The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No. 122,
December, 1867, by Various

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No. 122, December, 1867

Author: Various

Release Date: April 28, 2009 [EBook #28630]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by Cornell University Digital Collections.)

[Pg 641]



A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by Ticknor and Fields, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Transcriber's Note: Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved to the end of the article. Table of contents has been created for the HTML version.






"How can I see that man this evening, Mr. Lindsay?"

"May I not be Clement, dearest? I would not see him at all, Myrtle. I don't believe you will find much pleasure in listening to his fine speeches."

"I cannot endure it. Kitty, tell him I am engaged, and cannot see him this evening. No, no! don't say engaged, say very much occupied."

Kitty departed, communing with herself in this wise:—"Ockipied, is it? An' that's what ye cahl it when ye're kapin' company with one young gintleman an' don't want another young gintleman to come in an' help the two of ye? Ye won't get y'r pigs to market to-day, Mr. Bridshaw,—no, nor to-morrow, nayther, Mr. Bridshaw. It's Mrs. Lindsay that Miss Myrtle is goin' to be,—an' a big cake there'll be at the weddin', frosted all over,—won't ye be plased with a slice o' that, Mr. Bridshaw?"

With these reflections in her mind, Mistress Kitty delivered her message, not without a gleam of malicious intelligence in her look that stung Mr. Bradshaw sharply. He had noticed a hat in the entry, and a little stick by it which he remembered well as one he had seen carried by Clement Lindsay. But he was used to concealing his emotions, and he greeted the two older ladies, who presently came into the library, so pleasantly, that no one who had not studied his face long and carefully would have suspected the bitterness of heart that lay hidden far down beneath his deceptive smile. He told Miss Silence, with much apparent interest, the story of his journey. He gave her an account of the progress of the case in which the estate of which she inherited the principal portion was interested. He did not tell her that a final decision which would settle the right to the great claim might be expected at any moment, and he did not tell her that there was very little doubt that it would be in favor of the heirs of Malachi Withers. He was very sorry he could not see Miss Hazard that[Pg 642] evening,—hoped he should be more fortunate to-morrow forenoon, when he intended to call again,—had a message for her from one of her former school friends, which he was anxious to give her. He exchanged certain looks and hints with Miss Cynthia, which led her to withdraw and bring down the papers he had intrusted to her. At the close of his visit, she followed him into the entry with a lamp, as was her common custom.

"What's the meaning of all this, Cynthia? Is that fellow making love to Myrtle?"

"I'm afraid so, Mr. Bradshaw. He's been here several times, and they seem to be getting intimate. I couldn't do anything to stop it."

"Give me the papers,—quick!"

Cynthia pulled the package from her pocket. Murray Bradshaw looked sharply at it. A little crumpled,—crowded into her pocket. Seal unbroken. All safe.

"I shall come again to-morrow forenoon. Another day and it will be all up. The decision of the court will be known. It won't be my fault if one visit is not enough.—You don't suppose Myrtle is in love with this fellow?"

"She acts as if she might be. You know he's broke with Susan Posey, and there's nothing to hinder. If you ask my opinion, I think it's your last chance: she isn't a girl to half do things, and if she has taken to this man it will be hard to make her change her mind. But she's young, and she has had a liking for you, and if you manage it well there's no telling."

Two notes passed between Myrtle Hazard and Master Byles Gridley that evening. Mistress Kitty Fagan, who had kept her ears pretty wide open, carried them.

Murray Bradshaw went home in a very desperate state of feeling. He had laid his plans, as he thought, with perfect skill, and the certainty of their securing their end. These papers were to have been taken from the envelope, and found in the garret just at the right moment, either by Cynthia herself or one of the other members of the family, who was to be led on, as it were accidentally, to the discovery. The right moment must be close at hand. He was to offer his hand—and heart, of course—to Myrtle, and it was to be accepted. As soon as the decision of the land case was made known, or not long afterwards, there was to be a search in the garret for papers, and these were to be discovered in a certain dusty recess, where, of course, they would have been placed by Miss Cynthia.

And now the one condition which gave any value to these arrangements seemed like to fail. This obscure youth—this poor fool, who had been on the point of marrying a simpleton to whom he had made a boyish promise—was coming between him and the object of his long pursuit,—the woman who had every attraction to draw him to herself. It had been a matter of pride with Murray Bradshaw that he never lost his temper so as to interfere with the precise course of action which his cool judgment approved; but now he was almost beside himself with passion. His labors, as he believed, had secured the favorable issue of the great case so long pending. He had followed Myrtle through her whole career, if not as her avowed lover, at least as one whose friendship promised to flower in love in due season. The moment had come when the scene and the characters in this village drama were to undergo a change as sudden and as brilliant as in those fairy spectacles where the dark background changes to a golden palace and the sober dresses are replaced by robes of regal splendor. The change was fast approaching; but he, the enchanter, as he had thought himself, found his wand broken, and his power given to another.

He could not sleep during that night. He paced his room, a prey to jealousy and envy and rage, which his calm temperament had kept him from feeling[Pg 643] in their intensity up to this miserable hour. He thought of all that a maddened nature can imagine to deaden its own intolerable anguish. Of revenge. If Myrtle rejected his suit, should he take her life on the spot, that she might never be another's,—that neither man nor woman should ever triumph over him,—the proud, ambitious man, defeated, humbled, scorned? No! that was a meanness of egotism which only the most vulgar souls could be capable of. Should he challenge her lover? It was not the way of the people and time, and ended in absurd complications, if anybody was foolish enough to try it. Shoot him? The idea floated through his mind, for he thought of everything; but he was a lawyer, and not a fool, and had no idea of figuring in court as a criminal. Besides, he was not a murderer,—cunning was his natural weapon, not violence. He had a certain admiration of desperate crime in others, as showing nerve and force, but he did not feel it to be his own style of doing business.

During the night he made every arrangement for leaving the village the next day, in case he failed to make any impression on Myrtle Hazard and found that his chance was gone. He wrote a letter to his partner, telling him that he had left to join one of the regiments forming in the city. He adjusted all his business matters so that his partner should find as little trouble as possible. A little before dawn he threw himself on the bed, but he could not sleep; and he rose at sunrise, and finished his preparations for his departure to the city.

The morning dragged along slowly. He would not go to the office, not wishing to meet his partner again. After breakfast he dressed himself with great care, for he meant to show himself in the best possible aspect. Just before he left the house to go to The Poplars, he took the sealed package from his trunk, broke open the envelope, took from it a single paper,—it had some spots on it which distinguished it from all the rest,—put it separately in his pocket, and then the envelope containing the other papers.

The calm smile he wore on his features as he set forth cost him a greater effort than he had ever made before to put it on. He was moulding his face to the look with which he meant to present himself; and the muscles had been sternly fixed so long that it was a task to bring them to their habitual expression in company,—that of ingenuous good-nature.

He was shown into the parlor at The Poplars; and Kitty told Myrtle that he had called and inquired for her, and was waiting down stairs.

"Tell him I will be down presently," she said. "And, Kitty, now mind just what I tell you. Leave your kitchen door open, so that you can hear anything fall in the parlor. If you hear a book fall,—it will be a heavy one, and will make some noise,—run straight up here to my little chamber, and hang this red scarf out of the window. The left-hand side-sash, mind, so that anybody can see it from the road. If Mr. Gridley calls, show him into the parlor, no matter who is there."

Kitty Fagan looked amazingly intelligent, and promised that she would do exactly as she was told. Myrtle followed her down stairs almost immediately, and went into the parlor, where Mr. Bradshaw was waiting.

Never in his calmest moments had he worn a more insinuating smile on his features than that with which he now greeted Myrtle. So gentle, so gracious, so full of trust, such a completely natural expression of a kind, genial character did it seem, that to any but an expert it would have appeared impossible that such an effect could be produced by the skilful balancing of half a dozen pairs of little muscles that manage the lips and the corners of the mouth. The tones of his voice were subdued into accord with the look of his features; his whole manner was fascinating, as far as any conscious effort could make it so.[Pg 644] It was just one of those artificially pleasing effects that so often pass with such as have little experience of life for the genuine expression of character and feeling. But Myrtle had learned the look that shapes itself on the features of one who loves with a love that seeketh not its own, and she knew the difference between acting and reality. She met his insinuating approach with a courtesy so carefully ordered that it was of itself a sentence without appeal. Artful persons often interpret sincere ones by their own standard. Murray Bradshaw thought little of this somewhat formal address,—a few minutes would break this thin film to pieces. He was not only a suitor with a prize to gain, he was a colloquial artist about to employ all the resources of his specialty.

He introduced the conversation in the most natural and easy way, by giving her the message from a former schoolmate to which he had referred, coloring it so delicately, as he delivered it, that it became an innocent-looking flattery. Myrtle found herself in a rose-colored atmosphere, not from Murray Bradshaw's admiration, as it seemed, but only reflected by his mind from another source. That was one of his arts,—always, if possible, to associate himself incidentally, as it appeared, and unavoidably, with an agreeable impression.

So Myrtle was betrayed into smiling and being pleased before he had said a word about himself or his affairs. Then he told her of the adventures and labors of his late expedition; of certain evidence which at the very last moment he had unearthed, and which was very probably the turning-point in the case. He could not help feeling that she must eventually reap some benefit from the good fortune with which his efforts had been attended. The thought that it might yet be so had been a great source of encouragement to him,—it would always be a great happiness to him to remember that he had done anything to make her happy.

Myrtle was very glad that he had been so far successful,—she did not know that it made much difference to her, but she was obliged to him for the desire of serving her that he had expressed.

"My services are always yours, Miss Hazard. There is no sacrifice I would not willingly make for your benefit. I have never had but one feeling toward you. You cannot be ignorant of what that feeling is."

"I know, Mr. Bradshaw, it has been one of kindness. I have to thank you for many friendly attentions, for which I hope I have never been ungrateful."

"Kindness is not all that I feel towards you, Miss Hazard. If that were all, my lips would not tremble as they do now in telling you my feelings. I love you."

He sprang the great confession on Myrtle a little sooner than he had meant. It was so hard to go on making phrases! Myrtle changed color a little, for she was startled.

The seemingly involuntary movement she made brought her arm against a large dictionary, which lay very near the edge of the table on which it was resting. The book fell with a loud noise to the floor.

There it lay. The young man awaited her answer; he did not think of polite forms at such a moment.

"It cannot be, Mr. Bradshaw,—it must not be. I have known you long, and I am not ignorant of all your brilliant qualities, but you must not speak to me of love. Your regard,—your friendly interest,—tell me that I shall always have these, but do not distress me with offering more than these."

"I do not ask you to give me your love in return; I only ask you not to bid me despair. Let me believe that the time may come when you will listen to me,—no matter how distant. You are young,—you have a tender heart,—you would not doom one who only lives for you to wretchedness. So long that we have known each other! It cannot be that any other has come between us—"[Pg 645]

Myrtle blushed so deeply that there was no need of his finishing his question.

"Do you mean, Myrtle Hazard, that you have cast me aside for another?—for this stranger—this artist—who was with you yesterday when I came, bringing with me the story of all I had done for you,—yes, for you,—and was ignominiously refused the privilege of seeing you?" Rage and jealousy had got the better of him this time. He rose as he spoke, and looked upon her with such passion kindling in his eyes that he seemed ready for any desperate act.

"I have thanked you for any services you may have rendered me, Mr. Bradshaw." Myrtle answered, very calmly, "and I hope you will add one more to them by sparing me this rude questioning. I wished to treat you as a friend; I hope you will not render that impossible."

He had recovered himself for one more last effort. "I was impatient: overlook it, I beg you. I was thinking of all the happiness I have labored to secure for you, and of the ruin to us both it would be if you scornfully rejected the love I offer you,—if you refuse to leave me any hope for the future,—if you insist on throwing yourself away on this man, so lately pledged to another. I hold the key of all your earthly fortunes in my hand. My love for you inspired me in all that I have done, and, now that I come to lay the result of my labors at your feet, you turn from me, and offer my reward to a stranger. I do not ask you to say this day that you will be mine,—I would not force your inclinations,—but I do ask you that you will hold yourself free of all others, and listen to me as one who may yet be more than a friend. Say so much as this, Myrtle, and you shall have such a future as you never dreamed of. Fortune, position, all that this world can give, shall be yours!"

"Never! never! If you could offer me the whole world, or take away from me all that the world can give, it would make no difference to me. I cannot tell what power you hold over me, whether of life and death, or of wealth and poverty; but after talking to me of love, I should not have thought you would have wronged me by suggesting any meaner motive. It is only because we have been on friendly terms so long that I have listened to you as I have done. You have said more than enough, and I beg you will allow me to put an end to this interview."

She rose to leave the room. But Murray Bradshaw had gone too far to control himself,—he listened only to the rage which blinded him.

"Not yet!" he said. "Stay one moment, and you shall know what your pride and self-will have cost you!"

Myrtle stood, arrested, whether by fear, or curiosity, or the passive subjection of her muscles to his imperious will, it would be hard to say.

Murray Bradshaw took out the spotted paper from his breast pocket, and held it up before her. "Look here!" he exclaimed. "This would have made you rich,—it would have crowned you a queen in society,—it would have given you all, and more than all, that you ever dreamed of luxury, of splendor, of enjoyment; and I, who won it for you, would have taught you how to make life yield every bliss it had in store to your wishes. You reject my offer unconditionally?"

Myrtle expressed her negative only by a slight contemptuous movement.

Murray Bradshaw walked deliberately to the fireplace, and laid the spotted paper upon the burning coals. It writhed and curled, blackened, flamed, and in a moment was a cinder dropping into ashes. He folded his arms, and stood looking at the wreck of Myrtle's future, the work of his cruel hand. Strangely enough, Myrtle herself was fascinated, as it were, by the apparent solemnity of this mysterious sacrifice. She had kept her eyes steadily on him all the time, and was still gazing at the altar on which her happiness had been in some way offered up, when the door was opened by Kitty Fagan, and Master[Pg 646] Byles Gridley was ushered into the parlor.

"Too late, old man!" Murray Bradshaw exclaimed in a hoarse and savage voice, as he passed out of the room, and strode through the entry and down the avenue. It was the last time the old gate of The Poplars was to open or close for him. That same day he left the village; and the next time his name was mentioned it was as an officer in one of the regiments just raised and about marching to the seat of war.



What Master Gridley may have said to Myrtle Hazard that served to calm her after this exciting scene cannot now be recalled. That Murray Bradshaw thought he was inflicting a deadly injury on her was plain enough. That Master Gridley did succeed in convincing her that no great harm had probably been done her is equally certain.

Like all bachelors who have lived a lonely life, Master Gridley had his habits, which nothing short of some terrestrial convulsion—or perhaps, in his case, some instinct that drove him forth to help somebody in trouble—could possibly derange. After his breakfast, he always sat and read awhile,—the paper, if a new one came to hand, or some pleasant old author,—if a little neglected by the world of readers, he felt more at ease with him, and loved him all the better.

But on the morning after his interview with Myrtle Hazard, he had received a letter which made him forget newspapers, old authors, almost everything, for the moment. It was from the publisher with whom he had had a conversation, it may be remembered, when he visited the city, and was to this effect:—That Our Firm propose to print and stereotype the work originally published under the title of "Thoughts on the Universe"; said work to be remodelled according to the plan suggested by the Author, with the corrections, alterations, omissions, and additions proposed by him; said work to be published under the following title, to wit: —— ——; said work to be printed in 12mo, on paper of good quality, from new types, etc., etc., and for every copy thereof printed the author to receive, etc., etc.

Master Gridley sat as in a trance, reading this letter over and over, to know if it could be really so. So it really was. His book had disappeared from the market long ago, as the elm seeds that carpet the ground and never germinate disappear. At last it had got a certain value as a curiosity for book-hunters. Some one of them, keener-eyed than the rest, had seen that there was a meaning and virtue in this unsuccessful book, for which there was a new audience educated since it had tried to breathe before its time. Out of this had grown at last the publisher's proposal. It was too much: his heart swelled with joy, and his eyes filled with tears.

How could he resist the temptation? He took down his own particular copy of the book, which was yet to do him honor as its parent, and began reading. As his eye fell on one paragraph after another, he nodded approval of this sentiment or opinion, he shook his head as if questioning whether this other were not to be modified or left out, he condemned a third as being no longer true for him as when it was written, and he sanctioned a fourth with his hearty approval. The reader may like a few specimens from this early edition, now a rarity. He shall have them, with Master Gridley's verbal comments. The book, as its name implied, contained "Thoughts" rather than consecutive trains of reasoning or continuous disquisitions. What he read and remarked upon were a few of the more pointed statements which stood out in the chapters he was turning over. The worth of the book must not be judged by these almost random specimens.[Pg 647]

"The best thought, like the most perfect digestion, is done unconsciously.—Develop that—Ideas at compound interest in the mind.—Be aye sticking in an idea,—while you're sleeping it'll be growing. Seed of a thought to-day,—flower to-morrow—next week—ten years from now, etc.—Article by and by for the....

"Can the Infinite be supposed to shift the responsibility of the ultimate destiny of any created thing to the finite? Our theologians pretend that it can. I doubt.—Heretical. Stet.

"Protestantism means None of your business. But it is afraid of its own logic.Stet. No logical resting-place short of None of your business.

"The supreme self-indulgence is to surrender the will to a spiritual director.—Protestantism gave up a great luxury.—Did it, though?

"Asiatic modes of thought and speech do not express the relations in which the American feels himself to stand to his Superiors in this or any other sphere of being. Republicanism must have its own religious phraseology, which is not that borrowed from Oriental despotisms.

"Idols and dogmas in place of character; pills and theories in place of wholesome living. See the histories of theology and medicine passim.—Hits 'em.

"'Of such is the kingdom of heaven.' Do you mean to say, Jean Chauvin, that

'Heaven lies about us in our infancy'?

"Why do you complain of your organization? Your soul was in a hurry, and made a rush for a body. There are patient spirits that have waited from eternity, and never found parents fit to be born of.—How do you know anything about all that? Dele.

"What sweet, smooth voices the negroes have! A hundred generations fed on bananas.—Compare them with our apple-eating-white folks!—It won't do. Bananas came from the West Indies.

"To tell a man's temperament by his handwriting. See if the dots of his i's run ahead or not, and if they do, how far.—I've tried that—on myself.

"Marrying into some families is the next thing to being canonized.—Not so true now as twenty or thirty years ago. As many bladders, but more pins.

"Fish and dandies only keep on ice.—Who will take? Explain in note how all warmth approaching blood-heat spoils fops and flounders.

"Flying is a lost art among men and reptiles. Bats fly, and men ought to. Try a light turbine. Rise a mile straight, fall half a mile slanting,—rise half a mile straight, fall half a mile slanting, and so on. Or slant up and slant down.—Poh! You ain't such a fool as to think that is new,—are you?

"Put in my telegraph project. Central station. Cables with insulated wires running to it from different quarters of the city. These form the centripetal system. From central station, wires to all the livery stables, messenger stands, provision shops, etc., etc. These form the centrifugal system. Any house may have a wire in the nearest cable at small cost.

"Do you want to be remembered after the continents have gone under, and come up again, and dried, and bred new races? Have your name stamped on all your plates and cups and saucers. Nothing of you or yours will last like those. I never sit down at my table without looking at the china service, and saying, 'Here are my monuments. That butter-dish is my urn. This soup-plate is my memorial tablet.'—No need of a skeleton at my banquets! I feed from my tombstone and read my epitaph at the bottom, of every teacup.—Good."

He fell into a revery as he finished reading this last sentence. He thought of the dim and dread future,—all the changes that it would bring to him, to all the living, to the face of the globe, to the order of earthly things. He saw men of a new race, alien to all that had ever lived, excavating with[Pg 648] strange, vast engines the old ocean-bed, now become habitable land. And as the great scoops turned out the earth they had fetched up from the unexplored depths, a relic of a former simple civilization revealed the fact that here a tribe of human beings had lived and perished.—Only the coffee-cup he had in his hand half an hour ago.—Where would he be then? and Mrs. Hopkins, and Gifted, and Susan, and everybody? and President Buchanan? and the Boston State-House? and Broadway?—O Lord, Lord, Lord! And the sun perceptibly smaller, according to the astronomers, and the earth cooled down a number of degrees, and inconceivable arts practised by men of a type yet undreamed of, and all the fighting creeds merged in one great universal—

A knock at his door interrupted his revery. Miss Susan Posey informed him that a gentleman was waiting below who wished to see him.

"Show him up to my study, Susan Posey, if you please," said Master Gridley.

Mr. Penhallow presented himself at Mr. Gridley's door, with a countenance expressive of a very high state of excitement.

"You have heard the news, Mr. Gridley, I suppose?"

"What news, Mr. Penhallow?"

"First, that my partner has left very unexpectedly to enlist in a regiment just forming. Second, that the great land-case is decided in favor of the heirs of the late Malachi Withers."

"Your partner must have known about it yesterday?"

"He did, even before I knew it. He thought himself possessed of a very important document, as you know, of which he has made, or means to make, some use. You are aware of the artifice I employed to prevent any possible evil consequences from any action of his. I have the genuine document, of course. I wish you to go over with me to The Poplars, and I should be glad to have good old Father Pemberton go with us; for it is a serious matter, and will be a great surprise to more than one of the family."

They walked together to the old house, where the old clergyman had lived for more than half a century. He was used to being neglected by the people who ran after his younger colleague; and the attention paid him in asking him to be present on an important occasion, as he understood this to be, pleased him greatly. He smoothed his long white locks, and called a grand-daughter to help make him look fitly for such an occasion, and, being at last got into his grandest Sunday aspect, took his faithful staff, and set out with the two gentlemen for The Poplars. On the way, Mr. Penhallow explained to him the occasion of their visit, and the general character of the facts he had to announce. He wished the venerable minister to prepare Miss Silence Withers for a revelation which would materially change her future prospects. He thought it might be well, also, if he would say a few words to Myrtle Hazard, for whom a new life, with new and untried temptations, was about to open. His business was, as a lawyer, to make known to these parties the facts just come to his own knowledge affecting their interests. He had asked Mr. Gridley to go with him, as having intimate relations with one of the parties referred to, and as having been the principal agent in securing to that party the advantages which were to accrue to her from the new turn of events. "You are a second parent to her, Mr. Gridley," he said. "Your vigilance, your shrewdness, and your—spectacles have saved her. I hope she knows the full extent of her obligations to you, and that she will always look to you for counsel in all her needs. She will want a wise friend, for she is to begin the world anew."

What had happened, when she saw the three grave gentlemen at the door early in the forenoon, Mistress Kitty Fagan could not guess. Something relating to Miss Myrtle, no doubt:[Pg 649] she wasn't goin' to be married right off to Mr. Clement,—was she,—and no church, nor cake, nor anything? The gentlemen were shown into the parlor. "Ask Miss Withers to go into the library, Kitty," said Master Gridley. "Dr. Pemberton wishes to speak with her." The good old man was prepared for a scene with Miss Silence. He announced to her, in a kind and delicate way, that she must make up her mind to the disappointment of certain expectations which she had long entertained, and which, as her lawyer, Mr. Penhallow, had come to inform her and others, were to be finally relinquished from this hour.

To his great surprise, Miss Silence received this communication almost cheerfully. It seemed more like a relief to her than anything else. Her one dread in this world was her "responsibility"; and the thought that she might have to account for ten talents hereafter, instead of one, had often of late been a positive distress to her. There was also in her mind a secret disgust at the thought of the hungry creatures who would swarm round her if she should ever be in a position to bestow patronage. This had grown upon her as the habits of lonely life gave her more and more of that fastidious dislike to males in general, as such, which is not rare in maidens who have seen the roses of more summers than politeness cares to mention.

Father Pemberton then asked if he could see Miss Myrtle Hazard a few moments in the library before they went into the parlor, where they were to meet Mr. Penhallow and Mr. Gridley, for the purpose of receiving the lawyer's communication.

What change was this which Myrtle had undergone since love had touched her heart, and her visions of worldly enjoyment had faded before the thought of sharing and ennobling the life of one who was worthy of her best affections,—of living for another, and of finding her own noblest self in that divine office of woman? She had laid aside the bracelet which she had so long worn as a kind of charm as well as an ornament. One would have said her features had lost something of that look of imperious beauty which had added to her resemblance to the dead woman whose glowing portrait hung upon her wall. And if it could be that, after so many generations, the blood of her who had died for her faith could show in her descendant's veins, and the soul of that elect lady of her race look out from her far-removed offspring's dark eyes, such a transfusion of the martyr's life and spiritual being might well seem to manifest itself in Myrtle Hazard.

The large-hearted old man forgot his scholastic theory of human nature as he looked upon her face. He thought he saw in her the dawning of that grace which some are born with; which some, like Myrtle, only reach through many trials and dangers; which some seem to show for a while and then lose; which too many never reach while they wear the robes of earth, but which speaks of the kingdom of heaven already begun in the heart of a child of earth. He told her simply the story of the occurrences which had brought them together in the old house, with the message the lawyer was to deliver to its inmates. He wished to prepare her for what might have been too sudden a surprise.

But Myrtle was not wholly unprepared for some such revelation. There was little danger that any such announcement would throw her mind from its balance after the inward conflict through which she had been passing. For her lover had left her almost as soon as he had told her the story of his passion, and the relation in which he stood to her. He, too, had gone to answer his country's call to her children, not driven away by crime and shame and despair, but quitting all—his new-born happiness, the art in which he was an enthusiast, his prospects of success and honor—to obey the higher command of duty. War was to him, as to so many of[Pg 650] the noble youth who went forth, only organized barbarism, hateful but for the sacred cause which alone redeemed it from the curse that blasted the first murderer. God only knew the sacrifice such young men as he made.

How brief Myrtle's dream had been! She almost doubted, at some moments, whether she would not awake from it, as from her other visions, and find it all unreal. There was no need of fearing any undue excitement of her mind after the alternations of feeling she had just experienced. Nothing seemed of much moment to her which could come from without,—her real world was within, and the light of its day and the breath of its life came from her love, made holy by the self-forgetfulness on both sides which was born with it.

Only one member of the household was in danger of finding the excitement more than she could bear. Miss Cynthia knew that all Murray Bradshaw's plans, in which he had taken care that she should have a personal interest, had utterly failed. What he had done with the means of revenge in his power,—if, indeed, they were still in his power,—she did not know. She only knew that there had been a terrible scene, and that he had gone, leaving it uncertain whether he would ever return. It was with fear and trembling that she heard the summons which went forth, that the whole family should meet in the parlor to listen to a statement from Mr. Penhallow. They all gathered as requested, and sat round the room, with the exception of Mistress Kitty Fagan, who knew her place too well to be sittin' down with the likes o' them, and stood with attentive ears in the doorway.

Mr. Penhallow then read from a printed paper the decision of the Supreme Court in the land-case so long pending, where the estate of the late Malachi Withers was the claimant, against certain parties pretending to hold under an ancient grant. The decision was in favor of the estate.

"This gives a great property to the heirs," Mr. Penhallow remarked, "and the question as to who these heirs are has to be opened. For the will under which Silence Withers, sister of the deceased, has inherited, is dated some years previously to the decease, and it was not very strange that a will of later date should be discovered. Such a will has been discovered. It is the instrument I have here."

Myrtle Hazard opened her eyes very widely, for the paper Mr. Penhallow held looked exactly like that which Murray Bradshaw had burned, and, what was curious, had some spots on it just like some she had noticed on that.

"This will," Mr. Penhallow said, "signed by witnesses dead or absent from this place, makes a disposition of the testator's property in some respects similar to that of the previous one, but with a single change, which proves to be of very great importance."

Mr. Penhallow proceeded to read the will. The important change in the disposition of the property was this. In case the land-claim was decided in favor of the estate, then, in addition to the small provision made for Myrtle Hazard, the property so coming to the estate should all go to her. There was no question about the genuineness and the legal sufficiency of this instrument. Its date was not very long after the preceding one, at a period when, as was well known, he had almost given up the hope of gaining his case, and when the property was of little value compared to that which it had at present.

A long silence followed this reading. Then, to the surprise of all, Miss Silence Withers rose, and went to Myrtle Hazard, and wished her joy with every appearance of sincerity. She was relieved of a great responsibility. Myrtle was young and could bear it better. She hoped that her young relative would live long to enjoy the blessings Providence had bestowed upon her, and to use them for the good of the community, and especially the promotion of the education of deserving[Pg 651] youth. If some fitting person could be found to advise Myrtle, whose affairs would require much care, it would be a great relief to her.

They all went up to Myrtle and congratulated her on her change of fortune. Even Cynthia Badlam got out a phrase or two which passed muster in the midst of the general excitement. As for Kitty Fagan, she could not say a word, but caught Myrtle's hand and kissed it as if it belonged to her own saint, and then, suddenly applying her apron to her eyes, retreated from a scene which was too much for her, in a state of complete mental beatitude and total bodily discomfiture.

Then Silence asked the old minister to make a prayer, and he stretched his hands up to Heaven, and called down all the blessings of Providence upon all the household, and especially upon this young handmaiden, who was to be tried with prosperity, and would need all aid from above to keep her from its dangers.

Then Mr. Penhallow asked Myrtle if she had any choice as to the friend who should have charge of her affairs.

Myrtle turned to Master Byles Gridley, and said, "You have been my friend and protector so far,—will you continue to be so hereafter?"

Master Gridley tried very hard to begin a few words of thanks to her for her preference, but, finding his voice a little uncertain, contented himself with pressing her hand and saying, "Most willingly, my dear daughter!"



The same day the great news of Myrtle Hazard's accession to fortune came out, the secret was told that she had promised herself in marriage to Mr. Clement Lindsay. But her friends hardly knew how to congratulate her on this last event. Her lover was gone, to risk his life, not improbably to lose it, or to come home a wreck, crippled by wounds, or worn out with disease.

Some of them wondered to see her so cheerful in such a moment of trial. They could not know how the manly strength of Clement's determination had nerved her for womanly endurance. They had not learned that a great cause makes great souls, or reveals them to themselves,—a lesson taught by so many noble examples in the times that followed. Myrtle's only desire seemed to be to labor in some way to help the soldiers and their families. She appeared to have forgotten everything for these duties; she had no time for regrets, if she were disposed to indulge them, and she hardly asked a question as to the extent of the fortune which had fallen to her.

The next number of the "Banner and Oracle" contained two announcements which she read with some interest when her attention was called to them. They were as follows:—

"A fair and accomplished daughter of this village comes, by the late decision of the Supreme Court, into possession of a property estimated at a million of dollars or more. It consists of a large tract of land purchased many years ago by the late Malachi Withers, now become of immense value by the growth of a city in its neighborhood, the opening of mines, etc., etc. It is rumored that the lovely and highly educated heiress has formed a connection looking towards matrimony with a certain distinguished artist."

"Our distinguished young townsman, William Murray Bradshaw, Esq., has been among the first to respond to the call of the country for champions to defend her from traitors. We understand that he has obtained a captaincy in the —th Regiment, about to march to the threatened seat of war. May victory perch on his banners!"

The two lovers, parted by their own self-sacrificing choice in the very hour that promised to bring them so much happiness, labored for the common cause during all the terrible years of warfare, one in the camp and the field, the other in the not less needful work which the good women carried on at home, or wherever their services were needed. Clement—now Captain Lindsay—returned at the end of his first campaign charged with a special office. Some months later, after one of the great battles, he was sent home wounded. He wore the leaf on his[Pg 652] shoulder which entitled him to be called Major Lindsay. He recovered from his wound only too rapidly, for Myrtle had visited him daily in the military hospital where he had resided for treatment; and it was bitter parting. The telegraph wires were thrilling almost hourly with messages of death, and the long pine boxes came by almost every train,—no need of asking what they held!

Once more he came, detailed on special duty, and this time with the eagle on his shoulder,—he was Colonel Lindsay. The lovers could not part again of their own free will. Some adventurous women had followed their husbands to the camp, and Myrtle looked as if she could play the part of the Maid of Saragossa on occasion. So Clement asked her if she would return with him as his wife; and Myrtle answered, with as much willingness to submit as a maiden might fairly show under such circumstances, that she would do his bidding. Thereupon, with the shortest possible legal notice, Father Pemberton was sent for, and the ceremony was performed in the presence of a few witnesses in the large parlor at The Poplars, which was adorned with flowers, and hung round with all the portraits of the dead members of the family, summoned as witnesses to the celebration. One witness looked on with unmoved features, yet Myrtle thought there was a more heavenly smile on her faded lips than she had ever seen before beaming from the canvas,—it was Ann Holyoake, the martyr to her faith, the guardian spirit of Myrtle's visions, who seemed to breathe a holier benediction than any words—even those of the good old Father Pemberton himself—could convey.

They went back together to the camp. From that period until the end of the war, Myrtle passed her time between the life of the tent and that of the hospital. In the offices of mercy which she performed for the sick and the wounded and the dying, the dross of her nature seemed to be burned away. The conflict of mingled lives in her blood had ceased. No lawless impulses usurped the place of that serene resolve which had grown strong by every exercise of its high prerogative. If she had been called now to die for any worthy cause, her race would have been ennobled by a second martyr, true to the blood of her who died under the cruel Queen.

Many sad sights she saw in the great hospital where she passed some months at intervals,—one never to be forgotten. An officer was brought into the ward where she was in attendance. "Shot through the lungs,—pretty nearly gone."

She went softly to his bedside. He was breathing with great difficulty; his face was almost convulsed with the effort, but she recognized him in a moment: it was Murray Bradshaw,—Captain Bradshaw,—as she knew by the bars on his coat flung upon the bed where he had just been laid.

She addressed him by name, tenderly as if he had been a dear brother; she saw on his face that hers were to be the last kind words he would ever hear.

He turned his glazing eyes upon her. "Who are you?" he said in a feeble voice.

"An old friend," she answered; "you knew me as Myrtle Hazard."

He started. "You by my bedside! You caring for me!—for me, that burned the title to your fortune to ashes before your eyes! You can't forgive that,—I won't believe it! Don't you hate me, dying as I am?"

Myrtle was used to maintaining a perfect calmness of voice and countenance, and she held her feelings firmly down. "I have nothing to forgive you, Mr. Bradshaw. You may have meant to do me wrong, but Providence raised up a protector for me. The paper you burned was not the original,—it was a copy substituted for it—"

"And did the old man outwit me after all?" he cried out, rising suddenly in bed, and clasping his hands behind his head to give him a few[Pg 653] more gasps of breath. "I knew he was cunning, but I thought I was his match. It must have been Byles Gridley,—nobody else. And so the old man beat me after all, and saved you from ruin! Thank God that it came out so! Thank God! I can die now. Give me your hand, Myrtle."

She took his hand, and held it until it gently loosed its hold, and he ceased to breathe. Myrtle's creed was a simple one, with more of trust and love in it than of systematized articles of belief. She cherished the fond hope that these last words of one who had erred so miserably were a token of some blessed change which the influences of the better world might carry onward until he should have outgrown the sins and the weaknesses of his earthly career.

Soon after this she rejoined her husband in the camp. From time to time they received stray copies of the "Banner and Oracle," which, to Myrtle especially, were full of interest, even to the last advertisement. A few paragraphs may be reproduced here which relate to persons who have figured in this narrative.


"Married, on the 6th instant, Fordyce Hurlbut, M. D., to Olive, only daughter of the Rev. Ambrose Eveleth. The editor of this paper returns his acknowledgments for a bountiful slice of the wedding-cake. May their shadows never be less!"

Not many weeks after this appeared the following:—

"Died in this place, on the 28th instant, the venerable Lemuel Hurlbut, M. D., at the great age of XCVI years.

"'With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days understanding.'"

Myrtle recalled his kind care of her in her illness, and paid the tribute of a sigh to his memory,—there was nothing in a death like his to call for any aching regret.

The usual routine of small occurrences was duly recorded in the village paper for some weeks longer, when she was startled and shocked by receiving a number containing the following paragraph:—


"It is known to our readers that the steeple of the old meeting-house was struck by lightning about a month ago. The frame of the building was a good deal jarred by the shock, but no danger was apprehended from the injury it had received. On Sunday last the congregation came together as usual. The Rev. Mr. Stoker was alone in the pulpit, the Rev. Doctor Pemberton having been detained by slight indisposition. The sermon was from the text, 'The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. (Isaiah xi. 6.) The pastor described the millennium as the reign of love and peace, in eloquent and impressive language. He was in the midst of the prayer which follows the sermon, and had just put up a petition that the spirit of affection and faith and trust might grow up and prevail among the flock of which he was the shepherd, more especially those dear lambs whom he gathered with his arm, and carried in his bosom, when the old sounding-board, which had hung safely for nearly a century,—loosened, no doubt, by the bolt which had fallen on the church,—broke from its fastenings, and fell with a loud crash upon the pulpit, crushing the Rev. Mr. Stoker under its ruins. The scene that followed beggars description. Cries and shrieks resounded through the house. Two or three young women fainted entirely away. Mr. Penhallow, Deacon Rumrill, Gifted Hopkins, Esq., and others, came forward immediately, and after much effort succeeded in removing the wreck of the sounding-board, and extricating their unfortunate pastor. He was not fatally injured, it is hoped; but, sad to relate, he received such a violent blow upon the spine of the back, that palsy of the lower extremities is like to ensue. He is at present lying entirely helpless. Every attention is paid to him by his affectionately devoted family."

Myrtle had hardly got over the pain which the reading of this unfortunate occurrence gave her, when her eyes were gladdened by the following pleasing piece of intelligence, contained in a subsequent number of the village paper:—


"The Reverend Doctor Pemberton performed the impressive rite of baptism upon the first-born child of our distinguished townsman, Gifted Hopkins, Esq., the Bard of Oxbow Village, and Mrs. Susan P. Hopkins, his amiable and respected lady. The babe conducted himself with singular propriety on this occasion. He received the Christian name of Byron Tennyson Browning. May he prove worthy of his name and his parentage!"

The end of the war came at last, and found Colonel Lindsay among its unharmed survivors. He returned with Myrtle to her native village, and they established themselves, at the request of Miss Silence Withers, in the old family mansion. Miss Cynthia, to whom Myrtle made a generous allowance,[Pg 654] had gone to live in a town not many miles distant, where she had a kind of home on sufferance, as well as at The Poplars. This was a convenience just then, because Nurse Byloe was invited to stay with them for a month or two; and one nurse and two single women under the same roof keep each other in a stew all the time, as the old dame somewhat sharply remarked.

Master Byles Gridley had been appointed Myrtle's legal protector, and, with the assistance of Mr. Penhallow, had brought the property she inherited into a more manageable and productive form; so that, when Clement began his fine studio behind the old mansion, he felt that at least he could pursue his art, or arts, if he chose to give himself to sculpture, without that dreadful hag, Necessity, standing by him to pinch the features of all his ideals, and give them something of her own likeness.

Silence Withers was more cheerful now that she had got rid of her responsibility. She embellished her spare person a little more than in former years. These young people looked so happy! Love was not so unendurable, perhaps, after all.—No woman need despair,—especially if she has a house over her, and a snug little property. A worthy man, a former missionary, of the best principles, but of a slightly jocose and good-humored habit, thought that he could piece his widowed years with the not insignificant fraction of life left to Miss Silence, to their mutual advantage. He came to the village, therefore, where Father Pemberton was very glad to have him supply the pulpit in the place of his unfortunate disabled colleague. The courtship soon began, and was brisk enough; for the good man knew there was no time to lose at his period of life,—or hers either, for that matter. It was a rather odd specimen of love-making; for he was constantly trying to subdue his features to a gravity which they were not used to, and she was as constantly endeavoring to be as lively as possible, with the innocent desire of pleasing her light-hearted suitor.

"Vieille fille fait jeune mariée." Silence was ten years younger as a bride than she had seemed as a lone woman. One would have said she had got out of the coach next to the hearse, and got into one some half a dozen behind it,—where there is often good and reasonably cheerful conversation going on about the virtues of the deceased, the probable amount of his property, or the little slips he may have committed, and where occasionally a subdued pleasantry at his expense sets the four waistcoats shaking that were lifting with sighs a half-hour ago in the house of mourning. But Miss Silence, that was, thought that two families, with all the possible complications which time might bring, would be better in separate establishments. She therefore proposed selling The Poplars to Myrtle and her husband, and removing to a house in the village, which would be large enough for them, at least for the present. So the young folks bought the old house, and paid a mighty good price for it, and enlarged it, and beautified and glorified it, and one fine morning went together down to the Widow Hopkins's, whose residence seemed in danger of being a little crowded,—for Gifted lived there with his Susan,—and what had happened might happen again,—and gave Master Byles Gridley a formal and most persuasively worded invitation to come up and make his home with them at The Poplars.

Now Master Gridley has been betrayed into palpable and undisguised weakness at least once in the presence of this assembly, who are looking upon him almost for the last time before they part from him, and see his face no more. Let us not inquire too curiously, then, how he received this kind proposition. It is enough, that, when he found that a new study had been built on purpose for him, and a sleeping-room attached to it so that he could live there without disturbing anybody if he chose, he consented to remove there for a while, and that he was there established amidst great rejoicing.

Cynthia Badlam had fallen of late into[Pg 655] poor health. She found at last that she was going; and as she had a little property of her own,—as almost all poor relations have, only there is not enough of it,—she was much exercised in her mind as to the final arrangements to be made respecting its disposition. The Rev. Dr. Pemberton was one day surprised by a message, that she wished to have an interview with him. He rode over to the town in which she was residing, and there had a long conversation with her upon this matter. When this was settled, her mind seemed to be more at ease. She died with a comfortable assurance that she was going to a better world, and with a bitter conviction that it would be hard to find one that would offer her a worse lot than being a poor relation in this.

Her little property was left to Rev. Eliphalet Pemberton and Jacob Penhallow, Esq., to be by them employed for such charitable purposes as they should elect, educational or other. Father Pemberton preached an admirable funeral sermon, in which he praised her virtues, known to this people among whom she had long lived, and especially that crowning act by which she devoted all she had to purposes of charity and benevolence.

The old clergyman seemed to have renewed his youth since the misfortune of his colleague had incapacitated him from labor. He generally preached in the forenoon now, and to the great acceptance of the people,—for the truth was that the honest minister who had married Miss Silence was not young enough or good-looking enough to be an object of personal attentions like the Rev. Joseph Bellamy Stoker,—and the old minister appeared to great advantage contrasted with him in the pulpit. Poor Mr. Stoker was now helpless, faithfully and tenderly waited upon by his own wife, who had regained her health and strength,—in no small measure, perhaps, from the great need of sympathy and active aid which her unfortunate husband now experienced. It was an astonishment to herself when she found that she who had so long been served was able to serve another. Some who knew his errors thought his accident was a judgment; but others believed that it was only a mercy in disguise,—it snatched him roughly from his sin, but it opened his heart to gratitude towards her whom his neglect could not alienate, and through gratitude to repentance and better thoughts. Bathsheba had long ago promised herself to Cyprian Eveleth; and, as he was about to become the rector of a parish in the next town, the marriage was soon to take place.

How beautifully serene Master Byles Gridley's face was growing! Clement loved to study its grand lines, which had so much strength and fine humanity blended in them. He was so fascinated by their noble expression that he sometimes seemed to forget himself, and looked at him more like an artist taking his portrait than like an admiring friend. He maintained that Master Gridley had a bigger bump of benevolence and as large a one of cautiousness as the two people most famous for the size of these organs on the phrenological chart he showed him, and proved it, or nearly proved it, by careful measurements of his head. Master Gridley laughed, and read him a passage on the pseudo-sciences out of his book.

The disposal of Miss Cynthia's bequest was much discussed in the village. Some wished the trustees would use it to lay the foundations of a public library. Others thought it should be applied for the relief of the families of soldiers who had fallen in the war. Still another set would take it to build a monument to the memory of those heroes. The trustees listened with the greatest candor to all these gratuitous hints. It was, however, suggested, in a well-written anonymous article which appeared in the village paper, that it was desirable to follow the general lead of the testator's apparent preference. The trustees were at liberty to do as they saw fit; but, other things being equal, some educational object[Pg 656] should be selected. If there were any orphan children in the place, it would seem to be very proper to devote the moderate sum bequeathed to educating them. The trustees recognized the justice of this suggestion. Why not apply it to the instruction and maintenance of those two pretty and promising children, virtually orphans, whom the charitable Mrs. Hopkins had cared for so long without any recompense, and at a cost which would soon become beyond her means? The good people of the neighborhood accepted this as the best solution of the difficulty. It was agreed upon at length by the trustees, that the Cynthia Badlam Fund for Educational Purposes should be applied for the benefit of the two foundlings known as Isosceles and Helminthia Hopkins.

Master Byles Gridley was greatly exercised about the two "preposterous names," as he called them, which in a moment of eccentric impulse he had given to these children of nature. He ventured to hint as much to Mrs. Hopkins. The good dame was vastly surprised. She thought they was about as pooty names as anybody had had given 'em in the village. And they was so handy, spoke short,—Sossy and Minthy,—she never should know how to call 'em anything else.

"But, my dear Mrs. Hopkins," Master Gridley urged, "if you knew the meaning they have to the ears of scholars, you would see that I did very wrong to apply such absurd names to my little fellow-creatures, and that I am bound to rectify my error. More than that, my dear madam, I mean to consult you as to the new names; and if we can fix upon proper and pleasing ones, it is my intention to leave a pretty legacy in my will to these interesting children."

"Mr. Gridley," said Mrs. Hopkins, "you're the best man I ever see, or ever shall see,... except my poor dear Ammi.... I'll do jest as you say about that, or about anything else in all this livin' world."

"Well, then, Mrs. Hopkins, what shall be the boy's name?"

"Byles Gridley Hopkins!" she answered instantly.

"Good Lord!" said Mr. Gridley, "think a minute, my dear madam. I will not say one word,—only think a minute, and mention some name that will not suggest quite so many winks and whispers."

She did think something less than a minute, and then said aloud, "Abraham Lincoln Hopkins."

"Fifteen thousand children have been so christened the past year, on a moderate computation."

"Do think of some name yourself, Mr. Gridley; I shall like anything that you like. To think of those dear babes having a fund—if that's the right name—on purpose for 'em, and a promise of a legacy,—I hope they won't get that till they're a hundred year old!"

"What if we change Isosceles to Theodore, Mrs. Hopkins? That means the gift of God, and the child has been a gift from Heaven, rather than a burden."

Mrs. Hopkins seized her apron, and held it to her eyes. She was weeping. "Theodore!" she said,—"Theodore! My little brother's name, that I buried when I was only eleven year old. Drownded. The dearest little child that ever you see. I have got his little mug with Theodore on it now. Kep' o' purpose. Our little Sossy shall have it. Theodore P. Hopkins,—sha'n't it be, Mr. Gridley?"

"Well, if you say so; but why that P., Mrs. Hopkins? Theodore Parker, is it?"

"Doesn't P. stand for Pemberton, and isn't Father Pemberton the best man in the world—next to you, Mr. Gridley?"

"Well, well, Mrs. Hopkins, let it be so, if you like; if you are suited, I am. Now about Helminthia; there can't be any doubt about what we ought to call her,—surely the friend of orphans should be remembered in naming one of the objects of her charity."

