The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 58,
Number 358, August 1845, by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 58, Number 358, August 1845

Author: Various

Release Date: January 16, 2009 [EBook #27818]

Language: English

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Transcriber's notes: Minor typographical errors have been corrected. Table of contents has been generated for HTML version. Footnotes have been moved to the end of the articles.


On Punishment.129
Púshkin the Russian Poet. Concluded.140
Marston; or, The Memoirs of a Statesman. Part XVIII.157
A Letter from London. By a Railway Witness.173
Priests, Women, and Families.185
My College Friends. No. II.--Horace Leicester197
North's Specimens of the British Critics. No. VII. Mac-Flecnoe and the Dunciad229

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[Pg 129]


How to punish crime, and in so doing reform the criminal; how to uphold the man as a terror to evil-doers, and yet at the same time be implanting in him the seeds of a future more happy and prosperous life—this is perhaps the most difficult problem of legislation. We are far from despairing of some approximation to a solution, which is the utmost that can be looked for; but we are also convinced that even this approximation will not be presented to us by those who seem willing to blind themselves to the difficulties they have to contend with. Without, therefore, assuming the air of opposition to the schemes of philanthropic legislators, we would correct, so far as lies in our power, some of those misconceptions and oversights which energetic reformers are liable to fall into, whilst zealously bent on viewing punishment in its reformatory aspect.

We have selected for our comments the pamphlets of Captain Maconochie, not only because they illustrate the hasty and illogical reasonings, the utter forgetfulness of elementary principles, into which such reformers are apt to lapse; but also for the still better reason, that they contain a suggestion of real value; a contribution towards an efficient prison-discipline, which merits examination and an extensive trial. We have added to these pamphlets a brief work of Zschokke's, the venerable historian of Switzerland, on death-punishment, in order that we might extend our observations over this topic also. It is evident that the question of capital punishment, and the various questions relating to prison discipline, embrace all that is either very interesting or very important in the prevailing discussions on penal legislation. Transportation forms no essentially distinct class of punishment, as the transported convict differs from others in this only, that he has to endure his sentence of personal restraint and compulsory labour in a foreign climate.

Reformatory punishment! Alas, there is an incurable contradiction in the very terms! Punishment is pain, is deprivation, despondency, affliction. But, would you reform, you must apply kindness, and a measure of prosperity, and a greater measure still of hope. There is no genial[Pg 130] influence in castigation. It may deter from the recommission of the identical offence it visits, but no conversion, no renewal of the heart, waits on its hostile presence; the disposition will remain the same, with the addition of those angry sentiments which pain endured is sure to generate. No philosopher or divine of these days would invent a purgatory for the purifying of corrupted souls. No—he would say—your purgatory may be a place of preparation if you will, but not for heaven. You may make devils there—nothing better; he must be already twice a saint whom the smoke of your torments would not blacken to a demon.

We may rest assured of this, that the actual infliction of the punishment must always be an evil, as well to mind as body—as well to society at large as to the culprit. If the threat alone could be constantly efficacious—if the headlong obstinacy, the passion, and the obtuseness of men would not oblige, from time to time, the execution of the penalty, for the very purpose of sustaining the efficacy of the threat—all would be well, and penal laws might be in full harmony with the best educational institutions, and the highest interests of humanity. But the moment the law from a threat becomes an act, and the sentence goes forth, and the torture begins, a new but unavoidable train of evils encounters us. There is war implanted in the very bosom of society—hatred, and the giving and the sufferance of pain. And here, we presume, is to be found the reason of the proverbially severe laws of Draco, which, being instituted by a man of virtue and humanity, were yet said to have been written in blood: he desired that the threat should be effective, and that thus the evils of punishment, as well as of crime, should be avoided.

Whatever is to be effected towards the genuine reformation of the culprit, must be the result, not of the punishment itself, but of some added ingredient, not of the essence of the punishment; as when hopes are held out of reward, or part remission of the penalty, on the practice of industry and a continuance of good behaviour.

And yet—some one may here object—we correct a child, we punish it, and we reform. The very word correction has the double meaning of penalty and amendment. If the plan succeeds so well with the infant, that he who spares the rod is supposed to spoil the child, why should it utterly fail with the adult? But mark the difference. You punish a child, and a short while after you receive the little penitent back into your love; nay, you caress it into penitence; and the reconcilement is so sweet, that the infant culprit never, perhaps, has his affections so keenly awakened as in these tearful moments of sorrow and forgiveness. The heart is softer than ever, and the sense of shame at having offended is kept sensitively alive. But if you withdrew your love—if, after punishment inflicted, you still kept an averted countenance—if no reconcilement were sought and fostered, there would be no reformation in your chastisement. Between society and the adult culprit, this is exactly the case. Here the hostile parent strikes, but makes no after overture of kindness. The blow, and the bitterness of the blow, are left unhealed. Nothing is done to take away the sting of anger, to keep the heart tender to reproof, to prevent the growing callousness to shame, and the rising rebellion of the spirit. And here reveals itself, in all its force, another notorious difficulty with which the reformer of penal codes has to contend.

In drawing the picture of the helpless condition of the convicted and punished criminal, how often and how justly does he allude to the circumstance, that the reputation of the man is so damaged that honest people are loath to employ him—that his return to an untainted life is almost impossible—and that out of self-defence he is compelled to resort again to the same criminal enterprises for which he has already suffered. Struck with this view, the reformer would institute a penitentiary of so effective a description, that the having passed through it would be even a testimonial of good character. But who sees not that the infamy is of the very essence of the punishment? A good character is the appropriate reward of the good citizen; if the criminal [Pg 131] does not pay the forfeit of his character—if only a certain amount of temporary inconvenience is to be sustained, the terror of punishment is at an end. Here, on the arena of public life, between society and the culprit, are they not manifestly incompatible—the tenderness that would reclaim, and the vigour that must chastise?

There is no question here, we must observe, of that delicate sense of shame which is the best preservative against every departure from rectitude. This has been worn out, and almost ceased to operate on the majority of persons who expose themselves to the penal laws of their country. It is the value of character as a commercial commodity, as a requisite for well-being, that alone has weight with them. Benevolent projectors of reform, more benevolent than logical, are fond of comparing a prison to an hospital; they contend that the inmates of either place are sent there to be cured, and that they should not be restored to society until they are restored, the one to health of body, the other to health of mind. Would they carry out the analogy to its fair completeness, and maintain that the patient from either hospital should be remitted to society with a character equally free from stain? Is the man to be received by the community with the same compassionate welcome who has gone into prison to be cured of a propensity to theft, as one who has entered an hospital to be relieved of a disease?

An hospital is a word of no inviting sound—and physic, no doubt, is sufficiently nauseous to be not inaptly compared to flogging, or any other punitive discipline: but nauseous drugs are not the only means of cure; good nursing, vigilant attendance, sometimes generous diet, have a large share in the curative process. And in the hospital of the mind, the lenitive and fostering measures have a still larger share in the work of a moral restoration. Were this principle of cure, of perfect restoration, to be adopted as the first principle of penal legislation, it would come to this, that a poor man would have no better way of recommending himself to the fatherly care of the state than by the commission of a crime, and that none, in the lower classes of society, would be so well trained and disciplined for advancing their fortunes in the world, as those who commenced their career by violating the laws of their country.

Imprisonment, with its various accompaniments and modifications, is the great reformatory punishment. Indeed, with the exception of death—confined almost entirely to the case of murder—it is the only punishment bestowed on serious offences. Imprisonment of some kind, either at home or in the colonies, is the penal safeguard of society; and we must be cautious that we do not so far diminish its terrors, that it should cease to hold out any threat to a needy malefactor. But before we allude to the discipline of the prison, we must take a glance at this great exception of death, which it is the object of many of our zealous reformers entirely to erase from the penal code.

That this extreme punishment should be reserved for the extreme crime of murder, seems generally admitted; and the practice, if not the letter, of our law has conformed to this opinion. It would be useless, therefore, to argue on the propriety of inflicting this penalty on other and less enormous offences. The question is narrowed to this—shall death continue to be the punishment of the murderer?

Those who contend for the entire abolition of this punishment, are in the habit of enlarging much on the inadequate effect produced upon the multitude who witness the spectacle of an execution. This is their favourite and most frequent theme. They seem to overlook the much more powerful effect produced on the imagination of that far greater multitude who never behold, or are likely to behold, an execution. It is curious to observe how pertinaciously a certain class of reasoners will dwell on the picture which a crowd presents at a public execution;—much like a crowd, we may be sure, at any other public spectacle. Whatever the object which gathers together a mob of the lowest class, they will soon begin to relieve the tedium of expectation by coarse jests, drunkenness, and brawling. Yet these descriptive logicians [Pg 132] are never weary of painting to us the grotesque and disgusting scenes which the mass of spectators exhibit on these occasions, as if this were quite decisive of the question. That ragged children, who have never thought of death at all, play their usual pranks at the foot of the gallows—that pickpockets ply their trade in this as in every other gaping crowd—what has all this to do with the impression produced on the mind of every man and woman throughout the kingdom, by the knowledge that if he, through sudden passion, or the instigations of cupidity, take the life of a fellow-creature, he shall be—not a spectator at such an exhibition—but that solitary crawling wretch who, after having spent his days and nights in agony and fear, is thrust forward, bound and pinioned, to be hanged up there like a dog before the scoffing or yelling multitude?

We willingly concede that a public execution is not an edifying spectacle. The coarse minds who can endure, and who court it, are the last to whom such a spectacle should be presented. And, although the punishment might lose some portion of its terrors, we should prefer that the execution should take place in a more private manner; in the court-yard, for instance, of the prison, and before a selected number of witnesses, partly consisting of official persons, as the sheriffs and magistrates, and partly of a certain number of persons who might be taken from the several jury lists—the option being given to them either to accept or decline this melancholy office. This would be a sufficient publicity to ensure an impartial administration of the laws. The only doubt that remains is, whether it would be sufficient to prevent the spread of false rumours, and absurd suspicions, amongst the people. It is a prevailing tendency with the mob, whenever any one at all above their own condition is executed, to believe that he has been favoured and allowed to escape. Even in the face of the most public execution, such rumours are circulated. We understand that Mr Tawell is confidently reported to be living at this moment in America. Such suspicions, however ridiculous and absurd, must be cautiously guarded against.

After all, the mode of execution is but of secondary importance; arrange it how you will, it is a lamentable business. Like all other punishments, and still more than all other punishments, the actual infliction of it is an evil to society. When the law passes from the threat to the execution, it is a social disaster. The main point is, that we present to the imagination of every man a great threat—that of almost immediate extermination—if he lift his hand against his neighbour's life.

That which renders the punishment of death peculiarly appropriate, in our estimation, in the crime of murder, is not by any means its retaliative character; the sentiment, that "blood must have blood," is one which we have no desire to foster; and if some less grievous penalty would have the same effect in deterring from the crime, we should, of course, willingly adopt it. Our ground of approval is this, that it presents to the mind an antagonist idea most fit to encounter the temptation to the crime. As this temptation must generally be great, and often sudden, that antagonist idea should be something capable of seizing upon the apprehension at once—of exercising at once all its restraining efficacy. Imprisonment for length of years—the mind must calculate and sum up the long list of pains and penalties included in this threat, before its full import is perceived. But death! And then the after-death! For what makes the punishment of death so singularly applicable to the case of murder is this, that it awakens whatever may exist of religious terror in the mind of him who contemplates the crime. On the one hand, he is about to commit a deed on which there are not two opinions; it is not a crime made such by the laws; it is not even a robbery, for which he may frame excuses out of his destitution, and the harsh distinctions of society; it is murder, which heaven and earth, rich and poor, equally denounce. On the other hand, his guilt will bring him almost immediately before the tribunal of God, as well as the judgment-seat of man. No long interval weakens the impression, no long space holds out the vague prospect of repentance and amendment, and [Pg 133] compensatory acts of goodness; but if he will lift the knife, if he will mingle the poison, there is the earthly executioner at hand to transfer him to the still more dreadful sentence of the after-world! The same opinion which condemns the crime of murder here on earth, as the most atrocious that can be committed, follows him to that other tribunal; and all that his imagination has been accustomed to depict of the horrors of internal and eternal punishment, rushes at once upon him.

When the temptation comes in the shape of sudden anger and impetuous passion, there is a threat as sudden to encounter it. When the crime is revolved in the secret and guilty recesses of the mind—as when some individual stands between the tempted man and the possession of a fortune, or some other great object of desire—there is religious terror as stealthy, as secret, as unconquerable, as the strongest desire that takes possession of the human heart, to assist always at his deliberations.

M. Zschokke's little treatise, to which we have alluded, contains the usual, together with some unusual, arguments against the punishment of death, and contributes also a novel substitute for it. He begins, in true German manner, by explaining (inter alia) the difference between reason and understanding; the exact distinction between man and the rest of the animal creation; and some other metaphysical generalities, which, fortunately, are not concerned with the business in hand. For, as no two writers agree in their explanations, and as none succeeds in perfectly satisfying either his reader or himself, it would be impossible, if such preliminaries were first to be adjusted, ever to arrive at the discussion itself. The work is written in letters, addressed to a young prince; and, at the thirteenth letter—there are but sixteen in the whole—he approaches his main question—"Nun denn es sei zur sache!" "Now then to the matter." And first he protests that death is no punishment at all. The venerable historian absolutely flies to such aphorisms as were the delight of Seneca, to prove that death is no evil, and can consequently be no punishment; although there are some who, under the dominion of mere instinct, may deem it such. "The death," he writes, "of the criminal is no punishment; but for him, as for every other mortal, only the end of earthly troubles, cares, and sufferings. In vain," he continues, "does the multitude of suicides show us daily that death is no evil, and therefore no punishment; for the men who thus abridge their days manifestly prefer death to the endurance of the evils of life."

It has been said, that "he who can look at death starts at no shadows." And certainly, reason on the matter how you will, and prove life to be as worthless as you please, if a man can defy death, and solicit it, there is no other punishment that can be effective. It would be all but impossible to prevent a criminal, if so resolved, from laying violent hands upon himself; and altogether impossible to prevent him from contemplating suicide as his last resort in case of detection, and so nullifying the threat of any other punishment. There is no hold whatever on the man in whom the love of life, or the fear of death, is really extinct. But we are far from thinking that Seneca and the Stoics have yet made so deep an impression on mankind that there is a very general indifference to death, especially to a death inflicted by others—the ignominious sentence of the law.

Again, this author objects, as some others have done, to the punishment of death, because it is incapable of an adjustment to the degrees of guilt. What punishment is? Or how can any tribunal determine on degrees of moral guilt? It is not a criminal, it is a crime, that the law punishes. To determine between two thieves, which had the better motive, which had the least of thief in him, is not the function of a judge, nor could he perform it, if imposed upon him. It has been remarked by those who have had wide opportunities of judging—and the annals of criminal jurisprudence support the observation—that murderers, taken as a class, are not, as men, the worst order of criminals. Some sudden impulse, or some one obstinate desire, got the better of their reason; or it might happen, that the motive for committing a great crime was [Pg 134] not of so dark a dye as that which often induces to one of less turpitude. And yet neither our author, nor any one else, would hesitate to accord to the crime of murder the very severest penalty that stands upon the code.

But M. Zschokke's main argument against the reasonableness and justice of death-punishment is this, that every man has an original imprescriptible right, prior to, and in the face of all society—to be a man—"mensch zu sein"—"to develope himself as man." Society may limit the exercise of this right, but not annul it; may mutilate the man as it thinks fit, but must leave so much of him behind as may bear the name of man. What is to be said of such metaphysical vagaries as these? If this pass for reasoning, the unlawfulness of imprisonment may be proved in the same manner; one has but to assert that man has an a priori indefeasible right to the use of the limbs which nature has given to him. But no man has any right whatever, but under the implied condition of performing corresponding duties. This individual, whom the law will not any longer allow to develope his humanity, should, if he had wished to develope himself further, have allowed the like liberty to others.

But that which most remarkably distinguishes M. Zschokke's little performance is the substitute for the punishment of death which it suggests. We believe it was here that M. Sue derived an idea which occupies so conspicuous a place in his Mysteries of Paris. That substitute is blindness. "The blinded man," writes our author, "is an eternal prisoner, without need of prison walls. He must envy other culprits their chains—their darkest dungeons; for in the darkest dungeons hope may penetrate, and they may one day see the light again. He must envy the dead, on whom the executioner has done his utmost; for to him life itself has become one endless punishment. He is bound without fetters—bound more securely than if he were locked to the oar or welded to the rock. Every step, every movement, tells him of his weakness and of his guilt. The living world around him—he has lost it all; he retains only its sources of pain, and the unfading memory of his own crime. Scoffed at by the unfeeling, pitied by some, by all shunned—contempt and commiseration and scorn are the smarting scourges to which he stands defenceless for the residue of his days."

A frightful punishment truly! But we are far from approving of it as a substitute for death. In the first place, it is equally irrevocable; and it is one, and perhaps the most cogent argument against death-punishment, that it admits of no recall in case of error, no remission or compensation in the event of sentence having been passed upon an innocent man. Our author, indeed, seems to think otherwise; for he reckons it amongst the advantages of this mode of punishment, that it does admit of compensation if it has been unjustly inflicted. To us it seems very doubtful whether any pleasures addressed to the remaining senses of hearing, of touch, or of taste, can be said to compensate for the loss of sight. Neither does blindness, any more than death, admit of degree or apportionment. In this respect, burning or the use of fire as a punishment, which has been suggested, though not absolutely advised, by Bentham, would have a decisive preference. "Fire," writes that voluminous jurist and legislator, "may be employed as an instrument of punishment without occasioning death. This punishment is variable in its nature, through all the degrees of severity of which there can be any need. It would be necessary carefully to determine, on the test of the law, the part of the body which ought to be exposed to the action of fire; the intensity of the fire; the time during which it ought to be applied; and the paraphernalia to be employed to increase the terror of the punishment. In order to render the description more striking, a print might be annexed, in which the operation should be represented."—(Works, vol. i. p. 407.)

What is still more to the point, the punishment of blinding is quite as repugnant to those sentiments of humanity which are said to be outraged by the depriving a fellow creature of his life. As we have before intimated, the spectacle of pain inflicted is at all times an evil in itself. Even the presence of those gloomy buildings, devoted [Pg 135]to all the wretched purposes of incarceration, is, we should say, a public calamity. The more men see of misery, the more callous do they become to it; the less effort do they make to relieve; the more ready are they to inflict it. Punishments should be multiplied as little as possible. Very slight offences had better be left to the correction of public opinion, and very grave offences should be severely visited, as well to spare punishment as to prevent crime. We at once admit that it is an evil—the spectacle of putting a man to death. But this of putting out his eyes is, in act, scarce less revolting, and the spectacle is perpetuated. The public execution lasts his lifetime. There is something, too, from which we recoil in associating what has hitherto been the most pitiful affliction of humanity with the idea of punishment of crime. A blind man walks amongst us the universally commiserated—and good need he has of our commiseration; it would be a sore addition to his calamity to make his condition one of suspected turpitude, and expose him to the hazard of being classed with murderers.

With respect to that greater severity of the punishment, on which our author eloquently enlarges, the only severity which a legislature ought to seek is that which is available in the shape of threat; and no threat can be more effective than that of taking from a man his life, since he can always, in his own imagination, commute any other punishment into that. If it be true, on the one hand, that death is a mere privation, and not to be compared, in real severity, to very many of the positive afflictions of life; and if, on the other, it is still the greatest threat which society can hold out—these two facts together would go far to prove that it is the very best punishment which could be devised.

Dismissing this exception of the punishment of death for the crime of murder, imprisonment at home or abroad, accompanied with hard labour, or periods of solitary confinement, is the sole threat of any moment which the law holds out against offenders; and it becomes, therefore, of infinite importance to establish an effective prison discipline. We look upon this simplification of our penal operations as an advantage; and we are by no means disposed to favour those inventive gentlemen who would devise new punishments, or revive old ones, for the purpose, it would seem, of having a variety of inflictions corresponding to the variety of offences. A well-regulated prison, where the severity of the taskwork, the nature of the diet, the duration and the strictness of the confinement, all admit of apportionment to the offence, seems to include all that is desirable in this matter of punishment. Here, if any where, can plans of reformation be combined with penal inflictions. Such plans ought, by all means, to be encouraged; but they are not—whatever Captain Maconochie, and other zealous reformers, say to the contrary—the first and peculiar object for which a prison is designed.

Captain Maconochie was for some time superintendent of Norfolk Island. A rough experience. But prison discipline must be much the same in its elements, in whatever part of the world it is carried on. We are not about to enter into the variety of questions connected with transportation, or the management of penal colonies. Wherever imprisonment or compulsory labour are to be undergone, the same class of difficulties and dilemmas must arise; and we shall deal only with Captain Maconochie's remarks, as they apply generally to all convicts, whether transported or not.

It is quite curious to observe the unconscious pranks that men of sound understandings, but not philosophically disciplined, may be led into, when, from some favourite point of view, they suddenly rush into generalities, and proclaim as reasoning what is the dictate of a momentary sentiment. Captain Maconochie, desirous of enlisting our sympathies in favour of his convicts, assimilates their condition to that of the black slaves, whom the philanthropic efforts of Wilberforce, and others, succeeded in emancipating. The parallel is—to say the best—very surprising and unexpected. Convicts in the colonies stand in the same predicament, with regard to society, as their fellow-culprits at home; and the gallant Captain would hardly preach a crusade [Pg 136] for the liberation of all the prisoners in England—for all who are undergoing the discipline of our houses of correction. To be compelled to labour for another man's advantage, and at another man's will, because one is "guilty of a darker skin," and to be compelled to the like taskwork because one has committed burglary, are two very different things. Full of this happy comparison, however, Captain Maconochie proceeds—"They (the blacks) were thus, in the main, merry, virtuous, and contented beings; they did not advance—this their condition as slaves forbade—but neither did they recede; and whatever the influence of their condition on their own character, it ended nearly with themselves; they were subjects, not agents, and no one was made materially worse through their means. In every one of these respects, convicts are differently, and far more unfavourably, circumstanced. True, they have sinned, which is often alleged as a reason for dealing with them more harshly; but who has not sinned? Who will venture to say, or would be right if he did say, that, similarly born, educated, and tempted, as most of them have been, he would have stood where they have fallen? They are our brothers in a much nearer sense than were the negroes." Now, if language such as this means any thing, the convict is a most maltreated person, and should not have been punished at all. It is really the duty of sober sensible men to put their veto on such oratory as this; there is too much of the same kind abroad. We must all of us be ready to acknowledge, that if we had been "born, educated, and tempted," as many of these felons, we too might have been felons. Does it follow that we ought not to have received the punishment of felons? Is this sort of argumentum ad hominem, which makes the crime in imagination our own, to bribe us into an utterly ruinous indulgence towards it? Crime is not punished on earth—as divines teach us it will be punished in heaven—on a principle of retributive justice, and according to our moral deserts. To prove that this is not the principle of judicial punishment, we have only to call to mind that, whereas, in a moral point of view, the force of temptation diminishes the guilt, men, in framing their laws, invariably increase the punishment in proportion to the temptation. The facility to commit a crime, is one great element in the temptation to commit it; and this facility has been always considered (as in the case of forgery) to call for a counterbalance in the severity of the penalty.

In matters of penal legislation, there are two currents of thought, which must be always kept distinct. The one relates to the natural and little cultivated feelings of mankind, which demand retaliation for injuries committed—a vindictive or retributive justice. Here is found the rude motive power by and on which legislation has to work; sometimes shaping these feelings to its purposes, sometimes shaping its purposes to them. The other current of ideas is purely legislative, purely prospective, having for its sole end the well-being of society, and looking on punishment; not as retributive, or vindictive, or as morally due, but as a sad necessity for the preservation of order.

In reference to the latter and only legislative mode of thinking, how extremely illogical does it appear this attempt to ward off the penal blow from a guilty party, or to excite our commiseration for him on the ground that we all share the same passions and frailties of that guilty party! Why, if such passions and frailties were not general, there would be little need of punishment. It is because they are general, that the legislature is compelled to be so watchful and energetic. If to take the object of desire from our neighbour were a rare propensity, an extraordinary phenomenon, we might let the prison sink into happy ruin, and a most cheerful desolation.

We have seen how the German, in his metaphysical manner, disposed of the right of society to put one of its members to death; the Captain, though no metaphysician, proves, in a manner quite as bold and singular, that the state has really no right to inflict any punishment that is not of a reformatory character. It is true he admits of punishment—could a man of his experience do otherwise?[Pg 137] But he admits it only as a part of his curative process. It is to induce "submission and penitence." He can so far blind himself by his love of theory, or rather his tenacity to one point of view, that he seems to suppose, that reform of the criminal being the direct object, he would commence his treatment by penal inflictions. "As already observed, a fever must be reduced before its ravages are sought to be repaired; a wound must be probed and cleansed before it can be healed up." And this surgical instance seems to have satisfied his mind, that the exacerbations consequent on punishment are an indispensable preparation for a moral restoration. As to the old-fashioned notion that punishment has for its legitimate and primary object to deter others from offending, he denounces this, if pursued as an independent aim, as a flagrant injustice; he regards such criminals who are punished for this end only, as sacrifices cruelly offered up for the benefit of the public.

"In the infancy of society," reasons Captain Maconochie, "and under every form of pure despotism, the individual is nothing, and the commonwealth, or its chief, every thing. But just as intelligence and true knowledge of state policy extend, does this state of things become reversed; and in England already, the maxim is become almost universal, that private rights are never to be invaded without compensation. In two departments only is there still a systematic deviation from this rule in practice. Impressment, in which the compensation made, though it has increased much of late years, must still be considered inadequate—for otherwise the act itself would be unnecessary; and the punishment of offenders with a view to example only, in which they have no concern, and to which their individual interests are yet unhesitatingly sacrificed. In both cases the same plea of state necessity is offered in justification; but it will not do. As society advances, and individuals become more sensible of their own worth, their claims to regard above such abstractions become more and more evident."—(General Views, &c., p. 11.)

We would modestly suggest that before this curious analogy can be made complete, government ought to press for hanging as well as the sea service. If the sheriff and his bailiffs sallied forth, and seized upon some hapless wight, thrust the king's money into his hand, and thus enlisted him into the hanging corps for the benefit of the community, the resemblance would be perfect. But no one, not even the high-sheriff himself, has the least desire to obtain a single recruit for this forlorn service; the members of which force themselves in a most unwelcome manner upon the state. Still less, if possible, does the government desire to be at the expense of erecting large buildings, and maintaining numerous garrisons of all species of felons. "Banishment of offenders, with a view to example only, in which they have no concern, and to which their individual interests are yet unhesitatingly sacrificed!" Indeed, but they have! He who is punished for theft has still his life to be preserved, and may one day have his property also to be protected by the same law under which he is suffering. One can imagine the strange effect it would produce upon the ignoble army of martyrs which throng our jails, to be told that they were sacrifices to society—victims whom the community was offering up, most unjustifiably, on the altar of its own interests! At first, the idea would be a little dim and mysterious; but, after a short time, the flattering nature of the doctrine would doubtless be sufficient to insure its reception. They would, thereupon, call in the jailer, and the chief spokesman of the party would thus address him:—"We perceive, O jailer! that society is consulting its own interests in our punishment, and not, as it is bound to do, our especial benefit and advantage. As we have learned that stripes and bondage are to be inflicted on no man but for his own good, and as we are all agreed, after considerable experience, that we derive no benefit whatever from them, and you, O jailer! must be satisfied that, as medical treatment, they are worse than inefficacious, we demand, in the name of justice and human reason, our immediate dismissal."

To those who value no information but such as assumes the shape of detail of facts, or can be reduced to[Pg 138] figures, and exhibited in the shape of statistical tables, we shall perhaps appear to be wasting time in examining the mere errors of reasoning on this important subject of penal discipline. We think otherwise. We apprehend there is nothing more necessary than to keep active and zealous men steady to first principles in subjects of great general interest. We are not guilty of underrating the value of statistical tables; albeit we have seen figures arrayed against figures, as if there were two arithmetics, as if there were two churches in the doctrines of addition and multiplication; but the truth must be kept in view, that to read statistical tables aright, something more is required than a knowledge of the rules of arithmetic. A few sound principles, based on a knowledge of human nature, and the elementary bonds of human society, may often preserve us from false deductions, which seem to be the sure product of the array of figures that are presented to us.

We intimated that Captain Maconochie's pamphlet contained what appeared to us a valuable contribution towards a good prison discipline. That contribution is simply—the commutation of time of imprisonment for quantity of labour to be performed. The amount of work done by the prisoner could be estimated by certain marks awarded or reckoned to him, and the duration of imprisonment measured by the number of those marks to be earned, instead of a certain fixed number of months or years. This is a very simple idea, and is all the better for its simplicity. The punishment would be probably rendered more effective as a threat, and the moral effect of the punishment, when inflicted, would be much improved. A compulsion to labour (which becomes, in fact, a compulsion of moral motive, as well as of sheer external control) may lead to a permanent habit of industry. There would be all the difference between the listless and disgustful labour of enforced time-work, and a labour in part prompted by the hope of expediting the term of release. An idle vagabond might thus be disciplined and trained into an industrious workman.

We have no doubt that this principle has already been partially applied in the management of our prisons, and perhaps in more instances than we at all suspect; but that it has not yet been extensively applied, or received the trial which it appears to merit, is certain—because such an experiment must have been preceded by a very notorious and signal alteration in our laws.

We should be doing an egregious injustice to Captain Maconochie if we were to judge of him only by the instances we have given of his powers of general reasoning. The perusal of his pamphlets has left in our mind a strong impression of the manly character and practical ability of their writer. If his abstract reasonings are sometimes perverse, we are convinced that his practical good sense is such, that in the management of any enterprise, he would in reality so order his proceedings, that, whatever his pen might do, his conduct would contradict no sound principle of expediency. If it were the object to reclaim a set of felons or vagabonds, and fit them—say for the naval and military service—we are persuaded that the task could not be confided to better hands than those of the gallant Captain. During his residence at Norfolk island, he seems to have obtained the esteem of even the worst of the sad crew he had to discipline; and this, it is evident, without sacrificing a jot of the duties of his station. He is plainly not the man to make any boast of such a matter, or to feel too highly flattered by it. "Instances of individual attachment to myself," he says, at the conclusion of his pamphlet On the Management of Transported Convicts, "I could multiply without number; but these, for obvious reasons, I forbear to quote; and in truth they as often pained me as pleased me, by being too deferential. It is a great and very common mistake, in managing prisoners, to be too much gratified by mere obedience and servility: duplicity is much encouraged by this; and, of two opposite errors, it is better rather to overlook a little occasional insubordination. I cannot refuse, however, to cite two traits, whose character cannot be mistaken. I had a large garden within a few hundred[Pg 139] yards of the ticket-of-leave village at Cascade, where from 300 to 400 men lived, four to six in a hut, never locked up, nor under other guard through the night than that of a police sentry, one of their own number. The garden was by the road-side, very imperfectly fenced with open paling, and fully stocked with choice fruit and vegetables, bananas, pine-apples, grapes, melons, and others, which to men on a salt ration must have offered a great temptation; these were constantly under view, yet I scarcely ever lost any. And by a letter, received a few weeks ago, I learn that five men, having picked up an old black silk handkerchief that had belonged to me, have had their prayer books bound with it." [1]

The Captain's theoretical error is, that he too much confounds the necessity of penal laws with the duty of public education. The duty of the state to educate its subjects is undeniable; but, when criminals are brought before it, this is not the duty which is then most prominent. This is a duty which ought to have been performed before—it is a duty which ought not to be forgotten then; but there is another function which comes into operation, which is typified by the judge, not by the schoolmaster.

We observe that Captain Maconochie confirms, from his own experience, the opinion already expressed by many others upon the policy of solitary confinement. For a short period the effect is good; but, if prolonged, it leads either to stupid indifference or moroseness of temper, if it does not conduct even to insanity. It is, manifestly, an expedient to be cautiously used. We should, before any appeal to experience, and judging only from the nature of the human mind, have confidently predicted this result. And, indeed, has not the effect of solitary confinement been long ago understood and powerfully described? In that delightful tale of the Arabian Nights, where the poor fisherman draws up a jar from the bottom of the sea, and, on opening it, gives escape to a confined spirit or genie, this monster of ingratitude immediately draws a huge sabre, with the intention of decapitating his deliverer. Some parley ensues; and the genie explains that he is only about to fulfil a vow that he had made while incarcerated in the jar—that, during the first thousand years of his imprisonment—and, to an immortal genie, a thousand years may reckon as about two calendar months with us—he promised to his deliverer all imaginable blessings; but, during the second thousand years, he vowed that he would kill the man who should release him! Could there possibly be a better illustration of the effect of solitary confinement?

But on the peculiar modifications of prison discipline, it is not our purpose here to enlarge. This must be reserved to some future occasion. We must content ourselves with observing, that we have little confidence in novelties, and little wish to prompt the invention of our legislators in this direction. We are as little disposed to advocate the silent as the solitary system. Such a demeanour as any reflective man would naturally expect to find in a place of public correction, is all that we should require to be preserved. All boisterous mirth, all obstreperous laughter, all loud talking, would, by every efficient governor of such an institution, be systematically repressed. The labours of such an establishment should be conducted with stern military order. Every[Pg 140] inmate should feel himself under an irresistible domination, and that obedience and submission are the only parts he has to enact. How easily the strongest minds may be led astray when scope is given to invention in this matter of penal discipline, may be seen in the example of Jeremy Bentham himself. This celebrated man, whose cogitative faculty was assuredly of the most vigorous description, but who had a mode of developing it the most insufferably and needlessly prolix, would have filled our prisons with inextinguishable laughter by the introduction of certain "tragic masks," indicative of various crimes or passions, in which the several offenders were to be occasionally paraded—a quaint device, which would have given a carnival to our jails.

Our main purpose, in these somewhat fragmentary observations, was to protest against the reasoning which would divest punishment of its proper and distinctive character, which, spreading about weak and effeminate scruples, would paralyse the arm which bears the sword of justice. One writer would impugn the right of society to put its arch-criminals to death; another controverts its right to inflict any penalty whatever, which has not for its direct object the reformation of the criminal. So, then, the offender who will not live with his fellow-men on the only terms on which human fellowship can be maintained, is to stand out and bandy logic with the community—with mankind—and insist upon his individual imprescriptible rights. These à priori gentry would find it very difficult to draw any advantage from their imprescriptible rights, except in a state of tolerable civil government. Civil government is, at all events, the condition on which depends the enjoyment of all individual rights; without which they are but shadows and abstractions, if even intelligible abstractions. Let us have no more, therefore, of an opposition between the rights of individuals and the stern, imperative, expediencies of society. There can be no such opposition. Is it not as if some particular wave of the sea should assert a law of motion of its own, and think it injustice to submit to the great tidal movements of the ocean?


Zschokke's Aehrenlese.—Part I. Pandora, Civilization, Demoralization, and Death-punishment.

On the Management of Transported Criminals. By Captain Maconochie, R.N., K.H., late Superintendent at Norfolk Island.

General Views, &c. &c. By the Same.

[1] Amongst the anecdotes which are told in this concluding portion of the pamphlet, we were struck with the following, which affords a striking instance of that tendency to run a-muck from time to time by which some men are unhappily afflicted:—"One of them, at length, showed strong indications of approaching insanity. He became moody, and twice attempted to destroy himself. I thought that possibly change of occupation and diet might benefit him; and I brought him to my own garden in consequence, and sought to feed him up. But he rather got worse. I remonstrated with him; and his answer was a striking one—'When I used to be in this way before, I could get into trouble, (commit an offence, and incur a severe punishment,) and that took it out of me; but now that I try to behave myself, I think that I am going mad altogether.'"


No. III.

Specimens of his Lyrics.
Translated from the Original Russian, by Thomas B. Shaw, B.A. of Cambridge, Adjunct Professor of English Literature in the Imperial Alexander Lyceum, Translator of "the Heretic," &c. &c.

We trust our readers will not blame us for the slightness of construction and unimportant subjects of many of the minor pieces which we have admitted into our present selection from Púshkin's lyrical productions. It was our object to give the English reader, as far as possible, a fair and just notion of the poet's peculiar turn of thought and style of expression; and to do this completely, it appeared to us indispensable to avoid confining our choice—however natural it might have seemed, and however great the temptation to do so—to the more ambitious and elaborate efforts of his genius. The true principles of criticism have long ago established the doctrine, that the composition of a beautiful song, or even of a perfect epigram, deserves to be considered as difficult a task, and as rare an achievement, as the production of an ode or of an elegy; and though it may be objected that, for the purposes of translation, the song is generally much more ungrateful than the more imposing production, yet we could not consider ourselves as fulfilling our promise, (of holding up to our countrymen a faithful mirror of Púshkin's poetry,) had we omitted to attempt versions of the slighter and more delicate products[Pg 141]of his poesy. It is true that, in passing through the deteriorating process of translation into another language, the lighter works suffer most, and are more likely to lose that exquisite delicacy of expression, and that transparent colouring of thought, which is the more peculiar merit of the song or the fugitive poem—these tender blossoms run much more risk of losing, in short, their finer and more evanescent aroma, than the more gorgeous flowers of the tropical regions of poetical imagining; but at the same time it must be remarked, that the danger in such experiments is not on the side of the author, but wholly on that of the translator. That we have determined—rashly, perhaps—to encounter this danger, must be our apology for having introduced into our collection many of the shorter and slighter pieces which will be found in these pages, and, among them, the specimen which we are now about to present.

Alas for Her! Why Is She Shining?"
Alas for her! why is she shining
In soft and momentary bloom?
Yet all the while in secret pining
'Mid youth's gay pride and first perfume ...
She fades! To her it is not given
Long o'er life's paths in joy to roam,
Or long to make an earthly heaven
In the calm precincts of her home;
Our daily converse to enlighten
With playful sense, with charming wile,
The sufferer's woe-worn brow to brighten
With the reflection of her smile.
Now that black thoughts around me darken,
I veil my grief with steady will,
To her sweet voice I haste to hearken,—
To hearken: and to gaze my fill.
I gaze, I hearken yet, and never
Shall voice or form from me depart;
Nought but our parting hour can ever
Wake fear or anguish in my heart.

In the following spirited little piece Púshkin has commemorated an incident which occurred in the reign of Peter the Great, and which is probably sufficiently familiar to the readers of Russian history, to render unnecessary a more than passing allusion to the circumstance. Among the thousand traits of grandeur recorded of the Hero-Tsar, there are few more affecting and sublime than that commemorated in the anecdote of his indulgence to Ménstchikoff, who had betrayed his master's confidence, and committed various acts of peculation and oppression. Peter pardoned his unfaithful but repentant minister, and celebrated this act of generous clemency by a magnificent banquet, at which he exhibited to his admiral every testimony of renewed confidence and affection. This banquet is the subject of the following lines, in which all the allusions are probably familiar to our readers, not excepting the mention made of the imposing ceremony spoken of in the third stanza; that is to say, the grand review of the infant Russian fleet, at which the Emperor assisted in person, and in the rank of Vice-Admiral. The whole squadron—recently created by the genius and wisdom of the Prince, and freshly covered with naval glory, till then unknown in Russia—was anchored in the Neva, and along its line slowly passed, under a general salute of cannon, and accompanied by the acclamations of the crews of the men-of-war, the old pleasure-boat, the "baubling shallop," which had first suggested to Peter's[Pg 142] mind the idea and the possibility of giving Russia a navy. This small vessel, still most religiously preserved in the fortress, and affectionately called by the Russians the "Grandfather" of their navy, had been constructed for the amusement of the Tsar Alexéi, by Brandt, a Dutch shipbuilder, who had visited Moscow during the reign of that prince—the father of the great regenerator of Russia. The vessel, a small sloop rigged in the Dutch manner, had remained neglected on the lake of Peresláv-Zalévskii (in the province of Vladímir) till it was remarked by Peter, who, from seeing it, not only conceived the idea of creating a navy, but made it the means of acquiring for himself the first rudiments of practical seamanship. As a ship in the Russian language is a masculine substantive, the familiar title given to this immortal little vessel is "grandfather," or "grandsire," a word of which we have thought it necessary to transpose the gender, in obedience to that poetical and striking idiom in our tongue, by which a ship always rigorously appertains to the gentler and lovelier sex. In our version, therefore, the "grandsire" becomes—we trust without any loss of dignity or interest—the "grandame" of the Russian navy:—

The Feast Of Peter The First.
O'er the Neva gaily dancing,
Flag and pennant flutter fair;
From the boats, in line advancing,
Oars-men's chorus fills the air.
Loud and joyous guests assembling,
Throng the palace of the Tsar;
And to cannon-crash is trembling
All the Neva from afar.
Wherefore feasts our Tsar of Wonders?
Why is Petersburg so gay?
Why those shouts and cannon-thunders,
And the fleet in war array?
Is new glory dawning o'er ye,
Russia's Eagle, Russia's Sword?
Has the stern Swede fled before ye?
Has the foe for peace implored?
Is it Brandt's slight boat, appearing
On the shore that was the Swede's?
Through our young fleet proudly steering
Like a grandame she proceeds.
They, her giant-brood, seem kneeling
'Fore their grandame—black and grim;
And to Science' name are pealing
Cannon-crash and choral hymn.
Is't Poltáva, red and glorious,
That he feasts—the Lord of War?
When his Empire's life, victorious,
Saved from Charles the Russian Tsar?
Greet they Catharine's saint, those thunders?
Hath she given a Prince to life?
Of our Giant-Tsar of Wonders,
She, the raven-tresséd wife?
No! a Subject's crime remitting,
To the guilty, guilt he sinks;
By a Subject's side he's sitting,
From a Subject's cup he drinks:
And his brow he kisses, smiling,
[Pg 143] Gay of heart, and bright of eye;
And he feasts a Reconciling
Like some mighty Victory.
Hence those shouts of joy and wonder;
Hence is Petersburg so gay;
Hence the songs and cannon-thunder,
And the fleet in war array;
Hence the guests in joy assembling;
Hence the full cup of the Tsar;
Hence, with cannon-crash, is trembling
All the Neva from afar.

The following lines (which are not without a kind of fantastic prettiness of their own) do not seen to need any remark or explanation, unless it be the circumstance of the poet's qualifying the sky of St Petersburg with the epithet of pale-green. It may be observed that this peculiar tint (exactly enough expressed by the adjective) has struck almost all the strangers who have visited the northern capital, and has been repeatedly noticed by travellers; as, for instance, Kohl, Custine, &c. &c. Our readers will find the singular colour of the St Petersburg atmosphere (particularly observable in the winter, or at night) very well described in Sir George Lefevre's amusing "Notes of a Travelling Physician." This greenish tint is as peculiar to the banks of the Neva, as is the reddish-black to the neighbourhood of Birmingham or the Potteries; or the yellowish-brown (in November—"let rude ears be absent!") to the environs of the Thames:—

"Town of Starving, Town of Splendour!"
Town of starving, town of splendour,
Dulness, pride, and slavery;
Skyey vault of pale-green tender,
Cold, and granite, and ennui!
With a pang, I say adieu t'ye
With a pang, though slight—for there
Trips the foot of one young beauty,
Waves one tress of golden hair.

In the short and rapid sketch of Púshkin's life and writings which will be found prefixed to this selection, we made particular mention of the strong impression produced upon the Russian public by the appearance of the noble lines addressed to the Sea. We beg to subjoin a translation of this short but vigorous poem, which has become classical in the author's country; an honour it certainly deserves, not only from the simple grace and energy of the language, but from the weight, dignity, and verity of the thoughts. The lines were written by the poet on his quitting the shores of the Caspian, where he had so long dwelt in solitude, gathering inspiration from the sublime Nature by which he was surrounded; and the poem cannot but be considered as a worthy outpouring of the feelings which a long communion with that Nature was so capable of communicating to a mind like that of Púshkin. Of the two great men whose recent death was naturally recalled to the poet's recollection by the view of the ocean, the name of one—Napoleon—is specifically mentioned; that of the other is—Byron. Seldom, in the prosecution of his difficult but not ungrateful task, has the translator felt the imperfection of his art, or the arduous nature of its object, more keenly than when attempting to[Pg 144] give something like an adequate version of the eleventh and twelfth stanzas of this majestic composition. In order to give some idea of the fidelity of his imitation, we will subjoin the literal English of these eight lines:—

He vanish'd, wept by liberty,
Leaving to the world his crown.
Roar, swell with storm-weather;
He was, O sea, thy bard!
Thine image was stamp'd upon him,
He was created in thy spirit;
Like thee, mighty, deep, and gloomy,
Like thee, untameable!
To the Sea.
Farewell, free sky, and thou, O Ocean!
For the last time, before my sight
Roll thy blue waves in ceaseless motion,
And shine with a triumphant light!
Like friend's farewell in parting hour,
And mournful as his whisper'd word,
Thy solemn roar—that voice of power—
Now for the last time I have heard.
Bound of my spirit's aspiration!
How often on thy shore, O Sea!
I've roved in gloomy meditation,
Tired with my mighty ministry!
Thine echoes—oh, how I have loved them!
Dread sounds—the voices of the Deep!
Thy waves—or rock'd in sunset sleep,
Or when the tempest-blast had moved them!
The fisher's peaceful sail may glide—
If such thy will—in safety gleaming,
Mid thy dark surges rolling wide;
But thou awak'st in sportful seeming—
And navies perish in thy tide!
How oft was mock'd my wild endeavour
To leave the dull unmoving strand,
To hail thee, Sea; to leave thee never,
And o'er thy foam to guide for ever
My course, with free poetic hand.
Thou calledst ... but a chain was round me;
In vain my soul its fetters tore;
A mighty passion-spell had bound me,
And I remain'd upon thy shore.
Wherever o'er thy billows lonely
I might direct my careless prow,
Amid thy waste one object only
Would strike with awe my spirit now;
One rock ... the sepulchre of glory ...
There sleep the echoes that are gone,
The echoes of a mighty story;
[Pg 145] There pined and died Napoleon.
There pined he, lone and broken-hearted.
And after, like a storm-blast, then
Another Mighty One departed,
Another Ruler among Men.
He vanish'd from among us—leaving
His laurels, Freedom, unto thee!
Roar, Ocean; swell-with tempest-grieving;
He was thy chosen bard, O sea!
Thine echoes in his voice resounded
Thy gloom upon his brow was shed,
Like thee, his soul was deep, unbounded,
Like thee 'twas mighty, dark, and dread.
The earth is empty now, *  *
   *    *    *    *    *
   *    *    *    *    *
   *    *    *    *    *
Farewell, then, Sea! Before me gleaming
Oft wilt thou float in sunny pride,
And often shall I hear in dreaming
Thy resonance, at evening-tide.
And I shall bear, to inland meadows
To the still woods, and silent caves,
Thy rocks, thy cliffs, thy lights, thy shadows,
And all the language of the waves.

The following lines we think elegantly and prettily expressed.

To roar of beast in wild-wood still,
To thunder-roll, to bugle-trill,
To maiden singing on the hill,
To every sound
Thy voice, responsive, straight doth fill
The air around.
Thou hearkenest when the storm-blasts blow,
To thunder peal, to billow's flow,
And shepherd's call from hamlet low,
Replying straight;
But thee nought answers ... Even so,
Poet, thy fate!

There are few things more curious than to observe how universally the same legends are to be found in the popular traditions of very distant ages and nations, under circumstances which render it extremely difficult[Pg 146] for the most acute investigator to trace how, when, and where they were communicated, or even to give any plausible account of the origin of the legend itself. So difficult indeed is this task, that we are almost driven to account for so singular a phenomenon, by attributing to the human mind an exceedingly small endowment of originality; and by supposing that, however the details of these ancient traditions may have been modified and adapted to suit the peculiar nature, the scenery of each particular country, or the manners, customs, and character of its inhabitants—the fundamental idea, and the leading incident, remaining the same under the most dissimilar conditions of time and place, must have a common and a single origin. This doctrine, if carried to its legitimate consequences, would lead us to consider the number of the original legends common to all times and many races, as singularly limited; and that a very short list indeed might be made to embrace the root-stories—the uhrsagen, as a German might call them. And really when we reflect that many of the most threadbare jests which figure in the recondite tomes of Mr Joseph Miller are to be found, crystallized in attic salt, in the pages of Hierocles, and represented as forming part of the "Hundred merye Talis and Jeastis" which delectated the citizens of ancient Greece; when we reflect, we repeat, that the same buffooneries, still retailed by after-dinner cits in the Sunday shades of Clapham or Camden-Town, may have raised the easy laugh of the merry Greek beneath the portico and in the Agora; it makes us entertain a very humble idea respecting the amount of creative power given to man, even for the production of so small a matter as a pleasantry, not to speak of pleasantries so very small as some of these mysterious and time-honoured jokes. If we remember, still further, that the pedigree of these trifling insects of the brain, these children of the quip, does not stop even in the venerable pages of Hierocles—that Greek "Joe"—but loses itself, like a Welsh genealogy in the darkest gloom of antiquity, we ought not to be surprised that ancient legends, being often shattered fragments and dim shadowings-forth of mystic and hierophantic philosophy, should be found, with many of their principal features unaltered, in the popular traditions of different ages and countries.

