The Project Gutenberg EBook of Library of the World's Best Literature,
Ancient and Modern, Vol. VIII, by Various

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

Title: Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, Vol. VIII

Author: Various

Editor: Charles Dudley Warner

Release Date: August 9, 2010 [EBook #33385]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Juliet Sutherland and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at








Connoisseur Edition
Vol. VIII.


Connoisseur Edition


No. ..........
Copyright, 1896, by
All rights reserved


Professor of Hebrew, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Professor of English in the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Professor of History and Political Science, Princeton University, Princeton, N. J.

Professor of Literature, Columbia University, New York City.

President of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Late Professor of the Germanic and Scandinavian Languages and Literatures, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.

Director of the Lick Observatory, and Astronomer, University of California, Berkeley, Cal.

Professor of the Romance Languages, Tulane University, New Orleans, La.

Dean of the Department of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and History, University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.

Professor of Greek and Latin Literature, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

United States Commissioner of Education, Bureau of Education, Washington, D. C.

Professor of Literature in the Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C.

[Pg v]



John Calvin 1509-1564 3117
Prefatory Address to the 'Institutes' 
Election and Predestination ('Institutes of the Christian Religion') 
Freedom of the Will (same) 
Luiz Vaz de Camoens 1524?-1580 3129
From 'The Lusiads' 
The Canzon of Life 
Adieu to Coimbra 
Thomas Campbell 1777-1844 3159
Hope ('The Pleasures of Hope') 
The Fall of Poland (same) 
The Slave (same) 
Death and a Future Life (same) 
Lochiel's Warning 
The Soldier's Dream 
Lord Ullin's Daughter 
The Exile of Erin 
Ye Mariners of England 
The Battle of Copenhagen 
From the 'Ode to Winter' 
Campion -1619 3184
A Hymn in Praise of Neptune 
Of Corinna's Singing 
From 'Divine and Moral Songs' 
To a Coquette 
Songs from 'Light Conceits of Lovers' 
George Canning[Pg vi] 1770-1827 3189
Rogero's Soliloquy ('The Rovers') 
The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-Grinder 
On the English Constitution ('Speech on Parliamentary Reform') 
On Brougham and South America 
Cesare Cantù 1807-1895 3199
The Execution ('Margherita Pusterla') 
Giosue Carducci 1835- 3206
Roma ('Poesie') 
Homer ('Levia Gravia') 
In a Gothic Church ('Poesie') 
On the Sixth Centenary of Dante ('Levia Gravia') 
The Ox ('Poesie') 
Dante ('Levia Gravia') 
To Satan ('Poesie') 
To Aurora ('Odi Barbare') 
Ruit Hora 
The Mother 
Thomas Carew 1589?-1639 3221
A Song 
The Protestation 
The Spring 
The Inquiry 
Emilia Flygare-Carlén 1807-1892 3225
The Pursuit of the Smugglers ('Merchant House among the Islands') 
Thomas Carlyle 1795-1881 3231
Labor ('Past and Present') 
The World in Clothes ('Sartor Resartus') 
Dante ('Heroes and Hero-Worship') 
Cromwell (same) 
The Procession ('French Revolution') 
The Siege of the Bastille (same) 
Charlotte Corday (same) 
The Scapegoat (same) 
Bliss Carman[Pg vii] 1861- 3302
Hack and Hew 
At the Granite Gate 
A Sea Child 
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) 1833- 3307
Alice, the Pig-Baby, and the Cheshire Cat ('Alice in Wonderland') 
The Mock Turtle's Education (same) 
A Clear Statement (same) 
The Walrus and the Carpenter ('Through the Looking-Glass') 
The Baker's Tale ('Hunting of the Snark') 
You are Old, Father William ('Alice in Wonderland') 
Casanova (De Seingalt) 1725-1803 3321
Casanova's Escape from the Ducal Palace ('Escapes of Casanova and Latude from Prison') 
Bartolomeo de las Casas 1474-1566 3333
Of the Island of Cuba ('A Relation of the First Voyage') 
Baldassare Castiglione 1478-1529 3339
Of the Court of Urbino ('Il Cortegiano') 
Cato the Censor 234-149 B.C. 3347
On Agriculture ('De Agricultura') 
From the 'Attic Nights' of Aulus Gellius 
Jacob Cats 1577-1660 3353
Fear after the Trouble 
"A Rich Man Loses his Child, a Poor Man Loses his Cow" 
Catullus 84-54 B.C.? 3359
Dedication for a Volume of Lyrics 
A Morning Call 
Home to Sirmio 
To Calvus in Bereavement 
The Pinnace 
An Invitation to Dinner 
A Brother's Grave 
Farewell to His Fellow Officers 
Verses from an Epithalamium 
Love is All 
Elegy on Lesbia's Sparrow 
"Fickle and Changeable Ever" 
Two Chords 
Last Word to Lesbia 
Benvenuto Cellini[Pg viii] 1500-1571 3371
The Escape from Prison 
The Casting of Perseus 
A Necklace of Pearls 
Benvenuto Loses his Brother 
An Adventure in Necromancy 
Benvenuto Loses Self-Control under Severe Provocation 
(All the above are from Cellini's 'Memoirs,' Symonds's Translation) 
Celtic Literature   3403
The Miller of Hell 
Signs of Home 
Oisin in Tirnanoge 
From 'The Coming of Cuculain' 
The Mystery of Amergin 
The Song of Fionn 
Vision of a Fair Woman 
From 'The Wanderings of Oisin' 
The Madness of King Goll 
St. Bridget's Milking Song 
Prologue to Gaul 
Columcille Fecit 
In Hebrid Seas 
From 'The Poem of the Passion' 
From 'Origo Mundi,' in the 'Ordinalia' 
Cervantes 1547-1616 3451
Treating of the Character and Pursuits of Don Quixote 
Of What Happened to Don Quixote when he Left the Inn 
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza Sally Forth: and the Adventure with the Windmills 
Sancho Panza and his Wife Teresa Converse Shrewdly 
Of Sancho Panza's Delectable Discourse with the Duchess 
Sancho as Governor 
The Ending of All Don Quixote's Adventures 

[Pg ix]



Miniature Painting of the Middle Ages (Colored Plate) Frontispiece
John Calvin (Portrait) 3118
The Septuagint (Fac-simile) 3124
Luiz Vaz de Camoens (Portrait) 3130
"Hohenlinden" (Photogravure) 3178
"Homer" (Photogravure) 3209
Thomas Carlyle (Portrait) 3232
"Charlotte Corday in Prison" (Photogravure) 3290
Benvenuto Cellini (Portrait) 3374
Cervantes (Portrait) 3464


Thomas Campbell Bartolorneo de las Casas
George Canning Baldassare Castiglione
Emilia Flygare-Carlén Jacob Cats
Bliss Carman Valerius Catullus

[Pg x]

[Pg 3117]





ohn Calvin was born in the village of Noyon, in northeastern France, on the 10th of July, 1509. He was intended by his parents for the priesthood, for which he seemed to be peculiarly fitted by his naturally austere disposition, averse to every form of sport or frivolity, and he was given an excellent education with that calling in view; but finally at the command of his father—whose plans for his son had undergone a change—he gave up his theological preparation and devoted himself to the study of law. Gifted with an extraordinary memory, rare insight, and an uncommonly keen reasoning faculty, he speedily distinguished himself in his new field, and a brilliant career was predicted for him by his teachers. His tastes however were more literary than legal, and his first published work, written at the age of twenty-three, was a commentary on Seneca's 'De Clementia,' which brought him wide repute as a classical scholar and as a clear and forceful writer.

Though he had apparently renounced forever all thoughts of a clerical life, he retained, even while he was engaged in the study of law and in the more congenial pursuit of literature, his early love for theology; and in 1532, under the influence of some of Luther's writings which happened to fall into his hands, he was converted to the Protestant faith and threw in his fortunes with the little evangelical party in Paris. His intellectual attainments made him a marked man wherever he went, and he speedily became the leading spirit in the circle to which he had attached himself. Compelled soon afterward by the persecuting measures of King Francis I. to flee the country, he took up his residence at Basle and settled down, as he hoped, to a quiet literary life. It was during his stay here that he published in 1536 the first edition of his greatest work, 'The Christian Institutes,' in which is contained the system of theology which has for centuries borne his name, and by which he is best known to the world at large. Probably no other work written by so young a man has ever produced such a wide-spread, profound, and lasting influence. In its original form, it is true, the work was only a brief and simple introduction to the study of the Scriptures, much less imposing and forbidding than the elaborate body of divinity which is now known to theologians as 'Calvin's Institutes': but all the substance of the last [Pg 3118] edition is to be found in the first; the theology of the one is the theology of the other—the Calvin of 1559 is the Calvin of 1536. The fact that at the age of twenty-six Calvin could publish a system of theology at once so original and so profound—a system, moreover, which with all his activity of intellect and love of truth he never had occasion to modify in any essential particular—is one of the most striking phenomena in the history of the human mind; and yet it is but one of many illustrations of the man's marvelous clearness and comprehensiveness of vision, and of his force and decision of character. His life from beginning to end was the consistent unfolding of a single dominant principle—the unwavering pursuit of a single controlling purpose. From his earliest youth the sense of duty was all-supreme with him; he lived under a constant imperative—in awe of, and in reverent obedience to, the will of a sovereign God; and his theology is but the translation into language of that experience; its translation by one of the world's greatest masters of logical thought and of clear speech.

Calvin's great work was accompanied by a dedicatory epistle addressed to King Francis I., which is by common consent one of the finest specimens of courteous and convincing apology in existence. A brief extract from it will be found in the selections given below.


Soon after the publication of the 'Institutes,' Calvin's plans for a quiet literary career were interrupted by a peremptory call to assist in the work of reforming the Church and State of Geneva; and the remainder of his life, with the exception of a brief interval of exile, was spent in that city, at the head of a religious movement whose influence was ultimately felt throughout all Western Europe. It is true that Calvin was not the originating genius of the Reformation—that he belonged only to the second generation of reformers, and that he learned the Protestant faith from Luther. But he became for the peoples of Western Europe what Luther was for Germany, and he gave his own peculiar type of Protestantism—that type which was congenial to his disposition and experience—to Switzerland, to France, to the Netherlands, to Scotland, and through the Dutch, the English Puritans, and the Scotch Presbyterians, to large portions of the New World. Calvin, to be sure, is not widely popular to-day even in those lands which owe him most, for he had little of that human sympathy which glorifies the best thought and life of the present age; but for all that, he has left his mark upon the world, and his influence is not likely ever to be wholly outgrown. His emphasis upon God's holiness made his followers scrupulously, even censoriously pure; his emphasis upon God's will made them stern and unyielding in the performance of what they believed to be their duty; his emphasis upon God's majesty, paradoxical [Pg 3119] though it may seem at first sight, promoted in no small degree the growth of civil and religious liberty, for it dwarfed all mere human authority and made men bold to withstand the unlawful encroachments of their fellows. Thus Calvin became a mighty force in the world, though he gave the world far more of law than of gospel, far more of Moses than of Christ.

Calvin's career as a writer began at an early day and continued until his death. His pen was a ready one and was seldom idle. In the midst of the most engrossing cares and occupations—the cares and occupations of a preacher, a pastor, a teacher of theology, a statesman, and a reformer to whom the Protestants of many lands looked for inspiration and for counsel—he found time, though he died at the early age of fifty-four, to produce works that to-day fill more than threescore volumes, and all of which bear the unmistakable impress of a great mind. In addition to his 'Institutes,' theological and ethical tracts, and treatises, sermons, and epistles without number, he wrote commentaries upon almost all the books of the Bible; which for lucidity, for wide and accurate learning, and for sound and ripe judgment, have never been surpassed. Among the most characteristic and important of his briefer works are his vigorous and effective 'Reply to Cardinal Sadolet,' who had endeavored after Calvin's exile from Geneva in 1539 to win back the Genevese to the Roman Church; his tract on 'The Necessity of Reforming the Church; presented to the Imperial Diet at Spires, A.D. 1544, in the cause of all who wish with Christ to reign'—an admirable statement of the conditions which had made a reformation of the Church imperatively necessary, and had led to the great religious and ecclesiastical revolution; another tract on 'The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church,'—marked by a beautiful Christian spirit and permeated with sound practical sense; still another containing 'Articles Agreed Upon by the Faculty of Sacred Theology at Paris, with the Antidote', and finally an 'Admonition Showing the Advantages which Christendom might Derive from an Inventory of Relics.' Though Calvin was from boyhood up of a most serious turn of mind, and though his writings, in marked contrast to the writings of Luther, exhibit few if any traces of genial spontaneous humor, the last two works show that he knew how to employ satire on occasion in a very telling way for the overthrow of error and for the discomfiture of his opponents.

In addition to the services which Calvin rendered by his writings to the cause of Christianity and of sacred learning, must be recognized the lasting obligation under which as an author he put his mother tongue. Whether he wrote in Latin or in French, his style was always chaste, elegant, clear, and vigorous. His Latin compares [Pg 3120] favorably with the best models of antiquity; his French is a new creation. The latter language indeed owes almost as much to Calvin as the German language owes to Luther. He was unquestionably its greatest master in the sixteenth century, and he did more than any one else to fix its permanent character—to give it that exactness, that lucidity, that purity and harmony of which it justly boasts.

Calvin's writings bear throughout the imprint of his character. There appears in all of them the same horror of impurity and dishonor, the same stern sense of duty, the same respect for the sovereignty of the Almighty, the same severe judgment of human failings. To read them is to breathe the tonic air of snow-clad heights; but they are seldom if ever touched with the tender glow of human feeling or transfigured with the radiance of creative imagination. There is that in David, in Isaiah, in Paul, in Luther, which appeals to every heart and makes their words immortal; but Calvin was neither poet nor prophet,—the divine afflatus was not his,—and it is not without reason that his writings, vigorous, forceful, profound, as is their context, and pure and elegant as is their style, are read to-day only by theologians or historians.

Arthur Cushman McGiffert


To Francis, King of the French, the most Christian Majesty, the most Mighty and Illustrious Monarch, his Sovereign,—John Calvin prays peace and salvation in Christ.

Sire:—When I first engaged in this work, nothing was further from my thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to your Majesty. My intention was only to furnish a kind of rudiments, by which those who feel some interest in religion might be trained to true godliness. And I toiled at the task chiefly for the sake of my countrymen the French, multitudes of whom I perceived to be hungering and thirsting after Christ, while very few seemed to have been duly imbued with even a slender knowledge of him. That this was the object which I had in view is apparent from the work itself, which is written in a simple and elementary form, adapted for instruction.[Pg 3121]

But when I perceived that the fury of certain bad men had risen to such a height in your realm that there was no place in it for sound doctrine, I thought it might be of service if I were in the same work both to give instruction to my countrymen, and also lay before your Majesty a Confession, from which you may learn what the doctrine is that so inflames the rage of those madmen who are this day with fire and sword troubling your kingdom. For I fear not to declare that what I have here given may be regarded as a summary of the very doctrine which, they vociferate, ought to be punished with confiscation, exile, imprisonment, and flames, as well as exterminated by land and sea.

I am aware indeed how, in order to render our cause as hateful to your Majesty as possible, they have filled your ears and mind with atrocious insinuations; but you will be pleased of your clemency to reflect that neither in word nor deed could there be any innocence, were it sufficient merely to accuse. When any one, with the view of exciting prejudice, observes that this doctrine of which I am endeavoring to give your Majesty an account has been condemned by the suffrages of all the estates, and was long ago stabbed again and again by partial sentences of courts of law, he undoubtedly says nothing more than that it has sometimes been violently oppressed by the power and faction of adversaries, and sometimes fraudulently and insidiously overwhelmed by lies, cavils, and calumny. While a cause is unheard, it is violence to pass sanguinary sentences against it; it is fraud to charge it, contrary to its deserts, with sedition and mischief.

That no one may suppose we are unjust in thus complaining, you yourself, most illustrious Sovereign, can bear us witness with what lying calumnies it is daily traduced in your presence; as aiming at nothing else than to wrest the sceptres of kings out of their hands, to overturn all tribunals and seats of justice, to subvert all order and government, to disturb the peace and quiet of society, to abolish all laws, destroy the distinctions of rank and property, and in short turn all things upside down. And yet that which you hear is but the smallest portion of what is said; for among the common people are disseminated certain horrible insinuations—insinuations which, if well founded, would justify the whole world in condemning the doctrine with its authors to a thousand fires and gibbets. Who can wonder that [Pg 3122] the popular hatred is inflamed against it, when credit is given to those most iniquitous accusations? See why all ranks unite with one accord in condemning our persons and our doctrine!

Carried away by this feeling, those who sit in judgment merely give utterance to the prejudices which they have imbibed at home, and think they have duly performed their part if they do not order punishment to be inflicted on any one until convicted, either on his own confession, or on legal evidence. But of what crime convicted? "Of that condemned doctrine," is the answer. But with what justice condemned? The very evidence of the defense was not to abjure the doctrine itself, but to maintain its truth. On this subject, however, not a whisper is allowed....

It is plain indeed that we fear God sincerely and worship him in truth, since, whether by life or by death, we desire his name to be hallowed; and hatred herself has been forced to bear testimony to the innocence and civil integrity of some of our people, on whom death was inflicted for the very thing which deserved the highest praise. But if any, under pretext of the gospel, excite tumults (none such have as yet been detected in your realm), if any use the liberty of the grace of God as a cloak for licentiousness (I know of numbers who do), there are laws and legal punishments by which they may be punished up to the measure of their deserts; only in the mean time let not the gospel of God be evil spoken of because of the iniquities of evil men.

Sire, that you may not lend too credulous an ear to the accusations of our enemies, their virulent injustice has been set before you at sufficient length: I fear even more than sufficient, since this preface has grown almost to the bulk of a full apology. My object however was not to frame a defense, but only with a view to the hearing of our cause, to mollify your mind, now indeed turned away and estranged from us,—I add, even inflamed against us,—but whose good will, we are confident, we should regain, would you but once with calmness and composure read this our Confession, which we desire your Majesty to accept instead of a defense. But if the whispers of the malevolent so possess your ear that the accused are to have no opportunity of pleading their cause; if those vindictive furies, with your connivance, are always to rage with bonds, scourgings, tortures, maimings, and burnings—we indeed, like sheep doomed to [Pg 3123] slaughter, shall be reduced to every extremity; yet so that in our patience we will possess our souls, and wait for the strong hand of the Lord, which doubtless will appear in its own time, and show itself armed, both to rescue the poor from affliction and also take vengeance on the despisers, who are now exulting so securely.

Most illustrious King, may the Lord, the King of kings, establish your throne in righteousness and your sceptre in equity.

Basle, August 1st, 1536.


From the 'Institutes of the Christian Religion'

The human mind when it hears this doctrine of election cannot restrain its petulance, but boils and rages as if aroused by the sound of a trumpet. Many, professing a desire to defend the Deity from an invidious charge, admit the doctrine of election but deny that any one is reprobated (Bernard, in 'Die Ascensionis,' Serm. 2). This they do ignorantly and childishly, since there could be no election without its opposite, reprobation. God is said to set apart those whom he adopts for salvation. It were most absurd to say that he admits others fortuitously, or that they by their industry acquire what election alone confers on a few. Those therefore whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children. Nor is it possible to tolerate the petulance of men in refusing to be restrained by the word of God, in regard to his incomprehensible counsel, which even angels adore.

We have already been told that hardening is not less under the immediate hand of God than mercy. Paul does not, after the example of those whom I have mentioned, labor anxiously to defend God by calling in the aid of falsehood; he only reminds us that it is unlawful for the creature to quarrel with its Creator. Then how will those who refuse to admit that any are reprobated by God, explain the following words of Christ? "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up" (Matth. xv. 13). They are plainly told that all whom the heavenly Father has not been pleased to plant as sacred trees in his garden are doomed and devoted to destruction. [Pg 3124] If they deny that this is a sign of reprobation, there is nothing, however clear, that can be proved to them. But if they will still murmur, let us in the soberness of faith rest contented with the admonition of Paul, that it can be no ground of complaint that God, "willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Rom. ix. 22, 23). Let my readers observe that Paul, to cut off all handle for murmuring and detraction, attributes supreme sovereignty to the wrath and power of God; for it were unjust that those profound judgments which transcend all our powers of discernment should be subjected to our calculation.

It is frivolous in our opponents to reply that God does not altogether reject those whom in lenity he tolerates, but remains in suspense with regard to them, if peradventure they may repent; as if Paul were representing God as patiently waiting for the conversion of those whom he describes as fitted for destruction. For Augustine, rightly expounding this passage, says that where power is united to endurance, God does not permit, but rules (August. Cont. Julian., Lib. v., c. 5). They add also, that it is not without cause the vessels of wrath are said to be fitted for destruction, and that God is said to have prepared the vessels of mercy, because in this way the praise of salvation is claimed for God; whereas the blame of perdition is thrown upon those who of their own accord bring it upon themselves. But were I to concede that by the different forms of expression Paul softens the harshness of the former clause, it by no means follows that he transfers the preparation for destruction to any other cause than the secret counsel of God. This indeed is asserted in the preceding context, where God is said to have raised up Pharaoh, and to harden whom he will. Hence it follows that the hidden counsel of God is the cause of hardening. I at least hold with Augustine, that when God makes sheep out of wolves he forms them again by the powerful influence of grace, that their hardness may thus be subdued; and that he does not convert the obstinate, because he does not exert that more powerful grace, a grace which he has at command if he were disposed to use it (August, de Prædest. Sanct., Lib. i., c. 2)....

Facsimile, somewhat reduced, of a page of the VATICAN MANUSCRIPT.

Fourth Century.                                         Vatican Library.

The Septuagint is the Greek translation, by seventy elders, of the Hebrew Bible.

The earlier copies are all in uncial or "capital" letters, cursive or "lower-case" letters being a later invention.

This is a good specimen of the hand-work of the ecclesiastical scribes of the fourth century.


[Pg 3125]Accordingly, when we are accosted in such terms as these: Why did God from the first predestine some to death, when as they were not yet in existence, they could not have merited sentence of death?—let us by way of reply ask in our turn, What do you imagine that God owes to man, if he is pleased to estimate him by his own nature? As we are all vitiated by sin, we cannot but be hateful to God, and that not from tyrannical cruelty, but the strictest justice. But if all whom the Lord predestines to death are naturally liable to sentence of death, of what injustice, pray, do they complain? Should all the sons of Adam come to dispute and contend with their Creator, because by his eternal providence they were before their birth doomed to perpetual destruction: when God comes to reckon with them, what will they be able to mutter against this defense? If all are taken from a corrupt mass, it is not strange that all are subject to condemnation. Let them not therefore charge God with injustice, if by his eternal judgment they are doomed to a death to which they themselves feel that, whether they will or not, they are drawn spontaneously by their own nature. Hence it appears how perverse is this affectation of murmuring, when of set purpose they suppress the cause of condemnation which they are compelled to recognize in themselves, that they may lay the blame upon God. But though I should confess a hundred times that God is the author (and it is most certain that he is), they do not however thereby efface their own guilt, which, engraven on their own consciences, is ever and anon presenting itself to their view....

If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.

They deny that it is ever said in distinct terms, God decreed that Adam should perish by his revolt. As if the same God who is declared in Scripture to do whatsoever he pleases could have made the noblest of his creatures without any special purpose. They say that, in accordance with free will, he was to be the architect of his own fortune; that God had decreed nothing but to treat him according to his desert. If this frigid fiction [Pg 3126] is received, where will be the omnipotence of God, by which, according to his secret counsel on which everything depends, he rules over all? But whether they will allow it or not, predestination is manifest in Adam's posterity. It was not owing to nature that they all lost salvation by the fault of one parent. Why should they refuse to admit with regard to one man that which against their will they admit with regard to the whole human race? Why should they in caviling lose their labor? Scripture proclaims that all were, in the person of one, made liable to eternal death. As this cannot be ascribed to nature, it is plain that it is owing to the wonderful counsel of God. It is very absurd in these worthy defenders of the justice of God to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy, unless that it so seemed meet to God? Here the most loquacious tongues must be dumb. The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination. Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity, but also at his own pleasure arranged it. For as it belongs to his wisdom to foreknow all future events, so it belongs to his power to rule and govern them by his hand.

[Pg 3127]


From the 'Institutes of the Christian Religion'

God has provided the soul of man with intellect, by which he might discern good from evil, just from unjust, and might know what to follow or to shun, reason going before with her lamp; whence philosophers, in reference to her directing power, have called her [Greek: to hêgemonichon]. To this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and judgment not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness. Thereafter choice was added to direct the appetites and temper all the organic motions; the will being thus perfectly submissive to the authority of reason. In this upright state, man possessed freedom of will, by which if he chose he was able to obtain eternal life. It were here unseasonable to introduce the question concerning the secret predestination of God, because we are not considering what might or might not happen, but what the nature of man truly was. Adam, therefore, might have stood if he chose, since it was only by his own will that he fell; but it was because his will was pliable in either direction, and he had not received constancy to persevere, that he so easily fell. Still he had a free choice of good and evil; and not only so, but in the mind and will there was the highest rectitude, and all the organic parts were duly framed to obedience, until man corrupted its good properties, and destroyed himself. Hence the great darkness of philosophers who have looked for a complete building in a ruin, and fit arrangement in disorder. The principle they set out with was, that man could not be a rational animal unless he had a free choice of good and evil. They also imagined that the distinction between virtue and vice was destroyed, if man did not of his own counsel arrange his life. So far well, had there been no change in man. This being unknown to them, it is not surprising that they throw everything into confusion. But those who, while they profess to be the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual destruction, labor under manifold delusion, making a heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both. But it will be better [Pg 3128] to leave these things to their own place. At present it is necessary only to remember that man at his first creation was very different from all his posterity; who, deriving their origin from him after he was corrupted, received a hereditary taint. At first every part of the soul was formed to rectitude. There was soundness of mind and freedom of will to choose the good. If any one objects that it was placed, as it were, in a slippery position because its power was weak, I answer, that the degree conferred was sufficient to take away every excuse. For surely the Deity could not be tied down to this condition,—to make man such that he either could not or would not sin. Such a nature might have been more excellent; but to expostulate with God as if he had been bound to confer this nature on man, is more than unjust, seeing he had full right to determine how much or how little he would give. Why he did not sustain him by the virtue of perseverance is hidden in his counsel; it is ours to keep within the bounds of soberness. Man had received the power, if he had the will, but he had not the will which would have given the power; for this will would have been followed by perseverance. Still, after he had received so much, there is no excuse for his having spontaneously brought death upon himself. No necessity was laid upon God to give him more than that intermediate and even transient will, that out of man's fall he might extract materials for his own glory.

[Pg 3129]





ortuguese literature is usually divided into six periods, which correspond, in the main, to the successive literary movements of the other Romance nations which it followed.

First Period (1200-1385), Provençal and French influences. Soon after the founding of the Portuguese State by Henry of Burgundy and his knights in the beginning of the twelfth century, the nobles of Portugal and Galicia, which regions form a unit in race and speech, began to imitate in their native idiom the art of the Provençal troubadours who visited the courts of Leon and Castile. This courtly lyric poetry in the Gallego-Portuguese dialect, which was also cultivated in the rest of the peninsula excepting the East, reached its height under Alphonso X. of Castile (1252-84), himself a noted poet and patron of this art, and under King Dionysius of Portugal (1279-1325), the most gifted of all these troubadours. The collections (cancioneiros) of the works of this school preserved to us contain the names of one hundred and sixty-three poets and some two thousand compositions (inclusive of the four hundred and one spiritual songs of Alphonso X.). Of this body of verse, two-thirds affect the artificial style of Provençal lyrics, while one-third is derived from the indigenous popular poetry. This latter part contains the so-called cantigas de amigo, songs of charming simplicity of form and naïveté of spirit in which a woman addresses her lover either in a monologue or in a dialogue. It is this native poetry, still echoed in the modern folk-song of Galicia and Portugal, that imparted to the Gallego-Portuguese lyric school the decidedly original coloring and vigorous growth which assign it an independent position in the mediæval literature of the Romance nations.

Composition in prose also began in this period, consisting chiefly in genealogies, chronicles, and in translations from Latin and French dealing with religious subjects and the romantic traditions of British origin, such as the 'Demanda do Santo Graal.' It is now almost certain that the original of the Spanish version of the 'Amadis de Gaula' (1480) was the work of a Portuguese troubadour of the thirteenth century, Joam de Lobeira.

Second Period (1385-1521), Spanish influence. Instead of the Provençal style, the courtly circles now began to cultivate the native popular forms, the copla and quadra, and to compose in the dialect [Pg 3130] of Castile, which communicated to them the influence of the Italian Renaissance, with the vision and allegory of Dante and a fuller understanding of classical antiquity. These two literary currents became the formative elements of the second poetic school of an aristocratic character in Portugal, at the courts of Alphonse V. (1438-1481), John II. (1481-95), and Emanuel (1495-1521), whose works were collected by the poet Garcia de Resende in the 'Cancioneiro Geral' (Lisbon, 1516).

The prose-literature of this period is rich in translations from the Latin classics, and chiefly noteworthy for the great Portuguese chronicles which it produced. The most prominent writer was Fernam Lopes (1454), the founder of Portuguese historiography and the "father of Portuguese prose."

Third Period (1521-1580), Italian influence. This is the classic epoch of Portuguese literature, born of the powerful rise of the Portuguese State during its period of discovery and conquest, and of the dominant influence of the Italian Renaissance. It opens with three authors who were prominently active in the preceding literary school, but whose principal influence lies in this. These are Christovam Falcão and Bernardim Ribeiro, the founders of the bucolic poem and the sentimental pastoral romance, and Gil Vicente, a comic writer of superior talent, who is called the father of the Portuguese drama, and who, next to Camoens, is the greatest figure of this period. Its real initiator, however, was Francesco Sa' de Miranda (1495-1557) who, on his return from a six-years' study in Italy in 1521, introduced the lyric forms of Petrarch and his followers as the only true models for composition. Besides giving by his example a classic form to lyrics, especially to the sonnet, and cultivating the pastoral poem, Sa' de Miranda, desirous of breaking the influence of Gil Vicente's dramas, wrote two comedies of intrigue in the style of the Italians and of Plautus and Terence. His attempts in this direction, however, found no followers, the only exception being Ferreira's tragedy 'Ines de Castro' in the antique style. The greatest poet of this period, and indeed in the whole history of Portuguese literature, is Luiz de Camoens, in whose works, epic, lyric, and dramatic, the cultivation of the two literary currents of this epoch, the national and the Renaissance, attained to its highest perfection, and to whom Portuguese literature chiefly owes its place in the literature of the world.

Among the works in prose produced during this time are of especial importance the historical writings, such as the 'Décadas' of João de Barros (1496-1570), the "Livy of Portugal" and the numerous romances of chivalry.


Fourth Period (1580-1700), Culteranistic influence. The political decline of Portugal is accompanied by one in its literature. While some lyric poetry is still written in the spirit of Camoens, and the [Pg 3131] pastoral romance in the national style is cultivated by some authors, Portuguese literature on the whole is completely under the influence of the Spanish, receiving from the latter the euphuistic movement, known in Spain as culteranismo or Gongorismo. Many writers of talent of this time used the Spanish language in preference to their own. It is thus that the charming pastoral poem 'Diana,' by Jorge de Montemor, though composed by a Portuguese and in a vein so peculiar to his nation, is credited to Spanish literature.

Fifth Period (1700-1825), Pseudo-Classicism. The influence of the French classic school, felt in all European literatures, became paramount in Portugal. Excepting the works of a few talented members of the society called "Arcadia," little of literary interest was produced until the appearance, at the end of the century, of Francisco Manoel de Nascimento and Manoel Maria Barbosa du Bocage, two poets of decided talent who connect this period with the following.

Sixth Period (since 1825), Romanticism. The initiator of this movement in Portugal was Almeida-Garrett (1799-1854), with Gil Vicente and Camoens one of the three great poets Portugal has produced, who revived and strengthened the sense of national life in his country by his 'Camoens,' an epic of glowing patriotism published during his exile in 1825, by his national dramas, and by the collection of the popular traditions of his people, which he began and which has since been zealously continued in all parts of the country. The second influential leader of romanticism was Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877), great especially as national historian, but also a novelist and poet of superior merit. The labors of these two men bore fruit, since the middle of the century, in what may be termed an intellectual renovation of Portugal which first found expression in the so-called Coimbra School, and has since been supported by such men as Theophilo Braga, F. Adolpho Coelho, Joaquim de Vasconcellos, J. Leite de Vasconcellos, and others, whose life-work is devoted to the conviction that only a thorough and critical study of their country's past can inspire its literature with new life and vigor and maintain the sense of national independence.

Luiz Vaz De Camoens, Portugal's greatest poet and patriot, was born in 1524 or 1525, most probably at Coimbra, as the son of Simão Vaz de Camoens and Donna Anna de Macedo of Santarem. Through his father, a cavalleiro fidalgo, or untitled nobleman, who was related with Vasco da Gama, Camoens descended from an ancient and once influential noble family of Galician origin. He spent his youth at Coimbra, and though his name is not found in the registers of the university, which had been removed to that city in 1537, and of which his uncle, Bento de Camoens, prior of the monastery of [Pg 3132] Santa Cruz, was made chancellor in 1539, it was presumably in that institution, then justly famous, that the highly gifted youth acquired his uncommon familiarity with the classics and with the literatures of Spain, Italy, and that of his own country. In 1542 we find Camoens exchanging his alma mater for the gay and brilliant court of John III., then at Lisbon, where his gentle birth, his poetic genius, and his fine personal appearance brought him much favor, especially with the fair sex, while his independent bearing and indiscreet speech aroused the jealousy and enmity of his rivals. Here he woos and wins the damsels of the palace until a high-born lady in attendance upon the Queen, Donna Catharina de Athaide,—whom, like Petrarch, he claims to have first seen on Good Friday in church, and who is celebrated in his poems under the anagram of Natercia,—inspires him with a deep and enduring passion. Irritated by the intrigues employed by his enemies to mar his prospects, the impetuous youth commits imprudent acts which lead to his banishment from the city in 1546. For about a year he lives in enforced retirement on the Upper Tagus (Ribatejo), pouring out his profound passion and grief in a number of beautiful sonnets and elegies. Most likely in consequence of some new offense, he is next exiled for two years to Ceuta in Africa, where, in a fight with the Moors, he loses his right eye by a chance splinter. Meeting on his return to Lisbon in 1547 neither with pardon for his indiscretions nor with recognition for his services and poetic talent, he allows his keen resentment of this unjust treatment to impel him into the reckless and turbulent life of a bully. It was thus that during the festival of Corpus Christi in 1552 he got into a quarrel with Gonçalo Borges, one of the King's equerries, in which he wounded the latter. For this Camoens was thrown into jail until March, 1553, when he was released only on condition that he should embark to serve in India. Not quite two weeks after leaving his prison, on March 24th, he sailed for India on the flag-ship Sam Bento, bidding, as a true Renaissance poet, farewell to his native land in the words of Scipio which were to come true: "Ingrata patria non possidebis ossa mea." After a stormy passage of six months, the Sam Bento cast anchor in the bay of Goa. Camoens first took part in an expedition against the King of Pimenta, and in the following year (1554) he joined another directed against the Moorish pirates on the coast of Africa. The scenes of drunkenness and dissoluteness which he witnessed in Goa inspired him with a number of satirical poems, by which he drew upon himself much enmity and persecution. In 1556 his three-years' term of service expired; but though ardently longing for his beloved native land, he remained in Goa, influenced either by his bent for the soldier's life or by the sad news of the death of Donna Catharina de Athaide in[Pg 3133] that year. He was ordered to Macao in China, to the lucrative post of commissary for the effects of deceased or absent Portuguese subjects. There, in the quietude of a grotto near Macao, still called the Grotto of Camoens, the exiled poet finished the first six cantos of his great epic 'The Lusiads.' Recalled from this post in 1558, before the expiration of his term, on the charge of malversation of office, Camoens on his return voyage to Goa was shipwrecked near the mouth of the Me-Kong, saving nothing but his faithful Javanese slave and the manuscript of his 'Lusiads'—which, swimming with one hand, he held above the water with the other. In Cambodia, where he remained several months, he wrote his marvelous paraphrase of the 137th psalm, contrasting under the allegory of Babel (Babylon) and Siam (Zion), Goa and Lisbon. Upon his return to Goa he was cast into prison, but soon set free on proving his innocence by a public trial. Though receiving, in 1557, another lucrative employment, Camoens finally resolved to go home, burning with the desire to lay his patriotic song, now almost completed, before his nation, and to cover with honor his injured name.

He accepted a passage to Sofala offered him by Pedro Barreto, who had become viceroy of Mozambique in that year. Unable to refund the amount of the passage, he was once more held for debt and spent two years of misery and distress in Mozambique, completing and polishing during this time his great epic song and preparing the collection of his lyrics, his 'Parnasso.' In 1559 he was released by the historian Diogo do Couto and other friends of his, visiting Sofala with the expedition of Noronha, and embarked on the Santa Clara for Lisbon.

On the 7th of April, 1570, Camoens once more set foot on his native soil, only to find the city for which he had yearned, sadly changed. The government was in the hands of a brave but harebrained and fanatic young monarch, ruled by the Jesuits; the capital had been ravaged by a terrible plague which had carried off fifty thousand souls; and its society had no room for a man who brought with him from the Indies, whence so many returned with great riches, nothing but a manuscript, though in it was sung in classic verse the glory of his people. Still, through the kind offices of his warm friend Dom Manoel de Portugal, Camoens obtained, on the 25th of September, 1571, the royal permission to print his epic. It was published in the spring of the following year (March, 1572). Great as was the success of the work, which marked a new epoch in Portuguese history, the reward which the poet received for it was meagre. King Sebastian granted him an annual pension of fifteen thousand reis (fifteen dollars, which then had the purchasing value of about sixty dollars in our money), which, after the poet's death, was ordered by Philip II. to be paid to[Pg 3134] his aged mother. Destitute and broken in spirit, Camoens lived for the last eight years of his life with his mother in a humble house near the convent of Santa Ana, "in the knowledge of many and in the society of few." Dom Sebastian's departure early in 1578 for the conquest in Africa once more kindled patriotic hopes in his breast; but the terrible defeat at Alcazarquivir (August 4th of the same year), in which Portugal lost her king and her army, broke his heart. He died on the 10th of June, 1580, at which time the army of Philip II., under the command of the Duke of Alva, was marching upon Lisbon. He was thus spared the cruel blow of seeing, though not of foreseeing, the national death of his country. The story that his Javanese slave Antonio used to go out at night to beg of passers-by alms for his master, is one of a number of touching legends which, as early as 1572, popular fancy had begun to weave around the poet's life. It is true, however, that Camoens breathed his last in dire distress and isolation, and was buried "poorly and plebeianly" in the neighboring convent of Santa Ana. It was not until sixteen years later that a friend of his, Dom Gonçalo Coutinho, caused his grave to be marked with a marble slab bearing the inscription:—"Here lies Luis de Camoens, Prince of the Poets of his time. He died in the year 1579. This tomb was placed for him by order of D. Gonçalo Coutinho, and none shall be buried in it." The words "He lived poor and neglected, and so died," which in the popular tradition form part of this inscription, are apocryphal, though entirely in conformity with the facts. The correctness of 1580 instead of 1579 as the year of the poet's death is proven by an official document in the archives of Philip II. Both the memorial slab and the convent-church of Santa Ana were destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and during the rebuilding of the convent, and the identification of the remains of the great man thus rendered well-nigh impossible. In 1854, however, all the bones found under the floor of the convent-church were placed in a coffin of Brazil-wood and solemnly deposited in the convent at Belem, the Pantheon of King Emanuel. In 1867 a statue was erected to Camoens by the city of Lisbon.

'The Lusiads' (Portuguese, Os Lusiadas), a patronymic adopted by Camoens in place of the usual term Lusitanos, the descendants of Lusus (the mythical ancestor of the Portuguese), is an epic poem which, as its name implies, has for its subject the heroic deeds not of one hero, but of the whole Portuguese nation. Vasco da Gama's discovery of the way to the East Indies forms, to be sure, the central part of its action; but around it are grouped, with consummate art, the heroic deeds and destinies of the other Lusitanians. In this, Camoens' work stands alone among all poems of its kind. Originating under conditions similar to those which are indispensable to the[Pg 3135] production of a true epic, in the heroic period of the Portuguese people, when national sentiment had risen to its highest point, it is the only one among the modern epopees which comes near to the primitive character of epic poetry. A trait which distinguishes this epic from all its predecessors is the historic truthfulness with which Camoens confessedly—"A verdade que eu conto nua e pura Vence toda a grandiloqua escriptura"—represents his heroic personages and their exploits, tempering his praise with blame where blame is due, and the unquestioned fidelity and exactness with which he depicts natural scenes. Lest, however, this adherence to historic truth should impair the vivifying element of imagination indispensable to true poetry, our bard, combining in the true spirit of the Renaissance myth and miracle, threw around his narrative the allegorical drapery of pagan mythology, introducing the gods and goddesses of Olympus as siding with or against the Portuguese heroes, and thus calling the imagination of the reader into more active play. Among the many beautiful inventions of his own creative fancy with which Camoens has adorned his poem, we shall only mention the powerful impersonation of the Cape of Storms in the Giant Adamastor (c. v.), an episode used by Meyerbeer in his opera 'L'Africaine,' and the enchanting scene of the Isle of Love (c. ix.), as characteristic of the poet's delicacy of touch as it is of his Portuguese temperament, in which Venus provides for the merited reward and the continuance of the brave sons of Lusus. For the metric form of his verse, Camoens adopted the octave rhyme of Ariosto, while for his epic style he followed Virgil, from whom many a simile and phrase is directly borrowed. His poem, justly admired for the elegant simplicity, the purity and harmony of its diction, bears throughout the deep imprint of his own powerful and noble personality, that independence and magnanimity of spirit, that fortitude of soul, that genuine and glowing patriotism which alone, amid all the disappointments and dangers, the dire distress and the foibles and faults of his life, could enable him to give his mind and heart steadfastly to the fulfillment of the lofty patriotic task he had set his genius,—the creation of a lasting monument to the heroic deeds of his race. It is thus that through 'The Lusiads' Camoens became the moral bond of the national individuality of his people, and inspired it with the energy to rise free once more out of Spanish subjection.

Lyrics. Here, Camoens is hardly less great than as an epic poet, whether we consider the nobility, depth, and fervor of the sentiments filling his songs, or the artistic perfection, the rich variety of form, and the melody of his verse. His lyric works fall into two main classes, those written in Italian metres and those in the traditional trochaic lines and strophic forms of the Spanish peninsula. The first class is contained in the 'Parnasso,' which comprises 356[Pg 3136] sonnets, 22 canzones, 27 elegies, 12 odes, 8 octaves, and 15 idyls, all of which testify to the great influence of the Italian school, and especially of Petrarch, on our poet. The second class is embodied in the 'Cancioneiro,' or song-book, and embraces more than one hundred and fifty compositions in the national peninsular manner. Together, these two collections form a body of lyric verse of such richness and variety as neither Petrarch and Tasso nor Garcilaso de la Vega can offer. Unfortunately, Camoens never prepared an edition of his Rimas; and the manuscript, which, as Diogo do Couto tells us, he arranged during his sojourn in Mozambique from 1567 to 1569, is said to have been stolen. It was not until 1595, fully fifteen years after the poet's death, that one of his disciples and admirers, Fernão Rodrigues Lobo Soropita, collected from Portugal, and even from India, and published in Lisbon, a volume of one hundred and seventy-two songs, four of which, however, are not by Camoens. The great mass of verse we now possess has been gathered during the last three centuries. More may still be discovered, while, on the other hand, much of what is now attributed to Camoens does not belong to him, and the question how much of the extant material is genuine is yet to be definitely answered.

In his lyrics, Camoens has depicted, with all the passion and power of his impressionable temperament, the varied experiences and emotions of his eventful life. This variety and change of sentiments and situations, while greatly enhancing the value of his songs by the impression of fuller truth and individuality which they produce, is in so far disadvantageous to a just appreciation of them, as it naturally brings with it much verse of inferior poetic merit, and lacks that harmony and unity of emotion which Petrarch was able to effect in his Rime by confining himself to the portraiture of a lover's soul.

Drama. In his youth, most likely during his life at court between 1542 and 1546, Camoens wrote three comedies of much freshness and verve, in which he surpassed all the Portuguese plays in the national taste produced up to his time. One, 'Filodemo,' derives its plot from a mediæval novel; the other two, 'Rei Seleuco' (King Seleucus) and 'Amphitryões,' from antiquity. The last named, a free imitation of Plautus's 'Amphitryo,' is by far the best play of the three. In these comedies we can recognize an attempt on the part of the author to fuse the imperfect play in the national taste, such as it had been cultivated by Gil Vicente, with the more regular but lifeless pieces of the classicists, and thus to create a superior form of national comedy. In this endeavor, however, Camoens found no followers.

Bibliography. The most complete edition of the works of Camoens is that by the Viscount de Juromenha, 'Obras de Luiz de Camões,' (6 vols., Lisbon, 1860-70); a more convenient edition is the one by[Pg 3137] Th. Braga (in 'Bibliotheca da Actualidade,' 3 vols., Porto, 1874). The best separate edition of the text of 'The Lusiads' is by F.A. Coelho (Lisbon, 1880). Camoens' lyric and dramatic works are published in his collected works, no separate editions of them existing thus far. In regard to the life and works of Camoens in general cf. Adamson, 'Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Camoens' (2 vols., London, 1820); Th. Braga, 'Historia de Camoens' (3 vols., Porto, 1873-75); Latino Coelho, 'Luiz de Camoens' (in the 'Galeria de varões illustres,' i., Lisbon, 1880); J. de Vasconcellos, 'Bibliographia Camoniana' (Porto, 1880); Brito Aranha, 'Estudos Bibliographicos' (Lisbon, 1887-8); W. Storck, 'Luis' de Camoens Leben' (Paderborn, 1890); and especially the judicious and impartial article by Mrs. Carolina Michaelis de Vasconcellos in Vol. ii. of Gröber's 'Grundriss der romanischen Philologie' (Strassburg, 1894). The best translations of Camoens' works are the one by W. Storck, 'Camoens' Sämmtliche Gedichte, 6 vols., Paderborn, 1880-85), into German, and the one by R.F. Burton, who has also written on the life of the poet, 'The Lusiads' (2 vols., London, 1880), and 'The Lyricks' (3 vols., London, 1884, containing only those in Italian metres), into English. The extracts given below are from Burton.

Henry R. Lang


Canto I

The feats of Arms, and famed heroick Host,
from occidental Lusitanian strand,
who o'er the waters ne'er by seaman crost,
fared beyond the Taprobane-land,
forceful in perils and in battle-post,
with more than promised force of mortal hand;
and in the regions of a distant race
rear'd a new throne so haught in Pride of Place:
And, eke, the Kings of mem'ory grand and glorious,
who hied them Holy Faith and Reign to spread,
converting, conquering, and in lands notorious,
Africk and Asia, devastation made;
nor less the Lieges who by deeds memorious
brake from the doom that binds the vulgar dead;
my song would sound o'er Earth's extremest part
were mine the genius, mine the Poet's art.
[Pg 3138]
Cease the sage Grecian, and the man of Troy
to vaunt long voyage made in by-gone day:
Cease Alexander, Trojan cease to 'joy
the fame of vict'ories that have pass'd away:
The noble Lusian's stouter breast sing I,
whom Mars and Neptune dared not disobey:
Cease all that antique Muse hath sung, for now
a better Brav'ry rears its bolder brow.
And you, my Tagian Nymphs, who have create
in me new purpose with new genius firing;
if 'twas my joy whilere to celebrate
your founts and stream my humble song inspiring;
Oh! lend me here a noble strain elate,
a style grandiloquent that flows untiring;
so shall Apollo for your waves ordain ye
in name and fame ne'er envy Hippokréné.
Grant me sonorous accents, fire-abounding,
now serves ne peasant's pipe, ne rustick reed;
but blasts of trumpet, long and loud resounding,
that 'flameth heart and hue to fiery deed:
Grant me high strains to suit their Gestes astounding,
your Sons, who aided Mars in martial need;
that o'er the world he sung the glorious song,
if theme so lofty may to verse belong.
And Thou! O goodly omen'd trust, all-dear[1]
to Lusitania's olden liberty,
whereon assurèd esperance we rear
enforced to see our frail Christianity:
Thou, O new terror to the Moorish spear,
the fated marvel of our century,
to govern worlds of men by God so given,
that the world's best be given to God and Heaven:
Thou young, thou tender, ever-flourishing bough,
true scion of tree by Christ belovèd more
than aught that Occident did ever know,
"Cæsarian" or "Most Christian" styled before:
Look on thy 'scutcheon, and behold it show
the present Vict'ory long past ages bore;
Arms which He gave and made thine own to be
by Him assurèd on the fatal tree:[2]
[Pg 3139]
Thou, mighty Sovran! o'er whose lofty reign
the rising Sun rains earliest smile of light;
sees it from middle firmamental plain;
And sights it sinking on the breast of Night:
Thou, whom we hope to hail the blight, the bane
of the dishonour'd Ishmaëlitish knight;
and Orient Turk, and Gentoo—misbeliever
that drinks the liquor of the Sacred River:[3]
Incline awhile, I pray, that majesty
which in thy tender years I see thus ample,
E'en now prefiguring full maturity
that shall be shrined in Fame's eternal temple:
Those royal eyne that beam benignity
bend on low earth: Behold a new ensample
of hero hearts with patriot pride inflamèd,
in number'd verses manifold proclaimèd.
Thou shalt see Love of Land that ne'er shall own
lust of vile lucre; soaring towards th' Eternal:
For 'tis no light ambition to be known
th' acclaimed herald of my nest paternal.
Hear; thou shalt see the great names greater grown
of Vavasors who hail the Lord Supernal:
So shalt thou judge which were the higher station,
King of the world or Lord of such a nation.
Hark, for with vauntings vain thou shalt not view
phantastical, fictitious, lying deed
of lieges lauded, as strange Muses do,
seeking their fond and foolish pride to feed
Thine acts so forceful are, told simply true,
all fabled, dreamy feats they far exceed;
exceeding Rodomont, and Ruggiero vain,
and Roland haply born of Poet's brain.
For these I give thee a Nuno, fierce in fight,
who for his King and Country freely bled;
an Egas and a Fuas; fain I might
for them my lay with harp Homeric wed!
For the twelve peerless Peers again I cite
the Twelve of England by Magriço led:
Nay, more, I give thee Gama's noble name,
who for himself claims all Æneas' fame.
[Pg 3140]
And if in change for royal Charles of France,
or rivalling Cæsar's mem'ories thou wouldst trow,
the first Afonso see, whose conquering lance
lays highest boast of stranger glories low:
See him who left his realm th' inheritance
fair Safety, born of wars that crusht the foe:
That other John, a knight no fear deter'd,
the fourth and fifth Afonso, and the third.
Nor shall they silent in my song remain,
they who in regions there where Dawns arise,
by Acts of Arms such glories toil'd to gain,
where thine unvanquisht flag for ever flies,
Pacheco, brave of braves; th' Almeidas twain,
whom Tagus mourns with ever-weeping eyes;
dread Albuquerque, Castro stark and brave,
with more, the victors of the very grave.
But, singing these, of thee I may not sing,
O King sublime! such theme I fain must fear.
Take of thy reign the reins, so shall my King
create a poesy new to mortal ear:
E'en now the mighty burthen here I ring
(and speed its terrors over all the sphere!)
of sing'ular prowess, War's own prodigies,
in Africk regions and on Orient seas.
Casteth on thee the Moor eyne cold with fright,
in whom his coming doom he views designèd:
The barb'rous Gentoo, sole to see thy sight
yields to thy yoke the neck e'en now inclinèd;
Tethys, of azure seas the sovran right,
her realm, in dowry hath to thee resignèd;
and by thy noble tender beauty won,
would bribe and buy thee to become her son.
In thee from high Olympick halls behold
themselves, thy grandsires' sprites; far-famèd pair;[4]
this clad in Peacetide's angel-robe of gold,
that crimson-hued with paint of battle-glare:
By thee they hope to see their tale twice told,
their lofty mem'ries live again; and there,
when Time thy years shall end, for thee they 'sign
a seat where soareth Fame's eternal shrine.
[Pg 3141]
But, sithence ancient Time slow minutes by
ere ruled the Peoples who desire such boon;
bend on my novel rashness favouring eye,
that these my verses may become thine own:
So shalt thou see thine Argonauts o'erfly
yon salty argent, when they see it shown
thou seest their labours on the raging sea:
Learn even now invok'd of man to be.[5]

Canto III

Now, my Calliope! to teach incline
what speech great Gama for the king did frame:
Inspire immortal song, grant voice divine
unto this mortal who so loves thy name.
Thus may the God whose gift was Medicine,
to whom thou barest Orpheus, lovely Dame!
never for Daphne, Clytia, Leucothoe
due love deny thee or inconstant grow he.
Satisfy, Nymph! desires that in me teem,
to sing the merits of thy Lusians brave;
so worlds shall see and say that Tagus-stream
rolls Aganippe's liquor. Leave, I crave,
leave flow'ry Pindus-head; e'en now I deem
Apollo bathes me in that sovran wave;
else must I hold it, that thy gentle sprite,
fears thy dear Orpheus fade through me from sight.
All stood with open ears in long array
to hear what mighty Gama mote unfold;
when, past in thoughtful mood a brief delay,
began he thus with brow high-raised and bold:—
"Thou biddest me, O King! to say my say
anent our grand genealogy of old:
Thou bidd'st me not relate an alien story;
Thou bidd'st me laud my brother Lusian's glory.
"That one praise others' exploits and renown
is honour'd custom which we all desire;
yet fear I 'tis unfit to praise mine own;
lest praise, like this suspect, no trust inspire;
nor may I hope to make all matters known
for Time however long were short; yet, sire!
as thou commandest all is owed to thee;
maugre my will I speak and brief will be.
[Pg 3142]
"Nay, more, what most obligeth me, in fine,
is that no leasing in my tale may dwell;
for of such Feats whatever boast be mine,
when most is told, remaineth much to tell:
But that due order wait on the design,
e'en as desirest thou to learn full well,
the wide-spread Continent first I'll briefly trace,
then the fierce bloody wars that waged my race.

"Lo! here her presence showeth noble Spain,
of Europe's body corporal the head;
o'er whose home-rule, and glorious foreign reign,
the fatal Wheel so many a whirl hath made;
Yet ne'er her Past or force or fraud shall stain,
nor restless Fortune shall her name degrade;
no bonds her bellic offspring bind so tight
but it shall burst them with its force of sprite.
"There, facing Tingitania's shore, she seemeth
to block and bar the Med'iterranean wave,
where the known Strait its name ennobled deemeth
by the last labour of the Theban Brave.
Big with the burthen of her tribes she teemeth,
circled by whelming waves that rage and rave;
all noble races of such valiant breast,
that each may justly boast itself the best.
"Hers the Tarragonese who, famed in war,
made aye-perturbed Parthenopé obey;
the twain Asturias, and the haught Navarre
twin Christian bulwarks on the Moslem way:
Hers the Gallego canny, and the rare
Castilian, whom his star raised high to sway
Spain as her saviour, and his seign'iory feel
Bætis, Leon, Granada, and Castile.
"See, the head-crowning coronet is she
of general Europe, Lusitania's reign,
where endeth land and where beginneth sea,
and Phœbus sinks to rest upon the main.
[Pg 3143]Willed her the Heavens with all-just decree
by wars to mar th' ignoble Mauritan,
to cast him from herself: nor there consent
he rule in peace the Fiery Continent.
"This is my happy land, my home, my pride;
where, if the Heav'ens but grant the pray'er I pray
for glad return and every risk defied,
there may my life-light fail and fade away.
This was the Lusitania, name applied
by Lusus or by Lysa, sons, they say,
of antient Bacchus, or his boon compeers,
eke the first dwellers of her eldest years.
"Here sprang the Shepherd,[6] in whose name we see
forecast of virile might, of virtuous meed;
whose fame no force shall ever hold in fee,
since fame of mighty Rome ne'er did the deed.
This, by light Heaven's volatile decree,
that antient Scyther, who devours his seed,
made puissant pow'er in many a part to claim,
assuming regal rank; and thus it came:—
"A King there was in Spain, Afonso hight,
who waged such warfare with the Saracen,
that by his 'sanguined arms, and arts, and might,
he spoiled the lands and lives of many men.
When from Hercùlean Calpè winged her flight
his fame to Caucasus Mount and Caspian glen,
many a knight, who noblesse coveteth,
comes offering service to such King and Death.
"And with intrinsic love inflamèd more
for the True Faith, than honours popular,
they troopèd, gath'ering from each distant shore,
leaving their dear-loved homes and lands afar.
When with high feats of force against the Moor
they proved of sing'ular worth in Holy War,
willèd Afonso that their mighty deeds
commens'urate gifts command and equal meeds.
[Pg 3144]
"'Mid them Henrique, second son, men say,
of a Hungarian King, well-known and tried,
by sort won Portugal which, in his day,
ne prizèd was ne had fit cause for pride:
His strong affection stronger to display
the Spanish King decreed a princely bride,
his only child, Teresa, to the count;
And with her made him Seigneur Paramount.
"This doughty Vassal from that servile horde,
Hagar, the handmaid's seed, great vict'ories won;
reft the broad lands adjacent with his sword
and did whatever Brav'ery bade be done;
Him, for his exploits excellent to reward,
God gave in shortest space a gallant son,
whose arm to 'noble and enfame was fain
the warlike name of Lusitania's reign.
"Once more at home this conqu'ering Henry stood
who sacred Hierosol'yma had relievèd,
his eyes had fed on Jordan's holy flood,
which the Dear Body of Lord God had lavèd;
when Godfrey left no foe to be subdued,
and all Judæa conquered was and savèd,
many that in his wars had done devoir
to their own lordships took the way once more.
"But when this stout and gallant Hun attainèd
Life's fatal period, age and travail-spent,
he gave, by Death's necessity constrainèd,
his sprite to him that had that spirit lent:
A son of tender years alone remainèd,
to whom the Sire bequeath'd his 'bodiment;
with bravest braves the youth was formed to cope,
for from such sire such son the world may hope.
"Yet old Report, I know not what its weight
(for on such antique tale no man relies),
saith that the Mother, tane in tow the State,
A second nuptial bed did not despise:
Her orphan son to disinher'ited fate
she doomed, declaring hers the dignities,
not his, with seigniory o'er all the land,
her spousal dowry by her sire's command.
"Now Prince Afonso (who such style had tane
in pious mem'ory of his Grandsire's name),
seeing no part and portion in his reign
all pilled and plundered by the Spouse and Dame.
[Pg 3145]by dour and doughty Mars inflamed amain,
privily plots his heritage to claim:
He weighs the causes in his own conceit
till firm Resolve its fit effect shall greet.
"Of Guimara'ens the field already flow'd
with floods of civil warfare's bloody tide,
where she, who little of the Mother show'd,
to her own bowels love and land denied.
Fronting the child in fight the parent stood;
nor saw her depth of sin that soul of pride
against her God, against maternal love:
Her sensual passion rose all pow'r above.
"O magical Medea! O Progne dire!
if your own babes in vengeance dared ye kill
for alien crimes, and injuries of the sire,
look ye, Teresa's deed was darker still.
Foul greed of gain, incontinent desire,
were the main causes of such bitter ill:
Scylla her agèd sire for one did slay,
for both Teresa did her son betray.
"Right soon that noble Prince clear vict'ory won
from his harsh Mother and her Fere indign;
in briefest time the land obeyed the son,
though first to fight him did the folk incline.
But reft of reason and by rage undone
he bound the Mother in the biting chain:
Eftsoons avenged her griefs the hand of God:
Such veneration is to parents ow'd.
"Lo! the superb Castilian 'gins prepare
his pow'r to 'venge Teresa's injuries,
against the Lusian land in men so rare,
whereon ne toil ne trouble heavy lies.
Their breasts the cruel battle grandly dare,
aid the good cause angelic Potencies;
unrecking might unequal still they strive,
nay, more, their dreadful foe to flight they drive!
[Pg 3146]
"Passeth no tedious time, before the great
Prince a dure Siege in Guimaraens dree'd
by passing pow'er, for to 'mend his state,
came the fell en'emy, full of grief and greed:
But when committed life to direful Fate,
Egas, the faithful guardian, he was free'd,
who had in any other way been lost,
all unpreparèd 'gainst such 'whelming host.
"But when the loyal Vassal well hath known
how weak his Monarch's arm to front such fight,
sans order wending to the Spanish fone,
his Sovran's homage he doth pledge and plight.
Straight from the horrid siege th' invader flown
trusteth the word and honour of the Knight,
Egas Moniz: But now the noble breast
of the brave Youth disdaineth strange behest.
"Already came the plighted time and tide,
when the Castilian Don stood dight to see,
before his pow'er the Prince bend low his pride,
yielding the promisèd obediency.
Egas who views his knightly word belied,
while still Castile believes him true to be,
Sweet life resolveth to the winds to throw,
nor live with foulest taint of faithless vow.
"He with his children and his wife departeth
to keep his promise with a faith immense;
unshod and strippèd, while their plight imparteth
far more of pity than of vengeance:
'If, mighty Monarch! still thy spirit smarteth
to wreak revenge on my rash confidence,'
quoth he, 'Behold! I come with life to save
my pledge, my knightly honour's word I gave.'
"'I bring, thou seest here, lives innocent,
of wife, of sinless children dight to die;
if breasts of gen'erous mould and excellent
accept such weaklings' woeful destiny.
Thou seest these hands, this tongue inconsequent:
hereon alone the fierce exper'iment try
of torments, death, and doom that pass in full
Sinis or e'en Perillus' brazen bull.'
"As shrifted wight the hangman stands before,
in life still draining bitter draught of death,
lays throat on block, and of all hope forlore,
expects the blighting blow with bated breath:
[Pg 3147]So, in the Prince's presence angry sore,
Egás stood firm to keep his plighted faith:
When the King, marv'elling at such wondrous truth,
feels anger melt and merge in Royal ruth.
"Oh the great Portingall fidelity
of Vassal self-devote to doom so dread!
What did the Persian more for loyalty
whose gallant hand his face and nostrils shred?
When great Darius mourned so grievously
that he a thousand times deep-sighing said,
far he prefer'd his Zóp'yrus sound again,
than lord of twenty Babylons to reign.
"But Prince Afonso now prepared his band
of happy Lusians proud to front the foes,
those haughty Moors that held the glorious land
yon side where clear delicious Tagus flows:
Now on Ourique[8] field was pitched and plan'd
the Royal 'Campment fierce and bellicose,
facing the hostile host of Sarrasin
though there so many, here so few there bin.
"Confident, yet would he in naught confide,
save in his God that holds of Heav'en the throne;
so few baptizèd stood their King beside,
there were an hundred Moors for every one:
Judge any sober judgment, and decide
'twas deed of rashness or by brav'ery done
to fall on forces whose exceeding might
a cent'ury showèd to a single Knight.
"Order five Moorish Kings the hostile host
of whom Ismár, so called, command doth claim;
all of long Warfare large experience boast,
wherein may mortals win immortal fame:
And gallant dames the Knights they love the most
'company, like that brave and beauteous Dame,
who to beleaguered Troy such aidance gave
with woman-troops that drained Thermòdon's wave.
"The coolth serene, and early morning's pride,
now paled the sparkling stars about the Pole,
when Mary's Son appearing crucified
in vision, strengthened King Afonso's soul.
[Pg 3148]But he, adoring such appearance, cried,
fired with a phrenzied faith beyond control:
'To th' Infidel, O Lord! to th' Infidel:[9]
Not, Lord, to me who know Thy pow'er so well.'
"Such gracious marvel in such manner sent
'flamèd the Lusians' spirits fierce and high,
towards their nat'ural King, that excellent
Prince, unto whom love-boon none could deny:
Aligned to front the foeman prepotent,
they shouted res'onant slogan to the sky,
and fierce the 'larum rose, 'Real, real,
for high Afonso, King of Portugal!'

"Accomplishèd his act of arms victorious,
home to his Lusian realm Afonso[10] sped,
to gain from Peace-tide triumphs great and glorious,
as those he gained in wars and battles dread;
when the sad chance, on History's page memorious,
which can unsepulchre the sheeted dead,
befell that ill-starr'd, miserable Dame
who, foully slain, a thronèd Queen became.
"Thou, only thou, pure Love, whose cruel might
obligeth human hearts to weal and woe,
thou, only thou, didst wreak such foul despight,
as though she were some foul perfidious foe.
Thy burning thirst, fierce Love, they say aright,
may not be quencht by saddest tears that flow;
Nay, more, thy sprite of harsh tyrannick mood
would see thine altars bathed with human blood.
"He placed thee, fair Ignèz! in soft retreat,
culling the first-fruits of thy sweet young years,
in that delicious Dream, that dear Deceit,
whose long endurance Fortune hates and fears:
Hard by Mondego's yearned-for meads thy seat,
where linger, flowing still, those lovely tears,
until each hill-born tree and shrub confest
the name of Him deep writ within thy breast.[11]
[Pg 3149]
"There, in thy Prince awoke responsive-wise,
dear thoughts of thee which soul-deep ever lay;
which brought thy beauteous form before his eyes,
whene'er those eyne of thine were far away;
Night fled in falsest, sweetest phantasies,
in fleeting, flying reveries sped the Day;
and all, in fine, he saw or cared to see
were memories of his love, his joys, his thee.
"Of many a dainty dame and damosel
The coveted nuptial couches he rejecteth;
for naught can e'er, pure Love! thy care dispel,
when one enchanting shape thy heart subjecteth.
These whims of passion to despair compel
the Sire, whose old man's wisdom aye respecteth,
his subjects murmuring at his son's delay
to bless the nation with a bridal day.
"To wrench Ignèz from life he doth design,
better his captured son from her to wrench;
deeming that only blood of death indign
the living lowe of such true Love can quench.
What Fury willed it that the steel so fine,
which from the mighty weight would never flinch
of the dread Moorman, should be drawn in hate
to work that hapless delicate Ladye's fate?
"The horr'ible Hangmen hurried her before
the King, now moved to spare her innocence;
but still her cruel murther urged the more
the People, swayed by fierce and false pretence.
She with her pleadings pitiful and sore,
that told her sorrows and her care immense
for her Prince-spouse and babes, whom more to leave
than her own death the mother's heart did grieve:
"And heav'enwards to the clear and crystalline skies,
raising her eyne with piteous tears bestainèd;
her eyne, because her hands with cruel ties
one of the wicked Ministers constrainèd:
And gazing on her babes in wistful guise,
whose pretty forms she loved with love unfeignèd,
whose orphan'd lot the Mother filled with dread,
until their cruel grandsire thus she said:—
"'If the brute-creatures, which from natal day
on cruel ways by Nature's will were bent;
[Pg 3150]or feral birds whose only thought is prey,
upon aërial rapine all intent;
if men such salvage be'ings have seen display
to little children loving sentiment,
e'en as to Ninus' mother did befall,
and to the twain who rear'd the Roman wall:
"'O thou, who bear'st of man the gest and breast,
(an it be manlike thus to draw the sword
on a weak girl because her love imprest
his heart, who took her heart and love in ward);
respect for these her babes preserve, at least!
since it may not her òbscure death retard:
Moved be thy pitying soul for them and me,
although my faultless fault unmoved thou see!
"'And if thou know'est to deal in direful fight
the doom of brand and blade to Moorish host,
Know also thou to deal of life the light
to one who ne'er deserved her life be lost;
But an thou wouldst mine inno'cence thus requite,
place me for aye on sad exilèd coast,
in Scythian sleet, on seething Libyan shore,
with life-long tears to linger evermore.
"'Place me where beasts with fiercest rage abound,—
Lyons and Tygers,—there, ah! let me find
if in their hearts of flint be pity found,
denied to me by heart of humankind.
There with intrinsic love and will so fond
for him whose love is death, there will I tend
these tender pledges whom thou see'st; and so
shall the sad mother cool her burning woe.'
"Inclin'ed to pardon her the King benign,
moved by this sad lament to melting mood;
but the rude People and Fate's dure design
(that willed it thus) refused the pardon sued:
They draw their swords of steely temper fine,
They who proclaim as just such deed of blood:
Against a ladye, caitiff, felon wights!
how showed ye here, brute beasts or noble Knights?
"Thus on Polyxena, that beauteous maid,
last solace of her mother's age and care,
[Pg 3151]when doom'd to die by fierce Achilles' shade,
the cruel Pyrrhus hasted brand to bare:
But she (a patient lamb by death waylaid)
with the calm glances which serene the air,
casts on her mother, mad with grief, her eyes
and silent waits that awesome sacrifice.
"Thus dealt with fair Ignèz the murth'erous crew,
in th' alabastrine neck that did sustain
the charms whereby could Love the love subdue
of him, who crown'd her after death his Queen;
bathing their blades; the flow'ers of snowy hue,
which often water'ed by her eyne had been,
are blood-dyed; and they burn with blinding hate,
reckless of tortures stor'd for them by Fate.
"Well mightest shorn of rays, O Sun! appear
to fiends like these on day so dark and dire;
as when Thyestes ate the meats that were
his seed, whom Atreus slew to spite their sire.
And you, O hollow Valleys! doomed to hear
her latest cry from stiffening lips expire—
her Pedro's name,—did catch that mournful sound,
whose echoes bore it far and far around!
"E'en as Daisy sheen, that hath been shorn
in time untimely, floret fresh and fair,
and by untender hand of maiden torn
to deck the chaplet for her wreathèd hair;
gone is its odor and its colours mourn;
So pale and faded lay that Ladye there;
dried are the roses of her cheek, and fled
the white live color, with her dear life dead.
"Mondego's daughter-Nymphs the death obscure
wept many a year, with wails of woe exceeding;
and for long mem'ry changed to fountain pure
the floods of grief their eyes were ever feeding:
The name they gave it, which doth still endure,
revived Ignèz, whose murthered love lies bleeding,
see yon fresh fountain flowing 'mid the flowers,
tears are its waters, and its name 'Amores!'[12]
[Pg 3152]
"Time ran not long, ere Pedro saw the day
of vengeance dawn for wounds that ever bled;
who, when he took in hand the kingly sway,
eke took the murth'erers who his rage had fled:
Them a most cruel Pedro did betray;
for both, if human life the foemen dread,
made concert savage and dure pact, unjust as
Lepidus made with Anthony' and Augustus."

[1] Invocation to Dom Sebastian.

[2] The Arms of Portugal (Canto iii., 53, 54).

[3] The Ganges (not the Jordan).

[4] D. Joam III. and the Emperor Charles Quint.

[5] End of exordium: narrative begins.

[6] Viriatus.

[7] Valdevez, or Campo da Matança, A.D. 1128 (Canto iv. 16).

[8] Battle of Ourique, A.D. 1139.

[9] I. e., disclose Thyself; show a sign.

[10] Alfonso IV. (1325-1357).

[11] Writing his name upon the tree-trunks and leaves.

[12] The famous Fonte-dos-Amores, near Coimbra.



Come here! my confidential Secretary
Of the complaints in which my days are rife,
Paper,—whereon I gar my griefs o'erflow.
Tell we, we twain, Unreasons which in life
Deal me inexorable, contrary
Destinies surd to prayer and tearful woe.
Dash we some water-drops on muchel lowe,
Fire we with outcries storm of rage so rare
That shall be strange to mortal memory.
Such misery tell we
To God and Man, and eke, in fine, to air,
Whereto so many times did I confide
My tale and vainly told as I now tell;
But e'en as error was my birthtide-lot,
That this be one of many doubt I not.
And as to hit the butt so far I fail
E'en if I sinnèd her cease they to chide:
Within mine only Refuge will I 'bide
To speak and faultless sin with free intent.
Sad he so scanty mercies must content!


Long I've unlearnt me that complaint of dole
Brings cure of dolours; but a wight in pain
To greet is forcèd an the grief be great.
I will outgreet; but weak my voice and vain
To express the sorrows which oppress my soul;
For nor with greeting shall my dole abate.
Who then shall grant me, to relieve my weight
Of sorrow, flowing tears and infinite sighs
Equal those miseries my Sprite o'erpower?
But who at any hour,
[Pg 3153]Can measure miseries with his tears or cries?
I'll tell, in fine, the love for me design'd
By wrath and woe and all their sovenance;
For other dole hath qualities harder, sterner.
Draw near and hear me each despairing Learner!
And fly the many fed on Esperance
Or wights who fancy Hope will prove her kind;
For Love and Fortune willed, with single mind,
To leave them hopeful, so they comprehend
What measure of unweal in hand they hend.


When fro' man's primal grave, the mother's womb,
New eyes on earth I oped, my hapless star
To mar my Fortunes 'gan his will enforce;
And freedom (Free-will given me) to debar:
I learnt a thousand times it was my doom.
To know the Better and to work the Worse:
Then with conforming tormentize to curse
My course of coming years, when cast I round
A boyish eye-glance with a gentle zest,
It was my Star's behest
A Boy born blind should deal me life-long wound.
Infantine tear-drops wellèd out the deep
With vague enamoured longings, nameless pine:
My wailing accents fro' my cradle-stound
Already sounded me love-sighing sound.
Thus age and destiny had like design:
For when, peraunter, rocking me to sleep
They sung me Love-songs wherein lovers weep,
Attonce by Nature's will asleep I fell,
So Melancholy witcht me with her spell!


My nurse some Feral was; Fate nilled approve
By any Woman such a name be tane
Who gave me breast; nor seemed it suitable.
Thus was I suckled that my lips indrain
E'en fro' my childhood venom-draught of Love,
Whereof in later years I drained my fill,
Till by long custom failed the draught to kill.
[Pg 3154]Then an Ideal semblance struck my glance
Of that fere Human deckt with charms in foyson,
Sweet with the suavest poyson,
Who nourisht me with paps of Esperance;
Till later saw mine eyes the original,
Which of my wildest, maddest appetite
Makes sinful error sovran and superb.
Meseems as human form it came disturb,
But scintillating Spirit's divinest light.
So graceful gait, such port imperial
Were hers, unweal vainglory'd self to weal
When in her sight, whose lively sheen and shade
Exceeded aught and all things Nature made.


What new unkindly kind of human pain
Had Love not only doled for me to dree
But eke on me was wholly execute?
Implacable harshness cooling fervency
Of Love-Desire (thought's very might and main)
Drave me far distant fro' my settled suit,
Vext and self-shamed to sight its own pursuit.
Hence sombre shades phantastick born and bred
Of trifles promising rashest Esperance;
While boons of happy chance
Were likewise feignèd and enfigurèd.
But her despisal wrought me such dismay
That made my Fancy phrenesy-ward incline,
Turning to disconcert the guiling lure.
Here mine 'twas to divine, and hold for sure,
That all was truest Truth I could divine;
And straightway all I said in shame to unsay;
To see whatso I saw in còntrayr way;
In fine, just Reasons seek for jealousy
Yet were the Unreasons eather far to see.


I know not how she knew that fared she stealing
With Eyën-rays mine inner man which flew
Her-ward with subtlest passage through the eyne
Little by little all fro' me she drew,
E'en as from rain-wet canopy, exhaling
The subtle humours, sucks the hot sunshine.
The pure transparent geste and mien, in fine,
[Pg 3155]Wherefore inadequate were and lacking sense
"Beauteous" and "Belle" were words withouten weight;
The soft, compassionate
Eye-glance that held the spirit in suspense:
Such were the magick herbs the Heavens all-wise
Drave me a draught to drain, and for long years
To other Being my shape and form transmew'd;
And this transforming with such joy I view'd
That e'en my sorrows snared I with its snares;
And, like the doomèd man, I veiled mine eyes
To hide an evil crescive in such guise;
Like one caressèd and on flattery fed
Of Love, for whom his being was born and bred.


Then who mine absent Life hath power to paint
Wi' discontent of all I bore in view;
That Bide, so far from where she had her Bide,
Speaking, which even what I spake unknew,
Wending, withal unseeing where I went,
And sighing weetless for what cause I sigh'd?
Then, as those torments last endurance tried,
That dreadful dolour which from Tartarus's waves
Shot up on earth and racketh more than all,
Wherefrom shall oft befall
It turn to gentle yearning rage that raves?
Then with repine-ful fury fever-high
Wishing yet wishing not for Love's surceàse;
Shifting to other side for vengeänce,
Desires deprived of their esperance,
What now could ever change such ills as these?
Then the fond yearnings for the things gone by,
Pure torment sweet in bitter faculty,
Which from these fiery furies could distill
Sweet tears of Love with pine the soul to thrill?


For what excuses lone with self I sought,
When my suave Love forfended me to find
Fault in the Thing belovèd and so lovèd?
Such were the feignèd cures that forged my mind
In fear of torments that for ever taught
Life to support itself by snares approvèd.
Thus through a goodly part of Life I rovèd,
[Pg 3156]Wherein if ever joyed I aught content
Short-lived, immodest, flaw-full, without heed,
'Twas nothing save the seed
That bare me bitter tortures long unspent.
This course continuous dooming to distress,
These wandering steps that strayed o'er every road
So wrought, they quencht for me the flamy thirst
I suffered grow in Sprite, in Soul I nurst
With Thoughts enamoured for my daily food,
Whereby was fed my Nature's tenderness:
And this by habit's long and asperous stress,
Which might of mortals never mote resist,
Was turned to pleasure-taste of being triste.


Thus fared I Life with other interchanging;
I no, but Destiny showing fere unlove;
Yet even thus for other ne'er I'd change.
Me from my dear-loved patrial nide she drove
Over the broad and boisterous Ocean ranging,
Where Life so often saw her èxtreme range.
Now tempting rages rare and missiles strange
Of Mart, she willèd that my eyes should see
And hands should touch, the bitter fruit he dight:
That on this Shield they sight
In painted semblance fire of enemy,
Then ferforth driven, vagrant, peregrine,
Seeing strange nations, customs, tongues, costumes;
Various heavens, qualities different,
Only to follow, passing-diligent
Thee, giglet Fortune! whose fierce will consumes
Man's age upbuilding aye before his eyne
A Hope with semblance of the diamond's shine:
But, when it falleth out of hand we know,
'Twas fragile glass that showed so glorious show.


Failed me the ruth of man, and I descried
Friends to unfriendly changèd and contràyr,
In my first peril; and I lackèd ground,
Whelmed by the second, where my feet could fare;
Air for my breathing was my lot denied,
Time failed me, in fine, and failed me Life's dull round.
What darkling secret, mystery profound
[Pg 3157]This birth to Life, while Life is doomed withhold
Whate'er the world contain for Life to use!
Yet never Life to lose
Though 'twas already lost times manifold!
In brief my Fortune could no horror make,
Ne certain danger ne ancipitous case
(Injustice dealt by men, whom wild-confused
Misrule, that rights of olden days abused,
O'er neighbour-men upraised to power and place!)
I bore not, lashèd to the sturdy stake,
Of my long suffering, which my heart would break
With importuning persecuting harms
Dasht to a thousand bits by forceful arms.


Number I not so numerous ills as He
Who, 'scaped the wuthering wind and furious flood,
In happy harbour tells his travel-tale;
Yet now, e'en now, my Fortune's wavering mood
To so much misery obligeth me
That e'en to pace one forward pace I quail:
No more shirk I what evils may assail;
No more to falsing welfare I pretend;
For human cunning naught can gar me gain.
In fine on sovran Strain
Of Providence divine I now depend:
This thought, this prospect 'tis at times I greet
My sole consoler for dead hopes and fears.
But human weakness when its eyne alight
Upon the things that fleet, and can but sight
The sadding Memories of the long-past years;
What bread such times I break, what drink I drain,
Are bitter tear-floods I can ne'er refrain,
Save by upbuilding castles based on air,
Phantastick painture fair and false as fair.


For an it possible were that Time and Tide
Could bend them backward and, like Memory, view
The faded footprints of Life's earlier day;
And, web of olden story weaving new,
In sweetest error could my footsteps guide
'Mid bloom of flowers where wont my youth to stray;
Then would the memories of the long sad way
[Pg 3158]Deal me a larger store of Life-content:
Viewing fair converse and glad company,
Where this and other key
She had for opening hearts to new intent;—
The fields, the frequent stroll, the lovely show,
The view, the snow, the rose, the formosure,
The soft and gracious mien so gravely gay,
The singular friendship casting clean away
All villein longings, earthly and impure,
As one whose Other I can never see;—
Ah, vain, vain memories! whither lead ye me
With this weak heart that still must toil and tire
To tame (as tame it should) your vain Desire?


No more, Canzon! no more: for I could prate
Sans compt a thousand years; and if befall
Blame to thine over-large and long-drawn strain
We ne'er shall see (assure who blames) contain
An Ocean's water packt in vase so small,
Nor sing I delicate lines in softest tone
For gust of praise; my song to man makes known
Pure Truth wherewith mine own Experience teems;
Would God they were the stuff that builds our dreams!


Sweet lucent waters of Mondego-stream,
Of my Remembrance restful jouïssance,
Where far-fet, lingering, traitorous Esperance
Long whiles misled me in a blinding Dream:
Fro' you I part, yea, still I'll ne'er misdeem
That long-drawn Memories which your charms enhance
Forbid me changing and, in every chance,
E'en as I farther speed I nearer seem.
Well may my Fortunes hale this instrument
Of Soul o'er new strange regions wide and side,
Offered to winds and watery element:
But hence my Spirit, by you 'companied,
Borne on the nimble wings that Reverie lent,
Flies home and bathes her, Waters! in your tide.