"Cynthia Badlam Fund Hopkins,"[Pg 657] said the good woman triumphantly,—"is that what you mean?"

"Suppose we leave out one of the names,—four are too many. I think the general opinion will be that Helminthia should unite the names of her two benefactresses,—Cynthia Badlam Hopkins."

"Why, law! Mr. Gridley, isn't that nice?—Minthy and Cynthy,—there ain't but one letter of difference! Poor Cynthy would be pleased if she could know that one of our babes was to be called after her. She was dreadful fond of children."

On one of the sweetest Sundays that ever made Oxbow Village lovely, the Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Pemberton was summoned to officiate at three most interesting; ceremonies,—a wedding and two christenings, one of the latter a double one.

The first was celebrated at the house of the Rev. Mr. Stoker, between the Rev. Cyprian Eveleth and Bathsheba, daughter of the first-named clergyman. He could not be present on account of his great infirmity, but the door of his chamber was left open that he might hear the marriage service performed. The old, white-haired minister, assisted, as the papers said, by the bridegroom's father, conducted the ceremony according to the Episcopal form. When he came to those solemn words in which the husband promises fidelity to the wife so long as they both shall live, the nurse, who was watching near the poor father, saw him bury his face in his pillow, and heard him murmur the words, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

The christenings were both to take place at the same service, in the old meeting-house. Colonel Clement Lindsay and Myrtle his wife came in, and stout Nurse Byloe bore their sturdy infant in her arms. A slip of paper was handed to the Reverend Doctor on which these words were written:—"The name is Charles Hazard."

The solemn and touching rite was then performed; and Nurse Byloe disappeared with the child, its forehead glistening with the dew of its consecration.

Then, hand in hand, like the babes in the wood, marched up the broad aisle—marshalled by Mrs. Hopkins in front, and Mrs. Gifted Hopkins bringing up the rear—the two children hitherto known as Isosceles and Helminthia. They had been well schooled, and, as the mysterious and to them incomprehensible ceremony was enacted, maintained the most stoical aspect of tranquillity. In Mrs. Hopkins's words, "They looked like picters, and behaved like angels."

That evening, Sunday evening as it was, there was a quiet meeting of some few friends at The Poplars. It was such a great occasion that the Sabbatical rules, never strict about Sunday evening,—which was, strictly speaking, secular time,—were relaxed. Father Pemberton was there, and Master Byles Gridley, of course, and the Rev. Ambrose Eveleth, with his son and his daughter-in-law, Bathsheba, and her mother, now in comfortable health, Aunt Silence and her husband, Doctor Hurlbut and his wife (Olive Eveleth that was), Jacob Penhallow, Esq., Mrs. Hopkins, her son and his wife (Susan Posey that was), the senior deacon of the old church (the admirer of the great Scott), the Editor-in-chief of the "Banner and Oracle," and, in the background, Nurse Byloe and the privileged servant, Mistress Kitty Fagan, with a few others whose names we need not mention.

The evening was made pleasant with sacred music, and the fatigues of two long services repaired by such simple refections as would not turn the holy day into a day of labor. A large-paper copy of the new edition of Byles Gridley's remarkable work was lying on the table. He never looked so happy,—could anything fill his cup fuller? In the course of the evening Clement spoke of the many trials through which they had passed in common with vast numbers of their countrymen, and some of those peculiar dangers which[Pg 658] Myrtle had had to encounter in the course of a life more eventful, and attended with more risks, perhaps, than most of them imagined. But Myrtle, he said, had always been specially cared for. He wished them to look upon the semblance of that protecting spirit who had been faithful to her in her gravest hours of trial and danger. If they would follow him into one of the lesser apartments up stairs they would have an opportunity to do so.

Myrtle wondered a little, but followed with the rest. They all ascended to the little projecting chamber, through the window of which her scarlet jacket caught the eyes of the boys paddling about on the river in those early days when Cyprian Eveleth gave it the name of the Fire-hang-bird's Nest.

The light fell softly but clearly on the dim and faded canvas from which looked the saintly features of the martyred woman, whose continued presence with her descendants was the old family legend. But underneath it Myrtle was surprised to see a small table with some closely covered object upon it. It was a mysterious arrangement, made without any knowledge on her part.

"Now, then, Kitty!" Mr. Lindsay said.

Kitty Fagan, who had evidently been taught her part, stepped forward, and removed the cloth which concealed the unknown object. It was a lifelike marble bust of Master Byles Gridley.

"And this is what you have been working at so long,—is it, Clement?" Myrtle said.

"Which is the image of your protector, Myrtle?" he answered, smiling.

Myrtle Hazard Lindsay walked up to the bust, and kissed its marble forehead, saying, "This is the face of my Guardian Angel!"


From the first, our country has been a refuge, not only for kings and princes and statesmen and warriors, but for all sorts of adventurers and impostors. Following hard after Kosciuszko, General Charles Lee, Baron Steuben, Baron de Kalb, Lord Stirling, and Lafayette, we had Talleyrand, Louis Philippe, and Jerome Bonaparte, and Joseph, king of Spain; and, but for a sudden change of wind, might have had Napoleon the Great himself—after the affair of Waterloo. We have always been, and must continue to be, overrun with pretenders, mountebanks, blood relations of Charles Fox, Lord Byron, and the Guelphs, who are always in the market.

Never, at any time, however, have we had a more puzzling or mysterious visitant than Major-General Bratish—Baron Fratelin—Count Eliovich. I knew him well,—better, I believe, than others who had known him longer, but under less trying circumstances. I stood by him through thick and thin. I fought his battles for a long while, and almost always single-handed, against a cloud of enemies, at a time when he appeared to be hunted for his life by a band of conspirators, and was undoubtedly beset by eavesdroppers and spies at every turn.

All at once, after a dazzling career in the political and literary world beyond seas, continuing for many years, and followed by a course here which kept him always before the public, and for something more than two years made it almost a distinction for anybody to be acquainted with him, this General Bratish—Count Eliovich—found[Pg 659] himself an outcast, helpless and hopeless, obliged to live from hand to mouth.

That he was greatly belied, I had reason to know. That he was cruelly misunderstood, and wickedly misrepresented by the whole newspaper press of our country, I had reason to believe, upon evidence not to be questioned; but we are anticipating.

One day, in the summer or fall of 1839, Colonel Bouchette of Quebec, son of the late Surveyor-General of Canada, brought a stranger to see me, whom he introduced as Major-General Bratish, late in the service of her Catholic Majesty, the Queen of Spain, and associate of General De Lacy Evans, of the Auxiliary Legion. They were both (Bouchette and Bratish) living in Portland at the time, and occupied chambers in the same building; and I inferred from what passed in this or in a subsequent interview that the Colonel had known the General in Quebec or Montreal, about the time of the outbreak there in which they were implicated.

The object they had in view, on their first visit, was to open a way for General Bratish to lecture in Portland, upon some one—or more—of many subjects,—on Greece, Hungary, Poland, the war in Spain, South America, our own Revolutionary War, modern languages, or matters and things in general.

The appearance and deportment of the gentleman were much in his favor. He seemed both frank and fearless, with a mixture of modesty and self-reliance quite captivating. He looked to be about five-and-thirty, according to my present recollection, stood five feet nine or ten, with a broad chest and good figure. He had not much of military bearing,—certainly not more than we see in General Grant,—and on the whole bore the appearance of a young, handsome, healthy, well-bred Englishman, accustomed to good society. He was neither talkative nor reserved, but natural and free; speaking our language with uncommon propriety, French and German still better, and Italian like a native, and often expressing himself with singular strength and picturesqueness,—reminding me of the Italian poet and critic, Ugo Foscolo,—whom I saw at the time he was furnishing the papers translated by Mrs. Sarah Austin for the Edinburgh Review.

Arrangements were soon made for a first appearance; and the result was all that could have been hoped for, and much more than could reasonably have been expected. His manner was dignified, unpretending, and earnest; and he had a sort of unstudied natural eloquence, quite wonderful in a foreigner, unacquainted with our idioms and unaccustomed to platform speaking. Whatever might be the subject, he always talked with an air of modest truthfulness, and gave the most dramatic and startling narratives, like an eyewitness on the stand, testifying under oath. Never shall I forget Warsaw, nor the battle of Navarino, as rapidly sketched by him in a sort of parenthesis, while he was lecturing upon a very different subject; he wanted an illustration, and both of these pictures flashed suddenly out upon us. The other lectures that followed his first seemed, up to the very last, to grow better and better, until we had faith, not only in his representations, but in the man himself.

Instead of shunning, he rather invited inquiry; and at an interview with the late Mr. Edward Preble, son of the Commodore, when that gentleman was questioning him about Tripoli, and was preparing to show him the very charts used by the Commodore, the General refused to look at them, and instantly drew a sketch of the harbor, with the castles, batteries, and fortifications, and gave the soundings and approaches; and all these, upon a careful examination, proved to be correct in every particular, according to the testimony of Mr. Preble himself.

About this time, in consequence of the favorable notices that appeared in our Portland papers, the Philadelphia[Pg 660] Ledger, the Saturday Courier, and some other journals of that city, opened upon him in full cry, followed by the American press generally; the Courier declaring that he had taken leg bail and escaped from Canada,—that he had run away from Rochester, after obtaining five hundred dollars from Henry McIlvaine, Esq., of the Philadelphia bar, in the shape of fees for constituting that gentleman "Consul-General of Greece"! By others he was charged with being a tin-pedler, a horse-thief, and a leech-doctor, who had assumed the title of Count long after his arrival in this country. Among many anonymous letters—letters addressed to strangers in Portland—came one from Henry McIlvaine himself, saying: "I see by the Portland papers, that a man calling himself sometimes General Bratish, at others General Eliovich, Count Eliovich, Baron Fratelin and Walbeck, and claiming to have been a general in the Polish, Spanish, Mexican, and other armies, is now in your town; and I should suppose, from the papers who have noticed him, imposing upon respectable people. Having seen something of this person, and been myself a victim, I have felt it due to my friends in Portland to put them on their guard. He is the son of a merchant in Trieste, driven from his home and his friends in consequence of his crimes. His pretension to any of the titles he claims is altogether without foundation. After exhausting Europe, he has within a few years turned his talents to good account in our country. He made his appearance here about two years ago as Consul-General and Envoy from Greece, in which capacity he was very free with his commissions of vice-consulships in New York and Philadelphia. He was indicted here for forgery,—convicted,—obtained a new trial by the false oaths of his associates, some of whom are now in the state prison (one for horse-stealing), and gave bail for his appearance at the next term. The pretence for a new trial was the absence of a witness who never existed, but who was expected to prove his innocence. Before the next term, the Consul-General took wing, leaving his bail, a simple Frenchman, to pay the forfeit. It would be impossible for me to give anything like a history of his crimes in a letter. Suffice it to say that he is a notorious swindler, the most unblushing and inexhaustible liar and the most finished rascal I ever saw."

If this were true, how happened it that the notorious swindler, the horse-thief, the convicted forger, and the escaped convict was still at large,—and not only at large, but always before the public, and always without a change of name? Why was he not surrendered by his bail? Why not followed by a bench warrant, or a requisition from the Governor of Pennsylvania? Of course, the story could not be true, as told by Mr. McIlvaine. It was too absurd on the face of it.

But was any part of the story true? and, if so, how much? Having been frequently imposed upon, both at home and abroad, by adventurers and pretenders, I determined to go to the bottom of this case before I committed myself, and I must say that, for a while, the stories told by General Bratish, and the explanations he gave, seemed to me still more absurd and preposterous.

According to his story—to give one example out of a score—he had been obliged to apply for the benefit of the Insolvent Act, in Philadelphia, owing to losses he had sustained by lending money to distressed compatriots, and eleemosynary outcasts, and had been opposed in the Court of Insolvency by Colonel John Stille, Jr. and Mr. Henry McIlvaine, who threatened him with a prosecution for the forgery of consular papers, if he dared to appear. He declared that he did appear, nevertheless, and was honorably discharged; that his claims and evidences of debt, handed over to Mr. McIlvaine, the assignee, amounted to $7,620 for cash lent, while his debts altogether amounted to less than $1,000; that he was arrested while in court, on a warrant for forgery, and[Pg 661] there subjected to a long and rigorous examination by Messrs. McIlvaine and Stille, who had got possession of all the claims against him; that the offence charged consisted in issuing a commission as Vice-Consul of Greece, with General Bratish's own signature! that McIlvaine went before Mr. Alderman Binns to get the warrant for forgery, and employed Colonel John Stille, Jr., his coadjutor, to appear as public prosecutor in the Mayor's Court of Philadelphia; that he, General Bratish, was put upon trial before a bench of aldermen, not a man of the whole except the Recorder being acquainted with the rudiments of law; that, on being arraigned, he refused to plead, and called no witnesses himself, though some were called by his counsel,—when the Recorder directed the plea of "Not guilty" to be entered, and the trial to proceed; that he claimed to be a foreign consul provisionally appointed, entered a formal protest, which appeared in the papers of the day, and never deigned to open his mouth, until, to the consternation and amazement of all who understood the case, the jury found him guilty, under the direction of the Recorder,—a direction which amounted to this, namely, that, while General Bratish could not be legally convicted of the offence charged, he might be convicted of another offence not charged! that a motion for a new trial was entered at the suggestion of the Recorder himself, and was finally argued in a burst of indignation by General Bratish, who thrust aside his counsel, and refused to be delivered on technical grounds; that the motion was opposed by Messrs. McIlvaine and Stille, but prevailed; that the verdict was set aside, a new trial granted, and General Bratish was allowed to go at large, on greatly reduced bail, every member of the court concurring, except Mr. Alderman McKean; that no sooner was the trial over, and the proceedings published, than a public meeting was called through the National Gazette, the Public Ledger, the United States Gazette, and the Pennsylvanian, and all persons were invited to appear, and bring forward their charges—if any they had—against him; that such a meeting, both large and respectable, was held at the College of Pharmacy, and resolutions were adopted, declaring the character of General Bratish to be "unimpeached and unimpeachable" his authority from Greece to be fully proved, and his identity to have been established by the testimony of "several highly respectable gentlemen present"; that, before he could have another trial, the court was abolished; and that, after waiting two months for the prosecutor to move, for want of something better to do, General Bratish betook himself to Canada; that he was followed there, watched, arrested for a horse-thief, immediately and honorably discharged, re-arrested upon a suspicion of high treason, put beyond the reach of a habeas corpus writ, and confined for seven months, in the citadel of Quebec and elsewhere, as a prisoner of state, &c., &c.

Such was a part of his story; and astonishing as it may appear—incredible, I might say—I found it, after a most careful investigation, to be not only substantially true, but scrupulously exact. The evidence came to me through unwilling or prejudiced witnesses,—my friend, Henry C. Carey of Philadelphia, among the number,—and was corroborated throughout by official documents and published proceedings. And here I may as well add, that Mr. Arnold Buffum was chairman, and J. Griffith, M. D. secretary, of the meeting above referred to, of March 6th, 1838.

While this unhappy controversy was raging, and our people were dividing upon the questions involved, a little incident occurred which had a very wholesome effect upon our misgivings. The General happened to be in conversation with a stranger one day, when the subject of Unitarianism, as it existed in the North of Europe, came up. Something was then said about the great Unitarian Convention held at Cork, Ireland, two or three years before.[Pg 662] General Bratish said he was in attendance, and had let fall some remarks there. A by-stander, who had very little faith in our hero, caught at the ravelling thus dropped. If what the General said were true, surely some evidence might be found by diligent search. And, sure enough! the gentleman found a copy of the Christian Pioneer, in Boston, giving an account of that very Convention. He acknowledged to me that he opened the journal with fear and trembling, but soon came upon what purported to be an abstract of a speech by General Bratish, and what furnished abundant confirmation of his highest pretensions as a soldier, as a writer, as a patriot, and as a philanthropist. I saw the Pioneer myself. It was a monthly journal, published in Glasgow, Scotland, July, 1835. The speech, as reported, was eminently characteristic, and the summary that followed was in the following words:—

"The society was gratified on this occasion by the presence of the Rev. George Harris of Glasgow, whose visit to Cork the committee gladly availed themselves of, earnestly requesting his attendance; and of Mr. Bratish, a native of Hungary, and a member of the Hungarian Diet, who, in consequence of his intrepid advocacy of the cause of much-injured Poland, both in his place in the legislature, and subsequently with his pen and his sword, has been obliged to fly his country, and take refuge in this kingdom."

Among the most damaging allegations was one to this effect, that Mr. Forsyth, our Secretary of State, had contradicted the story of General Bratish about his consular authority and proceedings in every particular. So far was this from being true, that Mr. Forsyth confirmed the story of General Bratish in substance, acknowledging to me that he knew nothing to his prejudice, and that General Bratish had held such communications with him as he had represented.

Yet more, while I was patiently and quietly pursuing these investigations, Colonel Bouchette handed me a copy of the Bath (Me.) Telegraph Extra, of July 19, 1839, containing a report of the proceedings at a public meeting held there, in consequence of the newspaper charges and anonymous letters which had followed our adventurer to that city. It was headed "General Bratish Eliovich (Baron Fratelin)," and was signed by Judge Clapp (Ebenezer), and by Henry Masters, Secretary. The resolutions were brief but conclusive; and the committee that drew them up, after a thorough investigation, were chosen from among the most respectable citizens of the place. "Every specific charge brought forward by responsible persons," they say, "was most completely refuted, and the truth was found entirely in accordance with the statements and accounts of the transactions given beforehand by General Bratish"; and they declare him "entitled to the confidence and respect of the community at large," saying that "his conduct in this State has been that of a gentleman and man of honor."

I found too, that, go where he would, behave as he might, the moment his name appeared in the papers, anonymous letters and paragraphs followed, denouncing him as a "pedler," as a "native Yankee," as a thief who had robbed a fellow-boarder at Bedford Springs and then run away, taking one of the most unfrequented roads "across the country to Cumberland, upon which no public conveyance runs"; and yet I found, upon further inquiry, that he went off by the regular mail coach direct to Philadelphia, drove straight to the Marshall House, where he had always put up, (one of the largest and most respectable establishments in the city,) and entered his name at length on the travellers' book in the usual way, and was received by McIlvaine himself and others he had met with at Bedford Springs, on a footing of the most friendly intimacy, for over two months after the alleged robbery and exposure.

I ascertained further, that he came to this country in the summer of 1836 on board the Statesman, Captain Mansfield,[Pg 663] from Gothenburg to Salem, with letters from Christopher Hughes, our Chargé d'Affaires at Stockholm, to his son at New York, and with a Swedish passport to North America, duly authenticated, in which he was called "the Honorable John Bratish de Fratelin"; that he had many other letters, bills of credit, and drafts, and a large amount of money in gold,—some "thousands of dollars" according to the testimony of Captain N. B. Mansfield himself, with whom I communicated by letter; that he was brought on board in the Governor's barge, and was known to have been treated with great distinction by the Swedish nobility, and to have been so well received by Bernadotte himself, the king of Sweden, as to give rise to a report that he was a son of Murat, the late king of Naples, whose queen he certainly resembled, as he did others of the Bonaparte family; that on the passage he put on no airs, claimed no title, but chose to be called plain Mr. Bratish, until his rank was discovered, and he came to be known as General John Bratish Eliovich (the son of Elias), Baron Fratelin; that after a twelve-month's residence at Boston and Salem, holding intercourse with what is there called the best society, he went to Washington, where he passed the winter of 1837-38 among the fashionables and upper-tens; that, while there, he received the provisional appointment of Consul-General for the United States from the Regency of Greece, dated February 15, 1837, upon which he threw up an engagement he had entered into with General Duff Greene, which secured him a respectable support, and set about seeing the country; that after travelling from New York to New Orleans, he returned to the North, and stopped for a month or two at Bedford Springs, about a day's journey from Philadelphia; that being disappointed in remittances and receipts, and unable to collect moneys he had lent to his compatriots, he could not pay his bill for six weeks' board, amounting to fifty dollars, and went to Philadelphia, leaving with Mr. Brown, the landlord, a part of his baggage and books, after trying in vain to dispose of a valuable platina medal; that in Philadelphia, Mr. McIlvaine—notwithstanding the alleged robbery—lent him one hundred and sixty-five dollars, and was constituted Vice-Consul of Greece ad interim, that is, "until the pleasure of his Majesty, the king of Greece, should be known."

Here then was the foundation of all the attacks made upon the unhappy General; but was there not something behind,—something below this foundation? The extraordinary case of Dr. Follen, who was hunted from pillar to post, year after year, and wellnigh lied into his grave, shows what may be done by conspirators and spies and slanderers, when a respectable man grows obnoxious to a foreign power. If he is at all headstrong or imprudent, nothing can save him. Oddly enough, it happens that one of the very papers which followed Dr. Follen whithersoever he went, like a sleuth-hound,—the Philadelphia Gazette,—was among the bitterest and most unrelenting, of those that assailed General Bratish.

While pursuing these investigations, I learned from what I regarded as high authority, that General Bratish had presented an address to Lord Normanby, at the head of the whole consular body, having been chosen for that special purpose; and I was referred to the Irish Royal Cork Almanac for 1835, where, under the head of Foreign Consuls, I read, "Colonel John Bratish (d'Elias) Eliovich, K. C. C., S. S., L. H., Consul-General of Greece, Mexico, Buenos Ayres, and Switzerland, Consular Agent of Turkey."

How were these contradictions to be reconciled,—the facts proved with the stories told? If General Bratish was the swindler and impostor they pretended, the sooner he was exposed, and the more publicly, the better. On the contrary, if he was an honest man—a man greatly wronged and belied, like Dr. Follen—he ought to be defended,—but how? He was poor and friendless,[Pg 664] and the whole newspaper press of the country was either against him, or wholly indifferent. Had he been on trial in a court of justice, any lawyer would have defended him,—nay, for that matter, he might have defended himself. But if he entered the field as a writer, alone against a host, volumes would have to be written,—and who would publish them,—who read them?

That I might bring the matter to issue at once, knowing well, and from long experience, that, when people are accused through the newspaper press of our country, they are always believed to be guilty until they have established their innocence, I sent a communication to the Portland Advertiser of October 15, 1839, with my name, charging upon Mr. Henry McIlvaine and Colonel John Stille, Jr. all that I afterwards repeated with more distinctness and solemnity in "The New World," for which I was then writing (and from which I withdrew in consequence of what I then regarded as unfairness toward General Bratish on the part of my coadjutors, Messrs. Park Benjamin and Epes Sargent), and arraigning both McIlvaine and Stille, as conspirators and libellers.

One day, while this controversy was raging, the General called upon me, and begged me, for my own satisfaction, to inquire of Baron de Mareschal, the Austrian Minister, respecting certain charges that had just appeared against him. I consented, and immediately despatched the following letter to the care of my friend, the Honorable George Evans, our Representative in Congress, requesting him to see the Baron for me.

"To His Excellency General Baron de Mareschal, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from his Majesty the Emperor of Austria.

"The undersigned is led to apply to your Excellency in behalf of a gentleman here, who has been assailed by a great variety of newspaper slanders, most of which have been triumphantly refuted. The gentleman referred to is known here, by his passports and other credentials, as John Bratish Eliovich, late a general in the service of her most Catholic Majesty, the Queen of Spain, and is now an American citizen.

"He states—and he bids me trust confidently to the character of your Excellency for an early reply—that in 1828 he was at Rio Janeiro; that instead of 'running away,' as reported, with a large amount of funds belonging to his uncle, Christopher Bratish, he left Rio Janeiro in consequence of being appointed by the Emperor, Dom Pedro, Brazilian Consul to Austria, with the approbation and consent of your Excellency, manifested by a regular passport, granted by your Excellency's legation.

"The friends of General Bratish in this region are numerous and respectable, and they beg your Excellency's reply to the following questions:—

"Is the statement above made by General Bratish true?

"And if your Excellency would be so kind as to say whether, in your opinion, there can be any foundation for the story respecting the 'large amount of money' said to have been carried off by General Bratish, when he is reported to have run away from Rio Janeiro, your Excellency would gladly oblige, not only the undersigned, but a number of other persons deeply interested in the character of General Bratish.

"Meanwhile, I am with respect your Excellency's most obedient servant,

"—— ——.

"Portland, Me., April, 1840."

"That your Excellency may know who has taken this liberty, the undersigned begs leave to refer you to the Hon. George Evans, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, General Scott, or to any member of Congress from the Northern or Middle States."

Through some oversight in the transcribing, the full date of this letter does not appear; but I soon received the following from Mr. Evans:[Pg 665]

House of Representatives, Washington,

April 20, 1840.

"My dear Sir,—Your favor of ——, enclosing letter for General Mareschal was duly received, and I immediately despatched a messenger to deliver it to the General, with a note in your behalf. Yesterday the General called upon me to say that he felt constrained, from various circumstances, to decline a reply to it. He wishes you to understand that he does this with entire respect for yourself, whom he should be very happy personally to oblige. He said, if the information you seek was desirable for any personal or private purposes of your own,—such as, for instance, if any alliance was in contemplation with any of your friends,—he should feel bound to give you a reply. But he does not think that he ought to be drawn into a newspaper discussion, or to become the subject of comment or remark in such a matter. He wished me to explain his feelings, and hopes you will not impute his declining to any want of regard for you, and that you will appreciate the motives which govern him. I am not at liberty to detail a conversation I held with him on the general subject of your letter. He did not show it to me, though he spoke of its contents.

"Very faithfully yours,

"Geo. Evans."

Very adroit and very diplomatic, to be sure, on the part of the Baron; but surely he might have answered yes or no to the first question, without committing himself. And why not show my letter to Mr. Evans? Taking the ground he did, however, he forced me to the following conclusion, namely, that he could not answer No, and was afraid, for reasons of state, perhaps, to answer Yes.

And now, what was to be done? Should I prepare a memoir, setting forth all these charges, with such refutations and such explanations as had occurred, and appeal to the public. There seemed to be no other way left.

While I was preparing this memoir, which made a pamphlet of forty-eight large octavo pages, with the documentary evidence in small print, General Bratish was at my elbow; and one evening, after I had read over to him what I had written, I happened to say that I was exceedingly sorry for the loss of his orders and decorations in Canada,—they would have been such a corroboration of his story.

"Lost!" said he, "they are not lost."

"Where are they?"

"In the bank, with some other valuables."

"In the bank! When can you get them for me?"

"To-morrow, when the bank is open."

Shall I confess the truth? So sudden and so startling was this declaration, after what I had seen in the papers about the loss of these badges and orders in Canada, that I began, for the first time, to have uncomfortable suspicions. But, sure enough, the next day he brought them all to me, together with the original contract entered into between Colonel De Lacy Evans (afterward General Evans) and General Bratish, with the approbation of Alva, the Spanish Ambassador at the Court of St. James, whereby it was provided that "John Bratish Eliovich, Esquire, K. C. C., V. S. S., V. L. H., &c., &c.," should enjoy the rank, pay, and emoluments of a Major-General in the Auxiliary Legion then raising for the Queen of Spain. This document, signed by Colonel De Lacy Evans and Carbonel, and approved by Alva, styled him "Major-General John Bratish Eliovich, K. C. C., V. L. H., &c., &c.," and bore the signature of General Bratish, whereby his identity was established; and the decorations and orders put into my hands were the following: "Knight Commander of Christ," the "Tower and Sword" of Portugal, the "Saviour" of Greece, and the "South Star" of Brazil.

Here, certainly, was pretty strong confirmation; and yet on this very evening, my wife, who sat where she could see all the changes of his countenance[Pg 666] while I was writing the memoir and occasionally asking a question without looking up, saw enough to satisfy her that Bratish was making a fool of her husband, and, the moment his back was turned, expressed her astonishment that a man of sense—meaning me—could be so easily imposed upon. So much for the instinct of a woman; but more of this hereafter.

Not long after this, the General rushed into my office in a paroxysm of rage,—the only time I ever saw him disturbed. His honor had been questioned, and by whom, of all the world? Why,—would I believe it?—by his friend, Colonel Bouchette! Upon further inquiry, I found that he had received a draft from his sister, which had to pass through a secret channel to him, lest their estates should be confiscated in Hungary; that, after two or three disappointments, he had succeeded in getting it cashed here without endangering a certain friend in New York; that on mentioning the circumstance to Colonel Bouchette, who had counselled him not to attempt the negotiation here, that gentleman had laughed in his face; whereupon the General turned his back on him, and hurried off to my office. A friend was with me at the time. "Ach, mein Freund!" said the General, as he finished the story, "he doubted my word, he questioned my honor, he asked to see the money; but I refused to show him the money,—I was indignant, outraged; but I have it here,—here!" slapping his breast-pocket, "and I am ready to show it to you." I declined; he persisted; until at last, afraid of the impression he might make upon my friend Winslow, who was present, I consented. But he only talked the louder and the faster, without producing the money; and when I grew serious, and insisted on seeing it, he acknowledged that he hadn't it with him!

"Where is it, sir?" said I.

"At my lodgings."

"And how long will it take you to produce it?"

"Ten minutes."

"Very well,"—taking out my watch,—"I will wait fifteen, and my friend here will stay with me, and be a witness."

Away went the General, and, to my amazement, I must acknowledge, within the fifteen minutes he returned, bringing with him a cigar-box containing about five hundred dollars in bills and specie, which I counted.

Here was a narrow escape,—a matter of life or death to him, certainly, if not to me. But where had he got the money? He was very poor, judging by appearances. The lecturing was over for a time, and there was no field for conjecture. To this hour the whole affair is a mystery. Unlikely as it was that he should have obtained it from his sister, there seemed to be no other explanation possible.

Other perplexing and contradictory evidence for and against the General began to appear. I never saw him on horseback but once, and then I was frightened for him. As a general, he ought, of course, to know how to ride. As a native Hungarian, he must have been born to the saddle, if not in it. Nevertheless, I trembled for him, though the creature he had mounted was far from being either vicious or spirited; and then, too, when he tried waltzing, he reminded me, and others I am afraid, of "the man a-mowing."

On the other hand, he was well-bred and self-possessed, full of accurate information, and never obtrusive. And here I am reminded of another singular circumstance, which went far in confirmation of the story he told. He gave J. S. Buckingham, Esq., M. P., whom I had known in London as the Oriental traveller, a letter to me, in which he speaks of him as a member of the British-Polish Committee in London,—thereby endangering the whole superstructure he had been rearing with so much care. Mr. Buckingham wrote me from New York, but failed to see me.

Worn out and wellnigh discouraged by these persecutions, the General now left us, and went to New York, from[Pg 667] which place he wrote me, under date of October 9, 1840, as follows. I give his own orthography, to show that, although acquainted with our language to such a degree that he was able to lecture in it, as Kossuth did, and to speak it with uncommon readiness, he must have learnt it by ear, like many others with which he was familiar enough for ordinary purposes.

"One of my last occupation upon American soil is one of a painful, and at the same times pleasant nature, to wit, to address you, my noble, my chivalerouse, my excellent friend. My God revard you and may he for the benefit of mankind scater many such persons trought the world—it would prevent misantropy and it would serve as the best antidote against crimes and deceptions, persecutions and sufferings. O could you know all what I suffered in my eventful life, you would indead belive that no romance is equal to reality. But—basta—God is great and merciful, and I never yit and I hope never will find occassion to doubt the wundaful ways of his mercy.... Perhaps no times since I cam to America, I had occassion for more patience than during the first days of my arrival in N. Y. Harshed by law, cut by some friends, findig once more by European new a change in Greece, with my funds low, I began indeed to feel bitterly my sad fate—when by one of this suden fricks which I offen prouve that man must never despair all changed quit casualy it was raported to the German Association that I am her—immediately I was invited to ther mittings, the French Lafayette Club followed suit, and yesterday evning your humble servant was by acclamation apointed Vice-President of the General Union of all the forign assotiations of the city of New York (the German Tepcanoe Club 30 pers. excepted)....

"I am very sorry that I cannot tell you where I go—I sail in the cliper armed brig Fairfield for the West India unter very avantageouse circumstances a eccelent pay rang and emoluments you may guess the rest be assured it is a honorable a very honorable employment. My next for the South wia Havanna or New York or New Orleans will inform you of the rest."

Accompanying this letter was a slip from one of the large New York dailies confirming his story, and reporting the resolutions passed at a great public meeting, of which A. Sarony was President and Chairman, John Bratish, Vice-President, and George Sonne, Secretary. "The call of the meeting was read and adopted," says the report, "when General Bratish addressed the assemblage in the English, French, and German languages, in the most patriotic and eloquent manner. His speech was received with enthusiastic and repeated applause."

And here for a long season we lost sight of the General, though two or three circumstances occurred, each trivial in itself, but all tending to give a new aspect to the affair, just before he left us, we had a small party at our house, where, among other amusements, a game called "The Four Elements" was introduced. When it was all over, and our visitors were gone, a costly handkerchief, with a lace border, was not to be found. It had been last seen in the hands of General Bratish. Having no idea that, if he had pocketed it by mistake, it would not be returned, we waited patiently,—very patiently,—supposing he might have thrown aside his company dress-coat without examining the pockets, and that when he put it on again the handkerchief would be forthcoming, of course. But no,—nothing was heard of it, until one evening at a lecture my wife suddenly caught my arm, and, pointing to a white handkerchief the General was flourishing within reach, said, "There's Aunt Mary's handkerchief, now!"—"Nonsense, my dear!"—"It is, I tell you; I can see where he has ripped off the lace." I thought her beside herself; but still—why the sudden substitution of a large red Spitalfields for the white handkerchief? "Perhaps," said I to[Pg 668] my wife,—"perhaps the handkerchief was not marked, and he did not know where to find the owner."—"But it was marked, and he knows the owner as well as you do," was the reply. Of course, I had nothing more to say; and so I laughed the exhibition off, as a sort of pas de mouchoir, like that which brought Forrest into a controversy with Macready.

And then something else happened. I missed the only copy I had in the world of "Niagara and Goldau," which he had borrowed of me and returned, with emphasis; and many months after he had disappeared, I received a volume of poems from the heart of Germany, entitled, "Der Heimathgruss, Eine Pfingstgabe von Mathilde von Tabouillot, geborene Giester," published at Wesel, 1840, with a letter from the lady herself, thanking me with great warmth and earnestness for my pamphlet in defence of General Bratish. Putting that and that together, I began to have a suspicion that my copy of "Niagara and Goldau" had been presented to the authoress by my friend, the General,—perhaps in the name of the author.

Yet more. While these little incidents were accumulating and seething and simmering, I received a letter from Louis Bratish, in beautiful French, dated Birmingham, 7th October, 1841, in which he thanked me most heartily for what I had done as the friend of his brother, "John Bratish,"—withholding the "General,"—and begging me to consider it as coming from the family; and about the same time, another letter, and the last I ever received, from the General himself. It was dated "Torrington House, near London, 12th October, 1841," and contained the following passages:—

"I cannot account for the very extraordinary silence in speite of all my request that you would at leas be so kind as to inform me if you realy don't wish to hear more from me. I know your Hart too well not to be persuaded that it must be some mistake or some intrigue.

"At last my family begin to understand how much they did wrong me and I have the pleasure to enclose you a letter of my yungest brother, which is now at the house of Messrs. Toniola brothers, a volunteer partner, to learn the english....

"Mr. Josua Dodge, late Special Agent of the U. S. in Germany, is returning in one or two days to America; this gentleman in consequence of his mission crossed and recrossed all Germany and Belgium. I met him in Germany; he was present at Stuttgard in a most critical moment, when, denunced by the Germanic Federation (in the name of Austria) I was in iminent peril. He acted as a true American, boldly stepped forward, asked the way and the werfore and united with my firmness, the American passports where respected, and Mr. Dodge succeded to get an official acknowledgment that nothing was known against my moral character, and they took refuge upon some little irregularity in the passport.... He, my friends and my family wished very much that I should at lease for some times rethurn to America (pour reson bien juste) but the recollection is too bitter yet.... Several Americans are now visiting my sister and her husband in Belgium—among them Mr. Bishop of Cont. and Mr. Rowly, C. S. of N. Y.—What would I give to see J. N and his amable family!...

"My address is Monsieur Le General Bratish (Eliovich), raccommandé à Mons. Latard, Vervois Belgique.

"P. S. Great excitement at London. The Morning Chronicle is out upon me for having done I don't know what in North America and Germany. All fidle-stik. I send you the paper to see how eassy John Bull is gulled. I could send you some important news. Attention!!! keep your powder dray!"

Nothing more was heard of our mysterious General until a letter fell into my hands, purporting to be written by his brother Luigi. It was in choice Italian, and dated Birmingham, 16th April, 1842, charging the "Caro Fratello"[Pg 669] with having deceived him about Mr. Everett, complaining of his behavior to Dr. Sleigh and others who had befriended him; telling him that Dr. Sleigh, to whom he referred, doubted his Spanish commission, and believed him to have been a member of the "Hunter's Association,"—a band of horse-thieves in Canada,—and signifying, in language not to be misunderstood, that the family had given up all hope of him.

The next information we had was that the General had turned up at Havre, and was about being married to the daughter of a wealthy banker, and carried a commission as Major-General from the Governor of Maine! And then, after a lapse of two years, that he had been travelling with a British nobleman, whose baggage he had run away with,—that he was arrested for the offence, and tried in Malta, I do not know with what result; but I have now before me a supplement of the Malta Times of October 9, 1844, in Italian, Spanish, and English, wherein he refers to the testimonials of my friend, Albert Smith, Ex-M. C, and Levi Cutter, Mayor of Portland; complains bitterly of the late Mr. Carr, Minister of the United States at Constantinople; and says, among other things, what of itself were enough to show that he had claimed to be a General of the State of Maine, and thereby settling the question most conclusively and forever. His language is: "To one charge of Mr. Everett, I plead guilty; to wit, to have usurped, or succeeded to gain the good opinion of respectable people in the United States, and here I am glad, at the same time, to put Mr. Everett's mind at rest; he thinks it possible that I may be a General of the State of Maine, but he admits only the possibility, and expresses the hope that it may not be so,—this, after the pretension to know my birthplace, life, death, and miracles, and an assertion on his part to have had, or seen, a correspondence with the Executive of Maine, in my regard, is very diplomatic—very!—but his Excellency may be easy on this head. I do not share now the military glory and honor of fellowship with that very numerous body of generals of the United States Militia; and if evidence may be produced that I was attended by a staff, I assure his Excellency, that it was only to have my boots cleaned by a captain, to be shaved by a major, to be helped by a colonel, and to get my meals at the private personal head-quarters of a Gineral at one dollar per day."

And here I stop. From that day to this, nothing has been heard of General Bratish; but I should not be surprised to have him reappear, as if he had risen from the dead, in some new character, and so managing as to deceive the very elect. No such pretender has appeared since Cagliostro; and nobody ever succeeded so well in misleading public opinion, and embroiling so many persons of consideration, both in this country and in Europe, not excepting the Chevalier d'Éon, and the Princess Cariboo. Many other strange things might be related of Bratish, as, for example, his great speech in the Hungarian Diet, reported in the Allgemeine Zeitung,—the most impudent forgery of our day. But this paper is already longer than I intended; and I have only to add, that I have reason to believe now that he was indeed a native of Trieste, and that Colonel Stille and Mr. McIlvaine were right in saying what they did of him generally, though wrong in many of the particulars upon which they chiefly relied.

[Pg 670]


One February evening, more than a year ago, after a drive of fourteen miles over a lonely Kentucky road, I drew rein in front of a huge, rambling wooden building, standing solitary in the midst of the forest.

There was no village in sight to account for the presence of so large a structure, no adjacent farms, and, except a little patch in front of the house, no fields,—nothing but the solemn woods which nearly shut it in on every side.

I did not ask if this was the Mammoth Cave Hotel. I knew it without asking.

Here I was, then, at last,—about to see what I had desired to see ever since I was a boy!

But delay frequently comes with the certainty of accomplishing any long-cherished desire; and though I had driven with a hasty whip from the railway station fourteen miles away, and though the hotel proprietor offered to procure me a guide that evening, my haste to see the cave was unaccountably over. I ordered a fire in my room, and concluded to wait until morning.

It was too early in the season for the usual summer visitors, and I found myself the sole guest in this big, lonesome caravansary, that looked as though a dozen old-fashioned Dutch farm-houses had been placed in the midst of a wood-lot, and then connected by the roofs, the whole forming one straggling, weather-stained, labyrinthine building, full of little nests of rooms, high-pitched gables, cumbrous outside chimney-stacks, cavernous fireplaces, and low, wide corridors open at either end, where were uncertain shadows, and draughts of damp air that whispered and moaned all night long.

In the evening, as I sat before the blazing pile of logs in the fireplace, some one knocked at my door, and a negro servant looked in. Would I like to see the guide?

"Certainly. What is his name?"

"Nicholas, sah, Nicholas! But we all calls him Ole Nick."

Rather an ominous name, to be sure! but then, if one goes to the regions below, what guide so appropriate?

On presentation, his Majesty proved to be an interesting black man, considerably past middle age; wrinkled, as none but a genuine negro ever becomes; a short, broad, strong man, with a grizzled beard and mustache, quiet but steady eyes, grave in his demeanor, and concise in his conversation. He tells me of two routes by which I can make a tour through his dominions. The shortest one will require six hours to travel, and at the farthest will take me to the banks of the river Styx, six miles from the entrance to the cave. The other route will take the whole day, and will lead as far as the so-called "Maelström,"—a singular pit, a hundred and seventy-five feet deep,—and place nine miles of gloom between me and this outer world. And with these facts to be juggled and distorted in ridiculous combinations with remembrances of many persons and places in the vagaries of dreams, I went to bed and to sleep.

As the sun came up, we went down,—my guide and I,—down a rocky path along the side of a ravine that grew narrower and deeper until we came to a dilapidated house where the ravine seemed to end. Stepping upon the rotting piazza of this old house and facing "right about," there opened before us, as broad and lofty as the entrance to some ancient Egyptian temple, the mouth of the cave. From where we stood, a path, as wide as an ordinary city sidewalk and as smooth, sloped gently downward through the portal.

Turning to the right to avoid the drip of a limpid stream,—that falls over the entrance like a perpetual libation[Pg 671] to Pluto,—a few minutes' walk places us many hundred feet vertically beneath the surface, and in the "Rotunda," an enlargement of the cave, which looks about as large as the interior of Trinity Church, but is in reality larger; being quite as lofty, and measuring at its greatest diameter a hundred and seventy-five feet.

Here, as we paused to look, with our flaring lamps poised above our heads, a strange squeaking noise was heard, which seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere in particular. I glanced inquiringly at my guide, in answer to which he simply replied, "Bats," and pointed to the walls, where, on closer inspection, I found these creatures clinging by thousands, literally blackening the wall, and hanging in festoons a foot or two in length. The manner of forming these festoons was curious enough: three or four bats having first taken hold of some sharp projecting ledge with their hindmost claws, and hanging thereby with their heads downward, others had seized their leathery wings at the second joint, and they too, hanging with downward heads, had offered their wings as holding-places for still others; and so the unsightly pendent mass had grown, until in some instances it contained as many as twenty or thirty bats. The wonder seemed that four or five pairs of little claws not so large as those of a mouse could sustain a weight that must have been in some instances as much as three pounds.

The mysterious influence of the approaching spring had penetrated even into these abodes of darkness, and aroused in the bats a little life after their long hibernation; and their weak, plaintive squeak, which had something impish in it withal, came from every shadowy recess, and from the dark vault overhead. This "Rotunda" should have been called the "Bower of Bats."

As they all hung too high to reach by other means, I flung my stick at random upward against the wall, and brought down two of the black masses, that writhed helpless upon the stony floor of the cave. Poor, palpitating things, unable to loose their clutch upon each other's wings, it was hard to say whether they were more disgusting or pitiful. What Eshcol clusters these, to bear back from this Canaan of darkness, saying, "This is the fruit of it!"

Such an immense number of bats had harbored and died here from time immemorial, that more than a hundred acres of the earthy floor of the cave had, from their decomposing remains, become impregnated with nitre; and during the years 1812 to 1814, a party of saltpetre-makers took up their residence here. They made great vats in the cave, in which they lixiviated the impregnated earth, and by wooden pipes conveyed it to a place where they boiled the water drawn from the vats. Their rude mechanical contrivances are standing yet, in the same positions in which they were left so long ago; and so dry and pure is the air of the cave, that, though more than half a century has passed, these wooden pipes and vats show no more indication of decay than they did when first put in. In one place my guide dug up from the clayey floor—where it was their custom to feed the oxen employed in drawing the materials to and fro—some corn-cobs, very dry and light, but as perfect as though they were only a few months old.

The footprints of the oxen, made in the earth that was then moist, are plainly visible in many places; and the clay has since become almost as hard as stone, so that I found it difficult to make any impression in it with the point of my pocket-knife.

A few minutes' walk brought us in front of the "Giant's Coffin," an enormous rock forty feet in length, which has fallen from the ceiling. The resemblance to a coffin is so strangely exact, that, having heard mention of it before coming in, I recognized it at the first glance. The upper part of the rock is composed of a stratum whiter than the rest, and gives it the appearance of having a border of white ornamentation around it, just below the lid. It[Pg 672] rests upon a gigantic bier about ten feet high, and a little longer than the coffin, and the effect is as though some kingly son of Anak were lying in state in this huge sepulchral vault.

Near at hand is a cluster of objects, not carved out by the accidents of time or the long attrition of subterranean rivers, as is the case with almost everything else in the cave, but shaped by human hands into a mournful resemblance to cottages; the likeness being all the more pathetic when one learns the fact that for many months a number of benighted human beings made their home here, under the delusion that the air of the cave, which is chemically pure and dry, would cure their pulmonary diseases; and that here, like plants shut out from the generous, fostering sun, they paled and died.

The appearance of those who came out after two or three months' residence in the cave is described as frightful. "Their faces," says one who saw them, "were entirely bloodless, eyes sunken, and pupils dilated to such a degree that the iris ceased to be visible; so that, no matter what the original color of the eye might have been, it appeared entirely black."

These cottages, if by a great stretch of courtesy I may call them such, are very small, consisting each of but one room about ten feet square; they had been built of stones collected in the cave, and laid loosely in the wall without mortar; they had fireplaces and chimneys, good wooden floors, and doors, but no windows, as there was neither light to let in nor prospect to view without. As there was neither rain nor snow fall, neither midday heat nor dew of night, beneath that stony cope, roofs also were useless; so that the structures were only cells that strongly reminded one of sepulchres. I can conceive of nothing more melancholy than the existence of the seven or eight consumptives, who I am told occupied these ante mortem tombs at one time about fifteen years ago. Three died there, and every one of the others who had resided in the cave for a period of two months died within two or three weeks after coming out.

Near to these monuments of ignorance and despair, I noticed a monument of another sort, and of later date,—a tribute to one of the most gallant and genial of men, in whom it was fully demonstrated that "the bravest are the tenderest." It was a pyramidal pile, about eight feet high, of carefully selected stones, laid without mortar, but with mathematical precision; and on one stone near the top was scratched a name dear to every soldier's heart,—"McPherson."

The cells where the living died, and this pile which tells how the memory of the dead yet lives, are the last objects on our route that have any association with the things of this outer world; these are the pillars that mark the beginning of a realm devoid of human association,—its Pillars of Hercules, beyond which is a silent waste whose darkness breeds the wildest mysteries.