The tale embodied in the "Lay of Olég the Wise," is identical in all its essentials with the legend still extant upon the tomb of an ancient Kentish family, in the church of (we believe) Minster, in the Isle of Sheppey. The inimitable Ingoldsby has made the adventure the subject of one of his charming "Legends," and has shown how the Knight came by his death in consequence of wounding his foot in the act of contemptuously kicking the fatal horse's skull, thus accomplishing the prophecy many years after the death of the faithful steed. The reader will perceive, that in the Russian form of the legend the hero dies by the bite of a serpent, and not by the less imposing consequences of mortification in the toe; but the identity of the leading idea in the two versions of the old tale, is too striking not to be remarked. It is only necessary to observe that Olég is still one of the popular heroes of Russian legendary lore, and that the feast, to which allusion is made at the end of the poem, is the funeral banquet customary among the ancient Slavons at the burial of their heroes; and resembling the funeral games of the heroic age in Greece. The Slavonians, however, had the habit, on such occasions, of sacrificing a horse over the tumulus or barrow of the departed brave. The Perún mentioned in the stanzas was the War-God of this ancient people.

The Lay of the Wise Olég.
Wise Olég to the war he hath bouned him again,
The Khozárs have awaken'd his ire;
For rapine and raid, hamlet, city, and plain
Are devoted to falchion and fire.
In mail of Byzance, girt with many a good spear,
The Prince pricks along on his faithful destrere.
From the darksome fir-forest, to meet that array,
[Pg 147] Forth paces a gray-haired magician:
To none but Perún did that sorcerer pray,
Fulfilling the prophet's dread mission:
His life he had wasted in penance and pain:—
And beside that enchanter Olég drew his rein.
"Now rede me, enchanter, beloved of Perún,
The good and the ill that's before me;
Shall I soon give my neighbour-foes triumph, and soon
Shall the earth of the grave be piled o'er me?
Unfold all the truth; fear me not; and for meed,
Choose among them—I give thee my best battle-steed."
"O, enchanters they care not for prince or for peer,
And gifts are but needlessly given;
The wise tongue ne'er stumbleth for falsehood or fear,
'Tis the friend of the councils of Heaven!
The years of the future are clouded and dark,
Yet on thy fair forehead thy fate I can mark:
"Remember now firmly the words of my tongue;
For the chief finds a rapture in glory:
On the gate of Byzantium thy buckler is hung,
Thy name shall be deathless in story;
Wild waves and broad kingdoms thy sceptre obey,
And the foe sees with envy so boundless a sway:
"And the blue sea, uplifting its treacherous wave,
In its wrath—in the hurricane-hour—
And the knife of the coward, the sword of the brave,
To slay thee shall never have power:
Within thy strong harness no wound shalt thou know,
For a guardian unseen shall defend thee below.
"Thy steed fears not labour, nor danger, nor pain,
His lord's lightest accent he heareth,
Now still, though the arrows fall round him like rain,
Now o'er the red field he careereth;
He fears not the winter, he fears not to bleed—
Yet thy death-wound shall come from thy good battle-steed!"
Olég smiled a moment, but yet on his brow,
And lip, thought and sorrow were blended:
In silence he bent on his saddle, and slow
The Prince from his courser descended;
And as though from a friend he were parting with pain,
He strokes his broad neck and his dark flowing mane.
"Farewell then, my comrade, fleet, faithful, and bold!
We must part—such is Destiny's power:
Now rest thee—I swear, in thy stirrup of gold
No foot shall e'er rest, from this hour.
Farewell! we've been comrades for many a long year—
My squires, now I pray ye, come take my destrere.
"The softest of carpets his horse-cloth shall be:
And lead him away to the meadow;
On the choicest of corn he shall feed daintilie,
He shall drink of the well in the shadow."
[Pg 148] Then straightway departed the squires with the steed,
And to valiant Olég a fresh courser they lead.
Olég and his comrades are feasting, I trow;
The mead-cups are merrily clashing:
Their locks are as white as the dawn-lighted snow
On the peak of the mountain-top flashing:
They talk of old times, of the days of their pride,
And the fights where together they struck side by side.
"But where," quoth Olég, "is my good battle-horse?
My mettlesome charger—how fares he?
Is he playful as ever, as fleet in the course;
His age and his freedom how bears he?"
They answer and say: on the hill by the stream
He has long slept the slumber that knows not a dream.
Olég then grew thoughtful, and bent down his brow:
"O man, what can magic avail thee!
A false lying dotard, Enchanter, art thou:
Our rage and contempt should assail thee.
My horse might have borne me till now, but for thee
Then the bones of his charger Olég went to see.
Olég he rode forth with his spearmen beside;
At his bridle Prince Igor he hurried:
And they see on a hillock by Dniépr's swift tide
Where the steed's noble bones lie unburied:
They are wash'd by the rain, the dust o'er them is cast,
And above them the feather-grass waves in the blast.
Then the Prince set his foot on the courser's white skull;
Saying: "Sleep, my old friend, in thy glory!
Thy lord hath outlived thee, his days are nigh full:
At his funeral feast, red and gory,
'Tis not thou 'neath the axe that shall redden the sod,
That my dust may be pleasured to quaff thy brave blood.
"And am I to find my destruction in this?
My death in a skeleton seeking?"
From the skull of the courser a snake, with a hiss,
Crept forth, as the hero was speaking:
Round his legs, like a ribbon, it twined its black ring;
And the Prince shriek'd aloud as he felt the keen sting.
The mead-cups are foaming, they circle around;
At Olég's mighty Death-Feast they're ringing;
Prince Igor and Olga they sit on the mound;
The war-men the death-song are singing:
And they talk of old times, of the days of their pride,
And the fights where together they struck side by side.

We know not whether our readers will be attracted or repelled by the somewhat exaggerated tone of thought, and the strangeness and novelty of the metre, in the following little piece. The gloom of the despondency expressed in the lines is certainly Byronian—and haply "something more." It is to be hoped, however, that they may find favour in the eyes of the[Pg 149] English reader—always so "novitatis avidus,"—if only on the score of the singularity of the versification:—

When for the sons of men is stilled the day's turmoil,
And on the dumb streets of the city
With half-transparent shade sinks Night, the friend of Toil—
And Sleep—calm as the tear of Pity;
Oh, then, how drag they on, how silent, and how slow,
The lonely vigil-hours tormenting;
How sear they then my soul, those serpent fangs of woe,
Fangs of heart-serpents unrelenting!
Then burn my dreams: in care my soul is drown'd and dead,
Black, heavy thoughts come thronging o'er me;
Remembrance then unfolds, with finger slow and dread,
Her long and doomful scroll before me.
Then reading those dark lines, with shame, remorse, and fear,
I curse and tremble as I trace them,
Though bitter be my cry, though bitter be my tear,
Those lines—I never shall efface them:

There is another little composition in the same key.

"I have outlived the hopes that charm'd me."
I have outlived the hopes that charm'd me,
The dreams that once my heart could bless!
'Gainst coming agonies I've arm'd me,
Fruits of the spirit's loneliness.
My rosy wreath is rent and faded
By cruel Fate's sirocco-breath!
Lonely I live, and sad, and jaded,
And wait, and wait—to welcome death!
Thus, in the chilly tempest shivering,
When Winter sings his song of grief,
Lone on the bough, and feebly quivering,
Trembles the last belated leaf.

The following is a somewhat new version of the famous "E pur si muove" of Galileo.

"There is," once said the bearded sage, "no motion!"
The other straight 'gan move before his eyes:
The contrary no stronglier could he prove.
All praised the answerer's ingenious notion.
Now, Sirs; this story doth to me recall
A new example of the fact surprising:
We see each day the sun before us rising,
Yet right was Galileo, after all!

[Pg 150]

In the spirited lines addressed to "The Slanderers of Russia," Púshkin has recorded a sufficiently conclusive reply to the hackneyed calumnies against his country, repeated with such a nauseating uniformity, and through so long a period of time, in wretched verse, or more wretched prose, in the leading articles of obscure provincial newspapers, and on the scaffolding of obscure provincial hustings. Whatever may be the merits or demerits, in a moral point of view, of the part played by Russia in the events alluded to by the poet, events which form the stock subject of the scribblings and spoutings we speak of, these tiresome tirades do not come with a very good grace from either England or France. There is a very excellent and venerable proverb which expresses the imprudence of the practice of throwing stones, when indulged in by the inhabitant of an abode composed of a vitreous substance, not to mention a still more greybearded and not less wise saw, specifying, in terms rather forcible than dignified, the impolicy of the pot alluding in an opprobrious manner to the blackness which characterizes the sitting part of its fellow-utensil, the kettle; and the "wisdom of ages" might, in the present instance, be very reasonably adduced to moderate the excessive moral susceptibilities of the aforesaid writers and declaimers, and to restrain the feeble flood of words—the dirty torrent of shallow declamation, so incessantly poured forth against Russia on the subject of Poland. "Judge not, that ye be not judged!" is an excellent precept for the guidance of nations as well as of individuals; and, we think, a Russian, wearied by the tiresome repetition of the same accusations against his native country, can hardly be blamed for asking, in language even more energetic than that here employed by Púshkin, whether England or France have hands so clean, or a conscience so clear, as to justify them in their incessant and insolent attempt to sit in judgment upon their European sister. We certainly think that the recollection of the Affghan war, the bombardment of Copenhagen, of the splendid exploits of Whig policy and Whig non-intervention in Spain, might make England a little more modest, and a little less inclined to declaim against the wickedness of other nations—and as to France, her whole history, from the Republic to the present day, is nothing but a succession of lessons which might teach la grande nation to abstain from exhibiting herself in the character of a moral instructress to the world.

To the Slanderers of Russia.
Why rave ye, babblers, so—ye lords of popular wonder?
Why such anathemas 'gainst Russia do ye thunder?
What moves your idle rage? Is't Poland's fallen pride?
'Tis but Slavonic kin among themselves contending,
An ancient household strife, oft judged but still unending,
A question which, be sure, ye never can decide.
For ages past have still contended
These races, though so near allied:
And oft 'neath Victory's storm has bended
Now Poland's, and now Russia's side.
Which shall stand fast in such commotion,
The haughty Liákh, or faithful Russ?
And shall Slavonic streams meet in a Russian ocean—
Or that dry up? This is the point for us.
Peace, peace! your eyes are all unable
To read our history's bloody table;
Strange in your sight and dark must be
Our springs of household enmity!
To you the Kreml and Praga's tower
Are voiceless all—you mark the fate
[Pg 151] And daring of the battle-hour—
And understand us not, but hate ...
What stirs ye? Is it that this nation
On Moscow's flaming wall, blood-slaked and ruin-quench'd,
Spurn'd back the insolent dictation
Of Him before whose nod ye blench'd?
Is it that into dust we shatter'd
The Dagon that weigh'd down all earth so wearily?
And our best blood so freely scatter'd
To buy for Europe peace and liberty?
Ye're bold of tongue—but hark, would ye in deed but try it
Or is the hero, now reclined in laurell'd quiet,
Too weak to fix once more Izmáil's red bayonet?
Or hath the Russian Tsar ever in vain commanded?
Or must we meet all Europe banded?
Have we forgot to conquer yet?
Or rather, shall they not, from Perm to Tauris' fountains,
From the hot Colchian steppes to Finland's icy mountains,
From the grey Kreml's half-shatter'd wall,
To far Kathay, in dotage buried—
A steelly rampart close and serried,
Rise—Russia's warriors—one and all?
Then send your numbers without number,
Your madden'd sons, your goaded slaves,
In Russia's plains there's room to slumber,
And well they'll know their brethen's graves!

We are not sure whether we are right in yielding to the temptation of transcribing in these sheets so many of the smaller lyrics and fugitive pieces of our author; and whether that very charm of form and expression which attract so strongly our admiration to the originals, should not have rather tended to deter us from so difficult an attempt as that of transposing them into another language. The chief grace and value of such productions certainly consists less in the quantity or weight of the gold employed in their composition, than in the beauty and delicacy of the image stamped or graven upon the metal; and the critic may object against us, if our critic be in a severe mood (quod Dii avertant boni!) the rashness of the numismatist, who should hope, in recasting the exquisite medals of antique art, to retain—or even imperfectly imitate—the touches of the Ionic or the Corinthian chisel.

True as is the above reasoning with respect to the slighter productions of poetry in all languages, it is peculiarly true when applied to the smaller offspring of Púshkin's muse; and were we not sufficiently convinced of the danger and the arduousness of our attempt, by our own experience and by analogy, we should have found abundant reason for diffidence in the often repeated counsels of Russians, who all unite in asserting that there is something so peculiarly delicate and inimitable in the diction and versification of these little pieces, as to be almost beyond the reach of a foreigner's appreciation, and, consequently, that any attempt at imitation must, à fortiori, of necessity be a failure. Notwithstanding all this, and despite many sinister presages, we have obstinately persevered in our determination to clothe in an English dress those pieces, great and small—gems or flowers, productions perfumed by grace of diction, or heavy with weight of thought—which struck us most forcibly among the poems of our author; and we hope that our boldness, if not our success, may be rewarded with the approbation of such of our countrymen[Pg 152] as may be curious to know something of the tone and physiognomy of the Russian literature.

Clouds anew have gather'd o'er me,
Sad and grim, and dark and still;
Black and menacing before me
Glooms the Destiny of Ill ...
In contempt with fate contending,
Shall I bring, to meet her flood,
The enduring and unbending
Spirit of my youthful blood?
Worn with life-storm, cold and dreary,
Calmly I await the blast,
Saved from wreck, yet wet and weary,
I may find a port at last.
See, it comes—the hour thou fearest!
Hour escapeless! We must part!
Haply now I press thee, dearest,
For the last time, to my heart.
Angel mild and unrepining,
Gently breathe a fond farewell—
Thy soft eyes, through tear-drops shining,
Raised or lower'd—shall be my spell:
And thy memory abiding,
To my spirit shall restore
The hope, the pride, the strong confiding
Of my youthful days once more.

Perhaps our readers would like to see a Russian Sonnet. To many the name of such a thing will seem a union of two contradictory terms; but, nevertheless, here is a sonnet, and not a bad one either.

The Madonna.
With mighty pictures by the Great of Old
Ne'er did I long to deck my cell, intending
That visitors should gape and peer, commending
In Connoisseurship's jargon quaint and cold.
One picture only would I aye behold
On these still walls, 'mid these my toils unending;
One, and but one: From mists of cloudy gold
The Virgin Mother, o'er her Babe-God bending—
Her eyes with grandeur, His with reason bright—
Should calm look down, in glory and in light,
While Sion's palm beside should point to heaven.
[Pg 153] And God hath granted this fond prayer of mine:
Thou, my Madonna, thou to me wert given,
Divinest form of beauty most divine!

The last production which we shall present in our present bundle of samples, selected from Púshkin's lyrics, is the irregular ode entitled André Chénier. This composition is founded upon one of the most well-known and tragic episodes of the first French Revolution: the execution of the young and gifted poet whose name forms the title of the lines. The story of Chénier's imprisonment and untimely death, as well as the various allusions to the beautiful verses addressed by him to his fellow-prisoner, La Jeune Captive, to his calm bearing on the scaffold, and to the memorable exclamation which was made in the last accents ever uttered by his lips; all these things are, doubtless, sufficiently familiar to our readers; or, if not, a single reference, either to any of the thousand books describing that most bloody and yet powerfully attractive period of French history—nay, the simple turning to the article Chénier, in any biographical dictionary, will be amply sufficient to recall to the memory the principal facts of the sad story which Púshkin has made the subject of his noble elegy. It will be therefore unnecessary for us to detail the life and death of the hero of the poem, and we shall only throw together, in these short preliminary remarks, the few quotations and notes appended by the Russian poet to his work. These will not be found of any very formidable extent; and as the poem itself is not of a considerable length, we trust that the various passages, which these quotations are adduced to illustrate, will be sufficiently perceptible, without our submitting to the necessity of appending them in the form of marginal annotations or foot-notes, a necessity which would force us to load the text with those unsightly appendages to books in general, and to poetry in particular—the asterisks and daggers of marginal reference.

The supposed soliloquy of the martyred poet, which forms the principal portion of Púshkin's elegiac ode, is little else than an amplification, or pathetic and dignified paraphrase, of the exquisite composition actually written by Chénier on the eve of his execution; a composition become classical in the French literature:—

"Comme un dernier rayon, comme un dernier zephyr
Anime le soir d'un beau jour,
Au pied de l'échafaud j'essaie encore ma lyre."

Of the few persons to whom allusion is made in the verses, Abel, Fanny, and the Captive Maid, all that it is necessary to know is, that the first was one of his friends, the companion of his early happiness, and the fellow-labourer of his early studies—"Abel, doux confidant de mes jeunes mystères;" the second, one of his mistresses; and the third, a young lady, Mlle. de Coigny, who was for some time his fellow-prisoner, and the person to whom the poet addressed the touching verses which we have mentioned above. Mlle. de Coigny was the "Jeune Captive."

In justification of the very emphatic tone in which Púshkin has recorded the noble generosity and self-sacrifice which conducted Chénier to the revolutionary scaffold, it will be sufficient to quote the words of De la Touche, and to refer the reader to Chénier's Iambics, which drew down upon his head, and with good cause, the hatred and suspicion of Robespierre and his subordinate demons:—"Chénier avait mérité la haine des factieux. Il avait célébré Charlotte Corday, flétri Collot d'Herbois, attaqué Robespierre. On sait que le Roi avait demandé à l'Assemblée par une lettre pleine de calme et de dignité, le droit d'appeler au peuple du jugement qui le condamnait. Cette lettre, signée dans la nuit du 17 au 18 Janvier, est d'André Chénier."—H. De la Touche.

[Pg 154]

The unfortunate poet was executed on the 8th of Thermidor; i.e. the day before the fall of Robespierre. The fatal tumbril which bore Chénier to the guillotine, conveyed also to the same scaffold the poet Roucher, his friend:—"Ils parlèrent de la poesie à leurs derniers moments; pour eux, après l'amitiè, c'était la plus belle chose de la terre. Racine fût l'objet de leur entretien et de leur derrière admiration. Ils voulurent réciter ses vers; ils choisirent la prémière scène d'Andromaque."—H. de la Touche.

At the place of execution, Chénier struck his forehead with his hand, and exclaimed—"Pourtant j'avais quelque chose là!"

André Chénier.
"Ainsi, triste et captif, ma lyre toutefois S'éveillait."
While earth, with wonderment and fear,
O'er Byron's urn is sadly bending,
And unto Europe's dirge its ear
By Dante's side his shade is lending,
Another shade my voice doth crave,
Who erst, unsung, unwept, unfriended,
In the grim Terror-days descended
From the red scaffold, to the grave.
Love, Peace, the Woodlands, did inspire
That Poet's dreams, sublime and free;
And to that Bard a stranger's lyre
Shall ring—shall ring to him and thee.
The lifted axe—what! cannot slaughter tire?—
For a new victim calls again.
The bard is ready; hark, his pensive lyre
Awakes its last, its parting strain.
At dawn he dies—a mob-feast hot and gory;
But that young Poet's latest breath
What doth it sing? Freedom it sings and glory,
'Twas faithful even unto death.
"     *    *    *    *    *
*    *    *    *    *    *
*    *    *    *    *    *
*    *    *    *    *    *
*     *   "I shall not see ye, days of bliss and freedom:
The scaffold calls. My last hours wearily
Drag on. At dawn I die. The headsman's hand defiling,
By the long hair will lift my head on high
Above the crowd unmoved and smiling.
Farewell! My homeless dust, O friends! shall ne'er repose
In that dear spot where erst we pass'd 'neath sunny bowers
In science and in feasts our careless days, and chose
Beforehand for our urns a place among the flowers.
And if, my friends, in after years
With sadness my remembrance moves ye,
O, grant my dying prayer!—the prayer of one who loves ye:
Weep, loved ones, weep my lot, with still and silent tears;
Beware, or by those drops suspicion ye may waken;
In this bad age, ye know, e'en tears for crimes are taken:
Brother for brother now, alas! must weep no more.

[Pg 155]

And yet another prayer: you've listen'd o'er and o'er
Unto my idle rhymes, my spirit's careless breathings,
Mournful and gay by turns, traditions and bequeathings
Of all my vanish'd youth. And hopes, and joy, and pain,
And tears, and love, my friends, those burning leaves contain,
Yea, they contain my life. From Abel and from Fanny
Gather them all; for they are gifts of Muses many.
Keep them. The stern cold world, and fashion's gilded hall,
Shall never hear of them. Alas! my head must fall
Untimely: my unripe and crude imagination
To glory hath bequeath'd no grand and high creation;
I shall die all. But ye, who love my parting soul,
Keep for yourselves, O friends! my true though simple scroll;
And when the storm is past, in a fond crowd assemble
Sometimes to read my lines—to read, to weep, and tremble,
And weep, and read again, and say—Yes, this is he;
These are his words. And I, from death's cold fetter free,
Will rise unseen and sit among ye in the bower;
And drink your tears, as drinks the desert-sand the shower—
In sweet oblivion.... Then shall, haply, be repaid
All my love-woes, and thou, haply, my Captive Maid,
Will list my love-song then, pale, mournful, but relenting...."
But for a while the Bard ceased here his sad lamenting,
Ceased for a moment's space, and his pale head he bow'd.
The spring-days of his youth, loves, woes, a busy crowd,
Flitted before him. Girls with languid eyes and tender,
And feasts, and songs, and eyes of dark and burning splendour,
All, all revived; and far to the dim past he flew,
Dream-wing'd. But soon stream'd forth his murmur-song anew:—
"Why luredst thou me astray, thou Genius evil-fated?
For love, for quiet arts, and peace, I was created;
Why did I leave the shade, and life's untroubled way,
And liberty, and friends, and peace, more dear than they!
Fate lull'd my golden youth, and cast a glamour round me,
And joy, with careless hand, and happiness, had crown'd me,
And the Muse shared my hours of leisure, pure and free.
In those so joyous nights, lighted with friendly glee,
How rang that dear abode with rhyme and merry laughter—
Waking the household gods—how rang each shouting rafter!
Then, weary of the feast, I from the wine-cup turn'd,
For a new sudden fire within my bosom burn'd,
And to my lady's bower I flew upon the morrow,
And found her half in wrath and half in girlish sorrow,
And with fond threats, and tears bedimming her soft eyes,
She cursed my age, still drown'd in ceaseless revelries,
She drove me from her, wept, forgave, and pouting chided:
How sweetly then my time like some bright river glided!
Ah, why from this calm life, in youth's most golden prime,
Plunged I in this abyss, this seething hell of crime,
Of passions fierce and fell, black ignorance, and madness,
Malice, and lust of gold! O visionary Gladness!
Where hast thou lured me, where? And was it then for me,
A worshipper of love, of peace, and poesy,
To brawl with sworders vile, wretches who stab for hire!
Was it for me to tame the restive courser's fire
To shake the rein, or wield the mercenary blade!
And yet, what shall I leave?—A trace that soon shall fade,
Of blind and senseless zeal; of courage—idle merit!—
Be dumb, my voice, be dumb! And thou, thou lying spirit,

[Pg 156]

Thou word, thou empty sound....Oh no!
Be still, ye murmurings of weakness!
And thou, O Bard! with rapture glow:
Thou hast not bent, with slavish meekness,
Before our age's shame thy brow;
The splendours of the wicked spurning,
Thou wav'dst a torch, terrific burning,
Whose lurid lustre fiercely fell
On that foul nest of vulture-rulers;
Loud rang thy lash and reach'd them well.

Around them hiss'd thy winged verse;
Thou did'st invoke upon them the avenger;
Thou sang'st to Marat's worshippers
The dagger and the Virgin-Nemesis!
When that old holy man strove from the axe to tear
With a chain-laden hand his master's crowned head,
Thou gav'st thy hand unto the noble pair;
Before ye, struck with horror, fell
That Areopagus of hell.
Be proud, O Bard! and thou, fiend-wolf of blood and guile,
Sport with my head awhile;
'Tis in thy clutch. But hark! and know, thou Godless one,
My shout shall follow thee, my triumph-laugh of joy!
Aye, drink our blood, live to destroy:
Thou'rt but a pigmy still; thy race shall soon be run.
An hour will come, an hour thou can'st not flee—
Thou shalt fall, Tyrant! Indignation
Will Wake at last. The sobs and mournings of a nation
Will waken weary destiny.
But now I go.... 'Tis time.... But thou shalt follow me!
I wait thy coming."
Thus rang the Bard's dying lay,
And all was still around. The dim lamp's quiet ray
'Gan pale before the gleam of morning,
Into that dungeon stream'd the dawn-light of the day,
Upon the grate he bends a glance unshrinking....
A noise. They come, they call. There is no hope! 'Tis they!
Locks, bolts, and bars, and chains, are clinking.
They call.... Stay, stay; one day, but one day more,
And he shall live in liberty
A mighty citizen, when all is o'er,
Amid a nation great and free.
The silent train moves on. There stands the headsman grim;
But the Bard's path of death, the ray of friendship lighteth,
Murmuring Glory's name, he mounts—His brow he smiteth—
Weep, Muse, for him!

[Pg 157]



"Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea, puft up with wind
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And Heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in the pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?"


On returning to London I found the world in the "transition state." The spirit of the people was changed; the nature of the war was changed; the principle of the great parties in the legislature was changed. A new era of the contest had arrived; and, in the midst of the general perplexity as to the nature of the approaching events, every one exhibited a conviction, that when they came their magnitude would turn all the struggles of the past into child's play.

I, too, had my share in the change. I had now passed my public novitiate, and had obtained my experience of statesmanship on a scale, if too small for history, yet sufficiently large to teach me the working of the machinery. National conspiracy, the council-chamber, popular ebullition, and the tardy but powerful action of public justice, had been my tutors; and I was now felt, by the higher powers, to be not unfit for trust in a larger field. A seat in the English House of Commons soon enabled me to give satisfactory evidence that I had not altogether overlooked the character of the crisis; and, after some interviews with the premier, his approval of my conduct in Ireland was followed by the proposal of office, with a seat in the cabinet.

I had thus attained, in the vigour of life, a distinction for which hundreds, perhaps thousands, had laboured through life in vain. But mine was no couch of rosy prosperity. The period was threatening. The old days of official repose were past, never to return. The state of Europe was hourly assuming an aspect of the deepest peril. The war had hitherto been but the struggle of armies; it now threatened to be the struggle of nations. It had hitherto lived on the natural resources of public expenditure; it now began to prey upon the vitals of the kingdom. The ordinary finance of England was to be succeeded by demands pressing heavily on the existing generation, and laying a hereditary burden on all that were to follow. The nature of our antagonist deepened the difficulty. All the common casualties of nations were so far from breaking the enemy down, that they only gave him renewed power. Poverty swelled his ranks; confiscation swelled his coffers; bankruptcy gave him strength; faction invigorated his government; and insubordination made him invincible. In the midst of this confusion, even a new terror arose. The democracy of France, after startling Europe, had seemed to be sinking into feebleness and apathy, when a new wonder appeared in the political hemisphere, too glaring and too ominous to suffer our eyes to turn from it for a moment. The Consulate assumed the rule of France. Combining the fiery vigour of republicanism with the perseverance of monarchy, it now carried the whole force of the country into foreign fields. Every foreign capital began to tremble. The whole European system shook before a power which smote it with the force of a cannon-ball against a crumbling bastion. The extraordinary man who now took the lead in France, had touched the string which vibrated in the heart of every native of the soil. He had found them weary of the crimes of the democracy; he told them that a career of universal supremacy was open before them. He had found them degraded by the consciousness of riot and regicide; he told them that they were the chevaliers of the new age, and destined to eclipse the chevaliers of all the ages past. His [Pg 158] Italian campaigns, by their rapidity, their fine combinations, and their astonishing success, had created a new art of war. He had brought them romantic triumphs from the land of romance. Day by day the populace of the capital were summoned to see pageants of Italian standards, cannon, and prisoners. Every courier that galloped through the streets brought tidings of some new conquest; and every meeting of the Councils was employed in announcing the addition of some classic province, the overthrow of some hostile diadem, or the arrival of some convoy of those most magnificent of all the spoils of war, the treasures of the Italian arts. France began to dream of the conquest of the world.

The contrast between her past calamities and her present splendour, powerfully heightened the illusion. France loves illusion; she has always rejoiced in glittering deceptions, even with the perfect knowledge that they were deceptions; and here stood the most dazzling of political charlatans, the great wonder-worker, raising phantoms of national glory even out of the charnel. The wrecks of faction, the remnants of the monarchy, and the corpses lying headless in the shadow of the guillotine, gave all semblance to the conception—France was a charnel. Her people, by nature rushing into extremes, wild and fierce, yet gallant and generous, had become at length conscious of the national fall in the eyes of Europe. They had been scandalized by the rudeness, the baseness, and the brutishness, of rabble supremacy. They gazed upon their own crimsoned hands and tarnished weapons with intolerable disgust; and it was in this moment of depression that they saw a sudden beam of military renown shot across the national darkness. After so long defeat that it had extinguished all but the memory of her old triumphs, France was a conqueror; after a century of helpless exhaustion, she had risen into almost supernatural vigour; after a hundred years, scarcely marked by a single victory, her capital rang with the daily sound of successful battles against the veterans of Frederick and Maria Theresa; after lingering for generations in the obscurity so bitter to the popular heart, France had been suddenly thrown into the broadest lustre of European sovereignty. The world was changed; and the limits of that change offered only a more resistless lure to the popular passion, for their being still indistinct to the keenest eye of man.

But our chief struggle was at home, and the reaction of our foreign disasters came with terrible weight upon a cabinet already tottering. We saw its fate. Days and nights of the most anxious consultation, could not relieve us from the hourly increasing evidence, that the Continent was on the verge of ruin. The voice of Opposition, reinforced by the roar of the multitude, could no longer be shut out by the curtains of the council-chamber. Fox, always formidable, was never more confident and more popular, than when he made the House ring with prophecies of national downfall. His attacks were now incessant. He flung his hand-grenades night after night into our camp, and constantly with still greater damage. We still fought, but it was the fight of despair. Pitt was imperturbable; but there was not one among his colleagues who did not feel the hopelessness of calling for public reliance, when, in every successive debate, we heard the leader of Opposition contemptuously asking, what answer we had to the Gazette crowded with bankruptcy? to the resolutions of great bodies of the people denouncing the war? or to the deadly evidence of its effects in the bulletin which he held in his hand, announcing some new defeat of our allies; some new treaty of submission; some new barter of provinces for the precarious existence of foreign thrones?

In all my recollections of public life, this was the period of the deepest perplexity. The name of the great minister has been humiliated by those who judge of the past only by the present. But then all was new. The general eye of statesmanship had been deceived by the formal grandeur of the continential sovereignties. They had lain untouched, like the bodies of their kings, with all their armour on, and with every feature unchanged; and such they might have remained for ages to come, had not a new force broken open their gilded and sculptured shrines, [Pg 159] torn off their cerements, and exposed them to the light and air. Then a touch extinguished them; the armour dropped into dust; the royal robes dissolved; the royal features disappeared; and the whole illusion left nothing but its moral behind.

It can be no dishonour to the memory of the first of statesmen, to acknowledge that he had not the gift of prophecy. Europe had never before seen a war of the people. The burning passions, rude vigour, and remorseless daring of the multitude, were phenomena of which man knows no more than he knows of the materials of destruction which lie hid in the central caverns of the globe, and which some new era may be suffered to develope, for the new havoc of posterity. Even to this hour, I think that the true source of revolutionary triumph has been mistaken. It was not in the furious energy of its factions, nor in the wild revenge of the people, nor even in the dazzling view of national conquest. These were but gusts of the popular tempest, currents of the great popular tide. But the mighty mover of all was the sudden change from the disgusts and depressions of serfdom, into a sense that all the world of possession lay before the bold heart and the ruthless hand. Every form of wealth and enjoyment was offered to the man who had begun life in the condition of one chained to the ground, and who could never have hoped to change his toil but for the grave. But the barrier was now cast down, and all were free to rush in. The treasury of national honours was suddenly flung open, and all might share the spoil. This was the true secret of the astonishing power of the Revolution. The man who was nothing to-day, might be everything to-morrow. The conscript might be a captain, a colonel, a general, before the Austrian or Prussian soldier could be a corporal. Who can wonder at the march of France, or the flight of her enemies?

Although every night now produced a debate, and the demand on the activity and vigilance of ministers was incessant and exhausting, the real debates in both Houses were few in comparison with those of later times. In those pitched battles of the great parties, their whole strength was mustered from every quarter; the question was long announced; and its decision was regarded as giving the most complete measure of the strength of the Cabinet and Opposition. One of these nights came, unfortunately for ministers, on the very day in which the bulletin arrived, announcing the signature of the first Austrian armistice. The passage of the Tyrol had stripped Austria of its mountain barrier. Terror had done the rest; and the armistice was signed within three marches of Vienna! The courier who had been sent to the Austrian ambassador, and had been permitted to pass through France, reported the whole nation to be in a frenzy of triumph. He had every where seen civic processions, military displays, and illuminations in the cities. The exultation of the people had risen to the utmost height of national enthusiasm; and Europe was pronounced, by every Frenchman, from the Directory to the postilion, to be at their feet.

This intelligence was all but fatal. If a shower of cannon-balls had been poured in upon the ministerial benches, it could scarcely have produced a more sweeping effect. It was clear that the sagacity of the "independent members"—only another name for the most flexible portion of the House—was fully awake to the contingency; the "waiters upon Providence," as they were called, with no very reverent allusion, were evidently on the point of deciding for themselves; and the "King's friends"—a party unknown to the constitution, but perfectly knowing, and known by, the treasury—began to move away by small sections; and, crowded as the clubs were during the day, I never saw the minister rise with so few of his customary troops behind him. But the Opposition bench was crowded to repletion; and their leader sat looking round with good-humoured astonishment, and sometimes with equally good-humoured burlesque, on the sudden increase of his recruits. The motion was in answer to a royal message on continental subsidies. Nothing could have been more difficult than the topic at that juncture. But I never listened to Pitt with more genuine admiration. Fox, in his declamatory [Pg 160] bursts, was superior to every speaker whom I have ever heard. His appearance of feeling was irresistible. It seemed that, if one could have stripped his heart, it could scarcely have shown its pulsations more vividly to the eye, than they transpired from his fluent and most eloquent tongue. But if Fox was the most powerful of declaimers, Pitt was the mightiest master of the language of national council. He, too, could be occasionally glowing and imaginative. He could even launch the lighter weapons of sarcasm with singular dexterity; but his true rank was as the ruler of Empire, and his true talent was never developed but when he spoke for the interests of Empire.

On this night he was more earnest and more impressive than ever; the true description would have been, more imperial. He spoke, less like a debater, than like one who held the sceptre in his hand; and one who also felt that he was transmitting his wisdom as a parting legacy to a great people.

A portion of that speech, which ought never to be forgotten by the leaders of public affairs in England, was singularly full and powerful. Referring to the calumniated Revolution of 1688—"We now stand," said he, "almost in the same position with respect to France and Europe, in which the government of William III. stood a century ago. We have only to substitute the democracy of France for the monarchy; and Europe enfeebled by the shocks of war, as it is now, for Europe untouched and intrepid, awake to the ambition of the French king, and determined to meet him sword in hand. But the King of England was even then the guiding mind of Europe. I now demand, what was the redeeming policy of that pre-eminent sovereign? It was, never to despair of the triumph of principle; never to doubt of the ultimate fortunes of good in a contest with evil; and never to hesitate in calling upon a great and free people for the defence of that constitution which had made them great and free."

Those high-toned sentiments were received with loud cheers. Even Opposition felt the natural force of the appeal, and the cheering was universal; party was forgotten for the time, and the name of England, and the revived glory of those illustrious days, bowed the whole House at the will of the great orator. In the midst of their enthusiasm, he took from the table a volume of the records, and read the final address of William to his Parliament; the bequest of a dying king to the people whom he had rescued from slavery. This royal speech had evidently formed his manual of government, and, certainly, a nobler declaration never came from the throne.

"My Lords and Gentlemen—I promise myself that you are met together with that just sense of the common danger of Europe, and that resentment of the late proceedings of the French king, which have been so fully and universally expressed in the loyal and seasonable addresses of my people." In allusion to the French plan of universal monarchy in the reign of Louis XIV., the speech pronounced that the alliance of Spain was the commencement of a system for subjugating Europe. "It is fit," said the King, "that I should tell you that the eyes of all Europe are upon this Parliament—all matters are at a stand until your resolutions are known; and therefore no time ought to be lost.

"You have yet an opportunity, by God's blessing, to secure to yourselves and your posterity the quiet enjoyment of your religion and liberties, if you are not wanting to yourselves, but will exert the utmost vigour of the English nation. But I tell you plainly, that if you do not lay hold of this occasion, you have no reason to hope for another." One of the measures proposed was, for the maintenance of the public good faith. "I cannot but press upon you," said the King, "to take care of the public credit, which cannot be preserved but by keeping sacred the maxim, that they shall never be losers who trust to parliamentary security.

"Let me conjure you to disappoint the only hopes of your enemies by your unanimity. I have shown, and will always show, how desirous I am to be the common father of all my people: do you, in like manner, lay aside parties and divisions; let there be no other distinction heard of amongst us, but of those who are for the [Pg 161] Protestant religion and the present establishment; and of those who mean a Popish prince and a French government.

"I shall only add this; that if you do, in good earnest, desire to see England hold the balance of Europe, and to be indeed at the head of the Protestant interest, it will appear by the present opportunity."

Daylight shone on the windows of St Stephen's before the debate closed. The minister had retired immediately after his exhausting speech, and left his friends to sustain the combat. It was long and fierce; but Opposition was again baffled, and the division gave us a lingering majority. It was now too late, or too early, to go to rest; and I had returned to my official apartments, to look over some returns required for the next council, when, my friend the secretary tapped at my door. His countenance looked care-worn; and for a few moments after he had sat down, he remained in total silence, with his forehead resting on his hands. This was so unlike the cheerful spirit of former times—times in which he had seemed to defy, or almost to enjoy, the struggles of public life—that I began to express alarm for his health. But he interrupted me by a look of the deepest distress, and the words "Pitt is dying." No words could be fuller of ill omen, and my anxiety was equal to his own. "My meaning," said he, "is not, that he must die to-day, or to-morrow, nor in six months, nor perhaps in a year, but that the statesman is dead. He must speak no more, act no more, and even think no more, or he must go to his grave. This night has finished the long supremacy of the noblest mind that ever ruled the councils of this country. William Pitt may live, but the minister has finished his days."

"Yet," I remarked, "I never heard him more animated or more impressive than on this night. He absolutely broke down all resistance. His mind seemed richer than ever, and his combination of facts and reasoning appeared to me unequalled by even his greatest previous efforts. I should have almost pronounced him to be inspired by the increased difficulties of the time."

"True—yet I conveyed him from the House, fainting;—I have sate, along with his physician, at his bedside ever since, applying restoratives to him, with scarcely a hope of recovery. It is plain that another night of such effort would be too much for his frame; and the question on which I have now come to summon an immediate meeting of our friends, turns on the means of calming public opinion until he shall be able to appear in his place once more. His career is unquestionably at an end, but his name is powerful still; and though another trial of his powers in Parliament would cost him his life, still, as the head of the cabinet, he might effect, for a while, all the principal purposes of an administration."

I doubted the possibility of encountering the present strength of Opposition, reinforced, as it was, by calamity abroad, and asked, "Whether any expedient was contemplated, to restore the public fortunes on the Continent?"

"Every point of that kind has been long since considered," was the answer. "Our alliances have all failed; and we are now reproached, not simply with the folly of paying for inefficient help, but with the cruelty of dragging the states of Europe into a contest, where to be crushed was inevitable."

I still urged an enquiry into the strength of states which had never been sharers in the war. "If the minor German powers have been absorbed; if Prussia has abandoned the cause; if Austria has fought in vain—is the world included in Germany?" I threw the map of Europe on the table. "See what a narrow circle comprehends the whole space to which we have hitherto limited the defence of society against the enemy of all social order. Our cause is broader than Austria and Prussia; it is broader than Europe; it is the cause of civilization itself; and why not summon all civilization to its defence? Russia alone has an army of half a million, yet she has never fired a shot." Still, I found it difficult to convince my fellow minister.

"Russia—jealous, ambitious, and Asiatic; Russia, with the Eastern world for her natural field—what object can she have in relieving the broken powers of the Continent? Must she not rather rejoice in the defeats and [Pg 162] convulsions which leave them at her mercy?" I still continued to urge him.

"Rely upon it; it is in the North that we must look for the reinforcement. If the councils of Catharine were crafty, the councils of her successor may be sincere. Catharine thought only of the seizure of Turkey; Paul may think only of the profits of commerce. Yet, is it altogether justifiable to suppose that monarchs may not feel the same sympathies, the same principles of honour—nay, the same abhorrence of a sanguinary republicanism—which a private individual might feel in any other instance of oppression?"

"Still, Marston, I am at a loss to know by what influence a British government could urge a Russian despotism into a contest, a thousand miles from its frontier; in which it can gain no accession of territory, and but little accession of military fame; and all this, while it is itself perfectly secure from all aggression."

"All true; but remember the striking commencement of Voltaire's Memoir of Peter—'Who could have pretended to say, in the year 1700, that a magnificent and polished court would be formed at the extremity of the Gulf of Finland; that the inhabitants of Cazan and the banks of the Wolga would be ranked among disciplined warriors, and, after beating the Turk and the Swede, gain victories in Germany? That a desert of two thousand leagues in length, should, in the space of fifty years, extend its influence to all the European courts; and that, in 1759, the most zealous patron of literature in Europe should be a Russian sovereign? The man who had said this would have been regarded as the most chimerical mortal on earth.' But all this has been done, and the career is not closed. More will be done still. It may even be our most essential policy to bring Russia into full collision with France. She is now the only rival: and I shall scarcely regret the fall of the German sovereignties, if it clears the field, to bring face to face the two great powers which hold at their sword's point the fate of the Continent."

A month passed, of perpetual difficulty in the cabinet, of ill news from abroad, and of violent discontents among the people. A deficient harvest had come, to increase the national murmurs; a season of peculiar inclemency had added its share to the public vexations; and I fully experienced the insufficiency of office, and of the showy honours of courts, to constitute happiness. But a new scene was reserved for me. Casual as my conversation with the secretary of state had been, it was not forgotten: it had been related to the minister; and it had so far coincided with the conceptions of a mind, which seemed to comprehend every chance of human things, that I was shortly sent for, to enter into the necessary explanations. The result was, the offer of a mission to St Petersburg. The proposal was so unexpected, that I required time for my answer. I must abandon high employment at home for a temporary distinction abroad; my knowledge of Russia was slight; the character of the Czar was eccentric; and the success of an embassy, dependent on the most capricious of mankind, was so uncertain, that the result might strip me of whatever credit I already possessed.

But, there was one authority, to which I always appealed. I placed the proposal in the hands of Clotilde; and she settled all my doubts at once, by declaring, "that it was the appointment which, if she had been suffered to choose, she would have selected, in preference to all others, for its honour and its services." I had no power to resist such pleadings—seconded as they were by the rosiest smiles, and the most beaming eyes. But Clotilde was still the woman, and I only valued her the more for it.—Her sincerity had not a thought to hide; and she acknowledged her delight at the prospect of once more treading on the soil of the Continent; at gazing even on the borders of her native land, excluded as she might be from its entrance; at the enjoyment of seeing continental life in the brilliant animation of its greatest court; and at mingling with the scene in a rank which entitled her to its first distinctions.

"But, Clotilde, how will you reconcile your tastes to the wild habits [Pg 163] of Russia, and even to the solemn formalities of a northern court?"

"They both present themselves to me," was her answer, "with the charm at once of novelty and recollection. From my nursery days, the names of Peter, Catharine, and their marvellous city, rang in the ears of all Paris. Romance had taken refuge at the pole; Voltaire, Buffon, D'Alembert—all the wit, and all the philosophy of France—satirized the French court under the disguise of Russian panegyric; and St Petersburg was to us the modern Babylon—a something compounded of the wildness of a Scythian desert, and the lustre of a Turkish tale."

The ministerial note had been headed "most secret and confidential," and as such I had regarded it. But I soon saw the difficulty of keeping "a state secret." I had scarcely sent in my acceptance of the appointment, when I found a letter on my table from my old Israelite friend, Mordecai, congratulating me on "my decision." It was in his usual abrupt style:—

"I was aware of the minister's offer to you within twelve hours after it was made. I should have written to you, urging its acceptance; but I preferred leaving your own judgment to settle the question. Still, I can give you some personal knowledge on the subject of Russia. I have been there for the last six months. My daughter—for what purpose I have never been able to ascertain—took a sudden whim of hating Switzerland, and loving the snows and deserts of the North. But I have known the sex too long, ever to think of combating their wills by argument.—The only chance of success is to give way to them. Mariamne, sick of hills and valleys, and unable to breathe in the purest air of the globe, determined to try the exhalations from the marshes of the Neva. But, she is my child, after all—the only being for whom I live—and I was peculiarly grateful that she had not fixed on Siberia, or taken a resolution to live and die at Pekin. I do not regret my journey. It has thrown a new light on me. I must acknowledge to you, that I was astonished at Russia. I had known it in early life, and thought that I knew it well. But it is singularly changed. The spirit of the people—the country—the throne itself—have undergone the most remarkable of silent revolutions, and the most effective of all. Russia is now Russia no longer; she is Greece, Germany, France—and she will yet be England. Her politics and her faculties, alike, embrace the civilized world. She is Greece in her subtlety, Germany in her intelligence, and France in her ambition. St Petersburg is less the capital of her empire, though of all capitals the most magnificent, than an emblem of her mind. I often stood on the banks of the Neva, and, looking round me on their mass of palaces, involuntarily asked myself—Could all this have been the work of a single mind? Other capitals have been the work of necessity, of chance, of national defence, of the mere happiness of location. But this was founded in ambition alone—founded by the sovereign will of one who felt, that in it he was erecting an empire of conquest; and that from this spot, in after ages, was to pour forth the force that was to absorb every other dominion of the world. Peter fixed on the site of his city to tell this to the world. I see in its framer, and in its site, the living words—'I fix my future capital in a wilderness—in a swamp—in a region of tempests—on the shores of an inhospitable sea—in a climate of nine months' winter—to show that I am able to conquer all the obstacles of nature. I might have fixed it on the shores of the Euxine—in the most fertile regions of Asia—in the superb plains of central Russia—or on the banks of the Danube; but I preferred fixing it in the extremity of the North, to show that the mind and power of Russia dreaded no impediments, of either man or nature.'

"I am now in London for a week. You will find me in my den."

I visited him "in his den;" and it deserved the name as much as ever. Not a pane had been cleared of its dinginess; not a cobweb had been swept from its ceiling; nothing had been removed, except the pair of living skeletons who once acted as his attendants. They had been removed by the Remover of all things; and were succeeded by a pair, so[Pg 164] similar in meagreness and oddity of appearance, that I could not have known the change, except for its mention by their master, congratulating himself on being so "fortunate" in finding substitutes. I found Mordecai immersed in day-books and ledgers, and calculating the exchanges with as much anxiety as if he were not worth a shilling. But his look was more languid than before, and his powerful eye seemed to have sunk deeper beneath his brow.

"You are probably surprised at seeing me here;" said he, "but I have more reason than ever to be here. There is a time for all things, but not if we throw it away. My last excursion to Poland has revived my zeal in behalf of my nation; and as years advance on me, like the rest of the world, I find that I must only exert myself the more."

"But, Mordecai, you are opulent; you can have no necessity for abandoning the natural indulgences of life. You will only shorten your days by this toil. At least why do you linger in this dungeon?"

He smiled grimly. "It is a dungeon, and I only value it the more. To this dungeon, as you call it, come, day by day, some of the haughtiest names of the land. If I lived in some west-end Square, with my drawing-room filled with Louis Quatorze gew-gaws, and half-a-dozen idle fellows in livery to announce my visitors, I should not feel the hundredth part of the sense of superiority, the contemptuous triumph, the cool consciousness of the tyranny of gold, which I feel when I see my shrinking supplicants sitting down among my dusty boxes and everlasting cobwebs. I shall not suffer a grain of dust to be cleared away. It is my pride—it is my power—it is my revenge."