[Pg 3159]




he life of Thomas Campbell, though in large measure fortunate, was uneventful. It was not marked with such brilliant successes as followed the career of Scott; nor was fame purchased at the price of so much suffering and error as were paid for their laurels by Byron, Shelley, and Burns; but his star shone with a clear and steady ray, from the youthful hours that saw his first triumph until near life's close. The world's gifts—the poet's fame, and the public honors and rewards that witnessed to it—were given with a generous hand; and until the death of a cherished wife and the loss of his two children—sons, loved with a love beyond the common love of fathers—broke the charm, Campbell might almost have been taken as a type of the happy man of letters.

Thomas Campbell Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell was born in Glasgow, July 27th, 1777. His family connection was large and respectable, and the branch to which he belonged had been settled for many years in Argyleshire, where they were called the Campbells of Kirnan, from an estate on which the poet's grandfather resided and where he died. His third son, Alexander, the father of the poet, was at one time the head of a firm in Glasgow, doing a profitable business with Falmouth in Virginia; but in common with almost all merchants engaged in the American trade, he was ruined by the War of the Revolution. At the age of sixty-five he found himself a poor man, involved in a costly suit in chancery, which was finally decided against him, and with a wife and nine children dependent upon him. All that he had to live on, at the time his son Thomas was born, was the little that remained to him of his small property when the debts were paid, and some small yearly sums from two provident societies of which he was a member. The poet was fortunate in his parents: both of them were people of high character, warmly devoted to their children, whose education was their chief care,—their idea of education including the training of the heart and the manners as well as the mind.[Pg 3160]

When eight years old Thomas was sent to the grammar school at Glasgow, where he began the study of Latin and Greek. "I was so early devoted to poetry," he writes, "that at ten years old, when our master, David Allison, interpreted to us the first Eclogue of Virgil, I was literally thrilled with its beauty. In my thirteenth year I went to the University of Glasgow, and put on the red gown. The joy of the occasion made me unable to eat my breakfast. Whether it was presentiment or the mere castle-building of my vanity, I had even then a day-dream that I should one day be Lord Rector of the university."

As a boy, Campbell gained a considerable familiarity with the Latin and Greek poets usually read in college, and was always more inclined to pride himself on his knowledge of Greek poetry than on his own reputation in the art. His college life was passed in times of great political excitement. Revolution was in the air, and all youthful spirits were aflame with enthusiasm for the cause of liberty and with generous sympathy for oppressed people, particularly the Poles and the Greeks. Campbell was caught by the sacred fire which later was to touch the lips of Byron and Shelley; and in his earliest published poem his interest in Poland, which never died out from his heart, found its first expression. This poem, 'The Pleasures of Hope,' a work whose title was thenceforth to be inseparably associated with its author's name, was published in 1799, when Campbell was exactly twenty-one years and nine months old. It at once placed him high in public favor, though it met with the usual difficulty experienced by a first poem by an unknown writer, in finding a publisher. The copyright was finally bought by Mundell for sixty pounds, to be paid partly in money and partly in books. Three years after the publication, a London publisher valued it as worth an annuity of two hundred pounds for life; and Mundell, disregarding his legal rights, behaved with so much liberality that from the sale of the first seven editions Campbell received no less than nine hundred pounds. Besides this material testimony to its success, scores of anecdotes show the favor with which it was received by the poets and writers of the time. The greatest and noblest of them all, Walter Scott, was most generous in his welcome. He gave a dinner in Campbell's honor, and introduced him to his friends with a bumper to the author of 'The Pleasures of Hope.'

It seemed the natural thing for a young man so successfully launched in the literary coteries of Edinburgh and Glasgow to pursue his advantage in the larger literary world of London. But Campbell judged himself with humorous severity. "At present," he writes in a letter, "I am a raw Scotch lad, and in a company of wits and geniuses would make but a dull figure with my northern[Pg 3161] brogue and my 'braw Scotch boos.'" The eyes of many of the young men of the time were turned toward Germany, where Goethe and Schiller, Lessing and Wieland, were creating the golden age of their country's literature; and Campbell, full of youthful hope and enthusiasm, and with a little money in his pocket, determined to visit the Continent before settling down to work in London. In 1800 he set out for Ratisbon, which he reached three days before the French entered it with their army. His stay there was crowded with picturesque and tragic incidents, described in his letters to friends at home—"in prose," as his biographer justly says, "which even his best poetry hardly surpasses." From the roof of the Scotch Benedictine Convent of St. James, where Campbell was often hospitably entertained while in Ratisbon, he saw the battle of Hohenlinden, on which he wrote the poem once familiar to every schoolboy. Wearied with the bloody sights of war, he left Ratisbon and the next year returned to England. While living at Altona he wrote no less than fourteen of his minor poems, but few of these escaped the severity of his final judgment when he came to collect his verses for publication. Among these few the best were 'The Exile of Erin' and the noble ode 'Ye Mariners of England,' the poem by which alone, perhaps, his name deserves to live; though 'The Battle of the Baltic' in its original form 'The Battle of Copenhagen'—unfortunately not the one best known—is well worthy of a place beside it.

On his return from the Continent, Campbell found himself received in the warmest manner, not only in the literary world but in circles reckoned socially higher. His poetry hit the taste of all the classes that go to make up the general reading public; his harp had many strings, and it rang true to all the notes of patriotism, humanity, love, and feeling. "His happiest moments at this period," says his biographer, "seem to have been passed with Mrs. Siddons, the Kembles, and his friend Telford, the distinguished engineer, for whom he afterward named his eldest son." Lord Minto, on his return from Vienna, became much interested in Campbell and insisted on his taking up his quarters for the season in his town-house in Hanover Square. When the season was over Lord Minto went back to Scotland, taking the poet with him as traveling companion. At Castle Minto, Campbell found among other visitors Walter Scott, and it was while there that 'Lochiel's Warning' was composed and 'Hohenlinden' revised, and both poems prepared for the press.

In 1803 Campbell married his cousin, Matilda Sinclair. The marriage was a happy one; Washington Irving speaks of the lady's personal beauty, and says that her mental qualities were equally matched with it. "She was, in fact," he adds, "a more suitable wife for a poet than poets' wives are apt to be; and for once a son of song had married a reality and not a poetical fiction."[Pg 3162]

For seventeen years he supported himself and his family by what was for the most part task-work, not always well paid, and made more onerous by the poor state of his health. In 1801 Campbell's father died, an old man of ninety-one, and with him ceased the small benevolent-society pensions that, with what Thomas and the eldest son living in America could contribute, had hitherto kept the parents in decent comfort. But soon after Thomas's marriage and the birth of his first child, the American brother failed, so that the pious duty of supporting the aged mother now came upon the poet alone. He accepted the addition to his burden as manfully as was to be expected of so generous a nature, but there is no doubt that he was in great poverty for a few years. Although often despondent, and with good reason, his natural cheerfulness and his good sense always came to the rescue, and in his lowest estate he retained the respect and the affection of his many friends.

In 1805 Campbell received a pension of £200, which netted him, when fees and expenses were deducted, £168 a year. Half of this sum he reserved for himself and the remainder he divided between his mother and his two sisters. In 1809 he published 'Gertrude of Wyoming,' which had been completed the year before. It was hailed with delight in Edinburgh and with no less favor in London, and came to a second edition in the spring of 1810. But like most of Campbell's more pretentious poetry, it has failed to keep its place in the world's favor. The scene of the poem is laid in an impossible Pennsylvania where the bison and the beaver, the crocodile, the condor, and the flamingo, live in happy neighborhood in groves of magnolia and olive; while the red Indian launches his pirogue upon the Michigan to hunt the bison, while blissful shepherd swains trip with maidens to the timbrel, and blue-eyed Germans change their swords to pruning-hooks, Andalusians dance the saraband, poor Caledonians drown their homesick cares in transatlantic whisky, and Englishmen plant fair Freedom's tree! The story is as unreal as the landscape, and it is told in a style more labored and artificial by far than that of Pope, to whom indeed the younger poet was often injudiciously compared. Yet it is to be noted that Campbell's prose style was as direct and unaffected as could be wished, while in his two best lyrical poems, 'Ye Mariners of England,' and the first cast of 'The Battle of the Baltic,' he shows a vividness of conception and a power of striking out expression at white heat in which no one of his contemporaries excelled him.

Campbell was deservedly a great favorite in society, and the story of his life at this time is largely the record of his meeting with distinguished people. The Princess of Wales freely welcomed him to her court; he had corresponded with Madame de Staël, and when she came to England he visited her often and at her request read[Pg 3163] her his lectures on poetry; he saw much of Mrs. Siddons, and when in Paris in 1814, visited the Louvre in her company to see the statues and pictures of which Napoleon had plundered Italy.

In 1826 Campbell was made Lord Rector of Glasgow University, and in 1828 he was re-elected unanimously. During this second term his wife died, and in 1829 the unprecedented honor of an election for a third term was bestowed upon him, although he had to dispute it with no less a rival than Sir Walter Scott. "When he went to Glasgow to be inaugurated as Lord Rector," says his biographer, "on reaching the college green he found the boys pelting each other with snowballs. He rushed into the mêlée and flung about his snowballs right and left with great dexterity, much to the delight of the boys but to the great scandal of the professors. He was proud of the piece of plate given him by the Glasgow lads, but of the honor conferred by his college title he was less sensible. He hated the sound of Doctor Campbell, and said to an acquaintance that no friend of his would ever call him so."

The establishment through his direct agency of the University of London was Campbell's most important public work. Later his life was almost wholly engrossed for a time by his interest in the cause of Poland—a cause indeed that from his youth had lain near his heart. But as he grew older and his health declined he became more and more restless, and finally in 1843 took up his residence at Boulogne. His parents, his brothers and sisters, his wife, his two children, so tenderly loved, were all gone. But he still corresponded with his friends, and to the last his talk was cheerful and pleasant. In June, 1844, he died, and in July he was buried in Westminster Abbey in Poets' Corner. About his grave stood Milman, the Duke of Argyle,—the head of his clan,—Sir Robert Peel, Brougham, Lockhart, Macaulay, D'Israeli, Horace Smith, Croly and Thackeray, with many others, and when the words "Dust to dust" were pronounced, Colonel Szyrma, a distinguished Pole, scattered over the coffin a handful of earth from the grave of Kosciuszko at Cracow.

[Pg 3164]


From the 'Pleasures of Hope'

At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering hills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky?
Why do those cliffs of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near?
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus with delight we linger to survey
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way;
Thus, from afar, each dim-discovered scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been,
And every form that Fancy can repair
From dark oblivion glows divinely there.
What potent spirit guides the raptured eye
To pierce the shades of dim futurity?
Can Wisdom lend, with all her heavenly power,
The pledge of Joy's anticipated hour?
Ah no! she darkly sees the fate of man—
Her dim horizon bounded to a span;
Or if she hold an image to the view,
'Tis Nature pictured too severely true.
With thee, sweet Hope, resides the heavenly light
That pours remotest rapture on the sight;
Thine is the charm of life's bewildered way,
That calls each slumbering passion into play.
Waked by thy touch, I see the sister band,
On tiptoe watching, start at thy command,
And fly where'er thy mandate bids them steer,
To Pleasure's path or Glory's bright career....
Where is the troubled heart consigned to share
Tumultuous toils or solitary care,
Unblest by visionary thoughts that stray
To count the joys of Fortune's better day?
Lo! nature, life, and liberty relume
The dim-eyed tenant of the dungeon gloom;
A long-lost friend, or hapless child restored,
Smiles at his blazing hearth and social board;
Warm from his heart the tears of rapture flow,
And virtue triumphs o'er remembered woe.
Chide not his peace, proud Reason; nor destroy
The shadowy forms of uncreated joy,
[Pg 3165]That urge the lingering tide of life, and pour
Spontaneous slumber on his midnight hour.
Hark! the wild maniac sings, to chide the gale
That wafts so slow her lover's distant sail;
She, sad spectatress, on the wintry shore,
Watched the rude surge his shroudless corse that bore,
Knew the pale form, and shrieking in amaze,
Clasped her cold hands, and fixed her maddening gaze;
Poor widowed wretch! 'Twas there she wept in vain,
Till Memory fled her agonizing brain:—
But Mercy gave, to charm the sense of woe,
Ideal peace, that truth could ne'er bestow;
Warm on her heart the joys of Fancy beam,
And aimless Hope delights her darkest dream.
Oft when yon moon has climbed the midnight sky,
And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,
Piled on the steep, her blazing fagots burn
To hail the bark that never can return;
And still she waits, but scarce forbears to weep
That constant love can linger on the deep.


From the 'Pleasures of Hope'

O Sacred Truth! thy triumph ceased a while,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars
Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn;
Tumultuous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland—and to man!
Warsaw's last champion from her height surveyed,
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid—
O Heaven! he cried,—my bleeding country save!
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?
Yet, though destruction sweep those lovely plains,
Rise, fellow-men! our country yet remains.
By that dread name, we wave the sword on high,
And swear for her to live! with her to die!
He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few but undismayed;
Firm-paced and slow, a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;
[Pg 3166]Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death—the watchword and reply;
Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm,
And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm!
In vain, alas! in vain, ye gallant few!
From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;
Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
Closed her bright eye and curbed her high career;
Hope for a season bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked, as Kosciusko fell!
The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there;
Tumultuous Murder shook the midnight air—
On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below;
The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way,
Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay!
Hark, as the smoldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!
Earth shook—red meteors flashed along the sky,
And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry!
O righteous Heaven! ere Freedom found a grave,
Why slept the sword, omnipotent to save?
Where was thine arm, O Vengeance! where thy rod,
That smote the foes of Zion and of God;
That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron car
Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar?
Where was the storm that slumbered till the host
Of blood-stained Pharaoh left their trembling coast;
Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
And heaved an ocean on their march below?
Departed spirits of the mighty dead!
Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled!
Friends of the world! restore your swords to man,
Fight in his sacred cause, and lead the van;
Yet for Sarmatia's tears of blood atone,
And make her arm puissant as your own;
Oh! once again to Freedom's cause return
The patriot Tell, the Bruce of Bannockburn!

[Pg 3167]


From the 'Pleasures of Hope'

And say, supernal Powers! who deeply scan
Heaven's dark decrees, unfathomed yet by man,—
When shall the world call down, to cleanse her shame.
That embryo spirit, yet without a name,
That friend of Nature, whose avenging hands
Shall burst the Libyan's adamantine bands?
Who, sternly marking on his native soil
The blood, the tears, the anguish and the toil,
Shall bid each righteous heart exult to see
Peace to the slave, and vengeance on the free!
Yet, yet, degraded men! th' expected day
That breaks your bitter cup is far away;
Trade, wealth, and fashion ask you still to bleed,
And holy men give Scripture for the deed;
Scourged and debased, no Briton stoops to save
A wretch, a coward—yes, because a slave!
Eternal Nature! when thy giant hand
Had heaved the floods and fixed the trembling land,
When life sprang startling at thy plastic call,
Endless thy forms, and man the lord of all:—
Say, was that lordly form inspired by thee,
To wear eternal chains and bow the knee?
Was man ordained the slave of man to toil,
Yoked with the brutes, and fettered to the soil,
Weighed in a tyrant's balance with his gold?
No! Nature stamped us in a heavenly mold!
She bade no wretch his thankless labor urge,
Nor, trembling, take the pittance and the scourge;
No homeless Libyan, on the stormy deep,
To call upon his country's name and weep!
Lo! once in triumph, on his boundless plain,
The quivered chief of Congo loved to reign;
With fires proportioned to his native sky,
Strength in his arm, and lightning in his eye;
Scoured with wild feet his sun-illumined zone,
The spear, the lion, and the woods, his own;
Or led the combat, bold without a plan,
An artless savage, but a fearless man.
[Pg 3168]The plunderer came;—alas! no glory smiles
For Congo's chief, on yonder Indian isles;
Forever fallen! no son of nature now,
With Freedom chartered on his manly brow.
Faint, bleeding, bound, he weeps the night away,
And when the sea-wind wafts the dewless day,
Starts, with a bursting heart, for evermore
To curse the sun that lights their guilty shore!
The shrill horn blew; at that alarum knell
His guardian angel took a last farewell.
That funeral dirge to darkness hath resigned
The fiery grandeur of a generous mind.
Poor fettered man! I hear thee breathing low
Unhallowed vows to Guilt, the child of Woe:
Friendless thy heart; and canst thou harbor there
A wish but death—a passion but despair?
The widowed Indian, when her lord expires,
Mounts the dread pile, and braves the funeral fires.
So falls the heart at Thraldom's bitter sigh;
So Virtue dies, the spouse of Liberty!


From the 'Pleasures of Hope'

Unfading Hope! when life's last embers burn,
When soul to soul, and dust to dust return!
Heaven to thy charge resigns the awful hour.
Oh, then thy kingdom comes! Immortal Power!
What though each spark of earth-born rapture fly
The quivering lip, pale cheek, and closing eye,—
Bright to the soul thy seraph hands convey
The morning dream of life's eternal day—
Then, then the triumph and the trance begin,
And all the phœnix spirit burns within!
Oh deep-enchanting prelude to repose,
The dawn of bliss, the twilight of our woes!
Yet half I hear the panting spirit sigh,
It is a dread and awful thing to die!
Mysterious worlds, untraveled by the sun!
Where Time's far-wandering tide has never run,—
From your unfathomed shades and viewless spheres,
A warning comes, unheard by other ears.
[Pg 3169]'Tis Heaven's commanding trumpet, long and loud,
Like Sinai's thunder, pealing from the cloud!
While Nature hears, with terror-mingled trust,
The shock that hurls her fabric to the dust;
And like the trembling Hebrew, when he trod
The roaring waves, and called upon his God,
With mortal terrors clouds immortal bliss,
And shrieks, and hovers o'er the dark abyss!
Daughter of Faith, awake, arise, illume
The dread unknown, the chaos of the tomb;
Melt and dispel, ye spectre doubts, that roll
Cimmerian darkness o'er the parting soul!
Fly, like the moon-eyed herald of Dismay,
Chased on his night-steed by the star of day!
The strife is o'er—the pangs of Nature close,
And life's last rapture triumphs o'er her woes.
Hark! as the spirit eyes, with eagle gaze,
The noon of Heaven undazzled by the blaze,
On heavenly winds that waft her to the sky
Float the sweet tones of star-born melody;
Wild as that hallowed anthem sent to hail
Bethlehem's shepherds in the lonely vale,
When Jordan hushed his waves, and midnight still
Watched on the holy towers of Zion hill.
Soul of the just! companion of the dead!
Where is thy home, and whither art thou fled?
Back to its heavenly source thy being goes.
Swift as the comet wheels to whence he rose;
Doomed on his airy path a while to burn,
And doomed like thee to travel and return.
Hark! from the world's exploding centre driven,
With sounds that shook the firmament of Heaven,
Careers the fiery giant, fast and far,
On bickering wheels and adamantine car;
From planet whirled to planet more remote,
He visits realms beyond the reach of thought;
But wheeling homeward, when his course is run,
Curbs the red yoke, and mingles with the sun:
So hath the traveler of earth unfurled
Her trembling wings, emerging from the world;
And o'er the path by mortal never trod,
Sprung to her source, the bosom of her God!
Oh, lives there, Heaven, beneath thy dread expanse,
One hopeless, dark idolater of Chance,
[Pg 3170]Content to feed, with pleasures unrefined,
The lukewarm passions of a lowly mind,
Who, moldering earthward, reft of every trust,
In joyless union wedded to the dust,
Could all his parting energy dismiss,
And call this barren world sufficient bliss?
There live, alas! of heaven-directed mien,
Of cultured soul, and sapient eye serene,
Who hail thee, Man! the pilgrim of a day,
Spouse of the worm, and brother of the clay;
Frail as the leaf in Autumn's yellow bower,
Dust in the wind, or dew upon the flower;
A friendless slave, a child without a sire,
Whose mortal life and momentary fire
Light to the grave his chance-created form,
As ocean-wrecks illuminate the storm;
And when the guns' tremendous flash is o'er,
To-night and silence sink for evermore!
Are these the pompous tidings ye proclaim,
Lights of the world, and demigods of Fame?
Is this your triumph—this your proud applause,
Children of Truth, and champions of her cause?
For this hath Science searched, on weary wing,
By shore and sea, each mute and living thing?
Launched with Iberia's pilot from the steep,
To worlds unknown, and isles beyond the deep?
Or round the cope her living chariot driven,
And wheeled in triumph through the signs of Heaven?
O star-eyed Science, hast thou wandered there,
To waft us home the message of despair?
Then bind the palm, thy sage's brow to suit,
Of blasted leaf and death-distilling fruit.
Ah me! the laureled wreath that Murder rears,
Blood-nursed, and watered by the widow's tears,
Seems not so foul, so tainted, and so dread,
As waves the nightshade round the skeptic's head.
What is the bigot's torch, the tyrant's chain?
I smile on death, if Heavenward Hope remain!
But if the warring winds of Nature's strife
Be all the faithless charter of my life;
If Chance awaked, inexorable power,
This frail and feverish being of an hour;
Doomed o'er the world's precarious scene to sweep,
Swift as the tempest travels on the deep;
[Pg 3171]To know Delight but by her parting smile,
And toil, and wish, and weep a little while;—
Then melt, ye elements, that formed in vain
This troubled pulse and visionary brain!
Fade, ye wild flowers, memorials of my doom,
And sink, ye stars, that light me to the tomb!
Truth, ever lovely,—since the world began,
The foe of tyrants, and the friend of man,—
How can thy words from balmy slumber start
Reposing Virtue, pillowed on the heart!
Yet if thy voice the note of thunder rolled,
And that were true which Nature never told,
Let Wisdom smile not on her conquered field:
No rapture dawns, no treasure is revealed.
Oh! let her read, nor loudly, nor elate,
The doom that bars us from a better fate;
But, sad as angels for the good man's sin,
Weep to record, and blush to give it in!



Lochiel, Lochiel! beware of the day
When the Lowlands shall meet thee in battle array!
For a field of the dead rushes red on my sight,
And the clans of Culloden are scattered in fight.
They rally, they bleed, for their kingdom and crown;
Woe, woe to the riders that trample them down!
Proud Cumberland prances, insulting the slain,
And their hoof-beaten bosoms are trod to the plain.
But hark! through the fast-flashing lightning of war,
What steed to the desert flies frantic and far?
'Tis thine, O Glenullin! whose bride shall await,
Like a love-lighted watch-fire, all night at the gate.
A steed comes at morning; no rider is there;
But its bridle is red with the sign of despair.
Weep, Albin! to death and captivity led!
Oh weep! but thy tears cannot number the dead:
For a merciless sword on Culloden shall wave,
Culloden! that reeks with the blood of the brave.


Go, preach to the coward, thou death-telling seer!
Or, if gory Culloden so dreadful appear,
[Pg 3172]Draw, dotard, around thy old wavering sight
This mantle, to cover the phantoms of fright.


Ha! laugh'st thou, Lochiel, my vision to scorn?
Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn!
Say, rushed the bold eagle exultingly forth,
From his home in the dark rolling clouds of the north?
Lo! the death-shot of foemen outspeeding, he rode
Companionless, bearing destruction abroad;
But down let him stoop from his havoc on high!
Ah! home let him speed,—for the spoiler is nigh.
Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast
Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast?
'Tis the fire-shower of ruin, all dreadfully driven
From his eyrie, that beacons the darkness of heaven.
O crested Lochiel! the peerless in might,
Whose banners arise on the battlements' height,
Heaven's fire is around thee, to blast and to burn;
Return to thy dwelling! all lonely return!
For the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood,
And a wild mother scream o'er her famishing brood.


False Wizard, avaunt! I have marshaled my clan;
Their swords are a thousand, their bosoms are one!
They are true to the last of their blood and their breath,
And like reapers descend to the harvest of death.
Then welcome be Cumberland's steed to the shock!
Let him dash his proud foam like a wave on the rock!
But woe to his kindred, and woe to his cause,
When Albin her claymore indignantly draws;
When her bonneted chieftains to victory crowd,
Clanronald the dauntless, and Moray the proud,
All plaided and plumed in their tartan array—


Lochiel, Lochiel! beware of the day;
For, dark and despairing, my sight I may seal,
But man cannot cover what God would reveal;
'Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.
I tell thee, Culloden's dread echoes shall ring
With the bloodhounds that bark for thy fugitive king.
[Pg 3173]Lo! anointed by Heaven with the vials of wrath,
Behold, where he flies on his desolate path!
Now in darkness and billows, he sweeps from my sight:
Rise, rise! ye wild tempests, and cover his flight!
'Tis finished. Their thunders are hushed on the moors:
Culloden is lost, and my country deplores.
But where is the iron-bound prisoner? where?
For the red eye of battle is shut in despair.
Say, mounts he the ocean wave, banished, forlorn,
Like a limb from his country cast bleeding and torn?
Ah no! for a darker departure is near;
The war-drum is muffled, and black is the bier;
His death-bell is tolling: O Mercy, dispel
Yon sight, that it freezes my spirit to tell!
Life flutters convulsed in his quivering limbs,
And his blood-streaming nostril in agony swims.
Accursed be the fagots that blaze at his feet,
Where his heart shall be thrown ere it ceases to beat,
With the smoke of its ashes to poison the gale—


Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the tale:
For never shall Albin a destiny meet
So black with dishonor, so foul with retreat.
Though my perishing ranks should be strewed in their gore,
Like ocean-weeds heaped on the surf-beaten shore,
Lochiel, untainted by flight or by chains,
While the kindling of life in his bosom remains,
Shall victor exult, or in death be laid low,
With his back to the field, and his feet to the foe!
And, leaving in battle no blot on his name,
Look proudly to Heaven from the death-bed of fame.


Our bugles sang truce—for the night-cloud had lowered,
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky;
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpowered,
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die.
When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.
[Pg 3174]
Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,
Far, far I had roamed on a desolate track:
'Twas Autumn,—and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers, that welcomed me back.
I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march, when my bosom was young;
I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.
Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
From my home and my weeping friends never to part;
My little ones kissed me a thousand times o'er,
And my wife sobbed aloud in her fullness of heart.
"Stay, stay with us,—rest; thou art weary and worn!"
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay:—
But sorrow returned with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.


A Chieftan, to the Highlands bound,
Cries, "Boatman, do not tarry!
And I'll give thee a silver pound,
To row us o'er the ferry."
"Now who be ye, would cross Lochgyle,
This dark and stormy water?"
"O, I'm the chief of Ulva's isle,
And this Lord Ullin's daughter.
"And fast before her father's men
Three days we've fled together;
For should he find us in the glen,
My blood would stain the heather.
"His horsemen hard behind us ride;
Should they our steps discover,
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover?"
Out spoke the hardy Highland wight,
"I'll go, my chief—I'm ready;—
It is not for your silver bright,
But for your winsome lady;
[Pg 3175]
"And by my word! the bonny bird
In danger shall not tarry;
So though the waves are raging white
I'll row you o'er the ferry."
By this the storm grew loud apace,
The water-wraith was shrieking;
And in the scowl of heaven each face
Grew dark as they were speaking.
But still as wilder blew the wind,
And as the night grew drearer,
Adown the glen rode armèd men,
Their trampling sounded nearer.
"O haste thee, haste!" the lady cries,
"Though tempests round us gather,
I'll meet the raging of the skies,
But not an angry father."
The boat has left a stormy land,
A stormy sea before her,
When, oh! too strong for human hand,
The tempest gathered o'er her.
And still they rowed amidst the roar
Of waters fast prevailing:
Lord Ullin reached that fatal shore;
His wrath was changed to wailing.
For sore dismayed, through storm and shade,
His child he did discover:
One lovely hand she stretched for aid,
And one was round her lover.
"Come back! come back!" he cried in grief,
"Across this stormy water;
And I'll forgive your Highland chief,
My daughter!—oh, my daughter!"
'Twas vain: the loud waves lashed the shore,
Return or aid preventing:—
The waters wild went o'er his child,
And he was left lamenting.

[Pg 3176]


There came to the beach a poor Exile of Erin,
The dew on his thin robe was heavy and chill;
For his country he sighed, when at twilight repairing
To wander alone by the wind-beaten hill;
But the day-star attracted his eye's sad devotion,
For it rose o'er his own native isle of the ocean,
Where once, in the fire of his youthful emotion,
He sang the bold anthem of Erin go bragh.
Sad is my fate! said the heart-broken stranger;
The wild deer and wolf to a covert can flee,
But I have no refuge from famine and danger.
A home and a country remain not to me.
Never again, in the green sunny bowers
Where my forefathers lived, shall I spend the sweet hours,
Or cover my harp with the wild-woven flowers,
And strike to the numbers of Erin go bragh!
Erin, my country! though sad and forsaken,
In dreams I revisit thy sea-beaten shore;
But, alas! in a far foreign land I awaken,
And sigh for the friends who can meet me no more!
O cruel fate! wilt thou never replace me
In a mansion of peace, where no perils can chase me?
Never again shall my brothers embrace me?
They died to defend me, or live to deplore!
Where is my cabin door, fast by the wildwood?
Sisters and sire! did ye weep for its fall?
Where is the mother that looked on my childhood?
And where is the bosom-friend, dearer than all?
Oh! my sad heart! long abandoned by pleasure,
Why did it dote on a fast fading treasure?
Tears, like the raindrop, may fall without measure,
But rapture and beauty they cannot recall.
Yet all its sad recollections suppressing,
One dying wish my lone bosom can draw:
Erin! an exile bequeaths thee his blessing!
Land of my forefathers! Erin go bragh!
Buried and cold, when my heart stills her motion,
Green be thy fields, sweetest isle of the ocean!
And thy harp-striking bards sing aloud with devotion—
Erin mavournin—Erin go bragh!

[Pg 3177]


Ye Mariners of England!
That guard our native seas;
Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze!
Your glorious standard launch again
To match another foe!
And sweep through the deep,
While the stormy winds do blow;
While the battle rages loud and long,
And the stormy winds do blow.
The spirit of your fathers
Shall start from every wave!—
For the deck it was their field of fame,
And Ocean was their grave:
Where Blake and mighty Nelson fell,
Your manly hearts shall glow,
As ye sweep through the deep,
While the stormy winds do blow;
While the battle rages loud and long,
And the stormy winds do blow.
Britannia needs no bulwark,
No towers along the steep;
Her march is o'er the mountain-waves,
Her home is on the deep.
With thunders from her native oak
She quells the floods below,—
As they roar on the shore,
When the stormy winds do blow;
When the battle rages loud and long,
And the stormy winds do blow.
The meteor flag of England
Shall yet terrific burn,
Till danger's troubled night depart,
And the star of peace return.
Then, then, ye ocean-warriors!
Our song and feast shall flow
To the fame of your name,
When the storm has ceased to blow;
When the fiery fight is heard no more,
And the storm has ceased to blow.

[Pg 3178]


On Linden, when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay th' untrodden snow;
And dark as winter was the flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.
But Linden saw another sight,
When the drum beat, at dead of night,
Commanding fires of death to light
The darkness of her scenery.
By torch and trumpet fast arrayed,
Each horseman drew his battle-blade,
And furious every charger neighed,
To join the dreadful revelry.
Then shook the hills with thunder riven,
Then rushed the steed to battle driven,
And louder than the bolts of heaven
Far flashed the red artillery.
But redder yet that light shall glow
On Linden's hills of stainèd snow,
And bloodier yet the torrent flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.
'Tis morn, but scarce yon level sun
Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun,
Where furious Frank and fiery Hun
Shout in their sulph'rous canopy.
The combat deepens. On, ye brave,
Who rush to glory or the grave!
Wave, Munich! all thy banners wave,
And charge with all thy chivalry!
Few, few shall part where many meet!
The snow shall be their winding-sheet,
And every turf beneath their feet
Shall be a soldier's sepulchre.
Photogravure from a painting by Meissonier.

The battle of Hohenlinden, commemorated by Campbell's lyric, was fought Dec. 3, 1800. The French under Moreau defeated the Austrians under the Archduke John.


[Pg 3179]


Of Nelson and the North
Sing the day!
When, their haughty powers to vex,
He engaged the Danish decks,
And with twenty floating wrecks
Crowned the fray!
All bright, in April's sun,
Shone the day!
When a British fleet came down
Through the islands of the crown,
And by Copenhagen town
Took their stay.
In arms the Danish shore
Proudly shone;
By each gun the lighted brand,
In a bold determined hand,
And the Prince of all the land
Led them on!
For Denmark here had drawn
All her might!
From her battle-ships so vast
She had hewn away the mast,
And at anchor to the last
Bade them fight!
Another noble fleet
Of their line
Rode out, but these were naught
To the batteries, which they brought,
Like Leviathans afloat,
In the brine.
It was ten of Thursday morn,
By the chime;
As they drifted on their path
There was silence deep as death,
And the boldest held his breath
For a time—
Ere a first and fatal round
Shook the flood;
[Pg 3180]Every Dane looked out that day,
Like the red wolf on his prey,
And he swore his flag to sway
O'er our blood.
Not such a mind possessed
England's tar;
'Twas the love of noble game
Set his oaken heart on flame,
For to him 'twas all the same—
Sport and war.
All hands and eyes on watch,
As they keep;
By their motion light as wings,
By each step that haughty springs,
You might know them for the kings
Of the deep!
'Twas the Edgar first that smote
Denmark's line;
As her flag the foremost soared,
Murray stamped his foot on board,
And an hundred cannons roared
At the sign!
Three cheers of all the fleet
Sung huzza!
Then, from centre, rear, and van,
Every captain, every man,
With a lion's heart began
To the fray.
Oh, dark grew soon the heavens—
For each gun
From its adamantine lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships,
Like a hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.
Three hours the raging fire
Did not slack;
But the fourth, their signals drear
Of distress and wreck appear,
And the Dane a feeble cheer
Sent us back.
[Pg 3181]
The voice decayed, their shots
Slowly boom.
They ceased—and all is wail,
As they strike the shattered sail,
Or in conflagration pale
Light the gloom.
Oh death!—it was a sight
Filled our eyes!
But we rescued many a crew
From the waves of scarlet hue,
Ere the cross of England flew
O'er her prize.
Why ceased not here the strife,
O ye brave?
Why bleeds old England's band,
By the fire of Danish land,
That smites the very hand
Stretched to save?
But the Britons sent to warn
Denmark's town;
Proud foes, let vengeance sleep;
If another chain-shot sweep,
All your navy in the deep
Shall go down!
Then, peace instead of death
Let us bring!
If you'll yield your conquered fleet,
With the crews, at England's feet,
And make submission meet
To our king!
Then death withdrew his pall
From the day;
And the sun looked smiling bright
On a wide and woful sight,
Where the fires of funeral light
Died away.
Yet all amidst her wrecks,
And her gore,
Proud Denmark blest our chief
[Pg 3182]That he gave her wounds relief;
And the sounds of joy and grief
Filled her shore.
All round, outlandish cries
Loudly broke;
But a nobler note was rung,
When the British, old and young.
To their bands of music sung
'Hearts of Oak!'
Cheer! cheer! from park and tower,
London town!
When the King shall ride in state
From St. James's royal gate,
And to all his peers relate
Our renown!
The bells shall ring! the day
Shall not close,
But a blaze of cities bright
Shall illuminate the night,
And the wine-cup shine in light
As it flows!
Yet—yet—amid the joy
And uproar,
Let us think of them that sleep
Full many a fathom deep
All beside thy rocky steep,
Brave hearts, to Britain's weal
Once so true!
Though death has quenched your flame,
Yet immortal be your name!
For ye died the death of fame
With Riou!
Soft sigh the winds of heaven
O'er your grave!
While the billow mournful rolls,
And the mermaid's song condoles,
Singing—"Glory to the souls
Of the brave!"

[Pg 3183]


But howling winter fled afar,
To hills that prop the polar star,
And loves on deer-borne car to ride
With barren Darkness by his side,
Round the shore where loud Lofoden
Whirls to death the roaring whale,
Round the hall where Runic Odin
Howls his war-song to the gale;
Save when adown the ravaged globe
He travels on his native storm,
Deflowering Nature's grassy robe,
And trampling on her faded form:—
Till light's returning lord assume
The shaft that drives him to his polar field;
Of power to pierce his raven plume
And crystal-covered shield.
O sire of storms! whose savage ear
The Lapland drum delights to hear,
When Frenzy with her bloodshot eye
Implores thy dreadful deity.
Archangel! power of desolation!
Fast descending as thou art,
Say, hath mortal invocation
Spells to touch thy stony heart?
Then, sullen Winter, hear my prayer,
And gently rule the ruined year;
Nor chill the wanderer's bosom bare,
Nor freeze the wretch's falling tear;—
To shuddering Want's unmantled bed
Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lead,
And gently on the orphan head
Of innocence descend,—
But chiefly spare, O king of clouds!
The sailor on his airy shrouds;
When wrecks and beacons strew the steep,
And spectres walk along the deep.
Milder yet thy snowy breezes
Pour on yonder tented shores,
Where the Rhine's broad billow freezes,
Or the dark-brown Danube roars.

[Pg 3184]





r. Thomas Campion, lyric poet, musician, and doctor of medicine,—who, of the three liberal arts that he practiced, is remembered now mainly for his poetry,—was born about the middle of the sixteenth century; the precise date and place being unknown. It has been conjectured that he came of an Essex family; but the evidence for this falls through. Nor was he, as has been ingeniously supposed, of any relationship to his namesake Edmund Campion, the Jesuit. What is certain, and thrice interesting in the case of such a poet, is that he was so nearly a contemporary of Shakespeare's. He was living in London all through the period of Shakespeare's mastery of the English stage, and survived him only by some three or four years. From an entry in the register of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, Fleet Street, we learn that Campion was buried there in February, 1619-20. But although it is clear that the two poets, one the most famous, the other well-nigh the least known, in the greater Elizabethan galaxy, must have often encountered in the narrower London of that day, there is no single reference in the lives or works of either connecting one with the other.

We first hear of Campion at Gray's Inn, where he was admitted a member in 1586, from which it is clear that his first idea was to go in for law. He tired of it before he was called to the bar, however; and turning to medicine instead, he seems to have studied for his M.D. at Cambridge, and thereafter repaired again to London and begun to practice as a physician,—very successfully, as the names of some of his more distinguished patients show. A man of taste, in the very finest sense,—cultured, musical, urbane,—his own Latin epigrams alone would show that he had all that social instinct and tact which count for so much in a doctor's career. He was fortunate, too, in finding in London the society best adapted to stimulate his finely intellectual and artistic faculty. The first public sign of his literary art was his book of 'Poemata,' the Latin epigrams referred to, which appeared in 1595, and every copy of which has disappeared. Fortunately a second series of epigrams, written in maturer years, gave him an excuse to republish the first series in connection with them, in the year of his death, 1619. From the two series we learn many interesting facts about his circle of friends and himself, and the [Pg 3185]evident ease and pleasantness of his life, late and early. There is the same sense of style in his Latin verse that one finds in his English lyrics; but though he had a pretty wit, with a sufficient salt in it on occasion,—as in his references to Barnabe Barnes,—his faculty was clearly more lyrical than epigrammatical, and his lyric poems are all that an exacting posterity is likely to allow him to carry up the steep approach to the House of Fame.

His earliest collection of these exquisite little poems was not issued under his own name, but under that of Philip Rosetter the musician, who wrote the music for half the book; the other half being of Campion's own composition. This, the first of the delightful set of old music-books which are the only source we have to draw upon for his lyric poems, was published in 1601. There is no doubt that for many years previous to this, Campion had been in the habit of writing both the words and music of such songs for the private delectation of his friends and himself. Some of his very finest lyrics, as memorable as anything he has given us, appear in this first volume of 1601.

The second collection of Campion's songs was published, this time under his own name, probably in 1613. It is entitled 'Two Books of Airs'; the first, 'Divine and Moral Songs,' which include some of the finest examples of their kind in all English literature; the second book, 'Light Conceits of Lovers,' is very well described by its title, containing many sweetest love-songs. We have not yet exhausted the list of Campion's music-books. In 1617 two more, 'The Third & Fourth Books of Airs,' were published in another small folio; and these again afford songs fine enough for any anthology. Meanwhile we have passed by all his Masques, which are among the prettiest of their kind, and as full of lyrical moments as of picturesque effects. The first was performed at Whitehall for the marriage of "my Lord Hayes" (Sir James Hay), on Twelfth Night, 1606-7. Three more were written by Campion in 1613; and in the same year he published his 'Songs of Mourning,' prompted by the untimely death of the promising young Prince Henry, which had taken place in November, 1612. These songs, which do not show Campion at his best, were set to music by Copario (alias John Cooper). This completes the list of Campion's poetry; but besides his actual practice in the arts of poetry and music, he wrote on the theory of both. His interesting 'Observations in the Art of English Poesie' (1602) resolves itself into a naive attack upon the use of rhyme in poetry, which comes paradoxically enough from one who was himself so exquisite a rhymer, and which called forth a very convincing reply in Daniel's 'Defence of Rhyme.' The 'Observations' contain some very taking examples of what may be done in the lyric form, without rhyme. Campion's [Pg 3186]musical pamphlet is less generally interesting, since counterpoint, on which he offered some practical rules, and the theory of music, have traveled so far since he wrote. It remains only to add that Campion remained in the limbo of forgotten poets from his own day until ours, when Professor Arber and Mr. A. H. Bullen in their different anthologies and editions rescued him for us. Mr. Bullen's privately printed volume of his works appeared in 1889. The present writer has more recently (1896) edited a very full selection of the lyrics in the 'Lyric Poets' series. Campion's fame, without doubt, is destined to grow steadily from this time forth, based as it is on poems which so perfectly and exquisitely satisfy the lyric sense and the lyric relationship between music and poetry.

Ernest Rhys


Of Neptune's empire let us sing,
At whose command the waves obey;
To whom the rivers tribute pay,
Down the high mountains sliding;
To whom the scaly nation yields
Homage for the crystal fields
Wherein they dwell;
And every sea-god pays a gem
Yearly out of his wat'ry cell,
To deck great Neptune's diadem.
The Tritons dancing in a ring
Before his palace gates do make
The water with their echoes quake,
Like the great thunder sounding:
The sea-nymphs chant their accents shrill,
And the Syrens, taught to kill
With their sweet voice,
Make every echoing rock reply,
Unto their gentle murmuring noise,
The praise of Neptune's empery.

From 'Ward's English Poets.'

[Pg 3187]


When to her lute Corinna sings,
Her voice revives the leaden strings,
And doth in highest notes appear
As any challenged echo clear.
But when she doth of mourning speak,
E'en with her sighs the strings do break.
And as her lute doth live and die,
Led by her passions, so must I:
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring;
But if she do of sorrow speak,
E'en from my heart the strings do break.

From 'Ward's English Poets'


(A. H. Bullen's modern text)

Never weather-beaten sail more willing bent to shore,
Never tired pilgrim's limbs affected slumber more.
Than my wearied sprite now longs to fly out of my troubled breast.
O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest!
Ever blooming are the joys of heaven's high Paradise;
Cold age deafs not there our ears, nor vapor dims our eyes:
Glory there the sun outshines, whose beams the Blessèd only see.
O come quickly, glorious Lord, and raise my sprite to Thee!


(A. H. Bullen's modern text)

When thou must home to shades of underground,
And there arrived, a new admired guest,
The beauteous spirits do engirt thee round,
White Iope, blithe Helen, and the rest,
To hear the stories of thy finished love
From that smooth tongue whose music hell can move;
Then wilt thou speak of banqueting delights,
Of masques and revels which sweet youth did make,
[Pg 3188]Of tourneys and great challenges of knights,
And all these triumphs for thy beauty's sake:
When thou hast told these honors done to thee,
Then tell, O tell, how thou didst murder me.


Where shee her sacred bowre adornes,
The Rivers clearely flow;
The groves and medowes swell with flowres,
The windes all gently blow.
Her Sunne-like beauty shines so fayre,
Her Spring can never fade;
Who then can blame the life that strives
To harbour in her shade?
Her grace I sought, her love I wooed;
Her love though I obtaine,
No time, no toyle, no vow, no faith,
Her wishèd grace can gaine.
Yet truth can tell my heart is hers,
And her will I adore;
And from that love when I depart,
Let heav'n view me no more!
Give beauty all her right,—
She's not to one forme tyed;
Each shape yeelds faire delight,
Where her perfections bide.
Helen, I grant, might pleasing be;
And Ros'mond was as sweet as shee.
Some, the quicke eye commends;
Some, swelling lips and red;
Pale lookes have many friends,
Through sacred sweetnesse bred.
Medowes have flowres that pleasure move,
Though Roses are the flowres of love.
Free beauty is not bound
To one unmovèd clime:
She visits ev'ry ground,
And favours ev'ry time.
Let the old loves with mine compare,
My Sov'raigne is as sweet and fair.

[Pg 3189]




he political history of this famous British statesman is told by Robert Bell (1846), by F.H. Hill (English Worthies Series), and in detail by Stapleton (his private secretary) in 'Political Life of Canning.' He became a friend of Pitt in 1793, entered the House of Commons in 1794, was made Under-Secretary of State in 1796, was Treasurer of the Navy from 1804 to 1806, Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1807 till 1809, Ambassador to Lisbon from 1814 to 1816, again at the head of foreign affairs in 1822, and was made Premier in 1827, dying under the labor of forming his Cabinet.

George Canning George Canning

Soon after his birth in London, April 11th, 1770, his disinherited father died in poverty, and his mother became an unsuccessful actress. An Irish actor, Moody, took young Canning to his uncle, Stratford Canning, in London, who adopted him and sent him to Eton, where he distinguished himself for his wit and literary talent. With his friends John and Robert Smith, John Hookham Frere, and Charles Ellis, he published a school magazine called The Microcosm, which attracted so much attention that Knight the publisher paid Canning £50 for the copyright. It was modeled on the Spectator, ridiculed modes and customs, and was a unique specimen of juvenile essay-writing. A fifth edition of the Microcosm was published in 1825. Subsequently Canning studied at Oxford. He died August 8th, 1827, at Chiswick (the residence of the Duke of Devonshire), in the same room and at the same age as Fox, and under similar circumstances; and he was buried in Westminster Abbey by the side of William Pitt.

It was not until 1798 that he obtained his great reputation as a statesman and orator. Every one agrees that his literary eloquence, wit, beauty of imagery, taste, and clearness of reasoning, were extraordinary. Byron calls him "a genius—almost a universal one; an orator, a wit, a poet, and a statesman." As a public speaker, we may picture him from Lord Dalling's description:—

"Every day, indeed, leaves us fewer of those who remember the clearly chiseled countenance, which the slouched hat only slightly concealed; the lip satirically curled; the penetrating eye, peering along the Opposition benches, [Pg 3190] of the old Parliamentary leader in the House of Commons. It is but here and there that we find a survivor of the old days to speak to us of the singularly mellifluous and sonorous voice, the classical language,—now pointed with epigram, now elevated into poetry, now burning with passion, now rich with humor,—which curbed into still attention a willing and long-broken audience."

As a statesman his place is more dubious. Like every English politician not born to a title, however,—Burke is an instance,—he was ferociously abused as a mere mercenary adventurer because his livelihood came from serving the public. The following lampoon is a specimen; the chief sting lies not in Canning's insolent mockery,—"Every time he made a speech he made a new and permanent enemy," it was said of him,—but in his not being a rich nobleman.


Not a woman, child, or man in
All this isle that loves thee, Canning.
Fools, whom gentle manners sway,
May incline to Castlereagh;
Princes who old ladies love
Of the Doctor[A] may approve;
Chancery lords do not abhor
Their chatty, childish Chancellor;
In Liverpool, some virtues strike,
And little Van's beneath dislike.
But thou, unamiable object,
Dear to neither prince nor subject,
Veriest, meanest scab for pelf
Fastening on the skin of Guelph,
Thou, thou must surely loathe thyself.

But his dominant taste was literary. His literature helped him to the field of statesmanship; as a compensation, his statesmanship is obscured by his literature. Bell says of him:—

"Canning's passion for literature entered into all his pursuits. It colored his whole life. Every moment of leisure was given up to books. He and Pitt were passionately fond of the classics, and we find them together of an evening after a dinner at Pitt's, poring over some old Grecian in a corner of the drawing-room while the rest of the company are dispersed in conversation.... In English writings his judgment was pure and strict; and no man was a more perfect master of all the varieties of composition. He was the first English Minister who banished the French language from our diplomatic correspondence and indicated before Europe the copiousness and dignity of our native tongue."

[Pg 3191]

Part of the time that he was Foreign Secretary, Châteaubriand held the like post for France, and Canning devoted much attention to giving his diplomatic correspondence a literary polish which has made these national documents famous. He also formed an intimate friendship with Sir Walter Scott, founding with him and Ellis the Quarterly Review, to which he contributed with the latter a humorous article on the bullion question.

In literature Canning takes his place from his association with the Anti-Jacobin, a newspaper established in 1797 under the secret auspices of Pitt as a literary organ to express the policy of the administration,—similar to the Rolliad, the Whig paper published a few years before this date; but more especially to oppose revolutionary sentiment and ridicule the persons who sympathized with it. The house of Wright, its publisher in Piccadilly, soon became the resort of the friends of the Ministry and the staff, which included William Gifford, the editor,—author of the 'Baviad' and 'Mæviad,'—John Hookham Frere, George Ellis, Canning, Mr. Jenkinson (afterward Earl of Liverpool), Lord Clare, Lord Mornington (afterward Lord Wellesley), Lord Morpeth (afterward Earl of Carlisle), and William Pitt, who contributed papers on finance.

The Anti-Jacobin lived through thirty-six weekly numbers, ending July 16th, 1796. Its essays and poetry have little significance to-day except for those who can imagine the stormy political atmosphere of the Reign of Terror, which threatened to extend its rule over the whole of Europe. Hence the torrents of abuse and the violent attacks upon any one tainted with the slightest Sans-culottic tone may be understood.

The greater number of poems in the Anti-Jacobin are parodies, but not exclusively political ones. The 'Loves of the Triangles' is a parody on Dr. Erasmus Darwin's 'Loves of the Plants,' and contains an amusing contest between Parabola, Hyperbola, and Ellipsis for the love of the Phœnician Cone; the 'Progress of Man' is a parody of Payne Knight's 'Progress of Civil Society'; the 'Inscription for the Cell of Mrs. Brownrigg' a parody of Southey; and 'The Rovers,' of which one scene is given below, is a burlesque on the German dramas then in fashion. This was written by Canning, Ellis, Frere, and Gifford, and the play was given at Covent Garden in 1811 with great success, especially the song of the captive Rogero. 'The Needy Knife-Grinder,' also quoted below, a parody of Southey's 'Sapphics,' is by Canning and Frere. The poetry of the Anti-Jacobin was collected and published by Charles Edmonds (London, 1854), in a volume that contains also the original verses which are exposed to ridicule. Canning's public speeches, edited by R. Therry, were published in 1828.

[A] Addington.

[Pg 3192]


From 'The Rovers; or the Double Arrangement'


The scene is a subterranean vault in the Abbey of Quedlinburgh, with coffins, 'scutcheons, death's-heads, and cross-bones; toads and other loathsome reptiles are seen traversing the obscurer parts of the stage.—Rogero appears, in chains, in a suit of rusty armor, with his beard grown, and a cap of a grotesque form upon his head; beside him a crock, or pitcher, supposed to contain his daily allowance of sustenance.—A long silence, during which the wind is heard to whistle through the caverns.—Rogero rises, and comes slowly forward, with his arms folded.

Rogero.—Eleven years! it is now eleven years since I was first immured in this living sepulchre;—the cruelty of a Minister—the perfidy of a Monk—yes, Matilda! for thy sake—alive amidst the dead—chained—coffined—confined—cut off from the converse of my fellow-men. Soft! what have we here! [Stumbles over a bundle of sticks.] This cavern is so dark that I can scarcely distinguish the objects under my feet. Oh, the register of my captivity! Let me see; how stands the account? [Takes up the sticks and turns them over with a melancholy air; then stands silent for a few minutes as if absorbed in calculation.] Eleven years and fifteen days!—Hah! the twenty-eighth of August! How does the recollection of it vibrate on my heart! It was on this day that I took my last leave of Matilda. It was a summer evening; her melting hand seemed to dissolve in mine as I prest it to my bosom. Some demon whispered me that I should never see her more. I stood gazing on the hated vehicle which was conveying her away forever. The tears were petrified under my eyelids. My heart was crystallized with agony. Anon I looked along the road. The diligence seemed to diminish every instant; I felt my heart beat against its prison, as if anxious to leap out and overtake it. My soul whirled round as I watched the rotation of the hinder wheels. A long trail of glory followed after her and mingled with the dust—it was the emanation of Divinity, luminous with love and beauty, like the splendor of the setting sun; but it told me that the sun of my joys was sunk forever. Yes, here in the depths [Pg 3193] of an eternal dungeon, in the nursing-cradle of hell, the suburbs of perdition, in a nest of demons, where despair in vain sits brooding over the putrid eggs of hope; where agony wooes the embrace of death; where patience, beside the bottomless pool of despondency, sits angling for impossibilities. Yet even here, to behold her, to embrace her! Yes, Matilda, whether in this dark abode, amidst toads and spiders, or in a royal palace, amidst the more loathsome reptiles of a court, would be indifferent to me; angels would shower down their hymns of gratulation upon our heads, while fiends would envy the eternity of suffering love—Soft; what air was that? it seemed a sound of more than human warblings. Again [listens attentively for some minutes]. Only the wind: it is well, however; it reminds me of that melancholy air which has so often solaced the hours of my captivity. Let me see whether the damps of this dungeon have not yet injured my guitar. [Takes his guitar, tunes it, and begins the following air with a full accompaniment of violins from the orchestra:—]

[Air, 'Lanterna Magica.']


Whene'er with haggard eyes I view
This dungeon that I'm rotting in,
I think of those companions true
Who studied with me at the U—
—niversity of Gottingen,
—niversity of Gottingen.

[Weeps and pulls out a blue kerchief, with which he wipes his eyes; gazing tenderly at it, he proceeds:—]

Sweet kerchief, checked with heavenly blue,
Which once my love sat knotting in!—
Alas! Matilda then was true!
At least I thought so at the U—
—niversity of Gottingen,
—niversity of Gottingen.

[At the repetition of this line Rogero clanks his chains in cadence.]

Barbs! barbs! alas! how swift you flew,
Her neat post-wagon trotting in!
Ye bore Matilda from my view;
Forlorn I languished at the U—
—niversity of Gottingen,
—niversity of Gottingen.
[Pg 3194]
This faded form! this pallid hue!
This blood my veins is clotting in!
My years are many—they were few
When first I entered at the U—
—niversity of Gottingen,
—niversity of Gottingen.
There first for thee my passion grew,
Sweet, sweet Matilda Pottingen!
Thou wast the daughter of my Tu-
tor, law professor at the U—
—niversity of Gottingen,
—niversity of Gottingen.
[A]Sun, moon, and thou, vain world, adieu!
That kings and priests are plotting in:
Here doomed to starve on water gru—
el, never shall I see the U—
—niversity of Gottingen,
—niversity of Gottingen.

[During the last stanza Rogero dashes his head repeatedly against the walls of his prison, and finally so hard as to produce a visible contusion. He then throws himself on the floor in an agony. The curtain drops, the music still continuing to play till it is wholly fallen.]

[A] This verse is said to have been added by the younger Pitt.



Needy Knife-grinder! whither are you going?
Rough is the road; your wheel is out of order—
Bleak blows the blast; your hat has got a hole in't,
So have your breeches!
Weary Knife-grinder! little think the proud ones
Who in their coaches roll along the turnpike
Road, what hard work 'tis crying all day, "Knives and
Scissors to grind O!"
Tell me, Knife-grinder, how you came to grind knives?
Did some rich man tyrannically use you?
Was it some squire? or parson of the parish?
Or the attorney?

[Pg 3195]

Was it the squire, for killing of his game? or
Covetous parson, for his tithes distraining?
Or roguish lawyer, made you lose your little
All in a lawsuit?
Have you not read the 'Rights of Man,' by Tom Paine?
Drops of compassion tremble on my eyelids,
Ready to fall, as soon as you have told your
Pitiful story.


Story? God bless you! I have none to tell, sir;
Only last night a-drinking at the Chequers,
This poor old hat and breeches, as you see, were
Torn in a scuffle.
Constables came up for to take me into
Custody; they took me before the justice;
Justice Oldmixon put me in the parish-
Stocks for a vagrant.
I should be glad to drink your honor's health in
A pot of beer, if you will give me sixpence;
But for my part, I never love to meddle
With politics, sir.


I give thee sixpence! I will see thee damned first—
Wretch! whom no sense of wrongs can rouse to vengeance!
Sordid, unfeeling, reprobate, degraded,
Spiritless outcast!

[Kicks the Knife-grinder, overturns his wheel, and exit in a transport of republican enthusiasm and universal philanthropy.]


From the 'Speech on Parliamentary Reform'

Other nations, excited by the example of the liberty which this country has long possessed, have attempted to copy our Constitution; and some of them have shot beyond it in the fierceness of their pursuit. I grudge not to other nations that share of liberty which they may acquire: in the name of [Pg 3196] God, let them enjoy it! But let us warn them that they lose not the object of their desire by the very eagerness with which they attempt to grasp it. Inheritors and conservators of rational freedom, let us, while others are seeking it in restlessness and trouble, be a steady and shining light to guide their course; not a wandering meteor to bewilder and mislead them.

Let it not be thought that this is an unfriendly or disheartening counsel to those who are either struggling under the pressure of harsh government, or exulting in the novelty of sudden emancipation. It is addressed much rather to those who, though cradled and educated amidst the sober blessings of the British Constitution, pant for other schemes of liberty than those which that Constitution sanctions—other than are compatible with a just equality of civil rights, or with the necessary restraints of social obligation; of some of whom it may be said, in the language which Dryden puts into the mouth of one of the most extravagant of his heroes, that

"They would be free as Nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began,
When wild in the woods the noble savage ran."

Noble and swelling sentiments!—but such as cannot be reduced into practice. Grand ideas!—but which must be qualified and adjusted by a compromise between the aspirings of individuals and a due concern for the general tranquillity;—must be subdued and chastened by reason and experience, before they can be directed to any useful end! A search after abstract perfection in government may produce in generous minds an enterprise and enthusiasm to be recorded by the historian and to be celebrated by the poet: but such perfection is not an object of reasonable pursuit, because it is not one of possible attainment; and never yet did a passionate struggle after an absolutely unattainable object fail to be productive of misery to an individual, of madness and confusion to a people. As the inhabitants of those burning climates which lie beneath a tropical sun, sigh for the coolness of the mountain and the grove; so (all history instructs us) do nations which have basked for a time in the torrid blaze of an unmitigated liberty, too often call upon the shades of despotism, even of military despotism, to cover them,—

"—O quis me gelidis in vallibus Hæmi
Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbra!"

[Pg 3197] a protection which blights while it shelters; which dwarfs the intellect and stunts the energies of man, but to which a wearied nation willingly resorts from intolerable heats and from perpetual danger of convulsion.

Our lot is happily cast in the temperate zone of freedom, the clime best suited to the development of the moral qualities of the human race, to the cultivation of their faculties, and to the security as well as the improvement of their virtues;—a clime not exempt, indeed, from variations of the elements, but variations which purify while they agitate the atmosphere that we breathe. Let us be sensible of the advantages which it is our happiness to enjoy. Let us guard with pious gratitude the flame of genuine liberty, that fire from heaven, of which our Constitution is the holy depository; and let us not, for the chance of rendering it more intense and more radiant, impair its purity or hazard its extinction!


I now turn to that other part of the honorable and learned gentleman's [Mr. Brougham's] speech; in which he acknowledges his acquiescence in the passages of the address, echoing the satisfaction felt at the success of the liberal commercial principles adopted by this country, and at the steps taken for recognizing the new States of America. It does happen, however, that the honorable and learned gentleman being not unfrequently a speaker in this House, nor very concise in his speeches, and touching occasionally, as he proceeds, on almost every subject within the range of his imagination, as well as making some observations on the matter in hand,—and having at different periods proposed and supported every innovation of which the law or Constitution of the country is susceptible,—it is impossible to innovate without appearing to borrow from him. Either, therefore, we must remain forever absolutely locked up as in a northern winter, or we must break our way out by some mode already suggested by the honorable and learned gentleman; and then he cries out, "Ah, I was there before you! That is what I told you to do; but as you would not do it then, you have no right to do it now."[Pg 3198]

In Queen Anne's reign there lived a very sage and able critic named Dennis, who in his old age was the prey of a strange fancy that he had himself written all the good things in all the good plays that were acted. Every good passage he met with in any author he insisted was his own. "It is none of his," Dennis would always say: "no, it's mine!" He went one day to see a new tragedy. Nothing particularly good to his taste occurred till a scene in which a great storm was represented. As soon as he heard the thunder rolling over his head he exclaimed, "That's my thunder!" So it is with the honorable and learned gentleman: it's all his thunder. It will henceforth be impossible to confer any boon, or make any innovation, but he will claim it as his thunder.

But it is due to him to acknowledge that he does not claim everything; he will be content with the exclusive merit of the liberal measures relating to trade and commerce. Not desirous of violating his own principles by claiming a monopoly of fore-sight and wisdom, he kindly throws overboard to my honorable and learned friend [Sir J. Mackintosh] near him, the praise of South America. I should like to know whether, in some degree, this also is not his thunder. He thinks it right itself; but lest we should be too proud if he approved our conduct in toto, he thinks it wrong in point of time. I differ from him essentially; for if I pique myself on anything in this affair, it is the time. That at some time or other, States which had separated themselves from the mother country should or should not be admitted to the rank of independent nations, is a proposition to which no possible dissent could be given. The whole question was one of time and mode. There were two modes: one a reckless and headlong course by which we might have reached our object at once, but at the expense of drawing upon us consequences not lightly to be estimated; the other was more strictly guarded in point of principle, so that while we pursued our own interests, we took care to give no just cause of offense to other Powers.

[Pg 3199]




esare Cantù, an Italian historian, was born at Brivio on the Adda, December 2d, 1805. The eldest of ten children, he belonged to an old though impoverished family. To obtain for him a gratuitous education his parents destined him for the priesthood. On the death of his father in 1827 he became the sole support of his mother, brothers, and sisters. In 1825 he had made his appearance as a writer with a poem entitled 'Algiso and the Lombard League.' His 'History of Como,' following in 1829, gave him a standing in the world of letters.

Although not a member of the revolutionary society 'Young Italy,' he was the confidant of two of its leaders, Albera and Balzetti, a circumstance which led to his arrest in 1833. Seized by the Austrian officials in the midst of his lecture at the Lyceum in Milan, he was incarcerated in the prison in the Convent of Santa Margherita. Although deprived of books and pen, he beguiled the time by writing with a toothpick and candle-smoke on the back of a map and on scraps of paper, 'Margherita Pusteria,' with one exception the most popular historical novel in the Italian language.

Liberated at the end of a year, but deprived of his professorship, he and his family would probably have starved had he not chanced to meet a publisher who wanted a history of the world. The result of this meeting was his 'Universal History' in thirty-five volumes (Turin, 1836 et seq.), which has gone through forty editions and been translated into many languages. It brought the publisher a fortune and Cantù a modest independence.

Up to the time of his death in 1895, Cantù wrote almost without intermission. Besides the books already mentioned, the most notable are the 'History of a Hundred Years, 1750-1850' (1864), and the 'Story of the Struggles for Italian Independence' (1873). His masterpiece is the 'Universal History,' the best work of its kind in Italian and perhaps in any language for lucidity and rapidity of narration, unity of plan, justness of proportion, and literary art. It is however written from the clerical point of view, and is not based on a critical study of documentary sources. The political offenses for which Cantù suffered persecution were his attempts to secure a federal union of the Italian States under the hegemony of Austria and the Papacy.

[Pg 3200]


From 'Margherita Pusterla'

The beautiful sunshine which one sees in Lombardy only at the season of vintage, spread its white light and gentle warmth upon the sombre façades of Broletto. The Piazza was packed with people; the balconies and belvideres were filled with motley groups. Even ladies were contending for the best places to see the horrible sight. One mother showed her little boy all this preparation for death, and said to him:—

"Do you see that man yonder with the long black beard and rough skin? He devours bad boys in two mouthfuls: if you cry, he will carry you off."

The frightened child tightly clasped his mother's neck with his small arms, and hid his face in her breast. Another, half ashamed at being seen there, asked, "Who is the victim?"

"It is," replied a neighboring stranger, "the wife of the man who was beheaded yesterday."

"Ah, ah!" put in a third, "then it is the mother of the little boy who was executed yesterday with Signor Pusterla?"

"How was that?" resumed the first speaker; "did they behead a child?"

"It is only too true," said a woman, joining in the conversation; "and such a pretty little boy! Two blue eyes, bluer than the sky, and a face as gentle and sweet as that of the Christ-child, and hair like threads of gold. I came here to show my boy how the wicked are punished, and as I stood near the scaffold, I heard and saw everything!"

"Tell us, tell us, Mother Radegonda." And Radegonda, enchanted at occupying the centre of attention, began.

"I will tell you," she said. "When he was there—but for the love of charity, give me more room; you do not wish to stifle my little Tanuccio?—Well, when he began to ascend the ladder, ah, see, the child does not wish to go! He stamps his foot, he weeps, he cries—"

"I believe you," interrupted a person named Pizzabrasa, "for I heard all the way from the Loggia dei Mercanti, where I was being crushed, his cries of 'Papa! Mamma!'"

"That was it," continued Radegonda; "and he recoiled with horror before that savage figure," she said, pointing with her [Pg 3201] forefinger to Mastro Impicca. "His father sobbed, and could not speak; but his confessor whispered in his ear—"

"I saw also," interrupted Pizzabrasa, determined to show that he had been an eye-witness, and he continued:—"the golden hair of the child soon mingled with the black hair and beard of the father. One would have said they were yellow flames on a funeral pall. I also saw the child caress the priest who talked to him, and the priest—"

"Who is the priest?" interrupted the first speaker. The question was passed from lip to lip, until finally a man, dressed somewhat after the ecclesiastical fashion and having a serene and devout face, replied:—

"He is the one who preached at Lent last year at Santa-Maria del Sacco. He could have converted Herod himself. But the world is so wicked! He had no more success than if he had preached in the desert."

"His name?"

"Fra Buonvicino of the monastery Della Ricchezza de Brera. But the riches that he covets are not those which one acquires in sewing cloaks. Do you know him? Ah, what a man! question him, talk to him, he knows everything, and—"

"But what did he say to the child?"—"And what did the child say?"—"And the child's father, what did he do?"—It was thus they interrupted the speaker, without listening to his eulogy.

Here Radegonda, regretting that she had been deposed from her throne, took occasion to resume her speech, for no one was able to give more details. She began again.

"Here, here," she said, "who is to talk, you or I? There are some people who stick their noses everywhere and who—Now do you want to know what the priest said? and how the poor condemned creature walked with courage? and how in one instant he was in heaven in the company of the angels?"

"And what did the child say?"

"The little child did not want to go along. He said:—'I know that it is beautiful in Paradise, that the angels live there, and the kind God, and there lives the good Madonna: but I would rather stay here with Papa and Mamma; I would rather stay with them!' he repeated, and cried."

"Sacred innocence!" exclaimed one of the listeners by an instinctive compassion, and shed a few tears; but if any one had [Pg 3202] questioned him regarding the justice of putting the child to death, he would have unhesitatingly answered in the affirmative.

Our eloquent Radegonda continued:—

"But the priest! Is there any one here who did not see his face? Well, you know how it looks when it rains and shines at the same time,—when they say the Devil beats his wife,—that was the face of the good monk. Tears large as the beads of a rosary ran down his cheeks, and at the same time he had a smile like an angel.... He said to the boy, 'Your father goes with you to Paradise!' The child looked at him with sad eyes, and asked, 'But Mamma?'—'Your mother,' replied the priest, 'will come with us.'—'If I stay on earth,' said the child, 'I must then live without them?' The monk answered 'Yes'; and then the little one consented to kneel."

Here sobs checked the course of the narrative; and the narrator was half ashamed at being affected by the fate of the condemned ones, just as a young lady is ashamed when she is caught weeping at the theatre. Pizzabrasa concluded the recital:

"The child dropped upon his knees, and raised towards heaven his little hands that were whiter than snow, and then the executioner cut his hair and opened his great eyes to frighten him."

"How much I would have been willing to pay to have been present," exclaimed one of the group; "such affecting scenes delight me."

"Then why didn't you come?" asked a neighbor.

The other replied, "What do you think? I had to take to Saint-Victor a saddle and bridle which I had mended."

And then with that indifference such compassionate souls have for the sorrows of others which have affected them for a moment, they turned the conversation on a thousand unrelated topics....

On the balconies, on the platforms, and in the magistrates' halls, conversation of another description was held. Ladies and gentlemen of high degree discussed arms and battles, inconstant favors of the court, passage of birds, and the scarcity of hares; they demanded and related news; and read from the books of this one and that one. Signora Theodora, the young wife of Francesco dei Maggi, one of the most famous beauties, asked in the most nonchalant way as she drew on her gloves, "Who is this one about to be executed?"[Pg 3203]

"Margherita Visconti," replied Forestino, one of the sons of the Duke, who was playing the gallant with all the ladies present.

"Visconti!" exclaimed the young woman. "She is then a relative of Signor Vicario?"

"Yes, a distant relative," responded the young man.

But the jester Grillincervello interposed:—"She might have been a nearer relative, but as she refused this, you see what has happened."

"She must regret her action," said another; "she is so young and beautiful!"

"And then she is not accustomed to dying," put in the fool, a reflection which caused peals of laughter around him.

Then he turned towards Forestino and his brother Bruzio, around whom all had gathered in homage: "Serene Princes, it is my opinion that if you wish to render attentions to the lady of Signor Franciscolo del Maggi, she will not imitate Margherita."

At this moment the clock struck again. There was sullen silence—then a second stroke—then a third, vibrating with a moribund horror.

"She has arrived?"


"Why is she so late?" was the universal question; for the spectators were impatient, and imbued with expectation and curiosity, as if they were in a theatre waiting for the curtain to rise.

"Perhaps they have pardoned her?" said one.

"Well, for my part, I should be glad." And the people seemed to find as much pleasure in imagining a pardon as in watching the execution: either way it gave them material for applause, emotion, criticism, and discussion.

Soon all observations were interrupted, for upon the parlera, which was covered with black cloth and velvet cushions, they saw appear the magistrates, the podesta, his lieutenant, and finally the captain Lucio. As I have told you, justice was then barbarous but honest, and these men came to admire their work.

Through all the narrow streets, which terminated at this point, ran a whisper; and the murmurs grew more excited towards the large gate which gave entrance to the Pescheria Vecchia. Here was seen the winding funeral procession, which made a long circuit to let the multitude profit by the lesson.[Pg 3204]

"Here she is! Here she is!" they cried, and exactly like a regiment of infantry in obedience to the commands of a sergeant, the entire crowd stood on tiptoe, stretched their necks, and turned heads and eyes to the scene.

Then appeared a yellow standard bordered with gold lace, upon which was painted a skeleton, erect. In one hand it held a scythe and in the other an hour-glass. At the right of the skeleton there was painted a man with a cord around his neck, and to the left a man carrying his head in his hands. Behind this gonfalon advanced two by two the Brothers of the Consolation. This was a pious fraternity founded in the chapel of Santa Maria dei Disciplini; this chapel was afterwards changed into a church, which yielded to none other in Milan for its beauty of architecture. To-day it is a common school. This fraternity, which was transferred to San Giovanni alle Case rotte, had for its one aim to succor the condemned and to prepare them for death. The brothers advanced. They were attired in white habits, fitting tightly around their figures, and their cowls were sewn around their heads. Instead of a face, one saw a cross embroidered in red, and at the arms of this cross tiny holes were made for the eyes to peer forth. On their breasts they wore a black medal representing the death of Christ, and at the foot of the cross was engraved the head of Saint John the Baptist. With their long unbelted robes, the chains on their wrists, they resembled nocturnal phantoms.

The last ones bore a coffin, and sang in lugubrious tones the doleful 'Miserere.' Chanting a service and carrying the bier of a person still in the flesh! Breaking through the crowd, they arrived near the scaffold and placed the bier upon the ground. Then they arranged themselves in two cordons around the block, so that they could receive the victim among them, and also to form a guard between the world and her who was to leave it. Now a car came, moving slowly and drawn by two oxen caparisoned in black. In this car was our poor Margherita.

In obedience to the curious sentiment which commands one to adorn one's self for all occasions, even the melancholy ones, Margherita had dressed herself in a rich robe of sombre hue. With great pains she had arranged her black hair, which set off to advantage the delicate pallor of the face revealing so much suffering. Upon her neck, which had so often disputed whiteness with pearls, she now wore her rosary, which seemed to [Pg 3205] outline the circle of the axe. In her hands she clasped the crucifix attached to the chapelet, and from this she never removed her eyes,—eyes which had always beamed with kindness and sweetness, but which were now full of sorrow. They could only look upon one object—the cross, the one hope of salvation.

By her side was seated Buonvicino, even paler, if possible, than she. In his hand he held an image of the Crucified God who has suffered for us. From time to time he spoke some consoling words to the young victim,—a simple prayer such as our mothers have taught us in infancy, and which come to us again in the most critical moments of life:—"Savior, unto thee I yield my spirit. Maria, pray for me at the hour of death. Depart, Christian soul, from this world, which is but a place of exile, and return into that celestial country sanctified by thy suffering, so that angels may bear thee to Paradise!"...

When Margherita appeared, every one exclaimed: "Oh, how beautiful she is! She is so young!"

Then tears flowed. Many a silken handkerchief hid the eyes of fair ladies, and many a hand, accustomed to a sword, tried to retard tears.

Every one looked towards Lucio to see if he would not wave a white handkerchief—the signal of pardon.

Translated through the French by Esther Singleton, for the 'Library of the World's Best Literature.'

[Pg 3206]





arely in the history of ancient or modern literature has a writer, while living, been so generally recognized by his countrymen as their national prophet as has the Italian poet and essayist Carducci. In January, 1896, he completed his thirty-fifth year as Professor of Belles-Lettres in the University of Bologna; and the solemn and brilliant festivities with which the event was celebrated, extending over three days and including congratulatory addresses from the king, from the municipality, from the students and graduates, from foreign universities, and from distinguished scholars at home and abroad, testified to the remarkable hold this poet has gained on the affections and esteem of the Italian people, and the deep impress his writing has made on the literature of our time.

Born in northern Italy in the year 1836, and entering upon his literary career at a time coincident with the downfall of foreign power in Tuscany, the history of his authorship is a fair reflection of the growth of the new Italy of to-day. In an autobiographical sketch with which he prefaces his volume of 'Poesie' (1871) he depicts with the utmost sincerity and frankness the transition through which his own mind has passed, in breaking from the old traditions in which he had been nursed at his mother's knee, and in meeting the dazzling radiance of modern thought and feeling; the thrill of national liberty and independence,—no longer a glory dreamed of, as by Alfieri, nor sung in tones of despair, as by Leopardi, but as a living experience of his own time. He felt the awakening to be at once a literary, political, and religious one; and following his deep Hellenic instincts, the religious rebound in him was rather to the paganism of the ancient Latin forefathers than to the spiritual worship that had come in with the infusion of foreign blood.

"This paganism," he says, "this cult of form, was naught else but the love of that noble nature from which the solitary Semitic estrangements had alienated hitherto the spirit of man in such bitter opposition. My sentiment of opposition, at first feebly defined, thus became confirmed conceit, reason, affirmation; the hymn to Apollo became the hymn to Satan. Oh! the beautiful years from 1861 to 1865, passed in peaceful solitude and quiet study, in the midst of a [Pg 3207] home where the venerable mother, instead of fostering superstition, taught us to read Alfieri. But as I read the codices of the fourteenth century, the ideas of the Renaissance began to appear to me in the gilded initial letters like the eyes of nymphs in the midst of flowers, and between the lines of the spiritual laude I detected the Satanic strophe."

So long had Italy lived in passive dependence on the fame of her great writers of the times of Augustus and of the Medici, and in the apathy of a long-abandoned hope of political independence and achievement, that it required a man of powerful instinct and genius to rouse the people to a sense of their actual possession of a national life and of a literature that is not alone of the past, and so to throw off both the "livery of the slave and the mask of the courtesan." Such was the mission of Carducci. As Howells in his 'Modern Italian Poets' remarks of Leopardi:—"He seems to have been the poet of the national mood; he was the final expression of that hopeless apathy in which Italy lay bound for thirty years after the fall of Napoleon and his governments." So it may be said of Carducci that in him speaks the hope and joy of a nation waking to new life, and recalling her past glories, no longer with shame but a purpose to prove herself worthy of such a heritage.

A distinguished literary contemporary, Enrico Panzacchi, says of Carducci:—

"I believe that I do not exaggerate the importance of Carducci when I say that to him and to his perseverance and steadfast work we owe in great part the poetic revival in Italy."

Cesar Lombroso, in the Paris Revue des Revues, says:—"Among the stars of first magnitude shines one of greatest brilliance, Carducci, the true representative of Italian literary genius."

The poem that first attracted attention and caused no little flutter of ecclesiastical gowns was the 'Hymn to Satan,' which appeared in 1865 in Pistoja, over the signature "Enotrio Romaho," and bore the date "MMDCXVIII from the foundation of Rome." It is not indeed the sacrilegious invective that might be imagined from the title, but rather a hymn to Science and to Free Thought, liberated from the ancient thraldom of dogma and superstition. It reveals the strong Hellenic instinct which still survives in the Italian people beneath the superimposed Christianity, and which here, as in many other of Carducci's poems, stands out in bold contrast with the subjective and spiritual elements in religion. It is this struggle of the pagan against the Christian instinct that accounts for the commingled sentiment of awe and of rebellion with which Carducci contemplates his great master Dante; for while he must revere him as the founder of Italian letters and the immortal poet of his race, he cannot but see both in [Pg 3208] the spirituality of Dante's conception of the Church and in his absolute loyalty to the Empire, motives wholly foreign to the ancient national instinct. Referring again to his transition years, he writes:

"Meanwhile the shadow of Dante looked down reproachfully upon me; but I might have answered:—'Father and Master, why didst thou bring learning from the cloister to the piazza, from the Latin to the vulgar tongue? Thou first, O great public accuser of the Middle Ages, gavest the signal for the rebound of thought. That the alarm was sounded from the bells of a Gothic campanile mattered but little.'"

Without a formal coronation, Carducci may be regarded as the actual poet laureate of Italy. He is still, at sixty years of age, an active and hard-working professor at the University of Bologna, where his popularity with his students in the lecture-room is equal to that which his writings have gained throughout the land. A favorite with the Court, and often invited to lecture before the Queen, he is still a man of great simplicity, even to roughness, of manners, and of a genial and cordial nature. Not only do the Italians with one voice call him their greatest author, but many both in Italy and elsewhere are fain to consider him the foremost living poet in Europe.

The citations here given have been selected as illustrating the prominent features of Carducci's genius. His joy in mental emancipation from the thraldom of dogma and superstition is seen in the 'Roma' and in the 'Hymn to Satan.' His paganism and his "cult of form," as also his Homeric power of description and of color, are seen in 'The Ox' and in 'To Aurora.' His veneration for the great masters finds expression in the sonnets to Homer and Dante, and the revulsion of the pagan before the spiritual religious feeling is shown in the lines 'In a Gothic Church' and in the sonnet 'Dante.'

The poems of Carducci have appeared for the most part in the following editions only:—'Poesie,' embracing the 'Juvenilia,' 'Levia Gravia,' and the 'Decennali'; 'Nuove Poesie,' 'Odi Barbare,' 'Nuove Rime.' Zanichelli in Bologna publishes a complete edition of his writings. His critical essays have appeared generally in the Nuova Antologia, and embrace among the more recent a history and discussion of Tasso's 'Aminta,' and the 'Ancient Pastoral Poetry': a preface to the translation by Sanfelice of Shelley's 'Prometheus'; the 'Torrismondo' of Tasso: 'Italian Life in the Fifteenth Century,' etc. Eight 'Odes' of Carducci have been translated into Latin by Adolfo Gandiglo of Ravenna, and published by Calderini of that city in 1894.

[Pg 3209]

Photogravure from a Painting by W. A. Bouguereau.

Translations from Frank Sewall's 'Giosue Carducci and the Hellenic Reaction in Italy' and 'Carducci and the Classic Realism.' By permission of Dodd, Mead and Company, copyright 1892.


From the 'Poesie'

Give to the wind thy locks; all glittering
Thy sea-blue eyes, and thy white bosom bared.
Mount to thy chariot, while in speechless roaring
Terror and Force before thee clear the way!
The shadow of thy helmet, like the flashing
Of brazen star, strikes through the trembling air.
The dust of broken empires, cloud-like rising,
Follows the awful rumbling of thy wheels.
So once, O Rome, beheld the conquered nations
Thy image, object of their ancient dread.[A]
To-day a mitre they would place upon
Thy head, and fold a rosary between
Thy hands. O name! again to terrors old
Awake the tired ages and the world!

[A] The allusion is to the figure of 'Roma' as seen on ancient coins.


From the 'Levia Gravia'

And from the savage Urals to the plain
A new barbarian folk shall send alarms,
The coast of Agenorean Thebes again
Be waked with sound of chariots and of arms;
And Rome shall fall; and Tiber's current drain
The nameless lands of long deserted farms:
But thou like Hercules shalt still remain,
Untouched by fiery Etna's deadly charms;
And with thy youthful temples, laurel-crowned,
Shalt rise to the eternal Form's embrace
Whose unveiled smile all earliest was thine;
And till the Alps to gulfing sea give place,
By Latin shore or on Achæan ground,
Like heaven's sun shalt thou, O Homer, shine!

