destitution are inseparably connected with the Theory of Population, i. e., the observation of the conditions by which Population is regulated;—the best system of Management of the Poor being that under which there is least redundancy of population.

"The unequivocal tests of a population being redundant, are Pestilence and Famine; these taking effect on such a population much more than on any other; and the experience of both, within the last few years in this country, proves unequivocally, that it is in those portions of it where there is no effective legal provision for the poor—not in those where there is such provision—that the population is redundant.

"The peculiar Fever of 1843, as well as ordinary Typhus, now prevail much more extensively among the destitute Irish, hitherto unprotected by law, than among any others—and the effect of all other predisposing causes, in favouring their diffusion, is trifling in comparison with Destitution, and its inseparable concomitant, crowding in ill-ventilated rooms.

"The Famine of 1846-7, consequent on the failure of the Potato Crop, (i. e. of the cheapest and poorest food on which life can be supported,) clearly reveals the parts of the country where the population is redundant; and this is throughout Ireland, until very lately absolutely without provision, and in 106 districts of Scotland, where, without exception, there has been no assessment and a nearly illusory legal provision for the poor.[Pg 635]

"These facts not only prove incontestably that an effective Poor Law does not foster redundant population, but justify the belief, that the absence of a legal provision against Destitution is a great and general predisposing cause, with which others have no doubt concurred, in producing such redundancy; and that the presence of such a provision greatly favours the checks upon it.

"This it may be distinctly observed to do in two ways—1. By keeping up the standard of comfort among the poor themselves; 2. By giving every proprietor of land a direct and obvious interest in constantly watching and habitually checking the growth of a parasite population, for whose labour there is no demand, on his property.

"The statement that the English Poor Rate increases more rapidly than the wealth and population of the country, and threatens to absorb that wealth, is statistically proved to be erroneous.

"The other accusation brought against an effective legal provision, that it injures the character of a people, and depresses the industry, and checks the improvement of a country, is equally opposed to statistical facts.

"The lower orders of the Highlanders and Irish—whose resource when destitute is mendicity, are much more disposed to idleness than the English labouring men.

"Yet this disposition among the Highlanders has been greatly exaggerated.

"Where it is most offensive, it is amongst those who have been most impoverished and neglected.

"The inquiries of the agents of the Relief Committees, as well as those of the Royal Commissioners on the Poor Laws, have proved,—

"1. That there has been a great deficiency in the application of capital and skill to develop the resources of the Highlands and Islands.

"2. That the skilful application, even of a moderate capital, to various undertakings requiring labour, opens a prospect of great improvement in the country. These resources existing, the inference is inevitable, that if the higher ranks in the Highlands are bound to support their poor, they can and will, in general, find "remunerative employment" for them rather than maintain them in idleness.

"And the observations of the agents of the Committees, dispensing a voluntary fund, but guarding it—as a well-regulated relief would be guarded,—by the 'Labour Test' therefore affording an earnest of what maybe expected from the habitual operation of such a Law,—have shewn that, under its influence, the 'aboriginal idleness' of the Highlanders rapidly disappears.

"The principle that an effective legal provision against all kinds of destitution is useful to a country, as a wholesome stimulus both to capitalists and labourers, is clearly stated by Sir Robert Peel, and now recognised and acted on in reference to Ireland.

"The evidence of the resources of Ireland, in the absence of that stimulus, having been very imperfectly developed,—from the Report of the Committee on the occupation of lands, and other sources,—is just similar to that in the Highlands.

"And the effect of an incipient Poor-Rate in forcing on profitable improvements, as well as in equalising the burden imposed on the higher ranks by the destitution of the lower, begins to show itself in Ireland unequivocally.

"There are probably some districts both in the Highlands and in Ireland, where 'profitable investments of labour' cannot be found, which can only be effectually relieved by emigration and colonisation.

"To which purpose, in the case of the Highlands, the surplus funds in the hands of the Relief Committee, and even an additional subscription, may be very properly applied, provided that the districts requiring it are pointed out by their own agents, and that the wholesome stimulus of an effective Poor Law, embracing the case of destitution from want of employment, now existing in all other parts of her Majesty's dominions, be extended to Scotland."

We make no apology for the copiousness of the extracts which we are now to make, and which, we think, will sufficiently explain themselves without much commentary from us.

Nothing can be fairer than the footing on which Dr Alison places his argument at the outset.

