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57, No. 351, January 1845, by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine -- Volume 57, No. 351, January 1845

Author: Various

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No. CCCLI.  JANUARY, 1845.  Vol. LVII.



Homer, Dante, and Michael Angelo, 1
Settled at Last, Or, Red River Recollections, 18
Borodino. An Ode, 30
A Ramble in Montenegro, 33
Æsthetics of Dress. a Case of Hats, 51
The Three Guardsmen, 59
Marston; Or the Memoirs of a Statesman. Part XV., 75
Janus: From the Fasti of Ovid, 94
To a Blind Girl, 98
The Forced Sale, 99
Vanities in Verse. by B. Simmons, 114
Coleridge and Opium-eating, 117





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volume page

[Pg 1]



No. CCCLI. JANUARY, 1845. Vol. LVII.



There is something inexpressibly striking, it may almost be said awful, in the fame of Homer. Three thousand years have elapsed since the bard of Chios began to pour forth his strains; and their reputation, so far from declining, is on the increase. Successive nations are employed in celebrating his works; generation after generation of men are fascinated by his imagination. Discrepancies of race, of character, of institutions, of religion, of age, of the world, are forgotten in the common worship of his genius. In this universal tribute of gratitude, modern Europe vies with remote antiquity, the light Frenchman with the volatile Greek, the impassioned Italian with the enthusiastic German, the sturdy Englishman with the unconquerable Roman, the aspiring Russian with the proud American. Seven cities, in ancient times, competed for the honour of having given him birth, but seventy nations have since been moulded by his productions. He gave a mythology to the ancients; he has given the fine arts to the modern world. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Juno, are still household words in every tongue; Vulcan is yet the god of fire, Neptune of the ocean, Venus of love. When Michael Angelo and Canova strove to embody their conceptions of heroism or beauty, they portrayed the heroes of the Iliad. Flaxman's genius was elevated to the highest point in embodying its events. Epic poets, in subsequent times, have done little more than imitate his machinery, copy his characters, adopt his similes, and, in a few instances, improve upon his descriptions. Painting and statuary, for two thousand years, have been employed in striving to portray, by the pencil or the chisel, his yet breathing conceptions. Language and thought itself have been moulded by the influence of his poetry. Images of wrath are still taken from Achilles, of pride from Agamemnon, of astuteness from Ulysses, of patriotism from Hector, of tenderness from Andromache, of age from Nestor. The galleys of Rome were, the line-of-battle ships of France and England still are, called after his heroes. The Agamemnon long bore the flag of Nelson; the Ajax perished by the flames within sight of the tomb of the Telamonian hero, on the shores of the Hellespont; the Achilles was blown up at the battle of Trafalgar. Alexander the Great ran round the tomb of Achilles before undertaking the conquest of Asia. It was the boast of Napoleon that his mother reclined on tapestry representing the heroes of the Iliad, when he was brought into the world. The greatest poets of ancient and modern times have spent their lives in the study of his genius or the imitation of his works. Withdraw from subsequent poetry the images, mythology, and characters of the Iliad, and what would remain? Petrarch spent his best years in restoring his verses. Tasso portrayed the siege[Pg 2] of Jerusalem, and the shock of Europe and Asia, almost exactly as Homer had done the contest of the same forces, on the same shores, two thousand five hundred years before. Milton's old age, when blind and poor, was solaced by hearing the verses recited of the poet, to whose conceptions his own mighty spirit had been so much indebted; and Pope deemed himself fortunate in devoting his life to the translation of the Iliad.

No writer in modern times has equalled the wide-spread fame of the Grecian bard; but it may be doubted whether, in the realms of thought, and in sway over the reflecting world, the influence of Dante has not been almost as considerable. Little more than five hundred years, indeed, have elapsed—not a sixth of the thirty centuries which have tested the strength of the Grecian patriarch—since the immortal Florentine poured forth his divine conceptions; but yet there is scarcely a writer of eminence since that time, in works even bordering on imagination, in which traces of his genius are not to be found. The Inferno has penetrated the world. If images of horror are sought after, it is to his works that all subsequent ages have turned; if those of love and divine felicity are desired, all turn to the Paradise and the Spirit of Beatrice. When the historians of the French Revolution wished to convey an idea of the utmost agonies they were called on to portray, they contented themselves with saying it equalled all that the imagination of Dante had conceived of the terrible. Sir Joshua Reynolds has exerted his highest genius in depicting the frightful scene described by him, when Ugolino perished of hunger in the tower of Pisa. Alfieri, Metastasio, Corneille, Lope de Vega, and all the great masters of the tragic muse, have sought in his works the germs of their finest conceptions. The first of these tragedians marked two-thirds of the Inferno and Paradiso as worthy of being committed to memory. Modern novelists have found in his prolific mind the storehouse from which they have drawn their noblest imagery, the chord by which to strike the profoundest feelings of the human heart. Eighty editions of his poems have been published in Europe within the last half century; and the public admiration, so far from being satiated, is augmenting. Every scholar knows how largely Milton was indebted to his poems for many of his most powerful images. Byron inherited, though often at second hand, his mantle, in many of his most moving conceptions. Schiller has embodied them in a noble historic mirror; and the dreams of Goethe reveal the secret influence of the terrible imagination which portrayed the deep remorse and hopeless agonies of Malebolge.

Michael Angelo has exercised an influence on modern art little, if at all, inferior to that produced on the realms of thought by Homer and Dante. The father of Italian painting, the author of the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel, he was, at the same time, the restorer of ancient sculpture, and the intrepid architect who placed the Pantheon in the air. Raphael confessed, that he owed to the contemplation of his works his most elevated conceptions of their divine art. Sculpture, under his original hand, started from the slumber of a thousand years, in all the freshness of youthful vigour; architecture, in subsequent times, has sought in vain to equal, and can never hope to surpass, his immortal monument in the matchless dome of St Peters. He found painting in its infancy—he left it arrived at absolute perfection. He first demonstrated of what that noble art is capable. In the Last Judgment he revealed its wonderful powers, exhibiting, as it were, at one view, the whole circles of Dante's Inferno—portraying with terrible fidelity the agonies of the wicked, when the last trumpet shall tear the veil from their faces, and exhibit in undisguised truth that most fearful of spectacles—a naked human heart. Casting aside, perhaps with undue contempt, the adventitious aids derived from finishing, colouring, and execution, he threw the whole force of his genius into the design, the expression of the features, the drawing of the figures. There never was such a delineator of bone and muscle as Michael Angelo. His frescoes stand out in bold relief from the walls of the Vatican, like the sculptures of Phidias from the pediment of the Parthenon.[Pg 3] He was the founder of the school of painting both at Rome and Florence—that great school which, disdaining the representation of still life, and all the subordinate appliances of the art, devoted itself to the representation of the grand and the beautiful; to the expression of passion in all its vehemence—of emotion in all its intensity. His incomparable delineation of bones and muscles was but a means to an end; it was the human heart, the throes of human passion, that his master-hand laid bare. Raphael congratulated himself, and thanked God that he had given him life in the same age with that painter; and Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his last address to the Academy, "reflected, not without vanity, that his Discourses bore testimony to his admiration of that truly divine man, and desired that the last words he pronounced in that academy, and from that chair, might be the name of Michael Angelo."[1]

The fame of these illustrious men has long been placed beyond the reach of cavil. Criticism cannot reach, envy cannot detract from, emulation cannot equal them. Great present celebrity, indeed, is no guarantee for future and enduring fame; in many cases, it is the reverse, but there is a wide difference between the judgment of the present and that of future ages. The favour of the great, the passions of the multitude, the efforts of reviewers, the interest of booksellers, a clique of authors, a coterie of ladies, accidental events, degrading propensities, often enter largely into the composition of present reputation. But opinion is freed from all these disturbing influences by the lapse of time. The grave is the greatest of all purifiers. Literary jealousy, interested partiality, vulgar applause, exclusive favour, alike disappear before the hand of death. We never can be sufficiently distrustful of present opinion, so largely is it directed by passion or interest. But we may rely with confidence on the judgment of successive generations on departed eminence; for it is detached from the chief cause of present aberration. So various are the prejudices, so contradictory the partialities and predilections of men, in different countries and ages of the world, that they never can concur through a course of centuries in one opinion, if it is not founded in truth and justice. The vox populi is often little more than the vox diaboli; but the voice of ages is the voice of God.

It is of more moment to consider in what the greatness of these illustrious men really consists—to what it has probably been owing—and in what particulars they bear an analogy to each other.

They are all three distinguished by one peculiarity, which doubtless entered largely into their transcendent merit—they wrote in the infancy of civilization. Homer, as all the world knows, is the oldest profane author in existence. Dante flourished about the year 1300: he lived at a time when the English barons lived in rooms strewed with rushes, and few of them could sign their names. The long life of Michael Angelo, extending from 1474 to 1564, over ninety years, if not passed in the infancy of civilization, was at least passed in the childhood of the arts: before his time, painting was in its cradle. Cimabue had merely unfolded the first dawn of beauty at Florence; and the stiff figures of Pietro Perugino, which may be traced in the first works of his pupil Raphael, still attest the backward state of the arts at Rome. This peculiarity, applicable alike to all these three great men, is very remarkable, and beyond all question had a powerful influence, both in forming their peculiar character, and elevating them to the astonishing greatness which they speedily attained.

It gave them—what Johnson has justly termed the first requisite to human greatness—self-confidence. They were the first—at least the first known to themselves and their contemporaries—who adventured on their several arts; and thus they proceeded fearlessly in their great career. They had neither critics to fear, nor lords to flatter, nor former excellence to imitate. They portrayed with the pencil, or in verse, what they severally felt, undisturbed by fear, unswayed by example, unsolicitous about fame,[Pg 4] unconscious of excellence. They did so for the first time. Thence the freshness and originality, the vigour and truth, the simplicity and raciness by which they are distinguished. Shakspeare owed much of his greatness to the same cause; and thence his similarity, in many respects, to these great masters of his own or the sister arts. When Pope asked Bentley what he thought of his translation of the Iliad, the scholar replied, "You have written a pretty book, Mr Pope; but you must not call it Homer." Bentley was right. With all its pomp of language and melody of versification, its richness of imagery and magnificence of diction, Pope's Homer is widely different from the original. He could not avoid it. The "awful simplicity of the Grecian bard, his artless grandeur and unaffected majesty," will be sought for in vain in the translation; but if they had appeared there, it would have been unreadable in that age. Michael Angelo, in his bold conceptions, energetic will, and rapid execution, bears a close resemblance to the father of poetry. In both, the same faults, as we esteem them, are conspicuous, arising from a too close imitation of nature, and a carelessness in rejecting images or objects which are of an ordinary or homely description. Dante was incomparably more learned than either: he followed Virgil in his descent to the infernal regions; and exhibits an intimate acquaintance with ancient history, as well as that of the modern Italian states, in the account of the characters he meets in that scene of torment. But in his own line he was entirely original. Homer and Virgil had, in episodes of their poems, introduced a picture of the infernal regions; but nothing on the plan of Dante's Inferno had before been thought of in the world. With much of the machinery of the ancients, it bears the stamp of the spiritual faith of modern times. It lays bare the heart in a way unknown even to Homer and Euripides. It reveals the inmost man in a way which bespeaks the centuries of self-reflection in the cloister which had preceded it. It is the basis of all the spiritual poetry of modern, as the Iliad is of all the external imagery of ancient, times.

In this respect there is a most grievous impediment to genius in later, or, as we term them, more civilized times, from which, in earlier ages, it is wholly exempt. Criticism, public opinion, the dread of ridicule—then too often crush the strongest minds. The weight of former examples, the influence of early habits, the halo of long-established reputation, force original genius from the untrodden path of invention into the beaten one of imitation. Early talent feels itself overawed by the colossus which all the world adores; it falls down and worships, instead of conceiving. The dread of ridicule extinguishes originality in its birth. Immense is the incubus thus laid upon the efforts of genius. It is the chief cause of the degradation of taste, the artificial style, the want of original conception, by which the literature of old nations is invariably distinguished. The early poet or painter who portrays what he feels or has seen, with no anxiety but to do so powerfully and truly, is relieved of a load which crushes his subsequent compeers to the earth. Mediocrity is ever envious of genius—ordinary capacity of original thought. Such envy in early times is innocuous or does not exist, at least to the extent which is felt as so baneful in subsequent periods. But in a refined and enlightened age, its influence becomes incalculable. Whoever strikes out a new region of thought or composition, whoever opens a fresh vein of imagery or excellence, is persecuted by the critics. He disturbs settled ideas, endangers established reputations, brings forward rivals to dominant fame. That is sufficient to render him the enemy of all the existing rulers in the world of taste. Even Jeffrey seriously lamented, in one of his first reviews of Scott's poems, that he should have identified himself with the unpicturesque and expiring images of feudality, which no effort could render poetical. Racine's tragedies were received with such a storm of criticism as wellnigh cost the sensitive author his life; and Rousseau was so rudely handled by contemporary writers on his first appearance, that it confirmed him in his morbid hatred of civilization. The vigour of these great men, indeed, overcame the obstacles created by contemporary envy; but how seldom, especially in a[Pg 5] refined age, can genius effect such a prodigy? how often is it crushed in the outset of its career, or turned aside into the humble and unobtrusive path of imitation, to shun the danger with which that of originality is beset!

Milton's Paradise Lost contains many more lines of poetic beauty than Homer's Iliad; and there is nothing in the latter poem of equal length, which will bear any comparison with the exquisite picture of the primeval innocence of our First Parents in his fourth book. Nevertheless, the Iliad is a more interesting poem than the Paradise Lost; and has produced and will produce a much more extensive impression on mankind. The reason is, that it is much fuller of event, is more varied, is more filled with images familiar to all mankind, and is less lost in metaphysical or philosophical abstractions. Homer, though the father of poets, was essentially dramatic; he was an incomparable painter; and it is his dramatic scenes, the moving panorama of his pictures, which fascinates the world. He often speaks to the heart, and is admirable in the delineation of character; but he is so, not by conveying the inward feeling, but by painting with matchless fidelity its external symptoms, or putting into the mouths of his characters the precise words they would have used in similar circumstances in real life. Even his immortal parting of Hector and Andromache is no exception to this remark; he paints the scene at the Scæan gate exactly as it would have occurred in nature, and moves us as if we had seen the Trojan hero taking off his helmet to assuage the terrors of his infant son, and heard the lamentations of his mother at parting with her husband. But he does not lay bare the heart, with the terrible force of Dante, by a line or a word. There is nothing in Homer which conveys so piercing an idea of misery as the line in the Inferno, where the Florentine bard assigns the reason of the lamentations of the spirits in Malebolge—

"Questi non hanno speranza di morte."

"These have not the hope of death." There speaks the spiritual poet; he does not paint to the eye, he does not even convey character by the words he makes then utter; he pierces by a single expression, at once to the heart.

Milton strove to raise earth to heaven: Homer brought down heaven to earth. The latter attempt was a much easier one than the former; it was more consonant to human frailty; and, therefore, it has met with more success. The gods and goddesses in the Iliad are men and women, endowed with human passions, affections, and desires, and distinguished only from sublunary beings by superior power and the gift of immortality. We are interested in them as we are in the genii or magicians of an eastern romance. There is a sort of aërial epic poem going on between earth and heaven. They take sides in the terrestrial combat, and engage in the actual strife with the heroes engaged in it. Mars and Venus were wounded by Diomede when combating in the Trojan ranks; their blood, or rather the

"Ichor which blest immortals shed,"

flowed profusely; they fled howling to the palaces of heaven. Enlightened by a spiritual faith, fraught with sublime ideas of the divine nature and government, Milton was incomparably more just in his descriptions of the Supreme Being, and more elevated in his picture of the angels and arch-angels who carried on the strife in heaven; but he frequently falls into metaphysical abstractions or theological controversies, which detract from the interest of his poem.

Despite Milton's own opinion, the concurring voice of all subsequent ages and countries has assigned to the Paradise Regained a much lower place than to the Paradise Lost. The reason is, that it is less dramatic—it has less incident and action. Great part of the poem is but an abstract theological debate between our Saviour and Satan. The speeches he makes them utter are admirable, the reasoning is close, the arguments cogent, the sentiments elevated in the speakers, but dialectic too. In many of the speeches of the angel Raphael, and in the council of heaven, in the Paradise Lost there is too much of that species of discussion for a poem which is to interest the generality of men. Dryden says, that Satan is Milton's[Pg 6] real hero; and every reader of the Paradise Lost must have felt, that in the Prince of Darkness, and Adam and Eve, the interest of the poem consists. The reason is, that the vices of the first, and the weakness of the two last, bring them nearer than any other characters in the poem to the standard of mortality; and we are so constituted, that we cannot take any great interest but in persons who share in our failings.

Perhaps the greatest cause of the sustained interest of the Iliad is the continued and vehement action which is maintained. The attention is seldom allowed to flag. Either in the council of the gods, the assembly of the Grecian or Trojan chiefs, or the contest of the leaders on the field of battle, an incessant interest is maintained. Great events are always on the wing: the issue of the contest is perpetually hanging, often almost even, in the balance. It is the art with which this is done, and a state of anxious suspense, like the crisis of a great battle kept up, that the great art of the poet consists. It is done by making the whole dramatic—bringing the characters forward constantly to speak for themselves, making the events succeed each other with almost breathless rapidity, and balancing success alternately from one side to the other, without letting it ever incline decisively to either. Tasso has adopted the same plan in his Jerusalem Delivered, and the contests of the Christian knights and Saracen leaders with the lance and the sword, closely resemble those of the Grecian and Trojan chiefs on the plain of Troy. Ariosto has carried it still further. The exploits of his Paladins—their adventures on earth, in air, and water; their loves, their sufferings, their victories, their dangers—keep the reader in a continual state of suspense. It is this sustained and varied interest which makes so many readers prefer the Orlando Furioso to the Jerusalem Delivered. But Ariosto has pushed it too far. In the search of variety, he has lost sight of unity. His heroes are not congregated round the banners of two rival potentates; there is no one object or interest in his poem. No narrow plain, like that watered by the Scamander, is the theatre of their exploits. Jupiter, from the summit of Gargarus, could not have beheld the contending armies. The most ardent imagination, indeed, is satiated with his adventures, but the closest attention can hardly follow their thread. Story after story is told, the exploits of knight after knight are recounted, till the mind is fatigued, the memory perplexed, and all general interest in the poem lost.

Milton has admirably preserved the unity of his poem; the grand and all-important object of the fall of man could hardly admit of subordinate or rival interests. But the great defect in the Paradise Lost, arising from that very unity, is want of variety. It is strung throughout on too lofty a key; it does not come down sufficiently to the wants and cravings of mortality. The mind is awe-struck by the description of Satan careering through the immensity of space, of the battle of the angels, of the fall of Lucifer, of the suffering, and yet unsubdued spirit of his fellow rebels, of the adamantine gates, and pitchy darkness, and burning lake of hell. But after the first feeling of surprise and admiration is over, it is felt by all, that these lofty contemplations are not interesting to mortals like ourselves. They are too much above real life—too much out of the sphere of ordinary event and interest.

The fourth book is the real scene of interest in the Paradise Lost; it is its ravishing scenes of primeval innocence and bliss which have given it immortality. We are never tired of recurring to the bower of Eve, to her devotion to Adam, to the exquisite scenes of Paradise, its woods, its waters, its flowers, its enchantments. We are so, because we feel that it paints the Elysium to which all aspire, which all have for a brief period felt, but which none in this world can durably enjoy.

No one can doubt that Homer was endowed with the true poetic spirit, and yet there is very little of what we now call poetry in his writings. There is neither sentiment nor declamation—painting nor reflection. He is neither descriptive nor didactic. With great powers for portraying nature, as the exquisite choice of his epithets, and the occasional force of his[Pg 7] similes prove, he never makes any laboured attempt to delineate her features. He had the eye of a great painter; but his pictorial talents are employed, almost unconsciously, in the fervour of narrating events, or the animation of giving utterance to thoughts. He painted by an epithet or a line. Even the celebrated description of the fires in the plain of Troy, likened to the moon in a serene night, is contained in seven lines. His rosy-fingered morn—cloud-compelling Jupiter—Neptune, stiller of the waves—Aurora rising from her crocus bed—Night drawing her veil over the heavens—the black keel careering through the lashing waves—the shout of the far-sounding sea—and the like, from which subsequent poets and dramatists have borrowed so largely, are all brief allusions, or epithets, which evidently did not form the main object of his strains. He was a close observer of nature—its lights, its shades, its storms and calms, its animals, their migrations, their cries and habits; but he never suspends his narrative to describe them. We shall look in vain in the Iliad, and even the Odyssey, for the lengthened pictures of scenery which are so frequent in Virgil and Tasso, and appear in such rich profusion in Milton. He describes storms only as objects of terror, not to paint them to the eye. Such things are to be found in the book of Job and in the Psalms, but with the same brevity and magical force of emphatic expression. There never was a greater painter of nature than Homer; there never was a man who aimed less at being so.

The portraying of character and event was the great and evident object of the Grecian bard; and there his powers may almost be pronounced unrivalled. He never tells you, unless it is sometimes to be inferred on an epithet, what the man's character that he introduces is. He trusts to the character to delineate itself. He lets us get acquainted with his heroes, as we do with persons around us, by hearing them speak, and seeing them act. In preserving character, in this dramatic way of representing it, he is unrivalled. He does not tell you that Nestor had the garrulity of age, and loved to recur to the events of his youth; but he never makes him open his mouth without descanting on the adventures of his early years, and the degenerate race of mortals who have succeeded the paladins of former days. He does not tell us that Achilles was wrathful and impetuous; but every time he speaks, the anger of the son of Peleus comes boiling over his lips. He does not describe Agamemnon as overbearing and haughty; but the pride of the king of men is continually appearing in his words and actions, and it is the evident moral of the Iliad to represent its pernicious effects on the affairs of the Helenic confederacy. Ulysses never utters a word in which the cautious and prudent counsellor, sagacious in design but prompt in execution, wary in the council but decided in the field, far-seeing but yet persevering, is not apparent. Diomede never falters; alike in the field and the council he is indomitable. When Hector was careering in his chariot round their fortifications, and the king of men counselled retreat, he declared he would remain, were it only with Sthenelus and his friends. So completely marked, so well defined are his characters, though they were all rapacious chiefs at first sight, little differing from each other, that it has been observed with truth, that one well acquainted with the Iliad could tell, upon hearing one of the speeches read out without a name, who was the chief who uttered it.

The two authors, since his time, who have most nearly approached him in this respect, are Shakespeare and Scott. Both seem to have received the pencil which paints the human heart from nature herself. Both had a keen and searching eye for character in all grades and walks of life; and what is a general accompaniment of such a disposition, a strong sense of the ridiculous. Both seized the salient points in mental disposition, and perceived at a glance, as it were, the ruling propensity. Both impressed this character so strongly on their minds, that they threw themselves, as it were, into the very souls of the persons whom they delineated, and made them speak and act like nature herself. It is this extraordinary faculty of identifying themselves with their characters, and bringing out of their mouth the very words which, in real life, would have[Pg 8] come, which constitutes the chief and permanent attraction of these wonderful masters of the human heart. Cervantes had it in an equal degree; and thence it is that Homer, Shakspeare, Cervantes, and Scott, have made so great, and, to all appearance, durable impression on mankind. The human heart is, at bottom, every where the same. There is infinite diversity in the dress he wears, but the naked human figure of one country scarcely differs from another. The writers who have succeeded in reaching this deep substratum, this far-hidden but common source of human action, are understood and admired over all the world. It is the same on the banks of the Simoïs as on those of the Avon—on the Sierra Morena as the Scottish hills. They are understood alike in Europe as Asia—in antiquity as modern times; one unanimous burst of admiration salutes them from the North Cape to Cape Horn—from the age of Pisistratus to that of Napoleon.

Strange as it may appear to superficial observers, Cervantes bears a close analogy, in many particulars, to Homer. Circumstances, and an inherent turn for humour, made him throw his genius into an exquisite ridicule of the manners of chivalry; but the author of Don Quixote had in him the spirit of a great epic poet. His lesser pieces prove it; unequivocal traces of it are to be found in the adventures of the Knight of La Mancha himself. The elevation of mind which, amidst all his aberrations, appears in that erratic character; the incomparable traits of nature with which the work abounds; the faculty of describing events in the most striking way; of painting scenes in a few words; of delineating characters with graphic fidelity, and keeping them up with perfect consistency, which are so conspicuous in Don Quixote, are so many of the most essential qualities of an epic poet. Nor was the ardour of imagination, the romantic disposition, the brilliancy of fancy, the lofty aspirations, the tender heart, which form the more elevated and not less essential part of such a character, wanting in the Spanish novelist.

Sir Walter Scott more nearly resembles Homer than any poet who has sung since the siege of Troy. Not that he has produced any poem which will for a moment bear a comparison with the Iliad—fine as the Lady of the Lake and Marmion are, it would be the height of national partiality to make any such comparison. But, nevertheless, Sir Walter's mind is of the same dimensions as that of Homer. We see in him the same combination of natural sagacity with acquired information; of pictorial eye with dramatic effect; of observation of character with reflection and feeling; of graphic power with poetic fervour; of ardour of imagination with rectitude of principle; of warlike enthusiasm with pacific tenderness, which have rendered the Grecian bard immortal. It is in his novels, however, more than his poetry, that this resemblance appears; the author of Waverley more nearly approaches the blind bard than the author of the Lay. His romances in verse contain some passages which are sublime, many which are beautiful, some pathetic. They are all interesting, and written in the same easy, careless style, interspersed with the most homely and grotesque expressions, which is so well known to all the readers of the Iliad. The battle in Marmion is beyond all question, as Jeffrey long ago remarked, the most Homeric strife which has been sung since the days of Homer. But these passages are few and far between; his poems are filled with numerous and long interludes, written with little art, and apparently no other object but to fill up the pages or eke out the story. It is in prose that the robust strength, the powerful arm, the profound knowledge of the heart, appear; and it is there, accordingly, that he approaches at times so closely to Homer. If we could conceive a poem, in which the storming of Front-de-Bœuf's castle in Ivanhoe—the death of Fergus in Waverley—the storm on the coast, and death scene in the fisher's hut, in the Antiquary—the devoted love in the Bride of Lammermoor—the fervour of the Covenanters in Old Mortality, and the combats of Richard and Saladin in the Talisman, were united together, and intermingled with the incomparable characters, descriptions, and incidents with which these novels abound, they would form an epic poem.

[Pg 9]Doubts have sometimes been expressed, as to whether the Iliad and Odyssey are all the production of one man. Never, perhaps, was doubt not merely so ill founded, but so decisively disproved by internal evidence. If ever in human composition the traces of one mind are conspicuous, they are in Homer. His beauties equally with his defects, his variety and uniformity, attest this. Never was an author who had so fertile an imagination for varying of incidents; never was one who expressed them in language in which the same words so constantly recur. This is the invariable characteristic of a great and powerful, but at the same time self-confident and careless mind. It is to be seen in the most remarkable manner in Bacon and Machiavel, and not a little of it may be traced both in the prose and poetical works of Scott. The reason is, that the strength of the mind is thrown into the thought as the main object; the language, as a subordinate matter, is little considered. Expressions capable of energetically expressing the prevailing ideas of the imagination are early formed; but, when this is done, the powerful, careless mind, readily adopts them on all future occasions where they are at all applicable. There is scarcely a great and original thinker in whose writings the same expressions do not very frequently recur, often in exactly the same words. How much this is the case with Homer—with how much discrimination and genius his epithets and expressions were first chosen, and how frequently he repeats them, almost in every page, need be told to none who are acquainted with his writings. That is the most decisive mark at once of genius and identity. Original thinkers fall into repetition of expression, because they are always speaking from one model—their own thoughts. Subordinate writers avoid this fault, because they are speaking from the thoughts of others, and share their variety. It requires as great an effort for the first to introduce difference of expression, as for the last to reach diversity of thought.

The reader of Dante must not look for the heart-stirring and animated narrative—the constant interest—the breathless suspense, which hurries us along the rapid current of the Iliad. There are no councils of the gods; no messengers winging their way through the clouds; no combats of chiefs; no cities to storm; no fields to win. It is the infernal regions which the poet, under the guidance of his great leader, Virgil, visits; it is the scene of righteous retribution through which he is led; it is the apportionment of punishment and reward to crime or virtue, in this upper world, that he is doomed to witness. We enter the city of lamentation—we look down the depths of the bottomless pit—we stand at the edge of the burning lake. His survey is not a mere transient visit like that of Ulysses in Homer, or of Æneas in Virgil. He is taken slowly and deliberately through every successive circle of Malebolge; descending down which, like the visitor of the tiers of vaults, one beneath another, in a feudal castle, he finds every species of malefactors, from the chiefs and kings whose heroic lives were stained only by a few deeds of cruelty, to the depraved malefactors whose base course was unrelieved by one ray of virtue. In the very conception of such a poem, is to be found decisive evidence of the mighty change which the human mind had undergone since the expiring lays of poetry were last heard in the ancient world; of the vast revolution of thought and inward conviction which, during a thousand years, in the solitude of the monastery, and under the sway of a spiritual faith, had taken place in the human heart. A gay and poetic mythology no longer amazed the world by its fictions, or charmed it by its imagery. Religion no longer basked in the sunshine of imagination. The awful words of judgment to come had been spoken; and, like Felix, mankind had trembled. Ridiculous legends had ceased to be associated with the shades below—their place had been taken by images of horror. Conscience had resumed its place in the direction of thought. Superstition had lent its awful power to the sanctions of religion. Terror of future punishment had subdued the fiercest passions—internal agony tamed the proudest spirits. It was the picture of a future world—of a world of retribution—conceived under such impressions, that Dante proposed to give; it is that[Pg 10] which he has given with such terrible fidelity.

Melancholy was the prevailing characteristic of the great Italian's mind. It was so profound that it penetrated all his thoughts; so intense that it pervaded all his conceptions. Occasionally bright and beautiful ideas flitted across his imagination; visions of bliss, experienced for a moment, and then lost for ever, as if to render more profound the darkness by which they are surrounded. They are given with exquisite beauty; but they shine amidst the gloom like sunbeams struggling through the clouds. He inherited from the dark ages the austerity of the cloister; but he inherited with it the deep feelings and sublime conceptions which its seclusion had generated. His mind was a world within itself. He drew all his conceptions from that inexhaustible source; but he drew them forth so clear and lucid, that they emerged, embodied as it were, in living images. His characters are emblematic of the various passions and views for which different degrees of punishment were reserved in the world to come; but his conception of them was so distinct, his description so vivid, that they stand forth to our gaze in all the agony of their sufferings, like real flesh and blood. We see them—we feel them—we hear their cries—our very flesh creeps at the perception of their sufferings. We stand on the edge of the lake of boiling pitch—we feel the weight of the leaden mantles—we see the snow-like flakes of burning sand—we hear the cries of those who had lost the last earthly consolations, the hope of death:—

"Quivi sospiri, pianti ed alti guai
Risonavan per l' aer senza stelle,
Perch' io al cominciar ne lacrimai.
Diverse lingue, orribili favelle,
Parole di dolore, accenti d' ira,
Voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle
Facevano un tumulto, il qual s' aggira
Sempre 'n quell' aria senza tempo tinta,
Come la rena quando 'l turbo spira.
* * *
Ed io: maestro, che è tanto greve
A lor che lamentar li fa si forte?
Rispose: dicerolti molto breve.
Questi non hanno speranza di morte."
Inferno, c. iii.

"Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,
Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
That e'en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell'd the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain'd,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.
* * *
I then: Master! What doth aggrieve them thus,
That they lament so loud? He straight replied:
That will I tell thee briefly. These of death
No hope may entertain."
Cary's Dante, Inferno, c. iii.


Here is Dante portrayed to the life in the very outset. What a collection of awful images in a few lines! Loud lamentations, hideous cries, mingled with the sound of clasped hands, beneath a starless sky; and the terrible answer, as the cause of this suffering, "These have not the hope of death."

The very first lines of the Inferno, when the gates of Hell were approached, and the inscription over them appeared, paints the dismal character of the poem, and yet mingled with the sense of divine love and justice with which the author was penetrated.

[Pg 11] "Per me si va nella città dolente;
Per me si va nell' eterno dolore;
Per me si va tra la perduta gente:
Giustizia mosse 'l mio alto Fattore;
Fecemi la divina Potestate,
La somma Sapienza e 'l primo Amore.
Dinanzi a me non fur cose create,
Se non eterne; ed io eterno duro:
Lasciate ogni speranza voi che 'ntrate."
Inferno, c. iii.

"Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here."
Cary's Dante, Inferno, c. iii.


Dante had much more profound feelings than Homer, and therefore he has painted deep mysteries of the human heart with greater force and fidelity. The more advanced age of the world, the influence of spiritual faith, the awful anticipation of judgment to come, the inmost feelings which, during long centuries of seclusion, had been drawn forth in the cloister, the protracted sufferings of the dark ages, had laid bare the human heart. Its sufferings, its terrors, its hopes, its joys, had become as household words. The Italian poet shared, as all do, in the ideas and images of his age, and to these he added many which were entirely his own. He painted the inward man, and painted him from his own feelings, not the observation of others. That is the grand distinction between him and Homer; and that it is which has given him, in the delineation of mind, his great superiority. The Grecian bard was an incomparable observer; he had an inexhaustible imagination for fiction, as well as a graphic eye for the delineation of real life; but he had not a deep or feeling heart. He did not know it, like Dante and Shakspeare, from his own suffering. He painted the external symptoms of passion and emotion with the hand of a master; but he did not reach the inward spring of feeling. He lets us into his characters by their speeches, their gestures, their actions, and keeps up their consistency with admirable fidelity; but he does not, by a word, an expression, or an epithet, admit us into the inmost folds of the heart. None can do so but such as themselves feel warmly and profoundly, and paint passion, emotion, or suffering from their own experience, not the observation of others. Dante has acquired his colossal fame from the matchless force with which he has portrayed the wildest passions, the deepest feelings, the most intense sufferings of the heart. He is the refuge of all those who labour and are heavy laden—of all who feel profoundly or have suffered deeply. His verses are in the mouth of all who are torn by passion, gnawed by remorse, or tormented by apprehension; and how many are they in this scene of woe!

A distinguished modern critic[2] has said, that he who would now become a great poet must first become a little child. There is no doubt he is right. The seen and unseen fetters of civilization; the multitude of old ideas afloat in the world; the innumerable worn-out channels into which new ones are ever apt to flow; the general clamour with which critics, nursed amidst such fetters, receive any attempts at breaking them; the preva[Pg 12]lence, in a wealthy and highly civilized age, of worldly or selfish ideas; the common approximation of characters by perpetual intercourse, as of coins, by continual rubbing in passing from man to man, have taken away all freshness and originality from ideas. The learned, the polished, the highly educated, can hardly escape the fetters which former greatness throws over the soul. Milton could not avoid them: half the images in his poems are taken from Homer, Virgil, and Dante; and who dare hope for emancipation when Milton was enthralled? The mechanical arts increase in perfection as society advances. Science ever takes its renewed flights from the platform which former efforts have erected. Industry, guided by experience, in successive ages, brings to the highest point all the contrivances and inventions which minister to the comfort or elegances of life. But it is otherwise with genius. It sinks in the progress of society, as much as science and the arts rise. The country of Homer and Æschylus sank for a thousand years into the torpor of the Byzantine empire. Originality perishes amidst acquisition. Freshness of conception is its life: like the flame, it burns fierce and clear in the first gales of a pure atmosphere; but languishes and dies in that polluted by many breaths.

It was the resurrection of the human mind, after the seclusion and solitary reflection of the middle ages, which gave this vein of original ideas to Dante, as their first wakening had given to Homer. Thought was not extinct; the human mind was not dormant during the dark ages; far from it—it never, in some respects, was more active. It was the first collision of their deep and lonely meditations with the works of the great ancient poets, which occasioned the prodigy. Universally it will be found to be the same. After the first flights of genius have been taken, it is by the collision of subsequent thought with it that the divine spark is again elicited. The meeting of two great minds is necessary to beget fresh ideas, as that of two clouds is to bring forth lightning, or the collision of flint and steel to produce fire. Johnson said he could not get new ideas till he had read. He was right; though it is not one in a thousand who strikes out original thoughts from studying the works of others. The great sage did not read to imbibe the opinions of others, but to engender new ones for himself; he did not study to imitate, but to create. It was the same with Dante; it is the same with every really great man. His was the first powerful and original mind which, fraught with the profound and gloomy ideas nourished in seclusion during the middle ages, came into contact with the brilliant imagery, touching pathos, and harmonious language of the ancients. Hence his astonishing greatness. He almost worshipped Virgil, he speaks of him as a species of god; he mentions Homer as the first of poets. But he did not copy either the one or the other; he scarcely imitated them. He strove to rival their brevity and beauty of expression; but he did so in giving vent to new ideas, in painting new images, in awakening new emotions. The Inferno is as original as the Iliad; incomparably more so than the Æneid. The offspring of originality with originality is a new and noble creation; of originality with mediocrity, a spurious and degraded imitation.

Dante paints the spirits of all the generations of men, each in their circle undergoing their allotted punishment; expiating by suffering the sins of an upper world. Virgil gave a glimpse, as it were, into that scene of retribution; Minos and Rhadamanthus passing judgment on the successive spirits brought before them; the flames of Tartarus, the rock of Sisyphus, the wheel of Ixion, the vulture gnawing Prometheus. But with Homer and Virgil, the descent into the infernal regions was a brief episode; with Dante it was the whole poem. Immense was the effort of imagination requisite to give variety to such a subject, to prevent the mind from experiencing weariness amidst the eternal recurrence of crime and punishment. But the genius of Dante was equal to the task. His fancy was prodigious; his invention boundless; his imagination inexhaustible. Fenced in, as he was,[Pg 13] within narrow and gloomy limits by the nature of his subject, his creative spirit equals that of Homer himself. He has given birth to as many new ideas in the Inferno and the Paradiso, as the Grecian bard in the Iliad and Odyssey.

Though he had reflected so much and so deeply on the human heart, and was so perfect a master of all the anatomy of mental suffering, Dante's mind was essentially descriptive. He was a great painter as well as a profound thinker; he clothed deep feeling in the garb of the senses; he conceived a vast brood of new ideas, he arrayed them in a surprising manner in flesh and blood. He is ever clear and definite, at least in the Inferno. He exhibits in every canto of that wonderful poem a fresh image, but it is a clear one, of horror or anguish, which leaves nothing to the imagination to add or conceive. His ideal characters are real persons; they are present to our senses; we feel their flesh, see the quivering of their limbs, hear their lamentations, and feel a thrill of joy at their felicity. In the Paradiso he is more vague and general, and thence its acknowledged inferiority to the Inferno. But the images of horror are much more powerful than those of happiness; and it is they which have entranced the world. "It is easier," says Madame de Staël, "to convey ideas of suffering than those of happiness; for the former are too well known to every heart, the latter only to a few."

The melancholy tone which pervades Dante's writings was doubtless, in a great measure, owing to the misfortunes of his life; and to them we are also indebted for many of the most caustic and powerful of his verses—perhaps for the design of the Inferno itself. He took vengeance on the generation which had persecuted and exiled him, by exhibiting its leaders suffering in the torments of hell. In his long seclusion, chiefly in the monastery of Santa Croce di Fonte Avellana, a wild and solitary retreat in the territory of Gubbio, and in a tower belonging to the Conte Falcucci, in the same district, his immortal work was written. The mortifications he underwent during this long and dismal exile are thus described by himself:—"Wandering over almost every part in which our language extends, I have gone about like a mendicant; showing against my will the wound with which fortune has smitten me, and which is often falsely imputed to the demerit of him by whom it is endured. I have been, indeed, a vessel without sail or steerage, carried about to divers ports, and roads, and shores, by the dry wind that springs out of sad poverty."

In the third circle of hell, Dante sees those who are punished by the plague of burning sand falling perpetually on them. Their torments are thus described—

"Supin giaceva in terra alcuna gente;
Alcuna si sedea tutta raccolta;
Ed altra andava continuamente.
Quella che giva intorno era più molta;
E quella men che giaceva al tormento;
Ma più al duolo avea la lingua sciolta.
Sovra tutto 'l sabbion d'un cader lento
Piovean di fuoco dilatate falde,
Come di neve in alpe senza vento.
Quali Alessandro in quelle parti calde
D' India vide sovra lo suo stuolo
Fiamme cadere infino a terra salde."
Inferno, c. xiv.

"Of naked spirits many a flock I saw,
All weeping piteously, to different laws
Subjected: for on earth some lay supine,
Some crouching close were seated, others paced
Incessantly around; the latter tribe
More numerous, those fewer who beneath
The torment lay, but louder in their grief.
O'er all the sand fell slowly wafting down
[Pg 14] Dilated flakes of fire, as flakes of snow
On Alpine summit, when the wind is hush'd.
As, in the torrid Indian clime, the son
Of Ammon saw, upon his warrior band
Descending, solid flames, that to the ground
Came down."
Cary's Dante, c. xiv.


The first appearance of Malebolge is described in these striking lines—

"Luogo è in Inferno, detto Malebolge,
Tutto di pietra e di color ferrigno,
Come la cerchia che d'intorno il volge.
Nel dritto mezzo del campo maligno
Vaneggia un pozzo assai largo e profondo,
Di cui suo luogo conterà l' ordigno.
Quel cinghio che rimane adunque è tondo
Tra 'l pozzo e 'l piè dell' alta ripa dura,
E ha distinto in dieci valli al fondo."
Inferno, c. xviii.

"There is a place within the depths of hell
Call'd Malebolge, all of rock dark-stain'd
With hue ferruginous, e'en as the steep
That round it circling winds. Right in the midst
Of that abominable region yawns
A spacious gulf profound, whereof the frame
Due time shall tell. The circle, that remains,
Throughout its round, between the gulf and base
Of the high craggy banks, successive forms
Ten bastions, in its hollow bottom raised."
Cary's Dante, c. xviii.


This is the outward appearance of Malebolge, the worst place of punishment in hell. It had many frightful abysses; what follows is the picture of the first:—

"Ristemmo per veder l'altra fessura
Di Malebolge e gli altri pianti vani:
E vidila mirabilmente oscura.
Quale nell' arzana de' Veneziani
Bolle l' inverno la tenace pece,
A rimpalmar li legni lor non sani—
* * *
Tal non per fuoco ma per divina arte,
Bollia laggiuso una pegola spessa,
Che 'nviscava la ripa d'ogni parte.
I' vedea lei, ma non vedeva in essa
Ma che le bolle che 'l bollor levava,
E gonfiar tutta e riseder compressa.
* * *
E vidi dietro a noi un diavol nero
Correndo su per lo scoglio venire.
Ahi quant' egli era nell' aspetto fiero!
E quanto mi parea nell' atto acerbo,
Con l' ali aperte e sovre i piè leggiero!
L' omero suo ch' era acuto e superbo
Carcava un peccator con ambo l'anche,
Ed ei tenea de' piè ghermito il nerbo.
* * *
Laggiù il buttò e per lo scoglio duro
Si volse, e mai non fu mastino sciolto
Con tanta fretta a seguitar lo furo.
Quei s' attuffò e tornò su convolto;
Ma i demon che del ponte avean coverchio
Gridar: qui non ha luogo il Santo Volto.
Qui si nuota altramenti che nel Serchio:
[Pg 15] Però se tu non vuoi de' nostri graffi,
Non far sovra la pegola soverchio.
Poi l' addentar con più di cento raffi,
Disser: coverto convien che qui balli,
Si che se puoi nascosamente accaffi."
Inferno, c. xxi.

"———To the summit reaching, stood
To view another gap, within the round
Of Malebolge, other bootless pangs.
Marvellous darkness shadow'd o'er the place.
In the Venetians' arsenal as boils
Through wintry months tenacious pitch, to smear
Their unsound vessels in the wintry clime.
* * *
So, not by force of fire but art divine,
Boil'd here a glutinous thick mass, that round
Limed all the shore beneath. I that beheld,
But therein not distinguish'd, save the bubbles
Raised by the boiling, and one mighty swell
Heave, and by turns subsiding fall.
* * *
Behind me I beheld a devil black,
That running up, advanced along the rock.
Ah! what fierce cruelty his look bespake.
In act how bitter did he seem, with wings
Buoyant outstretch'd, and feet of nimblest tread.
His shoulder, proudly eminent and sharp,
Was with a sinner charged; by either haunch
He held him, the foot's sinew griping fast.
* * *
Him dashing down, o'er the rough rock he turn'd;
Nor ever after thief a mastiff loosed
Sped with like eager haste. That other sank,
And forthwith writhing to the surface rose.
But those dark demons, shrouded by the bridge,
Cried—Here the hallow'd visage saves not: here
Is other swimming than in Serchio's wave,
Wherefore, if thou desire we rend thee not,
Take heed thou mount not o'er the pitch. This said,
They grappled him with more than hundred hooks,
And shouted—Cover'd thou must sport thee here;
So, if thou canst, in secret mayst thou filch."
Cary's Dante, c. xxi.


Fraught as his imagination was with gloomy ideas, with images of horror, it is the fidelity of his descriptions, the minute reality of his pictures, which gives them their terrible power. He knew well what it is that penetrates the soul. His images of horror in the infernal regions were all founded on those familiar to every one in the upper world; it was from the caldron of boiling pitch in the arsenal of Venice that he took his idea of one of the pits of Malebolge. But what a picture does he there exhibit! The writhing sinner plunged headlong into the boiling waves, rising to the surface, and a hundred demons, mocking his sufferings, and with outstretched hooks tearing his flesh till he dived again beneath the liquid fire! It is the reality of the scene, the images familiar yet magnified in horror, which constitutes its power: we stand by; our flesh creeps as it would at witnessing an auto-da-fè of Castile, or on beholding a victim perishing under the knout in Russia.

Michael Angelo was, in one sense, the painter of the Old Testament, as his bold and aspiring genius arrived rather at delineating the events of warfare, passion, or suffering, chronicled in the records of the Jews, than the scenes of love, affection, and benevolence, depicted in the gospels.[Pg 16] But his mind was not formed merely on the events recorded in antiquity: it is no world doubtful of the immortality of the soul which he depicts. He is rather the personification in painting of the soul of Dante. His imagination was evidently fraught with the conceptions of the Inferno. The expression of mind beams forth in all his works. Vehement passion, stern resolve, undaunted valour, sainted devotion, infant innocence, alternately occupied his pencil. It is hard to say in which he was greatest. In all his works we see marks of the genius of antiquity meeting the might of modern times: the imagery of mythology blended with the aspirations of Christianity. We see it in the dome of St Peter's, we see it in the statue of Moses. Grecian sculpture was the realization in form of the conceptions of Homer; Italian painting the representation on canvass of the revelations of the gospel, which Dante clothed in the garb of poetry. Future ages should ever strive to equal, but can never hope to excel them.

Never did artist work with more persevering vigour than Michael Angelo. He himself said that he laboured harder for fame, than ever poor artist did for bread. Born of a noble family, the heir to considerable possessions, he took to the arts from his earliest years from enthusiastic passion and conscious power. During a long life of ninety years, he prosecuted them with the ardent zeal of youth. He was consumed by the thirst for fame, the desire of great achievements, the invariable mark of heroic minds; and which, as it is altogether beyond the reach of the great bulk of mankind, so is the feeling of all others which to them is most incomprehensible. Nor was that noble enthusiasm without its reward. It was his extraordinary good fortune to be called to form, at the same time, the Last Judgment on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, the glorious dome of St Peter's, and the group of Notre Dame de Pitié, which now adorns the chapel of the Crucifix, under the roof of that august edifice. The "Holy Family" in the Palazzo Pitti at Florence, and the "Three Fates" in the same collection, give an idea of his powers in oil-painting: thus he carried to the highest perfection, at the same time, the rival arts of architecture, sculpture, fresco and oil painting.[3] He may truly be called the founder of Italian painting, as Homer was of the ancient epic, and Dante of the great style in modern poetry. None but a colossal mind could have done such things. Raphael took lessons from him in painting, and professed through life the most unbounded respect for his great preceptor. None have attempted to approach him in architecture; the cupola of St Peter's stands alone in the world.

But notwithstanding all this, Michael Angelo had some defects. He created the great style in painting, a style which has made modern Italy as immortal as the arms of the legions did the ancient. But the very grandeur of his conceptions, the vigour of his drawing, his incomparable command of bone and muscle, his lofty expression and impassioned mind, made him neglect, and perhaps despise, the lesser details of his art. Ardent in the pursuit of expression, he often overlooked execution. When he painted the Last Judgment or the Fall of the Titans in fresco, on the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel, he was incomparable; but that gigantic style was unsuitable for lesser pictures or rooms of ordinary proportions. By the study of his masterpieces, subsequent painters have often been led astray; they have aimed at force of expression to the neglect of delicacy in execution. This defect is, in an especial manner, conspicuous in Sir Joshua Reynolds, who worshipped Michael Angelo with the most devoted fervour; and through him it has descended to Lawrence, and nearly the whole modern school of England. When we see Sir Joshua's noble glass window in Magdalen College, Ox[Pg 17]ford, we behold the work of a worthy pupil of Michael Angelo; we see the great style of painting in its proper place, and applied to its appropriate object. But when we compare his portraits, or imaginary pieces in oil, with those of Titian, Velasquez, or Vandyke, the inferiority is manifest. It is not in the design but the finishing; not in the conception but the execution. The colours are frequently raw and harsh; the details or distant parts of the piece ill-finished or neglected. The bold neglect of Michael Angelo is very apparent. Raphael, with less original genius than his immortal master, had more taste and much greater delicacy of pencil; his conceptions, less extensive and varied, are more perfect; his finishing is always exquisite. Unity of emotion was his great object in design; equal delicacy of finishing in execution. Thence he has attained by universal consent the highest place in painting.

"Nothing," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, "is denied to well-directed labour; nothing is to be attained without it." "Excellence in any department," says Johnson, "can now be attained only by the labour of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price." These words should ever be present to the minds of all who aspire to rival the great of former days; who feel in their bosoms a spark of the spirit which led Homer, Dante, and Michael Angelo to immortality. In a luxurious age, comfort or station is deemed the chief good of life; in a commercial community, money becomes the universal object of ambition. Thence our acknowledged deficiency in the fine arts; thence our growing weakness in the higher branches of literature. Talent looks for its reward too soon. Genius seeks an immediate recompense; long protracted exertions are never attempted; great things are not done, because great efforts are not made.

None will work now without the prospect of an immediate return. Very possibly it is so; but then let us not hope or wish for immortality. "Present time and future," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, "are rivals; he who solicits the one must expect to be discountenanced by the other." It is not that we want genius; what we want is the great and heroic spirit which will devote itself; by strenuous efforts, to great things, without seeking any reward but their accomplishment.

Nor let it be said that great subjects for the painter's pencil, the poet's muse, are not to be found—that they are exhausted by former efforts, and nothing remains to us but imitation. Nature is inexhaustible; the events of men are unceasing, their variety is endless. Philosophers were mourning the monotony of time, historians were deploring the sameness of events, in the years preceding the French Revolution—on the eve of the Reign of Terror, the flames of Moscow, the retreat from Russia. What was the strife around Troy to the battle of Leipsic?—the contests of Florence and Pisa to the revolutionary war? What ancient naval victory to that of Trafalgar? Rely upon it, subjects for genius are not wanting; genius itself, steadily and perseveringly directed, is the thing required. But genius and energy alone are not sufficient; COURAGE and disinterestedness are needed more than all. Courage to withstand the assaults of envy, to despise the ridicule of mediocrity—disinterestedness to trample under foot the seductions of ease, and disregard the attractions of opulence. An heroic mind is more wanted in the library or the studio, than in the field. It is wealth and cowardice which extinguish the light of genius, and dig the grave of literature as of nations.

[Pg 18]


Chap. I.

Homeward Bound.