Walking continuously through the gloom, one loses to some extent the idea of progression. Here he can get no look ahead, no backward view. He is the centre of a little circle of light, beyond which is immeasurable darkness, whence objects seem to come to him like apparitions, changing form as the first and last rays of light fall upon them, as though the shape in which they appear under the full light of the lamp were only some disguise of assumed innocence, which they cast off as they glide silently into the dark again, to take on some semblance too awful for mortal eyes. Farther and farther we went along these arched, crypt-like ways; passing frequently through lofty chambers where the roof could not be discovered, each with some fanciful and often inappropriate name assigned to it, until we came at length to what looked like a window in the side wall of the cave. Peering through this, and holding my lamp high over my head, I could see neither roof nor sides nor bottom,—only the wall in which was the window through which[Pg 673] I looked. Upward it was lost in the darkness, and from my breast it descended, perpendicular as a plummet line, until it vanished in the gulf below, from which arose a sound of dripping water. This, my guide informed me, was "Gorin's Dome." Taking then from his haversack a Bengal light, he ignited it and threw it into the dark void. The sulphurous light shot up and up into a dome unlike anything built by human hands, unless it might be the interior of some tremendous tower, eighty feet in width, and nearly two hundred in height, which the beholder viewed from without, looking inwards through a window placed at two thirds of the entire height from the bottom.

The inaccessible floor of this place is nearly level, and the walls strictly perpendicular from base to summit; the whole cavern having been hollowed out by the constant dripping of water holding carbonic acid in solution, which cuts the rock as ordinary water channels the ice of a glacier or the mural face of an iceberg into a semblance of columns, and sometimes into the folds of an immense curtain.

The brief light fell upon the distant floor; flashed up once, bringing into strong relief every salient angle in the wonderful walls, and then died out; the awful prospect vanishing like a nightmare vision, and leaving nothing to the sense but the sound of the water dripping into the depths below. The light had burned only half a minute; but so strange was the scene, that this glimpse sufficed to photograph it indelibly in my memory.

Gorin's Dome is not the largest of this class of sub-cavities in the cave, being smaller than Mammoth Dome; but it is the first of its class that the tourist sees, and it is viewed from so singular a stand-point that it makes the most startling impression.

Five minutes' farther walk brought us to a wooden footbridge,—a narrow, shaky contrivance, with a treacherous footing and a slender hand-rail. Here the bottom of the cave seemed to have dropped out, and the roof to have gone in search of it; and but for the dim glimpse of the rock on the other side one might have suspected that this bridge would launch him into that ungeographical locality called, in the old Norse mythology, "Ginnunga Gap,"—a place where there was neither side, edge, nor bottom to anything.

The vault overhead is called "Minerva's Dome"; the gulf below is called the "Side-Saddle Pit," though I failed to discover any degree of appropriateness in the odd name.

Standing in the middle of the bridge, my guide flung one of his Bengal lights far upward, in the midst of the slow-falling drops that had already carved out this tremendous well and were still making it larger. The light turned them for an instant into a shower of diamonds; then down it fell, down, down! As in its descent it passed the bridge on which we stood, the shadows of our two figures rushed up the opposite wall, like a pair of demons scared out of their abode by the hissing flame; and Nick, the guide, as he leaned over, looking downward after it,—every one of the innumerable wrinkles in his black face made more distinct, with his white beard and mustache, and the whites of his eyes seeming to glow in the blue elfish light,—was a caricature, half grotesque, almost terrible, of Satan himself.

Minerva's Dome and Side-Saddle Pit, both being one place and formed by the same dripping water, correspond to Gorin's Dome and the pit beneath it; that part which has been hollowed out above the roof of the cave being called the dome, and the part below the floor of the cave the pit. The only difference between the two is that in the case of Gorin's Dome the dripping waters have bored their huge shaft on one side of the track of the cave, only just piercing the wall of it in one spot, to make the window through which it is viewed; while in the case of the Side-Saddle Pit the vertical shaft cuts directly across the track of the cave, or, to speak more correctly,[Pg 674] across the tunnel which was once the bed of a subterranean river, but which is now a broad, smooth, dry path.

The topography of this underground realm may be divided into three departments, as follows:—

First,—as being greatest in extent,—the "avenues," or tunnels, which present conclusive evidence of having once been the channels of a subterranean stream, whose waters, having some peculiar solvent property, wore their bed lower and lower in the rock, until they cut through into some lower opening, through which they were drawn off, leaving the old channels dry. Imagine one of the narrow, crooked streets in the old part of Boston, spanned by a continuous stone archway from the summits of the buildings on either hand; then close with solid masonry every window and loop-hole by which a ray of light could struggle in, and you have for proportions and sinuosity not a bad semblance of these tunnels, which constitute four fifths of the extent of the Mammoth Cave.

The second and next largest department is that of the "chambers." These are places in the general course of the former river where the roof fell in before the withdrawal of the waters, opening great spaces upward; the fallen mass forming a sort of island in the centre of the stream, and crowding the waters on either side of it against the walls of the cave, so that they were worn out to twice the average width, and finally itself disappearing under the combined action of the current and the solvent properties of the water.

The air in all these tunnels and chambers is remarkably dry and pure. Wood seems never to decay here; as is instanced in the wooden pipes and vats of the saltpetre-makers, upon which the lapse of a half-century has not had any visible effect.

The general width of the tunnels or avenues is about forty or fifty feet, and the average height about thirty feet; but this uniformity is broken every few hundred yards by chambers, varying in width from eighty to two hundred feet, and in height from seventy to two hundred and fifty feet. The floor is formed in some places of sand, but generally of indurated mud, so hard that it is impossible to make any indentation in it with the heel of the boot, and remarkably even and smooth, so that almost anywhere one can walk with as much ease as on city sidewalks. The walls also are clean and smooth, as in the arched crypts of some mighty cathedral. A cross section of almost any one of these tunnels would show an elliptic outline, the vertical diameter being the shortest, and the bottom being filled with indurated mud or sand to a sufficient depth to make a level floor.

The third division or class of openings is that of the "domes" and "pits." These were formed by the same kind of agency as the tunnels and chambers, namely, by the action of water holding carbonic acid in solution; but acting in a different manner, and at a period long after the subterranean river had ceased to flow through its tunnels.

The solvent acid of the water must be acquired in percolating through the several hundreds of feet of superincumbent earth and sandstone, as there is but one of these domes, "Sandstone Dome," that extends upward to the sandstone. The solvent water then, after finding its way into the vertical crevices of the limestone, gradually rounded them out like wells, until the pieces which occasionally fell from the top formed a sort of floor. Through the interstices of this floor, the dissolved substance of the rock is carried into some deeper and yet undiscovered cavities beneath. The floor itself gradually sinks, the domes grow higher, and the walls recede as long as the water continues to drip into them.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that the substratum of limestone in all the country for many miles in the vicinity is perforated with these tremendous shafts; as those which are seen in the cave are only such as happened to be in the course of the tunnels composing[Pg 675] the Mammoth Cave. It is not improbable that there are many others on every side, close to the line of the tunnels, but not yet connected with them.

In any one of the above-mentioned departments, the description of one place answers for most others, except in dimensions. The following are a few out of many hundreds of measurements taken in as many different places:—

The "Rotunda," the first chamber from the entrance of the cave, is about one hundred feet high, and one hundred and seventy-five in diameter.

The "Methodist Church," eighty feet in diameter, and forty in height.

"Wright's Rotunda" is four hundred feet in its shortest diameter, being nearly circular; the roof seems perfectly level, and is about forty-five feet high.

"Kinney's Arena" is a hundred feet in diameter, and is fifty feet high.

"Proctor's Arcade" is one hundred feet in width and three quarters of a mile in length. The walls, which are about forty-five feet high, are nearly perpendicular throughout the whole length of the arcade, joining the roof nearly at right angles, and are so smooth that they look like hammer-dressed stone.

"Silliman's Avenue" is a mile and a half in length and about forty feet in height, its width varying from twenty to two hundred feet.

"Shelby's Dome" and the pit beneath it are two hundred and thirty-five feet in height, and about twenty-five in diameter.

"Mammoth Dome" is two hundred and fifty feet high, and nearly one hundred in diameter.

"Lucy's Dome," the highest in the cave, is sixty feet in diameter, and three hundred in height.

Nine miles from the entrance of the cave is the "Maelström," a dry pit or well, one hundred and seventy-five feet deep, and about twenty in diameter; and from the bottom of this shaft may be seen the openings to three other avenues, which lead farther into this Plutonian labyrinth than mortal foot has ever trod.

Although the distance of nine miles is about as far as tourists usually get from the entrance, that is by no means the measure of its extent, but only the extent of the direct route; there being a number of other tunnels branching off from it on either side, some of which connect with it again at a distance of several miles, and some of which have not been explored to their connection, if they have any.

The total length of all the explored avenues is estimated at over one hundred miles. If a single day's experience in the cave were sufficient ground for offering an opinion, I should say that this was a large over-estimate; but I have no doubt that, like all other great works of both art and nature, it grows upon the sense of the beholder. But even setting down its extent at half the foregoing estimate, none can tread these hollow chambers, thinking of others unexplored, and extending not only from that distant nine-mile-station, but on every hand, into the unknown, without a feeling of awe and fear.

Thus on and on through the echoing avenues, where the reverberation of our footsteps seemed to follow stealthily far behind us, through chamber and hall, where my guide in the advance flung up his lights, revealing for an instant the grim and distant vaults,—through "Star Chamber," five hundred feet long, seventy in width, and sixty in height, "Cloud Room," a quarter of a mile in length, sixty feet in height, "Deserted Chamber," "River Hall," "Revellers' Hall," "The Great Walk,"—through all these, and a dozen more, we wandered, until, after two hours' walk, and at a distance of four and a half miles from the entrance to the cave, I paused upon the muddy banks of the "Styx," and, stooping, dipped up in my hands a draught from its cold, sunless waters.

Here my guide would willingly have played Charon to my Ulysses, but as no one had penetrated thus far into the cave for several months, the boat used to carry visitors over, and to voyage up and down the short river (only a[Pg 676] hundred and fifty yards in length), had sunk, and we found it impossible to raise it.

The river is about twenty-five feet in width, its course crossing that of the cave at right angles, and its channel being simply another avenue or tunnel on a little lower level than the one by which the visitor approaches it.

In this stream, as well as in "Echo River," are found the famous eyeless fish. We dipped in vain, for a long time, in hopes of capturing some of these. At last I was fortunate enough to secure one tiny specimen, about two inches long, which was shaped like other minnows, but had no eyes, and was perfectly white, there being not the slightest shade of coloring on the back. The upper part of its head was as translucent as agate, through which could be seen opaque spots imbedded in the head where the base of the eye-sockets should have been. The specimen I obtained was one of the smallest, as the guide told me these fishes frequently attained the length of six or seven inches.

I secured also an eyeless crawfish about three inches in length. This forlorn little creature, like the fish, was entirely colorless. It had two slightly protuberant spots in its head where the eyes should be; but they were dull and opaque, and did not seem to differ in texture from the rest of its body, which had not the translucence of that of the fish, but looked as though carved out of white marble.

The fish are found also in "Lake Lethe," a quarter of a mile from the Styx, as well as in "Echo River," the largest and most interesting body of water in the cave. This last flows out of a tunnel which has such a low roof that the volume of water nearly fills it, and from here to where it enters the rocks again is three quarters of a mile. Here the blind white creatures that inhabit its dark, slow-flowing waters are more plentiful, but are as unlike those nimble, glistening fellows which inhabit the streams of the outer world, as the cavern's atmosphere of darkness and death is different from our atmosphere of light and life. They refuse to bite at any bait; they move sluggishly, and, when caught in a net, flop languidly, and die. The only food they are known to have is the smaller ones of their own kind; and, oddest of all, they, as well as the crawfish, give birth to their young alive, instead of spawning the eggs to be hatched by the sun. Last and remotest of these sunless streams is "Roaring River," the margin of whose solemn waters is nine miles from the entrance of the cave. This should be Acheron, which hated the light, and ran sighing down into a cave; for from this stream too comes a perpetual moan.

The region where the several rivers mentioned are grouped is lower than the rest of the cave, and much more gloomy in appearance than the high, dry chambers through which one passes in coming back toward the entrance.

I was somewhat disappointed in the display of stalactites and other similar formations of the protocarbonate of lime found in the cave. For a number of years I had been familiar with mines and mining operations in the lead-mining districts of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri, and had there seen some of the most beautiful, though not the largest, specimens of calcareous spar known to exist. The lime in these localities being in most instances perfectly pure, the stalactites, to the length of three feet sometimes, are as free from coloring as icicles. Sometimes the miners' drift (which compared with the Mammoth Cave is as a rabbit's burrow to a railway tunnel) is opened into small, low-roofed caves; and in these, in addition to the translucent stalactites, there are little hollows in the floor covered with thin sheets of protocarbonate of lime, no thicker than a pane of window-glass, and as white as snow. From beneath these the water has sunk away, leaving a hollow space, and giving the whole precisely the appearance of those little pools which every one has noticed when a muddy road suddenly congeals: the pools of water freeze over, and the water[Pg 677] disappears, leaving the ice only a shell over a cavity.

Nothing of this kind, however, is found in the Mammoth Cave. The lime of which the stalactites are formed being mixed with various oxides and other impurities, they are all of a dark brown, or gray, or muddy color. With the exception of some stalactite columns in the "Gothic Arcade," which form a fine alcove called the "Gothic Chapel," there are no stalactites of extraordinary size. There is a stalactite mass (or was some years ago) in "Uhrig's Cave," in the suburbs of the city of St. Louis, about twelve feet in height and four feet in diameter, which exceeds in size anything I saw in the Mammoth Cave.

The gypsum or alabaster flowers are the crowning beauty of the Mammoth Cave. These are an entirely different formation from the stalactites, being formed only in a perfectly dry atmosphere, while the stalactites are necessarily formed in a moist one.

The gypsum is formed by crystallization, and in that process exerts the same expansive force as ice. Wherever it forms in crevices it fractures the rocks that enclose it, and protrudes from the crevice; its own bulk divides, or splits, and curves open, and outward, with much more tenacity than ice. It seems to have a fibrous texture, in the direction of which the split always opens.

I found in the "Snowball Room" and in a large chamber called "Cleveland's Cabinet," a beautiful display of these flowers. In the Snowball Room, the likeness to winter appears again, in the knots strongly resembling snowballs stuck all over the ceiling. And in Cleveland's Cabinet I found some singularly beautiful specimens of alabaster formations. One kind seemed to be literally growing from the ceiling as a vegetable would, and looked more than anything else like short, thick stalks of celery. If an ordinary stalk of celery were split, so that its natural tendency to curl over backward could be freely exercised, it would give a very good idea of the shape of some of the gypsum flowers, except that these are not often longer than four inches, and in that length frequently curl so as to make a complete circle. They have the same fibrous appearance as celery, and are as white as snow.

When five or six of these stalks—if I may call them so—start from one point, and curve outward in different directions from a common centre, they frequently form beautiful rosettes. Imagine one of the common tiger-lilies, which, instead of its thin, red curving petals, has stalks of celery, curving as much, but broken off square at the ends; then imagine the celery to be of the purest conceivable white; and you have a tolerable conception of one of these beautiful alabaster flowers.

This alabaster growth is found only in a few places throughout the cave; when it is in chambers or spaces in which the atmosphere is very dry, it invariably has a beautiful fibrous texture like wood or celery, and the curved form; but if the atmosphere is damp, it forms on the ceiling in round nodules, from two to three inches in diameter, as in the Snowball Room.

In the Gothic Arcade there is a sort of colonnade formed along the side of the tunnel by the meeting of the down-growing stalactites and the upward-growing stalagmites; the two together having formed slender columns of spar, from three to six feet in height. One group of these, about eight feet high, which is the most beautiful in the cave, is called the Gothic Chapel. In many of the formations, it is very difficult to trace even the remotest resemblance to the objects after which they have been named; but in one instance, that of a stalactite called the "Elephant's Head," the resemblance is remarkable.

Ordinarily it is the custom for one guide to conduct a party of four or five persons into the cave. I dislike over-officious guides and the hackneyed comparisons and wordy wonder of gabbling tourists in grand and[Pg 678] solemn places like this; therefore, in the morning, before starting, I congratulated myself that I should be alone, with the exception of the guide, who fortunately seemed thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the place in which he had spent the greater portion of his time for seventeen years.

He was as grave and taciturn as some cave-keeping anchorite. During our inward progress, he had carefully pointed out every place and object of interest, and hurled his blue-lights here and there into domes and pits and cavernous retreats of darkness. But now, on our backward course, he stalked silently and abstractedly before, though he seemed to listen to every step of my feet; for, if I paused or made a misstep, he instantly looked round.

At last he turned, and, looking me curiously in the face, asked whether I thought I should be afraid if left in the dark there a little while. Some people could not bear it, he said, and one gentleman who had consented to the ordeal of darkness had been half crazed by it, and when the guide, who had withdrawn and concealed himself, with his light, returned, the traveller tried first to run away into the darkness, and then, under some strange hallucination, fired his pistol in the guide's face.

I had a suspicion that the effect of the obscurity was exaggerated; I was disposed, moreover, to "try the dark," from curiosity. But I must acknowledge that, when the guide, with that doubting look, repeated his inquiry, I hesitated, asking, "Is there any danger? and from what?"

"Nobody knows, massa," said he seriously; "only some people's nerve can't stan' it, dat 's all."

The mention of that odious word, "nerve" sounded so much like the familiar solicitation, "Try your nerves, gentlemen?" from the electrical-machine man,—who is found on the curbstone of some thoroughfare in every city,—that for one brief instant the prestige of the great cave was gone.

Poh! I thought, so it is only claptrap after all? "Here, take the lamps, all of them, matches too, and go away so far that I cannot hear you halloo, even at your loudest. I will sit here until you come back!" So saying, I sat down upon a rock in the Star Chamber; and he, taking the lights, walked away toward the entrance of the cave.

"So then," I thought, "this is the perfect darkness, the total absence of light, which is seldom if ever known above ground; for even in the darkest night and the darkest house there are some wandering rays of light; though they may not be sufficient to enable the eye to distinguish anything, they are there; they penetrate, reflected in a hundred zigzags, into the darkest places of the outer world. But here there are miles between me and the utmost limits of their influence!"

I held my hand before my face, but could not distinguish by sight that it was there. A few pale, phosphorescent gleams, that seemed to be wandering in the air, I was convinced were only the remembrances of the optic nerve,—eidolons of the retina; but they seemed to some extent plastic to my thoughts, and ready to become the subjective creations of the brain, outlined in the dark. I could conceive then how the brain, excited by fear, or stimulated by emotion, might multiply these phantasms, moulding them into the likeness of objects and beings that never had any existence in reality. My sense of hearing, too, seemed preternaturally sharpened; I could hear the ticking of the watch in my pocket, the throbbing of my own heart, the murmur of the air in my lungs. I held my breath so that the slightest sound from any other source than my own organism should not escape me; the ringing vacancy in my ears grew more and more painful. Not the remotest breath of any sound, except a faint dropping of water in some distant place! (I could think of none but in that awful place called Gorin's Dome.) It seemed to whisper, "Hush! hush! hush!" Sometimes I could not hear the dropping; for just the same reason that, if one listens intently to the ticking of a clock for ten[Pg 679] minutes, there are intervals when his ear cannot detect it, because of its regular monotonous sound.

In such intervals the tympanum of the ear, aching with the dead collapse of its world, made sounds for itself; and it required the exercise of reason to convince myself, sometimes, that I did not hear distant babbling voices.

But hark! There is a sound! Not distant, but near! Here!—There! A sound like large, soft feet treading cautiously. No, not that, but—something breathing. Pshaw! I believe it was only the sound of my own respiration after all!

I did not exactly "whistle to keep my courage up," but, feeling that I must do something to assert my vitality, my antagonism to this overpowering dark, I cleared my throat vehemently, defiantly,—Ahem! Ahem! Ahem!! But it sounded so incongruous, so impertinent I might say, in the midst of that awful silence! Besides, it woke such queer echoes from unexpected quarters, that I stopped to listen, and heard the water-drops again in Gorin's Dome, whispering, "Hush! hush! hush!" And from all the gloomy chambers and tunnels came the echo, breathing, "Hush! hash! hush!"

It began to be terrifying to think that release from this hell of silence was dependent upon one man's will, and he too a man I had never seen until within a few hours. Where was he now, my dark-faced guide? What if he should not be able to find me again in the midst of this hundred miles of tunnels that look so much alike? What if he should not intend to come? What if—But, thank Heaven! there he is at last! That is the firm, substantial sound of a mortal footstep; not those stealthy, phantom steps I seemed to hear before! There too is the distant glinting of the red lamplight on the sides of the cave! How long it takes him to get here! There he is at last! Blessed be his black face! how unlike the pale, phosphorescent forms I fancied just a little while ago! How foolish seem all those dreadful fancies now, so terribly real then!


Below the headland with its cedar-plumes
A lapse of spacious water twinkles keen,
An ever-shifting play of gleams and glooms
And flashes of clear green.
The sumac's garnet pennons where I lie
Are mingled with the tansy's faded gold;
Fleet hawks are screaming in the light-blue sky,
And fleet airs rushing cold.
The plump peach steals the dying rose's red;
The yellow pippin ripens to its fall;
The dusty grapes, to purple fulness fed,
Droop from the garden-wall.
And yet, where rainbow foliage crowns the swamp,
I hear in dreams an April robin sing,
And memory, amid this Autumn pomp,
Strays with the ghost of Spring.

[Pg 680]




As the steamer Mallorca slowly moved out of the harbor of Barcelona, I made a rapid inspection of the passengers gathered on deck, and found that I was the only foreigner among them. Almost without exception they were native Majorcans, returning from trips of business or pleasure to the Continent. They spoke no language except Spanish and Catalan, and held fast to all the little habits and fashions of their insular life. If anything more had been needed to show me that I was entering upon untrodden territory, it was supplied by the joyous surprise of the steward when I gave him a fee. This fact reconciled me to my isolation on board, and its attendant awkwardness.

I knew not why I should have chosen to visit the Balearic Islands, unless for the simple reason that they lie so much aside from the highways of travel, and are not represented in the journals and sketch-books of tourists. If any one had asked me what I expected to see, I should have been obliged to confess my ignorance; for the few dry geographical details which I possessed were like the chemical analysis of a liquor wherefrom no one can reconstruct the taste. The flavor of a land is a thing quite apart from its statistics. There is no special guide-book for the islands, and the slight notices in the works on Spain only betray the haste of the authors to get over a field with which they are unacquainted. But this very circumstance, for me, had grown into a fascination. One gets tired of studying the bill of fare in advance of the repast. When the sun and the Spanish coast had set together behind the placid sea, I went to my berth with the delightful certainty that the sun of the morrow, and of many days thereafter, would rise upon scenes and adventures which could not be anticipated.

The distance from Barcelona to Palma is about a hundred and forty miles; so the morning found us skirting the southwestern extremity of Majorca,—a barren coast, thrusting low headlands, of gray rock into the sea, and hills covered with parched and stunted chaparral in the rear. The twelfth century, in the shape of a crumbling Moorish watch-tower, alone greeted us. As we advanced eastward into the Bay of Palma, however, the wild shrubbery melted into plantations of olive, solitary houses of fishermen nestled in the coves, and finally a village, of those soft ochre-tints which are a little brighter than the soil, appeared on the slope of a hill. In front, through the pale morning mist which still lay upon the sea, I saw the cathedral of Palma, looming grand and large beside the towers of other churches, and presently, gliding past a mile or two of country villas and gardens, we entered the crowded harbor.

Inside the mole there was a multitude of the light craft of the Mediterranean,—xebecs, feluccas, speronaras, or however they may be termed,—with here and there a brigantine which had come from beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Our steamer drew into her berth beside the quay, and after a very deliberate review by the port physician we were allowed to land. I found a porter, Arab in everything but costume, and followed him through the water-gate into the half-awake city. My destination was the Inn of the Four Nations, where I was cordially received, and afterwards roundly swindled, by a French host. My first demand was for a native attendant, not so much from any need of guide as simply to become[Pg 681] more familiar with the people through him; but I was told that no such serviceable spirit was to be had in the place. Strangers are so rare that a class of people who live upon them has not yet been created.

"But how shall I find the Palace of the Government, or the monastery of San Domingo, or anything else?" I asked.

"O, we will give you directions, so that you cannot miss them," said the host; but he laid before me such a confusion of right turnings and left turnings, ups and downs, that I became speedily bewildered, and set forth, determined to let the "spirit in my feet" guide me. A labyrinthine place is Palma, and my first walks through the city were so many games of chance. The streets are very narrow, changing their direction, it seemed to me, at every tenth step; and whatever landmark one may select at the start is soon shut from view by the high, dark houses. At first, I was quite astray, but little by little I regained the lost points of the compass.

After having had the Phœnicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, and Saracens as masters, Majorca was first made Spanish by King Jaime of Aragon, the Conquistador, in the year 1235. For a century after the conquest it was an independent kingdom, and one of its kings was slain by the English bowmen at the battle of Crecy. The Spanish element has absorbed, but not yet entirely obliterated, the characteristics of the earlier races who inhabited the island. Were ethnology a more positively developed science, we might divide and classify this confused inheritance of character; as it is, we vaguely feel the presence of something quaint, antique, and unusual, in walking the streets of Palma, and mingling with the inhabitants. The traces of Moorish occupation are still noticeable everywhere. Although the Saracenic architecture no longer exists in its original forms, its details may be detected in portals, court-yards, and balconies, in almost every street. The conquerors endeavored to remodel the city, but in doing so they preserved the very spirit which they sought to destroy.

My wanderings, after all, were not wholly undirected. I found an intelligent guide, who was at the same time an old acquaintance. The whirligig of time brings about, not merely its revenges, but also its compensations and coincidences. Twenty-two years ago, when I was studying German as a boy in the old city of Frankfort, guests from the South of France came to visit the amiable family with whom I was residing. There were M. Laurens, a painter and a musical enthusiast, his wife, and Mademoiselle Rosalba, a daughter as fair as her name. Never shall I forget the curious letter which the artist wrote to the manager of the theatre, requesting that Beethoven's Fidelio might be given (and it was!) for his own especial benefit, nor the triumphant air with which he came to us one day, saying, "I have something of most precious," and brought forth, out of a dozen protecting envelopes, a single gray hair from Beethoven's head. Nor shall I forget how Madame Laurens taught us French plays, and how the fair Rosalba declaimed André Chénier to redeem her pawns; but I might have forgotten all these things, had it not been for an old volume[A] which turned up at need, and which gave me information, at once clear, precise, and attractive, concerning the streets and edifices of Palma. The round, solid head, earnest eyes, and abstracted air of the painter came forth distinct from the limbo of things overlaid but never lost, and went with me through the checkered blaze and gloom of the city.

The monastery of San Domingo, which was the head-quarters of the Inquisition, was spared by the progressive government of Mendizabal, but destroyed by the people. Its ruins must have been the most picturesque sight of Palma; but since the visit of M. Laurens[Pg 682] they have been removed, and their broken vaults and revealed torture-chambers are no longer to be seen. There are, however, two or three buildings of more than ordinary interest. The Casa Consistorial, or City Hall, is a massive Palladian pile of the sixteenth century, resembling the old palaces of Pisa and Florence, except in the circumstance that its roof projects at least ten feet beyond the front, resting on a massive cornice of carved wood with curious horizontal caryatides in the place of brackets. The rich burnt-sienna tint of the carvings contrasts finely with the golden-brown of the massive marble walls,—a combination which is shown in no other building of the Middle Ages. The sunken rosettes, surrounded by raised arabesque borders, between the caryatides, are sculptured with such a careful reference to the distance at which they must be seen, that they appear as firm and delicate as if near the spectator's eye.

The Cathedral, founded by the Conquistador, and built upon, at intervals, for more than three centuries, is not yet finished. It stands upon a natural platform of rock, overhanging the sea, where its grand dimensions produce the greatest possible effect. In every view of Palma, it towers solidly above the houses and bastioned walls, and insists upon having the sky as a background for the light Gothic pinnacles of its flying buttresses. The government has recently undertaken its restoration, and a new front of very admirable and harmonious design is about half completed. The soft amber-colored marble of Majorca is enriched in tint by exposure to the air, and even when built in large, unrelieved masses retains a bright and cheerful character. The new portion of the cathedral, like the old, has but little sculpture, except in the portals; but that little is so elegant that a greater profusion of ornament would seem out of place.

Passing from the clear, dazzling day into the interior, one finds himself, at first, in total darkness; and the dimensions of the nave—nearly three hundred feet in length by one hundred and forty in height—are amplified by the gloom. The wind, I was told, came through the windows on the sea side with such force as to overturn the chalices, and blow out the tapers on the altar, whereupon every opening was walled up, except a rose at the end of the chancel, and a few slits in the nave, above the side-aisles. A sombre twilight, like that of a stormy day, fills the edifice. Here the rustling of stoles and the muttering of prayers suggest incantation rather than worship; the organ has a hollow, sepulchral sound of lamentation; and there is a spirit of mystery and terror in the stale, clammy air. The place resembles an antechamber of Purgatory much more than of Heaven. The mummy of Don Jaime II., son of the Conquistador and first king of Majorca, is preserved in a sarcophagus of black marble. This is the only historic monument in the Cathedral, unless the stranger chooses to study the heraldry of the island families from their shields suspended in the chapels.

When I returned to the Four Nations for breakfast, I found at the table a gentleman of Palma, who invited me to sit down and partake of his meal. For the first time this Spanish custom, which really seems picturesque and fraternal when coming from shepherds or muleteers in a mountain inn, struck me as the hollowest of forms. The gentleman knew that I would not accept his invitation, nor he mine; he knew, moreover, that I knew he did not wish me to accept it. The phrase, under such conditions, becomes a cheat which offends the sacred spirit of hospitality. How far the mere form may go was experienced by George Sand, who, having accepted the use of a carriage most earnestly offered to her by a Majorcan count, found the equipage at her door, it is true, but with it a letter expressing so much vexation, that she was forced to withdraw her acceptance of the favor at once, and to apologize for it! I have always found much hospitality among the common[Pg 683] people of Spain, and I doubt not that the spirit exists in all classes; but it requires some practice to distinguish between empty phrase and the courtesy which comes from the heart. A people who boast of some special virtue generally do not possess it.

My own slight intercourse with the Majorcans was very pleasant. On the day of my arrival, I endeavored to procure a map of the island, but none of the bookstores possessed the article. It could be found in one house in a remote street, and one of the shopmen finally sent a boy with me to the very door. When I offered money for the service, my guide smiled, shook his head, and ran away. The map was more than fifty years old, and drawn in the style of two centuries ago, with groups of houses for the villages, and long files of conical peaks for the mountains. The woman brought it down, yellow and dusty, from a dark garret over the shop, and seemed as delighted with the sale as if she had received money for useless stock. In the streets, the people inspected me curiously, as a stranger, but were always ready to go out of their way to guide me. The ground-floor being always open, all the features of domestic life and of mechanical labor are exposed to the public. The housewives, the masters, and apprentices, busy as they seem, manage to keep one eye disengaged, and no one passes before them without notice. Cooking, washing, sewing, tailoring, shoemaking, coopering, rope and basket making, succeed each other, as one passes through the narrow streets. In the afternoon, the mechanics frequently come forth and set up their business in the open air, where they can now and then greet a country acquaintance or a city friend or sweetheart.

When I found that the ruins of San Domingo had been removed, and a statue of Isabella II. erected on the Alameda, I began to suspect that the reign of old things was over in Majorca. A little observation of the people made this fact more evident. The island costume is no longer worn by the young men, even in the country; they have passed into a very comical transition state. Old men, mounted on lean asses or mules, still enter the gates of Palma, with handkerchiefs tied over their shaven crowns, and long gray locks falling on their shoulders,—with short, loose jackets, shawls around the waist, and wide Turkish trousers gathered at the knee. Their gaunt brown legs are bare, and their feet protected by rude sandals. Tall, large-boned, and stern of face, they hint both of Vandal and of Moslem blood. The younger men are of inferior stature, and nearly all bow-legged. They have turned the flowing trousers into modern pantaloons, the legs of which are cut like the old-fashioned gigot sleeve, very big and baggy at the top, and tied with a drawing-string around the waist. My first impression was, that the men had got up in a great hurry, and put on their trousers hinder-end foremost. It would be difficult to invent a costume more awkward and ungraceful than this.

In the city the young girls wear a large triangular piece of white or black lace, which covers the hair, and tightly encloses the face, being fastened under the chin and the ends brought down to a point on the breast. Their almond-shaped eyes are large and fine, but there is very little positive beauty among them. Most of the old country-women are veritable hags, and their appearance is not improved by the broad-brimmed stove-pipe hats which they wear. Seated astride on their donkeys, between panniers of produce, they come in daily from the plains and mountains, and you encounter them on all the roads leading out of Palma. Few of the people speak any other language than the Mallorquin, a variety of the Catalan, which, from the frequency of the terminations in ch and tz, constantly suggests the old Provençal literature. The word vitch (son) is both Celtic and Slavonic. Some Arabic terms are also retained, though fewer, I think, than in Andalusia.

In the afternoon I walked out into the[Pg 684] country. The wall, on the land side, which is very high and massive, is pierced by five guarded gates. The dry moat, both wide and deep, is spanned by wooden bridges, after crossing which one has the choice of a dozen highways, all scantily shaded with rows of ragged mulberry-trees, glaring white in the sun and deep in impalpable dry dust. But the sea-breeze blows freshening across the parched land; shadows of light clouds cool the arid mountains in the distance; the olives roll into silvery undulations; a palm in full, rejoicing plumage rustles over your head; and the huge spatulate leaves of a banana in the nearest garden twist and split into fringes. There is no languor in the air, no sleep in the deluge of sunshine; the landscape is active with signs of work and travel. Wheat, wine, olives, almonds, and oranges are produced, not only side by side, but from the same fields, and the painfully thorough system of cultivation leaves not a rood of the soil unused.

I had chosen, at random, a road which led me west toward the nearest mountains, and in the course of an hour I found myself at the entrance of a valley. Solitary farm-houses, each as massive as the tower of a fortress and of the color of sunburnt gold, studded the heights, overlooking the long slopes of almond-orchards. I looked about for water, in order to make a sketch of the scene; but the bed of the brook was as dry as the highway. The nearest house toward the plain had a splendid sentinel palm beside its door,—a dream of Egypt, which beckoned and drew me towards it with a glamour I could not resist. Over the wall of the garden the orange-trees lifted their mounds of impenetrable foliage; and the blossoms of the pomegranates, sprinkled against such a background, were like coals of fire. The fig-bearing cactus grew about the house in clumps twenty feet high, covered with pale-yellow flowers. The building was large and roomy, with a court-yard, around which ran a shaded gallery. The farmer who was issuing therefrom as I approached wore the shawl and Turkish trousers of the old generation, while his two sons, reaping in the adjoining wheat-fields, were hideous in the modern gigots. Although I was manifestly an intruder, the old man greeted me respectfully, and passed on to his work. Three boys tended a drove of black hogs in the stubble, and some women were so industriously weeding and hoeing in the field beyond, that they scarcely stopped to cast a glance upon the stranger. There was a grateful air of peace, order, and contentment about the place; no one seemed to be suspicious, or even surprised, when I seated myself upon a low wall, and watched the laborers.

The knoll upon which the farm-house stood sloped down gently into the broad, rich plain of Palma, extending many a league to the eastward. Its endless orchards made a dim horizon-line, over which rose the solitary double-headed mountain of Felaniche, and the tops of some peaks near Arta. The city wall was visible on my right, and beyond it a bright arc of the Mediterranean. The features of the landscape, in fact, were so simple, that I fear I cannot make its charm evident to the reader. Looking over the nearer fields, I observed two peculiarities of Majorca, upon which depends much of the prosperity of the island. The wheat is certainly, as it is claimed to be, the finest of any Mediterranean land. Its large, perfect grains furnish a flour of such fine quality that the whole produce of the island is sent to Spain for the pastry and confectionery of the cities, while the Majorcans import a cheap, inferior kind in its place. Their fortune depends on their abstinence from the good things which Providence has given them. Their pork is greatly superior to that of Spain, and it leaves them in like manner; their best wines are now bought up by speculators and exported for the fabrication of sherry; and their oil, which might be the finest in the world, is so injured by imperfect methods of preservation that it might pass for the worst. These things, however,[Pg 685] give them no annoyance. Southern races are sometimes indolent, but rarely Epicurean in their habits; it is the Northern man who sighs for his flesh-pots.

I walked forward between the fields toward another road, and came upon a tract which had just been ploughed and planted for a new crop. The soil was ridged in a labyrinthine pattern, which appeared to have been drawn with square and rule. But more remarkable than this was the difference of level, so slight that the eye could not possibly detect it, by which the slender irrigating streams were conducted to every square foot of the field, without a drop being needlessly wasted. The system is an inheritance from the Moors, who were the best natural engineers the world has ever known. Water is scarce in Majorca, and thus every stream, spring, rainfall,—even the dew of heaven,—is utilized. Channels of masonry, often covered to prevent evaporation, descend from the mountains, branch into narrower veins, and visit every farm on the plain, whatever may be its level. Where these are not sufficient, the rains are added to the reservoir, or a string of buckets, turned by a mule, lifts the water from a well. But it is in the economy of distributing water to the fields that the most marvellous skill is exhibited. The grade of the surface must not only be preserved, but the subtle, tricksy spirit of water so delicately understood and humored that the streams shall traverse the greatest amount of soil with the least waste or wear. In this respect, the most skilful application of science could not surpass the achievements of the Majorcan farmers.

Working my way homeward through the tangled streets, I was struck with the universal sound of wailing which filled the city. All the tailors, shoemakers, and basket-makers, at work in the open air, were singing, rarely in measured strains, but with wild, irregular, lamentable cries, exactly in the manner of the Arabs. Sometimes the song was antiphonal, flung back and forth from the farthest visible corners of a street; and then it became a contest of lungs, kept up for an hour at a time. While breakfasting, I had heard, as I supposed, a miserere chanted by some procession of monks, and wondered when the doleful strains would cease. I now saw that they came from the mouths of some cheerful coopers, who were heading barrels a little farther down the street. The Majorcans still have their troubadours, who are hired by languishing lovers to improvise strains of longing or reproach under the windows of the fair, and perhaps the latter may listen with delight; but I know of no place where the Enraged Musician would so soon become insane. The isle is full of noises, and a Caliban might say that they hurt not; for me they murdered sleep, both at midnight and at dawn.

I had decided to devote my second day to an excursion to the mountain paradise of Valdemosa, and sallied forth early, to seek the means of conveyance. Up to this time I had been worried—tortured, I may say, without exaggeration—by desperate efforts to recover the Spanish tongue, which I had not spoken for fourteen years. I still had the sense of possessing it, but in some old drawer of memory, the lock of which had rusted and would not obey the key. Like Mrs. Dombey, I felt as if there were Spanish words somewhere in the room, but I could not positively say that I had them,—a sensation which, as everybody knows, is far worse than absolute ignorance. I had taken a carriage for Valdemosa, after a long talk with the proprietor, a most agreeable fellow, when I suddenly stopped, and exclaimed to myself, "You are talking Spanish,—did you know it?" It was even so: as much of the language as I ever knew was suddenly and unaccountably restored to me. On my return to the Four Nations, I was still further surprised to find myself repeating songs, without the failure of a line or word, which I had learned from a Mexican as a school-boy, and had not thought of for twenty years. The unused[Pg 686] drawer had somehow been unlocked or broken open while I slept.

Valdemosa is about twelve miles north of Palma, in the heart of the only mountain-chain of the island, which forms its western, or rather northwestern coast. The average altitude of these mountains will not exceed three thousand feet; but the broken, abrupt character of their outlines, and the naked glare of their immense precipitous walls, give them that intrinsic grandeur which does not depend on measurement. In their geological formation they resemble the Pyrenees; the rocks are of that palombino, or dove-colored limestone, so common in Sicily and the Grecian islands,—pale bluish-gray, taking a soft orange tint on the faces most exposed to the weather. Rising directly from the sea on the west, they cease almost as suddenly on the land side, leaving all the central portion of the island a plain, slightly inclined toward the southeast, where occasional peaks or irregular groups of hills interrupt its monotony.

In due time my team made its appearance,—an omnibus of basket-work, with a canvas cover, drawn by two horses. It had space enough for twelve persons, yet was the smallest vehicle I could discover. There appears to be nothing between it and the two-wheeled cart of the peasant, which, on a pinch, carries six or eight. For an hour and a half we traversed the teeming plain, between stacks of wheat worthy to be laid on the altar at Eleusis, carob-trees with their dark, varnished foliage, almond-orchards bending under the weight of their green nuts, and the country-houses with their garden clumps of orange, cactus, and palm. As we drew near the base of the mountains, olive-trees of great size and luxuriance covered the earth with a fine sprinkle of shade. Their gnarled and knotted trunks, a thousand years old, were frequently split into three or four distinct and separate trees, which in the process assumed forms so marvellously human in their distortion, that I could scarcely believe them to be accidental. Doré never drew anything so weird and grotesque. Here were two club-headed individuals righting, with interlocked knees, convulsed shoulders, and fists full of each other's hair; yonder a bully was threatening attack, and three cowards appeared to be running away from him with such speed that they were tumbling over one another's heels. In one place a horrible dragon was devouring a squirming, shapeless animal; in another, a drunken man, with whirling arms and tangled feet, was pitching forward upon his face. The living wood in Dante was tame beside these astonishing trees.

We now entered a wild ravine, where, nevertheless, the mountain-sides, sheer and savage as they were, had succumbed to the rule of man, and nourished an olive or a carob tree on every corner of earth between the rocks. The road was built along the edge of the deep, dry bed of a winter stream, so narrow that a single arch carried it from side to side, as the windings of the glen compelled. After climbing thus for a mile in the shadows of threatening masses of rock, an amphitheatre of gardens, enframed by the spurs of two grand, arid mountains, opened before us. The bed of the valley was filled with vines and orchards, beyond which rose long terraces, dark with orange and citron trees, obelisks of cypress and magnificent groups of palm, with the long white front and shaded balconies of a hacienda between. Far up, on a higher plateau between the peaks, I saw the church-tower of Valdemosa. The sides of the mountains were terraced with almost incredible labor, walls massive as the rock itself being raised to a height of thirty feet, to gain a shelf of soil two or three yards in breadth. Where the olive and the carob ceased, box and ilex took possession of the inaccessible points, carrying up the long waves of vegetation until their foam-sprinkles of silver-gray faded out among the highest clefts. The natural channels of the rock were straightened and made to converge at the base, so that not a wandering cloud could bathe the[Pg 687] wild growths of the summit without being caught and hurried into some tank below. The wilderness was forced, by pure toil, to become a Paradise; and each stubborn feature, which toil could not subdue, now takes its place as a contrast and an ornament in the picture. Verily, there is nothing in all Italy so beautiful as Valdemosa!

Lest I should be thought extravagant in my delight, let me give you some words of George Sand, which I have since read. "I have never seen," she says, "anything so bright, and at the same time so melancholy, as these perspectives where the ilex, the carob, pine, olive, poplar, and cypress mingle their various hues in the hollows of the mountain,—abysses of verdure, where the torrent precipitates its course under mounds of sumptuous richness and an inimitable grace.... While you hear the sound of the sea on the northern coast, you perceive it only as a faint shining line beyond the sinking mountains and the great plain which is unrolled to the southward;—a sublime picture, framed in the foreground by dark rocks covered with pines; in the middle distance by mountains of boldest outline, fringed with superb trees; and beyond these by rounded hills which the setting sun gilds with burning colors, where the eye distinguishes, a league away, the microscopic profile of trees, fine as the antennæ of butterflies, black and clear as pen-drawings of India-ink on a ground of sparkling gold. It is one of those landscapes which oppress you because they leave nothing to be desired, nothing to be imagined. Nature has here created that which the poet and the painter behold in their dreams. An immense ensemble, infinite details, inexhaustible variety, blended forms, sharp contours, dim, vanishing depths,—all are present, and art can suggest nothing further. Majorca is one of the most beautiful countries of the world for the painter, and one of the least known. It is a green Helvetia under the sky of Calabria, with the solemnity and silence of the Orient."

The village of Valdemosa is a picturesque, rambling place, brown with age, and buried in the foliage of fig and orange trees. The highest part of the narrow plateau where it stands is crowned by the church and monastery of the Trappists (Cartusa), now deserted. My coachman drove under the open roof of a venta, and began to unharness his horses. The family, who were dining at a table so low that they appeared to be sitting on the floor, gave me the customary invitation to join them, and when I asked for a glass of wine brought me one which held nearly a quart. I could not long turn my back on the bright, wonderful landscape without; so, taking books and colors, I entered the lonely cloisters of the monastery. Followed first by one small boy, I had a retinue of at least fifteen children before I had completed the tour of the church, court-yard, and the long-drawn, shady corridors of the silent monks; and when I took my seat on the stones at the foot of the towers, with the very scene described by George Sand before my eyes, a number of older persons added themselves to the group. A woman brought me a chair, and the children then planted themselves in a dense row before me, while I attempted to sketch under such difficulties as I had never known before. Precisely because I am no artist, it makes me nervous to be watched while drawing; and the remarks of the young men on this occasion were not calculated to give me courage.

When I had roughly mapped out the sky with its few floating clouds, some one exclaimed, "He has finished the mountains, there they are!" and they all crowded around me, saying, "Yes, there are the mountains!" While I was really engaged upon the mountains, there was a violent discussion as to what they might be; and I don't know how long it would have lasted, had I not turned to some cypresses nearer the foreground. Then a young man cried out: "O, that's a cypress! I wonder if he will make them all,—how many are there? One, two, three, four,[Pg 688] five,—yes, he makes five!" There was an immediate rush, shutting out earth and heaven from my sight, and they all cried in chorus, "One, two, three, four, five,—yes, he has made five!" "Cavaliers and ladies," I said, with solemn politeness, "have the goodness not to stand before me." "To be sure! Santa Maria! How do you think he can see?" yelled an old woman, and the children were hustled away. But I thereby won the ill-will of those garlic-breathing and scratching imps, for very soon a shower of water-drops fell upon my paper. Next a stick, thrown from an upper window, dropped on my head, and more than once my elbow was intentionally jogged from behind. The older people scolded and threatened, but young Majorca was evidently against me. I therefore made haste to finish my impotent mimicry of air and light, and get away from the curious crowd.