"Very little reflection appears to be sufficient to show, that the best system of management of the poor (ceteris paribus) must be that which gives the least encouragement to redundancy of population. I have always regarded, therefore, the doctrine of Malthus—by which all such questions are held to be inseparably connected with the theory of population—to be the true basis of all speculative inquiry on this subject; and I cannot help saying again, that in consequence[Pg 636] of some hasty expressions which he used, and of the great practical error, which, as I believe, and as he himself evidently suspected in the latter part of his life, he had committed in the application of his principle, justice has not yet been generally done to the truth and importance of that fundamental principle itself. In the present state of this country, and indeed of every civilised country, and with a view to the happiness of the human race upon earth, it seems hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of any inquiries which promise to indicate the conditions by which the relation of the population to the demand for labour, and the means of subsistence there existing, is determined, and may be regulated.

"We cannot indeed expect, that so striking results can follow from this or any other principle in political science, as have already rewarded the labour of man in investigating the laws of the material world. The beautiful expressions of Cicero, in describing the power which man has acquired over Nature, are more applicable to the present age, than to any one that has preceded it. 'Nos campis, nos montibus fruimur; nostri sunt amnes, nostri lacus; nos fruges serimus, nos arbores; nos aquarum inductionibus terris fecunditatem damus; nos flumina arcemus, dirigimus, avertimus; nostris denique manibus in rerum naturâ quasi alteram naturam efficere conamur.' We can hardly anticipate, that science shall acquire a similar power of regulating the condition of human society or the progress of human affairs. In regard to the changes which these affairs undergo in the progress of time, we are all of us agents, rather than contrivers. 'L'homme avance dans l'exécution d'un plan qu'il n'a point conçu, qu'il ne connoit même pas; il est l'ouvrier intelligent et libre d'une œuvre qui n'est pas la sienne; il ne la reconnoit, ne la comprend que plus tard, lorsqu'elle se manifeste au dehors et dans les realités, et même alors il ne la comprend que très incomplètement."—(Guizot.) Still we may observe, that in all applications of science, moral and political, as well as physical, to the good of mankind, the same principle holds true, 'Natura non vincitur nisi parendo;' and that even in those cases where man is the agent, he may likewise be the interpreter and the minister of Nature. It is only by acquiring a knowledge of the natural laws of motion, of heat, of chemical action, that we acquire that power, "quasi alteram naturam efficere," which Cicero describes; and those events which are due to the agency of free, and intelligent, and responsible human beings, although liable to the influence of a greater number of disturbing forces, and therefore requiring careful investigation, are still subject to laws, which are imposed on the constitution of the human race, and which may be ascertained by observations belonging to the department of statistical science.

"That the natural tendency of the human race is to increase on any given portion, or on the whole of the earth's surface, in a much more rapid ratio than the means of subsistence can be made to increase, I apprehend to be an undeniable fact. I am aware of various objections which have been stated to this principle, but shall not enter on these objections farther than to state, that two considerations appear to me to have been overlooked by those who have advanced them. First, That the term 'means of subsistence,' is not to be restricted to the raising from the land of articles of food, but applies to the extraction from the earth's surface, and the preparation for the use of man, of all productions of Nature, which are either necessary to human existence or adapted for human comfort, and which have, therefore, an exchangeable value;—secondly, that the question regarding these, which concerns us in this inquiry, is not how much a given number of men may raise, but how much a given portion of the earth's surface can supply; and what relation this quantity bears to the power of reproduction granted to the human race. When these considerations are kept in view, it does not appear to me that the objections to the general principle laid down by Malthus are of any weight; and the truth of the principle appears to be strongly illustrated by the care taken by Nature to have a certain number of carnivorous genera, in every order of animals, and among the animated inhabitants of every portion of the earth's surface, whereby the tendency to excess in every class of animals is continually checked and repressed. And although it is certain that the causes of human suffering of all sorts, as of human diseases, are very generally complex, yet we may certainly assert, that this principle is essentially concerned, as a great and permanent predisposing cause, in all those sufferings which result from poverty, and must be carefully kept in view in all wise regulations for their relief.