I had left New Orleans with the full intention of proceeding without stop or delay to my home upon the Red River; but notwithstanding this determination, my wife and myself were unable to resist Richards' pressing invitation to pause for a day or two at his house. Upon our yielding to his solicitations, he proceeded to recruit other guests among our travelling companions, and soon got together a pleasant party. My father-in-law, Monsieur Menou, went on to my plantation, but Julie remained with us, as did also her aunt, Madame Duras, an agreeable old lady with a slight expression of perfidy in her light blue, French-looking eyes, possessed withal of infinite delicacy and finesse—a fervent admirer of the old court school of Louis the Fifteenth, in the chronique scandaleuse of which she was as well versed as if she had been herself a contemporary of that pleasure-loving monarch. Besides these ladies, there was a young Frenchman named Vergennes, the third son of some Gascon viscount, and a distant cousin of the Menous, who had come to America till the scandal occasioned by certain republican scribblings of his in one of the newspapers of the day should have blown over, and till he could revisit his country without risk of obtaining a lodging gratis in the Conciergerie. He had brought with him a head crammed with schemes for the political regeneration of the whole world, and a trunkful of French fashions, neither of which, as I reckoned, were likely to take much with us. He made me laugh inwardly twenty times a-day by his Utopian theories and fancies. Truth to tell, in matters of politics or of sound common sense, these Frenchmen are for the most part mere children, and reach their dying day without ever becoming men. Take them by their weak points, their unlimited vanity or their love of what they call glory, and you may ride them like a horse to water. Vergennes, however, when one could get him off his hobby, was a pleasant gentlemanly fellow enough.

It was impossible to spare Richards more than three days, and at six o'clock on the morning of the fourth, we went on board the steamer Alexandria. I had prevailed on my friend and his wife, and the whole party, to come and pass a week or two at my house, which was now quite ready for the reception of guests. The three days we had remained with Richards had been one continued fête, and considering the good living, and the heat of the weather—the thermometer ranging from 95° to 100°—there were few things more agreeable or better to be done, than to take a steam up the Red River. The fresh breezes on the water might save some of us a touch of fever. On board we went therefore, all in high glee and good-humour with each other.

We had passed the Atchafalaya, and had crossed over to the Francisville side, in order to avoid the powerful current occasioned by the influx of the Red River into the Mississippi. A strong wind had sprung up, and in the middle of the stream the waves were of a considerable height. The Mississippi was full to overflowing, and the mouth of the Red River, as far as the eye could reach, presented the appearance of an extensive lake, with thousands of tree trunks floating upon it. I had left the cabin, and was standing on deck with Richards and Vergennes, looking out upon the broad sheet of water that lay before us. We were just turning into the Red River when I observed a rowboat pulling across from the direction of Woodville, and which had already arrived within a hundred yards of us without attracting the attention of any one on board the steamer. It was cutting in and out amongst the enormous floating trees, with a boldness that, in that part of the river[Pg 19]—near the middle of which we were—might almost be called insanity.

"That man must be mad, or in love!" cried the captain.

"It is Ralph Doughby!" exclaimed Richards. "Captain, it is Mister Doughby. Pray, stop the ship and let him come on board."

Doughby it was. The mad fellow was standing bolt upright, and hardly taking the trouble to bend to one side or the other in conformity with the movements of the boat, which was dancing about on the waves and between the tree-trunks, while the six negro rowers were washed over and over by the spray.

"Here's your famous Red River!" shouted the harebrained Doughby. "A fine country for wild-ducks and geese, and alligators too. Hurra, boys!"

"For God's sake, Mr Doughby!" screamed and implored the ladies, as the Kentuckian dashed his boat slap up to the side of the steamer, without waiting till the speed of the vessel was slackened, and hastily caught a rope which was thrown to him. Just at that moment a wave as high as a man rose between the steamer and the boat and separated them, and Doughby still maintaining his hold on the rope, he was dragged out of his skiff and tossed like a feather against the steamer's side, where he hung half in and half out of the water.

"Haul in, boys—haul me in, lads—or your d——d paddles will do it!"

"Pull him in!" shouted we all, "pull him in for God's sake!"

"Ay, pull in!" cried Doughby, and giving a spring upwards he caught hold of the railing of the deck, threw himself over it with a bound, and stood in all safety amongst the astonished and grinny-visaged Cyclops who were hastening to his assistance. We hurried down from the quarterdeck, breathless with astonishment at this desperate and unnecessary piece of daring.

"Pshaw" cried Doughby; "steward, a glass of hot; and, captain, see that my portmanteau comes on board, and that my negers get away with whole skins; and a good morning to you, gentlemen—in five minutes we shall meet again."

And so saying, he emptied the glass which the black steward held out to him, made a slight bow to the ladies on the quarterdeck, sprang into the gentlemen's cabin, and thence into the first state-room that stood open.

"An entrée en scène quite à la Doughby," said Richards laughing.

"Quite so," replied I.

Ralph Doughby, Esquire of New Feliciana, La., was an old acquaintance of Richards and myself, and an excellent specimen of a warm-hearted, impetuous, breakneck Kentuckian, with a share of earthquake in his composition that might be deemed large, even in Kentucky. He had come to Louisiana some eight years previously, a voyage of a thousand miles or more down the Cumberland River, the Ohio, and Mississippi, in a flat boat with half a dozen negroes, some casks of flour, hams, and Indian corn, and a few horses, and had settled at Woodville on a couple of thousand acres of good land, bought at five dollars an acre, to be paid in five years. His industry and energy had caused him to thrive, and he was now as well established planter as any on the Mississippi; his six negroes had amounted to forty, his wilderness had become a respectable plantation, his cotton was sought after, and he had not only paid for his acres but had already a large sum in the Planters' Bank. His frank open character had made him friends on all hands, and there was not a more popular man in Louisiana than Major Ralph Doughby.

During the stay I made at Richards' house previously to my marriage, Doughby had passed a day there in company with one Mr Lambton and his daughter, Yankees—the latter a beautiful girl, but cold and formal like most of her countrywomen. An aunt of hers, who possessed large plantations on the Mississippi, had made up a match between Miss Lambton and Doughby, and they were then proceeding to New York, where the marriage was in due time to be solemnized. Richards and myself had observed, however, that the wild headlong manners and character of the Kentuckian, joined though they were to great goodness of heart and many sterling qualities, did not appear very pleasing to the stiff, etiquette-loving fine lady, and it was without any great surprise[Pg 20] that we heard, some time afterwards, of the marriage being broken off, in consequence, it was said, of some wild freak of Doughby's. We were asking one another for the particulars of this rupture, which neither of us had heard, when the Kentuckian made his reappearance in the cabin. He had changed his dress, and, taking him altogether, was by no means an ill-looking fellow. His light blue gingham frock and snow-white trousers fitted him well; an elegant straw hat, very fine linen, and a diamond shirt-pin that must have cost the best part of a thousand dollars, contributed to give a sort of genteel planter-like air. His first care upon emerging from his state-room was to empty a glass of toddy. He then approached Richards and myself.

"And Miss Lambton?" said Richards enquiringly.

"Haven't you heard?" said Doughby; "you must have heard! It's all up—she won't hear speak of me—persists in her resolution—won't see me; or give me a chance of making my peace. I'm the most unlucky fellow on the face of the earth," continued he, changing his tone on a sudden to a melancholy sort of whine—"I wish I lay three hundred feet deep in the bed of the Mississippi. I tell you, boys, it's clean up with me, I feel that. I'm a lost man, done for entirely—shall never recover it!"

We burst out into a violent fit of laughter, as who would not have done at the sight of a young giant of seven-and-twenty, with cheeks as red as poppies, shoulders that seemed made like those of Atlas to support a world; pair of dark blue-grey eyes with a laughing devil dancing in them, and a little moist just now from the effects of the toddy, and the man dying of love! He measured five feet thirteen inches in his stockings, with legs that might have belonged to an elephant, and fists calculated to frighten a buffalo.

"Be d——d to your laughing!" cried Doughby—"Steward, another glass—d'ye hear, you cursed neger, where are you hidden? Don't you hear when a gentleman speaks to you? D'ye want me to tattoo your black brainpan? You laugh," he continued to Richards and myself, relapsing into his whimpering tones; "but if you only knew—none of the women will have me—this is the seventh who has packed me off."

"The seventh!" cried I laughing, "what, only the seventh, Doughby? Pshaw! that's nothing; during my bachelor's life I had at least two dozen refusals, and I am only a year older than yourself."

"You be hanged with your two dozen! Steward, the toddy is only fit for old women—too much water in it; you don't know how to make toddy. Tell your captain to come here. I'll have you sent to the devil. No, I tell you my heart is so full, it feels as if it would burst. She won't hear of me. I will tell you all about it, boys—but who is that?" interrupted he, pointing to Vergennes, who was standing near us, and looking on in great wonderment. "Ah, Monshur Tonson! happy to see you, Monshur Tonson! Parleh vouh English? Prenez un seat, et un glass de Madeira. Nous parlerons hansamble le Franseh. Neger, a bottle of Madeira; and let it be good, or you'll get the bottle across your crooked shins. A bottle of Irish for me, d'ye hear, real Irish whisky, or if you haven't any, Scotch will do. No, boys, I tell you I am a gone man. Dismissed, sent away, packed off with a flea in my ear, as they say."

And so saying, he threw himself on a sofa with a violence that made it crack again; the steward brought the Madeira and the whisky, and we drew round the table to condole with the love-stricken Kentuckian. A few minutes passed in the composition of the toddy, which was evidently destined to play the chief part in the way of a consoler; and when Doughby had got a large beer-glass of the comfortable mixture before him, he began his narrative.

[Pg 21]

Chapter II

The Race.

"I will tell you how it all happened, and how it was that Miss Lambton—in short you shall hear it all—it's the first time I have spoken about it, but now it shall out; you shall judge and decide between us, by Jove you shall! You recollect it was in the beginning of June that we left your house, Richards, to go up the Mississippi—it was a Friday, a day that I hate. All seamen and hunters do hate it; it's an unlucky day. All the bad luck I ever had, came to me on Fridays. I had a feeling that something would go wrong when we went on board the Helen M'Gregor. I thought Miss Lambton looked shy upon me, and the old gentleman stiffer than ever. I followed the Miss, however, wherever she went, so close, that once or twice I trod the fringe off her petticoats."

"That was bad manners, Doughby."

"Pshaw! What did it matter? I told her not to bother her head about it, that when we got to New York, or even to Cincinnati or Louisville, I would buy her a whole shopful of dresses. She made no answer to that; but when I had the misfortune to tear her third flounce, she said, that if I went on in that way she would not have a whole gown left when she got to Louisville. 'With a whole one or none at all, Miss,' said I, 'you'll always be a charming creature.' That now was as pretty a compliment as ever was paid in Kentucky, but she did not seen to hear it.

"On the third day we were just passing St Helena, when old Lambton came up to me. 'Mister Doughby,' said he, quite confidential like, 'pardon me, my dear good Mister Doughby, but don't you think that you sometimes take rather too much ardent spirits, and thereby injure your health as well as give a bad example to your fellow-citizens, which, on the part of a respectable man like yourself, is very much to be regretted?'

"'Bad example!' says I—'to be regretted, Mister Lambton!—I take too much ardent spirits! I certainly am not of that opinion, Mister Lambton, and if you are I can only say you are very much mistaken. You shall see yourself,' said I, 'how much ballast an old Kentuckian can take in without sinking under it: devil a diving duck ever swallowed more water than a Kentucky man can rum.'

"I thought to let the old squaretoes see that he had a man before him, not one of his spindleshanked tallow-chopped Yankees, who go sneaking about the meeting-house from morning till night, or moping in their rooms, and calculating and speculating how they can best take in honest warm-blooded South and Westlanders. 'You shall see,' said I—but he shook his head and walked away, and I looked after him, and shook my head too. Pah! I found out afterwards that he was president of a temperance society, the devil take them all! Temperance societies! What is rum for, if it isn't to be drank?"

Doughby was rapidly warming with his subject.

"He is a queer old fellow, that Mister Lambton, as stiff and as cold as an icicle on a water-butt. Of a morning he was scarcely out of bed when he knocked at the door of the ladies' cabin in his brocade dressing-gown, and Miss Lambton must come out and hear him read the whole morning service of the Episcopal Church, and make the responses, and so on, for a full hour. Then the whole day he walked about as grave and solemn as the chief-justice of the district court. Before dinner he said a grace which lasted a full quarter of an hour. The soup was often cold, and half the dinner eaten up from under our noses, while this was going on. Sometimes most of the other passengers had done their dinner, and were gone to the bar to take a glass, and he still praying. I was often ready to jump out of my skin with impatience."

"The praying was all well enough, if it had not lasted so long," said I, laughing.

"Pah! I hate people who are al[Pg 22]ways wanting to be a shining light to their fellow-citizens. There's a deal of pride, a deal of arrogance and presumption in it. If a man wishes to pray, let him do so, and I do it myself; but people don't want to be reminded of those things. I tell you I have always found pride behind that sort of piety. The Yankees think we are heathens, and that they are the elect who are to enlighten us. Pshaw! I hate such humbug."

"Not so badly reasoned," observed Richards.

"However," continued Doughby, "I soon saw that, with one thing or another, I was getting out of the old gentleman's good books. He became more and more stiff and silent. That wouldn't have annoyed me much; but one morning the captain came to me and said, in a sort of apologising manner, that the ladies had desired him to beg me not to pay so many visits to their cabin, particularly of a morning, when some of them had not quite finished their toilet, but that I should always ask leave first and have myself announced, as it is set down in the regulations."

"'What!' says I, 'have myself announced when I go to see my own wife, that is to be? What do the other ladies matter to me, whether they've got on silk gowns or cotton ones? I only go to see Miss Lambton.'

"'Miss Lambton was present,' said the captain, 'when the ladies gave me the commission; and she and Mr Lambton most particularly requested me to have the regulations enforced.'

"'Miss Lambton!' said I; 'that's a lie now, captain. She never could have done that.'

"'Mister Doughby,' said he, 'it is no lie; and if another than yourself had said such a thing, I would have struck him down like a mad dog. And I must beg of you to retract your words, and ascertain to your own satisfaction that what I have said is a fact.'

"So I ran off and asked Miss Lambton and Mr Lambton, and they answered me as dry as fagots, and said the captain had spoken the truth. I was a'most raving mad when I heard this, as savage as a panther; and, to console myself, I drank perhaps a trifle more than I should have done. But what else can one do on a voyage up the Mississippi? Much as I like him, old father Mississip, one gets awful sick of him after a time, steaming along for days and weeks together, nothing to be heard but clap-clap-clap, trap-trap-trap, or to be seen but the dull muddy waters and the never-ending forest. Day and night, wood and water, water and wood. It is wearisome work at the best.

"It was exactly two o'clock in the afternoon on the seventh day of our voyage when we got beyond Wolf's Island, which, as you know, lies above New Madrid and below the mouth of the Ohio. The poor Helen M'Gregor burst her boiler since then, as you'll have heard, at that very place, and sent half a hundred passengers into the other world. Past Wolf's Island, we came up with the Ploughboy, the Huntress, the Louisville, and a couple more steamers, all going our way. It made quite a little fleet. I was sitting in the cabin with Miss Lambton and the old gentleman, who were cool and silent enough, when somebody called out, 'Here comes the George Washington.' A glorious steamer it is that George, more like a floating palace than a boat, as it goes skimming along as lightly and smoothly as a swan. It's a real pleasure to see it. I kept my place by Miss Lambton; but, to tell you the truth, I was sitting upon hot coals. What can be the reason that we men feel so deucedly cowed and quailed by the petticoats? Hang me if I know. Suddenly there was a cry upon deck, 'The Washington is passing us.' I could stand it no longer, but bolted up-stairs, and sure enough there it came in all its pride and power, trarara, trarara, rushing and dashing and spitting fire like Emperor Nap. at the head of his guards and dragoons and artillery. It was already in the midst of the other five steamers, passing them all. The whole of our passengers were on deck looking on, and I can tell you that our hearts beat quick as we saw the George walking up to us. The dinner-bell rang. Not a foot moved to go below. 'Captain,' cried I, 'we must not let the George pass us;[Pg 23] you can't think of allowing such a thing?' says I; 'must show them that we are Mississippi men.'

"'Mister Doughby,' says he, 'it's the George Washington,' says he—'hundred and twenty horse power,' says he.

"'Devil a hundred,' said I. 'You only say so because you are afraid to race him. And if he had two hundred horse power, what then? Shorten your stirrups and give your horse the spur,' say I.

"I saw that the captain's blood was getting up; his eyes were fixed on the old George as if he would have eaten it, and he became red and blue and green, all manner of colours, like a dolphin; his teeth chattered, and he bit his lips till the blood ran over his chin. On came the Washington quicker than ever, the paddles clattering, the steam hissing, the crew hurraing like mad.

"'Captain,' cried I, 'the Washington's passing you; it's all up with the honour of the Helen M'Gregor.'

"The captain stood there as if his face had been rubbed over with chalk, and the drops of sweat ran down his forehead. The five steamers that we had passed were now hurraing with delight to see that we should be humbled in our turn. 'Captain,' said I, 'will you let yourself be beaten out of the field without firing a shot? The Helen M'Gregor is a new ship—Crack on, man!'

"He could stand it no longer, but ran forward and screamed out to the stokers. 'More wood!' cried he, 'High pressure, high pressure!'

"'Blaze away, boys!' cried I, 'Blaze away, and hurra for the Helen M'Gregor!'

"And the fellows pitched whole cartloads of wood upon the fire, and stirred and poked away till they were wet through with perspiration, and our chimney began to whistle and sing, that it was a pleasure to hear it. We were just entering the Ohio, the Washington close upon our heels, when old Lambton and Emily came running upon deck in an almighty fright.

"'Mr Doughby, for heaven's sake! Mr Doughby—captain, for God's sake! Will you destroy yourself, and the steamer, and your fellow-citizens? Will you race with the George Washington?'

"'For God's sake, Mr Doughby!' cried the Miss.

"'Mr Doughby!' squealed the old Yankee, who had quite forgotten his stiffness, 'I demand and insist that you use your influence to prevent the captain from racing.'

"'Pshaw!' said I, 'it's nothing of the sort—ain't going to race—only want to see which ship goes quickest.'

"'That must not be. I protest against it—the safety of our fellow-citizens—our own. If the boiler bursts'——

"'Nonsense!' said I—'safety of our fellow-citizens! Our fellow-citizens are in safety. We don't mean to race, Mister Lambton,' says I; 'we are only trying for a minute which ship can go the fastest.'

"'Mr Doughby!' cried Emily, half beside herself—throwing her arms round me, and trying to drag me towards the engine—'Mr Doughby, if you have the smallest affection—regard I would say—for me, exert your influence, stop this horrid racing!'

"And then she left me and ran to the captain, who was standing beside the engineer.

"The Washington was close behind us—we, as I said before, were running slap into the mouth of the Ohio. There's no finer piece of water in the whole world for a race. The current of the Mississippi drives back that of the Ohio as far as Trinity, so that upon entering the river, the stream is in your favour. The two rivers are together four or five miles wide, and form a sort of circus, enclosed by the shores of Illinois, of Old Kentuck, and her daughter Missouri.[4] We were nearest to the Illinois side, which gave us a small advantage over our opponent, who was more on the Kentucky side, end kept coming on faster and faster, with the other five boats, who had also clapped more steam on, a short distance behind him. Our Helen M'Gregor[Pg 24] still kept the lead; who the devil could have helped racing? No one, of a certainty, except such a mackerel-blooded Yankee as old Lambton. All was heat and steam, rattle and clatter; the engines thumping, the water splashing, the fire blazing and roaring out of the chimneys, which sent out clouds of smoke and showers of sparks. The enemy was close upon us, Father George's honest face almost in a line with our stern.

"'Helen M'Gregor, hold your own!' cried I. 'Don't spare the wood, boys, lay it on thick, pile it up mountaineous; ten dollars for you when you've beaten him!'

"'Hurra!' cried the hundred passengers; 'hurra! The Washington loses, we are gaining ground.'

"Only the captain could not say a word; he stood there with his blue lips pressed hard together, looking more like a statue than a man. We were going our twenty knots, and keep it up we must if we did not want to fall back amongst the mob of the Huntress, the Ploughboy, and the rest of them. Every joint and hinge in the boat seemed to be cracking, the engine roared and groaned, the steam howled and hissed.

"'The Helen M'Gregor is a gallant lass!' cried I. 'A brave Scotchwoman! She has fire in her veins.'

"And so she really had. She stretched out like a racehorse that feels the spur in his flank for the first time; not steaming or swimming, but flying like a bird, rushing like a wild-cat or an elk that's been shot at; the waters of the Ohio flashing from her side in a white creamy foam. The Kentucky shores on our right, with their forests and cotton-trees, were flying away from us; on our left, the banks of Illinois seemed to dance past us, the big trees looking like witches scampering off on their broomsticks. Behind us, the high land of Missouri was rapidly disappearing, Colonel Boon's plantation getting smaller every second, till at last it appeared no bigger than a dovecot. Every thing around us seemed in motion, swimming, flying, racing. Hurras by thousands; seven steamers groaning, creaking, hissing, and rattling; a noise and a heat that made our heads dizzy, blinded our eyes, and took away our hearing. It was a gallopade, a race between giants.

"We were close to the wood below Trinity—the race as good as won, for Trinity was of course the winning post. Suddenly the captain cried out, 'He is passing us!' and, as he said the word, he looked as wild as a tortured redskin, and bit his lips more savage than ever, and caught hold of the quarterdeck railing as if he would have torn it down.

"'Captain,' said I, 'it's impossible—he is not passing us.'

"'Look yourself, Mr Doughby,' said he.

"The man was right. The old George is an almighty fast ship, that is certain. I saw that in two minutes we should be beaten. We had not even so long to wait.

"'By my soul he is passing us!' cried I.

"'He is passing us,' repeated the captain in a low voice. He was deadly white. I couldn't say a word; and as for him, he was obliged to support himself against the railing, or he would have fallen down. There was no help for it, however; the Washington's figure-head was already in a line with our stern—in ten seconds, a third of the vessel's length was parallel with us—another ten seconds, two-thirds, and in less than a minute he dashed proudly before us with a deafening hurra from crew and passengers, which was echoed from the other five steamers, till we heard nothing on all sides but hurras and hurras. I would have given a thousand dollars down to have reached Trinity two minutes sooner. Just then a number of voices cried out, 'The boiler's bursting! The boiler's bursting!' And there was a cracking noise, and then a loud rush. Here comes the hot bath, thought I, and wished myself a pleasant journey out of the world. But it was nothing; the cry came from a couple of negers, echoed by Miss Lambton and Mister Lambton, and the rest of the old women folk from the ladies' cabin. They had gone in a body to the engineer, and had so begged, and prayed, and bothered him, that he had given in, and opened the valve, and we only half a mile from Trinity. I am certain that if the cowardly rascal had not done[Pg 25] that, we should have made a drawn race of it, for the Washington got in not two minutes before us. I fell upon the engineer, and if it had not been for the captain, and one or two old acquaintances, I should have leathered him upon the spot—ay, if it were to have cost me a thousand dollars; he deserved it well, the dishonourable scamp! We were now in Trinity, we had done five miles in less than twelve minutes; but Miss Lambton was so angry, and the old gentleman so bitter cold and stiff—a pair of fire-tongs is nothing compared to him—Couldn't be helped, however. Honor before every thing."

"But you really were too foolhardy," observed Richards.

"Foolhardy!" repeated Doughby, "foolhardy, when the honour of a ship was at stake!"

"Pshaw! The honour of a steam-boat!"

"Pshaw, do you say, Richards? Well, if I didn't know you to be a thoroughbred Virginian, hang me if I should not almost take you for one of those wishywashy Creoles. Pshaw, say you, the honour of a steam-boat! A steamer, let me tell you, is also a ship, and a big one too, and an American one, a thorough American one. It's our ship; we invented it, they'd have been long enough in the old country before finding such a thing out—Pshaw, do you say? And if Percy had said pshaw upon Lake Erie, or Lawrence on Champlain, or Rogers, or Porter, you might say pshaw to every thing—to the honour of a steamer, a ship, a country. But I tell you that the man who says pshaw when his ship is beaten in a race, will also say it when it is taken in a fight. In short, that sort of pride is emulation, and that emulation is the real thing."

"But the life of so many men?"

"I tell you, that of the hundred and twenty passengers that we had on board the Helen, there were not three besides that leathern old Yankee, Mister Lambton, and the women, who would have cared one straw if the boiler had burst, provided we had got to Trinity two minutes the sooner."

We could not help laughing at this Kentucky bull, but at the same time we were compelled to admit the truth of what Doughby meant to say. In spite of Uncle Sam's usual phlegm and nonchalance, there are occasions when he seems to change his nature; and in the anxiety to see his ship first at the goal, to forget what he does not otherwise easily lose sight of, namely, wife and child, land and goods; as to his own life, it does not weigh a feather in the balance. He becomes a perfect madman, setting every thing upon a single cast. And the yearly loss of five hundred to a thousand lives, sacrificed in these desperate races, does not appear to cure him in any degree of his mania.

"Well," continued Doughby, resuming his narrative, "it was as much as I could do to get a word from Miss Emily during the rest of the voyage. The time went terribly slow, and my patience was clean expended when we got to Louisville. We stopped at the Lafayette Hotel, and I was in my room before dinner, when the waiter brought me a letter from Mister Lambton. The old gentleman had the honour to inform me, in accordance with his daughter's wishes, that there did not exist sufficient harmony between my character and that of Miss Emily to render a union between us desirable. And, under these circumstances, he took leave to request of me that I would consider the projected marriage as entirely broken off; and, with his and his daughter's best wishes for my happiness, he had the honour to be my very humble servant. There was a deal more of it, but that was the pith. When I had read it, I burst out of my room like mad, either to throttle old Lambton or to throw myself at his daughter's feet, I didn't rightly know which. But the Yankee had been too cunning for me. He had left the hotel with his daughter, and gone off by the Cincinnati steamer. I went on board the next that was going, and got to Cincinnati three hours after him, but missed him again. He had taken a chaise and started for his estate at Dayton, near Yellow Springs. And all I have done since is no use. She won't hear of me, and I'm the most unhappy fellow alive."

And so saying, he threw his feet upon the table, crossed his arms, and[Pg 26] remained in this position for a couple of minutes, staring earnestly at the ceiling. Suddenly he brought his legs down again, started up, and gazed through the cabin window.

"Hallo!" cried he, "here are your Red River bottoms. Will have a look at them—will go on deck? You may take away, steward. Come, Monshur Tonson, come with me, come, my dear little Frenchman! Nous parlons hansamble le Fransch."

And thereupon he struck up the favourite western ditty, "Let's go to Old Kentuck," seized young De Vergennes by the arm, and dragged him through the folding-doors and out upon deck.

"He's not the man to break his heart about a woman," said I to Richards.

"Hardly," replied my friend.

Chapter III

The Stag Hunt.

We had sat for some time talking over Doughby's mishaps, when we were interrupted by a noise upon deck. Hurras and hellos were resounding off on every side and corner of the steamer. We hurried out to see what was the matter, and found the cause of the tumult to be a fallow deer, that had taken the water some two hundred yards from our steamer, and was swimming steadily across from the right to the left bank of the river. The yawl had already been lowered, and was pushing off from the side with five men in it, amongst whom Doughby of course took the lead.

"There he is again," cited Richards. "Of a certainty the man is possessed by a devil."

"Hurra, boys! Give way!" shouted Doughby, flourishing a rifle full six feet in length. The four oars clipped into the water, and the boat flew to the encounter of the deer, who was tranquilly pursuing his liquid path.

We were about entering one of those picturesque spreads, or bays of the Red River, which perhaps no other stream can boast of in such abundance, and on so magnificent a scale. The lofty trees and huge masses of foliage of the dense forest that covered the left bank, bent forward over the water, the dark green of the cypresses, and the silver white of the gigantic cotton-trees, casting a bronze-tinted shadow upon the dusky red stream, which at that point is full fifteen hundred feet broad; the right bank offering a succession of the most luxuriant palmetto grounds, with here and there a bean or tulip tree, amongst the branches of which innumerable parroquets were chattering and bickering. A pleasant breeze swept across from the palmetto fields, scarcely sufficient, however, to ruffle the water, which flowed tranquilly along, undisturbed save by the paddle of our steamer, that caused the huge black logs and tree-trunks floating upon the surface, to knock against each other, and heave up their extremities like so many porpoises. The steamer had just entered the bay when a boat shot out from under the wood on the left bank, and greatly increased the romantic character of the scene.

It was a long Indian canoe made out of the hollowed trunk of a cotton tree; a many-tined antler was stuck in the prow, and dried legs and haunches of venison lay in the fore part of the boat; towards the stern sat a young girl, partially enveloped in a striped blanket, but naked from the waist upwards, impelling the boat in the direction of the deer by long graceful sweeps of her oar; in front of her was a squaw of maturer age, performing a like labour. In the centre of the canoe were two children, queer guinea-pig-looking little devils, and near these lay a man in all the lazy apathy of a redskin on his return from on the hunting ground; but towards the stern stood a splendid Antinous-like young savage, leaning in an attitude of graceful negligence on his rifle, and evidently waiting an opportunity to get a blow or a shot at the stag. As soon as these children of the forest caught sight of the steamer and of[Pg 27] Doughby's boat, they ceased rowing, only recommencing when encouraged by some loud hurras, and even then visibly taking care to keep as far as possible from the fire-ship. It was a picturesque and interesting sight to observe the two boats describing a sort of circle on the broad ruddy stream, while the steamer rounding to, formed in a manner the base of the operation, and cut off the stag's retreat. Presently a shot fired without effect from Doughby's boat, drove the beast over towards the canoe. The long slender bark darted across the animal's track with the swiftness of an arrow, and as it did so, the Indian who was standing up dealt the stag a blow that caused it to reel and spin round in the water, and change its course for the second time. When I again glanced at the canoe, the young Indian had disappeared.

"Here he comes" shouted Doughby, pointing to the deer, which was now swimming towards his boat. "Give way, boys! the Indians must learn of a Kentucky man how to strike a stag. Give way, I say!"

The noble beast had recovered from the severe blow it had received, and had now approached the steamer towards which it cast such a supplicating tearful look, that the hearts of the ladies were touched with compassion.

"Mr Doughby," cried half a score feminine voices, "spare the poor beast! Pray, pray let it go!"

"Spare a stag, ladies! Where did you ever hear of such a thing? Hurra, boys!" shouted he, as the boat came up with the deer, and clubbing his rifle, he delivered a blow with the but-end that split the stock in two, and threw the stunned animal upon the gunwale of the boat. Quick as thought, Doughty clutched the antlers with one hand, while with the other he reached for the knife which one of his companions held out to him. At that moment the deer threw itself on one side with a convulsive movement, the boat rocked, Doughby lost his balance, the stag, which was now recovering its strength, drew itself violently back, and in an instant the Kentuckian was floundering in the water, struggling with the deer, to whose horns he held on with the gripe of a tiger.

"Hallo, Mister Doughby in the Red River!"

The whole ship was now in an uproar, the ladies screaming, the men shouting directions and advice to those in the boat. We began to be somewhat anxious as to the result; for although these water hunts are by no means uncommon occurrences, they are often dangerous and sometimes fatal to the hunter. The deer had been severely stunned and hurt, but not killed, by the blow it had received, and it now strove fiercely against its powerful opponent, throwing him from side to side by violent tossess of its head. Doughby still held on like grim death, but his eyes began to roll and stare wildly, his strength was evidently diminishing, and he had each moment more difficulty in partially controlling the stag's movements, and preventing the furious beast from running its antlers into his body. It was in vain that the four men in the boat endeavoured to render assistance. Man and beast were rolling and twisting about in the river like two water snakes. The scene that had at first been interesting had now become painful to behold.

"Fire, Parker! Fire, Rolby!" shouted several voices from the steamer to the men in the boat.

"Knock the cussed redskin on the head!" was the unintelligible rejoinder of one of the latter.

The stag had now got Doughby close to a tree-trunk, against which it was making violent efforts to crush him. His life was in imminent peril, and a universal cry of horror and alarm burst from the spectators. Just then the head of the deer fell on its breast, the eyes glazing and the legs flinging out convulsively in the agony of death; at the same time, however, Doughby began to sink, and a bright streak of blood that rose to the surface of the water, and spread in a circle round the combatants, gave reason to fear that the mad Kentuckian had received some deadly hurt. At last the men in the boat succeeded in getting hold of Doughby and the stag, the former being seized by the hair of the head, while his hands still clung to the deer's antlers with the desperate grasp of a drowning man. A shout of triumph echoed from one end of the[Pg 28] steam-boat to the other, and we all felt a sensation of relief proportionate to the painful state of suspense in which we had been kept.

Doughby sat for a short space doubled up in the bottom of the boat, gazing straight before him with a fixed unconscious sort of look. The grating of the boat against the side of the steamer seemed to rouse him from his apathy, and he slowly ascended the ladder.

"For heaven's sake, Doughby," cried Richards, as the Kentuckian set his foot upon deck, "what demon is it that possesses you, and drives you to risk your neck at every turn?"

"The devil take you," retorted Doughby, "and your Red River water to boot! Brr, brr! d——d bad water your Red River water, say I! No, no, talk to me of Mississippi water.[5] If I am to be drowned, it sha'n't be in the stinking Red River. I've a taste in my mouth as if I had swallowed saltpetre and sulphur, with a dash of prussic acid. But tell me," cried he to the passengers and sailors by whom he was surrounded, "who gave him his settler? The deer, I mean. Who finished him?"

"Who?" repeated every body, "why, who but yourself, Mister Doughby?"

"I!" replied Doughby, shaking his head, "I had something else to do besides knifing the stag. No, no, I had plenty to think of to keep away from the tree-trunk. Besides, I let the knife fall at the very moment the beast dragged me out of the boat. But see there, boys!" added he, pointing to the deer, which was at this moment hoisted upon deck.

The animal had a deep knife wound in the belly, and the tendons of the hind legs were cut right across.

"That's the Indian's handiwork," said Doughby.

"What Indian?" cried we all.

"The Indian whom Rolby was going to knock on the head."

"I thought he wanted to chouse us out of the deer," said Rolby; "I saw his bacon-face appear for a minute from behind the tree-trunk, and at first I took it for a log, but I soon saw it was a redskin. It wouldn't have been a great harm if I had sent a bit of lead through him. What business has an Injun to meddle, when gentlemen"——

"No great harm!" interrupted Doughby impatiently. "The Indian, I can tell you——d'ye hear? Ralph Doughby tells you——has more real blood in his little finger than ten such leather-chopped fellows as yourself in their whole bodies, making all allowance for your white hide and your citizenship, neither of which, by the way, are much better than they should be. Ten times more, I tell you, and, if you don't believe it, I'll let you know it. A fine fellow he is, that redskin. He saw that I was at a pinch, and he came to help me when none of my own friends were able. And now, see yonder, there he stands in his canoe again, just as if he had done nothing but the most natural thing in the world. Chouse us out of the deer, say ye; and who had a right to hinder him if he had? The beast was bred in his woods as well as ours; a fair field and no favour is our motto in old Kentuck. I tell you the Indian is a brave redskin, and the stag is his; but I'll buy it of him. Hallo, captain! a dozen bottles of rum into the boat! Howard, Richards, let me have half a dozen dollars, silver dollars, d'ye hear? I'll pay the Indian a visit on board his canoe, and thank him as he ought to be thanked."

No sooner said than done. The captain, however unwilling to lose any more time, could not resist the impetuosity of the good-natured scatterbrain, who sprang, dripping wet as he was, into the boat, a bottle in each hand, and a friendly hurra upon his lips. The Indians at first seemed alarmed and doubtful as to his intentions; but the signs and words of peace and encouragement that were given, and shouted to them from all sides, and above all, the sight of the bottles, soon removed their fears. In another minute or two we saw Dough[Pg 29]by in their canoe, shaking hands with them, and putting one of the bottles to his mouth. A little more, and I believe they would all, men, women, and children, have begun the war-dance in the canoe, so delighted were they with the magnificent present of the rum and dollars. As it was, they shook and mauled Doughby till he was fain to jump back into his boat, and escape as well as he could from their wild caresses and demonstrative gratitude.

But we have been nearly twelve hours on the water, and the Alexandria is a noted fast steamer. Our course has lain for some time between banks covered with gigantic forests of live oak, cotton, bean, and cypress trees, with here and there a palmetto field, and on the north shore an occasional plantation, for the most part a mere log-hut, with a strip of tobacco, cotton, or Indian corn. We have seen numerous deer, who, on the appearance of our steamer, gallop back into the woods—swans, cranes, geese, and ducks, wild pigeons, turkeys, and alligators, are there by thousands. We now enter a broad part of the river, and are gliding along in front of a wide clearing, some half mile long, and surrounded by colossal evergreen oaks; a snug-looking house of greenish-white colour stands in the middle of the plantation, with orange gardens—that are to be—laid out and enclosed in front of it; one enormous live oak, that looks as if it had stood there since the flood, spreading its knotty limbs over the eastern side of the habitation. The windows on the balconies are open, the Venetian blinds drawn up, the sinking sun throws its mellow rays over the whole peaceful and pleasant scene. And see there! We are expected: a small variegated ball flies up to the top of the lightning conductor, and the banner of our Union flutters out, displaying its thirteen stripes and twenty-four stars, and the white American eagle, the thunder of Jupiter and the symbols of peace in his talons. At the same moment, Plato and Tully, two of my negroes, come rushing like demented creatures out of the house, one with a stick in his hand, the other bearing a pan of hot coals. They are closely pursued by Bangor, who seems disposed to dispute Tully's title to the embers. In the struggle the coals fly in every direction; of a surety, the dingy rascals will burn my house before my eyes. Now comes Philip, a fourth negro, and tries to snatch the stick from Plato's hand; but the latter is on his guard, and fetches his adversary a wipe over the pate, that snaps the stick—a tolerably thick one, by the way—in two. Both retreat a short distance, and lowering their heads like a couple of angry steers, run full tilt against each other, with force that would fracture any skulls except African ones. Once, twice, three times—at the third encounter, Plato the sage bites the dust before the hero of Macedon. Confound the fellows! My companions are laughing fit to split themselves, but I see nothing to laugh at. I shall have them in hospital for the next ten days. Tully, however, has picked up the pan and the embers, and is rushing towards a flag-staff near the shore, from which the Louisianian flag is waving. I see now what they are all at. They have brought down the Wasp and the Scorpion from on Menou's plantation, two four-pounders so named, which were taken last year on board a Porto Rico pirate, and which my father-in-law bought. Boum—boum—and at the sound the whole black population of the plantation comes flocking to the shore, capering and jumping like so many opera-dancers, only not quite so gracefully, and shouting out—"Massa come; hurra, massa come! Massa maum bring; hurra, massa!" and manifesting a joy that is probably rendered more lively by the hopes of an extra ration of rum and salt-fish. And now Monsieur Menou and his son hurry down to receive us; the steamer stops, the plank is thrown across, and amidst shaking of hands, and farewells, and good wishes, our party hurries on shore. Thank heaven! we are home, and settled at last.

[Pg 30]



Weep for the living! mourn no more
Thy children slain on Moskwa's shore,
Cut off from evil! want, and anguish,
And care, for ever brooding and in vain;
No more to be beguiled! no more to languish
Under the yoke of labour and of pain!
Their doom of future joy or woe
For good or evil done below,
The Judge of all the earth will order rightly!
Flee winding error through the flowery way,
To daily follow truth! to ponder nightly
On time, and death, and judgment, nearer day by day!
Bewail thy bane, deluded France,
Vain-glory, overweening pride,
And harrying earth with eagle glance,
Ambition, frantic homicide!
Lament, of all that armed throng
How few may reach their native land!
By war and tempest to be borne along,
To strew, like leaves, the Scythian strand?
Before Jehovah who can stand?
His path in evil hour the dragon cross'd!
He casteth forth his ice! at his command
The deep is frozen!—all is lost!
For who, great God, is able to abide thy frost?


Elate of heart, and wild of eye,
Crested horror hurtles by;
Myriads, hurrying north and east,
Gather round the funeral feast!
From lands remote, beyond the Rhine,
Running o'er with oil and wine,
Wide-waving over hill and plain,
Herbage green, and yellow grain;
From Touraine's smooth irriguous strand,
Garden of a fruitful land,
To thy dominion, haughty Rhone,
Leaping from thy craggy throne;
From Alp and Apennine to where
Gleam the Pyrenees in air;
From pastoral vales and piny woods,
Rocks and lakes and mountain-floods,
The warriors come, in armed might
Careering, careless of the right!
Their leader he who sternly bade
Freedom fall; and glory fade,
The scourge of nations ripe for ruin,
Planning oft their own undoing!
But who in yonder swarming host
Locust-like from coast to coast,
Reluctant move, an alien few,
Sullen, fierce, of sombre hue,
[Pg 31] Who, forced unhallow'd arms to bear,
Mutter to the moaning air,
Whose curses on the welkin cast
Edge the keen and icy blast!
Iberia, sorrow bade thee nurse
Those who now the tyrant curse,
Whose wrongs for vengeance cry aloud!
Lo, the coming of a cloud!
To burst in wrath, and sweep away
Light as chaff the firm array!
To rack with pain, or lull to rest
Both oppressor and oppress'd.


Is it the wind from tower to tower
Low-murmuring at midnight hour?
Athwart the darkness light is stealing,
Portentous, red with unrelenting ire,
Inhuman deeds, and secrets dark revealing!
Ye guilty, who may quench the kindled fire!
Fall, city of the Czars, to rise
Ennobled by self-sacrifice,
Than tower and temple higher and more holy!
The wilful king appointed o'er mankind
To plague the lofty heart, and prove the lowly,
Is fled!—Avenger, mount the chariot of the wind!
Be thine, to guide the rapid scythe,
To blind with snow the frozen sun,
Against th' invader doomed to writhe,
To rouse the Tartar, Russ, and Hun!
Bid terror to the battle ride!
Indignant honour, burning shame,
Revenge, and hate, and patriotic pride!
But not the quick unerring aim
Of volley'd thunder winged with flame,
Nor famine keener than the bird of prey,
Nor death—avail the hard of heart to tame!
Blow wind, and pierce the dire array,
Flung, drifted by thy breath, athwart the frozen way!


Before the blast as flakes of snow
Drive blindly, reeling to and fro,
Or down the river black and deep
Melt—so the mighty sink to sleep!
Like Asshur, never more to boast!
Or Pharaoh, sunk with all his host!
So perish who would trample down
The rights of freedom, for renown!
So fall, who born and nurtured free
Adore the proud on bended knee!
Roll, Beresina, 'neath the bridge
Of death! rise Belgium's fatal ridge!
Rise, lonely rock in a wide ocean,
To curb each haughty mad emotion!
To prove, while force and genius fail,
That truth is great, and will prevail!
[Pg 32]
The hour is coming—seize the hour!
Divide the spoil, the prey devour!
Howl o'er the dead and dying, cry
All ye that raven earth and sky!
With beak and talon rend the prey,
Track carnage on her gory way,
To chide o'er many a gleamy bone
The moon, or with the wind to moan!
Benumb'd with cold, by torture wrung,
To winter leave the famine-clung,
O thou for whom they toil and bleed,
Deserted in their utmost need!
Hear, hear them faithful unto death
Invoke thee with the fleeting breath,
And feel (for human still thou art)
Ruth touch that adamantine heart!

Survive the storm and battle-shock,
To linger on th' Atlantic rock!

From ghastly dream, from death-like trance
Awake to woe, devoted France!
To care and trouble, toil and pain,
Till glory be acknowledged vain,
And martial pomp a mere parade,
And war, the bravo's bloody trade!
A beacon o'er the tide of time
Be thou, to point the wreck of crime!
The spoiler spoil'd, from empire hurl'd,
The dread and pity of the world!

O then, by tribulation tried,
Abjuring envy, hate, and pride,
Warn'd of the dying hour foretold
Of earth and heaven together roll'd,
Revering each prophetic sign
Of judgment and of love divine,
Bow down, and hide thee in the dust,
And own the retribution just;
So may contrition, prayer, and praise,
Preserve thee in the latter days!

E. Peel.

[Pg 33]


Few nations of Europe have been less known than the Montenegrians, and the name even of their country is seldom found on maps.[6] Surrounded by great empires, they have always preserved the independence of their rugged mountains, and have even succeeded in wresting several rich plains from the sway of Turkey. With this power hostilities seldom cease; but such is the system with which her resources are managed, that while the Montenegrians are at peace with one pasha, they are enabled to concentrate their force against another—and all the while the Sublime Porte does not condescend to interfere. Not many years ago, they possessed the reputation of being a horde of robbers; and, in all probability, the pilgrim who ventured among them would have returned, if at all, as shirtless as themselves. But the breath of the spirit of the age, though faintly wafted to their mountains, has softened something of their character, without destroying in the least their independence or nationality. Bold, hardy, and free, ready and eager for the foray and the fray, a stranger is now as safe among them as in any part of her Majesty's kingdom.

Whoever wishes to make the acquaintance of this primitive people, will do well to embark on board the Austrian Lloyd's Company's steamer from Trieste to Cattaro. They will be well accommodated, at reasonable charges, and have an opportunity of seeing the principal towns of Dalmatia, a country little frequented by travellers. Such was the case with ourselves, (an English lady and gentleman,) who quitted Trieste on the 5th of November 1843. The voyage commenced pleasantly, and we had the good-luck to have the ladies' cabin to ourselves. The captain was a very gentlemanlike person, the steward attentive, and the passengers full of politeness. Zara, the capital of Dalmatia, where we stopped a day and a night, is a walled town of moderate extent, said to contain 8000 inhabitants. It possesses some antiquities. Over the gates of this, and all other of the Dalmatian seaports, the Lions of Saint Mark yet remain. It is best known for the excellence of its rosoglio. The next town we arrived at was Sebenico, now much decayed, and Spalatro, the most interesting of all, where the badness of the weather, during the short time we stayed, prevented our landing to see the extensive Roman remains. After anchoring off Curzola for a night, we came to Ragusa, where we stopped two days. At Zara and Sebenico we had opportunities of seeing the Morlaccian race. These are the rural inhabitants of Dalmatia, speaking a Sclavonic dialect, while in the towns they pride themselves on their Venetian origin and language. Amongst these peasants were the noblest specimens of the human kind I have ever seen. Of stature almost gigantic, and of the amplest development of chest, their symmetry of limb and elasticity of step would have called forth notice in a Scottish Highlander. Nor could a somewhat manifest omission to cares of the toilet disguise complexion and features almost faultless, and in which an expression of frankness and good-nature left one nothing to fear from their armed numbers. I speak not of a few among a crowd, but of nearly all I saw. It was from amongst these that the French, during their occupation, chose their finest grenadiers; but at present, in consequence of the scantiness of the population, the humanity of the Austrian government has suspended all conscription. Still it is possible, that, in the hour of danger, Austria might profit more from the devoted [Pg 34]loyalty of this armed and stalwart peasantry, than if her ranks were filled with its forced recruits. Their dress consists of a coarse brown jacket, and a waistcoat of red cloth, both ornamented on the edges, and made to sit close on the shoulders, without any collar, and which advantageously display their well put on head and neck. They wear a small red skull-cap, round at top; but, when married, they usually surround this with a white turban. Their pantaloons are of blue, and fit close from the knee to the ankle, and below they wear the opunka—a species of sandal, made of sheepskin, and bound with thongs, which, as may be seen from their elastic step and upright carriage, are well fitted to their country; round their waist is a red sash, and in front a leather belt, in which is placed a yataghan and a smaller knife, and exhibiting usually the handsome pommels of silver or brass-mounted pistols. Over all is a long brown cloak, open in front, and fastening over the chest, forming a dress which, with their free and martial bearing, gives them the appearance of ready-made soldiers. The women are, comparatively, inferior to the men; but their countenances are cheerful, and a white napkin gracefully put on the head, had a very classical appearance. For the rest, they wore a coarse shirt—over that a coarser, without arms, neither coming much below the knee—a party-coloured apron and stockings, with opunkas, like the men. Near Zara is a small colony of Albanians, who still retain their national manners and dress, though settled time out of mind.

Ragusa—of old a republic, with its doge and senate—is a city whose glory has departed. This little state—consisting of the town, the promontory of Sabioncello, the island of Melida, with a few smaller ones—numbering about forty thousand inhabitants, had never been subject by Venice, and was governed on the most aristocratic principles. At the time of the late war, the inhabitants of the city owned about four hundred large vessels—and observing the profiting by neutrality, they traded every where, and acquired great wealth. But they were not destined to escape the storm which overthrew so many mightier states. In 1809 they became compulsory allies of the French. Their nominal independence lasted about two years longer. During the time the French occupied it, the city was attacked by the combined forces of the Russians and Montenegrians; the former by sea, while the latter conducted the operations on land. Luckily they failed to take it; but they burned and destroyed, without exception, every one of the numerous villas by which it was surrounded. Since the loss of her independence, the trade of Ragusa has ceased, and her wealth has departed; while many of her once haughty nobility have no other subsistence than a scanty pension, which the bounty of the government affords them. The town is interesting, and some of its buildings ancient and peculiar, though hardly to be called handsome—the scale being small. Of the country houses desolated by the Montenegrians, not one in twenty has been repaired; and they remain roofless and blackened, a lasting memorial of the ferocity of that people. The neighbourhood is beautiful, and appears more so after the stony desolation which the rest of Dalmatia exhibits. Though the houses still remain in ruins, the gardens continue to be cultivated. Olives, vines, figs, and carruba trees grow in them, and the tops of the hills are covered with stone pines and delightful evergreens, of heaths, junipers, cypress, and other plants, which at home we coax to grow in our greenhouses.

Quitting Ragusa, after having been once driven back by the badness of the weather, we at length entered the Bocca of Cattaro, after a passage of about nine hours. Both in its general and immediate position, few spots can be imagined so cut off from the rest of the world as Cattaro. Standing close on the sea, with stupendous mountains overhanging it on each side, it is deprived even of the light of the sun for the greater part of the day; and, towards the end of November—this is no boon. By land the Dalmatian coast-road (the only one, I believe, in the country) passes through it, but it would prove indifferent, I should think, to any but the pedestrian; and there is also the mountain-path, of three hours' ascent,[Pg 35] which leads into Montenegro, and issues up from the gates of the town in a zigzag form, till it appears lost in the clouds. Any one wishing to quit Cattaro, has indeed, like the country waiter in England, but "three desperate alternatives." He must wait for the next steamer, a whole month if in winter, and return the way he came. Or he may attempt to pass through Albania to Greece or the islands, which would in all likelihood prove the last attempt he would ever make. Or he may hire one of the country trabacolos to take him where he likes. They are neither fast in their sailing nor luxurious in their accommodation—the price being any thing but cheap. In one thing the traveller has no difficulty, which is to discover the first hotel, as their number is strictly limited. Consequently in about half an hour, during which the steamer had taken her departure, we found ourselves the inmates of the principal salon in the Locanda della Corona. It is ever a comfort, when expectation is not at its highest, to find things better; and happy the mind that seeks it!