[Pg 3210]


From the 'Poesie'

They rise aloft, marching in awful file,
The polished shafts immense of marble gray,
And in the sacred darkness seem to be
An army of giants
Who wage a war with the invisible;
The silent arches soar and spring apart
In distant flight, then re-embrace again
And droop on high.
So in the discord of unhappy men,
From out their barbarous tumult there go up
To God the sighs of solitary souls
In Him united.
Of you I ask no God, ye marble shafts,
Ye airy vaults! I tremble—but I watch
To hear a dainty well-known footstep waken
The solemn echoes.
'Tis Lidia, and she turns, and slowly turning,
Her tresses full of light reveal themselves,
And love is shining from a pale shy face
Behind the veil.


From the 'Levia Gravia'

I saw him, from the uncovered tomb uplifting
His mighty form, the imperial prophet stand.
Then shook the Adrian shore, and all the land
Italia trembled as at an earthquake drifting.
Like morning mist from purest ether sifting,
It marched along the Apenninian strand,
Glancing adown the vales on either hand,
Then vanished like the dawn to daylight shifting.
Meanwhile in earthly hearts a fear did rise,
The awful presence of a god discerning,
[Pg 3211]To which no mortal dared to lift the eyes.
But where beyond the gates the sun is burning,
The races dead of warlike men and wise
With joy saluted the great soul's returning.


From the 'Poesie'

I love thee, pious ox; a gentle feeling
Of vigor and of peace thou giv'st my heart.
How solemn, like a monument, thou art!
Over wide fertile fields thy calm gaze stealing,
Unto the yoke with grave contentment kneeling,
To man's quick work thou dost thy strength impart.
He shouts and goads, and answering thy smart,
Thou turn'st on him thy patient eyes appealing.
From thy broad nostrils, black and wet, arise
Thy breath's soft fumes; and on the still air swells,
Like happy hymn, thy lowing's mellow strain.
In the grave sweetness of thy tranquil eyes
Of emerald, broad and still reflected dwells
All the divine green silence of the plain.


From the 'Levia Gravia'

O Dante, why is it that I adoring
Still lift my songs and vows to thy stern face,
And sunset to the morning gray gives place
To find me still thy restless verse exploring?
Lucia prays not for my poor soul's resting;
For me Matilda tends no sacred fount;
For me in vain the sacred lovers mount,
O'er star and star, to the eternal soaring.
I hate the Holy Empire, and the crown
And sword alike relentless would have riven
From thy good Frederic on Olona's plains.
Empire and Church to ruin have gone down,
And yet for them thy songs did scale high heaven.
Great Jove is dead. Only the song remains.

[Pg 3212]


From the 'Poesie'

To thee my verses,
Unbridled and daring,
Shall mount, O Satan,
King of the banquet!
Away with thy sprinkling,
O Priest, and thy droning,
For never shall Satan,
O Priest, stand behind thee.
See how the rust is
Gnawing the mystical
Sword of St. Michael;
And how the faithful
Wind-plucked archangel
Falls into emptiness;
Frozen the thunder in
Hand of Jehovah.
Like to pale meteors, or
Planets exhausted,
Out of the firmament
Rain down the angels.
Here in the matter
Which never sleeps,
King of phenomena,
King of all forms,
Thou, Satan, livest.
Thine is the empire
Felt in the dark eyes'
Tremulous flashing,
Whether their languishing
Glances resist, or
Glittering and tearful, they
Call and invite.
How shine the clusters
With happy blood,
So that the furious
Joy may not perish,
[Pg 3213]
So that the languishing
Love be restored,
And sorrow be banished
And love be increased.
Thy breath, O Satan!
My verse inspires,
When from my bosom
The gods I defy
Of kings pontifical,
Of kings inhuman.
Thine is the lightning that
Sets minds to shaking.
For thee Arimane,
Adonis, Astarte;
For thee lived the marbles,
The pictures, the parchments,
When the fair Venus
Blessed the Ionian
Heavens serene.
For thee were roaring the
Forests of Lebanon,
Of the fair Cypri
Lover re-born;
For thee rose the chorus,
For thee raved the dances,
For thee the pure shining
Loves of the virgins,
Under the sweet-odored
Palms of Idume,
Where break in white foam
The Cyprian waves.
What if the barbarous
Nazarene fury,
Fed by the base rites
Of secret feastings,
Lights sacred torches
To burn down the temples,
[Pg 3214]Scattering abroad
The scrolls hieroglyphic?
In thee find refuge
The humble-roofed plebs,
Who have not forgotten
The gods of their household.
Thence comes the power,
Fervid and loving, that,
Filling the quick-throbbing
Bosom of woman,
Turns to the succor
Of nature enfeebled;
A sorceress pallid,
With endless care laden.
Thou to the trance-holden
Eye of the alchemist,
Thou to the view of the
Bigoted mago,
Showest the lightning-flash
Of the new time
Shining behind the dark
Bars of the cloister.
Seeking to fly from thee,
Here in the world-life
Hides him the gloomy monk
In Theban deserts.
O soul that wanderest
Far from the straight way,
Satan is merciful.—
See Heloisa!
In vain you wear yourself
Thin in rough gown; I
Still murmur the verses
Of Maro and Flaccus
Amid the Davidic
Psalming and wailing,
And—Delphic figures
Close at thy side—
[Pg 3215]
Rosy, amid the dark
Cowls of the friars,
Enters Licorida,
Enters Glicera.
Then other images
Of days more fair
Come to dwell with thee
In thy secret cell.
Lo! from the pages of
Livy, the Tribunes
All ardent, the Consuls,
The crowds tumultuous,
Awake; and the fantastic
Pride of Italians
Drives them, O Monk,
Up to the Capitol;
And you whom the flaming
Fire never melted,
Conjuring voices,
Wickliffe and Huss,
Send to the broad breeze
The cry of the watchman:—
"The age renews itself;
Full is the time."
Already tremble
The mitres and crowns.
Forth from the cloister
Moves the rebellion.
Under his stole, see,
Fighting and preaching,
Brother Girolamo
Off goes the tunic
Of Martin Luther;
Off go the fetters
That bound human thought.
It flashes and lightens,
Girdled with flame;
[Pg 3216]Matter, exalt thyself;
Satan has won!
A fair and terrible
Monster unchained
Courses the ocean,
Courses the earth.
Flashing and smoking,
Like the volcanoes, he
Climbs over mountains,
Ravages plains,
Skims the abysses;
Then he is lost
In unknown caverns
And ways profound,
Till lo! unconquered,
From shore to shore,
Like to the whirlwind,
He sends forth his cry.
Like to the whirlwind
Spreading his wings,...
He passes, O people,
Satan the great!
Hail to thee, Satan;
Hail the rebellion!
Hail, of the reason the
Great Vindicator!
Sacred to thee shall rise
Incense and vows.
Thou hast the god
Of the priest disenthroned!

[Pg 3217]


From the 'Odi Barbare'

Thou risest and kissest, O Goddess, with thy rosy breath, the clouds,
Kissest the dusky pinnacles of marble temples.
The forests feel thee, and with a cool shiver awake;
Up soars the falcon, flashing in eager joy.
Meanwhile amid the wet leaves mutter the garrulous nests,
And far off the gray gull screams over the purple sea.
First to delight in thee, down in the laborious plain,
Are the streams which glisten amid the rustling poplars.
Daringly the sorrel colt breaks away from his feeding,
Runs to the brooks with high-lifted mane, neighing in the wind.
Wakeful answer from the huts the great pack of the hounds,
And the whole valley is filled with the noisy sound of their barking.
But the man whom thou awakest to life-consuming labor,
He, O ancient Youth, O Youth eternal,
Still thoughtful admires thee, even as on the mountain
The Aryan Fathers adored thee, standing amid their white oxen.
Again upon the wing of the fresh morning flies forth
The hymn which to thee they sang over their heaped-up spears:—
"Shepherdess thou of heaven! from the stalls of thy jealous sister
Thou loosest the rosy kine, and leadest them back to the skies;
"Thou leadest the rosy kine, and the white herds, and the horses
With the blond flowing manes dear to the brothers Asvini."
Like the youthful bride who goes from her bath to her spouse,
Reflecting in her eyes the love of him her lover,
So dost thou smiling let fall the light garments that veil thee,
And serene to the heavens thy virgin figure reveal.
Flushed thy cheeks, with white breast panting, thou runnest
To the sovereign of worlds, to the fair flaming Suria.
And he joins, and, in a bow, stretches around his mighty neck
Thy rosy arms; but at his terrible glances thou fleest.
[Pg 3218]
'Tis then the Asvinian Twins, the cavaliers of heaven,
Welcome thee rosily trembling in thy chariot of gold,
And thither thou turnest where, measured the road of glory,
Wearied, the god awaits thee in the dull gloaming of eve.
"Gracious thy flight be above us! so invoked thee the fathers;
Gracious the going of thy radiant car over our houses!
"Come from the coasts of the East with thy good fortune,
Come with thy flowering oats and thy foaming milk;
"And in the midst of the calves, dancing, with yellow locks,
All offspring shall adore thee, O Shepherdess of heaven!"
So sang the Aryans. But better pleased thee Hymettus,
Fresh with the twenty brooks whose banks smelt to heaven of thyme;
Better pleased thee on Hymettus the nimble-limbed, mortal huntsman,
Who with the buskined foot pressed the first dews of the morn.
The heavens bent down. A sweet blush tinged the forest and the hills
When thou, O Goddess, didst descend.
But thou descendedst not; rather did Cephalus, drawn by thy kiss,
Mount all alert through the air, fair as a beautiful god,—
Mount on the amorous winds and amid the sweet odors,
While all around were the nuptials of flowers and the marriage of streams.
Wet lies upon his neck the heavy tress of gold, and the golden quiver
Reaches above his white shoulder, held by the belt of vermilion.
O fragrant kisses of a goddess among the dews!
O ambrosia of love in the world's youth-time!
Dost thou also love, O Goddess? But ours is a wearied race;
Sad is thy face, O Aurora, when thou risest over our towers.
The dim street-lamps go out; and without even glancing at thee,
A pale-faced troop go home, imagining they have been happy.
Angrily at his door is pounding the ill-tempered laborer,
Cursing the dawn that only calls him back to his bondage.
[Pg 3219]
Only the lover, perhaps, fresh from the dreams of the loved one,
His blood still warm from her kisses, salutes with joy,
Beholds with delight thy face, and feels thy cool breathing upon him:
Then cries, "O bear me, Aurora, upon thy swift courser of flame;
"Bear me up into the fields of the stars, that there, looking down,
I may behold the earth beneath thy rosy light smiling;
"Behold my fair one, in the face of the rising day,
Let fall her black tresses down over her blushing bosom."


O green and silent solitudes, far from the rumors of men
Hither come to meet us true friends divine, O Lidia,
Wine and love.
O tell me why the sea, far under the flaming Hesperus
Sends such mysterious moanings; and what songs are these, O Lidia,
The pines are chanting.
See with what longing the hills stretch their arms to the setting sun.
The shadow lengthens and holds them; they seem to be asking
A last kiss, O Lidia!


(A Group by Adrian Cecioni)

Surely admired her the rosy day-dawn, when,
summoning the farmers to the still gray fields,
it saw her barefooted, with quick step passing
among the dewy odors of the hay.
Heard her at mid-day the elm-trees white with dust,
as, with broad shoulders bent o'er the yellow winrows,
she challenges in cheery song the grasshoppers,
whose hoarse chirping rings from the hot hillsides.
And when from her toil she lifted her turgid bosom,
her sun-browned face with glossy curls surrounded,
how then thy vesper fires, O Tuscany,
did richly tinge with color her bold figure!
[Pg 3220]
'Tis then the strong mother plays at ball with her infant,
the lusty child whom her naked breasts have just sated;
tosses him on high and prattles sweetly with him,
while he, with eye fixed on the shining eyes of his mother,
His little body trembling all over with fear, holds out
his tiny fingers imploring; then loud laughs the mother,
and into the one great embrace of love
lets him fall, clasped close to her bosom.
Around her smiles the scene of homely labor;
tremulous nod the oats on the green hillsides;
one hears the distant mooing of the ox,
and on the barn-roof the gay plumed cock is crowing.

Nature has her brave ones, who for her despise
the masks of glory dear to the vulgar throng.
'Tis thus, O Adrian, with holy visions
thou comfortest the souls of fellow-men.
'Tis thus, O artist, with thy blows severe
thou putt'st in stone the ages' ancient hope,
the lofty hope that cries, "Oh, when shall labor
be happy, and faithful love secure from harm?
"When shall a mighty nation of freemen
say in the face of the sun, 'Shine no more
on the idle ease and the selfish wars of tyrants,
but on the pious justice of labor?'"

[Pg 3221]




homas Carew is deservedly placed among the most brilliant representatives of a class of lyrists who were not only courtiers but men of rank; who, varied in accomplishments, possessing culture and taste, expressed their play of fancy with elegance and ease. The lyre of these aristocratic poets had for its notes only love and beauty, disdain, despair, and love's bounty, sometimes frivolous in sound and sometimes serious; and their work may be regarded as the ancestor of the vers de société, which has reached its perfection in Locker and Austin Dobson. To Carew's lyrics we may apply Izaak Walton's famous criticism: "They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good."

Thomas Carew, son of Sir Matthew Carew, was born in London about 1598. He left Corpus Christi, Oxford, without a degree, and early fell into wild habits. In 1613 his father wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton that "one of his sons was roving after hounds and hawks, and the other [Thomas] studying in the Middle Temple, but doing little at law." The result was that Carleton made Thomas his secretary, and took him to Venice and Turin, returning in 1615. Carew accompanied him to the Hague also, but resigned his post and again returned to England. In 1619 he went with Lord Herbert of Cherbury to the French court. He became sewer in ordinary to Charles I., and a gentleman of his privy chamber; and the King, who was particularly fond of him, gave him the royal domain of Sunninghill in Windsor Forest. Carew was an intimate friend of Ben Jonson, Sir John Suckling, John Selden, Sir Kenelm Digby, Davenant, Charles Cotton, and also of Lord Clarendon; who writes:—"Carew was a person of a pleasant and facetious wit, and made many poems (especially in the amorous way) which for the sharpness of the fancy and the elegance of the language in which that fancy was spread, were at least equal, if not superior, to any of that time."

Four editions of Carew's poems appeared between 1640 and 1671, and four have been printed within the present century, the best being a quarto published by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in 1870. His longest work was a masque called 'Cœlum Britannicum,' performed at Whitehall, February 18th, 1633. Inigo Jones arranged the scenery, Henry Lawes the music, and the King, the Duke of Lennox, and other courtiers played the chief parts. Carew's death is supposed to have occurred in 1639.

[Pg 3222]


Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauty's orient deep,
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.
Ask me no more whither doth stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
These powders to enrich your hair.
Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past;
For in your sweet dividing throat,
She winters and keeps warm her note.
Ask me no more where those stars light
That downward fall in dead of night;
For in your eyes they sit, and there
Fixèd become as in their sphere.
Ask me no more if east or west
The Phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.


No more shall meads be deckt with flowers,
Nor sweetness dwell in rosy bowers,
Nor greenest buds on branches spring,
Nor warbling birds delight to sing,
Nor April violets paint the grove,
If I forsake my Celia's love.
The fish shall in the ocean burn,
And fountains sweet shall bitter turn;
The humble oak no flood shall know,
When floods shall highest hills o'erflow;
Black Lethe shall oblivion leave,
If e'er my Celia I deceive.
Love shall his bow and shaft lay by,
And Venus's doves want wings to fly;
[Pg 3223]The Sun refuse to shew his light,
And day shall then be turned to night;
And in that night no star appear,
If once I leave my Celia dear.
Love shall no more inhabit earth,
Nor lovers more shall love for worth,
Nor joy above the heaven dwell,
Nor pain torment poor souls in hell;
Grim death no more shall horrid prove,
If I e'er leave bright Celia's love.


Would you know what's soft? I dare
Not bring you to the down, or air,
Nor to stars to shew what's bright,
Nor to snow to teach you white;
Nor, if you would music hear,
Call the orbs to take your ear;
Nor, to please your sense, bring forth
Bruisèd nard, or what's more worth;
Or on food were your thoughts placed,
Bring you nectar, for a taste:
Would you have all these in one,
Name my mistress, and 'tis done.


Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes; and now no more the frost
Candies the grass or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbèd earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo and the bumble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful Spring:
The valleys, hills, and woods, in rich array,
Welcome the coming of the longed-for May.
Now all things smile; only my love doth lower;
Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
[Pg 3224]To melt that marble ice which still doth hold
Her heart congealed, and makes her pity cold.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
Into the stall, doth now securely lie
In open fields; and love no more is made
By the fireside; but, in the cooler shade,
Amyntas now doth with his Cloris sleep
Under a sycamore, and all things keep
Time with the season—only she doth carry
June in her eyes, in her heart January.


Amongst the myrtles as I walked,
Love and my sighs together talked;
Tell me (said I in deep distress)
Where I may find my shepherdess?
Thou fool (said Love), know'st thou not this,—
In everything that's good she is:
In yonder tulip go and seek;
There thou mayst find her lip, her cheek.
In yonder enameled pansy by,
There thou shalt have her curious eye;
In bloom of peach, in rosy bud,
There wave the streamers of her blood;
In brightest lilies that there stands,
The emblems of her whiter hands;
In yonder rising hill there swells
Such sweets as in her bosom dwells.
'Tis true (said I), and thereupon
I went to pluck them one by one,
To make of parts a union;
But on a sudden all was gone.
With that I stopped. Said Love, These be
(Fond man) resemblances of thee;
And in these flowers thy joys shall die,
Even in the twinkling of an eye,
And all thy hopes of her shall wither,
Like these short sweets thus knit together.

[1] Attributed to Herrick in Drake's 'Literary Hours.'

[Pg 3225]




milia Smith Flygare-Carlén was born at Strömstad, Sweden, August 8th, 1807. She was the daughter of Rutger Smith, a merchant of that place, and here her childhood was passed, varied by frequent sea trips with her father, and excursions to different parts of the coast. It was probably these early maritime experiences that laid the foundation of her accurate knowledge of the character and habits of the Swedish fisherfolk. In 1827 she was married to Dr. Flygare, a physician of Kronbergslän, but after his death in 1833 she returned to her native place. As a child her talent for imaginative literature was known among her friends, but nothing of any permanent value was developed until after her thirtieth year, when her first novel, 'Waldemar Klein,' was published anonymously (1838). After this first successful literary attempt, she went to Stockholm upon the advice of her father (1839), and shortly after she was married to a lawyer of that city, Johan Gabriel Carlén, a Swedish poet and author. Her novels appeared in quick succession; she at once became popular, and her books were widely read. Her productivity was remarkable. The period of her highest accomplishment was from 1838 to 1852, when a great affliction in the loss of her son suspended her activities for several years. It was not until 1858 that she again resumed her writing.

Emilia Carlén Emilia Carlén

She was honored by the gold medal of the Swedish Academy (1862), and the success of her books was followed by abundant pecuniary reward as well as distinction. Her house in Stockholm was the centre of the literary life of the capital until the death of her husband in 1875, when she completely retired from the world. She established the "Rutger Smith Fund" for poor fishermen and their widows, made an endowment for students to the University of Upsala in memory of her son, and also founded in memory of her husband a fund for the assistance of teachers. She died at Stockholm, February 5th, 1892.[Pg 3226]

As a novelist she shares national honors with her countrywoman, Fredrika Bremer. Her range in fiction was not confined to a single field, but embraced all classes and conditions of Swedish life. Her stories are full of action and rich in incident, and her delineation of character is natural and shows her real experience of human nature. She is most happy in depicting the humble fisherfolk and peasants. The stirring incidents of the adventurous life of the smugglers were congenial themes, and her graphic descriptions give typical pictures of the rough coast life among sailors, fishers, and revenue officers.

Among her best and most characteristic works are: 'Gustav Lindorm' (1835); 'Rosen på Tistelön' (The Rose of Tistelön), 1842; 'Jungfrutornet' (The Maiden's Tower), 1848; 'Enslingen på Johannisskäret' (The Hermit of the Johannis Rock), 1846. Her autobiography, written in her later years, is sprightly and interesting. Her collected works number more than thirty volumes, the greater part of which have been translated into German, French, and English.


From 'The Merchant House among the Islands'

He [Olagus] thundered his command to his companions:— "Row, row as fast as you can to the open sea!" And as though it had invisible wings, the boat turned and shot forward.

"Halt! halt!" cried the lieutenant, whose blood was now up. "In the name of his Majesty and of the Crown, down with the sails."

Loud laughter from the smugglers' boat sounded across the water.

This scornful laughter was answered from the yacht by the firing of the second cannon, which was fully loaded. The ball fell into the water close to the windward of the boat.

The answer was renewed laughter from the smugglers' boat; whose crew, urged by the twofold desire to save their cargo and to make fools of the Custom-house officers, continued to increase the distance between themselves and the yacht. In spite of the more skillful guidance, the two oars of the latter could not overtake the four men. But the lieutenant's full strong voice could still be heard:—

"Stop, or I will shoot you to the bottom!"[Pg 3227]

But he did not shoot, for the smugglers' boat was already out of the reach of shot.

At this moment it would have been impossible to detect the least trace of the amiable, good-natured Gudmar Guldbrandsson, the favorite of all the ladies, with his light yellow curls and his slightly arched forehead, and the beautiful dark blue eyes, which when not enlivened by the power of some passion, sometimes revealed that half-dreamy expression that women so often admire.

Majke ought to have seen her commander now, as he stood for a moment on the deck, leaning on his gun, his glass in his hand.

"Row, boys, row with all your might! I will not allow—" The remainder of the sentence was lost in inarticulate tones.

Once more he raised the glass to his eyes.

The chase lasted some time, without any increase of the intervening distance, or any hope of its diminution. It was a grave, a terrible chase.

Meantime new and strange intentions had occurred to the commander of the smugglers' boat. From what dark source could he have received the inspiration that dictated the command?

"Knock out the bung of the top brandy-barrel, and let us drink; that will refresh our courage and rejoice our hearts. Be merry and drink as long as you like."

And now ensued a wild bacchanalia. The men drank out of large mugs, they drank out of cans, and the result was not wanting, while the boat was nearing the entrance to the sea.

"Now, my men," began Olagus in powerful penetrating tones, as he stroked his reddish beard, "shall we allow one of those government fools to force us to go a different way from the one we ourselves wish to go?"

"Olagus," Tuve ventured to interpose,—for Tuve still possessed full consciousness, as he had only made a pretense of drinking,—"dear Olagus, let us be content if we can place the goods in safety. I think I perceive that you mean something else—something dangerous."

"Coward! You ought to sit at home and help your father weave nets. If you are afraid, creep under the tarpaulin; there are others here who do not get the cramp when they are to follow the Mörkö Bears."[Pg 3228]

"For my part," thought Börje, as he bent over his oar, "I should like to keep away from this hunt. But who dare speak a word? I feel as though I were already in the fortress, the ship and crew in the service of the Crown."

Perhaps Ragnar thought so too; but the great man was so much feared that when he commanded no contradiction was ever heard.

It was almost the first time that Tuve had made an objection, and his brother's scornful rebuke had roused his blood also; but still he controlled himself.

What was resolved on meantime will be seen from what follows.

"Why, what is that?" exclaimed the lieutenant of the yacht. "The oars are drawn in! He is turning,—on my life, he is turning!"

"He knew that we should catch him up," said Sven, delighted once more to be able to indulge in his usual humor. "Fists and sinews like mine are worth as much as four of them; and if we take Pelle into account, they might easily recognize that the best thing they can do is to surrender at once."

"Silence, you conceited idiot!" commanded the lieutenant; "this is no matter of parley. He is making straight for us. The wind is falling; it is becoming calm."

"What does the lieutenant think, Pelle?" asked Sven, in a loud whisper. "Can Olagus have weapons on board and want to attack us?"

"It almost looks like it," answered Pelle shortly.

Meantime the two boats approached one another with alarming speed.

"Whatever happens," said the lieutenant, with icy calm,— "and the game looks suspicious, you know, my friends,—would that the coast-guardsman may not look behind him! The flag of the Crown may wave over living or dead men; that is no matter so long as it does not wave over one who has not done his duty."

"Yes," answered Pelle.

Sven spread out his arms in a significant gesture.

"They may be excited by drink,—their copper-colored faces show that; but here stands a man who will not forget that his name is Sven Dillhufvud. There, I have spoken! But, dear sir, do take care of yourself. They have torn up the boards, and are fetching up stones and pieces of iron."[Pg 3229]

"Yes, I see. If they attack us, take care of the oars. Do not lay-to on the long side; but row past, and then turn. If they throw, watch their movements carefully; in that way you can escape the danger."

The boats, which were only a few fathoms apart, glided gently towards one another.

The lieutenant's command was punctually executed by his people.

"Olagus Esbjörnsson," exclaimed the commander of the Custom-house yacht, "I charge you once more in the King's name to surrender!"

"O dear, yes," exclaimed the worthy descendant of the Vikings. "I have come back just with that intention. Perhaps I also wanted to fulfill an old vow. Do you remember what I vowed that night by the Oternnest?"

At the same moment a whole shower of pieces of iron whistled through the air, and fell rattling on to the yacht; but the sharp piece of iron thrown by Olagus's own hands was aimed at the lieutenant himself. He however darted aside so quickly that he was not wounded, although it flew so close past him that it tore off his straw hat and dashed it into the sea.

"Olagus, and you others," sounded his voice, in all its youthful power, "consider what you do; consider the price of an attack on a royal boat and crew! The responsibility may cost you dear. I charge you to cease at once."

"What! Are you frightened, you Crown slaves?" roared Olagus, whose sparkling eyes and flushed face, so different from his usual calm in peaceful circumstances, lent increased wildness to his form and gestures. "Come, will this warm you?" And at the same moment another piece of iron flew past, aimed with such certainty that it would have cut off the thread of the lieutenant's life if he had not taken shelter behind the mast. The iron was firmly fixed in the mast.

The yacht was now bombarded on all sides. Here hung a torn sail, there an end of rope; and the side planks had already received a good deal of injury, so that the yacht was threatened with a leak. But now was heard for the last time the young commander's warning:—

"Stop, Olagus, and tell your people to put aside their wretched arms; for, on my life, this gun is loaded with a ball, and the first of you who throws another piece shall be shot down like a stag."[Pg 3230]

"Do it if you dare! But there, see, miserable Custom-house dog, how the Mörkö Bears respect your threats!"

The third piece of iron was just about to be thrown; but at the same moment the lieutenant took aim.

The shot was fired.

During the long chase and the attack which followed it, the sun had been approaching the horizon, and now might be seen one of those beautiful sunsets which so often delight the eye on this blue-green sea. They are the counterpart of the autumn apparitions during the dark fogs, when the ships wander about seeking their way among the cliffs, then glimmering whitely, and now shining red.

Worthy the inspiration of poet and painter, this warm, divinely peaceful, and lovely scene of nature offered a new, bitter contrast to the terrible picture which human passion and the claims of duty had conjured with lightning speed into these two spots in the sea—the smugglers' boat and the Custom-house yacht.

The shot was fired, and the mighty giant of Mörkö, Olagus Esbjörnsson, sank back into the tarpaulin.

"The accursed devil has shot right into my heart!"

Pale as death, Tuve sprang forward, and wanted to stay the blood.

"Leave it alone," panted Olagus. "It is no use. Give my love to father and Britje; she was a good wife. You must be a father to—my boy. The business may cease."

The subduing touch of death had already extinguished the wild light which the fire of hatred had kindled in these eyes. And the last glance that sought his brother's gaze was gentle.

Suddenly he was once more fired by the remembrance of the earthly life which was fast retreating from him.

"Quickly away with the cargo! No one must know that Olagus Esbjörnsson fell from a shot out of the Custom-house yacht. I—I—fell upon them."

They were his last words.

Tuve's head fell, sobbing, on the man whom he had so completely honored as his superior.

Tuve was now the first in Mörkö, and as though a stronger spirit had come over him, he began to feel his duty. He rose, and gave orders to turn toward the sea, but the crew stood motionless with terror.

[Pg 3231]





he hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Carlyle—(December 4th, 1795)—was lately commemorated. The house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, which he had occupied from 1834 till his death (February 4th, 1881), was handed over to trustees to be preserved as a public memorial. No house in the British islands has more remarkable associations. Thither Carlyle had come in his thirty-eighth year, still hardly recognized by the general public, though already regarded by a small circle as a man of extraordinary powers. There he went through the concluding years of the long struggle which ended by a hard-won and scarcely enjoyed victory. There he had been visited by almost all the most conspicuous men of letters of his time: by Jeffrey, Southey, and J. S. Mill; by Tennyson and Browning, the greatest poets, and by Thackeray and Dickens, the greatest novelists of his generation; by the dearest friends of his youth, Irving and Emerson and John Sterling, and by his last followers, Froude and Ruskin. There too had lived until 1866 the woman who had shared his struggles, whom he loved and admired without stint, and whom he was yet destined to remember with many bitter pangs of remorse. Their story, laid bare with singular fullness, has invested the scene of their joys and sorrows, their alienation and reconciliations, with extraordinary interest. Every one who has read the "Reminiscences" and the later mass of biographical matter must be glad to see the "sound-proof" room, and the garden haunted by the "demon-fowls" and the other dumb witnesses of a long tragi-comedy. No one was so keenly sensitive as Carlyle to the interest of the little gleams of light which reveal our ancestors not only stirred by the great passions, but absorbed like ourselves by the trivialities of the day. A similar interest will long attach to the scene of his own trials.

Carlyle's life was a struggle and a warfare. Each of his books was wrenched from him, like the tale of the 'Ancient Mariner,' by a spiritual agony. The early books excited the wrath of his contemporaries, when they were not ridiculed as the grotesque outpourings of an eccentric humorist. His teaching was intended to oppose what most people take to be the general tendency of thought, and yet many who share that tendency gladly acknowledge that they owe to [Pg 3232] Carlyle a more powerful intellectual stimulus than they can attribute even to their accepted teachers. I shall try briefly to indicate the general nature of his message to mankind, without attempting to consider the soundness or otherwise of particular views.

Carlyle describes what kind of person people went to see in Cheyne Row. "The very sound of my voice," he says, "has got something savage-prophetic: I am as a John the Baptist girt about with a leather girdle, whose food is locusts and wild honey." Respectable literary society at "aesthetic tea-parties" regarded him as the Scribes and Pharisees regarded the Hebrew prophet. He came among them to tear the mask from their hypocritical cant. Carlyle was not externally a Diogenes. Though the son of peasants, he had the appearance and manner of a thorough gentleman in spite of all his irritable outbreaks. But he was not the less penetrated to the core with the idiosyncrasies of his class. The father, a Davie Deans of real life, had impressed the son profoundly. Carlyle had begun life on the same terms as innumerable young Scots. Strict frugality had enabled him to get a college training and reach the threshold of the ministry. His mother could look forward to the exquisite pleasure of seeing "her own bairn wag his head in a pulpit!" But at this point Carlyle's individuality first asserted itself. He could not step into any of the ordinary grooves. His college teachers appeared to him to offer "sawdust" instead of manna from heaven. The sacred formulæ of their ancestral creed had lost their savor. Words once expressive of the strongest faith were either used to utter the bigotry of narrow pedants, or were adopted only to be explained away into insipid commonplace. Carlyle shared the intellectual movement of his time too much to profess any reverence for what he called the "Hebrew old-clothes." Philosophers and critics had torn them to rags. His quarrel however was with the accidental embodiment, not with the spirit of the old creeds. The old morality was ingrained in his very nature; nor was he shocked, like some of his fellows, by the sternness of the Calvinistic views of the universe and life. The whole problem was with him precisely to save this living spirit. The skeptics, he thought, were, in the German phrase, "emptying out the baby with the bath." They were at war with the spirit as well as with the letter; trying to construct a Godless universe; to substitute a dead mechanism for the living organism; and therefore to kill down at the root every noble aspiration which could stimulate the conscience, or strengthen a man to bear the spectacle of the wrongs and sufferings of mankind.


The crisis of this struggle happened in 1821. After giving up the ministry, Carlyle had tried "schoolmastering" and found himself to be least fitted of mankind for a function which demands patience [Pg 3233] with stupidity. He had just glanced at the legal profession only to be disgusted with its chicaneries. Hack authorship was his only chance. The dyspeptic disorder which tormented him through life was tormenting him. "A rat was gnawing at the pit of his stomach." Then he was embittered by the general distress of his own class. Men out of work were threatening riots and the yeomanry being called out to suppress them. Carlyle was asked by a friend why he too did not come out with a musket. "Hm! yes," he replied, "but I haven't quite settled on which side." It was while thus distracted, that after three weeks of sleeplessness he experienced what he called his "conversion." The universe had seemed to him "void of life, of purpose, of volition, even of hostility; it was one huge and immeasurable steam-engine, rolling on in its dead indifference, to grind me limb from limb. Oh, the vast, gloomy, solitary Golgotha and mill of death!" And then he suddenly resolved to resist. Why go on trembling like a coward?—"As I so thought, there rushed a stream of fire over my whole soul, and I shook base fear away from me for ever. I was strong, of unknown strength; a spirit; almost a god: ever from that time the temper of my misery was changed; not fear or whining sorrow was in it, but indignation and grim, fell-eyed defiance." These are the phrases of his imaginary hero in 'Sartor Resartus.' In the 'Reminiscences' he repeats the statement in his own person. He had won "an immense victory"; he had escaped from the "foul mud gods" and soared into the "eternal blue of ether" where he had "for the spiritual part ever since lived." He could look down upon his fellow creatures still "weltering in that fatal element," "pitying the religious part of them and indignant against the frivolous"; enjoying an inward and supreme happiness which still remained to him, though often "eclipsed" in later years.

To understand this crisis is to understand his whole attitude. The change was not of the purely logical kind. Carlyle was not converted by any philosophical system. Coleridge, not long before, had found in Kant and Schelling an answer to similar perplexities. Carlyle, though he respected the German metaphysicians, could never find their dogmas satisfactory to his shrewd Scottish sense. His great helper, he tells us, in the strait, was not Kant but Goethe. The contrast between that serene prophet of culture and the rugged Scottish Puritan is so marked that one may be tempted to explain the influence partly by personal accident. Carlyle grew up at a time when the British public was just awaking to the existence of Germany; and not only promoted the awakening but was recognized by the great Goethe himself. He may well have been inclined in later years to exaggerate a debt due to so welcome a recognition. [Pg 3234] And yet it is intelligible that in Goethe, Carlyle saw what he most required. A man of the highest genius and a full representative of the most advanced thought could yet recognize what was elevating in the past as clearly as what was the true line of progress for us to pursue; and while casting aside the dead trappings as decidedly as Carlyle, could reach serene heights above the petty controversies where men wrangled over extinct issues. Goethe had solved the problem which vexed Carlyle's soul, and set an inspiring example of the true spirit and its great reward.

Carlyle, however, was not qualified by temperament or mental characteristics to follow Goethe's steps. If not primarily a reasoner, and too impatient perhaps for slow logical processes, he was also not a poet. Some of the greatest English teachers of his period embodied their conceptions of the world in poetry. Wordsworth and Shelley and Byron, in particular, were more effective representatives of the chief spiritual influences of the day than the few speculative writers. Carlyle thought for a time that he could utter himself in verse, or at least in prose fiction. He tried, only to feel his incompetence. As Froude observes, he had little ear for metrical composition. There were other and perhaps greater obstacles. A poet must be capable of detachment from the actual world in which he lives, however profound his interest in its great problems. He must be able to dwell with "seraph contemplation" and stand aside from the actual contest. To Carlyle such an attitude was partly impossible, partly contemptible. He had imbibed the Puritan aversion to æsthetic enjoyments. He had been brought up in circles where it was thought wrong for a child to read the 'Arabian Nights,' and where Milton could only obtain a doubtful admission as a versifier of the Scriptural narrative. Carlyle retained the prejudice. He always looked askance at poetry which had no immediate bearing upon conduct, and regarded "æsthetic" as equivalent to frivolous. "May the devil fly away with the fine arts" is a sentiment which he quotes with cordial sympathy. This view was congenial to his inborn characteristics.

One striking peculiarity was his extraordinary "receptivity" of all outward impressions. The strange irritability which he set down to the "hag Dyspepsia" made him resemble a patient in whom disease has produced a morbidly excessive sensibility. Little annoyances were magnified into tragic dimensions. The noises in a next-door house affected him as an earthquake might affect others. His memory was as retentive as his impressions were strong. Froude testifies that his account of a little trip to Paris, written forty years later without reference to memoranda, is verified down to the minutest details by contemporary letters. Scenes instantaneously [Pg 3235] photographed on his memory never faded. No one had a keener eye for country. When he visited Germany he brought back pictures of the scenes of Frederick's battles, which enabled him to reproduce them with such startling veracity that after reading you seem to remember the reality, not the book. In history he seeks to place before us a series of visions as distinct as actual eyesight: to show us Cromwell watching the descent of the Scottish army at Dunbar, or the human whirlpool raging round the walls of the Bastille. We—the commonplace spectators—should not, it is true, even at present see what was visible to Carlyle, any more than we see a landscape as Turner saw it. We may wish that we could. At any rate, we have the conviction of absolute truthfulness to the impression made on a powerful idiosyncrasy. We perceive, as by the help of a Rembrandt, vast chaotic breadths of gloomy confusion, with central figures thrown out by a light of extraordinary brilliancy. Carlyle, indeed, always has it in mind that what we call reality is but a film on the surface of mysterious depths. We are such stuff, to repeat his favorite quotation, as dreams are made of. Past history is a series of dreams; the magic of memory may restore them for an instant to our present consciousness. But the most vivid picture of whatever is not irrecoverably lost always brings, too, the pathetic sense that we are after all but ephemeral appearances in the midst of the eternities and infinities. Overwhelmed by this sense of the unsubstantiality even of the most real objects, Carlyle clutches, as it were with the energy of despair, every fading image; and tries to invest it with something of its old brightness. Carlyle was so desirous to gain this distinctness of vision that he could not be happy in personal descriptions till, if possible, he had examined the portrait of his hero and satisfied himself that he could reproduce the actual bodily appearance. The face, he holds, shows the soul. And then his shrewd Scottish sagacity never deserts him. If the hero sometimes becomes, like most heroes, a little too free from human infirmities, the actors in his dramas never become mere walking gentlemen. In Dryasdust he gives us lay figures, bedizened at times with shallow paradoxes; but Carlyle always deals in genuine human nature. His judgment may not be impartial, but at least it is not nugatory. He sees the man from within and makes him a credible individual, not a mere bit of machinery worked by colorless formulæ. With this eye for character goes the keen sense of grim humor which keeps him in touch with reality. Little incidents bring out the absurd side of even the heroic. The most exciting scenes of his 'French Revolution' are heightened by the vision of the shivering usher who "accords the grand entries" when the ferocious mob is rushing into the palace—not "finding it convenient," as [Pg 3236] Carlyle observes, "to refuse them"; and of the gentleman who continues for an hour to "demand the arrestment of knaves and dastards"—a most comprehensive of all known petitions. Carlyle's "mannerism" is one result of this strain to be graphic. It has been attributed to readings of Jean Paul, and by Carlyle himself, partly to Irving and partly to the early talk in his father's home. It appears at any rate as soon as Carlyle gets confidence enough in himself to trust to his own modes of impression; and if it may fairly be called a mannerism, was not an affectation. It was struck out in the attempt to give most effective utterance to his genuine thought, and may be compared, as Burke said of Johnson's conversation, to the "contortions of the Sibyl."

It is time, however, to try to say what was the prophetic message thus delivered. Carlyle, I have said, had no logical system of philosophy, and was too much of a "realist" (in one sense) to find poetry congenial. He has to preach by pictures of the past; by giving us history, though history transfused with poetry; an account of the external fact which shall reveal the real animating principle, quietly omitted by statisticians and constitutional historians. The doctrine so delivered appears to be vague. What, the ordinary believer may ask, would be left of a religion if its historical statements should turn out to be mere figments and its framework of dogmas to be nonsense? He would naturally reply, Nothing. Carlyle replies, Everything. The spirit may survive, though its whole visible embodiment should be dissolved into fiction and fallacy. But to define this spirit is obviously impossible. It represents a tone of thought, a mode of contemplating life and the world, not any distinct set of definite propositions. Carlyle was called a "mystic," and even, as he says, was made into a "mystic school." We may accept the phrase, so far as mysticism means the substitution of a "logic of the heart" for a "logic of the head"—an appeal to sentiment rather than to any definite reasoning process. The "mystic" naturally recognizes the inner light as shining through many different and even apparently contradictory forms. But most mystics retain, in a new sense perhaps, the ancient formulæ. Carlyle rejected them so markedly that he shocked many believers, otherwise sympathetic. His early friend Irving, who tried to restore life to the old forms, and many who accepted Coleridge as their spiritual guide, were scandalized by his utterances. He thought, conversely, that they were still masquerading in "Hebrew old-clothes," or were even like the apes who went on chattering by the banks of the Dead Sea, till they ceased to be human. He regards the "Oxford movement" with simple contempt. His dictum that Newman had "no more brain than a moderate-sized rabbit" must have been followed, as no [Pg 3237] one will doubt who heard him talk, by one of those gigantic explosions of laughter which were signals of humorous exaggeration. But it meant in all seriousness that he held Newman to be reviving superstitions unworthy of the smallest allowance of brain.

Yet Carlyle's untiring denunciation of "shams" and "unrealities" of this, as of other varieties, does not mean unqualified antipathy. He feels that the attempt to link the living spirit to the dead externals is a fatal enterprise. That may be now a stifling incumbrance, which was once the only possible symbol of a living belief. Accordingly, though Carlyle's insistence upon the value of absolute intellectual truthfulness is directed against this mode of thought, his attack upon the opposite error is more passionate and characteristic. The 'Sartor Resartus,' his first complete book (1833-4), announced and tried to explain his "conversion." To many readers it still seems his best work, as it certainly contains some of his noblest passages. It was unpopular in England, and (an Englishman must say it with regret) seems to have been first appreciated in America. It gave indeed many sharp blows at English society: it expresses his contempt for the upper literary strata, who like Jeffrey complained of him for being so "desperately in earnest"; and for the authors, who were not "prophets," but mere caterers to ephemeral amusement. But the satire, I cannot but think, is not quite happy. The humor of the "Clothes Philosophy" is a little strained; to me, I confess, rather tiresome: and the impressive passages just those where he forgets it.

His real power became obvious beyond all cavil on the publication of the 'French Revolution' (1837). Not for a hundred years, he declared, had the public received any book that "came more direct and flamingly from the heart of a living man." That expresses, as I think, the truth. The book is not to be "read for information." The facts would now require much restatement; and moreover, the narrative is too apt to overleap prosaic but necessary facts in order to fasten upon the picturesque passages. But considered as what it is, a "prose epic," a moving panorama, drawn with astonishing force and perception of the tremendous tragi-comedy involved, it is unequaled in English literature. The doctrine inculcated is significant. Carlyle's sympathies were in one sense with the Revolution. He felt, he says, that the Radicals were "guild-brothers," while the Whigs were mere "amateurs." He was even more thoroughly convinced than the Radicals that a thoroughgoing demolition of the old order was essential. The Revolution was but the first volcanic outburst of the great forces still active below the surface. Europe, he says ('Chartism'), lay "hag-ridden" and "quack-ridden." The quack is the most hideous of hags; he is a "falsehood incarnate." To[Pg 3238] blow him and his to the four winds was the first necessity. The French Revolution was "the inevitable stern end of much: the fearful but also wonderful, indispensable, and sternly beneficent beginning of much." So far, Carlyle was far more in agreement with Paine than with Burke. But what was to follow when the ground was cleared? When you have cut off your king's head and confiscated the estates of the nobility and the church, you have only begun. A new period is to be born with death-throes and birth-throes, and there are, he guesses ('French Revolution,' Book iv., chapter 4), some two centuries of fighting before "Democracy go through its dire, most baleful stage of 'Quackocracy.'" The radicals represent this coming "Quackocracy." What was their root error? Briefly (I try to expound, not to enlarge), that they were materialists. Their aim was low. They desired simply a multiplication of physical comforts, or as he puts it, a boundless supply of "pigs-wash." Their means too were futile. Society, on their showing, was a selfish herd hungering for an equal distribution of pigs-wash. They put unlimited faith in the mere mechanism of constitution-mongering; in ballot-boxes and manipulation of votes and contrivances by which a number of mean and selfish passions might be somehow so directed as to balance each other. It is not by any such devices that society can really be regenerated. You must raise men's souls, not alter their conventions. They must not simply abolish kings, but learn to recognize the true king, the man who has the really divine right of superior strength and wisdom, not the sham divine right of obsolete tradition. You require not paper rules, but a new spirit which spontaneously recognizes the voice of God. The true secret of life must be to him, as to every "mystic," that we should follow the dictates of the inner light which speaks in different dialects to all of us.

But this implies a difficulty. Carlyle, spite of his emergence into "blue ether," was constitutionally gloomy. He was more alive than any man since Swift to the dark side of human nature. The dullness of mankind weighed upon him like a nightmare. "Mostly fools" is his pithy verdict upon the race at large. Nothing then could be more idle than the dream of the revolutionists that the voice of the people could be itself the voice of God. From millions of fools you can by no constitutional machinery extract anything but folly. Where then is the escape? The millions, he says (essay on Johnson), "roll hither and thither, whithersoever they are led"; they seem "all sightless and slavish," with little but "animal instincts." The hope is that, here and there, are scattered the men of power and of insight, the heaven-sent leaders; and it is upon loyalty to them and capacity for recognizing and obeying them that the future[Pg 3239] of the race really depends. This was the moral of the lectures on 'Hero-Worship' (1840). Odin, Mahomet, Dante, Shakespeare, Luther, Cromwell, and Napoleon, are types of the great men who now and then visit the earth as prophets or rulers. They are the brilliant centres of light in the midst of the surrounding darkness; and in loyal recognition of their claims lies our security for all external progress. By what signs, do you ask, can they be recognized? There can be no sign. You can see the light if you have eyes; but no other faculty can supply the want of eyesight. And hence arise some remarkable points both of difference from and coincidence with popular beliefs.

In the 'Chartism,' 'Past and Present,' and 'Latter-Day Pamphlets' (1839, 1843, and 1850), Carlyle applied his theories to the problems of the day. They had the disadvantage which generally attaches to the writings of an outsider in politics. They were, said the average reader, "unpractical." Carlyle could not recommend any definite measures; an objection easy to bring against a man who urges rather a change of spirit than of particular measures. Yet it is noticeable that he recommends much that has since become popular. Much of his language might be used by modern Socialists. In 'Past and Present,' for example (Book iii., Chapter 8), he gives the principle of "land nationalization." The great capitalist is to be turned into a "captain of industry," and government is to undertake to organize labor, to protect health, and to enforce education. Carlyle so far sympathizes with the Socialist, not only as agreeing that the great end of government is the raising of the poor, but as denouncing the laissez-faire doctrine. The old-fashioned English Radical had regarded all government as a necessary evil, to be minimized as much as possible. When it had armed the policemen, it had fulfilled its whole duty. But this, according to Carlyle, was to leave the "dull multitude" to drift into chaos. Government should rest upon the loyalty of the lower to the higher. Order is essential; and good order means the spontaneous obedience to the heaven-sent hero. He, when found, must supply the guiding and stimulating force. The Socialist, like Carlyle, desires a strong government, but not the government of the "hero." Government of which the moving force comes from above instead of below will be, he thinks, a government of mere force. And here occurs the awkward problem to which Carlyle is constantly referring. He was generally accused of identifying "right" with "might." Against this interpretation he always protested. Right and Might, he says often, are in the long run identical. That which is right and that alone is ultimately lasting. Your rights are the expression of the divine will; and for that reason, whatever endures must be right. Work lasts so far as it is based[Pg 3240] upon eternal foundations. The might, therefore, is in the long run the expression of the right. The Napoleonic empire, according to a favorite illustration, could not last because it was founded upon injustice. The two tests then must coincide: what is good proves itself by lasting, and what lasts, lasts because good; but the test of endurance cannot, it is clear, be applied when it is wanted. Hence arises an ambiguity which often gives to Carlyle the air of a man worshiping mere success; when, if we take his own interpretation, he takes the success to be the consequence, not the cause, of the rightness. The hero is the man who sees the fact and disregards the conventional fiction; but for the moment he looks very like the man who disregards principles and attends to his own interest.

Here again Carlyle approximates to a doctrine to which he was most averse, the theory of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. The Darwinian answers in this way Carlyle's problem, how it is to come to pass that the stupidity of the masses comes to blunder into a better order? Here and there, as in his accounts of the way in which the intensely stupid British public managed to blunder into the establishment of a great empire, Carlyle seems to fall in with the Darwinian view. That view shocked him because he thought it mechanical. To him the essence of history was to be found not in the blind striving of the dull, but in the lives of great men. They represent the incarnate wisdom which must guide all wholesome aspiration. History is really the biography of the heroes. All so-called philosophies of history, attempts to discover general laws and to dispense with the agency of great men, are tainted with materialism. They would substitute "blind laws" for the living spirit which really guides the development of the race. But if you ask how your hero is to be known, the only answer can be, Know him at your peril.

Carlyle's most elaborate books, the 'Cromwell' and the 'Frederick,' are designed to give an explicit answer to the "right" and "might" problem. Carlyle in both cases seems to be toiling amidst the dust-heaps of some ancient ruin, painfully disinterring the shattered and defaced fragments of a noble statue and reconstructing it to be hereafter placed in a worthy Valhalla. Cromwell, according to the vulgar legend, was a mere hypocrite, and Frederick a mere cynical conqueror. The success of both—that is his intended moral—was in proportion to the clearness with which they recognized the eternal laws of the universe. Cromwell probably is the more satisfactory hero, as more really sympathetic to his admirer. But each requires an interpreter. Cromwell's gifts did not lie in the direction of lucid utterance; and Frederick, if he could have read, would certainly have scorned, the doctrine of his eulogist. Carlyle, that is, has[Pg 3241] to dig out in the actions of great men a true significance, certainly not obvious to the actors themselves. Their recognition of the eternal laws was in one case embodied in obsolete formulæ, and in the other, it might seem, altogether unconscious. The hero's recognition of divine purposes does not imply then that his own vision is purged from error, or that his aim is distinctly realized. He may, like Mahomet or the Abbot Sampson, be full of superstition. His "veracity" does not mean that his beliefs are true; only that they are sincere and such a version of the truth as is possible in his dialect. This is connected with Carlyle's constant insistence upon the superiority of silence to speech. The divine light shines through many distracting media; it enlightens many who do not consciously perceive it. It may be recognized because it gives life; because the work to which it prompts is lasting. But even the hero who tries to utter himself is sure to interpolate much that is ephemeral, confused, and imperfect; and speech in general represents the mere perplexed gabble of men who take words for thought, and raise a hopeless clamor which drowns the still small voice of true inspiration. If men are mostly fools, their talk is mostly folly; forming a wild incoherent Babel in which it is hard to pick out the few scattered words of real meaning. Carlyle has been ridiculed for preaching silence in so many words; but then Carlyle was speaking the truth, and of that, he fully admits, we can never have too much. The hero may be a prophet, or a man of letters. He is bound to speak seriously, though not to be literally silent; and his words must be judged not by the momentary pleasure, but by their ultimate influence on life.

Carlyle's message to his fellows, which I have tried imperfectly to summarize, may be condemned on grounds of taste and of morality. Translated into logical formulæ it becomes inconsistent, and it embodies some narrow prejudices in exaggerated terms. Yet I think that it has been useful even by the shock it has given to commonplace optimism. It has been far more useful because in his own dialect, Carlyle—as I think—expresses some vital truths with surpassing force. Whatever our creeds, religious or political, he may stimulate our respect for veracity, in the form of respect for honest work or contempt for hypocritical conventions; our loyalty to all great leaders, in the worlds both of thought and action; and our belief that to achieve any real progress, something is required infinitely deeper than any mere change in the superficial arrangements of society. These lessons are expressed, too, as the merely literary critic must admit, by a series of historical pictures, so vivid and so unique in character that for many readers they are in the full sense fascinating. They are revelations of new aspects of the world, never,[Pg 3242] when once observed, to be forgotten. And finally, I may add that Carlyle's autobiographical writings—in which we must include the delightful 'Life of Sterling'—show the same qualities in a shape which, if sometimes saddening, is profoundly interesting. No man was more reticent in his life, though he has been made to deliver a posthumous confession of extraordinary fullness. We hear all the groans once kept within the walls of Cheyne Row. After making all allowance for the fits of temper, the harshness of judgment, and the willful exaggeration, we see at last a man who under extraordinary difficulties was unflinchingly faithful to what he took to be his vocation, and struggled through a long life, full of anxieties and vexations, to turn his genius to the best account.

Leslie Stephen


From 'Past and Present'

For there is a perennial nobleness, and even sacredness, in Work. Were he never so benighted, forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works: in Idleness alone is there perpetual despair. Work, never so Mammonish, mean, is in communication with Nature; the real desire to get Work done will itself lead one more and more to truth, to Nature's appointments and regulations, which are truth.

The latest Gospel in this world is, Know thy work and do it. "Know thyself": long enough has that poor "self" of thine tormented thee; thou wilt never get to "know" it, I believe! Think it not thy business, this of knowing thyself; thou art an unknowable individual: know what thou canst work at; and work at it like a Hercules! That will be thy better plan.

It has been written, "An endless significance lies in Work;" a man perfects himself by working. Foul jungles are cleared away, fair seed-fields rise instead, and stately cities; and withal the man himself first ceases to be jungle and foul unwholesome desert thereby. Consider how even in the meanest sorts of Labor, the whole soul of a man is composed into a kind of real harmony the instant he sets himself to work! Doubt, Desire, Sorrow, Remorse, Indignation, Despair itself, all these like hell-dogs lie beleaguering the soul of the poor day-worker, as of every[Pg 3243] man: but he bends himself with free valor against his task, and all these are stilled, all these shrink murmuring far off into their caves. The man is now a man. The blessed glow of Labor in him, is it not as purifying fire, wherein all poison is burnt up, and of sour smoke itself there is made bright blessed flame!

Destiny, on the whole, has no other way of cultivating us. A formless Chaos, once set it revolving, grows round and ever rounder; ranges itself by mere force of gravity into strata, spherical courses; is no longer a Chaos, but a round compacted World. What would become of the Earth did she cease to revolve? In the poor old Earth, so long as she revolves, all inequalities, irregularities, disperse themselves; all irregularities are incessantly becoming regular. Hast thou looked on the Potter's wheel,—one of the venerablest objects; old as the Prophet Ezekiel and far older? Rude lumps of clay, how they spin themselves up, by mere quick whirling, into beautiful circular dishes. And fancy the most assiduous Potter, but without his wheel; reduced to make dishes, or rather amorphous botches, by mere kneading and baking! Even such a Potter were Destiny, with a human soul that would rest and lie at ease, that would not work and spin! Of an idle unrevolving man the kindest Destiny, like the most assiduous Potter without wheel, can bake and knead nothing other than a botch; let her spend on him what expensive coloring, what gilding and enameling she will, he is but a botch. Not a dish; no, a bulging, kneaded, crooked, shambling, squint-cornered, amorphous botch,—a mere enameled vessel of dishonor! Let the idle think of this.

Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work, a life-purpose; he has found it, and will follow it! How, as a free-flowing channel, dug and torn by noble force through the sour mud-swamp of one's existence, like an ever-deepening river there, it runs and flows;—draining off the sour festering water gradually from the root of the remotest grass-blade; making, instead of pestilential swamp, a green fruitful meadow with its clear-flowing stream. How blessed for the meadow itself, let the stream and its value be great or small! Labor is Life: from the inmost heart of the Worker rises his God-given Force, the sacred celestial Life-essence breathed into him by Almighty God; from his inmost heart awakens him to all nobleness,—to all knowledge, "self-knowledge" and much else, so soon as Work fitly begins. Knowledge? The knowledge that[Pg 3244] will hold good in working, cleave thou to that; for Nature herself accredits that, says Yea to that. Properly thou hast no other knowledge but what thou hast got by working: the rest is yet all a hypothesis of knowledge; a thing to be argued of in schools, a thing floating in the clouds, in endless logic-vortices, till we try it and fix it. "Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by Action alone."

And again, hast thou valued Patience, Courage, Perseverance, Openness to light; readiness to own thyself mistaken, to do better next time? All these, all virtues, in wrestling with the dim brute Powers of Fact, in ordering of thy fellows in such wrestle, there, and elsewhere not at all, thou wilt continually learn. Set down a brave Sir Christopher in the middle of black ruined Stone-heaps, of foolish unarchitectural Bishops, red-tape Officials, idle Nell-Gwynn Defenders of the Faith; and see whether he will ever raise a Paul's Cathedral out of all that, yea or no! Rough, rude, contradictory, are all things and persons, from the mutinous masons and Irish hodmen up to the idle Nell-Gwynn Defenders, to blustering red-tape Officials, foolish unarchitectural Bishops. All these things and persons are there not for Christopher's sake and his Cathedral's; they are there for their own sake mainly! Christopher will have to conquer and constrain all these,—if he be able. All these are against him. Equitable Nature herself, who carries her mathematics and architectonics not on the face of her, but deep in the hidden heart of her,—Nature herself is but partially for him; will be wholly against him, if he constrain her not! His very money, where is it to come from? The pious munificence of England lies far-scattered, distant, unable to speak and say, "I am here";—must be spoken to before it can speak. Pious munificence, and all help, is so silent, invisible like the gods; impediments, contradictions manifold, are so loud and near! O brave Sir Christopher, trust thou in those, notwithstanding, and front all these; understand all these; by valiant patience, noble effort, insight, by man's strength, vanquish and compel all these,—and on the whole, strike down victoriously the last topstone of that Paul's Edifice; thy monument for certain centuries, the stamp "Great Man" impressed very legibly on Portland-stone there!

Yes, all manner of help, and pious response from Men of Nature, is always what we call silent; cannot speak or come to[Pg 3245] light, till it be seen, till it be spoken to. Every noble work is at first "Impossible." In very truth, for every noble work the possibilities will lie diffused through Immensity; inarticulate, undiscoverable except to faith. Like Gideon, thou shalt spread out thy fleece at the door of thy tent; see whether under the wide arch of Heaven there be any bounteous moisture, or none. Thy heart and life-purpose shall be as a miraculous Gideon's fleece, spread out in silent appeal to Heaven; and from the kind Immensities, what from the poor unkind Localities and town and country Parishes there never could, blessed dew-moisture to suffice thee shall have fallen!

Work is of a religious nature;—work is of a brave nature; which it is the aim of all religion to be. All work of man is as the swimmer's: a waste ocean threatens to devour him; if he front it not bravely, it will keep its word. By incessant wise defiance of it, lusty rebuke and buffet of it, behold how it loyally supports him, bears him as its conqueror along. "It is so," says Goethe, "with all things that man undertakes in this world."

Brave Sea-captain, Norse Sea-king,—Columbus, my hero, royalest Sea-king of all! it is no friendly environment, this of thine, in the waste deep waters; around thee mutinous discouraged souls, behind thee disgrace and ruin, before thee the equal, unpenetrated veil of Night. Brother, these wild water-mountains, bounding from their deep basin (ten miles deep, I am told), are not entirely there on thy behalf! Meseems they have other work than floating thee forward:—and the huge Winds, that sweep from Ursa-Major to the Tropics and Equators, dancing their giant-waltz through the kingdoms of Chaos and Immensity, they care little about filling rightly or filling wrongly the small shoulder-of-mutton sails in this cockle-skiff of thine! Thou art not among articulate-speaking friends, my brother; thou art among immeasurable dumb monsters, tumbling, howling, wide as the world here. Secret, far off, invisible to all hearts but thine, there lies a help in them: see how thou wilt get at that. Patiently thou wilt wait till the mad Southwester spend itself, saving thyself by dexterous science of defense, the while: valiantly, with swift decision, wilt thou strike in, when the favoring East, the Possible, springs up. Mutiny of men thou wilt sternly repress; weakness, despondency, thou wilt cheerily encourage: thou wilt swallow down complaint, unreason, weariness,[Pg 3246] weakness of others and thyself;—how much wilt thou swallow down! There shall be a depth of Silence in thee, deeper than this Sea, which is but ten miles deep: a Silence unsoundable; known to God only. Thou shalt be a great man. Yes, my World-Soldier, thou of the World Marine-service,—thou wilt have to be greater than this tumultuous unmeasured World here round thee is; thou, in thy strong soul, as with wrestler's arms shalt embrace it, harness it down; and make it bear thee on,—to new Americas, or whither God wills!


From 'Sartor Resartus'

As Montesquieu wrote a 'Spirit of Laws,'" observes our Professor, "so could I write a 'Spirit of Clothes'; thus, with an 'Esprit des Lois,' properly an 'Esprit de Coutumes,' we should have an 'Esprit de Costumes.' For neither in tailoring nor in legislating does man proceed by mere Accident, but the hand is ever guided on by mysterious operations of the mind. In all his Modes, and habilatory endeavors, an Architectural Idea will be found lurking; his Body and the Cloth are the site and materials whereon and whereby his beautified edifice, of a Person, is to be built. Whether he flow gracefully out in folded mantles, based on light sandals; tower-up in high headgear, from amid peaks, spangles, and bell-girdles; swell-out in starched ruffs, buckram stuffings, and monstrous tuberosities; or girth himself into separate sections, and front the world an Agglomeration of four limbs,—will depend on the nature of such Architectural Idea: whether Grecian, Gothic, Later-Gothic, or altogether Modern, and Parisian or Anglo-Dandiacal. Again, what meaning lies in Color! From the soberest drab to the high-flaming scarlet, spiritual idiosyncrasies unfold themselves in choice of color: if the cut betoken Intellect and Talent, so does the Color betoken Temper and Heart. In all which, among nations as among individuals, there is an incessant, indubitable, though infinitely complex working of Cause and Effect: every snip of the Scissors has been regulated and prescribed by ever-active Influences, which doubtless to Intelligences of a superior order are neither invisible nor illegible.[Pg 3247]

"For such superior Intelligences a Cause-and-Effect Philosophy of Clothes, as of Laws, were probably a comfortable winter-evening entertainment: nevertheless, for inferior Intelligences, like men, such Philosophies have always seemed to me uninstructive enough. Nay, what is your Montesquieu himself but a clever infant spelling Letters from a hieroglyphical prophetic Book, the lexicon of which lies in Eternity, in Heaven?—Let any Cause-and-Effect Philosopher explain, not why I wear such and such a Garment, obey such and such a Law; but even why I am here, to wear and obey anything!—Much therefore, if not the whole, of that same 'Spirit of Clothes' I shall suppress as hypothetical, ineffectual, and even impertinent: naked Facts, and Deductions drawn therefrom in quite another than that omniscient style, are my humbler and proper province."

Acting on which prudent restriction, Teufelsdröckh has nevertheless contrived to take-in a well nigh boundless extent of field; at least, the boundaries too often lie quite beyond our horizon. Selection being indispensable, we shall here glance over his First Part only in the most cursory manner. This First Part is, no doubt, distinguished by omnivorous learning, and utmost patience and fairness: at the same time, in its results and delineations, it is much more likely to interest the Compilers of some Library of General, Entertaining, Useful, or even Useless Knowledge than the miscellaneous readers of these pages. Was it this Part of the Book which Heuschrecke had in view, when he recommended us to that joint-stock vehicle of publication, "at present the glory of British Literature"? If so, the Library Editors are welcome to dig in it for their own behoof.

To the First Chapter, which turns on Paradise and Fig-leaves, and leads us into interminable disquisitions of a mythological, metaphorical, cabalistico sartorial, and quite antediluvian cast, we shall content ourselves with giving an unconcerned approval. Still less have we to do with "Lilis, Adam's first wife, whom, according to the Talmudists, he had before Eve, and who bore him, in that wedlock, the whole progeny of aërial, aquatic, and terrestrial Devils,"—very needlessly, we think. On this portion of the Work, with its profound glances into the Adam-Kadmon, or Primeval Element, here strangely brought into relation with the Nifl and Muspel (Darkness and Light) of the antique North, it may be enough to say, that its correctness of deduction and depth of Talmudic and Rabbinical lore have filled perhaps not[Pg 3248] the worst Hebraist in Britain with something like astonishment.

But quitting this twilight region, Teufelsdröckh hastens from the Tower of Babel, to follow the dispersion of Mankind over the whole habitable and habilable globe. Walking by the light of Oriental, Pelasgic, Scandinavian, Egyptian, Otaheitean, Ancient and Modern researches of every conceivable kind, he strives to give us in compressed shape (as the Nürnbergers give an Orbis Pictus) an Orbis Vestitus; or view of the costumes of all mankind, in all countries, in all times. It is here that to the Antiquarian, to the Historian, we can triumphantly say: Fall to! Here is learning: an irregular Treasury, if you will; but inexhaustible as the Hoard of King Nibelung, which twelve wagons in twelve days, at the rate of three journeys a day, could not carry off. Sheepskin cloaks and wampum belts; phylacteries, stoles, albs; chlamydes, togas, Chinese silks, Afghan shawls, trunk-hose, leather breeches, Celtic philibegs (though breeches, as the name Gallia Braccata indicates, are the more ancient), Hussar cloaks, Vandyke tippets, ruffs, fardingales, are brought vividly before us,—even the Kilmarnock nightcap is not forgotten. For most part, too, we must admit that the Learning, heterogeneous as it is, and tumbled-down quite pell-mell, is true, concentrated and purified Learning, the drossy parts smelted out and thrown aside.

Philosophical reflections intervene, and sometimes touching pictures of human life. Of this sort the following has surprised us. The first purpose of Clothes, as our Professor imagines, was not warmth or decency, but ornament. "Miserable indeed," says he, "was the condition of the Aboriginal Savage, glaring fiercely from under his fleece of hair, which with the beard reached down to his loins, and hung round him like a matted cloak; the rest of his body sheeted in its thick natural fell. He loitered in the sunny glades of the forest, living on wild-fruits; or, as the ancient Caledonian, squatted himself in morasses, lurking for his bestial or human prey; without implements, without arms, save the ball of heavy Flint, to which, that his sole possession and defense might not be lost, he had attached a long cord of plaited thongs; thereby recovering as well as hurling it with deadly unerring skill. Nevertheless, the pains of Hunger and Revenge once satisfied, his next care was not Comfort but Decoration (Putz). Warmth he found in the toils of the chase;[Pg 3249] or amid dried leaves, in his hollow tree, in his bark shed, or natural grotto: but for Decoration he must have Clothes. Nay, among wild people, we find tattooing and painting even prior to Clothes. The first spiritual want of a barbarous man is Decoration, as indeed we still see among the barbarous classes in civilized countries.

"Reader, the heaven-inspired melodious Singer; loftiest Serene Highness; nay, thy own amber-locked, snow-and-rose-bloom Maiden, worthy to glide sylph-like almost on air, whom thou lovest, worshipest as a divine Presence, which, indeed, symbolically taken, she is,—has descended, like thyself, from that same hair-mantled, flint-hurling Aboriginal Anthropophagus! Out of the eater cometh forth meat; out of the strong cometh forth sweetness. What changes are wrought, not by Time, yet in Time! For not Mankind only, but all that Mankind does or beholds, is in continual growth, regenesis and self-perfecting vitality. Cast forth thy Act, thy Word, into the ever-living, ever-working Universe: it is a seed-grain that cannot die; unnoticed to-day (says one), it will be found flourishing as a Banyan-grove (perhaps, alas, as a Hemlock-forest!) after a thousand years.

"He who first shortened the labor of Copyists by device of Movable Types was disbanding hired Armies, and cashiering most Kings and Senates, and creating a whole new Democratic world: he had invented the Art of Printing. The first ground handful of Nitre, Sulphur, and Charcoal drove Monk Schwartz's pestle through the ceiling: what will the last do? Achieve the final undisputed prostration of Force under Thought, of Animal courage under Spiritual. A simple invention it was in the old-world Grazier,—sick of lugging his slow Ox about the country till he got it bartered for corn or oil,—to take a piece of Leather, and thereon scratch or stamp the mere Figure of an Ox (or Pecus); put it in his pocket, and call it Pecunia, Money. Yet hereby did Barter grow Sale, the Leather Money is now Golden and Paper, and all miracles have been out-miracled: for there are Rothschilds and English National Debts; and whoso has sixpence is sovereign (to the length of sixpence) over all men; commands cooks to feed him, philosophers to teach him, kings to mount guard over him,—to the length of sixpence.—Clothes too, which began in foolishest love of Ornament, what have they not become! Increased Security and pleasurable Heat soon followed:[Pg 3250] but what of these? Shame, divine Shame (Scham, Modesty), as yet a stranger to the Anthropophagous bosom, arose there mysteriously under Clothes; a mystic grove-encircled shrine for the Holy in man. Clothes gave us individuality, distinction, social polity; Clothes have made Men of us; they are threatening to make Clothes-screens of us.

"But, on the whole," continues our eloquent Professor, "Man is a Tool-using Animal (Handthierendes Thier). Weak in himself, and of small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest-soled, of some half-square foot, insecurely enough; has to straddle out his legs, lest the very wind supplant him. Feeblest of bipeds! Three quintals are a crushing load for him; the steer of the meadow tosses him aloft, like a waste rag. Nevertheless he can use Tools, can devise Tools: with these the granite mountain melts into light dust before him; he kneads glowing iron, as if it were soft paste; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without Tools; without Tools he is nothing, with Tools he is all."

Here may we not, for a moment, interrupt the stream of Oratory with a remark, that this Definition of the Tool-using Animal appears to us, of all that Animal-sort, considerably the precisest and best? Man is called a Laughing Animal: but do not the apes also laugh, or attempt to do it: and is the manliest man the greatest and oftenest laugher? Teufelsdröckh himself, as we said, laughed only once. Still less do we make of that other French Definition of the Cooking Animal: which, indeed, for rigorous scientific purposes, is as good as useless. Can a Tartar be said to cook, when he only readies his steak by riding on it? Again, what Cookery does the Greenlander use, beyond stowing-up his whale-blubber, as a marmot, in the like case, might do? Or how would Monsieur Ude prosper among those Orinoco Indians who, according to Humboldt, lodge in crow-nests, on the branches of trees; and, for half the year, have no victuals but pipe-clay, the whole country being under water? But on the other hand, show us the human being, of any period or climate, without his Tools: those very Caledonians, as we saw, had their Flint-ball, and Thong to it, such as no brute has or can have.

"Man is a Tool-using Animal," concludes Teufelsdröckh in his abrupt way; "of which truth Clothes are but one example:[Pg 3251] and surely if we consider the interval between the first wooden Dibble fashioned by man, and those Liverpool Steam-carriages, or the British House of Commons, we shall note what progress he has made. He digs up certain black stones from the bosom of the earth, and says to them, Transport me and this luggage at the rate of five-and-thirty miles an hour; and they do it: he collects, apparently by lot, six hundred and fifty-eight miscellaneous individuals, and says to them, Make this nation toil for us, bleed for us, hunger and sorrow and sin for us; and they do it."


From 'Heroes and Hero-Worship'

Many volumes have been written by way of commentary on Dante and his Book; yet, on the whole, with no great result. His Biography is, as it were, irrevocably lost for us. An unimportant, wandering, sorrow-stricken man, not much note was taken of him while he lived; and the most of that has vanished, in the long space that now intervenes. It is five centuries since he ceased writing and living here. After all commentaries, the Book itself is mainly what we know of him. The Book;—and one might add that Portrait commonly attributed to Giotto, which, looking on it, you cannot help inclining to think genuine, whoever did it. To me it is a most touching face; perhaps of all faces that I know, the most so. Lonely there, painted as on vacancy, with the simple laurel wound round it; the deathless sorrow and pain, the known victory which is also deathless;—significant of the whole history of Dante! I think it is the mournfulest face that ever was painted from reality; an altogether tragic, heart-affecting face. There is in it, as foundation of it, the softness, tenderness, gentle affection as of a child; but all this is as if congealed into sharp contradiction, into abnegation, isolation, proud, hopeless pain. A soft, ethereal soul, looking-out so stern, implacable, grim-trenchant, as from imprisonment of thick-ribbed ice! Withal it is a silent pain too, a silent scornful one: the lip is curled in a kind of godlike disdain of the thing that is eating out his heart, as if it were withal a mean, insignificant thing, as if he whom it had power to torture and strangle were greater than it. The face of one wholly in protest, and lifelong, unsurrendering battle, against the world.[Pg 3252] Affection all converted into indignation: an implacable indignation; slow, equable, silent, like that of a god! The eye, too, it looks out in a kind of surprise, a kind of inquiry—Why the world was of such a sort? This is Dante: so he looks, this "voice of ten silent centuries," and sings us "his mystic unfathomable song."

The little that we know of Dante's life corresponds well enough with this Portrait and this Book. He was born at Florence, in the upper class of society, in the year 1265. His education was the best then going; much school-divinity, Aristotelian logic, some Latin classics,—no inconsiderable insight into certain provinces of things: and Dante, with his earnest intelligent nature, we need not doubt, learned better than most all that was learnable. He has a clear cultivated understanding, and great subtlety; this best fruit of education he had contrived to realize from these scholastics. He knows accurately and well what lies close to him; but in such a time, without printed books or free intercourse, he could not know well what was distant: the small clear light, most luminous for what is near, breaks itself into singular chiaroscuro striking on what is far off. This was Dante's learning from the schools. In life, he had gone through the usual destinies: been twice out campaigning as a soldier for the Florentine State; been on embassy; had in his thirty-fifth year, by natural gradation of talent and service, become one of the Chief Magistrates of Florence. He had met in boyhood a certain Beatrice Portinari, a beautiful little girl of his own age and rank, and grown-up henceforth in partial sight of her, in some distant intercourse with her. All readers know his graceful affecting account of this; and then of their being parted; of her being wedded to another, and of her death soon after. She makes a great figure in Dante's Poem; seems to have made a great figure in his life. Of all beings it might seem as if she, held apart from him, far apart at last in the dim Eternity, were the only one he had ever with his whole strength of affection loved. She died: Dante himself was wedded; but it seems not happily, far from happily. I fancy the rigorous earnest man, with his keen excitabilities, was not altogether easy to make happy.

We will not complain of Dante's miseries: had all gone right with him as he wished it, he might have been Prior, Podestà or whatsoever they call it, of Florence, well accepted among[Pg 3253] neighbors,—and the world had wanted one of the most notable words ever spoken or sung. Florence would have had another prosperous Lord Mayor; and the ten dumb centuries continued voiceless, and the ten other listening centuries (for there will be ten of them and more) had no 'Divina Commedia' to hear! We will complain of nothing. A nobler destiny was appointed for this Dante; and he, struggling like a man led towards death and crucifixion, could not help fulfilling it. Give him the choice of his happiness! He knew not, more than we do, what was really happy, what was really miserable.

In Dante's Priorship, the Guelf-Ghibelline, Bianchi-Neri, or some other confused disturbances rose to such a height, that Dante, whose party had seemed the stronger, was with his friends cast unexpectedly forth into banishment; doomed thenceforth to a life of woe and wandering. His property was all confiscated and more; he had the fiercest feeling that it was entirely unjust, nefarious in the sight of God and man. He tried what was in him to get reinstated; tried even by warlike surprisal, with arms in his hand: but it would not do; bad only had become worse. There is a record, I believe, still extant in the Florence Archives, dooming this Dante, wheresoever caught, to be burnt alive. Burnt alive; so it stands, they say: a very curious civic document. Another curious document, some considerable number of years later, is a Letter of Dante's to the Florentine Magistrates, written in answer to a milder proposal of theirs, that he should return on condition of apologizing and paying a fine. He answers, with fixed stern pride:—"If I cannot return without calling myself guilty, I will never return (nunquam revertar)."

For Dante there was now no home in this world. He wandered from patron to patron, from place to place; proving, in his own bitter words, "How hard is the path (Come è duro calle)." The wretched are not cheerful company. Dante, poor and banished, with his proud earnest nature, with his moody humors, was not a man to conciliate men. Petrarch reports of him that being at Can della Scala's court, and blamed one day for his gloom and taciturnity, he answered in no courtier-like way. Della Scala stood among his courtiers, with mimes and buffoons (nebulones ac histriones) making him heartily merry; when turning to Dante, he said:—"Is it not strange, now, that this poor fool should make himself so entertaining; while you, a[Pg 3254] wise man, sit there day after day, and have nothing to amuse us with at all?" Dante answered bitterly:—"No, not strange; your Highness is to recollect the Proverb, 'Like to Like;'"—given the amuser, the amusee must also be given! Such a man, with his proud silent ways, with his sarcasms and sorrows, was not made to succeed at court. By degrees, it came to be evident to him that he had no longer any resting-place, or hope of benefit, in this earth. The earthly world had cast him forth, to wander, wander; no living heart to love him now; for his sore miseries there was no solace here.

The deeper naturally would the Eternal World impress itself on him; that awful reality over which, after all, this Time-world, with its Florences and banishments, only flutters as an unreal shadow. Florence thou shalt never see: but Hell and Purgatory and Heaven thou shalt surely see! What is Florence, Can della Scala, and the World and Life altogether? Eternity: thither, of a truth, not elsewhither, art thou and all things bound! The great soul of Dante, homeless on earth, made its home more and more in that awful other world. Naturally his thoughts brooded on that, as on the one fact important for him. Bodied or bodiless, it is the one fact important for all men:—but to Dante, in that age, it was bodied in fixed certainty of scientific shape; he no more doubted of that Malebolge Pool, that it all lay there with its gloomy circles, with its alti guai, and that he himself should see it, than we doubt that we should see Constantinople if we went thither. Dante's heart, long filled with this, brooding over it in speechless thought and awe, bursts forth at length into "mystic unfathomable song"; and this his 'Divine Comedy,' the most remarkable of all modern Books, is the result.

It must have been a great solacement to Dante, and was, as we can see, a proud thought for him at times, that he, here in exile, could do this work; that no Florence, nor no man or men, could hinder him from doing it, or even much help him in doing it. He knew too, partly, that it was great; the greatest a man could do. "If thou follow thy star, Se tu segui tua stella,"—so could the Hero, in his forsakenness, in his extreme need, still say to himself: "Follow thou thy star, thou shalt not fail of a glorious haven!" The labor of writing, we find, and indeed could know otherwise, was great and painful for him; he says, "This Book, which has made me lean for many years." Ah yes, it was won, all of it, with pain and sore toil,—not in sport, but[Pg 3255] in grim earnest. His Book, as indeed most good Books are, has been written, in many senses, with his heart's blood. It is his whole history, this Book. He died after finishing it; not yet very old, at the age of fifty-six;—broken-hearted rather, as is said. He lies buried in his death-city Ravenna: Hic claudor Dantes patriis extorris ab oris. The Florentines begged back his body, in a century after; the Ravenna people would not give it. "Here am I, Dante, laid, shut-out from my native shores."

I said, Dante's Poem was a Song: it is Tieck who calls it "a mystic unfathomable Song"; and such is literally the character of it. Coleridge remarks very pertinently somewhere, that wherever you find a sentence musically worded, of true rhythm and melody in the words, there is something deep and good in the meaning too. For body and soul, word and idea, go strangely together here as everywhere. Song: we said before, it was the Heroic of Speech! All old Poems, Homer's and the rest, are authentically Songs. I would say, in strictness, that all right Poems are; that whatsoever is not sung is properly no Poem, but a piece of Prose cramped into jingling lines,—to the great injury of the grammar, to the great grief of the reader, for most part! What we want to get at is the thought the man had, if he had any; why should he twist it into jingle, if he could speak it out plainly? It is only when the heart of him is rapt into true passion of melody, and the very tones of him, according to Coleridge's remark, become musical by the greatness, depth, and music of his thoughts, that we can give him right to rhyme and sing; that we call him a Poet, and listen to him as the Heroic of Speakers,—whose speech is Song. Pretenders to this are many; and to an earnest reader, I doubt, it is for most part a very melancholy, not to say an insupportable business, that of reading rhyme! Rhyme that had no inward necessity to be rhymed:—it ought to have told us plainly, without any jingle, what it was aiming at. I would advise all men who can speak their thought, not to sing it; to understand that, in a serious time, among serious men, there is no vocation in them for singing it. Precisely as we love the true song, and are charmed by it as by something divine, so shall we hate the false song, and account it a mere wooden noise, a thing hollow, superfluous, altogether an insincere and offensive thing.

I give Dante my highest praise when I say of his 'Divine Comedy' that it is, in all senses, genuinely a Song. In the very[Pg 3256] sound of it there is a canto fermo; it proceeds as by a chant. The language, his simple terza rima, doubtless helped him in this. One reads along naturally with a sort of lilt. But I add, that it could not be otherwise; for the essence and material of the work are themselves rhythmic. Its depth, and rapt passion and sincerity, makes it musical;—go deep enough, there is music everywhere. A true inward symmetry, what one calls an architectural harmony, reigns in it, proportionates it all: architectural; which also partakes of the character of music. The three kingdoms, Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso, look-out on one another like compartments of a great edifice; a great supernatural world-cathedral, piled-up there, stern, solemn, awful; Dante's World of Souls! It is, at bottom, the sincerest of all Poems; sincerity, here too, we find to be the measure of worth. It came deep out of the author's heart of hearts; and it goes deep, and through long generations, into ours. The people of Verona, when they saw him on the streets, used to say, "Eccovi l' nom ch' è stato all' Inferno" (See, there is the man that was in Hell). Ah yes, he had been in Hell;—in Hell enough, in long severe sorrow and struggle; as the like of him is pretty sure to have been. Commedias that come-out divine are not accomplished otherwise. Thought, true labor of any kind, highest virtue itself, is it not the daughter of Pain? Born as out of the black whirlwind;—true effort, in fact, as of a captive struggling to free himself: that is Thought. In all ways we are "to become perfect through suffering."—But as I say, no work known to me is so elaborated as this of Dante's. It has all been as if molten, in the hottest furnace of his soul. It had made him "lean" for many years. Not the general whole only; every compartment of it is worked out, with intense earnestness, into truth, into clear visuality. Each answers to the other; each fits in its place, like a marble stone accurately hewn and polished. It is the soul of Dante, and in this the soul of the Middle Ages, rendered forever rhythmically visible there. No light task; a right intense one: but a task which is done.