His visage assumed so completely the expression which I had always imagined for Shylock, that I should scarcely have been surprised if I had seen him produce the knife and the scales.

"You are surprised at all this," said he after a pause, in which he fixed his searching eyes on me. "I see by your countenance, that you think me a Goth, a monster, a savage.—I think myself none of those things. I am a man; and, if I am not much deceived, I am also a philosopher. My life has been a perpetual struggle through a world where every one worships self. My nation are scorned, and they struggle too. The Jew has been injured, not by the individual alone, but by all mankind; and has he not a right to his revenge? He has at last found the means. He is now absorbing the wealth of all nations. With the wealth he will have the power; and another half century will not elapse, before all the grand questions of public council—nay, of national existence—must depend on the will of the persecuted sons of Abraham. Who shall rise, or who shall fall; who shall make war, or who shall obtain peace; what republic shall be created, or what monarchy shall be rent in pieces—will henceforth be the questions, not of cabinets, but of the 'Change. There are correspondences within this escritoire, worth all the wisdom of all the ministers of earth. There are commands at the point of this pen, which the proudest statesmanship dares not controvert. There is in the chests round you a ruler more powerful than ever before held the sceptre—the dictator of the globe; the true Despot is Gold."

After this wild burst, he sank into silence; until, to change the fever of his thoughts, I enquired for the health of his daughter. The father's heart overcame him again.

"My world threatens to be a lonely one, Mr Marston," said he in a feeble voice. "You see a heartbroken man. Forgive the bitterness with which I have spoken. Mariamne, I fear, is dying; and what is wealth now to me? I have left her in Poland among my people. She seemed to feel some slight enjoyment in wandering from place to place; but her last letter tells me that she is wearied of travelling, and has made up her mind to live and die where she may be surrounded by her unhappy nation. I remain here only to wind up my affairs, and in a week I quit England—and for ever."

But a new object caught my glance. Mordecai—who, while he was thus speaking in paroxysms of alternate indignation and sorrow, had never for a moment ceased to turn over his books and boxes—had accidentally [Pg 165] shaken a pile of tin cases from its pinnacle, and the whole rolled down at my feet. On one of them I saw, with no very strong surprise, the words—"Mortgage—Mortimer Castle." The eyes of both glanced in the same direction.

"There," said the Israelite, "you have your paternal acres in your hand—your Plantagenet forests, and your Tudor castle, all in a cubic foot. On the chair where you are now sitting, your lordly brother sat yesterday, gathering up his skirts from the touch of every thing round him, and evidently suffering all the torture of a man of fashion, forced to smile on the holder of his last mortgage. He is ruined—not worth a sixpence; Melton and Newmarket have settled that question for him. But do you recognise that hand?" He drew a letter from his portfolio. I knew the writing: it was from my mother—on whom, now old and feeble, this accomplished roué had been urging the sale of her jointure. Helpless and alone, she had consented to this fatal measure; and my noble brother's visit to the Israelite had been for the purpose of inducing him to make the purchase.

I started up in indignation; declared that the result must reduce my unfortunate parent to beggary; and demanded by what means I could possibly prevent what was "neither more nor less than an act of plunder."

"I see no means," said Mordecai coolly, "except your making the purchase yourself, and thus securing the jointure to her ladyship. It is only ten thousand pounds."

"I make the purchase! I have not the tenth part of the money upon earth. I ask you, what is to be done?"

"Your brother has here the power of selling—and will sell, if the starvation of fifty mothers stood in his way. Newmarket suffers no qualms of that kind; and, when his matters there are settled, his coachmaker's bill for landaulets and britchskas will make him a pedestrian for the rest of his life. But I have refused the purchase; and it was chiefly on this subject that I was induced to invite you to my 'dungeon,' as you not unjustly term it."

The picture of a mother, of whom I had always thought with the tenderness of a child, cast out in her old age to poverty, with the added bitterness of being thus cast out by her reliance on the honour of a cruel and treacherous son, rose before my eyes with such pain, that I absolutely lost all power of speech, and could only look the distress which I felt. Mordecai gazed on me with an enquiring countenance.

"You love this mother, Mr Marston. You are a good son. We Israelites, with all our faults, respect the feelings which 'honour the father and the mother.' It is a holy love, and well earned by the cares and sorrows of parentage." He paused, and covered his forehead with his gigantic hands. I could hear him murmur the name of his daughter. The striking of a neighbouring church clock startled him from his reverie.

Suddenly again bustling among his papers, he said—"Within this half hour, your brother is to call again for my definitive answer. Now, listen to me. The jointure shall be purchased." I bit my lip; but he did not leave me long in suspense—"And you shall be the purchaser." He wrote a cheque for the amount, and placed it in my hand.

"Mordecai, you are a noble fellow! But how am I to act upon this? I am worth nothing. I might as well attempt to repay millions."

"Well, so be it, Mr Marston. You are a man of honor, and a good son. You will repay it when you can. I exact but one condition: that you will come and visit Mariamne and me in Poland."

A loud knock at the hall-door put an end to our interview.

"That is your brother," said he. "You must not see him, as I choose to keep the name of the purchaser to myself. Take your mother's letter with you; and give her my best advice to write no more—at least to such correspondents as his lordship."

I rose to take my leave. He followed me hastily; and, taking me by the hand, said—"Another condition I have to make. It is, that not a syllable of all that has passed between us on this subject shall be suffered to transpire. I should make but a bad figure on 'Change, if I were suspected of transactions in that style. Remember, it must be a profound secret to all the world."

[Pg 166]

"Even to my wife?" I asked. "Is she included?"

"No, no," he replied, with a faint laugh; "I look upon you as a mere mortal still. All vows are void in their nature, which require impossibilities in their execution." We parted.

I told my little city tale to Clotilde. She wept and smiled alternately, as I told it. Mordecai received all his due praise; and we pledged ourselves to find out his Mariamne, in whatever corner of the Lithuanian wilderness she might have hidden her fantastic heart and head. But I had now another duty. Within a few hours, we were on our way to the jointure-house. It was a picturesque old building, the residence of the Father Abbot, in the times before the insatiable hand of Somerset had fallen upon the monasteries. We reached it in the twilight of a gentle day, when all its shrubs and flowers were filling the air with freshness and fragrance. I found my mother less enfeebled than I had expected; and still affectionate and tender, as she had always been to her long-absent son. She was still fully susceptible of the honours which had now opened before me. Clotilde almost knelt before her noble air and venerable beauty. My mother could not grow weary with gazing on the expressive countenance of my beautiful wife. I had secured my parent's comfort for life; and I, too, was happy.

My embassy, like all other embassies, had its vexations; but on the whole I had reason to congratulate myself on its acceptance. My reception at St Petersburg was most distinguished; I had arrived at a fortunate period. The French expedition to Egypt had alarmed the Russian councils for Constantinople; a possession to which every Russian looks, in due time, as naturally as to the right of his copecks and caftan. But the victory of Aboukir, which had destroyed the French fleet, again raised the popular exultation, and English heroism was the topic of every tongue. The incomparable campaign of the Russian army in Italy; the recovery, in three months, of all which it had cost the power of France, and the genius of her greatest general, in two years of pitched battles, sanguinary sieges, artful negotiation, and incessant intrigue, to obtain, excited the nation to the highest degree of enthusiasm, and the embassy basked in the broadest sunshine of popularity. Fête now succeeded fête; the standards taken in Suwarrow's battles, the proudest trophies ever won by Russian arms, were carried in procession to the cathedral; illuminations of the capital, balls in the palaces, and public sports on the waters and banks of the Neva, kept St Petersburg in a perpetual tumult of joy.

But all was not sunshine: the character of the sovereign in a despotism demands perpetual study; and Paul was freakish and headstrong beyond all human calculation. No man was more misunderstood at a distance, nor less capable of being understood near. He had some striking qualities. He was generous, bold, and high-principled; but the simplest accident would turn all those qualities into their reverse. To-day he was ready to devote himself to the cause of Europe; every soldier of Russia must march: but, when the morrow came, he revoked the order for his troops, and cashiered the secretaries who had been rash enough to take him at his word. The secret was in his brain; disease was gathering on his intellect, and he was daily becoming dangerous to those nearest him. The result was long foreseen. In Spain, Gil Blas recommends that no man who wishes for long life should quarrel with his cook. In Russia, let no Czar rouse the suspicions of his courtiers. As the Pagans hung chaplets on the statues of their gods in victory, and flogged them in defeat, the Russians, in every casualty of their arms, turned a scowling eye upon their liege lord: and the retreat of Suwarrow, the greatest of Russian soldiers, from Switzerland, at once stripped the Emperor of all his popularity.

My position now became doubly anxious. Even despots love popularity, and the Czar was alternately furious and frightened at its loss. Guards were planted in every part of the city, with orders to disperse all groups. Every man who looked at the Imperial equipage as it passed through the streets, was in danger of being arrested as an assassin. Nobles were suddenly exiled—none knew why, or where. The cloud was thickening [Pg 167] round the palace. It is a perilous thing to be the one object on which every eye involuntary turns, as the cause of public evil. Rumours of conspiracy rose and died, and were heard again. In free governments public discontents have room to escape, and they escape. In despotisms they have no room to evaporate, and they condense until they explode. St Petersburg at length became a place of silence and solitude by day, and of murmurs and meetings by night. It reminded one of Rome in the days of Nero; and I looked with perpetual alarm for the catastrophe of Nero.

The Russian is a submissive man, and even capable of strong attachment to the throne: but there is no spot of the earth where national injury is more deeply resented; and Paul had been regarded as tarnishing the fame of Russia. His abandonment of Suwarrow—a warrior, of whom the annals of the Russian army will bear record to the end of time—had stung all classes. More than a soldier, Suwarrow was a great military genius. He gained battles without tactics, and in defiance of them. He had astonished the Austrian generals by the fierce rapidity of his movements; he had annihilated the French armies in Italy by the desperate daring of his attacks. Wherever Suwarrow came, he was conqueror. In his whole career he had never been beaten. The soldiery told numberless tales of his eccentricity—laughed at, mimicked, and adored him. The nation honoured him as the national warrior. But the failure of some of his detached corps in Switzerland had embarrassed the campaign; and Paul, capricious as the winds, hastily recalled him. The popular indignation now burst out in every form of anger. Placards fixed at night on the palace walls; gipsy ballads sung in the streets; maskers, at the countless balls of the nobles; satires in quaint verse, and national proverbs, showed the public resentment to be universal. Every incident furnished some contemptuous comment. The Czar had built a wing to one of the palaces of Catharine. The addition wanted the stateliness of the original fabric. This epigram was posted on the building, in angry Slavonic:—

"One built a palace, one a stall.
One marble; one a plaster wall.
One sure to stand; one sure to fall.
So much for Catharine—and for Paul!"

In the midst of this growing perplexity, the English messenger arrived. His tidings had been long anticipated, yet they came with the effect of a thunderclap. The cabinet had resigned! I of course now waited only for my order to return. But, in the mean time, this event formidably increased the difficulties of my position. Foreigners will never allow themselves to comprehend the nature of any English transaction whatever. They deal with them all as if they were scenes on a stage. In the incorrigible absurdity of their theatrical souls, they imagine a parliamentary defeat to be a revolution, and the change of a ministry the fall of an empire. Paul instantly cast off all his old partialities. He pronounced England undone. The star of France was to be the light of the west; he himself to be the luminary of the east. The bold ambition of Catharine was to be realized; however, without the system or the sagacity of her imperial genius. But Paul was to learn the terrible lesson of a despotic government. The throne separated from the people, is the more in peril the more widely it is separated. The people would not be carried along with their master to the feet of his new political idol. The substantial virtues of the national character resisted that French alliance, which must be begun at once by prostration and ingratitude. France was their new taunter. England was their old ally. They hated France for its republican insolence; they honoured England for its resolute determination to fight out the battle, not for its own sake alone, but for the cause of all nations. Paul, in the attempt to partition the globe, was narrowing his supremacy to his own sepulchre.

Yet, this time of national gloom was the most splendid period of the court. With the double purpose of recovering his popularity, and concealing his negotiations, Paul plunged into the most extraordinary festivity. Balls, masquerades, and fêtes succeeded each other with restless extravagance. But the contrast of the saturnine Emperor with[Pg 168] the sudden change of his court was too powerful. It bore the look of desperation; though for what purpose, was still a mystery to the million. I heard many a whisper among the diplomatic circle, that this whirl of life, this hot and fierce dissipation, was, in all Russian reigns, the sure precursor of a catastrophe; though none could yet venture to predict its nature. It was like the furious and frenzied indulgence of a crew in a condemned ship, breaking up the chests and drinking the liquors, in the conviction that none would survive the voyage. Even I, with all my English disregard of the speculative frivolities which to the foreigner are substance and facts, was startled by the increasing glare of those hurried and feverish festivities. More than once, as I entered the imperial saloon, crowded with the civil and military uniforms of every court of Europe, and exhibiting at once European taste and Asiatic magnificence, I could scarcely suppress the feeling that I was only entering the most stately of theatres; where, with all the temporary glitter of the stage, the sounds of the orchestra, and the passion and poetry of the characters—the fifth act was preparing, and the curtain was to fall on the death of nobles and kings.

The impression that evil was to come, already seemed to be universal. Rumours of popular conspiracy, fresh discoveries by the police, and new tales of imperial eccentricity, kept the public mind in constant fitfulness. At length, I received the formal communication of a "challenge" from the Czar to my sovereign, along with all the other crowned heads of Europe, to meet him in a champ-clos, and, sword in hand, decide the quarrels of nations. With this despatch came an invitation for the whole diplomatic body to a masquerade! in which all were commanded to appear as knights in armour—the Czar, as grand-master of the Order of Malta, exhibiting himself in the panoply in which he was to settle the disputes of mankind.

Perplexities like those form a large share of the trials of the foreign ambassador. To attend the fête was embarrassing; but to decline the invitation, would have been equivalent to demanding my passports. And I must acknowledge, that if the eye was to be gratified by the most superb and the most curious of all displays, never was there an occasion more fitted for its indulgence. All the armouries of Europe, and of Asia, seemed to have been searched for the arms and ornaments of this assemblage. The Kremlin had given up its barbaric shields and caps of bronze; the plate-mail of the Crusader; the gold-inlaid morions and cuirasses of France; the silver chain-mail of the Circassian; the steel corslet of the German chivalry; and a whole host of the various and rich equipments of the Greek, the Hungarian, the Moresco, and the Turkoman, made the Winter palace a blaze of knighthood.

Yet, to me, after the first excitement, the whole conveyed a deep impression of melancholy. It irresistibly reminded me of the last ceremonial of dead sovereigns, the "Chapelle Ardente." Even the curtains which fell round the throne, fringed with jewels as they were, to me looked funereal. The immense golden candelabra were to me the lights round a bier. I almost imagined that I could see the sword and sceptre laid across the coffin, and all of the Lord of Empire that remained, a corpse within.

I was roused from my reluctant reverie by the approach of a group of masks, who came dancing towards the recess where I had retired, wearied with the general noise, and the exhaustion of the fête. One of the casements opened into the famous Conservatory; and I was enjoying the scents of the thousand flowers and shrubs, of, perhaps, the finest collection in the world. But, in the shade, the group had evidently overlooked me; for they began to speak of matters which they could not have designed for a stranger's ear. The conduct of the Czar, the wrongs of Russia, and the "necessity of coming to a decision," were the topics. Suddenly, as if to avert suspicion, one of the group struck up a popular air on the little three-stringed guitar which throws the Russian crowd into such ecstasies; and they began a dance, accompanying it by a murmuring chorus, which soon convinced me of the dangerous neighbourhood into which I had fallen.[Pg 169] The words became well known afterwards. No language excels the Russian in energy; but I must give them in the weakness of a translation.

The Neva may rush
To its fountain again;
The bill of a bird
Lake Ladoga may drain;
The blast from the Pole
May be held in a chain;
But the cry of a Nation
Was never in vain!
When the bones of our chiefs
Feed the wolf and the kite;
When the spurs of our squadrons
Are bloody with flight;
When the Black Eagle's banner
Is torn from its height;
Then, dark-hearted dreamer!
Beware of the night!
I hear in the darkness
The tread of the bold;
They stop not for iron,
They stop not for gold;
But the Sword has an edge,
And the Scarf has a fold.
Proud master of millions,
Thy tale has been told!
Now the chambers are hush'd,
And the strangers are gone,
And the sire is no sire,
And the son is no son,
And the mightiest of Earth
Sleeps for ever alone,
The worm for his brother,
The clay for his throne!

My conviction was complete, when, in the whirl of the dance, a small roll of paper dropped from the robe of one of the maskers, and fell at my feet. In taking it up to return it to him, I saw that it was a list of names, and, at the head, a name which, from private information, I knew to be involved in dark political purposes. The thought flashed across me, in connexion with the chorus which I had just heard, that the paper was of too much importance to be suffered to leave my possession.—The life of the sovereign might be involved. The group, who had been evidently startled by my sudden appearance among them, now surrounded me, and the loser of the paper insisted on its instant surrender. The violence of his demand only confirmed my resolution. He grew more agitated still, and the group seized me. I laid my hand upon my sword. This measure stopped them for the moment. But in the next, I saw a knife brandished in the air, and felt myself wounded in the arm. My attempt to grasp the weapon had alone saved me from its being buried in my heart. But the fracas now attracted notice; a crowd rushed towards us, and the group suddenly scattered away, leaving me still in possession of the paper. My wound bled, and I felt faint, and desired to be led into the open air. My mask was taken off; and this was scarcely done when I heard my name pronounced, and saw the welcome countenance of my friend Guiscard by my side. He had arrived but on that day, on a mission from his court; had, with his usual eagerness of friendship, gone to enquire for me at the hotel of the embassy; and thus followed[Pg 170] me to the fête at the critical time. As he supported me to my equipage, I communicated the circumstances of the rencontre to his clear head and generous heart; and he fully agreed with me on the duty of instantly apprising the Czar of his probable danger. As I was unable to move through pain and feebleness, he offered to take the roll with him, and demand an interview with the sovereign himself, if possible; or, if not, with the governor of the palace. The paper contained not only names of individuals, all, long before, objects of public suspicion, but a sketch of the imperial apartments, and, at the bottom, the words—"three hours after midnight." I looked at my watch, it was already half-past two. This might, or might not be, the appointed night for this dreadful business; but, if it were, there was but one half hour between the throne and the grave. Guiscard hurried off, leaving me in the deepest anxiety, but promising to return as speedily as in his power. But he came not. My anxiety grew intolerable; hour after hour passed away, while I reckoned minute after minute, as if they were so much drained from my own existence. Even, if I had been able to move, it was impossible to know where to follow him. His steps might have been watched. Doubtless the conspirators were on the alert to prevent any approach to the palace. He might have fallen by the pistol of some of those men, who had not scrupled to conspire against their monarch. The most miserable of nights at length wore away; but it was only to be succeeded by the most fearful of mornings. The career of Paul was closed! On the entrance of the chamberlains into his sleeping apartment, the unhappy Czar was found dead. There could be no doubt that he had perished by treason. He was strangled. The intelligence no sooner spread through the capital, than it produced a burst of national sorrow. All his errors were forgotten. All his good qualities were remembered.

But where was my gallant and excellent friend—Guiscard?—Of him I heard nothing.

Another week of suspense, and he appeared. His history was of the most singular kind. On the night when I had last seen him, he had made his way through all obstacles into the palace, and been promised a private interview with the Czar. But, while he urged that no time should be lost, he had sufficient proof that there could be no chance of an interview. A succession of apologies was made: the 'Czar was at supper'—'he was engaged with the minister'—'he had gone to rest.' In total hopelessness of communicating his pressing intelligence in person, he at length consented to seal the roll, and place it in the hands of one of the officers of rank in the household. But that officer himself was in the conspiracy. The paper was immediately destroyed; and the bearer of it was considered to be too dangerous to be sent back. He was put under arrest in an apartment of the palace, and told that his life depended on his silence. He urged his diplomatic character in vain. The only answer was the sword of the conspirator turned to his throat. But within the week the revolution was complete, and he was set at liberty. A new monarch, a new government, a new feeling followed this dangerous act. But the character of the young monarch was made to be popular; the reign of caprice was at an end. The empire felt relieved; and Russia began the most glorious period of her national history.

My mission was now accomplished, for I refused to hold the embassy under a rival cabinet; but I carried with me from St Petersburg two trophies:—the former was the treaty concluded by Paul with France for the march of an army, in conjunction with a French column of 300,000 men, to invade India—a document which had hitherto baffled all diplomatic research; the other was the pathetic and noble letter of Alexander to the British sovereign, proposing a restoration of the national friendship.

I took my leave of the Russian court with a most gracious audience of its new monarch. I saw him long afterwards, under different circumstances, struggling with a tremendous war, pressed by every difficulty which could beset the throne, and throwing the last melancholy and doubtful cast for the independence of Europe. But, both[Pg 171] now and then, I saw him, what nature had made him—a noble being. His stature was tall and commanding; and he was one of the most striking figures of his court when in the uniform of his guards. But his manner was still superior—it was at once affable and dignified; he spoke of European interests with intelligence, of his own intentions with candour, and of England with a rational respect for its spirit and institutions. Of his own country, he expressed himself with candour. "I feel," said he, "that I have a great trust laid on me, and I am determined to fulfil it. I shall not make the throne a bed of roses. There is still much to be done, and I shall do what I can. I have the advantage of a fine material in the people. No being is at once more susceptible of improvement, and more grateful for it, than the Russian. He has quick faculties and an honest heart. If the common hazards of empire should come, I know that he will not desert me. In the last extremity of human fortunes, I shall not desert him."

Those generous declarations were gallantly realized on both sides within a few years. I was not then aware that the Imperial prediction would be soon brought to the test. But it was gloriously fulfilled at Moscow, and proudly registered in the fragments of the throne of Napoleon.

Impatient as I was to reach England, I left St Petersburg with regret. Clotilde left it with those feelings which belong to the finer fancy of woman. She remembered it as the scene where she had enjoyed the most dazzling portion of her life; where every countenance had met her with smiles, and every tongue was prodigal of praise; where the day rose on the promise of new enjoyments, and the night descended in royal festivity. As we drove along the banks of the Neva, she more than once stopped the carriage, to give herself a parting glance at the long vista of stately buildings, which she was then to look upon, perhaps, for the last time. The scene was certainly of the most striking order; for we had commenced our journey on the evening of one of the national festivals; and we thus had the whole population, in all their holiday dresses, to give animation to the general aspect of the massive and gigantic architecture. The Neva was covered with barges of the most graceful form; the fronts of the citizens' houses were hung with decorations; music sounded from a vast orchestra in front of the palace; and the air re-echoed with the voices of thousands and tens of thousands, all evidently determined to be happy for the time. We both gazed in silence and admiration. The carriage had accidentally drawn up in view of the little hut which is preserved in the Neva as the dwelling of Peter. I saw a tear glistening on the long eyelash of my lovely fellow traveller.

"If I wanted a proof," said she, "of the intellectual greatness of man, I should find it in this spot. I may see in that hut the emblem of his mind. That a Russian, two centuries ago—almost before the name of Russia was known in Europe—while its court had scarcely emerged from the feuds of barbarous factions, and its throne had been but just rescued from the hands of the Tartar—should have conceived the design of such an empire, and should have crowned his design with such a capital, is to me the most memorable effort of a ruling mind, within all human recollection."

"Clotilde, I was not aware that you were inclined to give the great Czar so tender a tribute," I said laughingly, at her embarrassment in the discovery of a tear stealing down her cheek.

Truth was in her reply. "I agree in the common censure of the darker portions of his course. But I can now judge of him only by what I see. Who is to know the truth of his private history? What can be more unsafe than to judge of the secret actions of princes, from the interested or ignorant narratives of a giddy court, or foreign enemies? But the evidence round us allows of no deception. These piles of marble are unanswerable;—these are the vindications of kings. The man who, sitting in that hut, in the midst of the howling wilderness, imagined the existence of such a city rising round him and his line—at once bringing his country into contact with Europe, and erecting a monument of national greatness, to which Europe itself, in its thousand years of[Pg 172] progress, has no equal—must have had a nature made for the highest tasks of human advancement. Of all the panegyrics of an Imperial life, St Petersburg is the most Imperial."

We passed rapidly through the Russian provinces, and, intending to embark in one of our frigates cruising the Baltic, felt all the delight of having at length left the damp and dreary forests of Livonia far down in the horizon, and again feeling the breezes blowing from that ocean which the Englishman instinctively regards as a portion of his home. But, as we drove along the smooth sands which line so many leagues of the Baltic, and enjoyed with the full sense of novelty the various contrast of sea and shore, we were startled by the roar of guns from the ramparts of Riga, followed by the peal of bells. What victory, what defeat, what great event, did those announce? The intelligence at length broke on us at the gates; and it was well worth all our interest. "Peace with France." The English ambassador had arrived in Paris. "War was at end, and the world was to be at rest once more." I changed my route immediately, and flew on the road to Paris.

My life was destined to be a succession of scenes. It had been thrown into a whirl of memorable incidents, any one of which would have served for the tumult of fifty years, and for the meditation of the fifty after. But this was the period of powerful, sometimes of terrible, vicissitudes. All ranks of men were reached by them. Kings and statesmen only felt them first: they penetrated to the peasant; and the Continent underwent a moral convulsion—an outpouring of the general elements of society—like that of some vast inundation, sweeping away the landmarks, and uprooting the produce of the soil; until it subsided, leaving the soil in some places irreparably stripped—in others, filled with a new fertility.

I found France in a state of the highest exultation. The national cry was, "that she had covered herself with glory;" and to earn that cry, probably, no Frenchman who ever existed would hesitate to march to Timbuctoo, or swim across the Atlantic. The name of "conquest" is a spell which no brain, from Calais to Bayonne, has ever thought of resisting. The same spell lives, masters, domineers over the national mind, to this hour; and will last, long after Paris has dropped into the depths of its own catacombs, and its fifteen fortresses are calcined under the cannon of some Austrian or Russian invader. It will be impossible to tell future ages the scene which France then presented to the mind. If objects are capable of record, impressions are beyond the power of the pen. No image can be conveyed to posterity by the sensations which crowded on Europe in the course of the French Revolution—the rapidity, the startling lustre, and the deep despair; as it went forth crushing all that the earth had of solid or sacred. It was now only in its midway. The pause had come; but it was only the pause in the hurricane—the still heavier trial was at hand. Even as a stranger, I could see that it was but a lull. Every thing that met the eye in Paris was a preparative for war. The soldier was every thing, and every where. I looked in vain for the Republican costumes which I so fearfully remembered. They had been flung aside for the uniform of the Imperial Guard; or were to be seen only on a few haggard and desolate men, who came out in the twilight, and sat in silence, and gloomy dreams of revenge, in some suburb café. Where were the deadly tribunals, with their drunken judges, their half-naked assassins, and the eternal clank of the guillotines?—all vanished; the whole sullen furniture of the Republican drama flung behind the scenes, and the stage filled with the song and the dance—the pageant and the feast—with all France gazing and delighted at the spectacle. But, my still stronger curiosity was fixed on the one man who had been the soul of the transformation. I have before my eye at this moment his slender and spirituel figure; his calm, but most subtle glance; and the incomparable expression of his smile. His face was classic—the ideal of thought; and, when Canova afterwards transferred it to marble, he could not have made it less like flesh and blood. It was intensely pale—pure, profound, Italian.

[Pg 173]


By a Railway Witness.

My Dear Bogle,—It is ten thousand pities that you are not here. Why the deuce can't you make yourself useful to the commonwealth, by calculating a gradient, laying down a curve, or preparing a table of traffic, in order to obtain the proper qualification for a railway witness? Nothing in this world is easier. You have only to sit at your window for a given amount of hours once a-week, and note down the number of the cabs and carts which jolt and jingle to the Broomielaw; or, if you like that better, to ascertain the quality of the soil three feet beneath your own wine-cellar; and you are booked for a month's residence in London, free quarters in a first-rate hotel, five guineas a-day, and all expenses paid. I confess that this regimen seems to me both profitable and pleasant. I have been here for six weeks feeding on the fat of the land, drinking claret which even a Leith man would scarcely venture to anathematize, white-baiting at Blackwall, and varying these sensual qualifications with an occasional trip to Richmond and Ascot races. I have, moreover, mark you, a bunch of as pretty bank paper in my pocket as ever was paid into the Exchequer; and the whole equivalent I have given for this kind and liberal treatment was certain evidence touching the iron-trade of Ayrshire, which I poured into the drowsy ears of five worthy gentlemen, about as familiar with that subject as you are with the mythology of the Chinese. Long life to the railway mania, say I! It has been treasure-trove to some of us. The only thing I regret is my inability to carry the war into the enemy's country, and make my fortune out of the English companies. I have the appetite but not the power; and, after all, it would hardly make up for Flodden.

I like this sort of life much better than assorting cargoes and superintending the arrival of sugar casks. There is no want of society, for I find myself here surrounded by the old familiar faces. I do not think there is a soul in this hotel except townsmen of our own. You meet in the committee rooms the same excellent fellows whom you have daily encountered for the last ten years on the Exchange, and they are all getting fatter upon their work. Edinburgh, too, has furnished her quota. We have Writers to the Signet by the score, and a sprinkling of the young Advocates whom we are accustomed to meet upon circuit. Poor lads! it does one good to see them thriving. This must be a very different sort of business from the weariful Parliament House, and the two square yards of processes, with a fee of three guineas for many an interminable condescendence. I believe they would have no objection if the Session of Parliament were declared perpetual; and for that matter no more would I.

Certainly, of all tribunals ever invented by the ingenuity of man, a Parliamentary Committee is the most extraordinary. It is a court of enquiry consisting of five members, whose principal qualification is absolute previous ignorance of the localities and conflicting interests with regard to which they must decide. Of their impartiality, therefore, there can be no doubt. You or I might just as well sit down at a moment's notice, and adjudicate upon the merits of three competing lines between Pekin and Canton, with an equal chance of arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. Of course they must be guided entirely by evidence, and have plenty of materials laid before them from which they may pick and choose. It is the richest thing in the world to see two crack engineers pitted against each other. The first, who appears on behalf of the line, does not know and cannot conceive the slightest engineering difficulty. If a mountain stands in his way, he plunges fearlessly into its bowels, finds in the interior strata of surpassing mineral wealth, yet marvellously adapted for the purposes of a four-mile tunnel, and brings[Pg 174] you out sound and safe at the opposite side, as though he had been perforating a gigantic cheese instead of hammering his path through whinstone coeval with the creation. If a lake stands in the way, he will undertake to drain it, with immense advantage to the neighbouring proprietors. If a valley intervenes, he will bridge it with a viaduct, which shall put to shame the grandest relics of antiquity. He has no knowledge of such bugbears as steep gradients or dangerous curves; a little hocus-pocus with the compasses transforms all these into gentle undulations, and sweeps of the most graceful description. He will run you his rails right through the heart of the most populous city,—yea, even Glasgow herself,—and across the streets, without the slightest interruption to the traffic. He will contrive so, that the hissing of the locomotive shall be as graceful a sound as the plashing of a fountain in the midst of our bisected squares; and he is indignant at the supposition that any human being can be besotted enough to prefer the prospect of a budding garden, to a clean double pair of rails beneath his bedroom window, with a jolly train steaming it along at the rate of some fifty miles per hour.

The opposing engineer has a contrary story to tell. He has the utmost confidence in the general ability of his scientific friend, but on this occasion he has the misfortune to differ in opinion. Very carefully has he gone over the whole of the line surveyed. He is sorry to say that the gradients are utterly impossible, and the curves approaching to a circle. Tunnelling is out of the question. How are two miles of quicksand and two of basaltic rock to be gone through? The first is deeper than the Serbonian bog, and would swallow up the whole British army. The second could not be pierced in a shorter time than Pharaoh took to construct the pyramids of Egypt. He considers a railway in the heart of a town to be an absolute and intolerable nuisance; and, on the whole, looking at the plan before him, he has come to the conclusion, that a more dangerous and impracticable line was never yet laid before a committee of the United Parliament of Great Britain.

So much for the engineering Hector and Achilles. Out of these two opinions, of necessity, must the five respectable members on the bench form their judgment; for of themselves they know nothing, having been purposely selected on account of their superior ignorance. Cross-examination makes the matter still worse. A cantankerous waspish counsel, with the voice of an exasperated cockatoo, endeavours to make the opposing engineer contradict himself. He might as well try to overturn Ailsa Crag. He of the impossible gradients is the hero of a hundred committees, quite accustomed to legal artifice, cool, wary, and self-collected. He receives every thrust with a pleasant smile, and sometimes returns them with damaging effect. If close pressed, he is conscious that behind him is a thicket of algebra, into which neither counsel nor judges will dare to follow; and so fortified by the mysteries of his calling, he is ready to defy the universe. Then come the hordes of subordinate witnesses, the gentlemen who are to give evidence for and against the bill. One side represents the country as abounding in mineral produce and agricultural wealth: the other likens it unto Patmos, or the stony Arabia. Tims swears that the people of his district are mad, insane, rabid in favour of the line. Jenkins, his next-door neighbour, on the contrary, protests that if the rails were laid down to-morrow, they would be torn up by an insurrection of the populace en masse. John thinks the Dreep-daily Extension is the only one at all suited to supply the wants of the country; Sandy opines that the Powhead's Junction is the true and genuine potato; and both John and Sandy, Tims and Jenkins, are backed by a host of corroborators. Then come the speeches of the counsel, and rare specimens they are of unadulterated oratory. I swear to you, Bogle, that, no later than a week ago, I listened to such a picture of Glasgow and the Clyde, from the lips of a gentleman eminent alike in law and letters, as would have thrown a diorama of Damascus into the shade. He had it all, sir, from the orchards of Clydesdale to the banks of Bothwell,[Pg 175] the pastoral slopes of Ruglen, and the emerald solitudes of the Green. The river flowed down towards the sea in translucent waves of crystal. From the parapets of the bridge you watched the salmon cleaving their way upwards in vivid lines of light. Never did Phœbus beam upon a lovelier object than the fair suburb of the Gorbals, as seen from the Broomielaw, reposing upon its shadow in perfect stillness. Then came the forest of masts, the activity of the dockyards, and

"The impress of shipwrights, whose hard toil
Doth scarce divide the Sunday from the week."

Further down, the villas of the merchant princes burst upon your view, each of them a perfect Sirmio—then Port-Glasgow, half spanned by the arch of a dissolving rainbow—Dumbarton, grand and solemn as became the death-place of the Bruce—Ben Lomond, with its hoary head swathed in impenetrable clouds—and lo! the ocean and the isles. Not a Glasgow man in the committee-room but yearned with love and admiration towards the gifted speaker, who certainly did make out a case for the Queen of the West such as no matter-of-fact person could possibly have believed. And all this was done by merely substituting a Claude Lorraine glass for our ordinary dingy atmosphere. The outline was most correct and graphic, but the secret lay in the handling and distribution of the colours. I shall not wonder if the whole committee, clerk included come down this autumn to catch a glimpse of that terrestrial paradise.

Such is a brief and unexaggerated abstract of the transactions of these railway committees; and you may judge for yourself how far the members are likely to understand the true circumstances of the case from evidence so singularly conflicting. Sometimes three or four days are wasted before they can even comprehend the precise position of the lines which they are required to consider, and, after all, these impressions must be of the haziest description. For my own part, I think the legislature has made a most palpable mistake in not intrusting such important functions to parties who possess competent local knowledge; and I am satisfied that the result of the present session has proved the insufficiency of the system. I demur altogether to the propriety of devolving upon Members of Parliament the duties of a civil jury. They have surely enough to do in weighing and determining the larger questions of policy, without entering into the minute details necessarily involved in the consideration of railways, roads, bridges, and canals. These should be transferred to parties conversant with such subjects, and responsible to the public for their decisions. Besides this, the direct pecuniary loss to Scotland by the present system of sending witnesses to London—though personally I have no reason to complain—is quite enormous, and demands attention in a national point of view. It is calculated that not less than a million and a half sterling, has been expended in the course of last year in carrying the Scottish bills through Parliament, and by far the greater part of this sum has been absorbed by plethoric London, and cannot by possibility return. Now, the whole annual value of the lands and houses in Scotland does not exceed ten millions, (in 1843, it was little more than nine)—an amount which is totally inadequate to afford so prodigious a deduction as this, for the mere purpose of procuring authority to carry our own schemes into execution. That the seventh part of the rental of a country should be drawn away from it, and expended beyond its boundaries, in the course of simple preliminary investigations, is not only an exorbitant abuse, but, to my mind, a clear demonstration of the total falsity of the system. It may have worked tolerably when there was less work to do; but the amazing increase of private bills during the last few years must render a new arrangement necessary. I wish our countrymen would be a little more alive to the vast benefit of local institutions in a pecuniary point of view. Can there be any doubt, that, if the details connected with all the private bills applicable to Scotland, were referred to a paid board of commissioners sitting permanently in Edinburgh, whose[Pg 176] judgment of course would be subject to the review of Parliament, the business would be got through, not only more cheaply, but with greater satisfaction and dispatch? I cannot see why London should be entitled to this exclusive monopoly, or the principle of centralization pushed so far as to injure the extremities of the empire. The private committee business has already become an absolute nuisance to the whole bulk of the members. It is a function for which few of them have been educated, which is in itself highly distasteful, and, moreover, interferes most materially with their public duties. Let them, then, be freed from this thraldom, and Scotland will have no reason to complain. We don't ask for any power of legislation; we only require that within and among ourselves the necessary investigations shall be made. This can be done in Edinburgh quite as well as in London; and very sorely does our poor Metropolis stand in need of such indigenous support. Dublin has its viceregal court, and therefore can make some stand against centralization. Edinburgh has nothing left her except the courts of law, which have been pared down by ignorant experimentalists to the smallest possible substance. All that could be taken from her has been transferred to London. Her local boards, her officers of state, have vanished one by one; and scarce any remonstrance has been made against these useless and unjustifiable aggressions.

I find myself getting into the Malagrowther vein, so I had better pull up in time, without hinting at the existence of claymores. Only this, should there ever be a decent agitation in Scotland, you will find the old Tories at the head of it, demanding the restitution of certain ancient rights, which Whiggery has subverted, and Conservatism trodden under foot. Undoubtedly, at no very distant period, the great questions of centralization and uniformity will be gravely and considerately discussed, both within and without the walls of the British Parliament. Next year it is probable that the transit between Edinburgh and London will be effected in fourteen hours. That of itself will go far to bring matters to a crisis. If we are to be centralized, let the work be thoroughly done; if not, let us get back at least a reasonable portion of our own.

But to the committees. You can have no idea, Bogle, of the excitement caused by any of their decisions. At the close of the evidence, counsel, agents, and spectators are unceremoniously hustled out of the room, to give leisure for the selected senators to make up their minds on the propriety of passing or rejecting the preamble of the bill. In the lobby all is confusion. Near the door stand five-and-twenty speculators, all of them heavy holders of stock, some flushed in the face like peonies, some pale and trembling with excitement. The barristers, for the most part, have a devil-may-care look, as if it mattered little to them, whether the Dreep-daily or Powhead's gentry shall carry the day. And, in truth, it is of little consequence. The sittings of this committee cannot by possibility be prolonged, and as most of the legal gentlemen have other briefs—

"To-morrow to fresh fields and pastures new."

The magistrates of Camlachie, though sorely agitated for the integrity of that important borough, threatened by the Dreep-daily Extension with immediate intersection, yet preserve a becoming decorum of feature. The senior bailie bows a dignified assent to the protestations of the Parliamentary solicitor, that it is quite impossible the bill can pass—such an interference with vested rights never can be sanctioned by a British House of Commons, &c. &c.; and then, with a shrewd eye to future proceedings, the wily Machiavel hints that at all events the House of Lords will be sure to put the matter right. What in the name of torture can make the committee deliberate so long? Two hours have elapsed since we were excluded, and yet there is no indication of a judgment. The chairman of the Powhead's line, which on the whole has had the worst of it in evidence, begins to gain confidence from the delay. Whispers arise and circulate that the committee are two to two, the chairman not being able to make up his mind either way; but as his wife is a third cousin of a[Pg 177] Powheads director, there may yet be balm in Gilead. Hark! the tinkling of a bell—there is a buzz as of a hive overturned, the doors are opened, and the whole crowd rush elbowing in. How provokingly calm are the countenances of the five legislators! Not a twinkle in the eye of any of them to betray the nature of their decision—nay, with a refinement of cruelty positively appalling, the chairman is elaborating a quill into a toothpick until order shall be partially restored. Now for the dictum—"The Committee, having heard evidence, are of opinion that the preamble of the Dreep-daily Extension Bill has not been proved, and further, that the preamble of the Powheads Junction Bill has been satisfactorily proved, and they intend to report accordingly." One second's pause, and a triumphant cheer bursts from the dignitaries of Camlachie. The five-and-twenty speculators darting at once to the door, choke up the entrance for a time—divers coat-tails give way, and hats disappear in the scuffle—at last they break out from the Cloisters like so many demoniacs, fling themselves into four-and-twenty cabs, and offer triple fares for immediate transmission to the City. One, more knowing than the rest, sneaks down to Westminster Bridge, finds a steamer just starting, makes his way by water to the Exchange; and five minutes before the earliest cab, obstructed by a covey of coal-carts in the Strand, can fetch its agitated inmate to his broker, his speedier rival has sold several thousand Dreep-dailys to unwitting and unfortunate purchasers, and has become the coveted possessor of every Powhead scrip then negotiable in the London market. If there is any caricature in this sketch I shall submit to do penance in the pillory.

I think I have now bored you sufficiently with railway matters: being a literary character, you may like to know how I otherwise employ my time. Imprimis, I have not attended a single debate in the House of Commons. It is quite enough to spell one's way through the dreary columns of the Times after the matutinal muffin, without exposing the mind to the cruelties of a Maynooth debate, or the body to the tender mercies of the novel mode of ventilation. I find the theatres much more amusing, not from the excellence of the dramatic performances, but from their sheer and gross absurdity, which, without actual experience, is almost too monstrous for belief. The fact is, that a new Cockney school has arisen, ten times more twaddling and impotent than the ancient academy of that name. The old professors, for whom I always had a sneaking kindness, affected a sort of solitary grandeur, deported themselves with the conscious swagger of genius, read Tooke's Pantheon, and prated of the Heathen gods. This was very harmless and innocent pastime; tiresome, to be sure, yet laughable withal; nor did it call for any further rebuke than an occasional tap upon the cranium of some blockhead who forsook his legitimate sphere, thrust himself in your way, and became unsufferably blatant. Now the spirit of the times has changed. The literary youth of London are all in the facetious line. They have regular clubs, at which they meet to collate the gathered slang and pilfered witticisms of the week; periodical compotations to work these materials into something like a readable shape; and hebdomadal journals, by means of which their choice productions are issued to a wondering world. Now, though a single gnat can give you very little annoyance in the course of a summer's night, the evil becomes serious when you are surrounded with whole scores of these diminutive vermin, singing in your ears, buzzing in your hair, and lighting incessantly on your face. In vain you turn aside, in hopes to get rid of the nuisance. Go where you will, a perfect cloud of midges keeps hovering round your head, each tiny bloodsucker sounding his diminutive horn, in the full and perfect belief that he discourses most excellent music. Even so, in London, are you surrounded with these philosophers of the Cider-cellar. Their works stare you every where in the face; the magazines abound with their wit; their songs, consisting for the most part of prurient parodies, are resonant throughout the purlieus of Covent Garden. What is worse than all, they have wriggled themselves[Pg 178] into a sort of monopoly of the theatres, persuaded the public to cashier Shakespeare, who is now utterly out of date, and to instal in his place a certain Mr J.R. Planché as the leading swan of the Thames. In giving him this prominent place, I merely echo the opinions of his compeers, who with much modesty, but at the same time with praiseworthy candour, have acknowledged his pre-eminence in the modern walk of the drama, and with him they decline competition. The new Beaumont and Fletcher, J. Taylor and Albert Smith, Esquires, thus bear testimony to his merits in one of their inimitable prologues:

"'Fair One with Golden Locks:' no, you won't do—
Planché has taken the shine out of you:
Who runs with Him, it may be safely reckon'd,
Whate'er the odds, must come in 'a bad second.'"

Ben Jonson never penned a more delicate or classical compliment, albeit it halteth a little. Let us then submit to the better judgment of our brethren, and bow down promiscuously before any brazen calf which their eager idolatry may rear. Let London promulgate the law of letters, as well as the statutes of the land. Therefore, say I, away with Romeo, and give us Cinderella; banish Hamlet, and welcome Sleeping Beauty; let the Tempest make room for Fortunio; and Venice Preserved for the gentle Graciosa and Percinet! Do you, Bogle, disencumber your study as fast as you can of these absurd busts of the older dramatists, now fit for nothing but targets in a shooting-gallery. Fling the effigies, one and all, into the area; and let us see, in their stead, each on its appropriate pedestal, with some culinary garland round the head, new stucco casts of J.R. Planché, Albert Smith, and Gilbert à-Beckett, Esquires.

After all, is it to be wondered at if the public lacketh novelty? Shakespeare has had possession of the stage for nearly two centuries—quite enough, one would think, to pacify his unconscionable Manes. We have been dosed with his dramas from our youth upwards. Two generations of the race of Kean have, in our own day, perished, after a series of air-stabs, upon Bosworth field. We have seen twenty different Hamlets appear upon the damp chill platform of Elsinore, and fully as many Romeos in the sunny streets of Verona. The nightingale in the pomegranate-tree was beginning to sing hoarsely and out of tune; therefore it was full time that our ears should be dieted with other sounds. Well, no sooner was the wish expressed, than we were presented with "Nina Sforza," the "Legend of Florence," and several other dramas of the highest class. Sheridan Knowles and Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton professed themselves ready to administer any amount of food to the craving appetite of the age—but all in vain. Tragedy was not what we wanted—nor comedy—no, nor even passable melodrama. We sighed for something of a more ethereal sort, and—laud we the gods!—the manna has descended in showers. Go into any of the London theatres now, and the following is your bill of fare. Fairies you have by scores in flesh-coloured tights, spangles, and paucity of petticoats; gnomes of every description, from the gigantic glittering diamond beetle, to the grotesque and dusky tadpole. Epicene princes, whose taper limbs and swelling busts are well worth the scrutiny of the opera-glass—dragons vomiting at once red flames and witticisms about the fountains in Trafalgar Square—Dan O'Connell figuring in the feathers of a Milesian owl—and the Seven Champions of Christendom smoking cigars upon the parapets of Hungerford Bridge! All these things have I seen, Bogle, yea, and cheered them to the echo, in company with some thousand Cockneys, all agape at the glitter of tinselled pasteboard, and the glories of the Catharine-wheel. Such is the intellectual banquet which London, queen of literature, presents to her fastidious children!

The form of dramatic composition now most in vogue is the burlesque; or, in the language of the great Planché, "the original, grand, comic, romantic, operatic, melo-dramatic, fairy extravaganza!" There is a title for you, that would have put Polonius to the blush. I have invested some three shillings in the purchase of several[Pg 179] of these works, in order that I might study at leisure the bold and brilliant wit, the elegant language, and the ingenious metaphors which had entranced me when I heard them uttered from the stage. I am now tolerably master of the subject, and therefore beg leave, before condescending upon details, to hand you a recipe for the concoction of one of these delectable dishes. Take my advice, and make the experiment yourself. Red Riding-Hood, I think, is still a virgin story; but, unless you make haste, she will be snapped up, for they are rapidly exhausting the stores of the "Contes des Fées." Alexander will probably give you something for it, or you can try our old friend Miller at the Green. The process is shortly this. Select a fairy tale, or a chapter from the Arabian Nights; write out the dramatis personæ, taking care that you have plenty of supernaturals, genii, elves, gnomes, ghouls, or vampires, to make up a competent corps de ballet; work out your dialogue in slipshod verse, with as much slang repartee as you possibly can cram in, and let every couplet contain either a pun or some innuendo upon the passing events of the day. This in London is considered as the highest species of wit, and seldom fails to bring down three distinct rounds of applause from the galleries. I fear you may be trammelled a little by the scantiness of local allusions. Hungerford Bridge and Trafalgar Square, as I have already hinted, have kept the Cockneys in roars of laughter for years, and are dragged forward with unrelenting perseverance, but still undiminished effect, in each successive extravaganza. I suspect you will find that the populace of Glasgow are less easy to be tickled, and somewhat jealous of quips at their familiar haunts. However, don't be down-hearted. Go boldly at the Gorbals, the Goosedubs, and the great chimney-stalk of St Rollox; it is impossible to predict how boldly the municipal pulse may bound beneath the pressure of a dexterous finger. Next, you must compose some stanzas, as vapid as you please, to be sung by the leading virgin in pantaloons; or, what is better still, a few parodies adapted to the most popular airs. I see a fine field for your ingenuity in the Jacobite relics; they are entwined with our most sacred national recollections, and therefore may be desecrated at will. Never lose sight for a moment of the manifold advantages derivable from a free use of the trap-door and the flying-wires; throw in a transparency, an Elysian field, a dissolving view, and a miniature Vesuvius, and

"My basnet to a 'prentice cap,
Lord Surrey's o'er the Till,"

you will take all Glasgow by storm, and stand henceforward crowned as the young Euripides of the West.