"Neither is it incumbent on those who acquiesce in this general principle, to assert that the natural checks on this tendency to excessive reproduction in the human race have been well named or fully expounded by Malthus. But the[Pg 637] great distinction which he pointed out, of the positive and the preventive checks on population, is undoubtedly of extreme importance. And in regard to the positive checks, by which it is easy to see that the progress of the human race upon earth has been hitherto rendered so very different from what might have been expected from its powers of reproduction,—when we reflect on the effects of War, of Disease of all kinds, and especially of Pestilence, of Famine, of Vice, of Polygamy, of Tyranny, and misgovernment of all kinds,—while we can easily perceive that all these may be ultimately instruments of good in the hands of Him who can 'make even the wrath of man to praise Him,'—yet we must acknowledge that all, if not properly ranked together under the general name of Misery, are yet causes of human suffering,—so general, and so great, that the most meritorious of all exertions of the human mind are those, which are directed to the object of counteracting and limiting the action of these positive checks on population; and on this consideration it is wise for us to reflect deeply, because it is thus only that we can judge of the value of the great preventive check of Moral Restraint, by which alone the human race can be duly proportioned to the means of subsistence provided for it, without suffering the evils which are involved in the operation of the different positive checks above enumerated.

"I consider, therefore, the general principles of Malthus as not only true, but so important, that the exposition and illustration of them is a real and lasting benefit to mankind. The real error of Malthus lay simply in his supposing, that moral restraint is necessarily or generally weakened by a legal provision against destitution; and this is no part of his general theory, but was, as I maintain, a hypothetical assumption, by which he thought that his theory was made applicable in practice. His argument against Poor Laws was this syllogism: Whatever weakens the moral restraint on population must ultimately injure a people; but a legal protection against destitution weakens that moral restraint; therefore Poor Laws, giving that legal protection, must ultimately injure any people among whom they are enforced. The answer, as I conceive, is simply 'Negatur minor.' How do you know that a legal protection against destitution must necessarily weaken moral restraint? The only answer that I have ever seen, amounts only to an assertion or conjecture, that more young persons will marry, when they know that they may claim from the law protection against death by cold and hunger, than when they have no such protection. But this is only an opinion, supported perhaps by reference to a few individual cases, but resting on no foundation of statistical facts. Where are the facts to prove that early marriages are more frequent, and that population becomes more redundant, among those who have a legal provision against destitution, than among those who have none? I have never seen any such facts, on such a scale as is obviously necessary to avoid the fallacies attending individual observations; and the facts to which I have now to advert, are on a scale, the extent of which we must all deplore, and all tending, like many others formerly stated, to prove that the greatest redundancy of population in her Majesty's dominions exists among those portions of her subjects who have hitherto enjoyed no legal protection, against destitution. As it is generally avowed that it is for the sake of the poor themselves,—with a view to their ultimate preservation from the evils of destitution,—that the law giving them protection in the meantime is opposed, these facts must be regarded as decisive of the question."

It will not generally be disputed that a correct view of the main cause of distress is contained in what follows:—

"The famine, consequent on the failure of the potato crop in 1846, considered independently of disease, presents a still more remarkable collection of facts, the proper view of which appears to me to be this. The potato is an article of diet throughout the whole of this country, particularly useful to the working classes, and its importance to them seems to be fully illustrated by the pretty frequent occurrence of scurvy in many places, where it had been unknown for more than a century, since the beginning of the winter 1846-7,—that is, since the use of the potato has been necessarily nearly abandoned.

"But it is only in certain districts that the people have been absolutely dependent on the potato, and been reduced to absolute destitution by its failure; and the reason obviously is, that the potato, although much less desirable, as the chief article of diet, than many others, is that by which the greatest number of persons may be fed from a given quantity of land in this climate. When we find a population, therefore, living chiefly on potatoes, and reduced to absolute destitution, unable to purchase other food, when the[Pg 638] potato crop fails,—we have at once disclosed to us the undeniable fact, that that population is redundant. It is greater than can be maintained in that district, otherwise than on the poorest diet by which life can be supported, and greater than the labour usually done in that district demands. Now I formerly stated, that such a redundant population, living, as a foreign author expresses it, 'en parasite,' on the working people of the country, exists most remarkably in Scotland, in districts where no poor-law is enforced; and I have now only to show how amply that statement is confirmed by the facts which the present famine in some parts of Scotland has brought to light."