Perhaps one would say, intensity, with the much that depends on it, is the prevailing character of Dante's genius. Dante does not come before us as a large catholic mind; rather as a narrow, and even sectarian mind: it is partly the fruit of his age and position, but partly too of his own nature. His greatness has, in all senses, concentred itself into fiery emphasis and depth. He[Pg 3257] is world-great not because he is world-wide, but because he is world-deep. Through all objects he pierces as it were down into the heart of Being. I know nothing so intense as Dante. Consider, for example, to begin with the outermost development of his intensity, consider how he paints. He has a great power of vision; seizes the very type of a thing; presents that and nothing more. You remember that first view he gets of the Hall of Dite: red pinnacle, red-hot cone of iron glowing through the dim immensity of gloom;—so vivid, so distinct, visible at once and forever! It is as an emblem of the whole genius of Dante. There is a brevity, an abrupt precision in him: Tacitus is not briefer, more condensed; and then in Dante it seems a natural condensation, spontaneous to the man. One smiting word; and then there is silence, nothing more said. His silence is more eloquent than words. It is strange with what a sharp decisive grace he snatches the true likeness of a matter: cuts into the matter as with a pen of fire. Plutus, the blustering giant, collapses at Virgil's rebuke; it is "as the sails sink, the mast being suddenly broken." Or that poor Brunette Latini, with the cotto aspetto, "face baked", parched brown and lean; and the "fiery snow" that falls on them there, a "fiery snow without wind," slow, deliberate, never-ending! Or the lids of those Tombs; square sarcophaguses, in that silent dim-burning Hall, each with its Soul in torment; the lids laid open there; they are to be shut at the Day of Judgment, through Eternity. And how Farinata rises; and how Cavalcante falls—at hearing of his Son, and the past tense "fue"! The very movements in Dante have something brief; swift, decisive, almost military. It is of the inmost essence of his genius, this sort of painting. The fiery, swift Italian nature of the man, so silent, passionate, with its quick abrupt movements, its silent "pale rages", speaks itself in these things.

For though this of painting is one of the outermost developments of a man, it comes like all else from the essential faculty of him; it is physiognomical of the whole man. Find a man whose words paint you a likeness, you have found a man worth something; mark his manner of doing it, as very characteristic of him. In the first place, he could not have discerned the object at all, or seen the vital type of it, unless he had, what we may call, sympathized with it,—had sympathy in him to bestow on objects. He must have been sincere about it too; sincere and sympathetic: a man without worth cannot give you the likeness[Pg 3258] of any object; he dwells in vague outwardness, fallacy and trivial hearsay, about all objects. And indeed may we not say that intellect altogether expresses itself in this power of discerning what an object is? Whatsoever of faculty a man's mind may have will come out here. Is it even of business, a matter to be done? The gifted man is he who sees the essential point, and leaves all the rest aside as surplusage: it is his faculty too, the man of business's faculty, that he discern the true likeness, not the false superficial one, of the thing he has got to work in. And how much of morality is in the kind of insight we get of anything; "the eye seeing in all things what it brought with it the faculty of seeing"! To the mean eye all things are trivial, as certainly as to the jaundiced they are yellow. Raphael, the Painters tell us, is the best of all Portrait-painters withal. No most gifted eye can exhaust the significance of any object. In the commonest human face there lies more than Raphael will take away with him.

Dante's painting is not graphic only, brief, true, and of a vividness as of fire in dark night; taken on the wider scale, it is every way noble, and the outcome of a great soul. Francesca and her Lover, what qualities in that! A thing woven as out of rainbows, on a ground of eternal black. A small flute-voice of infinite wail speaks there, into our very heart of hearts. A touch of womanhood in it too: della bella persona, che mi fu tolta; and how, even in the Pit of woe, it is a solace that he will never part from her! Saddest tragedy in these alti guai. And the racking winds, in that aer bruno, whirl them away again, to wail forever!—Strange to think: Dante was the friend of this poor Francesca's father; Francesca herself may have sat upon the Poet's knee, as a bright innocent little child. Infinite pity, yet also infinite rigor of law: it is so Nature is made; it is so Dante discerned that she was made. What a paltry notion is that of his 'Divine Comedy's' being a poor splenetic impotent terrestrial libel; putting those into Hell whom he could not be avenged upon on earth! I suppose if ever pity, tender as a mother's, was in the heart of any man, it was in Dante's. But a man who does not know rigor cannot pity either. His very pity will be cowardly, egoistic,—sentimentality, or little better. I know not in the world an affection equal to that of Dante. It is a tenderness, a trembling, longing, pitying love: like the wail of Æolian harps, soft, soft; like a child's young heart;—and then that[Pg 3259] stern, sore-saddened heart! These longings of his towards his Beatrice; their meeting together in the 'Paradiso'; his gazing in her pure transfigured eyes, hers that had been purified by death so long, separated from him so far:—one likens it to the song of angels; it is among the purest utterances of affection, perhaps the very purest, that ever came out of a human soul.

For the intense Dante is intense in all things; he has got into the essence of all. His intellectual insight as painter, on occasion too as reasoner, is but the result of all other sorts of intensity. Morally great, above all, we must call him; it is the beginning of all. His scorn, his grief are as transcendent as his love;—as indeed, what are they but the inverse or converse of his love? "A Dio spiacenti ed a' nemici sui, Hateful to God and to the enemies of God:" lofty scorn, unappeasable silent reprobation and aversion; "Non ragionam di lor, We will not speak of them, look only and pass." Or think of this: "They have not the hope to die, Non han speranza di morte." One day, it had risen sternly benign on the scathed heart of Dante, that he, wretched, never-resting, worn as he was, would full surely die; "that Destiny itself could not doom him not to die." Such words are in this man. For rigor, earnestness, and depth, he is not to be paralleled in the modern world; to seek his parallel we must go into the Hebrew Bible, and live with the antique Prophets there.

I do not agree with much modern criticism, in greatly preferring the Inferno to the two other parts of the 'Divina Commedia.' Such preference belongs, I imagine, to our general Byronism of taste, and is like to be a transient feeling. The 'Purgatorio' and 'Paradiso,'—especially the former, one would almost say, is even more excellent than it. It is a noble thing, that Purgatorio, "Mountain of Purification"; an emblem of the noblest conception of that age. If Sin is so fatal, and Hell is and must be so rigorous, awful, yet in Repentance too is man purified; Repentance is the grand Christian act. It is beautiful how Dante works it out. The tremolar dell' onde, that "trembling" of the ocean-waves, under the first pure gleam of morning, dawning afar on the wandering Two, is as the type of an altered mood. Hope has now dawned; never-dying Hope, if in company still with heavy sorrow. The obscure sojourn of dæmons and reprobates is underfoot; a soft breathing of penitence mounts higher and higher, to the Throne of Mercy itself.[Pg 3260] "Pray for me," the denizens of that Mount of Pain all say to him. "Tell my Giovanna to pray for me, my daughter Giovanna; I think her mother loves me no more!" They toil painfully up by that winding steep, "bent-down like corbels of a building," some of them,—crushed together so "for the sin of pride"; yet nevertheless in years, in ages and æons, they shall have reached the top, which is Heaven's gate, and by Mercy shall have been admitted in. The joy too of all, when one has prevailed; the whole Mountain shakes with joy, and a psalm of praise rises when one soul has perfected repentance and got its sin and misery left behind! I call all this a noble embodiment of a true, noble thought.

But indeed the Three compartments mutually support one another, are indispensable to one another. The 'Paradiso,' a kind of inarticulate music to me, is the redeeming side of the 'Inferno'; the 'Inferno' without it were untrue. All three make-up the true Unseen World, as figured in the Christianity of the Middle Ages; a thing forever memorable, forever true in the essence of it, to all men. It was perhaps delineated in no human soul with such depth of veracity as in this of Dante's; a man sent to sing it, to keep it long memorable. Very notable with what brief simplicity he passes out of the every-day reality, into the Invisible one; and in the second or third stanza, we find ourselves in the World of Spirits; and dwell there, as among things palpable, indubitable! To Dante they were so; the real world, as it is called, and its facts, was but the threshold to an infinitely higher Fact of a World. At bottom, the one was as preternatural as the other. Has not each man a soul? He will not only be a spirit, but is one. To the earnest Dante it is all one visible Fact; he believes it, sees it; is the Poet of it in virtue of that. Sincerity, I say again, is the saving merit, now as always.

Dante's Hell, Purgatory, Paradise, are a symbol withal, an emblematic representation of his Belief about this Universe:—some Critic in a future age, like some Scandinavian ones the other day, who has ceased altogether to think as Dante did, may find this, too, all an "Allegory," perhaps an idle Allegory! It is a sublime embodiment, or sublimest, of the soul of Christianity. It expresses, as in huge world-wide architectural emblems, how the Christian Dante felt Good and Evil to be the two polar elements of this Creation, on which it all turns; that these two differ not by preferability of one to the other, but by incom[Pg 3261]patibility, absolute and infinite; that the one is excellent and high as light and Heaven, the other hideous, black as Gehenna and the Pit of Hell! Everlasting Justice, yet with Penitence, with everlasting Pity,—all Christianism, as Dante and the Middle Ages had it, is emblemed here. Emblemed: and yet, as I urged the other day, with what entire truth of purpose; how unconscious of any embleming! Hell, Purgatory, Paradise: these things were not fashioned as emblems: was there in our Modern European Mind, any thought at all of their being emblems? Were they not indubitable awful facts, the whole heart of man taking them for practically true, all Nature everywhere confirming them? So is it always in these things. Men do not believe an Allegory. The future Critic, whatever his new thought may be, who considers this of Dante to have been all got up as an Allegory, will commit one sore mistake!—Paganism we recognize as a veracious expression of the earnest awe-struck feeling of man towards the Universe; veracious, true once, and still not without worth for us. But mark here the difference of Paganism and Christianism; one great difference. Paganism emblemed chiefly the Operations of Nature; the destinies, efforts, combinations, vicissitudes of things and men in this world; Christianism emblemed the Law of Human Duty, the Moral Law of Man. One was for the sensuous nature; a rude helpless utterance of the first Thought of men,—the chief recognized Virtue, Courage, Superiority to Fear. The other was not for the sensuous nature, but for the moral. What a progress is here, if in that one respect only!

And so in this Dante, as we said, had ten silent centuries, in a very strange way, found a voice. The 'Divina Commedia' is of Dante's writing; yet in truth it belongs to ten Christian centuries, only the finishing of it is Dante's. So always. The craftsman there, the smith with that metal of his, with these tools, with these cunning methods,—how little of all he does is properly his work! All past inventive men work there with him;—as indeed with all of us, in all things. Dante is the spokesman of the Middle Ages; the Thought they lived by stands here, in everlasting music.

[Pg 3262]


From 'Heroes and Hero-Worship'

Poor Cromwell,—great Cromwell! The inarticulate Prophet; Prophet who could not speak. Rude, confused, struggling to utter himself, with his savage depth, with his wild sincerity; and he looked so strange, among the elegant Euphemisms, dainty little Falklands, didactic Chillingworths, diplomatic Clarendons! Consider him. An outer hull of chaotic confusion, visions of the Devil, nervous dreams, almost semi-madness; and yet such a clear determinate man's energy working in the heart of that. A kind of chaotic man. The ray as of pure starlight and fire, working in such an element of boundless hypochondria, unformed black of darkness! And yet withal this hypochondria, what was it but the very greatness of the man? The depth and tenderness of his wild affections: the quantity of sympathy he had with things,—the quantity of insight he would yet get into the heart of things, the mastery he would yet get over things: this was his hypochondria. The man's misery, as man's misery always does, came of his greatness. Samuel Johnson too is that kind of man. Sorrow-stricken, half-distracted; the wide element of mournful black enveloping him,—wide as the world. It is the character of a prophetic man; a man with his whole soul seeing, and struggling to see.

On this ground, too, I explain to myself Cromwell's reputed confusion of speech. To himself the internal meaning was sun-clear; but the material with which he was to clothe it in utterance was not there. He had lived silent; a great unnamed sea of Thought round him all his days; and in his way of life little call to attempt naming or uttering that. With his sharp power of vision, resolute power of action, I doubt not he could have learned to write Books withal, and speak fluently enough;—he did harder things than writing of Books. This kind of man is precisely he who is fit for doing manfully all things you will set him on doing. Intellect is not speaking and logicizing; it is seeing and ascertaining. Virtue, Vir-tus, manhood, herohood, is not fair-spoken immaculate regularity; it is first of all, what the Germans well name it, Tugend (Taugend, dow-ing, or Dough-tiness), Courage and the Faculty to do. This basis of the matter Cromwell had in him.[Pg 3263]

One understands moreover how, though he could not speak in Parliament, he might preach, rhapsodic preaching; above all, how he might be great in extempore prayer. These are the free out-pouring utterances of what is in the heart: method is not required in them; warmth, depth, sincerity are all that is required. Cromwell's habit of prayer is a notable feature of him. All his great enterprises were commenced with prayer. In dark inextricable-looking difficulties, his Officers and he used to assemble, and pray alternately, for hours, for days, till some definite resolution rose among them, some "door of hope," as they would name it, disclosed itself. Consider that. In tears, in fervent prayers, and cries to the great God, to have pity on them, to make His light shine before them. They, armed Soldiers of Christ, as they felt themselves to be; a little band of Christian Brothers, who had drawn the sword against a great black devouring world not Christian, but Mammonish, Devilish,—they cried to God in their straits, in their extreme need, not to forsake the Cause that was His. The light which now rose upon them,—how could a human soul, by any means at all, get better light? Was not the purpose so formed like to be precisely the best, wisest, the one to be followed without hesitation any more? To them it was as the shining of Heaven's own Splendor in the waste-howling darkness; the Pillar of Fire by night, that was to guide them on their desolate perilous way. Was it not such? Can a man's soul, to this hour, get guidance by any other method than intrinsically by that same,—devout prostration of the earnest struggling soul before the Highest, the Giver of all Light; be such prayer a spoken, articulate, or be it a voiceless, inarticulate one? There is no other method. "Hypocrisy"? One begins to be weary of all that. They who call it so, have no right to speak on such matters. They never formed a purpose, what one can call a purpose. They went about balancing expediencies, plausibilities; gathering votes, advices; they never were alone with the truth of a thing at all.—Cromwell's prayers were likely to be "eloquent," and much more than that. His was the heart of a man who could pray.

But indeed his actual Speeches, I apprehend, were not nearly so ineloquent, incondite, as they look. We find he was, what all speakers aim to be, an impressive speaker, even in Parliament; one who, from the first, had weight. With that rude passionate voice of his, he was always understood to mean something, and[Pg 3264] men wished to know what. He disregarded eloquence, nay despised and disliked it; spoke always without premeditation of the words he was to use. The Reporters, too, in those days seem to have been singularly candid; and to have given the Printer precisely what they found on their own note-paper. And withal, what a strange proof is it of Cromwell's being the premeditative ever-calculating hypocrite, acting a play before the world, that to the last he took no more charge of his Speeches! How came he not to study his words a little, before flinging them out to the public? If the words were true words, they could be left to shift for themselves.

But with regard to Cromwell's "lying," we will make one remark. This, I suppose, or something like this, to have been the nature of it. All parties found themselves deceived in him; each party understood him to be meaning this, heard him even say so, and behold he turns-out to have been meaning that! He was, cry they, the chief of liars. But now, intrinsically, is not all this the inevitable fortune, not of a false man in such times, but simply of a superior man? Such a man must have reticences in him. If he walk wearing his heart upon his sleeve for daws to peck at, his journey will not extend far! There is no use for any man's taking-up his abode in a house built of glass. A man always is to be himself the judge how much of his mind he will show to other men; even to those he would have work along with him. There are impertinent inquiries made: your rule is, to leave the inquirer uninformed on that matter; not, if you can help it, misinformed, but precisely as dark as he was!

This, could one hit the right phrase of response, is what the wise and faithful man would aim to answer in such a case.

Cromwell, no doubt of it, spoke often in the dialect of small subaltern parties; uttered to them a part of his mind. Each little party thought him all its own. Hence their rage, one and all, to find him not of their party, but of his own party! Was it his blame? At all seasons of his history he must have felt, among such people, how if he explained to them the deeper insight he had, they must either have shuddered aghast at it, or believing it, their own little compact hypothesis must have gone wholly to wreck. They could not have worked in his province any more; nay perhaps they could not have now worked in their own province. It is the inevitable position of a great man[Pg 3265] among small men. Small men, most active, useful, are to be seen everywhere, whose whole activity depends on some conviction which to you is palpably a limited one; imperfect, what we call an error. But would it be a kindness always, is it a duty always or often, to disturb them in that? Many a man, doing loud work in the world, stands only on some thin traditionality, conventionality to him indubitable, to you incredible: break that beneath him, he sinks to endless depths! "I might have my hand full of truth," said Fontenelle, "and open only my little finger."

And if this be the fact even in matters of doctrine, how much more in all departments of practice! He that cannot withal keep his mind to himself cannot practice any considerable thing whatever. And we call it "dissimulation," all this? What would you think of calling the general of an army a dissembler because he did not tell every corporal and private soldier who pleased to put the question, what his thoughts were about everything?—Cromwell, I should rather say, managed all this in a manner we must admire for its perfection. An endless vortex of such questioning "corporals" rolled confusedly round him through his whole course; whom he did answer. It must have been as a great true-seeing man that he managed this too. Not one proved falsehood, as I said; not one! Of what man that ever wound himself through such a coil of things will you say so much?

But in fact there are two errors, widely prevalent, which pervert to the very basis our judgments formed about such men as Cromwell; about their "ambition," "falsity," and suchlike. The first is what I might call substituting the goal of their career for the course and starting-point of it. The vulgar Historian of a Cromwell fancies that he had determined on being Protector of England, at the time when he was plowing the marsh lands of Cambridgeshire. His career lay all mapped-out: a program of the whole drama; which he then step by step dramatically unfolded with all manner of cunning, deceptive dramaturgy, as he went on,—the hollow scheming [Greek: Ypochritês], or Play-actor, that he was! This is a radical perversion; all but universal in such cases. And think for an instant how different the fact is! How much does one of us foresee of his own life? Short way ahead of us it is all dim; an unwound skein of possibilities, of apprehensions, attemptabilities, vague-looming hopes. This Cromwell[Pg 3266] had not his life lying all in that fashion of Program, which he needed then, with that unfathomable cunning of his, only to enact dramatically, scene after scene! Not so. We see it so; but to him it was in no measure so. What absurdities would fall away of themselves, were this one undeniable fact kept honestly in view by History! Historians indeed will tell you that they do keep it in view;—but look whether such is practically the fact! Vulgar History, as in this Cromwell's case, omits it altogether; even the best kinds of History only remember it now and then. To remember it duly with rigorous perfection, as in the fact it stood, requires indeed a rare faculty; rare, nay impossible. A very Shakespeare for faculty; or more than Shakespeare; who could enact a brother man's biography, see with the brother man's eyes at all points of his course what things he saw; in short, know his course and him, as few "Historians" are like to do. Half or more of all the thick-plied perversions which distort our image of Cromwell, will disappear, if we honestly so much as try to represent them so; in sequence, as they were; not in the lump, as they are thrown down before us.

But a second error which I think the generality commit refers to this same "ambition" itself. We exaggerate the ambition of Great Men; we mistake what the nature of it is. Great Men are not ambitious in that sense; he is a small poor man that is ambitious so. Examine the man who lives in misery because he does not shine above other men; who goes about producing himself, pruriently anxious about his gifts and claims; struggling to force everybody, as it were begging everybody for God's sake, to acknowledge him a great man, and set him over the heads of men! Such a creature is among the wretchedest sights seen under this sun. A great man? A poor morbid prurient empty man; fitter for the ward of a hospital than for a throne among men. I advise you to keep out of his way. He cannot walk on quiet paths; unless you will look at him, wonder at him, write paragraphs about him, he cannot live. It is the emptiness of the man, not his greatness. Because there is nothing in himself, he hungers and thirsts that you would find something in him. In good truth, I believe no great man, not so much as a genuine man who had health and real substance in him of whatever magnitude, was ever much tormented in this way.[Pg 3267]

Your Cromwell, what good could it do him to be "noticed" by noisy crowds of people? God his Maker already noticed him. He, Cromwell, was already there; no notice would make him other than he already was. Till his hair was grown gray; and Life from the down-hill slope was all seen to be limited, not infinite but finite, and all a measurable matter how it went,—he had been content to plow the ground, and read his Bible. He in his old days could not support it any longer, without selling himself to Falsehood, that he might ride in gilt carriages to Whitehall, and have clerks with bundles of papers haunting him, "Decide this, decide that," which in utmost sorrow of heart no man can perfectly decide! What could gilt carriages do for this man? From of old was there not in his life a weight of meaning, a terror and a splendor as of Heaven itself? His existence there as man set him beyond the need of gilding. Death, Judgment, and Eternity: these already lay as the background of whatsoever he thought or did. All his life lay begirt as in a sea of nameless Thoughts, which no speech of a mortal could name. God's Word, as the Puritan prophets of that time had read it: this was great, and all else was little to him. To call such a man "ambitious," to figure him as the prurient wind-bag described above, seems to me the poorest solecism. Such a man will say: "Keep your gilt carriages and huzzaing mobs, keep your red-tape clerks, your influentialities, your important businesses. Leave me alone, leave me alone; there is too much of life in me already!" Old Samuel Johnson, the greatest soul in England in his day, was not ambitious. "Corsica Boswell" flaunted at public shows with printed ribbons round his hat; but the great old Samuel stayed at home. The world-wide soul, wrapt-up in its thoughts, in its sorrows;—what could paradings and ribbons in the hat, do for it?

Ah yes, I will say again: The great silent men! Looking round on the noisy inanity of the world, words with little meaning, actions with little worth, one loves to reflect on the great Empire of Silence. The noble silent men, scattered here and there, each in his own department; silently thinking; silently working; whom no Morning Newspaper makes mention of! They are the salt of the Earth. A country that has none or few of these is in a bad way. Like a forest which had no roots; which had all turned into leaves and boughs;—which must soon wither and be no forest. Woe for us if we had nothing but what we[Pg 3268] can show, or speak. Silence, the great Empire of Silence: higher than the stars; deeper than the Kingdoms of Death! It alone is great; all else is small.—I hope we English will long maintain our grand talent pour le silence. Let others that cannot do without standing on barrel-heads, to spout, and be seen of all the market-place, cultivate speech exclusively,—become a most green forest without roots! Solomon says, There is a time to speak; but also a time to keep silence. Of some great silent Samuel, not urged to writing, as old Samuel Johnson says he was, by want of money and nothing other, one might ask, "Why do not you too get up and speak; promulgate your system, found your sect?" "Truly," he will answer, "I am continent of my thought hitherto; happily I have yet had the ability to keep it in me, no compulsion strong enough to speak it. My 'system' is not for promulgation first of all; it is for serving myself to live by. That is the great purpose of it to me. And then the 'honor'? Alas, yes;—but as Cato said of the statue: So many statues in that Forum of yours, may it not be better if they ask, Where is Cato's statue?"

But now, by way of counterpoise to this of Silence, let me say that there are two kinds of ambition: one wholly blamable, the other laudable and inevitable. Nature has provided that the great silent Samuel shall not be silent too long. The selfish wish to shine over others, let it be accounted altogether poor and miserable. "Seekest thou great things, seek them not:" this is most true. And yet, I say, there is an irrepressible tendency in every man to develop himself according to the magnitude which Nature has made him of; to speak out, to act out, what Nature has laid in him. This is proper, fit, inevitable; nay, it is a duty, and even the summary of duties for a man. The meaning of life here on earth might be defined as consisting in this: To unfold your self, to work what thing you have the faculty for. It is a necessity for the human being, the first law of our existence. Coleridge beautifully remarks that the infant learns to speak by this necessity it feels.—We will say therefore: To decide about ambition, whether it is bad or not, you have two things to take into view. Not the coveting of the place alone, but the fitness for the man of the place withal: that is the question. Perhaps the place was his, perhaps he had a natural right, and even obligation to seek the place! Mirabeau's ambition to be Prime Minister, how shall we blame it, if he were "the only[Pg 3269] man in France that could have done any good there"? Hopefuler perhaps had he not so clearly felt how much good he could do! But a poor Necker, who could do no good, and had even felt that he could do none, yet sitting broken-hearted because they had flung him out and he was now quit of it, well might Gibbon mourn over him.—Nature, I say, has provided amply that the silent great man shall strive to speak withal; too amply, rather!

Fancy, for example, you had revealed to the brave old Samuel Johnson, in his shrouded-up existence, that it was possible for him to do priceless divine work for his country and the whole world. That the perfect Heavenly Law might be made Law on this Earth; that the prayer he prayed daily, "Thy kingdom come," was at length to be fulfilled! If you had convinced his judgment of this; that it was possible, practicable; that he the mournful silent Samuel was called to take a part in it! Would not the whole soul of the man have flamed-up into a divine clearness, into noble utterance and determination to act; casting all sorrows and misgivings under his feet, counting all affliction and contradiction small,—the whole dark element of his existence blazing into articulate radiance of light and lightning? It were a true ambition this! And think now how it actually was with Cromwell. From of old, the sufferings of God's Church, true zealous Preachers of the truth flung into dungeons, whipt, set on pillories, their ears cropt off, God's Gospel-cause trodden under foot of the unworthy: all this had lain heavy on his soul. Long years he had looked upon it in silence, in prayer; seeing no remedy on Earth; trusting well that a remedy in Heaven's goodness would come,—that such a course was false, unjust, and could not last forever. And now behold the dawn of it; after twelve years' silent waiting, all England stirs itself; there is to be once more a Parliament, the Right will get a voice for itself: inexpressible well-grounded hope has come again into the Earth. Was not such a Parliament worth being a member of? Cromwell threw down his plow, and hastened thither.

He spoke there,—rugged bursts of earnestness, of a self-seen truth, where we get a glimpse of them. He worked there; he fought and strove, like a strong true giant of a man, through cannon-tumult and all else,—on and on, till the Cause triumphed, its once so formidable enemies all swept from before it, and the[Pg 3270] dawn of hope had become clear light of victory and certainty. That he stood there as the strongest soul of England, the undisputed Hero of all England,—what of this? It was possible that the Law of Christ's Gospel could now establish itself in the world! The Theocracy which John Knox in his pulpit might dream of as a "devout imagination," this practical man, experienced in the whole chaos of most rough practice, dared to consider as capable of being realized. Those that were highest in Christ's Church, the devoutest wisest men, were to rule the land: in some considerable degree, it might be so and should be so. Was it not true, God's truth? And if true, was it not then the very thing to do? The strongest practical intellect in England dared to answer, Yes! This I call a noble true purpose; is it not, in its own dialect, the noblest that could enter into the heart of Statesman or man? For a Knox to take it up was something; but for a Cromwell, with his great sound sense and experience of what our world was,—History, I think, shows it only this once in such a degree. I account it the culminating point of Protestantism; the most heroic phasis that "Faith in the Bible" was appointed to exhibit here below. Fancy it: that it were made manifest to one of us, how we could make the Right supremely victorious over Wrong, and all that we had longed and prayed for, as the highest good to England and all lands, an attainable fact!

Well, I must say, the vulpine intellect, with its knowingness, its alertness and expertness in "detecting hypocrites," seems to me a rather sorry business. We have had but one such Statesman in England; one man, that I can get sight of, who ever had in the heart of him any such purpose at all. One man, in the course of fifteen hundred years; and this was his welcome. He had adherents by the hundred or the ten; opponents by the million. Had England rallied all round him,—why, then, England might have been a Christian land! As it is, vulpine knowingness sits yet at its hopeless problem, "Given a world of Knaves, to educe an Honesty from their united action;"—how cumbrous a problem, you may see in Chancery Law Courts, and some other places! Till at length, by Heaven's just anger, but also by Heaven's great grace, the matter begins to stagnate; and this problem is becoming to all men a palpably hopeless one.

[Pg 3271]


From 'The French Revolution'

We dwell no longer on the mixed shouting Multitude, for now, behold, the Commons Deputies are at hand! Which of these Six Hundred individuals, in plain white cravat, that have come up to regenerate France, might one guess would become their king? For a king or leader they, as all bodies of men, must have, be their work what it may; there is one man there who, by character, faculty, position, is fittest of all to do it; that man, as future, not-yet-elected king walks there among the rest. He with the thick black locks, will it be? With the hure, as himself calls it, or black boar's-head, fit to be "shaken" as a senatorial portent? Through whose shaggy beetle-brows and rough-hewn, seamed, carbuncled face there look natural ugliness, small-pox, incontinence, bankruptcy,—and burning fire of genius, like comet-fire glaring fuliginous through murkiest confusions? It is Gabriel Honoré Riquetti de Mirabeau, the world-compeller; man-ruling Deputy of Aix! According to the Baroness de Staël, he steps proudly along, though looked at askance here, and shakes his black chevelure, or lion's mane, as if prophetic of great deeds.

Yes, Reader, that is the Type-Frenchman of this epoch, as Voltaire was of the last. He is French in his aspirations, acquisitions, in his virtues, in his vices; perhaps more French than any other man;—and intrinsically such a mass of manhood too. Mark him well. The National Assembly were all different without that one; nay, he might say, with the old Despot:—"The National Assembly? I am that."

Of a southern climate, of wild southern blood:—for the Riquettis, or Arrighettis, had to fly from Florence and the Guelfs, long centuries ago, and settled in Provence, where from generation to generation they have ever approved themselves a peculiar kindred, irascible, indomitable, sharp-cutting, true, like the steel they wore; of an intensity and activity that sometimes verged towards madness, yet did not reach it. One ancient Riquetti, in mad fulfillment of a mad vow, chains two Mountains together, and the chain, with its "iron star of five rays," is still to be seen. May not a modern Riquetti unchain so much, and set it drifting—which also shall be seen?[Pg 3272]

Destiny has work for that swart, burly-headed Mirabeau; Destiny has watched over him, prepared him from afar. Did not his Grandfather, stout Col-d'Argent (Silver-Stock, so they named him), shattered and slashed by seven-and-twenty wounds in one fell day, lie sunk together on the Bridge at Casano, while Prince Eugene's cavalry galloped and regalloped over him—only the flying sergeant had thrown a camp-kettle over that loved head; and Vendôme, dropping his spy-glass, moaned out, "Mirabeau is dead, then!" Nevertheless he was not dead; he awoke to breath and miraculous surgery—for Gabriel was yet to be. With his silver stock he kept his scarred head erect, through long years, and wedded, and produced tough Marquis Victor, the friend of men. Whereby at last in the appointed year, 1749, this long-expected, rough-hewn Gabriel Honoré did likewise see the light; roughest lion's-whelp ever littered of that rough breed. How the old lion (for our old Marquis, too, was lion-like, most unconquerable, kingly-genial, most perverse) gazed wondering on his offspring, and determined to train him as no lion had yet been! It is in vain, O Marquis! This cub, though thou slay him and flay him, will not learn to draw in dog-cart of Political Economy, and be a friend of men; he will not be Thou, but must and will be Himself, another than Thou. Divorce law-suits, "whole family save one in prison, and threescore lettres-de-cachet" for thy own sole use, do but astonish the world.

Our luckless Gabriel, sinned against and sinning, has been in the Isle of Rhé, and heard the Atlantic from his tower; in the Castle of If, and heard the Mediterranean at Marseilles. He has been in the Fortress of Joux; and forty-two months, with hardly clothing to his back, in the Dungeon of Vincennes;—all by lettre-de-cachet, from his lion father. He has been in Pontarlier Jails (self-constituted prisoner); was noticed fording estuaries of the sea (at low water), in flight from the face of men. He has pleaded before Aix Parlements (to get back his wife), the public gathering on roofs, to see, since they could not hear: "The clatter-teeth (claque-dents)!" snarls singular old Mirabeau; discerning in such admired forensic eloquence nothing but two clattering jaw-bones, and a head vacant, sonorous, of the drum species.

But as for Gabriel Honoré, in these strange wayfarings, what has he not seen and tried! From drill-sergeants to prime ministers, to foreign and domestic booksellers, all manner of men he[Pg 3273] has seen. All manner of men he has gained; for at bottom it is a social loving heart, that wild unconquerable one—more especially all manner of women. From the Archer's Daughter at Saintes to that fair young Sophie, Madame Monnier, whom he could not but "steal" and be beheaded for—in effigy! For indeed, hardly since the Arabian Prophet lay dead, to Ali's admiration, was there seen such a Love-hero, with the strength of thirty men. In War again, he has helped to conquer Corsica; fought duels, irregular brawls; horsewhipped calumnious barons. In Literature, he has written on 'Despotism,' on 'Lettres-de-Cachet'; Erotics Sapphic-Werterean, Obscenities, Profanities; Books on the 'Prussian Monarchy,' on 'Cagliostro,' on 'Calonne,' on 'The Water-Companies of Paris':—each book comparable, we will say, to a bituminous alarum-fire, huge, smoky, sudden! The fire-pan, the kindling, the bitumen, were his own; but the lumber, of rags, old wood, and nameless combustible rubbish (for all is fuel to him), was gathered from hucksters and ass-panniers of every description under heaven. Whereby, indeed, hucksters enough have been heard to exclaim: Out upon it, the fire is mine!

Nay, consider it more generally, seldom had man such a talent for borrowing. The idea, the faculty of another man, he can make his; the man himself he can make his. "All reflex and echo (tout de reflet et de réverbère)!" snarls old Mirabeau, who can see, but will not. Crabbed old Friend of Men! it is his sociality, his aggregative nature; and will now be the quality of qualities for him. In that forty years' "struggle against despotism," he has gained the glorious faculty of self-help, and yet not lost the glorious natural gift of fellowship, of being helped. Rare union: this man can live self-sufficing—yet lives also in the life of other men; can make men love him, work with him; a born king of men!

But consider further how, as the old Marquis still snarls, he has "made away with (humé, swallowed, snuffed-up) all Formulas"; a fact which, if we meditate it, will in these days mean much. This is no man of system, then; he is only a man of instincts and insights. A man, nevertheless, who will glare fiercely on any object, and see through it, and conquer it: for he has intellect, he has will, force beyond other men. A man not with logic-spectacles, but with an eye! Unhappily without Decalogue, moral Code or Theorem of any fixed sort; yet not without[Pg 3274] a strong living Soul in him, and Sincerity there; a Reality, not an artificiality, not a Sham! And so he, having struggled "forty years against despotism," and "made away with all formulas," shall now become the spokesman of a Nation bent to do the same. For is it not precisely the struggle of France also to cast off despotism, to make away with her old formulas,—having found them naught, worn out, far from the reality? She will make away with such formulas;—and even go bare, if need be, till she have found new ones.

Towards such work, in such manner, marches he, this singular Riquetti Mirabeau. In fiery rough figure, with black Samson-locks under the slouch hat, he steps along there. A fiery, fuliginous mass, which could not be choked and smothered, but would fill all France with smoke! And now it has got air; it will burn its whole substance, its whole smoke-atmosphere too, and fill all France with flame. Strange lot! Forty years of that smoldering, with foul fire-damp and vapor enough; then victory over that, and like a burning mountain he blazes heaven-high; and for twenty-three resplendent months, pours out, in flame and molten fire-torrents, all that is in him, the Pharos and Wonder-sign of an amazed Europe;—and then lies hollow, cold forever! Pass on, thou questionable Gabriel Honoré, the greatest of them all: in the whole National Deputies, in the whole Nation, there is none like and none second to thee.

But now, if Mirabeau is the greatest, who of these Six Hundred may be the meanest? Shall we say that anxious, slight, ineffectual-looking man, under thirty, in spectacles; his eyes (were the glasses off) troubled, careful; with upturned face, snuffing dimly the uncertain future time; complexion of a multiplex atrabiliar color, the final shade of which may be the pale sea-green. That greenish-colored (verdâtre) individual is an Advocate of Arras; his name is Maximilien Robespierre. The son of an Advocate; his father founded Mason-lodges under Charles Edward, the English Prince or Pretender. Maximilien, the first-born, was thriftily educated; he had brisk Camille Desmoulins for schoolmate in the College of Louis le Grand, at Paris. But he begged our famed Necklace-Cardinal, Rohan, the patron, to let him depart thence, and resign in favor of a younger brother. The strict-minded Max departed, home to paternal Arras; and even had a Law-case there, and pleaded, not unsuccessfully, "in favor of the first Franklin thunder-rod."[Pg 3275] With a strict, painful mind, an understanding small but clear and ready, he grew in favor with official persons, who could foresee in him an excellent man of business, happily quite free from genius. The Bishop, therefore, taking counsel, appoints him Judge of his diocese, and he faithfully does justice to the people: till behold, one day, a culprit comes whose crime merits hanging, and the strict-minded Max must abdicate, for his conscience will not permit the dooming of any son of Adam to die. A strict-minded, strait-laced man! A man unfit for Revolutions? whose small soul, transparent wholesome-looking as small-ale, could by no chance ferment into virulent alegar,—the mother of ever-new alegar;—till all France were grown acetous virulent? We shall see.

Between which two extremes of grandest and meanest, so many grand and mean roll on, towards their several destinies, in that Procession! There is Cazalès, the learned young soldier, who shall become the eloquent orator of Royalism, and earn the shadow of a name. Experienced Mounier, experienced Malouet, whose Presidential Parlementary experience the stream of things shall soon leave stranded. A Pétion has left his gown and briefs at Chartres for a stormier sort of pleading; has not forgotten his violin, being fond of music. His hair is grizzled, though he is still young; convictions, beliefs placid-unalterable, are in that man; not hindmost of them, belief in himself. A Protestant-clerical Rabaut-St.-Étienne, a slender young eloquent and vehement Barnave, will help to regenerate France. There are so many of them young. Till thirty the Spartans did not suffer a man to marry: but how many men here under thirty; coming to produce not one sufficient citizen, but a nation and a world of such! The old to heal up rents, the young to remove rubbish:—which latter is it not, indeed, the task here?

Dim, formless from this distance, yet authentically there, thou noticest the Deputies from Nantes? To us mere clothes-screens, with slouch-hat and cloak, but bearing in their pocket a Cahier of doléances with this singular clause, and more such, in it:—"That the master wigmakers of Nantes be not troubled with new guild-brethren, the actually existing number of ninety-two being more than sufficient!" The Rennes people have elected farmer Gérard, "a man of natural sense and rectitude without any learning." He walks there with solid step; unique, "in his rustic farmer-clothes;" which he will wear always, careless of[Pg 3276] short-cloaks and costumes. The name Gérard, or "Père Gérard, Father Gérard," as they please to call him, will fly far, borne about in endless banter, in Royalist satires, in Republican Didactic Almanacks. As for the man Gérard, being asked once what he did, after trial of it, candidly think of this Parlementary work,—"I think," answered he, "that there are a good many scoundrels among us." So walks Father Gérard, solid in his thick shoes, whithersoever bound.

And worthy Doctor Guillotin, whom we hoped to behold one other time? If not here, the Doctor should be here, and we see him with the eye of prophecy; for indeed the Parisian Deputies are all a little late. Singular Guillotin, respectable practitioner: doomed by a satiric destiny to the strangest immortal glory that ever kept obscure mortal from his resting-place, the bosom of oblivion! Guillotin can improve the ventilation of the Hall; in all cases of medical police and hygiène be a present aid: but greater far, he can produce his 'Report on the Penal Code,' and reveal therein a cunningly devised Beheading Machine, which shall become famous and world-famous. This is the product of Guillotin's endeavors, gained not without meditation and reading; which product popular gratitude or levity christens by a feminine derivative name, as if it were his daughter: La Guillotine! "With my machine, Messieurs, I whisk off your head (vous fais sauter la tête) in a twinkling, and you have no pain;"—whereat they all laugh. Unfortunate Doctor! For two-and-twenty years he, unguillotined, shall hear nothing but guillotine, see nothing but guillotine; then dying, shall through long centuries wander, as it were, a disconsolate ghost, on the wrong side of Styx and Lethe; his name like to outlive Cæsar's.

See Bailly, likewise of Paris, time-honored Historian of Astronomy Ancient and Modern. Poor Bailly, how thy serenely beautiful Philosophizing, with its soft moonshiny clearness and thinness, ends in foul thick confusion—of Presidency, Mayorship, diplomatic officiality, rabid Triviality, and the throat of everlasting Darkness! Far was it to descend from the heavenly Galaxy to the Drapeau Rouge: beside that fatal dung-heap, on that last hell-day, thou must "tremble", though only with cold—"de froid." Speculation is not practice: to be weak is not so miserable, but to be weaker than our task. Woe the day when they mounted thee, a peaceable pedestrian, on that wild Hippogriff of a Democracy, which, spurning the firm earth, nay,[Pg 3277] lashing at the very stars, no yet known Astolpho could have ridden!

In the Commons Deputies there are Merchants, Artists, Men of Letters; 374 Lawyers, and at least one Clergyman, the Abbé Sieyès. Him also Paris sends, among its twenty. Behold him, the light, thin man; cold, but elastic, wiry; instinct with the pride of Logic; passionless, or with but one passion, that of self-conceit. If indeed that can be called a passion, which in its independent concentrated greatness, seems to have soared into transcendentalism; and to sit there with a kind of godlike indifference, and look down on passion! He is the man, and wisdom shall die with him. This is the Sieyès who shall be System-builder, Constitution-builder General, and build Constitutions (as many as wanted) sky-high,—which shall all unfortunately fall before he get the scaffolding away. "La Politique", said he to Dumont, "polity is a science I think I have completed (achevée)." What things, O Sieyès, with thy clear assiduous eyes, art thou to see! But were it not curious to know how Sieyès, now in these days (for he is said to be still alive) looks out on all that Constitution masonry, through the rheumy soberness of extreme age? Might we hope, still with the old irrefragable transcendentalism? The victorious cause pleased the gods, the vanquished one pleased Sieyès (victa Catoni).

Thus, however, amid sky-rending vivats, and blessings from every heart, has the Procession of the Commons Deputies rolled by.

Next follow the Noblesse, and next the Clergy; concerning both of whom it might be asked What they specially have come for. Specially, little as they dream of it, to answer this question, put in a voice of thunder: What are you doing in God's fair Earth and Task-garden; where whosoever is not working is begging or stealing? Woe, woe to themselves and to all, if they can only answer; Collecting tithes, Preserving game! Remark, meanwhile, how D'Orléans affects to step before his own Order and mingle with the Commons. For him are vivats; few for the rest, though all wave in plumed "hats of a feudal cut," and have sword on thigh; though among them is D'Antraigues, the young Languedocian gentleman,—and indeed many a peer more or less noteworthy.

There are Liancourt and La Rochefoucault, the liberal Anglo-maniac Dukes. There is a filially pious Lally; a couple of liberal[Pg 3278] Lameths. Above all, there is a Lafayette; whose name shall be Cromwell-Grandison, and fill the world. Many a "formula" has this Lafayette, too, made away with; yet not all formulas. He sticks by the Washington-formula; and by that he will stick;—and hang by it, as by sure bower-anchor hangs and swings the tight war-ship, which, after all changes of wildest weather and water, is found still hanging. Happy for him, be it glorious or not! Alone of all Frenchmen he has a theory of the world, and right mind to conform thereto; he can become a hero and perfect character, were it but the hero of one idea. Note further our old parlementary friend, Crispin-Catiline d'Espréménil. He is returned from the Mediterranean islands, a red-hot royalist, repentant to the finger-ends;—unsettled-looking; whose light, dusky-glowing at best, now flickers foul in the socket; whom the National Assembly will by and by, to save time, "regard as in a state of distraction." Note lastly that globular Younger Mirabeau, indignant that his elder Brother is among the Commons; it is Viscomte Mirabeau; named oftener Mirabeau Tonneau (Barrel Mirabeau), on account of his rotundity, and the quantities of strong liquor he contains.

There, then, walks our French noblesse. All in the old pomp of chivalry; and yet, alas, how changed from the old position; drifted far down from their native latitude, like Arctic icebergs got into the Equatorial sea, and fast thawing there! Once these Chivalry Duces (Dukes, as they are still named) did actually lead the world,—were it only toward battle-spoil, where lay the world's best wages then; moreover, being the ablest leaders going, they had their lion's share, these Duces, which none could grudge them. But now, when so many Looms, improved Plow-shares, Steam-Engines, and Bills of Exchange have been invented; and for battle-brawling itself, men hire Drill-Sergeants at eighteen pence a day,—what mean these gold-mantled Chivalry Figures, walking there in "black-velvet cloaks," in high-plumed "hats of a feudal cut"? Reeds shaken in the wind!

The clergy have got up; with Cahiers for abolishing pluralities, enforcing residence of bishops, better payment of tithes. The Dignitaries, we can observe, walk stately, apart from the numerous Undignified,—who, indeed, are properly little other than Commons disguised in Curate-frocks. Here, however, though by strange ways, shall the Precept be fulfilled, and they that are greatest (much to their astonishment) become least. For one[Pg 3279] example out of many, mark that plausible Grégoire: one day Curé Grégoire shall be a Bishop, when the now stately are wandering distracted, as Bishops in partibus. With other thought, mark also the Abbé Maury; his broad bold face, mouth accurately primmed, full eyes, that ray out intelligence, falsehood,—the sort of sophistry which is astonished you should find it sophistical. Skillfulest vamper-up of old rotten leather, to make it look like new; always a rising man; he used to tell Mercier, "You will see; I shall be in the Academy before you." Likely indeed, thou skillfulest Maury; nay thou shalt have a Cardinal's hat, and plush and glory; but alas, also, in the long run—mere oblivion, like the rest of us, and six feet of earth! What boots it, vamping rotten leather on these terms? Glorious in comparison is the livelihood thy good old Father earns by making shoes,—one may hope, in a sufficient manner. Maury does not want for audacity. He shall wear pistols by-and-by; and at death-cries of "La lanterne, The Lamp-iron!" answer coolly, "Friends, will you see better there?"

But yonder, halting lamely along, thou noticest next Bishop Talleyrand-Perigord, his Reverence of Autun. A sardonic grimness lies in that irreverend Reverence of Autun. He will do and suffer strange things; and will become surely one of the strangest things ever seen, or like to be seen. A man living in falsehood and on falsehood; yet not what you can call a false man: there is the specialty! It will be an enigma for future ages, one may hope; hitherto such a product of Nature and Art was possible only for this age of ours—Age of Paper, and of the Burning of Paper. Consider Bishop Talleyrand and Marquis Lafayette as the topmost of their two kinds; and say once more, looking at what they did and what they were. O tempus ferax rerum!

On the whole, however, has not this unfortunate clergy also drifted in the Time-stream, far from its native latitude? An anomalous mass of men; of whom the whole world has already a dim understanding that it can understand nothing. They were once a Priesthood, interpreters of Wisdom, revealers of the Holy that is in Man; a true Clerus (or Inheritance of God on Earth): but now?—They pass silently, with such Cahiers as they have been able to redact; and none cries, God bless them.

King Louis with his Court brings up the rear: he cheerful, in this day of hope, is saluted with plaudits: still more Necker his Minister. Not so the Queen, on whom hope shines not steadily[Pg 3280] any more. Ill-fated Queen! Her hair is already gray with many cares and crosses; her first-born son is dying in these weeks: black falsehood has ineffaceably soiled her name—ineffaceably while this generation lasts. Instead of Vive la reine, voices insult her with Vive d'Orléans. Of her queenly beauty little remains except its stateliness; not now gracious, but haughty, rigid, silently enduring. With a most mixed feeling, wherein joy has no part, she resigns herself to a day she hoped never to have seen. Poor Marie Antoinette; with thy quick, noble instincts, vehement glancings, vision all-too fitful narrow for the work thou hast to do! O there are tears in store for thee, bitterest wailings, soft womanly meltings, though thou hast the heart of an imperial Theresa's Daughter. Thou doomed one, shut thy eyes on the future!

And so in stately Procession, have passed the Elected of France. Some toward honor and quick fire-consummation; most toward dishonor; not a few toward massacre, confusion, emigration, desperation: all toward Eternity!—So many heterogeneities cast together into the fermenting-vat; there, with incalculable action, counteraction, elective affinities, explosive developments, to work out healing for a sick, Moribund System of Society! Probably the strangest Body of Men, if we consider well, that ever met together on our Planet on such an errand. So thousandfold complex a Society, ready to burst up from its infinite depths; and these men, its rulers and healers, without life-rule for themselves,—other life-rule than a Gospel according to Jean Jacques! To the wisest of them, what we must call the wisest, man is properly an Accident under the sky. Man is without Duty round him; except it be "to make the Constitution." He is without Heaven above him, or Hell beneath him; he has no God in the world.

What further or better belief can be said to exist in these Twelve Hundred? Belief in high-plumed hats of a feudal cut; in heraldic scutcheons; in the divine right of Kings, in the divine right of Game-Destroyers. Belief, or what is still worse, canting half-belief; or worst of all, mere Machiavellic pretense-of-belief,—in consecrated dough-wafers, and the godhood of a poor old Italian Man! Nevertheless, in that immeasurable Confusion and Corruption, which struggles there so blindly to become less confused and corrupt, there is, as we said, this one salient point of a New Life discernible—the deep fixed Determination to have[Pg 3281] done with Shams. A determination which, consciously or unconsciously, is fixed; which waxes ever more fixed, into very madness and fixed-idea; which, in such embodiment as lies provided there, shall now unfold itself rapidly: monstrous, stupendous, unspeakable; new for long thousands of years!—How has the heaven's light, oftentimes in this Earth, to clothe itself in thunder and electric murkiness, and descend as molten lightning, blasting, if purifying! Nay, is it not rather the very murkiness, and atmospheric suffocation, that brings the lightning and the light? The new Evangel, as the old had been, was it to be born in the Destruction of a World?


From 'The French Revolution'

But, to the living and the struggling, a new, Fourteenth morning dawns. Under all roofs of this distracted City is the nodus of a Drama, not untragical, crowding toward solution. The bustlings and preparings, the tremors and menaces; the tears that fell from old eyes! This day, my sons, ye shall quit you like men. By the memory of your fathers' wrongs; by the hope of your children's rights! Tyranny impends in red wrath: help for you is none, if not in your own right hands. This day ye must do or die.

From earliest light, a sleepless Permanent Committee has heard the old cry, now waxing almost frantic, mutinous: Arms! Arms! Provost Flesselles, or what traitors there are among you, may think of those Charleville Boxes. A hundred-and-fifty thousand of us, and but the third man furnished with so much as a pike! Arms are the one thing needful: with arms we are an unconquerable man-defying National Guard; without arms, a rabble to be whiffed with grape-shot.

Happily the word has arisen, for no secret can be kept,—that there lie muskets at the Hôtel des Invalides. Thither will we: King's Procureur M. Ethys de Corny, and whatsoever of authority a Permanent Committee can lend, shall go with us. Besenval's Camp is there; perhaps he will not fire on us; if he kill us, we shall but die.

Alas! poor Besenval, with his troops melting away in that manner, has not the smallest humor to fire! At five o'clock this[Pg 3282] morning, as he lay dreaming, oblivious in the École Militaire, a "figure" stood suddenly at his bedside; "with face rather handsome, eyes inflamed, speech rapid and curt, air audacious:" such a figure drew Priam's curtains! The message and monition of the figure was that resistance would be hopeless; that if blood flowed, woe to him who shed it. Thus spoke the figure: and vanished. "Withal there was a kind of eloquence that struck one." Besenval admits that he should have arrested him, but did not. Who this figure with inflamed eyes, with speech rapid and curt, might be? Besenval knows, but mentions not. Camille Desmoulins? Pythagorean Marquis Valadi, inflamed with "violent motions all night at the Palais Royal"? Fame names him "Young M. Meillar"; then shuts her lips about him forever.

In any case, behold, about nine in the morning, our National Volunteers, rolling in long wide flood south-westward to the Hôtel des Invalides, in search of the one thing needful. King's Procureur M. Ethys de Corny and officials are there; the Curé of Saint-Étienne du Mont marches unpacific at the head of his militant Parish; the Clerks of the Basoche in red coats we see marching, now Volunteers of the Palais Royal;—National Volunteers, numerable by tens of thousands; of one heart and mind. The King's Muskets are the Nation's; think, old M. de Sombreuil, how, in this extremity, thou wilt refuse them! Old M. de Sombreuil would fain hold parley, send couriers, but it skills not: the walls are scaled, no Invalide firing a shot; the gates must be flung open. Patriotism rushes in tumultuous, from grunsel up to ridge-tile, through all rooms and passages; rummaging distractedly for arms. What cellar or what cranny can escape it? The arms are found; all safe there, lying packed in straw,—apparently with a view to being burnt! More ravenous than famishing lions over dead prey, the multitude, with clangor and vociferation, pounces on them; struggling, dashing, clutching,—to the jamming-up, to the pressure, fracture, and probable extinction of the weaker Patriot. And so, with such protracted crash of deafening, most discordant Orchestra-music, the Scene is changed; and eight-and-twenty thousand sufficient firelocks are on the shoulders of as many National Guards, lifted thereby out of darkness into fiery light.

Let Besenval look at the glitter of these muskets as they flash by! Gardes Françaises, it is said, have cannon leveled on him; ready to open, if need were, from the other side of the[Pg 3283] river. Motionless sits he; "astonished," one may flatter one's self, "at the proud bearing (fière contenance) of the Parisians." And now to the Bastille, ye intrepid Parisians! There grape-shot still threatens; thither all men's thoughts and steps are now tending.

Old De Launay, as we hinted, withdrew "into his interior" soon after midnight of Sunday. He remains there ever since, hampered, as all military gentlemen now are, in the saddest conflict of uncertainties. The Hôtel-de-Ville "invites" him to admit National Soldiers, which is a soft name for surrendering. On the other hand, his Majesty's orders were precise. His garrison is but eighty-two old Invalides, reinforced by thirty-two young Swiss; his walls, indeed, are nine feet thick; he has cannon and powder, but alas! only one day's provision of victuals. The city, too, is French, the poor garrison mostly French. Rigorous old De Launay, think what thou wilt do!

All morning, since nine, there has been a cry everywhere: To the Bastille! Repeated "deputations of citizens" have been here, passionate for arms, whom De Launay has got dismissed by soft speeches through port-holes. Towards noon, Elector Thuriot de la Rosière gains admittance, finds De Launay indisposed for surrender, nay, disposed for blowing up the place, rather. Thuriot mounts with him to the battlements; heaps of paving-stones, old iron, and missiles lie piled; cannon all duly leveled; in every embrasure a cannon,—only drawn back a little! But outwards, behold, O Thuriot, how the multitude flows on, welling through every street, tocsin furiously pealing, all drums beating the générale; the suburb Saint-Antoine rolling hitherward wholly as one man! Such vision (spectral, yet real) thou, O Thuriot, as from thy Mount of Vision, beholdest in this moment: prophetic of what other Phantasmagories and loud-gibbering Spectral Realities which thou yet beholdest not, but shalt! "Que voulez-vous?" said De Launay, turning pale at the sight, with an air of reproach, almost of menace. "Monsieur," said Thuriot, rising into the moral-sublime, "what mean you? Consider if I could not precipitate both of us from this height,"—say only a hundred feet, exclusive of the walled ditch! Whereupon De Launay fell silent. Thuriot shows himself from some pinnacle to comfort the multitude becoming suspicious, fremes-cent, then descends, departs with protest, with warning addressed also to the Invalides, on whom however it produces but a mixed,[Pg 3284] indistinct impression. The old heads are none of the clearest; besides, it is said, De Launay has been profuse of beverages (prodigue des buissons). They think they will not fire—if not fired on—if they can help it; but must, on the whole, be ruled considerably by circumstances.

Wo to thee, De Launay, in such an hour, if thou canst not, taking some one firm decision, rule circumstances! Soft speeches will not serve, hard grape-shot is questionable, but hovering between the two is unquestionable. Ever wilder swells the tide of men; their infinite hum waxing ever louder, into imprecations, perhaps into crackle of stray musketry,—which latter, on walls nine feet thick, cannot do execution. The Outer Drawbridge has been lowered for Thuriot; now deputation of citizens (it is the third and noisiest of all) penetrates that way into the Outer Court; soft speeches producing no clearance of these, De Launay gives fire; pulls up his drawbridge. A slight sputter, which has kindled the too combustible chaos, made it a roaring fire-chaos! Bursts forth Insurrection, at sight of its own blood (for there were deaths by that sputter of fire), into endless, rolling explosion of musketry, distraction, execration;—and over head, from the fortress, let one great gun, with its grape-shot, go booming, to show what we could do. The Bastille is besieged!

On, then, all Frenchmen that have hearts in your bodies! Roar with all your throats of cartilage and metal, ye Sons of Liberty; stir spasmodically whatsoever of utmost faculty is in you, soul, body, or spirit; for it is the hour! Smite thou, Louis Tournay, cartwright of the Marais, old-soldier of the Regiment Dauphiné; smite at that Outer Drawbridge chain, though the fiery hail whistles round thee! Never, over nave or felloe, did thy axe strike such a stroke. Down with it, man; down with it to Orcus: let the whole accursed edifice sink thither, and tyranny be swallowed up forever! Mounted, some say, on the roof of the guard-room, some "on bayonets stuck into joints of the wall," Louis Tournay smites, brave Aubin Bonnemère (also an old soldier) seconding him; the chain yields, breaks; the huge Drawbridge slams down, thundering (avec fracas). Glorious! and yet, alas! it is still but the outworks. The Eight Grim Towers, with their Invalide musketry, their paving-stones and cannon-mouths, still soar aloft intact;—Ditch yawning impassable, stone-faced; the inner Drawbridge with its back toward us; the Bastille is still to take![Pg 3285]

To describe this Siege of the Bastille (thought to be one of the most important in History) perhaps transcends the talent of mortals. Could one but, after infinite reading, get to understand so much as the plan of the building! But there is open Esplanade at the end of the Rue Saint-Antoine; there are such Forecourts (Cour Avancé), Cour de l'Orme, arched gateway (where Louis Tournay now fights); then new drawbridges, dormant-bridges, rampart-bastions, and the grim Eight Towers: a labyrinthic Mass, high-frowning there, of all ages from twenty years to four hundred and twenty;—beleaguered, in this its last hour, as we said, by mere Chaos come again! Ordnance of all calibres; throats of all capacities; men of all plans, every man his own engineer; seldom since the war of Pygmies and Cranes was there seen so anomalous a thing. Half-pay Elie is home for a suit of regimentals; no one would heed him in colored clothes; half-pay Hulin is haranguing Gardes Françaises in the Place de Grève. Frantic patriots pick up the grape-shots; bear them, still hot (or seemingly so), to the Hôtel-de-Ville:—Paris, you perceive, is to be burnt! Flesselles is "pale to the very lips," for the roar of the multitude grows deep. Paris wholly has got to the acme of its frenzy; whirled, all ways, by panic madness. At every street-barricade, there whirls simmering a minor whirlpool,—strengthening the barricade, since God knows what is coming; and all minor whirlpools play distractedly into that grand Fire-Maelstrom which is lashing round the Bastille.

And so it lashes and it roars. Cholat the wine-merchant has become an impromptu cannoneer. See Georget of the marine service, fresh from Brest, ply the King of Siam's cannon. Singular (if we were not used to the like). Georget lay, last night, taking his ease at his inn; the King of Siam's cannon also lay, knowing nothing of him, for a hundred years; yet now, at the right instant, they have got together, and discourse eloquent music. For hearing what was toward, Georget sprang from the Brest Diligence, and ran. Gardes Françaises, also, will be here, with real artillery: were not the walls so thick!—Upward from the Esplanade, horizontally from all neighboring roofs and windows, flashes one irregular deluge of musketry, without effect. The Invalides lie flat, firing comparatively at their ease from behind stone; hardly through port-holes show the tip of a nose. We fall, shot; and make no impression![Pg 3286]

Let conflagration rage; of whatsoever is combustible! Guardrooms are burnt, Invalides mess-rooms. A distracted "Peruke-maker with two fiery torches" is for burning "the saltpetres of the Arsenal," had not a woman run screaming; had not a Patriot, with some tincture of Natural Philosophy, instantly struck the wind out of him (butt of musket on pit of stomach), overturned barrels, and stayed the devouring element. A young beautiful lady, seized, escaping, in these Outer Courts, and thought falsely to be De Launay's daughter, shall be burnt in De Launay's sight; she lies, swooned, on a paillasse; but again a Patriot—it is brave Aubin Bonnemère, the old soldier—dashes in, and rescues her. Straw is burnt; three cartloads of it, hauled hither, go up in white smoke, almost to the choking of Patriotism itself; so that Elie had, with singed brows, to drag back one cart, and Réole the "gigantic haberdasher" another. Smoke as of Tophet; confusion as of Babel; noise as of the Crack of Doom!

Blood flows; the ailment of new madness. The wounded are carried into houses of the Rue Cerisaie; the dying leave their last mandate not to yield till the accursed Stronghold fall. And yet, alas! how fall? The walls are so thick! Deputations, three in number, arrive from the Hôtel-de-Ville; Abbé Fauchet (who was of one) can say with what almost superhuman courage of benevolence. These wave their Town-flag in the arched Gateway, and stand, rolling their drum, but to no purpose. In such Crack of Doom, De Launay cannot hear them, dare not believe them; they return, with justified rage, the whew of lead still singing in their ears. What to do? The Firemen are here, squirting with their fire-pumps on the Invalides cannon, to wet the touch-holes; they unfortunately cannot squirt so high; but produce only clouds of spray. Individuals of classical knowledge propose catapults. Santerre, the sonorous Brewer of the Suburb Saint-Antoine, advises rather that the place be fired by a "mixture of phosphorus and oil of turpentine spouted up through forcing-pumps." O Spinola-Santerre, hast thou the mixture ready? Every man his own engineer! And still the fire-deluge abates not; even women are firing, and Turks; at least one woman (with her sweetheart), and one Turk. Gardes Françaises have come; real cannon, real cannoneers. Usher Maillard is busy; half-pay Elie, half-pay Hulin, rage in the midst of thousands.[Pg 3287]

How the great Bastille clock ticks (inaudible) in its Inner Court, there, at its ease, hour after hour; as if nothing special, for it or the world, were passing! It tolled One when the firing began, and is now pointing toward Five, and still the firing slakes not.—Far down, in their vaults, the seven Prisoners hear muffled din as of earthquakes; their Turnkeys answer vaguely.

Woe to thee, De Launay, with thy poor hundred Invalides! Broglie is distant, and his ears heavy; Besenval hears, but can send no help. One poor troop of Hussars has crept, reconnoitring, cautiously along the Quais, as far as the Pont Neuf. "We are come to join you," said the Captain; for the crowd seems shoreless. A large-headed dwarfish individual, of smoke-bleared aspect, shambles forward, opening his blue lips, for there is sense in him; and croaks, "Alight then, and give up your arms!" The Hussar-Captain is too happy to be escorted to the barriers and dismissed on parole. Who the squat individual was? Men answer, It is M. Marat, author of the excellent pacific 'Avis au Peuple'! Great, truly, O thou remarkable Dogleech, is this thy day of emergence and new-birth; and yet this same day come four years!—But let the curtains of the Future hang.

What shall De Launay do? One thing only De Launay could have done: what he said he would do. Fancy him sitting, from the first, with lighted taper, within arm's-length of the Powder-Magazine; motionless, like old Roman Senator, or Bronze Lamp-holder; coldly apprising Thuriot, and all men, by a slight motion of his eye, what his resolution was:—Harmless he sat there, while unharmed; but the King's Fortress, meanwhile, could, might, would, or should in nowise be surrendered save to the King's Messenger; one old man's life is worthless, so it be lost with honor: but think, ye brawling canaille, how will it be when a whole Bastille springs skyward? In such statuesque, taper-holding attitude, one fancies De Launay might have left Thuriot, the red clerks of the Basoche, Curé of Saint-Stephen, and all the tagrag and bobtail of the world, to work their will.

And, yet, withal, he could not do it. Hast thou considered how each man's heart is so tremulously responsive to the hearts of all men? Hast thou noted how omnipotent is the very sound of many men? How their shriek of indignation palsies the strong soul; their howl of contumely withers with unfelt pangs? The Ritter Gluck confessed that the ground-tone of the noblest passage in one of his noblest Operas was the voice of the[Pg 3288] populace he had heard at Vienna, crying to their Kaiser, Bread! Bread! Great is the combined voice of men, the utterance of their instincts, which are truer than their thoughts; it is the greatest a man encounters, among the sounds and shadows which make up this World of Time. He who can resist that, has his footing somewhere beyond Time. De Launay could not do it. Distracted, he hovers between two; hopes in the middle of despair; surrenders not his Fortress; declares that he will blow it up, seizes torches to blow it up, and does not blow it. Unhappy old De Launay, it is the death-agony of thy Bastille and thee! Jail, Jailoring, and Jailor, all three, such as they may have been, must finish.

For four hours now has the World-Bedlam roared; call it the World-Chimæra, blowing fire! The poor Invalides have sunk under their battlements, or rise only with reversed muskets; they have made a white flag of napkins; go beating the chamade, or seeming to beat, for one can hear nothing. The very Swiss at the Portcullis look weary of firing; disheartened in the fire-deluge; a port-hole at the drawbridge is opened, as by one that would speak. See Huissier Maillard, the shifty man! On his plank swinging over the abyss of that stone Ditch; plank resting on parapet, balanced by weight of Patriots, he hovers perilous; such a Dove toward such an Ark! Deftly, thou shifty Usher; one man already fell; and lies smashed, far down there, against the masonry! Usher Maillard falls not; deftly, unerring, he walks, with out-spread palm. The Swiss holds a paper through his port-hole; the shifty Usher snatches it and returns. Terms of surrender, Pardon, immunity to all! Are they accepted? "Foi d'officier, On the word of an officer," answers half-pay Hulin, or half-pay Elie—for men do not agree on it—"they are!" Sinks the drawbridge,—Usher Maillard bolting it when down; rushes in the living deluge; the Bastille is fallen! Victoire! La Bastille est prise!

Why dwell on what follows? Hulin's foi d'officier should have been kept, but could not. The Swiss stand drawn up, disguised in white canvas smocks; the Invalides without disguise, their arms all piled against the wall. The first rush of victors, in ecstasy that the death peril is passed, "leaps joyfully on their necks"; but new victors rush, and ever new, also in ecstasy not wholly of joy. As we said, it was a living deluge, plunging[Pg 3289] headlong; had not the Gardes Françaises, in their cool military way, "wheeled round with arms leveled," it would have plunged suicidally, by the hundred or the thousand, into the Bastille-ditch.

And so it goes plunging through court and corridor; billowing uncontrollable, firing from windows—on itself; in hot frenzy of triumph, of grief and vengeance for its slain. The poor Invalides will fare ill; one Swiss, running off in his white smock, is driven back, with a death-thrust. Let all prisoners be marched to the Town-hall to be judged! Alas, already one poor Invalide has his right hand slashed off him; his maimed body dragged to the Place de Grève, and hanged there. This same right hand, it is said, turned back De Launay from the Powder-Magazine, and saved Paris.

De Launay, "discovered in gray frock with poppy-colored riband," is for killing himself with the sword of his cane. He shall to the Hôtel-de-Ville; Hulin, Maillard, and others escorting him, Elie marching foremost, "with the capitulation-paper on his sword's point." Through roarings and cursings; through hustlings, clutchings, and at last through strokes! Your escort is hustled aside, fell down; Hulin sinks exhausted on a heap of stones. Miserable De Launay! He shall never enter the Hôtel-de-Ville; only his "bloody hair-queue, held up in a bloody hand"; that shall enter, for a sign. The bleeding trunk lies on the steps there; the head is off through the streets, ghastly, aloft on a pike.

Rigorous De Launay has died; crying out, "O friends, kill me fast!" Merciful De Losme must die; though Gratitude embraces him, in this fearful hour, and will die for him, it avails not. Brothers, your wrath is cruel! Your Place de Grève is become a Throat of the Tiger, full of mere fierce bellowings, and thirst of blood. One other officer is massacred; one other Invalide is hanged on the Lamp-iron; with difficulty, with generous perseverance, the Gardes Françaises will save the rest. Provost Flesselles, stricken long since with the paleness of death, must descend from his seat, "to be judged at the Palais Royal"; alas, to be shot dead by an unknown hand at the turning of the first street!

O evening sun of July, how, at this hour, thy beams fall slant on reapers amid peaceful woody fields; on old women spinning in cottages; on ships far out on the silent main; on Balls at the Orangerie of Versailles, where high-rouged Dames of the[Pg 3290] Palace are even now dancing with double-jacketed Hussar-Officers;—and also on this roaring Hell-porch of a Hôtel-de-Ville! Babel Tower, with the confusion of tongues, were not Bedlam added with the conflagration of thoughts, was no type of it. One forest of distracted steel bristles, endless, in front of an Electoral Committee; points itself, in horrid radii, against this and the other accused breast. It was the Titans warring with Olympus; and they, scarcely crediting it, have conquered; prodigy of prodigies; delirious,—as it could not but be. Denunciation, vengeance; blaze of triumph on a dark ground of terror; all outward, all inward things fallen into one general wreck of madness!


From 'The French Revolution'

In the leafy months of June and July, several French Departments germinate a set of rebellious paper-leaves, named Proclamations, Resolutions, Journals, or Diurnals, "of the Union for Resistance to Oppression." In particular, the Town of Caen, in Calvados, sees its paper-leaf of Bulletin de Caen suddenly bud, suddenly establish itself as Newspaper there; under the Editorship of Girondin National Representatives!

Photogravure from a painting by C. L. Muller.

Original in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.

Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d'Armans, a French young woman of noble birth, filled with horror at the excesses of the Reign of Terror, gained admission to the private apartments of Marat and stabbed him to death July 13, 1793. She was convicted by the Revolutionary tribunal and died by the guillotine July 17, 1793.


For among the proscribed Girondins are certain of a more desperate humor. Some, as Vergniaud, Valazé, Gensonné, "arrested in their own houses," will await with stoical resignation what the issue may be. Some, as Brissot, Rabaut, will take to flight, to concealment; which, as the Paris Barriers are opened again in a day or two, is not yet difficult. But others there are who will rush, with Buzot, to Calvados; or far over France, to Lyons, Toulon, Nantes and elsewhither, and then rendezvous at Caen: to awaken as with war-trumpet the respectable Departments; and strike down an anarchic Mountain Faction; at least not yield without a stroke at it. Of this latter temper we count some score or more, of the Arrested, and of the Not-yet-arrested: a Buzot, a Barbaroux, Louvet, Guadet, Pétion, who have escaped from Arrestment in their own homes; a Salles, a Pythagorean Valady, a Duchâtel, the Duchâtel that came in blanket and night-cap to vote for the life of Louis, who have escaped from danger and likelihood of Arrestment. These, to the number at [Pg 3291] one time of Twenty-seven, do accordingly lodge here, in the "Intendance," or Departmental Mansion, of the town of Caen in Calvados; welcomed by Persons in Authority; welcomed and defrayed, having no money of their own. And the Bulletin de Caen comes forth, with the most animating paragraphs: How the Bordeaux Department, the Lyons Department, this Department after the other is declaring itself; sixty, or say sixty-nine, or seventy-two respectable Departments either declaring, or ready to declare. Nay, Marseilles, it seems, will march on Paris by itself, if need be. So has Marseilles Town said that she will march. But on the other hand, that Montélimart Town has said, No thoroughfare; and means even to "bury herself" under her own stone and mortar first,—of this be no mention in Bulletin de Caen.

Such animating paragraphs we read in this new Newspaper; and fervors and eloquent sarcasm: tirades against the Mountain, from the pen of Deputy Salles; which resemble, say friends, Pascal's "Provincials." What is more to the purpose, these Girondins have got a General in chief, one Wimpfen, formerly under Dumouriez; also a secondary questionable General Puisaye, and others; and are doing their best to raise a force for war. National Volunteers, whosoever is of right heart: gather in, ye National Volunteers, friends of Liberty; from our Calvados Townships, from the Eure, from Brittany, from far and near: forward to Paris, and extinguish Anarchy! Thus at Caen, in the early July days, there is a drumming and parading, a perorating and consulting: Staff and Army; Council; Club of Carabots, Anti-jacobin friends of Freedom, to denounce atrocious Marat. With all which, and the editing of Bulletins, a National Representative has his hands full.

At Caen it is most animated; and, as one hopes, more or less animated in the "Seventy-two Departments that adhere to us." And in a France begirt with Cimmerian invading Coalitions, and torn with an internal La Vendée, this is the conclusion we have arrived at: To put down Anarchy by Civil War! Durum et durum, the Proverb says, non faciunt murum. La Vendée burns; Santerre can do nothing there; he may return home and brew beer. Cimmerian bombshells fly all along the North. That Siege of Mentz is become famed;—lovers of the Picturesque (as Goethe will testify), washed country-people of both sexes, stroll thither on Sundays, to see the artillery work and counter-work; "you [Pg 3292] only duck a little while the shot whizzes past." Condé is capitulating to the Austrians; Royal Highness of York, these several weeks, fiercely batters Valenciennes. For, alas, our fortified Camp of Famars was stormed; General Dampierre was killed; General Custine was blamed,—and indeed is now come to Paris to give "explanations."

Against all which the Mountain and atrocious Marat must even make head as they can. They, anarchic Convention as they are, publish Decrees, expostulatory, explanatory, yet not without severity: they ray-forth Commissioners, singly or in pairs, the olive-branch in one hand, yet the sword in the other. Commissioners come even to Caen; but without effect. Mathematical Romme, and Prieur named of the Côte d'Or, venturing thither, with their olive and sword, are packed into prison: there may Romme lie, under lock and key, "for fifty days"; and meditate his New Calendar, if he please. Cimmeria, La Vendée, and Civil War! Never was Republic One and Indivisible at a lower ebb.

Amid which dim ferment of Caen and the World, History specially notices one thing: in the lobby of the Mansion de l'Intendance, where busy Deputies are coming and going, a young Lady with an aged valet, taking grave graceful leave of Deputy Barbaroux. She is of stately Norman figure: in her twenty-fifth year; of beautiful still countenance: her name is Charlotte Corday, heretofore styled D'Armans, while Nobility still was. Barbaroux has given her a Note to Deputy Duperret,—him who once drew his sword in the effervescence. Apparently she will to Paris on some errand? "She was a Republican before the Revolution, and never wanted energy." A completeness, a decision is in this fair female Figure: "By energy she means the spirit that will prompt one to sacrifice himself for his country." What if she, this fair young Charlotte, had emerged from her secluded stillness, suddenly like a Star; cruel-lovely, with half-angelic, half-demonic splendor; to gleam for a moment, and in a moment be extinguished: to be held in memory, so bright complete was she, through long centuries!—Quitting Cimmerian Coalitions without, and the dim-simmering twenty-five million within, History will look fixedly at this one fair Apparition of a Charlotte Corday; will note whither Charlotte moves, how the little Life burns forth so radiant, then vanishes swallowed of the Night.[Pg 3293]

With Barbaroux's Note of Introduction, and slight stock of luggage, we see Charlotte on Tuesday the 9th of July seated in the Caen Diligence, with a place for Paris. None takes farewell of her, wishes her Good-journey: her Father will find a line left, signifying that she is gone to England, that he must pardon her, and forget her. The drowsy Diligence lumbers along; amid drowsy talk of Politics, and praise of the Mountain; in which she mingles not: all night, all day, and again all night. On Thursday, not long before noon, we are at the bridge of Neuilly; here is Paris with her thousand black domes, the goal and purpose of thy journey! Arrived at the Inn de la Providence in the Rue des Vieux Augustins, Charlotte demands a room; hastens to bed; sleeps all afternoon and night, till the morrow morning.

On the morrow morning, she delivers her Note to Duperret. It relates to certain Family Papers which are in the Minister of the Interior's hands; which a Nun at Caen, an old Convent friend of Charlotte's, has need of; which Duperret shall assist her in getting: this then was Charlotte's errand to Paris? She has finished this, in the course of Friday:—yet says nothing of returning. She has seen and silently investigated several things. The Convention, in bodily reality, she has seen; what the Mountain is like. The living physiognomy of Marat she could not see; he is sick at present, and confined to home.

About eight on the Saturday morning, she purchases a large sheath-knife in the Palais Royal; then straightway, in the Place des Victoires, takes a hackney-coach: "To the Rue de l'École de Médecine, No. 44." It is the residence of the Citoyen Marat!—The Citoyen Marat is ill, and cannot be seen; which seems to disappoint her much. Her business is with Marat, then? Hapless beautiful Charlotte; hapless squalid Marat! From Caen in the utmost West, from Neuchâtel in the utmost East, they two are drawing nigh each other; they two have, very strangely, business together.—Charlotte, returning to her Inn, dispatches a short Note to Marat; signifying that she is from Caen, the seat of rebellion; that she desires earnestly to see him, and "will put it in his power to do France a great service." No answer. Charlotte writes another Note, still more pressing; sets out with it by coach, about seven in the evening, herself. Tired day-laborers have again finished their Week; huge Paris is circling and simmering, manifold according to its vague wont; this one[Pg 3294] fair Figure has decision in it; drives straight,—toward a purpose.

It is yellow July evening, we say, the 13th of the month; eve of the Bastille day,—when "M. Marat," four years ago, in the crowd of the Pont Neuf, shrewdly required of that Besenval Hussar-party, which had such friendly dispositions, "to dismount, and give up their arms, then"; and became notable among Patriot men. Four years: what a road he has traveled:—and sits now, about half-past seven of the clock, stewing in slipper-bath; sore afflicted; ill of Revolution Fever,—of what other malady this History had rather not name. Excessively sick and worn, poor man: with precisely eleven-pence-half-penny of ready-money, in paper; with slipper-bath; strong three-footed stool for writing on, the while; and a squalid—Washer-woman, one may call her: that is his civic establishment in Medical-School Street; thither and not elsewhither has his road led him. Not to the reign of Brotherhood and Perfect Felicity: yet surely on the way toward that?—Hark, a rap again! A musical woman's voice, refusing to be rejected: it is the Citoyenne who would do France a service. Marat, recognizing from within, cries, Admit her. Charlotte Corday is admitted.

Citoyen Marat, I am from Caen the seat of rebellion, and wished to speak with you.—Be seated, mon enfant. Now what are the Traitors doing at Caen? What Deputies are at Caen?—Charlotte names some Deputies. "Their heads shall fall within a fortnight," croaks the eager People's-friend, clutching his tablets to write: Barbaroux, Pétion, writes he with bare shrunk arm, turning aside in the bath: Pétion, and Louvet, and—Charlotte has drawn her knife from the sheath; plunges it with one sure stroke, into the writer's heart. "À moi, chère amie (Help, dear)!" no more could the Death-choked say or shriek. The helpful Washer-woman running in—there is no Friend of the People, or Friend of the Washer-woman, left; but his life with a groan gushes out, indignant, to the shades below!

And so Marat, People's-friend, is ended; the lone Stylites has got hurled down suddenly from his pillar—whitherward He that made him knows. Patriot Paris may sound triple and tenfold, in dole and wail; re-echoed by patriot France; and the Convention, "Chabot pale with terror, declaring that they are to be all assassinated," may decree him Pantheon Honors, Public Funeral, Mirabeau's dust making way for him; and Jacobin Societies, in[Pg 3295] lamentable oratory, summing up his character, parallel him to One, whom they think it honor to call "the good Sans-culotte,"—whom we name not here; also a Chapel may be made, for the urn that holds his Heart, in the Place du Carrousel; and new-born children be named Marat; and Lago-di-Como Hawkers bake mountains of stucco into unbeautiful Busts; and David paint his Picture, or Death-Scene; and such other Apotheosis take place as the human genius, in these circumstances, can devise: but Marat returns no more to the light of this Sun. One sole circumstance we have read with clear sympathy, in the old Moniteur Newspaper: how Marat's Brother comes from Neuchâtel to ask of the Convention, "that the deceased Jean-Paul Marat's musket be given to him." For Marat too had a brother and natural affections; and was wrapped once in swaddling-clothes, and slept safe in a cradle like the rest of us. Ye children of men!—A sister of his, they say, lives still to this day in Paris.

As for Charlotte Corday, her work is accomplished; the recompense of it is near and sure. The chère amie, and the neighbors of the house, flying at her, she "overturns some movables," intrenches herself till the gendarmes arrive; then quietly surrenders; goes quietly to the Abbaye Prison: she alone quiet, all Paris sounding, in wonder, in rage or admiration, round her. Duperret is put in arrest, on account of her; his Papers sealed,—which may lead to consequences. Fauchet, in like manner; though Fauchet had not so much as heard of her. Charlotte, confronted with these two Deputies, praises the grave firmness of Duperret, censures the dejection of Fauchet.

On Wednesday morning the thronged Palais de Justice and Revolutionary Tribunal can see her face; beautiful and calm: she dates it "fourth day of the Preparation of Peace." A strange murmur ran through the Hall, at sight of her; you could not say of what character. Tinville has his indictments and tape-papers: the cutler of the Palais Royal will testify that he sold her the sheath-knife; "All these details are needless," interrupted Charlotte; "it is I that killed Marat." By whose instigation?—"By no one's." "What tempted you, then?" "His crimes. I killed one man," added she, raising her voice extremely (extrêmement), as they went on with their questions, "I killed one man to save a hundred thousand; a villain to save innocents; a savage wild-beast to give repose to my country. I was a Republican before the Revolution; I never wanted energy." There is[Pg 3296] therefore nothing to be said. The public gazes astonished: the hasty limners sketch her features, Charlotte not disapproving: the men of law proceed with their formalities. The doom is Death as a murderess. To her Advocate she gives thanks; in gentle phrase, in high-flown classical spirit. To the Priest they send her she gives thanks; but needs not any shriving, any ghostly or other aid from him.