You and I, in the course of our early German studies, lighted, as I can well remember, upon the Phantasus of Ludwig Tieck. I attribute your loss of the first prize in the Moral Philosophy class to the enthusiasm with which you threw yourself into his glorious Bluebeard and Fortunatus. In truth it was like hearing the tales of childhood told anew, only with a manlier tone, and a clearer and more dignified purpose. How lucidly the early, half-forgotten images were restored under the touch of that inimitable artist! What a luxury it was to revel with the first favourites of our childhood, now developed into full life, and strength, and stately beauty! With these before us, how could we dare be infidels and recreants to our earlier faith, or smile in scorn at the fanciful loves and cherished dreams of infancy? Such were our feelings, nor could it well be otherwise; for Tieck was, and is, a poet of the highest grade—not a playwright and systematic jest-hunter; and would as soon have put forth his hand in impious challenge against the Ark, as have stooped to become a buffooning pander to the idle follies of the million. It remained for England—great and classic England—no, by heavens! I will not do her that wrong—but for London, and London artists!—I believe that is the proper phrase—after having exhausted every other subject of parody, sacred and profane, to invade the sanctuary of childhood, and vulgarize the very earliest impressions which are conveyed to the infant. Are not the men who sit down deliberately to such a task more culpable than even the[Pg 180] nursery jade who administers gin and opium to her charge, in order that she may steal to the back-door undisturbed, and there indulge in surreptitious dalliance with the dustman? Far better had they stuck to their old trade of twisting travesties from Shakespeare for the amusement of elderly idiots, than attempted to people Fairyland with the palpable denizens of St Giles. The Seven Champions of Christendom, indeed! They may well lay claim to the title of Champions of Cockneydom incarnate, setting forth on their heroic quest from the rendezvous in the Seven Dials.

Let us look a little into their individual feats, although I must needs say, that the whole of these productions bear a marvellous resemblance to each other. There is no more variety in any of them than can be found in the copious advertisements of the Messrs Doudney. Still, it cannot but be that some gems shall scintillate more than others, or, at all events, be of coarser and duller water. With conscious impartiality, and without imputing the palm of slang to any particular individual, I shall give the precedence to Gemini, and their last approved duodecimo. Messrs Taylor and Smith have bestowed upon the public three dramas—to wit, Valentine and Orson, Whittington and his Cat, and Cinderella. I have not been fortunate enough to meet with the earlier portions of this trilogy; but I have got by me Cinderella, of which title the authors, with characteristic purity, confess

"'Twould be proper er
To say, 'La Cenerentola,' from the opera."

You shall have a specimen, Bogle, of this extremely racy production, which I strongly recommend you to keep in view as model. You cannot have forgotten the tale of the poor deserted maiden, whose loneliness is thus touchingly described—

"From poker, tongs, and kitchen stove,
To the neglected cellar,
Is all the change I ever know—
Oh, hapless Cinderella!"

But dear Cinderellar is not doomed to mourn in dust and ashes for ever. A prince is coming to her rescue, but in disguise, having changed suits with his own valet. Let us mark the manner of his introduction to the interesting family of the Baron:—

Baron.—The Baron Soldoff, Baroness, and Misses!
I thought the Prince was here! (To Cinderella.) Tell me who this is.
Rodo.—(Bowing.) I'm but a humble servant of his Highness.
Baron.—Where is he?
Rodo.— Sir, he waits down-stairs from shyness.
Baron.—Give him the Baron's compliments, who begs
To this poor hall he'll stir his princely pegs.

[C. Exit Rodoloph, bowing.

(To musicians.) Now change your costumes, quick as you are able,
And be in readiness to wait at table;
Here are the pantry keys, (throws them up,) and there the cellar's.
Now, try and look distingué—that's good fellows.

[L. Exeunt musicians.

Baroness.—What will the Browns say when this visit's told of?
'Tis a new era for the house of Soldoff!

QUARTETTE.—The Baron, Baroness, Cinderella, and Patchoulia.
Air.—'The Campbells are coming.'
The Prince is a-coming, oh dear, oh dear,
The prince is a-coming, oh dear!
The Prince is a-coming, with piping and drumming,
The Prince is a-coming, oh dear, oh dear!

[C. A grand march. Some hunters appear marching in at the door, when
Capillaire, in the ducal cap, puts his head in at the entrance and shouts.

Capil.—Hold hard! (music and procession stop.) Come back, you muffs, that's not correct,
You're spoiling a magnificent effect.
Down those two staircases you've got to go'
[Pg 181] A la 'The Daughter of St Mark,' you know.

[C. They retire.

Baron.—That was the Prince who show'd his face just now.

Baroness.—What a fine voice!

Ronde.—What eyes!

Patch.—And what a brow!

Cin.—(aside.) To my mind, as a casual spectator,
If that's the Prince, he's very like a waiter.

[March begins again. A grand procession enters the gallery, and deploying in the
centre, proceeds down the two staircases simultaneously. Pages with hawks on
their wrists. Hunters with dead game, deer, herons, wild-ducks, &c. Men-at-Arms.
Banners with the Prince's Arms, &c. Ladies and Cavaliers. Flowergirls
strewing flowers.
Rodolpe with wand. Capillaire as the Prince. His
train held up by two diminutive pages

Capil.—(as soon as he reaches the stage, advancing to the front is almost tripped up
by the pages mismanaging his train. He turns round sharply.)

If you do that again, you'll get a whipping;
It won't do for a Duke to be caught tripping.
Let our train go. [Some of the procession are moving off. R.
What are you at? Dear, dear!
We don't mean that train there, but this train here.

(Pointing to the train of his robe, the pages leave their hold of it.)

Baron.—This princely visit is a condescension—

Capil.—Now don't—

Baroness.—(curtsies) A grace to which we've no pretension,

Capil.—Bless me!

Patch.—(curtseying) An honour not to be believed.

Capil.—Oh, Lord!

Patch.—(curtseying) A favour thankfully received.

Baron.—(bowing again) This princely visit—

Capil.—(impatiently) You've said that before.
Gammon! We know we're a tremendous bore.
We're a plain man, and don't like all this fuss;
Accept our game, but don't make game of us.

(Looking about him.)

Well, Baron, these are comfortable quarters,

(Examining Rondeletia and Patchoulia.)

And you hang out two very 'plummy' daughters.

Ronde.—What wit!

Patch.— What humour!

Cin.—(aside) And what language—'plummy!'

Capil.—We like your wife, too. Tho' not young she's 'crummy.'

Cin.—(aside) And 'crummy,' too. Well, these are odd words, very!
I'm sure they're not in Johnson's Dictionary.

(Attendant throws open door. L.)

Atten.—Wittles is on the table.

Baron.—(interrupting him) Hush, you lout.
He means, you grace, the banquet waits without.
If at our humble board you'll deign to sit?

Capil.—Oh, I'm not proud. I'll peck a little bit.

Baron.—For your attendants—

Capil.— Don't mind them at all.
Stick the low fellows in the servants' hall.

Baron.—(presenting the Baroness for Capillaire to take to dinner.) My wife.

Capil.—No, no, old chap, you take the mother.
Young 'uns for me (takes Patchoulia under one arm.)
Here's one, (takes Rondeletia,)
And here's another.

[Pg 182] [As they are going out (L.) the Prince, forgetting himself, passes before Capillaire.

Capil.—Halloa! where are you shoving to, you scrub?
Now for pot-luck, and woe betide the grub."

Match me that, Bogle, if you can! There is wit, genius, and polish for you! No wonder that the "School for Scandal" has been driven off the field. But we must positively indulge ourselves with a love scene, were it merely to qualify the convulsions into which we have been thrown by the humour of these funny fellows. Mark, learn, and understand how ladies are to be wooed and won—

"[(Enter Prince Rodolph.) L.

Rodo.—How's this—what, tears!—Enough to float a frigate!


Ronde.— Sir!

Rodo.— Oh, it's the valet they look big at!
Come, what's the row?—peace-maker's my capacity.

Ronde.—Low wretch!

Patch.— I shudder, man, at your audacity!
How dare you interfere 'twixt your superiors?

Rodo.—'Twas pity!

Ronde.— Gracious! pity from inferiors!

Rodo.—Nay, dry your eyes, your quarrel's cause I've found,
(sings) Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love, 'tis love that makes the world go round
The Prince is a sad dog, he'll pop away,
And bag you ten and twenty hearts a-day;
Knocks ladies down like nine-pins, with a look,
And worst of all can not be brought to book.
He sha'n't dim those eyes long, my darlings, shall he?

Patch.Why, you mad flunky!

Ronde.— Why, you maniac valet!

Patch.—Why, you impertinent piece of pretension!

Ronde.—To call him man would be a condescension.
A valet, paugh! (going.)

Prince.— A clear case of cold shoulder.

Patch.—We'll have you trounced, e'er you're a minute older!

[Exeunt Rondeletia and Patchoulia. (R.)

Prince—(R.) But listen, for a moment. No, they're gone,
Well, this is Cocker's old rule, 'set down one.'
I had no notion, while I was genteel,
How very small indeed a man may feel.
I've made what Capillaire calls a 'diskivery.'
I wonder what's my value out of livery!
But here comes humble little Cinderella (R.);
I feel I love her—let's see, shall I tell her?

[Enter Cinderella.

Cin.—I've taken up the coffee, not too soon,
And made all tidy for the afternoon.
I think—

Prince— What do you think, you little gipsy?

Cin.—I think the Prince and Pa are getting tipsy.

Prince—Well, darling, here I am again you see.

Cin.—You don't mean you were waiting here for me?

Prince—Yes, but I was though; and can't you guess why?

Cin.—You thought that I popp'd out upon the sly?

Prince—I have a secret for you—I'm in love!

Cin.—(dolefully) Who with?

Prince.— With you—fact! There's my hand and glove—
Do you return my passion and forgive me?

Cin.—I never do return what people give me.

Prince.—Then keep my heart!

Cin.— Mine kicks up such a bobbery,
I'll give it you; exchange, you know, 's no robbery.

[Pg 183] Prince—We'll wed next week—a house I'll see about.

Cin.—I'd go with you—but I've no Sunday out."

Beaumont and Fletcher, did I say? Rather Ovid and Tibullus. What a beautiful picture of innocence is conveyed in that suggestive line—

"You thought that I popp'd out upon the sly!"

It is too natural for fiction. It must be a reminiscence of departed bliss—a sigh wafted from the street-door of a furnished lodging-house in Bloomsbury, when our authors plied the bistoury at Guy's. Bogle, if you ever should be in love, take a lesson from these great masters, and your suit is sure to prosper. Not a serving-maid in the Saltmarket but must yield to such fervid and impassioned eloquence.

Talking of songs, I shall just give you the interesting ditty with which this excellent extravaganza concludes. There is fine moral in it, which will do well to lay to heart.

"Cinderella sings.
When lords shall fall before my throne,
And dare not call their souls their own
On my slippery path, lest I should fall,
I'll think on the Coal-hole, and sing so small—
With my slipper so fine.
Tra-la, Tra-la!

Gorgeous Tableau.

[Curtain falls."

Yes! there can be little doubt that, after all the Coal-hole is their genuine Aganippe.

Would you like to have a slight specimen of Planché, by way of change? It is not fair to give an entire monopoly to Messrs Taylor and Smith, however eminent their deserts, so let us dedicate a moment to the substitute for Shakespeare. From six fairy dramas, composed by the Witty Wizard, I shall select "Graciosa and Percinet." A very short sample will, I opine, convince you that his popularity is as deserved as it assuredly is extensive. Hasten we, then, to the glorious tournament of the Cockneys.

"Enter (c.) the King, Heralds, Nobles, and Ladies of the Court, the Six Knights, viz.:—Sir Regent Circus, Knight of the Bull and Mouth; Sir Lad Lane, Knight of the Swan with Two Necks; Sir Snow Hill, Knight of the Saracen's Head; Sir Ludgate Hill, Knight of the Belle Sauvage; Sir Fleet Street, Knight of the Bolt-in-Tun; and Sir Charing Cross, Knight of the Golden Cross.


{'To the Gay Tournament.')
To the gay tournament
The Queen of Beauty goes;
He shall gain a prize from her
Who most his courage shows—
Singing, singing, 'Though others fair may be,
Nobody, nobody, can be compared to thee!'
Grog.—Soon will the conqueror,
With trophy and with wreath,
Kneel on his bended knee
My throne low beneath—
Singing, singing, 'Though others fair may be,
Nobody, nobody can be compared with me.'
King, Lord Nimroddy, and Graciosa, (aside,)
Bold must the champion be
Who can that boast maintain;
He, for audacity,
The prize must surely gain.
Swinging, hanging on the highest tree,
For such a lie, such a lie, he deserves to be.
Cho.—To the gay tournament, &c.

[Exeunt. (R.)

[Pg 184]

Scene IV. Tilt-yard of the Palace. The Lists set out for a Tournament.
Throne for the
Queen of Beauty; another for the King; a Chair of State for
Princess. Pavilions of the Knights-Challengers, &c.

Grognon, King, Graciosa, Knights, Courtiers, Guards, Heralds, &c., discovered.

Herald.—O yes! O yes! O yes! take notice, pray,
Here are six noble knights, in arms to-day;
Who swear, that never yet was lady seen
So lovely as our new-elected Queen!
Against all comers they will prove 'tis so.
Oh yes! oh yes! oh yes!

Enter Percinet (L.) in Green Armour.

Per.— I say, oh no!

Grog.—Who's this Jack in the green?

Gra. [aside] Sure, I know who!

King.—Do you know what you say?

Per.—And mean it, too!

King.—How! come to court, and say just what you mean!
You're a Green Knight, indeed!

Per.—Sir Turnham Green!

Of Brentford's royal house a princely scion,
Knight of its ancient order, the Red Lion;
Baron of Hammersmith, a Count of Kew,
Marquis of Kensington, and Lord knows who.
But all these titles willingly I waive
For one more dear—Fair Graciosa's slave!
I'll prove it, on the crest of great or small,
She's Beauty's Queen, who holds my heart in thrall,
And Grognon is a foul and ugly witch!

King.—If you're a gentleman, behave as sich!

Per.—Come one, come all! here, I throw down my gage!

King.—A green gage, seemingly!

Grog.— I choke with rage!
To arms! my knights!

[The Knights enter their Pavilions.

Gra.— I'll bet a crown he mills 'em!

King.—Laissez Aller! That's go it, if it kills 'em!"

I have no patience for such pitiful slaver! And yet this is the sort of trash which half London is flocking nightly to see, and for which the glorious English drama has been discarded and disdained!

I lay down my pen in utter weariness of the flesh. The jingle of that last jargon is still ringing in my ears; and in order to get rid of it—for if I do not speedily, I am booked as a Bauldie for life—I shall step down to Astley's, and refresh my British feelings by beholding Mr Gomersal overthrown (for the twentieth time this season) upon the field of Waterloo.

[Pg 185]


This remarkable book contains a denunciation, by an angry and an able man, of some of the most pressing practical evils of the Roman Catholic system. The celibacy of the priesthood, the mysteries of the confessional, the usurpations of priestly direction in the economy of families, in the control of women, and in the education of children—these are the objects against which the historian of France now directs the arrows of his indignation, and which he seeks to drive from among his countrymen by his earnest and energetic attacks. His hostility has probably been prompted, in part, by the strong feelings of jealousy at present existing in France between the Universities and the Church. But his work is not professedly, nor principally, directed to that subject of controversy. It embraces a larger question, affecting the various relations of private life, and not confined to one form or phasis of fanaticism. It deserves the anxious consideration of all who are interested in the progress of European civilization, and may teach a valuable lesson to many who may, at first sight, seem to be far removed from the mischief which it seeks to remedy.

For centuries past, it may be said, that the great disease of France has been the disorder in its domestic relations. That amidst the general surrender of its upper classes in former times to levity, "and something more," there were many exceptions of family happiness and purity, is as certain as that human nature, in its worst state of depravity, will ever assert its better tendencies, and give indications of the ethereal source from which it has sprung. But, that the prevailing tone of those who ought to have given the tone to others, was long of the most lax or licentious character, admits of little doubt; nor is it wonderful that public corruption and anarchy should have followed fast upon the dissolution of private restraints. The same form of the evil may not now exist; but the book before us exhibits proofs that there is still a want of that harmony in conjugal life that is essential as the foundation of solid virtue and social prosperity. The husband and the wife are still separated from each other; not, it may be, by a lover, but by a priest. There is the same want of sympathy as ever, the same mutual alienation of hearts, the same absence of that kindly agency of mind on mind, which is needed to strengthen the intellect of the woman and to purify the spirit of the man. It is this state of things that has roused the energies of a writer not remarkable for his prejudices against the Catholic church in her earlier constitution, but who thinks he sees her now at his own door, undermining household authority, and stealing from every man the affections of those who are united to him by the tenderest ties, and whom he cannot cease to love, even when his love has ceased to be returned.

Michelet's book is divided into three parts. The first treats of "Direction," or spiritual superintendence in the seventeenth century; containing a historical view of clerical influence during that period; and more particularly of the policy and power of the Jesuits. The second discusses the character of "Direction" in general, and particularly in the nineteenth century. The third is specially devoted to the subject "Of the Family," and winds up the work, by showing the operation of the poison in the most vital part of the frame.

The preface to the first edition contains powerful passages. We extract some of the best of them from the English translation by Mr Cocks, which is sufficiently respectable for our present purpose.

"The question is about our family:—that sacred asylum in which we all desire to seek the repose of the heart, when our endeavours have proved fruitless, and our illusions are no more. We return exhausted to the domestic hearth; but do we find there the repose we sigh for?

[Pg 186]

"Let us not dissemble, but acknowledge to ourselves how things are: there is in our family a sad difference of sentiment, and the most serious of all.

"We may speak to our mothers, wives, and daughters, on any of the subjects which form the topics of our conversation with indifferent persons, such as business or the news of the day, but never on subjects that affect the heart and moral life, such as eternity, religion, the soul, and God.

"Choose, for instance, the moment when we naturally feel disposed to meditate with our family in common thought, some quiet evening at the family-table; venture even there, in your own house, at your own fireside, to say one word about these things; your mother sadly shakes her head, your wife contradicts you, your daughter, by her very silence, shows her disapprobation. They are on one side of the table, and you on the other—and alone.

"One would think that in the midst of them, and opposite you, was seated an invisible personage to contradict whatever you may say.

"But how can we be astonished at this state of our family? Our wives and daughters are brought up and governed by our enemies!

"Our enemies, I repeat it, in a more direct sense, as they are naturally envious of marriage and family life. This, I know full well, is rather their misfortune than their fault. An old lifeless system, of mechanical functions, can want but lifeless partisans. Nature, however, reclaims her rights: they feel painfully that family is denied them, and they console themselves only by troubling ours.

"This lifeless spirit, let us call it by its real name, Jesuitism, formerly neutralized by the different manners of living, of the orders, corporations, and religious parties, is now the common spirit which the clergy imbibes through a special education, and which its chiefs make no difficulty in confessing. A bishop has said, 'We are Jesuits, all Jesuits;' and nobody has contradicted him.

"The greater part, however, are less frank: Jesuitism acts powerfully through the medium of those who are supposed to be strangers to it; namely, the Sulpicians, who educate the clergy, the Ignorantins, who instruct the people, and the Lazarists, who direct six thousand Sisters of Charity, and have in their hands the hospitals, schools, charity-offices, &c.

"So many establishments, so much money, so many pulpits for preaching aloud, so many confessionals for whispering, the education of two hundred thousand boys, and six hundred thousand girls, the management of several millions of women, form together a powerful machine. The unity it possesses in our days might, one would suppose, alarm the state. This is so far from being the case, that whilst the state prohibits association among the laity, it has encouraged it among the ecclesiastics. It has allowed them to form a most dangerous footing among the poorer classes, the union of workmen, apprentice-houses, association of servants who are accountable to priests, &c. &c.

"Unity of action, and the monopoly of association, are certainly two powerful levers.

"That which constitutes the gravity of this age, I may even say its holiness, is conscientious work, which promotes attentively the common work of humanity, and facilitates at its own expense the work of the future. Our forefathers dreamed much, and disputed much. But we are labourers, and this is the reason why our furrow has been blessed. The soil which the middle ages left us still covered with brambles, has produced by our efforts so plentiful a harvest, that it already envelopes, and will presently hide the old inanimate post that expected to stop the plough.

"And it is because we are workmen, and return home fatigued every evening, that we need more than others the repose of the heart. Our board and fireside must again become our own; we must no longer find, instead of repose, at home, the old dispute which has been settled by science and the world; nor hear from our wife or child, on our pillow, a lesson learnt by heart, and the words of another man.

"Women follow willingly the strong. How comes it, then, that in this case they have followed the weak?

"It must be that there is an art which gives strength to the weak. This dark art, which consists in surprising, fascinating, lulling, and annihilating the will, has been investigated by me in this volume. The seventeenth century had the theory of it, and ours continues the practice."

We shall not follow the writer in his review of Jesuitical influences in[Pg 187] the seventeenth century, though it contains much that might excite remark and deserve attention. We hasten to the more urgent question—the state of matters as they exist at the present hour.

The root of the evil, as Michelet thinks, lies in the position of the priesthood. We are far from adopting all his views, and would decline any indiscriminate condemnation of a body of men who, under any form of Christianity, must do good in many quarters, and must contain numerous examples of faithful and fervent piety. But in so far as the system of the Romish church is vicious and injurious, it is of vital moment that we should trace the effect to its cause. Much evil, we think, is ascribable to the doctrines of that church, and of every other that too highly exalts the powers and functions of the priest as compared with the people. But, dismissing these for the present, the peculiar discipline of the Romish system deserves our immediate consideration; and here our attention is first attracted by a striking characteristic, the CELIBACY of the clergy. Let us hear how so important a peculiarity is thought to operate by this acute observer:—

"We think, without enumerating the too well-known inconveniences of their present state, that if the priest is to advise the family, it is good for him to know what a family is; that as a married man (or a widower, which would be still better,) of a mature age and experience, one who has loved and suffered, and whom domestic affections have enlightened upon the mysteries of moral life, which are not to be learned by guessing, he would possess at the same time more affection, and more wisdom.

"Why torment a blind man by speaking to him of colours? He answers vaguely; occasionally he may guess pretty nearly; but how can it be helped? he cannot see.

"And do not think that the feelings of the heart can be guessed at more easily. A man without wife or child might study the mysterious working of a family in books and the world for ten thousand years without ever knowing one word about them. Look at these men: it is neither time, opportunity nor facility, that they lack to acquire knowledge; they pass their lives with women who tell them more than they tell their husbands; they know, and yet they are ignorant; they know all a woman's acts and thoughts, but they are ignorant precisely of what is the best and most intimate part of her character, and the very essence of her being. They hardly understand her as a lover, (of God or man,) still less as a wife, and not at all as a mother. Nothing is more painful than to see them sitting down awkwardly by the side of a woman to caress her child; their manner towards it is that of flatterers or courtiers—anything but that of a father.

"What I pity the most in the man condemned to celibacy, is not only the privation of the sweetest joys of the heart, but that a thousand objects of the natural and moral world are, and ever will be, a dead letter to him. Many have thought, by living apart, to dedicate their lives to science; but the reverse is the case. In such a morose and crippled life, science is never fathomed; it may be varied, and superficially immense; but it escapes—for it will not reside there. Celibacy gives a restless activity to researches, intrigues, and business—a sort of huntsman's eagerness—a sharpness in the subtilties of school-divinity and disputation: this is at least the effect it had in its prime. If it makes the senses keen and liable to temptation, certainly it does not soften the heart. Our terrorists in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were monks. Monastic prisons were always the most cruel. A life systematically negative—a life without its functions—developes in man instincts that are hostile to life; he who suffers is willing to make others suffer. The harmonious and fertile parts of our nature, which on the one hand incline to goodness, and on the other to genius and high invention, can hardly ever withstand this partial suicide.

"I have never been insensible either to the humiliation of the church, or to the sufferings of the priest. I have them all present, both before my imagination and in my heart. I have followed this unfortunate man in the career of privations, and in the miserable life into which he is dragged by the hand of a hypocritical authority. And in his loneliness, on his cold and melancholy hearth, where he sometimes weeps at night, let him remember that a man has often wept with him, and that I am that man."

[Pg 188]

We partly know the object and origin of the middle age institution of celibacy among the clergy. It was intended to check the tendency to secularize benefices. It was adapted to the condition of a church militant. It might do good, or at least it could do little harm, where aged and self-mortified men were the occupants of the office. But a youthful priesthood, established in all the comforts or the luxuries of a state endowment, moving and officiating in a sphere where leisure and refinement give an impulse to the heart and fancy, and yet condemned to a renunciation of all the charities of family union, of all the affections of a lover, a husband, a father—how unnatural a position is this, how detrimental to usefulness, how dangerous to virtue! Supposing, even, that the vow is kept in its spirit, and perhaps its violation is not the greatest imaginable mischief, what must be the effect of such solitary seclusion on ordinary minds! What power shall protect the mass of the profession on an envious sourness of heart at the sight of that happiness in others, which in a moment, it may be of rashness, they have relinquished for themselves. "Croire qu'un voeu, quelques prières, une robe noire sur le dos, vont vous delivrer de la chair, et vous faire un pur esprit, n'est-ce pas chose puerile?" We hope and are sure it is not often so; but can we say that sometimes the dark and deserted spirit of the priest may not look on the happiness of families with an approach to the feelings of the Evil One, when gazing at our First Parents in their state of innocence?—

"Sight hateful! sight tormenting! thus these two
Emparadised in one another's arms—While I—"

But this is not all. Thus doomed to the dreary isolation of a manqué and mutilated life, yet, in the midst of his privations, retaining his natural passions, his longings of the heart and affections, the Romish priest is employed in no ordinary task of clerical occupation or superintendence—in preaching merely or in prayer—in the visitation of the sick and afflicted. The Confessional is added to his duties, as if on purpose to enhance the misery of his condition, and the mischief of his influence. And with whom is the confessional chiefly conversant? The male penitent, we presume, is content with a very general acknowledgment of his errors, and seldom indulges in great outpourings of the spirit, or would submit to any stretch of authority over his conscience or conduct. But the softer sex, whose own tenderness of heart, and whose power over the hearts of others, make all converse with them so potent for good or for harm—maidens, and wives in the prime of life, and in the pride of beauty, opening their souls to a confessor, revealing all their secret emotions, their hopes, their disappointments, their fears, their failings, submitting to his questions, and hanging upon his words of acquittal or condemnation; surely this is a subject of contemplation full of awful interest, and on which it is impossible to be at ease where the mysterious intercourse is without a witness and without a check—but the consciences of two frail and fallible human beings. Well may we say with Michelet, that under such a system the priest ought to be truly a πρεσβυτεροϛ, "a man who has seen, learned, and suffered much." A young priest as a father-confessor is not merely "a nonsensical contradiction," but a snare and a source of peril both to himself and his penitents.

The pomp of Popery gives its clergy sufficient aids to their influence by other means.

"The priest takes advantage of every thing that is calculated to make him be considered as a man apart—of his dress, his position, his mysterious church, that invests the most vulgar with a poetical gleam.

"What an immense place is this church, and what an immense host must inhabit this wonderful dwelling! Optical delusion adds still more to the effect. Every proportion changes. The eye is deceived and deceives itself, at the same time, with these sublime lights and deepening shades, all calculated to increase the illusion. The man whom in the street you judged, by his surly look, to be a village schoolmaster, is here a prophet. He is transformed by this majestic framework; his heaviness becomes strength and majesty; his voice has formidable echoes. Women and children tremble and are afraid.

[Pg 189]

"Do you see that solemn figure, adorned with all the gold and purple of his pontifical dress, ascending, with the thought, the prayer of a multitude of ten thousand men, the triumphal steps in the choir of St Denis? Do you see him still, above all that kneeling mass, hovering as high as the vaulted roofs, his head reaching the capitals, and lost among the winged heads of the angels, whence he hurls his thunder? Well, it is the same man, this terrible archangel himself, who presently descends for her, and now, mild and gentle, goes yonder into that dark chapel, to listen to her in the languid hours of the afternoon! Delightful hour of tumultuous, but tender sensations! (Why does the heart palpitate so strongly here?) How dark the church becomes! Yet it is not late. The great rose-window over the portal glitters with the setting sun. But it is quite another thing in the choir; dark shadows envelope it, and beyond is obscurity. One thing astounds and almost frightens us, however far we may be, which is the mysterious old painted glass, at the farthest end of the church, on which the design is no longer distinguishable, twinkling in the shade, like an illegible magic scroll of unknown characters. The chapel is not less dark on that account; you can no longer discern the ornaments and delicate moulding entwined in the vaulted roof; the shadow deepening blends and confounds the outlines. But, as if this chapel were not dark enough, it contains, in a retired corner, a narrow recess of dark oak, where that man, all emotion, and that trembling woman, so close to each other, are whispering together about the love of God."

The details of a priest's education for the confessional office are necessarily deplorable. We blame not so much the men as the system. Yet books, apparently, are continued among the preparations for this duty, which might well be dispensed with as wholly unsuited to the age. We believe that Sanchez was a man of holy life, though his purity, after the analogy of one of Swift's paradoxes, left him a man of impure ideas; and no one was ever forced by dire necessity to read his book without disgust and dismay. It may be good for the students of medicine to penetrate into every form in which bodily disease can show itself; but the pathology of the mind thus hideously represented is degrading even to the observer.

"A worthy parish priest has often told me that the sore part of his profession, that which filled him with despair, and his life with torment, was the confession.

"The studies with which they prepare for it in the seminaries are such as entirely ruin the disposition, weaken the body, and enervate and defile the soul.

"Lay education, without making any pretension to an extraordinary degree of purity, and though the pupils it forms will, one day, enjoy public life, takes, however, especial care to keep from the eyes of youth the glowing descriptions that excite the passions.

"Ecclesiastical education, on the contrary, which pretends to form men superior to man, pure virgin minds, angels, fixes precisely the attention of its pupils upon things that are to be for ever forbidden them, and gives them for subjects of study terrible temptations, such as would make all the saints run the risk of damnation. Their printed books have been quoted, but not so their copy-books, by which they complete the two last years of seminary education: these copy-books contain things that the most audacious have never dared to publish.

"This surprising imprudence proceeded originally from the very scholastic supposition, that the body and soul could be perfectly well kept apart."

What is the influence by which the power of the confessor is converted into that of the director? It is done in the usual way—by the continual repetition of the same process for a length of time. Habit is the insidious enemy that, ere it seems to assail, has already conquered and led captive.

"Stand at this window every day, at a certain hour in the afternoon. You will see a pale man pass down the street, with his eyes cast on the ground, and always following the same line of pavement next the houses. Where he set his foot yesterday, there he does to-day, and there he will to-morrow; he would wear out the pavement if it was never renewed. And by this same street he goes to the same house, ascends to the same story, and in the same cabinet speaks to the same person. He speaks of the same things, and his manner seems the same. The person who listens to him sees no difference between yesterday and to-day; gentle uniformity,[Pg 190] as serene as an infant's sleep, whose breathing raises its chest at equal intervals with the same soft sounds.

"You think that nothing changes in this monotonous equality; that all these days are the same. You are mistaken; you have perceived nothing, yet every day there is a change, slight, it is true, and imperceptible, which the person, himself changed by little and little, does not remark.

"It is like a dream in a bark. What distance have you come whilst you were dreaming? Who can tell? Thus you go on, without seeming to move—still, and yet rapidly. Once out of the river, or canal, you soon find yourself at sea; the uniform immensity in which you now are, will inform you still less of the distance you go. Time and place are equally uncertain; no sure point to occupy attention; and attention itself is gone. The reverie is profound, and becomes more and more so—an ocean of dreams upon the smooth ocean of waters.

"A pleasant state, in which every thing becomes insensible, even gentleness itself. Is it death, or is it life? To distinguish, we require attention, and we should awake from our dream.—No, let it go on, whatever it may be that carried me along with it, whether it lead me to life or death.

"Alas! 'tis habit! that gently-sloping, formidable abyss, into which we slide so easily! we may say every thing that is bad of it, and also every thing that is good, and it will be always true."

It would be painful and repulsive to follow out the acts which the acquisition of such spiritual ascendancy may suggest to wicked or even a weak spirit. The result in general is the complete possession of the whole mind of the subdued victim, which lives, and moves, and has its being in the will and wishes of its omnipotent tyrant. This change is of itself destructive of moral independence; but we must not conceal what the writer before us represents as an ulterior effect, and which, even as a possibility, must be contemplated with fear and horror.

"To be able to have all, and then abstain, is a slippery situation! who will keep his footing on this declivity?

"Are you sure you possess the heart entirely, if you have not the body? Will not physical possession give up corners of the soul, which otherwise would remain inaccessible? Is spiritual dominion complete, if it does not comprehend the other? The great popes seem to have settled the question; they thought popedom implied empire; and the pope himself, besides his sway over consciences, was king in temporal matters.

"Afterwards comes the vile refinement of the Quietists:—'If the inferior part be without sin, the superior grows proud, and pride is the greatest sin; consequently the flesh ought to sin, in order that the soul may remain humble; sin, producing humility, becomes a ladder to ascend to heaven.'

"Sin!—But is it sin? (depraved devotion finds here the ancient sophism:) The holy by its essence, being holiness itself, always sanctifies. In the spiritual man, every thing is spirit, even what in another is matter. If, in its superior flight, the holy should meet with any obstacle that might draw it again towards the earth, let the inferior part get rid of it; it does a meritorious work, and is sanctified for it.

"Diabolical subtilty! which few avow clearly, but which many brood over, and cherish in their most secret thoughts."

We feel assured that, as Michelet himself has said, this last act of the dreadful drama is but seldom represented. But enough may be done, without actual or conscious guilt, to pervert the feelings, and, above all, to destroy the peace and the unity of the family.

"Six hundred and twenty thousand girls are brought up by nuns under the direction of the priests. These girls will soon be women and mothers, who, in their turn, will hand over to the priests, as far as they are able, both their sons and their daughters.

"The mother has already succeeded as far as concerns the daughter; by her persevering importunity, she has, at length, overcome the father's repugnance. A man who, every evening, after the troubles of business, and the warfare of the world, finds strife also at home, may certainly resist for a time, but he must necessarily give in at last; or he will be allowed neither truce, cessation, rest, nor refuge. His own house becomes uninhabitable. His wife, having nothing to expect at the confessional but harsh treatment as long as she does not succeed,[Pg 191] will wage against him every day and every hour the war they make against her; a more gentle one, perhaps; politely bitter, implacable, and obstinate.

"She grumbles at the fireside, is low-spirited at table, and never opens her mouth either to speak or eat; then, at bed-time, the inevitable repetition of the lesson she has learned, even on the pillow. The same sound of the same bell, for ever and ever: who could withstand it? What is to be done? Give in, or become mad!

"What is very singular, the father, generally, is aware that they are bringing up his child against him. Man, you surprise me; what do you expect then? 'Oh! she will forget it; time, marriage, and the world, will wear away all that'. Yes, for a time, but only to reappear; at the first disappointment in the world, it will all return. As soon as she grows somewhat in years, she will return to the habits of the child; the master she now has will be her master then, whether for your contradiction, good man, or for the despair and daily damnation of her father and husband. Then will you taste the fruit of this education.

"Education! a mere trifle, a weak power, no doubt, which the father may, without danger, allow his enemies to take possession of!

"To possess the mind, with all the advantage of the first possessor! To write in this book of blank paper whatever they will! and to write what will last for ever! And, remember well, it will be in vain for you to write upon it hereafter; what has once been indited, cannot be erased. Is the mystery of her young memory to be as weak in receiving impressions, as it is strong in keeping them. The early tracing that seemed to be effaced at twenty, reappears at forty or sixty. It is the last and the clearest, perhaps, that old age will retain.

"This is true in speaking of the school, but how much more so as regards the church! especially in the case of the daughter, who is more docile and timid, and certainly retains more faithfully her early impressions. What she heard the first time in that grand church, under those resounding roofs, and the words, pronounced with a solemn voice by that man in black, which then frightened her so, being addressed to herself;—ah! be not afraid of her ever forgetting them. But even if she could forget them, she would be reminded of them every week: woman is all her life at school, finding in the confessional her school-bench, her schoolmaster, the only man she fears, and the only one, as we have said, who, in the present state of our manners, can threaten a woman.

"What an advantage has he in being able to take her quite young, in the convent where they have placed her, to be the first to take in hand her young soul, and to be the first to exercise upon her the earliest severity, and also the earliest indulgence which is so akin to affectionate tenderness, to be the father and friend of a child taken so soon from her mother's arms. The confidant of her first thoughts will long be associated with her private reveries. He has had an especial and singular privilege which the husband may envy: what—why, the virginity of the soul, and the first-fruits of the will.

"This is the man of whom, young bachelors, you must ask the girl in marriage, before you speak to her parents."

The subject is resumed in his preface to the third edition.

"It had been generally believed that two persons were sufficient for matrimony: but this is all altered; and we have the new system, as set forth by themselves, composed of three elements: 1st, man, the strong, the violent; 2dly, woman, a being naturally weak; 3dly, the priest, born a man, and strong, but who is kind enough to become weak, and resemble woman; and who, participating thus in both natures, may interpose between them.

"Interpose! interfere between two persons who were to be henceforth but one! This changes wonderfully the idea which, from the beginning of the world, has been entertained of marriage.

"But this is not all; they avow that they do not pretend to make an impartial interference that might favour each of the parties, according to reason. No, they address themselves exclusively to the wife: she it is whom they undertake to protect against her natural protector. They offer to league with her in order to transform the husband. If it was once firmly established that marriage, instead of being unity in two persons, is a league of one of them with a stranger, it would become exceedingly scarce."

It would be unjust to assume that a book written under the influence of strong feelings contains an impartial[Pg 192] account of actual facts; but even the rage with which it has been received by the party attacked, is a proof that it is true to most damaging extent. That its pictures are exaggerated is more than possible. But it is not possible that it should be destitute of a broad and deep foundation of melancholy reality.

What now is the remedy which this physician would prescribe for the disease he has thus exposed? His words on this subject are well deserving of attention.

"Marriage gives the husband a single and momentary opportunity to become in reality the master of his wife, to withdraw her from the influence of another, and make her his own for ever. Does he profit by it? very rarely. He ought, in the very beginning, when he has much influence over her, to let her participate in the activity of his mind, his business, and ideas, initiate her in his projects, and create an activity in her by means of his own.

"To wish and think as he does, both acting with him and suffering with him—this is marriage. The worst that may happen is not that she may suffer, but that she may languish and pine away, living apart, and like a widow. How can we wonder, then, if her affection for him be lessened? Ah, if, in the beginning, he made her his own, by making her share his ambition, troubles, and uneasiness:—if they had watched whole nights together, and been troubled with the same thoughts, he would have retained her affections. Attachment may be strengthened by grief itself; and mutual sufferings may maintain mutual love.

"Unfortunately, this is not the way of the world. I have sought every where, but in vain, for this fine exchange of thought, which alone realizes marriage. They certainly try for a moment, in the beginning, to communicate together, but they are soon discouraged; the husband grows dumb, his heart, dried up with the arid influence of interests and business, can no longer find words. At first she is astonished and uneasy: she questions him. But questions annoy him, and she no longer dares to speak to him. Let him be easy; the time is coming when his wife, sitting thoughtful by the fireside, absent in her turn, and framing her imaginary plans, will leave him in quiet possession of his taciturnity.

"Let us not accuse the Jesuits, who carry on their jesuitical trade, nor the priests, who are dangerous, restless, and violent, only because they are unhappy.

"No, we ought rather to accuse ourselves.

"If dead men return in broad daylight, if these Gothic phantoms haunt our streets at noonday, it is because the living have let the spirit of life grow weak within them. How is it that these men reappear among us, after having been buried by history with all funereal rites, and laid by the side of other ancient orders? The very sight of them is a solemn token, and a serious warning.

"Modern strength appears in the powerful liberty with which you go on disengaging the reality from the forms, and the spirit on the dead letter. But why do you not reveal yourself to the companion of your life, in that which is for you your life itself? She passes away days and years by your side, without seeing or knowing the grandeur that is within you. If she saw you walk free, strong, and prosperous in action and in science, she would not remain chained down to material idolatry, and bound to the sterile letter; she would rise to a faith far more free and pure, and you would be as one in faith. She would preserve for you this common treasure of religious life, where you might seek for comfort when your mind is languid; and when your various toils, studies, and business have weakened the vital unity within you, she would bring back your thoughts and life to God, the true, the only unity.

"I shall not attempt to crowd a large volume into a small preface. I shall only add one word, which at once expresses and completes my thought.

"Man ought to nourish woman. He ought to feed spiritually (and materially if he can) her who nourishes him with her love, her milk, and her very life.

"Our adversaries give women bad food; but we give them none at all.

"To the women of the richer class, those who seem to be so gently protected by their family, those brilliant ones whom people suppose so happy, to these we give no spiritual food.

"And to the women of the poorer class, solitary, industrious, and destitute, who try hard to gain their bread, we do not even give our assistance to help them to find their material food.

"These women, who are or will be mothers, are left by us to fast, (either[Pg 193] in soul or in body,) and we are punished especially by the generation that issues from them, for our neglecting to give them the staff of life.

"I like to believe that good-will, generally, is not wanting—only time and attention. People live in a hurry, and can hardly be said to live: they follow with a huntsman's eagerness this or that petty object, and neglect what is important.

"You, man of business or study, who are so energetic and indefatigable, you have no time, say you, to associate your wife with your daily progress; you leave her to her ennui, idle conversations, empty sermons, and silly books; so that, falling below herself, less than woman, even less than a child, she will have neither moral action, influence, nor maternal authority, over her own offspring. Well! you will have the time, as old age advances, to try in vain to do all over again what is not done twice, to follow in the steps of a son, who, from college to the schools, and from thence into the world, hardly knows his family; and who, if he travels a little, and meets you on his return, will ask you your name. The mother alone could have made you a son; but to do so you ought to have made her what a woman ought to be, strengthened her with your sentiments and ideas, and nourished her with your life."

True, O most subtle and sapient Frenchman, the remedy lies in the direction you have pointed out; but we have doubts if you have fully discovered its nature, or are prepared to apply it in its necessary extent. The husband must make the wife the companion of his heart and thoughts, of his hopes and exertions. Too long has this sympathy and confidence been unknown in France, where your women have been but the toys and playthings of your lighter or looser hours, and where often to their own husbands they have not even been so much. But, as you partly see, this is not all that is needed to be corrected. In order to be the fitting guide and guardian of the mother of his family, the husband must share in those higher feelings which he seeks to regulate and reclaim. You do not hope or wish to see your wife and children devoid of religion. But if you would not surrender them to the guidance of others in those momentous concerns, you must care for them and conduct their course yourself, and must learn to travel the road along which they are to be led. The husband must become himself the priest and the director: not by inculcating a vague theism or a cold morality, but by establishing in his household the purity and the practice of a Christian faith. If the domestic throne is to be upheld on its rightful foundation, the altar must be reared by its side. The philosopher and historian must stoop to learn from his own children that simplicity of which they are such powerful teachers, and which will amply repay him for all the lessons of a more mature wisdom that his learning and experience can impart. Openly and earnestly sympathizing with their devout impressions, he will strengthen and support by his intellectual energies the soft and more susceptible natures of those placed under his charge, and will thus shield them from the attempts to mislead and inflame, to which they must inevitably be exposed if left to find their only sympathy in extraneous influences. This re-establishment of a patriarchal piety is one of the great boons which the true spirit of Protestantism purchased for its followers, and which alone can protect the weaker members of the household from becoming a prey to priestly interference and false enthusiasm.

The book contains a touching tribute, such as able men have often paid to the maternal affection that formed their minds:—

"Whilst writing all this, I have had in my mind a woman, whose strong and serious mind would not have failed to support me in these contentions; I lost her thirty years ago, (I was a child then;) nevertheless, ever living in my memory, she follows me from age to age.

"She suffered with me in my poverty, and was not allowed to share in my better fortune. When young, I made her sad, and now I cannot console her. I know not even where her bones are: I was too poor then to buy earth to bury her!

"And yet I owe her much. I feel deeply that I am the son of woman. Every instant, in my ideas and words (not to mention my features and gestures,)[Pg 194] I find again my mother in myself. It is my mother's blood that gives me the sympathy I feel for bygone ages, and the tender remembrance of all those who are now no more.

"What return then could I, who am myself advancing towards old age, make her for the many things I owe her? One, for which she would have thanked me—this protest in favour of women and mothers; and I place it at the head of a book believed by some to be a work of controversy. They are wrong. The longer it lives, if it should live, the plainer will it be seen, that, in spite of polemical emotion, it was a work of history, a work of faith, of truth, and of sincerity;—on what, then, could I have set my heart more?"

In a spirit worthy of these feelings, the author contends strongly for the benefits of maternal education on the character of sons. We shall give the passage in the original, as it contains a good deal that is French, and a great deal that is beautiful:—

"Quand on songe que la vie moyenne est si courte, qu'un si grand nombre d'hommes meurent tout jeunes, on hésite d'abréger cette première, cette meilleure époque de la vie, où l'enfant, libre sous la mère, vit dans la grâce et non dans la loi. Mais s'il est vrai, comme je pense, que ce temps qu'on croit perdu est justement l'époque unique, précieuse, irréparable, où, parmi les jeux puérils, le genius sacré essaye son premier essor, la saison où les ailes poussent, où l'aiglon s'essaye à voler ... Ah! de grâce, ne l'abrégez pas. Ne chassez pas avant le temps cet homme nouveau du paradis maternel; encore un jour; demain à la bonne heure, mon Dieu! il sera bien temps; demain, il se courbera au travail, il rampera sur son sillon.... Aujourd'hui laissez-le encore, qu'il prenne largement la force et la vie, qu'il aspire d'un grand cœur l'air vitale de la liberté.

"Une éducation trop exigeante, trop zélée, inquiète, est un danger pour les enfants. On augmente toujours la masse d'étude et de science, les acquisitions extérieures; l'interieur succombe. Celui-ci n'est que latin, tel autre n'est que mathématiques. Où est l'homme, je vous prie? Et c'était l'homme justement qu'aimait et ménageait la mère. C'est lui qu'elle respectait dans les écarts de l'enfant. Elle semblait retirer son action, sa surveillance même, afin qu'il agît, qu'il fût libre et fort. Mais, en même temps, elle l'entourait toujours comme d'un invisible embrassement.

"Il y a un péril, je le sais bien, dans cette éducation de l'amour. Ce que l'amour veut et désire par-dessus tout, c'est de s'immoler, de sacrifier tout—intérêts, convenances, habitudes, la vie, s'il le faut.

"L'objet de cette immolation peut, dans son égoïsme enfantin, recevoir, comme chose due, tous les sacrifices, se laisser traiter en idole, inerte, immobile, et devenir d'autant plus incapable d'action qu'on agira plus pour lui.

"Danger réel, mais balancé par l'ambition ardente du cœur maternel, qui presque toujours place sur l'enfant une espérance infinie, et brûle de la réaliser. Toute mère de quelque valeur a une ferme foi, c'est que son fils doit être un héros—dans l'action ou dans la science, il n'importe. Tout ce qui lui a fait défaut dans sa triste expérience de ce monde, il va, lui, ce petite enfant, le réaliser. Les misères du présent sont rachetées d'avance par ce splendide avenir: tout est misérable aujourd'hui; qu'il grandisse, et tout sera grand. O poésie! O espérance! où sont les limites de la pensée maternelle? Moi, je ne suis qu'une femme; mais voici un homme. J'ai donné un homme au monde. Une seule chose l'embarrasse—l'enfant sera-t-il un Bonaparte, un Voltaire, ou un Newton?