Behind the village there is a gleam of the sea, near, yet at an unknown depth. As I threaded the walled lanes, seeking some point of view, a number of lusty young fellows, mounted on unsaddled mules, passed me with a courteous greeting. On one side rose a grand pile of rock, covered with ilex-trees,—a bit of scenery so admirable, that I fell into a new temptation. I climbed a little knoll and looked around me. Far and near no children were to be seen; the portico of an unfinished house offered both shade and seclusion. I concealed myself behind a pillar, and went to work. For half an hour I was happy; then around black head popped up over a garden-wall, a small brown form crept towards me, beckoned, and presently a new multitude had assembled. The noise they made provoked a sound of cursing from the interior of a stable adjoining the house. They only made a louder tumult in answer; the voice became more threatening, and at the end of five minutes the door burst open. An old man, with wrath flashing from his eyes, came forth. The children took to their heels; I greeted the new-comer politely, but he hardly returned the salutation. He was a very fountain of curses, and now hurled stones with them after the fugitives. When they had all disappeared behind the walls, he went back to his den, grumbling and muttering. It was not five minutes, however, before the children were back again, as noisy as before; so, at the first thunder from the stable, I shut up my book, and returned to the inn.

While the horses were being harnessed, I tried to talk with an old native, who wore the island costume, and was as grim and grizzly as Ossawatomie Brown. A party of country people from the plains, who seemed to have come up to Valdemosa on a pleasure trip, clambered into a two-wheeled cart drawn by one mule, and drove away. My old friend gave me the distances of various places, the state of the roads, and the quality of the wine; but he seemed to have no conception of the world outside of the island. Indeed, to a native of the village, whose fortune has simply placed him beyond the reach of want, what is the rest of the world? Around and before him spread one of its loveliest pictures; he breathes its purest air; and he may enjoy its best luxuries, if he heeds or knows how to use them.

Up to this day the proper spice and flavor had been wanting. Palma had only interested me, but in Valdemosa I found the inspiration, the heat and play of vivid, keen sensation, which one (often somewhat unreasonably) expects from a new land. As my carriage descended, winding around the sides of the magnificent mountain amphitheatre, in the alternate shadows of palm and ilex, pine and olive, I looked back, clinging to every marvellous picture, and saying to myself, over and over again, "I have not come hither in vain." When the last shattered gate of rock closed behind me, and the wood of insane olive-trunks was passed, with what other eyes I looked upon the rich orchard-plain! It had now become a part of one superb whole; as the background of my mountain view, it had caught a[Pg 689] new glory, and still wore the bloom of the invisible sea.

In the evening I reached the Four Nations, where I was needlessly invited to dinner by certain strangers, and dined alone, on meats cooked in rancid oil. When the cook had dished the last course, he came into a room adjoining the dining apartment, sat down to a piano in his white cap, and played loud, long, and badly. The landlord had papered this room with illustrations from all the periodicals of Europe: dancing-girls pointed their toes under cardinals' hats, and bulls were baited before the shrines of saints. Mixed with the woodcuts were the landlord's own artistic productions, wonderful to behold. All the house was proud of this room, and with reason; for there is assuredly no other room like it in the world. A notice in four languages, written with extraordinary flourishes, announced in the English division that travellers will find "confortation and modest prices." The former advantage, I discovered, consisted in the art of the landlord, the music and oil of the cook, and the attendance of a servant so distant that it was easier to serve myself than seek him; the latter may have been "modest" for Palma, but in any other place they would have been considered brazenly impertinent. I should therefore advise travellers to try the "Three Pigeons," in the same street, rather than the Four Nations.

The next day, under the guidance of my old friend, M. Laurens, I wandered for several hours through the streets, peeping into court-yards, looking over garden-walls, or idling under the trees of the Alameda. There are no pleasant suburban places of resort, such as are to be found in all other Spanish cities; the country commences on the other side of the moat. Three small cafés exist, but cannot be said to flourish, for I never saw more than one table occupied. A theatre has been built, but is only open during the winter, of course. Some placards on the walls, however, announced that the national (that is, Majorcan) diversion of baiting bulls with dogs would be given in a few days.

The noblesse appear to be even haughtier than in Spain, perhaps on account of their greater poverty; and much more of the feudal spirit lingers among them, and gives character to society, than on the main-land. Each family has still a crowd of retainers, who perform a certain amount of service on the estates, and are thenceforth entitled to support. This custom is the reverse of profitable; but it keeps up an air of lordship, and is therefore retained. Late in the afternoon, when the new portion of the Alameda is in shadow, and swept by a delicious breeze from the sea, it begins to be frequented by the people; but I noticed that very few of the upper class made their appearance. So grave and sombre are these latter, that one would fancy them descended from the conquered Moors, rather than the Spanish conquerors.

M. Laurens is of the opinion that the architecture of Palma cannot be ascribed to an earlier period than the beginning of the sixteenth century. I am satisfied, however, either that many fragments of Moorish sculpture must have been used in the erection of the older buildings, or that certain peculiarities of Moorish art have been closely imitated. For instance, that Moorish combination of vast, heavy masses of masonry with the lightest and airiest style of ornament, which the Gothic sometimes attempts, but never with the same success, is here found at every step. I will borrow M. Laurens's words, descriptive of the superior class of edifices, both because I can find no better of my own, and because this very characteristic has been noticed by him. "Above the ground-floor," he says, "there is only one story and a low garret. The entrance is a semi-circular portal without ornament; but the number and dimensions of the stones, disposed in long radii, give it a stately aspect. The grand halls of the main story are lighted by windows[Pg 690] divided by excessively slender columns, which are entirely Arabic in appearance. This character is so pronounced, that I was obliged to examine more than twenty houses constructed in the same manner, and to study all the details of their construction, in order to assure myself that the windows had not really been taken from those fairy Moresque palaces, of which the Alhambra is the only remaining specimen. Except in Majorca, I have nowhere seen columns which, with a height of six feet, have a diameter of only three inches. The fine grain of the marble of which they are made, as well as the delicacy of the capitals, led me to suppose them to be of Saracenic origin."

I was more impressed by the Lonja, or Exchange, than any other building in Palma. It dates from the first half of the fifteenth century, when the kings of the island had built up a flourishing commerce, and expected to rival Genoa and Venice. Its walls, once crowded with merchants and seamen, are now only opened for the Carnival balls and other festivals sanctioned by religion. It is a square edifice, with light Gothic towers at the corners, displaying little ornamental sculpture, but nevertheless a taste and symmetry, in all its details, which are very rare in Spanish architecture. The interior is a single vast hall, with a groined roof, resting on six pillars of exquisite beauty. They are sixty feet high, and fluted spirally from top to bottom, like a twisted cord, with a diameter of not more than two feet and a half. It is astonishing how the airy lightness and grace of these pillars relieve the immense mass of masonry, spare the bare walls the necessity of ornament, and make the ponderous roof light as a tent. There is here the trace of a law of which our modern architects seem to be ignorant. Large masses of masonry are always oppressive in their effect; they suggest pain and labor, and the Saracens, even more than the Greeks, seem to have discovered the necessity of introducing a sportive, fanciful element, which shall express the delight of the workman in his work.

In the afternoon, I sallied forth from the western coast-gate, and found there, sloping to the shore, a village inhabited apparently by sailors and fishermen. The houses were of one story, flat-roofed, and brilliantly whitewashed. Against the blue background of the sea, with here and there the huge fronds of a palm rising from among them, they made a truly African picture. On the brown ridge above the village were fourteen huge windmills, nearly all in motion. I found a road leading, along the brink of the overhanging cliffs, toward the castle of Belver, whose brown mediæval turrets rose against a gathering thunder-cloud. This fortress, built as a palace for the kings of Majorca immediately after the expulsion of the Moors, is now a prison. It has a superb situation, on the summit of a conical hill, covered with umbrella-pines. In one of its round, massive towers, Arago was imprisoned for two months in 1808. He was at the time employed in measuring an arc of the meridian, when news of Napoleon's violent measures in Spain reached Majorca. The ignorant populace immediately suspected the astronomer of being a spy and political agent, and would have lynched him at once. Warned by a friend, he disguised himself as a sailor, escaped on board a boat in the harbor, and was then placed in Belver by the authorities, in order to save his life. He afterwards succeeded in reaching Algiers, where he was seized by order of the Bey, and made to work as a slave. Few men of science have known so much of the romance of life.

I had a long walk to Belver, but I was rewarded by a grand view of the Bay of Palma, the city, and all the southern extremity of the island. I endeavored to get into the fields, to seek other points of view; but they were surrounded by such lofty walls that I fancied the owners of the soil could only get at them by scaling-ladders. The grain and trees on either side of the road were hoary with dust, and the[Pg 691] soil of the hue of burnt chalk, seemed never to have known moisture. But while I loitered on the cliffs the cloud in the west had risen and spread; a cold wind blew over the hills, and the high gray peaks behind Valdemosa disappeared, one by one, in a veil of rain. A rough tartana, which performed the service of an omnibus, passed me returning to the city, and the driver, having no passengers, invited me to ride. "What is your fare?" I asked. "Whatever people choose to give," said he,—which was reasonable enough: and I thus reached the Four Nations in time to avoid a deluge.

The Majorcans are fond of claiming their island as the birthplace of Hannibal. There are some remains supposed to be Carthaginian near the town of Alcudia, but, singularly enough, not a fragment to tell of the Roman domination, although their Balearis Major must have been then, as now, a rich and important possession. The Saracens, rather than the Vandals, have been the spoilers of ancient art. Their religious detestation of sculpture was at the bottom of this destruction. The Christians could consecrate the old temple to a new service, and give the names of saints to the statues of the gods; but to the Moslem every representation of the human form was worse than blasphemy. For this reason, the symbols of the most ancient faith, massive and unintelligible, have outlived the monuments of those which followed.

In a forest of ancient oaks near the village of Arta, there still exists a number of Cyclopean constructions, the character of which is as uncertain as the date of their erection. They are cones of huge, irregular blocks, the jambs and lintels of the entrances being of single stones. In a few the opening is at the top, with rude projections resembling a staircase to aid in the descent. Cinerary urns have been found in some of them, yet they do not appear to have been originally constructed as tombs. The Romans may have afterwards turned them to that service. In the vicinity there are the remains of a Druid circle, of large upright monoliths. These singular structures were formerly much more numerous, the people (who call them "the altars of the Gentiles") having destroyed a great many in building the village and the neighboring farm-houses.

I heard a great deal about a cavern on the eastern coast of the island, beyond Arta. It is called the Hermit's Cave, and the people of Palma consider it the principal thing to be seen in all Majorca. Their descriptions of the place, however, did not inspire me with any very lively desire to undertake a two days' journey for the purpose of crawling on my belly through a long hole, and then descending a shaky rope-ladder for a hundred feet or more. When one has performed these feats, they said, he finds himself in an immense hall, supported by stalactitic pillars, the marvels of which cannot be described. Had the scenery of the eastern part of the island been more attractive, I should have gone as far as Arta; but I wished to meet the steamer Minorca at Alcudia, and there were but two days remaining.


[A] Souvenirs d'un Voyage d'Art à l'Isle de Majorque. Par J.-B. Laurens.

[Pg 692]


In the present paper we propose to consider six dramatists who were more immediately the contemporaries of Shakespeare and Jonson, and who have the precedence in time, and three of them, if we may believe some critics, not altogether without claim to the precedence in merit, of Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, and Ford. These are Heywood, Middleton, Marston, Dekkar, Webster, and Chapman.

They belong to the school of dramatists of which Shakespeare was the head, and which is distinguished from the school of Jonson by essential differences of principle. Jonson constructed his plays on definite external rules, and could appeal confidently to the critical understanding, in case the regularity of his plot and the keeping of his characters were called in question. Shakespeare constructed his, not according to any rules which could be drawn from the practice of other dramatists, but according to those interior laws which the mind, in its creative action, instinctively divines and spontaneously obeys. In his case, the appeal is not to the understanding alone, but to the feelings and faculties which were concerned in producing the work itself; and the symmetry of the whole is felt by hundreds who could not frame an argument to sustain it. The laws to which his genius submitted were different from those to which other dramatists had submitted, because the time, the circumstances, the materials, the purpose aimed at, were different. The time demanded a drama which should represent human life in all its diversity, and in which the tragic and comic, the high and the low, should be in juxtaposition, if not in combination. The dramatists of whom we are about to speak represented them in juxtaposition, and rarely succeeded in vitally combining them so as to produce symmetrical works. Their comedy and tragedy, their humor and passion, move in parallel rather than in converging lines. They have diversity; but as their diversity neither springs from, nor tends to, a central principle of organization or of order, the result is often a splendid anarchy of detached scenes, more effective as detached than as related. Shakespeare alone had the comprehensive energy of impassioned imagination to fuse into unity the almost unmanageable materials of his drama, to organize this anarchy into a new and most complex order, and to make a world-wide variety of character and incident consistent with oneness of impression. Jonson, not pretending to give his work this organic form, put forth his whole strength to give it mechanical regularity; every line in his solidest plays costing him, as the wits said, "a cup of sack." But the force implied in a Shakespearian drama, a force that crushes and dissolves the resisting materials into their elements, and recombines or fuses them into a new substance, is a force so different in kind from Jonson's, that it would of course be idle to attempt an estimate of its superiority in degree. And in regard to those minor dramatists who will be the subjects of the present paper, if they fall below Jonson in general ability, they nearly all afford scenes and passages superior to his best in depth of passion, vigor of imagination, and audacious self-committal to the primitive instincts of the heart.

The most profuse, but perhaps the least poetic of these dramatists, was Thomas Heywood, of whom little is known, except that he was one of the most prolific writers the world has ever seen. In 1598 he became an actor, or, as Henslowe, who employed him, phrases it, "came and hired himself to me as a covenanted servant for two years." The date of his first published drama is 1601; that of his last published work,[Pg 693] a "General History of Women," is 1657. As early as 1633 he represents himself as having had an "entire hand, or at least a main finger," in two hundred and twenty plays, of which only twenty-three were printed. "True it is," he says, "that my plays are not exposed to the world in volumes, to bear the title of Works, as others: one reason is, that many of them, by shifting and change of companies, have been negligently lost; others of them are still retained in the hands of some actors, who think it against their peculiar profit to have them come in print; and a third, that it was never any great ambition in me to be in this kind voluminously read." It was said of him, by a contemporary, that he "not only acted every day, but also obliged himself to write a sheet every day for several years; but many of his plays being composed loosely in taverns, occasions them to be so mean." Besides his labors as a playwright, he worked as translator, versifier, and general maker of books. Late in life he conceived the design of writing the lives of all the poets of the world, including his contemporaries. Had this project been carried out, we should have known something about the external life of Shakespeare; for Heywood must have carried in his brain many of those facts which we of this age are most curious to know.

Heywood's best plays evince large observation, considerable dramatic skill, a sweet and humane spirit, and an easy command of language. His style, indeed, is singularly simple, pure, clear, and straightforward; but it conveys the impression of a mind so diffused as almost to be characterless, and incapable of flashing its thoughts through the images of imaginative passion. He is more prosaic, closer to ordinary life and character, than his contemporaries. Two of his plays, and the best of them all, "A Woman killed with Kindness," and "The English Traveller," are thoroughly domestic dramas, the first, and not the worst, of their class. The plot of "The English Traveller" is specially good; and in reading few works of fiction do we receive a greater shock of surprise than in Geraldine's discovery of the infidelity of Wincott's wife, whom he loves with a Platonic devotion. It is as unanticipated as the discovery, in Jonson's "Silent Woman," that Epicæne is no woman at all, while at the same time it has less the appearance of artifice, and is more the result of natural causes.

With less fluency of diction, less skill in fastening the reader's interest to his fable, harsher in versification, and generally clumsier in construction, the best plays of Thomas Middleton are still superior to Heywood's in force of imagination, depth of passion, and fulness of matter. It must, however, be admitted that the sentiments which direct his powers are not so fine as Heywood's. He depresses the mind, rather than invigorates it. The eye he cast on human life was not the eye of a sympathizing poet, but rather that of a sagacious cynic. His observation, though sharp, close, and vigilant, is somewhat ironic and unfeeling. His penetrating, incisive intellect cuts its way to the heart of a character as with a knife; and if he lays bare its throbs of guilt and weakness, and lets you into the secrets of its organization, he conceives his whole work is performed. This criticism applies even to his tragedy of "Women beware Women," a drama which shows a deep study of the sources of human frailty, considerable skill in exhibiting the passions in their consecutive, if not in their conflicting action, and a firm hold upon character; but it lacks pathos, tenderness, and humanity; its power is out of all proportion to its geniality; the characters, while they stand definitely out to the eye, are seen through no visionary medium of sentiment and fancy; and the reader feels the force of Leantio's own agonizing complaint, that his affliction is

"Of greater weight than youth was made to bear,
As if a punishment of after-life
Were fall'n upon man here, so new it is
To flesh and blood, so strange, so insupportable."

There is, indeed, no atmosphere to Middleton's mind; and the hard, bald caustic[Pg 694] peculiarity of his genius, which is unpleasingly felt in reading any one of his plays, becomes a source of painful weariness as we plod doggedly through the five thick volumes of his works. Like the incantations of his own witches, it "casts a thick scurf over life." It is most powerfully felt in his tragedy of "The Changeling," at once the most oppressive and impressive effort of his genius. The character of De Flores in this play has in it a strangeness of iniquity, such as we think is hardly paralleled in the whole range of the Elizabethan drama. The passions of this brute imp are not human. They are such as might be conceived of as springing from the union of animal with fiendish impulses, in a nature which knew no law outside of its own lust, and was as incapable of a scruple as of a sympathy.

But of all the dramatists of the time, the most disagreeable in disposition, though by no means the least powerful in mind, was John Marston. The time of his birth is not known; his name is entangled in contemporary records with that of another John Marston; and we may be sure that his mischief-loving spirit would have been delighted could he have anticipated that the antiquaries, a century after his death, would be driven to despair by the difficulty of discriminating one from the other. It is more than probable, however, that he was the John Marston who was of a respectable family in Shropshire; who took his bachelor's degree at Oxford in 1592; and who was afterwards married to a daughter of the chaplain of James the First. Whatever may have been Marston's antecedents, they were such as to gratify his tastes as a cynical observer of the crimes and follies of men,—an observer whose hatred of evil sprang from no love of good, but to whom the sight of depravity and baseness was welcome, inasmuch as it afforded him me occasion to wreak his own scorn and pride. His ambition was to be the English Juvenal; and it must be conceded that he had the true Iago-like disposition "to spy out abuses." Accordingly, in 1598, he published a series of venomous satires called "The Scourge of Villanie," rough in versification, condensed in thought, tainted in matter, evincing a cankered more than a caustic spirit, and producing an effect at once indecent and inhuman. To prove that this scourging of villany, which would have put Mephistopheles to the blush, was inspired by no respect for virtue, he soon followed it up with a poem so licentious that, before it was circulated to any extent, it was suppressed by order of Archbishop Whitgift, and nearly all the copies destroyed. A writer could not be thus dishonored without being brought prominently into notice, and old Henslowe, the manager, was after him at once to secure his libellous ability for the Rose. Accordingly, we learn from Henslowe's diary, under date of September 28, 1599, that he had lent to William Borne "to lend unto John Mastone," "the new poete," "the sum of forty shillings," in earnest of some work not named. There is an undated letter of Marston to Henslowe, written probably in reference to this matter, which is characteristic in its disdainfully confident tone. Thus it runs:—

"Mr. Henslowe, at the Rose on the Bankside.

"If you like my playe of Columbus, it is verie well, and you shall give me noe more than twentie poundes for it, but If nott, lett me have it by the Bearer againe, as I know the kinges men will freelie give me as much for it, and the profitts of the third daye moreover.

"Soe I rest yours,

"John Marston."

He seems not to have been popular among the band of dramatists he now joined, and it is probable that his insulting manners were not sustained by corresponding courage. Ben Jonson had many quarrels with him, both literary and personal, and mentions one occasion on which he beat him, and took away his pistol. His temper was[Pg 695] Italian rather than English, and one would conceive of him as quicker with the stiletto than the fist. His connection with the stage ceased in 1613, after he had produced a number of dramas, of which nine have been preserved. He died about twenty years afterwards, in 1634, seemingly in comfortable circumstances.

Marston's plays, whether comedies or tragedies, all bear the mark of his bitter and misanthropic spirit,—a spirit that seemed cursed by the companionship of its own thoughts, and forced them out through a well-grounded fear that they would fester if left within. His comedies of "The Malcontent," "The Fawn," and "What You Will," have no genuine mirth, though an abundance of scornful wit,—of wit which, in his own words, "stings, blisters, galls off the skin, with the acrimony of its sharp quickness." The baser its objects, the brighter its gleam. It is stimulated by the desire to give pain, rather than the wish to communicate pleasure. Marston is not without sprightliness, but his sprightliness is never the sprightliness of the kid, though it is sometimes that of the hyena, and sometimes that of the polecat. In his Malcontent he probably drew a nattering likeness of his inner self: yet the most compassionate reader of the play would experience little pity in seeing the Malcontent hanged. So much, indeed, of Marston's satire is directed at depravity, that Ben Jonson used to say that "Marston wrote his father-in-law's preachings, and his father-in-law his comedies." It is to be hoped, however, that the spirit of the chaplain's tirades against sins was not, like his son-in-law's, worse than the sins themselves.

If Marston's comic vein is thus, to use one of Dekkar's phrases, that of "a thorny-toothed rascal," it may be supposed that his tragic is a still fiercer libel on humanity. His tragedies, indeed, though not without a gloomy power, are extravagant and horrible in conception and conduct. Even when he copies, he makes the thing his own by caricaturing it. Thus the plot of "Antonio's Revenge" is plainly taken from "Hamlet," but it is "Hamlet" passed through Marston's intellect and imagination, and so debased as to look original. Still, the intellect in Marston's tragedies strikes the reader as forcible in itself, and as capable of achieving excellence, if it could only be divorced from the bad disposition and deformed conscience which direct its exercise. He has fancy, and he frequently stutters into imagination; but the imp that controls his heart corrupts his taste and taints his sense of beauty, and the result is that he has a malicious satisfaction in deliberately choosing words whose uncouthness finds no extenuation in their expressiveness, and in forging elaborate metaphors which disgust rather than delight. His description of a storm at sea is among the least unfavorable specimens of this perversion of his poetical powers:—

"The sea grew mad:
*    *    *    *
Strait swarthy darkness popt out Phœbus' eye,
And blurred the jocund face of bright-cheek'd day;
Whilst cruddled fogs masked even darkness' brow;
Heaven bade's good night, and the rocks groaned
At the intestine uproar of the main."

It must be allowed that both his tragedies and comedies are full of strong and striking thoughts, which show a searching inquisition into the worst parts of human nature. Occasionally he expresses a general truth with great felicity, as when he says,

"Pygmy cares
Can shelter under patience' shield; but giant griefs
Will burst all covert."

His imagination is sometimes stimulated into unusual power in expressing the fiercer and darker passions; as, for example, in this image:—

"O, my soul's enthroned
In the triumphant chariot of revenge!"

And in this:—

"Ghastly amazement! with upstarted hair,
Shall hurry on before, and usher us,
Whilst trumpets clamor with a sound of death."

He has three descriptions of morning, which seem to have been written in emulation of Shakespeare's in "Hamlet"; two of them being found in the tragedy which "Hamlet" suggested.[Pg 696]

"Is not yon gleam the shuddering morn that flakes
With silver tincture the east verge of heaven?
*    *      *     *
For see the dapple-gray coursers of the morn
Beat up the light with their bright silver hoofs,
And chase it through the sky.
*    *    *    *
Darkness is fled: look; look, infant morn hath drawn
Bright silver curtains 'bout the couch of night;
And now Aurora's house trots azure rings,
Breathing fair light about the firmament."

These last two lines appear feeble enough as contrasted with the beautiful intensity of imagination in Emerson's picturing of the same scene:—

"O, tenderly the haughty Day
Fills his blue urn with fire."

The most beautiful passage in Marston's plays is the lament of a father over the dead body of his son, who has been defamed. It is so apart from his usual style, as to breed the suspicion that the worthy chaplain's daughter, whom he made Mrs. Marston, must have given it to him from her purer imagination:—

"Look on those lips,
Those now lawn pillows, on whose tender softness
Chaste modest speech, stealing from out his breast,
Had wont to rest itself, as loath to post
From out so fair an inn: look, look, they seem
To stir.
And breathe defiance to black obloquy."

If among the dramatists of the period any person could be selected who in disposition was the opposite of Marston, it would be Thomas Dekkar,—a man whose inborn sweetness and gleefulness of soul carried him through vexations and miseries which would have crushed a spirit less hopeful, cheerful, and humane. He was probably born about the year 1575; commenced his career as player and playwright before 1598; and for forty years was an author by profession, that is, was occupied in fighting famine with his pen. The first intelligence we have of him is characteristic of his whole life. It is from Henslowe's Diary, under date of February, 1598: "Lent unto the company, to discharge Mr. Decker out of the counter in the powltry, the sum of 40 shillings." Oldys tells us that "he was in King's Bench Prison from 1613 to 1616"; and the antiquary adds ominously, "how much longer I know not." Indeed, Dr. Johnson's celebrated condensation of the scholar's life would stand for a biography of Dekkar:—

"Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail."

This forced familiarity with poverty and distress does not seem to have imbittered his feelings or weakened the force and elasticity of his mind. He turned his calamities into commodities. If indigence threw him into the society of the ignorant, the wretched, and the depraved, he made the knowledge of low life lie thus obtained serve his purpose as dramatist or pamphleteer. Whatever may have been the effect of his vagabond habits on his principles, they did not stain the sweetness and purity of his sentiments. There is an innocency in his very coarseness, and a brisk, bright good-nature chirps in his very scurrility. In the midst of distresses of all kinds, he still seems, like his own Fortunatus, "all felicity up to the brims"; but that his content with Fortune is not owing to an unthinking ignorance of her caprice and injustice is proved by the words he puts into her mouth:—

"This world is Fortune's ball wherewith she sports.
Sometimes I strike it up into the air,
And then create I emperors and kings;
Sometimes I spurn it, at which spurn crawls out
The wild beast multitude: curse on, you fools,
'Tis I that tumble princes from their thrones,
And gild false brows with glittering diadems;
'T is I that tread on necks of conquerors,
And when like semi-gods they have been drawn
In ivory chariots to the Capitol,
Circled about with wonder of all eyes,
The shouts of every tongue, love of all hearts,
Being swoln with their own greatness, I have pricked
The bladder of their pride, and made them die
As water-bubbles (without memory):
Whilst the true-spirited soldier stands by
Bareheaded, and all bare, whilst at his scars
They scoff, that ne'er durst view the face of wars.
I set an idiot's cap on virtue's head,
Turn learning out of doors, clothe wit in rags,
And paint ten thousand images of loam
In gaudy silken colors: on the backs
Of mules and asses I make asses ride.
Only for sport to see the apish world
Worship such beasts with sound idolatry.
She sits and smiles to hear some curse her name,
And some with adoration crown her fame."

The boundless beneficence of Dekkar's heart is specially embodied in the[Pg 697] character of the opulent lord, Jacomo Gentili, in his play of "The Wonder of a Kingdom." When Gentili's steward brings him the book in which the amount of his charities is recorded, he exclaims impatiently:—

"Thou vain vainglorious fool, go burn that book;
No herald needs to blazon charity's arms.
*    *    *    *
I launch not forth a ship, with drums and guns
And trumpets, to proclaim my gallantry;
He that will read the wasting of my gold
Shall find it writ in ashes, which the wind
Will scatter ere he spells it."

He will have neither wife nor children. When, he says,

"I shall have one hand in heaven,
To write my happiness in leaves of stars,
A wife would pluck me by the other down.
This bark has thus long sailed about the world,
My soul the pilot, and yet never listened
To such a mermaid's song.
*    *    *    *
My heirs shall be poor children fed on alms;
Soldiers that want limbs; scholars poor and scorned;
And these will be a sure inheritance
Not to decay; manors and towns will fall,
Lordships and parks, pastures and woods, be sold;
But this land still continues to the lord:
No tricks of law can me beguile of this.
But of the beggar's dish, I shall drink healths
To last forever; whilst I live, my roof
Shall cover naked wretches; when I die,
'T is dedicated to St. Charity."

We should not do justice to Dekkar's disposition, even after these quotations, did we omit that enumeration of positives and negatives which, in his view, make up the character of the happy man:—

"He that in the sun is neither beam nor moat,
He that's not mad after a petticoat,
He for whom poor men's curse dig no grave,
He that is neither lord's nor lawyer's slave,
He that makes This his sea and That his shore,
He that in 's coffin is richer than before,
He that counts Youth his sword and Age his staff.
He that upon his death-bed is a swan.
And dead no crow,—he is a Happy Man."

As Dekkar wrote under the constant goad of necessity, he seems to have been indifferent to the requirements of art. That "wet-eyed wench, Care," was as absent from his ink as from his soul. Even his best plays, "Old Fortunatus," "The Wonder of a Kingdom," and another whose title cannot be mentioned, are good in particular scenes and characters rather than good as wholes. Occasionally, as in the character of Signior Orlando Friscobaldo, he strikes off a fresh, original, and masterly creation, consistently sustained throughout, and charming us by its lovableness, as well as thrilling us by its power; but generally his sentiment and imagination break upon us in unexpected felicities, strangely better than what surrounds them. These have been culled by the affectionate admiration of Lamb, Hunt, and Hazlitt, and made familiar to all English readers. To prove how much finer, in its essence, his genius was than the genius of so eminent a dramatist as Massinger, we only need to compare Massinger's portions of the play of "The Virgin Martyr" with Dekkar's. The scene between Dorothea and Angelo, in which she recounts her first meeting with him as a "sweet-faced beggar-boy," and the scene in which Angelo brings to Theophilus the basket of fruits and flowers which Dorothea has plucked in Paradise, are inexpressibly beautiful in their exquisite subtlety of imagination and artless elevation of sentiment. It is difficult to understand how a writer capable of such refinements as these should have left no drama which is a part of the classical literature of his country.

One of these scenes—that between Dorothea, the Virgin Martyr, and Angelo, an angel who waits upon her in the disguise of a page—we cannot refrain from quoting, familiar as it must be to many readers:—

"Dor. My book and taper.
"Ang. Here, most holy mistress.
"Dor. Thy voice bends forth such music, that I never
Was ravished with a more celestial sound.
Were every servant in the world like thee,
So full of goodness, angels would come down
To dwell with us; thy name is Angelo,
And like that name thou art. Get thee to rest;
Thy youth with too much watching is oppressed.
"Ang. No, my dear lady; I could weary stars,
And force the wakeful moon to lose her eyes,
By my late watching, but to wait on you.
When at your prayers you kneel before the altar,
Methinks I'm singing with some quire in heaven,
So blest I hold me in your company.
Therefore, my most loved mistress, do not bid
Your boy, so serviceable, to get hence,
For then you break his heart.[Pg 698]
"Dor. Be nigh me still then.
In golden letters down I'll set that day
Which gave thee to me. Little did I hope
To meet such worlds of comfort in thyself,
This little pretty body, when I, coming
Forth of the temple, heard my beggar-boy,
My sweet-faced, godly beggar-boy, crave an alms,
Which with glad hand I gave,—with lucky hand!
And when I took thee home, my most chaste bosom
Methought was filled with no hot wanton fire,
But with a holy flame, mounting since higher,
On wings of cherubim, than it did before.
"Ang. Proud am I that my lady's modest eye
So likes so poor a servant.
"Dor. I have offered
Handfuls of gold but to behold thy parents.
I would leave kingdoms, were I queen of some,
To dwell with thy good father....
Show me thy parents;
Be not ashamed.
"Angelo. I am not: I did never
Know who my mother was; but by yon palace,
Filled with bright heavenly courtiers, I dare assure you,
And pawn these eyes upon it, and this hand,
My father is in heaven; and, pretty mistress,
If your illustrious hour-glass spend his sand,
No worse than yet it does upon my life,
You and I both shall meet my father there,
And he shall bid you welcome.
"Dor. O blessed day!
We all long to be there, but lose the way."

But the passage in all Dekkar's works which will be most likely to immortalize his name is that often-quoted one, taken from a play whose very name is unmentionable to prudish ears:—

"Patience, my lord! why, 't is the soul of peace;
It makes men look like gods—The best of men
That e'er wore earth about him was a Sufferer,
A soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit;
The first true gentleman that ever breathed."

A more sombre genius than Dekkar, though a genius more than once associated with his own in composition, was John Webster, of whose biography nothing is certainly known, except that he was a member of the Merchant Tailors' Company. His works have been thrice republished within thirty years; but the perusal of the whole does not add to the impression left on the mind by his two great tragedies. His comic talent was small; and for all the mirth in his comedies of "Westward Hoe" and "Northward Hoe" we are probably indebted to his associate, Dekkar. His play of "Appius and Virginia" is far from being an adequate rendering of one of the most beautiful and affecting fables that ever crept into history. "The Devil's Law Case," a tragi-comedy, has not sufficient power to atone for the want of probability in the plot and want of nature in the characters. The historical play of "Sir Thomas Wyatt" can only be fitly described by using the favorite word in which Ben Jonson was wont to condense his critical opinions,—"It is naught." But "The White Devil" and "The Duchess of Malfy" are tragedies which even so rich and varied a literature as the English could not lose without a sensible diminution of its treasures.

Webster was one of those writers whose genius consists in the expression of special moods, and who, outside of those moods, cannot force their creative faculties into vigorous action. His mind by instinctive sentiment was directed to the contemplation of the darker aspects of life. He brooded over crime and misery until his imagination was enveloped in their atmosphere, found a fearful joy in probing their sources and tracing their consequences, became strangely familiar with their physiognomy and psychology, and felt a shuddering sympathy with their "deep groans and terrible ghastly looks." There was hardly a remote corner of the soul, which hid a feeling capable of giving mental pain, into which this artist in agony had not curiously peered; and his meditations on the mysterious disorder produced in the human consciousness by the rebound of thoughtless or criminal deeds might have found fit expression in the lines of the great poet of our own times:—

"Action is momentary,—
The motion of a muscle, this way or that.
Suffering is long, obscure, and infinite."

With this proclivity of his imagination, Webster's power as a dramatist consists in confining the domain of his tragedy within definite limits, in excluding all variety of incident and character which could interfere with his main design of awaking terror and pity, and in the intensity with which he arrests, and the tenacity with which[Pg 699] he holds the attention, as he drags the mind along the pathway which begins in misfortune or guilt, and ends in death. He is such a spendthrift of his stimulants, and accumulates horror on horror, and crime on crime, with such fatal facility, that he would render the mind callous to his terrors, were it not that what is acted is still less than what is suggested, and that the souls of his characters are greater than their sufferings or more terrible than their deeds. The crimes and the criminals belong to Italy as it was in the sixteenth century, when poisoning and assassination were almost in the fashion; the feelings with which they are regarded are English; and the result of the combination is to make the poisoners and assassins more fiendishly malignant in spirit than they actually were. Thus Ferdinand, in "The Duchess of Malfy," is the conception formed by an honest, deep-thoughted Englishman of an Italian duke and politician, who had been educated in those maxims of policy which were generalized by Machiavelli. Webster makes him a devil, but a devil with a soul to be damned. The Duchess, his sister, is discovered to be secretly married to her steward; and in connection with his brother, the Cardinal, the Duke not only resolves on her death, but devises a series of preliminary mental torments to madden and break down her proud spirit. The first is an exhibition of wax figures, representing her husband and children as they appeared in death. Then comes a dance of madmen, with dismal howls and songs and speeches. Then a tomb-maker whose talk is of the charnel-house, and who taunts her with her mortality. She interrupts his insulting homily with the exclamation, "Am I not thy Duchess?" "Thou art," he scornfully replies, "some great woman sure, for riot begins to sit on thy forehead (clad in gray hairs) twenty years sooner than on a merry milkmaid's. Thou sleepest worse than if a mouse should be forced to take up her lodging in a cat's ear; a little infant that breeds its teeth, should it lie with thee, would cry out, as if thou wert the more unquiet bedfellow." This mockery only brings from her firm spirit the proud assertion, "I am Duchess of Malfy still." Indeed, her mind becomes clearer and calmer as the tortures proceed. At first she had imprecated curses on her brothers, and cried,

"Plagues that make lanes through largest families,
Consume them!"

But now, when the executioners appear, when her dirge is sung, containing those tremendous lines,

"Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping?
Sin their conception, their birth weeping,
Their life a general mist of error,
Their death a hideous storm of terror,"—

when all that malice could suggest for her torment has been expended, and the ruffians who have been sent to murder her approach to do their office, her attitude is that of quiet dignity, forgetful of her own sufferings, solicitous for others. Her attendant, Cariola, screams out:

"Hence, villains, tyrants, murderers: alas!
What will you do with my lady? Call for help.
"Duchess. To whom,—to our next neighbors?
They are mad folks.
"Bosola. Remove that noise.
"Duchess. Farewell, Cariola.
In my last will I have not much to give:
A many hungry guests have fed upon me;
Thine will be a poor reversion.
"Cariola. I will die with her.
"Duchess. I pray thee, look thou giv'st my little boy
Some syrup for his cold, and let the girl
Say her prayers ere she sleep. Now what you please:
What death?
"Bosola. Strangling; here are your executioners.
*    *    *    *
"Duchess. Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength
Must pull down heaven upon me:
Yet stay, heaven-gates are not so highly arched
As princes' palaces; they that enter there
Must go upon their knees. Come, violent death.
Serve for mandragora to make me sleep.
Go, tell my brothers; when I am laid out,
They then may feed in quiet."

The strange, unearthly stupor which precedes the remorse of Ferdinand for her murder is true to nature, and especially his nature. Bosola, pointing to the dead body of the Duchess, says:[Pg 700]

"Fix your eye here.
"Ferd. Constantly.
"Bosola. Do you not weep?
Other sins only speak; murther shrieks out:
The element of water moistens the earth,
But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens.
"Ferd. Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle;
She died young.
"Bosola. I think not so; her infelicity
Seemed to have years too many.
"Ferd. She and I were twins:
And should I die this instant, I had lived
Her time to a minute."

We have said that Webster's peculiarity is the tenacity of his hold on the mental and moral constitution of his characters. We know of their appetites and passions only by their effects on their souls. He has properly no sensuousness. Thus in "The White Devil," his other great tragedy, the events proceed from the passion of Brachiano for Vittoria Corombona,—a passion so intense as to lead one to order the murder of his wife, and the other the murder of her husband. If either Fletcher or Ford had attempted the subject, the sensual and emotional motives to the crime would have been represented with overpowering force, and expressed in the most alluring images, so that wickedness would have been almost resolved into weakness; but Webster lifts the wickedness at once from the senses into the region of the soul, exhibits its results in spiritual depravity, and shows the Satanic energy of purpose which may spring from the ruins of the moral will. There is nothing lovable in Vittoria. She seems, indeed, almost without sensations; and the affection between her and Brachiano is simply the magnetic attraction which one evil spirit has for another evil spirit. Francisco, the brother of Brachiano's wife, says to him:

"Thou hast a wife, our sister; would I had given
Both her white hands to death, bound and locked fast
In her last winding-sheet, when I gave thee
But one."

This is the language of the intensest passion, but as applied to the adulterous lover of Vittoria it seems little more than the utterance of reasonable regret; for devil can only truly mate with devil, and Vittoria is Brachiano's real "affinity."

The moral confusion they produce by their deeds is traced with more than Webster's usual steadiness of nerve and clearness of vision. The evil they inflict is a cause of evil in others; the passion which leads to murder rouses the fiercer passion which aches for vengeance; and at last, when the avengers of crime have become morally as bad as the criminals, they are all involved in a common destruction. Vittoria is probably Webster's most powerful delineation. Bold, bad, proud, glittering in her baleful beauty, strong in that evil courage which shrinks from crime as little as from danger, she meets her murderers with the same self-reliant scorn with which she met her judges. "Kill her attendant first," exclaimed one of them.

"Vittoria. You shall not kill her first; behold my breast:
I will be waited on in death; my servant
Shall never go before me.
"Gasparo. Are you so brave!
"Vittoria. Yes, I shall welcome death,
As princes do some great ambassadors;
I'll meet thy weapon half-way.
"Lodovico. Strike, strike,
With a joint motion.
"Vittoria. 'T was a manly blow;
The next thou giv'st, murder some sucking infant,
And then thou wilt be famous."

Webster tells us, in the Preface to "The White Devil," that he does not "write with a goose-quill winged with two feathers"; and also hints that the play failed in representation through its being acted in winter in "an open and black theatre," and because it wanted "a full and understanding auditory." "Since that time," he sagely adds, "I have noted most of the people that come to the playhouse resemble those ignorant asses who, visiting stationers' shops, their use is not to inquire for good books, but new books." And then comes the ever-recurring wail of the playwright, Elizabethan as well as Georgian, respecting the taste of audiences. "Should a man," he says, "present to such an auditory the most sententious tragedy that ever was written, observing all the critical laws, as height of[Pg 701] style, and gravity of person, enrich it with the sententious chorus, and, as it were, enliven death in the passionate and weighty Nuntius; yet after all this divine rapture, O dura messorum ilia, the breath that comes from the uncapable multitude is able to poison it."

Of all the contemporaries of Shakespeare, Webster is the most Shakespearian. His genius was not only influenced by its contact with one side of Shakespeare's many-sided mind, but the tragedies we have been considering abound in expressions and situations either suggested by or directly copied from the tragedies of him he took for his model. Yet he seems to have had no conception of the superiority of Shakespeare to all other dramatists; and in his Preface to "The White Devil," after speaking of the "full and heightened style of Master Chapman, the labored and understanding works of Master Jonson, the no less worthy composures of the both worthily excellent Master Beaumont and Master Fletcher," he adds his approval, "without wrong last to be named," of "the right happy and copious industry of Master Shakespeare, Master Dekkar, and Master Heywood." This is not half so felicitous a classification as would be made by a critic of our century, who should speak of the "right happy and copious industry" of Master Goethe, Master Dickens, and Master G. P. R. James.

Webster's reference, however, to "the full and heightened style of Master Chapman" is more appropriate; for no writer of that age impresses us more by a certain rude heroic height of character than George Chapman. Born in 1559, and educated at the University of Oxford, he seems, on his first entrance into London life, to have acquired the patronage of the noble, and the friendship of all who valued genius and scholarship. He was among the few men whom Ben Jonson said he loved. His greatest performance, and it was a gigantic one, was his translation of Homer, which, in spite of obvious faults, excels all other translations in the power to rouse and lift and inflame the mind. Some eminent painter, we believe Barry, said that, when he went into the street after reading it, men seemed ten feet high. Pope averred that the translation of the Iliad might be supposed to have been written by Homer before he arrived at years of discretion; and Coleridge declares the version of the Odyssey to be as truly an original poem as the Faery Queen. Chapman himself evidently thought that he was the first translator who had been admitted into intimate relations with Homer's soul, and caught by direct contact the sacred fury of his inspiration. He says finely of those who had attempted his work in other languages:

"They failed to search his deep and treasures heart.
The cause was, since they wanted the fit key
Of Nature, in their downright strength of art,
With Poesy to open Poesy."

Chapman was also a voluminous dramatist, and of his many comedies and tragedies some sixteen were printed. It is to be feared that the last twenty years of his long and honorable life were passed in a desperate struggle for the means of subsistence. But his ideas of the dignity of his art were so inwoven into his character that he probably met calamity bravely. Poesy he early professed to prefer above all worldly wisdom, being composed, in his own words, of the "sinews and souls of all learning, wisdom, and truth." "We have example sacred enough," he said, "that true Poesy's humility, poverty, and contempt are badges of divinity, not vanity. Bray then, and bark against it, ye wolf-faced worldlings, that nothing but riches, honors, and magistracy" can content "I (for my part) shall ever esteem it much more manly and sacred, in this harmless and pious study, to sit until I sink into my grave, than shine in your vainglorious bubbles and impieties; all your poor policies, wisdoms, and their trappings, at no more valuing than a musty nut." These sentiments were probably fresh in his heart when, in 1634, friendless and poor, at the age of seventy-five, he died. Anthony Wood describes him as "a person of most reverend aspect, religious and[Pg 702] temperate; qualities," he spitefully adds, "rarely meeting in a poet."

Chapman was a man with great elements in his nature, which were so imperfectly harmonized that what he was found but a stuttering expression in what he wrote and did. There were gaps in his mind; or, to use Victor Hugo's image, "his intellect was a book with some leaves torn out." His force, great as it was, was that of an Ajax, rather than that of an Achilles. Few dramatists of the time afford nobler passages of description and reflection. Few are wiser, deeper, manlier in their strain of thinking. But when we turn to the dramas from which these grand things have been detached, we find extravagance, confusion, huge thoughts lying in helpless heaps, sublimity in parts conducing to no general effect of sublimity, the movement lagging and unwieldy, and the plot urged on to the catastrophe by incoherent expedients. His imagination partook of the incompleteness of his intellect. Strong enough to clothe the ideas and emotions of a common poet, it was plainly inadequate to embody the vast, half-formed conceptions which gasped for expression in his soul in its moments of poetic exaltation. Often we feel his meaning, rather than apprehend it. The imagery has the indefiniteness of distant objects seen by moonlight. There are whole passages in his works in which he seems engaged in expressing Chapman to Chapman, like the deaf egotist who only placed his trumpet to his ear when he himself talked.

This criticism applies more particularly to his tragedies, and to his expression of great sentiments and passions. His comedies, though over-informed with thought, reveal him to us as a singularly sharp, shrewd, and somewhat cynical observer, sparkling with worldly wisdom, and not deficient in airiness any more than wit. Hazlitt, we believe, was the first to notice that Monsieur D'Olive, in the comedy of that name, is "the undoubted prototype of that light, flippant, gay, and infinitely delightful class of character, of the professed men of wit and pleasure about town, which we have in such perfection in Wycherly and Congreve, such as Sparkish, Witwond, Petulant, &c., both in the sentiments and the style of writing"; and Tharsalio in "The Widow's Tears," and Ludovico in "May-Day," have the hard impudence and cynical distrust of virtue, the arrogant and glorying self-unrighteousness, that distinguish another class of characters which the dramatists of the age of Charles and Anne were unwearied in providing with insolence and repartees. Occasionally we have a jest which Falstaff would not disown. Thus in "May-Day," when Cuthbert, a barber, approaches Quintiliano, to get, if possible, "certain odd crowns" the latter owes him, Quintiliano says, "I think thou 'rt newly married?" "I am indeed, sir," is the reply. "I thought so; keep on thy hat, man, 't will be the less perceived." Chapman, in his comedies generally, shows a kind of philosophical contempt for woman, as a frailer and flimsier, if fairer, creature than man, and he sustains his bad judgment with infinite ingenuity of wilful wit and penetration of ungracious analysis. In "The Widow's Tears" this unpoetic infidelity to the sex pervades the whole plot and incidents, as well as gives edge to many an incisive sarcasm. My sense, says Tharsalio, "tells me how short-lived widows' tears are, that their weeping is in truth but laughing under a mask, that they mourn in their gowns and laugh in their sleeves; all of which I believe as a Delphian oracle, and am resolved to burn in that faith." "He," says Lodovico, in "May-Day,"—he "that holds religious and sacred thought of a woman, he that holds so reverend a respect to her that he will not touch her but with a kist hand and a timorous heart, he that adores her like his goddess, let him be sure she will shun him like her slave.... Whereas nature made" women "but half fools, we make 'em all fool: and this is our palpable flattery of them, where they had rather have plain dealing." In all Chapman's comic writing there is something of Ben Jonson's[Pg 703] mental self-assertion and disdainful glee in his own superiority to the weakness he satirizes.