On this same evening, therefore, about half-past seven o'clock, from the gate of the Conciergerie, to a City all on tip-toe, the fatal Cart issues; seated on it a fair young creature, sheeted in red smock of Murderess; so beautiful, serene, so full of life; journeying toward death,—alone amid the World. Many take off their hats, saluting reverently; for what heart but must be touched? Others growl and howl. Adam Lux, of Mentz, declares that she is greater than Brutus; that it were beautiful to die with her; the head of this young man seems turned. At the Place de la Révolution, the countenance of Charlotte wears the same still smile. The executioners proceed to bind her feet; she resists, thinking it meant as an insult; on a word of explanation, she submits with cheerful apology. As the last act, all being now ready, they take the neckerchief from her neck, a blush of maidenly shame overspreads her fair face and neck; the cheeks were still tinged with it when the executioner lifted the severed head, to show it to the people. "It is most true," says Forster, "that he struck the cheek insultingly; for I saw it with my eyes; the Police imprisoned him for it."

In this manner have the Beautifulest and the Squalidest come in collision, and extinguished one another. Jean-Paul Marat and Marie-Anne Charlotte Corday both, suddenly, are no more. "Day of the Preparation of Peace"? Alas, how were peace possible or preparable, while for example, the hearts of lovely Maidens, in their convent-stillness, are dreaming not of Love-paradises and the light of Life, but of Codrus's-sacrifices and Death well-earned? That twenty-five million hearts have got to such temper, this is the Anarchy; the soul of it lies in this, whereof not peace can be the embodiment! The death of Marat, whetting old animosities tenfold, will be worse than any life. O ye hapless Two, mutually extinctive, the Beautiful and the Squalid, sleep ye well,—in the Mother's bosom that bore you both!

This is the History of Charlotte Corday; most definite, most complete: angelic-demonic: like a Star!

[Pg 3297]


From the 'French Revolution'

To this conclusion, then, hast thou come, O hapless Louis! The Son of Sixty Kings is to die on the Scaffold by form of Law. Under Sixty Kings this same form of Law, form of Society, has been fashioning itself together these thousand years; and has become, one way and other, a most strange Machine. Surely, if needful, it is also frightful, this Machine; dead, blind; not what it should be; which, with swift stroke, or by cold slow torture, has wasted the lives and souls of innumerable men. And behold now a King himself, or say rather King-hood in his person, is to expire here in cruel tortures,—like a Phalaris shut in the belly of his own red-heated Brazen Bull! It is ever so; and thou shouldst know it, O haughty tyrannous man; injustice breeds injustice; curses and falsehoods do verily return "always home," wide as they may wander. Innocent Louis bears the sins of many generations: he too experiences that man's tribunal is not in this Earth; that if he had no Higher one, it were not well with him.

A King dying by such violence appeals impressively to the imagination; as the like must do, and ought to do. And yet at bottom it is not the King dying, but the man! Kingship is a coat: the grand loss is of the skin. The man from whom you take his Life, to him can the whole combined world do more? Lally went on his hurdle; his mouth filled with a gag. Miserablest mortals, doomed for picking pockets, have a whole five-act Tragedy in them, in that dumb pain, as they go to the gallows, unregarded; they consume the cup of trembling down to the lees. For Kings and for Beggars, for the justly doomed and the unjustly, it is a hard thing to die. Pity them all: thy utmost pity, with all aids and appliances and throne-and-scaffold contrasts, how far short is it of the thing pitied!

A Confessor has come; Abbé Edgeworth, of Irish extraction, whom the King knew by good report, has come promptly on this solemn mission. Leave the Earth alone, then, thou hapless King; it with its malice will go its way, thou also canst go thine. A hard scene yet remains: the parting with our loved ones. Kind hearts, environed in the same grim peril with us; to be left here! Let the Reader look with the eyes of Valet Cléry through these[Pg 3298] glass-doors, where also the Municipality watches; and see the cruelest of scenes:—

"At half-past eight, the door of the ante-room opened: the Queen appeared first, leading her Son by the hand; then Madame Royale and Madame Elizabeth: they all flung themselves into the arms of the King. Silence reigned for some minutes; interrupted only by sobs. The Queen made a movement to lead his Majesty towards the inner room, where M. Edgeworth was waiting unknown to them: 'No', said the King, 'let us go into the dining-room; it is there only that I can see you.' They entered there; I shut the door of it, which was of glass. The King sat down, the Queen on his left hand, Madame Elizabeth on his right, Madame Royale almost in front; the young Prince remained standing between his Father's legs. They all leaned toward him, and often held him embraced. This scene of woe lasted an hour and three-quarters; during which we could hear nothing; we could see only that always when the King spoke, the sobbing of the Princesses redoubled, continued for some minutes; and that then the King began again to speak." And so our meetings and our partings do now end! The sorrows we gave each other; the poor joys we faithfully shared, and all our lovings and our sufferings, and confused toilings under the earthly Sun, are over. Thou good soul, I shall never, never through all ages of Time, see thee any more!—Never! O Reader, knowest thou that hard word?

For nearly two hours this agony lasts; then they tear themselves asunder. "Promise that you will see us on the morrow." He promises:—Ah yes, yes; yet once; and go now, ye loved ones; cry to God for yourselves and me!—It was a hard scene, but it is over. He will not see them on the morrow. The Queen, in passing through the ante-room, glanced at the Cerberus Municipals; and with woman's vehemence, said through her tears, "Vous êtes tous des scélérats".

King Louis slept sound, till five in the morning, when Cléry, as he had been ordered, awoke him. Cléry dressed his hair: while this went forward, Louis took a ring from his watch, and kept trying it on his finger; it was his wedding-ring, which he is now to return to the Queen as a mute farewell. At half-past six, he took the Sacrament; and continued in devotion, and conference with Abbé Edgeworth. He will not see his Family: it were too hard to bear.[Pg 3299]

At eight, the Municipals enter: the King gives them his Will, and messages and effects; which they at first brutally refuse to take charge of; he gives them a roll of gold pieces, 125 louis; these are to be returned to Malesherbes, who had lent them. At nine, Santerre says the hour is come. The King begs yet to retire for three minutes. At the end of three minutes, Santerre again says the hour is come. "Stamping on the ground with his right foot, Louis answers: 'Partons' (Let us go)."—How the rolling of those drums comes in, through the Temple bastions and bulwarks, on the heart of a queenly wife; soon to be a widow! He is gone, then, and has not seen us? A Queen weeps bitterly; a King's Sister and Children. Over all these Four does Death also hover: all shall perish miserably save one; she, as Duchesse d'Angoulême, will live,—not happily.

At the Temple gate were some faint cries, perhaps from voices of pitiful women: "Grâce! Grâce!" Through the rest of the streets there is silence as of the grave. No man not armed is allowed to be there: the armed, did any even pity, dare not express it, each man overawed by all his neighbors. All windows are down, none seen looking through them. All shops are shut. No wheel-carriage rolls, this morning, in these streets, but one only. Eighty thousand armed men stand ranked, like armed statues of men; cannons bristle, cannoneers with match burning, but no word or movement: it is as a city enchanted into silence and stone: one carriage with its escort, slowly rumbling, is the only sound. Louis reads, in his Book of Devotion, the Prayers of the Dying: clatter of this death-march falls sharp on the ear in the great silence; but the thought would fain struggle heavenward, and forget the Earth.

As the clocks strike ten, behold the Place de la Révolution, once Place de Louis Quinze: the Guillotine, mounted near the old Pedestal where once stood the Statue of that Louis! Far round, all bristles with cannons and armed men: spectators crowding in the rear; D'Orléans Égalité there in cabriolet. Swift messengers, hoquetons, speed to the Town-hall, every three minutes: near by is the Convention sitting,—vengeful for Lepelletier. Heedless of all, Louis reads his Prayers of the Dying; not till five minutes yet has he finished; then the Carriage opens. What temper he is in? Ten different witnesses will give ten different accounts of it. He is in the collision of all tempers; arrived now at the black Maelstrom and descent of [Pg 3300] Death: in sorrow, in indignation, in resignation struggling to be resigned. "Take care of M. Edgeworth," he straitly charges the Lieutenant who is sitting with them: then they two descend.

The drums are beating: "Taisez-vous (Silence)!" he cries "in a terrible voice (d'une voix terrible)." He mounts the scaffold, not without delay; he is in puce coat, breeches of gray, white stockings. He strips off the coat; stands disclosed in a sleeve-waistcoat of white flannel. The Executioners approach to bind him: he spurns, resists; Abbé Edgeworth has to remind him how the Savior, in whom men trust, submitted to be bound. His hands are tied, his head bare; the fatal moment is come. He advances to the edge of the Scaffold, "his face very red," and says: "Frenchmen, I die innocent: it is from the Scaffold and near appearing before God that I tell you so. I pardon my enemies; I desire that France—" A General on horseback, Santerre or another, prances out, with uplifted hand: "Tambours!" The drums drown the voice. "Executioners, do your duty!" The Executioners, desperate lest themselves be murdered (for Santerre and his Armed Ranks will strike, if they do not), seize the hapless Louis: six of them desperate, him singly desperate, struggling there; and bind him to their plank. Abbé Edgeworth, stooping, bespeaks him: "Son of Saint Louis, ascend to Heaven." The Axe clanks down; a King's Life is shorn away. It is Monday, the 21st of January, 1793. He was aged Thirty-eight years four months and twenty-eight days.

Executioner Samson shows the Head: fierce shout of Vive la République rises, and swells; caps raised on bayonets, hats waving: students of the College of Four Nations take it up, on the far Quais; fling it over Paris. D'Orléans drives off in his cabriolet: the Town-hall Councillors rub their hands, saying, "It is done, It is done." There is dipping of handkerchiefs, of pike-points in the blood. Headsman Samson, though he afterward denied it, sells locks of the hair: fractions of the puce coat are long after worn in rings. And so, in some half-hour it is done; and the multitude has all departed. Pastry-cooks, coffee-sellers, milkmen sing out their trivial quotidian cries, the world wags on, as if this were a common day. In the coffee-houses that evening, says Prudhomme, Patriot shook hands with Patriot in a more cordial manner than usual. Not till some days after, according to Mercier, did public men see what a grave thing it was.[Pg 3301]

A grave thing it indisputably is; and will have consequences. On the morrow morning, Roland, so long steeped to the lips in disgust and chagrin, sends in his demission. His accounts lie all ready, correct in black-on-white to the utmost farthing: these he wants but to have audited, that he might retire to remote obscurity, to the country and his books. They will never be audited, those accounts: he will never get retired thither.

It was on Tuesday that Roland demitted. On Thursday comes Lepelletier St.-Fargeau's Funeral, and passage to the Pantheon of Great Men. Notable as the wild pageant of a winter day. The Body is borne aloft, half-bare; the winding-sheet disclosing the death-wound; sabre and bloody clothes parade themselves; a "lugubrious music" wailing harsh næniæ. Oak-crowns shower down from windows; President Vergniaud walks there, with Convention, with Jacobin Society, and all Patriots of every color, all mourning brother-like.

Notable also for another thing this Burial of Lepelletier; it was the last act these men ever did with concert! All parties and figures of Opinion, that agitate this distracted France and its Convention, now stand, as it were, face to face, and dagger to dagger; the King's Life, round which they all struck and battled, being hurled down. Dumouriez, conquering Holland, growls ominous discontent, at the head of Armies. Men say Dumouriez will have a King; that young D'Orléans Égalité shall be his King. Deputy Fauchet, in the Journal des Amis, curses his day more bitterly than Job did; invokes the poniards of Regicides, of "Arras Vipers" or Robespierres, of Pluto Dantons, of horrid Butchers Legendre and Simulacra d'Herbois, to send him swiftly to another world than theirs. This is Te-Deum Fauchet, of the Bastille Victory, of the Cercle Social. Sharp was the death-hail rattling round one's Flag-of-truce, on that Bastille day: but it was soft to such wreckage of high Hope as this; one's New Golden Era going down in leaden dross, and sulphurous black of the Everlasting Darkness!

[Pg 3302]





liss Carman was born at Fredericton, New Brunswick, on April 15th, 1861. On both sides of the house he belongs to that United Empire Loyalist stock which at the time of the American Revolution sacrificed wealth and ease to a principle, and angrily withdrew from the young republic to carve out new commonwealths in the wilds of Canada. His father was William Carman, Clerk of the Pleas, a man of influence and distinction in his Province. His mother was one of the Blisses of Fredericton, the Loyalist branch of that Connecticut family to which Emerson's mother belonged. Mr. Carman was educated at the Collegiate School and the University of New Brunswick, both at Fredericton. He distinguished himself in classics and mathematics, took his B. A. in 1881, his M. A. in 1884, and afterwards took partial courses at Edinburgh and Harvard. He has been connected editorially with several American periodicals, the Independent and the Chap-Book among them, but now devotes himself exclusively to literature. He divides his time between Boston and Washington, returning to the Maritime Provinces for the hot months of each year.

Bliss Carman Bliss Carman

Mr. Carman issued his first volume of poems in 1893, when he had already won reputation as a contributor to the magazines. The volume was called 'Low Tide on Grand Pré: a Book of Lyrics.' It was published in New York and London, and ran quickly into a second edition. Equally successful was the volume called 'Songs from Vagabondia,' published in 1894. About half the poems in this volume are by Mr. Richard Hovey, whose name appears on the title-page with that of Mr. Carman. In 1895 appeared 'Behind the Arras: a Book of the Unseen.' Much of Mr. Carman's known work remains still uncollected.

In that outburst of intellectual energy which has of late won for Canada a measure of recognition in the world of letters, Mr. Carman's work has played a large part. The characteristics of the Canadian school may perhaps be defined as a certain semi-Sufristic [Pg 3303]worship of nature, combined with freshness of vision and keenness to interpret the significance of the external world. These characteristics find intense expression in Mr. Carman's poems. And they find expression in an utterance so new and so distinctive that its influence is already active in the verse of his contemporaries.

There are two terms which apply pre-eminently to Mr. Carman. These are Lyrist and Symbolist. His note is always the lyric note. The "lyric cry" thrills all his cadences. If it be true that poetry is the rhythmical expression in words of thought fused in emotion, then in his work we are impressed by the completeness of the fusion. Every phrase is filled with lyric passion. At its best, the result is a poem which not only haunts the ear with its harmonies but at the same time makes appeal to the heart and intellect. When the result is less successful it seems sometimes as if the thought were too much diluted with words,—as if, in fact, verbal music and verbal coloring were allowed to take the place of the legitimate thought-process. Even in such cases, the verse, however nebulous in meaning, is rarely without some subtlety of technique, some charm of diction, to justify its existence. But there are poems of Mr. Carman's, wherein what seems at first to be the obscurity of an over-attenuated thought is really an attempt to express thought in terms of pure music or pure color. In a curious and beautiful poem called 'Beyond the Gamut' he elaborates a theory of the oneness and interchangeability of form, sound, and color.

In the matter of conception and interpretation Mr. Carman is a symbolist. This word is not used here in any restricted sense, and must be divorced from all association with the shibboleths of warring schools. The true symbolist—and all the supreme artists of the world have been in this sense symbolists—recognizes that there are truths too vast and too subtle to endure definition in scientific phrase. They elude set words; as a faint star, at the coming on of evening, eludes the eye which seeks for it directly, while unveiling itself to a side glance. Mr. Carman conveys to us, by the suggestion of thrilling color or inimitable phrase, perceptions and emotions which a more strictly defined method could never capture.

In subject-matter Mr. Carman is simple and elemental. He looks at his themes curiously, often whimsically; but the themes are those of universal and eternal import,—life, love, and death, the broad aspects of the outer world, the "deep heart of man," and the spirit that informs them all. His song is sometimes in a minor key, plangent and piercing; sometimes in a large and virile major,—as for instance when he sings the 'War-song of Gamelba.' To his gifts of imagination, insight, and lyric passion he adds a fine humor, the outflowing of a broad and tolerant humanity. This is well exemplified [Pg 3304]in 'Resignation' and 'A More Ancient Mariner.' His chief defects, besides the occasional obscurity already referred to, are a tendency to looseness of structure in his longer poems, and once in a while, as in parts of 'The Silent Lodger,' a Browningesque lapse into hardness and baldness when the effect aimed at is colloquial simplicity.

Charles G. D. Roberts


Hack and Hew were the sons of God
In the earlier earth than now;
One at his right hand, one at his left,
To obey as he taught them how.
And Hack was blind and Hew was dumb,
But both had the wild, wild heart;
And God's calm will was their burning will,
And the gist of their toil was art.
They made the moon and the belted stars,
They set the sun to ride;
They loosed the girdle and veil of the sea,
The wind and the purple tide.
Both flower and beast beneath their hands
To beauty and speed outgrew,—
The furious fumbling hand of Hack,
And the glorying hand of Hew.
Then, fire and clay, they fashioned a man,
And painted him rosy brown;
And God himself blew hard in his eyes:
"Let them burn till they smolder down!"
And "There!" said Hack, and "There!" thought Hew,
"We'll rest, for our toil is done."
But "Nay," the Master Workman said,
"For your toil is just begun.
"And ye who served me of old as God
Shall serve me anew as man,
Till I compass the dream that is in my heart
And perfect the vaster plan."
[Pg 3305]
And still the craftsman over his craft,
In the vague white light of dawn,
With God's calm will for his burning will
While the mounting day comes on,
Yearning, wind-swift, indolent, wild,
Toils with those shadowy two,—
The faltering restless hand of Hack,
And the tireless hand of Hew.

From 'Behind the Arras': copyrighted 1895, by Lamson, Wolffe and Company


There paused to shut the door
A fellow called the Wind.
With mystery before,
And reticence behind,
A portal waits me too
In the glad house of spring;
One day I shall pass through
And leave you wondering.
It lies beyond the marge
Of evening or of prime,
Silent and dim and large,
The gateway of all time.
There troop by night and day
My brothers of the field;
And I shall know the way
Their wood-songs have revealed.
The dusk will hold some trace
Of all my radiant crew
Who vanished to that place,
Ephemeral as dew.
Into the twilight dun,
Blue moth and dragon-fly
Adventuring alone,—
Shall be more brave than I?
There innocents shall bloom,
And the white cherry tree,
With birch and willow plume
To strew the road for me.
[Pg 3306]
The wilding orioles then
Shall make the golden air
Heavy with joy again,
And the dark heart shall dare
Resume the old desire,—
The exigence of spring
To be the orange fire
That tips the world's gray wing.
And the lone wood-bird—Hark!
The whippoorwill, night-long,
Threshing the summer dark
With his dim flail of song!—
Shall be the lyric lift,
When all my senses creep,
To bear me through the rift
In the blue range of sleep.
And so I pass beyond
The solace of your hand.
But ah, so brave and fond!
Within that morrow-land,
Where deed and daring fail,
But joy forevermore
Shall tremble and prevail
Against the narrow door,
Where sorrow knocks too late,
And grief is overdue,
Beyond the granite gate
There will be thoughts of you.

From 'Behind the Arras': copyrighted 1895, by Lamson, Wolffe and Company


The lover of child Marjory
Had one white hour of life brim full;
Now the old nurse, the rocking sea,
Hath him to lull.
The daughter of child Marjory
Hath in her veins, to beat and run,
The glad indomitable sea,
The strong white sun.

Copyrighted by Bliss Carman.

[Pg 3307]





hat the author of the best nonsense-writing in the language should be a professional mathematician and logician, is not a paradox but a sequence. A gymnast cannot divert us by pretending to lose his balance unless perfectly able to keep his balance. Actors who counterfeit insanity must be acutely sane. Only a competent classical scholar can write good macaronics; only a good poet can write clever doggerel. The only ones who can use slang effectively are those who do not need to use it at all. Nor is the tone and temper of mind evinced by these dry and severe studies out of keeping with the airiest play of fancy or the maddest fun. The one is indeed a frequent relief from the other, and no intellectual bent is related in the least to any special temperament. Extravagant drollery can be mated to an aptitude for geometry or a passion for analysis as well as to a love of pictures or of horses.

But the parentage of 'Alice in Wonderland' and its fellows is closer to their creator's intellectual being even than this. A very slight glance at their matter and mechanism shows that they are the work of one trained to use words with the finest precision, to teach others to use them so, to criticize keenly any inconsistency or slovenliness in their use, and to mock mercilessly any vagueness or incoherence in thought or diction. The fantastic framework and inconsequent scenes of these wonder-stories mask from the popular view the qualities which give them their superlative rank and enduring charm.

The mere machinery, ingenious and amusing as it is, would not entertain beyond a single reading; it can be and has often been imitated, along with the incarnated nursery rhymes and old saws. Yet these grotesque chimeras, under Lewis Carroll's touch, are as living to us as any characters in Dickens or the 'Ingoldsby Legends,' and even more so to the elders than the children. Who does not know and delight in the King and Queen and Knave of Hearts, the elegant White Rabbit and the conceited and monosyllabic Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat and the Mock-Turtle, the March Hare and the Hatter and the Dormouse; or the chess White King and the Queens and the White Knight, the Walrus and the Carpenter, of Looking-Glass Land?

[Pg 3308]

The very genesis of many of these is the logical analysis of a popular comparison into sober fact, as "grinning like a Cheshire cat," "mad as a hatter" or "March hare," "sleeping like a dormouse," etc.; and a large part of their wit and fun consists in plays on ambiguous terms in current use, like the classic "jam every other day," "French, music, and washing," "The name of the song is called—" or in parodies on familiar verses (or on the spirit of ballads rather than the wording, as in 'Jabberwocky'), or in heaps of versified non-sequiturs, like the exquisite "poem" read at the trial of the Knave of Hearts. The analyst and the logician is as patent in 'Alice' as in the class lectures the author gave or the technical works he has issued; only turning his criticism and his reductiones ad absurdum into bases for witty fooling instead of serious lessons or didactic works. Hence, while his wonder-books are nominally for children, and please the children through their cheaper and commoner qualities, their real audience is the most cultivated and keen-minded part of the mature world; to whom indeed he speaks almost exclusively in such passages as the Rabelaisian satire of the jury trial in 'Alice in Wonderland,' or the mob in 'Sylvie and Bruno' yelling "Less bread! More taxes!" before the Lord Chancellor's house, or the infinitely touching pathos of the Outlandish Watch.

'Alice in Wonderland' appeared in 1865; it received universal admiration at once, and was translated into many languages. By the rarest of good fortune, it was illustrated by an artist (John Tenniel) who entered into its spirit so thoroughly that the characters in popular memory are as much identified with his pictures as with Lewis Carroll's text, and no other representation of them would be endured. 'Through the Looking-Glass' followed in 1871; its prose matter was almost equal to that of its predecessor,—the chapter of the White Knight is fully equal to the best of the other,—and its verse is superior. Part of the first book was based on the game of cards; the whole setting of the second is based on chess moves, and Alice's progress to queenship along the board. He has published several books of humorous prose and verse since; some of the verse equal to the best of his two best books, but the prose generally spoiled by conscious didacticism, as in 'Sylvie and Bruno,' which however contains some of his happiest nonsense verse. 'The Hunting of the Snark' is a nonsense tale in verse, but oddly the best things in it are his prose tags. 'Rhyme and Reason' is a collection of verse, some of it of high merit in its kind: 'The Three Voices' is spun out and ill-ended, but has some passages which deserve to be classic.

Lewis Carroll is in fact the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who (disliking publicity) lives in retirement at Oxford, and the world [Pg 3309]knows little of him. He was born in 1833 and received his degree in Christ Church, Oxford, with high honors in mathematics. In 1861 he took orders in the Church of England. From 1855 to 1881 he was mathematical lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford. He has published several works on mathematics, including 'Euclid and His Modern Rivals,' and 'Mathematica Curiosa,' a very valuable work. 'A Tangled Tale,' 'Pillow Problems,' and a 'Game of Logic' are scientific and humorous, but are only appreciated by experts in mathematics and logic. Delighted with 'Alice in Wonderland' on its appearance, Queen Victoria asked Mr. Dodgson for his other works; and in response "Lewis Carroll" sent her his 'Elementary Treatise on Determinants' and other mathematical works. It is seldom that the dualism of a mind—writing now nonsense so thoroughly and vigorously witty, and now exploring the intricacies of higher mathematics—has a more curious illustration. Certainly the illustration is seldom as diverting to the public.


From 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

"Here! you may nurse it a bit, if you like!" said the Duchess to Alice, flinging the baby at her as she spoke. "I must go and get ready to play croquet with the Queen," and she hurried out of the room. The cook threw a frying-pan after her as she went, but it just missed her.

Alice caught the baby with some difficulty, as it was a queer-shaped little creature, and held out its arms and legs in all directions,—"just like a star-fish," thought Alice. The poor little thing was snorting like a steam-engine when she caught it, and kept doubling itself up and straightening itself out again; so that altogether, for the first minute or two, it was as much as she could do to hold it.

As soon as she had made out the proper way of nursing it, (which was to twist it up into a sort of knot, and then keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot, so as to prevent its undoing itself), she carried it out into the open air. "If I don't take this child away with me," thought Alice, "they're sure to kill it in a day or two: wouldn't it be murder to leave it behind?" She said the last words out loud, and the little thing grunted in reply (it had left off sneezing by this time). "Don't grunt," said Alice: "that's not at all the proper way of expressing yourself."

[Pg 3310]

The baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to see what was the matter with it. There could be no doubt that it had a very turn-up nose, much more like a snout than a real nose; also its eyes were getting extremely small, for a baby: altogether, Alice did not like the look of the thing at all,—"but perhaps it was only sobbing," she thought, and looked into its eyes again, to see if there were any tears.

No, there were no tears. "If you're going to turn into a pig, my dear," said Alice, seriously, "I'll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!" The poor little thing sobbed again (or grunted, it was impossible to say which), and they went on for some while in silence.

Alice was just beginning to think to herself, "Now, what am I to do with this creature when I get it home?" when it grunted again, so violently that she looked down into its face in some alarm. This time there could be no mistake about it: it was neither more nor less than a pig, and she felt that it would be quite absurd for her to carry it any further.

So she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to see it trot away quietly into the wood. "If it had grown up," she said to herself, "it would have been a dreadfully ugly child: but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think." And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and was just saying to herself, "If one only knew the right way to change them—" when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.

The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt it ought to be treated with respect.

"Cheshire Puss," she began,—rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. "Come, it's pleased so far," thought Alice, and she went on: "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where—" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you walk," said the Cat.

"—so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.[Pg 3311]

"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. "What sort of people live about here?"

"In that direction," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter; and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad."

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we are all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Alice didn't think that proved it at all; however, she went on, "And how do you know that you're mad?"

"To begin with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?"

"I suppose so," said Alice.

"Well then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."

"I call it purring, not growling," said Alice.

"Call it what you like," said the Cat. "Do you play croquet with the Queen to-day?"

"I should like it very much," said Alice, "but I haven't been invited yet."

"You'll see me there," said the Cat, and vanished.

Alice was not much surprised at this, she was getting so well used to queer things happening. While she was still looking at the place where it had been, it suddenly appeared again.

"By-the-by, what became of the baby?" said the Cat. "I'd nearly forgotten to ask."

"It turned into a pig," Alice answered very quietly, just as if the Cat had come back in a natural way.

"I thought it would," said the Cat, and vanished again.

Alice waited a little, half expecting to see it again, but it did not appear, and after a minute or two she walked on in the direction in which the March Hare was said to live. "I've seen hatters before," she said to herself: "the March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't[Pg 3312] be raving mad—at least not so mad as it was in March." As she said this, she looked up, and there was the Cat again, sitting on a branch of a tree.

"Did you say pig, or fig?" said the Cat.

"I said pig," replied Alice; "and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat!—it's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"


From 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

"When we were little," the Mock-Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, "we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle—we used to call him Tortoise—"

"Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?" Alice asked.

"We called him Tortoise because he taught us," said the Mock-Turtle angrily; "really you are very dull!"

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself for asking such a simple question," added the Gryphon; and then they both sat silent and looked at poor Alice, who felt ready to sink into the earth. At last the Gryphon said to the Mock-Turtle, "Drive on, old fellow! Don't be all day about it!" and he went on in these words:—

"Yes, we went to school in the sea, though you mayn't believe it—"

"I never said I didn't!" interrupted Alice.

"You did," said the Mock-Turtle.

"Hold your tongue!" added the Gryphon, before Alice could speak again. The Mock-Turtle went on.

"We had the best of educations—in fact, we went to school every day—"

"I've been to a day-school too," said Alice; "you needn't be so proud as all that."[Pg 3313]

"With extras?" asked the Mock-Turtle a little anxiously.

"Yes," said Alice, "we learned French and music."

"And washing?" said the Mock-Turtle.

"Certainly not!" said Alice indignantly.

"Ah! then yours wasn't a really good school," said the Mock-Turtle in a tone of great relief. "Now at ours they had at the end of the bill, 'French, music, and washing—extra.'"

"You couldn't have wanted it much," said Alice; "living at the bottom of the sea."

"I couldn't afford to learn it," said the Mock-Turtle with a sigh. "I only took the regular course."

"What was that?" inquired Alice.

"Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with," the Mock-Turtle replied; "and then the different branches of Arithmetic—Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision."

"I never heard of 'Uglification,'" Alice ventured to say. "What is it?"

The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. "Never heard of uglifying!" it exclaimed. "You know what to beautify is, I suppose?"

"Yes," said Alice, doubtfully; "it means—to—make—anything—prettier."

"Well then," the Gryphon went on, "if you don't know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton."

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock-Turtle and said, "What else had you to learn?"

"Well, there was Mystery," the Mock-Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers,—"Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography; then Drawling—the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils."

"What was that like?" said Alice.

"Well, I can't show it you, myself," the Mock-Turtle said: "I'm too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it."

"Hadn't time," said the Gryphon: "I went to the Classical master, though. He was an old crab, he was."

"I never went to him," the Mock-Turtle said with a sigh: "he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say."

"So he did, so he did," said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn, and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.[Pg 3314]

"And how many hours a day did you do lessons?" said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.

"Ten hours the first day," said the Mock-Turtle: "nine the next, and so on."

"What a curious plan!" exclaimed Alice.

"That's the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked: "because they lessen from day to day."

This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it over a little before she made her next remark. "Then the eleventh day must have been a holiday?"

"Of course it was," said the Mock-Turtle.

"And how did you manage on the twelfth?" Alice went on eagerly.

"That's enough about lessons," the Gryphon interrupted in a very decided tone.


From 'Alice in Wonderland'

They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true);
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.
[Pg 3315]
Don't let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me.


From 'Through the Looking-Glass'

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done—
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"
The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky.
No birds were flying overhead—
There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
[Pg 3316]"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head—
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat—
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more—
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
[Pg 3317]
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar beside
Are very good indeed—
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said:
"Do you admire the view?"
"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf—
I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but—
"The butter's spread too thick!"
"I weep for you," the Walrus said;
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

[Pg 3318]


From 'The Hunting of the Snark'

They roused him with muffins—they roused him with ice—
They roused him with mustard and cress—
They roused him with jam and judicious advice—
They set him conundrums to guess.
When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried "Silence! Not even a shriek!"
And excitedly tingled his bell.
There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called "Ho!" told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.
"My father and mother were honest, though poor—"
"Skip all that!" cried the Bellman in haste.
"If it once becomes dark, there's no chance of a Snark—
We have hardly a minute to waste!"
"I skip forty years," said the Baker, in tears,
"And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.
"A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked when I bade him farewell—"
"Oh, skip your dear uncle!" the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.
"He remarked to me then," said that mildest of men,—
"'If your Snark be a Snark that is right,
Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,
And it's handy for striking a light.
"'You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap—'"
("That's exactly the method," the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried:—
"That's exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!")
[Pg 3319]
"'But oh, beamish nephew! beware of the day
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'
"It is this, it is this, that oppresses my soul
When I think of my uncle's last words;
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!
"It is this, it is this"—"We have had that before!"
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied: "Let me say it once more;
It is this, it is this that I dread!
"I engage with the Snark—every night after dark—
In a dreamy delirious fight;
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:
"But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and silently vanish away—
And the notion I cannot endure!"


From 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."
"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray what is the reason of that?"
"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his gray locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
[Pg 3320]By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple."
"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak:
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"
"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."
"You are old," said the youth; "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever:
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?"
"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down-stairs!"

[Pg 3321]





he unique figure of Casanova stands out as a type of all that was most vicious and most brilliant in the eighteenth century. The pre-revolutionary philosophies, filtering through society, were weakening religious restraints and producing a hypocritical conformity to tradition and a new uncertainty which inclined people to present enjoyment and epicureanism. But even the court aristocracy, to whom self-indulgence was the rule of life, were astounded at the unrestraint of Casanova's pleasure-seeking. He professed himself a Christian, but during all his vicious career was never influenced by a conscientious scruple. In a period when social graces were extolled above all others, when conversation was cultivated as a fine art, and when the salon was perhaps the greatest power in France, he was pre-eminent for talent and charm. His physical beauty fascinated both men and women; his fearlessness, often running into a mad bravado which lost no chance to fight, won him the respect of men. He could be witty in many tongues; he was an adept in fashionable fads of the day; was supposed to have a gift for mesmerism, and to be something of a sorcerer.

He could adapt himself to any society, appearing both as the idol of European courts and a boon companion in low taverns. He had countless duels and love affairs, and concluded one after another with the same cynical heartlessness: always a gay soldier of fortune, experimenting with his various talents; now a diplomat, now an abbé or popular preacher, and now a writer of political essays.

When Casanova's father, a man of gentle birth, became an actor and married a pretty actress, Zanetta Farusi, the daughter of an Italian shoemaker, he hopelessly alienated his family. Jean-Jacques, their first child, was born in Venice, and during their professional travels was left there with his grandmother. Her earnest desire was to educate the beautiful and precocious child; and she economized from her scanty means until she was able to send him to the Seminary of Saint Cyprian in Venice. He passed his entrance examinations, and studied there for a time, exhibiting unusual ability. Then at sixteen he was expelled for a disgraceful intrigue, which would have consigned him to prison but for his mother, whose influence secured him the protection of Cardinal Acquaviva and a position in his household, which the boy soon resigned for a gayer life.

[Pg 3322]

After this came a long series of adventurous years, during which he visited Rome, Naples, Constantinople, and other places, and was admitted to many orders of chivalry. During these wanderings he became acquainted with Rousseau and Voltaire; visited the court of Frederick the Great; went to Russia, where he was smiled upon by the Empress Catharine II. At Versailles, where he was a familiar figure, Louis XV. honored him with a personal interview. But even in a society disposed to be lenient to any one who was amusing, Casanova incurred disgrace. After becoming notorious over Europe as a trickster at cards, and for his dissipations, he returned to Venice in 1755.

There he was as gay and as dissolute as ever, but in his intervals of spare time he wrote a refutation of a work by Amelot de la Houssaye upon the condition of the Republic. He had hoped it would reinstate him in public opinion, but it failed to do so, and before long he was denounced to the government as a spy and thrown into prison. In the 'Récit de sa Captivité' (1788) he himself has told the dramatic story of his confinement in the garret of a ducal palace, and of his wonderful escape. The hot Italian sun beating down on the leaden roof added to his discomfort, and he was too daring and too ingenious to suffer long in patience. With the aid of an iron bolt which he had sharpened, he bored a hole through the wall of his cell and gained access to another prisoner, Father Balbi. For a long time they plotted together, and at last after many efforts and dangers they extricated themselves by way of the roofs.

This feat added greatly to his fame. He was fêted and courted everywhere, and his extravagances set the fashions for years. But in spite of the admiration he excited, he was too dangerous a citizen to be allowed long in a place. He was expelled from Varsovia in consequence of a duel. Then Paris, and later Madrid, drove him away.

His life of excesses had broken his health, when in 1782 he attached himself to the Count of Waldstein, a German prince whom he followed into Bohemia. Soon after, he began the famous 'Memoires,' his chief literary achievement. He wrote several historical works, a translation in verse of the Iliad, and many political sketches. Others of his writings, such as 'Eighty Years Spent among the Inhabitants of the Interior of the Globe,' show him possessed of a lively imagination. But he evinced especial zest in the preparation of the 'Memoires.' In a style as audacious as his life, strong and sparkling with wit, he told the strange story of his career. He reflects the social habits of his time, the contemporary point of view.

He lived on in Bohemia until he was seventy-eight, and then he died at Dux, retaining to the end what Janin terms "his marvelous instinct for vice and corruption."

[Pg 3323]


From 'The Escapes of Casanova and Latude from Prison'

The greatest comfort to a man in suffering is the hope of a speedy release. He sighs for the moment when he shall see the end of his woes; he fancies that his wishes can hasten it on, and would do anything on earth to know what hour is fixed for the cessation of his misery: but no one can tell at what moment an event will happen which depends on the determination of another, unless that person has announced it. But the sufferer, who is weak and impatient, is predisposed to be superstitious. "God," says he, "must know the very moment when my pain will cease; and God may permit that it should be revealed to me, never mind how." When he has once fallen into this train of argument, he no longer hesitates to try his fortune by any means his fancy may dictate, if he is more or less inclined to believe in the revelations of the oracle he happens to select. This frame of mind is not conspicuously unlike that of the greater number of those who were wont to consult the Pythia, or the oaks of Dodona, or of those who, even in our own day, study the Cabbala, or seek the revelation they hope for in a verse of the Bible or a line of Virgil;—this indeed has made the Sortes Virgilianæ famous, of which many writers tell us; or finally, of those who are firmly convinced that their difficulties will all be solved by the fortuitous or premeditated arrangement of a mere pack of cards.

I was in this state of mind. But not knowing what means to employ to compel Fate to reveal through the Bible the end in store for me—that is to say, the hour at which I should recover the incomparable blessing of liberty—I resolved to consult the divine poem of Messer Ludovico Ariosto, 'Orlando Furioso,' which I knew by heart, and in which I delighted up in my cell. I worshiped the genius of that great poet, and thought him far better fitted than Virgil to tell my fortune. With this idea I wrote down a question addressed to the imaginary intelligence, asking in which canto of Ariosto's poem I should find the day of my deliverance prophesied. Afterwards I composed an inverted pyramid of the numbers derived from the words in the question, and by subtracting nine from each pair of figures I had nine for a remainder. I concluded that the prophecy I sought must be in the[Pg 3324] ninth canto. I pursued the same method to arrive at the line and stanza containing the oracle, and I found seven as the number of the stanza, and one for the line.

I took up the poem, my heart beating as though I really had the most entire confidence in this oracle. I opened it, turned over the leaves, and read these words:—

"Fra il fin d'Ottobre e il capo di Novembre."

The perfect appropriateness of the line struck me as so remarkable that, though I cannot say that I altogether believed in the oracle, the reader will forgive me if I confess I did my utmost to verify it. The curious part of the matter is, that between the last of October and the beginning of November there is but the one instant of midnight; and it was exactly as the clock struck midnight on the 31st of October that I quitted my prison, as the reader will presently learn....

The hour strikes. Hark! the angel!

Soradaci was about to fall on his face, but I assured him that this was superfluous. In three minutes the hole was pierced through; the board fell at my feet, and Father Balbi slid into my arms.

"Your task is done," said I, "and now mine begins."

We embraced, and he gave me my crowbar and a pair of scissors. I desired Soradaci to trim our beards, but I could not help laughing as I saw the creature, open-mouthed, staring at this strange angel, who looked more like a demon. Though utterly bewildered, he cut our beards to perfection.

Being impatient to survey the locality, I desired the monk to remain with Soradaci, for I would not leave him alone, and I went out. I found the hole rather narrow; however, I got through. I got above the cell in which the Count lay; I went down and cordially embraced the venerable gentleman. I saw a man of a figure ill suited to surmount the difficulties of such an escape over a steep roof covered with sheet lead. He asked me what my plan was, and told me that he thought I had been rather heedless in my action.

"I only want to go on," said I, "step by step to liberty or death."

"If you imagine," said he, "that you can pierce the roof and find a way along the leads,—from which, too, you must get[Pg 3325] down,—I do not see how you can possibly succeed unless you have wings. I have not courage enough to accompany you. I shall stay where I am and pray to God for you."

I left him to inspect the outer roof, getting as close as I could to the outer side of the loft. Having succeeded in touching the inside of the rafters at the part where it was lowest, I perched myself on a beam, such as are to be found under the roof of every large palace. I poked at the rafters with the end of my bar, and to my joy found them half-rotten; at each touch the wood fell in dust. Being sure, therefore, that I could make a large enough opening in less than an hour, I returned to my cell and spent the next four hours in cutting up sheets, counterpanes, and mattress covers, to make ropes of. I took care to tie all the knots myself, to be sure of their firmness, for a single knot badly tied would have cost us our life. When all was done I found we had about a hundred yards of rope. There are certain things in every great enterprise which are of the highest importance, and for which a leader worthy of the name trusts no one.

When the rope was finished, I made a bundle of my coat, my silk cloak, some shirts, stockings, and handkerchiefs, and we all three went into the Count's cell. This worthy man first congratulated Soradaci on having been so lucky as to be put in the same room with me, and being so soon enabled to recover his freedom. The man's stupid amazement almost made me laugh. I no longer attempted any concealment, for I had thrown off the mask of Tartuffe, which I had found most inconvenient while this villain had compelled me to wear it. I saw that he was convinced I had deceived him, but he could not understand how; for he could not imagine how I had communicated with the sham angel so as to make him come and go at fixed hours. He was listening eagerly to the Count, who declared we were rushing on our fate; and, coward that he was, he was revolving in his mind a scheme for avoiding the perilous attempt. I told the monk to collect his things while I went to make the hole in the roof of the loft.

At two hours after sunset the hole was finished; I had worked the rafters to powder, and the opening was twice as large as was needful. I could touch the sheet of lead outside. I could not raise it single-handed, because it was riveted; the friar helped me, and by pushing the crowbar between the gutter[Pg 3326] and the sheet of lead I detached it; then raising it on our shoulders, we bent it up high enough to allow of our squeezing through the opening. Putting my head out to reconnoitre, I saw with dismay how bright the moon was, now in the first quarter. It was a check which we must endure with patience, and wait till midnight to escape, when the moon would have gone to light up the Antipodes. On such a glorious night all Venice would be out on the Piazza below, and we dared not venture out on the roof; our shadows cast on the ground would have attracted attention; our extraordinary appearance up there would excite general curiosity, and above all, that of Messer Grande and his spies, the sole guards of Venice. Our fine scheme would soon have been disturbed by their odious interference. I therefore decided positively that we were not to creep out till the moon had set....

It was time to be off. The moon had set. I hung half the rope round Balbi's neck on one side and his bundle of clothes on the other shoulder. I did the same for myself; and both, in our waistcoats with our hats on, went to the opening in the roof.

"And issuing forth we then beheld the stars."—Dante.

I crept out first; Balbi followed me. Soradaci, who had accompanied us to the roof, was ordered to pull the sheet of lead down again and then to go and pray to his saint. Crawling on my knees on all fours, I clutched my crowbar firmly, and stretching as far as I could, I slipped it obliquely between the points of the sheets; then, grasping the end of the sheet I had turned up, I dragged myself up to the ridge of the roof. The friar, to follow me, inserted the fingers of his right hand into the belt of my breeches. Thus I had the double task of a beast which drags and carries both at once, and that on a steep roof, made slippery by a dense fog. Half-way up this dreadful climb, Balbi bid me stop, for one of his parcels had fallen, and he hoped it might not have gone further than the gutter. My first impulse was to give him a kick and send him after his bundle; but God be praised, I had enough self-command not to do this, for the punishment would have been too severe for both of us, since I alone could never have escaped. I asked him whether it was the packet of ropes, but as he replied that it was only his bundle, in which he had a manuscript he had found in[Pg 3327] the loft, and which he had hoped would make his fortune, I told him he must take patience; for that a step backwards would be fatal. The poor monk sighed, and clinging still to my waist-band, we climbed on again.

After having got over fifteen or sixteen sheets of lead with immense difficulty, we reached the ridge, on which I perched myself astride, and Balbi did the same. We had our backs to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, and two hundred yards in front of us we saw the numerous cupolas of the church of Saint Mark, which is in fact part of the Ducal Palace; for the church of Saint Mark is, properly speaking, no more than the Doge's chapel, and certainly no sovereign can boast of a finer one. I began by relieving myself of my load, and desired my companion to follow my example. He tucked his bundle of ropes under him as best he might, but wanting to take off his hat, which inconvenienced him, he managed so badly that it rolled from ledge to ledge, and went to join the bundle of clothes in the canal. My poor comrade was in despair.

"A bad omen!" he exclaimed. "Here I am at once without a shirt, without a hat, and bereft of a precious manuscript containing a most curious and unknown history of the festivals at the Ducal Palace."

I, less disposed to be fierce than I had been when I was climbing, calmly assured him that these two little accidents had nothing so extraordinary about them as that a superstitious spirit should regard them as ominous; that I did not think them so, and that they did not in the least discourage me.

"They should serve you, my good fellow," said I, "as a warning to be prudent and wise, and to suggest to you that God certainly protects us; for if your hat, instead of tumbling to the right, had slipped off to the left, we should have been lost. It would have fallen into the courtyard, where the guards must have found it, and it would of course have told them that there must be some one on the roof. We should have been recaptured at once."

After sitting some minutes looking about me, I desired the monk to remain motionless till I should return, and I made my way forward, shuffling along astride on the roof without any difficulty, my bolt in my hand. I spent above an hour going about the roof, examining and observing every corner, but in vain; nowhere did I see anything to which I could attach a cord.[Pg 3328] I was in the greatest perplexity. I could not for a moment think of the canal, nor of the palace courtyard, and among the many cupolas of the church I saw nothing but precipitous walls leading to no open space. To get beyond the church to the Canonica I should have had to surmount such steep slopes that I had no hope of achieving it, and it was natural that I should reject as impossible everything that did not seem feasible. The situation in which I found myself required daring, but absolutely no rashness. It was such a dilemma as I imagine can have no parallel for difficulty in any moral question.

However, I had to come to some conclusion: I must either get away or return to my cell, never probably to leave it again; or again, throw myself into the canal. In this predicament a great deal must be left to chance, and I must begin somewhere. I fixed my eyes on a dormer window on the side towards the canal, and about two-thirds of the way down. It was far enough from the spot we had started from to make me think that the loft it lighted was not connected with the prison I had broken out of. It could light only an attic, inhabited or vacant, over some room in the palace, where, when day should dawn, the doors no doubt would be opened. I was morally certain that the attendants in the palace, even those of the Doge himself, who should happen to see us, would be eager to favor our escape rather than place us in the hands of justice, even if they had recognized us as the greatest of state criminals; so horrible was the inquisition in their eyes.

With this idea I decided on inspecting that window; so, letting myself slip gently down, I soon was astride on the little roof. Then resting my hands on the edge, I stretched my head out and succeeded in seeing and touching a little barred grating, behind which there was a window glazed with small panes set in lead. The window did not trouble me, but the grating, slight as it was, seemed to me an insurmountable difficulty, for without a file I could not get through the bars, and I only had my crowbar. I was checked, and began to lose heart, when a perfectly simple and natural incident revived my spirit....

It was the clock of Saint Mark's at this moment striking midnight which roused my spirit, and by a sudden shock brought me out of the perplexed frame of mind in which I found myself. That clock reminded me that the morning about to dawn was that of All Saints' Day; that consequently of my saint's[Pg 3329] day—if indeed I had a patron saint—and my Jesuit confessor's prophecy recurred to my mind. But I own that what tended most to restore my courage, and really increased my physical powers, was the profaner oracle of my beloved Ariosto:—

"Between the end of October and the beginning of November."

If a great misfortune sometimes makes a small mind devout, it is almost impossible that superstition should not have some share in the matter. The sound of the clock seemed to me a spoken charm which bade me act and promised me success. Lying flat on the roof with my head over the edge, I pushed my bar in above the frame which held the grating, determined to dislodge it bodily. In a quarter of an hour I had succeeded; the grating was in my hands unbroken, and having laid it by the side of the dormer I had no difficulty in breaking in the window, though the blood was flowing from a wound I had made in my left hand.

By the help of my bar I got back to the ridge of the roof in the same way as before, and made my way back to where I had left my companion. I found him desperate and raging; he abused me foully for having left him there so long. He declared he was only waiting for seven to strike to go back to prison.

"What did you think had become of me?"

"I thought you had fallen down some roof or wall."

"And you have no better way of expressing your joy at my return than by abusing me?"

"What have you been doing all this time?"

"Come with me and you will see."

Having gathered up my bundles, I made my way back to the window. When we were just over it I explained to Balbi exactly what I had done, and consulted him as to how we were to get into the loft through the window. The thing was quite easy for one of us; the other could let him down. But I did not see how the second man was to follow him, as there was no way of fixing the rope above the window. By going in and letting myself drop I might break my legs and arms, for I did not know the height of the window above the floor. To this wise argument, spoken with perfect friendliness, the brute replied in these words:—

"Let me down, at any rate, and when I am in there you will have plenty of time to find out how you can follow me."[Pg 3330]

I confess that in my first impulse of indignation I was ready to stab him with my crowbar. A good genius saved me from doing so, and I did not even utter one word of reproach for his selfishness and baseness. On the contrary, I at once unrolled my bundle of rope, and fastening it firmly under his arm-pits I made him lie flat on his face, his feet outwards, and then let him down on to the roof of the dormer. When he was there, I made him go over the edge and into the window as far as his hips, leaving his arms on the sill. I next slipped down to the little roof, as I had done before, lay down on my stomach, and holding the rope firmly, told the monk to let himself go without fear. When he had landed on the floor of the attic he undid the rope, and I, pulling it up, found that the height was above fifty feet. To jump this was too great a risk. As for the monk, now he was safe after nearly two hours of anguish on a roof, where, I must own, his situation was far from comfortable, he called out to me to throw in the ropes and he would take care of them. I, as may be supposed, took good care not to follow this absurd injunction.

Not knowing what to do, and awaiting some inspiration, I clambered once more to the ridge; and my eye falling on a spot near a cupola, which I had not yet examined, I made my way thither. I saw a little terrace or platform covered with lead, close to a large window closed with shutters. There was here a tub full of wet mortar with a trowel, and by the side a ladder, which I thought would be long enough to enable me to get down into the attic where my comrade was. This settled the question. I slipped my rope through the top rung, and dragged this awkward load as far as the window. I then had to get the clumsy mass into the window; it was above twelve yards long. The difficulty I had in doing it made me repent of having deprived myself of Balbi's assistance. I pushed the ladder along till one end was on the level of the dormer and the other projected by a third beyond the gutter. Then I slid down on to the dormer roof; I drew the ladder close to my side and fastened the rope to the eighth rung, after which I again allowed it to slip till it was parallel with the window. Then I did all I could to make it slip into the window, but I could not get it beyond the fifth rung because the end caught against the inner roof of the dormer, and no power on earth could get it any further without breaking either the ladder or the roof. There[Pg 3331] was nothing for it but to tilt the outer end; then the slope would allow it to slide in by its own weight. I might have placed the ladder across the window and have fastened the rope to it to let myself down, without any risk; but the ladder would have remained there, and next morning would have guided the archers and Lorenzo to the spot where we might still be hiding.

I would not run the risk of losing by such an act of imprudence the fruit of so much labor and peril, and to conceal all our traces the ladder must be got entirely into the window. Having no one to help me, I decided on getting down to the gutter to tilt it, and attain my end. This in fact I did, but at so great a risk that but for a sort of miracle I should have paid for my daring with my life. I ventured to let go of the cord that was attached to the ladder without any fear of its falling into the canal, because it was caught on the gutter by the third rung. Then, with my crowbar in my hand, I cautiously let myself slide down to the gutter by the side of the ladder; the marble ledge was against my toes, for I let myself down with my face to the roof. In this attitude I found strength enough to lift the ladder a few inches, and I had the satisfaction of seeing it go a foot further in. As the reader will understand, this diminished its weight very perceptibly. What I now wanted was to get it two feet further in, by lifting it enough; for after that I felt sure that by climbing up to the roof of the dormer once more, I could, with the help of the rope, get it all the way in. To achieve this I raised myself from my knees; but the force I was obliged to use to succeed made me slip, so that I suddenly found myself over the edge of the roof as far as my chest, supported only by my elbows.

It was an awful moment, which to this day I shudder to think of, and which it is perhaps impossible to conceive of in all its horror. The natural instinct of self-preservation made me almost unconsciously lean with all my weight, supporting myself on my ribs, and I succeeded—miraculously, I felt inclined to say. Taking care not to relax my hold, I managed to raise myself with all the strength of my wrists, leaning at the same time on my stomach. Happily there was nothing to fear for the ladder, for the lucky—or rather the unlucky—push which had cost me so dear, had sent it in more than three feet, which fixed it firmly. Finding myself resting on the gutter literally[Pg 3332] on my wrists and my groin, I found that by moving my right side I could raise first one knee and then the other on to the parapet. Then I should be safe.

However, my troubles were not yet over, for the strain I was obliged to exert in order to succeed gave me such a nervous spasm that a violent attack of painful cramp seemed to cripple me completely. I did not lose my head, and remained perfectly still till the spasm was over, knowing that perfect stillness is the best cure for nervous cramps—I had often found it so. It was a frightful moment. A few minutes after, I gradually renewed my efforts. I succeeded in getting my knees against the gutter, and as soon as I had recovered my breath I carefully raised the ladder, and at last got it to the angle where it was parallel with the window. Knowing enough of the laws of equilibrium and the lever, I now picked up my crowbar; and climbing in my old fashion, I hauled myself up to the roof and easily succeeded in tilting in the ladder, which the monk below received in his arms. I then flung in my clothes, the ropes and the broken pieces, and got down into the attic, where Balbi received me very heartily and took care to remove the ladder.

Arm in arm, we surveyed the dark room in which we found ourselves; it was thirty paces long by about twenty wide. At one end we felt a double door formed of iron bars. This was unpromising, but laying my hand on the latch in the middle it yielded to the pressure, and the door opened. We first felt our way round this fresh room, and then, trying to cross it, ran up against a table with arm-chairs and stools around it. We returned to the side where we had felt windows, and having opened one, by the dim starlight we could see nothing but steep roofs between domes. I did not for an instant think of escaping by the window; I must know where I was going, and I did not recognize the spot where we were. So I closed the window, and we went back to the first room, where we had left our baggage. Quite worn out, I let myself drop on to the floor, and putting a bundle of rope under my head, utterly bereft of all power of body or of mind, I fell into a sweet sleep. I gave myself up to it so passively, that even if I had known that death must be the end of it I could not have resisted it; and I remember distinctly that the pleasure of that sleep was perfectly delicious.

[Pg 3333]




artolomeo de las Casas, the Apostle of the Indians, was one of the first to protest by speech and pen against the hideous cruelties inflicted upon native West Indians by the invading Spaniards; and he left in his writings the record of a bondage compared with which negro slavery was mild. Bartolomeo, the son of Antonio de las Casas, a companion of Columbus on his first voyage of discovery, was born in Seville in 1474. While yet a student at the University of Salamanca he became interested in the natives, through a young Indian whom he owned as slave. He first visited the New World as one of the followers of Columbus in 149-, returning after some years with Nicholas de Ovando, the governor of the Indies. Here his sympathies were fully aroused, as he witnessed the savage treatment of the simple natives and the incessant butcheries and slavery in the mines, which were rapidly depopulating the islands. In 1510 he took holy orders, being probably the first priest ordained in the New World.

Bartolomeo de las Casas Bartolomeo de las Casas

Las Casas at first was himself a slave-owner, willing to enrich himself by the toil of the red men, though from the very beginning [Pg 3334]he sympathized with their sufferings. But a sudden illumination came to him as he was preparing to preach a sermon on the Feast of Pentecost, in 1514, taking for his text the 34th chapter of Ecclesiasticus, verses 18 to 22. He awoke to the iniquity of slavery, set free his own Indians, and for forty years thereafter devoted himself heart and soul to the interests of the red men. It was at times a bitter task and made him many enemies among the invaders, who thought themselves curtailed in their natural rights as the superior race. Happily for his cause, Las Casas had powerful friends in Spain, chief among whom was the Emperor Charles V. The good priest crossed the ocean a dozen times to see that monarch on Indian affairs, following him even into Germany and Austria. Finally in 1547, when past his seventieth year, he settled down in Valladolid, in Spain, but still wrote and talked in behalf of the oppressed race. While on an errand for them to Madrid in 1566, he died at the ripe age of ninety-two, with bodily faculties unimpaired.

The earliest work of Las Casas, 'A Very Short Account of the Ruin of the Indies,' written in 1542, first disclosed to Europe the cruelties practiced beyond the sea. It was frequently reprinted, and made a great impression. Other short treatises followed, equally powerful and effective. They were collected in 1552 and translated into several languages. His chief work however is a 'General History of the Indies,' from 1492 to 1520, begun by him in 1527, unfinished in 1561. He ordered that no portion should be printed until forty years after his death, but it remained in manuscript for three hundred years, being published at Madrid in 1875. It has been called the corner-stone of the history of the American continent. Las Casas possessed important documents, among them the papers of Columbus, now lost. In his long life, moreover, he knew many of the early discoverers and many statesmen, as Columbus, Cortes, Ximenes, Pizarro, Gattinora, and he was the contemporary of three sovereigns interested in the West Indies,—King Ferdinand the Catholic, the Emperor Charles V., and King Philip II. of Spain.

Las Casas is sometimes taxed with having brought negro slavery into America. In his profound compassion for the Indians he maintained that the negroes were better fitted for slave labor than the more delicate natives. But the Portuguese had imported African slaves into the colonies long before Las Casas suggested it, while he in time renounced his error, and frankly confesses it in his history.

He was a large-hearted, large-brained man, unprejudiced in an age of bigotry; of unwearied industry and remarkable powers of physical endurance that enabled him to live a life of many-sided activities, as priest and missionary, colonist, man of business, and man of letters. As a historian he was a keen observer of men and of nature, and [Pg 3335]chronicled with great exactness the social and physical conditions of the countries he traversed. His merits are summed up in the following words by John Fiske, in his 'Discovery of America':—

"He was one of the best historians of his time, and wrote a most attractive Spanish style, quaint, pithy, and nervous,—a style which goes straight to the mark and rings like true metal. I do not mean to be understood as calling it a literary style. It is not graceful like that of great masters of expression such as Pascal or Voltaire. It is not seldom cumbrous and awkward, usually through trying to say too much at once. But in spite of this it is far more attractive than many a truly artistic literary style. There is a great charm in reading what comes from a man brimful of knowledge and utterly unselfish and honest. The crisp shrewdness, the gleams of gentle humor and occasional sharp flashes of wit, and the fervid earnestness, in the books of Las Casas, combine to make them very delightful. It was the unfailing sense of humor, which is so often wanting in reformers, that kept Las Casas from developing into a fanatic.... In contemplating such a life as that of Las Casas, all words of eulogy seem weak and frivolous. The historian can only bow in reverent awe before a figure which is in some respects the most beautiful and sublime in the annals of Christianity since the Apostolic age. When now and then in the course of the centuries God's providence brings such a life into this world, the memory of it must be cherished by mankind as one of its most precious and sacred possessions. For the thoughts, the words, the deeds of such men there is no death; the sphere of their influence goes on widening forever. They bud, they blossom, they bear fruit, from age to age."


From 'A Relation of the First Voyage'

The Spaniards passed, in the year 1511, into the Island of Cuba, which contains as much ground in length as from Valladolid to Rome. There were formerly fine and flourishing provinces to be seen, filled with vast numbers of people, who met with no milder or kinder treatment from the Spaniards than the rest. On the contrary, they seemed to have redoubled their cruelty upon those people. There happened divers things in this island that deserve to be remarked. A rich and potent Cacique named Hatbuey was retired to the Island of Cuba to avoid that slavery and death with which the Spaniards menaced him; and being informed that his persecutors were upon the point of landing in this island, he assembled all his subjects and domestics together, and made a speech to 'em after this manner:—"You know," said he, "the report that is spread abroad[Pg 3336] that the Spaniards are ready to invade this island; and you are not ignorant of the ill usage our friends and countrymen have met with at their hands, and the cruelties they have committed at Hayei." (So Hispaniola is called in their language.) "They are now coming hither with a design to exercise the same outrages and persecutions upon us. Are you ignorant," says he, "of the ill intentions of the people of whom I am speaking?" "We know not," say they all with one voice, "upon what account they come hither, but we know they are a very wicked and cruel people." "I'll tell you then," replied the Cacique, "that these Europeans worship a very covetous sort of god, so that 'tis difficult to satisfy him; and to perform the worship they render to this idol, they'll exact immense treasures of us, and will use their utmost endeavor to reduce us to a miserable state of slavery, or else to put us to death." Upon which he took a box full of gold and valuable jewels which he had with him; and exposing it to their view,—"Here is," says he, "the god of the Spaniards, whom we must honor with our sports and dances, to see if we can appease him, and render him propitious to us, that so he may command the Spaniards not to offer us any injury." They all applauded this speech, and fell a-leaping and dancing round the box, till they had quite tired and spent themselves. After which the Cacique Hatbuey, resuming his discourse, continued to speak to them in these terms: "If we keep this God," says he, "till he's taken away from us, he'll certainly cause our lives to be taken from us; and therefore I am of the opinion 'twill be the best way to cast him into the river." They all approved of this advice, and went all together with one accord to throw this pretended god into the river.

The Spaniards were no sooner arrived in the Isle of Cuba but this Cacique, who knew 'em too well, began to think of retreating to secure himself from their fury, and resolved to defend himself by force of arms if he should happen to meet with them; but he unfortunately fell into their hands; and because he had taken all the precautions he could to avoid the persecutions of so cruel and impious a people, and had taken arms to defend his own life, as well as the lives of his subjects, this was made a capital crime in him, for he was burned alive. While he was in the midst of the flames, tied to a stake, a certain Franciscan friar of great piety and virtue took upon him to speak to him of God and our religion, and to explain to him some articles of the[Pg 3337] Catholic faith, of which he had never heard a word before; promising him eternal life if he would believe, and threatening him with eternal torment if he continued obstinate in his infidelity. Hatbuey, reflecting on the matter as much as the place and condition in which he was would permit, asked the friar that instructed him whether the gate of heaven was opened to the Spaniards; and being answered that such of them as were good men might hope for entrance there, the Cacique without any further deliberation told him he had no mind to go to heaven, for fear of meeting with such cruel and wicked company as they were; but would much rather choose to go to hell, where he might be delivered from the troublesome sight of such kind of people: to so great a degree have the wicked actions and cruelties of the Spaniards dishonored God and his religion in the minds of the Americans.

One day there came to us a great number of the inhabitants of a famous city, situate about ten leagues from the place where we lodged, to compliment us and bring us all sort of provisions and refreshments, which they presented us with great marks of joy, caressing us after the most obliging manner they could. But that evil spirit that possessed the Spaniards put 'em into such a sudden fury against 'em, that they fell upon 'em and massacred above three thousand of 'em, both men and women, upon the spot, without having received the least offense and provocation from 'em. I was an eye-witness of this barbarity: and whatever endeavors were used to appease these inhuman creatures, 'twas impossible to reduce 'em to reason; so resolutely were they bent to satiate their brutal rage by this barbarous action.

Soon after this I sent messengers to the most noted Indians of the Province of Havane, to encourage and engage 'em to continue in their country, and not to trouble themselves to seek remote places to hide in; and advised 'em to come to us with assurance of our protection. They knew well enough what authority I had over the Spaniards, and I gave 'em my word no injury should be offered 'em: for the past cruelties and massacres their countrymen had suffered, had spread fear and terror through all the country; and this assurance I gave 'em was with the consent and advice of the captains and the officers. When we entered into this province, two-and-twenty of their chiefs came to us, and the very next morning the commander of our troops,[Pg 3338] without any regard to the promise that had been made 'em, would needs sentence 'em to be burnt, pretending 'twas best to put these people to death, because they might one time or other use some stratagem to surprise and destroy us: and I had all the difficulty in the world to prevent 'em from throwing 'em into the fire.

The Indians of Havane, seeing themselves reduced to a state of severe slavery, and that there was no remedy left, but they were irrecoverably undone, began to take refuge in the deserts and mountains to secure themselves if possible from death; some strangled themselves in despair. Parents hanged themselves together with their children, to put the speedier end to their misery by death. Above two hundred Indians perished here after this manner to avoid the cruelty of the Spaniards, and abundance of them afterwards voluntarily condemned themselves to this kind of death, hoping thus in a moment to put a period to the miseries their persecutors inflicted on 'em.

A certain Spaniard, who had the title of Sovereign in this island and had three hundred Indians in his service, destroyed a hundred and sixty of them in less than three months by the excessive labor he continually exacted of them. The recruits he took to fill up their places were destroyed after the same manner; and he would in a short time have unpeopled the whole island if death, which took him out of the way, very happily for those poor wretches, had not sheltered 'em from his cruelties. I saw with my own eyes above six thousand children die in the space of three or four months, their parents being forced to abandon 'em, being condemned to the mines. After this the Spaniards took up a resolution to pursue those Indians that were retired into the mountains, and massacred multitudes of 'em; so that this island was depopulated and laid waste in a very little time. And it is a most lamentable spectacle to see so fine a country thus miserably ruined and unpeopled.

[Pg 3339]




he interest to be found in the literary work of "il conte Baldassare Castiglione"—in the one prose volume he wrote, 'Il Cortegiano' (The Courtier)—arises not only from the historical value it now has, but from its representing the charming character of a gentleman. And it does this not merely by intentionally describing the ideal gentleman of the fifteenth century, but by unconsciously revealing the character of its author. Castiglione was himself distinctively a gentleman. Without eminent abilities or position, his life unmarked by any remarkable deeds or any striking events, he yet deserves remembrance as making vivid to us those admirable qualities and conditions which are the result, in individuals, of the long moral and intellectual cultivation of a large group of men and women.

Castiglione Castiglione

He was one of the group that made famous the court of Urbino, not at the time of its greatest glory under Duke Frederic II., but just afterward, when the duchy was ruled by Frederic's son Guidobaldo—an estimable invalid—and the court was presided over by Guidobaldo's wife, the much beloved and admired Duchess Elisabetta, one of the great Gonzaga family. Castiglione's own sketch of this court (see translation below) renders any other delineation of it supererogatory; but his silence regarding himself personally makes it necessary to gather knowledge of his life from other sources. His person is made known to us by Raffael's interesting portrait of him, now in the Louvre, painted in 1515. It is a portrait by a friend. Raffael was only five years younger than Castiglione, and their affectionate relations were of long standing.

Castiglione was the son of a valorous soldier who fought by the side of the Marquis Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua, but his early youth was spent not at Mantua but at Milan, where he received from famous scholars—Demetrio Calcondile and his peers—a brilliant classical education, rather than the training one would look for in his father's son. His father's death in 1494 obliged him, in those troublous times, [Pg 3340]to seek a protector. As his mother was distantly connected with his father's friends, the rulers of Mantua, it was to them that his eyes turned, and in 1499 he was one of the suite of the Marquis on the occasion of the triumphal entrance of Louis XII. of France into Milan after his conquest in three weeks of the duchy; a triumph followed by the hideous ten-years' "caging" of Lodovico il Moro, Milan's duke.

Such spectacles as this triumph and this imprisonment, which the boy of twenty-one now beheld, were to be familiar to him all his life. The king-like pope Alexander VI. and his son Cæsar Borgia, the warrior Julius II., the Medici Leo X., the soon-dead Adrian VI., and the irresolute Clement VII., successively ruled in Rome, or rather dwelt in Rome, the Cloaca Maxima of Italy, whose pollution sapped the strength of all the land. The sack of Rome in 1527 was among the last of the long series of Italian woes Castiglione witnessed. He was not in Italy at that moment. The last five years of his life were spent at Madrid as papal nuncio at the court of Charles V. He went thither on the eve of the battle of Pavia, and the imprisonment there of Francis I. soon followed; an imprisonment that seems a terrible echo of that of the enemy of France a quarter of a century before.

'Il Cortegiano' was written in the intervals of military and diplomatic services, rendered first to Guidobaldo of Urbino and later to Frederic of Mantua, the son of Francesco. The book was begun probably about 1514; it received the last touches in 1524, but it was not published until 1528.

The dialogues that compose the book are feigned to have occurred in the winter of 1506-7. At that time the author was in England, an envoy from the Duke of Urbino to Henry VII., sent as the Duke's proxy to be installed as Companion of the Garter. He carried with him splendid gifts for the King, fine falcons, beautiful horses, and a picture by Raffael—St. George and the Dragon, in which St. George wears "the Garter."

Castiglione's public labors had made him well known, when between him and his high-born friends there was talk of his marriage with a daughter of the house of Medici; but political influences caused her to be given by preference to a Strozzi. Had this alliance been formed, Castiglione would have found himself, in later years, the nephew of two popes and the uncle of a queen of France. But better luck was in keeping for him. In 1516 he had the singular good fortune to make a marriage of tender affection; but his wife died only four years later: from that time his chief pleasure was in the society of his friends.

They numbered all the most distinguished Italians of his day; men whose intellectual powers found artistic expression alike in [Pg 3341]words, or the painter's canvas, or the sculptor's marble, or the architect's stone: and it is the reflection of this wide and varied companionship that gives charm and also weight to the pages of 'Il Cortegiano.' A more delicate delightfulness comes from the tone of liberal refinement with which the impression is conveyed of singularly ennobling intercourse with women.

Castiglione was the contemporary and the friend of the famous Marchioness of Pescara, Vittoria Colonna; of the brilliant Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, whose daughter, the beautiful Duchess of Urbino, is immortalized by Titian's many portraits of her, both as she was in youth and in age, and also as in youth he saw her idealized. This Duchess of Urbino was the niece of Castiglione's own Duchess Elisabetta; and by marriage with the nephew of Guidobaldo she became the successor of Elisabetta. These great ladies were involved by family ties in all the stirring events of their times. Isabella d'Este was the aunt of Constable Bourbon and the sister-in-law of Lucrezia Borgia. Vittoria Colonna's husband was the cousin of the famous Alfonso d'Avalos (Marquis del Vasto) of Spain: and in the entangled interests of these personages and of the rulers of Urbino, Castiglione was constantly concerned and occupied.

His counsels were also sought by Giuliano de' Medici—styled, like his father, "Il Magnifico"—sitting now, ever, in helpless dignity on his San Lorenzo tomb, "mentre che il danno e la vergogna dura"; and by the unfortunate Doge of Genoa, Ottaviano Fregoso; or by the participants in the learned discussions carried on by Cardinal Bembo, with whom he made a gay excursion to Tivoli in 1516, in company with Raffael and the illustrious Venetian Andrea Navigero and his friend Agostino Beazzano, whose portraits on the same canvas are one of Raffael's masterpieces. Another ecclesiastical friend was Cardinal Bibbiena, who appears nowhere to more advantage than in a letter to the Marchioness of Mantua, describing Castiglione's grief, and that of his friends, at the news that the Marchioness herself had sent them of the death of Castiglione's wife. The same year the Cardinal himself died. It was the year of Raffael's death also, and Castiglione felt himself greatly bereft. The Italian Bishop of Bayeux, Ludovico Canossa,—papal nuncio in France and French ambassador at Venice,—was a cousin of Castiglione's mother and in constant relations with the son; and it is to him that in what may be called the "drama" of 'Il Cortegiano' is gayly assigned the task of making the first sketch of "the perfect courtier".

From such social relations came Castiglione's wide familiarity and sound judgment respecting the various worlds of men, of women, and of art. The higher qualities his book gives evidence of—the love of simplicity, purity, sincerity, serenity, kindness, courtesy, [Pg 3342]moderation, modesty, the appreciation of what is graceful, gay, delicate,—these qualities were truly his own: we know not whence he derived them.

Something should be said of the style in which the book is written. Its author tells us that one of the principal criticisms made upon it while it circulated for many years in manuscript, was that its language was not the language of Boccaccio, who was then accepted as the model for Italian prose-writers. Castiglione did not bind himself to the manner of the Tuscan speech. He was of Lombard birth and habit, and he chose—in the faith of which Montaigne is the great defender—the words, the phrases, the constructions that best fitted his thought, no matter whence he gathered them, if only they were familiar and expressive. He thus gained the force of freedom and the grace of variety, while the customary elegance and the habitual long-windedness of all Italian writers molds his sentences and makes them difficult of translation.

There have been few translations made of his book; none (published) as yet, of any literary value; and Castiglione has not been much known out of Italy. One of the few mentions of him in English literature is to be found in Donne, Satire v., and it touches on a characteristic page of his book, for it notes:—

"He which did lay
Rules to make courtiers (he, being understood,
May make good courtiers, but who courtiers good?)
Frees from the sting of jests all who in extreme
Are wretched or wicked."

In his own country Castiglione's fame has always been considerable. Ariosto—to whose brother Alfonso, "Messer Alfonso carissimo," the four books of 'Il Cortegiano' are dedicated and at whose desire it was written—Ariosto in his great poem speaks of Castiglione more than once; but a passage in Tasso's dialogue 'Della Corte' does him fit honor:—"I do not deem that Castiglione wrote for the men of his own day only:... the beauty of his writings deserves that in all ages they should be read and praised; and as long as courts shall endure, as long as princes, ladies, and noble gentlemen shall meet together, as long as valor and courtesy shall abide in our hearts, the name of Castiglione will be valued."

[Pg 3343]


From 'Il Cortegiano'

On the slopes of the Apennines, towards the Adriatic Sea, almost in the centre of Italy, there lies (as every one knows) the little city of Urbino. Although surrounded by mountains, and rougher ones than perhaps some others that we see in many places, it has yet enjoyed such favor of heaven that the country round about is very fertile and rich in crops; so that besides the salubrity of the air, there is great abundance of everything needful for human life. But among the greatest blessings that can be attributed to it, this I think to be the chief, that for a long time it has ever been ruled by the best of lords; insomuch that in the universal calamities of the wars of Italy, it still for a space remained exempt. But without seeking further, we can give good proof of this in the glorious memory of the Duke Federigo, who in his day was the light of Italy; nor is there lack of credible and abundant witnesses, who are still living, to his prudence, humanity, justice, liberality, unconquered courage, and military discipline; which are conspicuously attested by his numerous victories, his capture of impregnable places, the sudden swiftness of his expeditions, the frequency with which he put to flight large and formidable armies by means of a very small force, and by his loss of no single battle whatever; so that we may not unreasonably compare him to many famous ancients.

Among his other praiseworthy deeds, the Duke Federigo built on the rugged site of Urbino a palace, regarded by many as the most beautiful to be found in all Italy: and he so well furnished it with every suitable thing, that it seemed not a palace but a city in the form of a palace; and not merely with what is ordinarily used,—such as silver vases, hangings of richest cloth of gold and silk, and other similar things,—but for ornament he added an infinity of antique statues in marble and bronze, pictures most choice, and musical instruments of every sort; nor would he admit anything there that was not very rare and excellent. Then at very large cost he collected a great number of most excellent and rare books in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, all of which he adorned with gold and with silver, esteeming this to be the supreme excellence of his great palace.[Pg 3344]

Following at last the course of nature, and already sixty-five years old, he died as he had lived, gloriously; and he left as his successor a little motherless boy of ten years, his only son Guidobaldo. Heir to his father's state, he seemed to be heir also to all his father's virtues, and soon his noble nature gave such promise as seemed not to be hoped for from mortal man; so that men esteemed none among the extraordinary deeds of the Duke Federigo to be greater than to have begotten such a son. But envious of so much virtue, fortune thwarted this glorious beginning with all her might; so that before Duke Guido reached the age of twenty years he fell ill of the gout, which grew upon him with grievous pain, and in a short space of time so crippled all his limbs that he could neither stand upon his feet nor move; and thus one of the most beautiful and active forms in the world was disfigured and spoiled in tender youth.

And not yet content with this, fortune was so adverse to him in all his plans that he could seldom carry to a conclusion anything that he desired; and although he was most wise of counsel and unconquered in spirit, it seemed that what he undertook, both in war and in everything else, whether small or great, always ended ill for him: and proof of this is given in his many and diverse calamities, which he ever bore with such strength of mind that his spirit was never vanquished by fortune; nay, scorning her assaults with unbroken courage, he lived in weakness as though strong, and in adversity as though fortunate, with perfect dignity and universal esteem, so that although he was thus infirm of body, he fought with most honorable rank in the service of their Serene Highnesses the Kings of Naples, Alfonso and Fernando the Younger; later with Pope Alexander VI., and with the Venetian and Florentine nobles.

After the accession of Julius II. to the Pontificate, he was made Captain of the Church; at which time, following his accustomed style, above all else he took care to fill his household with very noble and valiant gentlemen, with whom he lived most familiarly, delighting in their conversation; wherein the pleasure he gave to others was not less than that he received from others, he being well versed in both the learned languages, and uniting affability and agreeableness to a knowledge of things without number; and besides this, the greatness of his spirit so animated him that although he could not practice in person the exercises of horsemanship, as he once had done, yet he took the utmost[Pg 3345] pleasure in seeing them in others; and by his words, now correcting, now praising each according to desert, he clearly showed how much judgment he had in those matters; wherefore in jousts and tournaments, in riding, in the handling of every sort of weapon, as well as in pastimes, games, and music,—in short, in all the exercises proper to noble gentlemen,—every one strove so to carry himself as to merit being deemed worthy of such noble fellowship.

All the hours of the day were assigned to honorable and pleasant exercises, as well for the body as for the mind; but since my lord Duke was always wont by reason of his infirmity to retire to sleep very early after supper, every one usually betook himself at that hour to the presence of my lady Duchess, Elisabetta Gonzaga; where also was ever to be found my lady Emilia Pia, who was endowed with such lively wit and sound judgment that, as you know, she seemed the mistress of us all, and that every one gained wisdom and worth from her. Here, then, gentle discussions and innocent pleasantries were heard, and on the face of every one a jocund gayety was seen depicted, so that the house could truly be called the very abode of mirth: nor ever elsewhere, I think, was so relished, as once was here, how great may be the sweetness of dear and cherished companionship; for apart from the honor it was to each of us to serve such a lord as he of whom I have just spoken, there was born in the hearts of all a supreme contentment every time we came into the presence of my lady Duchess; and it seemed as though this contentment were a chain that held us all united in love, so that never was concord of will or cordial love between brothers greater than that which here was between us all.

The same was it among the ladies, with whom there was intercourse most free and honorable; for every one was permitted to talk, sit, jest, and laugh with whom he pleased; but such was the reverence paid to the wish of my lady Duchess, that this same liberty was a very great check; nor was there any one who did not esteem it the utmost pleasure he could have in the world to please her, and the utmost pain to displease her. And thus most decorous manners were here joined with the greatest liberty, and games and laughter in her presence were seasoned not only with keenest wit, but with gracious and sober dignity; for that purity and loftiness which governed all the acts, words, and gestures of my lady Duchess, bantering and[Pg 3346] laughing, were such that she would have been known for a lady of noblest rank by any one who saw her even but once. And impressing herself thus upon those about her, she seemed to attune us all to her own quality and pitch: accordingly each strove to follow this example, taking as it were a pattern of beautiful behavior from the bearing of so great and virtuous a lady; whose highest qualities I do not now purpose to recount, they not being my theme and being well known to all the world, and far more because I could not express them with either tongue or pen; and those that perhaps might have been somewhat hid, fortune, as though wondering at such rare virtue, chose to reveal through many adversities and stings of calamity; so as to give proof that in the tender breast of a woman, in company with singular beauty, there may abide prudence and strength of soul and all those virtues that even among stern men are very rare.

But continuing, I say that the custom of all the gentlemen of the household was to betake themselves straightway after supper to my lady Duchess; where, among the other pleasant pastimes and music and dancing that continually were practiced, sometimes entertaining questions were proposed, sometimes ingenious games were devised with one or another as arbiter, in which under various disguises the company disclosed their thoughts figuratively to whomsoever pleased them best. Sometimes other discussions arose about different matters, or biting retorts passed lightly back and forth; often imprese, as we now call them, were displayed. And in these verbal contests there was wonderful diversion, the household being (as I have said) full of very noble talents; among whom (as you know) the most famous were my lord Ottaviano Fregoso, his brother Messer Federigo, the Magnifico Giuliano de' Medici, Messer Pietro Bembo, Messer Cesare Gonzaga, the Count Ludovico da Canossa, my lord Gaspar Pallavicino, my lord Ludovico Pio, my lord Morello da Ortona, Pietro da Napoli, Messer Roberto da Bari, and countless other very noble gentlemen. Moreover there were many who, though usually they did not remain there constantly, yet spent most of the time there; like Messer Bernardo Bibbiena, the Unico Aretino, Joan Cristoforo Romano, Pietro Monte, Terpandro, Messer Nicolo Frisio; so that there always flocked thither poets, musicians, and all kinds of agreeable men, and the most eminent in ability that were to be found in Italy.

[Pg 3347]


(234-149 B.C.)


or many reasons, Cato "the Censor" can hardly be wholly ignored in any adequate general view of literature. If we look to the chance of survival as a test of vitality, his practical and juiceless book on Agriculture is the oldest volume of Latin prose extant; though we can hardly speak of it as still existing in the form given it by Cato. It appears to have been cruelly "modernized" in outward form about the time of Augustus. Again, the sturdy old supporter of Roman simplicity was the first Italian to publish a collection of orations. A hundred and fifty speeches were known to Cicero. Fragments of eighty still survive; though in many cases they are represented merely by citations given incidentally by some late grammarian, to prove the existence of some rare word or antiquated form. Again, the 'Origines' of Cato would not only have afforded us, if preserved, welcome light upon the beginnings of Rome and many other Italian cities, but a political and military history, brought down to Cato's own day, and especially valuable for its fearless treatment of recent events. Indeed, his own actual speeches were taken up into the history, and one of them, as partly preserved by Aulus Gellius, furnishes the best example we have of the straightforward unadorned oratory of early Rome. There is reason to believe, even, that Cato left what we may fairly call an encyclopædia,—dedicated to, and compiled for, his son. At any rate, he wrote largely—not to mention works already alluded to—on eloquence, medicine, the military art, etc.