"S'il faut absolument pour cela qu'il la quitte, eh bien! qu'il aille, qu'il s'éloigne, elle y consent; s'il faut qu'elle s'arrache le cœur, elle s'arrachera le cœig;ur. L'amour est capable de tout, et d'immoler l'amour même. Oui, qu'il parte, qu'il suive sa grande destinée, qu'il accomplisse le beau rêve qu'elle fit quand elle le portait dans son sein, ou sur ses genoux. Et alors, chose incroyable, cette femme craintive, qui tout-à-l'heure n'osait le voir marcher seul sans craindre qu'il ne tombât, elle est devenue si brave qu'elle l'envoie dans les carrières; les plus hasardeuses, sur mer, ou bien encore dans cette rude guerre d'Afrique. Elle tremble, elle meurt d'inquiétude, et pourtant elle persiste. Qui peut la soutenir?—sa foi. L'enfant ne peut pas périr puis-qu'il doit être un héros.

"Il revient. Qu'il est changé! Moi! ce fier soldat, c'est mon fils! Parté enfant, il revient homme. Il a hâte de se marier. Voilà un autre sacrifice, et qui n'est pas le moins grand. Il faut qu'il en aime une autre; il faut que la mère,[Pg 195] pour qui il est, et sera toujours le premier, n'ait en lui désormais que la seconde place—une place bien petite, hélas! aux moments de passion. Alors elle se cherche et se choisit sa rivale, elle l'aime à cause de lui, elle la pare, elle se met à la suite, et les conduit à l'autel, et tout ce qu'elle y demande, c'est de ne pas être oubliée."

A word now as to the application to our own case of the leading views already suggested. It may be thought that the moral they most clearly inculcate would point to our fellow countrymen in Ireland. But we own we have a different reading of the lesson, and consider that the peculiar perils here described must as yet have been scarcely felt among the priesthood of a peasantry. It is in circles where there is less physical privation and more sentimental excitement, that the evils of spiritual fascination and domestic division are likely to arise.

Michelet has shown that "Direction," in its worst forms, did not terminate with the seventeenth century, but has revived in his own times. We may be allowed to follow out his opinions, and suggest that Jesuits and Directors are not confined to the Romish faith. It behoves even a Protestant people to be on their guard against the recurrence of Popery and its Practices under a new aspect. The same erroneous position may be reached from opposite directions. The same constitutional malady may show itself in different diseases. Cæsar was inaccessible to all flattery, except that which told him he hated flatterers. And many are most in danger of Popish error when it approaches under an ultra-Protestant disguise. We are saved, indeed, from the evils of a celibatary clergy. We are not exposed to that ignorance or that envy of family life which such a institution involves. But ambition and interest will supply the place of most other vices; and we shall be wise to watch whether the same battle is not now being fought among ourselves, and for the same immediate object—the occupancy of the female heart. The pictures that have been sometimes drawn of our own doings may have only a limited resemblance. Methodist preachers, and evangelical vicars, may be exaggerated delineations or mere individual portraits. But still, is it not true that the minds of our women, particularly those that are unmarried or childless, are here, as well as in France, sought to be engrossed, and alienated from their natural attachments, through priestly influences and for priestly purposes? Look at any new sect springing up among us—Look at the last example of the kind, where a peculiar religious body is forcing or feeling its way towards an ascendency. Powerful as it seems to be in numbers and in wealth, in what does its main strength consist? It was frankly avowed by one of its apostles, that the female mind alone seemed properly fitted to appreciate its tenets. A strange confession! We doubt if Luther, Calvin, or Knox, would have boasted of such a fact as characterizing the religious movements to which they gave an impulse. In the purity of female feelings we may have a security that any system that recommends itself to women, must have a fair semblance of goodness as it appears in their eyes: but it does not follow that their approbation is a test of its genuine excellence, or of its actual conformity with the type which it professes to represent. It is no novelty in the history of human nature, that evil makes its first attempts on the weakness of woman. Whatever is calculated strongly to excite the affections will gain the hearts of the more susceptible sex; and, without the aid of stronger intellects, they will run a risk of following after delusive lights, and may be found as often to be the votaries of an amiable and attractive error, as the assertors of a severe and sober truth. We would take leave to affirm, that a religious creed or constitution among whose supporters a vast preponderance of females was to be found, stood in a dubious position, and was open to the suspicion that its principles cannot stand examination by the standards of reason and argument. Certain it is that this severance of the sexes by religious distinctions is an unnatural state of society, and a serious evil. It is accompanied too, and aggravated, by another source of danger. The system of hanging the faith and feelings on the lips of a man, as if he were a special messenger from heaven, is[Pg 196] nothing else than Popery, and goes to put a pope in every pulpit. Incessant sermons, itinerant speeches, public meetings, devotional assemblies, form a round of excitement of a dangerous and deceptive kind, and are little else than a species of decent dissipation. The constant intervention of a favorite or fashionable minister in all the exercises of religion, identifies too much the sacred subject itself with the individual who presides over it; while theatrical exhibitions of extemporaneous oratory and flights of fancy, make the ordinary ritual of public worship, or the quiet practice of private devotion, seem tame and trivial. The tendency of the evil is, that the direct access to a communion with above is barred against the deluded and dependent devotee, much in the same manner as the votaries of Romanism are driven for aid to the intermediate intercession of the Virgin and the Saints. If the devotion of women is to be maintained mainly by the presence and personal influences of a spiritual guide and prompter, the selection ought to be made in accordance with other principles. The substitution of the priest or preacher in the place of the husband or guardian, presupposes or foreshows a subversion more or less of the most essential relations of family life. The necessity of resorting to this means of gaining or maintaining power must degrade the clergy who depend on it, by tempting them to arts of flattery and excitement, and by corrupting their style of instruction to suit the tastes merely of the more sensitive section of our species, at the sacrifice of that due proportion of more solid and intellectual grounds of thought and principle, which are needed to influence thoroughly the understandings of men. The remedy here also is to be found in a similar course of conduct to what has been formerly suggested. Let the heads of every house do every thing in their power to call into exercise the good sense and natural feeling of the females who are dependent upon them, at the same time that they give its due place to that all-important subject which is the occasion of the error. By a judicious mixture of sympathy and sober feeling, they may counteract the extraneous influences that are now at work, and restore peace to the family, by uniting its members in the practice of a calm and rational piety, of which, out-of-doors, the best assistance and safeguard are to be found in the time-tried doctrines and discipline of our Protestant Establishments.

REFERENCE: Michelet, (J.) Du Prêtre, de la Femme, de la Famille. 1845. Priests, Women, and Families. By J. Michelet. Translated by G. Cocks. London: Longmans.

[Pg 197]


No. II.

Horace Leicester.

Oxford! Alma Mater! not to love thee were indeed the ingratitude of a degenerate son. Let the whiners of the Conventicle rail at thee for a mother of heretics, and the Joseph Humes of domestic economy propose to adapt the scale of thy expenses to their own narrow notions—I uphold thee to be the queen of all human institutions—the incarnated union of Church and State—royal in thy revenues as in thy expenditure—thy doctrine as orthodox as thy dinners, thy politics as sound as thy port.

Oxford! who are they that rail at her? who dare to lift their voice against that seat of high and holy memories? The man who boasts a private education, (so private, that his most intimate friends have never found it out,) who, innocent himself of all academic experiences and associations, grudges to others that superiority which they never boast indeed, but to which his secret soul bears envious witness. Or the rich nonconformist, risen perhaps from obscurity to a rank in society, indulging either his spleen or his pride—either to send his eldest son as a gentleman-commoner to Christ-Church, to swallow the Thirty-nine Articles with his champagne; or to have his fling at the Church through her universities—accusing Churchmen of bigotry, and exclusiveness, and illiberality, because Dissenters do not found colleges.[2] Or, worse than all, the unworthy disciple who (like the noxious plant that has grown up beneath the shade of some goodly tree) has drawn no nobility of soul from the associations which surrounded his ungrateful youth: for whom all the reality and romance of academic education were[Pg 198] alike in vain: sneering at the honours which he could not obtain, denying the existence of opportunities which he neglected; the basest of approvers, he quotes to his own eternal infamy the scenes of riot and dissipation, the alternations of idleness and extravagance, which make up his sole recollections of the university: and looking, without one glance of affection, upon the face of his fair and graceful mother, makes the chance mole, or the early wrinkle, which he traces there, the subject of his irreverent jest, forgets the kindness of which he was unworthy, and remembers for evil the wholesome discipline which was irksome only to such as him.

"Non hæc jocosæ conveniunt lyræ;"

I admit mine is not the tongue or pen for such a subject; and Oxford has, I hope, no lack of abler champions. But it was geese, you know, who once saved the Capitol; and I must have my hiss at the iniquitous quackeries which people seek to perpetrate under the taking title of University Reform. And when I, loving Oxford as I do, see some of her own sons arrayed against her, I can only remember this much of my philosophy—that there are cases when to be angry becomes a duty. Men who, knowing nothing of the universities from experience, think proper to run them down, succeed at all events in exposing one crying evil—the absurdity of meddling with what one does not understand. We who know better may afford to smile at once at their spite and their ignorance. But he who lifts his voice against the mother that bore him, can fix no darker blot upon her fame than the disgrace of having given birth to him.

Show me the man who did not like Oxford, and I will show you either a sulky misanthrope or an affected ass. Many, many indeed, are the unpleasant recollections which, in the case of nearly all of us, will mingle with the joy with which we recall our college days. More than the ghosts of duns departed, perhaps unpaid; more than the heart-burnings of that visionary fellowship, for which we were beaten (we verily believe, unfairly) by a neck; more than that loved and lost ideal of first class, which we deserved, but did not get, (the opinions of our examiners not coinciding in that point with our own;) yes, more than all these, come forcibly to many minds, the self-accusing silent voice that whispers of time wasted and talents misapplied—kind advice, which the heat of youth misconstrued or neglected—jewels of price that once lay strewed upon the golden sands of life, then wantonly disregarded, or picked up but to be flung away, and which the tide of advancing years has covered from our view for ever—blessed opportunities of acquiring wisdom, human and divine, which never can return.

Yet in spite of all this, if there be any man who can say that Oxford is not to him a land of pleasant memories, "Μητ' ἑμοι παῥεστιος γἑνοιτο" —which is, being freely translated, "May he never put his legs under my mahogany"—that's all. I never knew him yet, and have no wish to make his acquaintance. He may have carried off every possible university honour for what I care; he is more hopelessly stupid, in my view of things, than if he had been plucked fifteen times. If he was fond of reading, or of talking about reading; fond of hunting, or talking about hunting; fond of walking, riding, rowing, leaping, or any possible exercise besides dancing; if he loved pleasant gardens or solemn cloisters; learned retirement or unlearned jollification—in a word, if he had any imaginable human sympathies, and cared for any thing besides himself, he would have liked Oxford. Men's tastes differ, no doubt; but to have spent four years of the spring of one's life in one of the most magnificent cities and best societies in the world, and not to have enjoyed it—this is not a variety of taste, but its privation.

I fancy there is a mistaken opinion very prevalent, that young and foolish, older and wiser, are synonymous terms. Stout gentlemen of a certain age, brimful of proprieties, shake their heads alarmingly, and talk of the folly of boys; as if they were the only fools. And if at any time, in the fulness of their hearts, they refer to some freak of their own youth, they appear to do it with a sort of apology to themselves, that such wise individuals[Pg 199] as they are now should ever have done such things! And as the world stands at present, it is the old story of the Lion and the Painter; the elderly gentlemen are likely to have it their own way; they say what they like, while the young ones are content to do what they like. And the more absurdity a man displays in his teens, (and some, it must be confessed, are absurd enough) the more insupportable an air of wisdom does he put on when he gets settled. And as there is no hope of these sedate gentry being sent to College again to teach the rising generation of under-graduates the art of precocious gravity, and still less hope of their arriving at it of themselves, perhaps there is no harm in mooting the question on neutral ground, whether such a consummation as that of putting old heads upon young shoulders is altogether desirable.

Wherefore, I, Frank Hawthorne—being of the age of nine-and-twenty, or thereabouts, and of sound mind, and about to renounce for ever all claim and title to be considered a young man; having married a wife, and left sack and all other bad habits; having no longer any fellowship with under-graduates, or army subs, or medical students, or young men about town, or any other class of the heterogeneous irregulars who make up "Young England"—being a perfectly disinterested party in the question, inasmuch as having lost my reputation for youth, I have never acquired one for wisdom—hereby raise my voice against the intolerable cant, which assumes every man to be a hare-brained scapegrace at twenty, and Solomon at forty-five. Youth sows wild oats, it may be; too many men in more advanced life seem to me to sow no crop of any kind. There are empty fools at all ages; but "an old fool," &c., (musty as the proverb is, it is rather from neglect than over-application.) I have known men by the dozen, who in their youth were either empty-headed coxcombs or noisy sots; does my reader think that any given number of additional years has made them able statesmen, sound lawyers, or erudite divines? that because they have become honourable by a seat in Parliament, learned by courtesy, reverend by office, they are therefore really more useful members of society than when they lounged the High Street, or woke the midnight echoes of the quadrangle? Nay, life is too short for the leopard to change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin; one can but pare the claws of the first, and put a suit of the last European fashion upon the other.

Let any man run over in his own mind the list of those school and college companions with whom, after the lapse of ten years or so he has still an opportunity of occasionally renewing his acquaintance, and judging of the effect which time has had upon their habits and characters. In how many cases can he trace any material alteration, beyond what results from the mere accidents of time and place? He finds, it is to be hoped, good principles developed, warm impulses ripened into active habits, exaggerations softened down, (for I am giving him credit for not choosing his companions, even in youth, among the vicious in heart and principle;) but if he finds in any what he can call a change at all, then I ask, in how many instances is it a change for the better? or does he not find it rather where there was no sterling value in the metal, which, as the gloss of youth wears off, loses its only charm?

Thirty is the turning-point of a man's life; when marrying becomes a now-or-never sort of business, and dinners begin to delight him more than dancing. As I said just now, then, I stand just at the corner; and, looking round before I turn it, I own somewhat of a shyness for the company of those "grave and reverend seniors" who are to be my fellow-travellers hereafter through life. There are certain points on which I fear we are scarce prepared to agree. I must have one window open for the first few miles of the journey at all events—that I may look behind me. Life's a fast train, and one can't expect to be allowed to get out at the stations; still less to ask the engineer to put back, because we have left our youth behind us. Yet there are some things in which I hope always to be a boy; I hope ever to prefer thoughtlessness to heartlessness,[Pg 200] imprudence to selfishness, impulse to calculation. It is hard enough to part with all the fiery spirits, the glowing imaginations, the elasticity of mind and body which we lose as age creeps on; but if, with the bright summer weather and cloudless skies of youth, to which we are content to bid farewell, we must lose, too, the "sunshine of the breast"—the "bloom of heart"—then well might the poet count him happy who died in early spring—who knew nothing of life but its fair promises, and passed away in happy scepticism of the winter which was to come.

Talk of putting old heads upon young shoulders! Heaven forbid! It would but be making them stoop prematurely. If indeed we could put young hearts into old bodies occasionally, we might do some good; or if there could ever be combined in some fortunate individual, throughout his life, the good qualities peculiar to each successive climacteric; if we could mix just enough of the acid and the bitter, which are apt to predominate so unhappily after a long rubbing through the world, to qualify the fiery spirit of youth, and prevent its sweetness from cloying, the compound would undoubtedly be a very pleasant one. But this, it is to be feared, like many other desiderata, is too good to be attainable; and the experience which we undoubtedly want in early life, we acquire too often at the cost of that freshness of heart, which nature intended as a gift still more valuable.

Nowhere does the old Stagyrite display a more consummate knowledge of what men are made of, than in his contrasted characters of youth and age. I wonder how many of the old gentlemen who call themselves philosophers in this degenerate age, ever read or remember what he says on the subject. It is a great comfort, when one is arguing against so much collective wisdom, to feel that one has such authority to fall back upon; and I have the less hesitation in bringing my old friend Aristotle forward to help me, because I can assure my unlearned readers, ladies and others, that I am not going to quote any thing nearly so grave and sensible as modern philosophy. "Stingy, ill-natured, suspicious, selfish, narrow-minded"—these, with scarce a redeeming quality, are some of the choice epithets which he strings together as the characteristics of the respectable old governors and dowagers of his day; while the young, although, as he confesses, somewhat too much the creatures of impulse, and indebted to it for some of their virtues as well as vices, are trustful towards others, honest in themselves, open-handed and open-hearted, warm friends and brave enemies. It is true, he observes, they have, in a large degree, the fault common to all honest men, they are "easily humbugged;" a failing which perhaps may let us into the secret of their sitting down so quietly under the imputation of a hundred others. He urges, too, elsewhere, a fact I am not disposed to battle about, that young men do not make good philosophers; but this is in a book which he wrote for the use of his own son, wherein he probably thought it his duty to take the conceit out of his heir-apparent; but if he ever allowed the young philosopher to get a sight of the other book containing the two characters aforesaid, it may be doubted whether he found him as "easily humbugged" afterwards.

Remember, reader, as I said before I claim to occupy neutral ground. If I essay to defend youth from some injustice which it suffers at the hands of partial judges, it is as an amateur advocate rather than an accredited champion—for I am young no longer. If I am rash enough to couch a lance against that venerable phantom, which, under the name of Wisdom, hovers round grey hairs, I am but preparing a rod for my own back—for I feel myself growing old. I admit it with a sigh; but the sigh is not for the past only, but even more for the present. I mourn not so much for that which Time has taken away, as for the insufficiency of that which it brings instead. I would rejoice to be relieved from the dominion of the hot follies of youth, if I could escape at the same time the degrading yoke of the cooler vices of maturity. I do not find men grow better as they grow older; wiser they may grow, but it is the wisdom of the serpent. We scarce grow less[Pg 201] sensual, less vain, less eager after what we think pleasure; I would we continued as generous and as warm. We gain the cunning to veil our passions, to regulate even our vices according to the scale (and that no parsimonious one) which what we call "society" allows; we lose the enthusiasm which in some degree excused our follies, with the light-heartedness which made them delightful. Few men among us are they who can look back upon the years gone by, and not feel that, if these may be justly charged with folly, the writing of the accusation that stands against their riper age is of a graver sort.

It is melancholy, rather than amusing, to hear men of a certain age rail against the faults and extravagance of their juniors. Angry that they themselves are no longer young, they visit with a rod of iron such an intolerable offence in others. Even newspapers have of late been eloquent against the disgusting immoralities of breaking knockers and bonneting policemen. The Times turns censor upon such an "ungentlemanly outrage;" the Weekly Despatch has its propriety shocked by such "freaks of the aristocracy;" and both, in their zeal to reprobate offences so dangerous to the best interests of society, sacrifice somewhat of that "valuable space" which should have been devoted to the bulletin of the health, or the history of the travels, of the "gallant officer" who last deliberately shot his friend in a duel; or the piquant details of the last crim. con., with the extraordinary disclosures expected to be made by the "noble defendant." Society has no sympathy with vices to which it has no temptation; it might have done foolish things in its day, but has long ago seen the folly of them. So we make a graceful acknowledgment of having been wrong once, for the sake of congratulating ourselves upon being so very right now.

Let me then, for some few moments, recall those scenes which, on the stage of life, have passed away for ever; and forgetting, as memory loves to do, the evil that was in them, let it be not idle repining to lament the good.

Oh! dark yet pleasant quadrangle, round whose wide area I might wander now, a stranger among strangers, where are they who once gave life and mirth to cheer those ancient walls? There were full a score of rooms, congenial lares, in which no hour of day or night would have found me other than a welcome guest. I had friends, yea, friends, within those prison-like windows—warm hearts walled in by thy cold grey stones—friends that had thoughts, and feelings, and pursuits in common—who were not hospitable in words alone, suffering each other's presence with well-concealed ennui—but friends in something more than in the name. In vain, among the cold conventionalities of life, shall I look for the warm and kindly welcome, the sympathy of feeling, the unrestrained yet courteous familiarity of intercourse, which was part and parcel of a college life; and if for this only I should say of Oxford, that I shall not look upon its like again—if for this only, I doubt whether the years of my youthful pilgrimage were altogether evil, who shall gainsay me? Where, or in what society of wise, and orderly, and respectable "grown-up children," shall I find the sincerity and warm-heartedness that once were the atmosphere of my daily life? Where is the friend of my maturer choosing, into whose house I can walk at any time, and feel sure I am no intruder? Where is the man, among those with whom I am by hard fate compelled to associate, who does not measure his regard, his hospitality, his very smiles, by my income, my station in society—any thing but myself? Older and wiser!—oh yes!—youthful friendship is very foolish in such matters.

But I suppose I must put up, as I best may, with the accumulating weight of years and wisdom. It won't do to give up one's degree, and begin again at the university, even if they leave us a university worth going to. At all events, one could not go back and find there those "old familiar faces" that made it what it was; and it is more pleasant to look upon it all—the place and its old occupants—as still existing in some dream-land or other, than to return to find an old acquaintance in every stick and stone, while every human face and voice is strange to us.

Yet one does meet friends in old scenes, sometimes, when the meeting is as unexpected[Pg 202] as delightful. And just so, in my last visit to Oxford, did I stumble upon Horace Leicester. We met in the quadrangle where we had parted some six years back, just as we might if we had supped together the night before; whereas we had been all the time hundreds of miles asunder: and we met as unrestrainedly, only far more cordially. Neither of us had much time to spare in Oxford, but we dined together of course; talked over old friends, and told old stories. As to the first, it was strange enough to moralize upon the after-fortunes of some of our contemporaries. One—of whom, for habitual absence from lectures, and other misdemeanours many and various, the tutors had prophesied all manner of evil, and who had been dismissed by the Principal at his final leave-taking, with the remark that he was the luckiest man he had ever known, inasmuch as having been perseveringly idle without being plucked, and mixed up in every row without being rusticated—was now working hard day and night as a barrister, engaged as a junior on committee business the whole Session, and never taking a holiday except on the Derby day. The ugliest little rascal of our acquaintance, and as stupid as a post, was married to a pretty girl with a fortune of thirty thousand. Another, and one of the best of us—Charley White—who united the business habits of a man with the frolic of a schoolboy, and who ought to have been added to the roll of the College benefactors, as having been the founder of the Cricket and the Whist Club, and restored to its old place on the river, at much cost and pains, the boat which had been withdrawn for the last five years, and reduced the sundry desultory idlenesses of the under-graduates into something like method and order—Charley White was now rector of a poor and populous parish in Yorkshire, busily engaged in building a new church and schools, opening Provident Societies, and shutting up beer-shops, and instructing the rising generation of his parishioners in catechism and cricket alternately. While the steadiest (I was very near saying the only steady man) among our mutual acquaintance, who looked at every sixpence before he spent it, checked his own washing-lists, went to bed at ten o'clock, and was in short an exemplary character, (he was held out to me; on my first entrance, as a valuable acquaintance for any young man, but I soon despaired of successfully imitating so bright a model)—well, this gentleman having been taken into partnership, somewhat prematurely perhaps on the strength of the aforesaid reputation, by his father's firm—they were Liverpool merchants of high standing—had thought proper, disgusted probably with the dissipations and immoralities of trade, to retire to America in search of purity and independence, without going through the form of closing his accounts with the house. The Liverpudleians, indeed, according to Horace's account, gave a somewhat ugly name to the transaction; he had been cashier to the firm, they said, who were minus some tens of thousands thereby; but as the senior partner was known to have smoked cigars at a preparatory school (thereby showing what he would have done had he been sent to Oxford,) whereas our friend was always "a steady man," I leave the reader to judge which party is entitled to the most credit.

It was after we had separated that a friend of mine, not an Oxford man, who had dined with us and appeared much amused by some of Horace's reminiscences, asked me the very puzzling question, "Was your friend Leicester what they call a 'rowing man' at College?" Now, I protest altogether against the division of under-graduates into reading men and rowing men, as arbitrary and most illogical; there being a great many who have no claim to be reckoned either in one class or the other, and a great many who hover between both. And this imaginary distinction, existing as it notoriously does at Oxford, and fostered and impressed upon men by the tutors, (often unintentionally, or with the very best intentions,) is productive in many cases of a great deal of harm. A man (or boy if you please) is taught to believe, upon his very first entrance, that one of these characters will infallibly cling to him, and that he has only to choose between[Pg 203] the two. For the imaginary division creates a real one; in many colleges, a man who joins a boat's crew, or a cricket club, or goes out now and then with the harriers, is looked upon with suspicion by the authorities at once; and by a very natural consequence, a man who wants to read his five or six hours a-day quietly, finds that some of his pleasantest companions look upon him as a slow coach. So, probably before the end of his first term, he is hopelessly committed, at nineteen, to a consistency of character rarely met with at fifty. If he lays claim to the reputation of a reading man, and has an eye to the loaves and fishes in the way of scholarships and fellowships, he is compelled, by the laws of his caste, to renounce some of the most sensible and healthful amusements which a university life offers. He must lead a very humdrum sort of life indeed. It is not enough that he should be free from the stains of vice and immorality; that his principles and habits should be those of a gentleman; that he should avoid excesses, and be observant of discipline; this the university would have a right to expect from all who are candidates for her honours and emoluments. But there is a conventional character which he must put on besides this. I say "put on;" because, however natural it may be to some men, it cannot possibly be so to all. His exercise must be taken at stated times and places: it must consist principally of walking, whether he be fond of it or not, varied occasionally by a solitary skiffing expedition down the river, or a game of billiards with some very steady friend on the sly. His dress must exhibit either the negligence of a sloven, (in case he be an aspirant for very high honours indeed,) or the grave precision of a respectable gentleman of forty. He must eschew all such vanities as white trousers and well-cut boots. He must be profoundly ignorant of all university intelligence that does not bear in some way on the schools; must be utterly indifferent what boat is at the head of the river, or whether Drake's hounds are fox or harriers. He must never be seen out of his rooms except at lecture before two o'clock, and never return to a wine-party after chapel. His judgment of the merits of port and sherry must be confined principally to the fact of one being red and the other white, and the compounding of punch must be to him a mystery unfathomable. Now, if he can be, or assume to be, all this, then he will be admitted into the most orthodox and steady set in his college; and if he have, besides, an ordinary amount of scholarship, and tact enough to talk judiciously about his books and his reading, he may get up a very fair reputation indeed. And when at his final examination he makes, as nine-tenths of such men do make, a grand crash, and his name comes out in the third or fourth class, or he get "gulfed" altogether—it is two to one but his friends and his tutor look upon him, and talk of him, as rather an ill-used individual. He was "unlucky in his examination"—"the essay did not suit him"—they were "quite surprised at his failure"—"his health was not good the last term or two"—"he was too nervous." These are cases which have occurred in every man's experience: men read ten hours a-day, with a watch by their side, cramming in stuff that they do not understand, are talked about as "sure firsts" till one gets sick of their very names, assume all the airs which really able men seldom do assume, and take at last an equal degree with others who have been acquiring the same amount of knowledge with infinitely less pretension, and who, without moping the best part of their lives in an artificial existence, will make more useful members of society in the end. "How was it," said an old lady in the country to me one day, "that young Mr C—— did not get a first class? I understand he read very hard, and I know he refused every invitation to dinner when he was down here in the summer vacation?" "That was the very reason, my dear madam," said I; "you may depend upon it." She stared, of course; but I believe I was not far out.

Let men read as much as they will, and as hard as they will, on any subjects for which they have the ability and inclination; but never let them suppose they are to lay down one code of practice to suit all tempers and[Pg 204] constitutions. Cannot a man be a scholar, and a gentleman, and a good fellow at the same time?

And, after all, where is the broad moral distinction between these soi-disant steady men, and those whom they are pleased to consider as "rowing" characters? it has always seemed to me rather apocryphal. If a man thinks proper to amuse himself with a chorus in his own rooms at one o'clock in the morning, it seems hardly material whether it be Greek or English—Sophocles or Tom Moore. It's a matter of taste, and tastes differ. Nor do I think the morality of Horace or Aristophanes, or the theology of Lucretius, so peculiarly admirable, as to render them, per se, fitter subjects for the exclusive exercise of a young man's faculties than "the Pickwick Papers," or "The Rod and the Gun." I have heard—(I never saw, nor will I believe it)—of the profanity of certain sporting under-graduates, who took into chapel the racing calendar, bound in red morocco, instead of a prayer-book; I hold it to have been the malicious fiction of some would-be university reformer; but, even if true, I am not sure that I much prefer that provident piety which I have noticed getting up its Greek within the same walls by means of a Septuagint and Greek liturgy. Religion is one thing, classical learning another, and sporting information another; all totally distinct, and totally different: the first immeasurably above the other two, but standing equidistant from both. It does not make a man one whit the better to know that Coræbus won the cup at Olympia B.C. 776, than it does to know that Priam did not win the St Leger at Doncaster A.D. 1830; from all I can make out, the Greeks on the turf at present are not much worse than their old namesakes; I dare say there was a fair amount of black-legism on both occasions. Men injure their moral and physical health by reading as much as by other things; it takes quite as much out of a man, and puts as little in him to any good purpose, to get up his logic as to pull in an eight-oar.

Besides, if one is to read and enter into the spirit of a dozen different authors, one dull monotonous round of physical existence seems ill fitted to call out the requisite variety of mental powers. I hold that there are divers and sundry fit times, and places, and states of mind, suited to different lines of reading. If a man is at work upon history, by all means let him sport oak rigidly against all visitors; let him pile up his authorities and references on every vacant chair all round him, and get a clear notion of it by five or six hours' uninterrupted and careful study. Or, if he has a system of philosophy to get up, let him sit down with his head cool, his window open, (not the one looking into quad.,) let him banish from his mind all minor matters, and not break off in the chain of argument so long as he can keep his brain clear and his eyes open. Even then, a good gallop afterwards, or a cigar and a glass of punch, with some lively fellow who is no philosopher, will do him far more good than a fagging walk of so many measured miles, with the studious companion whose head is stuffed as full of such matter as his own, and whose talk will be of disputed passages, and dispiriting anticipations of a "dead floorer" in the schools. But if a man wants to make acquaintance with such books as Juvenal, or Horace, or Aristophanes, he may surely do it to quite as good purpose, and with far more relish, basking under a tree in summer, or with a friend over a bottle in winter.

The false tone of society of which I have been speaking had its influence upon Horace Leicester. Coming up to the university from a public school, with a high character, a fair amount of scholarship, and a host of acquaintances, he won the good-will at once of dons and of under-graduates, and bid fair to be as universal a favourite at college as he had been at Harrow. Never did a man enter upon an academic life under happier auspices, nor, I believe, with a more thorough determination to enjoy it in every way. He did not look upon his emancipation from school discipline as a license for idleness, nor intend to read the less because he could now read what he pleased, and when he pleased. For, not to mention that Horace was ambitious, and had at one time an eye to the class list—he had a taste for reading, and a strong natural talent[Pg 205] to appreciate what he read. But if he had a taste for reading, he had other tastes as well, and, as he thought, not incompatible; much as he admired his Roman namesake, he could not devote his evenings exclusively to his society, but preferred carrying out his precepts occasionally with more modern companions; and he had no notion that during the next four years of his life he was to take an interest in no sports but those of the old Greeks and Romans, and mount no horse but Pegasus. For a term or two, Leicester got on very well, attended lectures, read steadily till one or two o'clock, when there was nothing particular going on, kept a horse, hired an alarm, and seldom cut morning chapel, or missed a meet if within reasonable distance. It was a course of life, which, in after days, he often referred to with a sigh as having been most exemplary; and I doubt whether he was far wrong. But it did not last. For a time his gentlemanly manners, good humour, and good taste, carried it off with all parties; but it was against the ordinary routine, and could not hold up against the popular prejudice. The reading men eyed his top-boots with suspicion; the rowing men complained he was growing a regular sap, always sporting oak when they wanted him. Then his wine-parties were a source of endless tribulation to him. First of all, he asked all those with whom he was most intimate among his old schoolfellows to meet each other, adding one or two of his new acquaintances: and a pretty mess he made of it. Men who had sat on the same form with him and with each other at Harrow, and had betrayed no such marked differences in their tastes as to prevent their associating very pleasantly there, at Oxford, he found, had been separated wide as the poles by this invisible, but impassable, line of demarcation: to such a degree indeed, that although all had called upon Horace, as they had upon each other, before it seemed decided on which side they were to settle, yet when they now met at his rooms, they had become strangers beyond a mere civil recognition, and had not a single subject to converse upon in common. In fact, they were rather surprised than pleased to meet at all; and it was in vain their host tried to get them to amalgamate. Many seemed to take a pleasure in showing how decidedly they belonged to one set or the other. One would talk of nothing on earth besides hunting, and sat silent and sulky when Horace turned the conversation; another affected an utter ignorance of all that was going on in the university that was not connected with class-lists, scholarships, &c. What provoked him most was, that some of those who gave themselves the most pedantic airs, and would have been double-first class men undeniably, if talking could have done it, were those whose heads he well knew were as empty as the last bottle, and which made him think that some men must take to reading at Oxford, simply because they had faculties for nothing else.

At all events, Horace found the mixed system would not answer for entertaining his friends. So the next time he asked a few of the reading men, some of whom he knew used to be good fellows, together; and as he really had a kindred taste with them on many subjects, he found an hour or so pass away very pleasantly: when just as he was passing the wine about the third round, and his own brilliancy and good-humour were beginning to infect some of his guests—so that one grave genius of twenty had actually so far forgotten himself as to fill a bumper by mistake—up jumped the senior man of the party, and declaring that he had an engagement to walk with a friend at seven politely took his leave. This was the signal for a general dispersion; in vain did Horace assure them they should have some coffee in the course of an hour, and entreat some one or two to return. Off they all went with sundry smiles and shakes of the head, and left their unfortunate host sitting alone in his glory over the first glass of a newly opened bottle of claret.

I happened to be crossing the quadrangle from chapel in company with Savile, at the moment when Leicester put his head out of his window as if to enquire of the world in general what on earth he was to do with himself for the next hour or two. Savile he[Pg 206] hailed at once, and begged him to come up; and though I knew but little of him, and had never been in his rooms before, still, as I was one or two terms his senior, there was nothing contrary even to Oxford etiquette in my accompanying Savile. We laughed heartily when he explained his disappointment. Savile tried to comfort him by the assurance that, as he had an hour to spare, he would sit down and help him to finish a bottle or two of claret with a great deal of pleasure; and was inclined to attribute the failure of the evening, in a great measure, to his name not having been included in the list of invitations—an omission by which he declared all parties had been the losers; Horace's reading friends standing very much in need of some one to put a little life into them, and himself as a candidate for a degree, having missed a fair opportunity of meeting, among so many choice fellows, some one to "put him up to the examiners' dodges." But Leicester was irrecoverably disgusted. Nothing, he declared, would ever induce him to ask a party of reading men to his rooms again; and from that hour he seemed to eschew fellowship with the whole fraternity. Not that he became idle all at once; on the contrary, I believe, for some time he worked on steadily, or at least tried to work; but he was naturally fond of society, and having failed to find what he wanted, was reduced to make the best of such as he could find. So he gradually became acquainted with a set of men who, whatever their good qualities might be, had certainly no claim whatever to be considered hard readers, and who would have considered a symposium which broke up at seven o'clock as unsatisfactory as a tale without a conclusion. Amongst these, his gentlemanly manners and kindness of heart made him beloved, while his talents gave him a kind of influence; and, though he must have felt occasionally that he was not altogether in his right place, and that, besides his popular qualities, he had higher tastes and endowments with which the majority of his companions could hardly sympathise, he was too light-hearted to philosophise much on the subject, and contented himself with enjoying his popularity, occasionally falling back upon his own resources, and keeping up, in a desultory kind of way, his acquaintance with scholarship and literature. The reading men of course looked upon him as a lost sheep; the tutors shook their heads about him; if he did well, it was set down as the result of accident; while all his misdoings were labouring in his vocation. For, agreeably to the grand division aforesaid, Horace was now set down as a "rowing-man;" and he soon made the discovery, and did more thereupon to deserve the character than he ever would have done otherwise. He was very willing to go on in his own way, if all parties would but let him alone; he was not going to be made a proselyte to long walks, and toast and water, nor had he any conscientious abhorrence of supper-parties; and, as his prospects in life were in no way dependent upon a class or a scholarship, and he seemed to be tacitly repudiated by the literati of his college, young and old, on account of some of his aforesaid heterodox notions on the subject of study, he accustomed himself gradually to set their opinions at defiance; while the moderate reading, which encouragement and emulation had made easy at school, became every day more and more distasteful.

Horace's tottering reputation was at last completely overset in the eyes of the authorities by a little affair which was absurd enough, but in which he himself was as innocent as they were. It happened that a youthful cousin of his, whose sole occupation for the last twelve months of his life had been the not over-profitable one of waiting for a commission, had come up to Oxford for two or three days, pursuant to invitation, to see a little of the manners and customs of the inhabitants. I think he had some slight acquaintance with our then vice-principal—a good-natured, easy man—and Horace had got leave for him to occupy a set of very small, dark rooms, which, as the college was not very full, had been suffered to remain vacant for the last two or three terms; they were so very unattractive a domicile, that the last[Pg 207] Freshman to whom they were offered, as a Hobson's choice, was currently reported, in the plenitude of his disgust, to have take his name off the books instanter. It is not usual to allow strangers to sleep within college walls at all; but our discipline was somewhat lax in those days. So Mr Carey had a bed put up for him in the aforesaid quarters. He was, of course, duly fêted, and made much of by Horace and his friends; and a dozen of us sat down to a capital dinner in the rooms of the former, on the strength of having to entertain a "stranger from the country;" the hospitality of Oxford relaxing its rules even in favour of under-graduates upon such occasions. It must have been somewhere towards the next morning, when two or three of us accompanied young Carey down to No. 8; and, after chatting with him till he was half undressed, left him, as we thought, safe and quiet. However, soon after we had retired, some noisy individual in the same staircase thought proper to give a view-hollo out of his window, for the purpose of wishing the public good-night. Now there was one of the Fellows, a choleric little old gentleman, always in residence, holding some office, in which there was as little to do, and as much to get as might be, and who seldom troubled himself much about college discipline, and looked upon under-graduates with a sort of silent contempt; never interfering with them, as he declared himself, so long as they did not interfere with him. But one point there was, in which they did interfere with his personal comfort occasionally, and whereby his peace of mind and rest of body were equally disturbed. Mr Perkins always took a tumbler of negus at ten precisely, and turned in as the college clock struck the quarter past; by the half-hour he was generally asleep, for his digestion was good, and his cares few. But his slumbers were not heavy, and any thing like a row in the quadrangle infallibly awoke him, and then he was like a lion roused. He was wont to jump up, throw up his window, thrust out a red face and a white nightcap, and after listening a few seconds for the chance of the odious sounds being repeated, would put the very pertinent question usual in such circumstances, to which one so seldom gets an equally pertinent reply—"Who's that?" In case this intimation of Mr Perkins being wide awake proved sufficient, as it often did, to restore quiet, then after the lapse of a few more seconds the head and the nightcap disappeared, and the window was shut down again. But if the noise was continued, as occasionally it was out of pure mischief, than in a minute or two the said nightcap would be seen to emerge hastily from the staircase below, in company with a dressing-gown and slippers, and Mr Perkins in this disguise would proceed to the scene of disturbance as fast as his short legs could carry him. He seldom succeeded in effecting a capture; but if he had that luck, or if he could distinguish the tone of any individual voice so as to be able to identify the performer, he had him up before the "seniority" next morning, where his influence as one of the senior fellows ensured a heavy sentence. But he had been engaged in so many unsuccessful chases of the kind, and his short orations from his window so often elicited only a laugh, though including sometimes brief but explicit threats of rustication against the noisy unknown, strengthened by little expletives which, when quoted by under-graduates, were made to sound somewhat doubtfully—that at last he altered his tactics, and began to act in silence. And so he did, when upon opening his window he saw a light in the ground-floor rooms of the staircase whence the sounds proceeded on the evening in question. Carey, by his own account, was proceeding quietly in his preparations for bed, singing to himself an occasional stanza of some classical ditty which he had picked up in the course of the evening, and admiring the power of the man's lungs in the room above him, when he heard a short quick step, and then a double rap at his door. He was quite sufficiently acquainted, by this time, with the ways of the place, not to be much surprised at the late visit and at the same time to consider it prudent to learn the name and status of his visitor before admitting him; so[Pg 208] he retorted upon Mr Perkins, quite unconsciously, his own favourite query—"Who's that?" his first and obvious impression being that it was one of the party he had just quitted, coming probably, in the plenitude of good fellowship, to bring him an invitation to wine or breakfast next day.

"It's me, sir—open the door," was the reply from a deep baritone, which the initiated would never have mistaken.

"Who are you?" said Carey again.

"My name is Perkins, sir: have the goodness to let me in." He was getting more angry, and consequently more polite.

"Perkins?" said Carey, pausing in his operations, in the vain endeavour to recall the name among the score or two to whom he had been introduced. "I'm just in bed—were you up at Leicester's?"

"Open the door, sir, if you please, immediately," and then came what our friend took for a smothered laugh, but was really a sort of shiver, for there was a draft in the passage playing all manner of pranks with the dressing-gown, and Mr Perkins was getting cold.

An indistinct notion came into Carey's mind, that some one who had met him in College might have taken him for a Freshman, and had some practical joke in view; so he contented himself with repeating that he was going to bed, and could let no one in.

"I tell you, sir, I'm Mr Perkins; don't you know me?"

"I wish you a very good night, Mr Perkins."

"What's your name, sir? eh? You impudent young puppy, what's your infernal name? I'll have you rusticated, you dog—do you hear me, sir?"

On a sudden it struck Carey that this might possibly be a domiciliary visit from one of the authorities, and that his best plan was to open the door at once, though what had procured him such an honour he was at a loss to imagine. He drew back the spring lock, therefore, and the next moment stood face to face with the irate Mr Perkins.

His first impulse was to laugh at the curious figure before him; but when demands for his name, and threats of unknown penalties, were thundered forth upon him with no pause for a reply, then he began to think that he had made a mistake in opening the door at all—that he might get Leicester into a scrape if not himself—and as his person was as unknown to Mr Perkins as that gentleman's to him, it struck him that if he could give him the slip once, it would be all right. In a moment he blew out his solitary candle, bolted through the open door, all but upsetting his new acquaintance, whom he left storming in the most unconnected manner, alone, and in total darkness. Up to Leicester's rooms he rushed, related his adventure, and was rather surprised that his cousin did not applaud it as a very clever thing.

What Mr Perkins thought or said to himself, what degree of patience he exhibited in such trying circumstances, or in what terms he apostrophised his flying enemy, must ever remain a secret with himself. Five minutes after, Solomon the porter, summoned from his bed just as he had made himself snug once more after letting out Horace's out-college friends, confronted Mr Perkins in about as sweet a temper as that worthy individual himself, with this difference, that one was sulky and the other furious.

"Who lives in the ground-floor on the left in No. 8?"

"What, in 'Coventry?' Why, nobody, sir."

"Nobody! you stupid old sinner, you're asleep."

"No, sir, I ain't," and Solomon flashed his lantern in Mr Perkins's face as if to ascertain whether his eyes were open. Mr Perkins started back, and Solomon turned half round as if to disappear again.

"Who lives there, Solomon, I ask you? Do you mean to tell me you don't know? You are not fit—"

"I knows every gentleman's rooms well enough: nobody hasn't lived in them as you means not these four terms. Mr Pears kept his fox in 'em one time, till the vice-principal got wind of him. There may be some varmint in 'em for all I knows—they a'n't fit for much else."

"There's some confounded puppy[Pg 209] of a Freshman in them now—at least there was—and he lives there too."

"I know there be'n't," said the persevering Solomon. And, without deigning a word more, he set off with his lantern towards the place in dispute, followed by Mr Perkins, who contented himself with an angry "Now you'll see."

"Ay, now we shall see," replied Solomon, as, somewhat to Mr Perkins's astonishment, they found the oak sported. Having made a selection from a huge bunch of keys, the porter succeeded, after some fumbling, in getting the door open. The room bore no traces of recent occupation. Three or four broken chairs and a rickety table were the only furniture: as far as the light of Solomon's lantern could penetrate, it looked the very picture of desolation. Solomon chuckled.

"There is a man living here. I'll swear there is. He was undressing when I came. Look in the bedroom."

They opened the door, and saw a bare feather-bed and bolster, the usual matériel in an unoccupied college chamber. "Seeing's believing," said the porter.

But, with Mr Perkins, seeing was not believing. He saw Solomon, and he saw the empty room, but he did not believe either. But he had evidently the worst side of the argument as it stood, so he wished the porter a sulky good-night, and retreated.

The fact was, that the noisy gentleman in the rooms above, as soon as he caught the tones of Mr Perkins's voice at Carey's door, had entered into the joke with exceeding gusto, well aware that the visit was really intended as a compliment to his own vocal powers. Carey's sudden bolt puzzled him rather; but as soon as he heard Mr Perkins's footsteps take the direction of the porter's lodge, he walked softly down-stairs to the field of action, and, anticipating in some degree what would follow, bundled up together sheets, blankets, pillow, dressing apparatus, and all other signs and tokens of occupation, and made off with them to his own rooms; sporting the oak behind him, and thus completing the mystification.

As the facts of the case were pretty sure to transpire in course of time, Horace took the safe course of getting his cousin out of college next morning, and calling on Mr Perkins with a full explanation of the circumstances, and apologies for Carey as a stranger unacquainted with the police regulations of their learned body, and the respect due thereto. Of course the man in authority was obliged to be gracious, as Leicester could not well be answerable for all the faults of his family; but there never from that time forth happened a row of any kind with which he did not in his own mind, probably unconsciously, associate poor Horace.

Whether my readers will set down Horace Leicester as a rowing man or not, is a point which I leave to their merciful consideration: a reading man was a title which he never aspired to. He took a very creditable degree in due season, and was placed in the fourth class with a man who took up a very long list of books, and was supposed to have read himself stupid.

"He ought to have done a good deal more," said one of the tutors; "he had it in him." "I think he was lucky not to have been plucked, myself," said Mr Perkins; "he was a very noisy man."


[2] Why do not these universal rational religionists found colleges for themselves, and get an university established on a scale of splendour commensurate with their liberality, so as to cut out Oxford, with its antiquated notions, altogether? How very funny it would be! It must be the absurdity of the idea that prevents them—it cannot be stinginess as to the means. Fancy Oxford in the hands of the three denominations! the under-graduates hauled up for cutting meeting!—a Wesleyan proctor, delighting in black gowns, stopping by mistake a Quaker Freshman, with a reproof for being in broad-brim instead of academicals, and being answered with "Friend, I am not of thy persuasion!" Then the dissenting D.D.s flocking to the university sermon at Mount Pisgah Chapel, (late St. Mary's,) wherein all denominational topics were to be carefully avoided, and the sharp look-out that would be kept upon any preacher whose harangues savoured of bigotry! Then the boat-races; fancy the Independents' boat bumping the Particular Baptists', and the Quakers' colours—drab-and-all-drab—floating at the head of the flag-staff! And as to "tufts"—that vile distinction which independent M.P.s are so indignant at—why, if a dissenting nobleman—even the seventh son of an Irish peer—were to be had for love or money, what a price he would fetch in such an Utopia of nonconformity! Nay, if they could get even a Nova Scotia baronet—a Sir Anybody Anything—we know pretty well what a fuss they would make about him. There is no such fawner on the aristocracy, if he has but a chance of getting any thing out of them, as a parvenu by birth, a liberal in politics, and an Independent by "religious persuasion."

The great danger, I suppose, would be, lest some more than usually nonconforming under-graduate should start a "connexion" of his own, and proceed to argue that all the university authorities, heads of houses and all, were under an awful delusion, and that it was a necessary consequence of civil and religious liberty, that under-graduates should elect their own tutors and proctors, and be governed on the voluntary principle.

[Pg 210]


On a dull damp October morning of the year 1833—concerning the more exact date of which it can only be ascertained that it was subsequently to the twentieth day of the month—a man rather above the middle height, wrapped in a military cloak of dark grey cloth, and wearing an oilskin schako upon his head, was seen proceeding through the streets of Pampeluna in the direction of the gate known as the Puerta del Cármen. Although the cloak and schako, which were all that could at first be distinguished of his dress, indicated their wearer to be an officer, it was observed, that on passing the guard-house at the gate, he took some pains to conceal his face, as though fearful of being recognised. Once outside the walls, he crossed the river Arga by the Puente Nuevo, and continued his progress along the Irurzun road. He had arrived at about cannon-shot distance from the fortress of Pampeluna, when a man, leading a small horse by the bridle, suddenly emerged from a place of concealment by the roadside. The officer hastily fastened on a spur which he had brought with him, put foot in stirrup, and mounted. For a few moments he remained motionless, gazing at Pampeluna, as though bidding a silent adieu to the friends he left behind him; then striking his single spur into his horse's flank, he rapidly disappeared. Two hours later he entered at full trot the village of Huarte Araquil, five leagues from Pampeluna. The officer alighted at the house of a friend, where there presently came to meet him a respectable inhabitant of Pampeluna, by name Don Luis Mongelos, and the vicar or parish priest of Huarte, Don Pedro Miguel Irañeta. The latter, as well by his sacred character as by reason of the services that, at a former period, he had rendered to the cause of the Spanish monarchy, enjoyed some influence in his district.