In passing from a comedy like "May-Day" to a tragedy like "Bussy D'Ambois," we find some difficulty in recognizing the features of the same nature. "Bussy D'Ambois" represents a mind not so much in creation as in eruption, belching forth smoke, ashes, and stones, no less than flame. Pope speaks of it as full of fustian; but fustian is rant in the words when there is no corresponding rant in the soul; whilst Chapman's tragedy, like Marlowe's "Tamburlaine," indicates a greater swell in the thoughts and passions of his characters than in their expression. The poetry is to Shakespeare's what gold ore is to gold. Veins and lumps of the precious metal gleam on the eye from the duller substance in which it is imbedded. Here are specimens:—

"Man is torch borne in the wind; a dream
But of a shadow, summed with all his substance;
And as great seamen, using all their wealth
And skills in Neptune's deep invisible paths,
In tall ships richly built and ribbed with brass,
To put a girdle round about the world,
When they have done it (coming near their haven)
Are fain to give a warning piece, and call
A poor stayed fisherman, that never past
His country's sight, to waft and guide them in:
So when we wander furthest through the waves
Of glassy glory and the gulfs of state,
Topped with all titles, spreading all our reaches,
As if each private arm would sphere the earth,
We must to Virtue for her guide resort,
Or we shall shipwreck in our safest port."
"In a king
All places are contained. His words and looks
Are like the flashes and the bolts of Jove;
His deeds inimitable, like the sea
That shuts still as it opes, and leaves no tracks,
Nor prints of precedent for mean men's acts."
"His great heart will not down: 't is like the sea
That partly by his own internal heat,
Partly the stars' daily and nightly motion,
Their heat and light, and partly of the place
The divers frames, but chiefly by the moon
Bristled with surges, never will be won,
(No, not when th' hearts of all those powers are burst,)
To make retreat into his settled home,
Till he be crowned with his own quiet foam."
"Now, all ye peaceful regents of the night,
Silently gliding exhalations,
Languishing winds, and murmuring falls of waters,
Sadness of heart, and ominous secureness,
Enchantments, dead sleeps, all the friends of rest
That ever wrought upon the life of man,
Extend your utmost strengths; and this charmed hour
Fix like the centre."
"There is One
That wakes above, whose eye no sleep can bind:
He sees through doors and darkness and our thoughts."
"O, the dangerous siege
Sin lays about us! and the tyranny
He exercises when he hath expugned:
Like to the horror of a winter's thunder,
Mixed with a gushing storm, that suffer nothing
To stir abroad on earth but their own rages,
Is sin, when it hath gathered head above us."
"Terror of darkness! O thou king of flames!
That with thy music-footed horse doth strike
The clear light out of crystal, on dark earth,
And hurl'st instinctive fire about the world,
Wake, wake, the drowsy and enchanted night,
That sleeps with dead eyes in this heavy riddle:
O thou great prince of shades, where never sun
Sticks his far-darted beams, whose eyes are made
To shine in darkness, and see ever best
Where men are blindest! open now the heart
Of thy abashed oracle, that for fear
Of some ill it includes would feign lie hid,
And rise thou with it in thy greater light."

It is hardly possible to read Chapman's serious verse without feeling that he had in him the elements of a great nature, and that he was a magnificent specimen of what is called "irregular genius." And one of his poems, the dedication of his translation of the Iliad to Prince Henry, is of so noble a strain, and from so high a mood, that, while borne along with its rapture, we are tempted to place him in the first rank of poets and of men. You can feel and hear the throbs of the grand old poet's heart in such lines as these:—

"O, 't is wondrous much,
Though nothing prized, that the right virtuous touch
Of a well-written soul to virtue moves;
Nor have we souls to purpose, if their loves
Of fitting objects be not so inflamed.
How much were then this kingdom's main soul maimed,
To want this great inflamer of all powers
That move in human souls.
*    *    *    *
Through all the pomp of kingdoms still he shines,
And graceth all his gracers.
*    *    *    *
A prince's statue, or in marble carved,
Or steel, or gold, and shrined, to be preserved,
Aloft on pillars and pyramides,
Time into lowest ruins may depress;
But drawn with all his virtues in learned verse,
Fame shall resound them on oblivion's hearse,
Till graves gasp with their blasts, and dead men rise."

[Pg 704]


Two thirds of the United States lie west of the Mississippi River. This vast domain has already exercised a tremendous influence over our political destiny. The Territories were the immediate occasion of our civil war. During an entire generation they furnished the arena for the prelusive strife of that war. The Missouri Compromise was to us of the East a flag of truce. But neither nature nor the men who populated the Western Territories recognized this flag. The vexed question of party platforms and sectional debate, the right and the reason of slavery, solved itself in the West with a freedom and rough rapidity natural to the soil and its population. Climatic limitations and prohibitions went hand in hand with the inflow of an emigration mainly from the Northern States,—an emigration fostered by political emotions and fevered by political injustice. While the South was menacing and the North deprecating war, far removed from this tumult of words the conflict was going on, and was being decided. And it was because slavery was doomed in the great West, and therefore in the nation, that rebellion ensued.

It is worthy of note that the same generation which witnessed the growth of the Calhoun school of politics in the South, and of the Free Soil and (afterward) the Republican party in the North, and which followed with intense interest the stages of the Territorial struggle, witnessed also the employment of steam and electricity as agents of human progress. These agents, these organs of velocity, abbreviating time and space, said, Let the West be East; and before the locomotive the West fled from Buffalo to Chicago, across the prairies, the Rocky Mountains, the desert steppes beyond, and down the Pacific slope, until it stared the Orient into a self-contradiction.

It was on the part of our government a sublime recognition of the power of steam, that, while it was struggling for existence, it gave its sanction to the Pacific Railroad enterprise. Curiously enough, it is through Kansas and Nebraska—the Epidaurus of our Peloponnesian war—that the two great rival Pacific Railroad routes are to run.

In the summer of 1861, the project of a trans-continental railway connecting our Pacific communities with the older population of the East first assumed a practical aspect. For nearly three decades the nation had been dreaming of the scheme, but it had done little more than dream. Almost with the earliest track-laying in America, a visionary New-Yorker startled a sceptical generation by proclaiming the age of steam, and pointing at the locomotive as the instrument whereby men should yet penetrate the mysterious depths of the Far West, and secure for our growing commerce the prize of Asiatic wealth. Curious readers will find in the New York Courier and Enquirer of 1837 an article by Dr. Hartley Carver, advocating a Pacific Railroad; and in view of how little was known at this time of the country beyond the Alleghanies,—so little, indeed, that the Territories of the extreme West had no definite outline, but were measured from the crest of the Rocky Mountains,—the audacity of the proposition might justly have inspired suspicions of the sanity of its author. But if Dr. Carver was chimerical, he was at least courageous in his persistence. Ten years later, this lineal descendant of old John Carver transferred the question from the arena of newspaper discussion, and boldly memorialized Congress. Here he found a rival advocate in Asa Whitney, whose brain throbbed with the glowing possibilities of the Chinese trade, while his specious statistics and contagious eloquence arrested public attention.[Pg 705] Neither of these projectors, however, found the atmosphere of Washington propitious. Failing there, they once more had recourse to the press. The discovery of gold in California gave fresh vigor to the agitation. In 1850, that notable railroad king, William B. Ogden, lent his name to the enterprise, and by his cogent and well-considered appeals excited confidence in statesmen and capitalists. Three years after, Congress yielded to the popular pressure, and ordered those surveys, the result of which lies in eleven bulky departmental volumes, and bears the name of "Pacific Railroad Reports." Then came the Fremont campaign, with its burning enthusiasm, the Pacific Railroad plank in the Republican platform, and the defeat which was almost a victory. The succeeding year a strong effort was made to secure a national charter; but though supported by the Senate, the measure failed to carry in the Lower House.

This disastrous rebuff at Washington produced a profound indignation throughout wide sections; yet it may be questioned whether the arguments on which the railway scheme was based were sufficiently solid to justify such encouragement to the investment of floating capital as the passage of the bill would have implied. Beyond the Missouri River, even on the line of Western travel, population was as sparsely scattered as in an Indian reservation. Neither the gold reaches of Colorado nor the silver-bearing "leads" of the Washoe district had as yet been discovered. California was known only as a region of placer-digging, and its agricultural capacities were very inadequately comprehended. Nor had the Pacific Steamship Company ventured to create its China line. A railroad certain to cost one hundred and forty millions, as the War Department asserted, had in prospect for an immediate revenue only the meagre trade of Salt Lake City, and the freightage of bullion from the Pacific shore. Indeed, the prevailing faith in the enterprise almost passes belief, when it is remembered that no satisfactory survey had been made of the Sierra Nevada. That terrible pile of snow-crowned peaks, of deep-sunk ravines, of jagged ridges and perilous chasms, where the winding bridle-track scarcely permits a driver to walk beside his mule, seemed to defy the skill of our boldest engineers. Overland travellers reported depths of snow varying from twenty to fifty feet. Fearful stories were narrated of luckless wagon-trains caught in the narrow defiles by sudden mountain storms, and perishing helplessly amid these Alpine rigors. It was surely a legitimate question whether a railroad were possible in the face of such embarrassments; and it is fair to attribute the adverse action of Congress to these considerations, rather than to occult and scarcely explicable sectional motives.

At the commencement of the next decade, all this, however, was changed. California had developed into a rich grape-producing country. Its cereals were beyond the demands of local consumption. A considerable trade had sprung up with Oregon, the Sandwich Islands, and latterly with China. The production of quicksilver was on the increase. Valuable copper mines had recently been opened. Moreover, the immense gold seams of Colorado, the vast silver deposits in Nevada, and the auriferous quartz of Idaho, were disclosed almost simultaneously, diverting population to the interior table-lands, and calling loudly for an economical method of transit. Upon the Pacific shore, the desire for a through road suddenly became intensified, while the profitableness of a railway, at least to the Humboldt Sink, became more and more apparent. If only the Sierra might be pierced! That appalling obstacle still threw its shadow over the enterprise. Fortunately, at this very crisis there wandered down from the mountain, in the pleasant summer days, a railway surveyor and engineer, Theodore D. Judah, who had had extensive Eastern experiences, and Californian as well. He was a thin, short, light-haired[Pg 706] Massachusetts man, enthusiastic, conscientious, cautious, and with a quick eye for discovering the opportunities of science amid the obstacles of nature,—a trait which in an engineer is rightly named genius. While engaged in the survey of private claims, he had worked out what appeared, on a hurried examination, to be a perfectly feasible route through the hills. At Sacramento he modestly stated this belief; and in a resident merchant, Mr. C. P. Huntington, he found a willing listener. Mr. Huntington, who is to the California end of the Pacific Railroad what Durant is to the co-operating Nebraska branch, describes in graphic language the earnest consultations, prolonged for several weeks, which he and a few other friends held in Leland Stanford's store after the day's business was through. There were seven of these men all told, not one of them worth less than half a million, and each ready to stake his entire property in the enterprise, if it promised success. The maps of the new-comer were consulted, the lines carefully studied, and the result of their deliberations was the temporary organization of what is now known as the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California. The engineer in whose representations so much confidence was placed soon proved that he was worthy of that confidence; money was forthcoming; an adequate surveying party was sent out; and in the summer months of 1861, Judah demonstrated the existence of a route by the South Yuba River and the Donner Pass greatly superior to all other projected lines, with no insuperable engineering difficulties, and capable of defence against all interruption by freshet or snow. In the mean while the State Legislature had granted a charter to the incorporators in July; and at the first stockholders' meeting Stanford was elected president and Huntington vice-president of the company. It was evident, however, that an undertaking of such vast dimensions could not be completed without government help; and the Sacramento party, confident that in Mr. Judah's surveys lay the solution of the Pacific problem, repaired at once to Washington, and opened anew the railroad agitation.

While the energy of the West was still engaged in penetrating the secrets of the formidable Sierra, a movement meaning work began to develop itself on the Eastern border. As a general statement, and without reference to individual routes, it may be said that in the Northern cis-Mississippi States there are two separate railroad systems, running in lines about parallel from east to west; the upper combination of routes debouching at Chicago, the lower, or central, at St. Louis. These lines are slightly entangled with the roads concentrating at Cincinnati and Indianapolis; but the division into an upper and lower route is sufficiently preserved to admit of distinct classification. The capitalists of both the great cities which form the terminal points of these systems had long been equally alive to the vast possibilities of the Pacific trade, and were eager, not only from local pride, but also from knowledge of the simplest principles of commercial policy, to secure to their respective communities the main bulk of this immense prospective traffic. With this view, Chicago had projected three lines across the State of Iowa, all of which were ultimately to converge at Council Bluffs. Thence across the coffee-colored Missouri, over rolling prairies, and up the slowly curving line of the Platte, stretched an easily rising ascent, which, engineers affirmed, had been graduated by nature as the most direct and practicable route for the interoceanic railroad. As yet no one of these Iowa lines was complete; but they all had a corporate existence, and their stockholders formed a nucleus for a distinct Pacific movement.

St Louis, on the other hand, aided by the State of which it was the commercial capital, had as early as 1851 commenced the construction of the Missouri Pacific Railway, whose line shot straight as an arrow westward across the State, curving slightly to the north at its terminus, which was fixed at Kansas[Pg 707] City. Four years later, the Territorial government of Kansas incorporated the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad, with privilege to build from Leavenworth to Fort Riley, and thence westerly. It is apparent that the two companies might readily connect, and thus form a rival grand trunk Pacific road.

Both the upper and the lower-enterprises, however, remained for many years after their inception in a quiescent state, serving simply as topics of newspaper discussion, or of buncombe addresses from local rostrums. But in 1860-61 the unexpected discovery of large deposits of the precious metals in Colorado and in Nevada gave an enormous impulse to the carrying trade of the plains, and the same argument which proved so cogent in California aroused the Western capitalists from their lethargy. Rumors of the new line over the Sierra also found their way East; and the Legislature of Kansas, now a young and vigorous State, passed a joint resolution in March, 1862, urging on Congress the immediate creation of a national Pacific Railroad Company. In anticipation of this action, the agents of the lower route had already proceeded to Washington, where they found themselves suddenly in the presence, not only of the representatives of the Central Company of California, but also of the Chicago projectors and their New York friends.

It will scarcely be profitable at the present time to descend into the particulars of the rivalry which interests in many respects so divergent necessarily entailed. A gentleman who had singular opportunities for arriving at an unprejudiced judgment recently informed the writer of this article that one company alone employed the element of "influence" to the extent of three millions of dollars, or its supposed equivalent. Facts of this nature, however, are outside of our purpose; and we shall limit our illustration of the character of the struggle to a brief glance at the curious tangle of compromises which the charter itself presents. Passed in the Lower House by a catch vote, and pushed with difficulty through the Senate by appeals to party pledges, by unimpeachable proofs of the feasibility of the scheme and the financial integrity of its advocates, and above all by intimations amounting almost to threats of a possible secession of the Pacific communities, the act of 1862 bears the evidence of a conflict of purposes in almost every one of its sections. It is evident, for example, that, with the tide of civil war beating fiercely around the national capital, Congress was still under the spell of the past, and severely distrustful of any avoidable increase of public obligations. Bonds were loaned to the enterprise at the rate of sixteen thousand dollars per mile for the easy work, with treble aid for the mountain division and double for the Salt Lake Valley; but this loan was made a first mortgage, twenty-five per cent, was reserved till the completion of the road, and the transit business of government was to be paid solely by the extinguishment of the bonded debt. The land grant also was but six thousand four hundred acres per mile. The clashing interests of St. Louis and Chicago are shown in the ignoring of any special eastern terminus, and the location of the initial point of a new trunk road upon the one hundredth meridian, at some equidistant station, to be designated by the President. As the Kansas party was already possessed of an organization, the charter modified this advantage by incorporating the Nebraska line[B], under the name of the Union Pacific Company, and gave it a predominant place in the specifications of the act. The aid of government, however, was proffered[Pg 708] in equal degree to the road which was to cross the mountains from Sacramento, and to both the Eastern lines; the last two being required to complete a hundred miles each within two years after they had respectively filed their assent to the terms of the act, while the Central was to build at the rate of twenty-five miles a year up the ridges of the Sierra.

In hard-currency times, and with the labor and iron market easy, these terms might have been sufficient to invite the ready aid of capital. But the close of 1862 and the year succeeding were the darkest periods of the war. Gold vibrated from 140 to 180. Iron, which in 1859, sold for $35 a ton, was now selling for $130. Moreover, while money was tight, labor was also scarce. The two great agencies on which a vast public work like this must inevitably depend proved utterly inadequate to the emergency. Nevertheless, both the companies which had already an organic existence bent themselves with no inconsiderable vigor to their task. The Central Pacific accepted the responsibilities and obligations of the charter six months after its passage, and commenced the work of grading in the succeeding February. Rails, chairs, and rolling stock were forwarded by sea, involving heavy expenditures for freightage, and a ten per cent war risk on insurance. The company endured further embarrassments from the lack of capital, and the fact that in California a metallic currency formed the only circulating medium. Nor was it the least of its difficulties that the enterprise met with an ambiguous reception in many portions of the State, San Francisco especially regarding it with cold indifference. The zeal with which the road was pushed amid these embarrassments is a striking evidence of the thorough faith of its projectors. Although it soon became apparent that further legislation would be needed to relieve them from the disabilities inherent in the meagreness of the government subsidy, they nevertheless succeeded by the 6th of June, 1864, in cutting their line through to New Castle, and in laying thereon a solid and continuous track.

In Kansas, the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad Company or, as they were beginning to style themselves the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, had contracted for an immediate and rapid construction of their line as early as September 30th. By the spring of 1863, the contractors, Messrs. Ross, Steele, & Co., had involved themselves to the extent of five millions, of dollars, and were in full operation with an adequate corps of laborers, grading, quarrying stone, building culverts, etc. Suddenly, however, all this busy movement ceased. By one of those strange revolutions that occasionally occur in the management of corporations, a man notorious throughout the whole border, familiarly called Sam Hallet, assumed control of the company, denounced the contract as in nowise valid, and peremptorily ordered the agents of the contracting party to abandon the work. The agents refused. Affairs now assumed the aspect of war. Hallet procured a company of United States dragoons from Fort Leavenworth, and rode down upon the contumacious contractors. The result of this cavalry dash is rather picturesquely described in a letter of this novel railroad general, dated August 15, 1863:—

"I have had an awful row with Carter, a battle on the works, and a sharp 'pitch in' to get possession; we drove them back, and into the river, until they cried enough. S. S. Sharp, my foreman Section No. 1, led Carter to the river-bank by the collar; and but for his begging, he would have ducked him. I expect Steele and Carter on again with reinforcements. Let them come! We will put them into the river the next time. We have had to use strong force, quick and bold. We have taken all their ties, houses, and works, and shall hold them."

Triumphant on the battle-field, Hallet now made a rapid counter-movement, and effected a transfer of the ownership of the company to a new set of capitalists, putting them into immediate possession[Pg 709] of the entire property of the old corporation. Of the legal merits of this singular manœuvre we are not prepared to give an opinion; but it is proper for us to add, that it met with vigorous resistance on the part of the former stockholders, at the head of whom stood Fremont. Sharp litigations and stormy altercations ensued; and for many months most vital to its interests the whole Kansas enterprise was shut from view.

While these two companies were moving forward, the one steadily overcoming financial and engineering difficulties, the other plunging into an inexplicable imbroglio of contested management and contested contracts, that great combination of capitalists which held the destinies of the Union Pacific met at Chicago in September, 1862, and took the preliminary steps for the formation of a company. Books for stock subscriptions were opened in every loyal State and Territory. In June of the next year the acceptance of the charter by a provisional direction was filed at Washington. Nevertheless, an annoying apathy filled the public mind. Capital was shy of the enterprise. The terms of the act of 1862 were deemed unsatisfactory. Up to August, 1863, only about eighty thousand dollars had been subscribed.

At this point, Thomas C. Durant, whose connection with Western roads had inspired so much faith in the Pacific project, threw the weight of his capital and influence so determinately into the scale, that by October the subscriptions had reached two millions, and the company was in a condition to organize. Major-General John A. Dix was elected president, Dr. Durant became vice-president and general manager, and the preliminary survey which he had ordered at his personal expense was approved and officially adopted by the direction. As, however, a wide-spread feeling existed, not only that additional legislation was necessary, but that it might also be obtained, the company contented itself that year with the selection of its eastern terminus. President Lincoln was consulted; and, acting upon his unofficial sanction, the Union Pacific broke ground for the railroad at Omaha, then a struggling village in Nebraska Territory, nearly opposite Council Bluffs. The inaugural ceremony took place December 2d, and with this event the year closed.

For the next few months the efforts of all the companies converged upon Congress. The Union Pacific Company appeared at Washington in great force. The Central, equally urgent, presented arguments that amounted to demonstration; the chief points being the energy with which they had striven to comply with the terms of the charter, and the painful failure that had attended their endeavor,—a failure clearly imputable to the insufficiency of the original bill. The Kansas Company, though rent in twain by rival boards of directors, was also on the ground, animated by very ambitious purposes, and with a determination to win its ends in spite of internal complications. The vigor with which the latter body took the field gave a complex character to the struggle, and very much prolonged it. On vital points, however, all parties were in accord, and in the main results of the campaign each achieved a splendid success. The supplementary bill, approved July 2, 1864, as much surpassed the legislation of two years previous as the sixteen hundred million national debt of 1864 exceeded the five-hundred million debt of 1862; The colossal expenditures of the war had led Congressmen to accept the estimates of railroad men with implicit credence, and to second their demands with generosity. The land grant was doubled, the government bonds were made a second lien to the roads under construction, the twenty-five per cent reservation was removed, and one half of government business was to be paid in money.

The Union Pacific Company effected an important modification of the charter in respect to their particular interests. Their maximum capital was still fixed at one hundred millions, but individual shares were lowered from a thousand to[Pg 710] a hundred dollars each. Furthermore, the hitherto unwieldy board of direction was limited to fifteen members. On the other hand, the Kansas organization obtained the privilege of making their own road the grand trunk route, connecting with the Central Pacific, in case they should anticipate the Nebraska line in reaching the one hundredth meridian, and the latter road should not appear to be proceeding in good faith.

As the act which bestowed such signal favors had granted an extension of a year for the completion of the first division of each road, the Union Pacific was under no absolute compulsion to hasten its work. Nevertheless, surveying parties were kept in the field, and the contract for the construction of the road to the one hundredth meridian was signed in August. This agreement, though nominally known, as the Hoxie contract, derived the guaranty of its performance from the Credit Mobilier,—an organization with an actual capital of two millions and a half, recently created upon the model of the great Paris corporation, and in the hands of a few moneyed men whose enterprise and energy were admirably proportioned to their large wealth. Its heaviest capitalists were also stockholders in the projected road; and as payment was to be made in bonds and shares, the Credit Mobilier at once became an over-shadowing stockholder in the Union Pacific. The arrangement at a subsequent period may not have been wholly beneficial; but at the date of the contract the alliance was of incalculable importance. Although two millions of stock had been subscribed, the Nebraska line had in reality only twenty thousand dollars in its treasury. Without the Credit Mobilier, it would have faltered on the threshold of success. Even with this powerful auxiliary, it was not yet strong enough to prevent an unexpected and vexatious delay.

The first forty miles west from Omaha had been intrusted to Peter A. Dey, an engineer of some experience in the West. This gentleman, whose ideas seem to have been limited to a straight line, had constructed a track satisfactory in its alignments, but with a maximum grade of eighty feet per mile, and involving temporary grading of one hundred and sixteen feet at several points of the route. A later survey, made under the supervision of Colonel Seymour, demonstrated the existence of a far better line with forty-feet grades and but nine miles longer. Placed upon abstract grounds, there was no question of the relative advantage of the two routes. The combined opinion of several of the most skilful railroad managers in the country was unanimous for the lower grade, as essential to rapid and economical transportation. But there was another element in the case which gave a different aspect to the affair. Dey's line terminated at Omaha; Seymour's, at Bellevue. If the new route were selected, all the magnificent dreams of the Omaha land speculators would be summarily dispelled. The territorial population caught the alarm. Public meetings were called. A committee was sent post to Washington. It was asserted, on grounds that were not destitute of plausibility, that the change was attributable quite as much to motives of a stock-jobbing order, as to economic considerations. To this charge Dr. Durant indignantly replied, but this did not appease the clamor. Nor was the dispute ended until after five months of tedious investigation, and a guaranteed promise on the part of the company, that, in adopting the new line, there should be no alteration of terminus.

While Omaha was still in the white-heat of excitement, the contractors had been steadily employed in collecting material for a grand industrial campaign. Distant, in the line of travel then open to them, more than sixteen hundred miles from New York, with the Missouri River as their main avenue for the transportation of rolling stock and machinery west of St. Louis, the men who had undertaken to build the road bent themselves to the task with a vigor and celerity heretofore unequalled in railroad history. Iron from New[Pg 711] England, shipped in coasting-vessels, and working its slow way through the Gulf of Mexico and up the knotted bends of the Mississippi; iron, from Pennsylvania by the lower route, and from New York by upper lines; iron in all conditions and shapes, from rails, chains, and spikes, to car-wheels and steam-engines,—came pouring in week by week, a tonnage beyond all estimate or comparison, and involving, from the want of rail connections, unparalleled expenditures. The transportation of one class of freight alone cost thirteen hundred thousand dollars. All other expenses were upon the same magnificent scale. Nebraska, though admirably adapted for agriculture, is singularly destitute of woodland. The lumber for building, and the cross-ties for track-laying, could only be obtained in small quantities and at great distances. Many of the sleepers travelled two hundred miles before they found repose on the road-bed. The labor market also was but scantily supplied, and agents for procuring navvies were despatched east, west, and south. But the splendid energy of the contractors had been fruitful of success. A vast aggregate of forces stood ready at the melting of the winter's snow and the click of the telegraph key to spring into enormous activity.

About the middle of April, 1866, the message came, and the work began. Along the dead level of the Platte Valley, through endless reaches of prairie, and behind the meagre shelter of outlying hills, the rails are still falling in place,—a continuous belt of iron out-rolled over black loam and arid sand,—mile after mile, day after day; and with the close of the present year there will stretch an unbroken line of five hundred and twenty miles of rail across the Plains to the foot of the Black Hills. There is no occasion to dilate upon the wonderful systemization of labor which has characterized the work of construction. The public is already well apprised of the details, from the pens of industrious and graphic newspaper correspondents. The company itself has been by no means laggard in celebrating its enterprise. Excursion parties of capitalists, editors, and Congressmen have severally given in their testimony; but, after all, the one fact that in less than twenty months American energy has brought the Rocky Mountains within two and one half days' journey of New York—though the distance is two thousand miles—tells the whole story. One of the chief difficulties of this Nebraska route has been, as we have intimated, the scarcity of suitable material for cross-ties, and of fuel for the engines. The employment of Burnetized cottonwood, and the discovery of a very considerable quantity of cedar in the interior, have, however, effectually solved one phase of this problem; while for the production of steam science now offers petroleum as a practical substitute for wood and coal. But independently of this, the road has already reached the bituminous beds of the Black Hills, where it will probably find a plentiful supply for its necessities. Water also is obtained in sufficient quantities by digging from ten to twenty feet down, to the sand which filters the waters of the Platte.

Shortly after the Nebraska Company had thrown off the drag-weight of local embarrassment, the Kansas line began to disentangle itself from legal complications; and on July 1, 1865, the enterprise passed into the hands of a management which, if powerless to retrieve the past, was at least determined to make the future secure. At the head of this new organization was John D. Perry of St Louis; and associated with him were a body of capitalists in Missouri and Pennsylvania whose financial ability was unquestioned, and who have since evinced a vigor and commercial prescience which elevate them to the level of their Eastern rivals. Perceiving that the miserable Fremont-Hallet quarrel had effectually frustrated all rivalry in the construction of a track to the one hundredth meridian, they made application to Congress for an extension of their line to Denver, by the[Pg 712] Smoky Hill Fork, with the privilege of connecting at that point with the Union Pacific. The request was readily granted, and the usual land gift of twelve thousand eight hundred acres per mile accorded for the entire route. No further issue of government bonds was allowed; but as the company was now possessed of adequate capital, and as the loans to the other companies must all eventually be paid back, there was really very little difference in financial advantage on the side of the Nebraska line. Moreover, the slight balance against the Kansas route was quite made up in the greater fertility of the soil which it would traverse, and the large preponderance of its local business, the population along the line being treble that of the upper road. These considerations gave an elasticity to the Kansas project, and under the new management the work of construction has gone on rapidly. The present year will probably find the road halting at not less than three hundred and fifty miles west of Wyandotte, now the junction-point of the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, with the Missouri Pacific Railroad. But this company is not satisfied with a simple connection with the Nebraska road. It proposes, after making this connection, to continue its main line to San Francisco by an extensive detour southward, avoiding the difficult mountain systems between Denver and Sacramento, and at the same time availing itself of that immense trade which lies visible or latent throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California. Escaping the overwhelming snows of the Rocky Mountains, this route will pass through a salubrious region abounding in timber and bituminous coal.[C] By intersecting the Rio Grande at Albuquerque, it will hold out to the Southern States a tempting invitation to form connections, and share to the fullest extent in the benefits of this great national enterprise. In this way the Pacific Railroad stands ready to second Congress in the work of "reconstruction."

Of the Central Pacific Road we have not as yet spoken adequately, and shall now be compelled to give the history of its achievements in a wholly insufficient space. Unlike the Eastern roads, it has allowed no pause in its work from the day of the first track-laying to the present moment. Unlike these roads, also, it has had to contend with great engineering difficulties from the start, while the material for its construction required to be brought over distances to which the transportation annoyances of the other lines offer no parallel. All the rolling stock, rails, etc. doubled Cape Horn. The timber for the trestle-work of bridges was brought from Puget's Sound. For laborers it had recourse to China. To reach the crest of the Sierra, they were obliged to pierce the hillsides fifteen times, the tunnelling alone amounting in continuous line to 6,262 feet. The eight-hour labor movement was an additional embarrassment. Embankments built up with incalculable labor, and protected by every device of engineering science, settled in many cases, and were repaired only after much delay and vast expense. Nevertheless, the indomitable projectors of the enterprise have proved themselves equal to their task. The Summit Tunnel was cut through in August of this year; and by November the road will have been extended, not only to the crest of the mountains, but far down the eastern slope. Hunter's, which is[Pg 713] the wagon depot of the Nevada miners, two hundred and seventy-four miles from San Francisco, and one hundred and fifty miles from Sacramento, is the point which the locomotive is certain to reach by the close of 1867.[D]

Thus far there have been built six hundred and fifty miles of completed road. Adding the water route to San Francisco, there are about eight hundred miles of continuous steam communication. Despite also the bleakness of the Plains in winter, and the protracted rigors of the Sierra, it is demonstrated that snow can be no more an obstacle to the railroads than icebergs have proved to the Atlantic cable. Including the Eastern connections with New York as the Atlantic terminus, we have, therefore, two thousand two hundred and fifty miles of the interoceanic railroad already in actual operation.

From Hunter's, in Nevada, to the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, stretches the long space of unfinished work, ten hundred and fifty-four miles of railroad line, with three sharp crests and a gently rolling intra-mountain desert, where the dew never falls, where the twilight lingers long into the evening, and the eye wearies of the wastes of sage-bush, and the tracts of scant grass between arid breadths of dazzling white alkaline sand. A glance at the grades discloses one of the difficulties with which the Union Pacific has now to grapple. From the Black Hills, within thirty miles the track must rise to its first and loftiest ascent, 8,242 feet above the sea-level. Then comes a descent of a thousand feet for the same distance, succeeded by equal alternations of rise and fall for eight successive points. Beyond Bear River, however, these gigantic mountain waves lengthen, and the vast interior basin rolls broadly and heavily, with an average level of forty-five hundred feet, past Weber Canon and Humboldt Wells. Here the line strikes Humboldt River, and runs southwesterly to the Big Bend of the Truckee River, along a region singularly favorable in its alignments, and described as well supplied with wood and water. In this respect recent surveys essentially corroborate the testimony of Fremont.

The difficulties to be overcome by the Central Pacific in its route over and through the mountains to meet its eastern branches have already been described. But, notwithstanding these, the company claims that it can readily construct its line at the rate of one mile per day for five hundred working-days. It has nearly ten thousand laborers at work, most of them Chinese. The portion of the road completed, with its excellent rails, its ties of red-wood and tamarack, and its granite culverts, has elicited praise from government commissioners for the thoroughness of its execution.

Though none of the routes are as yet completed, the net earnings of each of the three companies, over and above the interest on its bonds, have surpassed all expectation. In 1865 and 1866 the net earnings of the Central Road amounted to $936,000 in gold, and in 1867 they are estimated at one million dollars; and this surplus is applied to the construction of the road. The net earnings of the Union Pacific (Nebraska) Road for the quarter ending July 31, 1867, were $376,589 in currency. Those of the Eastern or Kansas[Pg 714] branch, for the month of August alone, $235,000. Of course these estimates of the profit of the roads under the present circumstances are but faint indications of the wealth which must accrue to them upon their completion, and after the fuller development of the resources upon which they depend. At the sources of this future wealth we shall glance presently.

There can be no possible occasion for rivalry between these three companies. Each road will take its place in the great work of interoceanic communication, and each will find its capacities meagre as compared with the commerce which awaits it. But apart from a merely commercial view, there are certain points of comparison between the various routes which demand a brief notice. The Kansas route will probably prove most attractive to the tourists, especially in the event of its making the detour through New Mexico above alluded to. The Nebraska route will be more monotonous, running across the level and treeless valley of the Platte for three hundred miles. To the traveller there will always be presented the same swift but shallow river at his side, the same bare, misty hills along the horizon, the same limitless stretch of the plain before and behind, and the same solitary sky above, save as it is varied by sunrise and sunset, until the Black Hills come to his relief, and he enters upon the snow-whelmed Sierra. The Central route is more picturesque, and also has more elements of grandeur, than either of the others. The Nebraska Road, on account of the character of the country through which it passes, will probably derive its main revenue from the through trade; while the Kansas—if its present purpose be carried out—will depend upon the local trade and its multifarious connections.

Having traced the history of these Pacific roads, the difficulties which they have met and in a large degree conquered, and their general features, our consideration of them must from this point grow out of their national importance and world-wide significance. For the Pacific Railroad is not simply a gigantic public work, it is the world's great highway. The world has had several grand routes, along the line of which, for certain periods of time, the life-blood and intelligence of humanity have coursed. Such was the route which history discloses as the most ancient from India overland to the Mediterranean, whence it was continued by that old Phœnician Coast Navigation Company to the shores of Britain. Along this overland line grew up the great cities of Asia, depending upon it for their wealth, refinement, and power; and when commerce was diverted from the inland, and the riches of India took the ocean path westward, the glory of these cities departed. Such also was that later route which gave the Italian cities their opulence and strength in the Middle Ages. When the Cape of Good Hope was doubled, these Italian centres grew comparatively weak and lustreless. The Roman road to Britain laid the foundation of that power, the full development of which has given to London its present position as the European metropolis. New York City also owes her rapid and stupendous growth to that peculiar conjunction of circumstances which has secured her the control of the grand Transatlantic commercial route of present times. The railroads leading westward from that city, converging upon the termini of the Pacific lines, continue this world-route of the incoming era to San Francisco, and there, through the Golden Gate, we grasp the wealth of Eastern Asia, whence the first great world-route started. Events more powerful than tradition have thus revolutionized the old system of travel and commerce, calling them eastward. America becomes at once interoceanic and mediterranean, commanding the two oceans, and mediating between Europe and Asia. By the Pacific Railroad, Hong Kong via New York is only forty days distant from London. The tea and silks of China and the products of the Spice Islands must pass through America to Europe. In this[Pg 715] connection, also, there is a profound significance in our alliance, every year growing stronger, with Russia, whose extreme southern boundary joins Japan, our latest and warmest Asiatic ally.

But the development of American commercial power as against the world is secondary to the internal development of our own resources, and to the indissoluble bond of national union afforded by this inland route from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and by its future connections with every portion of our territory. In thirty years, California will have a population equal to that of New York to-day, and yet not be half full, and the city of St. Louis will number a million of souls. New York City and San Francisco, as the two great entrepôts of trade; Chicago and St. Louis as its two vital centres; and New Orleans at the mouth of our great national canal, the Mississippi,—will become nations rather than cities, out-stripping all the great cities of ancient and modern history. As far as the resources of the West are concerned, one Pacific railroad, with two or three branches, will not suffice; we may need a road along every parallel. The West is still in a large degree terra incognita. We know it only in parts. We are indeed aware that California is already competing with Russia and the cis-Mississippi States in the production of cereals, and that the mineral region of the West now annually yields gold and silver worth one hundred millions of dollars. But California's agricultural resources are almost untouched; while the best "leads" of the vast mineral region are not worked, from the fear of a savage race. Missouri extends over thirty-five millions of acres of arable land, two millions of which are the alluvial margins of rivers, and twenty thousand high rolling prairie; but five sevenths of the soil is yet fallow. We see Denver and other cities of the Far West spring up in a day; but their growth, marvellous as it is, arises from the circumstance that they are great mineral centres, and is cramped and partial, depending upon a wearisome and insecure overland route, extending over hundreds of miles, via Salt Lake, to Atchison. The Pacific Railroad will quicken this development to its full possibilities; it will populate the West in a few years; and along its lines will spring up a hundred cities, which will advance in the swift march of national progress just in proportion to their opportunities for rapid communication with the older centres of opulence and culture.

The Indians also, whose sad plaint against the inevitable civilization of the locomotive is still ringing in all ears, must succumb before the presence of this new power. When we reflect that a single regiment of soldiers costs a million a year, we must see that the railroad as a peace instrument will render more than an equivalent for all government assistance given to it. Moreover, our frontier posts must soon be rendered unnecessary by the operation of commerce. The same influence will also dissipate the power which the Mormons have gained solely by their isolation.

But beyond these immediate considerations arise the magnificent commercial certainties which the logic of history reveals. Space fails us at this point of fruitful speculation; but it will suffice to say that the corollary of the Pacific railroads is the transfer of the world's commerce to America, and the substitution of New York for Paris and London as the world's exchange. In the train of these immeasurable events must come the wealth and the culture which have hitherto been limited to Europe. With the year 1866 began the rapid work of this revolutionizing enterprise. The year of grace 1870 will witness its completion. The four years' civil war is followed by the four years' victory of peace. Already the Western cities are tremulous with the aspirations which it excites; and the metropolis of the East, with its new steamship lines to Brazil, its Cuban cable, and its hundred prospective enterprises, awaits the moment which shall lift it to imperial importance.


[B] The use of this phrase requires explanation. It has been previously stated that Council Bluffs was the point on which the Chicago lines were concentrating. It is now to be added, that beyond this growing settlement, across the Missouri River, lies Nebraska, and the proposed route would necessarily pass through the whole length of this State. At the rival roads are connected to a greater or less degree with the interests of the States in which are their respective eastern termini, and as the legal titles of the two roads are at once ambiguous and disagreeably long, we have preferred to designate them simply as the Kansas and Nebraska lines.

[C] The point suggested for this divergence southward is in the vicinity of Pond Creek, four hundred and twenty miles west of the Missouri River. Thence it will deflect to the southwest, touching the base of the mountains one hundred and seventy miles beyond Pond Creek, near the boundary-line between Colorado and New Mexico. Thus, having passed through Southeastern Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, it finds its way northward, through the marvellously fertile region of Southern California, to San Francisco. It is noteworthy that this project offers to Mexico immediate participation in our commerce, affording the basis of a far more enduring annexation. It is possible that in no far-distant future, if this scheme is achieved, San Francisco will find a rival in San Diego,—four hundred and fifty-six miles southeast of the former, and a much nearer port for the purposes of this route. The project of a mountain line from Denver to Salt Lake City, connecting at that point with the Central Railroad, is also said to be entertained by the Kansas company.

[D] Up to the present time, the Nebraska line has expended about twenty-five millions; the Central Railroad, twenty-two millions. On two hundred and fifty-nine miles of the Kansas Road there were also expended, in cost and equipment, eleven millions. All this has been obtained from the sale of bonds, paid-in stock, and the net earnings of the roads. The bonds have been made a popular loan, sold by New York agents, and chiefly taken in New England, New York State, and Eastern Pennsylvania. The purchasing clasp, though largely composed of heavy capitalists, consists also of those who have small sums of money to invest, and who seek this means as especially secure.

The stockholders of the Union Pacific number from one to two hundred, but most of the shares are in a few hands; the Credit Mobilier, Durant, and the Ameses being the principal owners. The Central Railroad also exhibits the same phenomenon of few shareholders; all of them, of course, large capitalists. This gives great power in pushing the work on, and illustrates the tendency of the day toward consolidation. Hereafter, when the Central and Nebraska lines shall have combined, this commanding influence of a comparatively few men will make itself signally felt in our politics.

[Pg 716]


It had been snowing all day, and when father came in at dark he said that the wind was rising, and the storm gathering power every moment, and that before morning all the roads would be fast locked.

Grandmother is a gentle, sweet old lady, whom I remember always with the same serene face, bearing all earthly troubles with such holy patience as lifts this common life to heaven; she waits for hours in unbroken silence, while her face wears the rapt, mystical look of one who talks with angels, and then we move softly about her, and not one of us would by words of our own call her down from the mount of vision. Within a year or two she has grown quite deaf, and since this her life seems yet more isolated; sometimes, however, like most deaf persons, she hears words spoken in low tones that are not meant for her, perhaps because at times the spirit is vividly awake, and more than usually quick to catch at and interpret what else might beat in vain upon the dull, corporeal sense.

She put by her knitting at father's words, and rose and walked feebly to the window, where she stood a long time looking out at the death-white waste, shut in by the morose, ominous sky. Then, turning slowly, her face alight and beautiful with that beauty which is fairer than youth, she said, "It puts me in mind of the Great Snow, Ephraim,—it puts me in mind of a good many things!"

Then she came back to the fire, and sat down again in her corner. Memory was stirring, the Past unfolding its scroll. The knitting-work fell unheeded from the old, trembling fingers. She was a girl again, and the story of that far-off girlhood fell softly upon the evening silence.

"I was only eighteen years old, Ephraim, when your grandfather moved down from the new State. I had lived up there in the wilderness all my life; and I was as shy as a wild rabbit, and, in my own fashion, proud. Father was poor in those days, for there were six of us children to feed and clothe, and mother was delicate and often ill; so we moved into a low, one-story house, that was old too, as well as small; but as we had always lived in a log-house, and this was a frame one, we were more than satisfied. We did not mind if the snow blew in at the cracks in the roof, and nestled in little drifts on the counterpane, for we were used to it. I remember that one bright star always peeped down at me in the winter through the open spaces between the boards, and shone so calm and clear that I used to fancy it was God's home, and somehow my prayers seemed surer of getting to him when I said them in the pure light of this star. But that was while we were in the new State. When we moved down country, I was a grown-up girl, able to turn my hand to any chore about the house; and I went to meeting in the meeting-house at the Corner, and had got over my childish notions.

"Elder Crane was a very pious man, and he always preached long sermons and made long prayers. The sermons were easier to bear than the prayers, for the people sat through the sermon; but if you had sat down during the prayer, you would have been thought dreadfully wicked, and the Elder might have called your name right out the next Sabbath, and prayed for you as a poor sinner whom Satan was tempting. And so you stood up, of course, though the children sometimes got asleep and fell down, and often the girls used to faint away and be carried out. Semantha Lee did, at one time, almost as regularly as the Sabbath came round, until at last a church committee was sent to labor with her. But Semantha was a very free-spoken girl, and she said[Pg 717] some hard things against Elder Crane's prayers. I always thought that it was more her corsets than the length of the prayers.

"I never fainted; for up in the new State I had run wild in the woods, and, though I was a frail thing to look at, I had a deal of strength in me. But my thoughts rambled a great deal too often; and sometimes I doubted if I was as near God in Elder Crane's church as I used to be lying on my bed in the chamber of the log-house, and saying my prayers to the bright star that looked down so friendly. I asked mother about it one day, and she said that surely God was about us everywhere; but she added that the church was the appointed means of grace, and that I must follow Elder Crane closely, and try to make my heart feel the words. I did try, but there was so much about the Israelites in the house of bondage, and Moses, and the sacrifices, that, do what I would, I always lost myself in the Red Sea, and the chosen people entered the Promised Land without me. At such times, when my thoughts went wandering, my eyes followed them, and most frequently they went right over to Mr. Jacob Allen's pew. I could not well help it, indeed, for his was a wall pew, directly opposite ours. Mr. Allen seldom came to meeting, being old and rheumatic, but his wife and girls came, and his son, Ephraim.

"At first I noticed Ephraim Allen just as I did the cobwebs upon the walls, and the yellow streaks in the wainscoting; afterward I began to see what a fine figure he had,—a whole head above his companions,—and how broad-shouldered and erect and manly he was; the narrow-backed, short-waisted coat that made the rest look so pinched and uncomfortable sat gracefully and easily upon him. He had a wide, white forehead,—though I did not notice this for a long time,—and short curly hair, that looked very black beside the fair skin. Then his cheeks were as bright as a rose, and his eyes—but I seldom got so far as his eyes, because by some chance they always met mine, and then I was much confused and ashamed. But always, in going out of meeting, he used to bow to me in passing, and say, 'Good morning, Mercy'; and then I saw that his eyes were a clear, dark blue, and I thought they were very honest, tender ones. They said that Semantha Lee had been setting her cap at him a good while, and I wondered if he liked her.

"This was all the acquaintance we had for two years and more. There was not much chance for young people to meet in those days, especially where they were strictly brought up, as I was; for father and mother were both very pious, and at that time church-members thought it was sinful to join in the profane amusements of the world. So when an invitation came for me to a husking-frolic, or a paring-bee, or a dance, I was not allowed to go. I was shy, as I told you, but I had a girl's natural longing for company; and many were the bitter tears I shed up in my garret because I could not go with the rest. Mother used to look at me as if she pitied me, and once she ventured to speak up in favor of my going; but father said sternly that these sports were the means Satan used to win away souls from God,—and father was a good deal set in his way, and mother gave up to him, as she always did.

"Once or twice Ephraim Allen came to our house, but somehow my shyness came over me when I heard his voice at the door, and I hid myself in the pantry, and pretended to be very busy turning the cheeses; and so I was, for I turned them over and over again, till mother came and said I mustn't waste any more butter. Ephraim stayed and stayed, and kept talking about the oxbow he had come to see about a great deal longer than I thought there was any need of; and I could not get courage enough to go out, though I was sore ashamed and vexed at my foolish shyness.