The house was not very dirty, the landlady was full of kindness, and not destitute of good looks. After her first paroxysms of welcome and surprise had passed, then succeeded admiration, then a general presentation to all friends and relations of the family that could be summoned on a short notice, with many fervent blessings and prayers for our welfare, and at length, which pleased us as much as any thing, a very eatable dinner. During that day, and part of the ensuing week, I improved my acquaintance with Cattaro—an acquaintance which, before final separation, became very intimate indeed. It contains several small squares or places, with some churches and other public buildings. There is a respectable café, which is frequented by the officers of the garrison, and on the whole it is rather a neat little town. The population may be about three thousand. It is fortified, having two gates to the land and one to the sea. Perched above, at a great height, is the castle, said to be of considerable strength. In the late war Cattaro was taken from the French by Sir William Hoste, Bart., and afterwards garrisoned by the Vladika of Montenegro, since which time an Englishman has hardly been seen by the people within their gates. Consequently their ideas of robbing the stranger are faint and barbarous; here, as throughout Dalmatia, should you give a man money, and the sum be not even more than twice the value of the obligation, the poor ignoramus is delighted, and thanks and blesses you most fervently. The climate of Cattaro is not considered healthy. The inhabitants die of consumption in the winter, and fever in the summer, and they generally have a sickly appearance. There are smart silversmith shops, and many ornaments are wrought with much neatness. There are several also devoted to the sale of arms, as the Montenegrians here buy and repair the principal weapons they use. Pistols, guns, and yataghans are mounted in silver and mother-of-pearl, coral and other stones, with skill and taste. The population are as remote in appearance from that of any town in western Europe, as in the most primitive part of the East. The town's-people wear a black jacket of cloth or velvet, with silver basket buttons, a small cap, and wide drawers of the same cloth, with black stockings or high boots, and a red sash. The costumes of some of the villages along the shores of the Bocca are very pretty. The women from Dulcinea wear a body petticoat and jacket of scarlet, with silver buttons and buckles, and a white covering tastefully enfolding the head and shoulders. The peasantry to the south wear the Montenegrian dress; the poorer ones, in extreme scantiness. These profess, like that people, the tenets of the Greek church, and in appearance and dialect do not differ from them. A bolder look, however, and an air of independence, usually mark the Montenegrian. Between Cattaro and Montenegro there is no quarantine or restriction of intercourse. Without the latter the former would cease to exist—without the former life would be burdensome in Montenegro. Three times a-week a bazar is held outside each of the land gates, to which the Montenegrians descend, themselves loaded with arms and independence, and their women and mules with the[Pg 36] richest products of their country. Of these, mutton hams of peculiar excellence, potatoes that cannot be imitated in these parts, salt fish from the lake of Scutari, (to be caught, I fear, no more,) a root which looks yellow, and dyes to match, with hides, poultry, and pigs, form the principal. One of the chief articles which they seek is salt, with which some of the above luxuries are compounded. This being a government monopoly, is sold at the office in the town, and an animated scene takes place on its opening, each striving to be served first, and, as a matter of course, all speaking at once.

Having in a few days almost exhausted the varieties of Cattaro, and the weather assuming a more favourable aspect, it became time to execute our intended journey up the mountain. Times were stirring in Montenegro. The nation was at war with two pashas, and the Vladika had taken the field in person. Rumours were numerous; we could not have come at a better time, and our trip promised to be one of interest. His highness's postmaster, a gigantic warrior,[7] waited on us to furnish mules and guides. Cesarea Petrarca, gentleman, of Cattaro, hairdresser, auctioneer, and appraiser, ex-courier, formerly chef de cuisine to the Vladika—an "homme capable," as he not unaptly styled himself, attended us to cook and interpret; and we started for Cettigna on the 17th of November, about nine o'clock. I may here say a few words concerning the state of politics then existing in Montenegro. For the last half century or more, under the auspices of the late revered bishop, so highly sainted in soul,[8] and so beautifully preserved in body, the Montenegrians, backed secretly by an influential power in the north, have been pursuing a system of territorial encroachment as well as internal improvement. Anciently their domain consisted of but a range of gloomy and barren rocks, which would alike oppose the footsteps and extinguish the hopes of the invader; since which various fertile pianuras have been gained on the side of Herzigovina and Bosnia. In 1781 Kara Mahmoot, hereditary bey of Scutari, marched with a great army into Montenegro. Advancing towards Cettigna, he was attacked in a narrow defile by the Vladika. This was a great day for Montenegro. The Albanians were utterly routed, and Black Mahmoot, being taken prisoner, surrendered his glory and his head to his priestly conqueror, and it remains there among the trophies of the Episcopal dwelling. The present Vladika is not unworthy of his martial uncle. He is truly the flower of the house of Petrowitch. On his first arrival from St Petersburg to assume the government, his appearance was that of a Frank[9] gentleman, and his habits those of a priest; but he discovered before long that the dress of his native mountains better became his manly form, while the troubles in which his state was so constantly engaged, soon made him exchange the crosier for the sword, and become as ardent a warrior as his predecessor. Ever since the beginning of the summer, war had been waged with Osman Pasha of Mostar, concerning a disputed territory. On one occasion the opposed forces were in sight for a week. The Montenegrians consisted of seven thousand foot—the Turks (I write according to my information) of forty thousand horse. (!) Every day they fought, sometimes for two, sometimes four hours and upwards, as fancy dictated. About fifty persons had been more or less injured in this pastime, but their ardour was rather increasing than diminishing, when the pasha of Scutari, without notice or warning, seized on the islands of Vranina and Lessandro, at the head of the lake of Scutari. The Montenegrians had there a post of about twenty men, but they were overpowered, several killed, and the rest sent captive to Scutari. Not[Pg 37] satisfied with this, he fortified Lessandro in such a manner that no Montenegrian could fish in the lake with any kind of pleasure or comfort. This was a vital blow. Visions of the market of Cattaro rose before the eyes of the nation. Peace with Osman Pasha was concluded at any sacrifice, and the Vladika instantly hastened to concentrate his energies toward the recovery of the lost islands.

Our party consisted of ourselves and two mules, one being for the luggage—Cesarea Petrarca, in the full pride of office, and armed for our protection with a very small sword and a very small gun—a woman who had charge of the mules—and Spiro Martinowitch, an old and respectable Montenegrian, with Milo his son, to act as guides. We began the ascent about ten o'clock. Close outside the walls was pointed out a village, the residence of a race of valiant butchers, who have ever been at feud with the Montenegrians, by whom their numbers have been much reduced. A tale was related of three having defended themselves against four hundred of the enemy. After following the steep but otherwise good road for about two hours, we arrived at a stone with different species of eagles on two sides,[10] which marks the boundary of the respective territories. The road instantly degenerates into an indifferent mule-track. It took another hour to gain the principal ascent, then, pursuing our way along the high land, we reached a small hamlet, where we stopped a few minutes to comfort ourselves with what could be procured. The path from hence to Cettigna passes over a country which, at any season, must appear barren and inhospitable. The peaks of the highest mountains in Montenegro rise immediately above it. The ground was now covered with about an inch of snow, and the air extremely cold. A few stunted bushes of beech underwood, which serves for fuel, seemed to be the only vegetation. Every thing else, grey rocks, sharp and rugged, to the smallest fragment. We passed on our way the village of Negusi, the paternal seat of the family of Petrowitch. Here the present Vladika was born, in a mansion which was pointed out to us. It is a long-shaped hut, built of loose stones, without windows or upper story. A somewhat better dwelling is the property of the bishop's uncle, who governs the village and adjacent district. Passing on by the hamlets of Bayitzi and Donikrai, we arrived at the Episcopal residence about half-past five in the evening, and immediately took up our quarters in the first hotel. I will not say that the decorations of the chief apartment were in the highest style of magnificence; but the bed was clean, and to find any thing clean in these parts may be considered a victory gained. Our hostess was from Cattaro, the seat of every refinement to the ideas of a Montenegrian; and our host was a kind civil man, speaking both French and Italian, and had been formerly engaged in the great war. For the present he found it convenient to remain in Montenegro, having been lately concerned in an "unfortunate affair" near Budua, where certain tenements were harried and burned. Cattaro, therefore, and its delights, were denied him for the present; but it was hoped that the temporary bad odour would soon pass away. The village was nearly deserted; few remained that night in Cettigna but ancient men. The Vladika was on and away. He had departed that morning, his brother remaining to take charge of the place. To-morrow the assault of the fortress was to commence, or, some said, it had already begun. We felt we had arrived at a good moment, and were prepared to hasten in the morning to the scene of action, thirsting with excitement. It was thought not unlikely that a battle might take place. The evening was cold and wet, and we therefore took up our position over the kitchen fire. In these regions this is placed in the middle of the room, and the smoke gets out how it can, or not at all. A peculiar sensation in the eyes will present itself to the mind as the result of such an arrangement. The kitchen, however, besides being [Pg 38]the warmest, was by far the gayest place. Here we watched our dinner cooked, and ate it afterwards; heard of wars and rumours of wars; listened to heroic ballads, chanted by a warrior, and accompanied by a species of one-stringed fiddle; and made the acquaintance of two very fashionable young men. One was the bishop's nephew, a handsome lad about seventeen, who was, on account of his youth, very shy and modest, and acted as cavaliero servente to the kitchen-maid. The other was a remarkably good-looking and well-dressed young man, whom I had observed on entering the place, and set down to be somebody. He was, alas! but a tailor from Bosnia, who had come on a speculation to Cettigna. A barren profession his, where fashions remain the same summer and winter, and a suit lasts till it drops off. He was an accomplished musician, as well, on the one-stringed instrument; boasted of a white pocket-handkerchief, and his Italian, added to our Servian, made up about twelve words in common; so that the evening passed very sociably, and we retired to rest full of hope for the morrow. But when that morrow came, one melancholy prospect of rain and mist presented itself. The white clouds hung on the mountain-tops immediately above. Not a breath of wind was stirring, and the rain descended in torrents. There seemed not a chance of its clearing, nor did it during the whole day. It was not, therefore, considered prudent to proceed, where no bed was to be found, and where the chance of even shelter was any thing but certain. Add to which, my companion in arms was taken with a violent cold; so we felt obliged to restrain our military ardour for one day, and proceeded to seek such recreation as the metropolis afforded. Cettigna, the seat of the government of Montenegro, and residence of the Vladika, is yet a city of no great magnitude. It is situated prettily enough on a little plain, around which the rocky summits of the mountains rise in the form of an amphitheatre; not to any great height, however—the elevation of the plain itself being very great. The most ancient building, indeed the only one which seems not to have been erected within these few years, is the monastery. This was till very lately the residence of the Vladika and his predecessors, and it was here the King of Saxony lodged when he visited Montenegro in 1836.[11] It is situated on the side of the rocks which bound the plain, and consists of several buildings of different periods joined together. The oldest has two rows of arched passages, or cloisters, in front, one above the other. Behind the convent, a wall runs up the hill, and encloses a small circuit of rocky ground. The whole is in a very uncertain state of repair. On the summit of a small rock immediately above, is a round tower, built apparently for ornament at no very ancient date, but never finished or roofed. It does not owe its decorations to the hand of the architect. They are of a rarer kind. From the ends of poles fastened into the top of the wall, two or three dozen heads, in all stages of decay, overlook the residence of a Christian bishop. These are Turks or Albanians who have fallen in different encounters, or possibly in cold blood, as the Montenegrians never spare the life of a prisoner. It was with somewhat doubtful feelings that I contemplated these trophies. Around, the earth was strewed with skulls and other relics of humanity. It was said that no head had been put up for nearly two years. Certain it is, that the Lord Vladika did not cause to be placed there the heads of eighteen Turkish commissioners, who, in the August previous, entered Montenegro to discuss a boundary question. But why should I tell tales? I was hospitably received, and treated, me and mine, with civility and kindness, not only by the Vladika, but by every individual I met, and returned with my head undisturbed by the trip. Some of the countenances still bore traces of good looks, though withered by the sun and storm of years. It was a severe test for beauty; but the head [Pg 39]of one young man certainly stood the trial. Fine features, of a cast frequently seen towards the north of Albania, and a set of the best teeth, (this is very general,) showed that he might have once been more prosperous in love than he proved to be in war. I thought of a relic, and took up a skull, the best I could find, but it was full of red earth, and seemed damp and unpleasant; so I put it down again. I next discovered a beautiful tooth; this would have surpassed the former in elegance and convenience, but I fancied it not either, and came away, trusting to my mind for a remembrance of the spot. From hence I made a sketch of the present residence of the bishop, the second among the remarkable edifices of Cettigna and its environs. It was built within these five years, under the auspices of no less than my trusty attendant Petrarca. The style is not, strictly speaking, imposing. Perhaps this arose from suggestions of economy, or possibly from the mind of the architect being at that moment unprepared with any other. Simplicity in design and execution characterize it throughout. It consists of a long single building of one low story, containing two rows of about twenty windows on each side. There is a door in the middle, and at each end a small wing placed crosswise, and a very little higher than the rest, containing a window above and a door below. Both before and behind, a large court is enclosed by a low wall of loose stones, with little turrets at the corners, and two doorways in the principal. In the front court are some old brass and iron cannon, lying dismounted—trophies of Turkish war. Behind is an attempted kitchen garden. The remainder of Cettigna is small, hardly worth mentioning—six or seven houses with an upper floor, and about twice as many ordinary huts. This forms the metropolis of Montenegro. But small as it is, I doubt if there be a bigger village in the country, the population, though sufficiently numerous, dwelling in small scattered hamlets. The better houses act as hostelries when called on, which may be the case when Parliament is sitting; but apart from the bishop's officials and retainers, the place does not probably contain a hundred souls. It being now noon, and the rain unabated, we determined to see all the sights of the city. His highness's residence was first visited. It contains the Chamber of Deputies, a printing establishment, and various apartments for the accommodation of friends and relatives. Entering one of these we found the Vladika's brother, whom I have previously alluded to, and had the honour of a presentation. He is a very ordinary-looking personage; and, as the powers of language were wanting to express our feelings, we soon took leave. The bishop's rooms for public and private reception, consist of a billiard-room no bigger than is necessary for the due performance of the game, at which he is a great adept, a small anteroom and bedroom. His valet and chamberlain, a well-dressed Montenegrian, did the honours. In the billiard-room the walls are hung with arms, though some of these were now absent on service. I observed some fine Turkish swords, some of an ancient date, presents to different Vladikas; some Albanian daggers, straight, with a triangular blade, resembling the ancient Venetian misericordes; and a handsomely mounted and antique Servian sword, the blade with the wolf-mark, so well known in the Highlands and other parts of Europe. There were some handsome fire-arms; and, among others, a splendid pipe lately presented by Osman Pasha of Mostar. In the anteroom I remarked with pleasure a small three-legged stand, with a basin and towel; and I have heard that other contrivances for the purification of the Episcopal person are not wanting, though no such met my eye. In the bedroom, where the odour of tobacco still remained unmitigated, was a cabinet, which, when opened, displayed objects well worthy the attention of the next pasha who may visit Cettigna. Russian orders and snuff-boxes uncountable, set in the choicest brilliants; presents from the Emperors of Austria of no mean value; a remembrance or two of the King of Saxony, &c. &c. All these were opened by the cameriere to our free inspection; but not for this, nor the trouble we afterwards gave him when exhibiting the sacer[Pg 40]dotal robes, keeping him above half the day, would he accept the smallest remuneration. This completed the public rooms, (his highness is reported on occasions to give grand entertainments, but the whereabouts was not manifest,) and we proceeded to the ancient convent. This, formerly the Episcopal dwelling, is still the residence of the chief officials attached to the Vladika. The first among these is the vicar—(his other avocations having only permitted the Vladika to officiate on two occasions)—"no baron or squire or knight of the shire," &c. Truly on this occasion the holy father had not been unmindful of himself; and, considering the early hour and dreary state of the weather; was as jovial as the heart could desire. A peculiar leer and frequent ebullitions of laughter, from mysterious causes, showed the frame of mind he was in. After coffee, and a glass of aniseed brandy, we viewed his priestly robes, which were of cloth of gold and very handsome. We then proceeded to make the acquaintance of the other officials, going the round of the convent. We were most cordially received; indeed, we appeared to be a godsend to these poor people. There was a Dalmatian schoolmaster, a very intelligent young man, who superintended the branch of national education; his highness's secretary, an Italian; and a woman from Cattaro, the wife of another now absent at the camp, and the only example of female aristocracy in Montenegro. At the apartment of each of the inmates, coffee, invariably excellent, and glasses of brandy, were handed round. These the holy personage in our company always emptied to the uttermost, and then would romp and wrestle with the schoolmaster, and perform all kinds of frolics. He was a Hungarian by birth. When our German or his Italian respectively failed, then Latin assisted our communications; and, what with the wet weather and the coffee, we all became very sociable and chatty. After an hour or two so spent, we took our way to the chapel. It is very small; not capable, I should say, of accommodating above twenty or thirty persons. There, embalmed, are the remains of the late Vladika. The vicar removed the lid of the coffin, and he there appeared attired in full canonicals. His face, however, was hidden, and the covering was not removed. The limbs appeared to be much shrunk. The holy man took the hand of the deceased, and, kissing it with the most solemn devotion, burst into a wild laugh, and closed the lid. A small trifle pro salute animæ was expected in a box adjoining it. We next went to the robe-room, passing along a series of mouldy and rat-eaten floors to a small room, such as might be found in a dilapidated stable-loft; there, from old dingy boxes, were drawn forth such garments as created astonishment—the richest damask and cloth of gold of all colours—their weight enormous—so massive that they would almost stand alone. I have never seen any thing so splendid; and the effect of such upon the fine form of the Vladika must be worth beholding. In another chest were deposited the crowns of different Vladikas. They are of a shape resembling the ancient Russian diadem, being not of the form of any kind of coronet, but a cap all covered or entire, globular at top, and diminishing towards where they fit the head. Perhaps there were half a dozen or more. They were richly ornamented with precious stones—the present Vladika's the most so. I understand they are presents from St Petersburg. By nine next morning the rain had somewhat cleared, and the weather was mild and promising. We started, therefore, hoping that night to reach the quarters of the Vladika, though no one could speak positively to the place. We made some enquiries as to the chance of finding shelter, as the nights were singularly cold; but it was of course apparent that time alone could decide. None of our friends from the monastery, who had been so warlike the day before, made their appearance; so we started without any addition to our party. The road was nearly all on the descent, and usually so stony and rough as to make riding the mule a matter of difficulty. We passed by Dobro Skorsello, one of the richest communes of Montenegro; there figs, vines, and olives are grown: a wild species of mulberry occurs, and large trees of it frequently appeared before a hut or[Pg 41] hamlet. These are wide-spreading and ancient, but not tall. This district furnishes seven thousand fighting men. Here we met the wife of one of the principal senators among a troop of females with bundles of wood upon their head. We now had the first intelligence from the camp. Descending into a little plain we met about two hundred men returning to celebrate a village fête, as their services were not just then required. They passed in single file; wild, active-looking fellows they certainly were. In about half an hour after, we encountered forty or fifty others. These were peculiarly warm in their friendship, and slapped me so hard on the back that it required my utmost force to return the compliment with any thing like cordiality. They took it into their heads that I was a certain long-expected bombardier who was to direct their artillery against Lessandro, and they loaded me with compliments and good wishes. I almost, at the moment, regretted my want of knowledge in the art. About one o'clock we descended upon the Nariako river, then a rapid clear green stream, which conducts the torrents of the upper mountains to the lake of Scutari; and, in another hour, reached the village of that name, which is known also by the Italian one of Fiumara. We trusted here to procuring a boat which would convey us the remainder of the journey; but the natives of this free country are seldom in a hurry, and in fact it was necessary that we should be made popular idols for a certain space; nor had we the means of keeping each other in countenance. I was hurried off, accompanied by Petrarca, to the house of the captain of the district, a senator, I understood, and eminently brave; while my unfortunate companion, without any one to help, was taken possession of by a lady of rank, a Cattarese by birth, but who had nearly forgotten her native tongue, and in a short time was surrounded by all the females and olive branches of the place. The usual brandy, with coffee and pipes, was served to our party. The houses, or little dirty huts rather, have in front a small balcony covered at top, and raised about four or five feet from the ground; here Spiro, Petrarca, and myself were seated, with my host and several others. While the lady of the house brought in the pipes and refreshments, I made some very sensible observations, which Petrarca clothed in Servian, and the replies seemed in every way equal; notwithstanding, in about an hour the liveliness of the scene began somewhat to wear off, and I took the first opportunity of hastening to rescue the other sufferer. Here I discovered the object of public attention seated on a bench with her host and hostess, one on each knee as it were, and the room thronged with spectators; women and children were squatted or perched on every conceivable spot. The harmony of the party had, however, undergone for a moment a trifling disorder; for, while all the rest had been full of compliment and courtesy, one elderly lady had thought proper to express herself in a manner contradictory to the general feeling, and in the strongest terms, going even the length of shaking her fist at the occupant of the post of honour. She was, however, bundled out most unceremoniously, neck and crop, as the phrase is. After further delays, and declining a most uninviting dormitory, a boat was got ready; four warriors were in her, and we departed amid the cheers of the population and a promiscuous discharge of fire-arms. This was warmly responded to by our party; nor did I much regret when these demonstrations had ceased, as a Montenegrian considers it quite etiquette to discharge his heavy-loaded piece any where in the immediate vicinity of the head, so long as the muzzle just clears the honoured individual. In a few minutes we were gliding down the beautiful stream. The absence of all wild animals is peculiarly observable in the mountains. A woodcock or red-legged partridge are occasionally seen; but few quadrupeds are met with, and the larger and fiercer kinds are rarely known to occur. This deficiency, however, in the general zoology, is amply compensated by the birds which frequent the Fiumara river. As we proceeded, muffled up in the bottom of the boat, for it was very cold, the fitful exertions of our warlike crew disturbed quantities of[Pg 42] aquatic birds. The river widened greatly, the mountain banks disappearing, till at length the shores became obscure in the distance, and thus it imperceptibly enters and forms the lake of Scutari. Cormorants and ducks passed over in flocks; noble herons got up screaming on every side. One of these was the milk-white aigrette; superior in size to the common heron. The kingfishers had a beautiful appearance. I never saw this bird elsewhere in such multitudes. I did not request any of my crew to try their skill, as I had had enough of firing for the time being, nor did I take a fancy to do so myself. The large bore and light metal of their arms, added to the weight of the charge, spoke of a recoil any thing but pleasing, and which I hear usually takes place. Next day, however, I asked the captain of the boat to show me a shot; he took aim at a diver which kept appearing a-head; he fired when nothing but the neck was visible above water, and the ball completely divided it, the head barely hanging by a bit of skin. The bird was distant about fifty yards, and the boat moving, while he stood on the bow. At some longer shots he was not so successful. We passed a village at a small distance, and lay on our oars to hear the news. Most of the people were absent; but one, a great man, was seated on the hut-top, with a few idlers round him. This was the chief president of the senate—the speaker of the house, in short; and undoubtedly, if stentorian lungs are of any use for that office in a Montenegrian parliament, he was most amply qualified. For twenty minutes this eminent man conversed with us—the distance at first being about a quarter of a mile, and probably it might be three miles or more before he was finally out of hearing. The Turkish fortress of Dzabiack now appeared perched on a steep isolated hill rising from the marsh. It seemed, as we passed it about two miles off, to be in a very dilapidated condition. The Montenegrians, however, had at present no designs upon it; and its garrison maintained a peaceful neutrality. They have on several occasions destroyed this fortress, which has been occupied again by the Turks. It gives then little annoyance, being distant, I should think, five miles from the head of the lake. All was now water, but the principal channels above were passable, the rest being overgrown with weeds. At several of these, long consultations occurred as to our best route. It began to rain a little, and the place of our destination seemed doubtful. At length we emerged on the broad beautiful lake, and our progress was easy. We soon came in sight of the beleaguered island and fortress of Lessandro. The cannonade, which we had heard during the earlier part of the day, had long ceased, and all seemed quiet. It was still twilight, but the place to which our people had determined on going, lay beyond the foot of a mountain which projected to a nearer approach with the island. This was the very mountain on the top of which the Vladika had placed his batteries. They considered it prudent, therefore, to wait till dark, before passing within point-blank range of the enemy's guns. We, therefore, hauled the boat up, and waited under lee of the point. As soon as the light had failed, we moved forward, passing stealthily along the shore to within about three hundred yards of the fort. The previous garrulity of our party was now hushed, and they exhibited the most laudable prudence. I observed, however, that they had all their guns cocked and ready, as if they intended to have returned any compliment from the fortress; but no such contingency was at hand. The Albanians were engaged in chanting martial choruses, possibly to maintain their own valour as well as dismay their opponents, and show what excellent health and spirits they possessed after the two days' siege. At any rate, they made too much noise to hear any thing but themselves. As we went along shore, we were several times challenged by those on the look-out, and long explanations passed in low yet distinct tones. At length the danger was passed, and we went a-head for about two miles along the lake; then, turning off up a deep sluggish stream, we came in sight of our quarters. A large fire blazed in the principal of three huts, and by its light numerous persons were seen[Pg 43] around it. Landing with our baggage and equipage, we soon joined the circle; about a dozen warriors were here assembled. They were very civil to us, and glad to see our party. They gave us the best place at the fire, where, spreading our plaids, we were soon occupied with such dainties as the place or our own providence supplied. When it came to be bed-time, the fighting part of the community good-naturedly suffered themselves to be persuaded to go to the other end of the room, by which means we were enabled to lie down by the fire. There they rolled themselves up, and, in the shortest possible time, were in a state of oblivion. I may observe that the people in general, men or women, have seldom any beds. They lie down any where on the floor, ensconced in a capote or cloak, removing perhaps their opunkas, but scarcely ever any other garment. We should have been pretty comfortable but for the minute hosts that peopled the apartment. Late at night, too, the extreme cold compelled several parties to seek refuge by the fire who had no right or little thereto—as the house-cat and her two kittens; she would take no denial, however often repelled. Whenever one awoke, there she would be with her interesting offspring close nestled under one's chin. The family dog, too, suffered severely from cold; he was, as often as he entered, kicked out by his master in a way that did the heart good; and his murmurs of complaint and resentment would last for a full ten minutes. But the door would not fasten, and he always found his way in again, trampling over, in his way to the fire, the recumbent forms of the sleepers, in a manner far from conducive to good-humour. It was, therefore, not to be wondered at that our slumbers were not prolonged to a late hour. I set forth at break of day to find a clear-looking place in the river: for as I was to be presented to his highness, I could not afford to forego any advantages. The ice was on the side of the pools; but with the aid of a small box I carried under my arm, I soon had all the requisites of an elaborate dressing-room. Several of the Montenegrians were also on the alert, rubbing their faces with the muddy water on the edge of the lake; but whether to make them cleaner or dirtier did not appear. Breakfast was soon dispatched. Already the cannonade had commenced, and we hastened to the scene of action. Lessandro is a small low islet, perhaps a hundred yards long by forty or fifty wide; at one end was the principal, at the other, a minor fort. The first consisted of a thick round tower, flat at top, where their largest gun was mounted. This was surrounded by a low wall, with two small bastions at different angles; the other was a square building, with a bastion at one corner, containing, I believe, the stores. All over the island were the tents of the soldiers—that of the commander distinguished by a red flag. I think I counted about forty. The Montenegrians declared they had in the island five hundred men. Not one was visible however, the whole day. Under the lee of the chief fort was anchored a small gun-boat from Scutari. On one side of Lessandro rises, in immediate proximity, the mountainous island of Vranina. It was here that the Vladika at first wished to have taken up his position; but boats, it was said, were wanting to transport his men and munitions. Had he attempted this, a serious encounter would probably have taken place; but he had given up the idea, and it was as in consequence of this that we had met the men returning home the day before. The spot he fixed on was a mountain directly opposite Vranina, but at a greater distance from the object of attack. He had not with him altogether above fifty men. This time we had once more to pass within a quarter of a mile of the fort; and as we were a boat-load of armed men hastening to headquarters, I somewhat expected they might have condescended to notice us. Such, however, was not the case; and we landed and ascended the hill to where the battery was placed. We had not been there long before the Vladika, who was on a higher part of the ground, having heard of our arrival, came down to meet us. I felt for a moment rather modest, and began to wonder what business I had there. However, we advanced with all boldness, and soon distinguished the chief[Pg 44]tain from his attendants by his giant stature. No bishop's cassock covered his towering form. Clothed in scarlet and gold, he descended the hill with the true Albanian strut. His manner was frank and cordial; and on his invitation we all three sat down on the grass to partake of a camp luncheon. The Vladika was then in the thirty-fifth year of his age. In truth, he was a goodly man—a very Saul among his people. His height I should think very nearly midway between six and seven feet. He was not fat, but the breadth and massiveness of his chest and limbs was extraordinary. His figure was very finely proportioned, and his movements free and active. His face was somewhat broad, with good features, and his voice peculiarly soft and pleasing. His hair and beard black, and, after the fashion of the Greek clergy, uncut. He wore a Turkish pelisse of scarlet, coming nearly to the knee, and trimmed with gold and sable, a large fur cap, and the usual blue drawers and opunkas of the Montenegrians. A pair of plain European pistols were in his belt—the only arms he wore. The place where we sat was in a most picturesque situation. The Turkish balls kept whizzing past, forming, as his highness remarked, beautiful music. Indeed, it seemed to me we were very nearly in the line a well-directed shot ought to have taken; but, of course, it was not my place to speak. Our fare consisted of cold meat carved in slices with the yataghan, and rum out of the mouth of the same bottle. He conversed in French fluently, and various courteous speeches showed it was not the first time he had encountered female society. He seemed excited when relating the misdeeds of his enemies, and his usually languid voice assumed a little asperity, as he described the way in which, while he made war in Bosnia, "ces diables des Turcs" had surprised his garrison at Lessandro. My knowledge of gunnery was not extensive, still I could not be ignorant of the chance he had, with three short twelve-pounders, of injuring any building whatever, when firing at it at a distance of eight hundred yards, in an almost perpendicular direction. The fort, besides, seemed very sturdy and solid, and I could not flatter him with hopes of success. He did not, however, appear to be without hope. Certainly, had he chosen to risk an assault with some trifling loss, the place might have been in his possession; but boats were not at hand in sufficient numbers, and besides, such a proceeding might not have been popular with amateur soldiers. He asked me if I had brought any letters to him; I frankly owned I had not. "Ah!" he said, "you came from curiosity, that you might talk in the gay circles of London, of having seen the Vladika of Montenegro." I did not say, that were I to do so, I should talk very unintelligibly to a great many of my hearers. After our collation was finished, we rose and proceeded to the battery, if it could be honoured with such a name. But had its power been as extensive as the view from it, it would have amply sufficed. The day was now most beautiful and spring-like, and various flowers, with sportive butterflies and other insects, enlivened the mountain side. The broad blue lake lay beneath, and in the extreme distance the position of Scutari itself could be distinguished. Three ranges of mountains were visible, rising one above the other, till the snowy chains of Bosnia bounded the horizon. The cannonade, as there was little to be apprehended, added to the beauty and interest. The wreathing of the white smoke on the Turkish tower, and the report borne along in the calm air, and echoed a dozen times by the distant mountains—the gradual approach and whizzing of the balls, and the shot from our guns, as it hit the buildings, or occasionally bounded along the water, were all interesting novelties. I made a sketch, to the best of my ability, of every object of interest in the vicinity of this lovely spot. As regards matters purely military, we had three guns in operation—short twelves, as I have already mentioned; a rampart was before them, formed of earth, bound with stakes, and about three feet thick. I was told this had only been struck four times. Few people were about. Nor could gunners of fame have been in plenty, for I soon discovered Petrarca pointing the cannon. The shot also was of[Pg 45] different sizes—any that could be got, as Austria does not favour the importation of warlike materials into Montenegro; and to this disparity of metal may be ascribed the constant difficulty which the Montenegrian gunners experienced in hitting even the island. Still they kept the game alive, the Turks not giving one shot for three. They appeared to have four guns, but their biggest was on the platform of the chief tower, a screen of masonry protecting it from lying entirely open to our position on the hill. They fired also several shells, but they did no damage, exploding high in the air. At length the Vladika approached the best cannon, anxious to display his skill. He took a long aim, and then fired, exulting greatly when the ball struck the stone screenwork at top of the tower. This was just where he aimed, and it was the best shot by far that I had seen. A little dust seemed to fly, but no further damage. The reply of the Turks came promptly, but his highness did not honour their skill by even ducking below the rampart. It lodged in the side of the hill several feet below us. We remained, enjoying the interesting scene and beautiful day, till about one o'clock, when the Montenegrian batteries suspended operations from a temporary failure of ammunition. Being desirous of passing the night in less crowded quarters than the previous one, we now took our leave of the Vladika, and returned to the hamlet we had left in the morning; and having with some difficulty procured a pony, we set off to get as far on our road to Cattaro as we could, not returning by Cettigna, which would have been round about, but entering the Austrian territory above Budua and Castel Astua—Cattaro at present lying to the north-west of us. The boy who conducted this same pony, (a little mare, with a mule foal running beside her,) was the most unmitigated savage I have met with on my travels, though not more than ten years old. He was the ugliest little urchin I ever saw—his only clothing was a piece of an old sack and ragged opunkas. After galloping some distance to meet us, his mind misgave him as to his pistol, and he returned and made his father, who was working in the field, exchange with him. He then undertook to lead the pony, (the animals here do not go pleasantly unless led, and also by some one they are acquainted with,) which he did in the most desperate manner, walking at about seven miles an hour. No concern of his what became of the knees of the occupant, or with what stones or thorns they might be brought into collision. When he came to a precipice in the road, and there were many, down he jumped tugging the beast after him, and not looking behind once. All this time the foal kept jamming up against its mother. It was soon evident that the dismissal of this youth and his cattle was a sine qua non, as cautions were vain. But on a sum being offered which he considered less than his due, having come about a mile, he took his own part in a manner most edifying in one so young; and had the retainers of our party not been as well provided as he, I believe he would have pistolled the whole of us. At length, finding his efforts fruitless, he sprang on the pony, and putting her to her best pace, was soon out of sight. About the same time we fell in with two monks from the convent of Bercelli, who were on their way to pay their respects to the Vladika. This was fortunate, as we had intended to sleep there. These were the only inmates, and had the key of the place with them. After treating the party to brandy, one of them turned back with us. He was an old man, and he had to return a distance of twelve miles; but he never seemed to give this a thought. They were dressed in black gowns, and high black caps. Our road lay through a populous district, and many were the salutations Petrarca received, coupled with enquiries respecting us—long conversations taking place over miles of intervening hill and dale. This time, I believe, I filled the part of the English ambassador. The outward appearance of our quarters, when we arrived, was not prepossessing; but the state of dirt of the best room could hardly have been anticipated. Its equal—I speak advisedly—could not be found out of the country we were in. The floors mouldy and rat-eaten—old[Pg 46] shelves hanging about, containing every kind of rubbish—crusts of bread, a bit of tallow candle in a bottle—old cups and glasses in different directions, with the remains of something in the bottom of every one. The only covering on the boards which formed the bed, was a sheepskin blanket, very old and dirty, looking like the mother of fleas. It would take a page to mention the manifold horrors that presented themselves. At length, after a late bad supper, I felt repose desirable, be it where it might. We had stipulated, however, for the sole possession of this melancholy dormitory, and having made up the best bed I could, turned in with loathing; but the cold made one less particular, as it was hard frost, and the windows had no shutter or fastening of any kind. I found, however, there was one exception to our sole right of tenure; no other than the old priest himself, whom I had shortly to get up and let in. Poor man! he had nowhere else to go; and having given up his luxurious couch, he proposed for himself to court slumber on the top of an old chest—it looked hard, certainly, and the poor old man seemed ill at ease. All night he rested none. He groaned much, and was afflicted with a cough and its usual results; and in each result he laboured long and strenuously, as though putting his whole soul in it, till a severe shock on the opposite wall showed the successful issue of his exertions. We did not lie in bed next morning very long after waking, and by six o'clock were on our road, expressing a firm determination to reach Cattaro or perish, sooner than pass another night in a Montenegrian homestead. There was no other mule to be procured to-day, so it was a case of riding and tying with the portmanteau. When the latter walked, it usually did so on the head of the poor woman who brought the mule. The remainder of our luggage consisted of two carpet-bags, and Spiro and Melo slung one of these upon each of their guns, and proceeded merrily. We entered the Austrian territory by the village of Braitsch. The people hereabouts are very poor and ill-off. Our way overlooked the sea; below us lay Budua. We halted, to give ourselves and the mule a drink, by the fort of Stanivitch. This was formerly a convent, and under the dominion of Montenegro; but Austria has lately become possessor of it, through, I believe, a pecuniary arrangement with the Vladika. His territory, however, at no time reached the sea in any part, though this is not distant above two or three miles; it was now a military post. A Moravian captain was in command, who most politely invited us to stay the night, fearing we should be unable to reach Cattaro; however, it was then only four o'clock, the day was bright, and the sight of the sea encouraged us. Besides, I noticed a flea on the collar of his coat. We thanked him for his kindness, and persevered on our journey. Our road lay nearly all on the descent, and while it was good, and the daylight lasted, we hurried forward with all speed. At length it became very rocky and precipitous; and, as the light soon failed entirely, it became necessary to mount the portmanteau, as it was not possible for any biped to sustain it longer on their head, and to maintain their equilibrium as well. From very bad, things got to much worse. The track, as well as the whole country, was composed of angular grey rocks, among which, in the now total darkness, it became nearly impossible to discern the path. These stones had a light appearance, and it was desirable to avoid bringing one's shins in contact with them; but if a spot seemed dark, and might be imagined to be soft ground, it proved to be one of the villanous prickly bushes of the country. This shrub grows all over Albania and Dalmatia, and, I believe, in Italy; it is low and bushy, with abundance of flat round seed; the spines are set both ways, up and down the twig, and are the most malignant thorns I ever met with. Whatever part of your garments they catch hold of, from that they have never been known to part. Presently our road became inhabited by a stream of water, and every step that avoided the stones was ankle-deep in mud. How the mule could have got on, as I could not see, I cannot imagine, but the box which it carried was not seriously damaged. The two guides in their opunkas[Pg 47] walked firmly, but the others were tumbling frequently. The female who had come with us now fairly "compounded," according to the sporting phrase, and gave vent to her sufferings in tears and reproaches. This had, however, a reviving effect upon others of our party, who were near compounding themselves—for I had rather been holding out the endurance of this poor woman, who had walked most of the day with a portmanteau on her head, as an example for imitation. The town of Cattaro at length became visible far below us, after almost the longest three hours I ever passed. At other times, I might have been tempted to derive amusement from the mishaps of my friends under similar circumstances; but at present, some of the party had been reduced to such desperation, that I began sometimes to doubt the favourable issue of our journey. By nine o'clock the land gates are closed, and this we had heard already strike. The sea gate is open for another hour. It was not till after this, that, having gained the coast road which leads to Cattaro from the south, we reached the town. There, a boat was requisite to take us over the sea gate; but all the town boats had long since retired, and it took us at least half an hour to awake somebody on board a trabacolo in the harbour. When at length we were conveyed to the gate, a small gratuity to the sentinels gained us admission, and a little before midnight we found ourselves once more in our favourite inn. We remained some days at Cattaro, arranging for our departure. During this time, we heard that the Vladika had at length found his task hopeless, and abandoned hostilities. He had been, however, a week arriving at such a conclusion, and the sound of the cannonade was heard during the whole of the time occupied by our return. It was a pity to see a worthy potentate of moderate means spending his pocket-money so fruitlessly. The philanthropist will be glad to learn that no lives were sacrificed during this protracted siege. The Montenegrians, more modest than some of our own neighbours on a late occasion of very similar glory, laid claim only to having wounded one man in the fort; but an Albanian bulletin might have denied even that.

Before concluding, a few further particulars concerning Montenegro will not be out of place. In former days, as I have observed, they were but a den of mountain thieves, dangerous to each other, and unapproachable by strangers. At the present time, no country can boast superiority in either of these respects. Indeed, in so small a community, crime is rare, from the greater certainty of detection. I speak nothing, of course, of border pastimes with their neighbours; and these, possibly, form a safety-valve to the pent-up propensities of the inhabitants. This important change has been brought about within fifty years, but, most of all, during the twelve years that the present Vladika has reigned. But the Vladikas who have effected this change, actuated by the desire of improving the condition of their people, have been obliged to barter their independence, in a manner, for Russian gold, in order to give them the means of effecting it. I am not able to say when the subsidizing system first commenced, but at present the Vladika, as well as all the officials and senators, receive their stipends. That of the Vladika amounts, I believe, to about eight thousand pounds annually; but this may include a small tax of, I think, two shillings on each household, which is paid by the Montenegrians themselves. Of the senators, there are forty who are elected by the communes, and paid by Russia. There is also a force of eight hundred men paid, and residing in different districts, which forms an executive police; but there is nothing in the shape of a standing army. The Vladikas are appointed by the emperor in nepotal succession from the family of Petrovitch. The present Vladika received his education at St Petersburg, and several of his nephews are now there, from whom his successor will be chosen. I am not acquainted with the amount of temporal power possessed by the Vladika, but I should think it was subject to much restraint. I have heard that, on more than one occasion in the senate, he has been personally threatened during the stormy debates which have occurred. Though he is generally[Pg 48] popular, it would seem that here, as elsewhere, there exists a strong party opposed to all reform, and pining for the good old days of general license. The demeanour of the Montenegrians to their Vladika, though respectful, is free and independent. On meeting him the hand is raised to the head, or, if near, they offer to kiss his hand. This salutation is paid to any ordinary priest, and occasionally, through all Dalmatia, to a stranger like myself. Russia, it will be seen, reigns as completely in Montenegro as though its passes were occupied by her soldiers. The supplies stopped, all would be anarchy and confusion. Nor do the Montenegrians object to this in any way. Their personal independence is in no way compromised, and their laws and usages remain unaltered. There is not a single Russian in Montenegro, and, only knowing them at distance, they regard them at present with hearty good-will. The Vladika, however, who reaps the greatest benefits, has, it would appear, to submit to a certain loss of freedom. During the past summer he visited Trieste and Vienna; and I was informed, on good authority, had desired to go to England, but had been unable to obtain the permission of an emperor who seems determined no one shall travel but himself. The Vladika had certainly expressed to me a hope that he should visit England some time. There can be no doubt that it is well worth while thus to secure the alliance of the Montenegrians, for they would prove a bitter thorn in any collision either with Turkey or Austria. The country is divided into twelve military jurisdictions, under so many captains, and every man is bound to serve, though by what power, except inclination, I am sure I do not know. I do not imagine that this has been particularly provided for, so willing are they to serve uncalled.

The population of Montenegro is at the present time not short of one hundred and twenty thousand souls. Of these, more than half would be serviceable were their own territory invaded; for every boy of eight years old and upwards carries a gun, and there is no reason he should not point it as straight as an older person, presenting, at the same time, a smaller mark to the enemy. The women even occasionally assist, and at all times carry the ammunition and supplies. I used sometimes to think, when meeting one of these armed urchins, how ignominious it would be to be robbed by him; and yet, were he only cunning enough to keep out of arm's-length, I don't exactly know how it could be helped. The arms of the Montenegrians consist of a long gun, usually very elegantly mounted, the stock short, and curved like a horse's neck; round his waist is a belt with cartouch-boxes containing the spare ammunition, the cartridges for immediate use being in the pistol-belt in front. Here, in a leather case, is a mass of arms which occupy the same relative position to the wearer as the youthful kangaroo to its parent; here are a brace of pistols with a pointed pommel, and a yataghan, which is used in these countries to the entire exclusion of the sword, and which, from its position in the belt, does not get in the way when walking—the ramrod for the pistols also, which in the East is a separate arm, containing sometimes a dagger or a pair of tongs for adjusting the never-absent pipe, and a smaller knife is often slung on behind. In ordinary times, a yataghan or pistol may be dispensed with; but whatever may be the occupation of man or boy, the gun is never left behind, whether ploughing, or cutting wood, or carrying the heaviest burdens. It is almost extraordinary that they should thus encumber themselves, as, within their own boundary, none are so safe, and their mountains seldom afford them a living mark. I believe it arises very much from a fondness for the weapon. The greatest care is taken of it, and it undergoes a complete cleaning after every shot. The arms of the people in general present a striking contrast to their dress. On the former they spend most of their spare money, and they are kept in great order and cleanliness. The warriors, when they take the field, fight more for plunder than for honour and glory. The spoils of houses and farm-steads, or the arms or heads of their enemies, (a prisoner is never spared,) all form desirable prizes. It must be remembered their service is chiefly voluntary, and they receive no[Pg 49] pay. It is not their tactics to expose themselves much in battle. The grey rocks, which suit well the colour of their dress, afford a shelter, from behind which they take well-directed aim. Every man acts to the best of his judgment—usually acute where self-preservation is the law; and their great activity and powers of endurance enable them, in their difficult country, to contend with many advantages against regular troops. In 1838, during a temporary collision with Austria, they gave as good as they received, to say the least; and perhaps it was owing to this that peace was so soon concluded. In such a country cavalry is out of the question, and horses are seldom used. The Vladika himself possesses a considerable stud. The dress of the people—at all seasons the same—consists of a white coat of coarse cloth, with generally a blue edging, open in front, and reaching nearly to the knee. This has no buttons, but is fastened round the waist by a red sash. They are usually shirtless, and their hardy bosoms brave the storm in all weathers. Around their shoulders is thrown a description of plaid, generally of a brown colour, about three feet wide and six feet long; and from keeping this in its proper position, a slight stoop becomes habitual. They have wide drawers of blue serge, or sometimes of the material of their coats, which is thicker; of this also are their leggings formed. Under the opunkas is worn a thick woollen sock; but in wet weather the men and women usually go barefooted. On their head is a small round cap of scarlet or black cloth. Their custom is to shave the whole of the face excepting the mustaches, as well as the sides and crown of the head; but from long neglect, it is often difficult to distinguish the favoured localities. Petrarca, in his avocation of barber, was in the greatest request. The costume of the women does not differ widely, but the coat is longer, and a petticoat replaces the blue drawers—round their waist is a belt of great weight, about three inches wide, and of the thickest leather, set with cornelians and other coarse stones, mounted in brass. The red cap is usual, and the hair is often prettily braided. I have seen some head-dresses composed of silver coins. None of the people seem to be in the habit of bathing or washing, and they do not remove their garments at night. The children have often nothing but a shirt. As a nation they are healthy and robust, though fevers occur at certain times in some districts. Among the men two casts of features are general; the one, known among us as the "Jack Sheppard face"—the lower parts rather prominent, and the nose short and somewhat turned up, the complexion and hair very dark. The other is very different, a bright colour and high handsome features; yet nearly every person one meets belongs to one of these two varieties. The latter is commonest among the tallest men. They have all very good teeth, and their expression is intelligent and good-humoured. As in feature, so in stature, considerable uniformity appears. Their height averages about five feet ten, with great development of muscle. The women are relatively inferior in looks—they are broad and short, seeming to possess great strength; but the labour they undergo, and the burdens they carry, appear inimical to beauty. They have often pleasant countenances and good brick-dust complexions. The Servian or Naski here spoken is considered among the purest dialects of Sclavonic—it has a very pleasing sound, being softer and more melodious than the Russian. My stay was unfortunately not long enough to obtain much knowledge of it, and this want will sufficiently account for any errors that may appear in my descriptions of what I did not personally witness; for it prevented that free intercourse with the people, by which a true insight to their manners can alone be acquired. Their laws seem very simple; he who kills is killed—shooting being the mode of execution. He who robs must make good; and, as few of the people are in abject poverty, this is usually done. Should they fail, a summary flogging is inflicted. At Cettigna is a small prison; I believe there is no other. When any one is there confined, he trusts entirely to his friends for subsistence. They are good-humoured, obliging, and extremely loquacious; but their continued spitting is very disagreeable. I witnessed no games or[Pg 50] diversions among them except the one-stringed fiddle; but I understood that they have a few athletic sports, such as wrestling and putting the stone. They often go to sea. I encountered two among the crew of an Austrian packet. They all profess the Greek faith, and are in their way very religious. When passing a church they bow and cross themselves, and perform all sorts of pious movements, which sometimes border on the ludicrous. Before going to sleep they make long prayers. Previous to visiting the Vladika, an armed Montenegrian entered in the morning the house where we slept, and casting aside his gun and cloak, commenced reading mass to the assembled party. This was the priest of the parish. The older members of the community are not usually very enlightened; but through the schools established by the Vladika, where instruction is dispensed gratuitously, most of the rising generation can read and write their native language, and a sufficiency of neatly printed books are issued from the press he keeps employed at Cettigna. No social distinctions are yet known among them, and the most perfect equality prevails—even the sons address their father by his Christian name. The only exception is in the person of the Vladika—his lot on the whole is not an enviable one. The only educated mind among the many—the only polished gentleman among simple peasants; he is indeed an isolated being. Handsome and in the prime of life, yet there must be none to cheer his lot, or lighten his solitude, nor any to whom he would love to transmit his mountain throne. In this respect the laws of his order are stringent, and the breath of scandal has never yet sullied his fair name, though it is quite true that whilst in his native land the temptations are not very severe. I should not be surprised if a report I heard current should prove true, that he intended, at no very distant period, to relinquish the government of Montenegro, and spend the remainder of his days among a people more congenial to the habits of a man of education. Were he an absolute potentate, an extended field for benefiting his countrymen might be obtained; but with his more constitutional power, the attempts he has been able to make have been constantly thwarted by prejudice and ignorance. Had he the privileges or the ties of an ordinary man, then, as we all know, the barrener the rocks, the dearer seems the love of the native land; but, situated as he is, he can hardly be accused of want of patriotism if his stay in Montenegro should not extend beyond the time required in saving sufficient of his income to quit it.

Our voyage from Cattaro to Corfu was accomplished in a small trabacolo—the San Marco of Spalatro—having on board three men and a boy. These boats, though not fast, are very safe, and the Dalmatians in general manage small craft well. The north wind is scarce at this time of the year, but a beautiful tramontana blew during the time we were working out of the Bocca. This we lost entirely, and not a breath moved its calm waters. We had also to wait some hours at Port Rosa, situated at the entrance of the Bocca, for our papers. By the time we were out at sea, the wind had nearly died away, and the next day found us employed gathering wild pomegranates on the desolate shores near Antiversi, in Albania. Again a beautiful tramontana sprang up, and in a vessel of first-rate sailing powers, would almost have brought us in. All day we went gallantly along. The heads of Ducazzo—Dyrrichium of old—began to appear, and soon we passed it in a foam. All night we held on, and in the morning were beside the "infames scopulos Acroceraunia," and in sight of the island of Sassina, near the harbour of Avlona. On we went still, till at length there appeared the land of the Phœacians, "like a shield upon the sea;" but there was a cloud over it which portended ill. It advanced towards us, and extended rapidly. It was soon evident to the most sanguine that the wind was changing, and there was shortly no mistake about the matter. I implored our skipper to keep on, though he tacked to the coast of Apulia; but he knew his trade too well—the trade of a trabacolo consisting in never losing sight of shore. So we were obliged to put in to Avlona harbour, deeply lamenting. Two days were spent[Pg 51] here, not daring to land for fear of putting ourselves in quarantine. Above the town rises the fortress of Canina, but all wears a ruined appearance. The people of the neighbourhood, called Chimariots, have the worst reputation of all the Albanians. The coast of Albania between this and Corfu has a very barren and inhospitable appearance. The snowy peaks of the Pindus rise directly from the sea. A few bushes were visible on the mountains, but timber of any size is scarce. Villages and houses are seldom seen. A glad contrast was presented when, on the tenth day of our voyage, we approached the beautiful shores of Corfu; and it was no small comfort, after so long an imprisonment in this little tub, with holes to creep in about the size of a dog-kennel, and in the roughest possible weather, to find ourselves in one of the most comfortable hotels in Europe, and surrounded by old friends.

Since my visit to Montenegro, the Vladika went to Vienna—I believe to gain the mediation of Austria concerning the disputed territory of Lessandro. After his return I understand he was visited by Lord Clarence Paget, commanding her Majesty's frigate L'Aigle, who had been sent to gain some information regarding his territory; so that, perhaps, a more accurate account may be obtained than what is to be found in these rough notes.


A Case of Hats.