The conference that Mongelos and Irañeta held with the unknown officer lasted till a late hour of the night, when they separated to take a few hours' repose. At early dawn they reassembled, and set out for the valley of Berrueza, where they were told that they would find the chief of the Navarrese Carlists, Don Francisco Iturralde, whom they were desirous of seeing. They were fortunate enough to meet with him that same day at the village of Piedramillera.

In those early days of the Royalist insurrection, and in the state of anxiety and fermentation in which men's minds then were, the appearance in the Carlist camp of an officer of rank could not do less than excite, in the highest degree, the curiosity and interest of the inhabitants, especially of those who had taken up arms for Don Carlos. Accordingly, whilst the three strangers were with Iturralde, there was rapidly formed at the door of the latter's quarters a large group, composed of volunteers and peasants, and even of women and children. All were eager to know who the person in the colonel's uniform might be; but nevertheless, when he at last came out, and the crowd pressed forward to examine him, not one of the numerous assemblage could tell his name. The disappointed gazers were dispersing, when a party of officers came up; and no sooner did these behold the stranger, than they exclaimed simultaneously, and in a tone of mingled surprise and enthusiasm—"Zumalacarregui!"

Rarely has the axiom, that circumstances and opportunity make the man, been more fully exemplified than in the person of the chief whose name we have just written. For forty-five years he lived unknown and unnoticed beyond a very limited circle,[Pg 211] remarked only by his own comrades, and by the generals under whom he served, as a good drill and an efficient regimental officer. After twenty-five years' service, he occupied the undistinguished post of colonel of a Spanish line regiment. The probabilities were, that he would end his life with the embroidered cuff of a brigadier-general, and be forgotten as soon as the earth had closed over him. One man died, leaving a disputed crown; and spurred on, as some say, by injustice done to him, as others maintain, by an enthusiastic devotion to a principle, Zumalacarregui, in the twenty months of life that were still accorded to him, raised and organized, by his own unaided energies, a numerous and efficient army, outmanœuvered the practised leaders, and defeated the veteran troops that were sent against him, and made himself a name that has been repeated with respect and admiration by some of the highest military authorities in Europe.

Don Tomas Zumalacarregui, a native of Guipuzcoa, was twenty years of age when he first saw fire at Saragossa in 1808. When the French raised the siege, he returned home, and remained there till Guipuzcoa, following the example of the other Spanish provinces, declared against the usurpation of Napoleon. He then immediately joined Jauregui, better known as El Pastor or the Shepherd, on account of his having, like another Viriatus—but without becoming a bandit—exchanged the crook for the sabre. In spite of the youth of his new follower, El Pastor found him of great assistance; and it is even said that Zumalacarregui, ashamed of having for leader a man who could not write, undertook to teach him, and succeeded in so doing,. The war of independence at an end, Areizaga, captain-general of the Basque provinces, appointed Zumalacarregui his aide-de-camp; and finally, by his interest and recommendation, procured him a captain's commission in the line. In this new position the young officer made himself remarked for two things—an inflexible firmness of character, and an enthusiastic love of his profession. All his leisure was passed in the study of tactics, and he rarely opened a book that treated of any other subject.

In 1822, under the constitutional regime, Zumalacarregui, being of known Royalist opinions, was deprived of his company. He joined Quesada, who was at the head of the realistas in Navarre, and from him received command of a battalion, which he kept till, at the end of the war, it was disbanded in common with all the Navarrese corps. Whilst holding this command, his skill and merit, and a certain air of superiority, which was natural to him, excited the envy and dislike of some of his brother officers; but to the intrigues and artifices employed to injure him, he only opposed a redoubled zeal in the execution of his duty. Subsequently he commanded a regiment with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was at last made full colonel of the 3d light infantry. The excellent state into which he brought this corps, caused it to be sent from Valencia to Madrid, to form part of the military pageant by which Queen Christina's first arrival at the capital of Spain was celebrated. This piece of duty, it was expected, would have procured Zumalacarregui his brigadier's rank; but the only thing he got by it was a fall from his horse, from the effects of which he afterwards suffered.

Zumalacarregui's last command in the service of Ferdinand was that of the 14th of the line. A curious narrative of the circumstances that occurred whilst he had this regiment, is to be found in a letter from the Carlist general, Don Carlos Vargas, who was at that time aide-de-camp to Eguia, captain-general of Galicia, in which province the 14th was quartered.

"From time immemorial," says Vargas, "there had existed in the district of the Ferrol a society of robbers, regularly sworn in and organized, having branches all over the country, and so well directed in their operations, that it was found impossible to make an end of them, or to discover who they were. When any one of the associates was seen to falter, or was suspected of an intention to betray his companions, he was immediately assassinated, and almost always in some horrible manner.[Pg 212] Persons of every class and description belonged to this association—even women, old men, and government functionaries of high grade. From 1826 to 1832, a merchant of the name of C—— was at the head of it—a very wealthy man, with respect to whom no one could explain how it was that in so few years he had accumulated such great riches. The public authorities, whose duty it was to discover and suppress so infamous a society, had been drawn into it by bribery or intimidation, or both; so that, instead of preventing the robberies, they protected the robbers, and gave them all the opportunities in their power. In spite of his known zeal, energy, and activity, General Eguia had been unable to destroy, or even discover, this numerous band. He had been deceived by the apparent zeal of the alcalde mayor of the Ferrol, Don V.G. D——, and of an escribano, named R——, a captain of royalist volunteers. These two men denounced and prosecuted sundry small offenders who formed no part of the grand association; and, by the good understanding between them, baffled all the efforts of the captain-general."

Eguia, finding that the robberies continued to as great an extent as before, and that the temporary governor of the Ferrol did not aid him efficaciously in detecting their perpetrators, removed him from his post and conferred it on Zumalacarregui, with whose character he was well acquainted. The latter in a very few days obtained a clue to the whole confederacy, and arrested C—— and other rich accomplices. Various anonymous offers of large sums of money were now made to Zumalacarregui, and repeated threats of assassination held out to him; but he was neither to be bribed nor frightened, and the wealthy and influential confederates set every engine at work to bring about his dismissal and ruin. Being known as a Royalist, the events that occurred at La Granja in 1832 facilitated the designs of his enemies. At the same time Brigadier-General Chacon, then commanding the royal corps of marines at the Ferrol, and who has since been political chief of Madrid and one of the cabinet, was also manœuvring against Zumalacarregui, whose character, it appears, awed him considerably. Under a pretext that a Carlist pronunciamento was contemplated, Chacon shut himself up in the arsenal with his marines, and persisted in remaining there in spite of the assurances of safety given to him by the governor. At last, having had an interview at Santiago with the Captain-General Eguia, the latter succeeded in tranquillizing his fears, and the marines came out of their stronghold, looking very like a parcel of children whose nurse has threatened them with a bugbear. Notwithstanding the absurdity of Chacon's demonstration, it attracted the attention of the Christino party, then in power; and as at that period all the officers of rank known to entertain Royalist opinions were deprived, one after the other, of their commands, there was nothing surprising in the same measure being adopted with regard to Zumalacarregui, although nothing could be alleged against him, whether as a man of honour or in a military or political point of view. As soon as he left the Ferrol, the proceedings against the robbers became paralysed; those of them who had been taken were set at liberty, and resumed with impunity their course of crime.

In July 1833 Zumalacarregui took up his residence at Pampeluna, where, three months later, he learned the death of Ferdinand VII. and the declaration of General Santos Ladron in favour of Don Carlos. He would probably have immediately departed to join the insurgents, had not the authorities of Pampeluna had their eyes upon him. General Solá, then governor of that fortress, hearing that he had been negotiating the purchase of a horse, sent for him and enquired if such were really the case. Zumalacarregui replied that even if it were so, it need not surprise any body, for all his life he had been accustomed to keep a horse. "Nevertheless," returned Solá, "for the present your Señoria must be pleased to do without one." And this was the motive of the clandestine manner in which Zumalacarregui left Pampeluna.

It has been already shown that although, from earliest manhood,[Pg 213] Zumalacarregui employed himself diligently in cultivating those qualities, and acquiring that knowledge, by the judicious application of which he afterwards gained such celebrity, his really public and important life extended over a period of little more than a year and a half. But within that short space how much was comprised! What hardship and exertion—what efforts both mental and bodily—what an amount of activity, excitement, peril, and success were accumulated in those few months of existence! From the peculiar circumstances under which Zumalacarregui's achievements occurred, an historian was very difficult to be found for them. Those who surrounded him were generally speaking men of action, less skilled in handling the pen than the sabre; and moreover, during the six years' struggle, in which most of those who survived its sanguinary contest took part to its close, the succession of events was so rapid, the changes were so constant, that the incidents of to-day might well cause those of yesterday to be imperfectly remembered. Even the newspaper emissaries who hovered about the scene of the contest, striving to collect intelligence, were foiled in so doing by the constant movements of the Carlist general, by the wild country and inclement season in which he carried on his operations. In the year 1836, a young Englishman, whom a love of adventure and zeal for the cause had induced to draw his sword in behalf of Charles V., published a narrative of twelve months' service with Zumalacarregui. There is much in his book to amuse and interest, and Captain Henningsen, as we have reason to know from other sources than the internal evidence of his writings, is a gallant and accomplished officer. His descriptions are graceful and agreeable, the sketches and anecdotes he gives are the very romance of civil warfare—not that, as we believe, he either did or had any occasion to embellish his account of a campaign which abounded in the picturesque and the dramatic. He was only with Zumalacarregui, however, during the latter half of his career, when the forces of the Carlists had already assumed a certain numerical importance, and their resources were on the increase. Of its earlier portion he could speak but from hearsay; and it was during that earlier period that Zumalacarregui had the greatest difficulties to contend with—difficulties in overcoming which he displayed extraordinary talent and perseverance. Besides this, we have always looked upon Captain Henningsen's book rather as a slight, though interesting and truthful, narrative of personal adventure, than as a record of Zumalacarregui's career; nor does he claim for it a higher character than the one we are disposed to concede to it. "I have merely," he says, "drawn a rough sketch with charcoal on a guard-house wall—neither memoir, travels, nor history—but which may have the merit of being a sketch from the life." This is a correct definition. But the character and exploits of Zumalacarregui were worthy of a chronicler who should treat the subject more seriously—and such a one has lately been found. A personal friend, who followed him from the first day that he took up arms for Don Carlos, a native of the province in which the war was chiefly carried on, fully acquainted with its state and the feelings of its inhabitants, as well as with the incalculable disadvantages under which Zumalacarregui laboured and the few advantages he enjoyed, has undertaken the task. Ten years after Zumalacarregui's death, the Carlist general, Don Juan Antonio Zaratiegui, has written, from the country of his exile, the memoirs of his former leader.

Although the arrival of Zumalacarregui was hailed with the most lively joy by the insurgents, and notwithstanding that he was senior in rank to any officer then with the Navarrese Carlists, there were still difficulties in the way of his taking the command. The whole force in Navarre consisted but of nine hundred men—peasants for the most part, many without arms, others with old and unserviceable ones; yet was the colonelcy of this ragged and badly equipped regiment an object of competition. Iturralde, who held it, refused to give it up, although—with the exception of Juan Echevarria, the priest of Los Arcos, who afterwards made his name infamous for his crimes and excesses—all the officers[Pg 214] and influential persons there assembled were desirous he should resign it in favour of Zumalacarregui. Captain Henningsen relates that Iturralde sent two companies of infantry to arrest his rival, who, "reversing the game, sternly commanded them to arrest Iturralde, and was obeyed." Of this we see no mention in the book before us, where we are told, on the contrary, that Zumalacarregui, finding Iturralde obstinate in retaining the command, was mounting his horse with the intention of departing and offering his services to the Alavese Carlists, when he was prevented on so doing by the mass of officers and persons of distinction in the camp, who compelled him to return to his quarters, promising that they would find means of arranging matters satisfactorily. The captains formed up their companies, and marched them to the parade-ground. When all were assembled, Major Juan Sarasa, who was looked upon by the soldiers as second in command, drew his sword, and exclaimed in a loud voice, "Volunteers! In the name of King Charles the Fifth, Colonel Don Tomas Zumalacarregui is recognised as Commandant-General of Navarre!" It is certain that as Don Carlos was then far away from Navarre, and ignorant even of what was going on there, he could not make this nomination; but neither had he appointed Iturralde nor any of the other chiefs who commanded in the various provinces. Under such circumstances this was perhaps the most proper and solemn way of conferring the command, especially when the choice fell upon the officer of the highest rank there present. Before sheathing his sword, Sarasa ordered the guard of honour at Iturralde's quarters to be relieved, and that Iturralde himself should be kept under arrest until further orders from the new chief. All this having taken place without opposition or disturbance, Zumalacarregui made his appearance upon the parade, passed the troops in review, and then causing them to form a circle round him, he addressed them at some length.

From the first formation of a Carlist force in Navarre, the men had been in the habit of receiving two reals, about fivepence sterling, a-day. This rate of pay had been established by General Santos Ladron, and continued by Iturralde, with the view of attracting volunteers. The necessary funds had hitherto been supplied from certain moneys that had been found at the beginning of the war in the hands of various subordinate administrations. These funds, however, were now nearly exhausted, and Zumalacarregui's first announcement to the soldiery was, that he should reduce their pay one-half till times were better. Considering the circumstances under which he had assumed the command, this was a bold step. Most generals would have sought rather to conciliate their men by an increase than to risk exciting discontent by a reduction. Nevertheless, owing to Zumalacarregui's tone of mingled firmness and conciliation, this alteration was made without exciting a murmur.

Releasing Iturralde from his arrest Zumalacarregui appointed him second in command, whilst Sarasa cheerfully descended to the third place—thereby proving that in what he had done in favour of Zumalacarregui, the good of the cause he had espoused was his only motive. The command in chief, however, was merely ad interim. On the arrival of Colonel Eraso, who was then detained in France, it was to be given up to him. But when Eraso made his appearance, so convinced was he of Zumalacarregui's superiority of talent, that he insisted, in spite of the latter's urgent entreaties, in taking only the second post.

Upon assuming the command, Zumalacarregui at once determined on adopting a defensive system of warfare—the only one, indeed, that was practicable with his wretched resources and handful of men. Just at that time General Sarsfield was marching with a strong column to the scene of the insurrection; and at his approach the Castilian Carlists, under Melino and Cuevillas, fled and dispersed to their homes. Sarsfield moved on, and occupied Vittoria with little opposition. Soon afterwards Zumalacarregui, who had betaken himself to the banks of the Ebro in hopes of seizing some arms and horses, received an urgent summons to repair to Bilboa, then held by the Royalists, and which Sarsfield was[Pg 215] advancing to attack. He hastened to obey the call, but only arrived at that extremity of Navarre nearest to Biscay, in time to meet the remnant of the Biscayan Carlists flying before the triumphant Christinos. The troops in the Basque provinces, which, the evening before, had amounted to five or six thousand men, were now reduced to as many hundreds. Their arms, ammunition, and artillery, the latter consisting of four guns, had been abandoned, and were in the power of the conquerors; and so complete was the dissolution of the Carlist forces, that a vast number of persons who were compromised by their conduct or opinions, seeing themselves without defence, crossed the frontier into France. Zumalacarregui, with three scanty, ill-armed battalions, which he had formed out of the handful of Navarrese peasants before alluded to, was now the only hope of the cause. The war was, to all appearance, at an end; and so it undoubtedly would have been but for Zumalacarregui's extraordinary qualities. When he left Pampeluna, the three Basque provinces and the greater part of the Rioja, or plains of the Ebro, were held by the Carlists. Merino had just issued a proclamation announcing himself to be at the head of twenty thousand Castilian volunteers. In all, there were nearly forty thousand men under arms for Don Carlos, and ready to support the Navarrese rising. Suddenly this brilliant perspective had disappeared like a scene in a play, and the twelve or fifteen hundred men, half-naked, without uniform, and badly armed, who were assembled in the valley of the Borunda, found themselves alone and unprotected in front of a formidable and well-provided foe. All was confusion and panic, when Zumalacarregui opposed his zeal and energy to the contagion of alarm that was rapidly spreading amongst his men. His precautions, his decided and inflexible character, gave life to a cause apparently at the last gasp. Encouraging some, rousing others from the lethargy into which they were sinking, he proceeded resolutely with the organization of his three battalions, introduced strict discipline and subordination, and procured five hundred muskets, and a supply of cartridges, from Biscay and Guipuzcoa. General Villareal, who had saved one battalion from the wreck of the Alavese troops, joined him; and the juntas and deputations of the various provinces named Zumalacarregui commander-in-chief of all the Carlist forces.

Meanwhile, Sarsfield's movements appearing too dilatory to the Christino government, he was replaced by General Valdes, and appointed Viceroy of Navarre. The arrival of winter, however, and a heavy fall of snow, in some degree paralyzed the operations of the Christinos, whilst this occasioned incredible sufferings to the Carlists. One battalion of the latter, in passing from Navarre to Guipuzcoa, across the mountains of Aralár, lost 460 men out of 620, of which it consisted. Numbed by cold, and worn out by fatigue, they remained to die upon the road, or dragged themselves for shelter to lonely hamlets and isolated farmhouses, where many of them were discovered and taken by Christino detachments sent to hunt them down. "Truly," says Zaratiegui, "it was a lamentable sight to behold these unfortunate men, who were unable to move hand or foot, thus persecuted. But even in this state of impotence and peril, not one of them chose to avail himself of the pardon which the Christino generals at that time freely offered to those who should renounce Don Carlos. Doubtless a great proof of how noble and constant was their first resolution."

In order not to inconvenience the inhabitants, Zumalacarregui was in the habit of distributing his troops over large districts, himself frequently remaining with only a handful of men about him. On one of these occasions an incident occurred which is related at considerable length by General Zaratiegui, who evidently attaches the greatest importance to his late chief's most trifling actions, and, in the course of his book, compares him to or sets him above various renowned heroes of ancient and modern times. The anecdote, however, is curious, as showing the constant state of vigilance and anxiety in which the Carlists were kept during these early days of their uprising.

[Pg 216]

"Zumalacarregui had taken up his quarters in the hamlet of Zabal, which consisted of only four houses; and, as the season was unfavourable for a bivouac, he had scattered the troops through various small villages in the neighbourhood. With himself there remained only a guard of fifteen or twenty men, and a few aides-de-camp. It was in the middle of December, when the nights are at the longest, and consequently the most favourable time of the year for an enemy to accomplish a surprise. The Carlist general lay awake in his bed, watching for the dawn, which seemed to him longer than usual in appearing; till at last his own restlessness and impatience made him fancy that the Christinos were coming to surprise him. A distant noise which he heard, and which resembled the trot of horses, confirmed the hallucination. He sprang from his bed, and, nearly naked as he was, descended the stairs, opened the door of the house, and tried to snatch away the musket of the sentinel posted there, in order to defend himself against the approaching enemy. The sentry, at once recognising him, kept him off with his hand, and said firmly—'General, leave me my arms; when needful, I shall know how to use them.' The man had only joined the Carlists three days before, and, excepting his musket, bore no mark or sign of his new profession, not even a cartouch-box; and, to complete the singularity of the scene, he was mounting guard bareheaded. The horses, of which Zumalacarregui, with extraordinary fineness of ear, had detected the approach at a very great distance, soon afterwards made their appearance. They were mounted by the men whose duty it was to go from one village to another during the night, collecting rations. Things returned to their previous state of tranquillity, and the sentinel was rewarded for his steadiness and presence of mind.

"This incident," concludes Zaratiegui, "recalls to my recollection an anecdote told by a Spanish author, of the great Captain Gonzalo de Cordova. When that hero was laying siege to a fortress on the island of Cephalonia, which was defended by the Turks, he was many times seen to get up in his sleep, and to cry out to his soldiers to come and repel the enemy; and it is also said, that owing to these alarms the Spaniards more than once escaped a surprise."

Without reference to a map, it would be difficult for our readers to appreciate a description of the extraordinary marches and countermarches by which Zunalacarregui avoided his enemy until such time as he was able to fight him. Sarsfield had no sooner established himself in his vice-royalty at Pampeluna, that he collected all the troops he had at his disposal, and began running after the Carlist chief. He displayed great activity, made forced and rapid marches, and on arriving one evening at the town of Puente la Reyna, found himself, by the result of a well-planned movement, within an hour and a half's march of Artajona, where Zumalacarregui had halted. Sarsfield made sure of coming to blows the next morning; but he had forgotten to take into consideration the insensibility to fatigue, and capacity of exertion, of the Navarrese mountaineers. In the middle of the night, Zumalacarregui turned out his men in dead silence, without sound of drum or trumpet, and began retracing his steps along the road which he had that day followed. The next morning, before Sarsfield arrived at Artajona, Zumalacarregui was at Dicastillo, a long day's march off, and precisely at the same distance from the Christino general at which he had been when the latter commenced his pursuit. Sarsfield found matter for reflection in this, and perceiving, doubtless, that a war in such a country as Navarre, and against such a man as Zumalacarregui, was likely to prove a shoal upon which more than one military reputation would be wrecked, he confided the direction of operations to Generals Lorenzo and Oraa, and returned to Pampeluna, whence he no more issued forth.

The first encounter between Zumalacarregui and the Christinos took place on the 29th of December, near the village of Asarta. The Carlist force consisted of seven small battalions or corps, together about 2500 men, knowing, for the most part, little[Pg 217] or nothing of a soldier's duty. Many of the muskets were useless, and the ammunition so scarce, that ten cartridges formed the allowance with which these troops went, for the first time, under fire. In the combat that ensued, the Christinos suffered considerable loss; and although the Carlists, who had most of them expended their ammunition, finally retreated in haste and disorder, the mere fact of having sustained for some time the assault of an enemy so far superior to them in discipline and equipments, inspired these raw recruits with fresh courage and confidence. The resistance that had been made contrasted advantageously with the facility with which, at the first commencement of the war, far larger bodies of the insurgents had been put to flight. Several Christino officers came over to the Carlists after this trifling action, of which the moral effect was altogether highly favourable to the cause of Don Carlos.

Dividing his forces into three detachments, Zumalacarregui sent two of these to draw off the attention of Lorenzo and Oraa, whilst he himself suddenly appeared before the royal manufactory of shot and shell at Orbaiceta, near the French frontier. The garrison, consisting of two hundred men, capitulated, although it might very well have held out the place against an enemy without artillery, until the arrival of assistance, which would have been certain to come in two or three days. Here were found two hundred excellent muskets, a brass four-pounder, and more than 50,000 cartridges; besides an immense quantity of round-shot and other projectiles, which at that time were useless to the Carlists, as they had no artillery.

When, instead of the news which they had been expecting to receive, of the extermination of the royalist faction, the Pampelonese learned that Orbaiceta was captured; and that Lorenzo and Oraa had succeeded in nothing except in knocking up their horses and fagging their men; they sent to Valdes, the general-in-chief of the army of the North, who was then in Biscay, imploring him to come and make an end of the Carlists. Valdes hastened to Pampeluna, and on arriving there at once made a sortie with five or six thousand men. Zumalacarregui posted himself in a narrow pass, on the road along which the Christinos were advancing, and awaited their arrival. Having done this, he sent out a number of officers and soldiers, who were well acquainted with the country, to observe the movements of the Queen's troops, and give notice of their approach. The evening was drawing in, when a peasant came up in all haste, laden with a large stone of a thin flat form, nearly a foot and a half long. On reaching the presence of Zumalacarregui, he laid it down, and requested the general to read what was written on it. One of the scouts having no writing materials, and thinking the peasant incapable of bearing a verbal message correctly, had taken this novel means of conveying intelligence to his chief. In danger of being outflanked, Zumalacarregui was compelled to abandon his advantageous position. The following day a skirmish took place without result; and at last Valdes, finding that he only fatigued his men uselessly, by pursuing an adversary whom it was impossible to overtake, remained for some days inactive.

A week had elapsed, which Zumalacarregui had passed at Navascues, busied in organizing his troops, and making various important administrative arrangements, when the approach of Oraa compelled him to a change of place. On the evening of the 17th of February, the Christino general having put up his infantry in the hamlets of Zubiri and Urdaniz, and the detachments of cavalry that accompanied him, at a large venta or inn between those two places, Zumalacarregui resolved upon a nocturnal attack.

It was at midnight that, by the light of a dozen trees, which had been set on fire, and served for gigantic torches, the Carlist leader formed up five companies in a thick wood, and after communicating to them his project, directed them how to proceed. The post of honour was assigned to a student of the name of Amezqueta, who, by his feats of courage, subsequently rose from the rank of a simple volunteer to that of colonel, and died[Pg 218] in consequence of wounds received in action. One company was sent to open a fire upon Zubiri, in which Oraa himself was lodged; another was to attack the venta, where the cavalry were quartered; and the remaining three were to penetrate into the streets and houses of Urdaniz, which were occupied by five or six hundred Christinos.

The night had at first been bright and moonlit, but was now cloudy and dark; and Zumalacarregui, in order to avoid the terrible consequences that might ensue if his soldiers mistook one another for the enemy, ordered them to put on their shirts over their other garments. It happened to be Carnival time, and the men, not at once understanding the reason of this order, took it as a sort of masquerade proceeding, and made themselves exceedingly merry about it. The result showed how necessary a precaution it was. After various difficulties, occasioned by the bad roads and extreme darkness, the three detachments reached their respective destinations at about half-past two in the morning, and the fire against Zubiri and Urdaniz commenced almost at the same moment. In the first-named place, the Christinos kept themselves shut up in the houses, from the windows of which they returned the fire, guided in their aim by the flashes of their assailants' muskets. The sole object of the Carlists was, to keep them employed, in order that they might not interfere with what was going on at the two other points of attack. The cavalry at the venta having neglected all precautions, and possessing no effective means of defence, soon fell into the power of the Carlists; but at Urdaniz, which was held by infantry, and against which the expedition was more particularly directed, a hard-contested fight took place. The first picket which the Carlists encountered was cut to pieces to a man; the fire of a second outpost spread the alarm; but, nevertheless, the attacking party penetrated into the ground-floor of most of the houses, and a desperate contest ensued upon the stairs. The horses in the stables were either carried off or killed; and nothing would have been easier than to have set fire to the houses, and so ensured the destruction of all the Christinos. From this latter sanguinary measure, which a Cabrera or a Valmaseda would probably not have hesitated to adopt, Zumalacarregui abstained. "It did not agree," says his biographer, "with the principles of equity and justice which he observed relatively to the villages and their inhabitants;" from which we are left to infer, that the burning alive of five hundred Christino soldiers, could it have been done without injuring houses or peasants, would have been rather an acceptable holocaust to the Carlist chief.

When all the advantages calculated upon from this expedition had been obtained, the retreat was sounded, and, forming up his men with the greatest celerity, Zumalacarregui marched rapidly away, carrying off the arms, horses, and prisoners, that had been taken. With all his haste, however, early upon the following day Lorenzo and Oraa were close upon his heels; but the wary Carlist had omitted no precaution, and, in anticipation of a hot pursuit, had ordered four battalions to meet him at the neighbouring pass of Lizarraga, where he accordingly found them waiting his arrival, and immediately prepared to give the Christinos a warm reception. The latter, on arriving in front of the position, probably considered it too formidable a one to attack; for they forthwith retreated, leaving Zumalacarregui in the peaceable enjoyment of a triumph which greatly increased his reputation and the confidence of his followers.

Quesada, who succeeded Valdes in the command of the Queen's army, was the first to introduce the horrible system of reprisals, or, it should rather be said, to occasion it, by cruelty towards his prisoners. Valdes, if he had done little towards terminating the war, had at least not envenomed it, or rendered its character more ferocious than he had found it. Although it was impossible to suspect him of any leaning towards his opponents, he always showed great moderation and humanity, and caused the wounded Carlists who fell into his hands to be treated with as much care as if they had been his own men. Quesada, on the contrary, irritated at the failure of certain attempts he had made to[Pg 219] seduce Zumalacarregui, and subsequently other Carlist leaders, from their allegiance to him they called their King, and acting under the influence of a disposition which many events in his life sufficiently proved to be cruel and bloodthirsty, had scarcely assumed the command when he gave the signal for reprisals, by shooting at Pampeluna the Carlist officer, Don Juan Hugalde, although Zumalacarregui had offered to give a Christino officer and two sergeants in exchange for him. This was followed by numerous similar acts of cruelty, which at last were cause that Villareal, by order of Zumalacarregui, shot more than a hundred prisoners who had been taken a short time previously at a village near Vittoria. Fortunately, at that particular period, the prisoners on neither side were very numerous. In an action near Segura, Leopold O'Donnell, cousin of the present governor of the Havannah, and son of the well-known Count of Abisbal, fell into the hands of the Carlists, with four other officers and a number of rank and file. The five officers were shot, in retaliation for some recent execution of Carlist prisoners; but Zumalacarregui, willing to make another effort for the establishment of a more humane system, spared the lives of the men, and ordered that seven amongst them who were wounded should be taken care of, and, when cured, sent back to Pampeluna. In return for this act of mercy, Quesada shot every prisoner he had, wounded or not. Amongst others, a Captain Bayona, who had received two desperate wounds, and was at the point of death, was dragged from his bed and shot on the public square of the village of Lacunza. Zumalacarregui might have repaid this atrocity by the slaughter of the Christino prisoners who were still in his power, but having promised them their lives, he would not recall his word.

A few days after this, four officers were made prisoners by Iturralde, who entered the town of Los Arcos with a battalion, and captured them before they had time to retreat to the fort. Quesada feeling very sure of the fate reserved for them, hit upon a stratagem by which he hoped to save their lives. He caused to be arrested at Pampeluna the parents of several Carlist officers of rank, shut them up in the citadel, and sent confessors to them. They were to be shot, he said, the very moment he should learn the death of the officers whom Iturralde had taken. The unfortunate captives begged permission to write to their sons and relatives in the Carlist army, and this request, which was what Quesada had reckoned upon, was granted. Those to whom the letters were sent presented themselves before Zumalacarregui in the most profound affliction, and implored him to show mercy to the four men on whose lives depended the existence of persons so dear to them. But Zumalacarregui, who saw at once that such a precedent would be in the highest degree dangerous, inasmuch as most of the Carlists had friends and near relatives in the Christino country, was firm in his refusal. The officers were shot, but Quesada did not dare to incur the odium which reprisals of the nature he had threatened would have heaped upon his head. It was remarked also that he was greatly discouraged by the proof he on this occasion obtained of his opponent's firmness and energy, and of the unlimited authority and influence he enjoyed over those under his command. The shooting of prisoners of war continued without intermission till the Eliot convention took place.

The month of April had arrived without any one of the Carlist leaders having received a communication, either verbal or written, from the prince for whom they had now been six months under arms. At last, on the 11th of April, Zumalacarregui, who was then in the valley of the Berrueza, received the much wished-for letter from the hands of a native of Burgos, who, in the disguise of a muleteer, managed to reach his camp. In this letter, which was dated the 18th of March 1834, Don Carlos declared that his "royal heart and soul were sweetly affected by the contemplation of the heroical efforts that were being made in the cause of religion and his legitimate rights." He promised to maintain the fueros of the provinces, approved all that had been done, and gave various and extensive powers to Zumalacarregui, whom he styled Mariscal[Pg 220] de Campo of the royal armies. The enthusiasm which this document occasioned amongst the troops and the people of the provinces was so great, that Zumalacarregui declared it to be worth a reinforcement of twenty thousand men. It is probable also, although no express mention is made of it, that about or rather before this time, some small supplies of money had been received from the friends of Don Carlos in Spain, or other countries; for we find the junta of Navarre busied in providing new clothing for a part of the troops. The taxes levied in the districts in which the Carlists operated, and those duties on goods passing the frontier which they were able to collect, must at that period have been of very trifling amount, and insufficient to meet the expenses even of Zumalacarregui's small army.

During three months that Quesada had held the command, which he assumed with a force that he himself admitted to consist of 23,000 infantry, and 1400 horse, he had accomplished literally nothing. On the other hand, the Carlists had had several partial successes against himself and his subordinates; he had lost a vast number of men; and finally, at the action of Gulinas, near Pampeluna, Linares, one of his generals was so ill-treated by Zumalacarregui, that all the carts and vehicles in Pampeluna, including the bishop's carriage, were insufficient to carry the wounded into the town. After this last disaster, the Spanish government resolved to give Quesada a successor; and General Rodil, who had just returned from his expedition into Portugal, upon which he had gone in the vain hope of seizing the person of Don Carlos, was ordered to repair to the northern provinces with the troops under his command. After being detained some days at Madrid by Queen Christina, who had a fancy to review the division, Rodil, whose activity was his best quality, continued his march, and soon reached the Ebro with ten thousand infantry, a proportionate number of cavalry, and a prodigious train of baggage and artillery. It is said that more than a thousand carts, and a still greater number of baggage animals, followed his army. Generals Cordova, Figueras, Carandolet and others of note, formed part of his brilliant staff, and at Logrofio he was joined by Lorenzo and Oraa with their divisions. The imposing force thus got together was sufficient, it might well have been thought, to crush, ten times over, the few companies of raw guerillas under Zumalacarregui's command.

The clash of arms and note of war-like preparation that now resounded along the right bank of the Ebro, crossed the stream, and penetrated into the valleys of Navarre. The eyes of the Carlists, both soldiers and civilians, were fixed upon their chief, who, far from trying to conceal the approaching danger, rather exaggerated its magnitude. There was nothing he dreaded more than that his followers should think he was trying to deceive them. That, he knew, would destroy their confidence in him. He issued a proclamation to the troops, in which, after talking of the formidable preparations of the enemy, he put a question to them. "Volunteers!" he said, "shall you quail at the sight of this numerous array?" When the officer who read the proclamation in front of the assembled Navarrese battalions came to this question, a unanimous "No!" unpremeditated and heartfelt, burst from the lips of every man present. Upon learning this indication of the temper of the troops, Zumalacarregui resolved upon a movement of unparalleled audacity. He had information that on the following day Lorenzo and Oraa were to leave Logrofio for Pampeluna, followed twenty-four hours later by Rodil, with the troops he had brought from Portugal. Zumalacarregui determined to advance rapidly from the mountains amongst which he then found himself, and to fall upon Rodil's left flank, trusting that troops unaccustomed to that description of warfare would resist but feebly a sudden and unexpected attack. However this daring plan might have succeeded, it would certainly have been attempted, had not a totally unlooked-for, and, to the Carlists, a most important event occurred to prevent it.

At midnight, on the 11th of July, the Carlist troops were about to commence their march, when Legarra, the abbot of Lecumberri, suddenly appeared before Zumalacarregui, and[Pg 221] placed in his hands a sealed letter of very small dimensions. The handwriting was unknown to the general, and the sole address consisting of the two words, "For Zumalacarregui," he asked Legarra, previously to opening the letter, whence and from whom it came. The sole information the abbot could give was that he had received it from the junta of Navarre, and had been desired to use all haste in its delivery. The general then opened and read the missive; and as he did so, all those who were present were able to note upon his countenance the great satisfaction with which the few words it contained inspired him. He immediately countermanded the march, ordered the horses to be unsaddled, and the troops to take up their quarters for the night.

The contents of the note which caused all these changes, were as follows:—

"Zumalacarregui: I am very near Spain, and to-morrow I trust by God's help to reach Urdax. Take the necessary measures, and communicate this to no one.


In spite of this last injunction, Zumalacarregui, calculating that Don Carlos must by this time be on Spanish ground, could not refuse himself the pleasure of telling such good news to his personal friends. They repeated to others, and it soon became known throughout the camp, that the King was coming. At daybreak the next morning, Zumalacarregui set out, and at eleven at night reached the frontier town of Elizondo, where he found Don Carlos, who, tired with his journey, had already gone to bed, but, nevertheless, immediately received his faithful adherent. On the following day he had several conferences with Zumalacarregui, on whom he conferred the rank of Lieutenant-general and Chief of his Staff. The same afternoon the bells were set ringing, and a Te Deum was sung for the happy arrival of the royal fugitive. It was attended by Don Carlos, Zumalacarregui, the Baron de los Valles, and various other notabilities.

His partizans as yet possessing no fortified town or stronghold in which he could remain with security, Don Carlos was compelled, as soon as he arrived in Spain, to seek safety in constant change of place. Zumalacarregui, on the other hand, with Valdes and his formidable army menacing him on all sides, could spare but little time to play the courtier. After conducting Don Carlos through the valleys of Araquil, the Borunda, and the two Amezcoas, in all of which that prince was received, we are informed, with the most lively demonstrations of joy, he confided him to the care of General Eraso, who marched him off to the Basque provinces, to show him to the people, and keep him out of harm's way. The Christino government and generals had at first affected to disbelieve the arrival of Don Carlos, and had spread reports that a person who resembled him had been chosen by the Carlist leaders to personate the prince, and deceive the people. Soon, however, the fact was placed beyond a doubt; and Rodil, sending several of his generals to find Zumalacarregui, set out with twelve thousand men in pursuit of Don Carlos, who was then in Biscay with a retinue of only twelve persons. The small number of the Prince's attendants proved his best safeguard. The Christinos advanced, displaying a vast front, and confident of catching him; but favoured by the intricacies of the mountains, the extensive forests and deep barrancas of Biscay, having, moreover, the peasantry in his favour, and persons perfectly acquainted with the country for guides, Don Carlos had little difficulty in eluding pursuit. All Rodil's front and flank marches and countermarches served but to send a vast number of his men into hospital, and to immortalize his name in that province by the devastations and incendiarism that the soldiery committed.

Whilst this was going on, Zumalacarregui was buzzing like an enraged hornet round the divisions of Oraa, Carandolet, Lorenzo, and other generals, cutting off outposts, surprising detachments, and doing them a vast deal of mischief, with little or no loss to his own troops. General Carandolet was particularly unfortunate; twice did Zumalacarregui surprise him; first in the pass of San Fausto, where his column was nearly destroyed;[Pg 222] and a second time in the town of Viana, on the Ebro. On this last occasion the affair was decided by the Carlist cavalry, which for the first time had an opportunity of distinguishing itself. It consisted of 250 ill-equipped and undrilled lancers, at the head of which Zumalacarregui put himself, and charging the Christino horsemen, who were nearly twice as numerous, broke them and put them to flight.

It is unnecessary, and would be monotonous, to follow Zumalacarregui, step by step, through the summer campaign of 1834, which was a most important one for the cause he defended. With the increase of numerical force, which his successes, and the arrival of Don Carlos, brought to his standard, the lack of arms, money, and ammunition began to make themselves nearly as sensibly felt as at the commencement of the war. When Don Carlos arrived in Spain and formed a ministry, Zumalacarregui hoped and expected that the men composing the latter would possess some influence abroad, and would be able to procure assistance of various kinds. In this, however, he found himself mistaken; and to make matters worse, he appears to have been already thwarted, in his plans and arrangements, by the persons about Don Carlos. The division of counsels, which subsequently ruined the Carlist cause, was already beginning to be felt.

At the arrival of Don Carlos, the army was composed entirely of volunteers, but a levy was now ordered of all the men capable of bearing arms. Zumalacarregui opposed this strenuously, but was finally compelled to give way, and four new battalions were formed, although there was scarcely a musket in store to give to them. By this ill-advised measure, the agricultural interests of the country were materially compromised, and new and heavy charges imposed upon the military chest, for the maintenance of troops which, being unarmed, were of course useless. This was a source of great vexation to Zumalacarregui, who certainly had enough to do to make head against the enemy opposed to him, without being compelled at the same time to procure supplies, arms, and ammunition for his troops, and to attend, in great measure, to the administrative arrangements, which usually fall to the charge of the civil authorities. At the commencement of the war, fifty thousand cartridges were all he possessed, and those were soon consumed, as well as some that were taken from the Christinos. It was very difficult and costly to get powder from France, which could only be introduced in quantities of three or four pounds, or little more. Unable to support the delay and expense of this, Zumalacarregui established manufactories in secluded corners of Navarre and the Basque provinces; and then, with infinite risk, caused saltpetre to be brought from the very heart of Arragon, and subsequently from France. The powder that was at first produced was very weak and bad, and the manufacturers worked day and night till they found means of improving it. The rules introduced into the battalions, in order to economize this precious commodity, were singular enough. The soldiers were forbidden to load their muskets till the very moment of commencing an action; and then were only to fire when the enemy was very near and fully exposed. Even the guards and pickets, in view of the Christinos, had but a single musket loaded, which the sentinels passed from one to another when relieved. Zumalacarregui himself made frequent inspections of the men's ammunition, and would often stop soldiers whom he met in the street or on the road, to ascertain that they had not lost or wasted their cartridges.

The security of the Carlist army did not so much depend on the vigilance of outposts and advanced guards, as on the system of transmitting information that was established amongst the village alcaldes, and on the zeal and fidelity of the confidentes or spies. Without reckoning those persons who acted in the latter capacity in the vicinity of their own homes, Zumalacarregui always had about him eighteen or twenty regularly paid spies; and to these, even in the moments of his greatest poverty and difficulty, he showed himself liberal to prodigality. Notwithstanding[Pg 223] that it was out of his power to recompense sufficiently the risks they ran, and the important services they rendered, these men performed their arduous duties with admirable fidelity. Zaratiegui relates an anecdote of one of them who, having been guilty of some neglect, received, by order of Zumalacarregui, two hundred blows with a stick, and was then turned out of the camp. The evening of the same day on which this took place, when the general called as usual for his confidentes, the man who had been beaten made his appearance with the others. Although Zumalacarregui was acquainted with the characteristic fidelity of these men, he could not help being struck with this instance of it. His natural generosity of character prevented him from hesitating a moment in restoring his confidence to the offender. "Rest yourself tonight," he said to him; "to-morrow you will have to go upon a service of the greatest importance, and which you alone are able to perform." And the man left the room, perfectly consoled for the pain and humiliation of his beating, by these few kind words, addressed to him in presence of his comrades.

Another anecdote will illustrate the affection of the Carlist soldiers for their leader, and their sympathy with his difficulties. The troops all wore alpargatas—a species of sandal, of which the sole is of plaited hemp. These are admirably adapted for long marches in dry weather, but the wet destroys them, and they go to pieces directly. Of these sandals, as of every other description of equipment, there was sometimes great difficulty in obtaining a sufficient supply. One day that it rained heavily, Zumalacarregui was going to pass, with several battalions, from the Ulzama to the valley of Ollo. The soil was clay, and there was sure to be a great destruction of the hempen shoes. Zumalacarregui, who at that time had no others wherewith to replace them, rode along the line of march, and spoke to man here and there. "A peseta," said he, (about tenpence sterling,) "for every man who presents himself this evening with a sound pair of alpargatas." The word was passed from mouth to mouth; the soldiers understood the difficulty in which their general was, took off their shoes, and performed a long and toilsome march barefoot. The next day, when Zumalacarregui ordered the promised recompense to be distributed, the commandants of battalions said that it was unnecessary, for that none of the men claimed it.

About this time, Zumalacarregui made an expedition beyond the Ebro, with the view of carrying off a quantity of woollen cloth from the manufactories at Escaray. He was unsuccessful in the immediate object of the expedition; but, at a short distance from Logroño, he fell in with a convoy, escorted by two companies of infantry and three strong squadrons of dragoons. The latter charged the Carlist cavalry, which was of much inferior force, and threw it into complete disorder. Zumalacarregui, who was a short way behind, saw the disgraceful flight of his lancers, set spurs to his horse, came up with the fugitives, and rallied them. As soon as he had got together fifty men, he charged the Christinos, regardless of the great disparity of force. The charge took place on the high-road, where there was no room to form front by troops or squadrons. Six or eight Christino dragoons of gigantic stature, tiradores or pioneers as they were called, occupied the whole width of the road, whilst the convoy made all haste to gain the town. Zumalacarregui, with six of his men, attacked them, and scarcely had their lances crossed the Christino sabres, when the dragoons were all killed or wounded. The Carlists charged onwards; the whole of the Christino cavalry was cut to pieces or forced to run, and the convoy remained in the hands of the conquerors. It consisted of two thousand muskets, and came very opportunely to arm the four new battalions, which had been more than three months in idleness, waiting for weapons.

On the 27th and 28th of October, just one year after Zumalacarregui had taken command of the Carlist army, occurred the two famous actions in the plains of Vittoria, when General O'Doyle and two thousand Christinos fell into the hands of the victors, and nearly as many more were[Pg 224] left dead upon the field. O'Doyle and some of the officers taken were shot; but the lives of the men were spared, and soon afterwards, at their own request, their arms were restored to them, and they were incorporated in the Carlist battalions. This, and other disasters, which about this time befell Rodil's army, occasioned his recall by the Queen's government, and the celebrated Mina was appointed in his stead.

The increase of Zumalacarregui's forces, and the advantages he had gained, inspired him with the idea of capturing some of the Christino forts in Navarre and the Basque provinces; the said forts being exceedingly prejudicial to his operations. The great obstacle to his wishes was, the weakness of his artillery. This consisted only of three small field-pieces, such as are carried on the backs of mules, and could be of little service in attacking fortifications. Of shot and shell he had a large supply, which had been taken at the manufactory of Orbaiceta. For seven or eight months these stores had been lying there neglected, none of the Queen's generals having had the foresight to remove them to a place of safety. Zumalacarregui now caused them to be taken away, and concealed in the most intricate recesses of the mountains. But these projectiles were of little use without guns; and to procure the latter the ingenuity of the Carlists was taxed to the very utmost. Zumalacarregui remembered that, upon a sandy spot on the Biscayan coast, an old iron twelve-pounder was lying neglected and forgotten. This he ordered to be brought to Navarre. A rude carriage was constructed, on which it was mounted, and it was then dragged by six pair of oxen over mountains, and through ravines, to the Sierra of Urbasa, where it was buried. Soldiers are very ingenious in inventing appropriate names; and as soon as the Carlist volunteers saw this unwieldy old-fashioned piece of ordnance, full of moss and sand, and covered with rust, they christened it the Abuelo, or the Grandfather, by which appellation it was ever afterwards known. The only artillery officer at that time with Zumalacarregui was Don Tomas Reina, who now, in conjunction with one Balda, a professor of chemistry, began to devise means for founding some guns. In the villages and hamlets within a certain circumference, a requisition was made for all articles composed of copper and brass, such as brasiers, stew-pans, chocolate pots, warming-pans, &c.; but as it was found impossible to get sufficient of these, the three field-pieces were added, and the whole melted together. In the midst of a forest this strange foundery was established, and after numerous failures, occasioned by want of experience and of the proper tools, Reina succeeded in making a couple of howitzers, which, although of uncouth appearance, it was thought might answer the purpose for which they were intended.

