The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 71,
No. 436, February 1852, by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 71, No. 436, February 1852

Author: Various

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Language: English

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No. CCCCXXXVI.       FEBRUARY, 1852.       Vol. LXXI.


The Duke of Marlborough.,135
My Novel; or, Varieties in English Life.,165
A Canter to California.,187
Struggles for Fame and Fortune. Part II.,196
Longfellow's Golden Legend,212
Bull-Fights, in Pictures and Prose,225
Cupid in the Cabinet.—An Attic Legend,231
The Old Soldier.—In Three Campaigns,236
Results of Revolution in Europe,242


To whom all communications (post paid) must be addressed.




No. CCCCXXXVI.       FEBRUARY, 1852.       Vol. LXXI.


Mr Alison's Life of the Duke of Marlborough is an enchaining romance—the romance of a dazzling but stern reality; and Marlborough is its equally stern and dazzling hero. It is, moreover, a romance equally exciting and instructive to both soldier and civilian; told, too, with the scrupulous truthfulness befitting reality, and by one of sagacity sufficient to perceive that, by so doing, he would preserve the ethereal essence of the romance, rendering it intense to the reader for mere excitement, (whose name, alas! is now legion,) while irradiating the path of the plodding inquirer after mere matter of fact. We assert that in these volumes are to be found many essential elements of the most enthralling romance of actual life.[2] Hairbreadth personal 'scapes of the hero, from captivity and death; glorious battles, but of long doubtful issue; devouring and undying love; plots and counterplots without end, now on a grand, then on a paltry scale, national and individual; implacable animosities, deadly jealousies; enthusiastic gratitude suddenly converted into execrable ingratitude; court favour now blazing in its zenith, then suddenly and disastrously eclipsed; stern fortitude, magnificent heroism amidst exquisite trials and tremendous dangers; the wasting anxieties of the stateman's cabinet and the warrior's tent; what would one have more? And yet there is more, and much more, to be found in these volumes, as we shall hereafter see.

Mr Alison's hero is he who was known as "the handsome Englishman;" a title conferred upon him, not by sighing ladies fair, but by a man who saw him in his blooming youth, in his twenty-second year—by no less a personage than the great warrior Turenne, under whose auspices he began playing, very eagerly, the brilliant game of soldiering. This was in the matter (as the lawyers say)[136] of the French against the Dutch, wherein he learned the art by which he afterwards gave his teachers fearful evidence of the extent of his obligation to them.—And he was handsome. Of that fact Mr Alison has enabled us to judge, by a fine portrait, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, of Marlborough, when in the prime of manhood. We cannot conceive a nobler countenance than here looks on the reader; it is the perfection of manly beauty. There is a certain serene frankness, a dignity, a subdued vivacity and power in those symmetrical features which would have enchanted Phidias. The Englishman thinks, and his pulse quickens the while, of that countenance, now so tranquil, suddenly inflamed at Blenheim, Ramilies, Oudenarde, Lille, Malplaquet; then excited by the anxieties of harassing statesmanship, and the indignities inflicted by envy, malevolence, and ingratitude; by and by relaxed with grief, by the loss of an only son; and finally beaming with proud tenderness upon a beautiful, gifted, idolised, and idolising wife—one who, after his death, loftily spurned a ducal suitor for her widowed hand, saying, "If you were the emperor of the world, I would not permit you to succeed in that heart which has been devoted to John Duke of Marlborough."[3] No man or woman can read these words without a swelling heart, and a belief, which he would be loth to have disturbed, that they indicated a noble nature. What must such a man, he will say, have thought of such a woman? what must such a woman have felt for such a man? Each bound to the other, through all the vicissitudes of life, in adamantine bonds of love and admiration! each, too, possessing great qualities, materially affecting those of the other, as well for good as for evil. Nor was this remarkable man possessed of a handsome countenance only. His person and gesture were dignified, graceful, and commanding. He had indeed a signal presence; he was a perfect master of manner, and his address was so exquisitely fascinating as to dissolve fierce jealousies and animosities, lull suspicion, and beguile the subtlest diplomacy of its arts. His soothing smile and winning tongue, equally with his bright sword, affecting the destinies of empires. Before the bland, soft-spoken commander, "grim-visaged war" in the person of Charles XII. of Sweden, "smoothed his wrinkled front," and the rigid warrior-king, at his instance, bade adieu to the grand and importunate suitor for his alliance, Louis XIV., whom it was the great mission of Marlborough to defeat and humble. The consummate diplomatist was never—no, not for an instant—thrown off his guard: his watchfulness knew no relaxation; and his penetration into the designs of the most astute was quick as profound. He was, in fact, equally great in camp and cabinet—born for the conduct of affairs, which he regulated with a sort of frigid masterliness: a condition, however, which he maintained by rigorous self-command; for, as we shall in due time see, he had powerful feelings and quick sensibilities. Lord Bolingbroke said of him, that "he was the greatest general and greatest minister that this country or any other had produced—the perfection of genius, matured by experience." If we may presume to say it, he appears to have been one of those raised by Providence as a great instrument, for a great exigency in the affairs of mankind. It is true that Marlborough had his faults, and grave ones; but the genius of history is, in such a case, equally outraged by an attempt at suppression or exaggeration. "In estimating the character of the dead," justly observes Mr Aytoun, in his able vindication of the memory of Claverhouse against certain incautious allegations of Mr Macaulay, "some weight ought surely to be given to the opinion of contemporaries;" and one of the Duke of Marlborough's most eminent military rivals and political opponents, the celebrated Earl of Peterborough, said of him, in a noble spirit, "He was so great a man, that I have forgotten his faults."[4] But can History? No: she abdicates her[137] functions, unless she records truthfully, for the guidance of mankind, both the faults and the excellencies of the great characters whom she has undertaken to delineate. Without scrupulous fidelity here, history may degenerate into a libel, and a lie—a lie of unspeakable baseness, for it is regarding the dead, who cannot burst indignant from the tomb in which they were laid with honour, it may have been amidst the tears and sighs of a proud and bereaved nation;—a lie of unspeakable wickedness, for it is designed to live, and, living, to lie to all future ages, in proportion to the strength of the pen which writes it. These are truths to which the heart of mankind instantly responds; and we enunciate them here, only by way of making continual claim, to adopt the now exploded phraseology of English law, upon the attention of all biographers and historians. Not that we think this to have been rendered necessary by any recent and glaring cases—for we know of none whatever among English men of letters, in the departments just referred to, in which we have detected any intention to slander the dead, or misrepresent the living. We indignantly repudiate the bare possibility; and only desire to impress the necessity of a caution all but excessive, in making derogatory imputations upon the dead, through placing too great a reliance upon the tittle-tattle of days gone by, written or spoken; upon the means of knowledge possessed by those who gave currency to discreditable rumours; and the trustworthiness of contemporaries, often eager rivals outwitted in the game, and distanced in the race of life and distinction, by him whom they thereupon revengefully resolve to blacken before the eyes of posterity. We concur, in a word, cordially with Lord Mahon in saying that which we are bound to add he has uniformly acted up to, in his candid, luminous, and elegant History: "Unjustly to lower the fame of a political adversary, or unjustly to raise the fame of an ancestor—to state any fact without sufficient authority, or draw any character without thorough conviction, implies not merely literary failure, but moral guilt."[5]

That the Duke of Marlborough is one of the foremost figures in the picture of England's glory, in that radiant quarter crowded by her warriors and statesmen, is undeniable; and so is Lord Bacon, who stands forth among her philosophers a very giant. But would any biographer or historian deal justly, who failed to apprise us of the real blot upon the character of each? Surely, however, he would not dwell upon that blot with eagerness or exultation! but point it out in the spirit of a benignant sadness—in the reluctant discharge of a painful duty—and that only after having deliberately weighed everything that a judicial mind would require, before arriving at a conclusion so humiliating to humanity.

Four living writers—of high personal character, of great eminence in the ranks of literature, and characterised almost equally by painstaking industry in the collection of materials, but clothing the results of their researches in very different styles of composition—have respectively placed on record their deliberate estimate of the moral and political character of the Duke of Marlborough. These writers are—Mr Hallam, Lord Mahon, Mr Macaulay, and Mr Alison. Mr Hallam's writings are already English classics. He is a stern, straightforward, independent, learned man, of great and exact knowledge. His style is pure, yet characterised chiefly by a kind of rugged vigour. Thus has he, in his Constitutional History, dealt with the Duke of Marlborough: "What, then, must we think, if we find, in the whole of this great man's political life, nothing but ambition and rapacity in his motives, nothing but treachery and intrigue in his means? In short, his whole life was such a picture of meanness and treachery that we must rate military services very high indeed, to preserve any esteem for his memory." "The extreme selfishness and treachery of his character make it difficult to believe that he had any further view[138] than to secure himself in the event of a revolution, which he deemed probable. His interest, which was always his deity, did not lie in that direction; and his great sagacity must have perceived it." These are blighting words, and they fall from a writer of great authority, yet liable to the suspicion of occasionally labouring, however unconsciously, under political bias. Lord Mahon, in his History of England, speaks with the utmost temper, forbearance, and unwillingness, but in unequivocal condemnation of one important act of Marlborough. He states that "the extent of infidelity" to the cause of the Revolution, among leading ministerial statesmen, "which has more recently come to light from the publication of original papers, is truly appalling. Above all, it is with shame and sorrow that I write it, the Duke of Marlborough's conduct to the Stuarts is, indeed, a foul blot on his illustrious name." After reciting facts which seem, unfortunately, incontestable, he adds, mournfully, "What defence can possibly be offered for such conduct?" Mr Macaulay writes in a spirit of deadly detestation of Marlborough. This gentleman, it need hardly be said, is a gifted disciple of the same political school as Mr Hallam; and, without desiring to convey erroneous inferences and impressions, he seems to us, nevertheless, a glaring instance of one-sidedness. Mr Macaulay is a man of very great ability; and his History promises to constitute a splendid addition to the stock of enduring English literature. It will also have a powerful and wide-spread influence, whether for good or for evil, over the minds not only of literary and political students, but of that huge class who are content to let others think for them; for its tone is one very confident and peremptory; the knowledge which it displays is obviously as extensive as minute; and he is a consummate master of English, and writes with such alluring brilliance as renders it nearly impossible to lay down his volumes till the perusal of them has been finished, or to pause, as one goes along, to reflect and weigh. Hence the great moral responsibility which such a writer incurs; and all are interested in warning him, as he proceeds with his great undertaking, to throw himself as thoroughly as he may be able into the judicial character. We wish that such a writer had never cared a single straw for either Whig or Tory! As for his style, it is one of ceaseless glitter, and lacks the simplicity, repose, and dignity of history. What a contrast to the immortal composition of Hume! to whom he stands in perilous proximity, absolutely challenging comparison. Before parting with this brilliant writer, we would, as one of the public which is proud of him, offer him, in the most friendly spirit, an earnest hint that he would, in continuing his labours, disengage the true events of history from merely local and temporary details; and be searchingly on his guard in dealing with characters and principles which run counter to his own views and opinions. Let us now see in what terms Mr Macaulay has ventured to speak of one of the greatest men who ever figured in our history. He says that Marlborough was a man "not less distinguished by avarice and baseness than by capacity and energy—as one whose renown was strangely made up of infamy and glory; thrifty in his very vices, levying ample contributions on ladies enriched by the spoils of more liberal lovers." A "letter written with a certain elevation, was a sure mark that he was going to commit a baseness." Another is written "with that decorum which he never failed to preserve in the midst of guilt and dishonour." And finally, he already thus stands before posterity in the pages of Mr Macaulay:—

"So inconsistent is human nature, that there are tender spots even in seared consciences. And thus this man, [!] who had owed his rise in life to his sister's shame, who had been kept by the most profuse, imperious, and shameless of harlots, and whose public life, to those who can look steadily through the dazzling blaze of genius and glory, will appear a prodigy of turpitude, believed implicitly in the religion which he had learned [!] as a boy, and shuddered at the thought of formally abjuring it. A terrible alternative was before him. The earthly evil which he most dreaded was poverty. The one[139] crime from which his heart recoiled was apostacy. And if the designs of the Court succeeded, he could not doubt that, between poverty and apostacy, he must soon make his choice. He therefore determined to cross those designs; and it soon appeared that there was no guilt and no disgrace which he was not ready to incur, in order to escape from the necessity of parting either with his places or with his religion."[6]

Such was Marlborough, according to Mr Macaulay; and when we bear in mind that he has yet to deal with thirty-four years' public life of this illustrious personage, whom he may at this moment be painting in, if possible, still darker colours than the above, we may feel excused in feeling anxiety, not only on patriotic grounds, but on Mr Macaulay's own account.

The last of our four living writers dealing with Marlborough is Mr Alison—a gentleman who has conferred world-wide service, and earned an enduring celebrity in English letters, by the fidelity and power with which he has recorded the mightiest series of events which the world has hitherto seen, and enforced their true teaching. That his History of Europe is not open to criticism, it were childishness to deny; but the maculæ totally disappear when set against his uniform and even fastidious fidelity, his prodigious industry, his dispassionate candour in dealing with men and events, his huge accumulation of important, instructive, and deeply-interesting facts—which, but for him, might have been irrecoverably scattered abroad—and his vivid and picturesque eloquence. Few must they be of his readers who have not hung breathless over his battle-scenes on flood and field; hearing again the awful roar of the cannonade, the deadly rattle of musketry, the thundering charge of cavalry, the steady tramp of vast columns of infantry; beholding the glistening of sabre and bayonet, and all the bloody scene, now fearfully visible, and then, again, as fearfully invisible, for a while, amid the sulphurous smoke! Again, Mr Alison always places his attentive reader well, before entering into the battle or siege; giving him an admirable, idea of localities, without a knowledge of which his picture would become like the cloudy but glistening confusion of the later productions of Turner. All this, however, is subordinate to the moral and political aspect of those turbulent times and multitudinous transactions with which Mr Alison had to deal—an aspect which he keeps steadily before his reader's eye, and thus instructs while delighting him; making the past truly and practically tributary to the future. He is ever watchful of the effect produced on affairs, civil or military, by overmastering personal character, which, with its workings, he develops patiently and distinctly: and so with combinations of men and parties; with systems of policy abruptly changed, or subtilely varied to suit purposes, and gain objects, not at first sight visible or easily suspected. Either by natural constitution or from long habit, there may be observed in Mr Alison a disposition to take large views of human affairs—to deal with mankind and their transactions in masses, and on a grand scale—a tendency this, which, if accompanied by accurate thinking, and due attention to details, proportionably indicates the highest order of historical genius. But we must repeat the remark, and with it close these general observations, that Mr Alison's capital qualification as an author, especially a biographical and historical author, appears to us to be his unvarying love of truth, in comparison with which all other objects which can be contemplated by an author are absolutely as nothing.

It was with no little interest that we saw the announcement of Mr Alison's being engaged upon an elaborate Life of Marlborough, who would now be depicted by the same brilliant and faithful pencil which has delineated Wellington. These are two of the names which glitter brightest in the rolls of fame, and Mr Alison is able thoroughly to appreciate each. Let us ask, in passing, what if these two heroes had changed times and places? Each was thrown on troubled and terrible times; each possessed great intellect, and resplendent military genius. Would Marlborough[140] have played Wellington's, or he Marlborough's part, on the scene of moral and political action? As far as the illustrious living hero is concerned, the question admits of an instant answer.

We have now, however, the character of Marlborough fairly delivered into the hands of Mr Alison, to be dealt with according to truth and honour. Will he concur with Mr Hallam and Mr Macaulay? If he do, Marlborough must, we suppose, be henceforth regarded as a sort of splendid fiend—revelling in his defiance of the precepts of honour, morality, and religion; prostituting transcendent powers for the basest purposes, and exhibiting the vices of our nature in colossal proportions.—Can Mr Alison vindicate his hero against the sorrowful censures of his noble brother historian? No: he does not attempt it. On the contrary, he is even more emphatic in denouncing the faithlessness of Marlborough than Lord Mahon, placing his treachery to James II., "in a moral point of view," even deeper in infamy than that of Marshal Ney. "And yet," says he, "such is often the inequality of crimes and punishments in this world, that Churchill was raised to the pinnacle of greatness by the very treachery which consigned Ney, with justice, so far as his conduct is concerned, to an ignominious death. History forgets its first and noblest duty when it fails, by its distribution of praise and blame, to counterbalance, as far as its verdict can, this inequality, which, for inscrutable, but doubtless wise purposes, Providence has permitted, in this transient scene. Charity forbids us to scrutinise such conduct too closely."[7] This is conceived in a spirit at once generous and just; and the acknowledgment thus early and pointedly, of Marlborough's great fault, is marked by signal discretion, such as is likely to carry the reader cheerfully along with his author, and induce a hearty concurrence in his ultimate conclusion. We rejoice, then, that Marlborough has fallen into such hands; and shall proceed, as briefly as is consistent with our space, and the importance of the subject—for it is of importance, and great importance too, and Mr Alison's is a very timely biography, as we shall soon show—to give such an account of the contents of these two volumes as will, unless we are mistaken, induce our readers to become his.

There are four reasons why we regard Mr Alison's new work as specially well-timed; and we believe that our readers will, without difficulty, concur in these reasons. First, a full, fair, and popular biography, personal, political, and military, of the great Duke of Marlborough, has recently become a matter of mere justice, because of the blighting disparagement of his conduct and character which Mr Macaulay has so recently exhibited in his widely-circulated volumes, and is doubtless at this moment engaged, totis viribus, in enhancing. Secondly, because a great store of invaluable materials for such a biography is in existence, the principal portion having only recently become so, continuing, however, in a state which renders the whole but a sealed book to the public at large. Thirdly, Mr Alison is peculiarly qualified to deal with this state of things, by his unbiassed faithfulness, and the multifarious qualifications which he has acquired in the preparation of his magnum opus, the History of Europe during the French Revolution. Lastly, because of the course of public events, now daily becoming the source of greater anxiety to those who look beneath the surface, and would apply effectually the experience of the past, in order to comprehend our present position, and provide against our dark and—as to some eyes it may well appear—blood-red future. Let us recur for a moment to the second of these reasons, in order to give the reader a just idea of his obligations to Mr Alison. He may be said to have sunk shafts into five mines. First, the Marlborough Despatches, which had lain buried in an unaccountable manner till the month of October 1842, when they were accidentally discovered, under a mass of old military accounts, and other waste paper, by Mr Whately, the solicitor of the present[141] Duke of Marlborough. In the lumber-room of a house for a long series of years used as the steward's residence, there lay, one upon another, three large boxes; and it was in the undermost one that Mr Whately made the fortunate discovery, with which his name will ever be deservedly associated, of eighteen folio books, bound in vellum—inestimable documents! "being," says that gentleman, "manuscript copies of despatches and letters of John Duke of Marlborough, in English, French, and some few in Latin,"—extending over the resplendent decennium from 1702-1712. These had been, to that moment, totally unknown to any one living; and, what is exceedingly singular, had also escaped the watchful and anxious eye of Archdeacon Coxe, the author of the compendious, elaborate, and authentic "Life" of the great Duke. These precious documents were placed in the hands of an eminent and accomplished military authority, the late Sir George Murray, who published at intervals, beginning in 1845, a selection from the Despatches, in five large octavo volumes, most ably edited, with copious historical and military notes. As Mr Alison has remarked, Sir George's Marlborough Despatches constitute a work of inestimable importance to the historian, and also to the military reader; but they will rarely, if ever, be opened by the general reader. We ourselves have turned from its pages, more than once, hopelessly, with yet a feeling that they contained matter of great interest and importance to a competent and determined military or historical reader. This is Mr Alison's first and richest mine, sunk in his own country. In quest of another he crosses the Channel, and there encounters the Military Life of Marlborough, in three volumes, written in France in 1807, at the instance of his mighty admirer, Napoleon:[8] "towards the composition of which," says Sir George Murray, "every facility of information was afforded which the power of the Emperor could command." This Mr Alison pronounces "the best military narrative of the Duke's exploits which has yet appeared." But Mr Alison is indebted to France for another grand source of authentic information on "the Continental side of the great wars waged by Marlborough"—General Pelot's Collection of original Memoirs and Despatches, published in nine quarto volumes, and entitled, "Mémoires Militaire Rélatifs à la Succession d'Espagne." Again, we have the Dutch account of this ever-memorable war, published at the Hague in 1721—the "magnificent work" of Rousset, in three volumes folio. And yet again, Kausler's "admirable summary of great battles, collected from the best authorities, and annexed to his splendid military Atlas." To these must be added, Archdeacon Coxe's Life, in three volumes quarto—"the most authentic and valuable which exists," founded on a close examination of all the correspondence known to be in existence at the time; but liable to a serious drawback—that "it is long and expensive, and too full of long documents, and letters, in the text." What are all these works, exclaims the embarrassed general reader, to me?—having neither time, nor inclination, nor means for mastering them? You might as well place a man seeking for a richly-chased golden goblet in the midst of the Californian or Australian gold-fields, and point him with exultation to piles of sacks filled with the auriferous dust! Now Mr Alison has, in the two moderate-sized volumes before us, presented the impatient applicant with his desired goblet, and entitled himself thereby to due gratitude. He is scrupulous in owning his obligations, and also in enabling his reader at once, if disposed, to verify facts, and extend his inquiries, by placing at the end of every paragraph, as in his History of Europe, the authorities on which that paragraph is founded. To these are added a very[142] carefully-prepared map of France and the Netherlands, "so arranged as to show the positions of every place, in strict accordance with the text;" and plans of the battles, accurately reduced from the great German work of Kausler, "so well known from the splendour of its finishing, and the accuracy of its details." To all this we have yet to add, that Mr Alison appears also to have consulted every other work hitherto published, having reference to the personal or military life of his hero, and to be familiarly acquainted with everything of importance that has appeared, either contemporaneously or subsequently, concerning the part which the Duke of Marlborough took, or is supposed to have taken, in the momentous politics of the day.

We have taken the trouble of being thus particular, out of justice to Mr Alison; for without this detail, neither the value nor the extent of his labours could have been appreciated by the reader; who, if he share our fate, will be carried evenly and rapidly along, from the beginning to the end of these two eloquent volumes, charmed with the result, but never adverting to the laborious and praiseworthy process. And we repeat that all this is thoroughly tanti—as a matter of even justice to the sedulously-slandered illustrious dead, in this respect sharing the fate of a prophet, who is not without honour, save in his own country, (for abroad, Marlborough's memory is radiant with imperishable glory,) and also because, as we have intimated, there is a portentous resemblance between Marlborough's time and our own. He was the great champion of Protestantism, in its tremendous encounter with Popery, of which Louis XIV. was the worthy and formidable exponent. "The siege of Lille," says Mr Alison, at the close of his first volume, "one of the most memorable and glorious of which there is any mention in history, like those of Troy and Carthage in ancient, and Malta and Jerusalem in modern times, was not merely the theatre of contest between rival powers, but of struggle between contending principles and rival faiths. The great contest between the Romish Church and the Reformation ultimately issued, as all such schisms in belief must issue, in a terrible war. Louis was the head of the ancient, Marlborough the champion of the new, faith. The circumstance of the Spanish Succession was but an accident, which brought into the field forces on either side, previously arranged under these opposite banners. It was the great division of men's minds which drew them forth, in such strength, into the field of war."[9] Now let any thinking person of 1852 survey the existing attitudes of these fearful and implacable belligerents, as exhibited in their relations, both in this country and on the Continent, and in certain recently-developed political conditions, which they are rapidly moulding, and arranging with a view to action on a scale such as the world has perhaps never witnessed; and the "boldest may hold his breath for a time." He will at length, probably, ask, not without anxiety—Where are we to look for our Marlborough by and by? and perhaps he may add, with an indignant sigh, We would not treat him as our fathers treated theirs!