Yet it must be confessed that Cato illustrates, as strikingly as any figure that could be selected, how little at home the true literary artist would have found himself in early Latium, if a perverse fate had made it possible for him to be born there, or to stray thither, at all. Even his figure and face were repellent enough to stand between Socrates and Samuel Johnson, as the most familiar ugly old men upon the stage of the world's life.

"Porcius, fiery-haired, gray-eyed, and snarling at all men,—"

says the unforgiving satirist, is unwelcome even when dead, to Persephone in Hades! No authentic portrait-statue of him exists. Indeed these Roman busts and figures, especially in the earlier time, were the work of Greek artists, and the likelihood of his giving a sitting to one of that race is exceedingly small.

[Pg 3348]

The only work of Cato's which from its title might seem to have had a poetic form was the 'Carmen de Moribus.' It seems to have been a eulogy upon old Roman simplicity. Not only are the extant fragments in prosaic prose, but the most famous of them declares, with evident regret over his own gentler days of degeneracy: "Their custom was to be dressed in public respectably, at home so much as was needful. They paid more for horses than for cooks. The poet's art was in no honor. If a man was devoted to it, or applied himself to conviviality, he was called a vagabond!"

Indeed, Cato's activity in literature probably had for its chief end and aim to resist the incoming tide of Greek philosophy and of refinement generally; he is the very type of Horace's "laudator temporis acti," "the eulogist of a bygone time": that crude heroic time when Dentatus, hero of three triumphs, ate boiled turnips in his chimney-corner, and had no use for Macedonian gold.

Whether there was any important mass of ballads or other purely national Roman or Latin literature in that elder day has been much debated. The general voice of scholars is against Niebuhr and Macaulay. There is every indication that the practical, unimaginative Latin plowmen and spearsmen received the very alphabet of every art from vanquished Hellas. Much of this same debate has turned on a fragment from Cato. Cicero reports:—"In his 'Origines' Cato said that it had been a custom of the forefathers, for those who reclined at banquet to sing to the flute the praises and merits of illustrious heroes." The combination of conviviality and song in this passage tempts us to connect it with the scornful words from Cato's own 'Carmen,' already cited! Cato was half right, no doubt. The simple charm and vigor of rustic Latium were threatened; Greek vice and Oriental luxury were dangerous gifts: but his resistance was as hopeless as Canute's protest to the encroaching waves. That this resistance was offered even to the great Greek literature itself, is unquestionable.

"I will speak of those Greeks in a suitable place, son Marcus, telling what I learned at Athens, and what benefit it is to look into their books,—not to master them. I shall prove them a most worthless and unteachable (!) race. Believe that this is uttered by a prophet: whenever that folk imparts its literature, it will corrupt everything."

The harsh, narrow, intolerant nature of Cato is as remote as could well be from the scholarly or literary temper. Even his respectful biographer Plutarch bursts out with indignant protest against the thrifty advice to sell off slaves who had grown old in service. Indeed, most of Cato's sayings remind us of some canny old Scot, or—it may be politer to say—of a hard-headed Yankee farmer, living out the precepts of Poor Richard's philosophy.

[Pg 3349]

"Grip the subject: words will follow," is his chief contribution to rhetoric. Another has, it must be confessed, more of Quintilian's flavor: "An orator, son Marcus, is a good man skilled in speaking." He is most at home however upon his farm, preaching such familiar economies as "Buy not what you need, but what you must have: what you do not need is dear at a penny." The nearest approach to wit is but a sarcastic consciousness of human weakness, like the maxim "Praise large farms, but till a small one"; the form of which, by the way, is strikingly like the advice given long before by a kindred spirit, the Ascræan farmer Hesiod:—

"Praise thou a little vessel, and store thy freight in a large one!"

Even the kindness of Cato has a bitter flavor peculiarly Roman. When the great Greek historian Polybius and his fellow exiles were finally permitted to return to their native land, Cato turned the scale toward mercy in the Senate with the haughty words, "As though we had nothing to do, we sit here discussing whether some old Greeks shall be carried to their graves here or in Achaia!" There was a touch of real humor, and perhaps of real culture too, in his retort when Polybius asked in addition for the restoration of civic honors held in Greece seventeen years agone. "Polybius," he said, with a smile, "wishes to venture again into the Cyclops's cave, because he forgot his cap and belt." A few touches like this permit us to like, as well as to admire, this grim and harsh pattern of old simplicity.

Whether "Cato learned Greek at eighty" as a grudging concession to the spirit of the age, or to obtain weapons from the foe's own armory wherewith to combat his influence, we need not argue. Indeed, it is nearly certain that any special study at that time could have been only a revival of "what he learned at Athens" many years earlier.

It is however a supreme touch of irony in Cato's fate, that he rendered, doubtless unconsciously, a greater service to Hellenistic culture in Rome than did even his illustrious younger contemporary Scipio Æmilianus, the patron of Terence and the generous friend of Polybius; for it was our Cato who brought in his train from Sardinia the gallant young soldier afterward known as the poet Ennius,—the creator of the Latin hexameter, of the artistic Roman epic, and in general the man who more than any other made Greek poetry, and even Greek philosophy, well known and respected among all educated Romans.

Cato is chiefly known to us through Plutarch, whose sketch shows the tolerance of that beloved writer toward the savage enemy of Hellenism. The charming central figure of Cicero's dialogue on 'Old [Pg 3350]Age' takes little save his name from the bitter, crabbed octogenarian, who was still adding to his vote on any and all subjects, "Moreover, Senators, Carthage must be wiped out." All the world admires stubborn courage, especially in a hopeless cause. We, the most radical and democratic of peoples, especially admire the despairing stand of a belated conservative. The peculiar virtues of the stock were repeated no less strikingly in the great-grandson, Cato of Utica, and make their name a synonym forevermore of unbending stoicism. The phrase applied by a later Roman poet to Cato of Utica may perhaps be quoted no less fittingly as the epitaph of his ancestor:—

"The gods preferred the victor's cause, but Cato the vanquished;"

for in spite of him, the Latin literature which has come down to us may be most truly characterized as "the bridge over which Hellenism reaches the modern world."


From 'De Agricultura.'

[The following extract gives a vivid glimpse of the life on a Latian farm. The Roman gentleman may be regarded as an "absentee landlord," giving this advice to his agent. The "family" is, of course, made up of slaves.]

These shall be the bailiff's duties. He shall keep up good discipline. The holidays must be observed. He shall keep his hands from other people's property, and take good care of his own. He shall act as umpire for disputes in the family. If any one is guilty of mischief, he shall exact return in good measure for the harm done. The family is not to suffer, to be cold, to be hungry. He is to keep it busy, as thus he will more easily restrain it from mischief and thieving. If the bailiff does not consent to evil-doing there will be none. If he does allow it, the master must not let it go unpunished. For kindness he is to show gratitude, so that the same one may be glad to do right in other matters. The bailiff must not be a saunterer; he must always be sober; he mustn't go out to dinner. He must keep the family busy; must see to it that the master's commands are carried out. He mustn't think he knows more than the master. The master's friends he must count as his own. He is to pay no attention to any one, unless so bidden. He is not to act as priest except at the Compitalia or at the hearthside. He[Pg 3351] is to give no one credit save at the master's orders. When the master gives credit he must exact payment. Seed-corn, kitchen utensils, barley, wine, oil, he must lend to no one. He may have two or three families from whom he borrows, and to whom he lends, but no more. He must square accounts with his master often. The mechanic, the hireling, the sharpener of tools, he must never keep more than a day. He mustn't buy anything without the master's knowledge, nor hide anything from the master, nor have any hanger-on. He should never consult a soothsayer, prophet, priest, or Chaldean.... He should know how to do every farm task and should do it often, without exhausting himself. If he does this, he will know what is in the minds of the family and they will work more contentedly. Besides, if he works he will have less desire to stroll about, and be healthier, and sleep better. He should be the first to get up and the last to go to bed; should see that the country house is locked up, that each one is sleeping where he belongs, and that the cattle are fed.


[The extract given below, as will be seen, is quoted for the most part not from Cato but from Aulus Gellius. However, the practice of Gellius on other occasions where we are able to compare his text with the original, indicates that he merely modernized Cato's phraseology. In many cases such changes probably make no difference at all in the modern rendering.]

Marcus Cato, in his book of 'Origins,' has recorded an act of Quintus Cædicius, a military tribune, really illustrious, and worthy of being celebrated with the solemnity of Grecian eloquence. It is nearly to this effect:—The Carthaginian general in Sicily, in the first Punic war, advancing to meet the Roman army, first occupied some hills and convenient situations. The Romans, as it happened, got into a spot open to surprise, and very dangerous. The tribune came to the consul, pointing out the danger from the inconvenience of the spot, and the surrounding enemy. "I think," says he, "if you would save us, you must immediately order certain four hundred to advance to yonder wart" (for thus Cato indicated a rugged and elevated place) "and command them to take possession of it; when the enemy shall see this, every one among them that is brave and[Pg 3352] ardent will be intent on attacking and frightening them, and will be occupied by this business alone, and these four hundred men will doubtless all be slain;—you, whilst the enemy shall be engaged in slaughter, will have an opportunity of withdrawing the army from this place: there is no other possible method of escape."

The consul replied that the advice appeared wise and good. "But whom," says he, "shall I find, that will lead these four hundred men to that spot against the battalions of the enemy?"—"If," answered the tribune, "you find no one else, employ me in this dangerous enterprise; I offer my life to you and my country."

The consul thanked and praised him. The tribune, with his four hundred men, advanced to death. The enemy, astonished at their boldness, waited to see where they were going; but when it appeared that they were marching to take possession of the hill, the Carthaginian general sent against them the ablest men of his army, both horse and foot. The Roman soldiers were surrounded, and being surrounded, fought; the contest was long doubtful, but numbers at length prevailed; the four hundred, to a man, were either slain with the sword or buried under missile weapons. The consul, in the interval of the engagement, withdrew his troops to a spot high and secure, but the event which happened to this tribune who commanded the four hundred, I shall subjoin, not in my own but Cato's words: "The immortal gods gave the military tribune a fortune suitable to his valor: for thus it happened, when he was wounded in every other part, his head alone was unhurt, and when they distinguished him amongst the dead, exhausted with wounds, and breathing with difficulty from loss of blood, they bore him off. He recovered, and often afterwards performed bold and eminent services to his country; and this exploit of his detaching these troops preserved the remainder of the army. But the place where the same deed is done, is of great importance. Leonidas of Lacedæmon, whose conduct was the same at Thermopylæ, is extolled; on account of his virtues all Greece celebrated his glory, and raised his name to the highest degree of eminence, testifying their gratitude for his exploit by monuments, trophies, statues, panegyrics, histories, and other similar means. But to this tribune of the people, who did the same thing, and saved his country, small praise has been assigned."

[Pg 3353]




he life of Jacob Cats falls within the golden age of Dutch literature, represented in the north by Hooft, Roemer Visscher, and Joost van den Vondel, and in the south by the Zeeland circle of poets, among whom Cats was undoubtedly the greatest. There have been times when Cats's was the one name among Dutch poets; in homes where no other books were found, one might at least be sure of finding the Bible and "Father Cats." But it is doubtful whether he would be considered great outside of Holland. He is the most prosaic of poets, has limited power of language and a still more limited choice of versification; with these drawbacks he is, however, most characteristically Dutch, partly on account of his practical moral teachings and partly on account of the monotonous tic-tac of his verse. The erection of a monument in his honor in his native city, and the painting of his portrait by Rembrandt in 1635, were therefore well-deserved tributes to a man strangely representative of his nation. Yet, even in Holland, voices have been raised against his popularity. Busken Huet has called him "a miserable character, a personified mediocrity, a vulgar and vulgarizing spirit."

Jacob Cats Jacob Cats

Jacob Cats, the youngest of four children, was born in Brouwershaven on the 10th of November, 1577. His mother died when he was only a few years old, and his father, member of the council in Brouwershaven, soon gave his children a stepmother. Cats praises her "good deeds and good management" in his verses; but it would seem as if her management were not in accordance with what the family considered beneficial to the children. One of the uncles adopted little Jacob, and sent him to the school of Master Dirk Kemp in Zierikzee. Here he met a young boy from Brabant who was cultivating poetry, and their daily comradeship awakened the same tastes in Cats. Master Kemp was a man who, although of good intentions, had not the power to carry them out; Jacob's uncle [Pg 3354]accordingly took him out of school and sent him to the University of Leyden to study law.

From Leyden he went to Orleans, where he took his degree, and then to Paris. When he had been here for some time, his uncle thought it wisest to call him back; and Cats's career dates from his return to The Hague, where he settled as a lawyer. Very soon after he had taken up his practice he succeeded in saving a woman accused of witchcraft, and won the case of a young man who, in defending his father from a murderous attack, had killed the assailant. These cases called attention to Cats; he soon made a name for himself. His activity was then suddenly interrupted by a severe illness. He was forced to leave the damp climate of Holland, and went to England to seek the counsel of Queen Elizabeth's famous physician Butler. The treatment gave him no relief, however; and he did not improve until after his return to Holland, where he met a learned alchemist, to whose skill he ascribed his cure. In 1603 he moved to Middelburg, and began life with new strength. He tells in one of his poems of his meeting in the French church with a young girl, with whom he fell in love at first sight; of his growing affection for her and his intention to marry her; of the report that her father had just lost all his money in a speculation; and he confesses with a most naïve and rather cynic frankness:—

"For her in very truth, with but the least of cause
And with a joyful heart, I'd given up the ghost.—
Look ye, this evil lot that to the father fell
Has in an instant's time my heart of love bereft!"

Immediately after this incident, Cats married Elizabeth van Valkenburg, a rich girl from Antwerpen. Her good sense, faithfulness, and housewifely virtues found a warm expression in the following words:—

"She was a worthy woman,
A foundation for a home, a model of truth."

This period of Cats's life, almost coincident with the twelve-years' armistice ending in 1621, when the war with Spain was resumed, was one of varied activity. Aside from the duties of his practice, he gave much time to the diking of grounds neglected during the war, now in great danger from the sea; and while at his country-place Grijpskerke near Middelburg, where his "flock of children played under the trees," he wrote the poems 'Emblemata of Sinnebeelden' (Emblemata or Emblems); 'Maeghdeplicht' (Maiden Duty), in 1618; 'Selfstryt' (Inward Strife), 1620; 'Toonel der Mannelycke Achtbaerheyd' (Scene of Manly Respectability), and 'Houwelyck' (Marriage).

[Pg 3355]

With the beginning of the war his own peace was at an end. Several of the grounds reclaimed from the sea were once more flooded to prevent the advance of the enemy. In 1621 he accepted the office of pensionary of Middelburg, his first step toward official statesmanship. In 1623 he was elected pensionary of Dordrecht, and although he hesitated in leaving Zeeland, he finally decided to accept the office. In 1625 he added to his duties those of Curator of Leyden University. His literary work was consequently laid aside.

In 1627 Cats accompanied Albert Joachimi as ambassador to London to open negotiations for a navigation treaty. He was only partly successful in his mission, but was met with much consideration by Charles I., who decorated him with the order of St. Jovis. Shortly after his return he lost his wife after a brief illness.

While he was writing 'Trouwring' (Wedding Ring), a collection of epic and lyric poems, he was elected Secretary of State in 1636, and in 1645 Keeper of the Great Seal and Governor. But he had the experience in his public life that a crown may often be a crown of thorns; and in 1651 he begged to be released from his burdensome office. His demand was granted, and on this occasion Cats fell on his knees in the presence of the States-General and thanked God for taking away his heavy burden. He was once more persuaded to join an embassy to England. Cromwell had meanwhile come to power; Cats and his fellow-travelers returned with but little accomplished, and the old statesman and poet saw himself free to spend the last years of his life on his place Zorgvliet, which he had built outside of The Hague on the way to Scheveningen, in the midst of the Dunes. Although he may not have been a great statesman, he had felt the responsibility of his calling. He was never quite equal to it, and often felt himself helpless and small against the encroachment of the Powers. But honesty and patriotism were his to the fullest extent.

The last eight years of his life he spent in Zorgvliet in undisturbed peace. He returned to his literary labors and wrote 'Onderdom en Buitenleven' (Age and Country Life), 'Hofgedachtess' (Court Thoughts), and his rhymed autobiography 'Twee-entaghtig-jarig Leven' (A Life of Eighty-two Years). He seems to have kept his warm interest and joy in life to the very last.

[Pg 3356]


Awhile ago I read a tale methinks is curious.
Perhaps to every one the story may be useful;
Therefore in timeliness unto the light I drag it,
In hope that all who read, in it will find a pleasure.
A lord once lived of old, whose joy it was to wander
In field and flowery mead, quite to his heart's contentment.
A horse he had withal, so sage that, slept the rider,
It home would wisely go, without the knight to waken.
And so it came to pass that one day forthward faring,
To dine, the cavalier by a good friend was bidden.
He met with welcome glad; good wine went freely flowing.
At last, for all such cheer, the guest must take his leave.
Himself then he prepared to climb into his saddle,
And turned his beast about, that home were soon attained.
The day was bleak and raw; the sun of light was chary;
Through clouds before its face, a pallid light descended.
The wise steed careful stepped onward along the highway,
Its sober rider borne, as custom was, unwearied.
Anon the usual drowse closed up the rider's eyelids:
His beast walked calmly on, in faithfulness of service;
The man, profoundly sleeping, traveled as he was wonted;
The time at last brought near when he should reach his dwelling.
But lo! a friend is met, who questions him in wonder:—
"How possible it was his steed had brought him thither?"
The knight responded straight—"Why, I the way have ridden
That, during seven years, I constantly have come;
My beast on which I sit hath borne me duly houseward—
The midnight's dark itself makes not his foot unsteady."
"How, friend?" his questioner cried, "even when the bridge is broken?
The stream to cross at all, no other means I know:
This wondrous horse of thine old Perseus must have owned,
Who fought the dragon once, and cut its head to pieces.
Things sure are as they were! You came not flying hither!
It seems to me, belike, a ghost has been your cheater.
To take it otherwise, the joke to me seems pointless.
Not possible it is, this story that you tell me.
But that o'er such a thing no wrangling be between us,
Come to the bridge with me; I gladly will be escort.
[Pg 3357]
The spot and fact themselves, in proof I straight will disclose,
That you may note how ill goes with your word the matter."
Whereto so long a speech? The Knight was well persuaded;
The flood is reached again, the truth of things lies open!
Bridge is there none indeed—rests but a strip of planking,
Crossing the rushing wave, narrow and all unsteady.
The foot of man must needs with prudence o'er it tiptoe,
The nerve and will be firm to reach that further goal.
The foot that is not true, that left or right shall waver,
Drowns in the flood below the passenger unlucky.
When now the man of naps marks all at once the bridge,
Notes well the narrow path, marks the too slender footway,
His shock in truth is great; loud his poor heart goes beating.
In fear and shudders cold, the scene he stands and pictures;
Sees with a frightened eye just how his path has served him.
And more and more his soul sickens with tardy terror,
More to his heart the blood, driven away, goes rushing;—
That hour of fear to him brought him an endless illness.
Look now, how odd it seems! He well in peace had ridden,
Suffering no mishap, spared from the thing all mischief—
Utterly downcast is, whereas his danger's over!
Fear makes him sick at heart, deep in his being centred.
Questions now any one what be this tale's life-lesson?
Him shall I gladly give what in it lies, methinks;
Speak out as best I can what as a maxim's plainest:—
Friendly is never he sparing of bread and counsel.
The man who rode his way safely and lost in slumber,
He unto whom occurred just this strange bit of fortune,
Like is he (it meseems) unto the lustful mortal,
Evil in earthly course, given to sottish living,
Wandering on, shut-eyed, lost in the way of pleasure,
Taking no slightest notice of the abyss so open:
Never with heed made blessed, not with his conscience warned:
How at his side is Death, prompt to cut off the living!
But with our Lord God's grace, suddenly on him bestowed,
Opening wide his eye—then, not till then, he's awakened.
Terror absorbs his soul, holy the fear that takes it;
Now is the sinner roused, sees for the first his doings.
Wondering see him stand, uttering loud his outcry:—
"Awful has been my blindness, dreadful my soul's delusion.
How could I be so tricked? how could my sleep so grip me?
I who, in touch with death, careless my ease was taking!"
Happy in truth the man fallen in no such peril,
[Pg 3358]Since with a careful eye watches he every footstep,
Blessed in that God himself insight to him has granted
What was his danger to feel; how he has made escapement.

Translation through the German by E. Irenæus Stevenson.


Come hither, pray, O friends! Let me my sorrow tell you.
Wordless such loss to bear, my heart indeed endures not:
All that the soul downweighs seems to a man less bitter,
If to the friendly ear sorrow can be but uttered.
Dead is my neighbor's child: dead is my only cow.
Comfort has fled from him; fled from me every joying.
So do we sorrow, both, reft of our peace each bosom:
He that his child is dead—I that my cow is taken.
Look you now, friends! how strange ay, and how sad Fate's dealings!
I well had spared a child—one cow he well had wanted.
Turn things about, thou Death! Less evil seem thy doings.
Full is my house—too full: surely is full his cow-house!
Death, take his stalls for prey, or choose from out my seven!
There have you, Death, full room; less to us too the trouble.
Certain the pain's forgot—ay, and forgotten quickly,
When, in the greater herd, one little wolf's a robber!
What do I murmur thus? Ever is Death one earless.
Lost on him good advice, argument on him wasted.
Onward he moves, this Death, pallid and wholly blindly.
Oftenest he a guest just where his call's least needed.
Ah, who can calm my grief; who, pray, shall still my neighbor's?
Just as we would not choose, so unto each it happens!—
He who is rich must lose all that means nearest heirship,
I, the poor man, O God! stripped of my one possession!

Translation through the German by E. Irenæus Stevenson.

[Pg 3359]


(84-54 B.C.?)



he last thirty years of the Roman Republic are, alike in thought and action, one of the high-water marks of the world's history. This is the age of Cicero and of Julius Cæsar. This brief period includes the conquest of Gaul, the invasion of Britain, the annexation of the Asiatic monarchies founded by Alexander's marshals; the final collapse of the Roman oligarchy which had subdued the whole known world; the development of the stateliest and most splendid prose that the world has ever seen or is ever likely to see; and lastly, a social life among the Roman upper classes so brilliant, so humane, so intimately known to us from contemporary historians, poets, orators, letter-writers, that we can live in it with as little stretch of imagination as we can live in the England of Queen Anne. Among the foremost figures of this wonderful period is Valerius Catullus, the first of Latin lyric poets, and perhaps the third, alongside of Sappho and Shelley, in the supreme rank of the lyric poets of the world.

Valerius Catullus Valerius Catullus

He represents in his life and his genius the fine flower of his age and country. He was born at Verona of a wealthy and distinguished family, while Italy was convulsed by the civil wars of Marius and Sulla; he died at the age of thirty, while Cæsar was completing the conquest of Gaul, and the Republic, though within a few days of its extinction, still seemed full of the pride of life. The rush and excitement of those thrilling years is mirrored fully in the life and poetry of Catullus. Fashion, travel, politics, criticism, all the thousandfold and ever-changing events and interests of the age, come before us in their most vivid form and at their highest pressure, in this brief volume of lyrics. But all come involved with and overshadowed by a story wholly personal to himself and immortal in its fascination: the story of an immense and ill-fated love that "fed its life's flame with self-substantial fuel," and mounted in the morning glories of sunrise only to go down in thunder and tempest before noon.

[Pg 3360]

There are perhaps no love poems in the world like these. Of Sappho, seemingly the greatest poet of her sex, we can only dally with surmise from mutilated fragments. No one else in the ancient world comes into the account. The Middle Ages involved love inextricably with mysticism. When Europe shook the Middle Ages off, it had begun to think. Exquisite reflections on love, innocent pastorals, adorable imagery,—these it could produce; in the France of the Pleiade for instance, or in the England of Greene and Campion: but thought and passion keep ill company. Once only, a century ago, a genius as fierce and flame-like as that of Catullus rose to the height of this argument. An intractable language, sterilizing surroundings, bad models, imperfect education, left Burns hopelessly distanced; yet the quintessential flame that he shares with Catullus has served to make him the idol of a nation, and a household word among many millions of his race.

Clodia, the "Lady of the Sonnets" in Catullus, whom he calls Lesbia by a transparent fiction, has no ambiguous or veiled personality. She was one of the most famous and most scandalous women of her time. By birth and marriage she belonged to the innermost circle of that more than royal Roman aristocracy which had accumulated the wealth of the world into its hands, and sent out its younger sons carelessly to misgovern and pillage empires. When Catullus made her acquaintance, she was a married woman some six or seven years older than himself. "Through a little arc of heaven" the poems show his love running its sorrowful and splendid course. Rapture of tenderness, infatuation, revolt, relapse, re-entanglement, agonized stupor, the stinging pain of reviving life, fierce love passing into as fierce a hatred, all sweep before us in dazzling language molded out of pure air and fire.

So far, Burns alone, and Burns only at his rarer heights, can give a modern reader some idea of Catullus. But Burns had little education and less taste; and so when he leaves the ground of direct personal emotion,—that is to say, in nineteen-twentieths of his poetry,—he is constantly on the edge, and often over it, of tawdriness, vulgarity, commonplace. Catullus was master of all the technical skill then known to poetry. Without anything approaching the immense learning of Virgil or Milton, he had, like Shelley among English poets, the instincts and training of a scholar. It is this fine scholarship—the eye and hand of the trained artist in language—combined with his lucid and imperious simplicity, like that of some gifted and terrible child, that makes him unique among poets. When he leaves the golden fields of poetry and dashes into political lampoons, or insolent and unquotable attacks on people (men or women) who had the misfortune to displease him, he becomes like [Pg 3361]Burns again, Burns the satirist; yet even here nimbler witted, lighter of touch, with the keenness of the rapier rather than of the Northern axe-edge.

His scholarliness—like that of most scholars—was not without its drawbacks. His immediate literary masters, the Greeks of the Alexandrian school, were a coterie of pedants; it would be idle to claim that he remained unaffected by their pedantry. In the last years of his life he seems to have lost himself somewhat in technical intricacies and elaborate metrical experiments; in translations from that prince in preciosity, the Alexandrian Callimachus; and idyllic pieces of overloaded ornament studied from the school of Theocritus. The longest and most ambitious poem of these years, the epic idyl on 'The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis,' is full of exquisite beauties of detail, but taken in its whole effect is languid, cloying, and monotonous. He makes a more brilliant success in his other long poem, the famous 'Atys,' the single example in Latin of the large-scale lyric so familiar to Greece and England.

But indeed in every form of lyric poetry attempted by him, his touch is infallible. The lovely poems of travel which he wrote during and after a voyage to Asia are as unequaled in their sunny beauty as the love-lyrics are in fire and passion. Alongside of these there are little funny verses to his friends, and other verses to his enemies which they probably did not think funny in the least; verses of occasion and verses of compliment; and verses of sympathy, with a deep human throb in them that shows how little his own unhappy love had embittered him or shut him up in selfish broodings. Two of these pieces are pre-eminent beyond all the rest. The one is a marriage song written by him for the wedding of two of his friends, Mallius Torquatus and Vinia Aurunculeia. In its straightforward unassuming grace, in its musical clearness, in the picture it draws, with so gentle and yet so refined and distinguished a touch, of common household happiness, it is worthy of its closing place in the golden volume of his lyrics.

The other is a brief poem, only ten lines long, written at his brother's grave near Troy. It is one of the best known of Latin poems; and before its sorrow, its simplicity, its piteous tenderness, the astonishing cadence of its rhythms, praise itself seems almost profanation.

"Tenderest of Roman poets nineteen hundred years ago—" so Tennyson in one of his own beautiful lyrics addresses Catullus; and it is this unsurpassed tenderness that more than all his other admirable qualities, than his consummate technical skill, than his white heat of passion, than his "clearness as of the terrible crystal," brings him and keeps him near our hearts.

[Pg 3362]

That wonderful Ciceronian age has left its mark as few ages have, deep upon human history. The conquests and legislation of Julius Cæsar determined the future of Europe and laid the foundation of the modern world. The prose invented by Cicero became and still remains the common language of civilized mankind. Among the poems of Catullus are verses addressed to both of these men; but his own young ivy-crowned brows shine out of the darkness and the distance, with no less pure a radiance and no less imperishable a fame.

J. W. Mackail

Note.—In Mr. Mackail's closing phrase the lover of Ovid will note an echo from that poet's famous elegy suggested by the premature death of still another Roman singer, Tibullus. Among the kindred spirits—says Ovid—who will welcome the new-comer to the Elysian fields,—

"Thou, O learned Catullus, thy young brows ivy-encircled,
Bringing thy Calvus with thee, wilt to receive him appear."



This dainty little book and new,
Just polished with the pumice, who
Shall now receive?—Cornelius, you!
For these my trifles even then
You counted of some value, when
You only of Italian men
Into three tomes had dared to cast
The story of all ages past,—
Learned, O Jupiter, and vast!
So take it, prize it as you may.
—And, gracious Virgin, this I pray:
That it shall live beyond our day!

Translation of William C. Lawton.

[Pg 3363]


Varus would take me t'other day
To see a little girl he knew,—
Pretty and witty in her way,
With impudence enough for two.
Scarce are we seated, ere she chatters
(As pretty girls are wont to do)
About all persons, places, matters:—
"And pray, what has been done for you?"
"Bithynia, lady!" I replied,
"Is a fine province for a prætor;
For none (I promise you) beside,
And least of all am I her debtor."
"Sorry for that!" said she. "However,
You have brought with you, I dare say,
Some litter-bearers; none so clever
In any other part as they.
"Bithynia is the very place
For all that's steady, tall, and straight;
It is the nature of the race.
Could you not lend me six or eight?"
"Why, six or eight of them or so,"
Said I, determined to be grand;
"My fortune is not quite so low
But these are still at my command."
"You'll send them?"—"Willingly!" I told her,
Although I had not here or there
One who could carry on his shoulder
The leg of an old broken chair.
"Catullus! what a charming hap is
Our meeting in this sort of way!
I would be carried to Serapis
To-morrow!"—"Stay, fair lady, stay!
"You overvalue my intention.
Yes, there are eight ... there may be nine:
I merely had forgot to mention
That they are Cinna's, and not mine."

Paraphrase of W. S. Landor.

[Pg 3364]


Dear Sirmio, that art the very eye
Of islands and peninsulas, that lie
Deeply embosomed in calm inland lake,
Or where the waves of the vast ocean break;
Joy of all joys, to gaze on thee once more!
I scarce believe that I have left the shore
Of Thynia, and Bithynia's parching plain,
And gaze on thee in safety once again!
Oh, what more sweet than when, from care set free,
The spirit lays its burden down, and we,
With distant travel spent, come home and spread
Our limbs to rest along the wished-for bed!
This, this alone, repays such toils as these!
Smile, then, fair Sirmio, and thy master please,—
And you, ye dancing waters of the lake,
Rejoice; and every smile of home awake!

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.


With your Catullus ill it fares, alas!
O Cornificius, and most wearily;
Still worse with all the days and hours that pass.
And with what greeting do you comfort me?
The least of boons, and easiest to bestow;
Wroth am I, that my love is answered so.
A word of greeting, pray you; what you please;
More sad than tear-drops of Simonides!

Translation of W. C. Lawton.


If there be aught, my Calvus, that out of our sorrowing proffered
Unto the voiceless dead grateful or welcome may be,
When we revive with insatiate longing our ancient affection,
When for the ties we lament, broken, that once have been ours,
Though Quintilia grieve for her own untimely departure,
Yet in thy faithful love greater, be sure, is her joy.

Translation of W. C. Lawton.

[Pg 3365]


This pinnace, friends, which here you see,
Avers erewhile she used to be
Unmatched for speed, and could outstrip
Triumphantly the fastest ship
That ever swam, or breasted gale,
Alike with either oar or sail.
And this, she says, her haughty boast,
The stormy Adriatic coast,
The Cyclad islands, Rhodes the grand,
Rude Thrace, the wild Propontic strand,
Will never venture to gainsay;
Nor yet the Euxine's cruel bay,
Where in her early days she stood,
This bark to be, a shaggy wood;
For from her vocal locks full oft,
Where o'er Cytorus far aloft
The fitful mountain-breezes blow,
She piped and whistled loud or low.
To thee, Amastris, on thy rocks,
To thee, Cytorus, clad with box,
Has long been known, my bark avers,
This little history of hers.
In her first youth, she doth protest,
She stood upon your topmost crest,
First in your waters dipped her oars,
First bore her master from your shores
Anon unscathed o'er many a deep,
In sunshine and in storm to sweep;
Whether the breezes, as she flew,
From larboard or from starboard blew,
Or with a wake of foam behind,
She scudded full before the wind.
Nor to the gods of ocean e'er
For her was offered vow or prayer,
Though from yon farthest ocean drear
She came to this calm crystal mere.
But these are things of days gone past.
Now, anchored here in peace at last,
[Pg 3366]To grow to hoary age, lies she,
And dedicates herself to thee,
Who hast alway her guardian been,
Twin Castor, and thy brother twin!

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.


If the gods will, Fabullus mine,
With me right heartily you'll dine.
Bring but good cheer—that chance is thine
Some days hereafter;
Mind, a fair girl too, wit, and wine,
And merry laughter.
Bring these—you'll feast on kingly fare;
But bring them—for my purse—I swear
The spiders have been weaving there;
But thee I'll favor
With a pure love, or what's more rare,
More sweet of savor,
An unguent I'll before you lay
The Loves and Graces t'other day
Gave to my girl—smell it—you'll pray
The gods, Fabullus,
To make you turn all nose straightway.
Yours aye, Catullus.

Translation of James Cranstoun.


Brother! o'er many lands and oceans borne,
I reach thy grave, death's last sad rite to pay;
To call thy silent dust in vain, and mourn,
Since ruthless fate has hurried thee away:
Woe's me! yet now upon thy tomb I lay—
All soaked with tears for thee, thee loved so well—
What gifts our fathers gave the honored clay
Of valued friends; take them, my grief they tell:
And now, forever hail! forever fare thee well!

Translation of James Cranstoun.

[Pg 3367]


The milder breath of Spring is nigh;
The stormy equinoctial sky
To Zephyr's gentle breezes yields.
Behind me soon the Phrygian fields,
Nicæa's sun-beat realm, shall lie.
To Asia's famous towns we'll hie.
My heart, that craves to wander free,
Throbs even now expectantly.
With zeal my joyous feet are strong;
Farewell, dear comrades, loved so long!
Afar together did we roam;
Now ways diverse shall lead us home.

Translation of W. C. Lawton.


And now, ye gates, your wings unfold!
The virgin draweth nigh. Behold
The torches, how upon the air
They shake abroad their gleaming hair!
Come, bride, come forth! no more delay!
The day is hurrying fast away!
But lost in shame and maiden fears,
She stirs not,—weeping, as she hears
The friends that to her tears reply,—
Thou must advance, the hour is nigh!
Come, bride, come forth! no more delay!
The day is hurrying fast away!"
Dry up thy tears! For well I trow,
No woman lovelier than thou,
Aurunculeia, shall behold
The day all panoplied in gold,
And rosy light uplift his head
Above the shimmering ocean's bed!
As in some rich man's garden-plot,
With flowers of every hue inwrought,
Stands peerless forth with drooping brow
The hyacinth, so standest thou!
Come, bride, come forth! no more delay!
The day is hurrying fast away!

[Pg 3368]

Soon my eyes shall see, mayhap,
Young Torquatus on the lap
Of his mother, as he stands
Stretching out his tiny hands,
And his little lips the while
Half-open on his father smile.
And oh! may he in all be like
Manlius his sire, and strike
Strangers, when the boy they meet,
As his father's counterfeit,
And his face the index be
Of his mother's chastity!
Him, too, such fair fame adorn,
Son of such a mother born,
That the praise of both entwined
Call Telemachus to mind,
With her who nursed him on her knee,
Unparagoned Penelope!
Now, virgins, let us shut the door!
Enough we've toyed, enough and more!
But fare ye well, ye loving pair,
We leave ye to each other's care;
And blithely let your hours be sped
In joys of youth and lustyhed!

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.

Note.—The remaining poems of our selection are all associated with the famous passion for Lesbia.


Let us, Lesbia darling, still
Live our life, and love our fill;
Heeding not a jot, howe'er
Churlish dotards chide or stare!
Suns go down, but 'tis to rise
Brighter in the morning skies;
But when sets our little light,
We must sleep in endless night.
A thousand kisses grant me, sweet:
With a hundred these complete;
Lip me a thousand more, and then
Another hundred give again.
[Pg 3369]A thousand add to these, anon
A hundred more, then hurry one
Kiss after kiss without cessation,
Until we lose all calculation;
So envy shall not mar our blisses
By numbering up our tale of kisses.

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.


Loves and Graces, mourn with me,
Mourn, fair youths, where'er ye be!
Dead my Lesbia's sparrow is,
Sparrow that was all her bliss,
Than her very eyes more dear;
For he made her dainty cheer;
Knew her well, as any maid
Knows her mother; never strayed
From her bosom, but would go
Hopping round her to and fro.
And to her, and her alone,
Chirruped with such pretty tone.
Now he treads that gloomy track
Whence none ever may come back.
Out upon you, and your power,
Which all fairest things devour,
Orcus's gloomy shades, that e'er
Ye took my bird that was so fair!
Ah, the pity of it! Thou
Poor bird, thy doing 'tis, that now
My loved one's eyes are swollen and red,
With weeping for her darling dead.

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.


Never a soul but myself, though Jove himself were to woo her,
Lesbia says she would choose, might she have me for her mate.
Says—but what woman will say to a lover on fire to possess her,
Write on the bodiless wind, write on the stream as it runs.

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.

[Pg 3370]


I Hate and love—the why I cannot tell.
But by my tortures know the fact too well.

Translation of Sir Theodore Martin.


O Furius and Aurelius! comrades sweet!
Who to Ind's farthest shore with me would roam,
Where the far-sounding Orient billows beat
Their fury into foam;
Or to Hyrcania, balm-breathed Araby,
The Sacian's or the quivered Parthian's land,
Or where seven-mantled Nile's swoll'n waters dye
The sea with yellow sand;
Or cross the lofty Alpine fells, to view
Great Cæsar's trophied fields, the Gallic Rhine,
The paint-smeared Briton race, grim-visaged crew,
Placed by earth's limit line:
To all prepared with me to brave the way,
To dare whate'er the eternal gods decree—
These few unwelcome words to her convey
Who once was all to me.
Still let her revel with her godless train,
Still clasp her hundred slaves to passion's thrall,
Still truly love not one, but ever drain
The life-blood of them all.
Nor let her more my once fond passion heed,
For by her faithlessness 'tis blighted now,
Like flow'ret on the verge of grassy mead
Crushed by the passing plow.

Translation of James Cranstoun.

[Pg 3371]




mong the three or four best autobiographies of the world's literature, the 'Memoirs' of Benvenuto Cellini are unique as the self-delineation of the most versatile of craftsmen, a bizarre genius, and a typical exponent of the brilliant period of the later Italian Renaissance. As a record of the ways of living and modes of thinking of that fascinating epoch, they are more lively and interesting than history, more entertaining, if more true to fact, than a romance. As one of his Italian critics, Baretti, put it:—"The life of Benvenuto Cellini, written by himself in the pure and unsophisticated idiom of the Florentine people, surpasses every book in our literature for the delight it affords the reader." This is high praise for the product of a literature that boasts of Boccaccio's 'Decameron,' and gave birth to the novelle, the parent of modern fiction. Yet the critics of other nations have echoed this praise. Auguste Comte, the positivist philosopher, included it in his limited list for the reading of reformed humanity, and Goethe, laying aside his own creative work, deemed it worth his time and attention to translate into German.

Benvenuto Cellini was born at Florence in 1500. The father, Giovanni Cellini, a musician and maker of musical instruments, intended that the boy should likewise become a musician; but young Benvenuto very early showed strong leaning toward the plastic art, and detested the flute he was forced to practice. The first chapters of the 'Memoirs' are a most lively description of the struggles between the wishes of the father and those of the son, until the latter finally prevailed, and at fifteen years of age he was apprenticed to a goldsmith of Florence. He made rapid progress, and soon attracted notice as a skilled craftsman. At the same time, to please his father, toward whom he everywhere professes the most filial feeling, he continued "that confounded flute-playing" as a side issue. This accomplishment, however, did him a good turn at the Papal court later on. After various youthful escapades, street broils, and quarrels with his father, he fled in monk's disguise to Rome in 1521. A vase made for the Bishop of Salamanca drew upon him the notice of Pope Clement VII., who appointed him court musician and also employed him in his proper profession of goldsmith. When the Constable de Bourbon attacked Rome, in 1527, Cellini was of great [Pg 3372]service to the Pope in defending the city. He boasts of having from the ramparts shot the Bourbon; and indeed, if one were to take him strictly at his word, his valor and skill as an engineer saved the castle of San Angelo and the Pope. However his lively imagination may have overrated his own importance, yet it is certain that his military exploit paved the way for his return to Florence, where for a time he devoted himself to the execution of bronze medals and coins. The most famous of the former are Hercules and the Nemean Lion, and Atlas supporting the world.

On the elevation of Paul III. to the Papacy we again find Cellini at Rome, working for the Pope and other eminent people. His extraordinary abilities brought him not only into the notice of the courts, but also drew him into the brilliant literary and artistic society of the Eternal City. With unrivaled vividness he flashes before us in a few bold strokes the artists of the decadent Renaissance, the pupils of Raphael, led by Giulio Romano, with their worship of every form of physical beauty and their lack of elevation of thought. In consequence of the plottings of his implacable enemy, Pier Luigi, natural son of Paul III., he was arrested on the charge of having during the sack of Rome embezzled Pontifical gold and jewels to the amount of eighty thousand ducats. Though the charge was groundless, he was committed to the castle of San Angelo. His escape is narrated in one of the most thrilling chapters of the 'Memoirs.' He went in hiding to the Cardinal Cornaro, but was delivered up again to the Pope by an act of most characteristic sixteenth-century Italian policy, and was cast into a loathsome underground dungeon of the castle. It was damp, swarming with vermin, and for two hours of the day only received light through a little aperture. Here he languished for many months, with only the chronicles of Giovanni Billani and an Italian Bible to solace him. Now at last his recklessness and bravado forsook him. He took on the airs of a saint, gave himself up to mysticism, grew delirious and had his famous visions—angels visiting him, who talked with him about religion.

In 1539 he was finally released at the intercession of the cardinal Ippolito d'Este, who came from France to invite him to enter the King's service. Cellini's account of his residence in France has great historic value as throwing vivid side-lights on that interesting period in the development of French social life, when Francis I. was laying the foundation of the court society which was later on brought to perfection by Louis XIV. Cellini was one among that crowd of Italian artists gathered at the court in Paris and Versailles, whose culture was to refine the manners of the French warrior barons. He worked for five years at Fontainebleau and in Paris. Among his works there, still extant, are a pair of huge silver candelabra, the [Pg 3373]gates of Fontainebleau, and a nymph in bronze, reposing among trophies of the chase, now in the Louvre. Among other marks of royal favor he was presented with a castle, Le Petit Nesle. His efforts to gain possession of this grant are among the amusing episodes of his narrative.

He had as usual numerous quarrels, and falling into disfavor with Madame d'Estampes, the King's favorite, he suddenly left Paris and returned alone to Florence. The remainder of his life he passed mainly in the service of Duke Cosimo de' Medici. The chapters of his narrative dealing with this portion give a most vivid picture of artist life at an Italian court in the sixteenth century. To this third and last period belongs the work on which his fame as sculptor rests, the bronze Perseus holding the head of Medusa, completed in 1554 and still standing in the Loggia de' Lanzi in Florence. It is a typical monument of the Renaissance, and was received with universal applause by all Italy. Odes and sonnets in Italian, Greek, and Latin were written in its praise. His minute description of its casting, and of his many trials during that process, are among the most interesting passages of the narrative.

In 1558 he began to write his memoirs, dictating them for the greater part to an amanuensis; and he carried them down to the year 1562. The events of the remaining nine years of his life are to be gathered from contemporary documents. In 1558 he received the tonsure and first ecclesiastical orders, but married two years later, and died in 1571. He was buried with great pomp in the Church of the Annunciata in Florence.

Besides his 'Memoirs' he also wrote treatises on the goldsmith's art and on sculpture, with especial reference to bronze-founding. They are of great value as manuals of the craftsmanship of the Renaissance, and excellent specimens of good Italian style as applied to technical exposition. And like all cultivated artists of his time Cellini also tried his hand at poetry; but his lack of technical training as a writer comes out even more in his verse than in his prose. The life of Benvenuto was one of incessant activity, laying hold of the whole domain of the plastic arts: of restless wanderings from place to place; and of rash deeds of violence. He lived to the full the life of his age, in all its glory and all its recklessness. As the most famous goldsmith of his time, he worked for all the great personages of the day, and put himself on a footing of familiar acquaintance with popes and princes. As an artist he came into contact with all the phases of Italian society, since a passion for external beauty was at that time the heritage of the Italian people, and art bodied forth the innermost life of the period. Furniture, plate, and personal adornments were not turned out wholesale by machinery as they are [Pg 3374]to-day, but engaged the individual attention of the most skilled craftsmen. The memory and the traditions of Raphael Sanzio were still cherished by his pupils when Cellini first came to Rome into the brilliant circle of Giulio Romano and his friends; Michelangelo's frescoes were studied with rapturous admiration by the young Benvenuto, and later on he proudly recorded some words of praise of the mighty genius whom he worshiped; and at this time, too, Titian and Tintoretto set the heart of Venice aglow with the splendor and color of their marvelous canvases. The contemporary though not the peer of those masters of the brush and the chisel, Cellini, endowed with a keen feeling for beauty, a dexterous hand, and a lively imagination, in his versatility reached out toward a wider sphere of activity, and laid hold of life at more points, than they.

He reflected the Renaissance, not merely on its higher artistic aspect, but he touched it also on its lower darker levels of brute passion, coarseness, and vindictiveness. He had more than one murder to his account, and he did not slur over them in his narrative, for in his make-up the bravo was equally prominent with the artist. Yet we must remember that homicides were of common occurrence in those days, defended by casuists and condoned by the Church. Avenging one's honor, or punishing an insult with the dagger, were as much a social custom as the adornment of the body with exquisitely wrought fabrics and jewelry. But just because Cellini was so thoroughly awake to all the influences about him, and so entirely bent on living his life, his 'Memoirs' are perennially fresh and attractive. They are the plain unvarnished annals of a career extraordinary even in that age of uncommon experiences; they were written, as he says, because "all men of whatever quality they be, who have done anything of excellence, or which may properly resemble excellence, ought, if they are persons of truth and honesty, to describe their life with their own hand; but they ought not to attempt so fine an enterprise till they have passed the age of forty."


Cellini was past fifty-eight when he began writing, and going back to his earliest boyhood, he set down the facts of his long career as he remembered them. Of course he is the hero who recounts his own story, and like all heroes of romance he plays the leading part, is always in the right, and comes out handsomely in the end. Carping critics who tax him with lack of truth in dealing with his enemies, and with pleading his own cause too well, are apt to forget that he wrote long after the events were past, and that to an ever-active imagination ruminating over bygone happenings, facts become unconsciously colored to assume the hue the mind wishes them to have. Yet the fidelity and accuracy of his memory are remarkable, and his faculty for seeing, combined with his dramatic way of putting [Pg 3375] things most vividly, flashes before our eyes the scenes he recounts. He does not describe much; he indicates a characteristic feature, habit, or attitude; as for example, in referring to a man he disliked, as having "long spidery hands and a shrill gnat-like voice"—all that is needed to make us see the man from Cellini's point of view. Again, he adds much to the vivacity of the narrative by reporting conversation as a dialogue, even if he has it himself at second-hand. So in his trenchant, nervous manner this keen observer, while aiming to recount only the facts of his own life and to set himself on a becoming pedestal in the eyes of posterity, gives us at the same time flash-lights of the whole period in which he played a part. Popes Clement VII. and Paul III., Cosimo de' Medici and his Duchess, the King of France and Madame d' Estampes, cardinals, nobles, princes, and courtiers, artists of every description, burghers and the common folk,—all with whom he came in contact,—are brought before us in a living pageant. Looking back over his checkered career, he lives his intense life over again, and because he himself saw so vividly at the time, he makes us see now. We have here invaluable pictures, by an eye-witness and actor, of the sack of Rome, the plague and siege of Florence, the pomp of Charles V. at Rome. He withdraws the curtains from the Papal policies and court intrigues, not with a view to writing history, but because he happened to have some relations with those princes and wished to tell us about them. Again, he was no critic of the manners of his time, yet he presents most faithful pictures of artist life in Rome, Paris, and Florence. He was not given to introspection and self-criticism, but he describes himself as well as others, not by analysis but by deeds and words. He had no literary training; he wrote as he talked, and gained his effect by simplicity.

He was recognized as the first goldsmith of his time; yet as a man also his contemporaries speak well of him, for he embodied the virtues of his age, while his morals did not fall below the average code of the Renaissance. Vasari says:—"He always showed himself a man of great spirit and veracity; bold, active, enterprising, and formidable to his enemies; a man, in short, who knew as well how to speak with princes as to exert himself in his art."

J. A. Symonds, that inspiring student of the Italian Renaissance, sums up his impressions of the book and the man as follows:—

"I am confident that every one who may have curiously studied Italian history and letters will pronounce this book to be at one and the same time the most perfect extant monument of vernacular Tuscan prose, and also the most complete and lively source of information we possess regarding manners, customs, ways of feeling, and modes of acting, in the Court. Those who have made themselves thoroughly familiar with Cellini's Memoirs possess the [Pg 3376] substance of that many-sided epoch in the form of an epitome. It is the first book which a student of the Italian Renaissance should handle in order to obtain the right direction for his more minute researches. It is the last book to which he should return at the close of his exploratory voyages. At the commencement he will find it invaluable for placing him at the exactly proper point of view. At the end he will find it no less invaluable for testing and verifying the conclusion he has drawn from various sources and a wide circumference of learning. From the pages of this book the genius of the Renaissance, incarnate in a single personality, leans forth and speaks to us. Nowhere else, to my mind, do we find the full character of the epoch so authentically stamped. That is because this is no work of art or of reflection, but the plain utterance of a man who lived the whole life of his age, who felt its thirst for glory, who shared its adoration of the beautiful, who blent its paganism and its superstition, who represented its two main aspects of exquisite sensibility to form and almost brutal ruffianism. We must not expect from Cellini the finest, highest, purest accents of the Renaissance.... For students of that age he is at once more and less than his contemporaries: less, inasmuch as he distinguished himself by no stupendous intellectual qualities; more, inasmuch as he occupied a larger sphere than each of them singly. He was the first goldsmith of his time, an adequate sculptor, a restless traveler, an indefatigable workman, a Bohemian of the purest water, a turbulent bravo, a courtier and companion of princes; finally, a Florentine who used his native idiom with incomparable vivacity of style."


From the 'Memoirs': Symonds's Translation

The castellan was subject to a certain sickness, which came upon him every year and deprived him of his wits. The sign of its approach was that he kept continually talking, or rather jabbering, to no purpose. These humors took a different shape each year; one time he thought he was an oil-jar; another time he thought he was a frog, and hopped about as frogs do; another time he thought he was dead, and then they had to bury him; not a year passed but he got some such hypochondriac notions into his head. At this season he imagined that he was a bat, and when he went abroad to take the air he used to scream like bats in a high thin tone; and then he would flap his hands and body as though he were about to fly. The doctors, when they saw the fit was coming on him, and his old servants, gave him all the distractions they could think of; and since they had noticed that he derived much pleasure from my conversation, they were always fetching me to keep him company. At times the poor man detained me for four or five [Pg 3377] stricken hours without ever letting me cease talking. He used to keep me at his table, eating opposite to him, and never stopped chatting and making me chat; but during those discourses I contrived to make a good meal. He, poor man, could neither eat nor sleep; so that at last he wore me out. I was at the end of my strength; and sometimes when I looked at him, I noticed that his eyeballs were rolling in a frightful manner, one looking one way and the other in another.

He took it into his head to ask me whether I had ever had a fancy to fly. I answered that it had always been my ambition to do those things which offer the greatest difficulties to men, and that I had done them; as to flying, the God of Nature had gifted me with a body well suited for running and leaping far beyond the common average, and that with the talents I possessed for manual art I felt sure I had the courage to try flying. He then inquired what methods I should use; to which I answered that, taking into consideration all flying creatures, and wishing to imitate by art what they derived from nature, none was so apt a model as the bat.

No sooner had the poor man heard the name bat, which recalled the humor he was suffering under, than he cried out at the top of his voice:—"He says true—he says true; the bat's the thing—the bat's the thing!" Then he turned to me and said, "Benvenuto, if one gave you the opportunity, should you have the heart to fly?" I said that if he would set me at liberty, I felt quite up to flying down to Prato, after making myself a pair of wings out of waxed linen. Thereupon he replied:—"I too should be prepared to take flight; but since the Pope has bidden me guard you as though you were his own eyes, and I know you a clever devil who would certainly escape, I shall now have you locked up with a hundred keys in order to prevent you slipping through my fingers." I then began to implore him, and remind him that I might have fled, but that on account of the word which I had given him I would never have betrayed his trust; therefore I begged him for the love of God, and by the kindness he had always shown me, not to add greater evils to the misery of my present situation. While I was pouring out these entreaties, he gave strict orders to have me bound and taken and locked up in prison. On seeing that it could not be helped, I told him before all his servants: "Lock me well up, and keep good watch on me; for I shall certainly [Pg 3378] contrive to escape." So they took me and confined me with the utmost care. I then began to deliberate upon the best way of making my escape. No sooner had I been locked in, than I went about exploring my prison; and when I thought I had discovered how to get out of it, I pondered the means of descending from the lofty keep, for so the great round central tower is called. I took those new sheets of mine, which, as I have said already, I had cut in strips and sewn together; then I reckoned up the quantity which would be sufficient for my purpose. Having made this estimate and put all things in order, I took out a pair of pincers which I had abstracted from a Savoyard belonging to the guard of the castle. This man superintended the casks and cisterns; he also amused himself with carpentering. Now he possessed several pairs of pincers, among which was one both big and heavy. I then, thinking it would suit my purpose, took it and hid it in my straw mattress. The time had now come for me to use it; so I began to try the nails which kept the hinges of my door in place. The door was double, and the clinching of the nails could not be seen; so that when I attempted to draw one out, I met with the greatest trouble; in the end however I succeeded. When I had drawn the first nail, I bethought me how to prevent its being noticed. For this purpose I mixed some rust, which I had scraped from old iron, with a little wax, obtaining exactly the same color as the heads of the long nails which I had extracted. Then I set myself to counterfeit these heads and place them on the holdfasts; for each nail I extracted I made a counterfeit in wax. I left the hinges attached to their door-posts at top and bottom by means of some of the same nails that I had drawn; but I took care to cut these and replace them lightly, so that they only just supported the irons of the hinges.

All this I performed with the greatest difficulty, because the castellan kept dreaming every night that I had escaped, which made him send from time to time to inspect my prison. The man who came had the title and behavior of a catchpoll. He was called Bozza, a serving-man. Giovanni never entered my prison without saying something offensive to me. He came from the district of Prato, and had been an apothecary in the town there. Every evening he minutely examined the holdfasts of the hinges and the whole chamber, and I used to say:—"Keep a good watch over me, for I am resolved by all means to escape."[Pg 3379]

These words bred a great enmity between him and me, so that I was obliged to use precautions to conceal my tools; that is to say, my pincers and a great big poniard and other appurtenances. All these I put away together in my mattress, where I also kept the strips of linen I had made. When day broke, I used immediately to sweep my room out; and though I am by nature a lover of cleanliness, at that time I kept myself unusually spick and span. After sweeping up, I made my bed as daintily as I could, laying flowers upon it, which a Savoyard used to bring me nearly every morning. He had the care of the cistern and the casks, and also amused himself with carpentering; it was from him I stole the pincers which I used in order to draw out the nails from the holdfasts of the hinges.

Well, to return to the subject of my bed; when Bozza and Pedignone came, I always told them to give it a wide berth, so as not to dirty and spoil it for me. Now and then, just to irritate me, they would touch it lightly, upon which I cried: "Ah, dirty cowards! I'll lay my hand on one of your swords there, and will do you a mischief that will make you wonder. Do you think you are fit to touch the bed of a man like me? When I chastise you I shall not heed my own life, for I am certain to take yours. Let me alone then with my troubles and my tribulations, and don't give me more annoyance than I have already; if not, I shall make you see what a desperate man is able to do." These words they reported to the castellan, who gave them express orders never to go near my bed, and when they came to me, to come without swords; but for the rest to keep a watchful guard upon me.

Having thus secured my bed from meddlers, I felt as though the main point was gained; for there lay all things useful to my venture. It happened on the evening of a certain feast-day that the castellan was seriously indisposed; his humors grew extravagant; he kept repeating that he was a bat, and if they heard that Benvenuto had flown away, they must let him go to catch me up, since he could fly by night most certainly "as well or better than myself"; for it was thus he argued:—"Benvenuto is a counterfeit bat, but I am a real one; and since he is committed to my care, leave me to act; I shall be sure to catch him." He had passed several nights in this frenzy, and had worn out all his servants; whereof I received full information through divers channels, but especially from the Savoyard, who was my friend at heart.[Pg 3380]

On the evening of that feast-day, then, I made up my mind to escape, come what might; and first I prayed most devoutly to God, imploring his Divine Majesty to protect and succor me in that so perilous a venture. Afterwards I set to work at all the things I needed, and labored the whole of the night. It was two hours before daybreak when at last I removed those hinges with the greatest toil; but the wooden panel itself, and the bolt too, offered such resistance that I could not open the door; so I had to cut into the wood; yet in the end I got it open, and shouldering the strips of linen which I had rolled up like bundles of flax upon two sticks, I went forth and directed my steps toward the latrines of the keep. Spying from within two tiles upon the roof, I was able at once to clamber up with ease. I wore a white doublet with a pair of white hose and a pair of half-boots, into which I had stuck the poniard I have mentioned.

After scaling the roof, I took one end of my linen roll and attached it to a piece of antique tile which was built into the fortress wall; it happened to jut out scarcely four fingers. In order to fix the band, I gave it the form of a stirrup. When I had attached it to that piece of tile, I turned to God and said: "Lord God, give aid to my good cause; you know that it is good; you see that I am aiding myself." Then I let myself go gently by degrees, supporting myself with the sinews of my arms, until I touched the ground. There was no moonshine, but the light of a fair open heaven. When I stood upon my feet on solid earth, I looked up at the vast height which I had descended with such spirit; and went gladly away, thinking I was free. But this was not the case; for the castellan on the side of the fortress had built two lofty walls, the space between which he used for stable and hen-yard; the place was barred with thick iron bolts outside. I was terribly disgusted to find there was no exit from this trap; but while I paced up and down debating what to do, I stumbled on a long pole which was covered up with straw. Not without great trouble, I succeeded in placing it against the wall, and then swarmed up it by the force of my arms until I reached the top. But since the wall ended in a sharp ridge, I had not strength enough to drag the pole up after me. Accordingly I made my mind up to use a portion of the second roll of linen which I had there; the other was left hanging from the keep of the castle. So I cut a piece off, tied it to the pole, and clambered down the wall, enduring the utmost toil and fatigue. I was quite exhausted, and moreover [Pg 3381] had flayed the inside of my hands, which bled freely. This compelled me to rest awhile, and I bathed my hands in my own urine.

When I thought that my strength was recovered, I advanced quickly toward the last rampart, which faces toward Prato. There I put my bundle of linen lines down upon the ground, meaning to fasten them round a battlement, and descend the lesser as I had the greater height. But no sooner had I placed the linen than I became aware behind me of a sentinel, who was going the rounds. Seeing my designs interrupted and my life in peril, I resolved to face the guard. This fellow, when he noticed my bold front, and that I was marching on him with weapon in hand, quickened his pace and gave me a wide berth. I had left my lines some little way behind, so I turned with hasty steps to regain them; and though I came within sight of another sentinel, he seemed as though he did not choose to take notice of me. Having found my lines and attached them to the battlement, I let myself go. On the descent, whether it was that I thought I had really come to earth and relaxed my grasp to jump, or whether my hands were so tired that they could not keep their hold, at any rate I fell, struck my head in falling, and lay stunned for more than an hour and a half, so far as I could judge.

It was just upon daybreak, when the fresh breeze which blows an hour before the sun revived me; yet I did not immediately recover my senses, for I thought my head had been cut off, and fancied that I was in purgatory. With time, little by little my faculties returned, and I perceived that I was outside the castle, and in a flash remembered all my adventures. I was aware of the wound in my head before I knew my leg was broken; for I put my hands up and withdrew them covered with blood. Then I searched the spot well, and judged and ascertained that I had sustained no injury of consequence there; but when I wanted to stand up, I discovered that my right leg was broken three inches above the heel. Not even this dismayed me: I drew forth my poniard with its scabbard; the latter had a metal point ending in a large ball, which had caused the fracture of my leg; for the bone coming into violent contact with the ball, and not being able to bend, had snapped at that point. I threw the sheath away, and with the poniard cut a piece of the linen which I had left. Then I bound my leg up [Pg 3382] as well as I could, and crawled on all fours with the poniard in my hand toward the city gate. When I reached it, I found it shut; but I noticed a stone just beneath the door which did not appear to be very firmly fixed. This I attempted to dislodge; after setting my hands to it, and feeling it move, it easily gave way, and I drew it out. Through the gap thus made I crept into the town.


From the 'Memoirs': Symonds's Translation

Abandoned thus to my own resources, I took new courage and banished the sad thoughts which kept recurring to my mind, making me often weep bitter tears of repentance for having left France; for though I did so only to revisit Florence, my sweet birthplace, in order that I might charitably succor my six nieces, this good action, as I well perceived, had been the beginning of my great misfortune. Nevertheless I felt convinced that when my Perseus was accomplished, all these trials would be turned to high felicity and glorious well-being.

Accordingly I strengthened my heart, and with all the forces of my body and my purse, employing what little money still remained to me, I set to work. First I provided myself with several loads of pine-wood from the forests of Serristori, in the neighborhood of Montelupo. While these were on their way, I clothed my Perseus with the clay which I had prepared many months beforehand, in order that it might be duly seasoned. After making its clay tunic (for that is the term used in this art) and properly arming it and fencing it with iron girders, I began to draw the wax out by means of a slow fire. This melted and issued through numerous air-vents I had made; for the more there are of these the better will the mold fill. When I had finished drawing off the wax, I constructed a funnel-shaped furnace all round the model of my Perseus. It was built of bricks, so interlaced, the one above the other, that numerous apertures were left for the fire to exhale it. Then I began to lay on wood by degrees, and kept it burning two whole days and nights.

At length when all the wax was gone and the mold was well baked, I set to work at digging the pit in which to sink it. [Pg 3383] This I performed with scrupulous regard to all the rules of art. When I had finished that part of my work, I raised the mold by windlasses and stout ropes to a perpendicular position, and suspending it with the greatest care one cubit above the level of the furnace, so that it hung exactly above the middle of the pit. I next lowered it gently down into the very bottom of the furnace, and had it firmly placed with every possible precaution for its safety. When this delicate operation was accomplished, I began to bank it up with the earth I had excavated; and ever as the earth grew higher I introduced its proper air-vents, which were little tubes of earthenware, such as folks use for drains and suchlike purposes. At length I felt sure that it was admirably fixed, and that the filling in of the pit and the placing of the air-vents had been properly performed. I also could see that my workpeople understood my method, which differed very considerably from that of all the other masters in the trade. Feeling confident then that I could rely upon them, I next turned to my furnace, which I had filled with numerous pigs of copper and other bronze stuff. The pieces were piled according to the laws of art; that is to say, so resting one upon the other that the flames could play freely through them, in order that the metal might heat and liquefy the sooner.

At last I called out heartily to set the furnace going. The logs of pine were heaped in, and what with the unctuous resin of the wood and the good draught I had given, my furnace worked so well that I was obliged to rush from side to side to keep it going. The labor was more than I could stand; yet I forced myself to strain every nerve and muscle. To increase my anxieties, the workshop took fire, and we were afraid lest the roofs should fall upon our heads; while from the garden such a storm of wind and rain kept blowing in that it perceptibly cooled the furnace.

Battling thus with all these untoward circumstances for several hours, and exerting myself beyond even the measure of my powerful constitution, I could at last bear up no longer, and a sudden fever of the utmost possible intensity attacked me. I felt absolutely obliged to go and fling myself upon my bed. Sorely against my will, having to drag myself away from the spot, I turned to my assistants,—about ten or more in all, what with master-founders, hand-workers, country fellows, and my own special journeymen; among whom was Bernandino Mannellini of [Pg 3384] Mugello, my apprentice through several years. To him in particular I spoke:—"Look, my dear Bernandino, that you observe the rules which I have taught you; do your best with all dispatch, for the metal will soon be fused. You cannot go wrong; these honest men will get the channels ready; you will easily be able to drive back the two plugs with this pair of iron crooks; and I am sure that my mold will fill miraculously. I feel more ill than I ever did in all my life, and verily believe it will kill me before a few hours are over." Thus with despair at heart I left them and betook myself to bed.

No sooner had I got to bed than I ordered my serving-maids to carry food and wine for all the men into the workshop; at the same time I cried, "I shall not be alive to-morrow." They tried to encourage me, arguing that my illness would pass over, since it came from excessive fatigue. In this way I spent two hours battling with the fever, which steadily increased, and calling out continually, "I feel that I am dying." My housekeeper, who was named Mona Fiore da Castel del Rio, a very notable manager and no less warm-hearted, kept chiding me for my discouragement; but on the other hand, she paid me every kind attention which was possible. However, the sight of my physical pain and moral dejection so affected her that in spite of that brave heart of hers, she could not refrain from shedding tears; and yet, so far as she was able, she took care I should not see them.

While I was thus terribly afflicted, I beheld the figure of a man enter my chamber, twisted in his body into the form of a capital S. He raised a lamentable, doleful voice, like one who announces their last hour to men condemned to die upon the scaffold, and spoke these words: "O Benvenuto! your statue is spoiled, and there is no hope whatever of saving it." No sooner had I heard the shriek of that wretch than I gave a howl which might have been heard from the sphere of flame. Jumping from my bed, I seized my clothes and began to dress. The maids, and my lad, and every one who came around to help me, got kicks or blows of the fist, while I kept crying out in lamentation, "Ah! traitors! enviers! This is an act of treason, done by malice prepense! But I swear by God that I will sift it to the bottom, and before I die will leave such witness to the world of what I can do as shall make a score of mortals marvel."[Pg 3385]

When I had got my clothes on, I strode with soul bent on mischief toward the workshop; there I beheld the men whom I had left erewhile in such high spirits, standing stupefied and downcast. I began at once and spoke:—"Up with you! Attend to me! Since you have not been able or willing to obey the directions I gave you, obey me now that I am with you to conduct my work in person. Let no one contradict me, for in cases like this we need the aid of hand and hearing, not of advice." When I had uttered these words, a certain Maestro Alessandro Lastricati broke silence and said, "Look you, Benvenuto, you are going to attempt an enterprise which the laws of art do not sanction, and which cannot succeed."

I turned upon him with such fury and so full of mischief, that he and all the rest of them exclaimed with one voice, "On then! Give orders! We will obey your last commands, so long as life is left in us." I believe they spoke thus feelingly because they thought I must fall shortly dead upon the ground. I went immediately to inspect the furnace, and found that the metal was all curdled; an accident which we express by "being caked." I told two of the hands to cross the road, and fetch from the house of the butcher Capretta a load of young oak-wood, which had lain dry for above a year; this wood had been previously offered me by Madame Ginevra, wife of the said Capretta. So soon as the first armfuls arrived, I began to fill the grate beneath the furnace. Now oak-wood of that kind heats more powerfully than any other sort of tree; and for this reason, where a slow fire is wanted, as in the case of gun foundry, alder or pine is preferred. Accordingly, when the logs took fire, oh! how the cake began to stir beneath that awful heat, to glow and sparkle in a blaze! At the same time I kept stirring up the channels, and sent men upon the roof to stop the conflagration, which had gathered force from the increased combustion in the furnace; also I caused boards, carpets, and other hangings to be set up against the garden, in order to protect us from the violence of the rain.

When I had thus provided against these several disasters, I roared out first to one man and then to another, "Bring this thing here! Take that thing there!" At this crisis, when the whole gang saw the cake was on the point of melting, they did my bidding, each fellow working with the strength of three. I then ordered half a pig of pewter to be brought, which weighed [Pg 3386] about sixty pounds, and flung it into the middle of the cake inside the furnace. By this means, and by piling on wood and stirring now with pokers and now with iron rods, the curdled mass rapidly began to liquefy. Then, knowing I had brought the dead to life again, against the firm opinion of those ignoramuses, I felt such vigor fill my veins that all those pains of fever, all those fears of death, were quite forgotten.

All of a sudden an explosion took place, attended by a tremendous flash of flame, as though a thunderbolt had formed and been discharged among us. Unwonted and appalling terror astonied every one, and me more even than the rest. When the din was over and the dazzling light extinguished, we began to look each other in the face. Then I discovered that the cap of the furnace had blown up, and the bronze was bubbling over from its source beneath. So I had the mouths of my mold immediately opened, and at the same time drove in the two plugs which kept back the molten metal. But I noticed that it did not flow as rapidly as usual, the reason being probably that the fierce heat of the fire we kindled had consumed its base alloy. Accordingly I sent for all my pewter platters, porringers, and dishes, to the number of some two hundred pieces, and had a portion of them cast, one by one, into the channels, the rest into the furnace. This expedient succeeded, and every one could now perceive that my bronze was in most perfect liquefaction, and my mold was filling; whereupon they all with heartiness and happy cheer assisted and obeyed my bidding, while I, now here, now there, gave orders, helped with my own hands, and cried aloud, "O God! thou that by thy immeasurable power didst rise from the dead, and in thy glory didst ascend to heaven!"... Even thus in a moment my mold was filled; and seeing my work finished, I fell upon my knees, and with all my heart gave thanks to God.

After all was over, I turned to a plate of salad on a bench there, and ate with hearty appetite, and drank together with the whole crew.

Afterwards I retired to bed, healthy and happy, for it was now two hours before morning, and slept as sweetly as though I had never felt a touch of illness. My good housekeeper, without my giving any orders, had prepared a fat capon for my repast. So that when I rose, about the hour for breaking fast, she presented herself with a smiling countenance and said, "Oh, is that [Pg 3387] the man who felt that he was dying? Upon my word, I think the blows and kicks you dealt us last night, when you were so enraged, and had that demon in your body as it seemed, must have frightened away your mortal fever! The fever feared that it might catch it too, as we did!" All my poor household, relieved in like measure from anxiety and overwhelming labor, went at once to buy earthen vessels in order to replace the pewter I had cast away. Then we dined together joyfully: nay, I cannot remember a day in my whole life when I dined with greater gladness or a better appetite.

After our meal I received visits from the several men who had assisted me. They exchanged congratulations and thanked God for our success, saying they had learned and seen things done which other masters judged impossible. I too grew somewhat glorious; and deeming I had shown myself a man of talent, indulged a boastful humor. So I thrust my hand into my purse and paid them all to their full satisfaction.

That evil fellow, my mortal foe, Messer Pier Francesco Ricci, major-domo of the Duke, took great pains to find out how the affair had gone. In answer to his questions, the two men whom I suspected of having caked my metal for me said I was no man, but of a certainty some powerful devil, since I had accomplished what no craft of the art could do; indeed, they did not believe a mere ordinary fiend could work such miracles as I in other ways had shown. They exaggerated the whole affair so much, possibly in order to excuse their own part in it, that the major-domo wrote an account to the Duke, who was then in Pisa, far more marvelous and full of thrilling incidents than what they had narrated.

After I had let my statue cool for two whole days, I began to uncover it by slow degrees. The first thing I found was that the head of Medusa had come out most admirably, thanks to the air-vents; for as I had told the Duke, it is the nature of fire to ascend. Upon advancing farther, I discovered that the other head, that, namely, of Perseus, had succeeded no less admirably; and this astonished me far more, because it is at a considerably lower level than that of the Medusa. Now the mouths of the mold were placed above the head of Perseus and behind his shoulders; and I found that all the bronze my furnace contained had been exhausted in the head of this figure. It was a miracle to observe that not one fragment remained in the orifice of the [Pg 3388] channel, and that nothing was wanting to the statue. In my great astonishment I seemed to see in this the hand of God arranging and controlling all.

I went on uncovering the statue with success, and ascertained that everything had come out in perfect order, until I reached the foot of the right leg on which the statue rests. There the heel itself was formed, and going further, I found the foot apparently complete. This gave me great joy on the one side, but was half unwelcome to me on the other, merely because I had told the Duke that it could not come out. However, when I reached the end, it appeared that the toes and a little piece above them were unfinished, so that about half the foot was wanting. Although I knew that this would add a trifle to my labor, I was very well pleased, because I could now prove to the Duke how well I understood my business. It is true that far more of the foot than I expected had been perfectly formed; the reason of this was that, from causes I have recently described, the bronze was hotter than our rules of art prescribe; also that I had been obliged to supplement the alloy with my pewter cups and platters, which no one else, I think, had ever done before.

Having now ascertained how successfully my work had been accomplished, I lost no time in hurrying to Pisa, where I found the Duke. He gave me a most gracious reception, as did also the Duchess; and although the major-domo had informed them of the whole proceedings, their Excellencies deemed my performance far more stupendous and astonishing when they heard the tale from my own mouth. When I arrived at the foot of Perseus, and said it had not come out perfect, just as I previously warned his Excellency, I saw an expression of wonder pass over his face, while he related to the Duchess how I had predicted this beforehand.

Observing the Princess to be so well disposed towards me, I begged leave from the Duke to go to Rome. He granted it in most obliging terms, and bade me return as soon as possible to complete his Perseus; giving me letters of recommendation meanwhile to his ambassador, Averardo Serristori. We were then in the first years of Pope Giulio de Monti.

[Pg 3389]


From the 'Memoirs': Symonds's Translation

I must beg your attention now, most gracious reader, for a very terrible event which happened.

I used the utmost diligence and industry to complete my statue, and went to spend my evenings in the Duke's wardrobe, assisting there the goldsmiths who were working for his Excellency. Indeed, they labored mainly on designs which I had given them. Noticing that the Duke took pleasure in seeing me at work and talking with me, I took it into my head to go there sometimes also by day. It happened upon one of those days that his Excellency came as usual to the room where I was occupied, and more particularly because he heard of my arrival. His Excellency entered at once into conversation, raising several interesting topics, upon which I gave my views so much to his entertainment that he showed more cheerfulness than I had ever seen in him before. All of a sudden one of his secretaries appeared, and whispered something of importance in his ear; whereupon the Duke rose, and retired with the official into another chamber.

Now the Duchess had sent to see what his Excellency was doing, and her page brought back this answer:—"The Duke is talking and laughing with Benvenuto, and is in excellent good humor." When the Duchess heard this, she came immediately to the wardrobe, and not finding the Duke there, took a seat beside us. After watching us at work a while, she turned to me with the utmost graciousness, and showed me a necklace of large and really very fine pearls. On being asked by her what I thought of them, I said it was in truth a very handsome ornament. Then she spoke as follows:—"I should like the Duke to buy them for me; so I beg you, my dear Benvenuto, to praise them to him as highly as you can." At these words, I disclosed my mind to the Duchess with all the respect I could, and answered:—"My lady, I thought this necklace of pearls belonged already to your illustrious Excellency. Now that I am aware you have not yet acquired them, it is right, nay more, it is my duty, to utter what I might otherwise have refrained from saying; namely, that my mature professional experience enables me to detect very grave faults in the pearls, and for this reason I could never advise your Excellency to purchase them."[Pg 3390]

She replied:—"The merchant offers them for six thousand crowns; and were it not for some of those trifling defects you speak of, the rope would be worth over twelve thousand."

To this I replied that, even were the necklace of quite flawless quality, I could not advise any one to bid up to five thousand crowns for it: for pearls are not gems; pearls are but fishes' bones, which in the course of time must lose their freshness. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, on the contrary, never grow old; these four are precious stones, and these it is right to purchase. When I had thus spoken, the Duchess showed some signs of irritation, and exclaimed, "I have a mind to possess these pearls; so prithee, take them to the Duke and praise them up to the skies; even if you have to use some words beyond the bounds of truth, speak them to do me service; it will be well for you!"

I have always been the greatest friend of truth and foe of lies; yet compelled by necessity, unwilling to lose the favor of so great a princess, I took those confounded pearls sorely against my inclination, and went with them over to the other room, whither the Duke had withdrawn. No sooner did he set eyes upon me than he cried, "O Benvenuto, what are you about here?" I uncovered the pearls and said, "My lord, I am come to show you a most splendid necklace of pearls, of the rarest quality, and truly worthy of your Excellency; I do not believe it would be possible to put together eighty pearls which could show better than these do in a necklace. My counsel therefore is that you should buy them, for they are in good sooth miraculous." He responded on the instant, "I do not choose to buy them; they are not pearls of the quality and goodness you affirm; I have seen the necklace, and they do not please me." Then I added, "Pardon me, Prince! These pearls exceed in rarity and beauty any which were ever brought together for a necklace." The Duchess had risen, and was standing behind a door listening to all I said. Well, when I had praised the pearls a thousandfold more warmly than I have described above, the Duke turned toward me with a kindly look, and said, "O my dear Benvenuto, I know that you have an excellent judgment in all these matters. If the pearls are as rare as you certify, I should not hesitate about their purchase; partly to gratify the Duchess and partly to possess them, seeing I have always need of such things, not so much for her Grace as for the various [Pg 3391] uses of my sons and daughters." When I heard him speak thus, having once begun to tell fibs, I stuck to them with even greater boldness; I gave all the color of truth I could to my lies, confiding in the promise of the Duchess to help me at the time of need. More than two hundred crowns were to be my commission on the bargain, and the Duchess had intimated that I should receive so much; but I was firmly resolved not to touch a farthing, in order to secure my credit, and convince the Duke I was not prompted by avarice. Once more his Excellency began to address me with the greatest courtesy: "I know that you are a consummate judge of these things; therefore, if you are the honest man I always thought you, tell me now the truth." Thereat I flushed up to my eyes, which at the same time filled with tears, and said to him, "My lord, if I tell your most illustrious Excellency the truth, I shall make a mortal foe of the Duchess; this will oblige me to depart from Florence, and my enemies will begin at once to pour contempt upon my Perseus, which I have announced as a masterpiece to the most noble school of your illustrious Excellency. Such being the case, I recommend myself to your most illustrious Excellency."

The Duke was now aware that all my previous speeches had been, as it were, forced out of me. So he rejoined, "If you have confidence in me, you need not stand in fear of anything whatever." I recommenced, "Alas! my lord, what can prevent this coming to the ears of the Duchess?" The Duke lifted his hand in sign of troth pledge and exclaimed, "Be assured that what you say will be buried in a diamond casket." To this engagement upon honor I replied by telling the truth according to my judgment, namely, that the pearls were not worth above two thousand crowns. The Duchess, thinking we had stopped talking, for we now were speaking in as low a voice as possible, came forward and began as follows:—"My lord, do me the favor to purchase this necklace, because I have set my heart on them, and your Benvenuto here has said he never saw a finer row of pearls." The Duke replied, "I do not choose to buy them."—"Why, my lord, will not your Excellency gratify me by buying them?"—"Because I do not care to throw my money out of the window." The Duchess recommenced, "What do you mean by throwing your money away, when Benvenuto, in whom you place such well-merited confidence, has told me that they would be cheap at over three thousand crowns?" Then the [Pg 3392] Duke said, "My lady! my Benvenuto here has told me that if I purchase this necklace I shall be throwing my money away, inasmuch as the pearls are neither round nor well-matched, and some of them are quite faded. To prove that this is so, look here! look there! consider this one and then that. The necklace is not the sort of thing for me." At these words the Duchess cast a glance of bitter spite at me, and retired with a threatening nod of her head in my direction. I felt tempted to pack off at once and bid farewell to Italy. Yet my Perseus being all but finished, I did not like to leave without exposing it to public view. But I ask every one to consider in what a grievous plight I found myself!


From the 'Memoirs': Symonds's Translation

My brother at this period was also in Rome, serving Duke Alessandro, on whom the Pope had recently conferred the duchy of Penna. This prince kept in his service a multitude of soldiers, worthy fellows, brought up to valor in the school of that famous general Giovanni de' Medici; and among these was my brother, whom the Duke esteemed as highly as the bravest of them. One day my brother went after dinner to the shop of a man called Baccino della Croce, in the Banchi, which all those men-at-arms frequented. He had flung himself upon a settee and was sleeping. Just then the guard of the Bargello passed by; they were taking to prison a certain Captain Cisti, a Lombard, who had also been a member of Giovanni's troop, but was not in the service of the Duke. The captain, Cattivanza degli Strozzi, chanced to be in the same shop; and when Cisti caught sight of him he whispered, "I was bringing you those crowns I owed; if you want them, come for them before they go with me to prison." Now Cattivanza had a way of putting his neighbors to the push, not caring to hazard his own person. So, finding there around him several young fellows of the highest daring, more eager than apt for so serious an enterprise, he bade them catch up Captain Cisti and get the money from him, and if the guard resisted, overpower the men, provided they had pluck enough to do so.[Pg 3393]

The young men were but four, and all four of them without a beard. The first was called Bertino Aldobrandi, another Anguillotto of Lucca; I cannot recall the names of the rest. Bertino had been trained like a pupil by my brother, and my brother felt the most unbounded love for him. So then off dashed the four brave lads and came up with the guard of the Bargello,—upwards of fifty constables, counting pikes, arquebuses, and two-handed swords. After a few words they drew their weapons, and the four boys so harried the guard that if Captain Cattivanza had but shown his face, without so much as drawing, they would certainly have put the whole pack to flight. But delay spoiled all: for Bertino received some ugly wounds and fell; at the same time Anguillotto was also hit in the right arm, and being unable to use his sword, got out of the fray as well as he was able. The others did the same. Bertino Aldobrandi was lifted from the ground seriously injured.