Never were the Christinos more confident of a speedy termination to the war than when Mina took the command. The well-earned reputation of that chief, his peculiar aptitude for mountain warfare, and intimate acquaintance with the country of Navarre, which had been the scene of his triumphs during the war against Napoleon, certainly pointed him out as the most fitting man to oppose to Zumalacarregui. Forgetting that similar hopes had been founded on the skill of Quesada and Rodil, and on the imposing forces they commanded, hopes which had been so signally frustrated, the Queen's partizans now set up a premature song of triumph, soon to be turned into notes of lamentation. The Mina of 1834, old and bed-ridden, with his energies, mental perhaps as well as physical, impaired by long inaction, was a very different man from the Mina of 1810. When fighting against the French, the sympathies of the Navarrese were with him; now they were against him, and in a war of this description, that difference was of immense importance. In spite of the wintry season and of the badness of his health, one of the first things he did on assuming the command was to make an excursion to Puente la Reyna, Mañeru, and other places, where, in days gone by, he had had his headquarters, and which he had[Pg 225] then never entered without being greeted as a hero and patriot, and welcomed with enthusiastic vivas. He flattered himself that this enthusiasm would be again awakened by his appearance; and was so much the more shocked when he found himself received with the utmost coldness and indifference. His illness was aggravated by disappointment, and he returned angry and disgusted to Pampeluna. Thence, incapacitated by his infirmities from exerting himself in the field, he directed from his cabinet the operations of his lieutenants, and issued orders, the cruelty of some of which soon caused his name to be as much execrated in Navarre as it had there once been venerated. At no period of the war was less mercy shown to each other by the contending parties than during Mina's command. Besides shooting all prisoners taken with arms in their hands, he caused the wounded whom he found in the Carlist hospitals to be slain upon their beds, and garroted or strangled a gentleman of Pampeluna, for no reason that could be discovered except that he had two sons with the Carlists. Several forts having about this time being taken or battered by Zumalacarregui, Mina determined to get possession of the guns with which this had been done. He was aware of the difficulty the Carlists had in obtaining artillery; and knowing that it could not easily be transported from one place to another in that rugged and mountainous country, he conjectured that they were in the habit of burying it, which was actually the case. In order to obtain information as to the whereabout of the mortars with which the enemy had been shelling Elizondo, he decimated the male inhabitants of Lecaros, and then burnt the village itself to the ground. Such atrocities as these, far from advancing the cause of Queen Isabel, materially injured it, offering as they did a strong contrast with the conduct of Zumalacarregui, who, at the taking of Los Arcos, Echarri-Eranaz, and other places, had shown mercy, and even great kindness, to the wounded and prisoners he took. At last Mina having ventured out in person with a division of the troops, carried in a litter because he too ill to sit his horse, was signally beaten by Zumalacarregui at a place called Siete Fuentes, or the Seven Fountains, and himself narrowly escaped being taken prisoner. Soon after this disaster he was deprived of the command, having done nothing whilst he held it but lose men and forts, and exasperate the Navarrese peasantry to an unparalleled extent.

An attempt that was made about this time to assassinate Espartero, who then commanded a moveable column in Biscay, is thus narrated by General Zaratiegui:—

"The constant passage of Espartero between Bilboa and Orduna, inspired a peasant, who occupied a farmhouse near Luyando, with the idea of attempting that general's life. It was said that the man had been robbed or ill-treated by the soldiers of Espartero's division; but it is quite as probable that the peasant fancied in his simplicity, that if he could kill the Christino general, the war and the evils it inflicted on his country would be at an end. Taking a large tree trunk, he fashioned it into a sort of cannon, fixed it at a spot where it commanded the high-road, and loaded it to the very mouth. The next time Espartero passed that way, the peasant watched his moment, set fire to the fuse of this singular piece of artillery, and then ran away. The Christino soldiers hurried to the spot whence the explosion had proceeded, and found the wooden cannon burst into fifty pieces. It was evidently the act of an individual; but nevertheless the unlucky village of Luyando, being the nearest to the scene of the event, was immediately set on fire. Out of the sixty houses composing it, more than one half were consumed; and if the others escaped, it was merely because the Christinos happened to want them at the moment for their own occupation."

Valdes was the last Christino general opposed to Zumalacarregui. Being minister of war at the time of Mina's dismissal from the command, he ordered all the troops that could possibly be spared to march to Navarre, and himself followed to direct their operations. Upon his appearance the war assumed a more humane character; and soon afterwards the arrival of the[Pg 226] British commissioner, and his successful intervention, put an end to the system of reprisals, although after Zumalacarregui's death it was again more than once resorted to by the most ferocious of the leaders on either side. In honour of Lord Eliot, Zumalacarregui set at liberty the prisoners he had made in the recent action of the Amezcoas, in which Valdes had been roughly handled. Lord Eliot having expressed a wish for an autograph of the Carlist leader, Zumalacarregui took a pen and wrote, in Spanish, as follows:—

"At Asarta, a village of the valley of Berrueza, celebrated for the various combats which have occurred there in the course of the present century, the honour of receiving his Excellency Lord Eliot was enjoyed, on the 25th April 1835, by Tomas Zumalacarregui."

Colonel Gurwood made the Carlist chief a present of an excellent field glass, which had been used by the Duke of Wellington on some occasion during the Peninsular war. "This telescope was so esteemed by Zumalacarregui," says his biographer, "that as long as he lived he always carried it with him; and at the present day, in spite of its trifling intrinsic value, it is treasured by his family as the most precious heir-loom they possess."

The non-success of Valdes's expedition to the valleys of the Amezcoas, and the fatigues and losses sustained there by his troops, had greatly discouraged the latter. On all sides the Carlists were obtaining advantages, and their adversaries began to entertain a panic terror of Zumalacarregui, who availed himself of this discouragement and temporary inaction of the foe to attack several fortified places. Amongst others, the town of Treviño, situated between Vittoria and the Ebro, and at only three or four hours' march from the cantonments of Valdes's army, fell into the hands of the Carlists. Assembling thirteen battalions at the Venta of Armentia, Zumalacarregui brought up his artillery, consisting of one cannon and one howitzer, with which in two days he forced the place to capitulate. Although Valdes, from where he was, could hear the sound of the guns, he did not venture to show himself till the Carlists had destroyed the fortifications, and effected their retreat with prisoners and artillery.

It was after this successful expedition, and at what may be considered the most fortunate period of Zumalacarregui's career, that Don Carlos conceived the idea of conferring a title on him. He caused this to be intimated to the general, and also that he was only waiting to know what title it would be the most agreeable to him to receive. "We will talk about it," replied Zumalacarregui, "after entering Cadiz. As yet we are not safe even in the Pyrenees, and a title of any kind would be but a step towards the ridiculous." It was not till eleven months after his death that Don Carlos issued a decree, making him grandee of Spain, by the titles of Duke of Victory and Count of Zumalacarregui.

The garrisons of Estella and of various other fortified towns in the interior of Navarre and the Basque provinces, were now withdrawn by order of Valdes; other strong places were taken or capitulated, the garrisons remaining for the most part prisoners of war. Within two months after the Eliot convention, the Carlists had got 300 Christino officers and 2000 rank and file, prisoners in their various depôts, without reckoning those who, on being captured, took up arms for Don Carlos. To exchange against these, the Queen's generals had not a single prisoner. About this time Espartero was beaten at Descarga by Eraso; whilst Oraa met the same fate in the valley of the Baztan at the hands of Sagastibelza. Jauregui abandoned Tolosa, leaving behind him a quantity of ammunition and stores, and shut himself up in St Sebastian.

The intrigues and manœuvres of certain individuals who surrounded Don Carlos, pandered to his weaknesses, and worked upon his superstitious bigotry, began to occasion Zumalacarregui serious annoyance, and to interfere in some instances with his plans. During a short visit to Segura, where the Carlist court then was, he experienced much disgust and vexation. His health, moreover, began to fail him; and a week later, from the town of Vergara, which[Pg 227] he had just taken, with its garrison of 2000 men, he sent in his resignation. The following day Don Carlos himself came to Vergara, and had a short conference with Zumalacarregui, after which the latter marched upon Durango and Ochandiano, towns on the Bilboa road, and took the latter, whilst the former was abandoned by its garrison. It was now his wish to attack Vittoria, which was the nearest large town, and the easiest to take; but just at this time, Don Carlos, it appears, had been disappointed of a loan, and his flatterers and advisers had been consoling him for it, by holding out a prospect of taking Bilboa, which opulent commercial city contained, they said, enough riches to get him out of all his difficulties. Zumalacarregui opposed this plan, but his deference for Don Carlos finally caused him to yield; and with a heavy heart, and a train of artillery totally inadequate to the reduction of so strong a town, he sat down before Bilboa. Two twelve-pounders and one six-pounder, two brass fours, two howitzers and a mortar, were all that he had to oppose to the strong defences and forty or fifty guns with which the capital of Biscay was provided. There was also a great lack of certain descriptions of ammunition. For the mortar there were only six-and-thirty shells; and to add to the misfortunes of the attacking party, their two largest guns, the twelve-pounders, burst on the very first day of the siege. During the whole of that day and night, Zumalacarregui neither ate nor slept; and on the morrow, which was the 15th of June, he wrote a letter to the headquarters of Don Carlos, then at Durango, informing the ministers, that owing to the immense disproportion between his means of attack and the enemy's powers of defence, he expected it would be necessary to raise the siege.

After sending off this despatch, a great weight seemed removed from the mind of Zumalacarregui, and he went down to the batteries. With the view of observing whether the Bilbainos had made any repairs or thrown up works in the course of the night, he ascended to the first floor of a house situated near the sanctuary of Our Lady of Begoña, and from the balcony began to examine the enemy's line. Whilst standing there, a bullet struck him on the right leg, about two inches from the knee. Nine days afterwards he was dead—killed, there can be little doubt, less by the wound or its effects than by the gross ignorance of his medical attendants. Three Spanish doctors, a young English surgeon, and a curandero, or quack, named Petriquillo, whom Zumalacarregui had known from his youth, and in whose skill he had great confidence, were called in. The Englishman, however, returned after two days to the squadron to which he was attached, giving as his opinion, which agreed with that of Don Carlos's own surgeon, one Gelos, that in a fortnight Zumalacarregui would be on horseback again. Whilst Petriquillo was applying ointments and frictions, and a doctor of medicine cramming the patient with drugs, Gelos and another surgeon kept tormenting the wound with their probes. The wounded man's general health, already affected by the various annoyances he had recently experienced, began to give way; and at last, within three or four hours after the extraction of the ball, an operation that appears to have been performed in the most butcherlike manner, Zumalacarregui breathed his last. He was forty-six years of age, and left a wife and three daughters. All his worldly possessions consisted of three horses and a mule, some arms, the telescope given him by Colonel Gurwood, and fourteen ounces of gold.

If that weak and incapable prince, Don Carlos de Borbon, had allowed Zumalacarregui to follow up his own plans of campaign, instead of dictating to him unfeasible ones, there can be little doubt that in less than another year he would have entered Madrid. The immense importance of the prestige attached to a general is well known. That of Zumalacarregui was fully established, both with his own men and the Queen's troops. The latter trembled at his very name; the former, at his command, were ready to attack ten times their number.

"Are there only two battalions yonder?" enquired Captain Henningsen of a Carlist soldier, pointing to a position which was menaced by a large[Pg 228] body of the enemy. "That is all, Señor," was the reply; "but the general is there." The man was as confident of the safety of the position as though there had been twenty battalions instead of two. And such was the feeling throughout the Carlist army.

The only one of the Carlist or Christino leaders who united all the qualities essential to success was Zumalacarregui. Some were honest, a few were perhaps good tacticians, others were not deficient in energy, but none were all three. The Christino generals were generally conspicuous for their indecision, and for their want of zeal for the cause they defended. Many of them would have been sorry to see an end put to a war which gave them occupation, rapid promotion, decorations, titles, and money. When Zumalacarregui began his campaign with a handful of men, no one could catch him; when he got stronger and showed fight, no one could stand against him. As soon as he died, his system of warfare was abandoned, and victory ceased to be faithful to the Carlist standard. The battle of Mendigorria, which occurred within a month after his death, and in which the Carlists were signally defeated by Cordova, taught the former that their previous successes had been owing at least as much to their general's skill as to their own invincibility.

The most salient points in Zumalacarregui's character were his generosity and energy. The former was carried almost to an excess. He could not see persons in want without relieving them; and as his sole income whilst commanding the Carlist army consisted of 2500 reals, or twenty-five pounds sterling, a-month, which he took for his pay, he frequently found himself without a maravedi in his pocket. It is related of him, amongst many other anecdotes of the same kind, that once in winter, the weather being very cold, he had ordered a coat, having only one, and that much worn. The tailor had just brought it home and been paid for it, when Zumalacarregui, happening to look out of the window, saw one of his officers passing in a very ragged condition. He called him up, made him try on his new coat, and finding that it fitted him, sent him away with it, himself remaining in the same state as before.

For the charges of cruelty of disposition which have been brought against Zumalacarregui, we are inclined to believe there was very insufficient ground. He was a severe disciplinarian, shot his own men when they deserved it, and his prisoners when the Christinos set him the example; but if he had not done so he had better have sheathed his sword at once, and left Don Carlos to fight his own battles, in which case they would very soon have been over. His present biographer, who writes coolly and dispassionately, and appears as sparing of indiscriminate praise of his friends as of exaggerated blame of his foes, gives numerous instances of Zumalacarregui's goodness of heart and humane feeling. Of a bilious habit and a hasty temper, he could ill bear contradiction, and at times would say or do things for which he was afterwards sorry. In such cases he was not ashamed to acknowledge, and if possible repair, his fault.

The death of Zumalacarregui was the subject of unbounded exultation to the Christinos; and for long afterwards there might be seen upon the walls of their towns and villages the remains of a proclamation announcing it, and predicting a speedy annihilation of the faction. Although this prophecy was not made good, and the war was protracted for upwards of four years longer, it soon became evident that the loss sustained was irreparable, and that the hopes of Carlism in the Peninsula lay buried in the grave of Tomas Zumalacarregui.

REFERENCE: Vida y Hechos de Don Tomas Zumalacarregui, Duque de la Victoria, Conde de Zumalacarregui, y Capitan-General del Ejercito de S.M. Don Carlos V., por el Général del mismo Ejercito, Don J.A. Zaratiegui.

[Pg 229]


No. VII.

Mac-Flecnoe and the Dunciad.

The field which we have invaded is one obviously of a vast comprehension. Taking it up, as we have rightly done, from Dryden, more than a century and a half of our literature lies immediately and necessarily within it. For the fountain of criticism once opened and flowing, the criticism of a country continually reflects its literature, as a river the banks which yield it a channel, and through which it winds.

But the image falls short of the thing signified; for criticism is retrospective without limit, as well as contemporaneous. Heaven only knows whether it may not be endowed with a gift of prophecy; and for its horizon—is this narrower than the world? We have undertaken a field which seems limited, only because it stretches beyond sight. Let us hope, however, that we shall find some art of striking our own road through it, without being obliged to study, both in the reflection and in the original, all the books of all nations and ages, criticising, as we go along, both originals and criticisms. Every subject, said Burke—we remember his remark, though not the very words—branches out into infinitude. The point of view draws a horizon—the goal determines a track. "The British Critics" themselves are a host,

"Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning; dewdrops which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower."

But discreet conscientious Oblivion has infolded under his loving pinions nine hundred and ninety-nine in every thousand; while we think of concerning ourselves with those only whose names occupy some notable niche, pedestal, or other position, in the august house of the great goddess, Fame. We desire to show the spirit and power of British criticism, to display the characteristic working of the British intellect in this department of intellectual activity. Therefore, among known names, we shall dwell the most upon those writers whose works the mind of the nation has the most frankly, cordially, and unreservedly taken to itself, recognising them, as it were, for its own productions—those writers whose reputation the country has the most distinctly identified with her own renown.

We have taken hold upon two such names, Dryden and Pope. And tens of thousands have experienced with us the pleasures that arise from a renewed or new intimacy with powerful spirits. The acquaintance is not speedily exhausted. It grows and unfolds itself. When you think to have done with them, and lift up your bonnet with a courteous gesture of leave-taking, your host draws your arm within his, and leads you out into his garden, and threading some labyrinthine involution of paths, conducts you to some hidden parterre of his choicest flowers, or to the aërial watch-tower of his most magnificent prospect.

The omnipotent setter of limits, Death, freezes the tuneful tongue, unnerves the critical hand, from which the terrible pen drops into dust. Shakspeare has written his last play—Dryden his last tale. You may dream—if you like—of what projected and unwritten—what unprojected but possible comedies, histories, tragedies, went into the tomb in the church of Stratford upon Avon! In the meanwhile, you will find that what is written is not so soon read. Read for the first time it soon is—not for the last. For what is "to read?" "Legere" is "to gather." Shakspeare is not soon gathered—nor is Dryden.

Walk through a splendid region. Do you think that you have seen it? You have begun seeing it. Live in it fifty years, and by degrees you may have come to know something worth telling of Windermere! Our vocation[Pg 230] now, gentles all, is not simply the knowing—it is the showing too; and here, too, the same remark holds good. For we think ten times and more, that now surely we have shown poet or critic. But not so. Some other attitude, some other phasis presents itself; and all at once you feel that, without it, your exposition of the power, or your picture of the man, is incomplete.

You have seen how the critics lead us a dance. Dryden and Pope criticise Shakspeare. We have been obliged to criticise Shakspeare, and this criticism of him. Dryden measures himself with Juvenal, Lucretius, and Virgil. We, somewhat violently perhaps—with a gentle violence—construe a translation into a criticism, and prate too of those immortals. Glorious John modernizes Father Geoffrey; and to try what capacity of palate you have for the enjoyment of English poetry some four or five centuries old, we spread our board with a feast of veritable Chaucer. Yet not a word, all the while, of the Wife of Bath's Tale of Chivalry and Faëry, which is given with fine spirit by Dryden—nor of the Cock and the Fox, told by the Nun's priest, which is renewed with infinite life and gaiety, and sometimes we are half-inclined to say, with fidelity in the departure, by the same matchless pen. Good old father Chaucer! Can it be true that century rolling after century thickens the dust upon Adam Scrivener's vellum! Can it be true that proceeding time widens the gulf yawning betwixt thee and ourselves, thy compatriots of another day, thy poetical posterity! The supposition is unnatural—un-English—un-Scottish. Thou hast been the one popular poet of England. Shakspeare alone has unseated thee. Thou hast been taken to the heart of Scottish poets, as though there were not even a dialectical shadow of difference distinguishing thine and their languages. A dim time, an eclipsing of light and warmth fell upon the island, and to read thee was a feat of strange scholarship, a study of the more learned. But happier years shall succeed. As Antæus the giant acquired life and strength by dropping back upon the bosom of his mother earth—she, the universal parent, was, you know, in a more private and domestic meaning his mother—so, giants of our brood, dropping back upon they bosom, O Father Chaucer! shall from that infusive touch renew vitality and vigour, and go forth exultingly to scale, not Olympus, but Parnassus. And now, in illustration of the ruling spirit—known and felt in its full power only by ourselves—of this series—North's Specimens of The British Critics—we invite unexpectedly—(for who can foresee the ensuing segment of our orbit?)—the people of these realms to admire with us the critical genius of Dryden and of Pope, displayed in their matchless satires—Mac-Flecnoe and the Dunciad.

In regard to these poems, shall we seek to conciliate our countrymen by admitting, at the outset, that there is something in both to be confessed and forgiven? That there is something about them that places them upon a peculiar footing—that is not quite right? They must be distinguished from the legitimate poems, in which the poet and the servant of the Muses merely exercises his ministry. He then furnishes to the needs of humanity, and is the acknowledged benefactor of his kind. But these are wilful productions. They are from the personal self of the poet. They are arbitrary acts of mighty despots. They kill, because they choose and can. And we, alas!—we are bribed by the idolatry of power to justify the excesses of power. Let not our maligners—our foes—hear of it, for it is one of our vulnerable points.

Yet as long as men and women are weak and mortal, genius will possess a privilege of committing certain peccadilloes that will be winked at and hushed up. We proclaim poetry for an organ of the highest, profoundest truth. But every now and then, when we are in difficulties, we shroud the poet and ourselves under the undeniable fact, that poetry is fiction; and under that pretext, wildly and wickedly would throw off all responsibility from him, and from ourselves, his retainers and abettors; and yet something, after all, is to be conceded to the mask of the poet. All nations and times have agreed in not judging[Pg 231] him by the prosaic laws to which we who write and speak prose are amenable. His is a playful part, and he has a knack of slipping from under the hand of serious judgment. He is a Proteus, and feels himself bound to speak the bare truth only when he is reduced to his proper person, not whilst he is exercising his preternatural powers of illusion. He holds in his grasp the rod of the Enchanter, Pleasure, and with a touch he unnerves the joints that would seize and drag him before the seat of an ordinary police. But we must remember that we are now scrawling unprivileged prose; and beware that we do not, like other officious and uncautious partizans, bring down upon our own defenceless heads the sword which the delinquency of them mightier far has roused from the scabbard.

Let us see, then, how stands the case of such satirists.

War enters into the kingdom of the Muses. Rival wits assail one another—Dryden and Shadwell. Nec dis nec viribus æquis. This is a duel—impar congressus Achillei. But when Pope undertakes to hunt down the vermin of literature, this is no distraction of the Parnassian realm by civil war. This is the lawful magistrate going forth, armed perhaps with extraordinary powers, to clear an infested district of vulgar malefactors and notorious bad characters.

Vile publishers, vile critics, vile scribblers of every denomination, in prose and verse—all those who turn the press, that organ of light for the world, into an engine of darkness—who may blame the poet for clothing them in such curses as shall make them for all time at once loathsome and laughable in Christian lands?

Letters! sent by heaven for accomplishing the gift of speech. The individual thinker, by turning his thoughts into words, advances himself in the art and power of thought—unravels, clears up, and establishes the movements of "the shadowy tribes of mind." And so the federal republic of nations, by turning the spoken word into the written, advance their faculty of thinking, and their acquisition of thought. The thought has gained perpetuity when it is worded—the word has gained perpetuity when it is written. Reason waits her completed triumph from the written work, which converts, and alone can convert, the thought of the individual mind into that of the universal mind; thus constituting the fine act of one aspiring intelligence the common possession of the species, and collecting the produce of all wits into the public treasury of knowledge.

The misusers of letters are therefore the foes of the race. The licentious thinker and writer prejudices the liberty of thinking and writing. Those who excel in letters, and in the right use of letters, are sensitive to their misapplication. Hence arises a species of satire, or, if you will, satirist—The Scriblero-Mastix. He must attack individuals. A heavily-resounding lash should scourge the immoral and the profane. Light stripes may suffice for quelling the less nocent dunces. In commonplace prose criticism, whatever form it may take, this can be done without supposed personal ill-will; for the Mastix is then only doing a duty plainly prescribed. The theologian must censure, and trample as mire, the railing assailant of the truths which in his eyes contain salvation. The reviewer must review. But what, it may be asked, moves any follower of the Muses to satirise a scribbler? He seems to go out of his way to do so; for verse has naturally better associations. But the personal aggression on the wit by the dunce, may fairly instigate the wit to flay the dunce. Now he finds the object of his satire in the way. The fact is, that Dryden's poem and Pope's were both moved in this way. The grew out of personal quarrels. Are they on that account to be blamed? Not if the dunces, by them "damned to everlasting fame," were the unhappy aggressors.

Dryden's times, and possibly something in his own character, trained his muse to polemics. His pen was active in literary controversies, which were never without a full infusion of personalities. More thoroughly moved at one time against one offender—though the history of the feud is in some parts imperfectly traceable—he compelled the clouds and hurled the lightning, in verse, on the doomed head[Pg 232] of Thomas Shadwell. The invention of the poem entitled Mac-Flecnoe is very simple. Richard Flecnoe was a voluminous writer, and exceedingly bad poet—a name of scorn already in the kingdom of letters. Dryden supposes him to be the King of Dulness, who, advanced in years, will abdicate his well-possessed throne. He selects Shadwell from amongst his numerous offspring, all the Dunces, as the son or Dunce the most nearly resembling himself—hence the name of the poem—and appoints him his successor. That is the whole plan. The verse flows unstinted from the full urn of Dryden. The perfect ease, and the tone of mastery characteristic of him, are felt throughout. He amuses himself with laughing at his rival, and the amusement remains to all time; for all who, having felt the pleasure of wit, are the foes of the Dunces. It is not a laboured poem—it is a freak of wit. You cannot imagine him attaching much importance to the scarcely two hundred lines, thrown off in a few gleeful outpourings. To us, Shadwell is nothing. He is a phantom, an impersonation. His Duncehood is exaggerated, for he was a writer of some talent in one walk; but being selected for the throne, it was imperative to make him Dunce all through. To us, there, he is merely a Type; and we judge the strokes of Dryden in their universality, not asking if they were truly applicable to his victim, but whether they express pointedly and poignantly the repulsion entertained by Wit for Dulness. In this enlarged sense and power we feel it as poetry. When the father, encouraging his heir, says—

"And when false flowers of ret'ric thou wouldst cull, Trust Nature; do not labour to be dull; But, write they best, and top"——

Nothing can be happier. The quiet assumption of Dulness for the highest point of desirable human attainment—the good-nature and indulgent parental concern of the wish to save the younger emulator of his own glory from spending superfluous pains on a consummation sure to come of itself—the confidence of the veteran Dullard in the blood of the race, and in the tried and undegenerate worth of his successor—the sufficient direction of a life and reign comprehended, summed up, concentrated in the one master-precept—"do not labour to be dull"—are inimitable. You feel the high artist, whom experience has made bold; and you feel your own imagination roused to conceive the universe of Dunces, each yielding to the attraction of his genius, fluttering his pinions with an exquisite grace, and all, without labour or purpose, arriving at the goal predestined by nature and fate.

We know of no good reason why, for the delectation of myriads in their minority, Maga should not give Mac-Flecnoe entire; but lest old and elderly gentlemen should think it too much extract, she gives all she can, and lets you dream the rest.

"Now Empress Fame had publish'd the renown
Of Shadwell's coronation though the Town.
Rouz'd by report of fame, the nations meet,
From near Bunhill, and distant Watling-street.
No Persian carpets spread th' imperial way,
But scatter'd limbs of mangled poets lay;
From dusty shops neglected authors come,
Martyrs of pies, and reliques of the bum.
Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogleby, there lay,
But loads of Shadwell almost chok'd the way.
Bilk'd stationers, for yeomen, stood prepar'd,
And Herringman was captain of the guard.
The hoary prince in majesty appear'd,
High on a throne of his own labours rear'd;
At his right hand our young Ascanius sate,
Rome's other hope, and pillar of the state:
His brows thick fogs, instead of glories, grace,
And lambent Dulness play'd around his face.
As Hannibal did to the altars come,
Sworn by his sire a mortal foe to Rome;
[Pg 233] So Shadwell swore, nor should his vow be vain,
That he till death true Dulness would maintain;
And, in his father's right, and realm's defence,
Ne'er to have peace with wit, nor truce with sense.
The king himself the sacred unction made,
As king by office, and as priest by trade.
In his sinister hand, instead of ball,
He plac'd a mighty mug of potent ale;
Love's kingdom to his right he did convey,
At once his sceptre, and his rule of sway;
Whose righteous lore the Prince had practis'd young,
And from whose loins recorded Psychè sprung.
His temples, last, with poppies were o'erspread,
That, nodding, seem'd to consecrate his head.
Just at the point of time, if Fame not lie,
On his left hand twelve rev'rend owls did fly.
So Romulus, 'tis sung by Tiber's brook,
Presage of sway from twice six vultures took.
Th' admiring throng loud acclamations make,
And omens of his future empire take.
The sire then shook the honours of his head,
And, from his brows, damps of oblivion shed,
Full on the filial Dulness: long he stood,
Repelling from his breast the raging god;
At length burst out in the prophetic mood.
'Heav'ns bless my son, from Ireland let him reign
To fair Barbadoes on the western main;
Of his dominion may no end be known,
And greater than his father's be his throne;
Beyond Love's kingdom let him stretch his pen!'
He paus'd, and all the people cry'd, 'Amen.'
Then thus continu'd he: 'My son, advance
Still in new impudence, new ignorance.
Success let others teach; learn thou from me
Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry.
Let virtuosos in five years be writ;—
Yet not one thought accuse thy toil—of wit.
Let gentle George in triumph tread the stage,
Make Dorimant betray, and Loveit rage;
Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit,
And, in their folly, show the writer's wit:
Yet still thy fools shall stand in thy defence,
And justify their author's want of sense.
Let them be all by thy own model made
Of dulness, and desire no foreign aid;
That they to future ages may be known,
Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own.
Nay, let thy men of wit, too, be the same,
All full of thee, and diff'ring but in name.
But let no alien Sedley interpose,
To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose.
And when false flowers of rhet'ric thou wouldst cull,
Trust Nature; do not labour to be dull;
But, write thy best, and top; and, in each line,
Sir Formal's oratory will be thine:
Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill,
And does thy northern dedications fill.
Nor let false friends seduce thy mind to fame,
By arrogating Johnson's hostile name.
Let father Flecnoe fire thy mind with praise,
And uncle Ogleby thy envy raise.
Thou art my blood, where Johnson has no part:
What share have we—in nature or in art?
[Pg 234] Where did his wit on learning fix a brand,
And rail at arts he did not understand?
Where made he love in Prince Nicander's vein,
Or swept the dust in Psychè's humble strain?
Where sold he bargains, Whip-stich, Kiss me ——,
Promis'd a play, and dwindled to a farce?
When did his muse from Fletcher scenes purloin,
As thou whole Eth'rege dost transfuse to thine?
But so transfus'd as oil and waters flow;
His always floats above, thine sinks below.
This is thy province, this thy wondrous way.
New humours to invent for each new play;
This is that bloated bias of thy mind,
By which, one way, to dulness 'tis inclin'd:
Which makes thy writings lean, on one side, still;
And in all changes, that way bends thy will.
Not let thy mountain-belly make pretence
Of likeness; thine's a tympany of sense.
A tun of man in thy large bulk is writ,
But sure thou art but a kilderkin of wit.
Like mine, thy gentle numbers feebly creep;
Thy Tragic Muse gives smiles, thy Comic sleep.
With whate'er gall thou sett'st thyself to write,
Thy inoffensive satires never bite.
In thy felonious heart though venom lies,
It does but touch thy Irish pen, and dies.
Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
In keen Iambics, but mild Anagram.
Leave writing Plays, and chuse for thy command
Some peaceful province in Acrostic land:
There thou may'st wings display, and altars raise,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways:
Or if thou would'st thy diff'rent talents suit,
Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute.'
He said; but his last words were scarcely heard;
For Bruce and Longvil has a trap prepar'd}
And down they sent the yet-declaiming bard.
Sinking, he left his drugget robe behind,
Borne upwards by a subterranean wing:
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
With double portion of his father's art."

The Mac-Flecnoe of Dryden suggested—no more—the Dunciad of Pope. There is nothing of transcript. Flecnoe, who,

"In prose and verse, was own'd without dispute,
Through all the realms of nonsense, absolute,"

settles the succession of the state on Shadwell. That idea Pope adopts; but the Kingdom of Dulness is re-modelled. It is no longer an aged monarch, who, tired out with years and the toils of empire, gladly transfers the sceptre to younger and more efficient hands, but the Goddess of Dulness who is concerned for her dominion, and elects her new vice-regent on the demise of the Crown. The scale is immeasurably aggrandized—multitudes of dunces are comprehended—the composition is elaborate—the mock-heroic, admirable in Dryden, is carried to perfection, and we have, sui generis, a regular epic poem.

In the year 1727, amongst the works first given to the public in the Miscellancies of Pope and Swift, was the treatise of Martinus Scriblerus, Περι Βαθους or the Art of Sinking in Poetry. The exquisite wit and humour of this piece, which was almost wholly Pope's, enraged the Dunces to madness; and the mongrel pack opened in full cry, with barbarous dissonance, against their supposed whipper-in.[Pg 235] Never was there such a senseless yell: for the philosophical treatise "On the Profund" overflows with amenity and good-nature. Pope is all the while at play—diverting himself in innocent recreation; and, of all the satires that ever were indited, it is in spirit the most inoffensive to man, woman, and child. The Dunces, however, swore that its wickedness went beyond the Devil's, and besought the world to pay particular attention to the sixth chapter as supra-Satanic. Therein Martinus ranges "the confined and less copious geniuses under proper classes, and, the better to give their pictures to the reader, under the name of animals." The animals are Flying Fishes, Swallows, Ostriches, Parrots, Didappers, Porpoises, Frogs, Eels, and Tortoises. Each animal is characterized in a few words, that prove Pope to have been a most observant zoologist; and some profundists, classified according to that arrangement, are indicated by the initial letters of their names. The chapter is short, and the style concise—consisting of but four pages. Some of the initial letters had been set down at random; but profundists rose up, with loud vociferation, to claim them for their own; and gli animali parlanti, on foot, wing, fin, "or belly prone," peopled the booksellers' shops. C. G., "perplexed in the extreme," was the cause of perplexity to others, figuring now as a flying-fish, and now as a porpoise. While J. W. was not less problematical—now an Eel, and now a Didapper.

"Threats of vengeance," says Roscoe, "resounded from all quarters, and the press groaned under the various attempts at retaliation to which this production gave rise. Before the publication of the Dunciad, upwards of sixty different libels, books, papers, and copies of verses, had been published against Pope." The allied forces—væ victis!—published a Popiad. Threats of personal violence were frequently held out—a story was circulated of his having been whipped naked with rods; and, to extent the ridicule, an advertisement, with his initials, was inserted in the Daily Post, giving the lie to the scandal. Were such brutalities to be let pass unpunished? Dr Johnson says that "Pope was by his own confession the aggressor"—and so say Dr Warton and Mr Bowles. The aggressor! Why, the Dunces had been maligning him all their days, long before the treatise on the Profund. And that is bad law, indeed, that recognises a natural right in blockheads to be blackguards, and gives unlimited license of brutality towards any man of genius who may have been ironical on the tribe. But then, quoth some hypocritical wiseacre, is not satire wicked? Pope was a Christian; and should have learned to forgive. Stop a bit.

We talk of poets and books, as if we who occupy the tribunal were, during that moment at least, miracles of clear-sighted incorruptible justice, and of all the virtues generally. Conscience reasserts her whole sway in our minds as soon as we sit on other men's merits and demerits; almost the innocence of Eden re-establishes itself in our breasts. Self-delusion! Men we are at the guilty bar—Men on the blameless bench. There is a disorderly spirit in every one of us—a spice of iniquity. Human nature forgives a crime for a jest. Not that crimes and jests are commensurable or approximable; but they are before the same judge. He dislikes, or professes to dislike, the crime. Indubitably, and without a pretence, he likes the jest. Here, then, is an opportunity given of balancing the liking against the disliking; and, under that form, the jest against the crime. If he likes the jest more than he dislikes the crime, the old saw holds good—

"Solvuntur risu tabulæ, tu missus abibis."

Well, then, the wit of Dryden and Pope is irresistible. What follows? For having contented our liking, we let them do any thing that they like. Poor Og! poor Shadwell! poor Bayes, poor Cibber! He sprawls and kicks in the gripe of the giant, and we—as if we had sat at bull-fights and the shows of gladiators—when the blood trickles we are tickled, and—oh, shame!—we laugh.

The Dunciad suffers under the law of compensations. As the renown of the actor is intense whilst he lives, and languishes[Pg 236] with the following generations, so is it with poems that embrace with ardour the Present. When the Present has become the Past, they are, or at least their liveliest edge is, past too. No commentary can restore the fiery hates of Dante—nor the repellent scorn of Hudibras—nor the glow of laughter to Mac-Flecnoe and the Dunciad. Eternal things are eternal—transitory things are transitory. The transitory have lost their zest—the eternal have their revenge.

Yet, a hundred years and more after the Dunciad, a critic may wish that the matter had been a little more diligently moulded, with more consideration of readers to come—that there had been less of mere names—that every Gyas and Cloanthus had somewhat unfolded his own individuality upon the stage—had been his own commentary—had, by a word or two, painted himself to everlasting posterity, in hue, shape, and gesture, as he stood before the contemporary eye. 'Tis an idle speculation! The thing, by its inspiring passion, personal anger and offence, belonged to the day. The poet gives it up to the day. He uses his poetical machinery to grace and point a ridicule that is to tell home to the breasts of living men—that is to be felt tingling by living flesh—that is to tinge living cheeks, if they can still redden, with blushes.

Yet, for all that, the Dunciad still lives; ay, in spite of seeming inconsistency, we declare it to be immortal. For, build with what materials she may, the works of genius that stand in the world of thought survive all time's mutations, cemented by a spirit she alone can interfuse. It must not be said that a poem shelved is dead and buried. Open it at midnight, and the morning is in your chamber.

We love to commune with the rising and new-risen generations; elderly people we do not much affect; and, for that we are old ourselves, we are averse from the old. Now, of our well-beloved rising and new-risen generations, how many thousands may there be in these islands who have read the Dunciad? Not so many as to make needless in our pages a few explanatory sentences respecting its first appearance, and the not inconsiderable changes of form it was afterwards made to assume. At the head of the Dunces at first stood one Theobald, who, with some of the requisite knowledge and aptitude for a reviser of the text of Shakspeare, was a poor creature, and a dishonest one, but too feeble and too obscure for the place. Fifteen years afterwards, (1742,) at the instigation of Warburton, Pope added to the Dunciad a Fourth Book. In it there was one line, and one line only, about Colley Cibber.

"She mounts the throne: her head a cloud conceal'd,
In broad effulgence all below reveal'd,
('Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines,)
Soft on her lap her Laureate Son reclines."

Dr Johnson calls that an acrimonious attack! "to which the provocation is not easily discoverable;" and says, "that the severity of this satire left Cibber no longer any patience." The Doctor speaks, too, of the "incessant and unappeasable malignity" of Pope towards Cibber, and takes the part of that worthy in the quarrel. Colley was absolutely poet-laureate of England; and having no longer any patience in his pride, "gave the town" an abusive pamphlet, in which he swore that he would no longer tamely submit to such insults, but fight Pope with his own weapons. Dr Johnson says—"Pope had now been enough acquainted with human life to know, if his passion had not been too powerful for his understanding, that from a contention like his with Cibber, the world seeks nothing but diversion, which is given at the expense of the higher character." Pope had no contention with Cibber. Two or three times he had dropped him a blistering word of contempt—once a word of praise to the Careless Husband. But now Pope eyed the brazen bully, and saw in him the proper hero of the Dunciad. Theobald vacated the throne, and retired into private life. Cibber was made to reign in his stead—and in the lines written by Pope on the coronation, the monarch's character is drawn, if we mistake not, in a style that sufficiently vindicates the Poet from the Doctor's charge, "that his passion had been too powerful for his understanding." True, "the world seeks diversion," and she had it here[Pg 237] to her heart's content; but not from any undignified "contention" with Cibber, which Pope disdained, but from matchless poetry that "damned to everlasting fame." "Cibber," says Johnson, "had nothing to lose. When Pope had exhausted all his malignity upon him, he would rise in the esteem both of his friends and his enemies." Cibber, then, in the Dunciad, had a triumph over Pope!! Good.

But how, you ask, did Pope contrive to place Cibber in Theobald's shoes, without injury to the rest of the poem? Why, he did not place Cibber in Theobald's shoes. Theobald walked off in his shoes into the shades. Samuel says, that by the substitution, Pope has "depraved his poem"—inasmuch as he has given to Cibber the "old books, the cold pedantry and sluggish pertinacity of Theobald." That is not true. Compare the places in the original Dunciad, in which Theobald figures at large, with that now filled by Cibber, and you will admire by what wizard power the transformation is effected. Many lines, far too good to be lost, are retained—and among them there may be a few more characteristic of the old Dunce than the new. But Cibber is Cibber all over—notwithstanding; nor needed Joseph Warton, who was as ready to indulge in a nap as any one we have known, to object that "to slumber in the goddess's lap was adapted to Theobald's stupidity, not to the vivacity of his successor." Pope knew better—

"Dulness with transport eyes the lively Dunce,
Remember she herself was Pertness once."

Here he comes.

"In each she marks her image full exprest,
But chief in Bayes's monster-breeding breast;
Bayes, form'd by Nature's Stage and Town to bless,
And act, and be, a coxcomb with success.
Dulness with transport eyes the lively Dunce,
Remembering she herself was Pertness once.
Now (Shame to Fortune!) an ill run at play
Blank'd his bold visage, and a thin third day;
Swearing and supperless the hero sate,
Blasphem'd his gods, the dice, and damn'd his fate;
Then gnaw'd his pen, then dasht it on the ground,
Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound!
Plung'd for his sense, but found no bottom there,
Yet wrote and flounder'd on in mere despair.
Round him much embryo, much abortion lay,
Much future ode, and abdicated play;
Nonsense precipitate, like running lead,
That slipt through cracks and zigzags of the head;
All that on Folly Frenzy could beget,
Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.
Next, o'er his books his eyes began to roll,
In pleasing memory of all he stole;
How here he sip'd, how there he plunder'd snug,
And suck'd all o'er like an industrious bug.
Here lay poor Fletcher's half-eat scenes, and here
The frippery of crucify'd Molière;
There hapless Shakspeare, yet of Tibbald sore,
Wish'd he had blotted for himself before.
The rest on outside merit but presume,
Or serve (like other fools) to fill a room;
Such with their shelves as due proportion hold,
Or their fond parents dress'd in red and gold;
Or where the pictures for the page atone,
And Quarles is saved by beauties not his own.
Here swells the shelf with Ogilby the Great;
There, stamp'd with arms, Newcastle shines complete;
Here all his suff'ring brotherhood retire,
And 'scape the martyrdom of jakes and fire:
[Pg 238] A Gothic library! of Greece and Rome
Well purg'd, and worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.
"But, high above, more solid learning shone,
The Classics of an age that heard of none;
There Caxton slept, with Wynkyn at his side,
One clasp'd in wood, and one in strong cow-hide;
There, sav'd by spice, like mummies, many a year,
Dry bodies of divinity appear;
De Lyra there a dreadful front extends,
And here the groaning shelves Philemon bends.
"Of these twelve volumes, twelve of amplest size,
Redeem'd from tapers and defrauded pies,
Inspir'd he seizes: these an altar raise;
An hecatomb of pure, unsully'd lays
That altar crowns; a folio common-place
Founds the whole pile, of all his works the base:
Quartos, Octavos, shape the less'ning pyre,
A twisted birth-day ode completes the spire.
"Then he, great tamer of all human art!
First in my care, and ever at my heart;
Dulness! whose good old cause I yet defend,
With whom my Muse began, with whom shall end,
Ere since Sir Fopling's periwig was praise,
To the last honours of the Butt and Bays:
O thou! of bus'ness the directing soul!
To this our head like bias to the bowl,
Which, as more pond'rous, made its aim more true,
Obliquely waddling to the mark in view:
O! ever gracious to perplex'd mankind,
Still spread a healing mist before the mind;
And, lest we err by Wit's wild dancing light,
Secure us kindly in our native night.
Or, if to wit a coxcomb make pretence,
Guard the sure barrier between that and sense;
Or quite unravel all the reas'ning thread,
And hang some curious cobweb in its stead!
As, forc'd from wind-guns, lead itself can fly,
And pond'rous slugs cut swiftly through the sky;
As clocks to weight their nimble motion owe,
The wheels above urg'd by the load below;
Me Emptiness and Dulness could inspire,
And were my elasticity and fire.
Some dæmon stole my pen (forgive th' offence)
And once betray'd me into common sense:
Else all my prose and verse were much the same;
This prose on stilts, that, poetry fall'n lame.
Did on the stage my fops appear confin'd?
My life gave ampler lessons to mankind.
Did the dead letter unsuccessful prove?
The brisk example never fail'd to move.
Yet sure, had Heav'n decreed to save the state,
Heav'n had decreed these works a longer date.
Could Troy be sav'd by any single hand,
This gray goose weapon must have made her stand.
What can I now? my Fletcher cast aside,
Take up the Bible, once my better guide?
Or tread the path by vent'rous heroes trod,
This box my thunder, this right hand my God?
Or chair'd at White's amidst the doctors sit,
Teach oaths to gamesters, and to nobles wit?
Or bidst thou rather party to embrace?
(A friend to Party thou, and all her race;
[Pg 239] 'Tis the same rope at diff'rent ends they twist;
To Dulness Ridpath is as dear as Mist.)
Shall I, like Curtius, desperate in my zeal,
O'er head and ears plunge for the commonweal?
Or rob Rome's ancient geese of all their glories,
And cackling save the monarchy of Tories?
Hold—to the minister I more incline;
To serve his cause, O Queen! is serving thine.
And see! the very Gazetteers give o'er,
Ev'n Ralph repents, and Henley writes no more.
What then remains? Ourself. Still, still remain
Cibberian forehead, and Cibberian brain.
This brazen brightness, to the 'squire so dear;
This polish'd hardness, that reflects the peer:
This arch absurd, that wit and fool delights,
This mess, toss'd up of Hockley-hole and White's;
Where dukes and butchers join to wreathe my crown,
At once the Bear and Fiddle of the Town.
"O born in sin, and forth in folly brought!
Works damn'd, or to be damn'd; (your father's fault.)
Go, purify'd by flames, ascend the sky,
My better and more Christian progeny!
Unstain'd, untouch'd, and yet in maiden sheets,
While all your smutty sisters walk the streets.
Ye shall not beg, like gratis-given Bland,
Sent with a pass and vagrant through the land;
Nor sail with Ward, to Ape-and-monkey climes,
Where vile Mundungus trucks for viler rhymes.
Not sulphur-tipt, emblaze an ale-house fire!
Not wrap up oranges, to pelt your sire!
O! pass more innocent, in infant state,
To the mild limbo of our father Tate:
Or peaceably forgot, at once be blest
In Shadwell's bosom with eternal rest!
Soon to that mass of nonsense to return,
Where things destroy'd are swept to things unborn."

The eyes of the goddess have been fixed, with sleepy fondness more than maternal, upon him, her chosen instrument, during all his address; and we can imagine the frowsy Frow weeping big fat tears with him as he weeps. Pope's "passion had not been too powerful for his understanding," nor for his imagination neither, when he was inditing the following pathetic and picturesque lines:—

"With that a tear (portentous sign of grace!)
Stole from the master of the seven-fold face,
And thrice he lifted high the Birth-day brand,
And thrice he dropt it from his quivering hand;
Then lights the structure, with averted eyes;
The rolling smoke involves the sacrifice.
The opening clouds disclose each work by turns;
Now flames the Cid, and now Perolla burns;
Great Cæsar roars, and hisses in the fires;
King John in silence modestly expires;
No merit now the dear Nonjuror claims;
Molière's old stubble in a moment flames.
Tears gush'd again, as from pale Priam's eyes,
When the last blaze sent Ilion to the skies.
Roused by the light, old Dulness heav'd the head
Then snatch'd a sheet of Thulè from her bed;
Sudden she flies, and whelms it o'er the pyre,
Down sink the flames, and with a hiss expire."

[Pg 240]

What next? The compact Argument informs us she forthwith reveals herself to him, transports him to her Temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Eusden the poet-laureate, anoints him, carries him to court, and proclaims him successor. The close of the Book was as much improved as the opening by the changes consequent on the substitution of Cibber for Theobald. In 1727, when the poem was composed, Eusden, "a drunken parson," wore the laurel; but now Cibber had been for years one of the successors of Spenser, and of the predecessors of Wordsworth—though indeed that last fact could not be known to Pope—and well he deserved this still higher elevation. And here again we must dissent from Dr Johnson's judgment, "that by transferring the same ridicule (not the same) from one to another, he destroyed its efficacy; for, by showing that what he said of one he was ready to say of another, he reduced himself to the insignificance of his own magpye, who from his cage calls cuckold at a venture." We love and honour the sage, but here he is a Sumph.

Oh! do read the Second Book, for we can afford but a few extracts; and, to whet you up, shall prate to you a few minutes about it.

The two ancient kings of heroic song have left us exemplars of Games. The occasions are similar and mournful, although the contests are inspired by, and inspire a jocund mood. At the funeral of Patroclus, Achilles appoints eight games. He gives prizes for a chariot-race, a cestus-fight, a wrestling-match, a foot-race, a lance-fight, a disk-hurling, a strife of archery and of darters. Æneas, on the first anniversary of his father's funeral, proposes five trials of skill—for the chariot-race of Homer, suitably to the posture of the Trojan affairs, a sailing-match; then, the foot-race, the terrible cestus, archery, and lastly, the beautiful equestrian tournament of Young Troy. The English Homer of the Dunces treads in the footsteps of his august predecessors, and celebrates, with imitated solemnities, a joyous day—that which elevates the arch-Dunce to the throne. Here too we have games, but with a dissimilitude in similitude. He adopts an intermediate number, six. The first is exceedingly fanciful and whimsical. The goddess creates the phantom of a poet. It has the shape of a contemptible swindler in literature, a plagiarist without bounds, named More. He is pursued by two booksellers, and vanishes from the grasp of him who has first clutched the fluttering shade. "Gentle Dulness ever loves a joke;" and the aforesaid admirable jest having kindled inextinguishable laughter in heaven, Gentle Dulness repeats it (she loves to repeat herself,) and starts three phantoms in the likenesses respectively of Congreve, Addison, Prior. Three booksellers give chase, and catch Heaven knows what, three foolish forgotten names. For the second exertion of talent, confined to the booksellers Osborne and Curl, the prize is the fair Eliza, and Curl is Victor. Osborne, too, is suitably rewarded; but as this game borders on the indelicate, it shall be nameless. Hitherto, after the simplicity of ancient manners, there have been contentions of bodily powers. But the games of the Dunces belong to an advanced age of the world, and a part of them are accordingly spiritual. The third falls under this category. A patron is proposed as the prize. He who can best tickle shall carry him off. The dedicators fall to their task with great zeal and adroitness. Alas! there steps in a young thief of a competitor unknown to Phœbus, but deep in the counsels of Venus! He, aided by the goddess, and a votaress of her order whom the goddess deputes, avails himself of the noble prize's most susceptible side,

"And marches off, his Grace's secretary."