Whatever be its merits, the argument for a comprehensive Poor Law is placed on its true basis in the following passages:—

"If it be still said, that there is a difficulty in perceiving how the natural increase of population should be restrained,—implying that marriages should in general be rendered later and less productive,—by laws which give protection against destitution, I can only repeat what I formerly stated, that in order to understand this, it is only necessary to suppose, what is quite in accordance with individual observation, that human conduct, and particularly the conduct of young persons, is more generally influenced by hope than by fear,—that more are deterred from early and imprudent marriages by the hope and prospect of maintaining and bettering their condition in life, than by the fear of absolute destitution. The examples of the Highlands and of Ireland are more than enough to show, that this last is not a motive on which the legislator can place reliance, as influencing the conduct of young persons in extreme poverty. No legislation can take from them the resource of mendicity, of one kind or another, as a safeguard, in ordinary circumstances, against death by famine; and experience shows that those who are brought up in habits of mendicity, or of continued association with mendicants, will trust to this resource, and marry and rear families, where no other prospect of their maintenance can be perceived; whereas those who have been brought up in habits of comparative comfort, and accustomed to artificial wants, will look to bettering their condition, and be influenced by the preventive check of moral restraint, to a degree, as Mr Farr—judging from the general results of the registration of marriages in England—expresses it, which 'will hardly be credited when stated in figures.'

"I have repeatedly stated likewise, that I consider an efficient poor law, extending to all forms of destitution, as affording a salutary preventive check on early marriages and excessive population in another way, which is easily illustrated by statistical facts, viz. by making it obviously the interest of landed proprietors always to throw obstacles in the way of such marriages among persons who are likely to become burdensome on the poor rates, i. e. among all who have no clear prospect of profitable employment. The number of crofters, and still more of cotters, living en parasite on the occupiers of the soil in the Highlands, is the theme of continual lamentation; but the question seldom occurs to those who make this complaint,—would such a population be allowed to settle on the lands of an English proprietor, who is familiar with the operation of the poor-rate?"

The following remarks also are well deserving of attention:—

"But, setting aside the argument of Malthus against effective Poor Laws, the chief resource of the opponents of such laws has of late years been the assertion, that a legal provision against destitution leads naturally to relaxation of industry; that idleness, if not improvidence, is thus fostered among the poor, and that in this manner, the improvement of a country, necessarily dependent on the industry of its lower orders, is retarded. I have always maintained, that this assertion likewise is distinctly refuted, and not only that it is refuted, but the very contrary established, by statistical facts; that it is indeed made in face of the demonstrable fact, that the nations most celebrated for industry have long enjoyed a legal protection against destitution; that the people of England, speaking generally, are probably, to use the words of Lord Abinger,—'the most trustworthy and effective labourers in the world,' and that the greatest degree of idleness to be seen on the face of the earth exists among people who have no such protection; whose only resource, therefore, when destitute, is mendicity."

Dr Alison endeavours to show that wherever the labour test is applied, an able-bodied Poor Law is disarmed of its apparent dangers.

"Where the bounty dispensed by Dr Boyter and Captain Eliott has been combined with 'strict attention to the rules laid down by the Central Relief Board,' (which are exactly similar to those which[Pg 639] would be adopted by any experienced official Board dispensing legal relief to the able-bodied under the safeguard of the labour test,) its effects in stimulating the industry of the people, and improving the prospects of the country, appear to have been uniform and decided. And when it is remembered that, notwithstanding the failure of the potato crop, and consequent destitution of so large a population in the Highlands, the Relief Committees have been not only able to prevent any death by famine, but to open in so many places a fair prospect of improvement of the country, and of reformation of the manners of the people, at an expense in all not exceeding £100,000, it is surely not unreasonable to expect, that in ordinary seasons, and after some further assistance shall have been given them for the purpose of emigration, the proprietors of the Highlands and Islands will be perfectly able to bear a similar burden to that which the legislature has now imposed on Ireland.

"I observe with the utmost satisfaction that the principle of a Poor Law, skilfully imposed and judiciously regulated, and extending to all kinds of destitution, being a useful stimulus, both to the industry of the people, and to the exertions of the landlords and other capitalists of a country, (and a reasonable security to others assisting them,) has now been fairly recognised and acted on, in reference to Ireland. It is distinctly avowed in the following extract from Sir Robert Peel's speech at Tamworth, 1st June 1847. 'We have experience of the evils of periodical returns of destitution in Ireland; we see periodically a million or a million and a half of people absolutely in a starving state,—in a state which is disgraceful, while it is dangerous to the security of life and property. I believe it is a great point to give security to those people that they shall not starve,—that they shall have a demand upon the land. I believe it is necessary to give a new stimulus to industry,—to impress upon the proprietors and the occupying tenants, that they must look on the cultivation of the land in a new light; and that the demands of poverty will not be so great when all persons do all that they can to lighten the pressure.'