While these things were happening we were all at table; for that morning we had dined more than an hour later than usual. On hearing the commotion one of the old man's sons, the elder, rose from table to go and look at the scuffle. He was called Giovanni; and I said to him, "For Heaven's sake, don't go! In such matters one is always certain to lose, while there is nothing to be gained." His father spoke to like purpose, "Pray, my son, don't go!" But the lad, without heeding any one, ran down the stairs. Reaching the Banchi, where the great scrimmage was, and seeing Bertino lifted from the ground, he ran towards home, and met my brother Cecchino on the way, who asked what was the matter. Though some of the bystanders signed to Giovanni not to tell Cecchino, he cried out like a madman how it was that Bertino Aldobrandi had been killed by the guard. My poor brother gave vent to a bellow which might have been heard ten miles away. Then he turned to Giovanni: "Ah me! but could you tell me which of those men killed him for me?" Giovanni said yes, that it was a man who had a big two-handed sword, with a blue feather in his bonnet. My poor brother rushed ahead, and having recognized the homicide by those signs, he threw himself with all his dash and spirit into the middle of the band, and before his man could turn on guard, ran him right through the guts, and with the sword's hilt thrust him to the ground. Then he turned upon the rest with such energy and daring that his one arm was on the point of putting [Pg 3394] the whole band to flight, had it not been that while wheeling round to strike an arquebusier, this man fired in self-defense and hit the brave unfortunate young fellow above the knee of his right leg. While he lay stretched upon the ground the constables scrambled off in disorder as fast as they were able, lest a pair to my brother should arrive upon the scene.

Noticing that the tumult was not subsiding, I too rose from table, and girding on my sword—for everybody wore one then—I went to the bridge of Sant' Agnolo, where I saw a group of several men assembled. On my coming up and being recognized by some of them, they gave way before me and showed me what I least of all things wished to see, albeit I made mighty haste to view the sight. On the instant I did not know Cecchino, since he was wearing a different suit of clothes from that in which I had lately seen him. Accordingly he recognized me first and said, "Dearest brother, do not be upset by my grave accident: it is only what might be expected in my profession; get me removed from here at once, for I have but few hours to live." They had acquainted me with the whole event while he was speaking, in brief words befitting such occasion. So I answered, "Brother, this is the greatest sorrow and the greatest trial that could happen to me in the whole course of my life. But be of good cheer; for before you lose sight of him who did the mischief, you shall see yourself revenged by my hand." Our words on both sides were to the purport, but of the shortest.

The guard was now about fifty paces from us; for Maffio, their officer, had made some of them turn back to take up the corporal my brother killed. Accordingly, I quickly traversed that short space, wrapped in my cape, which I had tightened round me, and came up with Maffio, whom I should most certainly have murdered; for there were plenty of people round, and I had wound my way among them. With the rapidity of lightning I had half drawn my sword from the sheath, when Berlinghier Berlinghieri, a young man of the greatest daring and my good friend, threw himself from behind upon my arms; he had four other fellows of like kidney with him, who cried out to Maffio, "Away with you, for this man here alone was killing you!" He asked, "Who is he?" and they answered, "Own brother to the man you see there." Without waiting to hear more, he made haste for Torre di Nona; and they said, "Benvenuto, we prevented you against your will, but did it for your good; now let [Pg 3395] us go to succor him who must die shortly." Accordingly we turned and went back to my brother, whom I had at once conveyed into a house. The doctors who were called in consultation treated him with medicaments, but could not decide to amputate the leg, which might perhaps have saved him.

As soon as his wound had been dressed, Duke Alessandro appeared and most affectionately greeted him. My brother had not as yet lost consciousness; so he said to the Duke, "My lord, this only grieves me, that your Excellency is losing a servant than whom you may perchance find men more valiant in the profession of arms, but none more lovingly and loyally devoted to your service than I have been." The Duke bade him do all he could to keep alive; for the rest, he well knew him to be a man of worth and courage. He then turned to his attendants, ordering them to see that the brave young fellow wanted for nothing.

When he was gone, my brother lost blood so copiously—for nothing could be done to stop it—that he went off his head and kept raving all the following night, with the exception that once, when they wanted to give him the communion, he said, "You would have done well to confess me before; now it is impossible that I should receive the divine sacrament in this already ruined frame; it will be enough if I partake of it by the divine virtue of the eyesight, whereby it shall be transmitted into my immortal soul, which only prays to Him for mercy and forgiveness." Having spoken thus, the Host was elevated; but he straightway relapsed into the same delirious ravings as before, pouring forth a torrent of the most terrible frenzies and horrible imprecations that the mind of man could imagine; nor did he cease once all that night until the day broke.

When the sun appeared above our horizon he turned to me and said, "Brother, I do not wish to stay here longer, for these fellows will end by making me do something tremendous, which may cause them to repent of the annoyance they have given me." Then he kicked out both his legs—the injured limb we had inclosed in a very heavy box—and made as though he would fling it across a horse's back. Turning his face round to me, he called out thrice, "Farewell, farewell!" and with the last word that most valiant spirit passed away.

At the proper hour, toward nightfall, I had him buried with due ceremony in the Church of the Florentines; and afterwards I [Pg 3396] erected to his memory a very handsome monument of marble, upon which I caused trophies and banners to be carved. I must not omit to mention that one of his friends had asked him who the man was that had killed him, and if he could recognize him; to which he answered that he could, and gave his description. My brother indeed attempted to prevent this coming to my ears; but I got it very well impressed upon my mind, as will appear in the sequel.


From the 'Memoirs': Symonds's Translation

It happened through a variety of singular accidents that I became intimate with a Sicilian priest, who was a man of very elevated genius and well instructed in both Latin and Greek letters. In the course of conversation one day we were led to talk about the art of necromancy, apropos of which I said, "Throughout my whole life I have had the most intense desire to see or learn something of this art." Thereto the priest replied, "A stout soul and a steadfast must the man have who sets himself to such an enterprise." I answered that of strength and steadfastness of soul I should have enough and to spare, provided I found the opportunity. Then the priest said, "If you have the heart to dare it, I will amply satisfy your curiosity." Accordingly we agreed upon attempting the adventure.

The priest one evening made his preparations, and bade me find a comrade, or not more than two. I invited Vincenzio Romoli, a very dear friend of mine, and the priest took with him a native of Pistoja, who also cultivated the black art. We went together to the Coliseum; and there the priest, having arrayed himself in necromancer's robes, began to describe circles on the earth with the finest ceremonies that can be imagined. I must say that he had made us bring precious perfumes and fire, and also drugs of fetid odor. When the preliminaries were completed he made the entrance into the circle, and taking us by the hand, introduced us one by one inside it. Then he assigned our several functions; to the necromancer, his comrade, he gave the pentacle to hold; the other two of us had to look after the fire and the perfumes; and then he began his incantations. This lasted more than an hour and a half; when several legions [Pg 3397] appeared, and the Coliseum was all full of devils. I was occupied with the precious perfumes, and when the priest perceived in what numbers they were present he turned to me and said, "Benvenuto, ask them something." I called on them to reunite me with my Sicilian Angelica. That night we obtained no answer; but I enjoyed the greatest satisfaction of my curiosity in such matters. The necromancer said that we should have to go a second time, and that I should obtain the full accomplishment of my request; but he wished me to bring with me a little boy of pure virginity.

I chose one of my shop-lads, who was about twelve years old, and invited Vincenzio Romoli again; and we also took a certain Agnolino Gaddi, who was a very intimate friend of both. When we came once more to the place appointed, the necromancer made just the same preparations, attended by the same and even more impressive details. Then he introduced us into the circle, which he had reconstructed with art more admirable and yet more wondrous ceremonies. Afterwards he appointed my friend Vincenzio to the ordering of the perfumes and the fire, and with him Agnolino Gaddi. He next placed in my hand the pentacle, which he bid me turn toward the points he indicated, and under the pentacle I held the little boy, my workman. Now the necromancer began to utter those awful invocations, calling by name on multitudes of demons who are captains of their legions, and these he summoned by the virtue and potency of God, the Uncreated, Living, and Eternal, in phrases of the Hebrew, and also of the Greek and Latin tongues; insomuch that in a short space of time the whole Coliseum was full of a hundredfold as many as had appeared upon the first occasion. Vincenzio Romoli, together with Agnolino, tended the fire and heaped on quantities of precious perfumes. At the advice of the necromancer I again demanded to be reunited with Angelica. The sorcerer turned to me and said, "Hear you what they have replied—that in the space of one month you will be where she is?" Then once more he prayed me to stand firm by him, because the legions were a thousandfold more than he had summoned, and were the most dangerous of all the denizens of hell; and now that they had settled what I asked, it behoved us to be civil to them and dismiss them gently. On the other side, the boy, who was beneath the pentacle, shrieked out in terror that a million of the fiercest men were swarming round and threatening [Pg 3398] us. He said moreover that four huge giants had appeared, who were striving to force their way inside the circle. Meanwhile the necromancer, trembling with fear, kept doing his best with mild and soft persuasions to dismiss them. Vincenzio Romoli, who quaked like an aspen-leaf, looked after the perfumes. Though I was quite as frightened as the rest of them, I tried to show it less, and inspired them all with marvelous courage; but the truth is that I had given myself up for dead when I saw the terror of the necromancer. The boy had stuck his head between his knees, exclaiming, "This is how I will meet death, for we are certainly dead men." Again I said to him, "These creatures are all inferior to us, and what you see is only smoke and shadow; so then raise your eyes." When he had raised them he cried out, "The whole Coliseum is in flames, and the fire is advancing on us;" then covering his face with his hands, he groaned again that he was dead, and that he could not endure the sight longer. The necromancer appealed for my support, entreating me to stand firm by him, and to have asafetida flung upon the coals; so I turned to Vincenzio Romoli, and told him to make the fumigation at once. While uttering these words I looked at Agnolino Gaddi, whose eyes were starting from their sockets in his terror, and who was more than half dead, and said to him, "Agnolo, in time and place like this we must not yield to fright, but do the utmost to bestir ourselves; therefore up at once, and fling a handful of that asafetida upon the fire."... The boy, roused by that great stench and noise, lifted his face a little, and hearing me laugh, he plucked up courage, and said the devils were taking to flight tempestuously. So we abode thus until the matin bells began to sound. Then the boy told us again that but few remained, and those were at a distance. When the necromancer had concluded his ceremonies he put off his wizard's robe, and packed up a great bundle of books which he had brought with him; then all together we issued with him from the circle, huddling as close as we could to one another, especially the boy, who had got into the middle, and taken the necromancer by his gown and me by the cloak. All the while that we were going toward our houses in the Banchi he kept saying that two of the devils he had seen in the Coliseum were gamboling in front of us, skipping now along the roofs and now upon the ground. The necromancer assured me that often as he had entered magic circles, he had never met with [Pg 3399] such a serious affair as this. He also tried to persuade me to assist him in consecrating a book, by means of which we should extract immeasurable wealth, since we could call up fiends to show us where treasures were, whereof the earth is full; and after this wise we should become the richest of mankind: love affairs like mine were nothing but vanities and follies without consequence. I replied that if I were a Latin scholar I should be very willing to do what he suggested. He continued to persuade me by arguing that Latin scholarship was of no importance, and that if he wanted, he could have found plenty of good Latinists; but that he had never met with a man of soul so firm as mine, and that I ought to follow his counsel. Engaged in this conversation, we reached our homes, and each one of us dreamed all that night of devils.

As we were in the habit of meeting daily, the necromancer kept urging me to join in his adventure. Accordingly I asked him how long it would take, and where we should have to go. To this he answered that we might get through with it in less than a month, and that the most suitable locality for the purpose was the hill country of Norcia: a master of his in the art had indeed consecrated such a book quite close to Rome, at a place called the Badia di Farfa; but he had met with some difficulties there, which would not occur in the mountains of Norcia: the peasants also of that district are people to be trusted, and have some practice in these matters, so that at a pinch they are able to render valuable assistance.

This priestly sorcerer moved me so by his persuasions that I was well disposed to comply with his request; but I said I wanted first to finish the medals I was making for the Pope. I had confided what I was doing about them to him alone, begging him to keep my secret. At the same time I never stopped asking him if he believed that I should be reunited to my Sicilian Angelica at the time appointed; for the date was drawing near, and I thought it singular that I heard nothing about her. The necromancer told me that it was quite certain I should find myself where she was, since the devils never break their word when they promise, as they did on that occasion; but he bade me keep my eyes open and be on the lookout against some accident which might happen to me in that connection, and put restraint upon myself to endure somewhat against my inclination, for he could discern a great and imminent danger in it: well [Pg 3400] would it be for me if I went with him to consecrate the book, since this would avert the peril that menaced me and would make us both most fortunate.

I was beginning to hanker after the adventure more than he did; but I said that a certain Maestro Giovanni of Castel Bolognese had just come to Rome, very ingenious in the art of making medals of the sort I made in steel, and that I thirsted for nothing more than to compete with him and take the world by storm with some great masterpiece, which I hoped would annihilate all those enemies of mine by the force of genius and not the sword. The sorcerer on his side went on urging, "Nay, prithee, Benvenuto, come with me and shun a great disaster which I see impending over you." However, I had made my mind up, come what would, to finish my medal, and we were now approaching the end of the month. I was so absorbed and enamored by my work that I thought no more about Angelica or anything of that kind, but gave my whole self up to it.


From the 'Memoirs': Symonds's Translation

It happened one day, close on the hours of vespers, that I had to go, at an unusual time for me, from my house to my workshop; for I ought to say that the latter was in the Banchi, while I lived behind the Banchi, and went rarely to the shop; all my business there I left in the hands of my partner, Felice. Having stayed a short while in the workshop, I remembered that I had to say something to Alessandro del Bene. So I arose, and when I reached the Banchi, I met a man called Ser Benedetto, who was a great friend of mine. He was a notary, born in Florence, son of a blind man who said prayers about the streets for alms, and a Sienese by race. This Ser Benedetto had been very many years at Naples; afterwards he had settled in Rome, where he transacted business for some Sienese merchants of the Chigi. My partner had over and over again asked him for some moneys which were due for certain little rings confided to Ser Benedetto. That very day, meeting him in the Banchi, he demanded his money rather roughly, as his wont was. [Pg 3401] Benedetto was walking with his masters, and they, annoyed by the interruption, scolded him sharply, saying they would be served by somebody else, in order not to have to listen to such barking.

Ser Benedetto did the best he could to excuse himself, swore that he had paid the goldsmith, and said he had no power to curb the rage of madmen. The Sienese took his words ill, and dismissed him on the spot. Leaving them, he ran like an arrow to my shop, probably to take revenge upon Felice. It chanced that just in the middle of the street we met. I, who had heard nothing of the matter, greeted him most kindly, according to my custom, to which courtesy he replied with insults. Then what the sorcerer had said flashed all at once upon my mind; and bridling myself as well as I was able, in the way he bade me, I answered:—

"Good brother Benedetto, don't fly into a rage with me, for I have done you no harm, nor do I know anything about these affairs of yours. Please go and finish what you have to do with Felice. He is quite capable of giving you a proper answer; but inasmuch as I know nothing about it, you are wrong to abuse me in this way, especially as you are well aware that I am not the man to put up with insults."

He retorted that I knew everything, and that he was the man to make me bear a heavier load than that, and that Felice and I were two great rascals. By this time a crowd had gathered round to hear the quarrel. Provoked by his ugly words, I stooped and took up a lump of mud—for it had rained—and hurled it with a quick and unpremeditated movement at his face. He ducked his head, so that the mud hit him in the middle of the skull. There was a stone in it with several sharp angles, one of which striking him, he fell stunned like a dead man; whereupon all the bystanders, seeing the great quantity of blood, judged that he was really dead.

While he was still lying on the ground, and people were preparing to carry him away, Pompeo the jeweler passed by. The Pope had sent for him to give orders about some jewels. Seeing the fellow in such a miserable plight, he asked who had struck him; on which they told him, "Benvenuto did it, but the stupid creature brought it down upon himself." No sooner had Pompeo reached the Pope than he began to speak: "Most blessed Father, Benvenuto has this very moment murdered [Pg 3402] Tobbia; I saw it with my own eyes." On this the Pope in a fury ordered the Governor, who was in the presence, to take and hang me at once in the place where the homicide had been committed; adding that he must do all he could to catch me, and not appear again before him until he had hanged me.

[Pg 3403]




he widespread and deepening contemporary interest in Celtic literature is primarily due to four distinct influences. The publication (followed by its world-wide repute and the bitterest literary controversy of modern days) of Macpherson's 'Ossian' comes first. There is no inorganic development in art, whether the art of words or any other: in the fundamental sense, there is no accident. It is a mistake therefore to speak of Macpherson's 'Ossian' as a startling meteor which flashed across the world of literature, a brief apparition out of a void into which it has returned, leaving only a mass of débris to testify to its actuality and bygone splendor: a mistake, for this famous production was indirectly but closely related to another literary influence, the publication of Bishop Percy's celebrated 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.' In art there is no room for accidents: for art is an organic development, and the most seemingly arbitrary variations are inevitable or at least natural.

After Macpherson's 'Ossian' the next important influence is the 'Mabinogion,' as retold in English from the early Welsh originals by Lady Charlotte Guest. The influence, as well as the inherent beauty and interest, of each of these famous productions will be dealt with later in these volumes.

'Ossian' and the 'Mabinogion' afforded a new standpoint. The two heralds of the treasure we have inherited in this Celtic literature of the past were Ernest Renan and Matthew Arnold. Renan by his treatise on 'La Poésie des Races Celtiques,' and later Matthew Arnold by his essay on 'Celtic Literature,' accomplished an almost inestimable service. Everything that has been done since is but a variation along the lines indicated by these two great critics; and with this result, that it is already a commonplace to say we have in the Celtic literature of the past not only an almost inexhaustible mine of beauty, but the material for a new and vivid Anglo-Celtic literature of the imagination.

In the ensuing brief sketch of some of the main features of this subject, at once so fascinating and so important, no attempt is made to do other than to interest, and perhaps allure further, the general reader. For convenience's sake, this brief paper may be divided into four sections:—Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Cornish.

[Pg 3404]


"From what dragon's teeth, and when sown, sprang forth this warlike crop?" asks Mr. Standish O'Grady, writing in his 'History of Ireland' of the host of famous heroic men and women whose names have come down to us from the antique periods of the Gael. "Out of the ground they start," he tells us, "the armies of her demigods and champions,—beautiful heroic forms,—in the North the Red Branch, in the South the Ernai or Clan Dega, in the West Queen Meave and her champions, in the Southeast that mysterious half-red Meave and her martial grooms!"

A wonderful world! that heroic Ireland, the old Ireland of Queen Meave and Cuculain, which only now for the first time is become at all a possible region for the most of us. It is due to the remarkable modern band of Irish writers and scholars represented by Mr. O'Grady in the one category, and his older namesake, Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady of the 'Silva Gadelica,' in the other, that this literature is at last unsealed for those readers who have no Gaelic equipment to aid them. With their aid Queen Meave emerges into new life in poetry and romance; Cuculain is seen fighting afresh his ancient battles; and St. Patrick encounters again the primitive Ossian: all these, fortunately, are now as much within the reach of an American audience as their classic prototypes in Homer or in the northern sagas. These few more familiar names, out of the vast number which threaten confusion in the old Irish romances and bardic books, may serve as clues in the perplexing labyrinth of a subject which seems at first so difficult to penetrate. Take Queen Meave, for instance: how do we arrive at her place and story, so early in the centuries? She belongs to the second great cycle of Irish legendary history, in which she has Cuculain, Conor mac Nessa, Fergus, and Deirdrê, as companions in romance. In this cycle the dramatic centre is the fierce interminable war between Connaught and Ulster, brought about by the treacherous murder of the sons of Usnach. The story of their tragic end, and of the melancholy death of Deirdrê, is one of the most moving in all Irish tradition. But the master-romance of the cycle is not that of Deirdrê, but of Queen Meave and her foray in quest of the famous bull of Louth; a tale familiar in Irish under its title of 'The Cattle-spoiling of Cooley.'

If one is tired of the modern world and its literary interpretations, its self-conscious fictions and impressionistic poetry, one cannot do better than dive deep into the past, where Queen Meave marches in half-barbaric splendor and beauty across the stage of the ancient [Pg 3405] Eri, which was approximately contemporaneous with the birth of Christ. That was the time when the Red Branch mustered in the north its heroic array of warriors, descendants of Ir, the son of Milesius; and of the Red Branch came Cuculain the mighty. Connaught, the Ireland west of the Shannon, was Queen Meave's patrimony, where still lived the chief remnant of the prehistoric Firbolgs, the race that once fought with the gods themselves. And we have still to supply the mid-Ireland, with Tara as capital, and Cairbre as king; the Leinster of that day, subject to Finn and Far-Cu; and the Munster, subject to Lok and Eocha, with the children of Conairy Mór the Beautiful, too, ranging the south in their fullness of power. The colors to be got out of this Celtic antiquity, the spirit of life that surges in its romantic annals, the fine fury of its heroes, the beauty and picturesqueness of its women, combine to make a story that only an Ireland of the first century could have inspired, and that only an Ireland of the sixth to the ninth century could have written.

Throughout Celtic history, the sixth century is for many reasons a climacteric period. In Irish literature, we reach about the year 575 a first point to which we can refer approximately the more conscious operation of its genius. Then it was that it made its first open claim to something like a national recognition. At the famous conclave of that year, held at Druimceta, it attained an almost academic position and organization. In this conclave, the then king of the Scottish Gaels, the leading King of the Irish, and St. Columcill, assisted at the deliberations which decided the caste and privileges of the Illuminati. There seem to have been three grades: the first, a pseudo-Druidic order, the Gradh Ecna; the second, one of law-makers and lawyers; the third, the Bardic order, the Gradh Fili, the poets being termed File in Irish. Of the many degrees to which the poets or File could attain, the highest (as in the other grades, of Ecna, "Wisdom," and of Fene, "Law") was the Ollave, or Doctor. These doctors of literature, so to call them, were already the continuators of a great tradition, especially in poetry. They had to carry, written only in their heads, an immense body of bardic and religious legendary history and philosophy. And inasmuch as they were the sole depositories of this profound and occult learning, to say nothing of those heroic tales and romances in which the Celtic people so delighted, they received high honor wherever they went. When the chief poet, the ollave, or doctor of poetry, arrived, in his weather-beaten cloak of dark crimson trimmed with white feathers, accompanied by his little band of disciples, at some chieftain's house, he was received with signal hospitality and treated to the best his host could afford.

[Pg 3406]

While literature was still oral, it is clear that despite the care used in its preservation in the bardic schools, it could not be maintained with the absolute accuracy of a written or a printed text. The remoter the historical matter to be remembered, the less likely was it to be preserved, literatim et verbatim, without those little liberties of the imagination which the Celtic word-master of earlier ages was always ready to take. Thus the first cycle of Irish legendary history, dating back many centuries before the Christian era,—the primitive and mythological cycle,—allows full license to the imagination, working upon a basis of semi-barbaric tradition, with a mixture in it of nature-myths and remotest history. Both because of the extent and the extreme difficulty of the materials afforded by this cycle in the study of the pre-Christian religious beliefs of the Celtic races, its stories will always form a great hunting-ground for Celtic students. We learn from it how the Nemedians were overtaken by the Fomorians and fought with them, almost to extermination, on Tory Island, escaping then to the south of Europe, particularly to Greece; and a couple of centuries later returned, under their new name of the Firbolgs. The Nemedians meanwhile supplied similarly a recrudescent race, the Tuatha Dé Danann, of whom came the Dagda,—the all-king, almost the Zeus of ancient Ireland. The same cycle supplies us also with the mythical types correspondent to those of the Greek mythology: e. g., Ogmuir, the Irish Heracles; Lug or Lugh, the Apollo; Diancéa, the Esculapius; Manannan, the Neptune; and so forth. We have also Bridget, the Goddess of Poetry, the Gaelic Muse, and the first and foremost of the many illustrious Brians of Gaelic story. Later critics differ ingeniously about the precise origins and significations of many of these prehistoric figures. Our own conjecture is, and it lays claim to no great originality or finality, that we have in this Danann cycle an all-but inextricable commixture of primitive nature-myths and folk-tales brought by the Milesian and pre-Milesian immigrants from the Aryan cradle in the East, together with a certain addition of confused history relating to the earliest adventures of the new-come races upon Irish ground. But such as this traditional cycle was, it provided the background for the much later second cycle, of which we have already spoken, and which bears the Red Branch aloft as a sign. In sight of the Red Branch, the darker part of the journey is over; and the mists of mythology only form the veil shutting out all but the mere human foreground.

We have spoken so far of two cycles—the Mythological, whose chronology is a matter for further criticism to decide; the Heroic, or Red Branch, which we place at the beginning of the Christian era.

[Pg 3407]

Now we come to a third cycle: the "Fenian" named after Finn Mac Cool, according to most Irish writers; the "Ossianic" named after Ossian, Finn's famous son, according to most Scotch. We need only speak of it here of course on its purely Irish side and from the Fenian aspect, as the reader will find it fully dealt with under its Ossianic aspect elsewhere. The heroes of this cycle, if we accept their historical existence in Ireland, lived from the second to the fourth centuries of the Christian era. Art, his grandson Cormac, and Cormac's son, Cairbre; Cool, his son Finn, and King Goll: these, with Owen Mor and many another, fill the Fenian romances with their fierce and picturesque pursuit of destiny and death. They only await the hand of that predestined shaper into final and positive and modernly intelligible form of the confused romances which treat of their doings, to add a new epic to the larger literature which has the Old World for its text and the New World for its interpreter.

These three great cycles of Irish romance by no means exhaust the wealth of story, still lurking perdu in old MSS. or in rare and rarely read works. Some of these additional tales have already reached American readers under modern retellings or poetic interpretations; such as, e. g., 'The Voyage of Maeldune', retold memorably, and differently enough, in flowing hexametrical periods by Tennyson:—

"And we came to the Isle of Shouting; we landed; a score of wild birds
Cried from the topmost summit with human voices and words;
Once in an hour they cried, and whenever their voices pealed,
The steer fell down at the plow and the harvest died from the field,
And the men dropt dead in the valleys, and half of the cattle went lame,
And the roof sank in on the hearth, and the dwelling broke into flame;
And the shouting of these wild birds ran into the hearts of my crew,
Till they shouted along with the shouting, and seized one another and slew;
But I drew them the one from the other; I saw that we could not stay,
And we left the dead to the birds, and we sailed with our wounded away."

Tennyson took his version from Joyce's 'Early Celtic Romances'. In this volume we have, among other legendary romances, five or six of the most wonderful or moving tales in Celtic or any other literature. Three of these are—The Three Sorrowful Tales of Erin', comprising 'The Fate of the Children of Usna' (or 'Deirdrê'); 'The Fate of the Children of Lir'; and 'The Fate of the Children of Tuirenn'. The names of the three others are 'The Voyage of Maeldun' (the oldest copy of which is dated 1100), 'The Pursuit of Dermot and Grania', and 'Ossian in the Land of Youth'. Of these perhaps the story of 'Deirdrê' is the best known, and American readers may be referred to the fine epical version by Dr. Robert D. [Pg 3408]Joyce ('Deirdrê'), published some years ago by Roberts Brothers of Boston. Two brief examples of the short episodical narratives which make up the marvelous 'Voyage of Maeldun' may be cited here,—'The Miller of Hell' and 'Signs of Home,' the latter giving the return of the Celtic Ulysses and his companions.


The next island they came to, which was not far off from the last, had a large mill on it; and near the door stood the miller, a huge-bodied, strong, burly man. They saw numberless crowds of men and horses laden with corn coming towards the mill; and when their corn was ground they went away towards the west. Great herds of all kinds of cattle covered the plain as far as the eye could reach, and among them many wagons, laden with every kind of wealth that is produced on the ridge of the world. All these the miller put into the mouth of his mill to be ground; and all as they came forth went westward.

Maeldun and his people now spoke to the miller, and asked him the name of the mill, and the meaning of all they had seen on the island. And he, turning quickly towards them, replied in a few words:—

"This mill is called the Mill of Inver-tre-Kenand, and I am the Miller of Hell. All the corn and all the riches of the world that men are dissatisfied with, or which they complain of in any way, are sent here to be ground; and also every precious article and every kind of wealth which men try to conceal from God. All these I grind in the Mill of Inver-tre-Kenand and send them away afterwards to the west."

He spoke no more, but turned round and busied himself again with his mill. And the voyagers, with much wonder and awe in their hearts, went to their curragh and sailed away.


Soon after they saw a beautiful verdant island, with herds of oxen, cows, and sheep browsing all over its hills and valleys; but no houses nor inhabitants to be seen. And they rested some time on this island and ate the flesh of the cows and sheep.[Pg 3409]

One day while they were standing on a hill a large falcon flew by; and two of the crew, who happened to look closely at him, cried out in the hearing of Maeldun:—

"See that falcon! he is surely like the falcons of Erin!"

"Watch him closely," cried Maeldun, "and observe exactly in what direction he is flying."

And they saw that he flew to the southeast, without turning or wavering.

They went on board at once; and having unmoored, they sailed to the southeast after the falcon. After rowing the whole day, they sighted land in the dusk of the evening, which seemed to them like the land of Erin.

Of all the books of the kind published since Macpherson's 'Ossian,' Lady Charlotte Guest's 'Mabinogion,' and Villemarqué's 'Barzaz-Breiz,' this collection of Dr. Joyce's has had the most marked influence. It consists of eleven tales, and was the first readable collection of the old Gaelic prose romances published in English. So far as the general public is concerned, Dr. Joyce's method is unquestionably the best. "A translation," he says, "may either follow the very words, or reproduce the life and spirit, of the original; but no translation can do both. If you render word for word, you lose the spirit; if you wish to give the spirit and manner, you must depart from the exact words and frame your own phrases. I have chosen this latter course. My translation follows the original closely enough in narrative and incident; but so far as mere phraseology is concerned, I have used the English language freely, not allowing myself to be trammeled by too close an adherence to the very words of the text. The originals are in general simple in style; and I have done my best to render them into simple, homely, plain English. In short, I have tried to tell the stories as I conceive the old Shenachies themselves would have told them if they had used English instead of Gaelic."

Another characteristic and admirably edited translation of one of these miscellaneous stories that lie outside the three cycles of Irish romance is 'The Vision of Mac Cougleime,' which we owe to Dr. Kuno Meyer (London: Nutt).

Among the legendary Celtic romances is the short but beautiful and characteristic account of Ossian's expedition to the Isle of the Blest or the Land of Youth, and his subsequent return as an old and decrepit man—in a word, the Celtic Rip Van Winkle. This legend not only underlies all the spiritual romances of Celtic Ireland and Scotland, but has profoundly appealed to the imagination of the [Pg 3410] whole complex English race of to-day, whether under the badge of the rose, the thistle, the shamrock, or the leek, whether under the banner of the United Kingdom or that of the Stars and Stripes.

The Last of the Feni

[According to an ancient legend, Finn's son Oisin, the hero poet, survived to the time of St. Patrick, two hundred years (the legend makes it three hundred) after the other Feni. On a certain occasion, when the saint asked him how he had lived to such a great age, the old hero related his story, of which the following is the close.]

I lived in the Land of Youth more than three hundred years; but it appeared to me that only three years had passed since the day I parted from my friends. At the end of that time I began to have a longing desire to see my father Finn and all my old companions, and I asked leave of Niam and of the king to visit Erin. The king gave permission, and Niam said:—

"I will give consent, though I feel sorrow in my heart, for I fear much you will never return to me."

I replied that I would surely return, and that she need not feel any doubt or dread, for that the white steed knew the way, and would bring me back in safety. Then she addressed me in these words, which seemed very strange to me:—

"I will not refuse this request, though your journey afflicts me with great grief and fear. Erin is not now as it was when you left it. The great king Finn and his Feni are all gone; and you will find, instead of them, a holy father and hosts of priests and saints. Now, think well on what I say to you, and keep my words in your mind. If once you alight from the white steed, you will never come back to me. Again I warn you, if you place your feet on the green sod in Erin, you will never return to this lovely land. A third time, O Oisin, my beloved husband, a third time I say to you, if you alight from the white steed you will never see me again."

I promised that I would faithfully attend to her words, and that I would not alight from the white steed. Then as I looked into her gentle face and marked her grief, my heart was[Pg 3411] weighed down with sadness, and my tears flowed plentifully; but even so, my mind was bent on coming back to Erin.

When I had mounted the white steed, he galloped straight toward the shore. We moved as swiftly as before over the clear sea. The wind overtook the waves and we overtook the wind, so that we straightway left the Land of Youth behind; and we passed by many islands and cities till at length we landed on the green shores of Erin.

As I traveled on through the country, I looked closely around me; but I scarcely knew the old places, for everything seemed strangely altered. I saw no sign of Finn and his host, and I began to dread that Niam's saying was coming true. At length I espied at a distance a company of little men and women,[A] all mounted on horses as small as themselves; and when I came near, they greeted me kindly and courteously. They looked at me with wonder and curiosity, and they marveled much at my great size and at the beauty and majesty of my person.

I asked them about Finn and the Feni; whether they were still living, or if any sudden disaster had swept them away. And one replied:—

"We have heard of the hero Finn, who ruled the Feni of Erin in times of old, and who never had an equal for bravery and wisdom. The poets of the Gaels have written many books concerning his deeds and the deeds of the Feni, which we cannot now relate; but they are all gone long since, for they lived many ages ago. We have heard also, and we have seen it written in very old books, that Finn had a son named Oisin. Now this Oisin went with a young fairy maiden to Tirnanoge, and his father and his friends sorrowed greatly after him and sought him long; but he was never seen again."

When I heard all this I was filled with amazement, and my heart grew heavy with great sorrow. I silently turned my steed away from the wondering people, and set forward straightway for Allen of the mighty deeds, on the broad green plains of Leinster. It was a miserable journey to me; and though my mind, being full of sadness at all I saw and heard, forecasted further sorrows, I was grieved more than ever when I reached Allen. For there indeed I found the hill deserted and lonely, and my father's palace all in ruins and overgrown with grass and weeds.

[Pg 3412]I turned slowly away, and afterwards fared through the land in every direction in search of my friends. But I met only crowds of little people, all strangers, who gazed on me with wonder; and none knew me. I visited every place throughout the country where I knew the Feni had lived; but I found their houses all like Allen, solitary and in ruins.

At length I came to Glenasmole,[B] where many a time I had hunted in days of old with the Feni, and there I saw a crowd of people in the glen. As soon as they saw me, one of them came forward and said:—

"Come to us, thou mighty hero, and help us out of our strait; for thou art a man of vast strength."

I went to them, and found a number of men trying in vain to raise a large flat stone. It was half lifted from the ground; but those who were under it were not strong enough either to raise it further or to free themselves from its weight. And they were in great distress, and on the point of being crushed to death.

I thought it a shameful thing that so many men should be unable to lift this stone, which Oscar, if he were alive, would take in his right hand and fling over the heads of the feeble crowd. After I had looked a little while, I stooped forward and seized the flag with one hand; and putting forth my strength, I flung it seven perches from its place, and relieved the little men. But with the great strain the golden saddle-girth broke, and bounding forward to keep myself from falling, I suddenly came to the ground on my two feet.

The moment the white steed felt himself free, he shook himself and neighed. Then, starting off with the speed of a cloud-shadow on a March day, he left me standing helpless and sorrowful. Instantly a woeful change came over me: the sight of my eyes began to fade, the ruddy beauty of my face fled, I lost all my strength, and I fell to the earth, a poor withered old man, blind and wrinkled and feeble.

The white steed was never seen again. I never recovered my sight, my youth, or my strength; and I have lived in this manner, sorrowing without ceasing for my gentle golden-haired wife Niam, and thinking ever of my father Finn, and of the lost companions of my youth.

[A] The gigantic race of the Feni had all passed away, and Erin was now inhabited by people who looked very small in Oisin's eyes.

[B] Glenasmole, a fine valley about seven miles south of Dublin, through which the river Dodder flows.

[Pg 3413]Between these romances and the first definite Christian writings the numerous Ossianic colloquies and narrative poems, and the Irish Annals, form the connecting links. The Ossianic poetry, even where it is specially Irish in character, we have elected to leave aside for the present, for reasons already given; but it must be remembered that they form a very important section in themselves, and amount in Irish alone to some fifty thousand lines, even on a fairly moderate computation.

Turning to the Annals, we are confronted at once by that extraordinary repository of Irish lore, history, and legend known as 'The Annals of the Four Masters.' This remarkable testament of the Irish genius was due primarily to the zeal and energy of Michael O'Clery, born at Donegal about 1580—the last of a long line of scholars. Having become a Franciscan, in his conventual calling he was living far away from his native soil, at St. Anthony's monastery in Louvain. But there he had another Donegal man, Ædh the son of Bháird (Ward), for fellow worker; and the two together formed the idea of collecting and putting into permanent form the valuable MS. flotsam of old Irish literature which in earlier days, wandering in their own land, they had found drifting insecurely hither and thither. The plan they proposed was for O'Clery to get leave of absence and return to Ireland, there to roam up and down the land, collecting and copying every valuable MS. he could lay hands on; then transmitting the copy to his co-worker in Louvain. Ædh son of Ward died too soon to carry out fully his part of the undertaking: but another Irish Franciscan, Father Colgan, took up the task; and it was he who gave the book its present title, 'The Annals of the Four Masters,' calling it after the four men who chiefly collaborated in the work, viz., Michael O'Clery, Farfassa O'Mulconry, Peregrine O'Clery, and Peregrine O'Duigenan. The Annals, thus laboriously brought to a triumphant close, carry history back to the Deluge, and down to the years contemporary with their compilers and authors, and the early part of the seventeenth century. "There is no event of Irish history," says Dr. Hyde, "from the birth of Christ to the beginning of the seventeenth century, that the first inquiry of the student will not be—What do the Four Masters say about it?" The Annals indeed present in their curiously epitomized and synchronized pages the concentrated essence of thousands of the confused MSS. which the Four Masters collated, sifted, and interpreted with consummate art and intelligence. They wrote, we may add, in an archaic, almost cryptic style, full of bardic euphemisms and other difficulties; so that it is fortunate even for Celtic scholars that O'Donovan's seven great volumes, in his quarto edition, present the text with an accompanying English translation.[Pg 3414]

The more one compares the great work of the Four Masters with other succeeding works of the same historical order, the more one sees how great was the effect upon Irish literature of the growth of Christian influence. St. Patrick's are the world-wide name and fame which most clearly mark the early Christian history of Ireland, when the new divine creed entered into the land and confronted the Celtic paganism. Many are the exquisite legends of St. Patrick, often so naïvely and so tenderly told; with glimmerings here and there already of the humor which we connect so much with the Irish temper of mind, and which received probably its greatest stimulus when an Irishman of earlier times wished, in all courtesy, to reconcile his old fighting instincts with the Christian gentleness and self-sacrifice. This as it may be, the hagiology of the mediæval Irishman is in delightful contrast to the tales of battle and foray in the three great cycles of early romance. As for St. Patrick, the legendary and apocryphal literature that centres about him amounts in verse and prose to an immense bulk. Much of this matter has of course very small historical value; but it may be conceded that Patrick's traditional rôle as a law-maker and reviser, in connection with the revision of the Brehon Law, deserves serious attention. Similarly, though we do not accept more than a small part of the poems attributed to him as really his, there is enough to show him a poet, as well as a great teacher and preacher and lawgiver. What is most to the purpose, perhaps, is that he made his life a poem; so that the mediæval scribes can hardly speak of him without adorning and beautifying the tale they have to tell. Less known but hardly less interesting is St. Columcill, whom Dr. Hyde claims "to have been, both in his failings and his virtues, the most typical of Irishmen; at once sentimental and impulsive, an eminent type of the race he came from." Dr. Hyde goes on to relate, in illustration of this, the tale of the heron in Iona:—When "he saw the bird flying across the water from the direction of Ireland, and alighting half frozen with cold and faint with flight upon the rocky coast there, he sent out one of his monks to go round the island and warm and cherish and feed the bird; 'because,' said he weeping, 'it has come from the land I shall never see on earth again!'" Surely one of the most touching sentences ever uttered in all the long series of the lament of the Celt in exile!

The Lives of the Saints form altogether a most important and characteristic section of Irish literature. Even when composed in Latin, they remain so saturated with Celtic feeling and coloring that they may fairly be counted among Irish books. Dr. Hyde names several Latin lives of St. Patrick alone, ascribed to St. Benignus, St. Ultan, St. Eleran, and others of his later followers. Of St. Columcill[Pg 3415] (St. Columba), one of the fullest, written in Irish in the sixteenth century, was compiled at Lifford under the direction of Manus O'Donnell, Prince of Tirconnell; though Adamnan's Latin life of the Saint is the most important book on the subject, written as it was only a hundred years after the death of Columba, and by one who was his spiritual successor as Abbot of Iona.

The Danish invasion of Ireland, lasting from the ninth to the eleventh centuries, draws a red line across the history of its literature. During that troubled period many of the most priceless of its MSS. were destroyed, and violent disruptions threatened every phase of learning. However, the old impulse of the sixth century still lived; and we find in the tenth, Cormac, Bishop of Cashel, first among a redoubtable band of men of letters and men of affairs who strove successfully to maintain the Irish spirit. Cormac's 'Glossary' is the oldest book of its kind, and invaluable as a monument; and the reputed poems of Gorm'ly, his betrothed bride, whom he never married, and whose tale is a sad and strange one, form in their different ways an extremely characteristic expression of the Irish literature of the time.

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the older Irish romances multiplied themselves and begat new ones in the most astonishing way. 'The Book of Leinster' mentions one hundred and eighty-one tales, duly classified: Love-tales, Battle-tales, Tales of Travel, Forays, Feasts, Visions, Tragedies, etc. What we have called the doctors of literature devoted themselves henceforth more to prose than to poetry, and poetry fell more and more into the hands of those who wrote not for the elect but for the people.

There was no new development of Irish poetry, such as there was of Welsh poetry in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The bardic schools, which did so much for Irish poetry from the sixth century to the seventeenth, insisted upon its conventions to a degree that was excessive. Geoffrey Keating, who carried on his great work at the same time as the Four Masters, in the first half of the seventeenth century, and who was a poet as well as a historian, still used the bardic prosody, and wrote some delightful poems by its rules; but he lent his influence to aid the new liberty in prose and verse that Irish literature was learning. Keating's name is of first-rate importance in its record, for this very reason. He was the first really to conceive of Irish literature as a literature for the people, and not only for the elect. He was the first to do this; and partly because he did it, he was the last great landmark in the larger Gaelic literature of Ireland. His 'History of Ireland,' the result of an enforced retirement from preaching, was, says Dr. Hyde, "the most popular book ever written in Irish." He marks too the [Pg 3416]transition, as we pointed out, from the old bardic tradition in Irish poetry. After his coming the bards threw away their superfluous prosody and wrote for the people, and became poets indeed, instead of the most ingenious of schoolmen. The result was the remarkable body of Irish poetry which belongs to the last three centuries, and which contains many of the characteristics of folk-song and culture poetry, in a most tuneful and idiosyncratic fashion quite its own. Let us listen again to Dr. Hyde on this point:—

"What the popular ballads of the folk had been like prior to the seventeenth century we have no means of knowing. No scribe would demean his learned pen by committing them to paper; but from that date down to the beginning of the present century the bards—the great houses being fallen—turned instinctively to the general public, and threw behind them the metres that required so many years of study in the schools, and dropped at a stroke several thousand words which no one understood except the great chiefs or those trained by the poets, while they broke out into beautiful but at the same time intelligible verse, which no one who has once heard and learned is likely to forget. This is to my mind the real glory of the modern Irish nation; this is the sweetest creation of Gaelic literature; this is the truest note of the enchanting Irish siren, and he who has once heard it and remains deaf to its charm has neither heart for song nor soul for music. The Gaelic poetry of the last two centuries is the most sensuous attempt to convey music in words ever made by man. It is absolutely impossible to convey the lusciousness of sound, richness of rhythm, and perfection of harmony in another language."

Discounting what we will in the natural enthusiasm of one who has devoted himself heart and soul to the cause of the Gaelic tongue and of Irish literature, quite enough remains to carry the contention for the continuing interest of native Irish poetry after so many centuries. That such a poetry and such a language should suddenly decay after so noble and enriched a record in the past, is nothing short of a tragedy in the history of tongues.

Dr. Hyde's own collection of the 'Love Songs of Connacht' is the best example that American readers could possibly have of this Irish poetry, the late flowering of so venerable and noble a tree. And with this work, and some of the collections of the folk-tales still current in Erse-speaking Ireland, made by Dr. Hyde, Mr. Jeremiah Curtin, and Mr. Larminie, and Englished for us, we must bring this brief outline of the Irish contribution to Celtic literature to a close. Its modern interpretation is only now beginning to take its due place, let us remember, both at the hands of its scholars and on the lips of its poets. And if any reader should think the scholars still, after all we have said, too difficult to follow, let us recommend them to turn to the poems and tales of Mr. W. B. Yeats and to the [Pg 3417]romantic pages of Mr. Standish O'Grady, the latest exponents in our more modern tongue of that imagination, and that subtlety and energy of thought, which are characteristically Irish.

Of the three great cycles of Gaelic literature, the third is the (so-called) Ossianic. Of this cycle Finn (Fionn, Fingal) is the central hero. The second great cycle is that which treats of the heroes of the Ultonians, i. e., the Red Branch of Ulster; among this cycle Cuculain (Cuchullin, Cohoolin, Coolin) is the supreme type. No living writer has so well reconstructed the past for us as Mr. Standish O'Grady has done, and nowhere is he so successful as in his vivid and beautiful historical romance, of which Cuculain is the hero. Of the famous "battle-prop of the valor and torch of the chivalry of the Ultonians" Mr. O'Grady has given us an account which deserves to pass into the fixed literature of our race. Apart from its vividness, charm, and power, 'The Coming of Cuculain' affords a general idea of the first great heroic cycle (its predecessor dealing entirely with mythical or mythopœic beings), and of primitive heroic life as reflected in that literature. The excerpts selected are (1) the opening of the romance, and (2) from the chapter telling how Cuculain won his knighthood.



The Red Branch feasted one night in their great hall at Emain Macha. So vast was the hall that a man such as men are now, standing in the centre and shouting his loudest, would not be heard at the circumference; yet the low laughter of the King sitting at one end was clearly audible to those who sat around the Champion at the other. The sons of Dithorba made it, giants of the elder time, laboring there under the shoutings of Macha and the roar of her sounding thongs. Its length was a mile and nine furlongs and a cubit. With her brooch-pin she plowed its outline upon the plain, and its breadth was not much less. Trees such as earth nourished then upheld the mossy roof beneath which feasted that heroic brood, the great-hearted children of Rury, huge offsprings of the gods and giants of the dawn of time. For mighty exceedingly were these men. At the noise of their running to battle all Ireland shook, and the illimitable Lir trembled in his watery halls; the roar of their brazen chariots reverberated from the solid canopy of heaven, and their war-steeds drank rivers dry.[Pg 3418]

A vast murmur rose from the assembly, for like distant thunder or the far-off murmuring of agitated waters was the continuous hum of their blended conversation and laughter, while ever and anon, cleaving the many-tongued confusion, uprose friendly voices, clearer and stronger than battle trumpets, when one hero challenged another to drink, wishing him victory and success, and his words rang round the hollow dome. Innumerable candles, tall as spears, illuminated the scene. The eyes of the heroes sparkled, and their faces, white and ruddy, beamed with festal mirth and mutual affection. Their yellow hair shone. Their banqueting attire, white and scarlet, glowed against the outer gloom. Their round brooches and mantle-pins of gold or silver or golden bronze, their drinking vessels and instruments of festivity, flashed and glittered in the light. They rejoiced in their glory and their might and in the inviolable amity in which they were knit together; a host of comrades, a knot of heroic valor and affection, which no strength or cunning, and no power seen or unseen, could ever release or untie.

At one extremity of the vast hall, upon a raised seat, sat their young king, Concobar Mac Nessa, slender, handsome, and upright. A canopy of bronze, round as the bent sling of the Sun-god, the long-handed, far-shooting son of Ethlend, encircled his head. At his right hand lay a staff of silver. Far away at the other end of the hall, on a raised seat, sat the Champion, Fergus Mac Roy, like a colossus. The stars and clouds of night were round his head and shoulders, seen through the wide and high entrance of the Dûn, whose doors no man has ever seen closed and barred. Aloft, suspended from the dim rafters, hung the naked forms of great men clear against the dark dome, having the cords of their slaughter around their necks and their white limbs splashed with blood. Kings were they, who had murmured against the sovereignty of the Red Branch. Through the wide doorway out of the night flew a huge bird, black and gray, unseen; and soaring upwards sat upon the rafters, its eyes like burning fire. It was the Mór Reega, or Great Queen, the far-striding, terrible daughter of Iarnmas (Iron-Death). Her voice was like the shouting of ten thousand men. Dear to her were these heroes. More she rejoiced in them feasting than in the battle prowess of the rest.

When supper was ended, their bard, in his singing-robes and girt around the temples with a golden fillet, stood up and sang.[Pg 3419] He sang how once a king of the Ultonians, having plunged into the sea-depths, there slew a monster which had wrought much havoc amongst fishers and seafaring men. The heroes attended to his song, leaning forward with bright eyes. They applauded the song and the singer, and praised the valor of the heroic man who had done the deed. Then the Champion struck the table with his clenched hands and addressed the assembly. Wrath and sorrow were in his voice. It resembled the brool of lions, heard afar by seafaring men upon some savage shore on a still night.

"Famous deeds," he said, "are not wrought now among the Red Branch. I think we are all become women. I grow weary of these huntings in the morning and mimic exercises of war, and this training of steeds and careering of brazen chariots stained never with aught but dust and mire, and these unearned feastings at night and vain applause of the brave deeds of our forefathers. Come now, let us make an end of this. Let us conquer Banba (Ireland) wholly in all her green borders, and let the realms of Lir, which sustain no foot of man, be the limit of her sovereignty. Let us gather the tributes of all Ireland, after many battles and much warlike toil. Then more sweetly shall we drink, while the bards chant our prowess. Once I knew a coward who boasted endlessly about his forefathers, and at last my anger rose, and with a flat hand I slew him in the middle of his speech, and paid no eric, for he was nothing. We have the blood of heroes in our veins, and we sit here nightly boasting about them: about Rury, whose name we bear; and Macha the warrioress, who brought hither bound the sons of Dithorba and made them rear this mighty Dûn; and Kimbaoth son of Fiontann; and my namesake Fergus, whose crooked mouth was no dishonor, and the rest of our hero sires; and we consume the rents and tributes of Ulster which they by their prowess conquered to us, and which flow hither in abundance from every corner of the province. Valiant men too will one day come hither and slay us as I slew that boaster, and here in Emain Macha their bards will praise them. Then in the halls of our dead shall we say to our sires, 'All that you got for us by your blood and your sweat, that we have lost, and the glory of the Red Branch is at an end.'"

That speech was pleasing to the Red Branch, and they cried out that Fergus Mac Roy had spoken well. Then all at once, on[Pg 3420] a sudden impulse, they sang the battle song of the Ultonians, and shouted for the war so that the building quaked and rocked, and in the hall of the weapons there was a clangor of falling shields, and men died that night for extreme dread, so mightily shouted the Ultonians around their king and around Fergus.


On the morrow there was a great hasting of the Red Branch on the plain of the assemblies. It was May-day morning and the sun shone brightly, but at first through radiant showers. The trees were putting forth young buds; the wet grass sparkled. All the martial pomp and glory of the Ultonians were exhibited that day. Their chariots and war-horses ringed the plain. All the horses' heads were turned towards the centre where were Concobar Mac Nessa and the chiefs of the Red Branch. The plain flashed with gold, bronze, and steel, and glowed with the bright mantles of the innumerable heroes, crimson and scarlet, blue, green, or purple. The huge brooches on their breasts, of gold and silver or gold-like bronze, were like resplendent wheels. Their long hair, yellow for the most part, was bound with ornaments of gold. Great truly were those men; their like has not come since upon the earth. They were the heroes and demigods of the heroic age of Erin, champions who feared naught beneath the sun; mightiest among the mighty, huge, proud, and unconquerable, and loyal and affectionate beyond all others; all of the blood of Ir, son of Milesius, the Clanna Rury of great renown, rejoicing in their valor, their splendor, their peerless king. Concobar had no crown. A plain circle of beaten gold girt his broad temples. In the naked glory of his regal manhood he stood there before them all, but even so a stranger would have swiftly discovered the captain of the Red Branch; such was his stature, his bearing, such his slow-turning, steady-gazing eyes and the majesty of his bearded countenance. His countenance was long, broad above and narrow below, his nose eminent, his beard bipartite, curling and auburn in hue, his form without any blemish or imperfection....

"Let the tameless horses of Macha be harnessed to the chariot," cried Concobar, "and let Læg, son of the King of Gabra, drive them hither, for those are the horses and that the chariot which shall be given this day to Cuculain."[Pg 3421]

Then, son of Sualtam, how in thy guileless breast thy heart leaped when thou heardest the thundering of the great war-car and the wild neighing of the immortal steeds, as they broke from the dark stable into the clear-shining light of day, and heard behind them the ancient roaring of the brazen wheels, as in the days when they bore forth Macha and her martial groom against the giants of old, and mightily established in Eiria the Red Branch of the Ultonians! Soon they rushed to view from the rear of Emain, speeding forth impetuously out of the hollow-sounding ways of the city and the echoing palaces into the open, and behind them in the great car green and gold, above the many-twinkling wheels, the charioteer, with floating mantle, girt round the temples with the gold fillet of his office, leaning backwards and sideways as he labored to restrain their fury unrestrainable: a gray long-maned steed, whale-bellied, broad-chested, with mane like flying foam, under one silver yoke, and a black lustrous tufty-maned steed under the other; such steeds as in power, size, and beauty the earth never produced before and never will produce again.

Like a hawk swooping along the face of a cliff when the wind is high; or like the rush of March wind over the smooth plain; or like the fleetness of the stag roused from his lair by the hounds and covering his first field, was the rush of those steeds when they had broken through the restraint of the charioteer, as though they galloped over fiery flags; so that the earth shook and trembled with the velocity of their motion, and all the time the great car brayed and shrieked as the wheels of solid and glittering bronze went round, and strange cries and exclamations were heard, for they were demons that had their abode in that car.

The charioteer restrained the steeds before the assembly, but nay-the-less a deep purr like the purr of a tiger proceeded from the axle. Then the whole assembly lifted up their voices and shouted for Cuculain, and he himself, Cuculain the son of Sualtam, sprang into his chariot all armed, with a cry as of a warrior springing into his chariot in the battle, and he stood erect and brandished his spears, and the war sprites of the Gael shouted along with him; for the Bocanahs and Bananahs and the Geniti Gluidi, the wild people of the glens, and the demons of the air, roared around him, when first the great warrior of the Gael, his battle-arms in his hands, stood equipped for war in his[Pg 3422] chariot before all the warriors of his tribe, the kings of the Clanna Rury and the people of the Emain Macha. Then too there sounded from the Tec Brac the boom of shields and the clashing of swords and the cries and shouting of the Tuatha Dée Danann, who dwelt there perpetually; and Lu the long-handed, the slayer of Balor, the destroyer of the Fornoroh, the immortal, the invisible, the maker and the decorator of the firmament, whose hound was the sun, and whose son the viewless wind, thundered from heaven and bent his sling five-hued against the clouds; and the son of the illimitable Lir in his mantle blue and green, foam-fringed, passed through the assembly with a roar of far-off innumerable waters, and the Mór Reega stood in the midst with a foot on either side of the plain, and shouted with the shout of a host, so that the Ultonians fell down like reaped grass with their faces to the earth, on account of the presence of the Mór Reega and on account of the omens and great signs.

The following poems from the ancient Erse are taken from the 'Lyra Celtica: an Anthology of Representative Celtic Poetry,' edited by Elizabeth A. Sharp.


I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am a beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am a wild boar in valor,
I am a salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a word of science,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who creates in the head [i. e. of man] the fire [i. e. the thought].
Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain [if not I]?
Who announces the ages of the moon [if not I]?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun [if not I]?

[Pg 3423]


May-day, delightful time! How beautiful the color!
The blackbirds sing their full lay. Would that Læg were here!
The cuckoos sing in constant strains. How welcome is the noble
Brilliance of the seasons ever! On the margin of the branching woods
The summer swallows skim the stream: the swift horses seek the pool;
The heather spreads out her long hair; the weak fair bow-down grows.
Sudden consternation attacks the signs; the planets, in their courses running, exert an influence:
The sea is lulled to rest, flowers cover the earth.


Tell us some of the charms of the stars:
Close and well set were her ivory teeth;
White as the canna upon the moor
Was her bosom the tartan bright beneath.
Her well-rounded forehead shone
Soft and fair as the mountain snow;
Her two breasts were heaving full;
To them did the hearts of heroes flow.
Her lips were ruddier than the rose;
Tender and tunefully sweet her tongue;
White as the foam adown her side
Her delicate fingers extended hung.
Smooth as the dusky down of the elk
Appeared her shady eyebrows to me;
Lovely her cheeks were, like berries red;
From every guile she was wholly free.
Her countenance looked like the gentle buds
Unfolding their beauty in early spring;
Her yellow locks like the gold-browed hills;
And her eyes like the radiance the sunbeams bring.

[Pg 3424]

In contemporary Celtic poetry no one surpasses Mr. W. B. Yeats, particularly in the re-creation of that wonderful past with whose atmosphere his whole work is charged. As an example of Mr. Yeats's narrative method with legendary themes we may quote some lines from his beautiful 'The Wanderings of Oisin' (Ossian):—

Fled foam underneath us, and round us a wandering and milky smoke,
High as the saddle-girth, covering away from our glances the tide;
And those that fled, and that followed, from the foam-pale distance broke;
The immortal desire of immortals we saw in their faces, and sighed.
I mused on the chase with the Fenians, and Bran, Sgeolan, Lomair,
And never a song sang Neave, and over my finger-tips
Came now the sliding of tears and sweeping of mist-cold hair,
And now the warmth of sighs, and after the quiver of lips.
Were we days long or hours long in riding, when, rolled in a grisly peace,
An isle lay level before us, with dripping hazel and oak?
And we stood on a sea's edge we saw not; for whiter than new-washed fleece
Fled foam underneath us, and round us a wandering and milky smoke.
And we rode on the plains of the sea's edge—the sea's edge barren and gray,
Gray sands on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away
Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.
But the trees grew taller and closer, immense in their wrinkling bark;
Dropping—a murmurous dropping—old silence and that one sound;
For no live creatures lived there, no weasels moved in the dark—
Long sighs arose in our spirits, beneath us bubbled the ground.
And the ears of the horse went sinking away in the hollow night;
For as drift from a sailor slow drowning the gleams of the world and the sun,
Ceased on our hands and our faces, on hazel and oak leaf, the light,
And the stars were blotted above us, and the whole of the world was one.

[Pg 3425]

Finally, here is one of Mr. Yeats's "old songs re-sung":—


I sat on cushioned otter skin:
My word was law from Ith to Emen,
And shook at Invar Amargin
The hearts of the world-troubling seamen,
And drove tumult and war away
From girl and boy and man and beast;
The fields grew fatter day by day,
The wild fowl of the air increased;
And every ancient Ollave said,
While he bent down his faded head,—
"He drives away the Northern cold."
They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech-leaves old.
I sat and mused and drank sweet wine;
A herdsman came from inland valleys,
Crying, the pirates drove his swine
To fill their dark-beaked hollow galleys.
I called my battle-breaking men
And my loud brazen battle-cars
From rolling vale and rivery glen,
And under the blinking of the stars
Fell on the pirates of the deep,
And hurled them in the gulph of sleep:
These hands won many a torque of gold.
They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech-leaves old.
But slowly, as I shouting slew
And trampled in the bubbling mire,
In my most secret spirit grew
A whirling and a wandering fire:
I stood: keen stars above me shone,
Around me shone keen eyes of men:
And with loud singing I rushed on
Over the heath and spungy fen,
And broke between my hands the staff
Of my long spear with song and laugh,
That down the echoing valleys rolled.
They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech-leaves old.
And now I wander in the woods
When summer gluts the golden bees,
[Pg 3426]Or in autumnal solitudes
Arise the leopard-colored trees;
Or when along the wintry strands
The cormorants shiver on their rocks;
I wander on, and wave my hands,
And sing, and shake my heavy locks.
The gray wolf knows me; by one ear
I lead along the woodland deer;
The hares run by me, growing bold.
They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech-leaves old.
I came upon a little town
That slumbered in the harvest moon,
And passed a-tiptoe up and down,
Murmuring to a fitful tune,
How I have followed, night and day,
A tramping of tremendous feet,
And saw where this old tympan lay,
Deserted on a doorway seat,
And bore it to the woods with me;
Of some unhuman misery
Our married voices wildly trolled.
They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech-leaves old.
I sang how, when day's toil is done,
Orchil shakes out her long dark hair
That hides away the dying sun
And sheds faint odors through the air:
When my hand passed from wire to wire
It quenched, with sound like falling dew,
The whirling and the wandering fire,
But left a mournful ulalu;
For the kind wires are torn and still,
And I must wander wood and hill,
Through summer's heat and winter's cold.
They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech-leaves old.

[Pg 3427]


Early Celtic literature in Scotland is so intimately allied with the Irish, that much of the previous section must be held to belong as much to the present one. We shall not need to recapitulate here what is there dealt with. The two Gaelic currents began to separate, if almost imperceptibly, even then; and only in century-long stages, after passing the point marked by the mediæval recapitulators of Ossian and St. Patrick. How closely intermingled these currents were up to that point may be learnt from the evidence of such exquisite lines as those preserved by the Scottish Dean Macgregor, entitled 'Ossian Sang':—

Sweet is the voice in the land of gold,
And sweeter the music of birds that soar,
When the cry of the heron is heard on the wold,
And the waves break softly on Bundatrore.
Down floats on the murmuring of the breeze
The call of the cuckoo from Cossahun,
The blackbird is warbling among the trees;
And soft is the kiss of the warming sun.
The cry of the eagle of Assaroe
O'er the court of Mac Morne to me is sweet,
And sweet is the cry of the bird below
Where the wave and the wind and the tall cliff meet.
Finn Mac Cool is the father of me,
Whom seven battalions of Fenians fear.
When he launches his hounds on the open lea,
Grand is their cry as they rouse the deer.

The last verse is eloquent as to the common traditions of the Scots and Irish Gael. Ossian is dealt with separately under his own proper heading, however, and we need not discuss here his interest, literary and historical.

Turning to St. Patrick, let us accept provisionally the account that makes him of Gaelo-Brythonic race, born about 387 A.D. at Kilpatrick on the Clyde,—Strathclyde being an old famous region of the northern Brythonic stock. The remains, in prose and verse, of the early Scottish literature dealing with St. Patrick are of course not so numerous as the Irish; but as the two were freely interchangeable[A] [Pg 3428] in the early period when his record was being written down, it follows that where Irish memoranda of his true and his legendary history, his hymns, and so forth, existed, the Scottish chroniclers and bards would accept them without feeling the need of making a separate record. Nor must we forget, in speaking of St. Patrick, that the pre-Christian romantic mythology, with its Firbolgs and ancient heroic gods, giants, and men, is just as much to be limned into the background of the picture in the case of early Scottish as in that of Irish Gaelic tradition and its earliest scriptive forms.

Curiously enough, if Scotland gave Ireland the saint that in course of time became almost its national symbol,—Patrick,—Ireland in turn gave Scotland its dearest saint,—Columba. He was born in 521, near Temple Douglas (Tulach-Dubh-glaise); in 545 founded a church in Derry; later, the famous church at Kells; and in 563, after some jealousy had been at work against him, he left for Ireland, and after pausing at Colonsay, he went on to Ia, now known the world over as Iona. Iona has become now the locus classici of the Gaelic, not to say the whole Scottish race. Recently, a writer of profound imagination, Miss Fiona Macleod, has dated from its lonely shores the dedication of that impressive book 'The Sin-Eater, and Other Tales,' showing how it still keeps for those of the true faith its old effect:—

"I mo cridhe, i mo ghraidh,"
(Isle of my heart, isle of my love,)

as Columba is said to have called it. His followers, the little sacred circle of twelve, 'the Family of Iona,' had to be militant with a vengeance: Milesian—or soldiering—as well as cleric, in their work; and the old traditions are full of references to their fight against the Féinne and the house of Ossian. But having so far prevailed as they did, they became in turn the chroniclers of the very things they had fought against. So in a sense, and a very real one, Iona is the first centre of the literature of the Scots Gaels to which we can point. The total effect of Columba, or Columcill, upon Gaelic life and literature, Irish and Scots, was immense indeed; to gather whose force one must read in the 'Book of Deer' and the old Irish MSS. on the one hand, and the Latin hymnology of the Celtic church on the other.

But in speaking of Columba let us not forget the tender and beautiful figure of St. Bridget,—another of that mysterious train, including Merlin and St. Patrick, which has associations with Strathclyde—

"Bonnie sweet St. Bride of the
Yellow, yellow hair!"

[A] "The early literature of the Scottish Gael," says the Rev. Nigel MacNeill in his interesting work 'The Literature of the Highlanders,' "cannot be well understood apart from early Irish literature. The ballads of the two countries describe the same struggles, the characters engaging in the strife are the same and bear the same names."

St. Bridget, the St. Mary of the Gael, whose story has been retold by Miss Fiona Macleod in 'The Washer of the Ford,' may first be[Pg 3429] found depicted by the side of Patrick and Columba in the famous antique relic, the 'Domhnach Airgid,' dating back to the sixth or seventh century. She appears constantly in Gaelic hagiology, and with poetic as well as saintly fame casting a halo about her yellow hair. O'Curry's 'MS. Materials,' and other collections make it possible, luckily, for other than purely Gaelic students to read of her as she appeared in early time. She is a peculiarly interesting figure, because in the Celtic races women have always counted peculiarly; and there are signs that they will count even more in time to come. St. Bridget (Brigit, Bride, Breed), then, is the type for all time of the Celtic womanhood dowered with divine inspiration, poetry, and charm. The following variant on an old Gaelic poem is by Miss Fiona Macleod ('From the Hills of Dream'):—


O sweet St. Bride of the
Yellow, yellow hair:
Paul said, and Peter said,
And all the saints alive or dead
Vowed she had the sweetest head,
Bonnie sweet St. Bride of the
Yellow, yellow hair.
White may my milking be,
White as thee:
Thy face is white, thy neck is white,
Thy hands are white, thy feet are white,
For thy sweet soul is shining bright—
O dear to me,
O dear to see,
St. Bridget white!
Yellow may my butter be,
Soft and round:
Thy breasts are sweet,
Soft, round, and sweet,
So may my butter be:
So may my butter be, O
Bridget sweet!
Safe thy way is, safe, O
Safe, St. Bride:
May my kye come home at even,
None be fallin', none be leavin',
[Pg 3430]Dusky even, breath-sweet even,
Here, as there, where, O
St. Bride, thou
Keepest tryst with God in heaven,
Seest the angels bow,
And souls be shriven—
Here, as there, 'tis breath-sweet even,
Far and wide—
Singeth thy little maid,
Safe in thy shade,
Bridget, Bride!

Passing from the early legendary hagiological chronicles of the Scots Gaels, we come to a period when the reader must be content to go again to Irish sources for his knowledge of the continuators of Gaelic literature. What we have said previously of the Irish may be referred to here. The mediæval scribes and bards busied themselves mainly with reproducing the past, though with a vivid coloring out of their own living present. When we have referred all of their subject-matter dealing with the saints and heroic figures of primitive history to its own period, all that remains is curiously little. Unfortunately, it is less than it might have been, if it had not been for the terrible and often wanton destruction of MSS. which has bereft us, in Scotland especially, of some of the richest treasures the Celtic genius has produced. It is only needed to instance the tailor who was found cutting up an ancient MS. for patterns, to show how almost inconceivably wholesale the havoc thus done has been in the last six centuries.

Some of the most interesting and valuable of the Scottish contributions to Gaelic literature are in what we may call ballad form. Such is the tragic tale of 'Deirdrê,' in the Glen-mason MS. (thirteenth century), which is preserved in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. Others again are versions of poems correspondent to those given, for instance, in the 'Book of the Dean of Lismore.' Of this heroic poetry much would have been lost if it had not been for the zeal of collectors, who for the last five centuries have been collecting in old MSS. or from the mouths of the Highlanders the ballads and tales of old time. "The last and greatest of the ballad and tale collectors," says Mr. MacNeill, "was Mr. Campbell, who in 1859-60 traversed the whole Gaelic area; and assisted by intelligent Highlanders formed large collections, of which he has given a considerable quantity to the world in his four volumes of tales. All these are genuine productions." We may quote further what the same writer says of the uncertain chronology of these ballads:—"They may have[Pg 3431] been composed centuries before they were committed to writing. We have fragments, such as the Glen-mason MS., written as early as the twelfth century, in the hand and language common to the learned in both Albin and Erin at the time. The 'Book of the Dean of Lismore,' however, is written phonetically to represent the spoken language of his day, and is mainly in the Perthshire dialect." Cuculain and many other of the heroes that we mentioned in our Irish article reappear in these ballads; and in them the Féinne fight out their ancient battles to the bitter end. A new and rather different coloring is lent, too, to the Scottish ballads by the Norse element, and the constant wars in which the Vikings and the Gaels encountered time after time lend some of their finest episodes to this poetry.

If we turn from the ballads to the prose tales and romances, we find the same strong resemblances and the same significant differences. The Irish have always the more fluent and eloquent a faculty in prose and verse. Their adjectival energy is greater; they are more given to extravagances of style, both in point of sentiment and of humor. The Scotch are on the other hand more simple and more terse, and they touch the deeper notes of pathos and of mystery more often. Nothing more instructive can be devised for the Celtic student than to take the volumes in verse and prose representing the three Celtic lands, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and to compare their style, method, and literary idiosyncrasies. For this comparison Mr. Campbell's wonderful 'Tales of the West Highlands,' in prose, and in verse his 'Leabhar na Féinne,' may be cited, with works of Dr. Hyde, Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady, Dr. Joyce, in Irish; and in Welsh, the 'Mabinogion' in Lady Guest's exquisite English version, or the 'Myvyrian Archæology.'

In the fourteenth century, which gave Dafydd ap Gwilym to Wales, we find Gaelic becoming more definitely a conscious literary language. But the Dafydd of Scotland came more than a century earlier, being born at the end of the twelfth century. This was the famous Muireadach Albannach (Murdoch the Scot), several of whose poems figure in the Dean of Lismore's book, and whose effect on succeeding bards was only less powerful than Dafydd's on his Welsh successors. The Dean's book has poems, too, by two woman poets: Efric, wife of the last of the famous MacNeills of Castle Sween, and Isabel, Countess of Argyle. Efric's lament for her husband contains some touching lines; e. g.:—

"There's no heart among our women;
At the sport, no men are seen;
Like the sky when windless, silent
Is the music of Dun Sween!"

[Pg 3432]

Sir Duncan Campbell, "Duncan Mac Cailem, the good knight," son of Sir Colin, is another of the poets in Dean Macgregor's collection; but perhaps we ought to pause here to say a word of the Dean himself. "Sailing in among the inner Hebridean Isles," says Mr. MacNeill, "we find in the fertile island of Lismore—'the great garden'—a man in the fifteenth century often referred to in Gaelic literature: the Rev. Mr. James Macgregor. A native of Perthshire,... with a heart filled with the enthusiasm and perfervid spirit of his countrymen, he and his brother got up the collection of songs and ballads" to which we have had occasion so often to refer. But we must pass on now to the later period of Gaelic literature, in which the modern developments have their beginning. The Scots Gael entered on a new phase, we are told, with Mary MacLeod (Mairi ni'n Alastair Ruaidh), who was born at Harris in 1569, and died a centenarian in Skye in 1674. Mairi was as perfect an example of the folk-minstrel as Celtic literature can provide; for she could not even write, although her prosody is elaborate, and her metres often intricate and original to a degree. The first of the distinctively Jacobite bards, who flourished at the end of the seventeenth and through the eighteenth century, was John MacDonald, whose 'Battle of Inverlochy' has been vigorously translated by Professor Blackie. Hector Maclean; Roderick Morrison, called An Clarsair Dall, or the Blind Harper; John Maclean, whose songs were heard by Dr. Samuel Johnson and Boswell on their journey to the Hebrides; and John MacCodrum (a poet whose wit and satiric powers remind us not a little of more than one of the Welsh satirical bards), are among the poets of this time who specially deserve note.

In the eighteenth century, Gaelic Scotland produced some remarkable religious poets, including David MacKellar, author of the well-known 'MacKellar's Hymn'; John Mackay; Donal Matheson, who had satirical as well as religious power; Lauchlan Maclauchlan; and Dugald Buchanan.

The great link between the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries is Duncan Ban Macintyre, "a name loved throughout the Highlands and Islands." The Hunter Bard of Glenorchy, as he is often called,—though his best title is the affectionate Gaelic "Duncan of the Songs,"—was born on the 20th of March, 1724, at Druimliaghart in Glenorchy, Argyll. His first song was composed on a sword with which he was armed at the battle of Falkirk—where he served on the Royalist side as substitute for a neighboring gentleman.

"This sword," says his biographer, Thomas Pattison, "the poet lost or threw away in the retreat. On his return home therefore the gentleman to whom it belonged, and whose substitute he had been, refused to pay the sum for which he had engaged Duncan Ban to serve in his stead. Duncan [Pg 3433]consequently composed his song on 'The Battle of the Speckled Kirk'—as Falkirk is called in Gaelic—in which he good-humoredly satirized the gentleman who had sent him to the war, and gave a woful description of 'the black sword that worked the turmoil,' and whose loss, he says, made its owner 'as fierce and furious as a gray brock in his den.' The song immediately became popular, and incensed his employer so much that he suddenly fell upon the poor poet one day with his walking-stick, and striking him on the back, bade him 'go and make a song about that.' He was however afterward compelled by the Earl of Breadalbane to pay the bard the sum of 300 merks Scots (£16, 17s. 6d.), which was his legal due."

Duncan ended his days in Edinburgh, where he died in 1812,—one of the last links of the moving record of the early eighteenth century and its Jacobite associations.

Duncan was a contemporary of Macpherson's, and with Macpherson and his 'Ossian,' to which a special article is devoted elsewhere, we may well leave our chronicle, forbearing to touch on the debatable ground of later and contemporary Celtic literature in Scotland. Enough to say that Duncan Ban Macintyre has no lack of worthy followers in Gaelic poetry, and that with the Anglo-Celtic development, associated with such names as Dr. Norman Macleod, Professor Blackie, Robert Buchanan, George MacDonald, William Black, and, among new-comers, Miss Fiona Macleod and Mr. Neil Munro, there seems every prospect that the Gaelic spirit promises to achieve greatly in the new centuries to come.

The first selection is from the 'Sean Dana,' or Ancient Poems, collected, or rather written (from oral legendary lore and ballads), by Dr. John Smith, late in the eighteenth century.


How mournful is the silence of Night
When she pours her dark clouds over the valleys!
Sleep has overcome the youth of the chase:
He slumbers on the heath, and his dog at his knee.
The children of the mountain he pursues
In his dream, while sleep forsakes him.
Slumber, ye children of fatigue;
Star after star is now ascending the height.
Slumber! thou swift dog and nimble—
Ossian will arouse thee not from thy repose.
Lonely I keep watch,—
And dear to me is the gloom of night
When I travel from glen to glen,
With no hope to behold a morning or brightness.
[Pg 3434]
Spare thy light, O Sun!
Waste not thy lamps so fast.
Generous is thy soul as the King of Morven's:
But thy renown shall yet fade;—
Spare thy lamps of a thousand flames
In thy blue hall, when thou retirest
Under thy dark-blue gates to sleep,
Beneath the dark embraces of the storm.
Spare them, ere thou art forsaken for ever,
As I am, without one whom I may love!
Spare them,—for there is not a hero now
To behold the blue flame of the beautiful lamps!
Ah, Cona of the precious lights,
Thy lamps burn dimly now:
Thou art like a blasted oak:
Thy dwellings and thy people are gone
East or west; on the face of thy mountain,
There shall be no more found of them but the trace!
In Selma, Tara, or Temora
There is not a song, a shell, or a harp;
They have all become green mounds;
Their stones have fallen into their own meadows;
The stranger from the deep or the desert
Will never behold them rise above the clouds.
And O Selma! home of my delight,
Is this heap my ruin,
Where grows the thistle, the heather, and the wild grass?

The following lines of St. Columba are taken from the 'Lyra Celtica,' cited above:—

(St. Columba Made It)

Delightful would it be to me to be in Uchd Ailiun
On the pinnacle of a rock,
That I might often see
The face of the ocean;
That I might see its heaving waves
Over the wide ocean,
When they chant music to their Father
Upon the world's course;
[Pg 3435]That I might see its level sparkling strand,
It would be no cause of sorrow;
That I might hear the song of the wonderful birds,
Source of happiness;
That I might hear the thunder of the crowding waves
Upon the rocks;
That I might hear the roar by the side of the church
Of the surrounding sea;
That I might see its noble flocks
Over the watery ocean;
That I might see the sea monsters,
The greatest of all wonders;
That I might see its ebb and flood
In their career;
That my mystical name might be, I say,
Cul ri Erin [Back turned to Ireland];
That contrition might come upon my heart
Upon looking at her;
That I might bewail my evils all,
Though it were difficult to compute them;
That I might bless the Lord
Who conserves all,
Heaven with its countless bright orders,
Land, strand, and flood;
That I might search the books all,
That would be good for my soul;
At times kneeling to beloved Heaven;
At times psalm-singing;
At times contemplating the King of Heaven,
Holy the chief;
At times at work without compulsion,
This would be delightful;
At times plucking duilisc from the rocks;
At times at fishing;
At times giving food to the poor;
At times in a carcair [solitary cell];
The best advice in the presence of God
To me has been vouchsafed.
The King whose servant I am will not let
Anything deceive me.

The third selection is an example of later Gaelic. This stirring Hebridean poem is sometimes spoken of as from the ancient Gaelic.[Pg 3436] Probably by this is meant merely old Gaelic, mediæval or even later. The translation is by Mr. Thomas Pattison, and is included in his 'Gaelic Bards.' He has the following note upon it:—

"This effusion, although in its original form it is only a kind of wild chant,—almost indeed half prose,—yet is the germ of the ballad. It occurs in many of the tales contained in that collection,—the repository of old Gaelic lore,—the 'Popular Tales of the West Highlands,' sometimes more and sometimes less perfect. The original will be found in the second volume of the Tales.... The vigorous and elastic spirit that pervades these verses must have strung the heart of many a hardy mariner, who loved to feel the fresh and briny breeze drive his snoring birlinn bounding like a living creature over the tumbling billows of the inland loch, or the huge swell of the majestic main."


We turned her prow into the sea,
Her stern into the shore,
And first we raised the tall tough masts,
And then the canvas hoar;
Fast filled our towering cloud-like sails,
For the wind came from the land,
And such a wind as we might choose
Were the winds at our command:
A breeze that rushing down the hill
Would strip the blooming heather,
Or rustling through the green-clad grove,
Would whirl its leaves together.
But when it seized the aged saugh,
With the light locks of gray,
It tore away its ancient root,
And there the old trunk lay!
It raised the thatch too from the roof,
And scattered it along;
Then tossed and whirled it through the air,
Singing a pleasant song.
It heaped the ruins on the land:—
Though sire and son stood by,
They could no help afford, but gaze
With wan and troubled eye!
[Pg 3437]
A flap, a flash, the green roll dashed,
And laughed against the red;
Upon our boards, now here, now there,
It knocked its foamy head.
She could have split a slender straw,
So clean and well she went,
As still obedient to the helm
Her stately course she bent.
We watched the big beast eat the small,
The small beast nimbly fly,
And listened to the plunging eels,
The sea-gull's clang on high.
We had no other music
To cheer us on our way:
Till round those sheltering hills we passed
And anchored in this bay.


The laws governing the life of languages are as elusive as those that decide the fate of races and empires. Why is the Welsh tongue still alive and vigorous, and the Irish (pace Dr. Douglas Hyde) moribund? It is a difficult question, but some light on it may be had by traversing the early history of Welsh literature.

The like difficulty meets us in both Welsh and Irish: that of deciding how far the mediæval scribes and scholars doctored the older material which fell into their hands. But in Welsh, the separation of the primitive from the mediæval element is often even a more difficult task than in Irish.