The romance of the Life of Marlborough begins with the very beginning of that life. He bursts upon us a beautiful boy, fascinating everybody by his charming manners—the little heir to the all but ruined fortunes of an ancient and loyal family, which, on the father's side, had come in with the Conqueror, while in his mother's veins ran the blood of the illustrious Sir Francis Drake. He had an only sister, who, a victim to the licentiousness of the times, became mistress of the future James II., the great patron of her brother, and to whom she bore a son: who, as Duke of Berwick, was destined, almost single-handed, to uphold the tottering throne of Louis XIV. against the terrible sword of her brother! That son, commanding the forces of France and Spain during the War of the Succession, almost counterbalanced, by his military genius, his uncle's victories in Germany and Flanders! Lord Bolingbroke[143] said of the nephew, that "he was the best great man that ever existed"—and of the uncle, that "he was the perfection of genius, matured by experience—the greatest general and greatest minister that our country, or any other, has produced." These two great personages were signalised by the same grand qualities of military genius, of humanity in war, of virtuous conduct in private life: would, however, we could say that the elder hero had no bar sinister on his moral, as the younger had on his heraldic, 'scutcheon! Forgetting, however, for a moment, that solitary blot—would we could forget it for ever!—let us concur with Mr Alison in noting so singular and interesting a coincidence, that "England has equal cause to be proud of her victories, and her defeats, in that warfare; for they both were owing to the military genius of the same family, and that, one of her own."[10] There was a difference of twenty years between them; and it is again singular, that each, at the same early age, fifteen, showed a sudden irrepressible ardour for arms, impelling them, at the same age, to quit the seductive splendour of the court of Charles II. for foreign service—the uncle, as a volunteer in the expedition to Tangiers, against the Moors; the nephew, twenty years afterwards, against the Turks, under Charles, duke of Lorraine, in Hungary. It is indeed a most extraordinary fact, already adverted to, that, while the uncle all but subverted the throne of France by his Flemish campaigns, and, but for infamous domestic faction, would have done so, his nephew, single-handed, preserved that of Spain for the house of Bourbon! If this be the first step in this romance of reality, the next is one profoundly suggestive to a contemplative mind. We have spoken of a splendid Decennium in the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns—that from 1702 to 1712. But what a preceding Quinquennium—that from 1672 to 1677—have we here, for a moment, before us! The "handsome young Englishman"—an idol among the profligate beauties of the court of Charles II.—had made at length a conquest of his celebrated and favourite mistress, the Countess of Castlemaine, afterwards Duchess of Cleveland. To remove so dangerous a rival in her fickle affections,[11] Charles gave him a company in the Guards, and then sent him to the Continent—proh pudor—to aid Louis XIV. in subduing the United Provinces. There he sedulously learnt the art of war under Louis's consummate generals, Turenne, Condé, and Vauban: thus acquiring, under Louis's own auspices, that masterly knowledge of the science of war, which was destined to be wielded so soon afterwards, with triumphant and destructive energy, against himself! How little was such a contingency dreamed of, when Louis XIV. publicly, at the head of his army, thanked the handsome young hero for his services, and afterwards prevailed on his brother sovereign, Charles, to promote him to high command! And here is suggested the first of several deeply interesting and instructive parallels to be found in this work, between our own incomparable Wellington, and his illustrious predecessor: that Wellington went through the same practical course of study, but in inverse order—his first campaign being against the French, in Flanders, and his next against the bastions of Tippoo, and the Mahratta horse, in Hindostan. Shortly after his return occurred that event which is of great[144] importance in the lives of all men to whom it happens—marriage; but which to the young soldier was pregnant, for both good and evil, with immense influence upon the whole of his future career, and also upon his personal character. He married the beautiful lady in attendance on the Princess Anne—Miss Sarah Jennings, of spotless purity of character, and like himself, of an ancient and ruined Royalist family. He was then in his twenty-eighth, she in her eighteenth year: and, to anticipate for a moment, after a fond union of forty-four years' duration, he died in his seventy-second year; she, twenty-two years afterwards, in her eighty-fourth! Want of fortune for some time delayed their union, which, however, an enthusiastic declaration of his passion at length accelerated. She married, in the young and already celebrated general, a man of not only transcendent capacity, but gentle and generous feelings, and a magnanimity which displayed itself on a thousand trying occasions. Their hearts were passionately true to each other, through every moment of their protracted union. Her fair fame was never, even in those days of impunity, tarnished by the momentary breath of slander. She possessed great talents, but was also of a haughty ambitious temper, bent upon aggrandisement, and grievously avaricious; and to the ascendency over her husband, which she maintained unabated from first to last, may perhaps be attributed the development of those features in his character which have excited the grief of honourable posterity, and afforded scope for the foulest misrepresentations of his conduct and motives to contemporary and succeeding traducers, rabid with the virus of political hostility. Though impatient to quit the topic, but only for the present, we shall here advert to Marlborough's inexcusable conduct towards James II., for the purpose of citing a passage in the Duchess's own Vindication, on which Mr Macaulay relies, as conclusively demonstrating the mercenary motives influencing Marlborough. That passage, however, does not necessarily sustain the imputation made by Mr Macaulay, though it may justify a suspicion of the sort of motives which she might have been in the habit of urging on her confiding husband:—"It were evident to all the world that, as things were carried on by King James II., everybody, sooner or later, must be ruined who would not become a Roman Catholic. This consideration made me very well pleased at the Prince of Orange's undertaking to rescue me from such slavery."[12]

That Marlborough should be in high favour with William III. may be easily conceived; for he not only essentially facilitated the enterprise of William, but actively supported him in all those critical measures necessary to consolidate his power and strengthen his novel and splendid position. He acquitted himself so admirably in the Netherlands in 1689, in Ireland in 1690, and again in Flanders in 1691, where he served under William himself, that he was on the way to almost unbounded power with William. But behold! to the consternation of the whole country, almost immediately after his return with William, early in 1692, he was suddenly arrested and committed to the Tower, on a charge of high treason, in having entered into an association for bringing about the restoration of James II.! As the charge, however, could not be legally substantiated—and was indeed proved to have been supported by fabricated evidence[13]—he was liberated, but not restored for a considerable time to his former position, there being good reason for believing him, at all events, no stranger to a clandestine correspondence with the exiled family. Well, indeed, may Lord Mahon lament his "perseverance in these deplorable intrigues."[14] We concur with Mr Alison in his remark, that, with all the light subsequently thrown on Marlborough's history, upon this portion of it there still rests a mystery: and moreover, within five years afterwards he was completely reinstated in William's confidence; and in June 1698 the King positively intrusted his recently-discarded servant with the all-important function of tutor[145] to the young Duke of Gloucester, William's nephew, and heir-presumptive to the throne!—saying, on apprising him of the appointment, "My lord, make my nephew to resemble yourself, and he will be everything which I can desire!" When William's stern and guarded character is borne in mind, this transaction becomes exceedingly remarkable. Marlborough continued ever after to rise higher and higher in the confidence of his sovereign, who thrice named him one of the Lords Justiciars, to whom the administration of affairs in this country was intrusted, during William's absence in Holland; and also appointed him, in 1701, ambassador-extraordinary at the Hague, and commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in Flanders. This double appointment, observes Mr Alison, in effect invested Marlborough with the entire direction of affairs civil and military, so far as England was concerned, on the Continent. And even yet further, previously to his unexpected death shortly afterwards, William enjoined on his successor, the Princess Anne, that she should intrust Marlborough with the supreme direction of the affairs of the kingdom, both civil and military! Three days after her accession, accordingly, she made him a Knight of the Garter, Captain-general of the English forces at home and abroad, Master-general of the Ordnance, and Plenipotentiary at the Hague; Lady Marlborough, Mistress of the Robes and Ranger of Windsor Forest; and her two daughters Ladies of the Bedchamber. He instantly went over to the Netherlands to assume the command of the Allied army, sixty thousand strong, then lying before Nimeguen, threatened by a superior French force; and, after displaying infinite skill, succeeded in constructing that famous Alliance which was soon to work such wonders in Europe. Here commences the lustrous decennium of which we have spoken; and, most fortunately, here also, as we have seen, commence the Despatches so recently recovered. Here he became invested with that unsullied and imperishable glory, which dazzled all eyes but those of his rancorous and inveterate detractors; who were probably influenced not only by venomous jealousy, the canker of little minds, but also, in no slight degree, by his having extinguished all their fond hopes of his co-operation in restoring the discarded Stuarts.

From this point Mr Alison starts brilliantly on his course of chequered and exciting narrative, military and political; revelling amidst marches, counter-marches, feints, surprises, stratagems, sieges, battles; intercalating vivid glimpses of domestic tenderness, grief, and joy; then the plots and counter-plots of tortuous faction and intrigue, in the senate, in the cabinet, and even in the palace. And with all this, the interest ever centres in one object—

"In shape and gesture proudly eminent,"

John Duke of Marlborough: not because the author appears to wish it, but because of his faithfulness; he has almost unconsciously exhibited his hero, equally whether off his guard or on his guard, manifesting the full power and intensity of a grand character impressing its will upon men and affairs, irresistibly, and in defiance of agencies capable of annihilating one only a single degree inferior to the energy which in Marlborough mastered everything, everybody. "To write the life of Marlborough," said the late eloquent Professor Smyth of Cambridge,[15] "is to write the history of the reign of Queen Anne;" let us add—and also, to write it in light. Mr Alison makes a similar observation in the preface to his present work. He intimates that Marlborough was so great that his Life runs into general history: exactly as he who undertakes to write the history of the French Revolution will soon find his narrative turn into the biographies of Wellington and Napoleon, so he who sets about the Life of Marlborough will ere long find that he has insensibly become engaged in a general history of the War of the Succession. Well, be it so, if only because that war it is of[146] infinite importance to have better known than in fact it is.

If Mr Alison's object, in the work before us, were to produce a biography, to delineate character, and so to group events as to illustrate individuality—he has eminently succeeded; but his very success renders it difficult for those in our position to allow him to speak for himself, as copiously as doubtless he, and also our readers, would wish. As he has mastered his subject, so have we mastered his treatment of it, as, at least, we suppose; and as he took his own course, so shall we; wishing that we could give our readers the pleasure which his book has afforded ourselves. In order, however, to attain that object, they must read the book itself; and to induce them to do so, we proceed to indicate its leading characteristics in our own words, using his own, as far as is consistent with our space and our object.

To appreciate the mighty doings of Marlborough, let us glance for a moment at the position in which he found, and the position in which he left, the redoubtable Louis XIV.—him whose memory is for ever rendered detestable by his revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and his bloody exterminating persecution of the Protestants. Marlborough found him the centre of a galaxy of glory of almost every description of military, political, and intellectual distinction. He was blazing in the zenith of his power and success: he was making France the world, and installing the Roman Catholic religion in a black and bloody predominance. "Unbroken good fortune," says Mr Alison, "had attended all his enterprises, since he had launched into the career of foreign aggrandisement." But how did Marlborough leave him? Let the dying monarch speak for himself. When he felt death approaching, he ordered his infant heir, afterwards Louis XV., to be brought to his bedside; and placing his lean and withered hand[16] on the head of the child, said with a firm voice,—"My child, you are about to become a great king; but your happiness will depend on your submission to God, and on the care which you take of your subjects. To attain that, you must avoid as much as you can engaging in wars, which are the ruin of the people: do not follow in that respect the bad example which I have given you. I have often engaged in wars from levity, and continued in them from vanity. Do not imitate me, but become a pacific prince." Thus he had learned, at last, a great lesson through the tremendous teaching of Marlborough![17]

That great man seems to have fathomed the character and the purposes of Louis, in all their depth and comprehensiveness, from the first, with an intuitive sagacity; and the patient determination with which he carried out, under circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, his own great conceptions, exhibits perhaps the grandest spectacle that history can point to, in the case of a single individual. The reader of these volumes will frequently boil over with indignation at the obstacles which were thrown in the way of Marlborough, by envy, faction, selfishness, and stupidity interposing, with a fell punctuality, at almost every great crisis during his career, and blighting the most splendid prospects of success. One only a little inferior in magnanimity to Marlborough would have broken down on many different occasions, and fled from the scene of action in disgust and despair. With him, however, it was not so; and yet he was a man of keen sensibility, and has left on record various traces of heart-wrung anguish. Here are[147] one or two, among many scattered over these volumes:—"The unreasonable opposition I have met with has so heated my blood that I am almost mad."—"I am, at this moment, ten years older than I was four days ago!"—"My spirits are so broke, that whenever I can get from this employment, I must live quietly, or die."—"My crosses make my life a burthen to me." All this while, nevertheless, the great warrior-statesman was steadily, yet rapidly, demolishing the vast fabric of French power and glory, and building up in massive proportions that of his own country. "More, perhaps, than to any other man," justly observes Mr Alison at the close of his work, "Marlborough was the architect of England's greatness; for he at once established on a solid basis the Protestant succession, which secured its religious freedom, and vanquished the formidable enemy which threatened its national independence. His mighty arm bequeathed to his country the honour and the happiness of the eighteenth century—the happiest period, by the admission of all historians, which has dawned upon the world since that of the Antonines in ancient story."[18]

Let us now take a very hasty view of his radiant career, remembering the while that he ever bore about with him that which hung like a millstone round his neck—his indefensible conduct towards James II., the recollection of which must have galled and chafed the sensitive spirit of a soldier infinitely more than was known to any human being.

Mr Alison opens with a very imposing picture of the state of public affairs, both in this country and on the Continent, when Marlborough commenced his campaigns; and also delineates with truth and force the characters of the leading actors, all remarkable personages. Louis XIV. stands foremost, and is sketched with freedom and power.[19] Then come James II., William III., Queen Anne, Charles XII., Prince Eugene, and last of all Marlborough, who, at the close of his first campaign, was regarded, both at home and abroad, as "The Man of Destiny, raised up by Providence to rescue the Protestant religion and the liberties of Europe from the thraldom of France."[20] It is impossible to conceive any conjuncture of circumstances more critical and perilous than those of this country at the period in question. Not only our religion, but our independence as a nation, and the very existence of social order, were at stake. If one may use such an expression, the odds were immensely against us—against all who were opposed to the giant energy of Louis XIV. The first step to be taken was to form an alliance against him—and it was undertaken by Marlborough with consummate ability; then to induce the British Cabinet to take its right place as "the very soul of the Grand Alliance"—in that, also, he at length succeeded; and then came the trumpet-sound of war against France, which was forthwith proclaimed at London, the Hague, and Vienna. Yet still a practical difficulty remained—one of peculiar delicacy—for the post of commander-in-chief of the allied forces was greatly coveted by several powerful candidates. Marlborough's own sovereign, Queen Anne, so strongly supported one of them—Prince George of Denmark, her husband—that she even protested she would not declare war unless he was appointed. The Dutch government, however, were resolute on behalf of Marlborough, as the only man equal to sustain the fearful responsibility; and thus Marlborough became invested with the chief direction, both civil and military, of the forces of the coalition. And it was not difficult to foresee the interminable anxieties and vexations which were in store for him, derived from the jealousies and jarring[148] interests of the various states, their ministers and generals, who were under the guidance of Marlborough. The plan of operations on the part of Marlborough and Louis XIV. was as follows:—

"A German army, under Louis, Margrave of Baden, was to be collected on the Upper Rhine, to threaten France from the side of Alsace; a second corps, 25,000 strong, composed of Prussian troops from the Palatinate, and Dutch under the Prince of Sarbruck, was to undertake the siege of Kaiserworth; the main army, under the orders of the Earl of Athlone, 35,000 strong, was destined to cover the frontier of Holland from the Rhine to the Meuse, and at the same time cover the siege of Kaiserworth; a fourth body of 10,000, under Cohorn, the celebrated engineer, was collected near the mouth of the Scheldt, and threatened the district of Bruges.

"The preparations on the part of the French were not less vigorous; and from the more concentrated position of their troops, and unity of action among their commanders, they, in the first instance, were enabled to bring a preponderating force into the field. On the Lower Rhine, a force, under the Marquis Bedmar and the Count de la Motte, were stationed opposite to Cohorn, to protect the western Netherlands from insult; Marshal Tallard was detached from the Upper Rhine, with 13,000 men, to interrupt the siege of Kaiserworth; while the main army, under the command nominally of the Duke of Burgundy, really of Marshal Boufflers, a veteran and experienced officer, was stationed in the bishopric of Liege, resting on the strong fortresses with which that district of Flanders abounded. Not only were the forces under his command superior by a third to those that Athlone had at his disposal, the latter being 45,000, the former only 35,000 strong, but they had the immense advantage of being in possession of the whole strong places of Brabant and Flanders, which were all garrisoned by French or Spanish troops, forming not only the best and most secure possible basis for offensive operations, but an iron defensive barrier, requiring to be cut through in successive campaigns, and at an enormous expenditure of blood and treasure, before by any road the frontiers of France could be reached."[21]

Such as it was, however, says Mr Alison, the barrier required to be cut through; and Marlborough resolved to commence it with the siege of Kaiserworth, a place of very great importance. He took it—but at a cost of 5000 men; and then took Venloo, and finally Liege—all places, of extreme importance, and desperately defended; and with these feats he concluded the brief but brilliant, campaign which laid the foundation of all his future victories. It stripped the French of many of the chief advantages with which they had opened the war. He had broken through their line, so formidable for offensive and defensive war; he had "thrust his iron gauntlet," says Mr Alison, "into the centre of their resources." And the entire merit was his own, as Lord Athlone, his rival and second in command, thus nobly testified:—"The success of the campaign is entirely owing to its incomparable commander-in-chief; for I, the second in command, was, on every occasion, of an opposite opinion to that which he adopted!" His success was like a bright burst of sunshine over a long-troubled land! But here an incident occurred which might have ruined all. While dropping down the Meuse, on his return to England at the conclusion of the campaign, he was positively taken prisoner by a small French force,—whose commander, however, ignorant of the prize which was within his reach, and skilfully misled by a sagacious device of Marlborough's servant, suffered him to depart! The peril in which he had been spread consternation everywhere, equalled only by joy at his escape, which was powerfully expressed to him by the Pensionary Heinsius. "Your captivity was on the point of causing the slavery of these provinces, and restoring to France the power of extending her uncontrollable dominion over all Europe. No hope remained, if she had retained in bondage the man whom we revere as the instrument of Providence to restore independence to the greater part of the Christian world!" On what apparently trivial incidents often depend the greatest events that can happen to mankind! Marlborough was received with transports[149] in England, and raised to the dukedom of Marlborough. The difficulties which the Dutch deputies had thrown in his way during the first campaign, owing, says Mr Alison, to timidity, ignorance of the military art, personal presumption, and the spirit of party, on several great occasions thwarted the most decisive measures of Marlborough,—but proved only a foretaste of what was in store for the harassed commander. Mr Alison gives an interesting letter which Marlborough wrote to his Countess, immediately on his arrival at the Hague. It is full of the passionate fondness of a lover to his mistress; yet was written by a man of fifty-two to a wife to whom he had been married twenty-three years! There are innumerable other instances, in these volumes, of the romantic fervour of their attachment. Such was Marlborough's first campaign, the herald of a long series of resplendent successes, many of them marked by features similar to those of the first. "He never," indeed, "fought a battle which he did not gain, nor sat down before a town which he did not take; and—alone of the great commanders recorded in history—never sustained a reverse! On many occasions throughout the war he was only prevented, by the timidity of the Dutch deputies, or the feeble co-operation of the Allied powers, from gaining early and decisive success; and as it was, he broke the power of the Grand Monarque, and if his hands had not in the end been tied up by an intrigue at home, he would have planted the British standards on Montmartre, and anticipated the triumphs of Blucher and Wellington." Here is the key to his position, from first to last—an inkling of the tortures which wrung that great soul throughout his career.

In this first campaign, Marlborough had laid the basis of great operations—which, indeed, followed in such rapid succession, each eclipsing its predecessor in magnitude of result and splendour of achievement, as to throw its foregoer comparatively into the shade. In order to appreciate the greatness of Marlborough, his position—harassed daily by the jealousies and selfishnesses of the Allied forces, which he commanded—should be compared with that of Louis XIV., where all was an overwhelming unity of will and purpose, perfect subordination, accompanied by immense military resources and consummate generalship. The war had, indeed, become already one of awful magnitude; for Louis XIV. and his advisers could not have failed to observe the settled determination of purpose, and forecasting sagacity, which characterised their great opponent. Louis brought all his power and resources to bear upon the plan of a second and magnificent campaign; showing that he felt the gravity of the situation, and the necessity of making commensurate efforts. "The great genius of Louis XIV. in strategy," says Mr Alison, "here shone forth in full lustre. Instead of confining the war to one of forts and sieges in Flanders and Italy, he resolved to throw the bulk of his forces at once into Bavaria, and operate against Austria from the heart of Germany, by pouring down the valley of the Danube."... "The genius of Louis," he adds, after a lucid explanation of the projected campaign, which was indeed grandly conceived, "had outstripped the march of time; and the year 1703 promised the triumphs which were realised on the same ground, and by following the same plan, by Napoleon in 1805."[22] It was all, however, in vain, though his plans were carried into execution with infinite skill and energy. Marlborough got intelligence of them; and instantly conceived a masterly counter-plan, which, but for his being thwarted, as usual, by the Dutch deputies, would have been completely successful in the first instance. The resources which Marlborough's genius displayed in this transcendent campaign were prodigious. His rapidity of perception, his far-sighted sagacity, his watchful circumspection, his prompt energy, at length triumphed over all obstacles, and eventuated in the glorious battle of Blenheim—than which none more splendid stands on record. The fearful consequences of failure were very eagerly pressed upon him by his own[150] officers. "I know the danger," said he calmly, "yet a battle is absolutely necessary; and I rely on the bravery and discipline of the troops, which will make amends for our disadvantages."[23] Mr Alison's description of this battle is equally brilliant and impressive, and we wish we could transfer it entire into our columns. It was a fearful day for Louis XIV. The total loss of the French and Bavarians, including those who deserted during the calamitous retreat through the Black Forest, was 40,000—"a number greater than any subsequently lost by France till the still more disastrous day of Waterloo." "The decisive blow struck at Blenheim resounded through every part of Europe. It at once destroyed the vast fabric of power which it had taken Louis XIV., aided by the genius of Turenne and Vauban, so long to construct. Instead of proudly descending the valley of the Danube, and threatening Vienna, as did Napoleon in 1805 and 1809, the French were driven in the utmost disorder across the Rhine. Thus, by the operation of one single campaign, was Bavaria crushed, Austria saved, and Germany delivered ... and the Empire, delivered from invasion, was preparing to carry its victorious arms into the very heart of France! Such achievements require no comment. They speak for themselves, and deservedly place Marlborough in the very highest rank of military commanders. The campaigns of Napoleon exhibit no more decisive or important results."[24] His reception at the courts of Berlin and Hanover was like that of a sovereign prince; and, on his return home, the nation welcomed him with ecstasy. The Honour and manor of Woodstock were settled upon him; and the erection of the palace of Blenheim was commenced on a magnificent scale. Before the opening of this campaign he lost his only surviving son, in his seventeenth year—an event which occasioned him a week's paroxysm of grief. Shortly before, two of his daughters, very beautiful women, were married respectively to the Earl of Bridgewater and Lord Monthermer, whose father was subsequently raised to the rank of Duke of Montague. Another daughter had been married to Lord Sunderland, who occasioned the Duke of Marlborough intense mortification, by suddenly opposing his policy in the House of Lords. And, indeed, he seems to have suffered exquisitely during this period, from the animosities with which he was assailed at home by the Tories. He sought permission from the Queen to resign, and retire into private life; and it was only on her sending him a holograph letter, couched in terms of unusual affection, that he was induced to abstain from a step which would have been so fatal to the fortunes of his country.[25] It was in this campaign that Marlborough and Prince Eugene came together—the latter a man of great military genius, and a chivalrously noble and generous character. The intimacy and co-operation of such a man must have cheered the spirit of Marlborough in many a dark hour of trial, difficulty, and danger. They never had a difference during all the campaigns in which they acted together. "The records of human achievements can present few, if any, greater men; but beyond all question they can exhibit none in whom so pure and generous a friendship existed, alike unbroken by the selfishness consequent on adverse, and the jealousies springing from prosperous, fortune."