"So the whole two years slipped away, and good morning was all we had ever said to each other. About this time I[Pg 718] began to notice that Deacon Lee got in the way of looking at me in meeting, and his face was very sober, as if something displeased him. Semantha, too, would push past me in going in and out, and didn't speak to me as she always used to do before she went down to Boston to make that long visit among her relations. Deacon Lee had a brother living in Boston who was said to be a very rich man. Father was at his house once when he went down to sell the butter and wool,—as he did every winter,—and he said we could not imagine how beautiful it was,—carpets on all the floors, and even in the entry, which mother thought must make a deal of work with people coming in and out, especially in wet weather. But then father said the Lees had negro servants to do the work, and that Mrs. Lee and her daughters had nothing to do but sit in the parlor all day long. When Semantha came back after her long visit, she brought a great many fine things that her cousins had given her. She used to come into meeting, her high-heeled slippers clattering, and her clocked stockings showing clear down to the peaked toe; she wore a pink crape gown, and over that a white muslin cape that came just down to the waist in the back, and crossed over in front, and was pinned to her gown at the corners; it was bound around with blue lutestring, and her bonnet had a blue bow on it. It was a Navarino bonnet, and cost an extravagant price, seeing that it couldn't be done over.

"None of us had ever seen such fine things before; and when Semantha came in, Elder Crane might as well have sat down, for everybody looked at Semantha. I thought it was well that her bonnet hid her face; for if she was like me, it must have been crimson. I am sure I should have died of mortification to have been so stared at.

"Mother said she feared it was sinful for a deacon's daughter to make such a display, and wondered if Semantha remembered what the Apostle Paul says of the ornaments that women ought to wear.

"But in talking of Semantha, I have forgotten Deacon Lee's queer behavior. He would look at me awhile, and then at Ephraim Allen. It was so curious, I began to fear that he was deranged. But at last I found out what it meant.

"One day as I was coming out of meeting, and Ephraim had just said, 'Good morning,' I looked around and there was Deacon Lee close beside us, watching us with a severe expression in his face. 'Young man,' said he, and the tone was so awful that I trembled all over,—'young man, I have noticed for some time past your attempts to attract the attention of this young woman, who, I am grieved to say,'—turning to me,—'does not receive this notice as she ought. Instead of assuming an expression of severe reproof, she blushes from time to time, and casts down her eyes, and I cannot discover from her face that this ungodly conduct is displeasing to her.'

"I was so overwhelmed by this rebuke that I could not look up or speak, and in a minute more I should have cried in good earnest It was Ephraim's voice that stopped me. 'I am sure I beg Mercy's pardon and yours, Deacon, if I have done anything improper. I suppose I looked at her because my eye couldn't find a pleasanter resting-place. You won't pretend that Elder Crane is handsome enough to make it a pleasure to look at him.'

"I was astonished, and Deacon Lee looked horrified, but Ephraim's face glowed all over with smiles.

"'Ephraim Allen,' said the Deacon sternly, 'if you were a professor, I should present you to the church for irreverence. As it is, I have done my duty';—and with that he went away.

"Most of the people had left the meeting-house by this time, but a good many of them were turning back to look at me where I stood near Deacon Lee and Ephraim Allen. I suppose they didn't know what it could mean; for in those[Pg 719] days we always Walked soberly home from service, not profaning the holy day by common talk. And this was the reason that I was surprised and frightened when Ephraim, instead of going away by himself, walked down the steps with me, and along the road at my side. It was a good two miles home, and I had happened to come alone that day, father being laid up with a cut in his foot, and mother staying at home to nurse him.

"The path was a beautiful one, leading through deep, still woods, now coming out into the edge of a clearing, and now running along a brookside where there were flowers nodding over the water, and bird's-nests in the thick grass on the bank; I thought sometimes that the walk did me as much good as going to church, particularly if I came alone, and stopped now and then to read my Bible by the way.

"So we walked along, Ephraim and I; and presently we passed a great clump of witch-hazel bushes that were in all their bridal white, and Ephraim picked a bunch of the flowers, and gave them to me. He had not spoken a word since we started, but now he said, 'Are you very much put out with Deacon Lee, Mercy?'

"This made me feel very much ashamed again, but I said I hoped I knew better than to bear anger against anybody; and then—quite excited and eager—I said I wanted him to forgive me if I had looked his way more than was proper, and not think I meant to be forward or unmaidenly. And Ephraim made reply that he would never believe any ill of me, no, not if all the deacons in the world were to testify to it; and he said that he owed Deacon Lee thanks for so bringing us together, for he should never have had the courage to come to me, though he longed for a sight of my face every day, and was constant at church, never missing a Sunday, so that he might see me. All this he said in such an earnest, sincere manner, and his voice was so gentle that I could not rebuke him, though I feared that his heart was in a dark, unregenerate state, if he cared so much more for me than for Elder Crane's sermons.

"You won't care to have an old woman tell any more of her love-story. Now-a-days these things are all written in novels, and I should think the bloom of a girl's delicacy must be long gone before she hears such words said to herself. Then it was different. I had never dreamed of anything so beautiful.

"The woods were very still all around us, only once in a while a bird would sing out, and then the silence fall again all the sweeter for the song. When the woods opened we caught glimpses of the green grain-fields and orchards in blossom. A chipmonk darted across the path, and, scampering up into a beech-tree, clung to the great brown hole, and looked down at us, perking his head so mischievously that I could not help thinking he knew our secret. And so on and on. I've often thought that walk was like the life we lived together, and a prophecy of it,—bright, and full of songs and flowers and sweetness, leading sometimes through shady places, but never losing sight of God's sweet heaven, never missing the warm winds of its inspiration and its hope.

"But before this a dark time was to come.

"We must have been a good while going home, for when we came in sight of the house there was mother standing in the door, shading her eyes with her hand, and watching for us, and all at once I remembered that she must have been anxious; there were bears in those woods, and the next winter one was killed in the very path where we walked.

"When mother saw us coming, she smiled, and came down to the road to meet us, and shook hands with Ephraim in such a friendly way that my heart danced; I had been thinking what if father and mother should not approve of him.

"Father was friendly too, and while they sat in the fore-room, and talked, mother made some of her cream biscuits for tea. Now I knew by this that[Pg 720] Ephraim would find favor in her eyes, because in our house all unnecessary labor was forbidden on the Sabbath, and no small thing could have tempted mother to break over this rule. When I went to call them to supper, I knew that Ephraim had been speaking to father, and that he was kindly disposed towards Ephraim. Father named me in asking the blessing, and Ephraim also, speaking of him so tenderly that it brought the tears to my eyes.

"All the rest of that summer is very dear to remember. When I think over my life, much of it seems misty and far away; but that summer is as distinct to my mind as it was when its roses had but just faded, just as sweet and wonderful in its sunshine, its blue skies, its fresh-blowing winds, its birds and flowers, as it seemed to me then,—only now I know what it was that so glorified it.

"Ephraim had a much greater flow of spirits than I had. I was grave beyond my years. But I caught the love of fun from him, and mother and father wondered at the change in me. I think a girl always changes when she is engaged. A whole world of feeling that has slept is now awakened. Even shallow women bloom out for a brief time, and sparkle and shine wonderfully. To be sure they fade full soon oftentimes, and only the dry leaves are left of all the charm and fragrance.

"And so autumn came, and winter, and with the winter the frolics which Ephraim was so fond of, and which he persisted stoutly were as innocent as church-going. But father was so disturbed when I spoke of going that I gave it up at once, and told Ephraim that, as long as I lived at home, I couldn't feel right to disobey father. So at first Ephraim stayed contentedly with me, but by and by the old love stirred. A bit of dance-music would start his color, and set his feet in motion, and it was plain to see where his heart was. I was sorely grieved at this; nay, I was more than grieved. I wanted him all to myself. I could not bear that he should need anything but me. Ephraim said I was exacting, and I thought him cold and unkind. And so there gradually grew up a coldness between us; and yet the coldness was all on my side. Ephraim was always gentle, even when I was pettish and cross. For so I was. It was partly physical. I was not well that winter. I did not sleep, or when I did by fits and starts, I woke frightened and crying. Now, my doctor would call it nervous sensitiveness; but then people did not give fine names to their humors, and mother only looked sorry, and said she was afraid I was growing ill-tempered.

"While things were in this state, Ephraim's mother invited me to come and spend a week with them. I didn't feel acquainted, and I was shy about going; but Ephraim urged it, and mother advised it, and so at last I consented to go.

"I was a good deal mortified that I had nothing nice to wear. My best gown had been in use two winters, and there were only three breadths in the skirt, and Semantha Lee said that nobody in Boston thought of making up less than four. But mother's wise counsel reconciled me. She said that the Allens knew we had no money to spend on fine clothes, and would only expect me to be clean and neat and well-behaved.

"Ephraim, too, praised me boldly to my face, and pretended to think that nothing could be so becoming as my faded hood. It was yellow silk, and was made out of a turban that mother had worn when she was a girl.

"After I was in the sleigh with Ephraim, all my unhappiness and anxiety fled, and I enjoyed every bit of the ride. It was a lonely road, and part of the way it went through the woods where the lately fallen snow lay in pure white sheets that were written all over with the tracks of birds, and rabbits and other wild animals; and the stillness of the great woods was so deep and solemn that our love-talk was silenced, and we rode on singing hymns. Then out of the woods, and sweeping down into a hollow where[Pg 721] pleasant farms were nestled snugly together, and so up to Ephraim's door. Mr. Jacob Allen was a forehanded farmer, and the house was by far the best in town.

"When we drove up to the door, Mary Allen was at the window, watching for us. She ran out to the sleigh, and when Ephraim told her here was her sister Mercy, she laughed, and shook hands,—women did not kiss each other then,—and said she was glad I was come to stay a week. So my meeting her was not at all dreadful.

"While Ephraim went around to put up the horse, Mary took me into the fore-room, where there was a fire, and helped me with my things, and was as sociable as if she had known me all her life.

"The room was a great deal nicer than anything I had ever seen. I was almost afraid to step on the carpet at first; but then I remembered that it must have been meant to be stepped on, or it wouldn't have been laid on the floor.

"Pretty soon Mrs. Allen and Prudence came in. Mrs. Allen was a very notable woman, and when she had told me how she made her cheese, and that she put down her butter in cedar firkins,—she seemed to think that pine ones were not fit for a Christian to use, and that my mother must be a terribly shiftless person to put up with them,—she said she must go and see to the pies that were baking. I don't think she was still five minutes at a time while I was there, but just driving about the house from morning till night. And yet there were her two girls to help her, and mother and I did the work for eight, and took in spinning all the year round.

"I think Prudence didn't like housework. She was very intimate with Semantha Lee; and what Semantha said and did and wore was pretty much all her talk. All that week she was at work on old gowns, altering them to be like Semantha's. Prudence didn't seem to fancy me at the very first; and though I don't want to speak evil of her, she was certainly rather a hard person to get along with.

"One day she would remark that I would be quite good-looking if my nose wasn't such a pug. And another day that it was a pity I had red hair, for really my other features were not so bad; and she said that my gown was just like one she had hung up in the garret; and so in this way she picked me to pieces, until it seemed as if she couldn't find a good thing in me. But this was not as bad as the way in which she talked to me about Semantha.

"Nobody was so handsome or so good or so smart as Semantha; and Deacon Lee was the most forehanded man in town. As a great secret, she told me that Ephraim and Semantha were once as good as engaged, and she didn't doubt, if anything should happen to break up the match between Ephraim and me, that Ephraim would go back to Semantha.

"I was terribly angry at this, and I felt my lips stiffen, and it was as much as I could do to say, 'What could happen to break our engagement? Ephraim is solemnly promised to me, and it is just the same in God's sight as if we were married.'

"Prudence looked at me a minute, and then said she 'had no idea I had such a temper. She had heard that I talked of uniting with the church, but after what she had seen, she shouldn't think—' And here she stopped, and it was as much what was not said as what she did say that vexed me so. I was heartily thankful that she was only a half-sister to Ephraim, for I began to fear I should hate her.

"With all this Mary did not seem to dare to be her own pleasant self, and even Ephraim acted as if he wasn't quite at his ease. I began to be sadly homesick. I almost hated the sight of the carpet on the floor, and the high-curtained bedstead, and the tall chimney-glass, and I longed for the love and peace of my humble home.

"I had been at Mrs. Allen's three days, when Semantha Lee came over to spend the day. She came in the morning,[Pg 722] and sent back the hired man with the sleigh, because she meant to stay all night with Prudence.

"Semantha was dressed very elegantly. She had a scarlet cloth cloak that came down to the bottom of her gown, and the gown itself was green silk, with great bishop sleeves lined with buckram, so that they stood out, and rattled like a drum when they hit against anything. Mary laughed at her because she could not go through our chamber door without turning sidewise; but Semantha said they were all the fashion in Boston.

"She was very lively and full of fun that day, though she didn't take much notice of me. In the evening we had popped corn and apples, and when we pared the apples and threw down the long coils of peel, Semantha's took the shape of a letter E. She laughed and blushed, and pretended to be very much vexed, but she was really as pleased as she could be. Mary whispered to me not to mind, and said Prudence had given the peel a sly push with her foot to shape the E; but for all that I could hardly help crying.

"That night all of us girls slept in the great double-bedded room. Semantha was with Prudence; and long after Mary was asleep I could hear them whispering, and every minute or two I would catch Ephraim's name.

"I did not sleep much that night, and in the morning I was almost sick. Ephraim was very kind, and when Prudence said she was going to invite in some of the young people of the neighborhood that evening, he wanted her to put it off; but Prudence said she guessed I would be better,—she thought people could throw off sickness if they tried to do so. At this Semantha laughed so disagreeably, and looked over at Ephraim in so significant a way, that I am afraid I almost hated her.

"The company came in the evening,—five or six merry young girls and young men. If my head and heart had been right, I could have enjoyed it too. But my head ached, and for the rest you would have thought it was Semantha who was engaged to Ephraim, and not I.

"There was a young man there named Elihu Parsons. He was very handsome,—too handsome for a man,—and what with this and his pleasant ways he was a great favorite with the girls. I had only seen him once or twice, but he remembered me, and came and sat by me while the games were going on. I thought this was very good of him, for nobody was so much called for as he; but he would not leave me, and was so sociable and pleasant that I tried to brighten up and entertain him as well as I could. We were in the midst of our talk, when I happened to glance up and saw Ephraim looking over at us,—looking, too, as I had never seen him. All at once it flashed upon me that I could make him suffer as he had made me. From that moment an evil spirit possessed me. I felt my cheeks flush; my heart beat fast; I was full of wild gayety. I sang songs when they asked me. Elihu asked me to dance, and I danced,—I, who had never taken a step before in my life. I felt as light as air; I seemed to float through the figure.

"Ephraim never came near me the whole evening, but Elihu kept close to me, and we had a great deal of talk that I am glad to have forgotten. But I remember that he laughed at Semantha Lee, and made fun of her hair that he said was like tow, and her eyes that squinted, and her mincing gait; and I listened, and felt a malicious pleasure in this dispraise of Semantha. Through it all my head ached terribly, and I stupidly wondered how I dared be such a wicked girl, and what my mother would say if she knew it.

"By and by it was ten o'clock, and then Semantha suddenly discovered that she must go home. Mrs. Allen tried to persuade her to stay. But no! It was going to snow, she said, and she would not stay. Then Prudence said, if she must go, Ephraim would take her home in the sleigh, which, of course, was just what Semantha wanted.

"I don't know what made me do it,[Pg 723] but upon this I rose and went over to where they were standing, and said that Elihu Parsons was going directly past Deacon Lee's, and would be happy to take Semantha, and that I would rather Ephraim should not go.

"Prudence lifted up both hands, as if she was too horrified to speak, and looked at Semantha. Semantha giggled. She was one of those girls who are always laughing foolishly.

"As for Ephraim, his face was dark, and his voice was cold and hard, as he said, 'From what we have seen tonight, Mercy, I don't think it can make much difference to you what I do'; and then, without another word, went out.

"Presently I heard the sleigh-bells, and in a moment Ephraim came in at the front door. I hurried out to him. I would make one more effort, I thought.

"He stopped on seeing me.

"'Are you going to leave me for Semantha? You are very unkind to me!' I said passionately.

"'You are foolish, Mercy. Semantha is our guest, and I have shown her no more attention than she has a right to.'

"'Can't you see, Ephraim?' I cried. 'Don't you know that she came here on purpose to make trouble between you and me, and that Prudence is helping her?'

"He looked surprised, then wholly incredulous. 'You are mistaken, Mercy. You are prejudiced against Semantha.'

"I grew angry. I did not know that many men, acute enough to all else, are stone-blind where the wiles of a woman are concerned. 'You may go then, if you like. I see you don't care for me,' I said bitterly.

"'You know I do care for you,' said Ephraim. His voice was softer. I might have won him then, if I would have stooped to persuade. But I would not. My pride was hurt. I turned away from him.

"Presently Semantha came out and they drove off.

"Pretty soon Elihu Parsons brought his sleigh round, flung down the reins, and came in to say good night. He held my hand and lingered, talking, when I was eager for his going. My gayety had fled, and every word cost me a pang. At last he said, 'I am going by your house. Can I carry any message for you?'

"A wild thought darted into my mind, 'Going by our house? O, if I might go too!'

"'You can!' he said eagerly. 'I will take you with the greatest pleasure.'

"In an instant I had resolved to go. It seemed to me that I should die if I stayed under that roof another night. So I begged him to wait a minute, ran up stairs, packed my things; and came down and told the family that I was going home. They seemed thunderstruck. Only Prudence spoke.

"'Very well,' said she. 'But I suppose you know it is all over between you and Ephraim if you go off in this way.'

"I told her that I knew it was all over, thanks to her, and I hoped it was a pleasure to her to reflect that she had separated two persons who would never have had a hard thought of each other but for her. Mary came out into the entry to me crying, and said she hoped we should make it up. But I told her that was not likely. And so we drove away.

"I was dull enough now, and Elihu had the talk mostly to himself. It was not till we were almost home that he said something which roused me up. And then I was angry with him, and asked him what he thought of me to suppose I would so readily on with the new love before I was off with the old. But I had no sooner made this speech than I burst into tears, and prayed him to forgive me, for I knew I had done wrong, and not say any more to me, since I was so wretched. I do not know well what reply he made, for before I had done speaking I was at home. There was the dear old house I had so longed for,—the little, homely, unpainted house, with the well-sweep taller than itself, and the great clump of lilacs by the front door.

"I went up the path unsteadily; my[Pg 724] head was swimming, and there was a curious noise in my ears. I pushed open the door. There was father with the open Bible before him, and his spectacles lying upon it; the room was bright with the fire and the light of the pine-knot, and mother was spinning on the little wheel, as she frequently did in the evening. Her face wore its own sweet, peaceful look, but when she saw me the expression changed to one of alarm. She said afterward that I looked more like a ghost than anything else.

"Why, Mercy!' she cried.

"Father turned slowly round, and beyond that I remember nothing. I fell on the floor in a dead faint.

"Mother said I talked all night about what had been troubling me. Through all my delirium, I had an aching consciousness that Ephraim was lost to me forever. I would rise to go to him, as I thought, but when I reached the place where he had been, there was only Prudence or Semantha.

"In the morning the doctor came, and said it was scarlet fever. The other children had got over it in childhood, but it had waited for me till now.

"I was very sick for a whole month. All that time mother was an angel of goodness to me. When I was able to sit up, she told me that Ephraim had been to inquire for me often. But she said no more, and I could not tell her the trouble then.

"I was wasted to a shadow, and was as weak as an hour-old babe. Mother used to tuck me up in the great arm-chair, and then the boys would push the chair to the window, where I could look out.

"A great snow had fallen during my sickness. It had begun the night I came home, as Semantha predicted, and the roads had been almost impassable. But they were quite good again now, and father said the time had come for him to go down below. It was late in February, and he said we should not have a great deal more snow, he thought, and if he waited till the spring thaws came, there would be no getting to Boston.

"It was arranged that the oldest boy at home should go with father, so that there would be nobody left with mother and me but Jem and David. Jem was eight years old, and David six come May; but they were both smart, and we thought, with their help, we could take care of the cattle till father came back.

"I could not do much yet, and I sat in my arm-chair while mother fried doughnuts, and baked great loaves of bread, and made puddings, and roasted chickens, for them to take for food on the journey. Father's way was to carry his own provisions, and stay at night with friends and relations along the road; even if the sleighing was good, and nothing happened, he would be a week or more in going to Boston. So, of course, the supply must be pretty generous.

"It was a still, bright morning when they set off, with a sky so clear that father thought there would be no storm for many days. After the excitement of their starting passed away, it seemed very quiet and lonesome; for you remember, though I have not said anything about it, that my heart was aching for its lost love.

"I had said nothing about it to mother yet, but after they were gone, and the chores done up for the night, and the boys playing with their cob-houses in the corner, she sat down beside me, saying, 'Now, Mercy, tell me all about the trouble between you and Ephraim.' As well as I could for crying, I told her, feeling very much ashamed when I came to the part about Elihu. But mother was very gentle, and only said, 'I fear, my child, that savors of an unregenerate heart.'

"That was true. But while I had been sick I had thought very seriously, and I was thankful I had not been taken away while my heart was in such a state. I did not dare to tell mother how God's goodness had shone down upon me while I lay ill in my bed, but I hoped and prayed that it would not leave me.

"It was a relief as well as pain to see that mother blamed Ephraim. She[Pg 725] said he should not have allowed himself to be deceived and influenced by Prudence. I told her I was sure he could not have loved me as he ought, and that I thought I would send back to him the little presents he had made me, and say that I did not hold him to his promise.

"Mother agreed with me, and the next day I made up the package. There was a string of gold beads, and a pair of silver shoe-buckles, and a Chinese fan, and a hymn-book, the bunch of witch-hazel blossoms he picked for me that day in the woods, and, more precious than all the rest, a letter, six foolscap pages in length, that he had written in the fall, while I was visiting my cousin in Keene.

"I could not help crying-while I was putting them up, and I took out the letter twice, thinking I might keep that. But mother said, if we were indeed to be separated, it was my duty to forget my love for Ephraim, else it would darken all my life; and life, she said, was given us for cheerful praise, and work, which is also praise.

"After I had sent my package by the mail-rider, who passed Mr. Allen's house every other day, I thought my trouble would be easier to bear. But every day made it harder. I fell into a miserable torpid state, taking no interest in anything, and feeling only my misery acutely. I could not even pray for help, for prayer itself was a cross.

"Mother was very good to me; she gave me light, pleasant work to do, thinking to keep me busy. But however busy my hands were, my thoughts were free, and used their freedom to make me suffer.

"Father had been gone eight days, when one afternoon mother came in from the barn, where she had been to shake down some hay for the cows, with a face so sober that I was frightened at once.

"'Why, mother! what is the matter?' I cried.

"'I'm worried about your father, child,' she said, and then she went to the window and looked out.

"'Why, mother, if he started for home yesterday—'

"'He would be just in season to be caught in the snow,' she interrupted, with a vehemence unnatural to her.

"'Snow, mother!'

"I rose, and went to the window. The sky was full of great masses of gray clouds, that sometimes parted, and showed a steel-colored background, intense and cold, and immeasurably distant. Wide before us spread the waste, white, uninhabited fields,—the nearest house a mile away, and its chimney only visible above the hills which hid it. A tawny, brazen belt of light lying along the west, where the sun had gone down, illuminated the snow, and gave a weird character to the whole scene. There was a high wind swaying the tops of the tall trees before the house; and once in a while you would see a fragment of cloud caught from the great gray curtain, and torn into shreds, or ravelled into a thin web, which seemed for a moment to shut close down upon us. It was a strange night, a strange sky.

"I felt a vague alarm. But I tried to speak cheerfully. 'It is too cold to snow, mother!'

"She pointed to the window. Even as I spoke the air was suddenly darkened by a multitude of fine flakes, that crowded faster and faster, and were swirled about by the wind, and quickly built up a wall around the door.

"As it grew dark the storm increased. The wind, which had been blowing steadily all day, rose to a gale. It tugged at the doors and windows; it thundered down the chimney; it caught the little house, and shook it till the timbers creaked; the noise was truly awful. We got the boys into the trundle-bed as soon as we could, and then mother brought out her wheel, and I took my knitting. There was a great blazing fire on the hearth, and the room was so warm that the yarn ran beautifully. Mother made out her stint that night; she was a famous spinner, and the wheel went as fast and the yarn was as even as if she had not[Pg 726] been so dreadfully worried about father. But every few minutes she would stop and say she hoped he had not started, or that, having set out, he would be warned in time, and stop by the way.

"It was so strange to see mother, who was usually calm, so put about that I got very nervous, and was glad when she stopped the wheel, and twisted up the yarn she had spun. But as she turned around toward me with it in her hand, she looked so strange that I cried out to know what was the matter.

"'It is nothing,' she whispered; but I took hold of her, and steadied her down into the arm-chair, and then ran for the camphor. That brought her round; but now she looked feverish, and was shaking all over, and I knew that she was going to have one of her ill turns,—possibly lung-fever,—for her lungs were but weak, and she rarely got over the winter without a fever. The thought made me half wild, but I dared not wait to cry or fret. I knew there was no time to be lost, and I hurried around, and gave her a warm foot-bath, and kept hot flannels on her chest, and made her drink a nice bowl of herb tea as soon as she was in bed; for I thought when the perspiration started she would be relieved. I was glad enough when the great drops stood on her forehead. Yet the hard breathing and the rattling in the chest were not cured. I kept renewing the steaming flannels, as the doctor always directed, till she fell asleep. She slept almost all night, and I sat in the chair by her, occasionally rousing up to put more wood on the fire, and listen to the wind, which still held as fierce as it was at sundown.

"By and by I dozed,—I don't know how long, but I was wakened by hearing Jem call out, 'Mercy! why don't it come day?'

"I started up. My fire had gone down, and the room was dark. Mother was breathing heavily beside me.

"'I say, Mercy, isn't it morning? Why don't we get up?' persisted Jem.

"I begged him to be still, and, rising, made my way to the clock. I could not see the face, but by touching the hands I made out that it was eight o'clock. I knew now that we were snowed up, and that was the reason why it was so dark.

"I kindled up the fire and lighted a pine knot. Jem and David came up to the hearth to dress, half crying and fretting for mother. But I pacified them with a breakfast of bread and milk, and while they were eating it I ventured to open a door. There was a solid wall of snow, I looked into the fore-room,—it was as dark as a cellar. Then I ran up my stairs, and here the little courage I had forsook me, and I grew weak and sick. For the snow was already even with the ledge of the chamber window, and all the outbuildings were as completely hidden as if the earth had swallowed them in the night.

"I ran down stairs hastily, for I heard mother call.

"She looked up at me anxiously. 'How is it, Mercy?'

"'I'm afraid, mother, we are snowed up,' I said.

"'And I'm sick!'

"Mother was sick. That was the worst side of the trouble. It was a settled fever by this time, I was sure. We both knew it, we both knew that no help was to be had, and that she might die for want of it. We were both silent, neither daring to speak, not knowing how to encourage and strengthen the other.

"Mother grew worse all day, in spite of all that I could do for her. The darkness in the house was most depressing, and made the situation tenfold more painful; though I kept a fire and a light burning as at evening, I had to be economical of both, for there was only a small stock of fuel and a handful of pine knots in the house. It was painful to hear the poor cows at the barn lowing for food, and to know that it was impossible to reach them. I might, perhaps, have gone out on snow-shoes and managed to get into the barn by the window in the loft; but father's shoes were loaned to a neighbor,[Pg 727] and, even if they had been at hand, I should hardly dare to risk my strength, not yet renovated after my sickness, and, which was so essential to mother's safety, in an effort that might fail.

"So the hours went on, and the day that was like night wore to a close. In the evening mother brightened up a little. She was calm now, and for the time free from pain. There was an unearthly beauty in the large, bright hollow eyes, and the thin cheeks, where the rose of fever burned. The disease had worked swiftly. Even this revival might be only a forerunner of death.

"'I want to tell you, dear,' she said, 'what to do in case I should not get well.'

"I hid my face in the quilt, and tried not to sob, while she went on, in a sweet, calm, thoughtful way, to tell me of the things that in my inexperience I might forget. I must not be wasteful of food or fuel; if the snow—which was still falling—should cover the chimney so that I could not make a fire, I must wrap myself and the children in all the warm things I could find,—there were some new blankets in the chest in the chamber, she said, that she had meant for me. I must get those if I needed them. 'And if I am not here to encourage you, my child,' she said tenderly, 'don't give up hoping. Help cannot be very far off. Some of the neighbors will come to us, or father will work his way through the snow, and get home. And, Mercy, don't be afraid of the poor body that I shall leave behind me. Think of it as the empty house that I have used for a little while, and be sure it can do you no harm.'

"I promised all she asked, and hid my tears as well as I could. While she slept, and I could do nothing for her, I kept the children quiet with playthings and stories. I cooked bread and meat, and made a great kettle of porridge against the time when we might not be able to have a fire; I hunted in the garret for bits of old boards and broken furniture that might serve for fuel.

"For two days the wind held, and then there fell an awful silence as of the grave.

"Sometimes I read from the Psalms, or from the Gospel of John, which mother dearly loved; and though she did not take much notice, but lay in a stupor most of the time, the holy words were comfort and company to me. At other times I sat in mute grief, watching her painful breathing, and the gradual pinching and sharpening of her features as the relentless disease worked upon them. O, it was hard! I don't think many lives know so much and such utter misery. In my anxiety and grief, and the mental bewilderment resulting from loss of sleep, I forgot to reckon the days as they passed.

"But one day, as I sat by mother's pillow, my mind full of the dread that seemed now as if it might any moment be realized,—of the awfulness of being left alone in that living tomb with the marble image of what was and yet was not my mother, the clock struck nine in the morning. Somewhere the sun was shining, I thought. Somewhere there were happy lovers, merry-makings in divers places, wedding-bells ringing.

"A faint sound disturbed my revery. I started up and listened intently; but the noise did not recur, and I dropped my head again, thinking my fancy had cheated me.

"I don't know why it was that what failed to reach my strained ear found its way to mother's; but all at once, from having been in a stupid state from which I could hardly rouse her, she opened her eyes, and said, 'What is that?'

"'Do you hear anything?' I asked, trembling. But before she could answer, I too heard a shout.

"Help was at hand! And mother might yet be saved!

"I burst into tears, and Jem and David set up a loud cry for company. Those outside heard it, for the next instant there was a great halloo. They[Pg 728] were cutting their way through the drift,—they came every minute nearer and nearer. Pretty soon I heard a voice that set my heart beating and made me sob again. It was Ephraim's.

"'Are you all alive?' he cried.

"'We are all alive, but mother is very sick.'

"I don't know how long it took to tunnel that huge snow-drift. I sat holding mother's hand till there was a noise at the door. I sprang up then, and the next instant stood face to face with Ephraim. And we did not meet as we had parted.

"I was glad to think that we owed our deliverance to him. He had roused up the neighbors, and they came over that trackless waste on snow-shoes. On snow-shoes Ephraim went for the doctor, and mother began to mend from the time of his coming.

"It was a week before father got home. Yet he had come as fast as the roads would let him, travelling night and day in his eagerness to reach us. He told us of houses snowed up, and people and animals perishing miserably. And by God's grace we were saved, even to the cows, which in their hunger had broken loose from their stalls, and eaten the hay from the mow.

"And so my life's greatest joy and pain came to me by the storm. It gave Ephraim back to me. For forty years as man and wife we had never a hard word.

"'Tis thirty years since he went,—thirty years of Heaven's peace for him. I did not think to wait so long when he went. The children have been very good to me, but I've missed their father always. But I shall go to him soon. Son Ephraim, I am ninety-two to-morrow!"


Prithee tell me, Dimple-Chin,
At what age does Love begin?
Your blue eyes have scarcely seen
Summers three, my fairy queen,
But a miracle of sweets,
Soft approaches, sly retreats,
Show the little archer there,
Hidden in your pretty hair:
When didst learn a heart to win?
Prithee tell me, Dimple-Chin!
"Oh!" the rosy lips reply,
"I can't tell you if I try!
'Tis so long I can't remember:
Ask some younger Miss than I!"
Tell, O tell me, Grizzled-Face,
Do your heart and head keep pace?
When does hoary Love expire,
When do frosts put out the fire?
Can its embers burn below[Pg 729]
All that chill December snow?
Care you still soft hands to press,
Bonny heads to smooth and bless?
When does Love give up the chase?
Tell, O tell me, Grizzled-Face!
"Ah!" the wise old lips reply,
"Youth may pass and strength may die;
But of Love I can't foretoken:
Ask some older Sage than I!"


Excursionists to Lake Superior, when they get away up in the northern part of Lake Huron, where are those "four thousand islands" lying flat and green in the sun, without a tree or a hut upon them, see at length, in the distance, a building like a large storehouse, evidently not made by Indian hands. The thing is neither rich nor rare; the only wonder is, how it got there. For many hours before coming in sight of this building, no sign of human life is visible, unless, perchance, the joyful passengers catch sight of a dug-out canoe, with a blanket for a sail, in which an Indian fisherman sits solitary and motionless, as though he too were one of the inanimate features of the scene. On drawing near this most unexpected structure, the curiosity of the travellers is changed into wild wonder. It is a storehouse with all the modern improvements, and over the door is a well-painted sign, bearing the words,

Raspberry Jam.

If the present writer, when he first beheld this sign, had read thereon, "Opera-Glasses for hire," or "Kid Gloves cleaned by a new and improved method," he could not have been more surprised or more puzzled. The explanation, however, was very simple. Many years ago, it seems, a Yankee visiting that region discovered thousands upon thousands of acres of raspberry-bushes hanging full of fruit, and all going to waste. He also observed that Indian girls and squaws in considerable numbers lived near by. Putting this and that together, he conceived the idea of a novel speculation. In the summer following he returned to the place, with a copper kettle, many barrels of sugar, and plenty of large stone jars. For one cent a pail he had as many raspberries picked as he could use; and he kept boiling and jarring until he had filled all his vessels with jam, when he put them on board a sloop, took them down to Detroit, and sold them. The article being approved, and the speculation being profitable, he returned every year to the raspberry country, and the business grew to an extent which warranted the erection of this large and well-appointed building. In the Western country, the raspberry jam made in the region of Lake Huron has been for twenty years an established article of trade. We had the curiosity once to taste tarts made of it, and can testify that it was as bad as heart could wish. It appeared to be a soggy mixture of melted brown sugar and small seeds.

But that is neither here nor there. The oddity of our adventure was in discovering such an establishment in[Pg 730] such a place. Since that time we have often had similar surprises, especially in New England, where curious industries have established themselves in the most out-of-the-way nooks. In a hamlet of three or four houses and a church, we see such signs as "Melodeon Manufactory." At a town in Northern Vermont we find four hundred men busy, the year round, in making those great Fairbanks Scales, which can weigh an apple or a train of cars. There is nothing in St. Johnsbury which marks it out as the town in the universe fittest to produce huge scales for mankind. The business exists there because, forty years ago, there were three excellent heads in the place upon the shoulders of three brothers, who put those heads together, and learned how to make and how to sell scales. All over New England, industries have rooted themselves which appear to have no congruity with the places in which they are found. We heard the other day of a village in which are made every year three bushels of gold rings. We ourselves passed, some time ago, in a remarkably plain New England town, a manufactory of fine diamond jewelry. In another town—Providence—there are seventy-two manufactories of common jewelry. Now what is there in the character or in the situation of this city of Roger Williams, that should have invited thither so many makers of cheap trinkets? It is a solid town, that makes little show for its great wealth, and contains less than the average number of people capable of wearing tawdry ornaments. Nevertheless, along with machine-shops of Titanic power, and cotton-mills of vast extent, we find these seventy-two manufactories of jewelry. The reason is, that, about the year 1795, one man, named Dodge, prospered in Providence by making such jewelry as the simple people of those simple old times would buy of the passing pedler. His prosperity lured others into the business, until it has grown to its present proportions, and supplies half the country with the glittering trash which we all despise upon others and love upon ourselves.

But there is something at Providence less to be expected even than seventy-two manufactories of jewelry: it is the largest manufactory of solid silver-ware in the world! In a city so elegant and refined as Providence, where wealth is so real and stable, we should naturally expect to find on the sideboards plenty of silver plate; but we were unprepared to discover there three or four hundred skilful men making silver-ware for the rest of mankind, and all in one establishment,—that of the Gorham Manufacturing Company. This is not only the largest concern of the kind in existence, but it is the most complete. Every operation of the business, from the melting of the coin out of which the ware is made, to the making of the packing-boxes in which it is conveyed to New York, takes place in this one congregation of buildings. Nor do we hesitate to say, after an attentive examination of the products of European taste, that the articles bearing the stamp of this American house are not equalled by those imported. There is a fine simplicity and boldness of outline about the forms produced here, together with an absence of useless and pointless ornament, which render them at once more pleasing and more useful than any others we have seen.

It was while going over this interesting establishment, that the raspberry-jam incident recurred to us. This thing, however, is both rich and rare; and yet the wonder remains how it got there. It got there because, forty years ago, an honest man began there a business which has grown steadily to this day. It got there just as all the rooted businesses of New England got where we find them now. In the brief history of this one enterprise we may read the history of the industry of New England. Not the less, however, ought the detailed history to be written; for it would be a book full of every kind of interest and instruction.[Pg 731]

It was an honest man, we repeat, who founded this establishment. We believe there is no house of business of the first class in the world, of thirty years' standing, the success of which is not clearly traceable to its serving the public with fidelity. An old clerk of Mr. A. T. Stewart of New York informed us that, in the day of small things, many years ago, when Mr. Stewart had only a retail dry-goods store of moderate extent, one of the rules of the establishment was this: "Don't recommend goods; but never fail to point out defects." Now a man struggling with the difficulties of a new business, who lays down a rule of that nature, must be either a very honest or a very able man. He is likely to be both, for sterling ability is necessarily honest. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Stewart is now the monarch of the dry-goods trade in the world; and we fully believe that the history of all lasting success would disclose a similar root of honesty. In all the businesses which have to do with the precious metals and precious stones, honesty is the prime necessity; because in them, though it is the easiest thing in the world to cheat, the cheat is always capable of being detected and proved. A great silver-house holds itself bound to take back an article of plate made forty years ago, if it is discovered that the metal is not equal in purity to the standard of the silver coin of the country in which it was made. The entire and perfect natural honesty, therefore, of Jabez Gorham, was the direct cause of the prosperity of the house which he founded. He is now a serene and healthy man of eighty-two, long ago retired from business. He walks about the manufactory, mildly wondering at the extent to which its operations have extended. "It is grown past me," he says with a smile; "I know nothing about all this."

In the year 1805, this venerable old man was an apprentice to that Mr. Dodge who began in Providence the manufacture of ear-rings, breastpins, and rings,—the only articles made by the Providence jewellers for many years. In due time Jabez Gorham set up for himself; and he added to the list of articles the important item of watch-chains of a peculiar pattern, long known in New England as the "Gorham chain." The old gentleman gives an amusing account of the simple manner in which business was done in those days. When he had manufactured a trunkful of jewelry, he would jog away with it to Boston, where, after depositing the trunk in his room, he would go round to all the jewellers in the city to inform them of his arrival, and to say that his jewelry would be ready in his room for inspection on the following morning at ten o'clock, and not before. Before the appointed hour every jeweller in the town would be at his door; but as it was a point of honor to give them all an equal chance, no one was admitted till the clock struck, when all pushed in in a body. The jewelry was spread out on the bed, around which all the jewellers of Boston, in 1820, could gather without crowding. Each man began by placing his hat in some convenient place, and it was in his hat that he deposited the articles selected by him for purchase. When the whole stock had been transferred from the bed to the several hats, Mr. Gorham took a list of the contents of each; whereupon the jewellers packed their purchases, and carried them home. In the course of the day, the bills were made out; and the next morning Mr. Gorham went his rounds and collected the money. The business being thus happily concluded, he returned to Providence, to work uninterruptedly for another six months. In this manner, Jabez Gorham conducted business for sixteen years, before he ever thought of attempting silver-ware. Such was his reputation for scrupulous honesty, that, for many years before he left the business, none of his customers ever subjected his work to any test whatever, not even to that of a pair of scales. It is his boast, that, during the whole of his business career of more[Pg 732] than half a century, he never sold an article of a lower standard of purity than the one established by law or by the nature of the precious metals.

About the year 1825, some Boston people discovered that a tolerable silver spoon could be made much thinner than the custom of the trade had previously permitted, and that these thin spoons could be sold by pedlers very advantageously. The consequence of this discovery was, that silver spoons became an article of manufacture in Boston, whence pedlers conveyed them to the remotest nooks of New England. One day, in 1830, the question occurred to Jabez Gorham, Why not make spoons in Providence, and sell them to the pedlers who buy our jewelry? The next time he took his trunk of trinkets to Boston, he looked about him for a man who knew something of the art of spoon-making. One such he found, a young man just "out of his time," whom he took back with him to Providence, where he established him in an odd corner of his jewelry shop. In this small way, thirty-seven years ago, the business began which has grown to be the largest and most complete manufactory of silver-ware in the world. For the first ten years he made nothing but spoons, thimbles, and silver combs, with an occasional napkin-ring, if any one in Providence was bold enough to order one. Businesses grew very slowly in those days. It was thought a grand success when Jabez Gorham, after nearly twenty years' exertion, had fifteen men employed in making spoons, forks, thimbles, napkin-rings, children's mugs, and such small ware. Nor would Mr. Gorham, of his own motion, have ever carried the business much farther; certainly not to the point of producing articles that approach the rank of works of art. We have heard the old gentleman say, that he often stood at a store-window in Boston, wondering by what process certain operations were performed in silver, the results of which he saw before him in the form of pitchers and teapots.

But in due course of time Mr. John Gorham, the present head of the house, eldest son of the founder, came upon the scene,—an aspiring, ingenious young man, whose nature it was to excel in anything in which he might chance to engage. The silversmith's art was then so little known in the United States that neither workmen nor information could be obtained here in its higher branches. Mr. John Gorham crossed the ocean soon after coming of age, and examined every leading silver establishment in Europe. He was freely admitted everywhere, as no one in the business had ever thought of America as a possible competitor; still less did any one see in this quiet Yankee youth the person who was to annihilate the American demand for European, silver-ware, and produce articles which famous European houses would servilely copy. From the time of Mr. John Gorham's return dates the eminence of the present company, and of the production of the costlier kinds of silver-ware, on a great scale, in the United States. From first to last, the company have induced sixty-three accomplished workmen to come from Europe and settle in Providence, some of whom might not unjustly be enrolled in the list of artists.

The war gave an amazing development to this business, as it did to all others ministering to pleasure or the sense of beauty. When the war began, in 1861, the Gorham Company employed about one hundred and fifty men; and in 1864 this number had increased to four hundred, all engaged in making articles of solid silver. Even with this great force the company were sometimes unable to supply the demand for their beautiful products. On Christmas morning, 1864, there was left in the store in Maiden Lane, New York, but seven dollars' worth of ware, out of an average stock of one hundred thousand dollars' worth. Perhaps we ought not to be surprised at this. Consider our silver weddings. It is not unusual for several thousands of dollars' worth of silver to be presented on these occasions,—in one recent instance, sixteen[Pg 733] thousand dollars' worth was given. And what lady can be married, now-a-days, without having a few pounds of silver given to her? For Christmas presents, of course, silver-ware is always among the objects dangerous to the sanity of those who go forth, just before the holidays, with a limited purse and unlimited desires.

What particularly surprises the visitor to the Gorham works at Providence is to see labor-saving machinery—the ponderous steam-hammer, the stamping and rolling apparatus—employed in silver work, instead of the baser metals to which they are usually applied. Nothing is done by hand which can be done by machinery; so that the three hundred men usually employed in solid ware are in reality doing the work of a thousand. The first operation is to buy silver coin in Wall Street. In a bag of dollars there are always some bad pieces; and as the company embark their reputation in every silver vessel that leaves the factory, and are always responsible for its purity, each dollar is wrenched asunder and its goodness positively ascertained before it is thrown into the crucible. The subsequent operations, by which these spoiled dollars are converted into objects of brilliant and enduring beauty, can better be imagined than described.

New forms of beauty are the constant study of the artist in silver. One large apartment in the Gorham establishment—the artists' room—is a kind of magazine or storehouse of beautiful forms, which have been gathered in the course of years by Mr. George Wilkinson, the member of the company who has charge of the designing, and who is himself a designer of singular taste, fertility, and judgment. Here are deposited copies or drawings of all the former products of the establishment. Here is a large and most costly library of illustrated works in every department of art and science. Mr. Wilkinson gets ideas from works upon botany, sculpture, landscape,—from ancient bas-reliefs and modern porcelain; but, more frequently, from those large volumes which exhibit the glories of architecture. "The first requisite," he maintains, "of a good piece of silver-plate is that it be well built." The artist in silver has also to keep constantly in view the practical and commercial limitations of his art. The forms which he designs must be such as can be executed with due economy of labor and material, such as can be easily cleaned, and such as will please the taste of the silver-purchasing public. It is by his skill in complying with these inexorable conditions, while producing forms of real excellence, that Mr. Wilkinson has given such celebrity to the articles made by the company to which he belongs.

Few of us, however, will ever be able to buy the dinner-sets, the tea-sets, the gorgeous salvers, and the tall épergnes with which the warerooms of this manufactory are filled. A silver salver of large size costs a thousand dollars. A complete dinner-set for a party of twenty-four costs twelve thousand dollars. The price of a nice tea-set can easily run into three thousand dollars. We noticed one small vase (six or eight inches high) exquisitely chased on two sides, which Mr. Wilkinson assured us it cost the company about seven hundred dollars to produce. There are, as yet, but two or three persons in all America who would be likely to become purchasers of the articles in silver which rank in Europe as works of art, and which are strictly entitled to that distinction. The wonder is who buys the massive utilities that are stacked away in such profusion in Maiden Lane. The Gorham Company have always in course of manufacture about three tons of silver, and usually have a ton of finished work for sale.

An important branch of their business is one recently introduced,—the manufacture of a very superior kind of plated ware, intended to combine the strength of baser metal with the beauty of silver. The manufacture of such ware has attained great development in England of late years, owing chiefly to the[Pg 734] application of the mysterious power of electricity to the laying-on of the silver. We must discourse a little upon this admirable application of science to the arts.

Hamlet amused his friend Horatio by tracing the noble dust of Alexander till he found it stopping a bunghole. If we trace the course of discovery that resulted in this beautiful art, we shall have to reverse Hamlet's order: we must begin with the homely object, and end with magnificent ones. Electroplating, electrotyping, the electric telegraph, and many other arts and wonders, all go back to that dish of frogs which the amiable and fond Professor Galvani was preparing for his sick wife's dinner one day, about the year 1787. It was a curious reflection, when we were illuminating our houses to celebrate the laying of the first Atlantic cable, that this bewildering and unique triumph of man over nature had no more illustrious origin than the legs of an Italian frog. We are aware that the honor has been claimed for a Neapolitan mouse. There is a story in the books of a mouse in Naples that had the impudence, in 1786, to bite the leg of a professor of medicine, and was caught in the act by the professor himself, who punished his audacity by dissecting him. While doing so, he observed that, when he touched a nerve of the creature with his knife, its limbs were slightly convulsed. The professor was struck with the circumstance, was puzzled by it, mentioned it, and it was recorded; but as nothing further came of it, no connection can be established between that mouse and the splendors of silver-plated ware and the wonders of the telegraph. The claims of Professor Galvani's frog rest upon a sure foundation of fact. Signora Galvani—so runs one version of the story—lay sick upon a couch in a room in which there was that chaos of domestic utensils and philosophical apparatus that may still be observed sometimes in the abodes of men addicted to science. The Professor himself had prepared the frogs for the stew-pan, and left them upon a table near the conductor of an electrical machine. A student, while experimenting with the machine, chanced to touch with a steel instrument one of the frogs at the intersection of the legs. The sick lady observed that, as often as he did so, the legs were convulsed, or, as we now say, were galvanized. Upon her husband's return to the room, she mentioned this strange thing to him, and he immediately repeated the experiment.