Of all the follies that can be fairly placed to the charge of the human race—and, Heaven knows, they are thick as gnats in a summer sunbeam—none can be laid at more people's doors than the fickleness and vagaries of the judgment in adorning, to say nothing of covering, man's outer scaffolding—the body. And the worst of it is, that this folly-cap fits all men, from the Red Indian of America to the sallow-faced, eye-slitted Chinese; and through all the robed pomp of the solemn Turk to the chattering and capering monkeyism of the Parisian exquisite—there are fops every where. As Mr Catlin will tell you, one of his lanky Ojibbeway, or Ioway, or Cutaway, or Anyotherkindo'way Indians varies the feathers in his head-dress, and sticks new tinsel on his buffalo-mantle, whenever he can get them; spending as much time in be-painting his cheeks on a summer morning, as Beau Brummell, of departed memory, ever wasted in tying his cravat. And so it has ever been—so it will ever be; man is not only a two-legged unfledged animal, but he is also a vain imitative ape, fond of his own dear visage, blind to his deformities, and ever desirous of setting himself off to the best advantage. It is of no use quarrelling with ourselves for this physiological fact—for we presume it to be one of the best ascertained phenomena connected with the genus homo—it is better to take it as we find it; and if we cannot hope to cure man of the absurdity any time this side of the millennium, let us try if we cannot turn the failing to some account, and make it useful as well as ornamental.

The chief quarrel to be picked with man for his dressing propensities, is on the ground that he not only hides and disfigures the fair proportions bestowed on him by his Maker, but that he ever and anon loads himself with such masses of useless incongruities, that the very end and object of his care are stultified. Instead of making himself smart, pretty, becoming, beautiful—or any other word that you can find in the dandy's dictionary—he frequently succeeds in making himself positively ugly—frightful, in the pure abstract sense of the term—or detestable, in the lingo of the Stultzean tribe—and relapses, as a Frenchman would say, from civism to brutism: Ah! quel animal que l'homme!

But let it not be supposed that we speak of man only, as applied to that great branch of the species designated by the most experienced naturalists[Pg 52] as homo vir; it is quite as true of the other moiety, the homo femina. If it be possible that a woman should ever be made frightful by any thing except age, then it is surely by dress; if a woman never does a foolish thing in any other way, yet at least she errs in her habiliments; if she be fickle at all, (and speak to the fact, ye disappointed bachelors and ye complaisant husbands!) in what is she more fickle than in dress? We might waste a life in finding a suitable simile for her volatility in this matter: rainbows with changing colours, water on a windy day, the wind itself in the month of March, the much-desiderated perpetual motion; all are feeble similes to describe a woman's fickleness in dress. Shall we liken it to her tongue's untiring play? or shall we not rather say that it is a psychological fact standing per se? the concomitant effect and consequence of her beauty? But, dear creatures! we are not going to quarrel with them for what gives us so much unconscious pleasure, (we do not mean milliners' bills, gentle reader;) we glory in living under a petticoat government, and in essentially petticoatian times. All we shall do is to give a word of advice; and in trying on their caps for them, we will show them the rationale of their bows and their lace, if they will only have the patience to sit still for the experiment.

Before embarking on such an important project, allow us to say that we are not going to quiz old Whang-Fong for his pig-tail and peacock feathers, nor his Cannibalean majesty for his obstinate refusal to wear a decent pair of inexpressibles; it is a stiff subject to meddle with the dressing propensities of people that live "in many a place that's underneath the world." For all we care, Abd el Kader and his Arabs may stifle themselves up in their greasy blankets swarming with ancestral vermin under a nearly tropical sun; and the good people of Igloolik may bedeck themselves with the spoils of fish, flesh, and fowl, to set the fashions of the Arctic circle. We are going to speak merely of our home acquaintances and our European friends; if these only would be reasonable in their dress, what a new thing it would be in the world—quel progrés! quel évènement!

The fundamental rule of dress we take to be the following—utility in all cases, ornament when practicable. The first should ever precede, and serve as the basis to the second; and it is the inversion of their due positions that causes so many applications of the utile and the dulce to end in sheer absurdity. The usefulness of any article or system of dress depends entirely upon climate, modified of course by the occupation or pursuits of the wearer; the beauty of it or the suitableness of the ornament to the character of the vestment. We defy all the editors of the Recueils des Modes, Petits Courriers des Dames, Belles Assemblées, &c., with even the poet-laureates of Moses and Son, Hyam and Co., with the whole host of Israelitish schneiders, to find out a better æsthetic definition of the law of dress than this. Who would have the effrontery to maintain that an Englishman, the very type of the useful at Calcutta in his cotton jacket and nankeens, would in the same habiliments be a suitably dressed man at St Petersburg? and however much a well-set ring may ornament an aristocratic finger, (though aristocratic fingers, like aristocratic hands, as Byron observes, need no ornament to tell their origin,) who but an Otaheitan would admire the application of them to the gouty toes of some "fine old English gentleman?" Usefulness first, then, and ornament afterwards; think first of what you actually want for your health or comfort; cut your coat upon that pattern, clap on your lace afterwards; but enrich it only to improve its appearance, not to interfere with, to conceal, or to alter its original destination.

To begin, however, methodically, let us take what are commonly understood by well-dressed English people of the present day, and let us criticise them from top to toe. And first, then, of a gentleman's head—le chef, as the French call it—and the chapeau, its present gear. What a covering! what a termination to the capital of that pillar of the creation, Man! what an ungraceful, mis-shapen, useless, and uncomfortable appendage to the[Pg 53] seat of reason—the brain-box! Does it protect the head from either heat, cold, or wet? Does it set off any of natural beauty of the human cranium? Are its lines in harmony with, or in becoming contrast to, the expressive features of the face? Is it comfortable, portable, durable, or cheap? What qualities, either of use or ornament, has it in its favour that it should be the crowning point of a well-dressed man's toilet? The hat is, beyond all doubt, one of the strangest vestimental anomalies of the nineteenth century.

The history of the hat is this:—The simplest covering for a man's head after his own unshorn locks—(do not remind us of the matted and living locks of the Indians or Hottentots)—must have been something like the Greek skull-cap. This we hold to have been the root, or nucleus, of the hat; and yet even this cap had a fault in point of utility, for it failed to shadow the eyes: and on the earliest Greek monuments we find a cap with a wide brim appended, or a flattish straw-hat following close upon the Phrygian bonnet. A light flattish hat has its recommendation in a warm country, but it will not do for the winds and storms of a northern clime; and hence all the old Gauls, the northern nations, the Tartars, and the peasants of Europe, for many a long century wore a modified cap—sometimes swelling out into ornamental proportions, at others shrinking into the primitive simplicity of the Phrygian or Greek cap. Shall we confess it, fastidious reader?—we strongly suspect the cap worn by that idle fellow Paris, when he so impudently ogled the goddesses on Mount Ida, to have been very similar to the good old bonnet de nuit of our grandfathers—(shall we whisper it, of ourselves?) Yes, that little cocked-up corner at the top looks like a budding tassel; he never had such bad taste as to tie it with a riband round his brows; and we do not read in Homer that Helen, though a capital workwoman, ever gave him one; but we are inclined to believe that the old punty-dunty, pudding-bag-shaped cap which is still worn by the French peasantry in their field occupations, and is still patronized by a large portion of Queen Victoria's loving subjects, is of the highest antiquity, and based, we have no doubt, on utility. We must be candid enough to say, that we give up the argument as to the intrinsic beauty of this species of cap—truly we think it the very type of all that is slovenly; but for use, there is not a more comfortable, portable, pliable, buyable, and washable a commodity, than your—nightcap are we to say? no—than your bonnet Grec.

Hats, properly so called, whether of cloth or fur, were evidently the invention of some out-of-door people; but then they were not the brimless pyramidal canisters of the present fashion, but were either caps with dependent brims, or else broad and flexible Spanish sombreros. The very idea of a hat is that of utility—something to keep off the sun and the rain—any thing will do for warmth that will aid the hair in keeping in the natural caloric of a man's head; and hence we much doubt whether the Irish, that hot-headed nation, ever wore hats in early times. From the want of shade being early felt by civilized nations, more than shelter from rain, and from hat-shapes being found on early southern monuments, we are inclined to think that the hat was more extensively worn in Southern than in Northern Europe; more, as it is, in Southern England than in Northern Scotland. Hence, although we find many iron skull-caps, like hats, used by the military in the fifteenth century; and although we find traces of hats even in the plebeian costumes of the middle ages—yet we look upon the Spanish and Italian hat of the sixteenth century, as the more immediate origin of its degenerate successor, the actual chapeau. We need not trace the variations of its form through the seventeenth century, from the high-crowned things of Henry III. of France, and James I. of England, to the graceful beavers of Louis XIII., Philip III., and Charles I. of England; the change was all in favour of the beaver; and certainly the hat reached its culminating point of excellence during the reign of our martyr king. Who has studied the splendid portraits of Vandyke, or the heads of Rubens, and has not perceived the uncommon grace given to them by the well-proportioned and not exces[Pg 54]sive hat? Who does not remember the fine portrait of Rubens himself, with his black Spanish hat turned up in front, the very perfection of that style of head-dress? Put a modern hat by the side of this hat of Rubens, and say which bears off the palm; there can hardly be two opinions upon the subject. The great change of this hat took place, as is well known, in Louis XIV.'s court, where first of all feathers were laid all round upon the flat of the brim, and next the brim was edged with lace, and pinched or cocked up, for greater use in military service. It might have been useful for a military man, especially one who had to handle a bayoneted musket; but it was a fatal invasion of the principle of beauty to adopt a permanent cock. There is no doubt that the flat cocked hat, the small three-cornered pinched hat of the days of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., gave much smartness to the soldier, and much neatness to the civilian; the change, too, corresponded with other alterations of dress, from the loose and flowing, to the tight and succinct principle; but picturesque effect was entirely lost; all the sentimentality, all the romance of the hat, evaporated in the formal cock. But this small flat hat of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was perfection and beauty itself, compared with the outrageous and elevated cocked hat which came into fashion sometime before 1750, and which is the immediate prototype of the present military cocked hat. Here the principle of utility was entirely abandoned; it was sacrificed to the display of an unnatural brim. The hat was no longer formed by the pinching up of a circular brim of moderate dimensions; but three enormous flaps were made to rear their unwieldy height in the air, and were strengthened, stiffened, and supported, against the envious winds, to the torment of the wearer, and to the disfigurement of his person. All through the first half of the tasteless reign of good old George III., did this horrible covering disguise the beau's head; and the effect of it may still be judged of by his grandchildren, when they contemplate, not without awe, the rubicund figure of some metropolitan church-beadle with his large-caped coat, silver-headed cane, and monstrous three-cornered hat. Our modern great ladies, strange to say, seem to have an especial affection for this hat, since they take particular care to have a couple of footmen behind their carriage glorying in this capital atrocity, while on the coach-box they encourage the older form of the flat cocked hat of Louis XV.

All cocked hats, be it observed, are glorious rain-traps; the only improvement they are capable of is one not yet patented, namely, the appending of neat flexible spouts, say of Macintosh cloth, from each corner, so as to convey the water in pleasant meanderings over the back and coat-tails. In dry weather these spouts might be tied up, and would form graceful curves either before, behind, or on one side of the cocked flaps, while in a shower they would add dignity to utility, as they hung all adown the back of the wearer. One kind of utility, however, the old cocked hat certainly had; it served in some degree, maugre the looping up of the brim, to shelter the face from the sun; not indeed when worn full front, as it was in Dr Johnson's time, and as we remember the household troops used to wear it—but when, by a daring innovation of revolutionary times, it came to be turned round on its human pivot, and lay gently athwart the line of vision. Thus it is that our generals wear it in this nineteenth century; thus it was that the Great Duke got all through Spain with it; though Napoleon, who greatly reduced its dimensions, always kept to the orthodox full-front; and in all positions, except the latter, it certainly does shade some portion of the face from the sun. But while, for example, the projection of one peak shades the nose, the ears and cheeks are left to fish for themselves; or else, if the hat wheels round again to the front, the ears come under its benignant shade, but the tip of the proboscis suffers awfully. The cocked hat has always been a two-horned dilemma ever since the third peak moved up in the world from its original position of horizontal equality, and aspired to be a near neighbour of the cockade or towering plume.

[Pg 55]It was that wicked revolution of France, or rather that dissolute time preceding it, which produced the most mischief in the hat line. Look at any of the pictures of that day—look at the portraits of the Conventionalists—look at the old prints of country gentlemen hunting or riding races at Newmarket—remember the Sir Joshuas in many a noble gallery; and you will not fail to remark that the choice spirits of the day, the go-ahead lads of that time, had let down the flaps of their cocked hats into slouching, and we must say, most slovenly circular brims. There was a sort of free-and-easy look affected in that day about the head, totally at enmity with the prim rigidity of the cocked beaver; you might have taken off your chapeau rond, as it then came to be called, and you might have sat on it—it would have been never the worse; but not so with its stiff old father—no liberties were to be taken with him; once sit upon him, and you would have crushed him forever. This very difference of hats marked a difference of politics—at least in France. There the old chapeau à trois cornes was the badge of the aristocracy: the chapeau rond and the bonnet rouge were sworn brothers in the cause of democracy. The times were getting unhinged; all fashions were relaxing; so were public morals; so were private morals; so were men's hats: hats and heads seemed to have a sympathy, and to have gone wrong together.

And what has been the history of the hat since that day?—the civilian's hat we mean. Who remembers the overlapping crowns which came into fashion soon after the great peace, at a time when Frenchmen wore their brims extravagantly pinched up at the sides, and deeply pulled down fore and aft? Sometimes the hat rose up in pyramidal majesty; sometimes it was shut in like a telescope wanting to be pulled out. And then every kind of fancy man had a fancy hat: there was the Neck-or-nothing hat, the Bang-up, the Corinthian, the Jerry, and the Logic; or else distinguished leaders of ton lent their names to it, and we had the Petershams, the Barringtons, &c. Through every degree of absurdity has the chapeau rond passed, until it seems to have settled down into that quiescent state of mediocrity which marks the decline of empires and of hats. The brim is no longer only half an inch broad as it was once, nor four inches broad as we also remember it: it seems to vary between the limits of one inch and two—a breadth just sufficient to let the line of shade, when the head is erect, come upon the eye-lids, and just sufficient to clear the ears. But if the head be moved ever so little, or if the rain come down ever so slantingly, the services of the hat are at an end: it is well enough to intercept any thing coming down perpendicularly, but "slantendicularly," as friend Slick says—no. Its present height is just enough to prevent your wearing it in a carriage, and such, too, as to give a moderate wind a good purchase upon it: the substance is such that the least exposure to wet ruins it, whether of beaver or silk; a moderate blow will crack or break its form; and for the first week, if you have any thing like a sensitive head, or any bosses of unknown qualities protruding from your cranium, you are doomed to incessant headache from hat-pinchings. It has no properties of usefulness to recommend it, and none of ornament, saving this—if it can be called such—the being an invaluable appendage for a little man to make himself appear tall. What a wide interval from the simplicity of its Phrygian original!

Having, therefore, criticized our present head-gear, and condemned our hats, without pulling them to pieces, let us enquire what a proper covering for the head should be: first of all in point of usefulness, and next in point of comely appearance. But let no man vainly imagine that we expect to suit the fancies of all the creatures privileged to wear hats, or even to cover their heads; we do not pretend to invent, or decide upon, any one given type or form of head-dress. So many are the wants of a man in covering his head, so widely differing from each other are the exigencies of different people, that uniformity in hats is to be given up as a bad job: to attempt it would foil the strength of a Hercules: the utmost[Pg 56] we can hope to effect is to lay down certain limits for the variations of this apex of human pride.

For us, then, who live in a climate rainy, windy, hot, and cold, all within any twenty-four hours of the year, just as the case may be, it is plain that we want for general use something that will be proof against the atmospherical accidents that may befall any man who goes abroad to take the air. And here let it be observed, that in reasoning about hats, all thoughts about that effeminate invention, the umbrella, are to be laid aside. This utensil is truly a disgrace to the manhood of the times; and its existence, by allowing people to dispense with warm cloaks and other anti-rain appliances, has caused more disease, in letting them catch cold, than any thing else we know of. Our stalwart ancestors did admirably well without umbrellas; they wore good cloaks or coats, and broad beavers to keep the rain out of their necks, faring not a jot the worse for it. Umbrellas are only fit for men-milliners, Cockney travellers, and women. The nature of a hat, we flatter ourselves, is something independent of cotton and whalebone; and instead of the umbrella claiming precedence over the hat, the hat, we take it, should be above the umbrella. An Englishman's hat, then, should be something that will keep the rain off his face and neck when the weather is bad, and shield his eyes from the glare of the sun on the few days when sunlight is oppressive—and these two requirements settle at once, on all principles of common sense, that a man, if he has only one kind of covering for the head, should have a hat with a broad brim. This is the very foundation of the definition of an useful hat, providing that a hat is really to be the thing worn for protecting a man's upper story. Usefulness will also decide against height in the crown. Cui bono this same high crown of ours, that looks more like a watering-pot deprived of its spout and handle than a reasonable article of human apparel? Down with the crowns, say we! If you will wear a hat, down with your crown. You may put down your half-sovereign or sovereign, or whatever you please, for your new hat first of all, but down with your crown too. Here, gentle reader, you will exclaim against our taste, and will protest that we would sacrifice every thing to that horrid utilitarian principle, which opposes all ideas of beauty and poetry. We are free to confess that, in our opinion, there is not much poetry to be made about such a subject—unless some obsolete verses, "All round my hat," may be alleged to the contrary; but as for the beauty of the head-piece, we protest that we admit its existence, and think that it should be consulted by whomsoever would pay proper attention to his own outward appearance. The merely useful may possibly make the shape approximate to that of a Quaker's or a jarvey's, but the beautiful has to elevate and modify it into the mystical proportions fit for a man of taste. One other quality, however, which is intimately connected with the useful, has to be noticed. The substance should not be hard and unyielding. Witness, ye reminiscences—ye painful images of bygone headachs, even yet flitting through our brain like Titanic thunderbolts!—accursed be the memory of that fellow Tightfit in Old Bond Street, who used to screw his hats on our cranium when we were young, and ere London had awakened us! As you value your comfort, dear reader, never purchase a hard hat. A hard heart may be borne with, but a hard hat—never! And last of all, a hat should be light—yes, the lighter the better—light as a gossamer web, though 'tis a simile that will not bear stretching. You may have the misfortune to be a heavy-headed man, but do not add to it that of being heavy-hatted. Avoid the extremity of suffering; and observe the climax of ill from which we would shield your head—a narrow-brimmed, hard, heavy, high-crowned hat—

"τοδε γαρ βροτοίς μεγιστον ηλθετ’ εκ θεων κακον."


The covering of the head, then, must have its usefulness made ornamental, if not beautiful; and the due ornamentation of it will depend principally upon its form, but also upon its colour and material. Now, form is the principal thing; every one that[Pg 57] has half an eye for art will tell you this—'tis an admitted axiom. Either, then, the shape of the covering should conform to that of the head, or it should not, and we take our ground in support of the latter position. The natural form of the head is determined by the rotundity of the cranium, beautifully modified by the waving curls of the hair—we speak of the abstract well-formed head; and nothing that approaches to the same shape will ever do more than give a bad substitute for the outline of the head as nature framed it. Any covering conceals the hair; and if you remove from sight this intrinsically beautiful integument, it is a principle of bad taste to put in its place only a poor copy of the same contour. If you cover the head, cover it with something that forms lines not curving like the skull, nor yet so angular as to create too striking an opposition of ideas in the mind of the beholder. A close-fitting untasseled skull-cap does not improve the form of the head, for it is not half so graceful as the hair; but a square hat or pyramidal cap is truly detestable. This is the reason why the common nightcap is ugly; it fits the head too closely, and its upper end conveys the ludicrous idea of something made to be pulled at. On the other hand, the double nightcap, pulled out and allowed to hang down on one shoulder, Spanish fashion, is less ugly—though far removed from our own ideas of beauty—because it introduces a new system of curves, and acts as a kind of dependent drapery to compensate for the concealment of the hair. Here is also the reason why the common hat is so frightful; it gives us straight or nearly straight lines, going upwards like tangents from the oval of the face, and cut off above by another straight line (the section of the crown) at right angles: all such lines and angles are foreign to the face and head. The common nightcap is too familiar, the common hat too stiff. Observe the lines of the face and head; the projection of the nose, the rounded angularity of the chin; the vertical section of the head affording curves with decided yet harmonious irregularities; the horizontal section producing a nearly regular contour. Well, it is upon principles of this kind that the covering of the head should be beautified. Now, we profess ourselves unable to make any better reconciliation of the useful with the beautiful for this purpose, than in the small, flexible, light, and broad-brimmed hat, which is still to be found in some Spanish and Italian pictures; a hat not quite so large as that worn in the reign of Charles I., yet with all its freedom and capability of assuming a variety of graceful forms; not so stiff as the beaux of the Spanish court, and the rakes of our own merry monarch's palace made it; not so formal as we know James I. and Lord Bacon used to wear; but something between all these three types. The prevalence of straight lines in it should be avoided without its appearing slovenly, and its dimensions should be such as to consult convenience without relapsing into a homely vulgarity. Such a kind of hat admits of any further ornament which the fancy of the wearer may induce him to add; a feather, a band, a buckle, or even a plain button for occasionally looping up the brim on one side or other, (not two sides, for it would return to the old cocked hat,)—any of these extraneous additions would harmonize, and would be in due character with its shape. Such a hat would certainly be useful; and that it would be ornamental we have only to decide by consulting our eyes, and by looking at our ancestors' portraits of the seventeenth century.

But there is another kind of covering for the head, which, for its peculiar purposes, seems to us more useful and more ornamental even than this hat; we allude to the common round travelling cap, the officers' undress cap in the British army. Are you going a journey? have you any rough work to do? have you got a headach and want something light? would you put on something that will not spoil by being pulled about, sat on, slept on, and stood on? something handy, useful, comfortable, and withal good-looking?—What do you do? you get a foraging cap. Every man looks well in a foraging cap; it harmonizes with every body's face: it makes the old look young, and the young look smart: it is, without pretence, plain[Pg 58] in detail, and yet elegant in outline: it has no straight lines in it, and yet its curves are in contrast with those of the head; they run in opposite directions: and the shade of the cap, if it has one, emulates the decisiveness of the nose, and gives character to the profile of the head, just as the nose gives point and force to the face. Nothing so easily admits of suitable ornament: a plain band—a golden one—or even a coloured one—makes it suitable to the various ranks and occupations of men: while its material, admitting of infinite variety, according to the taste of the wearer, never injures the source of its beauty its form. The cap fails in only one thing; it is unfit for rainy weather; it will only do for dry days. Do not attempt to put a flap behind it, and tie it under your chin—you at once convert it into an ugly nightcap; its curves then imitate those of the head, and the ridiculous takes the place of the becoming. For three hundred days, however, out of the three hundred and sixty-five, such a cap may be worn with the greatest comfort and advantage: while, for simplicity and elegance, it has no rival. We exclude most vigorously all other kinds of caps; we admit nothing but the common round foraging cap, with a small shade over the eyes; we especially set our faces against the little quirked Highland cap, now revived, and becoming popular among the southrons. This cap has part of its curves—those behind the head approximating too closely to the curve of the skull: in fact, at the hinder part it is a skull-cap; whereas, the other part of the curves in front are too much in opposition to the outline of the face: they bend over and form an unpleasant contrast with the nose and chin: they are deficient in the shade or visor, and there is not one man in a thousand whose face they suit. All fancy-caps with whalebone, falling tops, angular projections, &c., are utterly abominate; we pin our faith to the quiet, unsophisticated, gentlemanlike cap worn by our officers: it beats almost any other head-dress in the world.

The prevailing tendency of the age is to avoid distinctions of dress except in the value of the material, and then only between the two great divisions of society—the affluent and the poor. Hence all ornament seems to be a superfluity, except upon occasions of public display or military service; and men will not now listen to any one who advises them to put feathers and gold lace on their hats and caps: they would as soon think of returning to the embroidered coats of their grandfathers. The principle is a good one: in the palmy days of Rome, the differences of dress bore no proportion to the differences of station; distinction in dress was the failing of the middle ages, a consequence of some lurking seeds of northern barbarism, which are only now ceasing to be propagated. We seem, like the great men of the Eternal City eighteen hundred years ago, to be looking more at the inward worth and influence of a man, than at his outward state and dress; and it is a good sign of the times; it is a reasonable inclination of the mind; but it confines the exercise of taste in dress. Men of the present day are determined to be plain about the head as well as about the body; all ornament of head-dress they have left to soldiers and to the fairer half of the creation:—sed hæc hactenus—we reserve our remarks on the coiffures of these two classes for another occasion.

H. L. J.

[Pg 59]


Guardsmen have at all periods been a racketing, rollicking set of fellows. Whether ancients or moderns, infidels or Christians, prætorians or janissaries, the mousquetaires and Scottish archers of the French Louises, or the lifeguards of "bonnie Dundee's" own regiment, they have always claimed, and usually enjoyed, a greater degree of license than is accorded to the more unpretending soldiery of the line. The first in the field, and the last out of it, they have sometimes seemed to think that, by thrashing the king's enemies, they acquired a right to baton his subjects, that captured cities atoned for the wrongs of deluded damsels, and that each extra blow struck in the fight, entitled them to an extra bottle in the barrack-room. On duty, discipline—off duty, dissipation—seems to have been the motto of these gentlemen; and if it be the case, that they occasionally forgot the former part of their device, it, on the other hand, is no where upon record, that they were oblivious of its latter portion. Fighting hard and drinking hard, living hard and dying hard, the bravest men and most desperate debauchees of all countries, have worn the uniform of guardsmen.

Our old friend, M. Alexandre Dumas, who, if we may believe one of his biographers, passes twelve hours a-day in driving a goosequill for the entertainment and particular edification of his countrymen, found himself, one fine morning, desperately at a loss for something to write about. He is, perhaps, not the first writer of fiction who has been in a like predicament; and even if he were, it would be neither wonderful nor unpardonable, seeing that his average rate of production is about three volumes per month. There is a limit to all things, even to the imagination of a French romance writer; and M. Dumas, without exception the most prolific of modern scribblers, was for once hard up for a subject.

L'hôpital n'est pas pour les chiens, says the French proverb. It occurred to M. Dumas, that the league or two of books in the Bibliothèque Royale were not placed there for the mere purpose of astonishing provincials, or causing English tourists to stare and lift up their hands in admiration; but that one of the objects of their preservation might well be, that they should afford suggestions to any distinguished littérateur who happened to be, like himself, in want of an idea. Emerging, therefore, from his comfortable abode in the Chaussée d'Antin, he turned his steps in the direction of the royal library, and was soon up to his ears in dusty tomes and jaundiced parchments. After much research, he discovered a folio manuscript, numbered, as he tells us in his preface, 4772 or 4773, and purporting to be a memoir, by a certain Count de la Fère, of events that occurred in France towards the latter part of the reign of Louis the Thirteenth. Upon perusal, he found this MS. so interesting, that he applied for, and obtained permission to publish it; and the memoir in question saw the light under the title of Les Trois Mousquetaires.

The piquant and interesting matter contained in this book, caused it to be much read, and numerous persons were curious to see the original manuscript. To their infinite surprise, however, they could obtain no account whatever of such a document; and what was still more provoking, the librarians seemed to look upon them as insane when they asked for it. There was much running up and down the library stairs, much mounting upon step-ladders, and tumbling of paper and parchment, much grumbling of puzzled librarians and disappointed applicants, until at last, the most obstinate became convinced that the aforesaid MS. had no existence save in the imagination of M. Dumas, who had, as it is vulgarly styled, "taken a rise" out of the public.

In the spring of the year 1625, a young Gascon gentleman named D'Artagnan, left his home to seek fortune at Paris. He was mounted on an ill-looking cob, some fourteen years of age—that is to say, within[Pg 60] four years as old as its rider; the sword which his father buckled on him at parting, was more remarkable for its length than its elegance; his purse contained fifteen crowns, and his valise a couple of shirts. To compensate for this meagre equipment, he rode like a Tartar, and fenced like a St George; and was moreover possessed of three qualifications invaluable to a man who has his way to make in the world—a clear head, a light heart, and a courage that nothing could daunt. One thing more he had; a letter of recommendation from his father to Monsieur de Treville, captain of the mousquetaires, or body-guards, of his Majesty Louis the Thirteenth.

Nearly the last words of the worthy old Gascon, who was compelled by his poverty to send his son forth into the world thus slenderly provided, were an injunction to honour the King and Cardinal Richelieu, then in the zenith of his power, and to fight as often as he could get an opportunity. With such counsels yet ringing in his ears, it is not surprising, that before reaching Paris young D'Artagnan gets into a very pretty quarrel against overpowering odds, is somewhat maltreated, and, while senseless from the blows he has received, has his letter stolen from him by an emissary of the Cardinal, among whose political enemies M. de Treville stands in the foremost rank. The young adventurer, however, consoles himself for his loss, shakes his feathers, and arrives at Paris without further accident. Before entering the capital he disposes of his horse, of whose uncouth appearance he is heartily ashamed; and after improving his toilet as well as his scanty wardrobe will allow, he proceeds to the hotel of Monsieur de Treville, where he falls in with the three mousquetaires who give a title to the book, in which, however, D'Artagnan plays the most conspicuous and important part. He finds the hotel Treville throned with applicants for an audience, petitioners, mousquetaires, and lackeys bearing letters from persons of the first importance. He sends in his name, and after some delay, is admitted. Here is M. Dumas' account of the interview.

"Monsieur de Treville was that day in a particularly bad humour; nevertheless he returned D'Artagnan's profound bow with a polite inclination of the head, and smiled at the strong Gascon accent in which the young man uttered his compliments. The sound recalled to his mind his own youth and his native country, two things of which the recollection is apt to make most men smile. He then waved his hand to D'Artagnan, as if requesting him to have a moment's patience, and approaching the door leading to the anteroom, he called out in an imperious and angry tone—

"'Athos! Porthos! Aramis!'

"Two mousquetaires, who had already attracted D'Artagnan's attention, left the groups of which they formed a part, and entered the audience chamber, of which the door was immediately closed behind them.

"There was a remarkable contrast in the appearance of these two guardsmen. One was a man of gigantic stature, loud-voiced, and of stern and haughty countenance; the other, on the contrary, was of gentle and naïve physiognomy, with smooth rosy cheeks, a soft expression in his black eye, a delicate mustache on his upper lip, white hands, and a voice and smile remarkable for their mildness. The bearing of these two gentlemen upon entering the presence of their captain, showed a happy mixture of submission and dignity, which excited the admiration of D'Artagnan, who was already disposed to look upon the mousquetaires as demigods, and upon their chief as an Olympic Jupiter, armed with all his thunders.

"Monsieur de Treville took two or three turns up and down the apartment, silent, and with a contracted brow, passing each time before Porthos and Aramis, who remained mute and immoveable as if upon the parade ground. Suddenly he stopped, and measured them from head to foot with an angry glance.

"'Do you know what the King told me, gentlemen, and that no longer ago than yesternight? Do you know, I say, what his Majesty told me?'

"'No,' replied the two guardsmen after a moment's silence. 'No, sir, we do not know it.'

"'But I hope you will do us the[Pg 61] honour to inform us,' said Aramis in his most polite tone, and with his most graceful bow.

"'He told me that henceforward he would recruit his mousquetaires from among the guards of Monsieur le Cardinal.'

"'Among the guards of Monsieur le Cardinal! And why so?' demanded Porthos abruptly.

"'Because he finds that his own sour wine requires to be improved by the admixture of some more generous liquor.'

"The two guardsmen coloured up to the eyes. D'Artagnan felt uncertain whether he was standing on his head or his heels.

"'Yes,' continued Monsieur de Treville with increased vivacity, 'and his Majesty is right; for, by my honour, the mousquetaires cut a sorry figure at the court! Monsieur le Cardinal was relating yesterday at the King's card-table, in a tone of condolence that displeased me no little, how those infernal mousquetaires, those sabreurs as he ironically called them, had forgotten themselves over their bottle at a tavern in the Rue Ferou, and how a patrol of his guards had found it necessary to arrest them. I thought he was going to laugh in my face as he said the words, looking at me all the time with his tiger-cat eyes. Morbleu! you ought to know something about it. You were amongst them; the cardinal named you. Mousquetaires, indeed, who allow themselves to be arrested! But it is my fault for not choosing my men better. What the devil possessed you, Aramis, to ask me for a guardsman's uniform, when a priest's surplice would have fitted you better? And you, Porthos, what is the use of your wearing that magnificent embroidered sword-belt, if the weapon it supports is of such small service to you? And Athos, I do not see Athos. Where is he?'

"'Sir,' replied Aramis gravely, 'he is ill—very ill.'

"'Ill, say you? And of what disease?'

"'It is feared that it is the small-pox, sir,' replied Porthos, who was desirous of putting in a word. 'It would be a great pity, for it would assuredly spoil his appearance.'

"'The small-pox! A fine story indeed! The small-pox at his age! Not so! But wounded, I suppose—killed perhaps. Sangdieu! Messieurs les Mousquetaires, I insist upon your ceasing to frequent taverns and places of bad repute. I will have no more brawling and sword-playing in the public streets. I will not have my regiment made a laughing-stock to the Cardinal's guards, who are brave fellows, prudent and quiet—who do not get themselves into trouble, and if they did, would not allow themselves to be arrested. Not they! They would sooner die upon the spot than recede an inch. It is only the King's mousquetaires who run away or are taken prisoners.'

"Porthos and Aramis trembled with rage. They would willingly have strangled their chief, if they had not felt that it was the great affection he bore them that induced him to speak thus harshly. They bit their lips till the blood came, and clutched the hilts of their swords in silent fury. Several of the guardsmen in the anteroom, who had heard Monsieur de Treville's summons to Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and suspected what was going on, had applied their ears to the tapestry, and lost not a word of their captain's reproaches, which they repeated to those around them, who in their turn repeated them to their comrades on the staircase and in the courtyard. In an instant, from the anteroom to the street, all was commotion.

"'Ha! his Majesty's mousquetaires allow themselves to be arrested by the Cardinal's guards!' continued Monsieur de Treville, who was as furious as his soldiers. 'Aha! sirs, six of his Eminence's guards arrest six of the King's! Morbleu! I have made up my mind what to do. I will go at once to the Louvre, resign my post as captain of mousquetaires, and solicit a lieutenancy in the Cardinal's guards; and if I am refused, morbleu! I will turn priest!'

"At these words the murmur outside the audience chamber became an explosion. On all sides oaths and blasphemies were resounding. D'Artagnan looked about for a place to hide himself. He felt a strong inclination to get under the table.

"'Well, captain,' said Porthos,[Pg 62] who was completely beside himself with rage and vexation, 'the truth is that we were six against six; but they attacked us treacherously; and before we could draw a sword, two of us were dead men, and Athos desperately wounded and equally useless. You know Athos, captain; well, twice he tried to get up, and twice he fell down again. Nevertheless, we did not yield ourselves prisoners; we were taken off by main force, and on the way to the guard-house we managed to break away from them. As to Athos, they thought him dead, and left him on the ground. That is the real truth of the matter. And what then, captain! One cannot win every battle. The great Pompey lost that of Pharsalia, and Francis I., who, from what I have heard, was no fool in the fighting way, got roughly handled at Pavia.'

"'And I have the honour to assure you, sir,' said Aramis, 'that I killed one of the guards with his own sword, for mine was broken at the first onset.'

"'I did not know that,' said Treville in a more gentle tone. 'I see that the Cardinal exaggerated matters.'

"'But for heaven's sake, sir,' continued Aramis, encouraged by the softened manner of his commander, 'for heaven's sake, do not mention that Athos is wounded: he would be in despair if the King heard of it; and as the wound is very serious, having passed through the shoulder and entered the breast, it is to be feared....'

"At this moment the tapestry that covered the door was raised, and the head of a man of noble aspect and handsome features, but fearfully pale, appeared below the fringe.

"'Athos!' exclaimed the two guardsmen.

"'Athos!' repeated Monsieur de Treville himself.

"You asked for me, sir,' said Athos to Monsieur de Treville, in a calm but enfeebled voice—'my comrades told me that you asked for me, and I hastened to obey your summons.'

"And so saying, the mousquetaire entered the room with a tolerably firm step, in full uniform and belted as usual. Monsieur de Treville, touched to the soul by this proof of courage, sprang to meet him.

"'I was telling these gentlemen,' said he, 'that I forbid my mousquetaires to expose their lives without necessity; that brave men are very dear to the King, and his Majesty knows that his mousquetaires are the bravest men upon the face of the earth. Your hand, Athos!'

"And without waiting for the new comer to hold out his right hand, Monsieur de Treville seized and pressed it energetically, not observing that Athos, in spite of his command over himself, writhed with pain, and grew each moment paler than before. The room-door had remained half open, and a loud murmur of satisfaction from without replied to the words addressed to Athos by Monsieur de Treville. The heads of two or three mousquetaires, who forgot themselves in the enthusiasm of the moment, appeared at the opening of the tapestry. Doubtless Monsieur de Treville was about to check sharply this infraction of the laws of etiquette, when he suddenly felt the hand of Athos contract in his, and looking at the guardsman, he saw that he was going to faint. At the same moment Athos, who had summoned all his energies to struggle against the sufferings he endured, was overcome by the torture of his wound, and fell senseless to the ground.

"'A surgeon!' cried Monsieur de Treville. 'My surgeon—the King's—the best! A surgeon! or, sangdieu! my brave Athos will die!'"


The swoon of Athos had merely been occasioned by loss of blood. The surgeon declares there is no danger, and D'Artagnan, who has stood his ground with true Gascon tenacity, at length obtains an audience. The loss of his letter of recommendation now proves a great disadvantage to him. In those days of court intrigue and espionage, men were naturally suspicious of each other, and the mingled naïveté and shrewdness of the young Béarnais, are causes for Monsieur de Treville at first suspecting him of being a spy of the Cardinal's. His suspicions, however, are wearing off, and he is disposed to be useful to D'Artagnan, although he cannot admit him into the mousquetaires—a noviciate of two years in some other regiment being the indispensable condition[Pg 63] of admission into that favoured corps—when D'Artagnan, happening to look out of the window, starts, reddens with anger, and rushes to the door. He has recognised, in a passer-by, the person who had stolen his letter; and leaves Monsieur de Treville in doubt whether he has to do with a madman or with an emissary of the Cardinal's, who, fearing himself suspected, takes this pretext for effecting a retreat.

In his hurry to leave the hotel and pursue his robber, D'Artagnan gets into all sorts of scrapes. On the landing-place he runs against Athos, who is returning home after having his wound dressed. Some hasty words pass, a challenge is the result, and rendezvous is taken for noon in a field near the Carmelite convent, then a favourite duelling ground. In the gateway of the courtyard, Porthos is talking with one of his comrades, and D'Artagnan, in trying to pass between them, gets entangled in the velvet cloak of the former, and discovers, what the guardsman had been most anxious to conceal, that the front only of his embroidered shoulder-belt was gold, and the back mere leather. Porthos, not having sufficient pistoles to purchase a whole belt, had gratified his vanity with half a one, and wore his cloak to conceal the deficiency. The young Gascon finds himself with a second duel on his hands, and sets himself down as a dead man. Meantime his robber has disappeared, and as D'Artagnan is proceeding in the direction of his lodging, he encounters Aramis, standing in the middle of the street with some other gentlemen. Furious with himself for the follies he has been committing, D'Artagnan has made a resolution to be all things to all men, at least for the hour or two that he still has to live; and observing that Aramis has dropped a handkerchief, and placed his foot upon it, he hastens to drag it from under his boot, and present it to him with a most gracious bow and smile. A coronet and cipher on the embroidered cambric attract notice, and draw down a shower of raillery upon the head of the mousquetaire, who, in order to shield the honour of a lady, is compelled to deny that the handkerchief is his. His companions walk away, and Aramis reproaches D'Artagnan with his officiousness. The Gascon blood gets up, good resolutions are forgotten, and a third rendezvous is the result.

M. Dumas is never more at home than in the description of duels. Himself an excellent swordsman, he luxuriates and excels in the description of points and parries, cartes and tierces, and of the vigorous estocades which his heroes administer to each other. One of the good chapters of the book—and there are many such—is the one in which D'Artagnan encounters the three redoubtable champions whom he has so heedlessly provoked. We will endeavour, by abridgement, to lay it before our readers.

"D'Artagnan knew nobody at Paris, and betook himself, therefore, to his first rendezvous without seconds, intending to content himself with those whom his adversary should bring. Moreover, his firm intention was to make all reasonable apologies to Athos, fearing that there would result from this duel the usual consequence of an encounter between a young and vigorous man and a wounded and feeble one—if the former is conquered, his antagonist's triumph is doubled; and if he conquers, he is accused of taking an advantage, or of being brave at small risk. Besides this, either we have been unsuccessful in the exposition of our young adventurer's character, or the reader will have already perceived that D'Artagnan was no ordinary man. Thus, although he repeated to himself that his death was inevitable, he by no means made up his mind to fall an easy sacrifice, as one less cool and courageous than himself might perhaps have done. He reflected on the different characters of the three men with whom he had to fight, and began to think that his case was not so desperate as it might have been. He hoped, by the candid and loyal apology which he intended to offer, to make himself a friend of Athos, whose austere mien and noble air pleased him greatly. He flattered himself that he should be able to intimidate Porthos by the affair of the shoulder-belt, which he could, if not killed upon the spot, relate to every body, and which would cover the giant with ridicule. Finally, he did not feel much[Pg 64] afraid of Aramis, and he resolved, if he lived long enough, either to kill him, or at least to administer to him a wound in the face, that would considerably impair the beauty of which he was evidently so proud.

"When D'Artagnan arrived in sight of the waste land adjoining the convent of barefooted Carmelites, noon was striking, and Athos was already on the ground. The guardsman, who still suffered cruelly from his wound, was seated on a post, and awaiting his adversary with the calm countenance and dignified air that never abandoned him. Upon D'Artagnan's appearance, he rose courteously, and advanced a few steps to meet him. Our Gascon, on his side, made his approach hat in hand, the plume trailing on the earth.

"'Sir,' said Athos, 'I have given notice to two gentlemen to act as my seconds, but they are not come. I am surprised at it, for they are usually punctual.'

"'For my part, sir,' returned D'Artagnan, 'I have no seconds. I arrived in Paris yesterday, and know no one but Monsieur de Treville, to whom I was recommended by my father, who has the honour to be a friend of his.'

"Athos glanced at the beardless chin and youthful mien of his adversary, and seemed to reflect for a moment.

"'Ah ça!' said he at last, speaking half to himself and half to D'Artagnan; 'ah ça! but if I kill you, it will be something very like child-murder.'

"'Not exactly, sir,' replied D'Artagnan, with a bow that was not without its dignity; 'not exactly, sir, since you do me the honour to meet me with a wound by which you must be greatly inconvenienced.'

"Inconvenienced certainly, and you hurt me terribly, I must acknowledge, when you ran against me just now; but I will use my left hand, according to my custom in such circumstances. Do not suppose on that account that I am sparing you; I fight decently with both hands, and a left-handed swordsman is an awkward antagonist when one is not prepared for him. I am sorry I did not tell you of it sooner, that you might have got your hand in accordingly.'

"'Truly, sir,' said D'Artagnan, with another bow, 'I know not how to express my gratitude for such courtesy.'

"'You are too obliging to say so,' returned Athos, with his princely air; 'let us talk of something else, if not disagreeable to you. Ah, sangbleu! you hurt me terribly! My shoulder burns.'

"'If you would permit me,' said D'Artagnan, timidly.

"'What then, sir?'

"'I have a balm that is wonderfully efficacious in the cure of wounds. I hold the recipe from my mother, and have myself experienced its good effects.'


"'Well, I am sure that in less than three days it would heal your wound; and at the end of that time, sir, it would still be a great honour for me to meet you.'

"D'Artagnan said these words with a simplicity that did credit to his natural courtesy of feeling, at the same time that it could not give rise to the slightest doubt of his courage.

"'Pardieu, sir!' said Athos, 'your proposition pleases me, not that I can accept it, but because it is that of a chivalrous gentleman. It is thus that spoke and acted those heroes of Charlemagne's days, on whom every cavalier should strive to model himself. Unfortunately we do not live in the times of the great emperor, but in those of Cardinal Richelieu; and however well we might keep our secret, it would be known before three days had elapsed that we intended to fight, and our duel would be prevented. Ah ça! where can those idlers be?'

"'If you are in haste, sir,' resumed D'Artagnan with the same simplicity with which he had a moment before proposed to put off the duel for three days—'if you are pressed for time, and that it pleases you to finish with me at once, let me beg of you to do so.'

"'Another proposal that I like,' said Athos with an approving nod of the head; 'it is that of a man lacking neither wit nor valour. Sir, I like men of your stamp; and I see that if we do not kill one another, I shall hereafter have much pleasure in your[Pg 65] society. But let us wait for these gentlemen, I beg of you. I have plenty of time, and it will be more according to rule. Ha! here comes one of them.'

"At that moment the gigantic form of Porthos appeared at the extremity of the Rue Vaugirard.

"'What!' cried D'Artagnan, 'Monsieur Porthos is one of your seconds?'

"'Yes; is it disagreeable to you?'

"'By no means.'

"'And here is the other.'

"D'Artagnan turned his head and recognised Aramis.

"'What!' he exclaimed in still greater astonishment, 'Monsieur Aramis is the other?'

"'Certainly; do you not know that we are never seen asunder, and are known in court, camp, and city, as Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, or the three inseparables? But you are just arrived from Gascony, which accounts for your being unacquainted with these circumstances.'

"Meanwhile Porthos, who had abandoned his cloak and changed his shoulder-belt, approached, nodded to Athos, but on beholding D'Artagnan, remained struck with astonishment.

"'This is the gentleman I am to fight with,' said Athos indicating D'Artagnan with his hand, at the same time bowing to him.

"'It is with him that I am to fight,' said Porthos.

"'Not till one o'clock,' said D'Artagnan.

"'And I also,' said Aramis, who just then came up.

"'Our appointment was for two o'clock,' said D'Artagnan with perfect composure.

"'What are you going to fight about, Athos?' asked Aramis.

"'Faith, I can hardly tell you. He hurt my shoulder. And you, Porthos?'

"'I fight because I am so minded,' replied Porthos colouring.

"Athos, whom nothing escaped, saw a slight smile curling D'Artagnan's lip.

"'We had a dispute about dress,' said the young Gascon.

"'And you, Aramis?' asked Athos.

"'A theological difference,' replied Aramis, making a sign to D'Artagnan that he wished the cause of their duel to remain a secret.

"'Indeed!' said Athos looking at D'Artagnan.

"'Yes, a point of St Augustin on which we are not agreed,' said the latter.

"'Decidedly he is a man of wit and sense,' muttered Athos to himself.

"'And now that you are all assembled, gentlemen,' said D'Artagnan, 'allow me to apologise to you.'

"At the word apologise, a cloud passed across the features of Athos, Porthos smiled contemptuously, Aramis made a negative sign.

"'You do not understand me, gentlemen,' said D'Artagnan raising his head proudly. 'I only apologise in case I should not be able to pay my debt to all of you; for Monsieur Athos has the right to kill me the first, which greatly diminishes the value of my debt to you, Monsieur Porthos, and renders that to Monsieur Aramis nearly worthless. And now, gentlemen, I say again, accept my apologies, but on that account only—and to work!'

"And so saying, he drew his sword with the most fearless and gallant mien possible to be seen. His blood was up, and at that moment he would have fought not only Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, but the whole regiment of mousquetaires.

"'When you please, sir,' said Athos, putting himself on guard.

"'I was waiting your orders,' returned D'Artagnan.

"But the two rapiers had scarcely clashed together, when five of the Cardinal's guards, commanded by Monsieur de Jussac, appeared from behind a corner of the convent.

"'The Cardinal's guards!' exclaimed Porthos and Aramis. 'Sheath your swords, gentlemen!'

"But it was too late. The combatants had been seen in an attitude that left no doubt as to their pugnacious intentions.

"'Hola!' cried Jussac advancing towards them, followed by his men. 'Hola, mousquetaires! fighting here? And the edicts. We have forgotten them, eh?'

"'Your generosity is really remarkable, gentlemen of the guards,'[Pg 66] said Athos bitterly, for Jussac had been one of the aggressors in the recent affray. 'I promise you that if we saw you fighting we would not interrupt you. Leave us alone, then, and you will have your amusement for nothing.'

"'Gentlemen,' said Jussac, 'I am grieved to tell you that the thing is impossible. Duty before every thing. Be pleased to sheath your swords, and follow us.'

"'Sir,' replied Aramis, parodying Jussac's manner, 'we should have the greatest pleasure in accepting your polite invitation, if it depended upon us so to do, but unfortunately the thing is impossible; Monsieur de Treville has forbidden it. Move on, therefore; it is the best thing you can do.'

"This bantering exasperated Jussac. 'We will charge you,' said he, 'if you disobey.'

"'They are five,' said Athos in a low voice, 'and we are but three; we shall be beaten again, and we must die here; for I swear not to reappear before the captain if conquered.'

"Athos, Porthos, and Aramis drew closer to each other. Jussac was arranging his men in line. This single moment of delay was sufficient for D'Artagnan to make up his mind; it was one of those moments that decide a man's whole life. The choice was to be made between King and Cardinal, and, once made, it must be persevered in. If he fought, he disobeyed the law, risked his head, and made an enemy of a minister more powerful than the king himself. All these considerations passed like lightning through the mind of the young Gascon; but, be it said to his honour, he did not hesitate an instant. Turning towards Athos and his friends.

"'Gentlemen,' said he, 'allow me to amend the words last spoken. You said you were only three, but to my thinking we are four.'

"'But you are not one of us,' said Porthos.

"'True,' replied D'Artagnan, 'I have not the coat; but I have the spirit. In my heart I am a mousquetaire—I feel it, and that leads me on.'

"'You may retire, young man,' cried Jussac, who doubtless guessed D'Artagnan's intentions by his gestures and the expression of his face. 'You may retire, we permit it. Be-gone, then, and quickly.'

"D'Artagnan did not stir.

"'Decidedly you are a fine fellow,' said Athos, pressing the young man's hand.

"But the three mousquetaires thought of D'Artagnan's youth, and distrusted his inexperience.

"'We should only be three, of whom one wounded, and a child,' said Athos; 'but they will say all the same, that there were four of us.'

"'Gentlemen,' said D'Artagnan, 'only try me, and I swear by my honour that if we are conquered I will not leave the ground alive.'

"'What is your name, my brave fellow?' said Athos.

"'D'Artagnan, sir.'

"'Well, then, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan, forwards!' cried Athos.

"'What do you decide to do?' cried Jussac.

"'We are going to have the honour of charging you,' said Aramis, raising his hat with one hand and drawing his sword with the other.

"And the nine combatants precipitated themselves on each other with a fury that did not exclude a certain degree of method. Athos took one Cahusac, a favourite of the Cardinal's; Porthos had Bicarat; and Aramis found himself opposed to two adversaries. As to D'Artagnan, he encountered Jussac himself.

"The heart of the young Gascon beat high, not with fear, there was no shadow of it, but with emulation; he fought like an enraged tiger, turning about his enemy, changing each moment his ground and his guard. Jussac was one of the good blades of the day, and had had much practice; but he had, nevertheless, all the difficulty in the world to defend himself against a supple and active antagonist, who was constantly deviating from the received rules of fencing, attacking him on all sides at once, and parrying, at the same time, like a man who had the greatest regard for his epidermis. At last Jussac lost patience. Furious at being thus kept at bay by one whom he looked upon as a child, his sang-froid abandoned him, and he[Pg 67] began to commit blunders. D'Artagnan, who, although lacking practice, was perfect in theory, redoubled his agility. Jussac, with the design of finishing him at once, delivered a terrible thrust, which D'Artagnan parried adroitly, and, before his opponent could raise himself, he glided like a serpent under his guard, and passed his sword through his body. Jussac fell heavily to the earth.