From this period the affairs of perplexed and convulsed Europe may be said to have rested upon the Atlantean shoulders of this marvellous man. The impression left on one's mind, after reading these volumes, is that of wonder how human faculties could sustain, and for such a length of time, so vast and constantly increasing a pressure, alike upon his heart and his intellect. Never, perhaps, was greatness so perseveringly harassed by littleness. He may have exclaimed on a thousand occasions—

"The times are out of joint! O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set them right!"

There is something at once exciting and oppressive in the following vivid picture:—


"No adequate idea can be formed of the greatness of Marlborough's capacity, or the overwhelming load of cares with which he was oppressed, if the other contests which, in addition to his own, he was obliged to carry on, are not taken into consideration. It was not merely his own campaigns, often of the most active kind, which he was called on to direct; he was at the same time charged with the almost entire direction of those in every other quarter, and constantly appealed to whenever a difficulty occurred. At the very moment when his blood was heated by combat, and he was obliged to be ten or twelve hours a-day on horseback with his own troops, he was compelled to steal half the night to carry on his multiplied correspondence with the Allied generals or cabinets in every part of Europe. Such was the weight of his authority, the avidity for his direction, that not only was he intrusted with the general design of every campaign, alike in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Flanders, but the details of their execution were constantly submitted to him; and, what was much more vexatious, he was continually called on to adjust by his authority, or heal by his urbanity, the quarrels of the generals, and discord of the cabinets to whom their direction was intrusted. His correspondence affords ample evidence of this. Appeals were made to Marlborough at every time, and from every side: from the Imperial ministers against the inactivity of the Margrave of Baden; from the Margrave against the imbecility of the Imperial cabinet; from Lord Peterborough against the jealousy and tardiness of the Spaniards at the court of the Archduke Charles; from them against the irritability and eccentricity of the English general; from the Hungarian insurgents against the exactions and cruelty of the Imperial government; from them against the restless and rebellious spirit with which the Magyars in every age have been animated.

"The confidence universally reposed, not only in his wisdom and justice, but in his conciliatory manners and irresistible address, was the cause of this extraordinary load of important cares with which, in addition to the direction of his own army, he was daily overwhelmed. From Eugene alone he was assailed by no appeals, except for such addition to his forces as might put him in a condition to measure his strength with the enemy. Their ideas were so identical, their minds so entirely cast in the same mould, their military knowledge and capacity so much alike, that it invariably happened that, what the one of his own accord did, was precisely what the other of his own accord would have recommended. Nor was it enough that foreign affairs of such overwhelming magnitude daily oppressed the English general; he had in addition the divisions of the cabinet at home to heal, and the deadly animosity of faction, increasing with every triumph which he won, to appease. No warrior of modern times, not even excepting Wellington, had such a mass of affairs, both civil and military, to conduct at the same time, and none ever got through them with such consummate ability. The correspondence of the Emperor Napoleon alone, since the days of Cæsar, will bear a comparison with it; but although nothing could exceed the energy and capacity of the French emperor, there was this difference, and it was a vital one, between his position and that of Marlborough—Napoleon commanded, after he attained to greatness, everywhere as a master: he directed his generals with equal authority on the Danube and the Tagus, and dictated to cabinets at Vienna or St Petersburg nearly as effectively as at St Cloud; but Marlborough had not even the uncontrolled direction of his own army, and beyond it had no influence but what had been extorted by exploits or won by condescension."

The great event of this third campaign was the battle of Ramilies, where Marlborough was within a hair's-breadth of being taken prisoner on the field, and had to fight his way out from his throng of assailants, like the knights of old, sword in hand. No sooner had he succeeded in this, than he had another escape—his horse fell in leaping a ditch; and his equerry's head was carried off by a cannon-ball while holding the Duke's stirrup as he mounted another.[26] This was a very great battle, and attended by signal results—the acquisition of nearly all Austrian Flanders! What now was the position of Louis XIV.? After five years of continued effort, he found himself stripped of all his conquests, shorn of his external influence, and compelled to maintain at once on the frontiers of Germany, Flanders, Spain, and Italy, a contest, from his own resources, with the forces of all Europe.... His haughty[152] spirit, long accustomed to prosperity, supported with difficulty the weight of adversity. The war, and all its concerns, was a forbidden subject at court. A melancholy gloom pervaded the halls of Versailles; and frequent bleedings of the monarch himself attested both the violence of his internal agitation and the dread which his physicians entertained of still greater dangers. Overcome by so many calamities, the fierce spirit of Louis was at length shaken, and he was prevailed on to sue for peace![27] After the battle of Ramilies, Marlborough was offered the government of the Netherlands, the emoluments of which were no less than £60,000 a-year; but he magnanimously refused it, from a regard to the public good, and on every subsequent offer of the same splendid and lucrative post, did the same. On his return to England he met with a rapturous reception—was thanked by Parliament—£5000 a-year was settled on him and his duchess, and their descendants—and the dukedom extended to heirs female, "in order," as it was finely expressed, "that England might never be without a title which might recall the remembrance of so much glory."[28] Equally indefatigable at home as abroad, in peace as in war, he addressed himself at once to his parliamentary duties, and took a leading part in the great and beneficial measure for uniting Scotland with England. His vast influence in the country, and at court, excited intense jealousy among both Whigs and Tories.

The ensuing campaign (A.D. 1707) found Louis XIV. "reduced on all sides to his own resources," and thoroughly wakened from his dream of foreign conquests—seeking only, and that with anxiety and alarm, to defend his own frontier. Here, however, two new actors appear on the chequered scene—the Duke of Marlborough's nephew, the Duke of Berwick, who by his great victory of Almanza counteracted in Spain his uncle's efforts—and Charles XII. of Sweden, a "new and formidable actor on the theatre of affairs in Germany." Louis XIV. made desperate efforts to win over Charles XII., but the exquisite adroitness of Marlborough frustrated them altogether. But Louis, encouraged by the gleams of success which had been visible in Spain and elsewhere, made immense efforts to recover his lost ground. Marlborough's energies were equally divided between delicate and perilous negotiations with the various European potentates, and another decisive campaign in the field. Both he and Louis made prodigious exertions, and at length were on the point of fighting another great battle; "and, by a most extraordinary coincidence, the two armies were of the same strength, and occupied the same ground, as did those of Napoleon and Wellington a hundred and eight years afterwards!" Marlborough was eager for the fight, confident of a great victory; but, at the eleventh hour, a panic seized his old friends the Dutch deputies, and they compelled him to retire to his former position, and decline the encounter, to his unspeakable mortification. The enemy, showing no disposition to encounter him, at length retreated, Marlborough advancing, but finding it impossible to bring on a general action. Both armies were led into winter-quarters, and Marlborough repaired to England, "where his presence had become indispensably necessary for arresting the progress of public discontent, fanned as it was by court and parliamentary intrigues, and threatening to prove immediately fatal to his own influence and ascendency, as well as to the best interests of England."[29] Here we are plunged into the vortex of political intrigues,—the principal actors being Harley and St John and Mrs Masham on the one side, and on the other the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, whose ascendency over the Queen and the country, and even their own party the Whigs, is evidently beginning to give way, and rapidly. Mr Alison here shows his dispassionate character to great advantage, holding the balance evenly between all parties. His candid and luminous statement is equally interesting and instructive; and one thing he brings out in a very striking manner, though not in so[153] many words: we mean the retributive justice with which the duke's treachery to James II. was brought home to himself, and also to the duchess—the latter being utterly incredulous of the ingratitude and treachery of Mrs Masham towards her, and the former equally so in the case of Harley and St John. How often and how bitterly may such reflections have occurred to the duke and duchess! Their position at court had become exceedingly trying; but their treatment of the Queen was highly imprudent, the Duke being doubtless greatly influenced by his imperious and intractable duchess. Mr Alison regards her as the "faithful representative of the whole Whig party," whose "arrogant domination and grasping disposition were the real causes of their fall from power, and the total change in the foreign policy of England—results not attributable exclusively to female partiality, or a bed-chamber intrigue, which were, nevertheless, the ultimate agents in the change, and apparently its immediate precursors. The Whigs were haunted as incessantly by dread of a reaction as the Jacobins of France of a counter-revolution, and apprehended from a change of ministry not merely the usual subversion of their party, but serious personal consequences, in respect of the part which had been played to James II." Such is the general conclusion arrived at by Mr Alison—indicative, undoubtedly, of his candour and moderation. Early in 1708, and while Marlborough was placed in these critical circumstances, occurred the attempt of Louis XIV. to imitate, in some respect, the example of his Allied opponents, by invading Great Britain, in order to place the Pretender on the throne. Louis's terrible antagonist, however, Marlborough, was here again to confront him. As commander-in-chief, the Duke crushed the attempt, and the ambitious Chevalier was forced to creep back to Dunkirk ridiculously—the result serving only suddenly to reinstate Marlborough at the summit of popularity, and to silence all slanderous imputations upon his fidelity to the cause of the Revolution.

The precarious position of political matters in England, at this crisis, was profoundly appreciated by Marlborough, who said that any considerable reverse on the Continent, or even a campaign as nugatory as the last, would, probably, not only dissolve the Grand Alliance, and undo all that had been done, but place a new administration in power, and possibly seat another dynasty on the throne. He also surveyed, with unerring sagacity and accuracy, the whole position of Louis XIV., and saw that he was preparing for yet one more grand demonstration of force. Marlborough took his plans accordingly; and on the 12th April 1708, in concert with the incomparable Eugene, arranged the plan of operations. Marlborough resolved to use the precious opportunity yet available, before the accession of the Tory ministry, for the purpose of striking a tremendous blow. And he did what he purposed; for this campaign was signalised by most resplendent results, glorious to Marlborough almost beyond parallel, and equally disastrous to Louis XIV. Bring what forces the latter might into the field—array them under what consummate generals he pleased, and let him select his site, and mature his plan of operations as he chose—all was, as usual, in vain! Vendôme was here the directing military genius of Louis; and he succeeded in surprising Ghent and Bruges into a surrender, greatly to the vexation of Marlborough. But the latter instantly resolved on a scheme as masterly as it proved successful. He resolved to throw himself on his opponent's communication, and, by interposing between him and the French frontier, compel him to fight with his face towards Paris, and his back to Antwerp. This manœuvre was executed with a rapidity commensurate with its importance—and Vendôme's skilful plans were entirely disconcerted. He moved of precipitately, followed by Marlborough, who resolved to force him to a decisive action; and succeeded—adding Oudenarde to his other laurels. This was indeed a fearful affair. Both parties fought with desperation—Vendôme with eighty-five thousand men, Marlborough with eighty thousand. Nothing could resist his generalship and valour; and Vendôme was defeated, with a loss,[154] including deserters, of fully twenty thousand men. "If I had had two hours more of daylight," said Marlborough, "the French army would have been irretrievably routed, great part of it killed or taken, and the war terminated on that day." The results of this sanguinary but glorious battle were immense, entirely altering the character and fate of the campaign. By his admirable movement in interposing between Vendôme and France, Marlborough had gained the incalculable advantage of throwing his opponent, in the event of defeat, into a corner of Flanders, and so leaving exposed the French frontier, and all its great fortresses. Marlborough's eagle eye, perceiving the capabilities of his new position, resolved to discard all minor objects, pass the whole fortified towns on the frontier, and advance direct on the capital. This daring but prudent design, says Mr Alison, was precisely that of Wellington and Blucher a century afterwards; but Marlborough was overruled—Eugene for once concurring in regarding it as too hazardous; and it was resolved to commence the invasion of the territories of the Grand Monarque, by laying siege to the inestimably-important frontier fortress of Lille, the strongest place in French Flanders, and which could give the Allies a solid footing, a commanding position, in the territories of Louis. The undertaking, however, was most formidable—"for not only was the place itself, the masterpiece of Vauban, of great strength, but the citadel within its walls was still stronger; and, moreover, it was garrisoned by the celebrated Marshal Boufflers, with fifteen thousand choice troops, and every requisite for a vigorous defence."[30] Besides all this, Vendôme and the Duke of Berwick, at the head of more than a hundred thousand men, lay in an impregnable camp, covered by the canal of Bruges, completely fortified, between Ghent and Bruges, ready to interrupt or raise the siege. But of what avail? Marlborough sate down before Lille, and it fell. To avert that event, Vendôme and Berwick led forth their magnificent army, a hundred and ten thousand men, preceded by two hundred pieces of cannon, in the finest order, to within a quarter of a league of Marlborough—"everybody expecting the greatest battle, on the morrow, which Europe had ever seen."[31] Thus grandly they advanced; but as ridiculously retired without firing a shot! Marlborough, however, was of a different humour, and resolved to follow and fight them; and the Duke of Berwick himself has told us what the issue would have been—that Marlborough would have utterly routed his enemy, and probably finished the war that day." But—the Dutch deputies again! They interposed, and Marlborough's heart nearly burst as he beheld the foe retire unmolested. "If Cæsar or Alexander," said Eugene, "had had the Dutch deputies by their side, their conquests would have been less rapid.[32] The siege went on—a ball striking Eugene on the head, and wounding him severely, whereby the whole burthen of directing and sustaining the vast operations fell on Marlborough alone, till Eugene's recovery. After sixty days' siege, Boufflers was compelled to capitulate, being treated very nobly by his captors. Still the citadel remained—but that also fell; and so fell the strongest frontier fortress of France, under the eyes of its best generals and most powerful army! A siege perhaps the most memorable, and also one of the most bloody, in modern Europe,—standing forth, as Mr Alison elsewhere remarks, in solitary and unapproachable grandeur in European warfare. The Allies were now within reach of the very heart of France; and Louis XIV. was trembling in his halls at Versailles.[33] Before Marlborough could close his campaign, however, he recovered Ghent and Bruges. Such was the campaign of 1708, one of the most glorious in the military annals of England, and one in which the extraordinary capacity of the English general shone forth with perhaps the brightest lustre. The strife of opinion, the war of independence, was alike brought to an issue in that memorable contest, and,[155] as far as military success could do it, to a glorious termination. "But at this moment," says Mr Alison, with a sigh, "faction stepped in to thwart the efforts of patriotism; and his subsequent life is but a record of the efforts of selfish ambition to wrest from the hero the laurels, from the nation the fruits, of victory."[34]

When the laurelled victor returned to England, he received no favour from the Queen, and was treated with studied coldness at court. Faction and intrigue had been and were then busy at their foul work. This was doubtless hard to bear; but what was the situation of the great Louis? His fortunes were desperate; his exchequer was beggared; the land was filled with lamentation; and the horrors of famine were superadded. Then Louis supplicated for peace to those whom he had so long striven to crush and annihilate: a bitter humiliation! And in his extremity he bethought himself of bribing his great conqueror; offering him, directly, no less a sum than nearly a quarter of a million sterling, as the price of his influence for the purpose of obtaining terms advantageous to France. It need not be said that the attempt was scornfully repulsed. The triumphant Allies insisted on terms of compromise which Marlborough himself, with noble disinterestedness, condemned, and Louis could do nothing but repudiate. Once again, therefore, he took the field, with an enormous army of 112,000 men, under his renowned marshal, Villars; and all France was animated, at this momentous crisis, by the conviction that then "it behoved every Frenchman to conquer or die." Marlborough commenced the campaign with 110,000 men; and great results were looked for, from "the contest of two armies of such magnitude, headed by such leaders, and when the patriotic ardour of the French nation, now raised to the uttermost, was matched against the military strength of the Confederates, matured by a series of victories so long and brilliant." So confident was Villars in the strength of his army, and his intrenched position, that he sent a trumpeter to the Allies' headquarters, to announce that "they would find him behind his lines; or, if they were afraid to attack, he would level them, to give entrance!" With consummate prudence Marlborough declined the invitation, and besieged Tournay—which he took, after a siege of almost unequalled horrors; but he gained by it a fertile and valuable province in French Flanders. Then he determined to take Mons, the next great fortress on the direct road to Paris; but for this it would be necessary to break through Villars' long lines of defence. By a dexterous movement, he succeeded in turning these formidable lines, thirty leagues in length, the results of two months' severe labour, and the subject of such vainglorious boasting by their constructor. They were now rendered utterly useless; and this great feat had been accomplished easily, and without bloodshed. Then came another terrible battle—that of Malplaquet, in which Marlborough, with 93,000 men, after the most bloody and obstinately contested contest that had occurred in the war, defeated an army of 95,000,—the noblest which the French monarchy had ever sent forth—strongly posted between two woods—trebly intrenched! "It was," says Mr Alison, "a desperate duel between France and England, in which the whole strength of each nation was put forth. Nothing like it had occurred since Agincourt, nor afterwards occurred till Waterloo." Both Villars and Boufflers performed prodigies of strategy and valour; but of what avail against Marlborough? Then he laid siege to, and took Mons: after which there remained only two more fortresses between the Allies and Paris! These prodigious operations, however, formed the subject of vexatious insults, paltry and presumptuous criticism, to his malignant enemies in England, with a view to lower his overwhelming influence at home. He was disgusted and disheartened, and went so far as to say to the Queen, with natural but imprudent indignation—"After all I have done, it has not been able to protect me against the malice of a bed-chamber woman!"


The affairs of the Allies becoming exceedingly critical, Marlborough, after strenuous but futile efforts at negotiation, was forced again to take the field; and projected operations on a grander scale than ever, with a view to promptly closing the war. Again he succeeded in passing immensely strong lines of defence without shot or bloodshed, and sat down before Douai, another fortress of the utmost importance, in every way, to France. Villars received imperative instructions, from the alarmed court at Versailles, to raise the siege at all hazards; and, at the head of a splendid army of upwards of 90,000 men, most ably generalled, approached, "with all the pomp and circumstance of war," to within musket-shot of Marlborough's position—around whose bayonets, however, played the lustre of Blenheim and Ramilies. Villars advanced—to retire without firing a shot, though his army greatly outnumbered that of Marlborough! Of course, he took Douai, after a bloody siege; and then Bethune, after thirty days of open trenches; where, says the French annalist, "Vauban beat the chamade—the sad signal which terminated all the sieges undertaken by Marlborough!"[35] It had to sound twice more in that campaign—on the fall of St Venant, and of Aire, after severe sieges; and the trembling Louis, disarrayed of four great frontier fortresses in one campaign, now placed all his hopes on the result of base intrigues in England against Marlborough and the war ministry. "What we lose in Flanders," said his triumphant minister, Torcy, "we shall gain in England!" And there, indeed, his enemies were doing their work with the utmost skill and determination, in order to secure his speedy downfall, and the advent of a ministry which should surrender all that had been gained in the war, humble England before France, and seal the fate of Protestantism and the Succession which upheld it. Their scandalous doings almost wore out Marlborough, making him, as he said, "every minute wish to be a hermit." He nobly resolved, however, harassed and thwarted as he was, to retain his command, "as affording the only security for a good power, and the Protestant succession to the throne." His enemies in England were this time successful—the Whig ministry fell; and thus ended Marlborough's career as a statesman. And to such a deplorable depth could national meanness sink, that attempts were, made to inveigle him into personal liability for the expense of prosecuting the works at Blenheim, till then carried on by the Treasury! He was received enthusiastically by the people; but neither the Queen nor the Parliament thanked him for his services and sacrifices. Mr Alison at this point presents us with a dazzling summary of these services:—

"This, therefore, is a convenient period for casting the eyes back on what he had done during the ten years that he had been the real head of the Alliance; and marvellous beyond all example is the retrospect! He began the war on the Waal and the Meuse, with the French standards waving in sight of the Dutch frontier, and the government of the Hague trembling for the fate of their frontier fortress, Nimeguen. He had now brought the Allied ensigns to the Scarpe, conquered Flanders, subdued all its fortresses, and nearly worked through the iron frontier of France itself. Nothing was wanting but the subjugation of its last fortress, Arras, to enable the Allies to march to Paris, and dictate a glorious peace in the halls of Versailles. He had defeated the French in four pitched battles and as many combats; he had taken every town to which he had laid siege; he had held together, when often about to separate, the discordant elements of the Grand Alliance. By his daring march to Bavaria, and victory of Blenheim, he had delivered Germany when in the utmost danger; by the succours he sent to Eugene, he had conquered Italy at Turin; by his prudent dispositions he had saved Spain, after the battle of Almanza. He had broken the power of Louis XIV. when at the zenith of his fame; he had been only prevented by faction at home from completing his overthrow by the capture of his capital. He had never suffered a reverse; he had never alienated a friend; he had conquered by his mildness many enemies. Such deeds require no comment; they are without a parallel in European history, and justly place Marlborough in the[157] place assigned him by Napoleon—at the head of European captains."

The overthrow of Marlborough effected an object quite unlooked for by his eager and shortsighted enemies. The efforts of faction, aided by a palace intrigue, showed what had been due to the greatness of one man. Instantly, as if by enchantment, the fabric of victory raised by his all-potent arm was dissolved. Spain was lost, Flanders reconquered, Germany threatened! The arch of the Grand Alliance fell to pieces. These show in brighter colours than ever the greatness and patriotism of Marlborough. Again he took the command of the Hague, though no longer possessing the confidence of the government, and intrusted with no control over diplomatic measures; and again dazzled Europe and petrified his enemies by the splendour of his first achievement. Louis, in order to prevent the irruption of his foes into France, now that almost all his fortresses had been broken through, resolved on the construction of a line of defence on a scale so stupendous as to attract universal wonder—lines subsequently paralleled only by the prodigious lines of Torres Vedras. They were supplied with abundance of cannon, and manned by ninety thousand choice troops of infantry and cavalry under the command of Villars, who at length seemed both impregnable and unconquerable. Marlborough was then in his sixty-second year, and almost worn out by long service, and intense anxieties, and incessant mortifications. "I find myself decay so very fast," he wrote to his Duchess, "that from my heart and soul I wish the Queen and my country a peace, by which I might have the advantage of having a little quiet, which is my greatest ambition."[36] But his mighty powers addressed themselves once more to a commensurate object—the devising an enterprise which should at a stroke deprive his enemy of all his huge defences, and drive him to fight a decisive battle or lose his last frontier fortress. Shortly afterwards, he was confounded by Prince Eugene being withdrawn from him, together with a large section of the army, to repair disasters in a distant part of the Continent. This rendered Villars suddenly anxious for an encounter; but Louis, his eyes intently fixed on the progress of intrigues in London, had peremptorily prohibited him from fighting. Villars vaingloriously styled his lines "Marlborough's ne plus ultra," a subject on which he was abundantly jocular. But Marlborough, having carefully studied them, devised a plan which very soon banished his boasts, and plunged him into consternation. We must refer our readers to Mr Alison's exciting description of this feat of strategy, by which Marlborough passed the imaginary "ne plus ultra" without having fired a shot, without having lost one man—frustrating by a sudden march nine months' labour, and suddenly exhibiting to Marshal Villars the palsying spectacle of Marlborough's whole army drawn up in battle array on the inner side of the impregnable lines! All this was the work of Marlborough alone. The military critics of the Continent were at a loss for words adequately expressing their admiration of this great exploit:—

"Marlborough's manœuvre," says Rousset, "covered him with glory: it was a duel in which the English beat the French general; the armies on either side were present only to render the spectacle more magnificent. In battles and sieges, fortune and the valour of soldiers have often a great share in success; but here everything was the work of the Duke of Marlborough. To gain the lines, they would willingly have compounded for the loss of several thousand lives: thanks to the Duke, they were won without the loss of one; that bloodless victory was entirely owing to his wisdom."[37]

Marlborough instantly besieged Bouchain, another great fortress, having prevented Villars, by brilliant manœuvring, from coming to its assistance. "The works effecting that purpose," said a Hanoverian officer engaged on the occasion, "were worthy of Julius Cæsar or Alexander Farnese, and the siege one of the prodigies of war. You could not fire a cannon-shot from the trenches without[158] Villars seeing its smoke. He omitted nothing which could suspend or interrupt the works. Vain hope! Our general, invincible on all sides, has foreseen and frustrated all his enterprises."[38] Marlborough was then pressing on the siege of Quesnoy, the capture of which would have completely broken through the French barrier, when he suddenly found himself undermined by the intrigues secretly carrying on between the Tories and Louis XIV.; preliminaries of peace were signed between them, afterwards embodied in the execrable Treaty of Utrecht—abandoning the main object of the long, glorious, and successful war—the exclusion of the Bourbon family from the throne of Spain. And what, thinks the reader, was done by Marlborough's enemies, in order to anticipate and frustrate his opposition to these base proceedings? He was ridiculed and libelled everywhere in the bitterest terms; accused of avarice, fraud, extortion; of indolence, cruelty, ambition, and misconduct: even his courage was questioned; and he was denounced as the lowest of mankind! His magnificent passage of the French lines was ridiculed as "the crossing of the kennel;" and the siege of Bouchain stigmatised as an inexorable sacrifice of sixteen thousand men for "the capture of a dovecot!"[39] He was charged with having embezzled £63,319 of the public money during the war in Flanders, and Parliamentary commissioners were employed to investigate the charge, which the indignant warrior in one moment blew into the air. Then he was charged with having prolonged the war for his own pecuniary interests; and finally, he was charged with other pecuniary peculations to an immense amount; and the Queen, on the advice of her infamous ministers, dismissed her illustrious servant from all his employments, in order that the atrocious calumnies might be investigated. The intelligence was received with transport by the enemies of England abroad; and Louis XIV. exclaimed, rapturously, "The dismission of Marlborough will do all we can desire."[40] At that moment the fallen warrior-statesman's resplendent services had reduced Louis to a state of desperation, and he, with his whole kingdom, lay at the mercy of Marlborough. Louis had announced his resolve to lead the last army he could muster in person, and conquer or die; but the measures of the ministry averted the alternative, and saved his throne at the instant of its having become defenceless. The perfidious desertion of England from the Grand Alliance paralysed it. England consummated her treachery and dishonour by the peace of Utrecht, which Mr Pitt justly stigmatised as "the indelible reproach of the age," and which has entailed on her long-continuing disaster. As for Marlborough, almost every conceivable kind of insult and provocation was heaped upon him; scurrilous mercenaries haunted him with libel and ridicule; and to complete the climax of national meanness, the Treasury payments for the works at Blenheim were discontinued, and the contractors and workmen stimulated to sue the Duke for the arrears due to them, to the extent of £30,000; while a peer, in his place in Parliament, actually charged the veteran hero—John Duke of Marlborough—in his presence, with "having led his troops to certain destruction, in order to profit by the sale of the officers' commissions!"[41] The Duke deigned no reply, but on leaving the house sent his slanderer a challenge, which the terrified peer communicated to the proper quarter, and the Queen's interference saved him from standing at twelve paces distance from John Duke of Marlborough. To escape the torturing indignities and outrages to which he was exposed, Marlborough obtained passports and went abroad.