We shall quote only a part of Dr Alison's observations on Ireland, but they contain information of some interest.

"In proof that the natural resources of Ireland, in the absence of this stimulus, have been equally neglected as those of the Highlands, I may quote a few sentences from the official Report of the Commission on the Occupation of Lands in Ireland. 'The general tenor of the evidence before the Commissioners goes to prove, that the agricultural practice throughout Ireland is defective in the highest degree, and furnishes the most encouraging proofs, that where judicious exertions have been made to improve the condition and texture of the soil, and introduce a better selection and rotation of crops, these exertions have been attended with the most striking success and profit.' 'The lands in almost every district require drainage; drainage and deep moving of the lands have proved most remunerative operations wherever they have been applied, but as yet they have been introduced only to a very limited extent; and the most valuable crops, and most profitable rotations, cannot be adopted in wet lands.' (See Report of that Commission in London newspapers, Sept. 3, 1847.)

"The Commission above mentioned stated as their opinion, that the potato may perhaps be regarded as the main cause of that inertia of the Irish character, which prevents the development of the resources of the country; but with all deference to that opinion, I would observe, that in this case, as in the Highlands, the fundamental evil appears to be, the existence of a population, such as nothing but the potato can support, who 'cannot find employment,' as these commissioners themselves state, 'during several months of the year,' and therefore cannot afford to purchase any other food, and whose only resource, when they cannot find employment, is beggary; and that it is the absence of skill and capital to give them work, rather than the presence of the potato to keep them alive, which ought chiefly to fix the attention of those who wish to see the resources of the country developed. And without giving any opinion on the political question, how far it is just or expedient for Great Britain to give farther assistance by advances of money, to aid the improvement of Ireland, we may at least repeat here what was stated as to the Highlands, that when it becomes the clear and obvious interest of every proprietor in a country, to introduce capital into it, with the specific object of employing the poor, as well as improving his property, we may expect, either that such improvements as will prove 'profitable investments of labour,' will be prosecuted, or else, that the land will pass into other hands, more capable of 'developing its resources.'"

"When we read and reflect on these[Pg 640]

statements, I think it must occur to every one, that whatever other auxiliary measures may be devised, the greatest boon that has been conferred on Ireland in our time, is the Law which has not only given a security, never known before, for the lives of the poor, but has made that motive to exertion, and to the application of capital to 'profitable investments of industry,' which is here distinctly avowed, equally operative on the proprietors of land in every Poor Law union in that country, and in all time coming; and I believe I may add, that the individual to whom Ireland is chiefly indebted for this inestimable boon, is one whose name we do not find connected with any of the questions of religion or of party politics, which have caused so much useless excitement; but who has distinctly perceived the root of the evil,—the absence of any security, either for the lives of the poor, or for the useful application of capital to the employment of labour, and has applied himself patiently and steadily to the legitimate remedy—viz. Mr Poulett Scrope.

"It is true that we have many representations, from Poor Law unions in Ireland, of the utter inability of the proprietors and occupiers of the soil to bear the burden which the new Poor Law has imposed upon them; and I give no opinion on the questions, whether they have a claim in equity on further assistance from England, or whether the rate has been imposed in the most judicious way. But when it is said, that they are utterly unable to support the poor of Ireland by a rate, the question presents itself—How do they propose that those poor are to be supported without a rate? I apprehend it can only be by begging; and of whom are they to beg? It can only be from the occupiers of the soil, and other inhabitants of the country. Now, will the ability of those inhabitants to bear this burden be lessened by a law which will, in one way or other, compel the landlords (often absentees) to share it along with them?—and will, at the same time, make it the obvious interest of the landlords to introduce capital into the country, and expend it there in 'remunerative employment?'