"D'Artagnan now cast an uneasy and rapid glance over the field of battle. Aramis had already killed one of his adversaries. The other gave him plenty to do, but Aramis was able to take care of himself. Bicarat and Porthos were wounded; Porthos in the arm, and Bicarat in the thigh. But neither wound was serious, and the sight of their blood made them fight all the better. There was no need to interfere there. Athos, wounded again by Cahusac, was growing each moment paler, but he did not give way an inch. He had changed his sword to his left hand. D'Artagnan caught his eye as he was looking to see who most required his aid. The look of the wounded mousquetaire was most eloquent; he would have died sooner than call for assistance, but his glance said how much he stood in need of it. With a single bound, D'Artagnan was upon Cahusac's flank.

"'Have a care, sir guardsman,' cried he, 'or I slay you on the spot.'

"Cahusac turned to face his new opponent. It was high time, for Athos, who had only been sustained by his extreme courage, sank upon one knee.

"'Sangdieu!' cried he to D'Artagnan, 'do not kill him, young man, I beg of you; I have an old quarrel to terminate with him when my wound is healed. Disarm him only—So—Well done!'

"This last exclamation was caused by Cahusac's sword, which flew from his hand to a distance of twenty paces. D'Artagnan and Cahusac rushed to pick it up, but D'Artagnan reached it first, and put his foot upon it. Cahusac ran to the guardsman whom Aramis had killed, took his rapier, and was returning to D'Artagnan; but on his road he met Athos, who had taken breath during the moment's respite which the latter had procured him, and now recommenced the fight, fearing that the Gascon would kill his enemy. D'Artagnan saw that he should disoblige him by again interfering. A few seconds later, Cahusac fell with a wound through the throat. At the same moment Aramis placed his sword's point on the breast of his prostrate adversary, and forced him to sue for mercy.

"Porthos and Bicarat alone remained. Porthos, while fighting, indulged in all sorts of fanfarronades, asking Bicarat what time of day it was, and complimenting him on the company which his brother had just attained in the regiment of Navarre. In spite of his jests, however, he did not gain ground. Bicarat was a stubborn and skilful opponent. It was time to bring matters to a conclusion before some patrol should arrive, and take both royalists and cardinalists into custody. Athos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan, surrounded Bicarat, and summoned him to surrender. Although alone against four, and with a wound through the thigh, he would not give in, though Jussac, who had raised himself on his elbow, called out to him to yield. Bicarat was a Gascon, like D'Artagnan; he only laughed, and pretended not to hear, at the same time pointing to the ground at his feet. 'Here will die Bicarat,' said he, 'the last of those who are with him.'

"'But they are four against you,' cried Jussac; 'I order you to desist.'

"'Ah, if you order me, it is another affair!' said Bicarat; 'you are my superior, and I must obey.'

"And giving a spring backwards, he broke his sword across his knee, in order not to yield it up, threw the pieces over the convent wall, and, crossing his arms, whistled a Cardinalist air.

"Courage is always respected even in an enemy. The mousquetaires saluted Bicarat with their swords, and returned them to their scabbards. D'Artagnan did the same, and, assisted by Bicarat, he carried under the convent porch Jussac, Cahusac, and that one of Aramis's adversaries who was only wounded. The other, as already observed, was dead. They then rang the bell, and left the ground; the mousquetaires and D'Artagnan,[Pg 68] intoxicated with joy, carrying away four swords out of five, and taking the direction of Monsieur de Treville's hotel. Every mousquetaire whom they met, and informed of what had happened, turned back and accompanied them; so that at last their march was like a triumphal procession. D'Artagnan was beside himself with delight; he walked between Athos and Porthos, holding an arm of each.

"'If I am not yet a mousquetaire,' said he to his new friends, as they crossed the threshold of the Hotel Treville, 'I may at least say that I am received apprentice.'"


The result of this affair is to procure D'Artagnan the favour of Monsieur de Treville and the King—the latter of whom dislikes the Cardinal in secret nearly as much as he fears him. The young Gascon has an audience of Louis the Just, who recruits his finances by the present of a handful of pistoles; and a few days later he is appointed to a cadetship in the company of guards of the Chevalier des Essarts, a brother-in-law of Treville. According to the singular ideas of those days, there was nothing degrading to a gentleman in receiving money from the king's hand. D'Artagnan, therefore, pockets the pistoles with many thanks, and takes an early opportunity of dividing them with his friends with the mythological names, Messieurs Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who, according to the custom of mousquetaires, have more gold upon their coats than in their purses. The courage and good qualities of the Gascon have won the hearts of the three guardsmen, and he is admitted to make a fourth in their brotherhood, of which the motto is, "Un pour tous, et tous pour un." All is in common amongst them—pleasures, perils, pistoles.

The characters of the three mousquetaires are well sketched and sustained, and illustrate admirably the vices, virtues, and propensities of their time and station. Aramis, who was originally intended for the church, has relinquished the black coat of an abbé in order to fight a nobleman who had insulted him. He still, however, persists in considering himself as a guardsman only pro tempore; and whenever fortune or his mistress frowns upon him, he declares his intention of abandoning his sinful mode of life, and throwing himself into the arms of mother church. Vanity is the failing of Porthos, who shines more by his imposing appearance, brilliant attire, and bull-dog courage, than by any qualities of the head. To Athos, who is the most interesting of the three, a certain mystery is attached, which, however, is seen through early in the book. He is a man of high birth, princely manners, and chivalrous feeling, but whose stormy life has cast a strong tinge of melancholy over his character, and who now finds his sole consolation in the wine-cup. It must not be therefore supposed that Athos is a sot, a wallower in wine, or a haunter of tavern orgies. He drinks, it is true, enough to prostrate any three ordinary men; but he takes his liquor, as he does every thing else, so much like a gentleman, and, moreover, there is so much self-devotion and generosity in his character, such dignity of manner and rectitude of feeling—his temper so even and kindly—his courage so heroic—that he is unquestionably the most amiable and interesting of the dramatis personæ, preferable to D'Artagnan, to whom premature worldly wisdom gives a hardness bordering upon egotism. While Aramis is sighing sonnets to his mistress, and Porthos parading on the crown of the causeway in all the glory of gold lace and embroidery, Athos sits tranquilly at home, and says, like Gregory in the Deserter—

"J'aime mieux boire."

His real name—for Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are merely assumed ones—is known only to the King and to Monsieur de Treville.

It would be difficult within the limits of this paper to give an idea of the entire plot of the Three Mousquetaires, which is, in fact, less a tale with a regular intrigue and dénouement, than a narrative of adventures and incidents, extending over a period of nearly three years. D'Artagnan, whose enterprising character and Gascon acuteness qualify him admirably to take a part in the court intrigues of the time, soon finds himself almost at open war with the Cardinal, and en[Pg 69]gaged in serving the interests of Louis the Thirteenth's unhappy queen, Anne of Austria, who, by rejecting the suit of the scarlet duke—as the mousquetaires irreverently style the Cardinal Duke of Richelieu—has drawn upon herself the deadly hatred of that omnipotent personage. The Duke of Buckingham, who is madly in love with the queen, visits Paris in disguise, and obtains an interview with her. At parting, he implores her to give him some trifle, which he may preserve as a souvenir of their attachment; and Anne of Austria gives him the first thing that comes to hand, which happens to be a jewel-case, containing twelve diamond clasps or ferrets that she has lately received from the King. The Cardinal, omnipresent by his spies, learns this; manages adroitly to rouse the king's jealousy; and prevails on him to give a ball, at which the queen is desired to appear, wearing the ferrets in question. Anne of Austria is in despair. To obtain the restitution of the jewels within the eight days that have to elapse before the one fixed for the ball, appears impossible. Buckingham is in England; if she writes, her letter will be intercepted by the Cardinal; if she sends, her messenger will be stopped. Nothing could at that time be done in France without coming to the knowledge of Richelieu. In her extremity she is induced to confide in one of her attendants, with whom D'Artagnan is in love; and a few hours later, the intrepid Gascon and his three inseparable friends set out for England, provided with a leave of absence from Monsieur de Treville, and attended by their four lackeys. D'Artagnan alone knows the object of their journey; but the others, confiding implicitly in his judgment, and bound, moreover, by the rules of their association, ask no questions, and willingly brave the dangers that the Cardinal strews in their path. It is agreed that, in case of rencontres by the way, the dead or wounded are to be left to their fate, and the others are to push on without an instant's delay. Should D'Artagnan fall, the survivors are to take from his pocket the queen's letter to Buckingham, and continue their route.

The adventurers are not allowed to proceed far without molestation. They stop to breakfast, and a stranger picks a quarrel with Porthos, who stays behind to fight him, and does not rejoin them. Near Beauvais they receive a volley from some pretended labourers; D'Artagnan's hat is knocked off by a ball; a lackey is left in the road, and Aramis is badly wounded, and obliged to remain at the next town. D'Artagnan, Athos, and their two attendants, reach Amiens at midnight, and stop to sleep at the sign of the Golden Lily. Here various suspicious incidents occur, and in the morning their horses are found to be dead-lame, and unable to proceed. One that might still have gone on has been bled by mistake.

"All these accidents succeeding each other began to alarm our travellers; they might be the result of chance, but they were more probably that of an organized plot. Athos and D'Artagnan left their room, while Planchet (D'Artagnan's groom) went to enquire whether there were any horses to be bought in the neighbourhood. At the door were standing two vigorous animals, saddled and bridled, and which would have suited the guardsmen well. Planchet asked to whom they belonged, and was told that their masters had passed the night at the inn, and were then paying their score previous to departure. Athos went to do the same, while D'Artagnan and Planchet remained at the street door.

"The host was in a small back room, which Athos was requested to enter. He did so without suspicion, and took out some pistoles to pay. The innkeeper, who was seated at a desk, of which one of the drawers was half-open, took the money, turned it about, and examined it on all sides, and suddenly exclaiming that it was false, declared that he would have Athos and his companion arrested as coiners.

"'Scoundrel!' cried Athos, advancing towards him; 'I will cut your ears off for your insolence.'

"But the man stooped down, took a brace of pistols out of the open drawer, and pointing them at Athos, called loudly for help. On the instant four armed men entered by a side-door, and attacked Athos.

[Pg 70]"'I am taken!' cried the mousquetaire, with all the power of his lungs. 'To horse, D'Artagnan! Spur! spur!'

"And he fired both his pistols. D'Artagnan and Planchet untied the two horses that were waiting at the door, sprang upon their backs, and set off full gallop.

"By dint of spurring and precaution, D'Artagnan and his follower reach Calais without further accident; the horse of the former falling dead within a hundred yards of the town. They hasten to the port, and find themselves close to a gentleman and his servant, dusty and travel-stained, who are enquiring for a vessel to take them to England. The master of a sloop that is ready to sail informs them, that an order had arrived that very morning to prevent any ship from leaving the harbour without an express permission from the Cardinal.

"'I have that permission,' said the gentleman, taking a paper from his pocket.

"'Very good!' said the sailor. 'Get it countersigned by the governor of the port, and give me the preference.'

"'Where shall I find the governor?'

"'At his country-house, a quarter of a league from the town. You see it yonder. A slated roof at the foot of a little hill.'"


The gentleman and his attendant take the direction of the governor's house. D'Artagnan follows them; picks a quarrel with the stranger, who is a certain Count de Wardes, an adherent of the Cardinal's, wounds him desperately, himself receiving a scratch, takes the pass, gets it countersigned, and proceeds to England. The Duke of Buckingham is hunting at Windsor with the king; but the indefatigable Gascon follows him thither, and delivers his letter. The duke hurries with him to London to give him the ferrets; but, to his unspeakable consternation, finds that two out of the twelve are missing. They had been cut from his dress by an emissary of the Cardinal's at a ball at Windsor Castle, at which he had worn the queen's present. The ferrets are of immense value, and difficult workmanship. Buckingham sends for his jeweller, who demands eight days and three thousand pistoles to replace the missing ornaments. The duke locks him up in a room, with his tools and a workman, and allows him six thousand pistoles, and thirty-six hours to complete then. The ferrets are ready within the prescribed period. Furnished with a password from the duke, who has trusty agents in France, D'Artagnan reaches Paris by a different road and without impediment, arriving in time to save the queen, who appears at the ball with her twelve ferrets, to the vast discomfiture of the Cardinal. Meanwhile D'Artagnan's mistress had been spirited away by Richelieu, and the young Gascon is in despair. He confides his misfortunes to Monsieur de Treville, who promises to do what he can to find the lady, and advises D'Artagnan to leave Paris till the Cardinal's wrath is a little blown over. D'Artagnan takes his advice; bethinks him of the three mousquetaires, and sets out to look for them. He finds Porthos and Aramis where he left them, nearly recovered from their wounds; and proceeding to Amiens, enters the hotel of the Golden Lily, and confronts the host—his whip in his right hand, his left on his sword-hilt, and evidently meaning mischief.

The innkeeper, however, turns out to be more an object of pity than blame. Previously to the arrival of D'Artagnan and Athos on their way to England, he had received information from the authorities, that a party of coiners, disguised as guardsmen, would arrive at his inn, and that he was to take measures to arrest them. The six men who brought him these orders disguised themselves as servants and stable-boys, and remained to assist in the capture. In the skirmish, Athos shot two of them, wounded a third, cut the host across the face with the flat of his sword, and retreated fighting to the cellar stairs. Entering the cellar, he pulled the door to and barricaded it. His assailants left the house, carrying off their killed and wounded; and when the innkeeper, recovering a little from his alarm, went to inform the governor of what had occurred, the latter declared himself totally ignorant of the whole business, denied that he had[Pg 71] given orders to arrest any coiners, and threatened to hang the unlucky host if he mixed up his name in the affair.

"'But, Athos!' cried D'Artagnan, losing all patience at the innkeeper's prolixity,—'Athos, what is become of him?'

"'I was eager to repair my wrongs towards the gentleman,' replied the innkeeper, 'and hurried to the cellar to set him at liberty. But on my declaring what I came for, he swore it was only a snare laid for him, and insisted upon making his conditions before he came out. I told him very humbly—for I was aware of the scrape into which I had got myself by my violence towards one of the King's mousquetaires—that I was ready to submit to them.'

"'In the first place,' said he, 'I must have my servant delivered to me, fully armed.'

"His order was obeyed, and Monsieur Grimaud was taken down to the cellar, wounded as he was. His master received him, barricaded the door again, and bid us go to the devil.

"'But where is he?' cried D'Artagnan. 'Where is Athos?'

"'In the cellar, sir.'

"'Scoundrel! you have kept him all this time in the cellar?'

"'Good heavens, sir! I keep him in the cellar! You do not know what he is doing there, or you would not suppose it. If you can prevail upon him to come out, I shall be grateful to you to the last day of my life; I will adore you as my guardian angel.'

"'I shall find him there, then?'

"'Certainly you will, sir—he won't come out. Every day we are obliged to hand him down bread at the end of a hay-fork, and meat too, when he asks for it. But, alas! it is not of bread and meat that he makes the largest consumption. I tried once to enter the cellar with two of my servants, and he put himself in a most terrible passion. I heard him and his lackey cocking their pistols and carbine; and when we asked what their intentions were, your friend said that they had forty shots to fire, and that they would fire every one before allowing us to enter the cellar. I then went to complain to the governor, and he told me that I had only got what I deserved, and that it would teach me to maltreat honourable gentlemen who used my house.'

"'So that, since that time....' said D'Artagnan, who could not help laughing at the pitiable countenance of the host.

"'Since that time, sir,' continued the latter, 'we lead the most wretched life imaginable; for you must know that all our provisions are in the cellar, our wine in bottle and our wine in cask, beer, oil, and spices, hams and sausages; and as we cannot get at them, we are unable to give food or drink to the travellers who alight here, and our inn is losing all its custom. If your friend stops one week longer in my cellar, I am a ruined man.'

"'And quite right that you should be, scoundrel! It was easy to see by our appearance, that we were men of quality and not coiners.'

"'Yes, sir, you are right,' replied poor Boniface. 'But only listen to him, he is getting into a passion.'

"'Doubtless somebody has disturbed him,' said D'Artagnan.

"'We are obliged to disturb him,' cried the host; 'two English gentlemen have just arrived. The English, as you know, love good wine, and these have asked for the best. My wife is gone to beg Monsieur Athos to let her in, and he has no doubt refused as usual. Holy Virgin! What a racket he is making.'

"D'Artagnan rose from his seat, and followed by the host and by Planchet with his cocked carbine, took the direction of the cellar, whence a tremendous noise was proceeding. The Englishmen were exasperated; they had just come off a long journey, and were dying of hunger and thirst.

"'It is perfect tyranny,' cried they in very good French, 'that this madman will not allow these good people the use of their wine. But we will break open the door, and if he is too furious, we will kill him.'

"'Not so fast, gentlemen,' said D'Artagnan, drawing his pistols from his belt. 'You will kill nobody, if you please.'

"'Let them come,' said Athos, in his usual calm voice, from the other side of the door, 'let them come in, and we shall see.'

"Brave as they appeared to be, the two Englishmen hesitated and[Pg 72] looked at one another. One might almost have supposed that the cellar was garrisoned by one of those hungry ogres of the fairy tale, whose cavern no one could enter with impunity. There was a moment's silence; but the Englishmen were ashamed to retreat, and one of them, descending the five or six steps leading to the cellar, gave the door a kick that made it rattle on its hinges.

"'Planchet,' said D'Artagnan, cocking his pistols, 'you take the one at the bottom of the stairs; I will take the other. Since you are for a fight, gentlemen, you shall have a bellyfull.'

"'Is that D'Artagnan's voice?' cried Athos.

"'It is,' replied the Gascon.

"'Very good,' said Athos, 'we will work them a little, these door-breakers.'

"'A moment's patience, Athos,' said D'Artagnan. 'Gentlemen,' he continued, turning to the Englishmen, 'you are between two fires. My servant and myself have three shots to fire, you will receive as many from the cellar, besides which we have got our swords, with the use of which, I can assure you, my friend and myself are tolerably well acquainted. Allow me to arrange matters. I give you my word that you shall have some wine just now.'

"'If there is any left,' growled Athos in a tone of raillery.

"'What does he mean—if there is any left?' cried the host, who felt a cold perspiration break out all over him.

"'Nonsense, there will be some left,' replied D'Artagnan; 'two men cannot have drunk the whole cellar out.'

"The Englishmen sheathed their swords, and D'Artagnan related to them the history of the imprisonment of Athos, upon hearing which they greatly blamed the innkeeper.

"'Now, gentlemen,' said D'Artagnan, 'if you will be pleased to return to your apartment, in ten minutes you shall have what you require.'

"The Englishmen bowed and retired.

"'I am alone, my dear Athos,' said D'Artagnan.—'Open the door.'

"There was a great noise of fagots and beams falling down; the besieged was demolishing his counter-scarps and bastions. The next moment the door opened, and the pale face of the mousquetaire appeared. D'Artagnan sprang forward and embraced him, but when he tried to lead him out of the cellar, he perceived that Athos staggered.

"'You are wounded?' cried he.

"'I! not the least,' was the reply. 'I am dead drunk, that is all, and never did any man better deserve to be so. Fore God! mine host, I have drunk for my share, at least one hundred and fifty bottles.'

"'Heaven have mercy on me!' cried the host. 'If the servant has drunk half as much as the master, I am a ruined man.'

"'Grimaud knows his place too well to drink the same wine as his master; he has drunk from the cask. By-the-by, I think he must have forgotten to put in the spigot—I hear a running.'

"D'Artagnan burst into a fit of laughter. The innkeeper was in a high fever. Just then Grimaud showed himself behind his master, his carbine on his shoulder, and his head shaking like that of the drunken satyr in some of Rubens' pictures. His clothes were smeared with an unctuous liquid, which the host immediately recognized as his best olive oil.

"D'Artagnan and Athos now crossed the common room, and installed themselves in the best apartment of the hotel; while the innkeeper and his wife lighted lamps, and rushed into the cellar, where a frightful spectacle awaited them. In rear of the fortifications, in which Athos had made a breach for his exit, and which were composed of fagots, planks, and empty casks, arranged according to all the rules of strategy, were numerous pools of oil and wine, in which the bones of the hams that had been eaten were lying. In one corner was a pile of broken bottles, and in another a huge cask of wine was just yielding up the last drops of its blood. Out of fifty large sausages that had been suspended to the beams of the roof, ten only were remaining. The[Pg 73] image of devastation and death, as the ancient poet said, reigned there as upon a field of battle."


With characteristic generosity and insouciance, Athos forgives the host, and compensates him for the damage done to his property. The two guardsmen then sit down to drink, and D'Artagnan tells his friend of the misfortune he has had in the loss of his mistress.

"'Your misfortune makes me laugh,' said Athos, shrugging his shoulders. 'I wonder what you would say to a love story that I could tell you.'

"'Something that happened to yourself?'

"'Or to one of my friends; no matter.'

"'Tell it me.'

"'I would rather drink.'

"'You can do both.'

"'True,' said Athos, filling his glass; 'the two things go well together.'

"The mousquetaire paused, and seemed to be collecting his thoughts; and as he did so, D'Artagnan observed that he grew each moment paler. He had reached that stage of intoxication at which ordinary drinkers fall under the table and sleep. Athos, however, did not do that; he dreamed aloud without sleeping. There was something frightful in this somnambulism of drunkenness.

"'One of my friends,' he began—'one of my friends, mind you, not myself,' interrupted he with a gloomy smile; 'a count of my province, that is to say of Berri, noble as a Dandolo or a Montmorency, fell in love when twenty-five years of age, with a young girl of seventeen, beautiful as painters have depicted Venus. Joined to the naïveté of her age, she possessed the soul and feeling of a poet; she could not be said to please—she intoxicated all who approached her. She lived in a little village with her brother, who was a priest. None knew who they were, nor whence they came; but she was so beautiful, and her brother so pious, that none thought of asking. It was rumoured and believed that they were of good family. My friend, who was lord of that country, might have seduced the young girl or taken her by force, as he chose; he was the master; who would have come to the assistance of two friendless strangers? Unfortunately he was an honest man, and he married her. The fool-the idiot!'

"'Why a fool, since he loved her?' asked D'Artagnan.

"'Patience,' said Athos. 'He conducted her to his castle, and made her the first lady of the province; and, to do her justice, she knew perfectly how to support her rank.'

"'Well?' said D'Artagnan.

"'Well! one day she was out hunting with her husband,' continued Athos, speaking in a low tone and very fast, 'she was overcome by the heat, and fell from her horse in a swoon; the count sprang to her assistance, and as her clothes seemed to prevent her breathing, he cut them open with his dagger, and her shoulder was uncovered. Guess what she had upon her shoulder, D'Artagnan?' said Athos with a strange wild laugh.

"'How can I tell?' said D'Artagnan.

"'A fleur-de-lis. She was branded!'

"And Athos emptied at a draught the cup that stood before him.

"'Horror!' exclaimed D'Artagnan. 'What do you tell me?'

"'The truth—the angel was a devil—the innocent young girl was a convict.'

"'And what did the count do?'

"'The count was a powerful nobleman; he had right of pit and halter upon his lands; he bared the shoulder of the countess, tied her hands behind her back, and hung her to a tree.'

"'Heavens! Athos! a murder!' cried D'Artagnan.

"'Yes, a murder, nothing more,' said Athos, pale as death. 'But there is no wine—we are drinking nothing.'

"And Athos seized the last bottle by the neck, put it to his mouth, and emptied it as though it had been an ordinary glass."


This strange story, that could hardly have proceeded from any but a French imagination, is nevertheless very effective, far more so in Monsieur Dumas' terse and pointed diction than in our imperfect translation. The dame with the fleur-de-lis on her shoulder is not dead, but on the contrary married again, and proves[Pg 74] to be no other than an emissary of the Cardinal, a certain Lady de Winter, or Milady, as M. Dumas persists in calling her. She it was who cut the diamonds off Buckingham's dress, and informed the Cardinal of the same. Throughout the whole book she plays the part of a sort of Mephistopheles in petticoats, doing evil for evil's sake; and finally, when in prison in England, gains over a fanatical young officer named Felton, who is set to guard her, and working on him by the power of her charms and an artfully devised story, instigates him to the murder of Buckingham, who is at Portsmouth fitting out an armament for the relief of La Rochelle, then besieged by Richelieu. She escapes to France, but there falls into the hands of her deadly enemy, D'Artagnan, and of her first husband, Athos, otherwise Count de la Fère. Her punishment is one of the last and most striking scenes in the book, which concludes with the capture of La Rochelle, leaving D'Artagnan a lieutenant of mousquetaires, and, to all appearance, on the high-road to further preferment. Some account of his future fortune is promised us by Monsieur Dumas; and, however alarming a continuation to a book in eight volumes may sound, we cannot help wishing he may keep his promise. There is less occasion to be alarmed at the length of a six or eight volume book from his hands, than at that of a three volume one from those of many other writers; and moreover one must take into account the ingenuity of French publishers, who manage to have the type spread out over the largest possible amount of white paper. The system of putting little in a page, and diminishing that little by the interpolation of huge and apparently objectless blank spaces, has reached its height in Paris; and, although an imposition on the public, it perhaps renders a book lighter and pleasanter to read. Light reading and pleasant reading Monsieur Dumas' romance assuredly is; and we can wish our readers no better pastime, during the long evenings of this wintry season, than the perusal of the feats and fortunes of the Trois Mousquetaires.

[Pg 75]


Part XV.

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

Valenciennes was now captured. The sagacity of my friend, the French engineer, had not been deceived. The explosion of the three great mines, an operation from its magnitude almost new to war, and in its effects irresistible, had thrown open the fortress. The garrison had done their work gallantly, and the result was a capitulation, hastened by the outcry of the famishing inhabitants. I hastened to the quarters of my regiment, was received with all cordiality, had the honour of an interview with the royal duke, who, at all times affable, was now in peculiar good-humour, and who led me into a long detail of such public opinions as might be gathered from my intercourse with the garrison. At the close of our interview he gave me a note, which was to be forwarded to the adjutant-general. I made my bow, and retired.

All in the camp was festivity. A great achievement had been accomplished, and the barriers of France were broken down. But in the midst of national triumph, I felt a depression which rendered me wholly incapable of sharing it. The wounds of the spirit are not to be healed like those of the frame; and with the recollection of the noble creature whom I had lost, bitterness mingled in every sound, and sight, and exultation. My first request would have been for leave of absence, that I might follow her, if she were still in France, or in the world. But the bustle at headquarters told me that some movement was about to take place; and, under those circumstances, to ask for leave was impossible. Still I continued making every imaginable enquiry, dispatching letters, and seeing postmasters, to obtain intelligence of the route which Clotilde had taken. After tracing her for the first few leagues, all tidings were lost; and I had only to trust to that hope which was a part of my sanguine nature, and which was sustained by a kind of consciousness that a being so superior could not be flung away in the chances which visit the multitude.

While I was thus pondering and perplexed, I was summoned to attend one of the principal officers of his royal highness's staff. "We are sending despatches of some importance to London," said he, "and it is the wish of the commander-in-chief that you should take them. I have the pleasure to tell you, that he feels an interest in you from the opportunities which you have had of distinguishing yourself in the campaign, and that he has appointed you an extra aide-de-camp. Your service begins soon," added my informant with a smile, "for you must set off to-night. The despatch mentioning the capitulation of the fortress was, of course, sent off at once; but as the commission, in those cases, is given by routine, it is desirable to have some one in London capable of explaining the 'explanation,' or perhaps taking the place of the 'honourable,' or 'right honourable' personage who has been made the official bearer of the despatch. His royal highness is satisfied, from his conversation with you, that you will be perfectly fit for this purpose; and here is the despatch, with which you are to make all expedition to the Horse-Guards."

After giving my orders for the journey, I hastened to take leave of the man whom I most honoured and esteemed, my unfailing friend Guiscard. To my surprise, he received the in[Pg 76]telligence of my appointment with scarcely a word of congratulation. Little as I myself was now excitable by any thing in the shape of human fortune, I was chagrined by his obstinate gravity. He observed it, and started from his seat. "Come," said he, "let us take a walk, and get out of the sight of mankind, if we can." He took my arm, and we strayed along the banks of the Scheldt, where, however, his purpose was unobtainable, for the whole breadth of the river was covered with the provision barges of the troops. The bargemen were enjoying the fine July evening in the national style—swilling the worst beer that ever punished the taste for that barbarian beverage, and filling the fresh breeze with the fumes of tobacco, worthy of the beer. Guiscard stopped to gaze at them.

"I envy those fellows," said he. "Not merely for their escaping all care, and being able to extract enjoyment out of their execrable drink and pipes, but from their being exempt from all contact with portfolios."

"But such enjoyment is only that of the swine."

"Well, and is not that of the swine perfect?—and what would you have more than perfection?"

A huge herd of those creatures, basking along the miry edge of the river, helped his illustration. "Mr Marston, you have not been for the last month on the staff of the commander-in-chief of the allied armies, or you would not look so incredulous. Sir, man's senses may be as suitable for his purposes, as those of the animals which we see wallowing there." I stared, waiting for the conclusion. He proceeded. "But man has drawbacks on his natural faculties, which they have not. Possibly nature intended that we should be as happy as they. But make nine-tenths of them hewers of wood and drawers of water—send some of them to dungeons—enforce a conscription among the rest, and send them to use their tusks upon each other, and the most complacent of them would rebel: or, as the last trial of temper, put the meekest of the race into a cabinet of princes and general-officers, themselves controlled by a cabinet five hundred miles off; and if they do not growl as I do now, I shall give up all my knowledge of quadruped nature."

"Why, Guiscard, what is the matter with you to-night? Have we not gained our point? You are like the Thracians, who always mourned at the birth of a child."

"And the Thracians were perfectly right, if the child were to be reared a diplomatist. You talk of success!" Our path had led to where a view of Valenciennes opened on us through the trees; and its shattered ramparts and curtains, the trees felled along its glacis, and its bastions stripped and broken by our cannon-balls, certainly presented a rueful spectacle. The Austrian flag was flying on the citadel.

"There," said he, "is our prize. It is not worth the loading of a single gun; but it has cost us more millions to ruin than it took francs to build it—it has cost us the conquest of France; and will cost Europe the war, which we might have extinguished three months ago if we had but left it behind. I acknowledge that I speak in the bitterness of my heart; delay has ruined every thing. Our march to Paris, and our march to Georgium Sidus, will now be finished on the same day."

I attempted to laugh off his predictions, but he was intractable. "The business," said he, "is all over. That flag is the signal of European jealousy—the apple of discord. Yon are going to England; and, if you have any regard for my opinion, tell your friends there to withdraw their troops as soon as they can. That flag, which pretends to partition France, will unite it as one man. Our sages here are actually about to play its game. Orders have come to divide the army. What folly! What inconceivable infatuation! In the very face of the most fantastic and furious population of mankind, whom the most trivial success inflames into enthusiasts; they are going to break up their force, and seek adventures by brigades and battalions."

He stamped the ground with indignation; but, suddenly recovering his calmness, he turned to me with his grave smile. "I am ashamed, Marston, of thus betraying a temper which time ought to have cooled. But, after[Pg 77] all, what is public life but a burlesque; a thing of ludicrous disappointment; a tragedy, with a farce always at hand to relieve the tedium and the tinsel; the fall of kingdoms made laughable by the copper lace of the stage wardrobe?"

"Do you object to our duke?"

"Not in the least. He is personally a gallant fellow; and if he wants experience, so must every man at one time or other. His only error, hitherto, has been his condescending to come at all with so small a force under his command. No English army should ever plant its foot upon the Continent with less than fifty thousand men on its muster-roll. The duke's being put at the head of your troops—only a division after all—seems to me the only wise thing that has been done. It was a declaration of the heartiness of your alliance; and I honour your country for the distinctness of the avowal. Your king gives his son, as your country gives her soldiers, and your people give their money. The whole was manly, magnanimous, or, as the highest panegyric, it was English all over."

This language at once put an end to all my reserve. I shook his hand in the spirit of old friendship; and, on our parting, extracted a promise of keeping up our communication on all possible opportunities. We had already separated, when I heard my name called again, and Guiscard returned. "I had forgotten," said he, "to tell you what I was most anxious to say. If I had seen no other prospect for you, I should be the last man to make you discontented with your profession. My only request is, that when you once more tread on English ground, you will seriously consider whether you will continue in the army. If know you at all, I think that you would not be altogether satisfied with wearing your epaulettes at reviews and parades. And, if I am not entirely mistaken, you will have nothing else for the next dozen years. Your army are moving homewards already. You are now in the secret."

"But is the campaign absolutely coming to an end? Are the hopes of attacking the French so suddenly given up? Is France always to baffle us?" was my vexed question.

"As to the fate of France, you should consult a prophet, not a Prussian engineer—and one terribly tired of his trade besides," was the reply. We parted; but the conversation was not lost upon me.

By midnight I was on my journey. My route lay through the Flemish provinces, which had now recovered all their luxuriance, if not derived additional animation from the activity which every where follows the movements of a successful army. Troops marching to join the general advance frequently and strikingly diversified the scene. Huge trains of the commissariat were continually on the road. The little civic authorities were doubly conscious of the dignity of functions which brought them into contact with soldiership, from the quartermaster up to the general. But the contrast of the tumult which I left behind with the quietness of the scenes around me—the haste, the anxiety, and the restlessness of a huge camp, with the calm of the fields, with the regularity which seemed to govern all the operations of farming life, and with the grave opulence of the old mansions, which seemed to be formed for the natural receptacles of the wealth of Flemish fields—at once refreshed me after the mental fever in which I had tossed so long, and perhaps impressed on me more deeply the parting advice of my friend the philosopher.

But, from the moment when I touched British ground, the whole sleepy tranquillity which gathers over every man in the quietude of Flanders, where man seems to have followed the same plough from the deluge, had utterly vanished. I was in the midst of a nation in a ferment. The war was the universal topic; party was in full life. From the inn at Dover up to the waiting-room at the Horse-Guards, I heard nothing but politics. The conduct of our army—the absurdity of every thing that had been done, or left undone—the failures of the Allies—the fanaticism of the French—the hopes of popular liberty on one side, and the indignation of established power on the other—came rushing round me in a chaos of discordant conceptions, that for the time bewildered me. How simple was the gossip of the camp to this heterogeneous mass of struggling to[Pg 78]pics! How straightforward was even the wild haranguing of the Palais Royal to the thousand reports and protests, remonstrances and replications, of the whole ringing and raging, public mind of England! This was the age of pamphleteering. Every sage who could, or could not, write, flung his pamphlet in the teeth of the party whose existence he conceived to be ruinous to his country, or perhaps prejudicial to his own prospect of a sinecure. The journals printed their columns in gall; the satirists dipped their pens in concentrated acid; the popular haranguers dashed the oil of vitriol of contempt in each other's faces. The confusion, the collision, the uproar, was indescribable.

But my whole experience of public life has told me, that however the popular opinion may be wrong, the public opinion is right; and I felt that the nation was already adverse to the conduct of the campaign. The utmost skill of the cabinet was required to prevent a dangerous reaction. The member of administration with whom my chief intercourse officially existed, was the same manly and kind-natured individual to whom I had formerly been indebted for so much civility; and, as if proud of his own work, his civility now took the form of friendship. Ill news came from abroad; and I expressed my impatience of remaining with the pen in my hand, when I should have worn my sword. To all my suggestions on the subject, the good-humoured answer was, that my services were still necessary at home. At length, on my making a decided request that I should be permitted to return to my regiment, he told me in confidence that the campaign was probably at an end; that the British commander-in-chief was about to return; and that, in fact, the strength of England would be turned to the naval war. At the close of one of those conversations, fixing his keen grey eye upon me, he said, "Pray, what think you of Parliament?" My answer was, "That mediocrity was more contemptible there than any where else; while success was more difficult."

"You mean such success as Pitt's: you mean victory. But you must get these Greek and Roman notions out of your head. An English House does not want orators. One on a side is quite enough. They are like the gold plate on a sideboard; it is well to show that we have such things, for the honour of our establishment; but no one thinks of making use of them at table. Pitt is an exception; he is equal to every thing; an incomparable man of business. Burke, or some other man of metaphor, compared him to the falcon; which, however high it may soar, always follows the prey with its eye along the ground. But two Pitts, if nature could be prolific of such magnificent monsters, would absolutely perplex us. What could be more confusing than to have two suns shining at the same time?"

"But is Fox nothing?" I asked.

"A great deal," was the answer. "He is the finest talker, I suppose, in the world. The first of babblers."

"Of babblers!" I involuntarily repeated.

"Yes; for what is babbling but speaking in vain, pouring out endless speculations without a purpose or the hope of a purpose, indulging a remarkably powerful and productive mind with the waste of its own conceptions, pouring out a whole coinage of splendid thoughts with no more expectancy of practical result than if he poured the mint into the Thames? You may rely upon it that such is the opinion of the House, as it will be yours when you get there; and such will be that of posterity, if they shall ever take the trouble to think about any of us."

This conversation was evidently more than accidental; and I gave to it some of my most perplexing hours. I had an original fondness for the life of arms. I was of the age to feel its variety, animation, and ardour. My experience had been fortunate; I had seen nothing but victory, and had been flattered by personal distinction. But then came the reverse of the medal. I remembered the opinion of the most sagacious and penetrating spirit which it had been my lot ever to know; and I felt that the Continent was to be our field of battle no longer. The languor of home service, to one who had seen war in its stateliest shape, and in its most powerful activity, rose before my mind with an[Pg 79] inexpressible sense of weariness. On the other hand, supposing that I possessed the faculties for political life, was I possessed of the temper, the endurance of toil, the measureless patience, the inexhaustible equanimity, which every night of my public existence would henceforth demand? Why was this heart-wearying struggle to be preferred to the simple and straightforward pursuit of an honourable profession, in which the only weight was the carrying of my sword, and the only secret of distinction possessing an untarnished name?

But I soon made up my mind. The question narrowed itself to this: which was the more active life? The point of honour was no longer the adherence to a profession whose purposes were necessarily changed. Every hour gave additional evidence that the gates of the Continent were closing upon the English soldier. Influence, impression, publicity, were the prizes of a political career. I saw all other names fade before the great senatorial names of England. I saw men of humble extraction filling the world with their fame. I saw a succession of individuals, who, if their profession had been arms, or if their birth-place had been the Continent, would have lived and died in the routine of obscure service, here rising to the height of national homage, lustres of their generation, and guiding by their opinions the courts of Europe. Whether I should ever take my place among those illustrious names, scarcely entered into my thoughts. But I was determined never to waste my life in conscious indolence. Scarcely knowing what faculties I might possess, I had fully resolved on trying their utmost strength; and grown almost indifferent to the ordinary pursuits of human indulgence, I looked with something of a melancholy yet proud hope, to the enjoyment which was to be found in giving myself up to the solitary and stern toil of living for a great cause, and leaving a name behind me that should not be forgotten.

On that very day the intelligence arrived that the British troops had marched towards the north of Germany; that the royal duke had returned to England; and that the Allies had, by common consent, abandoned the invasion of France. My habits were always prompt. Before the hour was over in which the gazette appeared, I waited on my ministerial friend, and expressed my full acquiescence in his proposal.

I pass by the process of getting into Parliament. It was then a simpler matter than it has since become. A treasury borough was then the gate through which all the leading names of the country had entered the legislature, and I merely followed the path of all but the lords of acres.

Every man who will make himself master of an occupation must serve an apprenticeship. Parliament, too, has its seven years' indentures, and the few who have refused the training have seldom been the wiser for their precipitancy. I "bided my time," taking a slight occasional share in debates with whose topics I happened to be well acquainted; and expecting the chances, which, to every one who employs himself vigorously, are all but certainties. Still I felt that this mere hovering on the outskirts of debate must not last too long, and that nothing was more hazardous to final reputation than to be too slow in attempting to lay its first stone. Yet I felt some difficulty in every great question; and, after bracing my nerves for the onset, I always found my courage fail at the sight of the actual encounter. I felt as a young knight might have felt in some of the tilting-matches of old—master of his charger in the open field, and delighting in the pressure of his armour and the weight of his lance; but when he once rode within the barrier, saw the galleries filled, and the heralds lifting the trumpets to their lips, feeling his blood grow chill, and the light depart from his eyes.

I mentioned my embarrassment to my Scottish friend, and almost expected a remonstrance. To my great surprise and infinite pleasure, he congratulated me. "You cannot give a better sign," said he. "My only fear of you was, that you would dash into debate at once, like a tumbler jumping from a precipice; and that, like him, all that you would have gained by it would be broken limbs for life. If the fellow had kept to his slack-rope and his stage, he would[Pg 80] have been safe enough, and gained some applause besides."

"But what is to be done in the House, without some hazard of the kind?"

"Wrong—quite wrong. A great deal is to be done. Take myself for the example. You see where I am, and yet I never made a speech in my life. From the beginning of my career, I never allowed any one to look for any thing of the kind from me; and the consequence was, that by some I was regarded as a much shrewder personage than I ever believed myself to be; and by others was thought to know a great deal more than I ever acquired."

"But will this account for the rapid distinctions of your public life?"

"Perfectly, so far as they have gone. I obtained ministerial confidence on the essential merits of being a safe man—one who made no ambitious attempts to lower the crests of those above me. I escaped the jealousy of those below me by adopting the style which mediocrity assumes by nature. I was thus like the senior subaltern in a marching regiment—I wore the same uniform with the colonel, and went through the same exercise with the ensign. The field-officers knew that I would not tread upon their heels, and every subaltern wished to see my promotion, as a step to his own."

My official duties, the mere entrance into office, occupied me laboriously for a while, and I felt all the habitual difficulties of my noviciate. It had been fully my intention to follow the advice of my experienced friend, and leave the hour which was to call for my exertions in the House to the chances of the time. But that time came more rapidly than I had expected. The public mind was fevered, hour by hour; the news from the Continent was more and more startling; the successes of the Republican armies had assumed a shape which our desponding politicians regarded as invincibility, and which our factious ones pronounced to be the ruin of Europe. The cabinet offered only the prospect of a melancholy struggle. But six months before, it had stood, strong as a citadel erected by the national hands, and garrisoned by the spirit of the empire. It still stood, but it stood dismantled; there were evident breaches in its walls, and the fugitives of Opposition, rallying with the hope of success, advanced again to the storm, headed by their great leader, and sustained by the capricious and fluctuating multitude. The premier was harassed by the incessant toil of defence—a toil in which he had scarcely a sharer, and which exposed him to the most remorseless hostility. Yet, if the historian were to choose the moment for his true fame, this was the moment which ought to be chosen. He rose with the severity of the struggle; assault seemed to give him new vigour; the attempt to tear the robe of office from his shoulders only gave the nobler display of his intellectual proportions. When I saw him, night after night, standing almost alone, with nothing but disaster in front and timidity in the rear, combating a force such as had never before been arrayed under the banners of Opposition; the whole scene of magnificent conflict and still grander fortitude, reminded me of the Homeric war and its warriors.—The champion of the kingdom, standing forth in despite of evil omens thickening round him, of the deepening cloud, and the sinister thunders.

I speak of those times, and of the great men of those times, in no invidious contrast with later days. I have so strong a faith in the infinite ability which freedom gives to a great empire, that I am convinced of our being able, in all its eras, to find the species of public talent essential to its services. I regard the national mind, as the philosopher does the natural soil, always capable of the essential produce, where we give it the due tillage. The great men of the past century have passed away along with it; they were summoned for a day of conflict, and were formed for the conflict; their muscular vigour, the power with which they wielded their weapons, the giant step and the giant hand, were all necessary, and were all shaped and sustained by that necessity. But this day had its close; the leaders of man—like the "mighty hunters" of an Age, when the land was still overshadowed with the forest, and the harvest was overrun with the lion and the panther,[Pg 81] would naturally give place to a less daring and lofty generation, when the forest had given way to the field, and the lair of the wild beast had become the highway and the bower. But if the evil day should again return, the guardian power of intellect and virtue will again come forth in the human shape, and vindicate the providence that watches over the progress of mankind. I utterly deny the exhaustion of national genius; I even deny its exhaustibility. If the moral vegetation languishes, and the soil is parched for a while, the great source of refreshing and fertility still lies before us—the public mind, in its boundless expansion, and in its unfathomable depth; the intellectual ocean which no plummet has ever sounded, and which no shore has ever circumscribed, lies ready to restore the balance of nature.

But the sense of power itself in the national mind forbids the exhibition of its strength in tranquil times. It is lofty and fastidious; it will not stoop to a contest in which nothing is to be contended for. It is not an actor; and it cannot adopt the figured passion of the actor, rend its robe, and flourish, and obtest heaven against the traitor and the oppressor, to the sound of an orchestra, or in the glitter of stage lamps. The true ability of the empire must scorn all mimic encounter; and what else can be the little struggles of party shut up in the legislature, whose sound scarcely transpires through the walls, whose triumphs are a tax, and whose oracles are an intrigue? But, when the true day of trial shall come—when an enemy shall be seen hovering on the coasts of the Constitution—when trumpet answers trumpet, and the "country is proclaimed in danger"—then, and not till then, shall we know the superb resources of our intellectual strength: whatever may have been the prowess of the past, we may see it not merely rivaled but thrown into eclipse by the future; the burnished armour, and massive swords and maces of our old intellectual chivalry, superseded by more manageable and more destructive implements of success; and the sterner conflict followed by the more consummate triumph. Yet, when we undervalue the living ability of a nation from its quietude at the moment, we but adopt the example of every past age in succession. The last ten years of the last century were preceded by a period of despair; Chatham's career was run, and the national regrets over his tomb were mingled with sorrows for the extinction of all parliamentary renown!—The day had gone down, and darkness was to cover the sky for ever. But while the prediction was scarcely uttered, the horizon as in a blaze, mighty meteors rushed across it in a thousand courses of eccentric speed and splendour; and a period of intellectual display began, which at once dazzled and delighted mankind. Anne's Augustan age of war, negotiation, and eloquence, was once pronounced to be, like the Augustan age of Rome, incapable of rivalship by posterity; but our own times have seen a bolder war, a broader peace, and a richer development of science, invention, and eloquence. For fifty years, England was pronounced to have worn herself out by the prolific brilliancy of the half century before; like a precocious infant, to have anticipated her powers, and ensured their premature decay; like the Bœotians, to have had her Pindaric period, and thenceforward to have paid for its raptures and renown by perpetual darkness; or like the Israelites in Egypt, to be condemned to drudgery for life, sunk into an intellectual slave-caste;—when in the midst of the scoffing, or the sorrow, suddenly arrived a new epoch, a new summons to the national genius, a time of lofty interpositions, "thunderings in the air, and lightning running along the ground," an era of the marvellous things of mind; the chains fell off the hands, and the generation went forth, with a new sense of superiority, into new scenes of knowledge, discovery, and empire.

Whether it was my good or ill fortune to make my first effort in the midst of the men whose names have immortalized their day, I shall not venture to decide. But my resolve had been firmly taken—not to remain in Parliament unless I discovered in myself faculties fit for its service. I was determined not to play the mute if I had the means of uttering a voice.[Pg 82] But now the whole force of administration was demanded; and I made up my mind to ascertain by trial, what no man can be sure of without that trial, whether I possessed any capacity for public life.

The subject on which I first spoke was an address to the throne, in answer to the King's message on the war. On this night Pitt, but lately recovered from a fit of his hereditary gout, spoke briefly, and with evident feebleness of frame. Fox, whose energy seemed always to depend on his rival's power, and whose eloquence always rose or fell with the vigour or languor of the minister—Fox, never so great as when Pitt put forth all his strength, on this night idled away his hour, through the mere want of an antagonist; but Sheridan made ample compensation for his leader. The House had fallen into lassitude, and the benches were already thin when he arose. I had heard him as the humorist on some trivial occasions of debate. I had enjoyed the social pleasantry which placed him at the head of the wits; but I was still but imperfectly acquainted with the strong sarcasm, the deep disdain, and the grave sophistry, which this extraordinary man could exhibit with such redundant ease, and wield with such vigorous dexterity. I must give but an outline:—

"You have made war," said he, "and you have made the arms of your country contemptible by failures, which you rendered inevitable by your rashness. You, sir," and he fixed his flashing eye on the premier, "have commenced that war by a series of declarations, which made our diplomacy as contemptible as our campaigns. The national sword had been wrested from our hands. But you were not content with that humiliation, and you added to it the disgrace of the national understanding. You laid down a succession of principles, and then trampled them in the dust on the first opportunity. You encumbered yourself for action with pledges which you could never have intended to sustain, or which in the first collision your pusillanimity threw away. Yet I deprecate your perfidy even more than I despise your weakness. I can comprehend the effrontery of a fair aggression; but I scorn the meanness of intrigue. I may face the man-at-arms, but I shudder at the assassin. I may determine to hunt down and destroy the lion, but I disdain the trap and the pitfall. And what has been the pretext of his majesty's ministers? Moderation. In this spirit of moderation they invaded France; in this spirit of moderation they captured her fortresses, and then handed them over to the Emperor; in this spirit of moderation they denounced the men who had given France a constitution; and in this spirit of moderation you now prepare to rebuild her Bastile, to restore her scaffolds, to reforge her chains, and summon all the kings of Europe, instead of taking a salutary lesson from the tomb of the monarchy, to see its skeleton exhumed, and placed, robed and crowned, upon the throne, with the nation forced to offer homage, at once in mockery and terror, to the grinning emblem; in which, with all your philtres, you can never put life again."


The orator then gave a general and singularly imposing view of the state of our European connexions; which he described as utterly frail, the result of interested motives, and sure to be broken up at the first temptation. But the "first lord of the treasury and chancellor of his majesty's exchequer," said he, "smiles at my alarm; he has his security at his side—he has the purse, which commands all the baser portion of our nature with such irresistible control! On one point I fully agree with the right honourable gentleman—that nothing but the purse could ever keep them faithful. Yet, is there nothing but gold that can bribe? is there no bribe in territory? will he not find, when he hurries to the purchase of allies with the millions of the treasury in his hand, that more powerful purchasers have been there before him? When he offers the loan, will he not find them offering the province? when he bids with the subsidy, will he not be outbid with the kingdom? Or, if the anticipated conquerors of Europe, raising their sense of dignity to the level of their power, should disdain the traffic of corruption; will not the roaring of the French cannon in the ears of kings make them[Pg 83] feel, that, to persist in your ill-omened alliance, is to devote themselves to ruin? will they bargain, in sight of the axe? will they dare to traffic in the blood of their people, with the grave dug at their feet? will they be dazzled by your gold, while the French bayonet is startling their eyes? Within ten years, if England exists, she will be without an ally; or, if she continues to fight, it will be in loneliness, in terror, and in despair."

In this strain he poured out his daring conceptions for more than two hours, during which he kept the whole audience in the deepest attention. He concluded in an uproar of plaudits from both sides of the House.

My time now came. And the rising of a new member, always regarded with a generous spirit of courtesy, produced some additional interest, from the knowledge of my services on the Continent, and my immediate connexion with the ministry. The House, which had filled to overflowing in the course of Sheridan's incomparable speech, was now hushed to the most total silence, and every eye was turned on me. I shall say nothing of my perturbation, further than that I had stood before an enemy's line of ten thousand men, with their muskets levelled within half a hundred yards of me; and that I thought the benches of the House of Commons on that night looked much the more formidable of the two. My head swam, my throat burned, my eyes grew dim. I thought that the ground was shaking under my feet, and I could have almost rejoiced to have sunk into it, from the gaze and the silence, which equally appalled me. While I attempted to mutter a few sentences, of which I felt the sound die within my lips, my eye was caught by the quick turn of Pitt's head, who fixed his impatient glance upon me. Fox, with that kindliness of heart which always forgot party when a good-natured act was to be done, gave his sonorous cheer. From that instant I was another man; I breathed freely, and, recovering my voice and mind together, I plunged boldly into the boundless subject before me.