The Duke of Marlborough was received on the Continent with almost the honours due to a crowned head. At Antwerp his arrival and departure were signalised by triple discharges of artillery; the governor received him outside the walls with obsequious respect; deafening acclamations resounded from the multitude as he[159] passed through the streets, every one struggling to catch a glimpse of dishonoured greatness. "All," says Mr Alison, "were struck with his noble air and demeanour, softened, though not weakened, by the approach of age. They declared that his appearance was not less overpowering than his sword. Many burst into tears when they recollected what he had been, and what he was, and how unaccountably the great nation to which he belonged had fallen from the height of glory to such degradation." What pangs must have wrung the heart of the illustrious veteran at such a moment! "Yet was his manner so courteous, and yet animated, his conversation so simple, and yet cheerful, that it was commonly said at the time, 'that the only things he had forgotten were his own deeds, and the only things he remembered were the misfortunes of others!'"

During his absence, his shameless traducers redoubled their efforts to secure his ruin. The terror of his name, the shadow of his distant greatness, must, however, frequently have made themselves felt, if only with the effect of blinding them to the folly of their own machinations. Their calumnious charges were annihilated by him from abroad the moment they reached him; and those who had prepared such charges, ignominiously silenced by his clear and decisive representations. But Blenheim was within the power of a magnanimous people, and they caused the erection of it at the public cost to be suspended! The principal creditors sued the Duke personally for what was due to them; and ultimately Blenheim, "this noble pile, this proud monument of a nation's gratitude," would have remained a ruin to this day, but for the Duke's own private contribution of no less a sum than £60,000! One's cheek tingles with shame at the recital; but there is the humiliating fact—

"Pudet hæc opprobria nobis,
Et dici potuisse, et non potuisse repelli."

The Duke of Marlborough spent nearly two years on the Continent. Having quitted England on the 30th October 1712, he returned on the 4th August 1714; but under what circumstances? In the full splendour of the romance of history. In contact with Marlborough, every event seems to swell into great porportions, as if owning the presence and power of greatness.

While abroad, his commanding intellect engaged itself in the noblest of causes—upholding the interests of civil and religious liberty, which were bound up indissolubly with the Hanoverian succession. He might have retired for ever from the world, in stern disgust at the treatment which he had experienced; but his magnanimity would not suffer him. He knew that civil despotism, and the triumph of the Romish faith, were identified with the success of the Louis of his day, as they appear to be with a Louis of our day—the Louis, at this moment, of France. The restoration of the Stuart line was the symbol of the triumph of Popery; and Marlborough continued anxiously to watch the progress of public events, with reference to that "consummation" so "devoutly" to be deprecated. The two years referred to were those of an immeasurably momentous crisis, big with the ultimate destinies of this country. Marlborough was, throughout that crisis, as clear-sighted, resolute, energetic, and skilful in securing the Protestant succession, as he had ever been in the conduct of his wars, every one of which had direct reference to that high and glorious object. He continued the very life and soul of the good cause, which he advanced by incessant watchfulness and discreet and energetic action, carrying on a constant correspondence with his friends both at home and abroad. At length Bolingbroke reached the summit of advancement, and became virtually prime minister. Bent upon the restoration of the Stuarts, in two days' time he had organised a thoroughly Jacobite cabinet, which would unquestionably have proceeded to seat the Stuarts on the throne. But the awful hand of God appeared suddenly in the ordering of events: "The angel of death," to use Mr Alison's words, "defeated the whole objects for which the ministers were labouring so anxiously, and for which they had sacrificed the security and glory of their country." Civil war was almost in the act of breaking[160] out, when the Queen died; having at the last moment taken a step, in nominating the Duke of Shrewsbury to be Lord-Treasurer, which annihilated the guilty hopes of Bolingbroke and his party. This was the last act of her life; and on her death the Protestant party took prompt and vigorous measures. George I. was instantly proclaimed king, and in three days' time the great Marlborough reappeared on the scene, the very guardian angel of the newly-proclaimed king. His enemies were struck with consternation. "We are all frightened out of our wits upon the Duke of Marlborough's going to England,"[42] wrote one of them to Bolingbroke. The illustrious personage was welcomed with enthusiasm similar to that with which he had been formerly familiar; an immense concourse of citizens attended him into the city, shouting—"Long live George I.! Long live the Duke of Marlborough!" He was at once sworn in of the Privy Council, and visited by the foreign ministers and all the nobility and gentry within reach, and in the evening appeared in the House of Lords, and took the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, his old companions in arms, the Grenadier Guards, firing a feu-de-joie on the auspicious occasion. "That day effaced the traces of years of injustice. The death of a single individual"—the weak, ungrateful, vacillating Anne—"had restored the patriotic hero to the position in which he stood after the battle of Blenheim!" Though he had resolved to take part no more in the conduct of affairs, he was prevailed upon to resume his post of commander-in-chief, in which great capacity his new sovereign received him with extraordinary demonstrations of satisfaction, "proud to do honour to the chief under whom he himself had gained his first honours on the field of Oudenarde!"[43] The discomfited Jacobites, Bolingbroke, Ormond, and Oxford, were impeached for high treason, for their conduct in seeking to overturn the Act of Settlement, and restore the Stuarts. The former two fled to France, but Oxford remained, and was prosecuted, but acquitted. Here again the character of Marlborough has been malefied, by the charge of having done all in his power to thwart the prosecution, for fear of Lord Oxford's revealing the correspondence of the Duke in early life, after the Revolution. This slander, however, is decisively refuted by two facts—that the Duke voted in every stage of the prosecution! and by the still more decisive fact, that he was found to have been specially exempted from the proffered amnesty published by the Pretender when he landed in Scotland.[44] This last event—the Rebellion in Scotland—must have been indeed, as Mr Alison remarks, a sore trial to Marlborough—"more severe than any he had experienced since James II. had been precipitated from the throne; for here was the son of his early patron and benefactor asserting, in arms, his right to the throne of his fathers!" But the Duke was here true as steel to his principles; and his energy and sagacity extinguished the formidable insurrection, and with it the hopes of the Stuarts. The Pretender returned humbled and ruined to the Continent, in time to witness the death of the monarch Louis XIV., whose guilty ambition had lighted the terrible conflagration, of which a spark had been thus kindled in this country, and which he had lived to see extinguished by such torrents of blood. He was then seventy-seven years of age, miserable in contemplating the wide-spread misery and ruin which he had prostituted all his greatness in order to effect, and shuddering at the recollection of his share in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His death-bed reflections and injunctions to his successor we have already laid before the reader.[45]

Only a few months previously, Louis's great conqueror had received two startling messages, telling him, in heart-breaking tones, of the transient nothingness of life. His two lovely daughters, the Countess of Bridgewater and the Countess of Sunderland, were cut off in the flower of their beauty, by almost sudden deaths, within a few days of each other. These events pierced him to[161] the heart. Two years afterwards, having, during the interval, experienced various warnings, he was struck with palsy, which deprived him for a time of both speech and resolution. He recovered sufficiently, in a few months' time, to be capable of removal to the country, for the benefit of change of air and of scene. He visited Blenheim; and on going through such of the rooms as were finished, was shown a picture of himself at the battle of Blenheim. He turned away with a mournful air, saying only—but in memorable and significant words—"Something then!—but now!"[46]

He continued, on earnest solicitation, to hold his high military office and discharge its duties for five years, living also in the tranquil enjoyment of domestic happiness, superintending the education of his grandchildren, and taking special delight in the rising architectural grandeur of Blenheim, down even to the period of his death. He made his last appearance in the House of Lords on the 27th November 1721, but in June following had a severe and fatal attack of paralysis. It at once prostrated his physical without impairing his mental powers. To a question of his Duchess, whether he heard the prayers which were being read as usual at night in his apartment, he replied, "Yes; and I joined in them!" These were the last words of this great man, who expired calmly a few hours subsequently, in the seventy-second year of his age. He who thus joined in prayers[47] on his deathbed had, with solemn reverence, joined in them on the eves of Blenheim and of Malplaquet with his whole army; and, amidst all the bloody horrors of war, had, in like manner, remembered his God on every occasion, joining precept with example in a noble spirit of piety. Let us hope that the prayers of the dying warrior were heard and accepted by Him who heareth prayer, and that he quitted life in a spirit different from that of Peter the Great, who said on his death-bed, "I trust that, in respect of the good I have striven to do my people, God will pardon my sins!"[48] Mr Alison "charitably hopes that these words have been realised"—he might have lamented the fallaciousness of Peter's reliance.

Marlborough's funeral obsequies were celebrated with extraordinary magnificence, and all ranks and all parties joined in doing him honour. On the sides of the car bearing the coffin, shields were affixed containing emblematic representations of his battles and sieges. Blenheim was there, and the Schellemberg, Ramilies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet; Ruremonde and Liege, Menin and Dendermonde, Antwerp and Brussels, Ostend and Ghent, Tournay and Lille, Mons and Bouchain, Bethune, St Venant, and Aire. "The number, and the recollections with which they were fraught, made the English ashamed of the manner in which they had used the hero who had filled the world with his renown."[49]

Thus lived, and thus died, and thus was buried, John Duke of Marlborough, of whom Lord Mahon[50] takes leave in a strain of solemnity and dignity befitting the occasion:—

"England lost one of her noblest worthies in John Duke of Marlborough. His achievements do not fall within my limits, and his character seems rather to belong to the historians of another period. Let them endeavour to delineate his vast and various abilities—that genius which saw humbled before it the proudest mareschals of France—that serenity of temper which enabled him patiently to bear, and bearing to overcome, all the obstinacy of the Dutch deputies, all the slowness of the German generals—those powers of combination so provident of failure, and so careful of details, that it might almost be said of him, that before he gave any[162] battle he had already won it! Let them describe him in council as in arms, not always righteous in his end, but ever mighty in his means!"

There was grandeur in the words with which the Garter-King-at-Arms closed the ceremonial at the tomb:—"Thus it has pleased Almighty God to take out of this transitory world, into his mercy, the most high, mighty, noble prince, John Duke of Marlborough." He has passed to his great account, and must stand hereafter before the Searcher of Hearts, to give an account of the deeds done in the body, and be judged accordingly. It becomes us, shortsighted and fallible as we are, to deal cautiously and tenderly with the memory of the illustrious departed. There may have been many palliating circumstances in the case of Marlborough's desertion of James which have never yet been taken into account, and which now, probably, never will. Could we hear his own explanation of his conduct towards James, that explanation might greatly change our estimate of his fault, and mitigate the asperity of our censures. No one can venture to justify Marlborough's conduct towards James, in remaining in his service, apparently devoted to his interests—then one of the most confiding masters whom man ever had—after he had irrevocably committed himself to that master's enemy, and effectually secured the downfall and destruction of one who had actually saved the life of his treacherous servant, and showered upon him every possible mark of affection and distinction. That Marlborough was conscientiously attached to the cause of Protestantism while he thus acted, we have no doubt whatever; nor that he cherished that attachment to the last moment of his life, and respected it as the star by which he steered throughout his career. We must remember that he had done everything in his power to divert James from his purpose of re-establishing Popery. "My places, and the King's favour," said he, in 1687, "I set at nought, in comparison of being true to my religion. In all things but this the King may command me; and I call God to witness that even with joy I should expose my life in his service, so sensible am I of his favours—I being resolved, though I cannot live the life of a saint, if there be occasion for it, to live the life of a martyr." This he said to William, then Prince of Orange. And during the same year he had thus sternly addressed James himself, when remonstrating with him for "paving the way for the introduction of Popery." He spoke with great warmth, and thus—"What I spoke, sir, proceeded from my zeal for your Majesty's service, which I prefer above all things, next to that of God; and I humbly beseech your Majesty to believe that no subject in the three kingdoms will venture farther than I will to purchase your favour and good liking. But as I have been bred a Protestant, and intend to live and die in that communion, and as above nine out of ten in England are of that persuasion, I fear, from the genius of the people, and their natural aversion to the Roman Catholic worship, some consequences which I dare not so much as name, and which I cannot contemplate without horror."[51] That he said this to his infatuated master is indisputable; but it was his duty to have at once quitted the service of that master, on finding that he could not conscientiously continue in it. "Had he done so," says Mr Alison, "and then either taken no part in the Revolution, or never appeared in arms against him, the most scrupulous moralist could have discovered nothing reprehensible in his conduct." That course Marlborough did not take; and that which he did must have entailed upon his sensitive mind unspeakable misery and mortification throughout life. He must also have foreseen the blot which that conduct would fix for ever on his fair fame—a reflection which must have dimmed the splendour of his greatest triumphs, and wrung his heart in its proudest moments of justifiable exultation. When we reflect upon his long and illustrious course of public service, the spotless purity of his private conduct in all the relations of life, as husband, father, friend; his uniform piety, his humanity, generosity,[163] magnanimity, under the most trying circumstances in which man can be placed, we are filled with as much wonder as lamentation at this instance of treachery, this temporary oblivion of all sense of honour and loyalty. But has it not been heavily punished, and has it not been atoned for?

The charge, however, of a far more damning character than that of his conduct towards the Stuarts—that of having prolonged the war for his own selfish ends—is annihilated, after having been reiterated with almost fiendish malignity and perseverance. Mr Alison has placed this matter in the clearest possible light, and accumulated such an overwhelming mass of disproof that it seems perfectly monstrous that any such charge should have been for a moment entertained by even the most rancorous of his enemies. It now appears, from his correspondence throughout the war, that he pined and languished for its close, in order that he might cease to be the butt of malevolence and calumny, and escape from the crushing pressure of his thankless toils and responsibilities into the repose of private life. Out of a great number of similar passages which we had marked for quotation, here is one both eloquent and affecting. He is writing to the Duchess from Flanders in 1705, and alluding to the calumnies against himself, which were reported to him from England. "This vile enormous faction of theirs vexes me so much, that I hope the Queen will after this campaign allow me to retire, and end my days in praying for her prosperity and making my peace with God."[52] He repeatedly supplicated to be allowed to resign his command, and only the command of the sovereign, and the importunities of his friends and of the Allies, prevailed upon him to persevere. He made the most desperate efforts to bring the war to a speedy close, but also a safe one; for he never lost sight for a moment of the great objects with which it had been undertaken. He saw distinctly, from first to last, that there was no real peace for Europe, no guarantee for our own independence, and for our civil and religious liberties, but the complete prostration of the ambition and power of Louis XIV.; and if his own enlightened sagacity had not been repeatedly thwarted by the stupidity or faction of those with whom he had to deal, he would early have deprived his traducers of even the faintest pretext for their imputations upon him. "I have had to modify my opinion of Marlborough," said the late eloquent Professor Smyth,[53] "since considering the lately published 'Life' of Archdeacon Coxe. I can no longer consider him as so betrayed by a spirit of personal ambition as I had once suspected, and I have a still stronger impression of his amiable nature in domestic life. The great Duke of Marlborough has been always his proper appellation, and he is only made greater by being made more known by the publication of Mr Coxe; nor can it be doubted that he would appear greater still, the more the difficulties with which he was surrounded, on all occasions, could be appreciated." This is said in a candid and honourable spirit, by a professor whose sacred duty was to give true notions of history, and of the characters figuring in it, to the students of a great university. "These difficulties," continues the professor, "may now be partly estimated; the impetuous temper and consequent imprudence of a wife, whom for her beauty, her talents, and her affection, he naturally idolised; the low narrow mind and mulish nature of the Queen he served; the unreasonable wishes and strange prejudices of the men of influence in his own country; the discordant interests and passions of different states and princes on the Continent; the pertinacity of the field-deputies of Holland, whom he could not send over into the camp of the enemy, their more proper station, and to whose absurdities it gave him the headache to listen." This pithy paragraph well groups together the leading "difficulties" with which this amazing man had to contend; and in Mr Alison's volumes a flood of light is thrown upon them all. None of his readers can fail to feel the profoundest sympathy[164] with harassed greatness. Without compromising his own sense of what is right, or attempting to conceal or disguise the failings of his hero, Mr Alison has painted a picture, at once noble and affecting, of the Duke of Marlborough, in every aspect of his character, in every position in which he was placed. In private and in public life—as a friend, as a father, as a husband—as a diplomatist, as a statesman, as a warrior—where is his equal to be found, and how can we be too grateful to one who has placed him, in all these characters, so vividly before us? "If the preceding pages," says Mr Alison, modestly, at the close of his biography, "shall contribute in any degree to the illustration of so great a character, and to shed the light of historic truth on the actions of one of the most illustrious men whom the world has ever produced, the author's labours will not have been incurred in vain." They have not; and we doubt not that these volumes will add greatly to the well-earned reputation of the historian of the French Revolution. We repeat that the knowledge gained by Mr Alison, in preparing that work, has given him peculiar qualifications for writing the present. We had marked a great number of instances in which the events in Marlborough's campaigns, and those events which led to them and followed them, are most plenteously and instructively compared and contrasted with those of the great compaigns of Wellington and Napoleon. The resemblance is sometimes startling; but the length to which this article has run compels us to rest satisfied with referring the reader to the present work. The last chapter consists of five deeply-interesting portraits,—Marlborough, Eugene, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, and Wellington—the five great generals of modern times. The distinctive features of each are given with fidelity and force. It is, however, in the full flow of his military narrative that the peculiar excellence of Mr Alison is to be found. His battles[54] are always dashed off boldly and brilliantly, as far as effect is concerned, and at the same time with the most exact attention to details.

We are not disposed to be critical with an author who has afforded us such great gratification—

"Ubi plura nitent—uni ego paucis
Offendar maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum carit natura!"

There are, however, occasional traces of haste, involving repetitions and confused expressions, which, doubtless, will disappear in future editions. We doubt not that they will be called for; and are happy to have had this opportunity of calling attention to a new work proceeding from a gentleman standing so deservedly high with the public, and which, moreover, as we have more than once intimated, is very well timed. Let any one contemplate France at the present moment, and observe the attitude of the Romish and Protestant forms of faith throughout Europe, and in Great Britain, and he will think with no little anxiety of the days of another Louis, now on the scene of action; and perhaps inquire anxiously, with reference to the future, where is our Marlborough?





With a slow step and an abstracted air, Harley L'Estrange bent his way towards Egerton's house, after his eventful interview with Helen. He had just entered one of the streets leading into Grosvenor Square, when a young man, walking quickly from the opposite direction, came full against him, and drawing back with a brief apology, recognised him, and exclaimed, "What! you in England, Lord L'Estrange! Accept my congratulations on your return. But you seem scarcely to remember me."

"I beg your pardon, Mr Leslie. I remember you now by your smile; but you are of an age in which it is permitted me to say that you look older than when I saw you last."

"And yet, Lord L'Estrange, it seems to me that you look younger."

Indeed, this reply was so far true that there appeared less difference of years than before between Leslie and L'Estrange; for the wrinkles in the schemer's mind were visible in his visage, while Harley's dreamy worship of Truth and Beauty seemed to have preserved to the votary the enduring youth of the divinities.

Harley received the compliment with a supreme indifference, which might have been suitable to a Stoic, but which seemed scarcely natural to a gentleman who had just proposed to a lady many years younger than himself.

Leslie renewed—"Perhaps you are on your way to Mr Egerton's. If so, you will not find him at home; he is at his office."

"Thank you. Then to his office I must re-direct my steps."

"I am going to him myself," said Randal hesitatingly.

L'Estrange had no prepossessions in favour of Leslie, from the little he had seen of that young gentleman; but Randal's remark was an appeal to his habitual urbanity, and he replied with well-bred readiness, "Let us be companions so far."

Randal accepted the arm proffered to him; and Lord L'Estrange, as is usual with one long absent from his native land, bore part as a questioner in the dialogue that ensued.

"Egerton is always the same man, I suppose—too busy for illness, and too firm for sorrow?"

"If he ever feel either, he will never stoop to complain. But indeed, my dear lord, I should like much to know what you think of his health."

"How? You alarm me!"

"Nay, I did not mean to do that; and, pray, do not let him know that I went so far. But I have fancied that he looks a little worn, and suffering."

"Poor Audley!" said L'Estrange in a tone of deep affection. "I will sound him, and, be assured, without naming you; for I know well how little he likes to be supposed capable of human infirmity. I am obliged to you for your hint—obliged to you for your interest in one so dear to me."

And Harley's voice was more cordial to Randal than it had ever been before. He then began to inquire what Randal thought of the rumours that had reached himself as to the probable defeat of the government, and how far Audley's spirits were affected by such risks. But Randal here, seeing that Harley could communicate nothing, was reserved and guarded.

"Loss of office could not, I think, affect a man like Audley," observed Lord L'Estrange. "He would be as great in opposition—perhaps greater; and as to emoluments"——

"The emoluments are good," interposed Randal with a half sigh.

"Good enough, I suppose, to pay him back about a tenth of what his place costs our magnificent friend—No, I will say one thing for English[166] statesmen, no man amongst them ever yet was the richer for place."