In sketching the early course of Welsh literature, we cannot do better than turn to the striking instance afforded by the name and fame of Merlin. In legendary Welsh history, Merlin appears under almost as many guises as he does in the pages of Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur.' Merddin Emrys (Ambrosius), Merddin Sylvester (Merlin the Wild), Merddin ab Morvryn (or Merlin Caledonius),—his name and fame vary according to the chronicler. Of these, Merlin the son of Morvryn, the most tangible in the list, was also known as Caledonius, because the Kymry of the sixth century lived in that greater Wales which ranged as far north as the Caledonian Forest. After the terrible battle of Arderydd, Merlin, having seen his kindred all but obliterated, was seized, tradition tells us, with a frenzy, and[Pg 3438] thereafter his bardic utterances assumed a more and more mystical and oracular form. This, added to his mysterious and magnetic personality and wildly impressive personal presence, may well have led on in process of time, by gradual legendary accretions, to the final conception of a Merlin miraculous, supernatural, dæmonic! However this may be, nothing can be more instructive than to compare the late Merlin with the early Merlin, and to trace his phases in Welsh folk-tale, and define his poetry finally in the pages of the 'Black Book of Carmarthen.'

The 'Black Book of Carmarthen,' in its strikingly decorative black and red manuscript, makes a wonderful testament of old Welsh poetry. If we could solve all its problems and read all that is written between its lines, we should be very near the great secret of the Druidic religion and of Celtic mythology, as well as the secret of Merlin's actual and imaginary effect in Welsh literature.

The battle of Arderydd has been cited above as a determining event in Merlin's history. The opening poem in the 'Black Book of Carmarthen' is a remarkable rhymed dialogue between Merlin and Taliesin, some of whose lines are extremely imaginative and touching in their archaic simplicity. Merlin begins:—

"How sad is Merlin now! how sad!
Keduyf and Kadvan—are they dead?
The furious slaughter filled the field,
And pierced was the Tryrwyd shield!"

Taliesin replies:—

"His house-folk did not falter in the fight!"

So it goes on, telling of the battle and its consequences, until one reaches at the end that mysterious verse which haunts the imagination and the ear of the reader. Merlin again speaks:—

"Sevenscore chieftains
Were turned into spirits;
In the wood of Celyddon
Were they transformed.

The wood of Celyddon is the Caledonian Forest. So far as these excerpts go, they might seem to be the writing of the real Merlin. There is internal evidence however that this poem, the much disputed poem of the 'Apple-trees,' and others that follow it in the 'Black Book,' were written not earlier than the twelfth century. Stephens, usually an acute critic, imputes in his 'Literature of the Kymry' these poems to Gwalchmai and other bards of later date.[Pg 3439] But even so, these poets evidently founded their poems upon earlier ones, traditionally handed on as Merlin's.

From such later sources as the 'Myvyrian Archæology,' or Skene's 'Four Ancient Books of Wales,' or the admirable Oxford texts edited by Professor Rhys and Mr. Gwenogfvyn Evans, one can rehabilitate at will the Merlin of the 'Black Book of Carmarthen,' much as Villemarqué has done after a fashion quite his own. Enough will so be certainly discovered to outline a primitive Merlin, an original sixth-century Merlin, under the impressive mediæval robes of the Latin-Welsh romantic chroniclers and poets. Enough too will be made clear to show a basis of myth and prehistoric legend behind the remotest recorded name, time, or place that can be counted historical.

The same is true of Taliesin, who appears, by the poetical remains attributed to him,—some of them clearly mediæval, others just as clearly primitive,—even more interesting as a poet than Merlin. Just as there are several Merlins, however, there are two Taliesins: there is the fifth-century Taliesin, and there is the pseudo-Taliesin of the twelfth. Both are wonderful in their way, and one knows not which to admire most—him who wrote the 'Battle of Gwenystrad,' which is undoubtedly a primitive war song, or the mediæval poet who chose to take the disguise of Taliesin, and taking too, probably, some of the traditional fragments of his early poetry, worked them up afresh with curious mediæval art and mystic imagination. For comparison let us take an early and a late poem, commonly gathered, as in the 'Myvyrian Archæology,' under one head.

Take first one of the later poems, the mystical 'Song to the Wind,' which even in its English dress won Emerson's admiration, and which, if we allow for all differences between mediæval and modern imagination, is as wonderful a poem of its kind as any literature is likely to afford. As it is given among our selections, it need not be quoted here. In point of time it is usual to assign it, as Stephens does, to the twelfth or thirteenth century. But it seems to me to bear traces again of being an older, more primitive poem, retouched certainly, and probably reshaped, by a twelfth-century poet. And now for a genuine Taliesin, or what at any rate many critics think to be genuine. This you may have in the famous 'Gwaith Gwenystrad' (Battle of Gwenystrad), one of the most spirited war poems in existence, copied and recopied by a long succession of Kymric scribes, and which the writer came upon first in the MS. collection of William Morris o Gaergybi yn Mon, who flourished about 1758. Here are four lines of Morris's copy literatim, which will give a better idea than any criticism of mine of the mingled realism and imagination of the poem:[Pg 3440]

"Yn nrws rhyd gwelais i wyr lledruddion,
Eirf ddillwng y rhag blawt gofedon,
Unynt tanc gan aethant golludion,
Llaw ynghroes gryd ygro granwynion."

And here is a rough, vigorous translation of these lines from the same volume:—

"In the pass of the fort have I seen men, dyed with red, who hurtled their arms.... They fell to the ground together when the day was lost, their hands on the crucifix. And horror was in the pale face of the dead warriors."

A succeeding line,

"A gwyar a uaglei ar ddillad,"
(And the blood was tangled in their clothing),

adds the last touch of dreadful sincerity to the account. And in other primitive poems that we may ascribe to Taliesin are effects as convincing and vivid.

But we must leave Taliesin and his difficulties, to sketch briefly the course of poetry between his actual date in early time and his poetic resurrection in the Middle Ages. Not so interesting poetically but more important historically is the next of the Welsh bards, Aneurin, who wrote the 'Gododin.' This curious and interesting war poem tells of a foray made by the Ottadini, an early Kymric tribe, living in the greater Wales of their time, on the Northumbrian coast. Mr. Stephens imagines Cattraeth, which figures as a central scene of the action of the poem, to be Catterick in Yorkshire; and this we may provisionally accept.

"The Welshmen went to Cattraeth; and merry marched the host.
But thro' drinking the gray mead, the day—the day was lost."

The expedition was one of those which show the gradual cession of greater Wales by the Welsh, and their retreat to the lesser Wales that is still theirs.

We may pause here to remark that the bardic order was early constituted among the Welsh, as among the Irish. In the Laws of Howel Dda (Howel the Good), who flourished in the tenth century, we find very explicit provision made for the bard:—

"In case of fighting, the Bard shall play the 'Monarchy of Britain' before the battle!
"His land shall be free; he shall have a horse from the King!
"He shall have a harp from the King, and a gold ring from the Queen, when he is appointed. The harp he shall never part with."

[Pg 3441]Unless, which is highly probable, we have lost some of the records of the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries, we have to conclude that Welsh poetry made small headway. The remarkable laws of Howel Dda are the monument of the tenth century. In the eleventh we come upon the first signs of a revival in Meilir, who is historically interesting, and in his last poems shows himself a true poet. In the twelfth we have to mark a distinct further step in Gwalchmai, who is the first conscious poet of nature, and who may thus claim to be the founder of one of the finest traditions in all Welsh poetry. Following Gwalchmai comes the princely poet Howel the Tall, son of Owain Gwynedd by an Irish lady, and who himself wore the crown of Gwynedd for a brief two years. He died in 1171 at twenty-seven, after a life of stormiest adventure; but in the intervals of battle he found time to write some of the loveliest love poems that all Welsh literature can boast. His death was lamented by Periv ab Kedwoi in a much less conventional and more moving tone than the official bards generally troubled to use for such elegies. A century or so later, and we find Llywarch ab Llywelyn (known as "Prydydd y Moch," the Poet of the Pigs) writing a still finer and more ample lament on the last native prince of Wales, Llywelyn ab Gruffydd, "Llywelyn ewi Llyw Olaf," as he is still fondly called. These two laments may be taken as typical of a wide section of Welsh poetry, dealing with the deaths of heroes and princes, and ranging in date from the fifth or sixth century to the nineteenth. Llywelyn the Last died in 1282, and thereafter began what has been well termed "The Great Oppression" (y Gorthrwm Mawr), by which Norman and Saxon combined to crush the language and expropriate the people of the country, with the result of calling up at last Owen Glendower's hot spirit to fight for the national cause.

But it is remarkable that in this disastrous period arose some of the finest interpreters of her genius that the country was ever to find. Within its term were, without a doubt, carried to an approximate perfection those more native romances that we term 'Mabinogion,'—the most exquisite and exquisitely turned tales, in point of art, that the Celtic races have produced. The late Lady Charlotte Guest's edition of the 'Mabinogion' serves very well to convey, in a translation of extreme felicity, to non-Celtic readers the art and spirit of these tales. But it must be kept in mind that all she gives are not strictly 'Mabinogion'; several of them are more properly to be called romances, as showing strong traces of Norman and French influence. The 'Mabinogi' originally was a tale to be recited by a mabinog, i. e., a 'prentice to the bardic craft who had not yet obtained his full degree, and with it the right of composing and reciting poetry. The idea which some critics have, that the 'Mabinogion'[Pg 3442] were boys' tales, or still worse, nursery tales, is quite wrong. Let us remember that such tales were the delight of most of the princely halls and winter hearths of mediæval Wales, where they were recited after the great banquets and on feast nights to the most critical audience that could be afforded. 'The Dream of Rhonabwy,' 'Kilhwch and Olwen,' and 'Math, Son of Mathonwy,' may be mentioned as among the tales in Lady Guest's volume which are most natively original; and we have chosen the portrait of Olwen from the second of these for our selections, to show the art and charm of the Welsh romancers in the Middle Ages.

If the 'Mabinogion' are fine as prose, we have an equally fine expression of this time in poetry, in the poems of Rhys Goch ab Rhicert (Rhys the Red, son of Rhicert) and the ever delightful Dafydd ab Gwilym, who will be found treated separately. After Dafydd, Welsh poetry was to enter upon a new phase, not fortunate even in its immediate effects, disastrous in its ultimate ones. It was in the fourteenth century that Welsh prosody, always intricate, finally waxed proud, so to speak, of its complexity, and formed for itself a hide-bound code which was to become the bugbear of Welsh poetry in the following centuries. To give any adequate account of its complexities of technique and the whole letter of its syntax would require a long and tedious treatise in itself. Enough to say that the underlying principle was that of what is termed in Welsh "Eynghanedd," or "consonancy"; by which rhymes within rhymes and echoes within echoes of certain dominant syllables were insisted upon arbitrarily, until almost every word in every line was subject to a rigid and invincible rule. Art for art, insisted upon in this way, could only end in conventionalizing the very thing it was meant to assist.

Poetry, too carefully nursed and housed, thus fell into a bad way; but luckily meanwhile a new literature was to begin for Wales, along quite other lines, with the Reformation. The translation of the Bible into Welsh by Bishop Morgan in the sixteenth century marks an epoch in the life of the Welsh people and their literature. Therewith the history of the princes and the great lords ends, and the history of the people—and a people mainly peasant, let us remark—begins. Its profound moral force apart, and judged purely as a literary force, the Bible, admirably and idiomatically translated, had an incalculable effect. It set a fine and high and yet simple standard of prose, much as the English Bible does; and taught the possibilities of his tongue to the poorest Welsh peasant. One finds its influence strong in almost every prose work of any note published in the last three centuries, and in a great proportion of the poetry. It did more than anything of later time to save the language; and[Pg 3443] here is the simple explanation of the extraordinary difference between the fortunes of the Welsh and the Irish tongue. Wales—the Wales of the people—became profoundly impressed by the religious sentiment and the heroic and profound poetry of the Hebrews, and gained from them a new stimulus to express itself and its needs and aspirations in its own native way and in its own tongue.

A characteristic expression of the homelier moral humor of the Welsh is to be had in the 'Canwyll y Cymry' (Candle of Wales), by Rhys Pritchard, the famous Elizabethan vicar of Llandovery, which for two centuries was the most popular book in Wales after the Bible. Its simple rhymed didactics do not often rise into poetry; but they are full of human feeling, expressed in a terse and proverbial way, with distinct individuality. The book easily leads one on to the very remarkable band of hymn writers, from Anne Griffiths to Williams Pantycelyn, who have flourished in Welsh. These, and some score beside, really rank by their imaginative fervor and inspiration as true poets. In quite another vein, but probably a very ancient and traditional one in Welsh, we have the homely interludes of Twm O'r Nant, who was born about 1750, of whose life George Borrow gives a very vigorous account in 'Wild Wales.' A greater than Twm O'r Nant, and born a generation earlier, Gronney Owen, a man of the finest poetic genius, ought to have a special interest for American readers because he was practically exiled from his beloved Anglesea by the ungrateful church he served; and died, poor and broken-hearted, in New Brunswick about the year 1780. His 'Cywydd y Faru' (Ode to the Day of Judgment), his touching lines to his little daughter Elin, or his Hogarthian lines upon the London garret in which he lived for a time, may be cited as showing the various sides of his poetry, of which unluckily there are no adequate translations yet forthcoming.

In prose we must not omit to mention the 'Bardd Cwsg' (The Sleeping Bard) of Elis Wynne,—a very imaginative and idiomatic prose epic-in-little, describing the bard's vision of a curiously Welsh Inferno. Wynne's prose style is remarkably fine and pure, modeled on the best Biblical standard of a Welsh without English admixture. Welsh prose has been admirably handled too by some of the divines who have flourished within the past two centuries, and who have not confined their eloquence to the pulpit. Even when the State church had no sympathy with the Welsh people and their language, many of its individual members did much to keep the spirit of literature alive; while the nonconformist ministers of Wales have always been vigorously and eminently devoted to the same cause.[Pg 3444]

Under happier conditions to-day, the latest expression of this vital persistence of the Welsh in the quest of spiritual ideals is the movement that has carried the new national university to completion, and rallied the younger generation under the banner of "Cymru Fydd" (Young Wales). The songs of Ceiriog Hughes, the poems of Islwyn, the works of scholars like Professor John Rhys, Canon Silvain Evans, and Mr. Gwenogfvyn Evans; the ardent writing and editing of Mr. Owen M. Edwards in his innumerable magazines and other adventures; and the novels of Daniel Owen,—these may be named as among the influences that count most to the Wales of the nineteenth century's end.

Note.—For citations from Welsh literature see articles on Aneurin, Mabinogion, and Taliesin. The Breton branch of Celtic literature will be treated under the heading 'Villemarqué,' the celebrated collector of 'Barzaz-Breiz.'


The literature of a single county of England is not likely to be very extensive, and when that literature and its language died for good and all, a century ago, it becomes still more limited. Until the reign of Henry VIII., though for some time English had been very generally spoken throughout the county, the old Celtic Cornish, holding a middle position, philologically as well as geographically, between Welsh and Breton, was the mother tongue of at any rate the peasantry as far east as the Tamar. The great ecclesiastical revolution of that period helped to destroy it. Neither prayer-book nor Bible was translated into it; and though the ardently Catholic Cornish at first would have none of the former, saying that it was "but like a Christmas game," they were overruled by the forcible argument of "apostolick blows and knocks," and had to submit. Then the language receded rapidly. By the time of the Great Rebellion Truro was its eastern limit; early in the eighteenth century only the two western claw-like promontories retained it; and though Dolly Pentreath, who died in 1778, was not really the last person who spoke it, it was dead before the present century was born. A few traditional sentences, the numerals up to twenty, and some stray words lingered on until our own day,—twenty years ago the present writer took down a fair collection from the mouths of ancient mariners in Mount's Bay,—and a few words are still mixed with the local dialect of English. But as a language Cornish is dead, though its ghost still haunts its old dwelling in the names of villages, houses, woods, valleys, wells, and rocks, from Tamar to Penwith.[Pg 3445]

As may be expected, a great proportion of the literature is in verse, and most of that is in dramatic form. So little is there that an exhaustive list of what survives is quite possible. It is as follows:—

1. The Poem of the Passion. A versified account of the Passion of our Lord, recounting the events from Palm Sunday to Easter, with the addition of many legendary incidents from the Gospel of Nicodemus and other similar sources. The earliest MS. (in the British Museum) is of the fifteenth century, which is probably the date of its composition. It has been twice printed, once by Davies Gilbert, with a translation by John Keigwin in 1826, and by Dr. Whitley Stokes in 1862.

2. The Ordinalia. Three connected dramas, known collectively under this title. The first recounts the Creation and the history of the world as far as Noah's Flood. The second act of this gives the story of Moses and of David and the Building of Solomon's Temple, ending with the curiously incongruous episode of the martyrdom of St. Maximilla, as a Christian, by the bishop placed in charge of the Temple of Solomon. The second play represents the life of our Lord from the Temptation to the Crucifixion, and this goes on without a break into the third play, which gives the story of the Resurrection and Ascension, and the legend of the death of Pilate. The connecting link between the three is the legend of the wood of the cross. This well-known story, most of which is interwoven with the whole trilogy, is as follows:—Seth was sent by his dying father to beg the promised Oil of Mercy to save him; the angel who guarded Paradise gave him three seeds, or, according to the play, apple-pips; and when he returned and found his father already dead, he placed them in Adam's mouth and buried him on Mount Moriah. In process of time the three seeds grew into three trees, and from them Abraham gathered the wood for the sacrifice of Isaac, and Moses got his rod wherewith he smote the sea and the rock. Later the three trees, to symbolize the Trinity, grew into one tree, and David sat under it to bewail his sin. But Solomon cut it down to make a beam for the Temple, and since it would in no wise fit into any place, he cast it out and set it as a bridge over Cedron. Later on he buried it, and from the place where it lay there sprang the healing spring of Bethesda, to the surface of which it miraculously floated up, and the Jews found it and made of it the Cross of Calvary.

These plays were probably written in the fifteenth century, perhaps by one of the priests of Glazeney College near Falmouth, and were acted with others that are now lost in the places called Planan-Guare (the Plain of the Play), of which several still remain. The 'Ordinalia' were published with a translation by Edwin Norris in 1859.[Pg 3446]

3. The Creation of the World, with Noah's Flood, was a modernized version of the first act of the first of the 'Ordinalia' trilogy. It was written by William Jordan of Helston in 1611; but the author has borrowed whole passages of considerable length from the older play. The language represents a later period of Cornish, and occasionally several lines of English are introduced. Perhaps by a natural Celtic antipathy to the Saxon, these are generally put into the mouths of Lucifer and his angels, who furnish a good deal of the comic part of the piece. This play was published by Davies Gilbert in 1827, and by Dr. Whitley Stokes in 1864.

4. The Life of St. Meriasek. This play, written in 1504, is perhaps the most interesting of the batch. The story at least of the others contains nothing very new to most people, but St. Meriasek or Meriadoc (to give him his Breton name), the patron of Camborne, is not a well-known character, and his life, full as it is of allusions and incidents of a misty period of Cornish history, is most curious and interesting. It is not perhaps simplified by being mixed up in the wildest manner with the legend of Constantine and St. Sylvester, and the scenes shift about from Cornwall or Brittany to Rome, and from the fourth to the Heaven-knows-what century, with bewildering frequency. There are also certain other legends interwoven with the story, and it seems probable that at least three plays have been, as Dr. Whitley Stokes expresses it, "unskillfully pieced together." Yet there are many passages of considerable literary merit. The only existing MS. of this play is in the Hengwrt collection at Peniarth, and it was edited and translated by Dr. Stokes in 1872.

5. There were probably many other plays which have perished, but one other there certainly was, of which a fragment exists. What it was called or what it was about no one knows, but an actor in it, setting about to learn his own part in it, wrote that short piece of thirty-six lines on the back of a title-deed of some land in the parish of St. Stephen, near Bodmin. The deed drifted eventually into the British Museum, and the present writer discovered the Cornish verses on it, not wholly by accident, about nineteen years ago. The writing belongs to the latter part of the fourteenth century, and is therefore the earliest literary fragment of the language.

6. The rest of the literature of the Cornish language consists of a few songs, epigrams, mottoes, proverbs, and the like, a short dissertation on the language, and the tale of 'John of Chy-an-Hur,' a widely known folk-tale. These are mostly in the latest form of Cornish, and are contained in the MS. collection of William Gwavas in the British Museum and in that of Dr. Borlase, until lately in the possession of his descendants. Most of them have been printed by Davies Gilbert (with the play of the 'Creation'), by William Pryce [Pg 3447] in the 'Archæologia Cornu-Britannica' in 1790, by Mr. W. C. Borlase in the Transactions of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, and in a fragmentary way in a few other places. They are mostly translations or adaptations from the English, but a few, such as the rather doggerel 'Pilchard Fishing Song,' are originals. Lastly, in the Church of St. Paul, near Penzance, there is the one solitary epitaph in the language; written while it was still just alive, and perhaps the last composition in it.

[The versions given of these specimens of Cornish literature are founded on those of Dr. Whitley Stokes and Dr. E. Norris. The phraseology has been to some extent altered, but the renderings are almost all the same.]

[The Death of Our Lord on the Cross]

His pain was strong and sharp, so that he could not live,
But must yield up his white soul; ever purely had he lived.
And Christ prayed, as thus in many a place we read,
"My soul I do commend, O Lord, between thy hands!"
For weakly he breathed, being constrained, so that he could not rest;
On nothing could he lean his head for the garland that he wore.
If he leaned to one side, for his shoulder it grieved him
And the tree did yet worse, if he set it backwards.
Nor could he lean forward for fear of being choked.
Then was it as we read in books as it is written:—
"For the birds to make their nests, places are prepared,
But for Christ where he may lay his head no place is found."
But now must he needs leave his head to hang,
For his blood was all gone from him, and he could not live.
To the side of the Mother that owned him, his head he would hold,
And his soul went from him with chilling shriek and shrill cry.
Beside the Cross of Jesus was a man hight Sentury,
And when he saw the wondrous things that happened at Christ's death,
And how his soul he yielded, against nature, with a cry,
He said without scorning, "This truly was God's Son;"
And many were there with him that testimony bore.
[Pg 3448]
Now was it midday in the land, or later, as is written.
Earthquake there was and lightning, and darkness over all;
The Temple Veil was rent in twain, and to the ground it fell,
And likewise broken were the stones so strong and hard.
Graves in many places were opened wide,
And the bodies that were in them were raised up,
And went straightway to the city—by many were they seen—
To bear witness that it was God's Son that was slain.
Water, earth, and fire, and wind, sun, moon, and stars likewise,
At Christ's suffering death knew sorrow.
Nature will cause, I trow, if the good Lord be pained,
All his subjects, even saints, to be grieved for his pain.


[Seth, being sent to fetch the oil of mercy from Paradise for his dying father, comes to the guardian cherub.]

Seth, what is thine errand,
That thou comest so far?
Tell me anon.
O Angel, I will tell it thee:
My father is old and weary;
He wishes no longer to live;
And through me he prayed thee
To tell the truth
Of the oil of mercy promised
To him at the last day.
Within the gate put thou thy head,
And behold it all, nor fear,
Whatever thou seest.
And look on all sides,
Spy out every detail,
Search out everything carefully.
Very gladly I will do it;
I am glad to have permission
To know what is there
And tell it to my father.

[And he looks and turns round, saying:

Fair field to behold is this;
Hapless he who lost the land.
But for the tree I wonder greatly
That it should be dry.
But I trow that it went dry
[Pg 3449]And all was made bare, for the sin
Which my father and mother sinned.
Like the prints of their feet,
They all became dry as herbs,
Alas, when the morsel was eaten.
O Seth, thou art come
Within the gate of Paradise:
Tell me what thou sawest.
All the beauty that I saw
Tongue of man can never tell,
Of good fruits and beauteous flowers,
Of minstrels and sweet song,
A fountain bright as silver,
And flowing from it four great streams,
That there is a desire to gaze upon them.
In it there is a tree,
High and with many boughs,
But they are bare and leafless.
Bark there is none around it;
From the stem to the head
All its branches are bare.
And below when I looked,
I saw its roots
Even into hell descending,
In the midst of great darkness;
And its branches growing up
Even to heaven high in light.
And it was wholly without bark,
Both the head and the boughs.
Look yet again within,
And all else thou shalt see
Before thou come from it.
I am happy to have leave;
I will go to the gate at once,
That I may see further good.

[He goes and looks and returns.

Dost thou see more now
Than what there was just now?
There is a serpent in the tree:
Truly a hideous beast is he.
Go yet the third time to it,
And look better at the tree.
Look what you can see on it
Besides roots and branches.
[Pg 3450]
Cherubin, angel of the God of grace,
High in the branches of the tree I saw
A new-born child, wrapped in swaddling clothes
And bound with bands.
It was God's son that thou sawest,
Like a child in swaddling clothes.
He will redeem Adam thy father
With his flesh and blood likewise,
When the time is come,
And thy mother and all good people.
He is the oil of mercy
Which was promised to thy father.
Through his death truly
Shall all the world be saved.
William Sharp & Ernest Rhys

[Pg 3451]





ervantes is known to the world as the author of 'Don Quixote' and although his other works are numerous and creditable, and his pathetic life is carefully recorded, yet it is as the author of 'Don Quixote' alone that he deserves to be generally known or considered. Had his wit not come by chance on the idea of the Ingenious Hidalgo, Cervantes would never have attained his universal renown, even if his other works and the interest of his career should have sufficed to give him a place in the literary history of his country. Here, then, where our task is to present in miniature only what has the greatest and most universal value, we may treat our author as playwrights are advised to treat their heroes, saying of him only what is necessary to the understanding of the single action with which we are concerned. This single action is the writing of 'Don Quixote': and what we shall try to understand is what there was in the life and environment of Cervantes that enabled him to compose that great book, and that remained imbedded in its characters, its episodes, and its moral.

There was in vogue in the Spain of the sixteenth century a species of romance called books of chivalry. They were developments of the legends dealing with King Arthur and the Knights of the Table Round, and their numerous descendants and emulators. These stories had appealed in the first place to what we should still think of as the spirit of chivalry: they were full of tourneys and single combats, desperate adventures and romantic loves. The setting was in the same vague and wonderful region as the Coast of Bohemia, where to the known mountains, seas, and cities that have poetic names, was added a prodigious number of caverns, castles, islands, and forests of the romancer's invention. With time and popularity this kind of story had naturally intensified its characteristics until it had reached the greatest extravagance and absurdity, and combined in a way the unreality of the fairy tale with the bombast of the melodrama.

Cervantes had apparently read these books with avidity, and was not without a great sympathy with the kind of imagination they embodied. His own last and most carefully written book, the 'Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda,' is in many respects an imitation of [Pg 3452] them; it abounds in savage islands, furious tyrants, prodigious feats of arms, disguised maidens whose discretion is as marvelous as their beauty, and happy deliverances from intricate and hopeless situations. His first book also, the 'Galatea,' was an embodiment of a kind of pastoral idealism: sentimental verses being interspersed with euphuistic prose, the whole describing the lovelorn shepherds and heartless shepherdesses of Arcadia.

But while these books, which were the author's favorites among his own works, expressed perhaps Cervantes's natural taste and ambition, the events of his life and the real bent of his talent, which in time he came himself to recognize, drove him to a very different sort of composition. His family was ancient but impoverished, and he was forced throughout his life to turn his hand to anything that could promise him a livelihood. His existence was a continuous series of experiments, vexations, and disappointments. He adopted at first the profession of arms, and followed his colors as a private soldier upon several foreign expeditions. He was long quartered in Italy; he fought at Lepanto against the Turks, where among other wounds he received one that maimed his left hand, to the greater glory, as he tells us, of his right; he was captured by Barbary pirates and remained for five years a slave in Algiers; he was ransomed, and returned to Spain only to find official favors and recognitions denied him; and finally, at the age of thirty-seven, he abandoned the army for literature.

His first thought as a writer does not seem to have been to make direct use of his rich experience and varied observation; he was rather possessed by an obstinate longing for that poetic gift which, as he confesses in one place, Heaven had denied him. He began with the idyllic romance, the 'Galatea' already mentioned, and at various times during the rest of his life wrote poems, plays, and stories of a romantic and sentimental type. In the course of these labors, however, he struck one vein of much richer promise. It was what the Spanish call the picaresque; that is, the description of the life and character of rogues, pickpockets, vagabonds, and all those wretches and sorry wits that might be found about the highways, in the country inns, or in the slums of cities. Of this kind is much of what is best in his collected stories, the 'Novelas Exemplares.' The talent and the experience which he betrays in these amusing narratives were to be invaluable to him later as the author of 'Don Quixote,' where they enabled him to supply a foil to the fine world of his poor hero's imagination.

We have now mentioned what were perhaps the chief elements of the preparation of Cervantes for his great task. They were a great familiarity with the romances of chivalry, and a natural liking for [Pg 3453] them; a life of honorable but unrewarded endeavor both in war and in the higher literature; and much experience of Vagabondia, with the art of taking down and reproducing in amusing profusion the typical scenes and languages of low life. Out of these elements a single spark, which we may attribute to genius, to chance, or to inspiration, was enough to produce a new and happy conception: that of a parody on the romances of chivalry, in which the extravagances of the fables of knighthood should be contrasted with the sordid realities of life. This is done by the ingenious device of representing a country gentleman whose naturally generous mind, unhinged by much reading of the books of chivalry, should lead him to undertake the office of knight-errant, and induce him to ride about the country clad in ancient armor, to right wrongs, to succor defenseless maidens, to kill giants, and to win empires at least as vast as that of Alexander.

This is the subject of 'Don Quixote.' But happy as the conception is, it could not have produced a book of enduring charm and well-seasoned wisdom, had it not been filled in with a great number of amusing and lifelike episodes, and verified by two admirable figures, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, characters at once intimately individual and truly universal.

Don Quixote at first appears to the reader, and probably appeared to the author as well, as primarily a madman,—a thin and gaunt old village squire, whose brain has been turned by the nonsense he has read and taken for gospel truth; and who is punished for his ridiculous mania by an uninterrupted series of beatings, falls, indignities, and insults. But the hero and the author together, with the ingenuity proper to madness and the inevitableness proper to genius, soon begin to disclose the fund of intelligence and ideal passion which underlies this superficial insanity. We see that Don Quixote is only mad north-north-west, when the wind blows from the quarter of his chivalrous preoccupation. At other times he shows himself a man of great goodness and fineness of wit; virtuous, courageous, courteous, and generous, and in fact the perfect ideal of a gentleman. When he takes, for instance, a handful of acorns from the goat-herds' table and begins a grandiloquent discourse upon the Golden Age, we feel how cultivated the man is, how easily the little things of life suggest to him the great things, and with what delight he dwells on what is beautiful and happy. The truth and pathos of the character become all the more compelling when we consider how naturally the hero's madness and calamities flow from this same exquisite sense of what is good.

The contrast to this figure is furnished by that of Sancho Panza, who embodies all that is matter-of-fact, gross, and plebeian. Yet he [Pg 3454] is willing to become Don Quixote's esquire, and by his credulity and devotion shows what an ascendency a heroic and enthusiastic nature can gain over the most sluggish of men. Sancho has none of the instincts of his master. He never read the books of chivalry or desired to right the wrongs of the world. He is naturally satisfied with his crust and his onions, if they can be washed down with enough bad wine. His good drudge of a wife never transformed herself in his fancy into a peerless Dulcinea. Yet Sancho follows his master into every danger, shares his discomfiture and the many blows that rain down upon him, and hopes to the end for the governorship of that Insula with which Don Quixote is some day to reward his faithful esquire.

As the madness of Don Quixote is humanized by his natural intelligence and courage, so the grossness and credulity of Sancho are relieved by his homely wit. He abounds in proverbs. He never fails to see the reality of a situation, and to protest doggedly against his master's visionary flights. He holds fast as long as he can to the evidence of his senses, and to his little weaknesses of flesh and spirit. But finally he surrenders to the authority of Don Quixote, and of the historians of chivalry, although not without a certain reluctance and some surviving doubts.

The character of Sancho is admirable for the veracity with which its details are drawn. The traits of the boor, the glutton, and the coward come most naturally to the surface upon occasion, yet Sancho remains a patient, good-natured peasant, a devoted servant, and a humble Christian. Under the cover of such lifelike incongruities, and of a pervasive humor, the author has given us a satirical picture of human nature not inferior, perhaps, to that furnished by Don Quixote himself. For instance: Don Quixote, after mending his helmet, tries its strength with a blow that smashes it to pieces. He mends it a second time, but now, without trial, deputes it to be henceforth a strong and perfect helmet. Sancho, when he is sent to bear a letter to Dulcinea, neglects to deliver it, and invents an account of his interview with the imaginary lady for the satisfaction of his master. But before long, by dint of repeating the story, he comes himself to believe his own lies. Thus self-deception in the knight is the ridiculous effect of courage, and in the esquire the not less ridiculous effect of sloth.

The adventures these two heroes encounter are naturally only such as travelers along the Spanish roads would then have been likely to come upon. The point of the story depends on the familiarity and commonness of the situations in which Don Quixote finds himself, so that the absurdity of his pretensions may be overwhelmingly shown. Critics are agreed in blaming the exceptions which [Pg 3455] Cervantes allowed himself to make to the realism of his scenes, where he introduced romantic tales into the narrative of the first part. The tales are in themselves unworthy of their setting, and contrary to the spirit of the whole book. Cervantes doubtless yielded here partly to his story-telling habits, partly to a fear of monotony in the uninterrupted description of Don Quixote's adventures. He avoided this mistake in the second part, and devised the visit to the Duke's palace, and the intentional sport there made of the hero, to give variety to the story.

More variety and more unity may still, perhaps, seem desirable in the book. The episodes are strung together without much coherence, and without any attempt to develop either the plot or the characters. Sancho, to be sure, at last tastes the governorship of his Insula, and Don Quixote on his death-bed recovers his wits. But this conclusion, appropriate and touching as it is, might have come almost anywhere in the course of the story. The whole book has, in fact, rather the quality of an improvisation. The episodes suggest themselves to the author's fancy as he proceeds; a fact which gives them the same unexpectedness and sometimes the same incompleteness which the events of a journey naturally have. It is in the genius of this kind of narrative to be a sort of imaginary diary, without a general dramatic structure. The interest depends on the characters and the incidents alone; on the fertility of the author's invention, on the ingenuity of the turns he gives to the story, and on the incidental scenes and figures he describes.

When we have once accepted this manner of writing fiction—which might be called that of the novelist before the days of the novel—we can only admire the execution of 'Don Quixote' as masterly in its kind. We find here an abundance of fancy that is never at a loss for some probable and interesting incident; we find a graphic power that makes living and unforgettable many a minor character, even if slightly sketched; we find the charm of the country rendered by little touches without any formal descriptions; and we find a humorous and minute reproduction of the manners of the time. All this is rendered in a flowing and easy style, abounding in both characterization and parody of diverse types of speech and composition; and the whole is still but the background for the figures of Don Quixote and Sancho, and for their pleasant discourse, the quality and savor of which is maintained to the end. These excellences unite to make the book one of the most permanently delightful in the world, as well as one of the most diverting. Seldom has laughter been so well justified as that which the reading of 'Don Quixote' continually provokes; seldom has it found its causes in such genuine fancy, such profound and real contrast, and such victorious good-humor.

[Pg 3456]We sometimes wish, perhaps, that our heroes were spared some of their bruises, and that we were not asked to delight so much in promiscuous beatings and floggings. But we must remember that these three hundred years have made the European race much more sensitive to physical suffering. Our ancestors took that doubtful pleasure in the idea of corporal writhings which we still take in the description of the tortures of the spirit. The idea of both evils is naturally distasteful to a refined mind; but we admit more willingly the kind which habit has accustomed us to regard as inevitable, and which personal experience very probably has made an old friend.

'Don Quixote' has accordingly enjoyed a universal popularity, and has had the singular privilege of accomplishing the object for which it was written, which was to recall fiction from the extravagances of the books of chivalry to the study of real life. This is the simple object which Cervantes had and avowed. He was a literary man with literary interests, and the idea which came to him was to ridicule the absurdities of the prevalent literary mode. The rich vein which he struck in the conception of Don Quixote's madness and topsy-turvy adventures encouraged him to go on. The subject and the characters deepened under his hands, until from a parody of a certain kind of romances the story threatened to become a satire on human idealism. At the same time Cervantes grew fond of his hero, and made him, as we must feel, in some sort a representative of his own chivalrous enthusiasms and constant disappointments.

We need not, however, see in this transformation any deep-laid malice or remote significance. As the tale opened out before the author's fancy and enlisted his closer and more loving attention, he naturally enriched it with all the wealth of his experience. Just as he diversified it with pictures of common life and manners, so he weighted it with the burden of human tragedy. He left upon it an impress of his own nobility and misfortunes side by side with a record of his time and country. But in this there was nothing intentional. He only spoke out of the fullness of his heart. The highest motives and characters had been revealed to him by his own impulses, and the lowest by his daily experience.

There is nothing in the book that suggests a premeditated satire upon faith and enthusiasm in general. The author's evident purpose is to amuse, not to upbraid or to discourage. There is no bitterness in his pathos or despair in his disenchantment; partly because he retains a healthy fondness for this naughty world, and partly because his heart is profoundly and entirely Christian. He would have rejected with indignation an interpretation of his work that would see in it an attack on religion or even on chivalry. His birth and [Pg 3457] nurture had made him religious and chivalrous from the beginning, and he remained so by conviction to the end. He was still full of plans and hopes when death overtook him, but he greeted it with perfect simplicity, without lamentations over the past or anxiety for the future.

If we could have asked Cervantes what the moral of Don Quixote was to his own mind, he would have told us perhaps that it was this: that the force of idealism is wasted when it does not recognize the reality of things. Neglect of the facts of daily life made the absurdity of the romances of chivalry and of the enterprise of Don Quixote. What is needed is not, of course, that idealism should be surrendered, either in literature or in life; but that in both it should be made efficacious by a better adjustment to the reality it would transform.

Something of this kind would have been, we may believe, Cervantes's own reading of his parable. But when parables are such direct and full transcripts of life as is the story of Don Quixote, they offer almost as much occasion for diversity of interpretation as does the personal experience of men in the world. That the moral of Don Quixote should be doubtful and that each man should be tempted to see in it the expression of his own convictions, is after all the greatest possible encomium of the book. For we may infer that the truth has been rendered in it, and that men may return to it always, as to Nature herself, to renew their theories or to forget them, and to refresh their fancy with the spectacle of a living world.

G. Santayana


In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, and an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income. The rest of it went in a doublet of fine cloth and velvet breeches and shoes to match for holidays, while on week-days he made a brave figure in his best homespun. He had in his house a housekeeper past [Pg 3458] forty, a niece under twenty, and a lad for the field and market-place, who used to saddle the hack as well as handle the bill-hook. The age of this gentleman of ours was bordering on fifty; he was of a hardy habit, spare, gaunt-featured, a very early riser and a great sportsman. They will have it his surname was Quixada or Quesada (for here there is some difference of opinion among the authors who write on the subject), although from reasonable conjectures it seems plain that he was called Quixana. This, however, is of but little importance to our tale; it will be enough not to stray a hair's breadth from the truth in the telling of it.

You must know then that the above-named gentleman, whenever he was at leisure (which was mostly all the year round) gave himself up to reading books of chivalry with such ardor and avidity that he almost entirely neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and even the management of his property; and to such a pitch did his eagerness and infatuation go that he sold many an acre of tillage-land to buy books of chivalry to read, and brought home as many of them as he could get. But of all there were none he liked so well as those of the famous Feliciano de Silva's composition, for their lucidity of style and complicated conceits were as pearls in his sight, particularly when in his reading he came upon courtships and cartels, where he often found passages like:—"The reason of the unreason with which my reason is afflicted, so weakens my reason that with reason I murmur at your beauty;" or again:—"The high heavens, that of your divinity divinely fortify you with the stars, render you deserving of the desert your greatness deserves." Over conceits of this sort the poor gentleman lost his wits, and used to lie awake striving to understand them and worm the meaning out of them; what Aristotle himself could not have made out or extracted, had he come to life again for that special purpose. He was not at all easy about the wounds which Don Belianis gave and took, because it seemed to him that, great as were the surgeons who had cured him, he must have had his face and body covered all over with seams and scars. He commended however the author's way of ending his book with the promise of that interminable adventure; and many a time was he tempted to take up his pen and finish it properly as is there proposed, which no doubt he would have done, and made a successful piece of work of it too, had not greater and more absorbing thoughts prevented him.[Pg 3459]

Many an argument did he have with the curate of his village (a learned man, and a graduate of Siguenza) as to which had been the better knight, Palmerin of England or Amadis of Gaul. Master Nicholas the village barber, however, used to say that neither of them came up to the Knight of Phœbus, and that if there was any could compare with him it was Don Galaor, the brother of Amadis of Gaul, because he had a spirit that was equal to every occasion, and was no finikin knight, nor lachrymose like his brother, while in the matter of valor he was not a whit behind him. In short, he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise, and his days from dawn to dark, poring over them; and what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry that he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of what he used to read about in his books—enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, agonies, and all sorts of impossible nonsense; and it so possessed his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he read of was true, that to him no history in the world had more reality in it. He used to say the Cid Ruy Diaz was a very good knight, but that he was not to be compared with the Knight of the Burning Sword, who with one back stroke cut in half two fierce and monstrous giants. He thought more of Bernardo del Carpio because at Roncesvalles he slew Roland in spite of enchantments, availing himself of the artifice of Hercules when he strangled Antæus the son of Terra in his arms. He approved highly of the giant Morgante, because although of the giant breed, which is always arrogant and ill-conditioned, he alone was affable and well-bred. But above all he admired Reinaldos of Montalban; especially when he saw him sallying forth from his castle and robbing every one he met, and when beyond the seas he stole that image of Mahomet which, as his history says, was entirely of gold. And to have a bout of kicking at that traitor of a Ganelon he would have given his housekeeper, and his niece into the bargain.

In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever madman in this world hit upon: and that was that he fancied it was right and requisite, as well for the support of his own honor as for the service of his country, that he should make a knight-errant of himself, roaming the world over in full armor and on horseback in quest of adventures, and putting in practice himself all that he had read of as being the [Pg 3460] usual practices of knights-errant; righting every kind of wrong, and exposing himself to peril and danger from which, in the issue, he was to reap eternal renown and fame. Already the poor man saw himself crowned, by the might of his arm, Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so, led away by the intense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he set himself forthwith to put his scheme into execution.

The first thing he did was to clean up some armor that had belonged to his great-grandfather, and had been for ages lying forgotten in a corner, eaten with rust and covered with mildew. He scoured and polished it as best he could, but he perceived one great defect in it; that it had no closed helmet, nothing but a simple morion. This deficiency, however, his ingenuity supplied, for he contrived a kind of half-helmet of pasteboard which, fitted on to the morion, looked like a whole one. It is true that in order to see if it was strong and fit to stand a cut he drew his sword and gave it a couple of slashes, the first of which undid in an instant what had taken him a week to do. The ease with which he had knocked it to pieces disconcerted him somewhat, and to guard against that danger he set to work again, fixing bars of iron on the inside until he was satisfied with its strength; and then, not caring to try any more experiments with it, he passed it and adopted it as a helmet of the most perfect construction.

He next proceeded to inspect his hack, which, with more quartos than a real and more blemishes than the steed of Gonela, that "tantum pellis et ossa fuit," surpassed in his eyes the Bucephalus of Alexander or the Babieca of the Cid. Four days were spent in thinking what name to give him; because (as he said to himself) it was not right that a horse belonging to a knight so famous, and one with such merits of his own, should be without some distinctive name, and he strove to adapt it so as to indicate what he had been before belonging to a knight-errant, and what he then was; for it was only reasonable that, his master taking a new character, he should take a new name, and that it should be a distinguished and full-sounding one, befitting the new order and calling he was about to follow. And so after having composed, struck out, rejected, added to, unmade, and remade a multitude of names out of his memory and fancy, he decided upon calling him Rosinante,—to his thinking lofty, sonorous, and significant of his condition as a [Pg 3461] hack before he became what he now was, the first and foremost of all the hacks in the world.

Having got a name for his horse so much to his taste, he was anxious to get one for himself, and he was eight days more pondering over this point, till at last he made up his mind to call himself Don Quixote, whence, as has already been said, the authors of this veracious history have inferred that his name must have been beyond a doubt Quixada, and not Quesada as others would have it. Recollecting however that the valiant Amadis was not content to call himself curtly Amadis and nothing more, but added the name of his kingdom and country to make it famous, and called himself Amadis of Gaul: he, like a good knight, resolved to add on the name of his and to style himself Don Quixote of La Mancha; whereby he considered he described accurately his origin and country, and did honor to it in taking his surname from it.

So then, his armor being furbished, his morion turned into a helmet, his hack christened, and he himself confirmed, he came to the conclusion that nothing more was needed now but to look out for a lady to be in love with; for a knight-errant without love was like a tree without leaves or fruit, or a body without a soul. As he said to himself:—"If for my sins or by my good fortune I come across some giant hereabouts,—a common occurrence with knights-errant,—and overthrow him in one onslaught, or cleave him asunder to the waist, or in short, vanquish and subdue him, will it not be well to have some one I may send him to as a present, that he may come in and fall on his knees before my sweet lady and in a humble, submissive voice say:—'I am the giant Caraculiambro, lord of the island of Malindrania, vanquished in single combat by the never-sufficiently-extolled knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, who has commanded me to present myself before your Grace, that your Highness dispose of me at your pleasure'"? Oh, how our good gentleman enjoyed the delivery of this speech, especially when he had thought of some one to call his Lady! There was, so the story goes, in a village near his own a very good-looking farm-girl with whom he had been at one time in love, though so far as is known, she never knew it nor gave a thought to the matter. Her name was Aldonza Lorenzo, and upon her he thought fit to confer the title of Lady of his Thoughts; and after some search for a name which should not be out of harmony with her own, and should [Pg 3462] suggest and indicate that of a princess and great lady, he decided upon calling her Dulcinea del Toboso—she being of El Toboso—a name, to his mind, musical, uncommon, and significant, like all those he had already bestowed upon himself and the things belonging to him.


Day was dawning when Don Quixote quitted the inn, so happy, so gay, so exhilarated at finding himself dubbed a knight, that his joy was like to burst his horse-girths. However, recalling the advice of his host as to the requisites he ought to carry with him, especially that referring to money and shirts, he determined to go home and provide himself with all, and also with a squire; for he reckoned upon securing a farm-laborer, a neighbor of his, a poor man with a family, but very well qualified for the office of squire to a knight. With this object he turned his horse's head towards his village, and Rosinante, thus reminded of his old quarters, stepped out so briskly that he hardly seemed to tread the earth.

He had not gone far, when out of a thicket on his right there seemed to come feeble cries as of some one in distress; and the instant he heard them he exclaimed:—"Thanks be to heaven for the favor it accords me, that it so soon offers me an opportunity of fulfilling the obligation I have undertaken, and gathering the fruit of my ambition. These cries no doubt come from some man or woman in want of help, and needing my aid and protection;" and wheeling, he turned Rosinante in the direction whence the cries seemed to proceed. He had gone but a few paces into the wood when he saw a mare tied to an oak, and tied to another, and stripped from the waist upwards, a youth of about fifteen years of age, from whom the cries came. Nor were they without cause, for a lusty farmer was flogging him with a belt and following up every blow with scoldings and commands; repeating, "Your mouth shut and your eyes open!" while the youth made answer, "I won't do it again, master mine; by God's passion, I won't do it again, and I'll take more care of the flock another time."

Seeing what was going on, Don Quixote said in an angry voice, "Discourteous knight, it ill becomes you to assail one who [Pg 3463] cannot defend himself; mount your steed and take your lance" (for there was a lance leaning against the oak to which the mare was tied), "and I will make you know that you are behaving as a coward." The farmer, seeing before him this figure in full armor, brandishing a lance over his head, gave himself up for dead and made answer meekly:—"Sir Knight, this youth that I am chastising is my servant, employed by me to watch a flock of sheep that I have hard by; and he is so careless that I lose one every day, and when I punish him for his carelessness and knavery he says I do it out of niggardliness, to escape paying him the wages I owe him, and before God, and on my soul, he lies."

"Lies before me, base clown!" said Don Quixote. "By the sun that shines on us, I have a mind to run you through with this lance. Pay him at once, without another word; if not, by the God that rules us, I will make an end of you, and annihilate you on the spot; release him instantly."

The farmer hung his head, and without a word untied his servant, of whom Don Quixote asked how much his master owed him.

He replied, nine months at seven reals a month. Don Quixote added it up, found that it came to sixty-three reals, and told the farmer to pay it down immediately if he did not want to die for it.

The trembling clown replied that as he lived and by the oath he had sworn (though he had not sworn any) it was not so much; for there were to be taken into account and deducted three pairs of shoes he had given him, and a real for two blood-lettings when he was sick.

"All that is very well," said Don Quixote; "but let the shoes and the blood-lettings stand as a set-off against the blows you have given him without any cause; for if he spoiled the leather of the shoes you paid for, you have damaged that of his body, and if the barber took blood from him when he was sick, you have drawn it when he was sound; so on that score he owes you nothing."

"The difficulty is, Sir Knight, that I have no money here; let Andres come home with me, and I will pay him all, real by real."

"I go with him!" said the youth. "Nay, God forbid! no, señor, not for the world; for once alone with me, he would flay me like a Saint Bartholomew."[Pg 3464]

"He will do nothing of the kind," said Don Quixote; "I have only to command and he will obey me, and he has sworn to me by the order of knighthood which he has received. I leave him free, and I guarantee the payment."

"Consider what you are saying, señor," said the youth; "this master of mine is not a knight, nor has he received any order of knighthood; for he is Juan Haldudo the Rich, of Quintanar."

"That matters little," replied Don Quixote; "there may be Haldudos knights; moreover, every one is the son of his works."

"That is true," said Andres; "but this master of mine—of what work is he the son, when he refuses me the wages of my sweat and labor?"

"I do not refuse, brother Andres," said the farmer; "be good enough to come along with me, and I swear by all the orders of knighthood there are in the world to pay you as I have agreed, real by real, and perfumed."

"For the perfumery I excuse you," said Don Quixote; "give it to him in reals, and I shall be satisfied; and see that you do as you have sworn; if not, by the same oath I swear to come back and hunt you out and punish you; and I shall find you though you should lie closer than a lizard. And if you desire to know who it is lays this command upon you, that you may be more firmly bound to obey it, know that I am the valorous Don Quixote of La Mancha, the undoer of wrongs and injustices; and so God be with you, and keep in mind what you have promised and sworn under those penalties that have been already declared to you."

So saying, he gave Rosinante the spur and was soon out of reach. The farmer followed him with his eyes, and when he saw that he had cleared the wood and was no longer in sight, he turned to his boy Andres and said, "Come here, my son; I want to pay you what I owe you, as that undoer of wrongs has commanded me."

"My oath on it," said Andres, "your Worship will be well advised to obey the command of that good knight—may he live a thousand years!—for as he is a valiant and just judge, by Roque, if you do not pay me, he will come back and do as he said."

"My oath on it too," said the farmer; "but as I have a strong affection for you, I want to add to the debt in order to add to the payment;" and seizing him by the arm, he tied him up to the oak again, where he gave him such a flogging that he left him for dead.


[Pg 3465]

"Now, Master Andres," said the farmer, "call on the undoer of wrongs; you will find he won't undo that, though I am not sure that I have quite done with you, for I have a good mind to flay you alive as you feared." But at last he untied him, and gave him leave to go look for his judge in order to put the sentence pronounced into execution.

Andres went off rather down in the mouth, swearing he would go to look for the valiant Don Quixote of La Mancha and tell him exactly what had happened, and that all would have to be repaid him sevenfold; but for all that he went off weeping, while his master stood laughing.

Thus did the valiant Don Quixote right that wrong; and thoroughly satisfied with what had taken place, as he considered he had made a very happy and noble beginning with his knighthood, he took the road towards his village in perfect self-content, saying in a low voice:—"Well mayest them this day call thyself fortunate above all on earth, O Dulcinea del Toboso, fairest of the fair! since it has fallen to thy lot to hold subject and submissive to thy full will and pleasure a knight so renowned as is and will be Don Quixote of La Mancha, who as all the world knows, yesterday received the order of knighthood, and hath to-day righted the greatest wrong and grievance that ever injustice conceived and cruelty perpetrated; who hath to-day plucked the rod from the hand of yonder ruthless oppressor so wantonly lashing that tender child."

He now came to a road branching in four directions, and immediately he was reminded of those cross-roads where knights-errant used to stop to consider which road they should take. In imitation of them he halted for a while, and after having deeply considered it, he gave Rosinante his head, submitting his own will to that of his hack, who followed out his first intention, which was to make straight for his own stable. After he had gone about two miles Don Quixote perceived a large party of people, who as afterwards appeared were some Toledo traders, on their way to buy silk at Murcia. There were six of them coming along under their sun-shades, with four servants mounted, and three muleteers on foot. Scarcely had Don Quixote descried them when the fancy possessed him that this must be some new adventure; and to help him to imitate as far as he could those passages he had read of in his books, here seemed to come one made on purpose, which he resolved to attempt. So with a lofty [Pg 3466] bearing and determination he fixed himself firmly in his stirrups, got his lance ready, brought his buckler before his breast, and planting himself in the middle of the road, stood waiting the approach of these knights-errant, for such he now considered and held them to be; and when they had come near enough to see and hear, he exclaimed with a haughty gesture:—"All the world stand, unless all the world confess that in all the world there is no maiden fairer than the Empress of La Mancha, the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso."

The traders halted at the sound of this language and the sight of the strange figure that uttered it, and from both figure and language at once guessed the craze of their owner; they wished however to learn quietly what was the object of this confession that was demanded of them, and one of them, who was rather fond of a joke and was very sharp-witted, said to him:—"Sir Knight, we do not know who this good lady is that you speak of; show her to us, for if she be of such beauty as you suggest, with all our hearts and without any pressure we will confess the truth that is on your part required of us."

"If I were to show her to you," replied Don Quixote, "what merit would you have in confessing a truth so manifest? The essential point is that without seeing her you must believe, confess, affirm, swear, and defend it; else ye have to do with me in battle, ill-conditioned arrogant rabble that ye are: and come ye on, one by one as the order of knighthood requires, or all together as is the custom and vile usage of your breed; here do I bide and await you, relying on the justice of the cause I maintain."

"Sir Knight," replied the trader, "I entreat your Worship in the name of this present company of princes, that to save us from charging our consciences with the confession of a thing we have never seen or heard of, and one moreover so much to the prejudice of the Empresses and Queens of the Alcarria and Estremadura, your worship will be pleased to show us some portrait of this lady, though it be no bigger than a grain of wheat; for by the thread one gets at the ball, and in this way we shall be satisfied and easy, and you will be content and pleased: nay, I believe we are already so far agreed with you that even though her portrait should show her blind of one eye, and distilling vermilion and sulphur from the other, we would nevertheless, to gratify your Worship, say all in her favor that you desire."[Pg 3467]

"She distills nothing of the kind, vile rabble," said Don Quixote, burning with rage; "nothing of the kind, I say; only ambergris and civet in cotton; nor is she one-eyed or hump-backed, but straighter than a Guadarrama spindle: but ye must pay for the blasphemy ye have uttered against beauty like that of my lady."

And so saying he charged with leveled lance against the one who had spoken, with such fury and fierceness that, if luck had not contrived that Rosinante should stumble midway and come down, it would have gone hard with the rash trader. Down went Rosinante, and over went his master, rolling along the ground for some distance; and when he tried to rise he was unable, so incumbered was he with lance, buckler, spurs, helmet, and the weight of his old armor; and all the while he was struggling to get up, he kept saying, "Fly not, cowards and caitiffs! stay, for not by my fault, but my horse's, am I stretched here."

One of the muleteers in attendance, who could not have had much good-nature in him, hearing the poor prostrate man blustering in this style, was unable to refrain from giving him an answer on his ribs; and coming up to him he seized his lance, and having broken it in pieces, with one of them he began so to belabor our Don Quixote that, notwithstanding and in spite of his armor, he milled him like a measure of wheat. His masters called out not to lay on so hard and to leave him alone, but the muleteer's blood was up, and he did not care to drop the game until he had vented the rest of his wrath; and gathering up the remaining fragments of the lance he finished with a discharge upon the unhappy victim, who all through the storm of sticks that rained on him never ceased threatening heaven, and earth, and the brigands—for such they seemed to him. At last the muleteer was tired, and the traders continued their journey, taking with them matter for talk about the poor fellow who had been cudgeled. He, when he found himself alone, made another effort to rise; but if he was unable when whole and sound, how was he to rise after having been thrashed and well-nigh knocked to pieces! And yet he esteemed himself fortunate, as it seemed to him that this was a regular knight-errant's mishap, and entirely, he considered, the fault of his horse. However, battered in body as he was, to rise was beyond his power.

[Pg 3468]


He remained at home fifteen days very quietly, without showing any signs of a desire to take up with his former delusions; and during this time he held lively discussions with his two gossips, the curate and the barber, on the point he maintained, that knights-errant were what the world stood most in need of, and that in him was to be accomplished the revival of knight-errantry. The curate sometimes contradicted him, sometimes agreed with him, for if he had not observed this precaution he would have been unable to bring him to reason.

Meanwhile Don Quixote worked upon a farm-laborer, a neighbor of his, an honest man (if indeed that title can be given to him who is poor), but with very little wit in his pate. In a word, he so talked him over, and with such persuasions and promises, that the poor clown made up his mind to sally forth with him and serve him as esquire. Don Quixote, among other things, told him he ought to be ready to go with him gladly, because at any moment an adventure might occur, that might win an island in the twinkling of an eye and leave him governor of it. On these and the like promises Sancho Panza (for so the laborer was called) left wife and children, and engaged himself as esquire to his neighbor. Don Quixote next set about getting some money; and selling one thing and pawning another, and making a bad bargain in every case, he got together a fair sum. He provided himself with a buckler, which he begged as a loan from a friend, and restoring his battered helmet as best he could, he warned his squire Sancho of the day and hour he meant to set out, that he might provide himself with what he thought most needful. Above all, he charged him to take alforjas with him. The other said he would, and that he meant to take also a very good ass he had, as he was not much given to going on foot. About the ass, Don Quixote hesitated a little, trying whether he could call to mind any knight-errant taking with him an esquire mounted on ass-back, but no instance occurred to his memory. For all that, however, he determined to take him; intending to furnish him with a more honorable mount when a chance of it presented itself, by appropriating the horse of the first discourteous knight he encountered. Himself he provided with shirts and such other things as he could, according [Pg 3469] to the advice the host had given him; all which being settled and done, without taking leave, Sancho Panza of his wife and children, or Don Quixote of his housekeeper and niece, they sallied forth unseen by anybody from the village one night, and made such good way in the course of it that by daylight they held themselves safe from discovery, even should search be made for them.

Sancho rode on his ass like a patriarch, with his alforjas and bota, and longing to see himself soon governor of the island his master had promised him. Don Quixote decided upon taking the same route and road he had taken on his first journey, that over the Campo de Montiel, which he traveled with less discomfort than on the last occasion; for as it was early morning and the rays of the sun fell on them obliquely, the heat did not distress them.

And now said Sancho Panza to his master, "Your Worship will take care, Señor Knight-Errant, not to forget about the island you have promised me, for be it ever so big I'll be equal to governing it."

To which Don Quixote replied:—"Thou must know, friend Sancho Panza, that it was a practice very much in vogue with the knights-errant of old to make their squires governors of the islands or kingdoms they won, and I am determined that there shall be no failure on my part in so liberal a custom; on the contrary, I mean to improve upon it, for they sometimes, and perhaps most frequently, waited until their squires were old, and then when they had had enough of service and hard days and worse nights, they gave them some title or other, of count, or at the most marquis, of some valley or province more or less; but if thou livest and I live, it may well be that before six days are over I may have won some kingdom that has others dependent upon it, which will be just the thing to enable thee to be crowned king of one of them. Nor needst thou count this wonderful, for things and chances fall to the lot of such knights in ways so unexampled and unexpected that I might easily give thee even more than I promise thee."

"In that case," said Sancho Panza, "if I should become a king by one of those miracles your Worship speaks of, even Juana Gutierrez, my old woman, would come to be queen and my children infantes."

"Well, who doubts it?" said Don Quixote.[Pg 3470]

"I doubt it," replied Sancho Panza; "because for my part I am persuaded that though God should shower down kingdoms upon earth, not one of them would fit the head of Mari Gutierrez. Let me tell you, señor, she is not worth two maravedis for a queen; countess will fit her better, and that only with God's help."

"Leave it to God, Sancho," returned Don Quixote, "for he will give her what suits her best; but do not undervalue thyself so much as to come to be content with anything less than being governor of a province."

"I will not, señor," answered Sancho; "especially as I have a man of such quality for master in your Worship, who will be able to give me all that will be suitable for me and that I can bear."

At this point they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that there are on that plain, and as soon as Don Quixote saw them he said to his squire, "Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped our desires ourselves; for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; for this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth."

"What giants?" said Sancho Panza.

"Those thou seest there," answered his master, "with the long arms; and some have them nearly two leagues long."

"Look, your Worship," said Sancho; "what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstones go."

"It is easy to see," replied Don Quixote, "that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer, while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat."

So saying, he gave the spur to his steed Rosinante, heedless of the cries his squire Sancho sent after him, warning him that most certainly they were windmills and not giants he was going to attack. He however was so positive they were giants that he neither heard the cries of Sancho, nor perceived, near as he was, what they were; but made at them, shouting, "Fly not, cowards and vile beings, for it is a single knight that attacks you!"[Pg 3471]

A slight breeze at this moment sprang up, and the great sails began to move; seeing which, Don Quixote exclaimed, "Though ye flourish more arms than the giant Briareus, ye have to reckon with me."

So saying, and commending himself with all his heart to his lady Dulcinea, imploring her to support him in such a peril, with lance in rest and covered by his buckler, he charged at Rosinante's fullest gallop and fell upon the first mill that stood in front of him; but as he drove his lance-point into the sail the wind whirled it round with such force that it shivered the lance to pieces, sweeping with it horse and rider, who went rolling over on the plain in a sorry condition. Sancho hastened to his assistance as fast as his ass could go, and when he came up found him unable to move, with such a shock had Rosinante fallen with him.

"God bless me!" said Sancho, "did I not tell your Worship to mind what you were about, for they were only windmills? and no one could have made any mistake about it but one who had something of the same kind in his head."

"Hush, friend Sancho," replied Don Quixote; "the fortunes of war more than any other are liable to frequent fluctuations; and moreover I think, and it is the truth, that that same sage Friston who carried off my study and books has turned these giants into mills in order to rob me of the glory of vanquishing them,—such is the enmity he bears me; but in the end his wicked arts will avail but little against my good sword."

"God order it as he may," said Sancho Panza; and helping him to rise, got him up again on Rosinante, whose shoulder was half out; and then, discussing the late adventure, they followed the road to Puerto Lapice, for there, said Don Quixote, they could not fail to find adventures in abundance and variety, as it was a great thoroughfare.

[Pg 3472]


The translator of this history, when he comes to write this fifth chapter, says that he considers it apocryphal, because in it Sancho Panza speaks in a style unlike that which might have been expected from his limited intelligence, and says things so subtle that he does not think it possible he could have conceived them; however, desirous of doing what his task imposed upon him, he was unwilling to leave it untranslated, and therefore he went on to say:—

Sancho came home in such glee and spirits that his wife noticed his happiness a bowshot off, so much so that it made her ask him, "What have you got, Sancho friend, that you are so glad?"

To which he replied, "Wife, if it were God's will, I should be very glad not to be so well pleased as I show myself."

"I don't understand you, husband," said she, "and I don't know what you mean by saying you would be glad, if it were God's will, not to be well pleased; for fool as I am, I don't know how one can find pleasure in not having it."

"Hark ye, Teresa," replied Sancho, "I am glad because I have made up my mind to go back to the service of my master Don Quixote, who means to go out a third time to seek for adventures; and I am going with him again, for my necessities will have it so, and also the hope that cheers me with the thought that I may find another hundred crowns like those we have spent; though it makes me sad to have to leave thee and the children; and if God would be pleased to let me have my daily bread, dry-shod and at home, without taking me out into the byways and cross-roads—and he could do it at small cost by merely willing it—it is clear my happiness would be more solid and lasting, for the happiness I have is mingled with sorrow at leaving thee; so that I was right in saying I would be glad, if it were God's will, not to be well pleased."

"Look here, Sancho," said Teresa; "ever since you joined on to a knight-errant you talk in such a roundabout way that there is no understanding you."

"It is enough that God understands me, wife," replied Sancho; "for he is the understander of all things; that will do: but mind, sister, you must look to Dapple carefully for the next three days, so that he may be fit to take arms; double his feed, and see to [Pg 3473] the pack-saddle and other harness, for it is not to a wedding we are bound, but to go round the world, and play at give-and-take with giants and dragons and monsters, and hear hissings and roarings and bellowings and howlings; and even all this would be lavender, if we had not to reckon with Yanguesans and enchanted Moors."

"I know well enough, husband," said Teresa, "that squires-errant don't eat their bread for nothing, and so I will be always praying to our Lord to deliver you speedily from all that hard fortune."

"I can tell you, wife," said Sancho, "if I did not expect to see myself governor of an island before long, I would drop down dead on the spot."

"Nay then, husband," said Teresa, "let the hen live, though it be with her pip; live, and let the devil take all the governments in the world: you came out of your mother's womb without a government, you have lived until now without a government, and when it is God's will you will go, or be carried, to your grave without a government. How many there are in the world who live without a government, and continue to live all the same, and are reckoned in the number of the people. The best sauce in the world is hunger, and as the poor are never without that, they always eat with a relish. But mind, Sancho, if by good luck you should find yourself with some government, don't forget me and your children. Remember that Sanchico is now full fifteen, and it is right he should go to school, if his uncle the abbot has a mind to have him trained for the Church. Consider, too, that your daughter Maria-Sancha will not die of grief if we marry her; for I have my suspicions that she is as eager to get a husband as you to get a government; and after all, a daughter looks better ill married than well kept."

"By my faith," replied Sancho, "if God brings me to get any sort of a government, I intend, wife, to make such a high match for Maria-Sancha that there will be no approaching her without calling her 'my lady.'"

"Nay, Sancho," returned Teresa, "marry her to her equal, that is the safest plan; for if you put her out of wooden clogs into high-heeled shoes, out of her gray flannel petticoat into hoops and silk gowns, out of the plain 'Marica' and 'thou' into 'Doña So-and-so' and 'my lady,' the girl won't know where she [Pg 3474] is, and at every turn she will fall into a thousand blunders that will show the thread of her coarse homespun stuff."

"Tut, you fool," said Sancho; "it will be only to practice it for two or three years, and then dignity and decorum will fit her as easily as a glove, and if not, what matter? Let her be 'my lady,' and never mind what happens."

"Keep to your own station, Sancho," replied Teresa; "don't try to raise yourself higher, and bear in mind the proverb that says, 'Wipe the nose of your neighbor's son, and take him into your house.' A fine thing it would be, indeed, to marry our Maria to some great count or grand gentleman who when the humor took him would abuse her, and call her 'clown-bred' and 'clodhopper's daughter' and 'spinning-wench.' I have not been bringing up my daughter for that all this time, I can tell you, husband. Do you bring home money, Sancho, and leave marrying her to my care: there is Lope Tocho, Juan Tocho's son, a stout, sturdy young fellow that we know, and I can see he does not look sour at the girl; and with him, one of our own sort, she will be well married, and we shall have her always under our eyes, and be all one family, parents and children, grandchildren and sons-in-law, and the peace and blessing of God will dwell among us; so don't you go marrying her in those courts and grand palaces where they won't know what to make of her, or she what to make of herself."

"Why, you idiot and wife for Barabbas," said Sancho, "what do you mean by trying, without why or wherefore, to keep me from marrying my daughter to one who will give me grandchildren that will be called 'your Lordship'? Look ye, Teresa, I have always heard my elders say that he who does not know how to take advantage of luck when it comes to him, has no right to complain if it gives him the go-by; and now that it is knocking at our door, it will not do to shut it out; let us go with the favoring breeze that blows upon us." (It is this sort of talk, and what Sancho says lower down, that made the translator of the history say he considered this chapter apocryphal.) "Don't you see, you animal," continued Sancho, "that it will be well for me to drop into some profitable government that will lift us out of the mire, and marry Mari-Sancha to whom I like; and you yourself will find yourself called 'Doña Teresa Panza,' and sitting in church on a fine carpet and cushions and draperies, in spite and in defiance of all the born ladies of the town? No, [Pg 3475] stay as you are, growing neither greater nor less, like a tapestry figure.—Let us say no more about it, for Sanchica shall be a countess, say what you will."

"Are you sure of all you say, husband?" replied Teresa. "Well, for all that, I am afraid this rank of countess for my daughter will be her ruin. You do as you like, make a duchess or a princess of her, but I can tell you it will not be with my will and consent. I was always a lover of equality, brother, and I can't bear to see people give themselves airs without any right. They called me Teresa at my baptism,—a plain, simple name, without any additions or tags or fringes of Dons or Doñas; Cascajo was my father's name, and as I am your wife, I am called Teresa Panza, though by right I ought to be called Teresa Cascajo; but 'kings go where laws like,' and I am content with this name without having the 'Don' put on top of it to make it so heavy that I cannot carry it; and I don't want to make people talk about me when they see me go dressed like a countess or governor's wife; for they will say at once, 'See what airs the slut gives herself! Only yesterday she was always spinning flax, and used to go to mass with the tail of her petticoat over her head instead of a mantle; and there she goes to-day in a hooped gown with her brooches and airs, as if we didn't know her!' If God keeps me in my seven senses, or five, or whatever number I have, I am not going to bring myself to such a pass; go you, brother, and be a government or an island man, and swagger as much as you like; for by the soul of my mother, neither my daughter nor I are going to stir a step from our village; a respectable woman should have a broken leg and keep at home, and to be busy at something is a virtuous damsel's holiday; be off to your adventures, along with your Don Quixote, and leave us to our misadventures, for God will mend them for us according as we deserve it. I don't know, I'm sure, who fixed the 'Don' to him, what neither his father nor grandfather ever had."

"I declare, thou hast a devil of some sort in thy body!" said Sancho. "God help thee, woman, what a lot of things thou hast strung together, one after the other, without head or tail! What have Cascajo, and the brooches and the proverbs and the airs, to do with what I say? Look here, fool and dolt (for so I may call you when you don't understand my words and run away from good fortune), if I had said that my daughter was to throw herself down from a tower, or go roaming the world, as the [Pg 3476] Infanta Doña Urraca wanted to do, you would be right in not giving way to my will; but if in an instant, in less than the twinkling of an eye, I put the 'Don' and 'my lady' on her back, and take her out of the stubble and place her under a canopy, on a daïs, and on a couch with more velvet cushions than all the Almohades of Morocco ever had in their family, why won't you consent and fall in with my wishes?"

"Do you know why, husband?" replied Teresa; "because of the proverb that says, 'Who covers thee, discovers thee.' At the poor man people only throw a hasty glance; on the rich man they fix their eyes; and if the said rich man was once on a time poor, it is then there is the sneering and the tattle and spite of backbiters; and in the streets here they swarm as thick as bees."

"Look here, Teresa," said Sancho, "and listen to what I am now going to say to you; maybe you never heard it in all your life; and I do not give my own notions, for what I am about to say are the opinions of his Reverence the preacher who preached in this town last Lent, and who said, if I remember rightly, that all things present that our eyes behold, bring themselves before us and remain and fix themselves on our memory much better and more forcibly than things past." (These observations which Sancho makes here are the other ones on account of which the translator says he regards this chapter as apocryphal, inasmuch as they are beyond Sancho's capacity.) "Whence it arises," he continued, "that when we see any person well dressed and making a figure with rich garments and retinue of servants, it seems to lead and impel us perforce to respect him, though memory may at the same time recall to us some lowly condition in which we have seen him, but which, whether it may have been poverty or low birth, being now a thing of the past has no existence; while the only thing that has any existence is what we see before us; and if this person whom fortune has raised from his original lowly state (these were the very words the padre used) to his present height of prosperity, be well-bred, generous, courteous to all, without seeking to vie with those whose nobility is of ancient date,—depend upon it, Teresa, no one will remember what he was, and every one will respect what he is, except indeed the envious, from whom no fair fortune is safe."

"I do not understand you, husband," replied Teresa; "do as you like, and don't break my head with any more speechifying and rhetoric; and if you have revolved to do what you say—"[Pg 3477]

"Resolved, you should say, woman," said Sancho, "not revolved."

"Don't set yourself to wrangle with me, husband," said Teresa; "I speak as God pleases, and don't deal in out-of-the-way phrases; and I say if you are bent upon having a government, take your son Sancho with you, and teach him from this time on how to hold a government; for sons ought to inherit and learn the trades of their fathers."

"As soon as I have the government," said Sancho, "I will send for him by post, and I will send thee money, of which I shall have no lack, for there is never any want of people to lend it to governors when they have not got it; and do thou dress him so as to hide what he is and make him look what he is to be."

"You send the money," said Teresa, "and I'll dress him up for you as fine as you please."

"Then we are agreed that our daughter is to be a countess," said Sancho.

"The day that I see her a countess," replied Teresa, "it will be the same to me as if I was burying her; but once more I say do as you please, for we women are born to this burden of being obedient to our husbands, though they be dogs;" and with this she began to weep in downright earnest, as if she already saw Sanchica dead and buried.

Sancho consoled her by saying that though he must make her a countess, he would put it off as long as possible. Here their conversation came to an end, and Sancho went back to see Don Quixote and make arrangements for their departure.


The history records that Sancho did not sleep that afternoon, but in order to keep his word, came, before he had well done dinner, to visit the duchess; who, finding enjoyment in listening to him, made him sit down beside her on a low seat, though Sancho out of pure good breeding wanted not to sit down; the duchess however told him he was to sit down as governor and talk as squire, as in both respects he was worthy of even the chair of Cid Ruy Diaz the Campeador. Sancho [Pg 3478] shrugged his shoulders, obeyed, and sat down, and all the duchess's damsels and duennas gathered round him, waiting in profound silence to hear what he would say. It was the duchess however who spoke first, saying,—"Now that we are alone, and that there is nobody here to overhear us, I should be glad if the señor governor would relieve me of certain doubts I have, rising out of the history of the great Don Quixote that is now in print. One is: inasmuch as worthy Sancho never saw Dulcinea,—I mean the lady Dulcinea del Toboso,—nor took Don Quixote's letter to her,—for it was left in the memorandum-book in the Sierra Morena, how did he dare to invent the answer and all that about finding her sifting wheat,—the whole story being a deception and falsehood, and so much to the prejudice of the peerless Dulcinea's good name; a thing that is not at all becoming the character and fidelity of a good squire?"

At these words, Sancho, without uttering one in reply, got up from his chair, and with noiseless steps, with his body bent and his finger on his lips, went all round the room lifting up the hangings; and this done, he came back to his seat and said:—"Now, señora, that I have seen that there is no one except the bystanders listening to us on the sly, I will answer what you have asked me, and all you may ask me, without fear or dread. And the first thing I have got to say is, that for my own part I hold my master Don Quixote to be stark mad, though sometimes he says things that to my mind, and indeed everybody's that listens to him, are so wise and run in such a straight furrow that Satan himself could not have said them better; but for all that, really and beyond all question, it's my firm belief he is cracked. Well, then, as this is clear to my mind, I can venture to make him believe things that have neither head nor tail, like that affair of the answer to the letter, and that other of six or eight days ago which is not yet in history,—that is to say, the affair of the enchantment of my lady Dulcinea; for I made him believe she is enchanted, though there's no more truth in it than over the hills of Úbeda."

The duchess begged him to tell her about the enchantment or deception, so Sancho told the whole story exactly as it had happened, and his hearers were not a little amused by it; and then resuming, the duchess said:—"In consequence of what worthy Sancho has told me, a doubt starts up in my mind, and there comes a kind of whisper to my ears that says, 'If Don Quixote [Pg 3479] be mad, crazy, cracked, and Sancho his squire knows it, and notwithstanding serves and follows him, and goes trusting to his empty promises, there can be no doubt he must be still madder and sillier than his master; and that being so, it will be cast in your teeth, señora Duchess, if you give the said Sancho an island to govern; for how will he who does not know how to govern himself know how to govern others?'"

"My God, señora," said Sancho, "but that doubt comes timely; but your Grace may say it out, and speak plainly, or as you like; for I know what you say is true, and if I were wise I should have left my master long ago: but this was my fate, this was my bad luck; I can't help it, I must follow him; we're from the same village, I have eaten his bread, I'm fond of him, I'm grateful, he gave me his ass-colts, and above all I'm faithful; so it's quite impossible for anything to separate us except the pick-axe and shovel. And if your Highness does not like to give me the government you promised, God made me without it and maybe your not giving it to me will be all the better for my conscience; for fool as I am, I know the proverb 'To her hurt the ant got wings,' and it may be that Sancho the squire will get to heaven sooner than Sancho the governor. 'They make as good bread here as in France'; and 'By night all cats are gray'; and 'A hard case enough his, who hasn't broken his fast at two in the afternoon'; and 'There's no stomach a hand's-breadth bigger than another'; and the same can be filled 'with straw or hay,' as the saying is; and 'The little birds of the field have God for their purveyor and caterer'; and 'Four yards of Cuenca frieze keep one warmer than four of Segovia broadcloth'; and 'When we quit this world and are put underground, the prince travels by as narrow a path as the journeyman'; and 'The Pope's body does not take up more feet of earth than the sacristan's,' for all that the one is higher than the other; for when we go to our graves we all pack ourselves up and make ourselves small, or rather they pack us up and make us small in spite of us, and then—good-night to us. And I say once more, if your ladyship does not like to give me the island because I'm a fool, like a wise man I will take care to give myself no trouble about it; I have heard say that 'Behind the cross there's the devil,' and that 'All that glitters is not gold,' and that from among the oxen and the plows and the yokes, Wamba the husbandman was taken to be made king of Spain; and from among brocades [Pg 3480] and pleasures and riches, Roderick was taken to be devoured by adders, if the verses of the old ballads don't lie."

"To be sure they don't lie!" exclaimed Doña Rodriguez, the duenna, who was one of the listeners. "Why, there's a ballad that says they put King Rodrigo alive into a tomb full of toads and adders and lizards, and that two days afterwards the king, in a plaintive, feeble voice, cried out from within the tomb—

'They gnaw me now, they gnaw me now,
There where I most did sin.'

And according to that, the gentleman has good reason to say he would rather be a laboring man than a king, if vermin are to eat him."

The duchess could not help laughing at the simplicity of her duenna, or wondering at the language and proverbs of Sancho, to whom she said:—"Worthy Sancho knows very well that when once a knight has made a promise he strives to keep it, though it should cost him his life. My lord and husband the duke, though not one of the errant sort, is none the less a knight for that reason, and will keep his word about the promised island in spite of the envy and malice of the world. Let Sancho be of good cheer; for when he least expects it he will find himself seated on the throne of his island and seat of dignity, and will take possession of his government that he may discard it for another of three-bordered brocade. The charge I give him is, to be careful how he governs his vassals, bearing in mind that they are all loyal and well-born."

"As to governing them well," said Sancho, "there's no need of charging me to do that, for I'm kind-hearted by nature, and full of compassion for the poor; 'There's no stealing the loaf from him who kneads and bakes'; and by my faith, it won't do to throw false dice with me; I am an old dog, and I know all about 'tus, tus'; I can be wide awake if need be, and I don't let clouds come before my eyes, for I know where the shoe pinches me; I say so, because with me the good will have support and protection, and the bad neither footing nor access. And it seems to me that in governments, to make a beginning is everything; and maybe after having been governor a fortnight, I'll take kindly to the work and know more about it than the field labor I have been brought up to."[Pg 3481]

"You are right, Sancho," said the duchess; "for no one is born ready taught, and the bishops are made out of men and not out of stones. But to return to the subject we were discussing just now, the enchantment of the lady Dulcinea: I look upon it as certain, and something more than evident, that Sancho's idea of practicing a deception upon his master, making him believe that the peasant girl was Dulcinea and that if he did not recognize her it must be because she was enchanted, was all a device of one of the enchanters that persecute Don Quixote. For in truth and earnest, I know from good authority that the coarse country wench who jumped up on the ass was and is Dulcinea del Toboso, and that worthy Sancho, though he fancies himself the deceiver, is the one that is deceived; and that there is no more reason to doubt the truth of this, than of anything else we never saw. Señor Sancho Panza must know that we too have enchanters here, that are well disposed to us, and tell us what goes on in the world, plainly and distinctly, without subterfuge or deception; and believe me, Sancho, that agile country lass was and is Dulcinea del Toboso, who is as much enchanted as the mother that bore her; and when we least expect it, we shall see her in her own proper form, and then Sancho will be disabused of the error he is under at present."

"All that's very possible," said Sancho Panza; "and now I'm willing to believe what my master says about what he saw in the cave of Montesinos, where he says he saw the lady Dulcinea del Toboso in the very same dress and apparel that I said I had seen her in when I enchanted her all to please myself. It must be all exactly the other way, as your ladyship says; because it is impossible to suppose that out of my poor wit such a cunning trick could be concocted in a moment, nor do I think my master is so mad that by my weak and feeble persuasion he could be made to believe a thing so out of all reason. But, señora, your Excellence must not therefore think me ill-disposed, for a dolt like me is not bound to see into the thoughts and plots of those vile enchanters. I invented all that to escape my master's scolding, and not with any intention of hurting him; and if it has turned out differently, there is a God in heaven who judges our hearts."

"That is true," said the duchess; "but tell me, Sancho, what is this you say about the cave of Montesinos, for I should like to know."[Pg 3482]

Sancho, upon this, related to her word for word what has been said already touching that adventure; and having heard it, the duchess said:—"From this occurrence it may be inferred that as the great Don Quixote says