After scattering a few of the showy sophisms which the orator of the opposition had constructed into his specious argument, I placed the war on the ground of necessity. "Nations cannot act like individuals—they cannot submit to self-sacrifice—they cannot give up their rights—they cannot affect an indolent disdain or an idle generosity. The reason of the distinction is, that in every instance the nation is a trustee—It has the rights of posterity in its keeping; it has nothing of its own to throw away; it is responsible to every generation to come. If war be essential to the integrity of the empire, war is as much a duty—a terrible duty, I allow—as the protection of our children's property from the grasp of rapine, or the defence of their lives against the midnight robber. But we are advised to peace. No man on earth would do more willing homage than myself to that beneficent genius of nations. But where am I to offer my homage? Am I to kneel on the high-road where the enemy's armies, fierce with the hope of plunder, are rushing along? Am I to build my altar in the midst of contending thousands, or on the ground covered with corpses—in the battle, or on the grave? Or am I to carry my offering to the capital, and there talk the language of national cordiality in the ear of the multitude dragging their king to the scaffold? Am I to appeal to the feelings of human brotherhood in streets smoking with civil massacre; to adjure the nation by the national honour, where revolt is an avowed principle; to press upon them the opinion of Europe, where they have proclaimed war with the world; to invoke them by the faith which they have renounced, the allegiance which they have disdained, the God whom they have blasphemed? Those things are impossible. If we are to have a treaty with this new order of thinking and action, it must be a compact of crime, a solemn agreement of treachery, a formal bond of plunder; it must be a treaty fitter for the cavern of conspiracy than for the chamber of council; its pledge must be like that of Catiline, the cup of human blood! No; the most powerful reprobation which ever shot from the indignant lip of the moralist, would not be too strong for the baseness which stooped to such a treaty, or the folly which entangled itself in its toils. No burning language of pro[Pg 84]phecy would be too solemn and too stinging for the premeditated wretchedness, and incurable calamity, of such a bond. No; if we must violate the simplicity of our national interests by such degrading, and such desperate involvements—if we should not shrink from this conspiracy against mankind, let it, at least, not be consummated in the face of day; let us at once abandon the hollow pretences of human honesty; let us pledge ourselves to a perpetual league of rapine and revolution; let it be transacted in some lower region of existence, where it shall not disgrace the light of the sun; and let its ceremonial be worthy of the spirit of evil which it embodies, whose power it proclaims, and to whose supremacy it commands all nations to bow down."

In alluding to the menace that our allies would soon desert us, I asked, "Is this the magnanimity of party? Is England to be pronounced so poor, or so pusillanimous, that she must give up all hope unless she can be suffered to lurk in the rear of the battle? What says her prince of poets?—

'England shall never rue,
If England to herself shall be but true.'

Is this 'little body with a mighty heart,' to depend for existence on the decaying strength or the decrepit courage of the Continent? Is she only to borrow the shattered armour which has hung up for ages in the halls of continental royalty, and encumber herself with its broken and rusty panoply for the ridicule of the world? The European governments have undergone the vicissitudes of fortune. Instead of scoffing at the facility of their overthrow, let us raise them on their feet again; or, if that be beyond human means, I shall not join the party-cry which insults their fall—I certainly shall not exult in that melancholy pageant of mixed mirth and scorn, in which, like the old Roman triumph, the soldier with his ruthless jest and song goes before the chariot, and the captive monarch follows behind; wearing the royal robe and the diadem only till he has gratified a barbarous curiosity or a cruel pride, and then exchanging them for the manacle and the dungeon. I deprecate the loss of these alliances; and yet I doubt whether the country will ever be conscious of her true strength until the war of the Continent is at an end. I more than doubt the wisdom of suffering others to take the lead, which belongs to us by the right of superior rank, superior prowess, and superior fame. I shall have but slight regret for the fall of those outworks which—massive, nay, majestic, as they are—waste the power of England by the division of her force, and make us decline the gallant enterprize of the field—ramparts and fosses which reduce us to defence, and which, while they offer a thousand points of entrance to an active assault, shut us in, and disqualify us from victory."

I now repeat this language of the moment, merely from later and long experience of its truth. I fully believe, that if England had come forward to the front of the battle in the early years of the war, she would have crushed all resistance; or if she had found, by the chance of things, the Continent impenetrable to her arms, she would have surrounded it with a wall of fire, until its factions had left nothing of themselves but their ashes.

I was now fully engaged in public life. The effort which I had made in Parliament had received the approval of Pitt, who, without stooping to notice things so trivial as style and manner on questions of national life and death, highly applauded the courage which had dared to face so distinguished a Parliamentary favourite as Sheridan, and had taken a view of affairs so accordant with his own. From this period, I was constantly occupied in debate; and, taking the premier for my model, I made rapid proficiency in the difficult art of addressing a British House of Commons. Of course, I have no idea of giving myself the praise on this subject, which no man can give to himself on any, without offence. But I felt that this was an art which might escape, and which had often escaped, men of distinguished ability, and which might be possessed by men of powers altogether inferior. I must acknowledge, that a portion of my success was ow[Pg 85]ing to the advice of that shrewdest, and at the same time most friendly, of human beings, the secretary. "You must be a man of business," said he, "or you will be nothing; for praise is nothing—popularity is nothing—even the applause of the House is nothing. These matters pass away, and the orators pass away with them. John Bull is a solid animal, and likes reality. This is the true secret of the successes of hundreds of men of mediocrity, and of the failures of almost every man of brilliant faculties. The latter fly too high, and thus make no way along the ground. They always alight on the same spot; while the weaker, but wiser, have put one foot before another, and have pushed on. Sheridan, at this moment, has no more weight in the House than he had within a twelvemonth after taking his seat. Fox, with the most powerful abilities, is looked on simply as a magnificent speechmaker. His only weight is in his following. If his party fell from him to-morrow, all his eloquence would find its only echo in bare walls, and its only panegyric in street-placards. Pitt is a man of business, complete, profound, indefatigable. If you have his talents, copy his prudence; if you have not, still copy his prudence—make it the interest of men to consult you, and you must be ultimately successful."

I laughingly observed, that the "Nullum numen abest" had been honoured with an unexpected illustration.

"Sir," said the minister, fixing his keen grey eye upon me, "if Eton had never taught any other maxim, it would have been well worth all the tail of its longs and shorts. It is the concentration of wisdom, personal, private, and public; the polar star of politics, as probably you would say; or, as in my matter-of-fact style should express it, the fingerpost of the road to fortune."

But there never was a time when all the maxims of political wisdom were more required. A long succession of disasters had already broken down the outworks of the continental thrones. The renown of the great armies of Germany was lost; the discipline of the Prussian, and the steady intrepidity of the Austrian, had been swept before the wild disorder of the French. Men began to believe that the art of war had been hitherto unknown, and that the enemy had at length mastered the exclusive secret. Monarchy came to be regarded as only another name for weakness; and civilized order for national decrepitude. A kind of superstition stole over the minds of men; the signs of European overthrow were discovered in every change; calculations were calmly raised on the chances of existence to the most powerful dynasties; the age of crowns was in the move, the age of republics was in the ascendant; and while the feebler minds looked with quiescent awe on what they regarded as the inevitable tide of events, the more daring regarded the prospect as a summons to prepare for their part of the spoil. The struggles of Opposition grew more resolute as the hope of success came nearer, and the Government began to feel the effects of this perpetual assault, in the sudden neutrality of some of its most ostentatious champions, and in the general reserve of its supporters in the House. Even the superb perseverance of Pitt was beginning to be weary of a contest, in which victory lost its fruits on the one side, while defeat seemed only to give fresh vigour on the other. But a new triumph was to cheer the face of things.

I was returning one morning from the House after a night spent in a fierce debate on the war, which Fox denounced with an asperity unusual to his generous temperament. The premier had made a powerful speech, vindicating the government from all share in the continental misfortunes; pronouncing loftily, that, in a war not made for conquest, it was sophistry to speak of our failure of possession as a crime; and declaring in a tone of singular boldness and energy—that if the Continent were untrod by a British soldier, there was a still broader field for the arms and the triumphs of England. But his eloquence had more effect in exposing the errors, than in reducing the numbers of his opponents, and the smallness of his majority would have made a feebler mind resign on the spot. The announcement of the numbers was received with an insulting[Pg 86] cheer by the minority, and the cabinet was already by anticipation in their hands.

I left the House wearied and dejected, and was returning to Downing Street, to throw myself on a couch, and get a few hours of rest before my morning toil; when I found a messenger at the door of my office, bearing a request from the secretary of state, that I should attend him as soon as possible. I found my friend before a table covered with despatches, his brow furrowed with weariness like my own.

"You see me here, Marston, more tired than any ploughman or watchman, or any other son of labour from this to John O'Groat's House. I was sent for, from the House, six hours ago, and every hour since have I been poring over those puzzled papers. How long I can stand this wear and tear the physicians must tell, but it would require the constitution of Hercules or Samson, or both together, to go through the work that is beginning to fall on the members of the cabinet."

I offered to give him such assistance as was in my power.

"No, no, Marston; I am chained to the oar for this night at least, and must pull till I fall asleep. My purpose in keeping you from your pillow at this time of night, is not to relieve myself from trouble; but to ask whether you are disposed to relieve the government from serious difficulty, and in a way which I hope will be not disagreeable to yourself." I concluded that my mission was to be continental, and my heart danced at the suggestion. In England it was impossible to continue my search for the being in whom all my thoughts were fixed; but once beyond the sea I should have the world before me. I asked whether there was any intention of trying the chances of attack again on the French frontier.

"None whatever. The greater probability is, that the French will make some experiment on the strength of ours."

I looked all astonishment. He interpreted my look, and said—"To solve the enigma at once, It is our wish to send you to Ireland."

I listened in silence while he went into a long detail of the hazard of the island, arising from the interests of a powerful republican party, who, inflamed by the successes of France, were preparing to receive troops and arms from the republic. He finished by saying, in a tone of compliment, which, from him, was as unusual as I believe it was sincere, that my exertions in debate had attracted high consideration in the highest quarter, and that I had been proposed by the monarch himself for the chief-secretaryship of Ireland. The premier had assented to the appointment at once; "and here," said he, "is the warrant, which I have prepared in anticipation of its acceptance. You are, from this moment, virtual viceroy of Ireland."

This was elevation indeed! I had at once surmounted all the slow gradations of office. The broadest prospect of official ambition had suddenly opened before me; popularity, founded on the most solid grounds, was now waiting only my acceptance; the sense of power, always dear to the heart of man, glowed in every vein; and it is only justice to myself to say, that the strongest impulse of all was the desire to leave my name as a benefactor to a people, who seemed to me as much gifted by nature as they were unhappy by circumstances.

"How long will it take you to prepare for the journey?" asked the minister.

"Half an hour," was my reply.

"Bravo! Marston. I see your campaigning has not been thrown away upon you. You have the soldier's promptitude. We were prepared to allow you a week. But the sooner you set off the better. The truth is," said he rising, "we are in great difficulties in that quarter. The most thoroughly English portion of the island is at this moment the most disturbed. There are drillings, purchases of arms, midnight musterings, and even something not far from prepared attacks upon the king's troops. The papers among which you found me, contain a regular and a very complete organization of an insurrectionary government. You will require all the energy of the soldier and all the prudence of the statesman."

"Let me add to them," said I,[Pg 87] "what is essential to the success of both in a country of generous hearts and quick conceptions, the sincerity of a patriot."

"The experiment is worth trying," said he with a smile, "if it were only for the sake of its novelty. But Ireland has qualities which, like those of her soil, require only to be turned up to the light to reward all the labours of wealth or wisdom." Before that evening closed in, I was a hundred miles on my way to the Irish capital.

A rapid journey, and a tranquil passage over the sixty miles that lie between Wales and Ireland, gave me what an old Roman would regard as an omen of the peacefulness of my mission. On the dawn of one of the finest mornings of the year, I came within sight of the Irish coast, and was struck, as all travellers have been, by the beauty of the bold and picturesque coast which rose from the waters before me. In front was a province of mountains, touched by all the variety of colours, which are painted in such richness by the summer sun, on groups of pinnacles and cones, forest hills, and the fine diversities of woodland and mountain scenery. On one side the eye glanced over a vast sheet of water, shut in by headlands, and as blue and bright as a lake under a serene sky. At the extremity of this noble estuary, a cloud, unchanging and unmoving, showed where a city sent up the smoke of its ten thousand fires; beyond this, all was purple confusion. My official rank threw open all the élite of Irish society to me at my first step; and I found it, as it has been found by every one else, animated, graceful, and hospitable. The nature of its government tended to those qualifications. While the grave business of the state was done in London, the lighter business of show was sedulously sustained in the Irish capital. The lord-lieutenant was generally a nobleman, selected more for his rank and his wealth than for his statesmanship. A rich, showy, and good-humoured peer was the true man for the head of affairs in Ireland. It was of more importance that he should give balls and suppers, say lively things to the ladies, and be jocular with the gentleman, than that he should have the brains of Bolingbroke or the tongue of Chatham. But the position of the secretary was the absolute antipode of this tranquil and festive sinecure. He was in Ireland what the premier was in England, but with ten times more of the difficulty, and ten times less of the power. The whole conduct of public affairs lay on his shoulders; he was responsible for every thing, while he was free in nothing; perpetually assailed by opposition for measures which he was not at liberty to explain, and standing between the English cabinet and the Irish party as a scapegoat for the mistakes of the one, and a target for the shot of the other. But the chief trial of temper was in the House of Commons. Opposition in Ireland never had a list of more brilliant names. Government had the majority behind its bench, and that majority recruited from the ranks of Opposition; but the more distinguished were fixed to party by their own celebrity; and the recruits, however able, were so liable to be attacked for their change of side, that they were paralyzed; in some instances, they were so much galled by the merciless sharpshooting of their former associates, that they ran back, and left the minister to fight the field alone.

I was fortunately free from the entanglements of that question, which has since formed so large a portion of the political disquietudes of Irish debate. The religion of the south was not yet among parliamentary topics. The religion of the north, active ardent, and indefatigable, was our most restless theme; and the political theories which seemed to grow out of its bold abstractions, kept the government in perpetual anxiety. The whole northern portion of the island was ripe for revolt. America had blown the hot-blast of the revolutionary furnace across the Atlantic, and a spark from France would have now ignited the whole hot surface of the soil.

One of my first acts after arranging the preliminary business of office, was to make a flying tour through Ulster. I was astonished at its beauty. Even after being familiar with the loveliness of the English landscape, I was in a state of continued surprise at the variety, rich[Pg 88]ness, and singularity of nature in the northern counties. Mountain, lake, magnificent bay, and broad river, followed each other in noble and unceasing succession. I was still more struck with the skill and good fortune, by which the people had contrived to combine the industry of manufactures with the life of the fields; a problem which England herself had failed to solve. But, most of all, I was attracted by the independent air, and handsome and vigorous appearance of the people; almost every man was proprietor, and had the look which proprietorship alone can give. I found books in almost every cottage, decency of dress every where, and among the higher orders frequent elegance and accomplishment. The women were cultivated and intelligent; the men, spirited and enquiring. But the politics of France had made their way through a large portion of the province, and the glories of a republic "loomed large" before the popular eye. As it was my purpose to see all that I could with my own eyes, I mingled largely in society, made no distinction between honourable men of different political creeds, enjoyed to-day the stag-hunt and claret of the noble Whig, and to-morrow the stag-hunt and claret of the noble Tory, listened to all, laughed with all, and learned something from all. The English aristocrat, especially if he holds high official place, once haunted the imaginations of the Irish of all conditions, like an incarnation of an Indian deity—all fierceness and frigidity; and it must be acknowledged that the general order of viceroys and secretaries had not tended much to remove the conception. They were chiefly men of advanced life, with their habits formed by intercourse with the most exclusive class in existence, the English peerage, or rendered rigid by the dry formalities of official life. But I was young, had seen a good deal of that rough work of the world which gives pliancy, if not polish, to all characters; and I was, besides, really delighted with the animation, pleasantry, and winning kindness which exhibited themselves every where round me. I was half a son of Ireland already, and I regarded the recognition as the pledge of my success.

"Do you know," said one of the most influential and accomplished noblemen of the country to me, one day at his sumptuous table—"how many of the lords-lieutenant do you think have left a popular recollection behind them?"

I professed my ignorance, but enumerated some names remarkable for intelligence and vigour of administration.

"Oh," said my entertainer, "that was not the question! Great statesmen and showy governors, capital rulers of the country and bold managers of our factions, we have had in sufficient succession, but I speak of the faculty of being remembered; the talent of making a public impression; the power of escaping that national oblivion into which mere official services, let them be of what magnitude they may, inevitably drop when their performer has disappeared. Well, then, I shall tell you. Two, and no more."

I begged to know the names of those "discoverers of the grand secret, the philosopher's stone of popularity," the alchemists who had power to fix the floating essence of the Irish mind!

"Chesterfield and Townshend. Chesterfield, regarded as a fop in England, was a daring, steady, and subtle governor of the unruly spirits of Ireland, in one of the most hazardous periods. That the throne of the Brunswicks did not see an Irish revolt at the moment when it saw a Scottish invasion, was the service of Chesterfield. But he ruled not by his wisdom, but by his wit. He broke down faction by bon-mots; he extinguished conspiracy by passing compliments; he administered the sternest law with the most polished smile; and cut down rebellion by quotations from La Fontaine, and calembourgs from Scarron. But with these fortunate pleasantries he combined public and solid services. He threw a large portion of the crown lands in the neighbourhood of the capital into a park for the recreation of the citizens, and thus gave one of the earliest and most munificent examples of regard for the health and enjoyment of the people; a more enduring monument of his statesmanship could not have[Pg 89] been offered to the gratitude of the country."

Of the Marquis Townshend I had heard as a gallant soldier, and a stirring viceroy, but I still had to learn the source of his popularity.

"Townshend was one of those singular men who possess faculties of which they have no knowledge, until the moment when they become necessary. He began life as a soldier, and finished his soldiership in the most brilliant victory of his day—the battle of Quebec. On his appointment to the viceroyalty, he found his government a nothing; a government faction superseding the governor, and an opposition faction engrossing the people. He now, for the first time, became a politician. He resolved to crush both, and he succeeded. He treated the government faction in Ireland with contumely, and he treated the opposition with contempt. Both were indignant; he laughed at both, and treated them with still more scorn. Both were astonished—the government faction intrigued against him in England, the opposition threatened impeachment. He defied them still more haughtily. They now found that he was not to be shaken, and both submitted. The nation joined him, was pacified, grew in vigour, as it required tranquillity; and here you have the secret of all the privileges which Ireland has obtained. Townshend performed, only on a smaller scale, the same national service which Pitt performed on a larger one. He took the people out of the hands of aristocracy, broke up the league of opulence and power, and gave the island that popular freedom which the great minister of England gave to the empire. For this the name of Townshend lives among us still. His bold satires are recorded, his gallant bearing is remembered, his passing pleasantries have become a portion of the national wit, and his rough but effectual services are among the memorials of our independence as a people."

The evening of this hospitable day concluded with a ball to the neighbouring families, and all was graceful and animated enjoyment. My host had travelled much in early life, and had brought home some fine pictures and valuable sculptures. He was an accomplished classical scholar—a quality which I found in some degree fashionable among the leading personages of the time, and which unquestionably added much to the high tone of conversation among the parliamentary circles. In his magnificent mansion an artist might have found studies, a scholar learning, a philosopher wisdom, and a man of the world all the charms of polished life. How soon, and how fearfully, were they all to be extinguished! How bitterly were all who honoured and esteemed that generous and highly-gifted nobleman, to feel what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!

Our mornings were chiefly spent in hunting over the fine landscape which spread, in all the various beauty of vegetation, within view of the mansion. On one of those days the attention of the field was caught by the fierce riding of a singular-looking man, scarcely above the peasant in his general appearance, and yet mounted on one of the finest English horses that I had ever seen. He rode at every thing, managed his horse with practised skill, and soon became an object of general emulation. To "ride up" to the "wild horseman," was found to be a task not easily accomplished, and at length all was a trial of speed with this dashing exhibitor. A glance which, when on the point of one of his most desperate leaps, he threw back at me, seemed to be a kind of challenge, and I rushed on at speed. The Irish hunter matchless at "topping" stone walls, but his practice has not lain much among rivers; and the English horse is sometimes his master at the deep and rapid streams which, running between crumbling banks, are perhaps the severest trials to both horse and rider. The majority of the hunt pulled up at the edge of one of those formidable chasms, and I was by no means unwilling to follow their example; but the look of the strange rider had a sneer along with it, which put me on my mettle, and I dashed after him. The hounds had scrambled through, and we rode nearly abreast through a broken country, that mixture of bog and firm ground which occurs frequently in newly cleared land, and over which nothing but the most powerful sinews can make way. We[Pg 90] had now left every one behind us, were struggling on through the dimness of a hazy day, sinking into twilight. Suddenly my mysterious rival turned his horse full upon me, and to my utter amazement discharged a pistol at my head. The discharge was so close that I escaped only by the swerving of my horse at the flash. I felt my face burn, and in the impulse of the pain made a blind blow at him with my whip. He had drawn out another pistol in an instant, which the blow luckily dashed out of his hand. No words passed between us, but I bounded on him to seize him. He slipped away from my grasp, and, striking in the spur, galloped madly forward, I in pursuit. The twilight had now deepened, and he plunged into a lane bounded on both sides by steep hedges, and which, from some former hunting in this quarter, I knew to be a cul-de-sac. This doubled my determination to make myself master of the assassin; and even in the hurry of the moment I formed some conception of my having seen his face before, and that the attempt to put me out of the way was connected, in some way or other, with public affairs. This question was soon decided. He reached the end of the lane, which was shut in with a wall of about the height of a man. His horse shied at the obstacle. The rider, with an oath and a desperate exertion, pushed him to it again. I was now within a few yards of him, and arrived just in time to see the animal make a convulsive spring, touch with his hind feet on the top of the wall, and roll over. My Irish horse cleared it in the native style, and I found my enemy crushed under his hunter, and evidently in the pangs of death. He had been flung on a heap of stones, and the weight of the falling horse had broken his spine. I poured some brandy down his throat, relieved him from the incumbrance of the hunter—attempted to give him hope—but he told me that it was useless; that he felt death coming on, and that I was the last man who should wish him to live, "as he had pledged himself to my extinction." For a while, his recollections were wild, and he talked of events in France and Spain, where he seemed to have done some deeds which affected him with peculiar horror in the prospect of dissolution. But, after a brief period of those terrible disclosures, his pains totally ceased, his mind grew clear; and he acknowledged that he was one of the leading agents of a National Conspiracy to republicanize Ireland. "You are too kind," said he to me, "to one who now sees the madness of the design, and is sensible of the guilt of taking away the lives of honourable men." A lapse of weakness here tied his tongue; and I brought him a draught of water from a spring which gurgled beside the wall. He thanked me, and proceeded to say, that my "character for vigilance and activity had alarmed the principal conspirators, and that he, thinking all crimes meritorious in a popular cause, had resolved to signalize the commencement of his services, by putting the English secretary to death on the first occasion." For this purpose, he had followed my steps for some time in the metropolis, but without finding a fit opportunity. The intelligence of my hunting days in the north gave him renewed expectations, and he had followed me in various disguises; had been present at dinners and balls, where I was the principal guest; had even frequently conversed with me on public and foreign topics; in fact, had haunted me with a case of pistols constantly in his bosom; yet had never been able to find the true opportunity of despatching me without eclat. He had, at last, determined to give up the object as altogether hopeless; and had already prepared to act on a bolder scale by heading open rebellion, when he heard of my intending to hunt on this day. It was to be his last experiment; "and how rejoiced I am," said he, "that it has failed!" He now remained for a while in apparent meditation, and then suddenly raising himself on his hand, said, in a full and manly tone—"One thing I still can do in this world, if it may not be too late. Leave me here; I must die; go back in all haste to your friends, and tell them to prepare either to fly or defend their lives. This is the night appointed for the breaking out of the insurrection. Fifty thousand men are already armed in the mountains, and ready for the[Pg 91] signal to march on the principal towns. The few troops in the country are to be made prisoners in their barracks. The government stores are to be divided among the people. Before twelve hours are over we shall have a force of a hundred thousand men on foot; and a republic will be proclaimed."

The intelligence was startling, but not wholly unexpected. I demanded the names of the leaders; but on this head he refused to make any answer. I next enquired, whether the rebel directory had any hope of assistance from the Continent. "That I can fully answer," said he, now almost at his last gasp. "I myself was the negotiator. It is but a month since I was in Paris. The government agreed to send seven sail of the line, with ten thousand troops, and Hoche, the favourite general of the republic, to the north; or, in case of unexpected obstacles, to the south of Ireland. I have been looking out for their flag from hour to hour." The man sank back on the ground. I prepared to run for help, if there were any to be found in that desolate place. He grasped my hand; his was icy. "No," said he, "I must now be left alone; I am dying, and I am not sorry to die. I am free from your blood, and I shall not share in the horrors which I see at hand. Men in health, and men dying think differently of those things. Farewell!" He gave my hand a convulsive clasp, and expired.

My situation was an anxious one. Night had fallen, and the hour was full of peril to those whom I had left behind; it was even possible that the insurrection might have already broken out. Sounds, which seemed to me, in the stillness of the hour, to be the signals of the peasantry—the echoes of horns, and trampling of bodies of horse—began to rise upon the gust, and yet I was unwilling to leave my unfortunate victim on the ground. A length a loud shout, and the firing of musketry on the skirts of the wood, awoke me to a sense of the real danger of my situation. I forced my way through the thickets, and saw a skirmish between a large mass of armed men, and a picket of troops in a village on the borders of the wood. There was now no time to be lost. I returned to the spot where the body lay, placed my hand on its forehead, to ascertain whether any remnant of life lingered there; found all cold; and, remounting my horse, wound my dreary and difficult way back to the mansion.

To my surprise, I found the windows blazing with lights, carriages arriving, and all the signs of a night of gala. I had forgotten that this was my noble entertainer's birthday, and that the whole circle of the neighbouring nobles and gentlemen had been for the last month invited. There were to be private theatricals, followed by a ball and supper. The whole country continued to pour in. Full of my disastrous intelligence, my first enquiry was for the noble host; he was not to be seen. I was at length informed under the seal of secrecy by his secretary, that some information of popular movements within a few miles, having been conveyed to him late in the day, he had put himself at the head of a squadron of his yeomanry to ascertain the nature of the disturbance, and as it was then too late to countermand the invitations to the ball, had given strict orders that the cause of his absence should be concealed, and that the entertainments should go on as if he were present.

Agreeing that this was the wisest thing which could be done, to avoid unnecessary alarm, which paralyses action beforehand, and renders all ridiculous after, I seldom felt it more difficult to play my part than on this occasion. As a minister, any thing in the shape of solicitude on my part, was sure to be magnified into actual disaster, and I was forced to keep an unembarrassed countenance. I immediately sent out servants in every direction to bring intelligence of the actual state of affairs, and above all, to ascertain what had detained their master. Though all this was done with the utmost secrecy, it was impossible to suppress the growing impression that something extraordinary must have occurred, to withdraw from his own hospitable roof, and so long detain, the lord of the mansion, distinguished as he was for the most polished courtesy. As the hour waned, the enquiries became more urgent, the dance languished, and the showy[Pg 92] crowd forming into groups, and wandering through the saloons, or gathered to the windows, had evidently lost all the spirit of festivity. To my astonishment, strong opinions began to find utterance, and I discovered that his lordship, in his general and lofty disregard of the shades of popular sentiment, had among his guests some individuals whose rank and wealth had not preserved them from the taint of republicanism. As it was not my purpose to make a ball-room the scene of a political squabble, and as I felt it due to my official position to avoid any unnecessary entanglement in the obscure follies of provincial partizanship, I first tried to laugh down the topic. But a young orator, a handsome and fluent enthusiast, recently returned from a continental excursion, gave so stirring a picture of the glories of French independence, and the glittering advantages which must accrue to all countries following the example, that I was forced to stand on my defence. The gallant republican was not to be repelled; he poured out upon me, as he warmed with the theme, so vast a catalogue of public injuries, in language so menacing, yet so eloquent, that I was forced to ask whether I was standing in the midst of a Jacobin club—whether his object was actually to establish a democracy, to govern by the guillotine, to close up the churches, and inscribe the tombs with—death is an eternal sleep; to swear to the extinction of monarchy, and proclaim universal war. Our dispute had now attracted general notice. He answered with still more vehement and elaborate detail. I had evidently the majority on my side, but some few adhered to him, and those, too, men of consequence, and obvious determination.

The ladies shrank affrighted, as the contest grew more angry; and the usual and unhappy result of political discussion in Ireland, an exchange of cards, was about to take place, when one of the servants brought me a small packet of papers which had been found on the body of the assassin. Glancing over them, I saw a list of the leaders of the insurrection, and the first name in the paper that of my antagonist. I crushed the document in my hand, and beckoned him to a window. There, alone, and out of hearing of the guests, who, however, followed us anxiously with their eyes, I charged him with his guilt. He denied it fiercely. I gave him five minutes to consider whether he would confess or abide the consequences. His countenance visibly exhibited the perturbations of his mind; he turned pale and red alternately, shuddered, then braced himself up with desperate resolution, and finally ended by denying and defying every thing. It was not in my nature to press upon this moment of agony; but telling him, that nothing but compassion prevented my ordering his arrest on the spot, I again warned him to make his peace in time with the government, by a solemn abjuration of his design.

I have the whole scene before me still. This man was destined to a memorable and melancholy fate. I never remember a countenance more expressive of intellectual refinement; but there was a look of strange and feverish restlessness in his large grey eye, almost ominous of his future career. He was still young, though he had already gone through vicissitudes enough to darken the longest life. He had been, a few years before, called to the bar, the favourite profession of the Irish gentry, where he had exhibited talents of a remarkable order; but an impatience of the slow success of this profession drove him to the hazards of political change. He had married, and this increased his difficulties, until party came athwart him with its promises of boundless honour and rapid fortune. His sanguine nature embraced the temptation at once; but the parliamentary opposition was too deliberate and too frigid for his boiling blood; he plunged into the deeper and wilder region of conspiracy, took the lead, which is so soon assigned to the brilliant and the bold, and became the soul of the tremendous faction which was ready to proclaim the separation of the empire.

He had but now returned from France, with a commission in the army of the Republic, and a plan agreed on with the Directory for the invasion of Ireland; but these were[Pg 93] discoveries to be made hereafter. On this night I saw nothing but a gallant enthusiast, filled with classic recollections, inflamed with the ardour of early life, and deluded by the dreams of political perfection. My sense of the utter ruin which he was preparing for himself was so strong, that I pressed him from point to point, until he was forced to take refuge in flight, and, rushing from me, burst open a door which led to the demesne. While I paused, not unwilling to give him the opportunity to escape, I heard a wild burst of wailing, and a confusion of voices outside. In the next moment, I saw the fugitive return, with a tottering step, a bloodless countenance, and a look of horror. Without a word, he pointed to the door; I followed the direction, and saw what might well justify his feelings. The troop of yeomanry had been attacked on their return from patrolling the country; an ambuscade had been laid for them by a large force of the insurgents, in one of the narrow roads which bordered the demesne, and where, from its vicinity, they had imagined themselves secure. As they moved down this defile with their noble commandant at their head, a heavy fire of musketry assailed them from both sides; and as the assailants were unapproachable, they had no resource but to gallop on. But they had no sooner reached the wider part of the road, than they found themselves fired on again from behind a barricade of carts and waggons drawn across the road. The affair now seemed desperate; the muzzles of the muskets almost touched their breasts, and every shot told. Their pistols could only keep up a random fire, and their sabres were wholly useless. They were now falling helplessly and fast, when the earl ordered them to charge the insurgents in front, and force their way over the barricade at all risks. He bravely led the way, and they burst through under a volley from the rebels. A ball fatally struck him as he was in the act of cheering on his men, and he dropped dead from his horse without a groan. The troop, furious at their loss, had taken a desperate revenge, cleared the road, and had now brought the dead body of their lord to that mansion, where he had so long presided as the example of every high-toned quality, and which his fate was now to turn into a scene of terror and woe.

The melancholy tidings could not now be suppressed, and the ball-room was filled with screams and faintings. The corpse was brought in, borne on the arms of the yeomanry, most of them wounded, and looking ghastly from loss of blood and the agitation of the encounter. The guests crowded round the sofa on which the body was laid, with all the varieties of sorrow and strong emotion conceivable, under the loss of a common and honoured friend. Tears fell down many a manly cheek; sobs were heard on every side, mingled with outcries of indignation against the rebellious spirit by which so deep a calamity had been produced. But all other considerations were quickly absorbed in the sense of general danger. A tremendous shout was heard round the mansion, followed by the discharge of musketry and the clashing of pikes. All rushed to the windows, and we saw the hills in a blaze with fires, and the demesne crowded with the armed thousands of the insurrection.

[Pg 94]


The God of New-year's Day, From the Fasti of Ovid.

Behold with omens blithe and bright, on festive New-Year's Day,
First in the year old Janus comes, and foremost in my lay!
Twin-headed god, source of the year that silent glides away,
Who only of the Olympian throng canst thine own back survey;
Bless thou our noble chiefs, whose arms have purchased gentle peace
To fruitful Earth, and lent the wave from pirate-chase release;
On senators and people smile, who call Quirinus god,
All temples bright, in shining white, fly open at thy nod!
A lucky sun doth shine; nor voice, nor thought of ill, be stirr'd
To tempt the time; the happy day demands the happy word.
No brawls assail the ear; cease now the harsh-vex'd forum's hum,
And calumny with eager tongue, for once thy spite be dumb!
Lo! where the pure and fragrant flame from every altar round
Upwreathes, while ears devout receive the saffron's crackling sound!
The wandering flame, far darting, strikes the golden-fretted roof,
And with the tremulous ray aloft, it weaves a shining woof.
In stately pomp, the people wend up the Tarpeian slope,
All brightly, on a bright day clad, the pure white robes of hope;
New axes shine, and in the sun new purple bravely sports,
And greeted-far the curule chair new weight of worth supports;[12]
New oxen come that lately cropp'd the sweet Faliscan grass,
And yield to Jove their willing necks on which no yoke did pass.
He, from his starry throne sublime, looks East and West; and lo!
He sees but Rome, and Rome's domain, in all he sways below.
Hail happy day, and still return to bless with happier face
The sons of Romulus, lords of Earth, not thankless for thy grace!
But who art thou, strange biform god, and what thy power? for Greece
With all her gods of thee and thine hath bade her Muses cease;
This say; and say why thou alone of all celestial kind,
Dost forwards still look steadfastly and also gaze behind?
Thus with myself I mused, and held my tablets to indite,
When sudden through the room there shone an unaccustom'd light,
And in the light the double shape of Janus hoar appear'd,
And 'fore my view with fix'd regard his double face he rear'd.
I stood aghast, each rigid hair erect rose on my head,
And through my frame with freezing touch the creeping terror sped.
He in his right hand held a staff, and in his left a key,
And with the mouth to-me-ward turn'd these words he spake to me—
"Fear not, pains-taking bard, whose pen doth chronicle the days,
Receive my word with faithful ear, and sound it in thy lays.
When earth was young, primeval speech first call'd me Chaos; I
Am no birth of to-day—a name of hoar antiquity.
This lucid air, and the other three, which elements ye class,
Fire, water, earth, were then one rude and undigested mass;
But soon within the mingled heap a secret strife did brew,
And to self-chosen homes anon the hostile atoms flew.
[Pg 95] First rose the flame sublime, the air assumed the middle berth,
And to the central base were bound strong ocean, and firm earth.
Then I, till then a mass confused, a huge and shapeless round,
New features worthy of a god, and worthy members found;
Still of my primal shapeless bulk remain'd the little trace,
That I alone have no true back, but show both ways a face.
One cause thou hast; another hear, and with my figure know,
My virtue and my power above, my office here below.
Whate'er thou see'st, the earth, the sea, the air, the fiery cope,
At my command they shut their gates, at my command they ope.
I of the vasty universe do hold the secret key,
The hinge of every thing that turns is turn'd alone by me.
Peace, when I please to send her forth from her secure retreats,
Walks freely o'er the unfenced fields, and treads free-gated streets;
The mighty globe would quake convulsed by blood and murderous din,
Did not my brazen bolt confine the store of strife within.
The gates of Heaven are mine; I watch there with the gentle Hours,
That Jove supreme must wait my time in the Olympian bowers.
Thence my name Janus;[13] thence the priest who on my altar places
The salted cake, the sacred meal, with strange-mouth'd titles graces
My hoary deity; thence you hear Patulcius now, and now
Clusius, crown the votive gift, and seal the mystic vow.[14]
Thus rude antiquity at first its simple creed confess'd,
And with twin words the functions twain of one same god express'd.
My power you know—the god of gates—now for my figure, why?
The cause is plain, and may be read by half a poet's eye.
There is no door but looks two ways; into the busy street
This way, and that way back towards the quiet Lar's retreat;[15]
And as the porter whom you place to keep watch at your gate,
Sees who goes out and who comes in at early hour and late,
Thus I, the warden of the sky, from heaven's wide-tented blue,
Look forth, and scan both east and west with comprehensive view.
The triform image you have seen, and any where may see,
Of Hecate standing at the point where one road parts in three;
Thus I, lest turning of my neck my function might delay,
The motive world on either side without a move survey."
Thus spake the god with friendly mien and eye, that seem'd to say—
"If wish be yours to question more, command me; I obey."
Due thanks I gave; strong fear no more my eager tongue possess'd,
And with a look that sought the ground, the immortal I address'd.
"This would I know, why frosty days and storms begin the year,
Which flowery spring had usher'd in with more auspicious cheer;
Then all things flourish—all things then of youth and freshness tell,
The juicy vine begins to flow, the bud begins to swell;
With fresh green leaves the tree is clad, a virgin sheen appears,
The bursting seed above the ground the fresh green blade uprears.
With fresh full-throated warblings then the blithe birds stir the air,
And lamb and lambkin in the mead their frisking sports prepare.
Then suns are mild; its south retreat the stranger swallow leaves,
And skilful builds the well-known clay beneath the lofty eaves.
Then walks the ploughman forth; the clod yields to the sturdy steer;
Soothly the fittest time was this to omen in the year."
[Pg 96] My words were many, but in words few and well-chosen, He,
Within the compass of two lines, thus made reply to me.
"What time the sun that sunk before mounts loftier to the view,
This fitliest closed the parting year, and usher'd in the new."
I ask'd again, "Why on this day the forum's strife should end
Only in part."—"The cause," said he, "I will explain; attend.
The young year's starting day I made but partial holiday,
Lest labourless begun, the year might run to the end in play;
Each cunning hand on Janus' feast makes prelude to his trade,
Of all the rest a timely test on New-Year's day is made."
Then I, this further—"Tell me why, when I bring frankincense
To Jove or any other god, with thee I still commence?"
"Because of things in heaven and earth I hold the sacred key,
The first approach to all the gods is made alone through me."
"But on thy kalends, why are men, so harsh on other days,
Keen to return the kindly look, and change the friendly phrase?"
To this the god, his strong right hand upon his good staff leaning,
"All ominous things when first observed speak out their fateful meaning.
To the first voice of things that cry, ye lend a trembling ear,
And the first flight of bodeful wings fills pious hearts with fear.
The ears are open of the gods, to catch on New-Year's day
What random words, or thoughtless prayer, a hasty fool may say."
Thus ceased the god; nor slow was I the broken thread to join,
But of the last words that he spake, thus trode the heels with mine.
"But what have dates to do with thee, and wrinkled figs, this tell,
And what the honey dew that drops pure from its snowy cell?"[16]
"Here, too, an omen lies," he said; "the cause is passing clear,
That from sweet things a savour sweet may relish the whole year."
Thus taught, the cause I understood of dates, and figs, and honey;
"But tell me now, wise god!" I said, "what means the piece of money?"
He smiled. "Alas! how much thy age deceives thy wit," he said;
"As if sweet honey by the touch of gold were sweeter made.
Even in good Saturn's day, 'twas hard to find a heart all pure,
From the infection of base gain, and gainful lust secure.
Small at the birth, it grew apace the thirst of yellow ore,
Till heap on heap ye pile so high, that ye can pile no more.
Not so the measure was of wealth in Rome's primeval time,
When all was poor that now is rich, and low that's now sublime;
When a small hut was all that held the son of Mars divine,
And gather'd reeds were all the couch on which he drain'd the wine;
When Jove within his narrow cell erect could scarcely stand,
An earthen Jove, and of base clay the bolt that arm'd his hand.
When with wild-flowers the fane was deck'd that now with jewels gleams,
And his own sheep the senator fed near the rural streams;
When gently woo'd by healthy sleep the rustic warrior lay
On straw, and praised above all down a truss of bristling hay;
When to give laws to Rome the peasant consul left the plough,
And gold was then as great a crime as 'tis a virtue now.
But when our fates were lifted high, and to the stars sublime,
Perch'd on her base of seven-hill'd state proud Rome had learn'd to climb;
Wealth grew with power, and lust of wealth, a madness of the brain,
And still the more that they possess'd, the more they sought to gain.
Eager to make that they might spend, spending to make anew,
Change nursed by change of fell extremes to monstrous nature grew;
Thus he whose sickly body swells with water in the veins,
The more he drinks, the more within the thirsty fever reigns.
[Pg 97] All things are prized by price; to wealth all honours now are sure;
Wealth buys the rich man friends; forlorn and friendless pines the poor.
If now you ask why copper coins are chiefly my delight,
The ancient brass of Rome should I, the ancient Janus, slight?
Brass was their wealth of old; though now the better omen's gold,
And the new metal from the field has fairly beat the old.
Myself, though simple and severe, approve a golden shrine—
This metal hath a majesty that suits a power divine.
We praise the ancients, and 'tis well; but use our modern ways—
All fashions in due time and place are worthy of our praise."
Thus ceased the god; but I, to set all rising doubts at rest,
The hoar key-bearer of the sky thus with meek words address'd:—
"Much I have learn'd; but tell me this—why of our copper coin
Does one side bear a ship, and one a double head like thine?"[17]
"That head is mine; you might have known the likeness of the face
But that hoar age and wear have dull'd the sharpness of the trace.
As for the ship, attend: the god that bears the scythe whilcome
Far-wandering in the Tuscan flood at length had ceased to roam.[18]
Well I remember when he came, and hold the memory dear—
Saturn, by Jove expell'd from heaven, and kindly welcom'd here.
Thence was the land Saturnia call'd; and Latium still we name
The part where ancient Saturn lurk'd in safety when he came.[19]
Our pious sires upon the brass the sacred ship impress'd,
Whose keel to blest Ausonian shores had borne the Olympian guest.
Then on that spot I made my home where Tiber's waters glide,
And eat the yielding banks away with sandy-rolling tide.
Here, where Rome stands, wild copse green grew; the busy forum now
Was then a peaceful glen, disturb'd by wandering oxen's low.
My fortress then was that same hill which pious Rome reveres
Even now, and thinks on Janus when Janiculum she hears.
Here I was king, when holy earth of heavenly guests could tell,
And in the haunts of men the gods were not ashamed to dwell;
Ere Justice, shrinking from the sight of human guilt and crime,
Last of immortals left the earth, and sought the starry clime;
When hearts were sway'd by love, and held by bonds of holy awe,
And light the labour was to shape for willing hearts the law.
Stern war I knew not, and the gates I held were gates of peace;
While in my hand the key declared—Let garner'd stores increase!"
Here closed the god his lips; but I, not bashful, open'd mine,
And with the mortal voice again unseal'd the voice divine.
"Since many gates are thine in Rome, say why dost thou appear
In perfect shape and size nowhere but at the forums here?"[20]
Whereto the god, with gentle hand stroking his long beard hoary,
Forthwith recounted in my ear Œbalian Tatius' story;
And how, by Sabine gauds ensnared, the fair and faithless maid
The path that to the Capitol leads to the Sabine lord betray'd.
[Pg 98] "As there is now, so then there was, a slope by which you go
Steep from the citadel to the plain, and forum stretch'd below;
And now the twain had reach'd the gate where Juno's partial ward
The only bolts that closed their way propitiously unbarr'd,
When I, too wise with Saturn's seed in open fight to join,
Contrived a scheme that baffled hers, a plan entirely mine;
I oped (in opening lies my strength) a gate where waters slept,
And from the solid rock straightway a stream impetuous leapt;
To the hot spring such sulphurous steams my timely aid supplied
That eager Tatius quail'd and shrunk back from the rolling tide.
The Sabines fled; the gushing fount miraculous ceased to flow;
Nor pious Rome to own the power that sent such aid was slow;
A little altar on a shrine not large to Janus' name
Was raised; there sprinkled meal and cake smokes mingled with the flame."
"But this say further,—why thy gates in war are open, why
In peace are closed?" whereto the god thus gave the prompt reply;
"That till her sons fierce war have quench'd, and crush'd the crude revolt,
Rome to receive the homeward host may keep unbarr'd the bolt;
In peace my locks are closed, that none may causeless leave his home,
Nor few the years I shall be closed while Cæsar reigns in Rome."
Thus spake the god; and lifting high his head of diverse view,
Scann'd east and west, and all that's spread beneath the ethereal blue;
And peace rein'd o'er wide earth; ev'n where i' the north, with surly wave,
The rebel Rhine to Cæsar's arms their latest triumph gave;
Peace, hoary Janus, make thou sure for ever; and may they
Who purchased peace embrace the globe with everlasting sway.


I do not sigh as some may sigh,
To see thee in thy darkness led
Along the path where sunbeams lie,
And bloom is shed.

I do not weep as some may weep,
Upon thy rayless brow to look;
A boon more rare 'twas thine to keep,
When light forsook.

A glorious boon! Thou shalt not view
One treasure from the earth depart—
Its starry buds, its pearls of dew,
Lie in thy heart.

No need to heed the frosty air,
No need to heed the blasts that chafe,
The scatter'd sheaf, the vintage spare—
Thy hoard is safe.

Thou shalt not mark the silent change
That falls upon the heart like blight,
The smile that grows all cold and strange.—
Bless'd is thy night!

Thou shalt not watch the slow decay,
Nor see the ivy clasp the fane,
Nor trace upon the column gray
The mildew stain.

Ours is the darkness—thine the light.
Within thy brow a glory plays;
Shrine, blossom, dewdrop, all are bright
With quenchless rays.

J. D.

[Pg 99]


A large red brick house, with a multitude of gable-ends, and rows of small, dingy-looking windows, had hidden itself for many generations in a clump of fine old trees in a large green field—almost qualified to take rank as a park—at a distance of six or seven miles from St Paul's. In the days of the good Queen Anne, the city lay comfortably huddled up round the cathedral church, and looked upon her sister of Westminster as too far removed, and of too lofty a rank, to be visited except on rare occasions. London was then contained within reasonable limits, and it was easy to walk round her boundaries; you could even point out the precise spot at which the town ended and the country began. The inhabitants of the large brick house, known by the name of Surbridge Hall, at rare intervals, and then only to visit the shops, undertook the journey into the city; and, unless in the stillest of autumn evenings, when the enormous tongue of the metropolitan clock made itself audible on the Surbridge lawn, they might have forgotten that such a place as the capital was within fifty miles. That generation died off; and London had begun to put out feelers in all directions, and had outgrown the ancient limits. Streets began to move out a little way into the country for change of air; and, in making their usual shopping-visits to the great city, the inhabitants of Surbridge Hall had now to drive through a short row of houses, where the elders of the party remembered nothing but a hedge. That generation also died out; and the city, like an old dowager who has once been a beauty, and boasted of a waist, grew out of all shape. There were squares and crescents rising in every quarter and the white tops of chimneys, and the blue dinginess of roofs, became visible from the upper windows of Surbridge Hall. The proprietor, terrified perhaps by the approach of such neighbours, advertised the Hall for sale, speedily found a purchaser, and, somewhere about the beginning of this century, the old family name of the Walronds disappeared from the country, and Surbridge Hall became the property of William Wilkins, Esq. We may observe that, much about the same time, the name of the senior partner disappeared from the door of a dingy-looking house in Riches Court, and the firm of Wilkins & Roe was deprived of its larger half. The old lion-rampant, that had stood on its hind-legs for so many years on the top of one of the piers of the entrance gates, as if in act to spring upon the deer that lay ruminating on the top of the other, was now displaced; and, in a few days, his position was taken by a plaster-of-Paris cast of Hebe, benevolently holding forth an empty goblet towards the thirsty statue of Apollo which did duty on the other side. The floors in the old hall were new laid, the windows fitted with plate glass, the painting and decoration put into the hands of a Bond-street finisher, who covered the walls with acres of gilding, and hung chandeliers from the ceilings, and placed mirrors upon the walls, till the rooms looked like the show galleries of an upholsterer, and very different from the fine solid habitable apartments they used to be in the time of the late proprietor. And a change nearly as remarkable took place on Mr Wilkins himself as in his house. He attended county meetings, and became learned in rents and agriculture. He built new houses for his tenants, and only regretted he had never learned to ride, or he would have followed the hounds. But though he was no Nimrod, he dressed like one of his sons, and encased his thick legs in top-boots, and generally carried a whip. At last, by dint of good dinners, and voting on the right side at the elections, he became a magistrate; and if Mrs Wilkins had had the politeness to die, he would have married Lady Diana O'Huggomy, the daughter of an Irish earl; but Mrs Wilkins did not die, and Lady Diana ran away with a dancing-master. His son had been eighteen years at the bar, and never had had a brief; his daughters had been twenty years on the world, and never had had an offer;[Pg 100] but he still expected to see Richard lord chancellor, and his three girls peeresses. A country gentleman, a county magistrate, perfectly healthy and tolerably rich, was there any thing wanting to Mr Wilkins's felicity? Yes. Alexander the Great was wretched when he had conquered the world, and was ten times happier when he was breaking-in Bucephalus; and Mr Wilkins, if the truth must be told, was very like Alexander the Great, at least in his discontent, and was never so gay as he used to be in the dingy mansion in Riches Court. The dinners he gave were formal, cold affairs, where he never felt at his ease: he could not help thinking that the neighbours quizzed and looked down on him; and, in short, he felt out of his element, and longed sometimes for the free-and-easy dinners he had relished so much in the city. His farm-houses were at last all built, his improvements all completed, and there was no further occupation for either himself or his money. He sometimes drove into Harley Street to see his son, but he found that gentleman also on the rack of idleness, and went home again, wondering how Roe was getting on in the old premises, though never venturing to go near him—for his family had insisted on a dead cut between the partners, and could not endure the thoughts of Mr Roe coming between the wind and their newly acquired nobility. Time wore on. Old Wilkins grew older. He used to sit at the window of his drawing-room and look towards London, fancying to himself the bustle and stir that were going on, the crowding in Fleet Street, the crush at the Bank; and occasionally imagination conjured up to him the image of an active citizen bustling down towards the Exchange, radiant with success, and filled with activity and hope; and he could scarcely recognise his own identity with that joyous citizen, the William Wilkins of that happier time. The flood of building, which had only reached to within three miles of Surbridge when the Walronds retired to the ark of some estate they retained in Yorkshire, had now increased to such a degree, as to have submerged many of the fields and orchards that lay at very short distance from the Hall. "Willars," with Italian fronts and little greenhouses at the side, took post all along the road, and, from the open windows, sounded in summer evenings the Battle of Prague, or God save the King, so that you walked amidst perpetual music, for no house was so ungenteel as to be without a piano. Surbridge Hall itself ran a great risk of becoming a suburban villa at no distant time; and Mr Wilkins was in some hopes that his family would allow him to consider himself an inhabitant of London once more, and no longer doom him to the cold nothingness of squireship and gentility. But whether they might have relented in this respect can never be known; for while he was meditating a renewal of his acquaintance with his late partner, and an occasional dive into Riches Court, he changed his bed at the Hall for the family vault (newly built) in Surbridge church, and his great-coat and riding-whip for a Roman toga and a long gilt baton, with which he pointed to heaven from the top of a splendid monument near the south wall. Richard now succeeded to the family honours; and as he had married a Miss Gillingham—a name which he preferred to his ancestral appellation—he did her the honour to take it to himself, and was duly enrolled in the list of justices as Wilkins Gillingham, Esq. His son was sent to Christchurch, and his three daughters to a fashionable boarding-school. His mother and sisters retired to Tunbridge Wells, and they all began to persuade themselves that Surbridge had been in the family from the time of the Conquest. By way of strengthening their claims to county consideration, it was wisely determined to oppose the building invasion as powerfully as they could. Several farms and fields were bought, plantations were skilfully placed, two or three feet were added to the height of the walls all round the property; and it was hoped that some impression was made on the advancing architectural enemy; for in the speculative year of 1819, a dozen or two of builders were removed to the Queen's Bench, and whole rows of houses were left looking up to heaven, in vain expectation of a roof. Wilkins Gillingham[Pg 101] served the office of High Sheriff, caught a surfeit in entertaining the judges, and in a few weeks gave place to his heir. Augustus had passed two years at Oxford—had then married a beauty—the daughter of a country surgeon of the name of Howard; and as he inherited his father's tastes, along with his property, he changed his family name; and poor old Widow Wilkins, who still survived, enlivened the tea-tables of the Wells with anecdotes and descriptions of her grandson, Gillingham Howard. Death seemed entirely to have forgotten the relict of the original William. She stood like an ancient pillar, to point out where the building it once belonged to was placed; and was looked upon by her descendants pretty much as a native American looks upon a venerable squaw of some Indian nation—the connecting link between New York and the woods. The widow was the sole point of union left between Surbridge Hall and Riches Court. Whether her grandson did not relish the reminiscence, or from what cause no one can hazard more than a guess, certain it is that on the death of his wife, who left him with two daughters, four or five years old, he did not summon his venerable ancestor from the Wells, but installed one of her daughters—Aunt Susannah—in the temporary charge of his house. By some secret arrangement, into the causes of which we have no time to enquire, such a change took place in Aunt Susannah, that though she left Tunbridge, having secured her place in the inside of the coach in the name of Miss S. Wilkins, she was brought out from London in Mr Howard's carriage in the name of Miss S. Gillingham; and there was no person of the name of Wilkins in the whole of the establishment. Aunt Susannah was not a person to hesitate long as to a change of name. It had been the whole object of her life, till five-and-thirty years of disappointment had almost made her despair of succeeding in her object, by the help of special license or even vulgar banns; and she accordingly made no scruple in adopting the more euphonious Gillingham, and sinking all mention of the other. Mr Gillingham Howard followed the example of his predecessors. He was a bona fide country gentleman, with the one drawback to his otherwise stupendous respectability, of being the greatest drawer of the long-bow since the days of Mendez Pinto. He added two feet more to the height of his boundary walls, and bought all the disposable land round his estate; but if he had transplanted a couple of miles of the Chinese wall to Surbridge, he could no more have kept off the intrusion of the barbarian villa-builders than the Celestials have been able to shut out the same pushing, bustling, active, energetic, unabashable individuals from the Flowery land. Architecture went on, and now the gigantic city had stuck her arms so majestically on either hip, that one of her elbows actually came into contact with the park of Surbridge Hall. There was a gentle elevation—in those flat regions honoured with the name of a hill—which lay at one side of the Surbridge lands. It was a beautifully wooded little property of thirty or forty acres, which it had always been the ambition of the Surbridge owners to buy; but it was so involved with lawsuits or doubtful titles, that it had hitherto been impossible to get possession of it for love or money. The upper part of it rose high above the glades of Surbridge park, and the clump of trees on the summit formed a very fine object in the view from the drawing-room windows. It was all laid down in the richest pasture, and would have formed the most valuable addition to the property, both in making it compact and keeping it secluded. The owner of it died at last in the Fleet, and it was advertised for sale, with a perfect title and immediate possession. The sale was by auction, and the day drew rapidly near. Mr Gillingham Howard went carefully over the ground, examined the condition of his credit—for his surplus cash was gone—had the property valued; and determined to give a thousand more than its worth, to prevent it falling into any one else's hands. When the day of sale arrived, he placed himself in front of the auctioneer, and determined, by the fierceness of his "bids," to frighten any competitor from the field. The room was crowded, and the sale began. All the eloquence of the celebrated Puff was[Pg 102] displayed on this occasion; and when he paused after his glowing description, and asked any gentleman to be kind enough to name a sum to begin with—suggesting, at the same time, four thousand pounds. "Gentlemen, shall we say four thousand guineas?" Mr Gillingham Howard, in a voice that was calculated to show that he was in earnest, and did not stand upon trifles, nodded his head, and said "seven!" The auctioneer himself was overcome with the success of his oratory, and there was a dead silence among the spectators. "Thank you, sir—seven thousand guineas," he said, "Will any gentleman make an advance?" looking round, at the same time, as if he considered it useless to waste any breath in endeavouring to enhance the price. His hammer mechanically went up, and was on the point of falling, when a weak voice near the orator's pulpit whispered "eight."