From 1760 to 1790, as the reader is probably aware, all the scientific world was on the qui vive with regard to electricity. The most brilliant reputations of that century had been won by electric discoveries. Franklin was still alive, to reward with his benignant approval those who should contribute anything valuable after his own immense additions to man's knowledge of this alluring and baffling element. It was, therefore, as much the spirit of the time as the genius of the man, that made Galvani seize this new fact with eagerness, and investigate it with untiring enthusiasm. It was a sad day for the frogs of the Pope's dominions when Signora Galvani observed those two naked legs fly apart and crook themselves with so much animation. There was slaughter in the swamps of Bologna for many a month thereafter. For mankind, however, it was a day to be held in everlasting remembrance, since it was then that was taken the first step toward the galvanic battery!

As fortune favors the brave, so accident aids the ingenious. After Professor Galvani had touched the muscles and nerves of many frogs with the spark drawn from the electrical machine, another accident occurred which led directly to the discovery of the galvanic battery. Having skinned a frog, he chanced to hang it by a copper hook upon an iron nail; and thus, without knowing it, he brought together the elements of a battery,—two metals and a wet frog. His object in hanging up this frog was to see if the electricity of the atmosphere would produce any effects, however slight, similar to those produced[Pg 735] when the spark of the machine was applied to the creature. It did not. After watching his frog awhile, the Professor was proceeding to take it down, and while in the act of doing so the legs were convulsed! Struck with this occurrence, he replaced the frog, took it down again, put it back, took it down, until he discovered that, as often as the damp frog (still hanging upon its copper hook) touched the iron nail, the contraction of the muscles took place, as if the frog had been touched by a conductor connected with an electrical machine. This experiment was repeated hundreds of times, and varied in as many ways as mortal ingenuity could devise. Galvani at length settled down upon the method following: he wrapped the nerves taken from the loins of a frog in a leaf of tin, and placed the legs of the frog upon a plate of copper; then, as often as the leaf of tin was brought in contact with the plate of copper, the legs of the frog were convulsed.

People regard Charles Lamb's story of the discovery of roast pig as a most extravagant and impossible fiction; but, really, Professor Galvani comported himself very much in the manner of that great discoverer. It was no more necessary to employ the frog's nerves in the production of the electricity, than it was necessary to burn down a house in roasting pig for dinner. The poor frog contributed nothing to it but his dampness,—as every boy in a telegraph office now perceives. He was merely the wet in the small galvanic battery. Professor Galvani, however, exulting in his discovery, leaped to the conclusion that this electricity was not the same as that produced by friction. He thought he had discovered the long-sought something by which the muscles move obedient to the will. "All creatures," he wrote, "have an electricity inherent in their economy, which resides specially in the nerves, and is by the nerves communicated to the whole body. It is secreted by the brain. The interior substance of the nerves is endowed with a conducting power for this electricity, and facilitates its movement and its passage from one part of the nervous system to another; while the oily coating of these organs hinders the dissipation of the fluid, and permits its accumulation." He also thought that the muscles were the Leyden jars of the animal system, in which the electricity generated by the brain and conducted by the nerves was hoarded up for use. When a man was tired, he had merely used his electricity too fast; when he was fresh, his Leyden jars were all full.

The publication of these experiments in 1791, accompanied by Galvani's theory of animal electricity, produced a sensation in scientific circles only inferior to that caused by Franklin's demonstration of the identity of lightning with electricity, thirty years before. The murder of innocent frogs extended from the marshes of Bologna to the swamps of all Christendom. "Wherever," says a writer of the time, "frogs were to be found and two different metals could be procured, every one was anxious to see the mangled limbs of frogs brought to life in this wonderful way." Or, as Lamb says, in the dissertation upon Roast Pig: "The thing took wing, and now there was nothing to be seen but fire in every direction." At first the facts and the theory of Galvani were equally accepted; and a grateful world insisted upon styling the new science, as it was deemed, "Galvanism." Thus a word was added to all the languages, which has been found useful in its literal sense, and forcible in its figurative. Whatever we may think of Galvani's philosophy, we cannot deny that he immortalized his name. He died a few years after, fully satisfied with his theory, but having no suspicion of the many, the peculiar, the marvellous results that were to flow from the chance discovery of the fact, that a moist frog placed between two different metals was a kind of electrical machine.

Among the Italians who caught at Galvani's discovery, the most skilful and learned was Professor Volta, of[Pg 736] Como, who had been an ardent electrician from his youth. Many of our readers have seen this year the colossal statue of that great man, which adorns his native city on the southern shore of the lake. The statue was worthily decreed, because the matt who contributes ever so little to a grand discovery in science—provided that little is essential to it—ranks among the greatest benefactors of his species. And what did the admirable Volta discover? Reducing the labors of his long life to their simplest expression, we should say that his just claim to immortality consists in this,—he found out that the frog had nothing to do with the production of electricity in Galvani's experiment, but that a wet card or rag would do as well. This discovery was the central fact of his scientific career of sixty-four years. It took all of his familiar knowledge of electricity, acquired in twenty-seven years of entire devotion to the study, to enable him to interpret Galvani's apparatus so far as to get rid of the frog; and he spent the remaining thirty-seven years of his existence in varying the experiment thus freed from that "demd, damp, moist, unpleasant body." It was a severe affliction to the followers of Galvani and to the University of Bologna to have their darling theory of the nervous electricity so rudely yet so unanswerably refuted. "I do not need your frog!" exclaimed the too impetuous Volta. "Give me two metals and a moist rag, and I will produce your animal electricity. Your frog is nothing but a moist conductor, and in this respect is not as good as a wet rag." This was a decisive fact, and it silenced all but a few of the disciples of the dead Galvani.

Volta was led to discard the frog by observing that no electric results followed when the two plates were of the same metal. Suspecting from this that the frog was merely a conductor (instead of the generator) of the electric fluid, he tried the experiment with a wet card placed between two pairs of plates, and thus discovered that the secret lay in the metals being heterogeneous. But it cost thousands of experiments to reach this result, and ten years of ceaseless thought and exertion to arrive at the invention of the "pile," which merely consists of many pairs of heterogeneous plates, each separated by a moist substance. The weight of so much metal squeezed the wet cloth dry, and this led to various contrivances for keeping it wet, resulting at last in the invention of the familiar "trough-battery," now employed in all telegraph offices and manufactories of electro-anything. Instead of Galvani's frog or Volta's wet rag, the conductor is a solution of sulphuric acid, which Volta himself suggested and employed. The negative electricity is conveyed to the earth by a wire, and the positive is conducted from pair to pair, increasing as it goes, until, if the battery is large enough, it may have the force to send a message round the world. And the current is continuous. The galvanic battery is an electrical machine that goes without turning a handle. By the galvanic battery, electricity is made subservient to man. Among other things, it sends his messages, faces his type with copper, silvers his coffee-pot, and coats the inside of his baby's silver mug with shining gold.

The old methods of covering metals with a plating of silver were so difficult and laborious, that durable ware could never have been produced by them except at an expense which would have defeated the object. In those slow and costly ways plated articles were made as late as the year 1840; and thus they might be made at the present moment, if Signora Galvani had been looking the other way when the student touched the frog with his knife. More than fifty years elapsed before that chance discovery was made available in the art we are considering. For many years the discoveries of Galvani and Volta did not appear to add much to the resources of man, though they excited his "special wonder," Elderly readers can perhaps remember the appalling accounts that used to be published, forty years ago or more, of the galvanizing[Pg 737] of criminals after execution. In 1811, at Glasgow, a noted chemist tried the effect of a voltaic "pile" of two hundred and seventy pairs of plates upon the body of a murderer. As the various parts of the nervous system were subjected to the current, the most startling results followed. The whole body shuddered as with cold; one of the legs nearly kicked an attendant over; the chest heaved, and the lungs inhaled and exhaled. At one time, when all the power of the instrument was exerted, we are told that "every muscle of the countenance was simultaneously thrown into fearful action. Rage, horror, despair and anguish, and ghastly smiles, united their hideous expression on the murderer's face, surpassing far the wildest representations of a Fuseli or a Kean. At this period several of the spectators were obliged to leave the room from terror or sickness, and one gentleman fainted." The bodies of horses, oxen, and sheep were galvanized, with results the most surprising. Five men were unable to hold the leg of a horse subjected to the action of a powerful battery.

So far as we know, nothing of much importance has yet been inferred from such experiments as these. Davy and Faraday, however, and their pupils, did not confine their attention to these barren wonders. Sir Humphry Davy took the "pile" as invented by Volta, in 1800, and founded by its assistance what may be styled a new science, and developed it to the point where it became available for the arts and utilities of man. The simple and easy process by which silver and gold are decomposed, and then deposited upon metallic surfaces, is only one of many ways in which the galvanic battery ministers to our convenience and pleasure. If the reader will step into a manufactory of plated ware, he will see, in the plating-room, a trough containing a liquid resembling tea as it comes from the teapot. Avoiding scientific terms, we may say that this liquid is a solution of silver, and contains about four ounces of silver to a gallon of water. There are also thin plates of silver hanging along the sides of the trough into the liquid. The galvanic battery which is to set this apparatus in motion is in a closet near by. The vessels to be plated, after being thoroughly cleaned and exactly weighed, are suspended in the liquid by a wire running along the top of the trough. When all is ready, the current of electricity generated by the small battery in the closet is made to pass through the trough, and along all the metallic surfaces therein contained. When this has been done, the spectator may look with all his eyes, but he cannot perceive that anything is going on. There is no bubbling, nor fizzing, nor any other noise or motion. The long row of vessels hang silently at their wire, immersed in their tea, and nobody appears to pay any attention to them. And so they continue to hang for hours,—for five or six or seven hours, if the design is to produce work which will answer some other purpose than selling. All this time a most wonderful and mysterious process is going on. That gentle current of electricity, noiseless and invisible as it is, is taking the silver held in the solution, and laying it upon the surfaces of those vessels, within and without; and at the same time it is decomposing the plates of silver hanging along the sides of the trough in such a way as to keep up the strength of the solution. We cannot recover from the wonder into which the contemplation of this process threw us. There are some things which the outside and occasional observer can never be done marvelling at. For our part, we never hear the click of a telegraphic apparatus without experiencing the same spasm of astonishment as when we were first introduced to that mystery. The beautiful manner, too, in which this silvering work is done! The most delicate brush in the most sympathetic hand could not lay on the colors of the palette so evenly, nor could a crucible melt the metals into a completer oneness.

And here is the opportunity for[Pg 738] fraud. In five minutes an article is coated with silver in every part, inside and out; and that mere "blush" of silver, as the platers term it, will receive as brilliant a polish, and look as well (for a month) as if it were solid plate. Nay, it will look rather better; since the silver deposited by this exquisite process is perfectly pure, while the silver employed in solid ware is of the coin standard,—one tenth alloy. The plater can deposit upon his work as little silver as he chooses, either by weakening his solution, or by leaving the articles in it for a very short time; and no man can detect the cheat with certainty except by an expensive and troublesome process. Nor will it suffice for the operator to attend to the strength of his solutions, and keep his eye upon the clock. As in certain conditions of the atmosphere we can scarcely get a spark from the electrical machine, so there are times when the galvanic battery works feebly, and when the silvering goes on much more slowly than usual. To guard against errors from this cause, there is no sure resource but a system of careful weighings. In such establishments as that of the Gorham Company of Providence, Tiffany's or Haughwout's of New York, Bailey's of Philadelphia, and Bigelow Brothers and Kennard's, or Palmer and Batchelder's, of Boston, each article is weighed before it is immersed in the solution, its weight is recorded, and it is allowed to remain in the solution until it has taken on the whole of the precious metal it was designed to receive.

There was a lawsuit the other day in New York, which turned upon the quantity of silver deposited upon sundry gross of forks and spoons. The plater agreed to put upon them twelve ounces of silver to the gross, which is about as much as is ever deposited upon spoons or forks. If he had performed his contract, he would have spread over each table-spoon about as much silver as there is in a ten-cent piece; and such is the nature of silver that these spoons would have worn well for five or six years. In fact, there are no better plated spoons yet in use than these were designed to be. The plater meant to comply with the usages of the trade. He meant to put upon those spoons the quantity of silver which, in the trade, stands for twelve ounces to the gross, which is about ten ounces to the gross. Such, was probably his virtuous intention, and he supposed he had carried out that intention. But when the spoons were put to the test, it was discovered that upon one hundred and forty-four table-spoons there were but three ounces and a half of silver. It came out on the trial that the plater never weighed his work, and trusted wholly to the length of time he left it in the solution. He appeared to be honestly indignant at the testimony showing that his spoons, which had been left four hours subject to the action of the battery, had acquired only a film of silver. To the eye of the purchaser, these spoons would have presented precisely the same appearance as the best plated ware in existence. For two or three months, or even for six months, they would have retained their brilliancy. What their appearance would have been at the end of a year or two we need not say, for most readers have encountered the spectacle in their pilgrimage through a world which is said to resemble plated articles of this quality in being "all a fleeting show."

Every one is familiar with the gold lining that is now so generally seen in silver vessels. This is laid on by the same process as that which covers the outside with silver. The vessel is filled with a solution of gold, and in this solution a thin plate of gold is suspended. The electric current being made to pass through the interior thus prepared, the liquid bubbles up like soda-water, and in three or four minutes enough gold is deposited upon the inside surface for the purpose designed. When this is accomplished, nothing remains but to polish the vessel, within and without, and we have[Pg 739] a piece of ware which is silver when we look at it, and golden when we drink from it.

The obstacle to the introduction of the superior plated ware now made by the Gorham Company is its costliness. The best plated ware costs five times as much as the worst, and one fourth as much as solid silver. We saw the other day three large salvers, which, at a distance of six feet, looked very nearly alike. All of them bore a most brilliant polish, and all were elaborately decorated. One of them was a trashy article, made of an alloy of lead and tin, covered with a "blush" of silver. It had been stamped out and shaped at one blow by a stamping-machine, and left in the silver solution subject to the action of the battery for perhaps fifteen minutes. It was very heavy, and when it was suspended and struck it gave forth a dull leaden sound. The price of this abomination was thirty-seven dollars and a half, and it would last, with careful occasional usage, for a year. Daily use would disclose its real quality in a few weeks. Another of these salvers was of solid silver, to which no objection could be made except that its price was nine hundred and fifty dollars. The third was of that superior plated ware introduced recently by the Gorham Company of Providence. The base of this article was the metal now called nickel silver,—a mixture of copper, nickel, and zinc,—3 very hard and ringing compound, perfectly white, and capable of a high polish. Upon this hard surface as much silver had been deposited as upon the best Sheffield plated ware, which is about as much as can be smoothly put upon it by the electro-plating process. When this salver was struck, it rang like a bell, and it would not bend under the weight of a man. Such a salver, used continually, will retain its lustre for a whole generation, and when, after that long period, it begins to lose its silver coating, it can be re-silvered and made as good as ever. But the price of this article was two hundred dollars,—more than five times the cost of the leaden trash, and a fourth of the price of the solid salver. Nevertheless, plated ware of this quality is the only kind which it is good economy to buy. There are few more extravagant purchases we can make in housekeeping than lead and brass ware, covered with a film of silver so thin that one ounce of the precious metal can actually be spread over two acres of it.

One fact can easily be borne in mind: good serviceable plated articles cost, and must cost, from one fourth to one third as much as similar articles of solid silver. Anything of a much lower standard than this is trash and vulgarity.

For our part, we prefer good plated ware to solid plate. In plated ware we can now have all the beauty of form, all the brilliancy of surface, all the durability and utility of solid silver, without its excessive costliness, without appearing to be guilty of ostentation, without putting our neighbors to shame, and without offering a perpetual temptation to burglars.

[Pg 740]


It would seem to be folly for any one to maintain that grass is not green, that sugar is not sweet, that the rose has no odor and the trumpet no tone. A man would seem to be out of his senses deliberately to doubt what the world thinks to be simple truths. Yet this paper will deliberately question these truths. It will endeavor to demonstrate that the greenness, the sweetness, the fragrance, the music, are not inherent qualities of the objects themselves, but are cerebral sensations, whose existence is limited to the senses of organized beings.

Is grass green? First let us inquire what green is,—what color is. Light is now understood to be an undulation of the interstellar ether, that inconceivably rare, elastic expanse of matter which occupies all space,—an undulation communicated by the incandescent envelope of suns. It moves with such wondrous rapidity as to traverse hundreds of thousands of miles in a second. Such is the generally received explanation of the phenomenon of light; but there is much yet to be explained for which this simple undulation of matter seems to be an insufficient cause. These waves of motion have different lengths and rates of velocity; but the union of them all gives to the human eye the impression of white light. When a prism intercepts their flow, it, so to speak, assorts these differing waves; and, being separated, they then impress the eye with the color of the spectrum, the retina being differently affected by the differing velocities with which it is touched by the ethereal waves. Color, then, is the sensation of the brain, responsive to the touch of the motion of ether; and the brain is only thus affected when these waves are thrown back from some object to the eye. The multiplicity of tints and hues are reflections from the objects which appear to possess them as structural characters. Some of the waves pass into the objects and through them, others are arrested by them and absorbed, others rebound from them like a ball from a wall; and these last, breaking upon the optic nerve, give to it certain sensations which we designate as colors. A wave of a certain velocity and length gives us a certain sensation which we call blue; another awakens the sensation we call yellow. The two series of waves, mingling, produce a new sensation which we call green. The necessity of reflection for the production of these sensations is evident. The mingled waves have no color in their incident flow; but, striking some object, these waves become separated, some being absorbed, and the reflected ones produce the peculiar sensation we call color.

We know that these varying conditions of light which affect us as color have an absolute being. The photographer carries on his nice operations behind a yellow screen undisturbed, when the substitution of a pink one would at once allow of the chemical action of the other rays of light on his plate, to the destruction of his image. Still, the pink and the yellow, as colors, are brain sensations. We feel them with our eyes, and the feeling they awaken we call color. The optic nerve receives the undulations of ether thrown back from grass, and the peculiar sensation thus awakened by their touch is called green. The color is not a part of the grass, not a quantitative constituent, like its carbon or silex. The grass has no color, because color is something existent in the eye of the beholder, not in the object awakening that something by its peculiar mode of reflecting light. A looking-glass does not possess, as a constituent part, the image of a human face; but that face, when put before it, appears to[Pg 741] be a part of the glass; and if no looking-glass had ever existed except with a certain face before it, that face would be just as much a part of the glass as the color green is of grass. They both reflect. Some people are color-blind. They cannot perceive any difference between the rose and the leaves around it. Color is inconceivable to them. Let us suppose, then, that all men were color-blind. They would be fully cognizant of light, shadow, darkness; but the nicer sensations of the brain which we call colors would be utterly unknown to senses unable to feel their delicate touch. At the same time, the different undulations of the different colors might have been detected by other means than the sense of sight, as unseen gases have been discovered by the chemist. And we cannot say that Nature may not possess an inconceivable variety of influences inappreciable by our senses. We say grass is green; but is it always so? What varying colors does it possess under the varying light to which it is exposed. The same grass is light green in the sun, dark green in the shadow, almost black in the twilight, and at night what color is it? We may say that it is green, but that we cannot see it. By no means. If greenness were an inherent attribute, it would be persistent. The weight, density, chemical construction, and size of the plant do not change from midday to midnight. They are identical in the dark and the light. But the color depends entirely on the character of light poured upon it; as that color is only a peculiar reflection of that light, or part of it, and that reflection is only green when it stimulates an optic nerve to a sensation peculiar to its touch. The same grass becomes yellow or brown in autumn, possessing then new powers of absorption and reflection. The very limited capacity of the eye to receive sensation from light rays is proved by the discovery that the spectrum possesses other rays, called heat-rays, which the eye cannot perceive. Only about a third of the spectrum is visible to the eye. The other portion appears in the form of heat, inappreciable by the optic nerve as light.

Color, therefore, is not a physical thing,—a quantity in Nature. Her beauty and glory, visible in her tints and hues, are in the brain of the observer,—a play of light reflected from the myriad objects upon which it breaks in infinite diversity of ethereal wavelet's. One may see colors which do not exist as undulations. For example, let one look fixedly at a brilliant red object for a while, and then close his eyes. He will behold an image of the same object of a green color. This green color, then, is a sensation in the optic nerve, which, being powerfully stimulated by the red, undergoes a reaction, resulting in a sensation similar to that which it would experience were it looking at the object in green. The color green, in this case, is certainly only nervous sensation. As light is now known to be the motion of matter, color, as the result of light, must inevitably be limited by it. The touch of the light-waves upon our nerves causes certain contractions which we call color, the contractions ceasing when the touch is withdrawn. A pane of green glass will cast upon a white marble a green light. Let us suppose that this play of light had always existed, so far as those two objects were concerned. The marble would appear to be permanently green, and not white; and if we had not a simple way of removing the light, we should certainly say it was green marble. Could we as effectually change the play of light which causes grass to appear green, we should at once demonstrate as readily, that its color was an appearance to the eye, not a part of the grass itself. It is very probable that we are extensively deceived in this way,—that many appearances in nature are only simulations which we have no means of detecting. Isomerism in minerals has been discovered,—a state in which quite different physical properties are coexistent with identity of component parts. What we always see, and[Pg 742] what seems to be permanent, we naturally accept as a physical fact; and yet we can understand that our senses may, in many instances, be the sport of appearances which, because permanent, we conceive to be reality. Thus color is a cerebral sensation only, and grass is not green.

Is sugar sweet? That sugar has certain chemical constituents which go to make up a saccharine compound we know. But what evidence have we of its sweetness, except that the nerves of taste are peculiarly affected when brought in contact with it. Its sweetness is not measurable in the chemist's scales. It can be analyzed, and its constituent elements accurately defined. But sweetness is not one of those elements. The test of that is the tongue. Pure sugar of milk has scarce any sweetness at all; nevertheless, it is pure sugar. The influence which it has on the nerves of taste is only different from that of cane-sugar. Destroy the nice nervous connection between the tongue and the brain, and sweetness disappears. A severe cold will accomplish this, and while the touch of the sugar is felt, the delicate sympathy which is awakened by the sugar and is felt in the brain as sweetness is destroyed. The sweetness, like the color, is a nervous sensation. We can conceive of a development of the nerves of taste which might receive a host of new impressions from contact with objects now tasteless. The saccharine compound does exist as a chemical quantity, and has a special effect on the nerves of taste, exciting them peculiarly, the result of the excitement being the idea of sweetness.

Is the rose fragrant? The sense of smell is indeed only a continuation of that of taste. In smelling, the nerves are touched by only infinitesimally small particles of the substances reaching them, and are only able to receive an impression from this excessive distribution. This is also true of taste, to a certain degree, as it is impossible to fully perceive a flavor until the substance is tolerably comminuted, as we smack our lips to obtain it. Indeed, it may be questioned whether the whole of taste may not lie in the capabilities of different substances for great subdivision of particles. If quartz could be made to dissolve into excessively minute particles as readily as sugar, it might have its own special flavor. Some odors are offensive in dense quantities which are highly agreeable when wafted to us in delicate atoms,—musk, for instance. The rose secretes a volatile oil, the wonderfully small atoms of which, on touching the nerves of smell, communicate a peculiar sensation. This odor, like the sweetness, exists only in the nerves affected; and a trifling disaffection of the nerves suffices to destroy it entirely. The chemist can also analyze the oil, but he does not enumerate in its elements odor. In fact, we have no words to express the sensation of smell. We say sweet, sour, bitter; but have no terms to express the differing sensations produced on us by the rose, lily, violet, and pink. Their oily atoms awaken different sensations in the delicate nerves they touch. The sensation awakened may be due to chemical action induced by them in the system. But whether chemical or physical, the result of their touch is a motion of matter, an impulse communicated to the brain, the sensation of the organ being—the reception of this initiative force being—what we designate as odor. The fragrance of the rose lies, then, in the contractions of special nerves, which thus respond to the touch of the oily particles that are blown against them.

Does the trumpet sound? A vibration of matter causes the surrounding air to vibrate in consonance with it; and the waves of air thus created, breaking against the auditory nerve, awaken a peculiar sensation which we call sound. The trumpet, vibrating variously, as the valves are moved and the air forced through it, initiates waves of air of different lengths; and as they are communicated to the surrounding air with amazing rapidity, they successively strike the listener's ear. As the waves[Pg 743] of light touch the optic nerve, so do the grosser waves of air touch the auditory nerve. But sound is only a recognized sensation when the waves of air are within a certain measurement, a maximum and minimum of length. The rush of a whirlwind has no sound, except when arrested by some object, and smaller waves of the vast billows of rolling air are created. We say that the wind roars. But the tremendous currents above us, which sweep along the vast masses of vapor, are noiseless until they touch the earth, and some little trifling eddies are made in their lower sweep by hills and trees and houses. It is then only noise. The ear requires yet smaller waves of air to experience the sensation of tone. The lowest note of a piano has barely enough of it to give a definite idea. As the waves become shorter, the ear begins to be pleasantly affected, and the realm of music is reached. Within a certain restricted length of air-waves lies all of the pleasurable sensation which we call musical tone. But as we rise in the scale the tone begins to become uncertain, until the highest note of the instrument is again indefinite noise. The attenuated tone-waves of Nature are also inappreciable by the auditory nerves, and an obscure hum or buzz is all that can be perceived, until, finally, the eye detects motion which the ear utterly fails to perceive as sound. The results of the air-waves are appreciable by sight and feeling; but the waves which are heard are not those which create the disturbance in nature we see and feel. The wild gust which seizes a tree and bows it to the earth is only heard when the branches it sways, or the leaves which it rustles, give out a secondary and far more attenuate series of waves. A locust, on a warm, sunny day, will agitate the air around him with a series of waves which affect the ear far more powerfully than the wind which sighs in the waving trees above him. Thus sound is the answering sensation of the auditory nerve to the touch of air-waves; and these waves must be within certain circumscribed limits of magnitude to awaken that sensation at all. The greater or less violence with which they strike the ear causes them to appear loud or soft. We can imagine a development of the nerves, or of the ear apparatus, which might allow them to be influenced by waves of greater volume and less rapid flow, and also by those of diminished size and accelerated movement The trumpet then does not sounds the ear sounds, and in the ear alone lies the music that it makes. The deaf man, whose auditory nerves are not sensitive to air-waves, sees the clouds move and the trees sway, the brook ripple and the trumpeter with his tube at his lips; but the air-waves they all create pass by him, and sound is inconceivable. That sound is a mere nervous sensation is further proved by the fact that we have disturbances of the auditory nerve which we call singing in the ears. No waves of air create this disagreeable music. It arises from some affection of the nerve, which irritates it to a vibration similar to that which it undergoes when air-waves of a certain intensity reach it.

We say the sound rolled on, the odor was wafted, the color was printed, our language and our thoughts implying that the sound, the odor, the color, are things, when in reality they are all mere sensations, answering to the touch of physical agents. All sensation is nerve-motion. Outer stimulus, applied to the nerves, causes contractions which, communicating with the brain, give the idea of color or taste or sound.

The sense of feeling is a recognition of the existence of objects by a duller perception than the others, though all of the senses attain their perceptions by feeling, in the strict meaning of the word. We say things feel hard or soft, the varying density of the objects being the cause of the varying sensations they awaken. Smoothness and roughness are varying outlines of surface, existing as physical conformation; the pleasurable or disagreeable sensations awakened in us by contact being due to the greater or less irritation of the nerves of feeling that attrition with it[Pg 744] occasions. Motion is absolutely necessary to give us an ides of the density or configuration of an object. The mere touch of that object is insufficient to possess us with its nature. Iron and down are indistinguishable, unless we, to a certain extent, manipulate them. Glass would be indistinguishable from sand-paper did we not to a certain extent pass our fingers over the different surfaces. Mere touch would not suffice. We have the evidence of all of our senses to prove to us the nature of an object. It tastes or smells or vibrates or is colored; the varied sensations thus awakened combining to give us our totality of conception. The rose reflects light-waves which the eye feels red; it emits oil-particles which the nose feels fragrant; it touches our tongue, and feels pleasantly; it touches our fingers, and feels soft and smooth. It exists in nature as a physical structure, and its existence is evident to us through the various sensations it creates in different nerves of our bodies, and through them alone.

One of the ancient philosophies maintained that all Nature is but the phantasm of our senses. Had it, after first granting that the senses themselves were evidences of matter and motion, maintained that Nature was only evident to us through them, it would have been simple truth. Our perceptions of Nature are limited to the capacity of our nervous structure. We frequently make the mistake of endowing matter with attributes which it does not possess, and which are resident only in the impression communicated to us by forces emanating from it, the forces being we know not what. And we can understand that there may be forces in nature as powerful as those which we perceive by our senses, but which are utterly unrecognized by them. We can understand that it were possible for organized beings to possess fifty instead of five senses, which might receive from nature other impressions and awaken other emotions as beautiful and as beneficent as those arising from sight and hearing.


Rather, my people, let thy youths parade
Their woolly flocks before the rising sun;
With curds and oat-cakes, when their work is done,
By frugal handmaids let the board be laid;
Let them refresh their vigor in the shade,
Or deem their straw as down to lie upon,
Ere the great nation which our sires begun
Be rent asunder by hell's minion, Trade!
If jarring interests and the greed of gold,
The corn-rick's envy of the minéd hill,
The steamer's grudge against the spindle's skill,—
If things so mean our country's fate can mould,
O, let me hear again the shepherds trill
Their reedy music to the drowsing fold!

[Pg 745]


As one looks forward to the America of fifty years hence, the main source of anxiety appears to be in a probable excess of prosperity, and in the want of a good grievance. We seem nearly at the end of those great public wrongs which require a special moral earthquake to end them. Except to secure the ballot for woman,—a contest which is thus far advancing very peaceably,—there seems nothing left which need be absolutely fought for; no great influence to keep us from a commonplace and perhaps debasing success. There will, no doubt, be still need of the statesman to adjust the details of government, and of the clergyman to keep an eye on private morals, including his own. There will also be social and religious changes, perhaps great ones; but there are no omens of any very fierce upheaval. And seeing the educational value to this generation of the reforms for which it has contended, and especially of the antislavery enterprise, one must feel an impulse of pity for our successors, who seem likely to have no convictions that they can honestly be mobbed for.

Can we spare these great tonics? It is the experience of history that all religious bodies are purified by persecution, and materialized by peace. No amount of accumulated virtue has thus far saved the merely devout communities from deteriorating, when let alone, into comfort and good dinners. This is most noticeable in detached organizations,—Moravians, Shakers, Quakers, Roman Catholics,—they all go the same way at last; when persecution and missionary toil are over, they enter on a tiresome millennium of meat and pudding. To guard against this spiritual obesity, this carnal Eden, what has the next age in reserve for us? Suppose forty million perfectly healthy and virtuous Americans, what is to keep them from being as uninteresting as so many Chinese?

I know of nothing but that aim which is the climax and flower of all civilization, without which purity itself grows dull and devotion tedious,—the pursuit of Science and Art. Give to all this nation peace, freedom, prosperity, and even virtue, still there must be some absorbing interest, some career. That career can be sought only in two directions,—more and yet more material prosperity on the one side. Science and Art on the other. Every man's aim must either be riches, or something better than riches. Now the wealth is to be respected and desired, nor need anything be said against it. And certainly nothing need be said in its behalf, there is such a vast chorus of voices steadily occupied in proclaiming it. The Instincts of the American mind will take care of that; but to advocate the alternative career, the striving of the whole nature after something utterly apart from this world's wealth,—it is for this end that a stray voice is needed. It will not take long; the clamor of the market will re-absorb us to-morrow.

It can scarcely be said that Science and Art have as yet any place in America; or if they have, it is by virtue of their prospective value, as with the bonds of a Pacific railway. I use the ordinary classification, Science and Art, though it is literature only of which I now aim to speak. For under one of these two heads all literature must fall; it may be either a contribution to science through its matter, or to art through its form. The form of literature is usually called style and of the highest kind of literature, called poetry or belles-lettres, the style is an essential, and almost the essential part. It is in this aspect that the matter is now to be considered,—literature as an art.

The latest French traveller, Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, says well, that,[Pg 746] for what he calls the academic class—or class devoted to pure literature—there is as yet no place in America. Such a class must conceal itself, he says, beneath the politician's garb, or the clergyman's cravat. We may observe that, when our people speak of literature, they are very apt to mean a newspaper article, or perhaps a sermon, or a legal plea. One editor said that it could be no more asserted that literature was ill paid in America, since Governor Andrew received ten thousand dollars for an argument against the prohibitory liquor law. Even in our largest cities, there are scarcely the rudiments of a literary class, apart from the newspapers. Now, journalism is an invaluable outlet for the leisure time of a literary man; but his main work must be given to something else, or his vocation must change its name. He needs the experience of journalism, as he needs that of the lyceum and the caucus,—nay, as he needs the gymnasium and the wherry,—to keep himself healthy and sound. But when he gives the main energy of his life to either, though he may not cease to be useful, he ceases to be a literary man.

It is useless to complain that, in America, Science is preceding Art; that is inevitable. As yet there is a shrinking even from pure science,—that is, from all science which is not directly marketable; and while this is so, art must be still further postponed. We have hitherto valued science for its applications, natural history as a branch of agriculture, mathematics for the sake of life-assurance tables, and even a college education as a training for members of Congress. Just so far as any of these departments have failed of these ends, there is a tendency to disparage them. We are a little like the President Dupaty of the French Assembly, who told the astronomer Laplace that he considered the discovery of a new planet to be far less important than that of a new pudding, as we have already more planets than we know what to do with, while we never can have puddings enough. We are now outgrowing this limited view of science, but in regard to literature the delusion still remains; if it is anything more than an amusement, it must afford solid information; it is not yet owned that it has value for itself, as an art. Of course, all true instruction, however conveyed, is palatable; to a healthy mind the Mécanique Céleste is good reading; so is Mill's "Political Economy," or De Morgan's "Formal Logic." But words are available for something which is more than knowledge. Words afford a more delicious music than the chords of any instrument; they are susceptible of richer colors than any painter's palette; and that they should be used merely for the transportation of intelligence, as a wheelbarrow carries brick, is not enough. The highest aspect of literature assimilates it to painting and music. Beyond and above all the domain of use lies beauty, and to aim at this makes literature an art.

A book without art is simply a commodity; it may be exceedingly valuable to the consumer, very profitable to the producer, but it does not come within the domain of pure literature. It is said that some high legal authority on copyright thus cites a case: "One Moore had written a book which he called 'Irish Melodies,'" and so on. Now, as Aristotle defined the shipbuilder's art to be all of the ship but the wood, so the literary art displayed in Moore's Melodies was precisely the thing ignored in this citation.

To pursue literature as an art is not therefore to be a mathematician nor a political economist; still less to be a successful journalist, like Greeley, or a lecturer with a thousand annual invitations, like Gough. These careers have really no more to do with literature than has the stage or the bar. Indeed, a man may earn twenty thousand dollars a year by writing "sensation stories," and have nothing to do with literature as an art. But to devote one's life to perfecting the manner, as well as the matter, of one's work; to expatriate one's self long years for it, like Motley; to overcome vast physical obstacles[Pg 747] for it, like Prescott or Parkman; to live and die only to transfuse external nature into human words, like Thoreau; to chase dreams for a lifetime, like Hawthorne; to labor tranquilly and see a nation imbued with one's thoughts, like Emerson,—this it is to pursue literature as an art.

There is apparently something in the Anglo-Saxon mind which causes a slight shrinking from art as such, perhaps associating it with deception or frivolity,—which tolerates it, and, strange to say, even produces it in verse, but really shrinks from it in prose. Across the water, this tendency seems to increase. Just as an Englishman is ashamed to speak well, and pooh-poohs all oratory, so he is growing ashamed even to write well, at least in anything beyond a newspaper; and we on this side have emancipated our tongues more than our pens. What stands between Americans and good writing is usually want of culture; we write as well as we know how, while in England the obstacle seems to be merely a boorish whim. The style of English books and magazines is growing far less careful than ours,—less finished, less harmonious, more slipshod, more slangy. What second-rate American writer would see any wit in describing himself, like Dean Alford in his recent book on language, as "an old party in a shovel"? These bad examples are to be regretted; for doubtless ten times as many original works are annually published in England as in America, and we have an hereditary right to seek from that nation those models of culture for which we must now turn to France.

In a late English magazine, there is an elaborate attempt to prove the inferiority in manliness of the French mind as compared with the English. "Frenchmen are less manly, and Frenchwomen less womanly, than English men and women." And one of the illustrations seriously offered is this: "In literature they think much of the method, style, and what they themselves call the art of making a book."

The charge is true. In France alone among living nations is literature habitually pursued as an art; and, in consequence of this, despite the seeds of all decay which imperialism sows, French prose-writing has no rival in contemporary literature. We cannot fully recognize this fact through translations, because only the most sensational French books appear to be translated. But as French painters and actors now habitually surpass all others even in what are claimed as the English qualities,—simplicity and truth,—so do French prose-writers excel. To be set against the brutality of Carlyle and the shrill screams of Ruskin, there is to be seen across the Channel the extraordinary fact of an actual organization of good writers, the French Academy, whose influence all nations feel. Under their authority we see introduced into literary work an habitual grace and perfection, a clearness and directness, a light and pliable strength, and a fine shading of expression, such as no other tongue can even define. We see the same high standard in their criticism, in their works of research, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, and, in short, throughout literature. What is there in any other language, for instance, to be compared with the voluminous writings of Sainte-Beuve, ranging over all history and literature, and carrying into all that incomparable style, so delicate, so brilliant, so equable, so strong,—touching all themes, not with the blacksmith's hand of iron, but with the surgeon's hand of steel?

In the average type of French novels, one feels the superiority to the English in quiet power, in the absence of the sensational and exaggerated, and in keeping close to the level of real human life. They rely for success upon perfection of style and the most subtile analysis of human character; and therefore they are often painful,—just as Thackeray is painful,—because they look at artificial society, and paint what they see. Thus they dwell often on unhappy marriages, because such things[Pg 748] grow naturally from the false social system in France. On the other hand, in France there is very little house-breaking, and bigamy is almost impossible, so that we hear delightfully little about them; whereas, if you subtract these from the current English novels, what is there left?

Germany furnishes at present no models of prose style; and all her past models, except perhaps Goethe and Heine, seem to be already losing their charm. Yet for knowledge we still go to Germany, and there is a certain exuberant wealth that can even impart fascination to a bad style, as to that of Jean Paul. Such an author may therefore be very useful to a student who can withstand him, which poor Carlyle could not. There was a time, it is said, when English and American literature seemed to be expiring of conventionalism. Carlyle was the Jenner who inoculated and saved us all by this virus from Germany, and then died of his own disease. It now seems a privilege, perhaps, to be able to remember the time when all literature was in the inflammatory stage of this superinduced disorder; but does any one now read Carlyle's French Revolution? Every year now shows that the whole trick of style with which it was written was false from beginning to end. For surely no style can be permanently attractive that is not simple.

Simplicity must be the first element of literary art. This assertion will no doubt run counter to the common belief. Most persons have an impression of something called style in writing,—as they have an impression of something called architecture in building,—as if it were external, superadded, whereas it is in truth the very basis and law of the whole. There is the house, they think, and, if you can afford it, you put on some architecture; there is the writing, and a college-bred man is expected to put on some style. The assumption is, that he is less likely to write simply. This shows our school-boy notions of culture. A really cultivated person is less likely to waste words on mere ornamentation, just as he is less likely to have gingerbread-work on his house. Good taste simplifies. Men whose early culture was deficient are far more apt to be permanently sophomoric than those who lived through the sophomore at the proper time and place. The reason is, that the habit of expression, in a cultivated person, matures as his life and thought mature; but when a man has had much life and very little expression, he is confused by his own thoughts, and does not know how much to attempt or how to discriminate. When such a person falls on honest slang, it is usually a relief, for then he uses language which is fresh and real to him; whereas such phrases in a cultivated person usually indicate mere laziness and mental undress. Indeed, almost all slang is like parched corn, and should be served up hot, or else not at all.

But it is evident that mere simplicity of style is not enough, for there is a manner of writing which does not satisfy us, though it may be simple and also carefully done. Such, for instance, is the prose style of Southey, which was apparently the model for all American writing in its day. We see the result in the early volumes of the North American Review, whose traditions of rather tame correctness were what enabled us to live through the Carlyle epoch with safety. The aim of this style was to avoid all impulse, brilliancy, or surprise,—to be perfectly colorless; it was a highly polished smoothness, on which the thoughts slid like balls. But style is capable of something more than smoothness and clearness; you see this something more when you turn from Prescott to Motley, for instance; there is a new quality in the page,—it has become alive. Freshness is perhaps the best word to describe this additional element; it is a style that has blood in it. This may come from various sources,—good health, animal spirits, outdoor habits, or simply an ardent nature. It is hard to describe this quality, or to give rules for it; the most obvious way to acquire it is to keep[Pg 749] one's life fresh and vigorous, to write only what presses to be said, and to utter that as if the world waited for the saying. Where lies the extraordinary power of "Jane Eyre," for instance? In the intense earnestness which vitalizes every line; each atom of the author's life appears to come throbbing and surging through it; every sentence seems endowed with a soul of its own, and looks up at you with human eyes.

The next element of literary art may be said to be structure. So strong in the American mind is the demand for system and completeness, that the logical element of style, which is its skeleton, is not rare among us. But this is only the basis; besides the philosophical structure of a statement which comes by thought, there is an artistic structure which implies the education of the taste. So, in the human body, there is a symmetry of the bony frame, and there is a further symmetry of the rounded flesh which should cover it; and in literature it is not enough to have a perfectly framed logical skeleton,—there should be also a well-proportioned beauty of utterance, which is the flesh. Unless this inward and outward structure exist, although a book may be never so valuable, it hardly comes within the domain of literary art.

These different types of structure may perhaps be illustrated by three different books, all belonging to the intermediate ground between science and art. I should say that Buckle's "History of Civilization," with all its wealth and vigor, is exceedingly loose-jointed in all its logical structure, and also very defective in its literary structure, although it happens to have an element of freshness which is rare in such a work, and carries the reader along. Darwin's "Origin of Species" is better; that has at the bottom a strong logic, whether conclusive or otherwise, but is so rambling and confused in its merely literary statement, that it does itself no justice. A third book, Huxley's "Lectures," combines with its logic a power of clear and symmetrical statement that gives it a rare charm, and makes it a contribution, not to science alone, but to literature.

In what is called poetry, belles-lettres or pure literature, the osseous structure is of course hidden; and the symmetry suggested is always that of taste rather than of logic, though logic must be always implied, or at least never violated. In some of the greatest modern authors, however, there are limitations or drawbacks to this symmetry. Margaret Fuller said admirably of her favorite Goethe, that he had the artist's hand, but not the artist's love of structure; and in all his prose writings one sees a certain divergent and centrifugal habit, which completely overpowers him before the end of "Wilhelm Meister," and shows itself even in the "Elective Affinities," which is, so far as I know, his most perfect prose work.

In Emerson, again, one observes a similar defect; his unit of structure is the sentence, and the periods seem combined merely by the accident of juxtaposition; each sentence is a pearl, and the whole essay is so much clipped from the necklace; but it is fastened at neither end, and the beads roll off.

Yet it is not enough for human beauty to possess symmetry of structure, within and without: there must be a beautiful coloring also, wealth of complexion, fineness of texture. So the next element of literary art lies in the choice of words. Style must have richness and felicity. Words in a master's hands seem more than words; he can double or quadruple their power by skill in using; and this is a result so delightful, as to give to certain authors a value out of all proportion to their thought. There are books which are luxuries, livres de luxe, whose pages seem builded of more potent words than those of common life. Keats, for example, in poetry, and Landor in prose, are illustrations of this; and perhaps the representative instance, in all English literature, of the prismatic resources of mere words is the poem of "The Eve of St. Agnes." But thus to be crowned monarch of the sunset, to trust one's self with full daring in these[Pg 750] realms of glory, demands such a balance of endowments as no one in English literature save Shakespeare has attained.

In choosing words, it is to be remembered that there is not a really poor one in any language; each had originally some vivid meaning, but most of them have been worn smooth by passing from hand to hand, and hence the infinite care required in their use. "Language," says Max Müller, "is a dictionary of faded metaphors"; and every writer who creates a new image, or even reproduces an old one by passing it through a fresh mind, enlarges this vast treasure-house. And this applies not only to words of beauty, but to words of wit. "All wit," said Mr. Pitt, "is true reasoning "; and Rogers, who preserved this saying, added, that he himself had lived long before making the discovery that wit was truth.

A final condition of literary art is thoroughness, which must be shown both in the preparation and in the revision of one's work. The most brilliant mind yet needs a large accumulated capital of facts and images, before it can safely enter on its business, Coleridge went to Davy's chemical lectures, he said, to get a new stock of metaphors. Addison, before beginning the Spectator, had accumulated three folio volumes of notes. "The greater part of an author's time," said Dr. Johnson, "is spent in reading in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book." Unhappily, with these riches comes the chance of being crushed by them, of which the agreeable Roman Catholic writer, Digby, is a striking recent example. There is no satisfaction in being told, as Charles Lamb told Godwin, that "you have read more books that are not worth reading than any other man"; nor in being described, as was Southey by Shelley, as "a talking album, filled with long extracts from forgotten books on unimportant subjects." One must not have more knowledge than one can keep in subjection; but every literary man needs to accumulate a whole tool-chest in his memory, and another in his study, before he can be more than a journeyman at his trade.

Yet the labor of preparation is not, after all, more important than that of final revision. The feature of literary art which is always least appreciated by the public, and even by young authors, is the amount of toil it costs. But all the standards, all the precedents of every art, show that the greatest gifts do not supersede the necessity of work. The most astonishing development of native genius in any direction, so far as I know, is that of Mozart in music; yet it is he who has left the remark, that, if few equalled him in his vocation, few had studied it with such persevering labor and such unremitting zeal. There is still preserved at Ferrara the piece of paper on which Ariosto wrote in sixteen different ways one of his most famous stanzas. The novel which Hawthorne left unfinished—and whose opening chapters when published proved so admirable—had been begun by him, as it appeared, in five different ways. Yet how many young collegians have at this moment in their desks the manuscript of their first novel, and have considered it a piece of heroic toil if they have once revised it!