"And Mr Egerton's private fortune must be large, I take for granted," said Randal carelessly.

"It ought to be, if he has time to look to it."

Here they passed by the hotel in which lodged the Count di Peschiera.

Randal stopped. "Will you excuse me for an instant? As we are passing this hotel, I will just leave my card here." So saying, he gave his card to a waiter lounging by the door. "For the Count di Peschiera," said he aloud.

L'Estrange started; and as Randal again took his arm, said—"So that Italian lodges here? and you know him?"

"I know him but slightly, as one knows any foreigner who makes a sensation."

"He makes a sensation?"

"Naturally; for he is handsome, witty, and said to be very rich—that is, as long as he receives the revenues of his exiled kinsman."

"I see you are well informed, Mr Leslie. And what is supposed to bring hither the Count di Peschiera?"

"I did hear something, which I did not quite understand, about a bet of his that he would marry his kinsman's daughter; and so, I conclude, secure to himself all the inheritance; and that he is therefore here to discover the kinsman and win the heiress. But probably you know the rights of the story, and can tell me what credit to give to such gossip."

"I know this at least, that if he did lay such a wager, I would advise you to take any odds against him that his backers may give," said L'Estrange drily; and while his lip quivered with anger, his eye gleamed with arch ironical humour.

"You think, then, that this poor kinsman will not need such an alliance in order to regain his estates?"

"Yes; for I never yet knew a rogue whom I would not bet against, when he backed his own luck as a rogue against Justice and Providence."

Randal winced, and felt as if an arrow had grazed his heart; but he soon recovered.

"And indeed there is another vague rumour that the young lady in question is married already—to some Englishman."

This time it was Harley who winced. "Good Heavens! that cannot be true—that would undo all! An Englishman just at this moment! But some Englishman of correspondent rank I trust, or at least one known for opinions opposed to what an Austrian would call revolutionary doctrines?"

"I know nothing. But it was supposed, merely a private gentleman of good family. Would not that suffice? Can the Austrian Court dictate a marriage to the daughter as a condition for grace to the father?"

"No—not that!" said Harley, greatly disturbed. "But put yourself in the position of any minister to one of the great European monarchies. Suppose a political insurgent, formidable for station and wealth, had been proscribed, much interest made on his behalf, a powerful party striving against it, and just when the minister is disposed to relent, he hears that the heiress to this wealth and this station is married to the native of a country in which sentiments friendly to the very opinions for which the insurgent was proscribed are popularly entertained, and thus that the fortune to be restored may be so employed as to disturb the national security—the existing order of things;—this, too, at the very time when a popular revolution has just occurred in France,[55] and its effects are felt most in the very land of the exile:—suppose all this, and then say if anything could be more untoward for the hopes of the banished man, or furnish his adversaries with stronger arguments against the restoration of his fortune? But pshaw—this must be a chimera! If true, I should have known of it."

"I quite agree with your lordship—there can be no truth in such a rumour. Some Englishman hearing,[167] perhaps, of the probable pardon of the exile, may have counted on an heiress, and spread the report in order to keep off other candidates. By, your account, if successful in his suit, he might fail to find an heiress in the bride?"

"No doubt of that. Whatever might be arranged, I can't conceive that he would be allowed to get at the fortune, though it might be held in suspense for his children. But indeed it so rarely happens that an Italian girl of high name marries a foreigner, that we must dismiss this notion with a smile at the long face of the hypothetical fortune-hunter. Heaven help him, if he exist!"

"Amen," echoed Randal devoutly.

"I hear that Peschiera's sister is returned to England. Do you know her too?"

"A little."

"My dear Mr Leslie, pardon me if I take a liberty not warranted by our acquaintance. Against the lady I say nothing. Indeed, I have heard some things which appear to entitle her to compassion and respect. But as to Peschiera, all who prize honour suspect him to be a knave—I know him to be one. Now, I think that the longer we preserve that abhorrence for knavery which is the generous instinct of youth, why, the fairer will be our manhood, and the more reverend our age. You agree with me?" And Harley suddenly turning, his eyes fell like a flood of light upon Randal's pale and secret countenance.

"To be sure," murmured the schemer.

Harley surveying him, mechanically recoiled, and withdrew his arm.

Fortunately for Randal, who somehow or other felt himself slipped into a false position, he scarce knew how or why, he was here seized by the arm; and a clear, open, manly voice cried, "My dear fellow, how are you? I see you are engaged now; but look into my rooms when you can, in the course of the day."

And with a bow of excuse for his interruption, to Lord L'Estrange, the speaker was then turning away, when Harley said—

"No, don't let me take you from your friend, Mr Leslie. And you need not be in a hurry to see Egerton; for I shall claim the privilege of older friendship for the first interview."

"It is Mr Egerton's nephew, Frank Hazeldean."

"Pray, call him back, and present me to him. He has a face that would have gone far to reconcile Timon to Athens."

Randal obeyed; and after a few kindly words to Frank, Harley insisted on leaving the two young men together, and walked on to Downing Street with a brisker step.


"That Lord L'Estrange seems a very good fellow."

"So-so;—an effeminate humourist;—says the most absurd things, and fancies them wise. Never mind him. You wanted to speak to me, Frank?"

"Yes; I am so obliged to you for introducing me to Levy. I must tell you how handsomely he has behaved."

"Stop; allow me to remind you that I did not introduce you to Levy; you had met him before at Borrowell's, if I recollect right, and he dined with us at the Clarendon—that is all I had to do with bringing you together. Indeed I rather cautioned you against him than not. Pray don't think I introduced you to a man who, however pleasant, and perhaps honest, is still a money-lender. Your father would be justly angry with me if I had done so."

"Oh, pooh! you are prejudiced against poor Levy. But just hear: I was sitting very ruefully, thinking over those cursed bills, and how the deuce I should renew them, when Levy walked into my rooms; and after telling me of his long friendship for my uncle Egerton, and his admiration for yourself, and, (give me your hand, Randal) saying how touched he felt by your kind sympathy in my troubles, he opened his pocket-book, and showed me the bills safe and sound in his own possession."


"He had bought them, up. 'It[168] must be so disagreeable to me,' he said, 'to have them flying about the London money-market, and these Jews would be sure sooner or later to apply to my father. And now,' added Levy, 'I am in no immediate hurry for the money, and we must put the interest upon fairer terms.' In short, nothing could be more liberal than his tone. And he says, 'he is thinking of a way to relieve me altogether, and will call about it in a few days, when his plan is matured.' After all, I must owe this to you, Randal. I dare swear you put it into his head."

"O no, indeed! On the contrary, I still say, 'Be cautious in all your dealings with Levy.' I don't know, I'm sure, what he means to propose. Have you heard from the Hall lately?'

"Yes—to-day. Only think—the Riccaboccas have disappeared. My mother writes me word of it—a very odd letter. She seems to suspect that I know where they are, and reproaches me for 'mystery'—quite enigmatical. But there is one sentence in her letter—see, here it is in the postscript—which seems to refer to Beatrice: 'I don't ask you to tell me your secrets, Frank, but Randal will no doubt have assured you that my first consideration will be for your own happiness, in any matter in which your heart is really engaged.'"

"Yes," said Randal, slowly; "no doubt this refers to Beatrice; but, as I told you, your mother will not interfere one way or the other,—such interference would weaken her influence with the Squire. Besides, as she said, she can't wish you to marry a foreigner; though once married, she would——But how do you stand now with the Marchesa? Has she consented to accept you?"

"Not quite; indeed I have not actually proposed. Her manner, though much softened, has not so far emboldened me; and, besides, before a positive declaration, I certainly must go down to the Hall and speak at least to my mother."

"You must judge for yourself, but don't do anything rash: talk first to me. Here we are at my office. Good-bye; and—and pray believe that, in whatever you do with Levy, I have no hand in it."


Towards the evening, Randal was riding fast on the road to Norwood. The arrival of Harley, and the conversation that had passed between that nobleman and Randal, made the latter anxious to ascertain how far Riccabocca was likely to learn L'Estrange's return to England, and to meet with him. For he felt that, should the latter come to know that Riccabocca, in his movements, had gone by Randal's advice, Harley would find that Randal had spoken to him disingenuously; and, on the other hand, Riccabocca, placed under the friendly protection of Lord L'Estrange, would no longer need Randal Leslie to defend him from the machinations of Peschiera. To a reader happily unaccustomed to dive into the deep and mazy recesses of a schemer's mind, it might seem that Randal's interest in retaining a hold over the exile's confidence would terminate with the assurances that had reached him, from more than one quarter, that Violante might cease to be an heiress if she married himself. "But perhaps," suggests some candid and youthful conjecturer—"perhaps Randal Leslie is in love with this fair creature?" Randal in love!—no! He was too absorbed by harder passions for that blissful folly. Nor, if he could have fallen in love, was Violante the one to attract that sullen, secret heart; her instinctive nobleness, the very stateliness of her beauty, womanlike though it was, awed him. Men of that kind may love some soft slave—they cannot lift their eyes to a queen. They may look down—they cannot look up. But, on the one hand, Randal could not resign altogether the chance of securing a fortune that would realise his most dazzling dreams, upon the mere assurance, however probable, which had so dismayed him; and, on the other hand, should he be compelled to relinquish all idea of such alliance, though he did not contemplate the base perfidy[169] of actually assisting Peschiera's avowed designs, still, if Frank's marriage with Beatrice should absolutely depend upon her brother's obtaining the knowledge of Violante's retreat, and that marriage should be as conducive to his interests as he thought he could make it, why,—he did not then push his deductions farther, even to himself—they seemed too black; but he sighed heavily, and that sigh foreboded how weak would be honour and virtue against avarice and ambition. Therefore, on all accounts, Riccabocca was one of those cards in a sequence, which so calculating a player would not throw out of his hand: it might serve for repique at the worst—it might score well in the game. Intimacy with the Italian was still part and parcel in that knowledge which was the synonym of power.

While the young man was thus meditating, on his road to Norwood, Riccabocca and his Jemima were close conferring in their drawing-room. And if you could have there seen them, reader, you would have been seized with equal surprise and curiosity; for some extraordinary communication had certainly passed between them. Riccabocca was evidently much agitated, and with emotions not familiar to him. The tears stood in his eyes at the same time that a smile, the reverse of cynical or sardonic, curved his lips; while his wife was leaning her head on his shoulder, her hand clasped in his, and, by the expression of her face, you might guess that he had paid her some very gratifying compliment, of a nature more genuine and sincere than those which characterised his habitual hollow and dissimulating gallantry. But just at this moment Giacomo entered, and Jemima, with her native English modesty, withdrew in haste from Riccabocca's sheltering side.

"Padrone," said Giacomo, who, whatever his astonishment at the connubial position he had disturbed, was much too discreet to betray it—"Padrone, I see the young Englishman riding towards the house, and I hope, when he arrives, you will not forget the alarming information I gave to you this morning."

"Ah—ah!" said Riccabocca, his face falling.

"If the Signorina were but married!"

"My very thought—my constant thought!" exclaimed Riccabocca. "And you really believe the young Englishman loves her?"

"Why else should he come, Excellency?" asked Giacomo, with great naïveté.

"Very true; why, indeed?" said Riccabocca. "Jemima, I cannot endure the terrors I suffer on that poor child's account. I will open myself frankly to Randal Leslie. And now, too, that which might have been a serious consideration, in case I return to Italy, will no longer stand in our way, Jemima."

Jemima smiled faintly, and whispered something to Riccabocca, to which he replied—

"Nonsense, anima mia. I know it will be—have not a doubt of it. I tell you it is as nine to four, according to the nicest calculations. I will speak at once to Randal. He is too young—too timid to speak himself."

"Certainly," interposed Giacomo; "how could he dare to speak, let him love ever so well?"

Jemima shook her head.

"O, never fear," said Riccabocca, observing this gesture; "I will give him the trial. If he entertain but mercenary views, I shall soon detect them. I know human nature pretty well, I think, my love; and, Giacomo,—just get me my Machiavel;—that's right. Now leave me, my dear; I must reflect and prepare myself."

When Randal entered the house, Giacomo, with a smile of peculiar suavity, ushered him into the drawing-room. He found Riccabocca alone, and seated before the fire-place, leaning his face on his hand, with the great folio of Machiavel lying open on the table.

The Italian received him as courteously as usual; but there was in his manner a certain serious and thoughtful dignity, which was perhaps the more imposing, because but rarely assumed. After a few preliminary observations, Randal remarked that Frank Hazeldean had informed him of the curiosity which the disappearance of the Riccaboccas had excited[170] at the Hall, and inquired carelessly if the Doctor had left instructions as to the forwarding of any letters that might be directed to him at the Casino.

"Letters," said Riccabocca simply—"I never receive any; or, at least, so rarely, that it was not worth while to take an event so little to be expected into consideration. No; if any letters do reach the Casino, there they will wait."

"Then I can see no possibility of indiscretion; no chance of a clue to your address."

"Nor I either."

Satisfied so far, and knowing that it was not in Riccabocca's habits to read the newspapers, by which he might otherwise have learnt of L'Estrange's arrival in London, Randal then proceeded to inquire, with much seeming interest, into the health of Violante—hoped it did not suffer by confinement, &c. Riccabocca eyed him gravely while he spoke, and then suddenly rising, that air of dignity to which I have before referred, became yet more striking.

"My young friend," said he, "hear me attentively, and answer me frankly. I know human nature"—Here a slight smile of proud complacency passed the sage's lips, and his eye glanced towards his Machiavel.

"I know human nature—at least I have studied it," he renewed more earnestly, and with less evident self-conceit; "and I believe that when a perfect stranger to me exhibits an interest in my affairs, which occasions him no small trouble—an interest (continued the wise man, laying his hand upon Randal's shoulder) which scarcely a son could exceed, he must be under the influence of some strong personal motive."

"Oh, sir!" cried Randal, turning a shade more pale, and with a faltering tone. Riccabocca surveyed him with the tenderness of a superior being, and pursued his deductive theories.

"In your case, what is that motive? Not political; for I conclude you share the opinions of your government, and those opinions have not favoured mine. Not that of pecuniary or ambitious calculations; for how can such calculations enlist you on behalf of a ruined exile? What remains? Why, the motive which at your age is ever the most natural, and the strongest. I don't blame you. Machiavel himself allows that such a motive has swayed the wisest minds, and overturned the most solid states. In a word, young man, you are in love, and with my daughter Violante."

Randal was so startled by this direct and unexpected charge upon his own masked batteries, that he did not even attempt his defence. His head drooped on his breast, and he remained speechless.

"I do not doubt," resumed the penetrating judge of human nature, "that you would have been withheld by the laudable and generous scruples which characterise your happy age, from voluntarily disclosing to me the state of your heart. You might suppose that, proud of the position I once held, or sanguine in the hope of regaining my inheritance, I might be over-ambitious in my matrimonial views for Violante; or that you, anticipating my restoration to honours and fortune, might seem actuated by the last motives which influence love and youth; and, therefore, my dear young friend, I have departed from the ordinary custom in England, and adopted a very common one in my own country. With us, a suitor seldom presents himself till he is assured of the consent of a father. I have only to say this—If I am right, and you love my daughter, my first object in life is to see her safe and secure; and, in a word—you understand me."

Now, mightily may it comfort and console us ordinary mortals, who advance no pretence to superior wisdom and ability, to see the huge mistakes made by both these very sagacious personages—Dr Riccabocca, valuing himself on his profound acquaintance with character, and Randal Leslie, accustomed to grope into every hole and corner of thought and action, wherefrom to extract that knowledge which is power! For whereas the sage, judging not only by his own heart in youth, but by the general influence of the master passion on the young, had ascribed to Randal sentiments wholly foreign to that able diplomatist's nature, so, no sooner had Riccabocca brought[171] his speech to a close, than Randal, judging also by his own heart, and by the general laws which influence men of the mature age and boasted worldly wisdom of the pupil of Machiavel, instantly decided that Riccabocca presumed upon his youth and inexperience, and meant most nefariously to take him in.

"The poor youth!" thought Riccabocca, "how unprepared he is for the happiness I give him!"

"The cunning old Jesuit!" thought Randal; "he has certainly learned, since we met last, that he has no chance of regaining his patrimony, and so he wants to impose on me the hand of a girl without a shilling. What other motive can he possibly have! Had his daughter the remotest probability of becoming the greatest heiress in Italy, would he dream of bestowing her on me in this off-hand way? The thing stands to reason."

Actuated by his resentment at the trap thus laid for him, Randal was about to disclaim altogether the disinterested and absurd affection laid to his charge, when it occurred to him that, by so doing, he might mortally offend the Italian—since the cunning never forgive those who refuse to be duped by them—and it might still be conducive to his interest to preserve intimate and familiar terms with Riccabocca; therefore, subduing his first impulse, he exclaimed,

"O too generous man! pardon me if I have so long been unable to express my amaze, my gratitude; but I cannot—no, I cannot, while your prospects remain thus uncertain, avail myself of your—of your inconsiderate magnanimity. Your rare conduct can only redouble my own scruples, if you, as I firmly hope and believe, are restored to your great possessions,—you would naturally look so much higher than me. Should those hopes fail, then, indeed, it may be different; yet even then, what position, what fortune, have I to offer to your daughter worthy of her?"

"You are well born: all gentlemen are equals," said Riccabocca, with a sort of easy nobleness. "You have youth, information, talent—sources of certain wealth in this happy country—powerful connections; and, in fine, if you are satisfied with marrying for love, I shall be contented;—if not, speak openly. As to the restoration to my possessions, I can scarcely think that probable while my enemy lives. And even in that case, since I saw you last, something has occurred (added Riccabocca with a strange smile, which seemed to Randal singularly sinister and malignant) that may remove all difficulties. Meanwhile, do not think me so extravagantly magnanimous—do not underrate the satisfaction I must feel at knowing Violante safe from the designs of Peschiera—safe, and for ever, under a husband's roof. I will tell you an Italian proverb—it contains a truth full of wisdom and terror:—

"'Hai cinquanta Amici?—non basta—hai un Nemico?—è troppo.'"[56]

"Something has occurred!" echoed Randal, not heeding the conclusion of this speech, and scarcely hearing the proverb which the sage delivered in his most emphatic and tragic tone. "Something has occurred! My dear friend, be plainer. What has occurred?" Riccabocca remained silent. "Something that induces you to bestow your daughter on me?"

Riccabocca nodded, and emitted a low chuckle.

"The very laugh of a fiend," muttered Randal. "Something that makes her not worth bestowing. He betrays himself. Cunning people always do."

"Pardon me," said the Italian at last," if I don't answer your question; you will know later; but, at present, this is a family secret. And now I must turn to another and more alarming cause for my frankness to you." Here Riccabocca's face changed, and assumed an expression of mingled rage and fear. "You must know," he added, sinking his voice, "that Giacomo has seen a strange person loitering about the house, and looking up at the windows; and he has no doubt—nor have I—that this is some spy or emissary of Peschiera's."


"Impossible; how could he discover you?"

"I know not; but no one else has any interest in doing so. The man kept at a distance, and Giacomo could not see his face."

"It may be but a mere idler. Is this all?"

"No; the old woman who serves us said that she was asked at a shop 'if we were not Italians?'"

"And she answered?"

"'No;' but owned that 'we had a foreign servant, Giacomo.'"

"I will see to this. Rely on it that if Peschiera has discovered you, I will learn it. Nay, I will hasten from you in order to commence inquiry."

"I cannot detain you. May I think that we have now an interest in common?"

"O, indeed yes; but—but—your daughter! how can I dream that one so beautiful, so peerless, will confirm the hope you have extended to me?"

"The daughter of an Italian is brought up to consider that it is a father's right to dispose of her hand."

"But the heart?"

"Cospetto!" said the Italian, true to his infamous notions as to the sex, "the heart of a girl is like a convent—the holier the cloister, the more charitable the door."


Randal had scarcely left the house, before Mrs Riccabocca, who was affectionately anxious in all that concerned Violante, rejoined her husband.

"I like the young man very well," said the sage—"very well indeed. I find him just what I expected from my general knowledge of human nature; for as love ordinarily goes with youth, so modesty usually accompanies talent. He is young, ergo he is in love; he has talent, ergo he is modest—modest and ingenuous."

"And you think not in any way swayed by interest in his affections?"

"Quite the contrary; and to prove him the more, I have not said a word as to the worldly advantages which, in any case, would accrue to him from an alliance with my daughter. In any case; for if I regain my country, her fortune is assured; and if not, I trust (said the poor exile, lifting his brow with stately and becoming pride) that I am too well aware of my child's dignity as well as my own, to ask any one to marry her to his own worldly injury."

"Eh! I don't quite understand you, Alphonso. To be sure, your dear life is insured for her marriage portion; but—"

"Pazzie—stuff!" said Riccabocca petulantly; "her marriage portion would be as nothing to a young man of Randal's birth and prospects. I think not of that. But listen: I have never consented to profit by Harley L'Estrange's friendship for me; my scruples would not extend to my son-in-law. This noble friend has not only high rank, but considerable influence—influence with the government—influence with Randal's patron—who, between ourselves, does not seem to push the young man as he might do; I judge by what Randal says. I should write, therefore, before anything was settled, to L'Estrange, and I should say to him simply, 'I never asked you to save me from penury, but I do ask you to save a daughter of my house from humiliation. I can give to her no dowry; can her husband owe to my friend that advance in an honourable career—that opening to energy and talent—which is more than a dowry to generous ambition?'"

"Oh, it is in vain you would disguise your rank," cried Jemima with enthusiasm, "it speaks in all you utter, when your passions are moved."

The Italian did not seem flattered by that eulogy. "Pish," said he, "there you are! rank again!"

But Jemima was right. There was something about her husband that was grandiose and princely, whenever he escaped from his accursed Machiavel, and gave fair play to his heart.

And he spent the next hour or so in thinking over all that he could do for Randal, and devising for his intended son-in-law the agreeable surprises,[173] which Randal was at that very time racking his yet cleverer brains to disappoint.

These plans conned sufficiently, Riccabocca shut up his Machiavel, and hunted out of his scanty collection of books Buffon on Man, and various other psychological volumes, in which he soon became deeply absorbed. Why were these works the object of the sage's study? Perhaps he will let us know soon, for it is clearly a secret known to his wife; and though she has hitherto kept one secret, that is precisely the reason why Riccabocca would not wish long to overburthen her discretion with another.


Randal reached home in time to dress for a late dinner at Baron Levy's.

The Baron's style of living was of that character especially affected both by the most acknowledged exquisites of that day, and, it must be owned, also, by the most egregious parvenus. For it is noticeable that it is your parvenu who always comes nearest in fashion (so far as externals are concerned) to your genuine exquisite. It is your parvenu who is most particular as to the cut of his coat, and the precision of his equipage, and the minutiæ of his ménage. Those between the parvenu and the exquisite who know their own consequence, and have something solid to rest upon, are slow in following all the caprices of fashion, and obtuse in observation as to those niceties which neither give them another ancestor, nor add another thousand to the account at their banker's;—as to the last, rather indeed the contrary! There was a decided elegance about the Baron's house and his dinner. If he had been one of the lawful kings of the dandies, you would have cried, "What perfect taste!"—but such is human nature, that the dandies who dined with him said to each other, "He pretend to imitate D——! vulgar dog!" There was little affectation of your more showy opulence. The furniture in the rooms was apparently simple, but, in truth, costly, from its luxurious comfort—the ornaments and china scattered about the commodes were of curious rarity and great value; and the pictures on the walls were gems. At dinner, no plate was admitted on the table. The Russian fashion, then uncommon, now more prevalent, was adopted—fruits and flowers in old Sèvre dishes of priceless vertu, and in sparkling glass of Bohemian fabric. No livery servant was permitted to wait; behind each guest stood a gentleman dressed so like the guest himself, in fine linen and simple black, that guest and lacquey seemed stereotypes from one plate.