"On the present state of Ireland I can speak with some confidence, because I can give the opinion of a friend, the Count de Strzelicki, who is well entitled to judge, because he was previously thoroughly acquainted with agriculture, and because he nobly undertook the painful office of dispensing the bounty of the London Association in the very worst district of Ireland, during the worst period of the famine; and who expresses himself thus:—The real evil and curse of Ireland is neither religious nor political, but lies simply in so many of the landlords being bankrupts, and so many of those who are well off being absentees; others again, equally well off, resident, judicious, benevolent, and far-sighted, being unsupported in their efforts, and isolated in their action upon the masses, who, long since cast away by the proprietary, have been dragging their miserable existence in recklessness, distrust, and rancour. It is this dislocation—even antagonism—of social interests and relations, combined with the irresponsibility of the property for its poverty, that constitutes the 'circus viciosus,' the source of all the evils of this unfortunate and interesting country.

"'But now, in consequence of the new Poor Law, and other new enactments of Parliament, those who have a real interest in the preservation of their property, will be forced to look, as they never did before, to the improvement of their tenantry. Those who are insolvent must part with the nominal tenure of land, and leave their estates to capitalists who can better discharge the duty of landlords; and lastly, the masses, who hitherto had been abandoned to themselves and to their brutal instinct for self-preservation, will find henceforth their interest linked with that of the landlord, and will find advice, help, encouragement, and, in extreme cases, a legal support.

"'Every real friend of Ireland, and particularly those who, like myself, have had an insight into the many excellent intellectual and moral qualities of their character, while sympathising with the hardships which at first will be felt by many from the new system, cannot but acknowledge that it is only now that its society is being placed on its proper basis, and in a fair way to amelioration and prosperity.'

"This opinion was given in a letter to a common friend, and without reference to any speculation of mine as to the management of the poor. In a subsequent letter to myself he adds, 'It is only since I came to Ireland that I have become conscious of the real value of a legal provision for the poor, and of the demoralising effect of private alms. Already we see some good symptoms of the action of the new Poor Law. It is by the provision made to employ men, and not by feeding them, that the operation of the law begins. The out-door relief will, I am sure, act not as a premium to idleness, but as a stimulus to landlords to supply labour, and thus prevent the people from falling on it.'"

On the absolute or eventual necessity[Pg 641] of emigration, Dr Alison's views seem to be sound and satisfactory.

"That there are some parts of the Highlands which may be relieved more rapidly and effectually by aid of some form of emigration than in any other way, I have no doubt. In many such cases it is probably unnecessary to remove the people farther than to those parts of the low country, where, by a little well directed inquiry, employment may be found for them, as was done by the Glasgow 'Committee on Employment;' but in others it is quite certain that emigration to the colonies may be safely and beneficially managed. And the importance of this subject becomes much greater when we consider, that so large a surplus remains of the sum raised for the relief of distress there, the disposal of which is at this moment a question of difficulty. I am so much impressed with the truth of the last observation of Dr Boyter, as applicable to certain districts of the Highlands, that I should think it highly advisable to apply the greater part, or even the whole, of this surplus of £115,000 to this salutary drainage of the population. An equal sum might be advanced by Government, to be gradually repaid, just as in the case of assistance given to proprietors by the Drainage Act; and the whole sum might be expended in aiding emigration and such colonisation as Dr Boyter describes. Nay, I am persuaded that few of the subscribers to the Highland Destitution Fund would scruple to renew their subscriptions, provided they had any security that the Highland proprietors, thus relieved of a portion of their population, would really exert themselves to develop the resources now known to exist in their country, and so maintain the remainder without farther claims on the rest of the community. But I cannot think it reasonable or right, that while we have periodical returns of destitution in the Highlands, demanding aid from all parts of the country and from the colonies, to prevent many deaths by famine, a Highland proprietor should be enabled to advertise a property for sale, at the upset price of £48,000, and to state as an inducement to purchasers, that the whole public burdens are £40 a-year. (See advertisement of sale of lands in Skye, Edinburgh Courant, Sept. 16, 1847.) I should think it highly imprudent for the Committee intrusted with that money for the benefit of the poor in the Highlands, to part with it for any kind of emigration, excepting on two express conditions: 1. That agents appointed by the Committee, unprejudiced and disinterested, (and probably better judges on the point than Captain Eliott and Dr Boyter cannot be found,) shall report on the localities in which this remedy should be applied, in consequence of "profitable investments of industry" not existing at home; and, 2. That application be made to the Legislature for a measure, which should place the remaining portion of the Highlanders under the circumstances which are known by experience to be most favourable to the development of the resources of a country, and at the same time to the action of the preventive check on excessive population, i. e., under the operation of an effective and judicious Legal Provision for the Poor."

The following sentences form an impressive conclusion to this valuable, dissertation.