The voice proceeded from an old man wrapped up in a thick great-coat, though it was a warm day in June—a clear-eyed, small-featured, diminutive old man, who had sat the whole time, taking no apparent interest in the proceedings. All eyes were turned upon him in a moment, and he quietly repeated the awful monosyllable—"eight!" Mr Gillingham Howard looked at the old gentleman with detestation in every feature, for he felt that the person, whoever he was, was actually robbing him of a thousand pounds; and he would have had very few scruples in sending the culprit to Botany Bay for so tremendous an outrage. A sort of smile ran round the assemblage at seeing the sudden alteration produced on his countenance; and though he had determined not to give more than the original seven, he was ashamed to be cowed by an unknown individual at once; and after a few minutes' pause, and a glance of ineffable hatred at the little old man, who had relapsed into his state of contented unconcern, he looked at the auctioneer, and said, "Five hundred more!" Saying this, he put his hands into his pockets, and kept his eye fixed on his competitor. Without a moment's hesitation, the old gentleman nodded his head once more, and said, "Mr Puff, I'm in a hurry. Will this gentleman give ten thousand guineas? I will!"

The auctioneer gave one look to Mr Gillingham Howard, and saw, from the blank expression of that gentleman's countenance, that competition was at an end. The hammer fell, and seemed like a great rock on Mr Gillingham Howard's heart.

"Your name, if you please, sir," said Mr Puff.

The little old gentleman rose up and said, "Give me a pen and ink. I'll write an order for the money. My name is Thomas Roe, No. 20,. Riches Court."

Chapter II.

A week had passed, and Mr Gillingham Howard nursed his wrath, like Tam O'Shanter's wife, to keep it warm. The name of the successful purchaser had struck him with a feeling of horror; for as silence had brooded for fifty years over the history of his grandfather—and as the misty period preceding the purchase of Surbridge had given rise to a whole mythology of ancestry like to the anti-historic periods of Greece, and other imaginative nations—he looked upon the appearance of the veritable contemporary of that fabulous age in the same way as Romulus would have regarded any surviving friend and companion of the real bona fide robber or pig-driver to whom he probably owed his birth. It is needless, therefore, to say, that over all other feelings fear and disgust predominated. He determined to withdraw himself into still more aristocratic seclusion than before, and on no account to recognise the existence of his new neighbour. A month or two passed on, and no steps seemed taken on the part of the purchaser to avail himself of his new acquisition. Day after day Mr Gillingham Howard looked up to the tuft of trees that crowned the beautiful field beyond his park, and on seeing no symptoms of cutting down, nor other preparations for house-building,[Pg 103] began to indulge in the pleasing anticipation that the old gentleman had no intention of the kind; and by cherishing this idea for some time, he succeeded at last in believing, that if he did in reality turn his ground to any such a purpose, he would be guilty of a fresh injustice. Three months had elapsed, and the beautiful colours of Autumn just unfurled themselves in order to be struck at the first broadside of a November frost—the sun was shining so warmly, that the leaves had every reason to be ashamed of their yellow complexions; and a young lady—like a butterfly awakened by the brightness of the day—fluttered forward from the porch of Surbridge Hall, dressed in all the hues of the rainbow. A green bonnet, a pink pelisse, a red shawl, and lilac parasol, were scarcely in keeping with the sylvan scene on which she hurriedly entered. She was very tall and very thin, and had been taught to walk by a Parisian promeneuse at a guinea a lesson; so that the tail of her gown described a half circle every time she stept, and her progress was apparently on the principle of the propeller screw. A small sketch-book was under her arm, and across her wrist she bore a supernumerary shawl. "If he should be there again," she thought, "he will surely speak. He looked as if he wished to do it last time. But he's bashful, perhaps, to a person of my rank. Poor fellow—how handsome he looked as he turned away!" The thought seemed to be a pleasant one, for a sort of smile rose to her thin lips as she dwelt on it, and she increased her pace. She opened a little gate, and moved rapidly on towards an ornamental poultry-house near the boundary of the estate. The extra shawl was soon spread upon the stump of a tree, the sketch-book opened, and with her eye intently fixed on the fantastic chimney of the hen-house, she listened for every sound. She moved the pencil as if busily engaged in sketching; but, strange to say, the figure produced by her touch, took (involuntarily as it were) the appearance of a very handsome young man, for whose bright eyes and smiling countenance there was no warrant in the twisted bricks and oddly shaped cans of the original. As if her drawing had been the mystic configurations of a conjurer, the spirit came when she did call for it; and with a side glance of her eye, she perceived at no great distance from her a young man, who seemed to be gazing at her with great earnestness, and was only prevented from addressing her by the awe, that formed of course the body-guard of a daughter of Mr Gillingham Howard. There are many ways in which it is possible to show that the said body-guard may be broken through, without subjecting the culprit to the penalties of high-treason. A short cough, as if preparatory to a conversation—a hurried look, and then a scarcely perceptible smile—a sort of fidgety uneasiness, as if the stump of the tree was something rather different from an air-cushion—such were the methods pursued by Miss Arabel Howard on the present occasion with complete success. The stranger combated with his respect, and going near to where the sketcher—again utterly unconscious of his presence, was putting in a tuft of ivy—he took off his hat and bowed—

"Ha!" exclaimed Miss Arabel, in a state of most becoming surprise.

"I hope I do not alarm you, madam," said the stranger; "though my sudden presence here requires an apology."

"Oh!—I beg—I feel sure—any gentleman—my father will be most happy to"——

"You are very kind. I perceive you appreciate the beauty of this situation as much as I do. You are sketching the gable and chimney"——

"Yes—but pray don't look."

But before she had time to close the page and clasp the book, he had caught a view of a well drawn hat, and very tastefully touched whiskers.

The stranger smiled.

"It is indeed a beautiful little work," he continued.

"And the building so very picturesque. Grandpapa pulled down a row of cottages that the poor people lived in, and built this romantic little hermitage."

"So I have heard."

"Oh, have you? Grandpapa improved this place very much. Think how the view must have been spoilt by a row of nasty cottages, and a crowd of horrid poor people."

[Pg 104]"It was very near the church for the cottagers."

"Oh! but papa is going to get the horrid old church removed to the other end of the parish, and have a beautiful building instead of the present tumble-down old ruin."

"Taste seems hereditary in your family."

"It is indeed: ages ago great improvements were made by papa's grandfather. He got quit of all the cottages except the row that stood here—for what can be more horrid than the sight of a set of dirty ignorant people in such beautiful scenery? They should all live in a common, or hide themselves in some dark streets in London. Don't you think so?"

"A great many of them do; but, if I were a sketcher, I think I could make a very interesting subject out of a poor man's cottage, with his little children playing about the garden."

"Not real poor children!" exclaimed Miss Arabel, "nor a real poor man—no. I have made sketches myself of papa and the Misses Warrible—Sir Stephen Warrible's daughters—dressing them in fancy rags, and filling the garden they played in with flowers from our conservatory, and giving the cottage French windows and a trellis-work veranda. He stands leaning on a spade, with silver buckles in his shoes, and the children are playing La Grace with the hoops, covered with pink ribands. I called it 'The Poor Man's Joy;' and Lord Moon has begged me to give it to an engraver."

"I hope you will comply with his lordship's request."

"I would if I could escape the publicity of the thing. Papa would be so angry if he thought I was so nearly professional as to be the author of a published sketch."

"I am afraid your father is too particular. No scruple of the kind fettered the genius of one of the princesses of France."

"Ah, but she was one of the new people! There was no artist in the elder branch. Papa can't endure Louis Philippe, and says they are all very low."

The gentleman was attacked with a slight cough, and after a pause renewed the conversation.

"I think I have seen you engaged on this subject for some time."

"It takes a long time to get in all these twists and corners," replied Miss Arabel with a smile of satisfaction, to find that the recontre was not more one of chance on his side than her own.

"Do you devote yourself entirely to sketching?"

"Oh no! I paint as well. We have a large gallery at home, and it is an excellent school. The family portraits are, many of them, very fine."

"Does it go far back in the English school?"

"Oh, you should see the great wigs of the Charleses and jack-boots of the cavaliers! We were all cavaliers, I suppose, for I don't see a single roundhead among them."

"And the ladies?"

"Oh, such hoops and farthingales! such pyramids of muslin on their heads, and pillars of red leather upon their heels!"

"And is the painting good of that ancient date? How do you like it compared to the modern?"

"We have very few modern portraits; and none of any ladies later than George II."

"No?" enquired the young man anxiously. "No lady later than that? Ah, then I have been misinformed!" he added in a disappointed tone.

"Had you heard of our collection, then?"

"Yes—no—that is—I believe, in most old family houses, there is a regular series of portraits that may enable the student to trace the alterations of the English school from its very commencement."

"Oh—a student—are you?—that is—have I the pleasure of speaking to a painter?" enquired Miss Arabel with great dignity.

"Oh no, madam; only an admirer of the art."

"And you are disappointed at the want of recent female portraits," said Arabel more graciously, the faintest possible hope springing to her heart that he was disappointed at the absence of her own.

"I should like to have heard the opinion of a competent judge on so[Pg 105] interesting a subject. A comparison between Kneller for instance and Sir Joshua would be worthy of your taste."

"Oh, Kneller by all means, and Lely better than both! I believe, now that you put me in mind of it, there is a pale colourless Sir Joshua in the nursery—the school-room I mean."

"A lady?" enquired the stranger.

"A person," replied Miss Arabel, who never allowed lady's rank to any one whose status she did not know—"with long hair falling about her face, and a little boy lying asleep in her lap. Whether she was a lady or not, I don't know, but I rather think not, for I never heard of her being connected with our family. Perhaps she was a nurse."

"And are you sure it is a Sir Joshua?"

"Oh, yes!—His name is written on the back; and Mr Ochre, my drawing-master, says it is all out of proportion, and of no merit at all. But why are you so anxious about the daub? Mr Ochre wishes to be allowed to retouch it."

"If he lays a brush on it"—the stranger began in a furious tone, but checked himself—"if he lays a brush on it, he will spoil an old master."

"A master!" said Miss Arabel with a contemptuous giggle. "I only wish you could see it."

"I wish I could," replied the young gentleman; "but I am afraid I shall never be so happy."

"Oh!"—The young lady did not say any thing more, but looked at the stranger, as if taking measure of his respectability to see if an entrée to Surbridge Hall was really above his hopes. He was tall, well made, with an air such as she had not seen in any of the visitors at that aristocratic mansion.

"I'm sure," she repeated, looking down and speaking with interesting hesitation, "my papa would be happy to show his gallery to any gentleman in the neighbourhood. Perhaps you know papa?"

"I have not the honour, but since I know what a treasure he possesses, I should think it a great happiness to make his acquaintance."

The lady said nothing, but thought it the most neatly turned compliment she ever heard in her life.

"I am on a visit to a family near this," he continued, "and may perhaps have the opportunity of meeting Mr Howard.

"Oh, where is it?" exclaimed Miss Arabel. "What is their name? We know every body in the neighbourhood—that is, of course, you know"——

"Every body that's worth knowing," said the stranger with a smile.

"Exactly. Is it the Rayleighs of Borley Castle, we know them very well; or the Manbys of Flixley Abbey, delightful people, we are quite intimate with them; or the Sundridges of Fairley Manor, there are no pleasanter people in the world—so good, so ladylike, and yet they say Mrs Sundridge's father was something very low, a Calcutta merchant, or India director, or something of that sort. Is it any of these?"

"No! It is with a gentleman who has lately taken a small villa in the neighbourhood, and I am afraid he will think I have been absent from him too long. Do you sketch here every day?"

"Till I have finished this tiresome building," replied Miss Arabel. "I must avail myself of the fine weather, and not miss a single morning."

The gentleman smiled, and so did the lady. With another apology for having intruded, he bowed and withdrew.

Miss Arabel continued where she was, till she lost his graceful figure among the windings of the shrubbery.

"He is a charming man," she thought, "and might easily manage to get acquainted with papa if he chose. Who can he be?—he's very clever and very accomplished—and walks so nobly. I wonder if he is in the Guards."

She opened her sketch-book once more, and was busy with her pencil, and her thoughts at the same time. She had not seen what necessity there was for taking his leave so hurriedly, and perhaps a faint idea came to her, that it was not impossible he might return. While she was new-pointing her pencil, and recalling all that the stranger had said, she heard a footstep coming through the plantation.

[Pg 106]"Hush! He is coming again. He can't stay away."

"Servant, young mum—servant, and all that," said a voice close behind her;—"Scratch! scratch! there you go, painting bricks as if they was Christians, and all that."

"Sir! Are you aware this is private property. Papa would be very angry if"——

"He heard I was here. I dassay he would, and all that—but I don't intend to wait for him here. I'll beat up his quarters at the hall—I will—and all that."

Miss Arabel had a profound contempt for old people and little people; and the person who at present addressed her was both little and old. He wore a short flaxen wig, and a spenser over a long-tailed blue coat; grey nether habiliments, with four or five inches of a white worsted stocking visible between his knee and his gaiter. It was a very well-shaped leg, and the owner thereof seemed to know it.

"You will not find papa at home," said Miss Arabel. "He has gone out to a magistrate's meeting."

"I didn't say I was going there to-day, did I?—and he don't go justicing every day in the week, I hope. I'll see him soon, depend on't, and make acquaintance with his young 'uns, and all that. How many is there of you?"

"My sister and myself—if you enquire as to the number of Mr Gillingham Howard's family," replied Miss Arabel.

"What! ha'n't ye picked up ne'er a man yet? ne'er a one on you? Is your sister any thing like yourself?"

Miss Arabel cast a look of haughty indignation on her questioner; but disdained a reply.

"Pr'aps you're looking out for a juke or a bernet, or some regular nobleman, and all that—for I hear you carries all your heads uncommon high—whereby it wouldn't be unagreeable to pull 'em down a bit, and all that. Come, come, don't pout nor be sulky. Be friendly, young 'oman, now that we're going to be neighbours, and all that."

"Friendly, indeed!" said Miss Arabel, with a toss of her head that would have snapped a martingale in fifty pieces. "Pray walk on, sir. I am a lady, and papa would be very indignant at your impertinence."

"I dassay he would; but not a bit more than I have been at his'n this many a long day. Why, I've dandled him on my knee a hundred times."

"Have you? Perhaps you were his nurse's husband, or the butler. If you come to the servants' hall"——

"Indeed! What to do? To see fine ladies' maids give themselves airs, and disgust people with their insolence and affectation. Much obliged to you all the same; but when I wants to see sights like that, I'll come into the drawing-room."

"I don't know what you mean, and beg you'll retire. Papa put an Irish beggar into prison for three weeks for insulting my aunt."

"What! old Susie—old Two-to-the-Pound, and all that. He must have been very much of an Irishman to insult the old Roman."

"What do you mean, sir? Do you know my aunt Susannah?"

"Ay, to be sure. Ain't I one of her elders? Lord love ye, I've known old Susie since she was just up to my knee—and a reg'lar speciment she was. We always called her Two-to-the-Pound. Many's the laugh her father and I has had about her dumpiness, and all that."

"Papa's grandfather? Did you know him, sir?" enquired Miss Arabel, examining her companion at the same time to see if he was not the Wandering-Jew or St Leon; for she considered her papa's grandfather as the principal personage of a very remote historical era; and would have been little more surprised to hear that the old gentleman before her had smoked cigars with Sir Walter Raleigh. "Did you know my great-grandfather, sir?"

"Didn't I? There wasn't a bigger snob, though I says it, in all England; and just about two-and-forty years ago, him and me was as thick as two thieves, though only one of us was a thief. He was a old man then, and I was a young 'un, and all that. Your father was summut about eight years old, and my daughter was born the very month afore he bought this here estate. So you see it ain't no great[Pg 107] time to talk about, seeing my daughter aint a old 'oman yet, though she has a girl twenty year old."

"I don't understand what you say," repeated Miss Arabel.

"Old Susie will understand me better, and so will little Gus."

"Who is Gus?"

"Gus is your father—Augustus he was christened; but we always called him Gus. Well, it's quite pleasant, I declare, to be among old friends; and I'm glad I've took a willa so close."

The sound of the word "willa," even with the initial "w," attracted Miss Arabel's attention. Could it be possible that this was the old gentleman with whom the handsome stranger was on a visit?

"If you live so near, you can, of course, have an opportunity of seeing papa."

"Seeing him? yes, and telling him a bit of my mind. I'll see every thing in the house—from old Susie Two-to-the-Pound, down to the last born kitten. You keeps cats of course, and all that? Susie must be pleased to see me. Sich laughs, to be sure, we had about her and a young man of the Excise. He was about seven feet high, and she wa'n't above four and a half, so we always called him her young man of the extra size. Wasn't it funny? But he died of a decline; and I hear she's a broad as she's long. Well, we must all die!"

"I must wish you good-day, sir. I'm going home," said Miss Arabel, rising to go away, and assuming as much dignity as she could.

"Well, good-day, and good-luck to you," said the old man. "Why, how tall you are! and the wick not half covered. You wouldn't do credit to old Bill Wilkins's manufacture, though I says it as shouldn't. You ain't much better than one of the single dips. I'll call on your father one of these fine days; for now that I've come to the neighbourhood, I've little better to do than pay off old scores—and interest's been running on for two-and-forty years. Tell him he had better set a price on Surbridge, and prepare to move, for I want to buy the estate for a friend of mine."

"I beg, sir—I insist—I don't know you, sir," said the agitated and angry Arabel.

"He does though. He knows me precious well; and, what's more, you may tell him my name if you like."

"I will tell him, sir, that he may send you to prison for your impertinence. He's a magistrate."

"I know all about him. He's a boastful blockhead. Tell him I told you so. My name is Mr Thomas Roe, 20, Riches Court."

Chapter III.

The account given by Miss Arabel of her interview with the hateful purchaser of the coveted meadows, was so confused, that to persons less interested in the matter than Mr Gillingham Howard and Miss Susannah Wilkins, (or Gillingham by brevet,) it would have been altogether unintelligible. But before these two terror-struck individuals rose a vision of their detected boasts and overthrown pretensions, that filled them with dismay. What! Mr Gillingham Howard exposed in all quarters as the descendant of a tallow-chandler, and the censorious Miss Susan as having been known from her childhood by the name of Two-to-the-Pound? Could they silence the accuser by making him their friend?—or could they repel his revelations by dint of unhesitating, unqualified lying?—or finally, would it be necessary to quit the neighbourhood? Mr Gillingham Howard was a tall portly man, with his hair slightly grizzled, and an air of quiet assurance reposing on his somewhat coarse features, which his partial aunt considered the solemn dignity of virtue and high birth. To a less blinded observed his narrow brow and heavy chin showed strong indications of the animal preponderating over the intellectual in his organization, and his slow, solemn talk—always about himself—showed the importance he attached to the slightest incident that had occurred to so distinguished an individual. Not that Mr Gillingham Howard, as we remarked before, limited his narratives merely to what had actually occurred—they diffused themselves over every circumstance that had happened to any one else, and[Pg 108] might by any possibility have happened to him. By this means he had an extraordinary fund of conversational anecdote; for whatever story he heard, or adventure he read, he immediately appropriated to himself; and thought nothing of killing his eight hundred ducks at one shot with Munchausen, or finding out false concords in a Greek play with the Bishop of London. His aunt was so used to hear his marvellous tales, that we must in charity suppose she believed some of them to be true; and in that persuasion she was called upon on all occasions to bear witness to the facts. She testified accordingly, with the most perfect readiness, to all his achievements in the rows at Oxford; his suggestions to the other magistrates, that were always approved; his courage in every danger; his mastery in every game, and his skill in every science. She was a little, vulgar-looking woman, with small cunning eyes, and a very round face, glistening and shining with its absurd obesity; and in shape and complexion bearing a close resemblance to a sun-flower stuck into a Dutch cheese. The awe with which she regarded her nephew arose partly from his size, but principally from the aristocratic loftiness of his birth—being the third in descent from the original founder of the family, while nothing stood between her and the tallow vat except the six years during which her father had enacted the country squire. What could be more appalling to these unhappy beings than the threatened visit, and long-delayed vengeance of the implacable Thomas Roe? In the mean time, Miss Arabel had only a confused notion of the meaning of all the threats and messages, the mere report of which wrought such anguish in the paternal breast. Her thoughts dwelt more constantly on the interview she had had with the mysterious stranger; and the speech he had made about the treasure he had heard of in Surbridge Hall, came every moment to her mind. It was so pretty a speech; and he looked so full of admiration when he said it! Was there no way of getting him introduced to papa? Not a word of the meeting could she mention to her sister; for Miss Arabel was one of those amiable beings not uncommon in ball-rooms, who will not risk the peace of mind of a friend by making her acquainted with a rich or fascinating partner on any account. And if this holds good with a friend, much more in the case of Miss Arabel did it hold good with a sister. So she sat in her own room and devised fifty expedients for legitimating her acquaintance with the interesting unknown.

But while Surbridge Hall is frightened from its propriety, let us pass over for a moment to the hostile camp, and see what is going on there. A beautiful young girl is sitting at a table, on which a number of maps and plans are laid out; and, while her eyes are busily running over the various lines and measurements, her small white hand is resting we are sorry to say, without making the smallest effort for liberty, within that of the very same young gentleman whose appearance we have already commemorated. Beautiful blue eyes they are, and fitter for other employment than to pore over architectural or horticultural designs; and so she seems to think, for she occasionally lifts them to those of her companion, and a sweet smile brightens over all her face. That is Fanny Smith, the granddaughter of Thomas Roe—the child of a Yorkshire parson, who had been lucky enough to win the heart of Mary Roe—and wise enough not to despise her father, though he lived in Riches Court.

"But grandpapa says it is of no use, Charles, to look at all these plans for houses. He'll never build on the new ground, for he says he is determined to establish us at Surbridge Hall."

"The old gentleman is too sanguine," replied Charles. "He will never persuade the present proprietor to leave it."

"Oh, he will, though! You don't know what a determined man grandpapa is. He'll weary them out—or shame them away."

"Shame!" enquired the other—"How do you think shame can have any effect in people so lost to truth, and so encased in ignorance and conceit?"

"But grandpapa will expose them—and, besides, he'll pay them hand[Pg 109]somely to go. I don't the least despair of getting quit of them."

"Why, if people would only take the trouble to enquire into the actual facts of any part of their behaviour, and not take their own account of it—the boastful falsehoods of the nephew, the malicious insinuations of the aunt, their disregard of truth in serious affairs as well as in trifles, their selfishness, narrow-mindedness, and want of charity—they would hesitate before they countenanced such characters, in spite of the dinners they occasionally give, and the position they hold. But society winks on vices which it is the duty of society to punish, since the law takes no cognizance of them, though more hurtful and disgraceful than theft or swindling. And, I am afraid, even if your grandfather unmasks the solemn pretender, he will still carry his head as high as if he had a right from any quality but his wealth to mix with honest men."

"Oh, never fear!" said Fanny, laughing; "those boastful people are always easiest frightened, and a very short time will see us in Surbridge Hall."

"Ah, Fanny, that would be too much happiness! I've heard of nothing but Surbridge since I was a child; and if my father could but see me in it, living there, my own property, or yours, Fanny, which is the same thing, he would almost die with joy; but no, no, it is impossible."

"Impossible! deuce a bit of it!" exclaimed the old gentleman himself; bustling into the room. "I tell you that Surbridge is the house you will take Fanny home to. I've a great mind to say you sha'n't marry her at all unless she gives you Surbridge as part of her fortune."

"Oh, don't say that, sir!"

"No, don't say that, grandpapa, for you know those horrid people may be obstinate," said Fanny.

"I should like to see them," said the old man knitting his brow. "No, no, they must go. The bully is soon bullied. See, he has sent me a flag of truce already; a note asking if I will allow him to call on me at three o'clock to renew his old acquaintance."

"And will you let him?" enquired Fanny.

"To be sure I will; and I'll return his visit too; but he'll be here in a few minutes now. I think you had better take a walk, Charles, and leave Fanny and me to entertain them. You can go and take some more lessons in sketching, eh? Don't keep your teacher waiting."

Charles looked at his watch, and then at Fanny, and finally hurried away as he was ordered. The young lady also left the room.

The old man sat down, and sank in thought. He had his eye on the conduct of his partner's grandson for forty years, though little did that ostentatious individual suspect that any person saw within his pharisaical exterior, and knew him for the mass of selfishness, falsehood, and meanness, he actually was. Moreover the old gentleman knew that his victim was not so rich as he appeared, and had struggled in vain to better his fortunes by speculations of various kinds, and even (the last refuge of the sinking respectables) by thrusting himself into trusteeships. He felt an assurance, therefore, that his threatened exposures—united to an offer of the full value of the estate—would secure him the possession of Surbridge Hall; if it had not been for the enjoyment he anticipated in uncloaking the hypocrite, he might perhaps have contented himself with the acquisition of the land.

A knock was heard at the door, and Mr Gillingham Howard and his aunt walked into the room. Mr Gillingham Howard was very pale, and his eye evidently quailed as it met the glance of Mr Thomas Roe. The little fat Susannah was immensely red in the face, but whether from agitation of mind, or the exertion of climbing the hall steps, it is impossible to decide.

"I've called, my dear old friend, to take you by the hand," said Mr Gillingham Howard. "I've long wished, I assure you, to renew our acquaintance."

"That's a thumper!" replied the old man; "you have wished nothing of the kind. Oh, Gus, haven't you conquered the horrid habit of story-[Pg 110]telling that used to make you the laughing-stock of all the young men in the shop. And you, my little Two-to-the-Pound, what a time it is since we've met, never since the exciseman died, I do believe. Well, you've not grown thin on't. Do you study the ninth commandment as much as you used to do?"

"The ninth commandment, sir," said the lady tossing her head. "I don't know what you mean."

"Yes, you do, Susan; the ninth commandment is the one about false witness, you know. And sich a gal as you used to be for slashing a character, or trying to make your kindest friends ridiculous, there wasn't in all the city. You were always so tremendously witty, you never had a good word for any body; for witty gals, as you used to be, thinks nothing funny that isn't what they calls severe. But you're a old woman now, and I hope you're improved."

Miss Susannah had never been called an old woman before. If she had seen Mr Gillingham Howard looking with his usual brazen assurance, she would have broken out in a torrent of invective against her merciless tormentor—but the fight was entirely out of that illustrious character, and he stood in trembling silence before his opponent.

"My dear sir," he said at last, "you are too severe on my aunt—but you were always a wag. I've heard my father say he never knew any one so full of humour."


"And I myself remember how good-natured you used to be when you visited my father in Harley Street."

"Ay, indeed—let me see. Had your father risen to be at the top of the profession by that time, with a promise of the chancellorship in his pocket when his father died?"

"My dear sir, I don't know what you mean—why—what"—

Haven't you been in the habit of telling your friends so after dinner?" enquired Mr Roe; "now, remember."

"Well! I may perhaps have said that he hoped to be chancellor."

"No, no—you have uniformly stated as a fact that he had the written promise of the office—and you have constantly appealed to your aunt for the truth of your statement."

"La! Mr Roe—how should I know about law and chancellorships? It isn't a lady's business."

"It is a lady's business not to corroborate a falsehood."

"Really, my good sir," said Mr Gillingham Howard, "you are too hard on a little after-dinner talk."

"Not a bit, not a bit—that after-dinner talk, as you call it, for forty years, day after day retailing falsehoods, and asseverating them so constantly, that you at last almost succeed in deceiving yourself, does away all the distinctions in your mind between truth and falsehood—and when once the boundary is broke down, there is no farther pause. A man may go on, and boast about his cricket and shooting till he would not stick at a false oath."

"Sir! I bear many things from an old friend of our family, but an imputation on my veracity is intolerable. Do I ever deviate from the truth, Aunt Susan?"

"You! Oh, no! if there's any quality you excel in more than another, it is your truth. Low people may tell lies, and of course do; but you! Mr Gillingham Howard!—you are a perfect gentleman, from the crown of your head to the sole of your foot."

"Omitting all the intermediate parts," replied Mr Roe. "You know very well what I mean, sir; and, moreover, you know that what I say is true—but I will spare you at present. I wish to purchase Surbridge Hall. I will give you the full price. Will you sell it or not?"

"Why, sir, a place that has been long in one's family"——

"I was nearly forty years old when it was bought—and hope to live few years yet," interposed Mr Roe.

"And I don't see what pleasure you could take in acquiring a place to which you have no hereditary ties—my poor father—and my dear grandfather"——continued Mr Gillingham Howard.

"Should have stuck to the melting tub, both of them—but it isn't for myself I want the property. I have a grandchild, sir; a grandson—but[Pg 111] that has nothing to do with it. Will you let me have your answer soon? I will call on you, to hear your decision, to-morrow."

"Always happy to see an old friend."

"Provided he come with a new face," interposed Mr Roe; "but you don't much like the sight of my rough old phiz. At any rate, there's no deceit in it, and now we understand each other."

Chapter IV.

It was on the day succeeding this visit of reconciliation, that Miss Arabel and the stumpy Susannah pursued their way to the shrubbery walk, in a rapid and mysterious manner, as if they hoped to escape observation.

"Papa is so unreasonable, aunt," said the young lady. "Why should he wish to leave Surbridge, just when"——

"You think you have caught a lover," interposed the aunt; "don't be too sure. You've been deceived in that way before now."

"Oh, if you only saw him! He met me yesterday, and said he would see me again to-day; and paid such compliments, and looked so handsome."

"But who is he? Is he a gentleman?"

"Of course he is," replied Miss Arabel; "or do you think he would venture to speak to me?"

"Did he tell you his name?"

"No. All he has told me is—he is living with an old gentleman in one of the villas in the neighbourhood."

"An old gentleman," mused Miss Susannah, "in a villa—it must be the same—it must be old Roe's Grandson. If it is, and he takes a fancy to this girl, it will be all well yet. What has he ever called you? Did he ever say you were an angel?"

"No. He thought me one, though; and said he had heard of what a treasure Surbridge contained; and yesterday he repeated it, and said he would give the world to be able to call it his."

"That's something. You must get him to say something of the kind before a witness."

"But how? What witness can there be, when I can never bring him to the house?"

"Why not? Ah, how I recollect, in the back parlour," said Miss Susannah, her memory unconsciously wandering back to the love incidents of her youth.

"The back parlour?" enquired Miss Arabel.

"The back—I didn't say back parlour. I said black parlour—the oaken dining-room in my father's house."

"And what of it, aunt? What made you think of the black parlour now?"

"Oh, it was a picture," stammered Miss Susan, inventing an excuse for her mistake; "a beautiful old portrait—a sort of—I don't recollect what it was."

"Ah! that puts me in mind of what he speaks of often—the pictures in our house. I say, aunt," she continued, as if a thought had struck her.


"Suppose I were to invite him to come into the Hall and see the portraits?"

"Well, so you might. Your father would think he was as fond of drawing as you are; and if he be the person I think he is, your father will be delighted that you have made a friend of him."

"Indeed? Oh, I'm so happy! I'll ask him to the house this very day; and perhaps if he says anything, aunt, about the treasure, you can be in the way to hear it."

"That I will, and I'll bring your father, too. There's nothing like a father or brother in cases of the kind. If I had had a brother that would fight, I might have been married myself. Dear me, what an uncommon handsome young man in the avenue! I know him to be a lord by his walk."

Miss Arabel stretched her neck, and nearly strained her eyeballs in the effort to follow the direction of Susannah's eyes.

"That's he," she said; "go now, and leave me to get him into the house."

"He can't be any relation of[Pg 112] Thomas Roe: he's too handsome for that," thought Miss Susannah; "but whoever he is, she'll be a lucky girl to catch him. My Sam was a foot or two taller, but very like him in every other respect—except the limp in the left leg."

As she turned back before entering the house, she saw the young people in full conversation in the shrubbery walk.

"Well, if he is old Thomas Roe's grandson, and Arabel can hook him into a marriage, there will be no occasion to leave Surbridge Hall. Does the monster wish us to be tallow-chandlers again?"

On hurrying to the drawing-room to communicate to her nephew the fact that Mr Roe's heir was desperately in love with Arabel, she found Mr Gillingham Howard endeavouring to carry on a conversation with the very individual she most dreaded to see. Mr Roe had walked up, accompanied by Fanny Smith, to return the visit of the day before.

"This is so kind," said Miss Susannah, "and so friendly to bring your pretty grandchild. Our girls will be delighted to be her friends."

"Fanny's a good girl," replied the old man; "and you mustn't spoil her. Gus was just going to tell me if he had made up his mind, when you came in. You've thought of my offer, Gus?"

"Certainly; any thing you say shall always have my best consideration. As far as I am concerned, I could settle in Bucks, where I have a small estate, with satisfaction; but my girls are enthusiastically attached to this place. Arabel would break her heart if we took her away from Surbridge."

"I warrant her heart against all breakage and other damages, save and except the ordinary wear and tear—as Puff says in letting a furnished house; and, if it only depends on the young lady, I think I'll answer for her being more anxious for the arrangement than I am. But here's company coming, and I must have your answer before I go."

Mr Gillingham Howard heard the carriage stop at the door. He felt it was impossible to present so rough-mannered a man as Mr Roe to any of his friends without a certainty of exposure, and he was strongly tempted to agree to his demand at once, if he would immediately leave the house; but before he had time to arrange his thoughts, the door opened, and the Rayleighs of Borley Castle were announced.

Mr Gillingham Howard, by a great effort, received them with his usual courtesy.

"I have brought Mr Tinter with me," said Mrs Rayleigh, "and I hope you will let him see your family portraits. We have told him so much of them, that he is anxious to see them himself. He is writing a description of the private collections in the county."

Mr Tinter bowed; and Mr Gillingham Howard, with an imploring look to Mr Roe, who sat resting his chin upon his walking-stick, professed himself highly honoured by Mrs Rayleigh's request.

"I believe you have portraits of the Sidney family, sir," said Mr Tinter, "as I hear from Mrs Rayleigh—you are nearly related to them; I should like very much to compare them with the pictures at Penshurst."

"Oh! Mr Howard says the Penshurst pictures are only copies of his," said Mrs Rayleigh.

"Did I, madam? Did I say all?"

"If not all, you said most of them; and also, that you had some originals of those in your distant relation, the Duke of Norfolk's gallery."

Mr Gillingham Howard felt that Mr Roe's appalling eye was fixed upon him, though he did not venture to look in the direction of where he sat.

"Mr Tinter will tell you at once which are the copies. You can do that, Mr Tinter?"

"I can guess at the age of the picture, and the name of the painter, if he is a master," replied Mr Tinter.

"Oh! but Mr Howard has some pictures that Sir Thomas Lawrence said were the finest in Europe. Didn't he say so, Mr Howard?"

"Why, ma'am—I think—at least, so I understood him. Didn't Sir Thomas Lawrence praise some of my pictures, aunt?"

"I really don't remember," said Miss Susannah, looking more at Mr Roe than at her nephew.

[Pg 113]"Oh, I thought you told us last time we dined here, that Sir Thomas stayed with you weeks at a time, and copied five or six of them himself."

"P'r'aps I knows more of them family portraits," said Mr Roe with a wilful exaggeration of accent and magnanimous contempt of grammar—"than e'er a one on ye."

All eyes were immediately directed to the old man. Mrs Rayleigh, who was a fine lady, and had never seen so queer a specimen of a critic as Mr Roe, was a little alarmed at his uncouth pronunciation. And Mr Gillingham Howard made a feeble and unsuccessful effort to deaden the effect of his remarks.

"My friend is a remarkably good judge of the fine arts, but quite a character. An amazing humourist, and very much given to quizzing. You'll hear what fun he'll make of us all."

"Who is he?" enquired Mrs Rayleigh, in the same confidential whisper.

"A person who has grown very rich in some sort of trade. He was a protegé of a relation of mine."

"And you bear with his eccentricities in hopes of his succession?"


"I minds the getting of the whole lot on 'em. I can give you the birth, parentage, and edication, of every one on 'em."

"Of the pictures, sir?" enquired Mr Tinter, taking out his note-book. "I shall be delighted with any information."

"But where is the gallery, Mr Howard?" enquired Mrs Rayleigh.

"Why, madam, many of the pictures—in fact, all the best of them are in London at the cleaner's; but in the passage to the Conservatory there are some remaining, but the place is dark. I hope you'll rather look at them some other time."

"Now's the best," said Mr Roe, starting up. "Let's see the family picters, Gus."

Mr Howard was forced by the entreaties of all the party, and led the way to the passage where his pictures were hung, followed by Mrs Rayleigh and her two daughters, and Mr Tinter, Mr Roe, and Fanny, and Aunt Susannah.

"That seems a portrait of Queen Anne's time," said Mr Tinter, pointing to a much bewigged old gentleman in an antique frame. "Pray, what is its history?"

"Isn't that your grandfather's uncle, the general who won the battle of Ramillies against Marlborough's orders?" enquired Mrs Rayleigh. "Do tell Mr Tinter all about it."

"I reminds all about it," said Mr Roe, before the agonized Mr Howard could make any reply. "One of our agents failed, and we seized on his furniture, and old Bill Wilkins took this'n 'cause of the oak frame. He was a grocer in the Boro', and his name was—was—but I forgets his name."

"Who took the furniture?" asked Mr Tinter, "and who was a grocer in the Boro'?"

"The man as had that picter, and a sight more besides. There's one on 'em; the young 'oman a holding an orange in her hand, and a parrot on her shoulder."

"I thought that was the Saccharissa, Mr Howard, that had been in your family ever since the time of Waller."

"I told you he was a wag," said Mr Howard, in the last desperate struggle to avoid detection.

"But who is he? He is a very impudent old man to be so free."

"He is rich; the succession, you know," replied the gentleman with a forced laugh; but before he could mumble any thing more, the party turned round one of the corners of the passage, and heard voices in earnest talk.

"How can I refuse, when you tell me your happiness depends on it?" came distinctly to the ears of all, in the sharp clear tones of Miss Arabel.

"You are too good," replied a voice, which Fanny Smith immediately recognized as that of Charles. "You will make my whole family proud and happy when they hear you have consented."

"But won't you think I yield too soon; and without having asked papa's consent?"

"Ah—yes—I don't know how he will bear the loss of such a treasure. But he will reconcile himself to the want of it when he knows how happy[Pg 114] it makes another in the possession. Say, when may I call it mine?"

"Oh, now—this moment—any time"—said Arabel, who had heard a noise in the passage, and concluded it was aunt Susannah enacting the part of a witness.

"Again I thank you!"—exclaimed Charles. "I will take it in my arms this instant, and carry it down the shrubbery walk to Mr Roe's."

"As you please—and wherever you like," said Arabel, throwing herself upon his shoulder. "I'm your's."

"Why, what in the name of wonder is all this here?" cried Mr Roe, hurrying on, and pouncing on the pair. "Are you making love to this here gal in the very presence of Fanny Smith?"

"I, sir?"—said Charles, astonished at his situation, and still supporting Miss Arabel, who pretended to be in a faint. "I asked this young lady to show me the picture of my father's mother; and, to my great delight, she said she would give it me; and, when I expressed my gratitude, she flung herself upon my shoulder, and said she would give me herself."

"And was it not me you meant by the treasure you talked of?" said Miss Arabel, starting up.

"No, madam. 'Twas my grandmother's portrait, by Sir Joshua Reynolds."

"Now, that's all right," said Mr Roe. "This young gentleman is the one I talked of, Gus—that I wants to buy this house for. I don't think your daughter will care to give it up to poor Charles that she took such a fancy to"——

"They seem attached, sir," replied Mr Howard. "And if they like to marry"——

"Bah!—he's to be married next week to my little grandchild, Fanny Smith, and we'll include the pictures in the purchase-money, for one of them is a portrait that was left by mistake when Bill Wilkins bought the hall, and he would never give it back to the real owners. But, now that Charles Walrond is to be my grandson, I'll take good care he recovers his grandmother's likeness. Come—shall I go on and give these ladies the facts of some of your other stories, or will you close with my terms at once?"

Mr Gillingham Howard did not take long to decide, and a very short time saw Surbridge Hall once more in the ancient line; and old Mr Roe, in relating the means he used to expel the vainglorious descendant of his partner, generally concluded with the moral, if not the words of Shakspeare—"Men's pleasant vices make whips to scourge them."


By B. Simmons.

Letters of the Dead.

To Livia.


How few the moons since last, immersed
In thoughts of fev'rish, worldly care,
My casket's heap'd contents reversed,
I sought some scroll I wanted there;
How died at once abstraction's air—
How fix'd my frame, as by a spell,
When on THY lines, so slight, so fair,
My hurrying glance arrested fell!

[Pg 115]

My soul that instant saw thee far
Sit in thy crown of bridal flowers,
And with Another watch the star
We watch'd in vanish'd vesper hours.
And as I paced the lonely room,
I wonder'd how that holy ray
Could with its light a world illume
So fill'd with falsehood and decay.


Once more—above those slender lines
I bend me with suspended breath—
The hand that traced them now reclines
Clasp'd in th' unclosing hand of Death.
The worm hath made that brow its own
Where Love his wreath so lately set;
And in this heart survive alone
Forgiveness—pity—and regret.


'Twas 'mid the theatre's gay throng—
Life's loveliest colours round me spread—
That mid the pauses of a song,
I caught the careless "She is dead!"
The gaudy crowd—thy sudden grave—
I shrank in that contrasting shock,
Like midnight Listener by the wave,
When splits some bark upon the rock.


This Early Death—within its pale
Sad air each angry feeling fades—
An evening haze, whose tender veil
The landscape's harsher features shades.
Ah, Scornful One—thy bier's white hue
Stole every earth-stain from thy cheek,
And left thee all to Memory's view
That Hope once dared in thee to seek.


Parting Precepts.


How graceful was that Grecian creed
Which taught that tongues, of old,
Dwelt in the mountain and the mead,
And where the torrent roll'd,
And that in times of sacred fear,
With sweet mysterious moans,
They spoke aloud, while some pale Seer
Interpreted their tones.[21]


And, Lady, why should we not deem
That in each echoing hill,
And sounding wood, and dancing stream,
A language lingers still?
[Pg 116] No lovelier scenes round Delphi spread
Than round thee stretch divine;
Nor Grecian maid bent brighter head
By haunted stream than thine.


Then fancy thus that to thine ear,
While dies the autumn day,
The Voices of the Woodlands bear
This tributary lay.
Soft winds that steal from where the moon
Brightens the mountain spring,
Shall blend with Mulla's[22] distant tune,
And these the words they sing:—


"Thou'st shared our thousand harmonies;
At morn thy sleep we stirr'd
With sounds from many a balmy breeze,
And many a jocund bird;
And far from Us, when pleasure's lure
Around thy steps shall be,
Ah, keep thy soul as freshly pure
As We came pure to thee!


"At noon, beneath September's heat,
Was it not sweet to feel,
Through shadowy grasses at thy feet,
Our silver waters steal?
Sparklingly clear, as now the truth
Seems in thy glance to glow;
So may, through worldly crowds, thy youth
A stainless current flow.


"At eve, our hills for thee detain'd
The sun's departure bright.
He sank—how long our woods were stain'd
For thee with rosy light!
The worth, the warmth, the peace serene,
Thou'st known our vales among,
Say, shall they be reflected seen
Upon thy heart as long?


"Morn, noon, and eve—bird, beam, and breeze,
Here blent to bless thy day;
May portion of their memories
Be ever round thy way!
Sweet waters for the weary Bark,
Through parching seas that sails;
Friends may grow false and fortune dark,
But Nature never fails."

[Pg 117]


What is the deadest of things earthly? It is, says the world, ever forward and rash—"a door-nail!" But the world is wrong. There is a thing deader than a door-nail, viz., Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I. Dead, more dead, most dead, is Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I.; and this upon more arguments than one. The book has clearly not completed its elementary act of respiration; the systole of Vol. I. is absolutely useless and lost without the diastole of that Vol. II., which is never to exist. That is one argument, and perhaps this second argument is stronger. Gillman's Coleridge, Vol. I., deals rashly, unjustly, and almost maliciously, with some of our own particular friends; and yet, until late in this summer, Anno Domini 1844, we—that is, neither ourselves nor our friends—ever heard of its existence. Now a sloth, even without the benefit of Mr Waterton's evidence to his character, will travel faster than that. But malice, which travels fastest of all things, must be dead and cold at starting, when it can thus have lingered in the rear for six years; and therefore, though the world was so far right, that people do say, "Dead as a door-nail," yet, henceforwards, the weakest of these people will see the propriety of saying—"Dead as Gillman's Coleridge."

The reader of experience, on sliding over the surface of this opening paragraph, begins to think there's mischief singing in the upper air. No, reader—not at all. We never were cooler in our days. And this we protest, that, were it not for the excellence of the subject, Coleridge and Opium-Eating, Mr Gillman would have been dismissed by us unnoticed. Indeed, we not only forgive Mr Gillman, but we have a kindness for him; and on this account, that he was good, he was generous, he was most forbearing, through twenty years, to poor Coleridge, when thrown upon his hospitality. An excellent thing that, Mr Gillman, and one sufficient to blot out a world of libels on ourselves! But still, noticing the theme suggested by this unhappy Vol. I., we are forced at times to notice its author. Nor is this to be regretted. We remember a line of Horace never yet properly translated, viz:—

"Nec scuticâ dignum horribili sectêre flagello."

The true translation of which, as we assure the unlearned reader, is—"Nor must you pursue with the horrid knout of Christopher that man who merits only a switching." Very true. We protest against all attempts to invoke the exterminating knout; for that sends a man to the hospital for two months; but you see that the same judicious poet, who dissuades an appeal to the knout, indirectly recommends the switch, which, indeed, is rather pleasant than otherwise, amiably playful in some of its little caprices, and in its worst, suggesting only a pennyworth of diachylon.

We begin by professing, with hearty sincerity, our fervent admiration of the extraordinary man who furnishes the theme for Mr Gillman's coup-d'essai in biography. He was, in a literary sense, our brother—for he also was amongst the contributors to Blackwood—and will, we presume, take his station in that Blackwood gallery of portraits, which, in a century hence, will possess more interest for intellectual Europe than any merely martial series of portraits, or any gallery of statesmen assembled in congress, except as regards one or two leaders; for defunct major-generals, and secondary diplomatists, when their date is past, awake no more emotion than last year's advertisements, or obsolete directories; whereas those who, in a stormy age, have swept the harps of passion, of genial wit, or of the wrestling and gladiatorial reason, become more interesting to men when they can no longer be seen as bodily agents, [Pg 118]than even in the middle chorus of that intellectual music over which, living, they presided.