It is to rebuke this literary indolence, and to afford a perpetual standard of high art, that the study of Greek ought to be retained in our schools. The whole future of our literature may depend upon it; to abandon it is deliberately to forego the very highest models. There is no other literature which so steadily reproaches a young writer,—nothing else by which he may sustain himself till he forms a high standard of his own. Not that he should attempt direct imitations, which are almost always failures as such, however attractive in other respects; witness Swinburne's "Atalanta." But the true use of Greek literature is perpetually to remind us what a wondrous thing literary art may be,—capable of what range of resources, of what thoroughness in structure, of what perfection in detail. It is a remarkable fact, that the most[Pg 751] penetrating and fearless of all our writers, Thoreau,—he who made Nature his sole mistress, and shook himself utterly free from human tradition,—yet clung to Greek literature as the one achievement of man that seemed worthy to take rank with Nature, pronouncing it "as refined, as solidly done, and as beautiful almost as the morning itself."

These are the qualities of style that seem most obviously important,—simplicity, freshness, structure, choice of words, and thoroughness both of preparation and of finish. Yet, in aiming at literary art, it must be remembered that all the cardinal virtues go into a good style, while each of the seven deadly sins tends to vitiate a bad one. What a charm in the merit of humility, for instance, as it is sometimes seen in style, leading to a certain self-restraint and moderation of tone, however weighty the argument! How great the power of an habitual under-statement, on which in due season one strong thought rises like an ocean-crest, and breaks, and sweeps onward, lavishing itself in splendor! What a glorious gift of heaven would have been the style of Ruskin, for instance, could he but have contained himself, and put forth only half his strength, instead of always planting, in the words of old Fuller, "a piece of ordnance to batter down an aspen-leaf"!

It would be hardly safe to illustrate what has been said by any multiplication of examples from our own literature. Yet perhaps there will be no danger in saying that America has as yet produced but two authors of whom we may claim that their style is in all respects adequate to their wants, and the perfect vehicle of their thought. It is not always the greatest writers of whom this is true, for one's demands upon the vehicle of thought are in proportion to his thoughts, and great ideas strain language more than small ones. We cannot say of either Emerson or Thoreau, for instance, that his style is adequate to his needs, because the needs are immense, and Thoreau, at least, sometimes disdains effort. But the only American authors, perhaps, whose style is an elastic garment that fits all the uses of the body, are Irving and Hawthorne.

This has no reference to the quality of their thought, as to which in Irving we feel a slight mediocrity; no matter, there is the agreeable style, and it does him all the service he needs. By its aid he reached his limit of execution, and we can hardly imagine him, with his organization, as accomplishing more. But in Hawthorne we see astonishing power, always answered by the style, and capable of indefinite expansion within certain lateral limits. His early solitude narrowed his affinities, and gave a kind of bloodlessness to his style; clear in hue, fine in texture, it is apt to want the mellow tinge which indicates a robust and copious life. Even such a criticism seems daring, in respect to anything so beautiful; and I can conceive of no other defect in the style of Hawthorne.

Perhaps the conclusion of the whole matter may seem to be that literary art is so lofty a thing as to be beyond the reach of any of us; as the sage in Rasselas, discoursing on poetry, only convinces his hearers that no one ever can be a poet. After so much in the way of discouragement, it should be added,—what the most limited experience may teach us all,—that there is no other pursuit so unceasingly delightful. As some one said of love, "all other pleasures are not worth its pains." But the literary man must love his art, as the painter must love painting, out of all proportion to its rewards; or rather, the delight of the work must be its own reward. Any praise or guerdon hurts him, if it bring any other pleasure to eclipse this. The reward of a good sentence is to have written it; if it bring fame or fortune, very well, so long as this recompense does not intoxicate. The peril is, that all temporary applause is vitiated by uncertainty, and may be leading you right or wrong. Goethe wrote to Schiller, "We make money by our poor books."

The impression is somehow conveyed[Pg 752] to the young, that there exists somewhere a circle of cultivated minds, gifted with discernment, who can distinguish at a glance between Shakespeare and Tupper. One may doubt the existence of any such contemporary tribunal. Certainly there is none such in America. Provided an author says something noticeable, and obeys the ordinary rules of grammar and spelling, his immediate public asks little more; and if he attempts more, it is an even chance that it leads him away from favor. Indeed, within the last few years, it has come to be a sign of infinite humor to dispense with even these few rules, and spell as badly as possible. Yet even if you went to London or to Paris in search of this imaginary body of critics, you would not find them; there also you would find the transient and the immortal confounded together, and the transient often uppermost. Even a foreign country is not always, as has been said, a contemporaneous posterity. It is said that no American writer was ever so warmly received in England as Artemus Ward. It is only the slow alembic of the years that finally eliminates from this vast mass of literature its few immortal drops, and leaves the rest to perish.

I know of no tonic more useful for a young writer than to read carefully, in the English Reviews of sixty or seventy years ago, the crushing criticisms on nearly every author of that epoch who has achieved lasting fame. What cannot there be read, however, is the sterner history of those who were simply neglected. Look, for instance, at the career of Charles Lamb, who now seems to us a writer who must have disarmed opposition, and have been a favorite from the first. Lamb's "Rosamond Gray" was published in 1798, and for two years was not even reviewed. His poems appeared during the same year. In 1815 he introduced Talfourd to Wordsworth as his own "only admirer." In 1819 the series of "Essays of Elia" began, and Shelley wrote to Leigh Hunt that year: "When I think of such a mind as Lamb's, when I see how unnoticed remain things of such exquisite and complete perfection, what should I hope for myself, if I had not higher objects in view than fame?" These Essays were published in a volume in 1823; and Willis records that when he was in Europe, ten years later, and just before Lamb's death, "it was difficult to light upon a person who had read Elia."

This brings us to a contemporary instance. Willis and Hawthorne wrote early, side by side, in "The Token," about 1827, forty years ago. Willis rose at once to notoriety, but Mr. S. G. Goodrich, the editor of the work, states in his autobiography, that Hawthorne's contributions "did not attract the slightest attention." Ten years later, in 1837, these same sketches were collected in a volume, as "Twice-Told Tales"; but it was almost impossible to find a publisher for them, and when published they had no success. I well remember the apathy with which even the enlarged edition of 1842 was received, in spite of the warm admiration of a few; nor was it until the publication of "The Scarlet Letter," in 1850, that its author could fairly be termed famous. For twenty years he was, in his own words, "the obscurest man of letters in America"; and it is the thought to which the mind must constantly recur, in thinking of Hawthorne, How could any combination of physical and mental vigor enable a man to go on producing works of such a quality in an atmosphere so chilling?

Probably the truth is, that art precedes criticism, and that every great writer creates or revives the taste by which he is appreciated. True, we are wont to claim that "one touch of nature makes the whole world kin"; but it sometimes takes the world a good while to acknowledge its poor relations. It seems hard for most persons to recognize a touch of nature when they see it. The trees have formed their buds in autumn every year since trees first waved; but you will find that the great majority of persons have never made that discovery, and suppose that Nature[Pg 753] gets up those ornaments in spring. And if we are thus blind to what hangs conspicuously before our eyes for the whole long winter of every year, how unobservant must we be of the rarer phases of earthly beauty and of human life? Keep to the conventional, and you have something which all have seen, even if they disapprove; copy Nature, and her colors make art appear incredible. If you could paint the sunset before your window as gorgeous as it is, your picture would be hooted from the walls of the exhibition. If you were to write into fiction the true story of the man or woman you met yesterday, it would be scouted as too wildly unreal. Indeed, the literary artist may almost say, as did the Duke of Wellington when urged to write his memoirs, "I should like to speak the truth; but if I did, I should be torn in pieces."

Therefore the writer, when he adopts a high aim, must be a law to himself, bide his time, and take the risk of discovering, at last, that his life has been a failure. His task is one in which failure is easy, when he must not only depict the truths of Nature, but must do this with such verisimilitude as to vindicate its truth to other eyes, And since this recognition may not even begin till after his death, we can see what Rivarol meant by his fine saying, that "genius is only great patience," and Buffon, by his more guarded definition of genius as the aptitude for patience.

Of all literary qualities, this patience has thus far been rarest in America. Therefore, there has been in our literature scarcely any quiet power; if effects are produced, they must, in literature as in painting, be sensational, and cover acres of canvas. As yet, the mass of our writers seek originality in mere externals; we think, because we live in a new country, we are unworthy of ourselves if we do not Americanize the grammar and spelling-book. In a republic, must the objective case be governed by a verb? We shall yet learn that it is not new literary forms we need, but only, fresh inspiration, combined with cultivated taste. The standard of good art is always much the same; modifications are trifling. Otherwise we could not enjoy any foreign literature. A fine phrase in Æschylus or Dante affects us as if we had read it in Emerson. A structural completeness in a work of art seems the same in the Œdipus Tyrannus as in "The Scarlet Letter." Art has therefore its law; and eccentricity, though sometimes promising as a mere trait of youth, is only a disfigurement to maturer years. It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote "Leaves of Grass," only that he did not burn it afterwards. A young writer must commonly plough in his first crop, as the farmer does, to enrich the soil. Is it luxuriant, astonishing, the wonder of the neighborhood; so much the better,—in let it go!

Sydney Smith said, in 1818, "There does not appear to be in America, at this moment, one man of any considerable talents." Though this might not now be said, we still stand before the world with something of the Swiss reputation, as a race of thrifty republicans, patriotic and courageous, with a decided turn for mechanical invention. What we are actually producing, even to-day, in any domain of pure art, is very little; it is only the broad average intelligence of the masses that does us any credit. And even this is easily exaggerated. The majority of members of Congress talk bad grammar; so do the majority of public-school teachers. I do not mean merely that they speak without elegance, but that in moments of confidence they say "We was," and "Them things," and "I done it." With the present predominance of merely scientific studies, and the increasing distaste for the study of language, I do not see how this is to diminish. For all that, there are already visible, in the American temperament, two points of great promise in respect to art in general, and literary art above all.

First, there is in this temperament a certain pliability and impressibility, as compared with the rest of the Anglo-Saxon race; it shows a finer grain and[Pg 754] a nicer touch. If this is not yet shown in the way of literature, it is only because the time has not come. It is visible everywhere else. The aim which Bonaparte avowed as his highest ambition for France, to convert all trades into arts, is being rapidly fulfilled all around us. There is a constant tendency to supersede brute muscle by the fibres of the brain, and thus to assimilate the rudest toil to what Bacon calls "sedentary and within-door arts, that require rather the finger than the arm." It is clear that this same impulse, in higher and higher applications, must culminate in the artistic creation of beauty.

And to fortify this fine instinct, we may trust, secondly, in the profound earnestness which still marks our people. With all this flexibility, there is yet a solidity of principle beneath, that makes the subtile American mind as real and controlling as that of the robust race from which it sprang. Though the present tendency of our art is towards foreign models, this is but a temporary thing. We must look at these till we have learned what they can teach, but a race in which the moral nature is strongest will be its own guide at last.

And it is a comfort thus to end in the faith that, as the foundation of all true greatness is in the conscience, so we are safe if we can but carry into science and art the same earnestness of spirit which has fought through the great civil war and slain slavery. As "the Puritan has triumphed" in this stern contest, so must the Puritan triumph in the more graceful emulations that are to come; but it must be the Puritanism of Milton, not of Cromwell only. The invigorating air of great moral principles must breathe through all our literature; it is the expanding spirit of the seventeenth century by which we must conquer now.

It is worth all that has been sacrificed in New England to vindicate this one fact, the supremacy of the moral nature. All culture, all art, without this, must be but rootless flowers, such as flaunt round a nation's decay. All the long, stern reign of Plymouth Rock and Salem Meeting-House was well spent, since it had this for an end,—to plough into the American race the tradition of absolute righteousness, as the immutable foundation of all. This was the purpose of our fathers. There should be here no European frivolity, even if European grace went with it. For the sake of this great purpose, history will pardon all their excesses,—overwork, grim Sabbaths, prohibition of innocent amusements, all were better than to be frivolous. And so, in these later years, the arduous reforms into which the life-blood of Puritanism has passed have all helped to train us for art, because they have trained us in earnestness, even while they seemed to run counter to that spirit of joy in which art has its being. For no joy is joyous which has not its root in something noble. In what awful lines of light has this truth been lately written against the sky! What graces might there not have been in that Southern society before the war? It had ease, affluence, leisure, polished manners, European culture,—all worthless; it produced not a book, not a painting, not a statue; it concentrated itself on politics, and failed; then on war, and failed; it is dead and vanished, leaving only memories of wrong behind. Let us not be too exultant; the hasty wealth of New York may do as little. Intellect in this age is not to be found in the circles of fashion; it is not found in such society in Europe, it is not here. Even in Paris, the world's capital, imperialism taints all it touches; and it is the great traditions of a noble nation which make that city still the home of art. We, a younger and cruder race, yet need to go abroad for our standard of execution, but our ideal and our faith must be our own.

[Pg 755]


When Johnny is all snugly curled up in bed, with his rosy cheek resting on one of his scratched and grimy little hands, forming altogether a perfect picture of peace and innocence, it seems hard to realize what a busy, restive, pugnacious, badly ingenious little wretch he is! There is something so comical in those funny little shoes and stockings sprawling on the floor,—they look as if they could jump up and run off, if they wanted to,—there is something so laughable about those little trousers, which appear to be making vain attempts to climb up into the easy-chair,—the said trousers still retaining the shape of Johnny's little legs, and refusing to go to sleep,—there is something, I say, about these things, and about Johnny himself, which makes it difficult for me to remember that, when Johnny is awake, he not unfrequently displays traits of character not to be compared with anything but the cunning of an Indian warrior, combined with the combative qualities of a trained prize-fighter.

I'm sure I don't know how he came by such unpleasant propensities. I am myself the meekest of men. Of course, I don't mean to imply that Johnny inherited his warlike disposition from his mother. She is the gentlest of women. But when you come to Johnny—he's the terror of the whole neighborhood.

He was meek enough at first,—that is to say, for the first six or seven days of his existence. But I verily believe that he wasn't more than eleven days old when he showed a degree of temper that shocked me,—shocked me in one so young. On that occasion he turned very red in the face,—he was quite red before,—doubled up his ridiculous hands in the most threatening manner, and finally, in the impotency of rage, punched himself in the eye. When I think of the life he led his mother and Susan during the first eighteen months after his arrival, I shrink from the responsibility of allowing Johnny to call me father.

Johnny's aggressive disposition was not more early developed than his duplicity. By the time he was two years of age, I had got the following maxim by heart: "Whenever J. is particularly quiet, look out for squalls." He was sure to be in some mischief. And I must say there was a novelty, an unexpectedness, an ingenuity, in his badness that constantly astonished me. The crimes he committed could be arranged alphabetically. He never repeated himself. His evil resources were inexhaustible. He never did the thing I expected he would. He never failed to do the thing I was unprepared for. I am not thinking so much of the time when he painted my writing-desk with raspberry jam, as of the occasion when he perpetrated an act of original cruelty on Mopsey, a favorite kitten in the household. We were sitting in the library. Johnny was playing in the front hall. In view of the supernatural stillness that reigned, I remarked, suspiciously, "Johnny is very quiet, my dear." At that moment a series of pathetic mews was heard in the entry, followed by a violent scratching on the oil-cloth. Then Mopsey bounded into the room with three empty spools strung upon her tail. The spools were removed with great difficulty, especially the last one, which fitted remarkably tight. After that, Mopsey never saw a work-basket without arching her tortoise-shell back, and distending her tail to three times its natural thickness. Another child would have squeezed the kitten, or stuck a pin in it, or twisted her tail; but it was reserved for the superior genius of Johnny to string rather small spools upon it. He never did the obvious thing.

It was this fertility and happiness, if I may say so, of invention, that prevented me from being entirely dejected over my son's behavior at this period.[Pg 756] Sometimes the temptation to seize him and shake him was too strong for poor human nature. But I always regretted it afterwards. When I saw him asleep in his tiny bed, with one tear dried on his plump velvety cheek and two little mice-teeth visible through the parted lips, I couldn't help thinking what a little bit of a fellow he was, with his funny little fingers and his funny little nails; and it didn't seem to me that he was the sort of person to be pitched into by a great strong man like me.

"When Johnny grows older," I used to say to his mother, "I'll reason with him."

Now I don't know when Johnny will grow old enough to be reasoned with. When I reflect how hard it is to reason with wise grown-up people, if they happen to be unwilling to accept your view of matters, I am inclined to be very patient with Johnny, whose experience is rather limited, after all, though he is six years and a half old, and naturally wants to know why and wherefore. Somebody says something about the duty of "blind obedience," I can't expect Johnny to have more wisdom than Solomon, and to be more philosophic than the philosophers.

At times, indeed, I have been led to expect this from him. He has shown a depth of mind that warranted me in looking for anything. At times he seems as if he were a hundred years old. He has a quaint, bird-like way of cocking his head on one side, and asking a question that appears to be the result of years of study. If I could answer some of those questions, I should solve the darkest mysteries of life and death. His inquiries, however, generally have a grotesque flavor. One night, when the mosquitoes were making lively raids on his person, he appealed to me, suddenly: "How does the moon feel when a skeeter bites it?" To his meditative mind, the broad, smooth surface of the moon presented a temptation not to be resisted by any stray skeeter.

I freely confess that Johnny is now and then too much for me. I wish I could read him as cleverly as he reads me. He knows all my weak points; he sees right through me, and makes me feel that I am a helpless infant in his adroit hands. He has an argumentative, oracular air, when things have gone wrong, which always upsets my dignity. Yet how cunningly he uses his power! It is only in the last extremity that he crosses his legs, puts his hands into his trousers-pockets, and argues the case with me. One day last week he was very near coming to grief. By my directions, kindling-wood and coal are placed every morning in the library grate, in order that I may have a fire the moment I return at night. Master Johnny must needs apply a lighted match to this arrangement early in the forenoon. The fire was not discovered until the blower was one mass of red-hot iron, and the wooden mantelpiece was smoking with the intense heat.

When I came home, Johnny was led from the store-room, where he had been imprisoned from an early period, and where he had employed himself in eating about two dollars' worth of preserved pears.

"Johnny," said I, in as severe a tone as one could use in addressing a person whose forehead glistened with syrup,—"Johnny, don't you remember that I have always told you never to meddle with matches?"

It was something delicious to see Johnny trying to remember. He cast one eye meditatively up to the ceiling, then he fixed it abstractedly on the canary-bird, then he rubbed his ruffled brows with a sticky hand; but really, for the life of him, he couldn't recall any injunctions concerning matches.

"I can't, papa, truly, truly," said Johnny at length. "I guess I must have forgot it."

"Well, Johnny, in order that you may not forget it in future—"

Here Johnny was seized with an idea. He interrupted me.

"I'll tell you what you do, papa,—you just put it down in writin'."

With the air of a man who has settled[Pg 757] a question definitely, but at the same time is willing to listen politely to any crude suggestions that you may have to throw out, Johnny crossed his legs, and thrust his hands into those wonderful trousers-pockets. I turned my face aside, for I felt a certain weakness creeping into the corners of my mouth. I was lost. In an instant the little head, covered all over with yellow curls, was laid upon my knee, and Johnny was crying, "I'm so very, very sorry!"

I have said that Johnny is the terror of the neighborhood. I think I have not done the young gentleman an injustice. If there is a window broken within the radius of two miles from our house, Johnny's ball, or a stone known to come from his dexterous hand, is almost certain to be found in the battered premises. I never hear the musical jingling of splintered glass, but my porte-monnaie gives a convulsive throb in my breast-pocket. There is not a doorstep in our street that hasn't borne evidences in red chalk of his artistic ability; there isn't a bell that he hasn't rung and run away from at least three hundred times. Scarcely a day passes but he falls out of something, or over something, or into something. A ladder running up to the dizzy roof of an unfinished building is no more to be resisted by him than the back platform of a horse-car, when the conductor is collecting his fare in front.

I should not like to enumerate the battles that Johnny has fought during the past eight months. It is a physical impossibility, I should judge, for him to refuse a challenge. He picks his enemies out of all ranks of society. He has fought the ash-man's boy, the grocer's boy, the rich boys over the way, and any number of miscellaneous boys who chanced to stray into our street.

I can't say that this young desperado is always victorious. I have known the tip of his nose to be in a state of unpleasant redness for weeks together. I have known him to come home frequently with no brim to his hat; once he presented himself with only one shoe, on which occasion his jacket was split up the back in a manner that gave him the appearance of an over-ripe chestnut bursting out of its bur. How he will fight! But this I can say,—if Johnny is as cruel as Caligula, he is every bit as brave as Agamemnon. I never knew him to strike a boy smaller than himself. I never knew him to tell a lie when a lie would save him from disaster.

At present the General, as I sometimes call him, is in hospital. He was seriously wounded at the battle of The Little Go-Cart, on the 9th instant. On returning from my office yesterday evening, I found that scarred veteran stretched upon a sofa in the sitting-room, with a patch of brown paper stuck over his left eye, and a convicting smell of vinegar about him.

"Yes," said his mother, dolefully, "Johnny's been fighting again. That horrid Barnabee boy (who is eight years old, if he is a day) won't let the child alone."

"Well," said I, "I hope Johnny gave that Barnabee boy a thrashing."

"Didn't I, though?" cries Johnny, from the sofa. "I bet!"

"O Johnny!" says his mother.

Now, several days previous to this, I had addressed the General in the following terms:—

"Johnny, if I ever catch you in another fight of your own seeking, I shall cane you."

In consequence of this declaration, it became my duty to look into the circumstances of the present affair, which will be known in history as the battle of The Little Go-Cart. After going over the ground very carefully, I found the following to be the state of the case.

It seems that the Barnabee Boy—I speak of him as if he were the Benicia Boy—is the oldest pupil in the Primary Military School (I think it must be a military school) of which Johnny is a recent member. This Barnabee, having whipped every one of his companions, was sighing for new boys to conquer, when Johnny joined the institution. He at once made[Pg 758] friendly overtures of battle to Johnny, who, oddly enough, seemed indisposed to encourage his advances. Then Barnabee began a series of petty persecutions, which had continued up to the day of the fight.

On the morning of that eventful day the Barnabee Boy appeared in the school-yard with a small go-cart. After running down on Johnny several times with this useful vehicle, he captured Johnny's cap, filled it with sand, and dragged it up and down the yard triumphantly in the go-cart. This made the General very angry, of course, and he took an early opportunity of kicking over the triumphal car, in doing which he kicked one of the wheels so far into space that it has not been seen since.

This brought matters to a crisis. The battle would have taken place then and there; but at that moment the school-bell rang, and the gladiators were obliged to give their attention to Smith's Speller. But a gloom hung over the morning's exercises,—a gloom that was not dispelled in the back row, when the Barnabee Boy stealthily held up to Johnny's vision a slate, whereon was inscribed this fearful message:—

Johnny got it "put down in writin'" this time!

After a hasty glance at the slate, the General went on with his studies composedly enough. Eleven o'clock came, and with it came recess, and with recess the inevitable battle.

Now I do not intend to describe the details of this brilliant action, for the sufficient reason that, though there were seven young gentlemen (connected with the Primary School) on the field as war correspondents, their accounts of the engagement are so contradictory as to be utterly worthless. On one point they all agree,—that the contest was sharp, short, and decisive. The truth is, the General is a quick, wiry, experienced old hero; and it didn't take him long to rout the Barnabee Boy, who was in reality a coward, as all bullies and tyrants ever have been, and always will be.

I don't approve of boys fighting; I don't defend Johnny; but if the General wants an extra ration or two of preserved pear, he shall have it!

I am well aware that, socially speaking, Johnny is a Black Sheep. I know that I have brought him up badly, and that there is not an unmarried man or woman in the United States who wouldn't have brought him up very differently. It's a great pity that the only people who know how to manage children never have any! At the same time, Johnny is not a black sheep all over. He has some white spots. His sins—if wiser folks had no greater!—are the result of too much animal life. They belong to his evanescent youth, and will pass away; but his honesty, his generosity, his bravery, belong to his character, and are enduring qualities. The quickly crowding years will tame him. A good large pane of glass, or a seductive bell-knob, ceases in time to have attractions for the most reckless spirit. And I am quite confident that Johnny will be a great statesman, or a valorous soldier, or, at all events, a good citizen, after he has got over being A Young Desperado.

[Pg 759]


The First Canticle [Inferno] of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Translated by Thomas William Parsons. Boston: De Vries, Ibarra, and Company.

While we must own that we have no sympathy with the theory of free translation, we recognize the manifold merits of execution in this work, and accept it as one which, together with Mr. Longfellow's version of the whole of Dante's Divina Commedia, and Mr. Norton's translation of the Vita Nuova, will make the present year memorable in our literature. It does not necessarily stand in antagonism to works executed in a spirit entirely different, and we shall make no comparison of it with the "Inferno" by Mr. Longfellow, the admirers of which will be among the first to feel its characteristic and very striking excellences.

In substituting the decasyllabic quatrain for the triple rhyme of the Italian, we suppose Dr. Parsons desired rather to please the reader's ear with a familiar stanza, than to avoid the difficulties (exaggerated, we think, by critics) of the terza rima, and he could certainly have chosen no more felicitous form after once departing from that of his original. He has almost re-created the stanza for his purpose, giving it new movement, and successfully adapting to the exigencies of dialogue and of narrative what has hitherto chiefly been associated with elegiac and didactic poetry. Something of this may be seen in the following passages (from the description of the transit through the frozen circle of Caina), which moreover appear to us among the best sustained of the version.

"And as a frog squats croaking from a stream,
With nose put forth, what time the village maid
Oft in her slumber doth of gleaning dream,
Stood in the ice there every doleful shade.
Livid as far as where shame paints the cheek,
And doomed their faces downward still to hold.
Chattering like storks, their weeping eyes bespeak
Their aching hearts, their mouths the biting cold."
"A thousand visages I saw, by cold
Turned to dog-faces; horror chills me through
Whenever of those frozen fords I think.
And as we nearer to the centre drew,
Towards which all bodies by their weight must sink,
There, as I shivered in the eternal chill,
Trampling among the heads, it happed, by luck,
Or destiny—or, it may be, my will—
Hard in the face of one my foot I struck.
Weeping he cried, 'What brings thee bruising us?
Unless on me fresh vengeance thou wouldst pile
For Mont' Aperti, why torment me thus?'
And I: 'My Master, wait for me awhile,
That I through him may set one doubt at rest;
Then, if thou bid me hasten on, I will.'
My leader stopped; and I the shade addressed
Who kept full bitterly blaspheming still,
'Say, who art thou whose tongue so foully speaks?'
'Nay, who art thou that walk'st the withering air
Of Antemora, smiting others' cheeks
That, wert thou living, 't were too much to bear?'
'Living I am; and thou, if craving fame,
Mayst count it precious,'—this was my reply,—
'That I with other notes record thy name.'
He answered thus: 'Far other wish have I.
Trouble me now no longer,—get thee gone:
Thine is cold flattery in this waste of Hell.'
At this his hindmost hairs I fastened on,
And cried, 'Thy name! I'll force thee now to tell.
Or not one hair upon thy head shall grow.'
He answered thus: 'Although thou pluck me bare,
I'll neithertell my name, nor visage show;
Nay, though a thousand times thou rend my hair,'
"I held his tresses in my fingers wound,
And more than one tuft had I twitched away
As he, with eyes bent down, howled like a hound;
When one cried out, 'What ails thee, Bocca? say,—
Canst thou not make enough clack with thy jaws,
But thou must bark too! What fiend pricks thee now?'
'Aha!' said I, 'henceforth I have no cause
To bid thee speak, thou cursed traitor thou!
I'll shame thee, bearing truth of thee to men.'
'Away!' he answered: 'what thou wilt, relate:
But, shouldst thou get from hence with breath again,
Mention him too so ready with his prate."

The encounter of Dante with Farinata and Cavalcante in their fiery tombs is also painted with such animated and fortunate strokes that we must reproduce some of them here:—

"'O Tuscan! thou who com'st with gentle speech.
Through Hell's hot city, breathing from the earth,
Stop in this place one moment, I beseech:
Thy tongue betrays the country of thy birth.
Of that illustrious land I know thee sprung,
Which in my day perchance I somewhat vexed.'
Forth from one vault these sudden accents rung,
So that I trembling stood with fear perplexed.
Then as I closer to my master drew.[Pg 760]
'Turn back! what dost thou?' he exclaimed in haste;
'See! Farinata rises to thy view;
Now mayst behold him upward from his waist.'
"Full in his face already I was gazing,
While his front lowered, and his proud bosom swelled,
As though even there, amid his burial blazing,
The infernal realm in high disdain he held."

In this scene, however, the radical defect of Dr. Parsons's work appears: it is unequal, and unsustained even in some of its best parts. It seems scarcely credible that the poet who could produce the grand lines just given, could also mar the whole effect of the father's frantic appeal to know if his son Guido be no longer alive, by putting in his mouth the melodramatic words,

"Sayest thou, 'he had'? what mean ye! is he dead?"

But our translator does this, and he makes Ugolino report little Anselm as saying,

"Thou look'st so, father! what's the matter, what?"

—a line that Melpomene herself could not read with tragic effect,—for,

"Disse; tu guardi si, padre; che hai?"

As he likewise causes Francesca to say,

"Love quick to kindle every gentler breast
Fired this fond being with the lovely shape
Bereft me so!"


"Amor, che al cor gentil ratto s'apprende;
Prese costui della bella persona
Che mi fu tolta ";


"Where Po descends in Adria's peace to rest
Raging with all his rivulets no more,"


"Su la marina dove 'l Po descende
Per aver pace co' seguaci sui,"

Indeed, we have to confess that the present is on the whole not a satisfactory translation of the episode of Francesca da Rimini. The inscription on the gate of hell, also, is rendered in a manner scarcely to be called successful, and not bearing comparison with that of the other rhyming translators,—Ford, Wright, and Cayley. As to the beginning of the seventh canto, we must think that Dr. Parsons was chiefly moved by the prevailing sentiment of mankind to translate

"Pape Satan! pape Satan aleppe!"


"Ho! Satan! Popes—more Popes—head Satan here!"

These and other blemishes arrest the most casual glance. The merits of any work are harder to prove than its faults, though they are quite as deeply felt; and, as we have already intimated, it is the misfortune of Dr. Parsons that some of his greatest defects are in passages otherwise the most generally successful. There are probably few pages of the translation which do not offend by some lapse; but at the same time there is no page which will not command admiration by sublime and striking lines. We think the whole of the following passage from the thirteenth canto (it is the well-known description of the sentient wood into which the self-violent are turned) has a peculiar strength and dignity:—

"Amid the branches of this dismal grove,
Their loathsome nests the brutal Harpies build,
Who from the Strophades the Trojans drove
With woful auguries erelong fulfilled.
Huge wings they have, men's faces, human throats,
Feet armed with claws, vast bellies clothed with plumes:
From those strange trees they pour their doleful notes.
'Now, ere thou further penetrate these glooms,'
Said my good master, 'thou shouldst understand
Thou'rt in the second circlet, and shall be,
Until thou come upon the horrid sand.
Give good heed then: more wonders thou shall see,
Yea, to confirm all stories I have told.'
On every side I heard heart-rending cries,
But not a person could I there behold:
Wherefore I stopped, bewildered with surprise.
Methinks he thought I thought the voices came
From some that, hiding, in the thicket lay:
Because the Master said, 'If thou but maim
One of these plants, yen, pluck a branch away,
Then shall thy judgment be more just than now.'
Therefore my hand I slightly forward reached;
And while I wrenched away a little bough
From a huge bush, 'Why mangle me?' it screeched.
Then, as the dingy drops began to start,
'Why dost thou tear me?' shrieked the trunk again,
'Hast thou no touch of pity in thy heart?
We that now here are planted, once were men;
But, were we serpents' souls, thy hand might shame
To have no more compassion on our woes';
Like a green log, that hisses in the flame,
Groaning at one end, as the other glows,—
Even as the wind comes sputtering forth, I say,
Thus oozed together from the splintered wood
Both words and blood. I dropped the broken spray,
And, like a coward, faint and trembling stood."

This picture, also, of the apparition of the angel who opens the gates of Dis is done with a hand as firm as it is free:[Pg 761]

"As frogs before their enemy, the snake,
Quick scattering through the pool in timid shoals,
On the dankooze a huddling cluster makes'
I saw above a thousand mined souls
Flying from one who passed the Stygian bog,
With feet unmoistened by the sludgy wave;
Oft from his face his left hand brushed the fog
Whose weight alone, it seemed, annoyance gave.
At once the messenger of Heaven I kenned,
And toward my master turned, who made a sign
That hushed I should remain, and lowly bend.
Ah me, how full he looked of scorn divine!"

Ornithology and Oölogy of New England: containing full Descriptions of the Birds of New England, and adjoining States and Provinces, arranged by a long-approved Classification and Nomenclature; together with a complete History of their Habits, Times of Arrival and Departure, their Distribution, Food, Song, Time of Breeding, and a careful and accurate Description of their Nests and Eggs; with Illustrations of many Species of the Birds, and accurate Figures of their Eggs. By Edward A. Samuels, Curator of Zoölogy in the Massachusetts State Cabinet. Boston: Nichols and Noyes.

The strong point of this book is, that it monopolizes the ground, and has no rivals. While no branch of natural history has called forth in America such arduous research as ornithology, or such eloquent writing, there has yet been for many years no popular manual in print. Audubon, Wilson, Nuttall, are all practically inaccessible to the ordinary purchaser. Moreover, there have been great advances in scientific classification, and also in field knowledge, since those earlier works appeared. There is therefore an admirable field for any new writer.

Mr. Samuels frankly acknowledges on his first page that he is mainly indebted to Professor Baird of the Smithsonian Institute for what is by far the most valuable portion of his book,—the classification, the nomenclature, and the generic and specific descriptions. He is only responsible for the popular descriptions; but even these consist so very largely of quotations that the whole book must evidently be judged rather as a compilation than as an original work.

Considered as a compilation, it is valuable, though its title-page unfortunately promises more than any work on natural history ever yet performed, and so prepares the way for disappointment. Mr. Samuels appears to be a zealous and accurate ornithologist, with plenty of field-knowledge, but very little descriptive power. Being apparently conscious of this, he is shy of delineating the rarer birds, because he does not personally know them, while he passes hastily over the more familiar, because "their habits are known to all." This last piece of abstinence is greatly to be regretted. For a local manual has two main objects, to furnish to young students the means of identifying species, and to give remote students the means of comparing species. For both purposes the commonest birds are most important, since everybody begins with these. A boy wishes, for instance, to identify the wood-thrush; or a Southern naturalist wishes to compare its traits with those of the mocking-bird. He finds that in this book the wood-thrush is dismissed with two pages, while there is a quotation from Wilson seven pages long upon the habits of the mocking-bird. When will naturalists learn that the first duty of each observer is to make a thorough study of his own locality, and meanwhile to let the rest of the world alone?

One looks in vain in these pages for any good description of the song-sparrow, the blue-bird, the blue-jay, the kingfisher, or the oriole. These birds are allowed but a page or two each, although, for some reason, more liberal space is given to the robin and the crow. But there is no bird so familiar that it does not offer subjects for interesting speculation and study. The pretty nocturnal trill of the hairbird; the remarkable change which civilization has wrought in the habits of the cliff-swallow; the disputed question whether the cat-bird is or is not a mocker;—these and a hundred similar points relate to very common birds, and are accordingly unnoticed by Mr. Samuels. Eggs really interest him, and his descriptions and measurements of these constitute the most original part of the book, and are highly valuable. On the other hand, the notes of birds are very inadequately described, and sometimes not at all; he does not mention that the loon has a voice.

Again, he does full justice to the chronology of bird biography, and gives ample dates as to their coming and going, nesting and hatching. But as to their geographical distribution the information is scanty, and not always quite reliable. Thus the snowy-owl is described (p. 78) as occurring "principally on the sea-coast," whereas it is tolerably[Pg 762] abundant in the very heart of Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc.; the snow-bird is described as nesting in the White Mountains (p. 314), while the more remarkable fact that it nests on Monadnock is omitted; the meadow-lark is described as only remaining in New England through "mild winters" (p. 344), whereas near Newport it remains during the coldest seasons, more abundantly than any other conspicuous bird. These, however, are subordinate points, and there is no important matter in which we have seen any reason to impugn the author's accuracy.

The inequality which marks the internal execution of this book marks also its externals. The plates of eggs—four in number, comprising thirty eggs—are admirable; while the plates representing birds are Of the most mediocre description, and do discredit to the work. With all these merits and demerits, the book is of much value, because an unsatisfactory manual is far better than none. It does not take the place of that revised edition of Nuttall, which is still the great desideratum, but we may use meanwhile an eminently ornithological proverb, and say that a Samuels in the hand is worth two Nuttalls in the bush.

Richmond during the War. Four Years of Personal Observation. By a Richmond Lady. New York: G. W. Carleton and Company.

Mr. Curtis, in his charming book, "Prue and I," speaks of the novel effect of landscape which Mr. Titbottom got by putting down his head, and regarding the prospect between his knees; and we suppose that most ingenious boys, young and old, have similarly contemplated nature, and will understand what we mean when we say that the world shows to much the same advantage through the books of Southern writers. Especially in Southern histories of the late war is the effect noticeable. The general outline is the same as when viewed in the more conventional manner, with ideas and principles right side up; the objects are the same, the events and results are the same; but there is a curious glamour over all, and the spectator has a mystical feeling of topsy-turvy, ending in vertigo and a disordered stomach.

The present book is in the spirit of all other subjugated literature concerning the war,—a vainglorious and boastful spirit as to events that led only to the destruction of the political power of the South; a wronged and forgiving, if not quite cheerful, spirit as to the end itself. Vivid and powerful presentation of facts would not perhaps be expected of an author who calls herself "A Richmond Lady," and there is nothing of the sort in the book. It contains sketches of public Rebels in civil and military station, washed in with the raw yellows, reds, and blues of Southern eulogy; and there is a great deal of gossip concerning private life in Richmond, where everybody appears to have spoken and acted during the four years of the war as if in the presence of the photographers and short-hand writers, and with an eye single to the impression upon posterity. It is an eloquent book, and—need we say?—a dull one.

Kathrina: her Life and mine, in a Poem, By J. G. Holland, Author of "Bitter-Sweet." New York: Charles Scribner and Company.

Let us tell without any caricature of ours, in prose that shall be just if not generous, the story of Mr. Holland's hero as we have gathered it from the work which the author, for reasons of his own, calls a poem.

The petted son of a rich widow in Northampton, Massachusetts, whose father has killed himself in a moment of insanity, reaches the age of fourteen years without great event, when his mother takes him to visit a lady friend living on the other side of the Connecticut River. In this lady's door-yard the hero finds a little lamb tethered in the grass, and decked with a necklace of scarlet ribbon, and, having a mind for a frolic with the pretty animal, the boy unties it. Instantly it slips its tether from his hand, leaps the fence, and runs to the top of the nearest mountain, whither he follows it, and where, exalted by the magnificence of the landscape, he is for the first time conscious of being a poet. Returning to his anxious mother, she too is aware of some wondrous change in him, and says:

"My Paul has climbed the noblest mountain height
In all his little world, and gazed on scenes
As beautiful as rest beneath the sun.
I trust he will remember all his life
That to his best achievement, and the spot
Nearest to heaven his youthful feet have trod,
He has been guided by a guileless lamb.
It is an omen which his mother's heart
Will treasure with her jewels."

Resolved to give him the best educational[Pg 763] advantages his mother sends him to Mr. Bancroft's school; or, as Mr. Holland sings, permits him

"To climb the goodly eminence where he
In whose profound and stately pages live
His country's annals, ruled his little realm."

Here the hero surpasses all the other boys in everything, and but repeats his triumphs later when he goes to Amherst College. His mother lives upon the victories which he despises; but at last she yields to the taint which was in her own blood as well as her husband's, and destroys herself. The son, who was aware of her suicidal tendency, and had once overheard her combating it in prayer, curses the God who would not listen to her and help her, and rejects Him from his scheme of life.

In due time he falls in love with Kathrina, a young lady whom he first sees on the occasion of her public reception into the Congregational Church at Hadley. Later he learns that she is staying with the lady whose pet lamb led him such a chase,—that she is in fact her niece, and that she has seen better days. We must say that this good lady does everything in her power to make a match between the young people; and she is more pleased than surprised at the success of her efforts. It has been the hero's idea that human love will fill up the void left in his life by the rejection of God and religion; but he soon finds himself vaguely unhappy and unsatisfied, and he determines to glut his heart with literary fame. He goes, therefore, to New York, and succeeds as a poet beyond all his dreams of success. For ten years he is the most popular of authors; but he sickens of his facile triumph, and imagines that to be happy he must write to please himself, and not the multitude. He writes with this idea, but pleases nobody, and is as unhappy as ever.

Meanwhile, Kathrina has fallen into a decline. On her death-bed she tells him that it is religion alone which can appease and satisfy him; but she pleads with him in vain, till one day, when he enters her room, and is startled by a strange coincidence: the lamb, which led him to the mountain-top and the consciousness of poetic power, had a scarlet ribbon on its neck, and now he finds this ribbon

"at her throat
Repeated in a bright geranium-flower!"

Then Kathrina tells him that his mother's spirit has talked with her, and bidden her say to him this:—

"The lamb has slipped the leash by which his hand
Held her in thrall, and seeks the mountain-height;
And he, if he reclaim her to his grasp,
Must follow where she leads, and kneel at last
Upon the summit by her side. And more,
Give him my promise that, if he do this,
He shall receive from that fair altitude
Such a vision of the realm that lies around,
Cleft by the river of immortal life,
As shall so lift him from his selfishness,
And so enlarge his soul, that he shall stand
Redeemed from all unworthiness, and saved
To happiness and heaven."

Whereupon, having delivered her message, Kathrina bids him kneel. It is the supreme moment of her life. He hears his mother's voice, and the voice of the innumerable heavenly host, and even the voice of God repeating her mandate. He kneels, and she bids him pray, and, as before, all the celestial voices repeat her bidding. He prays and is saved.

Such is the story of Kathrina, or rather of Kathrina's husband, for she is herself scarcely other than a name for a series of arguments, with little of the flesh and blood of a womanly personality. We have too much reverence for high purposes in literature not to applaud Mr. Holland's good intent in this work, and we accept fully his theory of letters and of life. Both are meagre and unsatisfactory as long as their motive is low; both must yield unhappiness and self-despite till religion inform them. This is the common experience of man; this is the burden of the sayings of the sage from the time of Solomon to the time of Mr. Holland; and we can all acknowledge its truth, however we may differ as to the essence of religion itself. But we conceive that repetition of this truth in a long poem demands of the author an excellence, or of the reader a patience, all but superhuman.

How Mr. Holland has met the extraordinary demand upon his powers is partly evident from the outline of the poem as we have given it. It must be owned that it is rather a feeble fancy which unites two vital epochs by the incident of the truant lambkin, and that the plot of the poem does not in any way reveal a great faculty of invention. A parable, moreover, teaches only so far as it is true to life; and in a tale professing to deal with persons of our own day and country, we have a right to expect some fidelity to our contemporaries and neighbors. But we find nothing of this in "Kathrina,"—not even in the incident of a young gentleman of fourteen sporting with a lambkin; or in the talk of young people who make love in long arguments concerning[Pg 764] the nature and office of genius and the intermediary functions of the teacher. Polemically considered, there is nothing very wrong in the discussions between those metaphysical lovers, and no one need raise the question as to how far Kathrina's peculiar ideas are applicable to the work of genius bearing her name.

"The greatest artists speak to fewest souls,
... The bread that comes from heaven
Needs finest breaking. Some there doubtless are,
Some ready souls, that take the morsel pure
Divided to their need; but multitudes
Must have it in admixtures, menstruums,
And forms that human hands or human life
Have moulded."

Such passages, though they add nothing to the verisimilitude of Kathrina's character, help to make her appear consistent in not laughing at a certain weird poem which her lover reads to her. Few ladies in real life, however great a tenderness they might feel for a morbid young poet, could practise Kathrina's self-control, when, depicting himself as a godless youth imprisoned by phantoms "among the elves of the silent land," he sings:

"Under the charred and ghastly gloom,
Over the flinty stones,
They led him forth to his terrible doom,
And, plunged in a deep and noisome tomb,
They sat him among the bones."

Where, crouching, he beholds, through a "loop" in the wall, "a sweet angel from the skies":—

"Could she not loose him from his thrall,
And lead him into the light?
'Ah me!' he murmured, 'I dare not call,
Lest she may doubt it a goblin's waul,
And leave me in swift affright!'"

The question is of the poet himself, immersed in his own gloomy thoughts, and of Kathrina, who could rescue him from them; but she has heard "only a wild, weird story," and her lover is obliged to explain it, and still we are to suppose that she did not laugh. Nay, we are told that she instantly accepted the poet, who exclaims:

"Are there not lofty moments when the soul
Leaps to the front of being, casting off
The robes and clumsy instruments of sense,
And, postured in its immortality,
Reveals its independence of the clod
In which it dwells?—moments in which the earth
And all material things, all sights and sounds,
All signals, ministries, interpreters,
Relapse to nothing, and the interflow
Of thought and feeling, love and life, go on
Between two spirits, raised to sympathy
The body dust, within an orb outlined,
It shall go on forever?"

We have no reason to suppose that this is not thought a fine passage by the author, who will doubtless find readers enough to agree with him, if he should not care to accept our estimate of his whole poem. Nevertheless, we must confess that it appears to us puerile in conception, destitute of due motive, and crude and inartistic in treatment. But we should be unjust both to ourselves and our author, if we left his work without some allusion to its highly embellished style, or, having failed to approve the whole design, refused to notice at all the elaborate ornamentation of the parts. Not to be guilty, then, of this unfairness, let us cull here some of the fanciful tropes and figures which enamel these flowery pages. The oriole is "a torch of downy flame"; the "reiterant katydids rasp the mysterious silence"; a mother's loss and sorrow are "twin leeches at her heart"; the frosty landscape is "fulgent with downy crystals"; Kathrina wears a "pale-blue muslin robe," which the hero fancies "dyed with forget-me-nots"; and the landscape has usually some effect of dry-goods to the poet's eye. We might almost believe that this passage,

"We touched the hem
Of the dark mountain's robe, that falls in folds
Of emerald sward around his feet, and there
Upon its tufted velvet we sat down,"

was inspired by perusal of Dr. Holmes's ode to "Evening—by a Tailor":—

"Day hath put on his jacket, and around
His burning bosom buttoned it with stars
Here will I lay me on the velvet grass,
That is like padding to earth's meagre ribs."

But Mr. Holland's fancy is of a quality which transcends all feigning in others. Whatever it touches it figures in gross material substance, preferably wood or some sort of upholstery. When, however, his hero first stood in Broadway, he seems to have found no fabric of the looms, no variety of plumage, no sort of precious wood or dye-stuff equal to the allegory, and he wreaks himself in the following tremendous hydraulic image;—

"I saw the waves of life roll up the steps
Of great cathedrals and retire; and break
In charioted grandeur at the feet
Of marble palaces, and toss their spray
Of feathered beauty through the open doors,
To pile the restless foam within; and burst
On crowded caravansaries, to fall
In quick return; and in dark currents glide
Through sinuous alleys, and the grimy loops
Of reeking cellars, and with softest plash
Assail the gilded shrines of opulence,
And slide in musical relapse away."

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No.
122, December, 1867, by Various


***** This file should be named 28630-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by Cornell University Digital Collections.)

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at

Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.

Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at

Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations.
To donate, please visit:

Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.