The fourth game sets up a desirable rivalry with monkeys and asses. Who shall chatter the fastest? Who the loudest shall bray?

----"Three cat-calls be the bribe
Of him whose chatt'ring shames the monkey tribe:
And his this drum, whose hoarse heroic base
Drowns the loud clarion of the braying ass."

[Pg 241]

So numerous are the monkey-mimics that the claims of the chatterers cannot be adjusted—

Hold (cried the Queen) a cat-call each shall win;
Equal your merits! equal is your din!
But that this well-disputed game may end,
Sound forth, my Brayers, and the welkin rend."

Sir Richard Blackmore, with his six epics and sundry other poems, brays louder and longer than the most leathern or brazen of the other throats; Chancery Lane and Westminster Hall taking prominent part in the reverberating orchestra. The place is to be ranked amongst the famous echo-descriptions, and beats Drayton's and Wordsworth's hollow.

The fifth game is DIVING.

"This labor past, by Bridewell all descend,
(As morning pray'r and flagellation end)
To where Fleet-ditch, with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dykes! than whom, no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
'Here strip, my children! here at once leap in,
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
Or dark dexterity of groping well:
Who flings most filth, and wide pollutes around
The stream, be his the Weekly Journals bound;
A pig of lead to him who dives the best;
A peck of coals a-piece shall glad the rest.'
"In naked majesty Oldmixon stands,
And, Milo-like, surveys his arms and hands;
Then sighing thus, 'And am I now threescore?
Ah, why, ye Gods! should two and two make four?'
He said, and climb'd a stranded lighter's height,
Shot to the black abyss, and plung'd downright:
The senior's judgment all the crowd admire,
Who but to sink the deeper rose the higher.
"Next Smedley div'd; slow circles dimpled o'er
The quaking mud, that clos'd and op'd no more.
All look, all sigh, and call on Smedley lost;
Smedley in vain resounds through all the coast.
"Then ** essay'd; scarce vanish'd out of sight,
He buoys up instant, and returns to light;
He bears no tokens of the sabler streams,
And mounts far off among the swans of Thames.
"True to the bottom, see Concanen creep,
A cold, long-winded, native of the deep;
If perseverance gain the diver's prize,
Not everlasting Blackmore this denies:
No noise, no stir, no motion canst thou make,
Th' unconscious stream sleeps o'er thee like a lake.
"Next plung'd a feeble, but a desperate pack,
With each a sickly brother at his back:
Sons of a day! just buoyant on the flood,
Then number'd with the puppies in the mud.
Ask ye their names? I could as soon disclose
The names of these blind puppies as of those.
Fast by, like Niobe, (her children gone,)
Sits Mother Osborne, stupify'd to stone!
And monumental brass this record bears,
'These are, ah no! these were the Gazetteers!'
"Not so bold Arnall; with a weight of scull
Furious he drives, precipitately dull.
Whirlpools and storms in circling arm invest,
With all the might of gravitation blest.
[Pg 242] No crab more active in the dirty dance,
Downward to climb, and backward to advance,
He brings up half the bottom on his head,
And loudly claims the Journal and the Lead.
"The plunging Prelate, and his pond'rous Grace,
With holy envy gave one layman place.
When lo! a burst of thunder shook the flood,
Slow rose a form in majesty of Mud;
Shaking the horrors of his sable brows,
And each ferocious feature grim with ooze.
Greater he looks, and more than mortal stares;
Then thus the wonders of the deep declares.
"First he relates how, sinking to the chin,
Smit with his mien, the mud-nymphs suck'd him in;
How young Lutetia, softer than the down,
Nigrina black, and Merdamente brown,
Vy'd for his love in jetty bow'rs below,
As Hylas fair was ravish'd long ago.
Then sung, how shown him by the Nut-brown maids
A branch of Styx here rises from the shades,
That tinctured as it runs with Lethe's streams,
And wafting vapors from the land of dreams,
(As under seas Alpheus' secret sluice
Bears Pisa's offering to his Arethuse)
Pours into Thames; and hence the mingled wave
Intoxicates the pert, and lulls the grave:
Here brisker vapours o'er the Temple creep;
There, all from Paul's to Aldgate drink and sleep.
"Thence to the banks where rev'rend bards repose,
They led him soft; each rev'rend bard arose;
And Milbourn chief, deputed by the rest,
Gave him the cassock, surcingle, and vest.
'Receive (he said) these robes, which once were mine,
Dulness is sacred in a sound divine.'
He ceas'd, and spread the robe; the crowd confess
The rev'rend flamen in his lengthen'd dress.
Around him wide a sable army stand,
A low-born, cell-bred, selfish, servile band,
Prompt or to guard or stab, to saint or damn,
Heav'n's Swiss, who fight for any god, or man.
"Through Lud's fam'd gates, along the well-known Fleet,
Rolls the black troop, and overshades the street,
Till show'rs of sermons, characters, essays,
In circling fleeces whiten all the ways:
So clouds replenish'd from some bog below,
Mount in dark volumes, and descend in snow."

The last of the contests offers one or two difficulties. The goddess will appoint her Supreme Judge in the Court of Criticism, and she ordains a trial of qualifications. This is the manner of ordeal. A dull piece in prose, and a dull piece in verse, is to be read aloud. The auditor who remains the longest awake carries the election. The two preparations of Morphine exhibited, are a sermon of H—ley's (Henley or Hoadley?) and Blackmore's Prince Arthur. Six candidate heroes present themselves, three from the University, and three from the Inns of Court. Some explanation seems to be required of an arrangement which allots extraordinarily high promotion in the State of Dulness to a real and prodigious effort of mental energy. What explanation can be given? Are the affairs of Dulness conducted, in some respects, by the same rules which obtain in the Commonwealth of Wit? Is it held there, as here, that the first step to be taken, in order to forming a judgment of any book, is to read it? Was it prudently considered that the dullest of critics can read only as long[Pg 243] as his eyes are open? and that the function of judge must incessantly bring under his cognisance papaverous volumes, with which only a super-human endowment of vigilance could hope successfully to contend? so that the goddess is driven, by the necessity of the game, to admit within the circuit of her somnolent sway, a virtue to which she is naturally and peculiarly hostile? Or are we mistaken in supposing that vigour of mind really qualifies for hearing a dull book through? Is it dulness itself that the most ably listens to dulness? We are out of our element, we presume, for we arrive at no satisfactory solution.

Be all this as it may, the method of competition fails of accomplishing its end; and the chair, after all, is left vacant. Not that the divinity has in the least misjudged the way of operation proper to her beloved tomes; but she has miscalculated the strength of her sons. Every dull head of the congregated multitude—of the illustrious competitors—and of the two officiating readers, bows overcome. There is, perforce, an end; and the chair is yet open to the whole kingdom.

The trial involves another matter of some doubt. Do the two clerks read aloud at one and the same time? and to the same audience? The description conveys the impression that they do. If so, one might have been tempted to fear that the sermon and the poem might have neutralized each other; but, on the contrary, the mixture worked like a patent.

Where has Cibber been all the while, and what has he been doing? "What su'd he hae been doin'? Sittin' on his nain lowpin'-on-stane—lukin' frae him." Joe Warton complains that he is too much of a passive hero. Why, he is not so active as Achilles, or even Diomed; yet in Book Second he is equal to Æneas. He is almost as long-winded, and excels the Pious in this, that he braves a fire of his own raising, whereas the other flies from one kindled much against his will—

"High on a gorgeous seat, that far outshone
Henley's gilt tub, or Flecknoe's Irish throne,
Or that where on her Curls the public pours
All-bounteous, fragrant grains and golden showers,
Great Cibber sate!
——All eyes direct their rays
On him, and crowds turn coxcombs as they gaze!"

Is that being passive? The crowds are passive—not he surely, who, in the potent prime of coxcombhood, without shifting his seat of honour, breathes over all his subjects such family resemblance that they seem one brotherhood, sprung from his own royal loins. Besides, who ever heard, in an Epic poem, of a hero contending in games instituted in his own honour? Yet we do not fear to say, that had he, inspired by the spectacle of Curl and Osborne displaying their prowess for the fair Eliza, leapt from his gorgeous "seat," and amid the shouts of the lieges, in rainbow glory jointed the contest, that infallibly he had won the day. We have the authority of Aristotle on our side.

You cry aloud for an extract. Here is a superb one:—

"'Ye Critics! in whose heads, as equal scales,
I weigh what author's heaviness prevails;
Which most conduce to sooth the soul in slumbers,
My H—ley's periods, or my Blackmore's numbers;
Attend the trial we propose to make:
If there be man who o'er such works can wake,
Sleep's all-subduing charms who dares defy,
And boasts Ulysses' ear with Argus' eye;
To him we grant our amplest pow'rs to sit
Judge of all present, past, and future wit;
To cavil, censure, dictate, right or wrong,
Full and eternal privilege of tongue.'
"Three college sophs, and three pert Templars came,
The same their talents, and their tastes the same;
[Pg 244] Each prompt to query, answer, and debate,
And smit with love of poesy and prate.
The pond'rous books two gentle readers bring;
The heroes sit, the vulgar form a ring.
The clam'rous crowd is hush'd with mugs of mum,
Till all, tun'd equal, send a gen'ral hum.
Then mount the clerks, and in one lazy tone
Through the long, heavy, painful page drawl on;
Soft creeping, words on words, the sense compose,
At ev'ry line they stretch, they yawn, they doze.
As to soft gales top-heavy pines bow low
Their heads, and lift them as they cease to blow;
Thus oft they rear, and oft the head decline,
As breathe, or pause, by fits, the airs divine.
And now to this side, now to that they nod,
As verse, or prose, infuse the drowsy god.
Thrice Budgel aim'd to speak, but thrice supprest
By potent Arthur, knock'd his chin and breast.
Toland and Tindal, prompt at priests to jeer,
Yet silent bow'd to Christ's no kingdom here.
Who sat the nearest, by the words o'ercome,
Slept first; the distant nodded to the hum;
Then down are roll'd the books, stretch'd o'er 'em lies
Each gentle clerk, and mutt'ring seals his eyes.
As what a Dutchman plumps into the lakes,
One circle first, and then a second makes;
What dulness dropt among her sons imprest,
Like motion from one circle to the rest:
So from the midmost the nutation spreads,
Round and more round, o'er all the sea of heads.
At last Centlivre felt her voice to fail,
Motteux himself unfinish'd left his tale.
Boyer the state, and Law the stage gave o'er,
Morgan and Mandeville could prate no more;
Norton from Daniel and Ostroea sprung,
Bless'd with his father's front and mother's tongue,
Hung silent down his never-blushing head,
And all was hush'd, as Folly's self lay dead.
"Thus the soft gifts of Sleep conclude the day,
And stretch'd on bulks, as usual, poets lay.
Why should I sing what bards the nightly Muse
Did slumb'ring visit, and convey to stews;
Who prouder march'd, with magistrates in state,
To some fam'd round-house, ever-open gate!
How Henley lay inspir'd beside a sink,
And to mere mortals seem'd a priest in drink:
While others, timely, to the neighb'ring Fleet
(Haunt of the Muses) made their safe retreat."

Ulysses and Æneas presented themselves alive and in the body, as visitors in the land of departed souls. A descent to the shades is not wanting in our Epos. It fills the whole Third Book. But our poet again manages a discreet difference in his imitation. Our Dunce hero visits Elysium in a dream; whilst he sleeps, his head recumbent on the lap of the goddess, in the innermost recess of her sanctuary. His vision resembles the Trojan's rather than the Greek's adventure. "A slipshod sibyl,"

"In lofty madness meditating song,

leads him. She seems to be typical of the half-crazed human poetess, in usual sublime dishabille. Venerable shades of the Dull greet him. As in Virgil's Elysian fields a glimpse is afforded into the dark philosophy of human existence, and we see the Lethean bank crowded with spirits, who taste and become prepared to live again—so here. And as Æneas finds Anchises engaged in taking cognizance of the ghosts that are to animate[Pg 245] Roman bodies, so here Cibber sees a great Patriarch of Dulness, Bavius, (him of old classical renown,) dipping in Lethe the souls that are to be born dull upon the earth. The poet cannot resist a slight deviation from the doctrine of his original. By the ancient theory the Lethean dip extinguishes the memory of a past life, of its faults, and of their punishment; and thence the willingness to inhabit the gross, earthy frame, as generated anew. But the dip of Bavius is more powerful; it quenches the faculties that are innate in a spirit, fitting it

"for a skull
Of solid proof, impenetrably dull."

The subterranean traveller then falls in with the ghost of Elkanah Settle, who properly represents Anchises, and expounds the glories of the Kingdom of Dulness. Something is borrowed also from the vision of Adam, in the Eleventh Book of Paradise Lost. And something is original; for that which has been is declared as well as that which shall be; and the kingdom of intellectual darkness to the earth's verge displayed in visible presentment, which the speaker interprets. The Emperor Chi Ho-am-ti, who ordered a universal conflagration of books throughout his celestial dominions—the multitude of barbarous sons which the populous North poured from her frozen loins to sweep in deluge away the civilization of the South—figure here. Here is Attila with his Huns. Here is the Mussulman. Here is Rome of the dark ages. Great Britain appears last—the dulness which has blessed, which blesses, and which shall bless her. We extract the prophetical part. The visioned progress of Dulness has reached the theatres; and some sixteen verses which contain—says Warton, well and truly—"some of the most lively and forcible descriptions any where to be found, and are perfect pattern of a clear picturesque style," call up into brilliant and startling apparition the ineffable monstrosities and impossibilities which constituted the theatrical spectacles of the day. The sight extorts the opening exclamation—

"What pow'r, he cries, what pow'r these wonders wrought?
Son, what thou seek'st is in thee! look and find
Each monster meets his likeness in thy mind.
Yet would'st thou more? in yonder cloud behold,
Whose sarsenet skirts are edg'd with flamy gold,
A matchless youth! his nod these worlds controls,
Wings the red lightning, and the thunder rolls.
Angel of Dulness, sent to scatter round
Her magic harms o'er all unclassic ground:
Yon' stars, yon' suns, he rears at pleasure higher,
Illumes their light, and sets their flames on fire.
Immortal Rich! how calm he sits at ease,
Midst snows of paper, and fierce hail of pease!
And proud his mistress' orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
"But lo! to dark encounter in mid air
New wizards rise; I see my Cibber there!
Booth in his cloudy tabernacle shrin'd,
On grinning dragons thou shalt mount the wind.
Dire is the conflict, dismal is the din,
Here shouts all Drury, there all Lincoln's Inn;
Contending theatres our empire raise,
Alike their labours, and alike their praise.
"And are these wonders, Son, to thee unknown?
Unknown to thee! these wonders are thy own.
These Fate reserv'd to grace thy reign divine,
Foreseen by me, but, ah! withheld from mine.
In Lud's old walls, though long I rul'd, renown'd
Far as loud Bow's stupendous bells resound;
Though my own aldermen conferr'd the bays,
To me committing their eternal praise,
Their full-fed heroes, their pacific may'rs,
Their annual trophies, and their monthly wars:
[Pg 246] Though long my party built on me their hopes,
For writing pamphlets, and for roasting Popes;
Yet lo! in me what authors have to brag on!
Reduc'd at last to hiss in my own dragon.
Avert in Heav'n! that thou, my Cibber, e'er
Shouldst wag a serpent-tail in Smithfield fair!
Like the vile straw that's blown about the streets,
The needy poet sticks to all he meets;
Coach'd, carted, trod upon, now loose, now fast,
And carry'd off in some dog's tail at last.
Happier thy fortunes! like a rolling stone,
Thy giddy dulness still shall lumber on,
Safe in its heaviness, shall never stray,
But lick up ev'ry blockhead in the way.
Thee shall the Patriot, thee the Courtier taste,
And ev'ry year be duller than the last;
Till rais'd from booths, to theatre, to court,
Her seat imperial Dulness shall transport.
Already Opera prepares the way,
The sure forerunner of her gentle sway:
Let her thy heart, next drabs and dice, engage,
The third mad passion of thy doting age.
Teach thou the warring Polypheme to roar,
And scream thyself as none e'er scream'd before!
To aid our cause, if Heav'n thou canst not bend,
Hell thou shalt move; for Faustus is our friend;
Pluto with Cato, thou for this shalt join,
And link the Mourning Bride to Proserpine.
Grub Street! thy fall should men and gods conspire,
Thy stage shall stand, insure it but from fire.
Another Æschylus appears! prepare
For new abortions, all ye pregnant fair!
In flames like Semele's, be brought to bed,
While op'ning hell spouts wildfire at your head.
"Now, Bavius, take the poppy from thy brow,
And place it here! here, all ye heroes, bow!
"This, this is he, foretold by ancient rhymes:
Th' Augustus born to bring Saturnian times.
Signs following signs lead on the mighty year!
See! the dull stars roll round, and reappear.
See, see, our own true Phœbus wears the bays!
Our Midas sit Lord Chancellor of plays!
On poets' tombs see Benson's titles writ!
Lo! Ambrose Philips is preferr'd for wit!
See under Ripley rise a new Whitehall,
While Jones' and Boyle's united labours fall:
While Wren with sorrow to the grave descends,
Gay dies unpension'd, with a hundred friends;
Hibernian politics, O Swift! thy fate;
And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate.
"Proceed, great days! 'till Learning fly the shore,
Till Birch shall blush with noble blood no more;
Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play,
Till Westminster's whole year be holiday;
Till Isis' elders reel, their pupils' sport,
And Alma Mater lie dissolv'd in Port!
"Enough! enough! the raptur'd Monarch cries!
And through the iv'ry gate the vision flies."

In Book Fourth the goddess occupies her throne. All the rebellious and hostile powers—wit, logic, rhetoric, morality, the muses—lie bound; and diverse votaries of Dulness successively move into presence. The first is Opera, who puts Handel to flight. Then flow in a crowd of all sorts. A part have been described:—

[Pg 247]

"Nor absent they, no members of her state,
Who pay her homage in her sons, the great;
Who false to Phœbus, bow the knee to Baal,
Or impious, preach his word without a call.
Patrons, who sneak from living worth to dead,
Withhold the pension, and set up the head;
Or vest dull Flattery in the sacred gown,
Or give from fool to fool the laurel crown;
And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit,
Without the soul, the Muse's hypocrite.
"There march'd the bard and blockhead side by side,
Who rhym'd for hire, and patroniz'd for pride.
Narcissus, prais'd with all a parson's power,
Look'd a white lily sunk beneath a shower.
There mov'd Montalto with superior air:
His stretch'd out arm displayed a volume fair;
Courtiers and patriots in two ranks divide,
Through both he pass'd, and bow'd from side to side;
But as in graceful act, with awful eye,
Conpos'd he stood, bold Benson thrust him by:
On two unequal crutches props he came,
Milton's on this, on that one Jonson's name.
The decent Knight retir'd with sober rage,
Withdrew his hand, and clos'd the pompous page:
But (happy for him as the times went then)
Appear'd Apollo's may'r and aldermen,
On whom three hundred gold-capt youths await,
To lug the pond'rous volume off in state.
"When Dulness, smiling—'Thus revive the wits!
But murder first, and mince them all to bits!
As erst Medea (cruel, so to save!)
A new edition of old Æson gave;
Let standard authors thus, like trophies borne,
Appear more glorious as more hack'd and torn.
And you my Critics! in the chequer'd shade,
Admire new light through holes yourselves have made.
"'Leave not a foot of verse, a foot of stone,
A page, a grave, that they can call their own,
But spread, my sons, your glory thin or thick,
On passive paper, or on solid brick.
So by each bard an alderman shall sit,
A heavy lord shall hang at ev'ry wit,
And while on Fame's triumphal car they ride,
Some slave of mine be pinion'd to their side.'"

A dreadful figure appears—The Schoolmaster. He eulogizes the system of education, which teaches nothing but words and verse-making.

"A hundred head of Aristotle's friends"

pour in from the colleges—Aristarchus (Richard Bentley) at their head. He displays his own merits as a critic, and extols the system of teaching in the universities; but strides away disgusted on seeing approach a band of young gentlemen returned from their travels on the Continent, and accompanied by their travelling tutors and their mistresses. One of the tutors reports at large to the goddess on the style and advantages of their travels, and presents his own pupil. Where is such another passage to be found in English poetry? It surpasses Cowper's celebrated strain on the same subject.

"In flow'd at once a gay embroider'd race,
And titt'ring push'd the pedants off the place:
Some would have spoken, but the voice was drown'd
By the French horn, or by the op'ning hound.
The first came forwards with as easy mien,
As if he saw St James's and the Queen.
[Pg 248] When thus the attendant Orator begun;
Receive, great Empress! thy accomplish'd son:
Thine from the birth, and sacred from the rod,
A dauntless infant! never scar'd with God.
The sire saw, one by one, his virtues wake;
The mother begg'd the blessing of a rake.
Thou gav'st that ripeness which so soon began,
And ceas'd so soon, he ne'er was boy nor man;
Through school and college, thy kind cloud o'ercast,
Safe and unseen the young Æneas past;
Thence bursting glorious, all at once let down,
Stunn'd with his giddy larum half the town.
Intrepid then, o'er seas and lands he flew;
Europe he saw, and Europe saw him too.
There all thy gifts and graces we display,
Thou, only thou, directing all our way!
To where the Seine, obsequious as she runs,
Pours at great Bourbon's feet her silken sons;
Or Tiber, now no longer Roman, rolls,
Vain of Italian arts, Italian souls:
To happy convents, bosom'd deep in vines,
Where slumber abbots, purple as their wines;
To isles of fragrance, lily silver'd vales,
Diffusing languor in the panting gales:
To lands of singing, or of dancing slaves,
Love-whisp'ring woods, and lute-resounding waves.
But chief her shrine where naked Venus keeps,
And Cupids ride the Lion of the deeps;
Where, eas'd of fleets, the Adriatic main
Wafts the smooth eunuch and enamour'd swain.
Led by my hand, he saunter'd Europe round,
And gather'd ev'ry vice on Christian ground;
Saw ev'ry court, heard ev'ry king declare
His royal sense, of op'ras or the fair;
The stews and palace equally explor'd,
Intrigu'd with glory, and with spirit whor'd;
Tried all hors d'œuvres, all liqueurs defin'd,
Judicious drank, and greatly-daring din'd;
Dropt the dull lumber of the Latin store,
Spoil'd his own language, and acquir'd no more;
All classic learning lost on classic ground;
And last turn'd Air, the echo of a sound!
See now, half-cur'd, and perfectly well-bred,
With nothing but a solo in his head;
As much estate, and principle, and wit,
As Jansen, Fleetwood, Cibber shall think fit;
Stol'n from a duel, follow'd by a nun,
And, if a borough choose him, not undone;
See, to my country happy I restore
This glorious youth, and add one Venus more.
Her too receive, (for her my soul adores,)
So may the sons of sons of sons of whores,
Prop thine, O Empress! like each neighbour throne,
And make a long posterity thy own.
Pleas'd she accepts the hero, and the dame
Wraps in her veil, and frees from sense of shame."

A set of pure idlers appear loitering about. Annius, an antiquary, begs to have them made over to him, to turn into virtuosos. Mummius, another antiquary, quarrels with him, and the goddess reconciles them. The minute naturalists follow "thick as locusts."

"Each with some wondrous gift approach'd the Power,
A nest, a toad, a fungus, or a flower."

[Pg 249]

A florist lodges a heavy complaint against an entomologist. The singular beauty of the pleading on both sides has often been noticed, and by the best critics, from Thomas Gray to Thomas De Quincey.

"The first thus open'd: Hear thy suppliant's call,
Great Queen, and common mother of us all!
Fair from its humble bed I rear'd this flow'r,
Suckl'd, and cheer'd with air, and sun, and show'r,
Soft on the paper ruff its leaves I spread,
Bright with the gilded button tipt its head.
Then thron'd in glass, and nam'd it Caroline:
Each maid cry'd, Charming; and each youth, Divine!
Did Nature's pencil ever blend such rays,
Such very'd light in one promiscuous blaze?
Now prostrate! dead! behold that Caroline:
No maid cries charming! and no youth divine!
And lo the wretch! whose vile, whose insect lust
Laid this gay daughter of the Spring in dust,
Oh punish him, or to th' Elysian shades
Dismiss my soul, where no carnation fades.
He ceas'd, and wept. With innocence of mien
The accus'd stood forth, and thus address'd the Queen:
"Of all th' enamel'd race, whose silv'ry wing
Waves to the tepid zephyrs of the spring,
Or swims along the fluid atmosphere,
Once brightest shin'd this child of heat and air.
I saw, and started from its vernal bow'r
The rising game, and chas'd from flow'r to flow'r.
It fled, I follow'd, now in hope, now pain;
It stopt, I stopt; it mov'd, I mov'd again.
At last it fixed, 'twas on what plant it pleas'd,
And where it fixed, the beauteous bird I seiz'd:
Rose, or carnation, was below my care;
I meddle, Goddess! only in my sphere.
I tell the naked feet without disguise,
And, to excuse it, need but show the prize;
Whose spoils this paper offers to our eye,
Fair ev'n death! this peerless butterfly."

The mighty mother cannot find it in her heart to pronounce a decision which must aggrieve one of such a devoted pair. She extols them both, and makes over to their joint care and tuition the fainéants aforesaid. The subject leads her into a more serious strain of thinking. There is an evident danger; for the studies which she recommends are studies of nature, and the study of nature tends to rise out of nature. The goddess, accordingly, is strenuous in cautioning her followers to keep within the pale of trifles, and of the sensible. The suggestion of the hazard fires a clerk, a metaphysician, who, on the behalf of the metaphysicians, undertakes for a theology that shall effectually shut out and keep down religion. Gordon, the translator of Tacitus, and publisher of the irreligious "Independent Whig," being mentioned by the orator of the metaphysicians with praise, under the name of Silenus, rises and advances, leading up, apparently, the Young England of the day. He presents them as liberated from priest-craft, and ready for drinking the cup of a "Wizard old," attached to the suite of the goddess. This "Magus" extends to them the cup of self-love.

"Which whoso tastes, forgets his former friends,
Sire, ancestors, Himself."

There is philosophy enough in the last piece of oblivion.

Impudence, pure mild Stupidity, Self-conceit, Interest, the Accomplishment of Singing, under the auspicious smile of the goddess, take possession, sundrily, of her children; and the two great arts of Gastronomia, scientific Eating and Drinking.

The Queen confers her titles and degrees, assisted by the two universities. She then dismisses the assembly with a solemn charge:—

[Pg 250]

"Then, blessing all, Go, children of my care!
To practice now from theory repair.
All my commands are easy, short, and full;
My sons! be proud, be selfish, and be dull.
Guard my prerogative, assert my throne:
This nod confirms each privilege your own.
The cap and switch be sacred to his Grace;
With staff and pumps the Marquis leads the race;
From stage to stage the licens'd Earl may run,
Pair'd with his fellow-charioteer, the Sun;
The learned Baron butterflies design,
Or draw to silk Arachne's subtle line;
The Judge to dance his brother sergeant call!
The Senator at cricket urge the ball;
The Bishop stow (pontific luxury!)
An hundred souls of turkeys in a pie;
The sturdy Squire to Gallic masters stoop,
And drown his lands and manors in a soup.
Others import yet nobler arts from France,
Teach kings to fiddle, and make senates dance.
Perhaps more high some daring son may soar,
Proud to my list to add one monarch more;
And, nobly conscious, princes are but things
Born for first ministers, as slaves for kings,
Tyrant supreme! shall three estates command,
And make one mighty Dunciad of the land!
"More she had spoke, but yawn'd—All Nature nods:
What mortal can resist the yawn of gods?
Churches and Chapels instantly it reach'd;
(St James's first, for leaden G—— preach'd;)
Then catch'd the Schools; the Hall scarce kept awake;
The Convocation gap'd, but could not speak:
Lost was the Nation's sense, nor could be found,
While the long solemn unison went round: Wide, and
more wide, it spread o'er all the realm;
Ev'n Palinurus nodded at the helm;
The vapour mild o'er each Committee crept;
Unfinish'd treaties in each office slept;
And chiefless Armies doz'd out the campaign;
And Navies yawn'd for orders on the main.
"O Muse! relate, (for you can tell alone,
Wits have short memories, and dunces none,)
Relate who first, who last, resign'd to rest;
Whose heads she partly, whose completely blest,
What charms could faction, what ambition lull,
The venal quiet, and intrance the dull;
Till drown'd was Sense and Shame, and Right and Wrong—
O sing, and hush the nations with thy song!"

"In vain, in vain—the all-composing hour
Resistless falls; the Muse obeys the pow'r.
She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold
Of Night primeval, and of Chaos old!
Before her fancy's gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea's strain,
The sick'ning stars fade off the ethereal plain;
As Argus's eyes, by Hermes' wand opprest,
Clos'd one by one to everlasting rest,
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after Art goes out, and all is night.
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of Casuistry heap'd o'er her head!
[Pg 251] Philosophy, that lean'd on Heav'n before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse Divine;
Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restor'd;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal Darkness buries All."

Mr Bowles, himself a true poet, thinks the Fourth Book the best. "The objects of satire," he says, "are more general and just: the one is confined to persons, and those of the most insignificant sort; the other is directed chiefly to things, such as faults of education, false habits, and false taste. In polished and pointed satire, in richness of versification and imagery, and in the happy introduction of characters, speeches, figures, and every sort of poetical ornament adapted to the subject, this Book yields, in my opinion, to none of Pope's writings of the same kind." Excellently well said. But what inconsistency in saying, at the same time, "These observations of Dr Warton are, in general, very just and sensible." And again, "I by no means think so meanly of it as Dr Warton." Meanly, indeed! Why, he has just told us he thinks it equal to any thing of the same kind Pope ever wrote. But the distinguished Wintonian chose to speak nonsense, rather than speak harshly of old Joe. What are Dr Warton's "in general very just and sensible observations?" "Our poet was persuaded by Dr Warburton, unhappily enough, to add a Fourth Book to his finished piece, of such a very different cast and colour, as to render it at last one of the most motley compositions there is, perhaps, any where to be found in the works of so exact a writer as Pope. For one great purpose of this Fourth Book (where, by the way, the hero does nothing at all) was to satirize and proscribe infidels and freethinkers, to leave the ludicrous for the serious, Grub Street for theology, the mock-heroic for metaphysics—which occasion a marvellous mixture and jumble of images and sentiments, pantomime and philosophy, journals and moral evidence, Fleet Ditch and the High Priori road, Curl and Clarke." That reads like a bit of a prize-essay by a bachelor of arts in the "College of the Goddess in the City." The Dunciad is rendered not only a motley, but, perhaps, the most motley composition of an exact writer, by a Book added to it when it was in a state of perfection—for as a Poem in Three Books, "it was clear, consistent, and of a piece." This is not the way to make a poem motley, nor a man. "Motley's the suit I wear," might have taught the Doctor better. They who don't like the Fourth Book can stop at the end of the Third, and then the Poem is motley no more. It is in a higher strain than the Three, and why not? The goddess had a greater empire than Warton, who was a provincial, had ever dreamt of in his philosophy; but, in Pope's wide imagination, it stood with all its realms. The hero had no more to say or to do—Cibber was banished to Cimmeria for life, to work in the mines—and Dulness had forgotten she ever saw his face.

"Then rose the seed of Chaos, and of Night,
To blot out order, and extinguish light,
Of dull and venal a new world to mould,
And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold."

That long clumsy sentence about "a marvellous mixture and jumble of images and sentiments," &c. &c. &c., is pure nonsense. In itself, the Fourth Book is most harmoniously constructed as a work of art, and it rises out of, and ascends from the Third, a completed creation. To call that YAWN mock-heroic, would be profane—it is sublime!

[Pg 252]

"Speaking of the Dunciad," continues the Doctor, "as a work of art, in a critical, not religious light, I must venture to affirm, that the subject of this Fourth Book was foreign and heterogeneous, and the addition of it is injudicious, ill-placed, and incongruous, as any of those similar images we meet with in Pulci or Ariosto." The addition of a Fourth Book to a poem, previously consisting of Three, is not an image at all, look at it how you will, and cannot therefore be compared with "any of those dissimilar images we meet with in Pulci or Ariosto." We much admire Pulci and Ariosto, especially Ariosto, but they and their dissimilar images have no business here; and were Dr Joseph alive any where in the neighbourhood, we should whistle in his ear not to be so ostentatious in displaying his Italian literature, which was too thin to keep out the rain.

"It is," he keeps stuttering on, "like introducing a crucifix into one of Teniers's burlesque conversation pieces." We see no reason why a crucifix should not be in the room of a good Catholic during a burlesque conversation; and Teniers, if he never have, might have painted one in such a piece without offence, had he chosen to do so; but the question we ask, simply is, what did Doctor Joseph Warton mean? Just nothing at all.

"On the whole," stammereth the Doctor further on, "the chief fault of the Dunciad is the violence and vehemence of its satire." The same fault may be found with vitriolic acid, nay, with Richardson's Ultimate Result. No doubt, that for many domestic purposes water is preferable—for not a few, milk—and for some, milk and water. But not with that latter amalgam did Hannibal force his way through the Alps.

But, softly—the Doctor compares the violence and vehemence of Pope's satire—no—not the violence and vehemence, but the height—to water—but to water rare among the liquid elements. "And the excessive height to which it is carried, and which therefore I may compare to that marvellous column of boiling water near Mount Hecla in Iceland, thrown upwards, above ninety feet, by the force of subterraneous fire." And he adds in a note, to please the incredulous, "Sir Joseph Banks, our great philosophical traveller, had the satisfaction of seeing this wonderful phenomenon."

"What are the impressions," eloquently asks the inspired Joseph "left upon the mind after a perusal of this poem? Contempt, aversion vexation, and anger. No sentiments that enlarge, ennoble, move, or mend the heart! Insomuch so, that I know a person whose name would be an ornament to these papers, if I were suffered to insert it, who, after reading a book of the Dunciad, always soothes himself, as he calls it, by turning to a canto of the Faery Queene." There is no denying that satire is apt to excite the emotions the Doctor complains of, and few more strongly than the Dunciad. Yet what would it be without them—and what should we be? But other emotions, too, are experienced at some of the games; and some of an exalted kind, by innumerable passages throughout the poem. Were it not so, this would be a saturnine world indeed. Would we had had the name of the wise gentleman, that it might ornament these papers, who so frequently indulged in "contempt, aversion, vexation, and anger" over Pope, that he might soothe himself, as he called it, with Spenser. We wonder if he occasionally left the bosom of the Faery Queene for that of the Goddess of Dulness.

"This is not the case with that very delightful poem Mac-Flecnoe, from which Pope has borrowed many hints and images and ideas. But Dryden's poem was the offspring of contempt, and Pope's of indignation; one is full of mirth, and the other of malignity. A vein of pleasantry is uniformly preserved through the whole of Mac-Flecnoe, and the piece begins and ends in the same key." That very beautiful and delightful poem, Mac-Flecnoe! That very pretty and agreeable waterfall, Niagara! That very elegant and attractive crater of Mount Vesuvius! That very interesting and animated earthquake, vulgarly called the Great Earthquake at Lisbon! Having ourselves spoken of the good-humour of Dryden, (some twenty pages back, about the middle of this article,) we must not find fault with Warton for saying that a vein of pleasantry is preserved through the whole of Mac-Flecnoe;[Pg 253] but what thought Mac-Flecnoe himself? "Ay, there's the rub." Then what a vein of pleasantry is preserved through the whole of Og! So light and delicate is the handling, that you might be charmed into the soft delusion, that you beheld Christopher with his Knout.

"Since the total decay," innocently exclaims this estimable man, "was foretold in the Dunciad, how many very excellent pieces of criticism, poetry, history, philosophy, and divinity, have appeared in this country, and to what a degree of perfection has almost every art, either useful or elegant, been carried?" Mr Bowles—mirabile dictu—backs his old schoolmaster against the goddess. "Can it be thought," says the Canon—standing up for the age of Pope himself—"that this period was enlightened by Young, Thomson, Glover, and many whose characters reflected equal lustre on religion, morals, and philosophy? But such is satire, when it is not guided by truth." All this might have been said in fewer words—"Look At Blackwood's Magazine." There is not, in the Dunciad itself, an instance of such stupidity recorded, as this indignant attribution of blindness to the present, and to the future, "as far off its coming shone," to "the seed of Chaos and old night," by two divines, editors both of the works of Alexander Pope, Esq. in eight (?) and in ten volumes.

Lord Kames, in his Elements of Criticism, urges an objection to the opening of the Dunciad, which, if sustained, is sufficient to prove the whole poem vicious on beginning to end. "This author (Pope) is guilty of much greater deviation from the rule. Dulness may be imagined a Deity or Idol, to be worshipped by bad writers; but then some sort of disguise is requisite, some bastard virtue must be bestowed, to give this Idol a plausible appearance. Yet, in the Dunciad, Dulness, without the least disguise, is made the object of worship. The mind rejects such a fiction as unnatural." Warburton meets this objection with his usual fierté and acumen. "But is there no bastard virtue in the mighty Mother of so numerous an offspring, which she takes care to bring to the ears of kings? Her votaries would, for this single virtue, prefer her influence to Apollo and the Nine Muses. Is there no bastard virtue in the peace of which the poet makes her the author?—'The goddess bade Britannia sleep.' Is she not celebrated for her beauty, another bastard virtue?—'Fate this fair idol gave.' One bastard virtue the poet hath given her; which, with these sort of critics, might make her pass for a wit; and that is, her love of a joke—'For gentle Dulness ever loved a joke.' Her delight in games and races is another of her bastard virtues, which would captivate her nobler sons, and draw them to her shrine; not to speak of her indulgence to young travellers, whom she accompanies as Minerva did Telemachus. But of all her bastard virtues, her FREE-THINKING, the virtue which she anxiously propagates amongst her followers in the Fourth Book, might, one would think, have been sufficient to have covered the poet from this censure. But had Mr Pope drawn her without the least disguise, it had not signified a rush. Disguised or undisguised, the poem had been neither better nor worse, and he has secured it from being rejected as unnatural by ten thousand beauties of nature." This is too Warburtonian—and Lord Kames must be answered after another fashion, by Christopher North.

What would his lordship have? That she should be called by some other more specious name? By that of some quality to which writers and other men do aspire, and under the semblance of which Dulness is actually found to mask itself—as Gravity, Dignity, Solemnity? Why, two losses would thus be incurred. First, the whole mirth of the poem, or the greater part of it, would be gone. Secondly, the comprehensiveness of the present name would be forfeited, and a more partial quality taken.

The vigour and strength of the fiction requires exactly what Pope has done—the barefaced acceptance of Dulness as the imperial power. The poet acts, in fact, under a logical necessity. She is really the goddess under whose influence and virtue they, her subjects, live; whose inspiration sustains and governs their actions. But it would be against all manners that a goddess should not be known[Pg 254] and worshipped under her own authentic denomination. To cheat her followers out of their worship, by showing herself to them under a diversity of false appearances, would have been unworthy of her divinity.

As to the probability of the fiction, the answer is plain and ready. Nobody asks for probability. Far otherwise. The bravery of the jest is its improbability. There is a wild audacity proper to the burlesque Epos which laughs at conventional rules, and the tame obligations of ordinary poetry. The absurd is one legitimate source of the comic.

For example, are the Games probable? Take the reading to sleep—which is purely witty—a thing which the poet does not go out of his way to invent. It lies essentially on the theme, being a literary αγων and it is indeed only that which is continually done, (oh, us miserable!) thrown into poetical shape. But it is perfectly absurd and improbable, done in the manner in which it is represented—not therefore to be blamed, but therefore to be commended with cachinnation while the world endures.

The truth is, that the Dunces are there, not for the business of saying what they think of themselves, or not that alone, but they must say that which we think of them. They must act from motives from which men do not act. They must aspire to be dull, and be proud of their dulness. They must emulate one another's dulness, or they are unfaithful votaries. In short, they are poetically made, and should be so made, to do, consciously and purposely, that which, in real life, they do undesignedly and unawares.

Lord Kames goes wrong—and very far wrong indeed—though Warburton was not the man to set him right—through applying to a composition extravagantly conceived—an epic extravaganza—rules of writing that belong to a sober and guarded species. In a comedy, you make a man play the fool without his knowing that he is one; because that is an imitation of human manners. And if you ironically praise the virtues of a villain, you keep the veil of irony throughout. You do not now and then forget yourself, and call him a villain by that name. But the spirit and rule of the poem here is, that discretion and sobriety are thrown aside. Here is no imitation of manners—no veil. The persons of the poem, under the hand of the poet, are something in the condition of the wicked ghosts who come before the tribunal of the Gnossian Rhadamanthus; and whom he, by the divine power of his judgment-seat, constrains to bear witness against themselves. The poor ghosts do it, knowing that they condemn themselves. Here the mirth of the poet makes the Dull glorify themselves by recounting each misdeed under its proper appellation.

Joseph Warton mistakes the whole matter as much as Lord Kames. "Just criticism," says he, "calls on us also to point out some of the passages that appear exceptionable in the Dunciad. Such is the hero's first speech, in which, contrary to all decorum and probability, he addresses the goddess Dulness, without disguising her as a despicable being, and even calls himself fool and blockhead. For a person to be introduced speaking thus of himself, is in truth unnatural and out of character." Would that the Doctor had been alive to be set at ease on this point by our explanations—but he is dead. They would have quieted his mind, too, about the celebrated speech of Aristarchus. "In Book IV.," he adds, "is such another breach of truth and decorum, in making Aristarchus (Bentley) abuse himself, and laugh at his own labours.

"The mighty scholiast, whose unweary'd pains
Made Horace dull, and humbled Maro's strains,
Turn what they will to verse, their toil is vain,
Critics like me shall make it prose again.
For Attic phrase in Plato let them seek,
I poach in Suidas for unlicens'd Greek.
For thee we dim the eyes, and stuff the head
With all such reading as was never read:
For thee explain a thing till all men doubt it,
And write about it, Goddess, and about it."

If Bentley has turned Horace and Milton (Warton blunderingly reads Maro) into prose by his emendations, (Milton assuredly he has—Pope may be[Pg 255] wrong about Horace?) he has rendered vast service to the empire of Dulness; and it would be quite unreasonable that he should not claim of the goddess all merited reward and honour, by announcing exactly this achievement. With what face could he pretend to her favour by telling her that he had restored the text of two great poets to its original purity and lustre? She would have ordered him to instant execution or to a perpetual dungeon.

Finally, how happened it that such perspicacious personages as Lord Kames and Dr Warton, to say nothing of their hoodwinked followers, should have thus objected to the passages and speeches singled out for condemnation, as if they alone deserved it, without perceiving that the whole poem, from the first line to the last, was, on their principle, liable to the same fatal objection? And what, on their principle, would they have thought, had they ever read it, of Mac-Flecnoe?

Pope takes the name Dulness largely, for the offuscation of heart and head. He said, long before,

"Want of decency is want of sense;"

and he now seems to think himself warranted in attributing vices and corruptions to a clouded understanding—so to Dulness. At least, the darkness and weakness of the moral reason came under the protection of the mighty mother—the daughter of Chaos and of Night. She fosters the disorder and the darkness of the soul. Mere bluntness and inertness of intellect, which the name would suggest, he never confines himself to. Of sharp misused power of mind, too, she is the tutelary goddess. Errors which mind arrives at by too much subtlety, by self-blinding activity, serve her purpose and the poet's; and so some names of powerful intellects are included, which, on a question of their merits, indeed, had better been left out. So the science of mathematics, far overstepping, as the poet conceives, the boundary of its legitimate activity—

"Mad Mathesis alone——
Now running round the circle, finds it square."

The real foe of Dulness, then, is Truth—not simply wit or genius. The night of mind is all that Dulness labours to produce. Misdirected wit and genius help on this consummation, and therefore deserve her smile—all the more that they are her born enemies, turned traitors to their native cause; and most formidable enemies too, had they remained faithful. Needs must she load them with dignity and emoluments. Trace the thought. The poem begins from the real dull Dunces; and their goddess is Dulness, inevitably: nothing can be gainsaid there. This is the central origin. Go on. Pert or lively dunces, who are not real dull, will come in of due course. And from that first foundation the poet may lawfully go on to bring in perverted intelligence and moral vitiation of the soul. Reclining on our swing-chair—and waiting for the devil—with the Æneid in the one hand and the Dunciad in the other, we have this moment made a remarkable discovery in ancient and in modern classic poetry. Virgil, in his eighth book, tells us that the pious Æneas, handling and examining with delight the glorious shield which the Sire of the Forge has fabricated for him, wonders to peruse, storied there in prophetical sculptures, the fates and exploits, and renown, of his earth-subduing descendants. In one of these fore-shadowing representations—that of the decisive sea-fight off the promontory of Actium—you might believe that, under the similitude of the conflict and victory which delivered the sovereignty of the Roman world into the hand of Augustus, the sly Father of the Fire has willed by hints to prefigure an everlasting war of light and darkness, the irreconcilable hostility of the Wits and Dunces, and the sudden interposition of some divine poet, clothed with preternatural power, for the "foul dissipation and forced rout" of the miscreated multitude.

The foe, whose pretensions to the empire of the world are to be signally defeated, advances to the combat—"ope barbarica"—helped with a confederacy of barbarians. Queen Dulness herself is characteristically described as heartening and harking forward her legions with pure noise.

[Pg 256]

"Regina in mediis patrio vocat agmina

that is, rather with her father Chaos's drum, or the drum native to the land of Dulness. Either interpretation forcibly marks out the most turbulent and unintellectual of all musical instruments; and we think at once of her mandate on a later day,

"'Tis yours to shake the soul
With thunder rumbling, from the mustard-bowl."

The contending powers are presented under a bold allegory.

"Omnigenumque Deûm Monstra et Latrator Anubis,
Contra Neptunum et Venerem, contraque Minervam,
Tela tenent."

Neptune prefigures this island, the confessed ruler of the waves and the precise spot of the globe vindicated, as we have seen, by two great poets from the reign of Dulness. Venus is here understood in her noblest character, as the Alma Venus of Lucretius's invocation, as the Power of Love and the Beautiful in the Universe. The Goddess of Wisdom speaks for herself. Against them a heterogeneous rabble of monsters direct their artillery, under a dog-headed barking protagonist, (what a chosen symbol of an impudent, wide-mouthed, yelping Bayes!) the ringleader of the Cry of Dunces.

Behold the striking and principal figure of the poet himself, armed and ready to loose from his hand his unerring shafts.

"Actius hæc cernens arcum intendebat Apollo

The poet, impersonated in the patron god of all true poets, is high Virgilian; and the proud station and posture, and the godlike annihilating menace of that "Desuper" is equally picturesque and sublime.

The same verse continued brings out the effect of the god's, or of the poet's interposition, in the instantaneous consternation and utter scattering of the rascal rout.

"... Omnis eo terrore Ægyptus et Indus,
Omnis Arabs, omnes vertebant terga Sabœi."

The entire progeny of barbarism are off, in full precipitation, for a place of refuge, if harbour or haven may be had. Or, as the same inspired bard elsewhere has it—"fugêre feræ"—the wild beasts have fled.

The triumph is complete. The panic seizes their imperial mistress herself, who, turning her prow, sweeps with all sails set from the lost battle.

"Ipsa videbatur ventis Regina vocatis
Vela dare et laxos jam jamque immittere funes;
Illam inter cædes, pallentem morte futurâ,
Fecerat Ignipotens undis et Iapyge ferri."

And why is Augustus made Victor? Does not his name stand, to all time, as the emperor of good letters? Is an Augustan age a less precise and potential phrase for a golden age of the arts, than a Saturnian age for the same of the virtues? And why is Antony beaten? Surely, because he represents the collective Antony-Lumpkinism of literature. And what has the dear Cleopatra to do in the fight? The meretricious gipsy—the word is Virgil's own—by her illicit attractions, and by the dusk grain of her complexion, doubly expresses to the life the foul daughter of Night whom the Dunces obey and worship.

Vulcan, says Virgil, made the shield, like a god, knowing the future. But here Virgil makes Vulcan. And we have now seen enough fully to justify the later popular tradition of his country in steadfastly attributing to him the fame of an arch-wizard. Looking at the thing in this light, we derive extreme consolation from the final augurous words of our last citation—"pallentem morte futurâ"—which we oppose with confidence to the appalling final prophecy of Pope, and believe that the goddess is, as the nymphs were said to be, exceedingly long-lived, but not immortal.

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

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume
58, Number 358, August 1845, by Various


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