The viands were exquisite; the wine came from the cellars of deceased archbishops and ambassadors. The company was select; the party did not exceed eight. Four were the eldest sons of peers (from a baron to a duke;) one was a professed wit, never to be got without a month's notice, and, where a parvenu was host, a certainty of green pease and peaches—out of season; the sixth, to Randal's astonishment, was Mr Richard Avenel; himself and the Baron made up the complement.

The eldest sons recognised each other with a meaning smile; the most juvenile of them, indeed, (it was his first year in London,) had the grace to blush and look sheepish. The others were more hardened; but they all united in regarding with surprise both Randal and Dick Avenel. The former was known to most of them personally; and to all, by repute, as a grave, clever, promising young man, rather prudent than lavish, and never suspected to have got into a scrape. What the deuce did he do there? Mr Avenel puzzled them yet more. A middle-aged man, said to be in business, whom they had observed "about town" (for he had a noticeable face and figure)—that is, seen riding in the park, or lounging in the pit at the opera, but never set eyes on at a recognised club, or in the coteries of their 'set';—a man whose wife gave horrid third-rate parties, that took up half-a-column[174] in the Morning Post with a list of "The Company Present,"—in which a sprinkling of dowagers out of fashion, and a foreign title or two, made the darkness of the obscurer names doubly dark. Why this man should be asked to meet them, by Baron Levy, too—a decided tuft-hunter and would-be exclusive—called all their faculties into exercise. The wit, who, being the son of a small tradesman, but in the very best society, gave himself far greater airs than the young lords, impertinently solved the mystery. "Depend on it," whispered he to Spendquick—"depend on it the man is the X.Y. of the Times who offers to lend any sums of money from £10 to half-a-million. He's the man who has all your bills; Levy is only his jackall."

"'Pon my soul," said Spendquick, rather alarmed, "if that's the case, one may as well be civil to him."

"You, certainly," said the wit. "But I never yet found an X.Y. who would advance me the L. s.; and, therefore, I shall not be more respectful to X.Y. than to any other unknown quantity."

By degrees, as the wine circulated, the party grew gay and sociable. Levy was really an entertaining fellow; had all the gossip of the town at his fingers' ends; and possessed, moreover, that pleasant art of saying ill-natured things of the absent, which those present always enjoy. By degrees, too, Mr Richard Avenel came out; and as the whisper had circulated round the table that he was X.Y., he was listened to with a profound respect, which greatly elevated his spirits. Nay, when the wit tried once to show him up or mystify him, Dick answered with a bluff spirit, that, though very coarse, was found so humorous by Lord Spendquick and other gentlemen similarly situated in the money-market, that they turned the laugh against the wit, and silenced him for the rest of the night—a circumstance which made the party go off much more pleasantly. After dinner, the conversation, quite that of single men, easy and débonnair, glanced from the turf, and the ballet, and the last scandal, towards politics; for the times were such that politics were discussed everywhere, and three of the young lords were county members.

Randal said little, but, as was his wont, listened attentively; and he was aghast to find how general was the belief that the government was doomed. Out of regard to him, and with that delicacy of breeding which belongs to a certain society, nothing personal to Egerton was said, except by Avenel, who, however, on blurting out some rude expressions respecting that minister, was instantly checked by the Baron.

"Spare my friend, and Mr Leslie's near connection," said he, with a polite but grave smile.

"Oh," said Avenel, "public men, whom we pay, are public property—aren't they, my lord?" appealing to Spendquick.

"Certainly," said Spendquick, with great spirit—"public property, or why should we pay them? There must be a very strong motive to induce us to do that! I hate paying people. In fact," he subjoined in an aside, "I never do!"

"However," resumed Mr Avenel graciously, "I don't want to hurt your feelings, Mr Leslie. As to the feelings of our host, the Baron, I calculate that they have got tolerably tough by the exercise they have gone through."

"Nevertheless," said the Baron, joining in the laugh which any lively saying by the supposed X.Y. was sure to excite—"nevertheless, 'love me, love my dog,' love me, love my Egerton."

Randal started, for his quick ear and subtle intelligence caught something sinister and hostile in the tone with which Levy uttered this equivocal comparison, and his eye darted towards the Baron. But the Baron had bent down his face, and was regaling himself upon an olive.

By-and-by the party rose from table. The four young noblemen had their engagements elsewhere, and proposed to separate without re-entering the drawing-room. As, in Goethe's theory, monads which have affinities with each other are irresistibly drawn together, so these gay children of pleasure had, by a common impulse, on rising from table, moved each to each, and formed[175] a group round the fireplace. Randal stood a little apart, musing; the wit examined the pictures through his eyeglass; and Mr Avenel drew the Baron towards the sideboard, and there held him in whispered conference. This colloquy did not escape the young gentlemen round the fireplace: they glanced towards each other.

"Settling the percentage on renewal," said one, sotto voce.

"X.Y. does not seem such a very bad fellow," said another.

"He looks rich, and talks rich," said a third.

"A decided independent way of expressing his sentiments; those moneyed men generally have."

"Good heavens!" ejaculated Spendquick, who had been keeping his eye anxiously fixed on the pair, "do look; X.Y. is actually taking out his pocket-book; he is coming this way. Depend on it he has got our bills—mine is due to-morrow!"

"And mine too," said another, edging off. "Why, it is a perfect guet-apens."

Meanwhile, breaking away from the Baron, who appeared anxious to detain him, and failing in that attempt, turned aside, as if not to see Dick's movements—a circumstance which did not escape the notice of the group, and confirmed all their suspicions, Mr Avenel, with a serious, thoughtful air, and a slow step, approached the group. Nor did the great Roman general more nervously "flutter the dove-cotes in Corioli," than did the advance of the supposed X.Y. agitate the bosoms of Lord Spendquick and his sympathising friends. Pocket-book in hand, and apparently feeling for something formidable within its mystic recesses, step by step came Dick Avenel towards the fireplace. The group stood still, fascinated by horror.

"Hum," said Mr Avenel, clearing his throat.

"I don't like that hum at all," muttered Spendquick.

"Proud to have made your acquaintance, gentlemen," said Dick, bowing.

The gentlemen, thus addressed, bowed low in return.

"My friend the Baron thought this not exactly the time to"—Dick stopped a moment; you might have knocked down those four young gentlemen, though four finer specimens of humanity no aristocracy in Europe could produce—you might have knocked them down with a feather! "But," renewed Avenel, not finishing his sentence, "I have made it a rule in life never to lose securing a good opportunity; in short, to make the most of the present moment. And," added he with a smile, which froze the blood in Lord Spendquick's veins, "the rule has made me a very warm man! Therefore, gentlemen, allow me to present you each with one of these"—every hand retreated behind the back of its well-born owner—when, to the inexpressible relief of all, Dick concluded with—"a little soirée dansante," and extended four cards of invitation.

"Most happy!" exclaimed Spendquick. "I don't dance in general; but to oblige X—— I mean to have a better acquaintance, sir, with you—I would dance on the tight-rope."

There was a good-humoured pleasant laugh at Spendquick's enthusiasm, and a general shaking of hands and pocketing of the invitation cards.

"You don't look like a dancing man," said Avenel, turning to the wit, who was plump and somewhat gouty—as wits who dine out five days in the week generally are; "but we shall have supper at one o'clock."

Infinitely offended and disgusted, the wit replied drily, "that every hour of his time was engaged for the rest of the season," and, with a stiff salutation to the Baron, took his departure. The rest, in good spirits, hurried away to their respective cabriolets; and Leslie was following them into the hall, when the Baron, catching hold of him, said, "Stay, I want to talk to you."


The Baron turned into his drawing-room, and Leslie followed.

"Pleasant young men, those," said Levy, with a slight sneer, as he threw himself into an easy chair and stirred the fire. "And not at all proud;[176] but, to be sure, they are—under great obligations to me. Yes; they owe me a great deal. Apropos, I have had a long talk with Frank Hazeldean—fine young man—remarkable capacities for business. I can arrange his affairs for him. I find, on reference to the Will Office, that you were quite right; the Casino property is entailed on Frank. He will have the fee simple. He can dispose of the reversion entirely. So that there will be no difficulty in our arrangements."

"But I told you also that Frank had scruples about borrowing on the event of his father's death."

"Ay—you did so. Filial affection! I never take that into account in matters of business. Such little scruples, though they are highly honourable to human nature, soon vanish before the prospect of the King's Bench. And, too, as you so judiciously remarked, our clever young friend is in love with Madame di Negra."

"Did he tell you that?"

"No; but Madame di Negra did!"

"You know her?"

"I know most people in good society, who now and then require a friend in the management of their affairs. And having made sure of the fact you stated, as to Hazeldean's contingent property, (excuse my prudence,) I have accommodated Madame di Negra, and bought up her debts."

"You have—you surprise me!"

"The surprise will vanish on reflection. But you are very new to the world yet, my dear Leslie. By the way, I have had an interview with Peschiera—"

"About his sister's debts?"

"Partly. A man of the nicest honour is Peschiera."

Aware of Levy's habit of praising people for the qualities in which, according to the judgment of less penetrating mortals, they were most deficient, Randal only smiled at this eulogy, and waited for Levy to resume. But the Baron sate silent and thoughtful for a minute or two, and then wholly changed the subject.

"I think your father has some property in ——shire, and you probably can give me a little information as to certain estates of a Mr Thornhill—estates which, on examination of the title-deeds, I find once, indeed, belonged to your family." The Baron glanced at a very elegant memorandum book—"The manors of Rood and Dulmonsberry, with sundry farms thereon. Mr Thornhill wants to sell them as soon as his son is of age—an old client of mine, Thornhill. He has applied to me on the matter. Do you think it an improvable property?"

Randal listened with a livid cheek and a throbbing heart. We have seen that, if there was one ambitious scheme in his calculation which, though not absolutely generous and heroic, still might win its way to a certain sympathy in the undebased human mind, it was the hope to restore the fallen fortunes of his ancient house, and repossess himself of the long alienated lands that surrounded the dismal wastes of the mouldering hall. And now to hear that those lands were getting into the inexorable gripe of Levy—tears of bitterness stood in his eyes.

"Thornhill," continued Levy, who watched the young man's countenance—"Thornhill tells me that that part of his property—the old Leslie lands—produces £2000 a-year, and that the rental could be raised. He would take £50,000 for it—£20,000 down, and suffer the remaining £30,000 to lie on mortgage at four per cent. It seems a very good purchase. What do you say?"

"Don't ask me," said Randal, stung into rare honesty; "for I had hoped I might live to repossess myself of that property."

"Ah! indeed. It would be a very great addition to your consequence in the world—not from the mere size of the estate, but from its hereditary associations. And if you have any idea of the purchase—believe me, I'll not stand in your way."

"How can I have any idea of it?"

"But I thought you said you had."

"I understood that these lands could not be sold till Mr Thornhill's son came of age, and joined in getting rid of the entail."

"Yes, so Thornhill himself supposed, till, on examining the title-deeds,[177] I found he was under a mistake. These lands are not comprised in the settlement made by old Jasper Thornhill, which ties up the rest of the property. The title will be perfect. Thornhill wants to settle the matter at once—losses on the turf, you understand; an immediate purchaser would get still better terms. A Sir John Spratt would give the money;—but the addition of these lands would make the Spratt property of more consequence in the county than the Thornhill. So my client would rather take a few thousands less from a man who don't set up to be his rival. Balance of power in counties as well as nations."

Randal was silent.

"Well," said Levy, with great kindness of manner, "I see I pain you; and though I am what my very pleasant guests would call a parvenu, I comprehend your natural feelings as a gentleman of ancient birth. Parvenu! Ah! is it not strange, Leslie, that no wealth, no fashion, no fame can wipe out that blot. They call me a parvenu, and borrow my money. They call our friend, the wit, a parvenu, and submit to all his insolence—if they condescend to regard his birth at all—provided they can but get him to dinner. They call the best debater in the Parliament of England a parvenu, and will entreat him, some day or other, to be prime minister, and ask him for stars and garters. A droll world, and no wonder the parvenus want to upset it."

Randal had hitherto supposed that this notorious tuft-hunter—this dandy capitalist—this money-lender, whose whole fortune had been wrung from the wants and follies of an aristocracy, was naturally a firm supporter of things as they are—how could things be better for men like Baron Levy? But the usurer's burst of democratic spleen did not surprise his precocious and acute faculty of observation. He had before remarked, that it is the persons who fawn most upon an aristocracy, and profit the most by the fawning, who are ever at heart its bitterest disparagers. Why is this? Because one full half of democratic opinion is made up of envy; and we can only envy what is brought before our eyes, and what, while very near to us, is still unattainable. No man envies an archangel.

"But," said Levy, throwing himself back in his chair, "a new order of things is commencing; we shall see. Leslie, it is lucky for you that you did not enter parliament under the government; it would be your political ruin for life."

"You think, then, that the ministry really cannot last?"

"Of course I do; and what is more, I think that a ministry of the same principles cannot be restored. You are a young man of talent and spirit; your birth is nothing compared to the rank of the reigning party; it would tell, to a certain degree, in a democratic one. I say, you should be more civil to Avenel; he could return you to parliament at the next election."

"The next election! In six years! We have just had a general election."

"There will be another before this year, or half of it, or perhaps a quarter of it, is out."

"What makes you think so?"

"Leslie, let there be confidence between us; we can help each other. Shall we be friends?"

"With all my heart. But, though you may help me, how can I help you?"

"You have helped me already to Frank Hazeldean—and the Casino estate. All clever men can help me. Come, then, we are friends; and what I say is secret. You ask me why I think there will be a general election so soon? I will answer you frankly. Of all the public men I ever met with, there is no one who has so clear a vision of things immediately before him as Audley Egerton."

"He has that character. Not far-seeing, but clear-sighted to a certain limit."

"Exactly so. No one better, therefore, knows public opinion, and its immediate ebb and flow."


"Egerton, then, counts on a general election within three months; and I have lent him the money for it."

"Lent him the money! Egerton borrow money of you—the rich Audley Egerton!"


"Rich!" repeated Levy in a tone impossible to describe, and accompanying the word with that movement of the middle finger and thumb, commonly called a "snap," which indicates profound contempt.

He said no more. Randal sate stupified. At length the latter muttered, "But if Egerton is really not rich—if he lose office, and without the hope of return to it——"

"If so, he is ruined!" said Levy coldly; "and therefore, from regard to you, and feeling interest in your future fate, I say—Rest no hopes of fortune or career upon Audley Egerton. Keep your place for the present, but be prepared at the next election to stand upon popular principles. Avenel shall return you to parliament; and the rest is with luck and energy. And now, I'll not detain you longer," said Levy, rising and ringing the bell. The servant entered.

"Is my carriage here?"

"Yes, Baron."

"Can I set you down anywhere?"

"No, thank you; I prefer walking."

"Adieu, then. And mind you remember the soirée dansante at Mrs Avenel's." Randal mechanically shook the hand extended to him, and went down the stairs.

The fresh frosty air roused his intellectual faculties, which Levy's ominous words had almost paralysed.

And the first thing the clever schemer said to himself was this—

"But what can be the man's motive in what he said to me?"

The next was—

"Egerton ruined! What am I, then?"

And the third was—

"And that fair remnant of the old Leslie property! £20,000 down—how to get the sum? Why should Levy have spoken to me of this?"

And lastly, the soliloquy rounded back—"The man's motives! His motives?"

Meanwhile, the Baron threw himself into his chariot—the most comfortable easy chariot you can possibly conceive—single man's chariot—perfect taste—no married man ever has such a chariot; and in a few minutes he was at ——'s hotel, and in the presence of Giulio Franzini, Count di Peschiera.

"Mon chèr," said the Baron in very good French, and in a tone of the most familiar equality with the descendant of the princes and heroes of grand mediæval Italy—"Mon chèr, give me one of your excellent cigars. I think I have put all matters in train."

"You have found out—"

"No; not so fast yet," said the Baron, lighting the cigar extended to him. "But you said that you should be perfectly contented if it only cost you £20,000 to marry off your sister, (to whom that sum is legally due,) and to marry yourself to the heiress."

"I did, indeed."

Then I have no doubt I shall manage both objects for that sum, if Randal Leslie really knows where the young lady is, and can assist you. Most promising able man is Randal Leslie—but innocent as a babe just born."

"Ha, ha! Innocent? Que diable!"

"Innocent as this cigar, mon chèr—strong, certainly, but smoked very easily. Soyez tranquille!"


Who has not seen—who not admired, that noble picture by Daniel Maclise, which refreshes the immortal name of my ancestor Caxton! For myself, while with national pride I heard the admiring murmurs of the foreigners who grouped around it, (nothing, indeed, of which our nation may be more proud had they seen in the Crystal Palace,)—heard, with no less a pride in the generous nature of fellow-artists, the warm applause of living and deathless masters, sanctioning the enthusiasm of the popular crowd;—what struck me more than the precision of drawing, for which the artist has been always renowned, and the just though gorgeous affluence of colour which he has more recently acquired, was the profound depth of[179] conception, out of which this great work had so elaborately arisen. That monk, with his scowl towards the printer and his back on the Bible, over which his form casts a shadow—the whole transition between the mediæval Christianity of cell and cloister, and the modern Christianity that rejoices in the daylight, is depicted there, in the shadow that obscures the Book—in the scowl that is fixed upon the Book-diffuser;—that sombre musing face of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, with the beauty of Napoleon, darkened to the expression of a Fiend, looking far and anxiously into futurity, as if foreseeing there what antagonism was about to be created to the schemes of secret crime and unrelenting force;—the chivalrous head of the accomplished Rivers, seen but in profile, under his helmet, as if the age when Chivalry must defend its noble attributes, in steel, was already half passed away: and, not least grand of all, the rude thews and sinews of the artisan forced into service on the type, and the ray of intellect, fierce, and menacing revolutions yet to be, struggling through his rugged features, and across his low knitted brow;—all this, which showed how deeply the idea of the discovery in its good and its evil, its saving light and its perilous storms, had sunk into the artist's soul, charmed me as effecting the exact union between sentiment and execution, which is the true and rare consummation of the Ideal in Art. But observe, while in these personages of the group are depicted the deeper and graver agencies implicated in the bright but terrible invention—observe how little the light epicures of the hour heed the scowl of the monk, or the restless gesture of Richard, or the troubled gleam in the eyes of the artizan—King Edward, handsome Poco curante, delighted, in the surprise of a child, with a new toy; and Clarence, with his curious yet careless glance—all the while Caxton himself, calm, serene, untroubled, intent solely upon the manifestation of his discovery, and no doubt supremely indifferent whether the first proofs of it shall be dedicated to a Rivers or an Edward, a Richard or a Henry, Plantagenet or Tudor—'tis all the same to that comely, gentle-looking man. So is it ever with your Abstract Science!—not a jot cares its passionless logic for the woe or weal of a generation or two. The stream, once emerged from its source, passes on into the Great Intellectual Sea, smiling over the wretch that it drowns, or under the keel of the ship which it serves as a slave.

Now, when about to commence the present chapter on the Varieties of Life, this masterpiece of thoughtful art forced itself on my recollection, and illustrated what I designed to say. In the surface of every age, it is often that which but amuses, for the moment, the ordinary children of pleasant existence, the Edwards and the Clarences, (be they kings and dukes, or simplest of simple subjects,) which afterwards towers out as the great serious epoch of the time. When we look back upon human records, how the eye settles upon Writers as the main landmarks of the past! We talk of the age of Augustus, of Elizabeth, of Louis XIV., of Anne, as the notable eras of the world. Why? Because it is their writers who have made them so. Intervals between one age of authors and another lie unnoticed, as the flats and common lands of uncultured history. And yet, strange to say, when these authors are living amongst us, they occupy a very small portion of our thoughts, and fill up but desultory interstices in the bitumen and tufo wherefrom we build up the Babylon of our lives! So it is, and perhaps so it should be, whether it pleases the conceit of penmen or not. Life is meant to be active; and books, though they give the action to future generations, administer but to the holiday of the present.

And so, with this long preface, I turn suddenly from the Randals and the Egertons, and the Levys, Avenels, and Peschieras—from the plots and passions of practical life, and drop the reader suddenly into one of those obscure retreats wherein Thought weaves, from unnoticed moments, a new link to the chain that unites the ages.

Within a small room, the single window of which opened on a fanciful and fairy-like garden, that has been before described, sate a young man[180] alone. He had been writing: the ink was not dry on his manuscript, but his thoughts had been suddenly interrupted from his work, and his eyes, now lifted from the letter which had occasioned that interruption, sparkled with delight. "He will come," exclaimed the young man; "come here—to the home which I owe to him. I have not been unworthy of his friendship. And she"—his breast heaved, but the joy faded from his face. "Oh strange, strange, that I feel sad at the thought to see her again. See her—Ah no!—my own comforting Helen—my own Child-angel! Her I can never see again! The grown woman—that is not my Helen. And yet—and yet, (he resumed, after a pause,) if ever she read the pages, in which thought flowed and trembled under her distant starry light—if ever she see how her image has rested with me, and feel that, while others believe that I invent, I have but remembered—will she not, for a moment, be my own Helen again! Again, in heart and in fancy, stand by my side on the desolate bridge—hand in hand—orphans both, as we stood in the days so sorrowful, yet, as I recall them, so sweet.—Helen in England, it is a dream!"

He rose, half consciously, and went to the window. The fountain played merrily before his eyes, and the birds in the aviary carolled loud to his ear. "And in this house," he murmured, "I saw her last! And there, where the fountain now throws its stream on high—there her benefactor and mine told me that I was to lose her, and that I might win—fame. Alas!"

At this time a woman, whose dress was somewhat above her mien and air, which, though not without a certain respectability, were very homely, entered the room; and, seeing the young man standing thus thoughtful by the window, paused. She was used to his habits; and since his success in life, had learned to respect them. So she did not disturb his reverie, but began softly to arrange the room—dusting, with the corner of her apron, the various articles of furniture, putting a stray chair or two in its right place, but not touching a single paper. Virtuous woman, and rare as virtuous!

The young man turned at last, with a deep, yet not altogether painful sigh—

"My dear mother, good day to you. Ah, you do well to make the room look its best. Happy news! I expect a visitor!"

"Dear me, Leonard, will he want? lunch—or what?"

"Nay, I think not, mother. It is he to whom we owe all—'Hæc otia fecit.' Pardon my Latin; it is Lord L'Estrange."

The face of Mrs Fairfield (the reader has long since divined the name) changed instantly, and betrayed a nervous twitch of all the muscles, which gave her a family likeness to old Mrs Avenel.

"Do not be alarmed, mother. He is the kindest—"

"Don't talk so; I can't bear it!" cried Mrs Fairfield.

"No wonder you are affected by the recollection of all his benefits. But when once you have seen him, you will find yourself ever after at your ease. And so, pray smile and look as good as you are; for I am proud of your open honest look when you are pleased, mother. And he must see your heart in your face as I do."

With this, Leonard put his arm round the widow's neck and kissed her. She clung to him fondly for a moment, and he felt her tremble from head to foot. Then she broke from his embrace, and hurried out of the room. Leonard thought perhaps she had gone to improve her dress, or to carry her housewife energies to the decoration of the other rooms; for "the house" was Mrs Fairfield's hobby and passion; and now that she worked no more, save for her amusement, it was her main occupation. The hours she contrived to spend daily in bustling about those little rooms, and leaving everything therein to all appearance precisely the same, were among the marvels in life which the genius of Leonard had never comprehended. But she was always so delighted when Mr Norreys or some rare visitor came; and said, (Mr Norreys never failed to do so,) "How neatly all is kept here. What could Leonard do without you, Mrs Fairfield?"

And, to Norreys' infinite amusement, Mrs Fairfield always returned[181] the same answer. "'Deed sir, and thank you kindly, but 'tis my belief that the drawin'-room would be awful dusty."