Of this great camp Coleridge was a leader, and fought amongst the primipili; yet, comparatively, he is still unknown. Heavy, indeed, are the arrears still due to philosophic curiosity on the real merits, and on the separate merits, of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge as a poet—Coleridge as a philosopher! How extensive are those questions, if those were all! and upon neither question have we yet any investigation—such as, by compass of views, by research, or even by earnestness of sympathy with the subject, can, or ought to satisfy, a philosophic demand. Blind is that man who can persuade himself that the interest in Coleridge, taken as a total object, is becoming an obsolete interest. We are of opinion that even Milton, now viewed from a distance of two centuries, is still inadequately judged or appreciated in his character of poet, of patriot and partisan, or, finally, in his character of accomplished scholar. But, if so, how much less can it be pretended that satisfaction has been rendered to the claims of Coleridge? for, upon Milton, libraries have been written. There has been time for the malice of men, for the jealousy of men, for the enthusiasm, the scepticism, the adoring admiration of men, to expand themselves! There has been room for a Bentley, for an Addison, for a Johnson, for a wicked Lauder, for an avenging Douglas, for an idolizing Chateaubriand; and yet, after all, little enough has been done towards any comprehensive estimate of the mighty being concerned. Piles of materials have been gathered to the ground; but, for the monument which should have risen from these materials, neither the first stone has been laid, nor has a qualified architect yet presented his credentials. On the other hand, upon Coleridge little, comparatively, has yet been written, whilst the separate characters on which the judgment is awaited, are more by one than those which Milton sustained. Coleridge, also, is a poet; Coleridge, also, was mixed up with the fervent politics of his age—an age how memorably reflecting the revolutionary agitations of Milton's age. Coleridge, also, was an extensive and brilliant scholar. Whatever might be the separate proportions of the two men in each particular department of the three here noticed, think as the reader will upon that point, sure we are that either subject is ample enough to make a strain upon the amplest faculties. How alarming, therefore, for any honest critic, who should undertake this later subject of Coleridge, to recollect that, after pursuing him through a zodiac of splendours corresponding to those of Milton in kind, however different in degree—after weighing him as a poet, as a philosophic politician, as a scholar, he will have to wheel after him into another orbit, into the unfathomable nimbus of transcendental metaphysics. Weigh him the critic must in the golden balance of philosophy the most abstruse—a balance which even itself requires weighing previously, or he will have done nothing that can be received for an estimate of the composite Coleridge. This astonishing man, be it again remembered, besides being an exquisite poet, a profound political speculator, a philosophic student of literature through all its chambers and recesses, was also a circumnavigator on the most pathless waters of scholasticism and metaphysics. He had sounded, without guiding charts, the secret deeps of Proclus and Plotinus; he had laid down buoys on the twilight, or moonlight, ocean of Jacob Boehmen;[24] he had cruised over the broad Atlantic of Kant and Schelling, of Fichte and Oken. Where is the man who shall be equal to these things?

[Pg 119]We at least make no such adventurous effort; or, if ever we should presume to do so, not at present. Here we design only to make a coasting voyage of survey round the headlands and most conspicuous sea-marks of our subject, as they are brought forward by Mr Gillman, or collaterally suggested by our own reflections; and especially we wish to say a word or two on Coleridge as an opium-eater.

Naturally the first point to which we direct our attention, is the history and personal relations of Coleridge. Living with Mr Gillman for nineteen years as a domesticated friend, Coleridge ought to have been known intimately. And it is reasonable to expect, from so much intercourse, some additions to our slender knowledge of Coleridge's adventures, (if we may use so coarse a word,) and of the secret springs at work in those early struggles of Coleridge at Cambridge, London, Bristol, which have been rudely told to the world, and repeatedly told, as showy romances, but never rationally explained.

The anecdotes, however, which Mr Gillman has added to the personal history of Coleridge, are as little advantageous to the effect of his own book as they are to the interest of the memorable character which he seeks to illustrate. Always they are told without grace, and generally are suspicious in their details. Mr Gillman we believe to be too upright a man for countenancing any untruth. He has been deceived. For example, will any man believe this? A certain "excellent equestrian" falling in with Coleridge on horseback, thus accosted him—"Pray, sir, did you meet a tailor along the road?" "A tailor!" answered Coleridge; "I did meet a person answering such a description, who told me he had dropped his goose; that if I rode a little further I should find it; and I guess he must have meant you." In Joe Miller this story would read, perhaps, sufferably. Joe has a privilege; and we do not look too narrowly into the mouth of a Joe-Millerism. But Mr Gillman, writing the life of a philosopher, and no jest-book, is under a different law of decorum. That retort, however, which silences the jester, it may seem, must be a good one. And we are desired to believe that, in this case, the baffled assailant rode off in a spirit of benign candour, saying aloud to himself, like the excellent philosopher the he evidently was, "Caught a Tartar!"

But another story of a sporting baronet, who was besides a Member of Parliament, is much worse, and altogether degrading to Coleridge. This gentleman, by way of showing off before a party of ladies, is represented as insulting Coleridge by putting questions to him on the qualities of his horse, so as to draw the animal's miserable defects into public notice, and then closing his display by demanding what he would take for the horse "including the rider." The supposed reply of Coleridge might seem good to those who understand nothing of true dignity; for, as an impromptu, it was smart and even caustic. The baronet, it seems, was reputed to have been bought by the minister; and the reader will at once divine that the retort took advantage of that current belief, so as to throw back the sarcasm, by proclaiming that neither horse nor rider had a price placarded in the market at which any man could become their purchaser. But this was not the temper in which Coleridge either did reply, or could have replied. Coleridge showed, in the spirit of his manner a profound sensibility to the nature of gentleman; and he felt too justly what it became a self-respecting person to say, ever to have aped the sort of flashy fencing which might seem fine to a theatrical blood.

Another story is self-refuted: "a hired partisan" had come to one of Coleridge's political lectures with the express purpose of bringing the lecturer into trouble; and most preposterously he laid himself open to his own snare by refusing to pay for admission. Spies must be poor artists who proceed thus. Upon which Coleridge remarked—"That, before the gentleman kicked up a dust, surely he would down with the dust." So far the story will not do. But what follows is possible enough. The same "hired" gentleman, by way of giving unity to the tale, is described as having hissed. Upon this a cry arose of "turn him out!" But Coleridge interfered to protect him; he insisted on the man's right to hiss if he thought[Pg 120] fit; it was legal to hiss; it was natural to hiss; "for what is to be expected, gentlemen, when the cool waters of reason come in contact with red-hot aristocracy, but a hiss?" Euge!

Amongst all the anecdotes, however, of this splendid man, often trivial, often incoherent, often unauthenticated, there is one which strikes us as both true and interesting; and we are grateful to Mr Gillman for preserving it. We find it introduced, and partially authenticated, by the following sentence from Coleridge himself:—"From eight to fourteen I was a playless day-dreamer, a helluo librorum; my appetite for which was indulged by a singular incident. A stranger, who was struck by my conversation, made me free of a circulating library in King's Street, Cheapside." The more circumstantial explanation of Mr Gillman is this: "The incident indeed was singular. Going down the Strand, in one of his day-dreams, fancying himself swimming across the Hellespont, thrusting his hands before him as in the act of swimming, his hand came in contact with a gentleman's pocket. The gentleman seized his hand, turning round, and looking at him with some anger—'What! so young, and yet so wicked?' at the same time accused him of an attempt to pick his pocket. The frightened boy sobbed out his denial of the intention, and explained to him how he thought himself Leander swimming across the Hellespont. The gentleman was so struck and delighted with the novelty of the thing, and with the simplicity and intelligence of the boy, that he subscribed, as before stated, to the library; in consequence of which Coleridge was further enabled to indulge his love of reading."

We fear that this slovenly narrative is the very perfection of bad story-telling. But the story itself is striking, and, by the very oddness of the incidents, not likely to have been invented. The effect, from the position of the two parties—on the one side, a simple child from Devonshire, dreaming in the Strand that he was swimming over from Sestos to Abydos, and, on the other, the experienced man, dreaming only of this world, its knaves and its thieves, but still kind and generous—is beautiful and picturesque. Oh! si sic omnia!

But the most interesting to us of the personalities connected with Coleridge are his feuds and his personal dislikes. Incomprehensible to us is the war of extermination which Coleridge made upon the political economists. Did Sir James Steuart, in speaking of vine-dressers, (not as vine-dressers, but generally as cultivators,) tell his readers, that, if such a man simply replaced his own consumption, having no surplus whatever or increment for the public capital, he could not be considered a useful citizen? Not the beast in the Revelation is held up by Coleridge as more hateful to the spirit of truth than the Jacobite baronet. And yet we know of an author—viz. one S.T. Coleridge—who repeated that same doctrine without finding any evil in it. Look at the first part of the Wallenstein, where Count Isolani having said, "Pooh! we are all his subjects," i. e. soldiers, (though unproductive labourers,) not less than productive peasants, the emperor's envoy replies—"Yet with a difference, general;" and the difference implies Sir James's scale, his vine-dresser being the equatorial case between the two extremes of the envoy.—Malthus again, in his population-book, contends for a mathematic difference between animal and vegetable life, in respect to the law of increase, as though the first increased by geometrical ratios, the last by arithmetical! No proposition more worthy of laughter; since both, when permitted to expand, increase by geometrical ratios, and the latter by much higher ratios. Whereas, Malthus persuaded himself of his crotchet simply by refusing the requisite condition in the vegetable case, and granting it in the other. If you take a few grains of wheat, and are required to plant all successive generations of their produce in the same flower-pot for ever, of course you neutralise its expansion by your own act of arbitrary limitation.[25] But so you would do, if you tried the case of animal increase by[Pg 121] still exterminating all but one replacing couple of parents. This is not to try, but merely a pretence of trying, one order of powers against another. That was folly. But Coleridge combated this idea in a manner so obscure, that nobody understood it. And leaving these speculative conundrums, in coming to the great practical interests afloat in the Poor Laws, Coleridge did so little real work, that he left, as a res integra, to Dr Alison, the capital argument that legal and adequate provision for the poor, whether impotent poor or poor accidentally out of work, does not extend pauperism—no, but is the one great resource for putting it down. Dr Alison's overwhelming and experimental manifestations of that truth have prostrated Malthus and his generation for ever. This comes of not attending to the Latin maxim—"Hoc age"—mind the object before you. Dr Alison, a wise man, "hoc egit:" Coleridge "aliud egit." And we see the result. In a case which suited him, by interesting his peculiar feeling, Coleridge could command

"Attention full ten times as much as there needs."

But search documents, value evidence, or thresh out bushels of statistical tables, Coleridge could not, any more than he could ride with Elliot's dragoons.

Another instance of Coleridge's inaptitude for such studies as political economy is found in his fancy, by no means "rich and rare," but meagre and trite, that taxes can never injure public prosperity by mere excess of quantity; if they injure, we are to conclude that it must be by their quality and mode of operation, or by their false appropriation, (as, for instance, if they are sent out of the country and spent abroad.) Because, says Coleridge, if the taxes are exhaled from the country as vapors, back they come in drenching showers. Twenty pounds ascend in a Scotch mist to the Chancellor of the Exchequer from Leeds; but does it evaporate? Not at all: By return of post down comes an order for twenty pounds' worth of Leeds cloth, on account of Government, seeing that the poor men of the ——th regiment want new gaiters. True; but of this return twenty pounds, not more than four will be profit, i. e., surplus accruing to the public capital; whereas, of the original twenty pounds, every shilling was surplus. The same unsound fancy has been many times brought forward; often in England, often in France. But it is curious, that its first appearance upon any stage was precisely two centuries ago, when as yet political economy slept with the pre-Adamites, viz. in the Long Parliament. In a quarto volume of the debates during 1644-5, printed as an independent work, will be found the same identical doctrine, supported very sonorously by the same little love of an illustration from the see-saw of mist and rain.

Political economy was not Coleridge's forte. In politics he was happier. In mere personal politics, he (like every man when reviewed from a station distant by forty years) will often appear to have erred; nay, he will be detected and nailed in error. But this is the necessity of us all. Keen are the refutations of time. And absolute results to posterity are the fatal touchstone of opinions in the past. It is undeniable, besides, that[Pg 122] Coleridge had strong personal antipathies, for instance, to Messrs Pitt and Dundas. Yet why, we never could understand. We once heard him tell a story upon Windermere, to the late Mr Curwen, then M.P. for Workington, which was meant, apparently, to account for this feeling. The story amounted to this: that, when a freshman at Cambridge, Mr Pitt had wantonly amused himself at a dinner party in Trinity, in smashing with filberts (discharged in showers like grape-shot) a most costly dessert set of cut glass, from which Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued a principle of destructiveness in his cerebellum. Now, if this dessert set belonged to some poor suffering Trinitarian, and not to himself, we are of opinion that he was faulty, and ought, upon his own great subsequent maxim, to have been coerced into "indemnity for the past, and security for the future." But, besides that this glassy mythus belongs to an æra fifteen years earlier than Coleridge's, so as to justify a shadow of scepticism, we really cannot find, in such an escapade under the boiling blood of youth, any sufficient justification of that withering malignity towards the name of Pitt, which runs through Coleridge's famous Fire, Famine, and Slaughter. As this little viperous jeu-d'esprit (published anonymously) subsequently became the subject of a celebrated after-dinner discussion in London, at which Coleridge (comme de raison) was the chief speaker, the reader of this generation may wish to know the question at issue; and in order to judge of that, he must know the outline of this devil's squib. The writer brings upon the scene three pleasant young ladies, viz. Miss Fire, Miss Famine, and Miss Slaughter. "What are you up to? What's the row?"—we may suppose to be the introductory question of the poet. And the answer of the ladies makes us aware that they are fresh from larking in Ireland, and in France. A glorious spree they had; lots of fun; and laughter à discretion. At all times gratus puellæ risus ab angulo; so that we listen to their little gossip with interest. They had been setting men, it seems, by the ears; and the drollest little atrocities they do certainly report. Not but we have seen better in the Nenagh paper, so far as Ireland is concerned. But the pet little joke was in La Vendée. Miss Famine, who is the girl for our money, raises the question—whether any of them can tell the name of the leader and prompter to these high jinks of hell—if so, let her whisper it.

"Whisper it, sister, so and so,
In a dark hint—distinct and low."

Upon which the playful Miss Slaughter replies:—

"Letters four do form his name.
* * *
He came by stealth and unlock'd my den;
And I have drunk the blood since then
Of thrice three hundred thousand men."

Good: But the sting of the hornet lies in the conclusion. If this quadriliteral man had done so much for them, (though really, we think, 6s. 8d. might have settled his claim,) what, says Fire, setting her arms a-kimbo, would they do for him? Slaughter replies, rather crustily, that, as far as a good kicking would go—or (says Famine) a little matter of tearing to pieces by the mob—they would be glad to take tickets at his benefit. "How, you bitches!" says Fire, "is that all?

"I alone am faithful; I
Cling to him everlastingly."

The sentiment is diabolical. And the question argued at the London dinner-table was—Could the writer have been other than a devil? The dinner was at the late excellent Mr Sotheby's, known advantageously in those days as the translator of Wieland's Oberon. Several of the great guns amongst the literary body were present; in particular, Sir Walter Scott; and he, we believe, with his usual good-nature, took the apologetic side of the dispute. In fact, he was in the secret. Nobody else, barring the author, knew at first whose good name was at stake. The scene must have been high. The company kicked about the poor diabolic writer's head as if it had been a tennis-ball. Coleridge, the yet unknown criminal, absolutely perspired and fumed in pleading for the defendant; the company demurred; the orator grew urgent; wits began to smoke the case, as active verbs; the[Pg 123] advocate to smoke, as a neuter verb; the "fun grew fast and furious;" until at length delinquent arose, burning tears in his eyes, and confessed to an audience, (now bursting with stifled laughter, but whom he supposed to be bursting with fiery indignation,) "Lo! I am he that wrote it."

For our own parts, we side with Coleridge. Malice is not always of the heart. There is a malice of the understanding and the fancy. Neither do we think the worse of a man for having invented the most horrible and old-woman-troubling curse that demons ever listened to. We are too apt to swear horribly ourselves; and often have we frightened the cat, to say nothing of the kettle, by our shocking [far too shocking!] oaths.

There were other celebrated men whom Coleridge detested, or seemed to detest—Paley, Sir Sidney Smith, Lord Hutchinson, (the last Lord Donoughmore,) and Cuvier. To Paley it might seem as if his antipathy had been purely philosophic; but we believe that partly it was personal; and it tallies with this belief, that, in his earliest political tracts, Coleridge charged the archdeacon repeatedly with his own joke, as if it had been a serious saying, viz.—"that he could not afford to keep a conscience;" such luxuries, like a carriage, for instance, being obviously beyond the finances of poor men.

With respect to the philosophic question between the parties, as to the grounds of moral election, we hope it is no treason to suggest that both were perhaps in error. Against Paley, it occurs at once that he himself would not have made consequences the practical test in valuing the morality of an act, since these can very seldom be traced at all up to the final stages, and in the earliest stages are exceedingly different under different circumstances; so that the same act, tried by its consequences, would bear a fluctuating appreciation. This could not have been Paley's revised meaning. Consequently, had he been pressed by opposition, it would have come out, that by test he meant only speculative test: a very harmless doctrine certainly, but useless and impertinent to any purpose of his system. The reader may catch our meaning in the following illustration. It is a matter of general belief, that happiness, upon the whole, follows in a higher degree from constant integrity, than from the closest attention to self-interest. Now happiness is one of those consequences which Paley meant by final or remotest. But we could never use this idea as an exponent of integrity, or interchangeable criterion, because happiness cannot be ascertained or appreciated except upon long tracts of time, whereas the particular act of integrity depends continually upon the election of the moment. No man, therefore, could venture to lay down as a rule, Do what makes you happy; use this as your test of actions, satisfied that in that case always you will do the thing which is right. For he cannot discern independently what will make him happy; and he must decide on the spot. The use of the nexus between morality and happiness must therefore be inverted; it is not practical or prospective, but simply retrospective; and in that form it says no more than the good old rules hallowed in every cottage. But this furnishes no practical guide for moral election which a man had not, before he ever thought of this nexus. In the sense in which it is true, we need not go to the professor's chair for this maxim; in the sense in which it would serve Paley, it is absolutely false.

On the other hand, as against Coleridge, it is certain that many acts could be mentioned which are judged to be good or bad only because their consequences are known to be so, whilst the great catholic acts of life are entirely (and, if we may so phrase it, haughtily) independent of consequences. For instance, fidelity to a trust is a law of immutable morality subject to no casuistry whatever. You have been left executor to a friend—you are to pay over his last legacy to X, though a dissolute scoundrel; and you are to give no shilling of it to the poor brother of X, though a good man, and a wise man, struggling with adversity. You are absolutely excluded from all contemplation of results. It was your deceased friend's right to make the will; it is yours simply to see it executed. Now, in opposition to this primary class of actions stands another, such as the habit of intoxication, which are known to be wrong only by observing the consequences.[Pg 124] If drunkenness did not terminate, after some years, in producing bodily weakness, irritability in the temper, and so forth, it would not be a vicious act. And accordingly, if a transcendent motive should arise in favour of drunkenness, as that it would enable you to face a degree of cold, or contagion, else menacing to life, a duty would arise, pro hâc vice, of getting drunk. We had an amiable friend who suffered under the infirmity of cowardice; an awful coward he was when sober; but, when very drunk, he had courage enough for the Seven Champions of Christendom. Therefore, in an emergency, where he knew himself suddenly loaded with the responsibility of defending a family, we approved highly of his getting drunk. But to violate a trust could never become right under any change of circumstances. Coleridge, however, altogether overlooked this distinction; which, on the other hand, stirring in Paley's mind, but never brought out to distinct consciousness, nor ever investigated, nor limited, has undermined his system. Perhaps it is not very important how a man theorizes upon morality; happily for us all, God has left no man in such questions practically to the guidance of his understanding; but still, considering that academic bodies are partly instituted for the support of speculative truth as well as truth practical, we must think it a blot upon the splendour of Oxford and Cambridge that both of them, in a Christian land, make Paley the foundation of their ethics; the alternative being Aristotle. And, in our mind, though far inferior as a moralist to the Stoics, Aristotle is often less a pagan than Paley.

Coleridge's dislike to Sir Sidney Smith and the Egyptian Lord Hutchinson fell under the category of Martial's case.

"Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare,
Hoc solum novi—non amo te, Sabidi."

Against Lord Hutchinson, we never heard him plead any thing of moment, except that he was finically Frenchified in his diction; of which he gave this instance—that having occasion to notice a brick wall, (which was literally that, not more and not less,) when reconnoitring the French defences, he called it a revêtement. And we ourselves remember his using the French word gloriole rather ostentatiously; that is, when no particular emphasis attached to the case. But every man has his foibles; and few, perhaps, are less conspicuously annoying than this of Lord Hutchinson's. Sir Sidney's crimes were less distinctly revealed to our mind. As to Cuvier, Coleridge's hatred of him was more to our taste; for (though quite unreasonable, we fear) it took the shape of patriotism. He insisted on it, that our British John Hunter was the genuine article, and that Cuvier was a humbug. Now, speaking privately to the public, we cannot go quite so far as that. But, when publicly we address that most respectable character, en grand costume, we always mean to back Coleridge. For we are a horrible John Bull ourselves. As Joseph Hume observes, it makes no difference to us—right or wrong, black or white—when our countrymen are concerned. And John Hunter, notwithstanding he had a bee in his bonnet,[26] was really a great man; though it will not follow that Cuvier must, therefore, have been a little one. We do not pretend to be acquainted with the tenth part of Cuvier's performances; but we suspect that Coleridge's range in that respect was not much greater than our own.

Other cases of monomaniac antipathy we might revive from our recollections of Coleridge, had we a sufficient motive. But in compensation, and by way of redressing the balance, he had many strange likings—equally monomaniac—and, unaccountably, he chose to exhibit his whimsical partialities by dressing up, as it were, in his own clothes, such a set of scarecrows as eye has not beheld. Heavens! [Pg 125]what an ark of unclean beasts would have been Coleridge's private menagerie of departed philosophers, could they all have been trotted out in succession! But did the reader feel them to be the awful bores which, in fact, they were? No; because Coleridge had blown upon these withered anatomies, through the blowpipe of his own creative genius, a stream of gas that swelled the tissue of their antediluvian wrinkles, forced colour upon their cheeks, and splendour upon their sodden eyes. Such a process of ventriloquism never has existed. He spoke by their organs. They were the tubes; and he forced through their wooden machinery his own Beethoven harmonies.

First came Dr Andrew Bell. We knew him. Was he dull? Is a wooden spoon dull? Fishy were his eyes; torpedinous was his manner; and his main idea, out of two which he really had, related to the moon—from which you infer, perhaps, that he was lunatic. By no means. It was no craze, under the influence of the moon, which possessed him; it was an idea of mere hostility to the moon. The Madras people, like many others, had an idea that she influenced the weather. Subsequently the Herschels, senior and junior, systematized this idea; and then the wrath of Andrew, previously in a crescent state, actually dilated to a plenilunar orb. The Westmoreland people (for at the lakes it was we knew him) expounded his condition to us by saying that he was "maffled;" which word means "perplexed in the extreme." His wrath did not pass into lunacy; it produced simple distraction; an uneasy fumbling with the idea; like that of an old superannuated dog who longs to worry, but cannot for want of teeth. In this condition you will judge that he was rather tedious. And in this condition Coleridge took him up. Andrew's other idea, because he had two, related to education. Perhaps six-sevenths of that also came from Madras. No matter, Coleridge took that up; Southey also; but Southey with his usual temperate fervour. Coleridge, on the other hand, found celestial marvels both in the scheme and in the man. Then commenced the apotheosis of Andrew Bell; and because it happened that his opponent, Lancaster, between ourselves, really had stolen his ideas from Bell, what between the sad wickedness of Lancaster and the celestial transfiguration of Bell, gradually Coleridge heated himself to such an extent, that people, when referring to that subject, asked each other: "Have you heard Coleridge lecture on Bel and the Dragon?"

The next man glorified by Coleridge was John Woolman, the Quaker. Him, though we once possessed his works, it cannot be truly affirmed that we ever read. Try to read John, we often did; but read John we did not. This however, you say, might be our fault, and not John's. Very likely. And we have a notion that now, with our wiser thoughts, we should read John, if he were here on this table. It is certain that he was a good man, and one of the earliest in America, if not in Christendom, who lifted up his hand to protest against the slave-trade. But still, we suspect, that had John been all that Coleridge represented, he would not have repelled us from reading his travels in the fearful way that he did. But, again, we beg pardon, and entreat the earth of Virginia to lie light upon the remains of John Woolman; for he was an Israelite, indeed, in whom there was no guile.

The third person raised to divine honours by Coleridge was Bowyer, the master of Christ's Hospital, London—a man whose name rises into the nostrils of all who knew him with the gracious odour of a tallow-chandler's melting-house upon melting day, and whose memory is embalmed in the hearty detestation of all his pupils. Coleridge describes this man as a profound critic. Our idea of him is different. We are of opinion that Bowyer was the greatest villain of the eighteenth century. We may be wrong; but we cannot be far wrong. Talk of knouting indeed! which we did at the beginning of this paper in the mere playfulness of our hearts—and which the great master of the knout, Christopher, who visited men's trespasses like the Eumenides, never resorted to but in love for some great idea which had been outraged; why, this man knouted his way through life, from bloody youth up to truculent[Pg 126] old age. Grim idol! whose altars reeked with children's blood, and whose dreadful eyes never smiled except as the stern goddess of the Thugs smiles, when the sound of human lamentations inhabits her ears. So much had the monster fed upon this great idea of "flogging," and transmuted it into the very nutriment of his heart, that he seems to have conceived the gigantic project of flogging all mankind; nay worse, for Mr Gillman, on Coleridge's authority, tells us (p. 24) the following anecdote:—

"'Sirrah, I'll flog you,' were words so familiar to him, that on one occasion some female friend of one of the boys," (who had come on an errand of intercession,) "still lingering at the door, after having been abruptly told to go, Bowyer exclaimed—'Bring that woman here, and I'll flog her.'"


To this horrid incarnation of whips and scourges, Coleridge, in his Biographia Literaria, ascribes ideas upon criticism and taste, which every man will recognise as the intense peculiarities of Coleridge. Could these notions really have belonged to Bowyer, then how do we know but he wrote The Ancient Mariner? Yet, on consideration, no. For even Coleridge admitted that, spite of his fine theorizing upon composition, Mr Bowyer did not prosper in the practice. Of which he gave us this illustration; and as it is supposed to be the only specimen of the Bowyeriana which now survives in this sublunary world, we are glad to extend its glory. It is the most curious example extant of the melodious in sound:—

"'Twas thou that smooth'd'st the rough-rugg'd bed of pain."


"Smooth'd'st!" Would the teeth of a crocodile not splinter under that word? It seems to us as if Mr Bowyer's verses ought to be boiled before they can be read. And when he says, 'Twas thou, what is the wretch talking to? Can he be apostrophising the knout? We very much fear it. If so then, you see (reader!) that, even when incapacitated by illness from operating, he still adores the image of his holy scourge, and invokes it as alone able to smooth "his rough-rugg'd bed." Oh, thou infernal Bowyer! upon whom even Trollope (History of Christ's Hospital) charges "a discipline tinctured with more than due severity;"—can there be any partners found for thee in a quadrille, except Draco, the bloody lawgiver, Bishop Bonner, and Mrs Brownrigg?

The next pet was Sir Alexander Ball. Concerning Bowyer, Coleridge did not talk much, but chiefly wrote; concerning Bell, he did not write much, but chiefly talked. Concerning Ball, however, he both wrote and talked. It was in vain to muse upon any plan for having Ball blackballed, or for rebelling against Bell. Think of a man, who had fallen into one pit called Bell, secondly falling into another pit called Ball. This was too much. We were obliged to quote poetry against them:—

"Letters four do form his name;
He came by stealth and unlock'd my den;
And the nightmare I have felt since then
Of thrice three hundred thousand men."

Not that we insinuate any disrespect to Sir Alexander Ball. He was about the foremost, we believe, in all good qualities, amongst Nelson's admirable captains at the Nile. He commanded a seventy-four most effectually in that battle; he governed Malta as well as Sancho governed Barataria; and he was a true practical philosopher—as, indeed, was Sancho. But still, by all that we could ever learn, Sir Alexander had no taste for the abstract upon any subject; and would have read, as mere delirious wanderings, those philosophic opinions which Coleridge fastened like wings upon his respectable, but astounded, shoulders.

We really beg pardon for having laughed a little at these crazes of Coleridge. But laugh we did, of mere necessity, in those days, at Bell and Ball, whenever we did not groan. And, as the same precise alternative offered itself now, viz., that, in recalling the case, we must reverberate either the groaning or the laughter, we presumed the reader would vote for the last. Coleridge, we are well convinced, owed all these wandering and exaggerated estimates of men—these diseased impulses, that, like the[Pg 127] mirage, showed lakes and fountains where in reality there were only arid deserts, to the derangements worked by opium. But now, for the sake of change, let us pass to another topic. Suppose we say a word or two on Coleridge's accomplishments as a scholar. We are not going to enter on so large a field as that of his scholarship in connexion with his philosophic labours, scholarship in the result; not this, but scholarship in the means and machinery, range of verbal scholarship, is what we propose for a moment's review.

For instance, what sort of a German scholar was Coleridge? We dare say that, because in his version of the Wallenstein there are some inaccuracies, those who may have noticed them will hold him cheap in this particular pretension. But, to a certain degree, they will be wrong. Coleridge was not very accurate in any thing but in the use of logic. All his philological attainments were imperfect. He did not talk German; or so obscurely—and, if he attempted to speak fast, so erroneously—that in his second sentence, when conversing with a German lady of rank, he contrived to assure her that in his humble opinion she was a ——. Hard it is to fill up the hiatus decorously; but, in fact, the word very coarsely expressed that she was no better than she should be. Which reminds us of a parallel misadventure to a German, whose colloquial English had been equally neglected. Having obtained an interview with an English lady, he opened his business (whatever it might be) thus—"High-born madam, since your husband have kicked de bucket"—— "Sir!" interrupted the lady, astonished and displeased. "Oh, pardon!—nine, ten tousand pardon! Now, I make new beginning—quite oder beginning. Madam, since your husband have cut his stick"—— It may be supposed that this did not mend matters; and, reading that in the lady's countenance, the German drew out an octavo dictionary, and said, perspiring with shame at having a second time missed fire,—"Madam, since your husband have gone to kingdom come"—— This he said beseechingly; but the lady was past propitiation by this time, and rapidly moved towards the door. Things had now reached a crisis; and, if something were not done quickly, the game was up. Now, therefore, taking a last hurried look at his dictionary, the German flew after the lady, crying out in a voice of despair—"Madam, since your husband, your most respected husband, have hopped de twig"—— This was his sheet-anchor; and, as this also came home, of course the poor man was totally wrecked. It turned out that the dictionary he had used (Arnold's, we think,)—a work of a hundred years back, and, from mere ignorance, giving slang translations from Tom Brown, L'Estrange, and other jocular writers—had put down the verb sterben (to die) with the following worshipful series of equivalents—1. To kick the bucket; 2. To cut one's stick; 3. To go to kingdom come; 4. To hop the twig.

But, though Coleridge did not pretend to any fluent command of conversational German, he read it with great ease. His knowledge of German literature was, indeed, too much limited by his rare opportunities for commanding any thing like a well-mounted library. And particularly it surprised us that Coleridge knew little or nothing of John Paul (Richter.) But his acquaintance with the German philosophic masters was extensive. And his valuation of many individual German words or phrases was delicate and sometimes profound.

As a Grecian, Coleridge must be estimated with a reference to the state and standard of Greek literature at that time and in this country. Porson had not yet raised our ideal. The earliest laurels of Coleridge were gathered, however, in that field. Yet no man will, at this day, pretend that the Greek of his prize ode is sufferable. Neither did Coleridge ever become an accurate Grecian in later times, when better models of scholarship, and better aids to scholarship, had begun to multiply. But still we must assert this point of superiority for Coleridge, that, whilst he never was what may be called a well-mounted scholar in any department of verbal scholarship, he yet displayed sometimes a brilliancy of conjectural sagacity, and a felicity of philosophic investigation, even in this path, such as[Pg 128] better scholars do not often attain, and of a kind which cannot be learned from books. But, as respects his accuracy, again we must recall to the reader the state of Greek literature in England during Coleridge's youth; and, in all equity, as a means of placing Coleridge in the balances, specifically we must recall the state of Greek metrical composition at that period.

To measure the condition of Greek literature even in Cambridge, about the initial period of Coleridge, we need only look back to the several translations of Gray's Elegy by three (if not four) of the reverend gentlemen at that time attached to Eton College. Mathias, no very great scholar himself in this particular field, made himself merry, in his Pursuits of Literature, with these Eton translations. In that he was right. But he was not right in praising a contemporary translation by Cook, who (we believe) was the immediate predecessor of Porson in the Greek chair. As a specimen of this translation,[27] we cite one stanza; and we cannot be supposed to select unfairly, because it is the stanza which Mathias praises in extravagant terms. "Here," says he, "Gray, Cook, and nature, do seem to contend for the mastery." The English quatrain must be familiar to every body:—

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave."


And the following, we believe, though quoting from a thirty-three years' recollection of it, is the exact Greek version of Cook:—

Ἁ χαρις εὐγενεων, χαρις ἁ βασιληιδος ἀρχας,
Δωρα τυχης χρυσεης, Ἀφροδιτης καλα τα δωρα,
Πανθ’ ἁμα ταυτα τεθνηκε, και εἰδεν μορσιμον ἁμαρ·
Ἡρωων κλε’ ὀλωλε, και ὠχετο ξυνον ἐς Ἀδην.


Now really these verses, by force of a little mosaic tesselation from genuine Greek sources, pass fluently over the tongue; but can they be considered other than a cento? Swarms of English schoolboys, at this day, would not feel very proud to adopt them. In fact, we remember (at a period say twelve years later than this) some iambic verses, which were really composed by a boy, viz. son of Dr Prettyman, (afterwards Tomline,) bishop of Winchester, and, in earlier times, private tutor to Mr Pitt; they were published by Middleton, first bishop of Calcutta, in the preface to his work on the Greek article; and for racy idiomatic Greek, self-originated, and not a mere mocking-bird's iteration of alien notes, are so much superior to all the attempts of these sexagenarian doctors, as distinctly to mark the growth of a new era and a new generation in this difficult accomplishment, within the first decennium of this century. It is singular that only one blemish is suggested by any of the contemporary critics in Dr Cook's verses, viz. in the word ξυνον, for which this critic proposes to substitute ὡοινον, to prevent, as he observes, the last syllable of ὠχετο from being lengthened by the ξ. Such considerations as these are necessary to the trutinæ castigatio, before we can value Coleridge's place on the scale of his own day; which day, quoad hoc, be it remembered, was 1790.

As to French, Coleridge read it with too little freedom to find pleasure in French literature. Accordingly, we never recollect his referring for any purpose, either of argument or illustration, to a French classic. Latin, from his regular scholastic training, naturally he read with a scholar's fluency; and indeed, he read constantly in authors, such as Petrarch, Erasmus, Calvin, &c., whom he could not then have found in translations. But Coleridge had not cultivated an acquaint[Pg 129]ance with the delicacies of classic Latinity. And it is remarkable that Wordsworth, educated most negligently at Hawkshead school, subsequently by reading the lyric poetry of Horace, simply for his own delight as a student of composition, made himself a master of Latinity in its most difficult form; whilst Coleridge, trained regularly in a great Southern school, never carried his Latin to any classical polish.

There is another accomplishment of Coleridge's, less broadly open to the judgment of this generation, and not at all of the next—viz. his splendid art of conversation, on which it will be interesting to say a word. Ten years ago, when the music of this rare performance had not yet ceased to vibrate in men's ears, what a sensation was gathering amongst the educated classes on this particular subject! What a tumult of anxiety prevailed to "hear Mr Coleridge"—or even to talk with a man who had heard him! Had he lived till this day, not Paganini would have been so much sought after. That sensation is now decaying; because a new generation has emerged during the ten years since his death. But many still remain whose sympathy (whether of curiosity in those who did not know him, or of admiration in those who did) still reflects as in a mirror the great stir upon this subject which then was moving in the world. To these, if they should enquire for the great distinguishing principle of Coleridge's conversation, we might say that it was the power of vast combination "in linked sweetness long drawn out." He gathered into focal concentration the largest body of objects, apparently disconnected, that any man ever yet, by any magic, could assemble, or, having assembled, could manage. His great fault was, that, by not opening sufficient spaces for reply or suggestion, or collateral notice, he not only narrowed his own field, but he grievously injured the final impression. For when men's minds are purely passive, when they are not allowed to re-act, then it is that they collapse most, and that their sense of what is said must ever be feeblest. Doubtless there must have been great conversational masters elsewhere, and at many periods; but in this lay Coleridge's characteristic advantage, that he was a great natural power, and also a great artist. He was a power in the art, and he carried a new art into the power.

But now, finally—having left ourselves little room for more—one or two words on Coleridge as an opium-eater.

We have not often read a sentence falling from a wise man with astonishment so profound, as that particular one in a letter of Coleridge's to Mr Gillman, which speaks of the effort to wean one's-self from opium as a trivial task. There are, we believe, several such passages. But we refer to that one in particular which assumes that a single "week" will suffice for the whole process of so mighty a revolution. Is indeed leviathan so tamed? In that case the quarantine of the opium-eater might be finished within Coleridge's time, and with Coleridge's romantic ease. But mark the contradictions of this extraordinary man. Not long ago we were domesticated with a venerable rustic, strongheaded, but incurably obstinate in his prejudices, who treated the whole body of medical men as ignorant pretenders, knowing absolutely nothing of the system which they professed to superintend. This, you will remark, is no very singular case. No; nor, as we believe, is the antagonist case of ascribing to such men magical powers. Nor, what is worse still, the co-existence of both cases in the same mind, as in fact happened here. For this same obstinate friend of ours, who treated all medical pretensions as the mere jest of the universe, every third day was exacting from his own medical attendants some exquisite tour-de-force, as that they should know or should do something, which, if they had known or done, all men would have suspected them reasonably of magic. He rated the whole medical body as infants; and yet what he exacted from them every third day as a matter of course, virtually presumed them to be the only giants within the whole range of science. Parallel and equal is the contradiction of Coleridge. He speaks of opium excess, his own excess, we mean—the excess of twenty-five years—as a thing to be laid aside easily and for[Pg 130] ever within seven days; and yet, on the other hand, he describes it pathetically, sometimes with a frantic pathos, as the scourge, the curse, the one almighty blight which had desolated his life.

This shocking contradiction we need not press. All readers will see that. But some will ask—was Mr Coleridge right in either view? Being so atrociously wrong in the first notion, (viz. that the opium of twenty-five years was a thing easily to be forsworn,) where a child could know that he was wrong, was he even altogether right, secondly, in believing that his own life, root and branch, had been withered by opium? For it will not follow, because, with a relation to happiness and tranquillity, a man may have found opium his curse, that therefore, as a creature of energies and great purposes, he must have been the wreck which he seems to suppose. Opium gives and takes away. It defeats the steady habit of exertion, but it creates spasms of irregular exertion; it ruins the natural power of life, but it developes preternatural paroxysms of intermitting power.

Let us ask of any man who holds that not Coleridge himself but the world, as interested in Coleridge's usefulness, has suffered by his addiction to opium; whether he is aware of the way in which opium affected Coleridge; and secondly, whether he is aware of the actual contributions to literature—how large they were—which Coleridge made in spite of opium. All who were intimate with Coleridge must remember the fits of genial animation which were created continually in his manner and in his buoyancy of thought by a recent or by an extra dose of the omnipotent drug. A lady, who knew nothing experimentally of opium, once told us, that she "could tell when Mr Coleridge had taken too much opium by his shining countenance." She was right; we know that mark of opium excesses well, and the cause of it; or at least we believe the cause to lie in the quickening of the insensible perspiration which accumulates and glistens on the face. Be that as it may, a criterion it was that could not deceive us as to the condition of Coleridge. And uniformly in that condition he made his most effective intellectual displays. It is true that he might not be happy under this fiery animation, and we fully believe that he was not. Nobody is happy under laudanum except for a very short term of years. But in what way did that operate upon his exertions as a writer? We are of opinion that it killed Coleridge as a poet. "The harp of Quantock" was silenced for ever by the torment of opium. But proportionably it roused and stung by misery his metaphysical instincts into more spasmodic life. Poetry can flourish only in the atmosphere of happiness. But subtle and perplexed investigations of difficult problems are amongst the commonest resources for beguiling the sense of misery. And for this we have the direct authority of Coleridge himself speculating on his own case. In the beautiful though unequal ode entitled Dejection, stanza six, occurs the following passage:

"For not to think of what I needs must feel,
But to be still and patient all I can;
And haply by abstruse research to steal
From my own nature all the natural man
This was my sole resource, my only plan;
Till that, which suits a part, infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul."


Considering the exquisite quality of some poems which Coleridge has composed, nobody can grieve (or has grieved) more than ourselves, at seeing so beautiful a fountain choked up with weeds. But had Coleridge been a happier man, it is our fixed belief that we should have had far less of his philosophy, and perhaps, but not certainly, might have had more of his general literature. In the estimate of the public, doubtless, that will seem a bad exchange. Every man to his taste. Meantime, what we wish to show is, that the loss was not absolute, but merely relative.

It is urged, however, that, even on his philosophic speculations, opium operated unfavourably in one respect, by often causing him to leave them unfinished. This is true. Whenever Coleridge (being highly charged, or[Pg 131] saturated, with opium) had written with distempered vigour upon any question, there occurred soon after a recoil of intense disgust, not from his own paper only, but even from the subject. All opium-eaters are tainted with the infirmity of leaving works unfinished, and suffering reactions of disgust. But Coleridge taxed himself with that infirmity in verse before he could at all have commenced opium-eating. Besides, it is too much assumed by Coleridge and by his biographer, that to leave off opium was of course to regain juvenile health. But all opium-eaters make the mistake of supposing every pain or irritation which they suffer to be the product of opium. Whereas a wise man will say, suppose you do leave off opium, that will not deliver you from the load of years (say sixty-three) which you carry on your back. Charles Lamb, another man of true genius, and another head belonging to the Blackwood Gallery, made that mistake in his Confessions of a Drunkard. "I looked back," says he, "to the time when always, on waking in the morning, I had a song rising to my lips." At present, it seems, being a drunkard, he has no such song. Ay, dear Lamb, but note this, that the drunkard was fifty-six years old, the songster was twenty-three. Take twenty-three from fifty-six, and we have some reason to believe that thirty-three will remain; which period of thirty-three years is a pretty good reason for not singing in the morning, even if brandy has been out of the question.

It is singular, as respects Coleridge, that Mr Gillman never says one word upon the event of the great Highgate experiment for leaving off laudanum, though Coleridge came to Mr Gillman's for no other purpose; and in a week, this vast creation of new earth, sea, and all that in them is, was to have been accomplished. We rayther think, as Bayley junior observes, that the explosion must have hung fire. But that is a trifle. We have another pleasing hypothesis on the subject. Mr Wordsworth, in his exquisite lines written on a fly-leaf of his own Castle of Indolence, having described Coleridge as "a noticeable man with large grey eyes," goes on to say, "He" (viz. Coleridge) "did that other man entice" to view his imagery. Now we are sadly afraid that "the noticeable man with large grey eyes" did entice "that other man," viz. Gillman, to commence opium-eating. This is droll; and it makes us laugh horribly. Gillman should have reformed him; and lo! he corrupts Gillman. S. T. Coleridge visited Highgate by way of being converted from the heresy of opium; and the issue is—that, in two months' time, various grave men, amongst whom our friend Gillman marches first in great pomp, are found to have faces shining and glorious as that of Æsculapius; a fact of which we have already explained the secret meaning. And scandal says (but then what will not scandal say?) that a hogshead of opium goes up daily through Highgate tunnel. Surely one corroboration of our hypothesis may be found in the fact, that Vol. I. of Gillman's Coleridge is forever to stand unpropped by Vol. II. For we have already observed—that opium-eaters, though good fellows upon the whole, never finish any thing.

What then? A man has a right never to finish any thing. Certainly he has; and by Magna Charta. But he has no right, by Magna Charta or by Parva Charta, to slander decent men, like ourselves and our friend the author of the Opium Confessions. Here it is that our complaint arises against Mr Gillman. If he has taken to opium-eating, can we help that? If his face shines, must our faces be blackened? He has very improperly published some intemperate passages from Coleridge's letters, which ought to have been considered confidential, unless Coleridge had left them for publication, charging upon the author of the Opium Confessions a reckless disregard of the temptations which, in that work, he was scattering abroad amongst men. Now this author is connected with ourselves, and we cannot neglect his defence, unless in the case that he undertakes it himself.

We complain, also, that Coleridge raises (and is backed by Mr Gillman in raising) a distinction perfectly perplexing to us, between himself and the author of the Opium Confessions upon the question—Why they severally began the practice of opium-eating? In himself, it seems, this motive was to relieve pain, whereas the Confessor was surreptitiously seeking for pleasure. Ay, indeed—where did[Pg 132] he learn that? We have no copy of the Confessions here, so we cannot quote chapter and verse; but we distinctly remember, that toothach is recorded in that book as the particular occasion which first introduced the author to the knowledge of opium. Whether afterwards, having been thus initiated by the demon of pain, the opium confessor did not apply powers thus discovered to purposes of mere pleasure, is a question for himself; and the same question applies with the same cogency to Coleridge. Coleridge began in rheumatic pains. What then? That is no proof that he did not end in voluptuousness. For our parts, we are slow to believe that ever any man did, or could, learn the somewhat awful truth, that in a certain ruby-coloured elixir, there lurked a divine power to chase away the genius of ennui, without subsequently abusing this power. To taste but once from the tree of knowledge, is fatal to the subsequent power of abstinence. True it is, that generations have used laudanum as an anodyne, (for instance, hospital patients,) who have not afterwards courted its powers as a voluptuous stimulant; but that, be sure, has arisen from no abstinence in them. There are, in fact, two classes of temperaments as to this terrific drug—those which are, and those which are not, preconformed to its power; those which genially expand to its temptations, and those which frostily exclude them. Not in the energies of the will, but in the qualities of the nervous organization, lies the dread arbitration of—Fall or stand: doomed thou art to yield; or, strengthened constitutionally, to resist. Most of those who have but a low sense of the spells lying couchant in opium, have practically none at all. For the initial fascination is for them effectually defeated by the sickness which nature has associated with the first stages of opium-eating. But to that other class, whose nervous sensibilities vibrate to their profoundest depths under the first touch of the angelic poison, even as a lover's ear thrills on hearing unexpectedly the voice of her whom he loves, opium is the Amreeta cup of beatitude. You know the Paradise Lost? and you remember, from the eleventh book, in its earlier part, that laudanum already existed in Eden—nay, that it was used medicinally by an archangel; for, after Michael had "purged with euphrasy and rue" the eyes of Adam, lest he should be unequal to the mere sight of the great visions about to unfold their draperies before him, next he fortifies his fleshly spirits against the affliction of these visions, of which visions the first was death. And how?

"He from the well of life three drops instill'd."

What was their operation?

"So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,
Even to the inmost seat of mental sight,
That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes
Sank down, and all his spirits became entranced.
But him the gentle angel by the hand
Soon raised"——

The second of these lines it is which betrays the presence of laudanum. It is in the faculty of mental vision, it is in the increased power of dealing with the shadowy and the dark, that the characteristic virtue of opium lies. Now, in the original higher sensibility is found some palliation for the practice of opium-eating; in the greater temptation is a greater excuse. And in this faculty of self-revelation is found some palliation for reporting the case to the world, which both Coleridge and his biographer have overlooked.

On all this, however, we need say no more; for we have just received a note from the writer of the Opium Confessions, more learned than ourselves in such mysteries, which promises us a sequel or finale to those Confessions. And this, which we have reason to think a record of profound experiences, we shall probably publish next month.

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





[1] Reynolds' Discourses, No. 16, ad finem.

[2] Macaulay.

[3] The finest design ever conceived by Michael Angelo was a cartoon representing warriors bathing, and some buckling on their armour at the sound of the trumpet, which summoned them to their standards in the war between Pisa and Florence. It perished, however, in the troubles of the latter city, but an engraved copy remains of part, which justifies the eulogiums bestowed upon it.

[4] The state of Missouri as almost entirely peopled by emigration from Kentucky.

[5] The Mississippi water, although slimy, becomes clear after it has stood few hours, and is then excellent to drink.

[6] An excellent map of Montenegro has been made by an Austrian officer of engineers, who resided there for the purpose—but I have not now the advantage of referring to it. This country is divided into twelve military departments; the natives reckon its extent about three days' journey in the longest, by two in the widest part. Those, of course, are foot or mule journeys.

[7] It was this man's father who, shortly before our arrival, having been entrusted to receive from Lloyd's Company a packet containing a large sum of money, converted the contents into two cannon-balls, and forwarded them to the Vladika.

[8] The late Vladika received the honours of sanctity after his death.

[9] Meaning dressed in the European or Frank costume.

[10] The Vladika bears the Russian eagle rising from a crown.

[11] He passed but one night in Montenegro, at Cettigna, and returned the following day to Cattaro.

[12] On the kalends of January the consuls-elect were formally installed; and on this occasion a procession was made to the Capitol, and sacrifice performed to Jupiter. The principal part of the procession, of course, was the consuls in their curule chair, preceded by the lictors bearing the fasces, or bundles of rods and axes.

[13] From Janua, a gate.

[14] The etymology of these old epithets, from pateo (to open) and claudo (to shut,) is obvious enough.

[15] The lar familiaris, or domestic god of the family, who had an altar in the inner part of the Roman house.

[16] The allusion here, and in the following lines, is to the different strenæ or New-Year's gifts, which used to be given by the Romans.

[17] The old Roman as, with the double head on one side and a ship on the reverse, is well known among numismatists.

[18] The Tuscan flood is a common appellation for the Tiber, as rising in Etruria, and forming the ancient boundary between that country and Latium, opposite Rome.

[19] A silly etymology—from lateo, to lurk; mentioned also by Virgil.—Æn. viii. 323.

[20] "The Romans gave the name of Jani to arches like that of Temple-Bar in London, under which people passed from one street into another. They were always double; people entering by one and going out by the other, every one keeping to the right. The temple or gateway mentioned in this place, adjacent to the ox and the fish markets, was built by Duilius."—Keightly.

[21] Although the allusion refers, in the verses, to Delphi, it was, I think, at Dodona, in the earliest period of oracular influence, that this belief prevailed.

[22] "And Mullah mine, whose waves whilome I taught to weep."—Spenser.

[23] The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. By James Gillman. Vol. I, London; 1838.

[24] "Jacob Boehmen." We ourselves had the honour of presenting to Mr Coleridge Law's English version of Jacob—a set of huge quartos. Some months afterwards we saw this work lying open, and one volume at least overflowing, in parts, with the commentaries and the corollaries of Coleridge. Whither has this work, and so many others swathed about with Coleridge's MS. notes, vanished from the world?

[25] Malthus would have rejoined by saying—that the flower-pot limitation was the actual limitation of nature in our present circumstances. In America it is otherwise, he would say; but England is the very flower-pot you suppose: she is a flower-pot which cannot be multiplied, and cannot even be enlarged. Very well; so be it: (Which we say in order to waive irrelevant disputes.) But then the true inference will be—not that vegetable increase proceeds under a different law from that which governs animal increase, but that, through an accident of position, the experiment cannot be tried in England. Surely the levers of Archimedes, with submission to Sir Edward B. Lytton, were not the less levers because he wanted the locum standi. It is proper, by the way, that we should inform the reader of this generation where to look for Coleridge's skirmishings with Malthus. They are to be found chiefly in the late Mr William Hazlitt's work on that subject: a work which Coleridge so far claimed as to assert that it had been substantially made up from his own conversation.

[26] Vide, in particular, for the most exquisite specimen of pig-headedness that the world can furnish, his perverse evidence on the once famous case at the Warwick assizes, of Captain Donelan for poisoning his brother-in-law, Sir Theodosius Boughton.

[27] It was printed at the end of Aristotle's Poetics, which Dr Cook edited.




Transcriber's Note:

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine --
Volume 57, No. 351, January 1845, by Various


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