"I have only to add, that being firmly convinced that a well-regulated Poor Law is really, as stated by Sir Robert Peel, a wholesome stimulus to enterprise and industry, and a check upon extravagance and improvidence, I have written this paper to prove,—by evidence on so large a scale, that it excludes all fallacies attending individual cases, and ought to command conviction,—that it is only in those parts of this country where this salutary precaution has been neglected, that such periodical returns of destitution and famine, as he describes, have been suffered or are to be apprehended. But, as it is obviously essential to this beneficial effect of a Poor Law, that it should secure relief to destitution from want of work, the practical result of all that has been stated is, to confirm the arguments which I formerly adduced in favour of the extension of a legal right to relief to the able-bodied in Scotland, when destitute from that cause;—guarded of course by the exaction of work in return for it when there are no means of applying, or when such exaction is thought better than applying, the workhouse test. And notwithstanding the strong feeling of distrust (or prejudice, as I believe it) which still exists among many respectable persons on this point, I confidently expect that this right—now granted to the inhabitants of every other part of her Majesty's European dominions, and soon to be accompanied, as I hope, in all parts, by an improved law of settlement i. e., by combinations or unions instead of parishes,—cannot be much longer withheld from the inhabitants of Scotland."

Nor can I doubt that the intelligent people of this country, seriously reflecting on the lessons which have been taught them by those two appalling but instructive[Pg 642] visitations of Providence,—pestilence and famine—will soon perceive, whether it is by the aid or without the aid of an effective legal provision against destitution, that the sacred duty of charity is most effectually performed; and what are the consequences to all ranks of society which follow from its being neglected.

Magna est veritas et prævalebit.

It is right that views so important and so ably stated, and which are obviously prompted by so pure a spirit of philanthropy and true piety, should receive the full weight that they are entitled to; and should be canvassed and considered by all who feel an interest in the question.

On the other hand, there are obvious considerations of an opposite kind which should be fairly weighed. Independently of the general arguments against an able-bodied Poor Law, with which political economists are familiar, the special question arises, whether the Highlands of Scotland have not been brought into their existing condition partly by the peculiarities of national character, and partly by the transition that is now in progress from a system of ancient vassalage to more modern ideas of calculation and independence. The patriarchal state which prevailed under the old habits of clanship is now at an end, so far as regards the proprietors, who are unable to maintain or govern their retainers as of old, while the population generally continue in their former condition of helpless tutelage, and must now be taught to act and provide for themselves. The Lowlands of Scotland, though not possessing an able-bodied Poor Law, are free from those evils by which the Highlands are afflicted, and the population are scarcely, if at all, in an inferior state to the corresponding portion of the English nation.

Further, there arises the very grave consideration, that whatever may be the abstract or original merits of an able-bodied Poor Law, the introduction of such a system in an advanced state of society is a matter of great delicacy, and may, from the very novelty of its operation, often lead to utter idleness on the one hand, and confiscation on the other. It ought not, in any view, to be attempted, without being accompanied by some well digested plan of public colonisation, to relieve the pressure which might otherwise over-power the resources of all who are to be burdened.

We would say, in conclusion, that whatever may be the state of this argument, it lies in a great degree with the proprietors in the Highlands and Islands to avert the threatened evil, if they consider it as such, by a gradual but entire change in the system of the occupation of land. The great argument we have seen for an able-bodied Poor Law is, that it compels the proprietary classes to keep down the population by a feeling of self-interest. This object must, in some way or other, be attained. Without harshness, without any sudden removals, every opportunity must be sought of remodelling the plan of small possessions, and the principle must be laid down and enforced, that no one shall continue in the condition of a tenant who does not occupy enough of ground to raise, at least, an ample corn crop for the support of his family. If the potato system continues,—if, after the present calamity passes away, its lessons are forgotten, it is not probable that the benevolence of the public would again be equally liberal as it has now been, where the visitation was so sudden and unexpected, and no clear or unequivocal warning of its approach had previously been received.

We hope, however, for better things; and trust that the present crisis will be duly improved, and will form a new era of prosperity and increased civilisation and happiness for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.


[17] Observations on the Famine of 1846-7 in the Highlands of Scotland, and in Ireland, as illustrating the connexion of the principle of population, with the management of the poor. By W. P. Alison, M.D., &c.

Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume
62, Number 385. November, 1847., by Various


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