Once more left alone, Leonard's mind returned to the state of reverie, and his face assumed the expression that had now become to it habitual. Thus seen, he was changed much since we last beheld him. His cheek was more pale and thin, his lips more firmly compressed, his eye more fixed and abstract. You could detect, if I may borrow a touching French expression, that "sorrow had passed by there." But the melancholy on his countenance was ineffably sweet and serene, and on his ample forehead there was that power, so rarely seen in early youth—the power that has conquered, and betrays its conquests but in calm. The period of doubt, of struggle, of defiance, was gone for ever; genius and soul were reconciled to human life. It was a face most loveable; so gentle and peaceful in its character. No want of fire; on the contrary, the fire was so clear and so steadfast, that it conveyed but the impression of light. The candour of boyhood, the simplicity of the villager were still there—refined by intelligence, but intelligence that seemed to have traversed through knowledge—not with the footstep, but the wing—unsullied by the mire—tending towards the star—seeking through the various grades of Being but the lovelier forms of truth and goodness; at home as should be the Art that consummates the Beautiful—

"In den heitern Regionen
Wo die reinen Formen wohnen."[57]

From this reverie Leonard did not seek to rouse himself, till the bell at the garden gate rang loud and shrill; and then starting up and hurrying into the hall, his hand was grasped in Harley's.


A full and happy hour passed away in Harley's questions and Leonard's answers; the dialogue that naturally ensued between the two, on the first interview after an absence of years so eventful to the younger man.

The history of Leonard during this interval was almost solely internal, the struggle of intellect with its own difficulties, the wanderings of imagination through its own adventurous worlds.

The first aim of Norreys, in preparing the mind of his pupil for its vocation, had been to establish the equilibrium of its powers, to calm into harmony the elements rudely shaken by the trials and passions of the old hard outer life.

The theory of Norreys was briefly this. The education of a superior human being is but the development of ideas in one for the benefit of others. To this end, attention should be directed—1st, To the value of the ideas collected; 2dly, To their discipline; 3dly, To their expression. For the first, acquirement is necessary; for the second, discipline; for the third, art. The first comprehends knowledge, purely intellectual, whether derived from observation, memory, reflection, books or men, Aristotle or Fleet Street. The second demands training, not only intellectual, but moral; the purifying and exaltation of motives; the formation of habits; in which method is but a part of a divine and harmonious symmetry—a union of intellect and conscience. Ideas of value, stored by the first process; marshalled into force, and placed under guidance, by the second; it is the result of the third, to place them before the world in the most attractive or commanding form. This may be done by actions no less than words; but the adaptation of means to end, the passage of ideas from the brain of one man into the lives and souls of all, no less in action than in books, requires study. Action has its art as well as literature. Here Norreys had but to deal with the calling of the scholar, the formation of the writer, and so to guide the[182] perceptions towards those varieties in the sublime and beautiful, the just combination of which is at once CREATION. Man himself is but a combination of elements. He who combines in nature, creates in art.

Such, very succinctly and inadequately expressed, was the system upon which Norreys proceeded to regulate and perfect the great native powers of his pupil; and though the reader may perhaps say that no system laid down by another can either form genius or dictate to its results, yet probably nine-tenths at least of those in whom we recognise the luminaries of our race, have passed, unconsciously to themselves, (for self-education is rarely conscious of its phases,) through each of these processes. And no one who pauses to reflect will deny, that according to this theory, illustrated by a man of vast experience, profound knowledge, and exquisite taste, the struggles of genius would be infinitely lessened; its vision cleared and strengthened, and the distance between effort and success notably abridged.

Norreys, however, was far too deep a reasoner to fall into the error of modern teachers, who suppose that education can dispense with labour. No mind becomes muscular without rude and early exercise. Labour should be strenuous, but in right directions. All that we can do for it is to save the waste of time in blundering into needless toils.

The master had thus first employed his neophyte in arranging and compiling materials for a great critical work in which Norreys himself was engaged. In this stage of scholastic preparation, Leonard was necessarily led to the acquisition of languages, for which he had great aptitude—the foundations of a large and comprehensive erudition were solidly constructed. He traced by the plough-share the walls of the destined city. Habits of accuracy and of generalisation became formed insensibly; and that precious faculty which seizes, amidst accumulated materials, those that serve the object for which they are explored,—(that faculty which quadruples all force, by concentrating it on one point)—once roused into action, gave purpose to every toil and quickness to each perception. But Norreys did not confine his pupil solely to the mute world of a library, he introduced him to some of the first minds in arts, science, and letters—and active life. "These," said he, "are the living ideas of the present, out of which books for the future will be written: study them; and here, as in the volumes of the past, diligently amass and deliberately compile."

By degrees Norreys led on that young ardent mind from the selection of ideas to their æsthetic analysis—from compilation to criticism; but criticism severe, close, and logical—a reason for each word of praise or of blame. Led in this stage of his career to examine into the laws of beauty, a new light broke upon his mind; from amidst the masses of marble, he had piled around him, rose the vision of the statue.

And so, suddenly one day Norreys said to him, "I need a compiler no longer—maintain yourself by your own creations." And Leonard wrote, and a work flowered up from the seed deep buried, and the soil well cleared to the rays of the sun and the healthful influence of expanded air.

That first work did not penetrate to a very wide circle of readers, not from any perceptible fault of its own—there is luck in these things; the first anonymous work of an original genius is rarely at once eminently successful. But the more experienced recognised the promise of the book. Publishers, who have an instinct in the discovery of available talent, which often forestalls the appreciation of the public, volunteered liberal offers. "Be fully successful this time," said Norreys; "think not of models nor of style. Strike at once at the common human heart—throw away the corks—swim out boldly. One word more—never write a page till you have walked from your room to Temple Bar, and, mingling with men, and reading the human face, learn why great poets have mostly passed their lives in cities."

Thus Leonard wrote again, and woke one morning to find himself famous. So far as the chances of all professions dependent on health will permit, present independence, and, with foresight and economy, the prospects[183] of future competence were secured.

"And, indeed," said Leonard, concluding a longer but a simpler narrative than is here told—"indeed, there is some chance that I may obtain at once a sum that will leave me free for the rest of my life to select my own subjects and write without care for remuneration. This is what I call the true (and, perhaps, alas! the rare) independence of him who devotes himself to letters. Norreys, having seen my boyish plan for the improvement of certain machinery in the steam-engine, insisted on my giving much time to mechanics. The study that once pleased me so greatly, now seemed dull; but I went into it with good heart; and the result is, that I have improved so far on my original idea, that my scheme has met the approbation of one of our most scientific engineers; and I am assured that the patent for it will be purchased of me upon terms which I am ashamed to name to you, so disproportioned do they seem to the value of so simple a discovery. Meanwhile, I am already rich enough to have realised the two dreams of my heart—to make a home in the cottage where I had last seen you and Helen—I mean Miss Digby; and to invite to that home her who had sheltered my infancy."

"Your mother, where is she? Let me see her."

Leonard ran out to call the widow, but, to his surprise and vexation, learned that she had quitted the house before L'Estrange arrived.

He came back perplexed how to explain what seemed ungracious and ungrateful, and spoke with hesitating lip and flushed cheek of the widow's natural timidity and sense of her own homely station. "And so over-powered is she," added Leonard, "by the recollection of all that we owe to you, that she never hears your name without agitation or tears, and trembled like a leaf at the thought of seeing you."

"Ha!" said Harley, with visible emotion. "Is it so?" And he bent down, shading his face with his hand. "And," he renewed, after a pause, but not looking up—"and you ascribe this fear of seeing me, this agitation at my name, solely to an exaggerated sense of—of the circumstances attending my acquaintance with yourself?"

"And, perhaps, to a sort of shame that the mother of one you have made her proud of is but a peasant."

"That is all," said Harley, earnestly, now looking up and fixing eyes in which stood tears, upon Leonard's ingenuous brow.

"Oh, my dear lord, what else can it be? Do not judge her harshly."

L'Estrange rose abruptly, pressed Leonard's hand, muttered something not audible, and then drawing his young friend's arm in his, led him into the garden, and turned the conversation back to its former topics.

Leonard's heart yearned to ask after Helen, and yet something withheld him from doing so, till, seeing Harley did not volunteer to speak of her, he could not resist his impulse. "And Helen—Miss Digby—is she much changed?"

"Changed, no—yes; very much."

"Very much!" Leonard sighed.

"I shall see her again?"

"Certainly," said Harley, in a tone of surprise. "How can you doubt it? And I reserve to you the pleasure of saying that you are renowned. You blush; well, I will say that for you. But you shall give her your books."

"She has not yet read them, then?—not the last? The first was not worthy of her attention," said Leonard, disappointed.

"She has only just arrived in England; and, though your books reached me in Germany, she was not then with me. When I have settled some business that will take me from town, I shall present you to her and my mother." There was a certain embarrassment in Harley's voice as he spoke; and, turning round abruptly, he exclaimed, "But you have shown poetry even here. I could not have conceived that so much beauty could be drawn from what appeared to me the most commonplace of all suburban gardens. Why, surely where that charming fountain now plays stood the rude bench in which I read your verses."

"It is true; I wished to unite all together my happiest associations. I think I told you, my lord, in one of[184] my letters, that I had owed a very happy, yet very struggling time in my boyhood to the singular kindness and generous instructions of a foreigner whom I served. This fountain is copied from one that I made in his garden, and by the margin of which many a summer day I have sat and dreamt of fame and knowledge."

"True, you told me of that; and your foreigner will be pleased to hear of your success, and no less so of your graceful recollections. By the way, you did not mention his name."


"Riccabocca! My own dear and noble friend!—is it possible? One of my reasons for returning to England is connected with him. You shall go down with me and see him. I meant to start this evening."

"My dear lord," said Leonard, "I think that you may spare yourself so long a journey. I have reason to suspect that Signor Riccabocca is my nearest neighbour. Two days ago I was in the garden, when suddenly lifting my eyes to yon hillock I perceived the form of a man seated amongst the bushwood; and, though I could not see his features, there was something in the very outline of his figure and his peculiar position, that irresistibly reminded me of Riccabocca. I hastened out of the garden and ascended the hill, but he was gone. My suspicions were so strong that I caused inquiry to be made at the different shops scattered about, and learned that a family consisting of a gentleman, his wife, and daughter, had lately come to live in a house that you must have passed in your way hither, standing a little back from the road, surrounded by high walls; and though they were said to be English, yet from the description given to me of the gentleman's person by one who had noticed it, by the fact of a foreign servant in their employ, and by the very name 'Richmouth,' assigned to the new comers, I can scarcely doubt that it is the family you seek."

"And you have not called to ascertain?"

"Pardon me, but the family so evidently shunning observation, (no one but the master himself ever seen without the walls), the adoption of another name too—lead me to infer that Signor Riccabocca has some strong motive for concealment; and now, with my improved knowledge of life, I cannot, recalling all the past, but suppose that Riccabocca was not what he appeared. Hence, I have hesitated on formally obtruding myself upon his secrets, whatever they be, and have rather watched for some chance occasion to meet him in his walks."

"You did right, my dear Leonard; but my reasons for seeing my old friend forbid all scruples of delicacy, and I will go at once to his house."

"You will tell me, my lord, if I am right."

"I hope to be allowed to do so. Pray, stay at home till I return. And now, ere I go, one question more: You indulge conjectures as to Riccabocca, because he has changed his name—why have you dropped your own?"

"I wished to have no name," said Leonard, colouring deeply, "but that which I could make myself."

"Proud poet, this I can comprehend. But from what reason did you assume the strange and fantastic name of Oran?"

The flush on Leonard's face became deeper. "My lord," said he, in a low voice, "it is a childish fancy of mine; it is an anagram."


"At a time when my cravings after knowledge were likely much to mislead, and perhaps undo me, I chanced on some poems that suddenly affected my whole mind, and led me up into purer air; and I was told that these poems were written in youth, by one who had beauty and genius—one who was in her grave—a relation of my own, and her familiar name was Nora—"

"Ah!" again ejaculated Lord L'Estrange, and his arm pressed heavily upon Leonard's.

"So, somehow or other," continued the young author, falteringly, "I wished that if ever I won to a poet's fame, it might be to my own heart, at least, associated with this name of Nora—with her whom death had robbed of the fame that she might otherwise have won—with her who—"

He paused, greatly agitated.


Harley was no less so. But as if by a sudden impulse, the soldier bent down his manly head and kissed the poet's brow; then he hastened to the gate, flung himself on his horse, and rode away.


Lord L'Estrange did not proceed at once to Riccabocca's house. He was under the influence of a remembrance too deep and too strong to yield easily to the lukewarm claim of friendship. He rode fast and far; and impossible it would be to define the feelings that passed through a mind so acutely sensitive, and so rootedly tenacious of all affections. When he once more, recalling his duty to the Italian, retraced his road to Norwood, the slow pace of his horse was significant of his own exhausted spirits; a deep dejection had succeeded to feverish excitement. "Vain task," he murmured, "to wean myself from the dead! Yet I am now betrothed to another; and she, with all her virtues, is not the one to—" He stopped short in generous self-rebuke. "Too late to think of that! Now, all that should remain to me is to insure the happiness of the life to which I have pledged my own. But—" He sighed as he so murmured. On reaching the vicinity of Riccabocca's house, he put up his horse at a little inn, and proceeded on foot across the heath-land towards the dull square building, which Leonard's description had sufficed to indicate as the exile's new home. It was long before any one answered his summons at the gate. Not till he had thrice rung did he hear a heavy step on the gravel walk within; then the wicket within the gate was partially drawn aside, a dark eye gleamed out, and a voice in imperfect English asked who was there.

"Lord L'Estrange; and if I am right as to the person I seek, that name will at once admit me."

The door flew open as did that of the mystic cavern at the sound of 'Open, Sesame;' and Giacomo, almost weeping with joyous emotion, exclaimed in Italian, "The good Lord! Holy San Giacomo! thou hast heard me at last! We are safe now." And dropping the blunderbuss with which he had taken the precaution to arm himself, he lifted Harley's hand to his lips, in the affectionate greeting familiar to his countrymen.

"And the Padrone?" asked Harley, as he entered the jealous precincts.

"Oh, he is just gone out; but he will not be long. You will wait for him?"

"Certainly. What lady is that I see at the far end of the garden?"

"Bless her, it is our Signorina. I will run and tell her that you are come."

"That I am come; but she cannot know me even by name."

"Ah, Excellency, can you think so? Many and many a time has she talked to me of you, and I have heard her pray to the holy Madonna to bless you, and in a voice so sweet—"

"Stay, I will present myself to her. Go into the house, and we will wait without for the Padrone. Nay, I need the air, my friend." Harley, as he said this, broke from Giacomo, and approached Violante.

The poor child, in her solitary walk in the obscurer parts of the dull garden, had escaped the eye of Giacomo when he had gone forth to answer the bell; and she, unconscious of the fears of which she was the object, had felt something of youthful curiosity at the summons at the gate, and the sight of a stranger in close and friendly conference with the unsocial Giacomo.

As Harley now neared her with that singular grace of movement which belonged to him, a thrill shot through her heart—she knew not why. She did not recognise his likeness to the sketch taken by her father, from his recollections of Harley's early youth. She did not guess who he was; and yet she felt herself colour, and, naturally fearless though she was, turned away with a vague alarm.

"Pardon my want of ceremony, Signorina," said Harley, in Italian; "but I am so old a friend of your father's, that I cannot feel as a stranger to yourself."

Then Violante lifted to him her dark eyes, so intelligent and so innocent—eyes full of surprise, but not[186] displeased surprise. And Harley himself stood amazed, and almost abashed, by the rich and marvellous beauty that beamed upon him. "My father's friend," she said, hesitatingly, "and I never to have seen you!"

"Ah, Signorina," said Harley, (and something of its native humour, half arch, half sad, played round his lip,) "you are mistaken there; you have seen me before, and you received me much more kindly then—"

"Signor!" said Violante, more and more surprised, and with a yet richer colour on her cheeks.

Harley, who had now recovered from the first effect of her beauty, and who regarded her as men of his years and character are apt to regard ladies in their teens, as more child than woman, suffered himself to be amused by her perplexity; for it was in his nature, that the graver and more mournful he felt at heart, the more he sought to give play and whim to his spirits.

"Indeed, Signorina," said he demurely, "you insisted then on placing one of those fair hands in mine; the other (forgive me the fidelity of my recollections) was affectionately thrown around my neck."

"Signor!" again exclaimed Violante; but this time there was anger in her voice as well as surprise, and nothing could be more charming than her look of pride and resentment.

Harley smiled again, but with so much kindly sweetness, that the anger vanished at once, or rather Violante felt angry with herself that she was no longer angry with him. But she had looked so beautiful in her anger, that Harley wished, perhaps, to see her angry again. So, composing his lips from their propitiatory smile he resumed, gravely—

"Your flatterers will tell you, Signorina, that you are much improved since then, but I liked you better as you were; not but what I hope to return some day what you then so generously pressed upon me."

"Pressed upon you!—I? Signor, you are under some strange mistake."

"Alas! no; but the female heart is so capricious and fickle! You pressed it upon me, I assure you. I own that I was not loath to accept it."

"Pressed it! Pressed what?"

"Your kiss, my child," said Harley; and then added, with a serious tenderness, "And I again say that I hope to return it some day—when I see you, by the side of father and of husband, in your native land—the fairest bride on whom the skies of Italy ever smiled! And now, pardon a hermit and a soldier for his rude jests, and give your hand, in token of that pardon, to—Harley L'Estrange."

Violante, who at the first words of this address had recoiled, with a vague belief that the stranger was out of his mind, sprang forward as it closed, and, in all the vivid enthusiasm of her nature, pressed the hand held out to her, with both her own. "Harley L'Estrange—the preserver of my father's life!" she cried; and her eyes were fixed on his with such evident gratitude and reverence, that Harley felt at once confused and delighted. She did not think at that instant of the hero of her dreams—she thought but of him who had saved her father. But, as his eyes sank before her own, and his head, uncovered, bowed over the hand he held, she recognised the likeness to the features on which she had so often gazed. The first bloom of youth was gone, but enough of youth still remained to soften the lapse of years, and to leave to manhood the attractions which charm the eye. Instinctively she withdrew her hands from his clasp, and, in her turn, looked down.

In this pause of embarrassment to both, Riccabocca let himself into the garden by his own latch-key, and, startled to see a man by the side of Violante, sprang forward with an abrupt and angry cry. Harley heard, and turned.

As if restored to courage and self-possession by the sense of her father's presence, Violante again took the hand of the visitor. "Father," she said simply, "it is he—he is come at last." And then, retiring a few steps, she contemplated them both; and her face was radiant with happiness—as if something, long silently missed and looked for, was as silently found, and life had no more a want, nor the heart a void.



To be very sure of what he is about to say, and to say it in the fewest possible words, are golden rules which every young author should inscribe, in letters of the same metal, upon the most prominent panel of his study. Had the Hon. Henry Coke done this when he stepped out of his stirrup, on his return from his Ride to California, he would have spared himself the painful throes which appear to have attended the commencement of his literary labour—would have spared his readers, too, the triviality and platitudes which deface some of the earlier pages of his otherwise spirited narrative of a most adventurous expedition. We reckon it amongst the remarkable and hopeful signs of the times, that young men of family and fortune voluntarily abandon the luxurious ease of home for such breakneck and laborious expeditions as that whose record is before us. Whatever the faults of the nobles of Great Britain, effeminacy is certainly not of the number. May the day be far distant when this is otherwise, and when we cease to possess, in a bold and manly aristocracy, one important guarantee of our national greatness.

It is, indeed, from no featherbed journey or carpet-knight's tour that Mr Coke has recently returned. Take the map, reader, and trace his route. From England to Jamaica, Cuba, Charleston, New York and St Louis, the great and rising capital of the Western States. We omit the minor intermediate places at which he touched or paused. Thus far all was plain sailing and easy civilised travel. The rough work began when St Louis was left behind. Across the wide wastes of Missouri territory, through the inhospitable passes of the Rocky Mountains, the traveller passed on to Oregon city and Fort Vancouver, thence took ship to the Sandwich Islands, returned to San Francisco, visited the gold diggings, steamed to Acapulco, rode across Mexico, and came home to England after an absence of a year and a half, during which he had been half round the world and back again.

Mr Coke started from St Louis with two companions: one an old college friend, whom he designates as Fred; the other "a British parson, whose strength and dimensions most justly entitled him to be called a pillar of the church." What the parson did in the prairies of the Far West does not clearly appear. He certainly did not go as a missionary, so far as we can ascertain from his friend's book, and indeed his habits and tendencies were evidently sporting and jovial rather than clerical, although we do catch him reading Sunday prayers to Mr Coke, when the latter had the chills, and lay wrapped up in wet blankets on the banks of Green River, with a boxful of Brandreth's pills in his stomach. We regret to believe that instances have been known of parsons employing their time far worse than in an adventurous ramble across the American continent. Mr Coke, nevertheless, thinks proper to veil his chaplain's identity under the heroic cognomen of Julius Cæsar, against which distinguished Roman, could he be recalled to life, we would unhesitatingly back the reverend gentleman to box a round, wrestle a fall, or handle a rifle, for any number of ponies the ancient's backers might be disposed to post. A stalwart priest and a powerful was Parson Julius, and is still, we trust, if nothing has happened to him since Mr Coke left him at the court of his majesty Tamehameha III., at Honolulu, on the eve of setting sail for the island of Owyhee. No better companion could be desired on a rough and perilous expedition; and although his careless friend manages to let his true name slip out before ending his volume, we will not allow that the slip affords grounds for regret, or that there is anything in his journey of which, as a clergyman, he need be ashamed.


Considerably over-provided with attendants, horses, mules, and, above all, with baggage, the three friends left St Louis. Their "following" comprised "four young Frenchmen of St Louis; Fils, a Canadian voyageur; a little four-foot-nothing Yankee, and Fred's valet-de-champs, familiarly called Jimmy." The journey was commenced on the 28th May 1850, per steamer, up the Missouri. On the morning of the 29th a disagreeable discovery was made. Fils, the guide, had disappeared. The scamp had levanted in the night; how, none could tell. Drowning was suggested; but as he had taken his baggage, and had forgotten to leave behind him the rifle and three months' advance of pay which he had received from his employers, the hypothesis was contemptuously scouted. Consoling themselves with the reflection that his desertion would have been far more prejudicial at a later period of their journey, the travellers continued their progress up the Missouri (for whose scenery Mr Coke can find no better comparison than the Cockney one of "Rosherville or Cremorne") to St Joseph, which the Yankees familiarise into St Joe. Here they were to exchange the deck for the saddle; and so impatient were they for the substitution that they actually felt "annoyed at being obliged to sleep another night on board the steamer." They had yet to learn the value of a coarse hammock in a close cabin. At last they made a fair start:—

"3d June.—After much bother about a guide, and loss of linch-pins, fitting of harness, kicking and jibbing of mules, &c., we left the Missouri, and camped five miles from the town. We pitched our tents in a beautiful spot, on the slope of a hill, surrounded by a large wood. A muddy little stream ran at the bottom. To this (with sleeves turned up and braces off, trying, I suppose, to look as much like grooms or dragoons as we were able) we each led our horses: no doubt we succeeded, for we felt perfectly satisfied with everything and everybody. The novelty put us all in excellent humour. The potatoes in the camp-kettle had a decidedly bivouacking appearance; and though the grass was wet, who, I should like to know, would have condescended to prefer a camp-stool? As to the pistols, and tomahawks, and rifles, it was evident that they might be wanted at a moment's notice, that it would have been absolutely dangerous not to have them all in perfect readiness. Besides, there was a chance of finding game in the wood. If the chance had been a hundred times as diminutive, we were in duty bound to try it."

Playing at travelling, like playing at soldiers, is all very well when the campaign is brief. The raw recruit or amateur campaigner plumes himself on a night passed upon straw in a barn. Give him a week's bivouacking in damp ploughed fields, and he sings small and feels rheumatic, and prefers the domestic nightcap to the warrior's laurel. Thus with Messrs Coke and Company. They were in a monstrous hurry to begin gipsying. What would they not have given, a week or two later, for a truckle bed and a tiled roof? The varnish of the picture, the anticipated romance, was soon rubbed off by the rough fingers of hardship and reality. What a start they made of it! Mr Coke is tolerably reserved on this head; but through his reserve it is not difficult to discern that, unless they had taken hair powder and a grand piano, they could hardly have encumbered themselves with more superfluities than those with which their mules and waggons were overloaded. Many who read these lines will remember the admirable and humorous account given by our lamented friend Ruxton, of the westward-bound caravan which fell in with Killbuck and La Bonté at the big granite block in Sweet Water Valley. Few, who have ever read, will have forgotten that characteristic sketch;—the dapper shooting-jackets, the fire-new rifles, the well-fitted boots and natty cravats, the Woodstock gloves and elaborate powder-horns, the preserved soup, hotch-potch, pickles, porter, brandy, coffee, sugar, of the amateur backwoodsmen who found the starving trappers dining on a grilled snake in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and generously ministered to their necessities. With somewhat similar but still more extravagant provision did our jockey of Norfolk, Fred, and Julius Cæsar, go forth into the prairie. Less fortunate[189] than Ruxton's Scotchman, they failed to retain or enjoy what they had dearly paid for. Sadly altered was their trim, piteous their plight, long, long before they reached the Rocky Mountains. Disasters soon arrived, with disgust and discord in their train. At their first halting place, five miles from St Joseph, a pouring rain, pattering on their tent, forbade sleep; a horse and mule, disgusted by the dirty weather and foretaste of rough work, broke loose and galloped back to the town. These recovered, and the new guide, successor to the faithless Fils, having joined, they again went ahead. We may cull from Mr Coke's pages a few of the impediments and annoyances encountered at this early period of the journey:—

"Nothing could be more provoking than the behaviour of our teams; each animal seemed to vie with its yoke-mate in making itself disagreeable. They had no idea of attempting to pull together, and all exertions on our parts were discouraged by the most vehement kicks and plunges on theirs.... The men were as incapable of driving as the mules were unwilling to be driven, and before we had travelled three miles the heaviest of our waggons was stuck fast.... A doubt here arose as to which road we had better take, and I clearly perceived that our guide was deplorably ignorant of his calling, since in the very outset he was undecided as to which route we should pursue.... 7th June.—Started at seven. Roads worse than ever. Heavy waggon, as usual, sticks in a rut, and is nearly upset. Discharge cargo, and find it hard work to carry heavy boxes up the hill.... My black mare, Gipsy, has run away. Take Louis, the Canadian, and go after her. Find her tracks in a large wood, and hunt the whole day in every direction, but are at last obliged to give her up."

Incidents such as these, and others still more disagreeable, were of daily occurrence. Nothing could tame the wilfulness of the mules, or check the erratic propensities common to them and to the horses. The waggons, overladen, continually broke down. Indeed, so aggravating were most of the circumstances of the journey in this its early stage, and so few the compensating enjoyments, that we believe most persons in the place of Mr Coke and his friends would have turned back within the week, and desisted from an expedition which had been undertaken solely with a view to amusement and excitement. With extraordinary tenacity of purpose the three Englishmen persevered. Their followers proved terribly helpless, and they were indebted to an old Mormon, a Yorkshireman, whom they met upon the road, for the repairs of their frequently broken wheels. Here is the journal for the 12th June:—

"Blazard (the Mormon) repairs our wheels. We three go out hunting in different directions. See the tracks and skin of a deer, also fresh tracks of wolves. Put up a wild turkey—horse too frightened to allow me to fire at it. Killed a large snake marked like a rattlesnake, and shoot a grey squirrel and two wild ducks, right and left, with my rifle. When we came home we made a bargain with Blazard, letting him have the small waggon for fifteen dollars, on condition that he took 300 lb. weight for us as far as the mouth of the Platte. We talk of parting with four of our men, and packing the mules, when we get to Council Bluffs."

This project was soon put into execution. The district known as Council Bluffs lies on the Missouri, and takes its name from a meeting of Indian tribes held there some years ago. There the travellers camped, at about four miles from the river; and Mr Coke and Fred rode over to Trader's Point, crossed the Missouri, and called on Major Barrow, an Indian agent, who cashed them a bill, recommended them a half-breed servant, bought their remaining waggon and harness at an "alarming sacrifice;" bought of them also "forty pounds of powder, a hundred pounds of lead, quantities of odds and ends, and all the ginger beer"!!! They had previously sent back or sold several hundred pounds' weight of lead and provisions; so we get some idea of the scale on which the young gentlemen's stores had been laid in. By this time, Mr Coke says, "we begin to understand the mysteries of 'trading' a little better than formerly; but somehow or other a Yankee always takes us in, and that too in so successful a manner as[190] to leave the impression that we have taken him in." Besides buying their goods a dead bargain, the Major—a remarkably smart man, who doubtless thought that greenhorns capable of taking ginger beer to the Rocky Mountains were fair game—attempted to make money out of them in another way.

"The day cleared, and as we could not start till the evening, the Major proposed to get up a race. He knew of a horse (his own) that could beat any in our 'crowd.' He had seen him run a good many times, and 'just knowed how he could shine.' Fifty dollars was the stake, and 'let him what won take the money.'"

Fred volunteered to ride a fast little grey of Mr Coke's. Three-quarters of a mile were measured on the prairie. The Major brought out his animal, greased its hoofs, washed its face, brushed its hair, mounted the half-breed upon it barebacked, and took his station at the winning-post. At first the half-breed made the running. Major and friends were cock-a-hoop; but the Englishman was a bit of a jockey.

"They were now about three hundred yards from the post. Fred had never used the spur; he needed but to slack the reins—away dashed the little grey, gaining at every stride upon the old horse. It is our turn to cheer! The Major begins to think seriously of his fifty dollars, when, in an instant, the fate of the game is changed. The little grey stumbles; he has put his foot in a hole—he staggers, and with difficulty recovers himself. The big horse must win. Now for whip and spur! Neck and neck, in they come—and which has won the race? 'Well, sir!' said the Major, 'slick work wasn't it? what is your opinion?' I might have known by this deferential question what his opinion was; but, to tell the truth, I could not decide which horse was the winner, and so I said. He jumped at this favourable decision on my part, and 'calculated' forthwith that it was a dead heat. I learned afterwards that he had confessed we had won, and thought little of our 'smartness' for not finding it out. My little grey was thenceforth an object of general admiration; and the utilitarian minds of the Yankees could not understand why I was not travelling through the States with such a pony, and making my fortune by backing him against everything of its size."

Mr Coke is a good appreciator of the Yankees, and so lively and successful in his sketches of their national traits and peculiarities, that it is to be regretted he does not talk rather more about them. His stay at New York he passes over in a couple of pages.

"I am not ambitious," he says, "of circulating more American notes, nor do I care to follow in the footsteps of Mrs Trollope. Enough has been written to illustrate the singularities of second-rate American society. Good society is the same all the world over. General remarks I hold to be fair play. But to indulge in personalities is a poor return for hospitality; and those Americans who are most willing to be civil to foreigners, receive little enough encouragement to extend that civility, when, as is too often the case, those very foreigners afterwards attempt to amuse their friends on one side the Atlantic, at the expense of a breach of good faith to their friends on the other.... I have a great respect for almost everything American. I do not mean to say that I have any affection for a thorough-bred Yankee, in our acceptation of the term; far from it. I think him the most offensive of all bipeds in the known world."

We English are perhaps too apt to judge a whole nation upon a few unfavourable specimens; also to attach exaggerated importance to trifling peculiarities. This latter tendency is fostered, in the case of America, by those relentless bookmakers, who, to point a chapter and raise a laugh, are ready, as Mr Coke justly remarks, to sacrifice a friend and caricature facts. In our opinion, Englishmen and Americans will like each other better when they see each other more. The free and easy manners of our Transatlantic cousins may be rather shocking to English reserve, but they, on the other hand, may justly take exception to the stiffness and formality, which, although less conspicuous than formerly, and daily diminishing, are still prominent features in our national character. In time we may hope to meet half way. The increase of intercourse with Europe will polish American asperities; and, either we are mistaken in our observations, or the facilities of passage between England[191] and the Continent have already lessened that shyness, chilling reserve, and repellent noli me tangere manner, which have long made us ridiculous and unpopular in the eyes of our neighbours. American "gentlemen," in the emphatic sense of the word, are said to be very rare productions of the Union; yet Americans have qualities whose ripening and development may convert them, in no long time, into one of the most chivalrous and courteous of modern nations. Prominent amongst those qualities are the universal deference, consideration, and protection which they accord to women. "All Americans I have met," says Mr Coke, "were agreeable enough if humoured a little, and perfectly civil if civilly treated." Brutes and ruffians (like good society) are the same in all countries. At Sacramento, Mr Coke one day took up a newspaper to read an account of a Lynch execution which had taken place at four that morning.

"I was perusing the trial, when a ruffianly-looking individual interrupted me with, ''Say, stranger, let's have a look at that paper, will you?' 'When I have done with it,' said I, and continued reading. This answer would have satisfied most Christians endowed with any moderate degree of patience; but not so the ruffian. He bent himself over the back of my chair, put one hand on my shoulder, and with the other held the paper, so that he could read as well as I. 'Well, I guess you're readin' about Jim, aint you?' 'Who's Jim?' said I. 'Him as they hung this morning,' he answered, at the same time resuming his seat. 'Jim was a particlar friend of mine, and I helped to hang him.'"

The narrative that follows, and which is rather too lengthy to extract entire, is very graphic and striking—an excellent specimen of Life in California. Jim, it appeared, was a "Britisher," an ex-convict from the penal settlements, a terrible scamp and desperado. His offences were many, but murder was the crime he suffered for. Here is the horribly thrilling account of his execution, as given to Mr Coke by the "friend" who helped to Lynch him.

"It was just about daylight. They carried him to the horsemarket, set him on a table, and tied the rope round one of the lower branches of a big elm tree. All the time I kept by his side, and when he was getting on the table he asked me to lend him my revolver to shoot one of the jurymen, who had spoken violently against him. When I refused, he asked me to tie the knot so as it wouldn't slip. 'It ain't no account,' said I, 'to talk in that way, Jim, old fellow, you're bound to die; and if they didn't hang you I'd shoot you myself.' 'Well, then,' said he, 'give me hold of the rope, and I'll show you how little I care for death.' He seized the cord, pulled himself in an instant out of the reach of the crowd, and sat cross-legged on the bough. Half-a-dozen rifles were raised to bring him down, but reflecting that he could not escape, they forbore to fire. He tied a noose in the rope, put it round his neck, slipped it up till it was pretty tight, and then stood up and addressed the mob. He didn't say much, except that he hated them all. He cursed the man he shot; he then cursed the world; and last of all he cursed himself, and with a terrible oath he jumped into the air, and with a jerk that shook the tree swung backwards and forwards over the heads of the crowd."

We are cantering rather ahead of Mr Coke and his friends, whom we left at Trader's Point, with a long trail before them. Their councils were already divided. The members of the triumvirate could not agree as to how many of their attendants should be retained. Finally, most of them were paid off and sent back. This was a very painful and arduous part of the journey. On the second day after leaving Major Barrow's station, they reached Elk Horn ferry. It had been broken up by the Indians, and a raft had to be made, and, the baggage taken across piecemeal. "The animals were not so easy to get across. Some of us were obliged to swim the river (which was sixty or seventy yards wide) eight or nine times, taking one horse at a time, or driving two or three by flogging and shouting behind them." The musquitoes were in the ascendant; the rains heavy and frequent; the Sioux Indians, it was reported, had received from the Pawnees intimation of the movements of the Pale-face band.

"All the party rather out of sorts," writes Mr Coke on the 26th June. "Our two best men, Louis and Jim, are[192] very unwell. Nelson, a most willing and hard-working fellow, is unused to the sort of life, and wants to turn back. As to Jacob, his utter uselessness is a constant source of provocation to me; and the parson's indifference, and Fred's fidgetty disposition, make the chapter of our miseries complete. The mules are not much better off than we are; five of them are suffering from severe back-sores, and all of them object strongly to carrying the packs; they frequently cast themselves in the night, and get their legs badly out with the picket ropes. It seems after all doubtful how far we shall get. Some of us talk of going on alone."

Trials of temper are inseparable from expeditions of this kind, and here was a trio manifestly ill-assorted; one of its members rather fanciful and capricious, another too phlegmatic and easy-going, the third—Mr Coke, could not be expected to set forth his own failings, but we suspect him of being a little irritable and hot-tempered, although evidently a good fellow, with plenty of pluck and perseverance. As yet, however, there was no break-up. The party kept together, often in straggling order, but usually re-uniting at evening, to feed on rancid ham, mouldy biscuit, and such flesh or fowl as their rifles had procured them during the day. Nor were fish and reptiles despised when obtainable. Occasional attempts at angling were not very fortunate, the American fish being apparently unused to English flies; but sometimes a fine salmon or two were got by barter, from the Indians who had speared them. And a roast snake is by no mean a despicable thing. Both Mr Coke and the Parson—for whom we entertain an intense respect, as a man of few words but energetic action, a little tardy to move, perhaps, (a slight dash of Athelstane the Unready in his character) but most effective and vigorous when movement was decided upon—went a-snaking now and then. He of Norfolk seems to have been a fair shot at starting, and a first-rate one before he had half got over his journey, and he stalked the buffalo very successfully, shot snakes through the head, and contributed a large quota to the contents of the camp kettle. The chaplain also was considerable of a sportsman, and ready with his rifle. Fat cow, tender loin, and juicy hump, at times were plentiful in camp. Failing those delicate viands, all was made game of that offered itself to the wanderers' muzzles.

"12th July.—Shot two prairie dogs. Jim killed a hare and rattle-snake. They were all capital eating, not excepting the snake, which the parson cooked and thought as good as eel."

Following a band of buffaloes, Mr Coke was charged by a bull, and awaited his onset, but waited a little too long. "My horse never stirred; I had no time for anything but to take aim, and having fired between the neck and shoulder, I was, the next minute, sprawling on my back, with the mare rolling over four or five yards beyond me. Recovering from the shock, I could not help admiring the picturesque group we presented; I rubbing my bruised limbs, and the buffalo looking on, half stupified and astonished at the result of his charge." The contents of the rifle's second barrel roused the bull from his stupefaction, and he moved off. Up came the unfeeling parson and followed the wounded brute, perfectly heedless of his friend's mishaps. Quite a man of business was this parson. Mr Coke gives a description of his appearance in the prairies, on the occasion of his purchase of an Indian pony fourteen hands high. "He weighs fifteen stone, rides on a heavy saddle with a heavy pair of holster pistols, carries very heavy rifle and telescope, a heavy blanket and great-coat, a pouch full of ammunition, a girdle stuck with small arms and bowie-knives, and always has his pockets crammed with et ceteras."

Not altogether the right costume, for a stall in a cathedral, although highly appropriate upon the trail to California.

Incompatibility of tastes and temper at last produced a split in the caravan. Fred went on ahead, expecting to march thirty or thirty-five miles a-day. Mr Coke and the parson kept together, proposing to limit their daily progress to twenty-five miles. It was much oftener sixteen or eighteen, Sometimes only seven or ten. The[193] men hired for the journey had become so mutinous and discontented, and, upon the whole, were of so little use, that to two of them a share of the provisions were given, and they were allowed to go alone. Two others marched with Fred, the fifth and last went alone, but occasionally joined company with Mr Coke and the parson, who were otherwise without attendants, and who had eleven animals to drive and look after—"an awful number for two men," especially when they were unused to horse-driving and to the management of the abominably vicious, obstinate, perverse brutes of American mules, which were constantly kicking off their loads, biting their masters, and straying from camp. The first day's march after the separation was the most unpleasant they had yet had. The rain fell in chilling torrents; a little black mule, the vixen of the party, kicked Mr Coke to the ground; and a grey one, her rival in mischief, who bit like a dog, made a furious attack upon his calves. The distance accomplished was but six miles. There were worse times coming, however, even than these. The trouble occasioned by the mules and horses was soon diminished by the loss of three or four of them, strayed, stolen, or foundered. The country was barren and inhospitable, and destitute of game, and often grass and water were for long distances unobtainable.

"Our provisions are barely sufficient to last, with the greatest economy, to Fort Hall, even at the rate we are travelling at now. Should the horses give up, it will be impossible for us to carry enough food to reach that station on foot.... The only way to get out of the scrape was to lighten the burthen of the pack-mules, by throwing away every ounce of superfluous weight. Turning out the contents of our bags on the ground, we selected such things only as were absolutely necessary to existence. What with lead, bullets, powder, geological specimens, and old clothes, we diminished our load so as to make one pack out of two, and left the ground strewed with warnings for future emigrants."

Sand, sage bushes, and weeds uneatable by the horses, were now the chief productions of the country. Wood for fires was often lacking; raw ham is heating and unsatisfactory food; the sun was blazing hot, and its rays were fiercely reflected from the sand. Mr Coke lost his appetite, and suffered much from weakness. At last matters mended a little. They came to a succession of small streams; caught some trout, and obtained other fresh provisions; fell in with trappers, and with an express despatch from Oregon to the States, escorted by twelve soldiers. These had come by the same road the Englishmen were about to travel, and the Boss, or head man of the party, furnished information concerning grass, water, and halting places. From Fort Hall, he told them, they were still two hundred miles, and from Oregon nine hundred! A trifling distance in railroad-furrowed Europe, but oh! what a weary way in yonder arid wastes, with those fractious mules, and amidst incessant toils and hardships. "No one," says Mr Coke "can form any idea of the real length of one mile till he has travelled a thousand with pack-mules." By this time, for various reasons, the travellers had given up the idea of going straight to California, and had fixed upon Oregon as their destination.

"October 1st.—This month, please God, will see us through. The animals, I am sure, will not survive another. As for ourselves, we have but few provisions. The season, too, is getting late; and if we are out much longer, I fear we shall suffer greatly from cold. Already a blanket and a buffalo-robe are little enough covering for the nights. My buffalo-robe, which I spread over the blanket, is always frozen quite stiff.... Yesterday I met with a disaster, which distresses me exceedingly; I broke my pipe, and am able neither to repair nor to replace it. Julius has one, the fumes of which we are compelled to share. If this should go, (and it is already in four pieces, and bound up like a mummy,) I tremble to think of the consequences. In all our troubles the pipe is the one and only consolation. 4th.—Oh, how cold it was this morning, and how cold it was in the night! I could not sleep for the cold, and yet I dreaded the approach of daylight, and the tugging at the frozen ropes which it entailed.... Our poor beasts actually cringed when the saddle touched the great raws on their backs; the frost had made them so painful.... It seems as[194] if this sort of life were to last for ever. Day follows day, without the slightest change."

Things got worse and worse. One after the other, the animals perished. By-and-by Mr Coke found himself a-foot. They had nothing to eat but salt meat and salmon, and little enough of that. "Yesterday I tightened my belt to the last hole; we are becoming more and more attenuated; and the waist of my gigantic companion is almost as delicate as that of a woman." At last, on the 12th October, in rags, and with two mules alone remaining out of their once numerous team, but still of good courage and in reviving spirits, Mr Coke and Julius reached the Dalles, an American military post in Oregon, where they found Fred, who had arrived two days before them, and received a kind welcome and good treatment from the officers of the garrison.

After a few days' repose at the Soldier's House, as the post at the Dalles is called, the three friends, who had again joined company, boated down the Columbia. This was a rather amusing part of their expedition. The boat was manned by a Maltese sailor and a man who had been a soldier in the American army. The only passenger besides themselves was a big officer of the Yankee Mounted Rifles, a regular "heavy," and awful braggadocio, who boasted continually of himself, his corps, his army and its campaigns. What were the Peninsular campaigns to the Mexican war? Talk of Waterloo! Look at Chepultapec. Wellington could not shine in the same crowd with General Scott. All this vastly amused the Englishmen. What was less amusing was the utter ignorance of seamanship displayed by the soldier-skipper, who, as part-owner of the boat, assumed the command. They were nearly swamped by his clumsiness, and Mr Coke, who has served in the navy, was obliged to take the rudder. The rudder broke, the wind freshened, the river was rough, the boat drifted into the surf and narrowly escaped being dashed to splinters on the rocks. They drew her up high and dry on the beach, lit a fire and waited for the storm to blow over. Wrangling ensued. The Yankee, who had got drunk upon his passengers' whisky, swore that, soldier though he was, he knew as much about boat-sailing as any midshipman or post-captain in the British navy. The "heavy" backed him, and the military skipper swore he would be taught by none, and wound up with the stereotyped Yankee brag, that "his nation could whip all creation."

"We had been laughing so much at his boasting that he doubtless thought himself safe in accompanying the remark with an insolent look of defiance. But what was his surprise when the parson, usually a most pacific giant, suggested that if Fred would take the Maltese, I the amphibious captain, he himself would with great pleasure thrash the mounted rifle, and so teach the trio to be more civil and submissive for the future. Whatever the other two might have thought, the 'heavy' was by no means inclined to make a target of his fat ribs for the sledge-hammer blows of Julius's brawny arms; and with a few remarks upon the folly of quarrelling in general, and of fighting on the present occasion in particular, not forgetting to remind us of 'one original stock,' 'Saxon race,' &c., the good-natured 'plunger' effected an armistice, which was sealed and ratified with the remains of the whisky-bottle."

After his recent severe experience, it seemed unlikely that Mr Coke would soon regret life in the prairies, with its painful alternations of bitter cold and parching heat; its frequent privations, hunger, thirst, fatigue, restive mules, hard labour, and scanty rest. During a seven weeks' passage between Fort Vancouver and the Sandwich Islands, on board the Mary Dare, a wretched little coal-tub of a brig, he and his companions actually found themselves vaunting the superior comforts of their late land-journey. Confined by constant wet weather to a cabin twelve feet by eight, without a mattress to lie on, but with a super-abundance of fleas, rats, and cockroaches, they blessed the hour when they first caught sight of the palm-crowned shores of the Sandwich group. Mr Coke's account of his stay at the Hawaian court is lively enough, but of no particular interest; and the sort of thing has been much better done before by Herman Melville and others. After the adventurous[195] journey across the Rocky Mountains, this part of the book reads but tamely, and we are not sorry to get Mr Coke back to North America. He and Fred landed at San Francisco. A long letter which he wrote thence, after a month's stay in the country, is here reprinted, having originally been inserted in the Times newspaper by the friend to whom it was addressed. He adds some further particulars and characteristic anecdotes. His account of the diggings, both wet and dry, but especially of the latter, fully confirms the mass of evidence already adduced as to their incalculable richness.

"The quartz rock," he says, "which is supposed to be the only permanent source from which gold will eventually be derived, extends north and south for more than a degree and a half of latitude. At Mariposa, a society, possessing several 'claims,' have established, at a great expense, machinery for crushing the rock. They employ thirty men, whom they pay at the rate of 100 dollars each a month. This society is now making a clear gain of 1500 dollars a-day. This will show you what is to be expected when capital sets to work in the country."

Some of the sketches at table-d'hôtes and gambling-tables are extremely natural and spirited. Mr Coke and Fred, whilst at San Francisco, lived at El Dorado, the best hotel there; four meals a-day, dinner as good as at Astor's at New York, venison, grizzly bear, Sandhill crane and other delicacies; cost of board and lodging eight dollars a-day—not dear for California. At the dinner-table they made some queer acquaintances; amongst others a certain Major M., whose first mark of good-will, after his introduction to them by a judge, (judges and majors swarm at San Francisco,) was to offer to serve as their friend in any "difficulty" into which they might get. The judge suggested that the two English gentlemen might probably have no need of a "friend" in that sense of the word. The Major's reply will be our last extract.

"'Sir,' said the Major, 'they are men of honour; and as men of honour, you observe, there is no saying what scrapes they may get into. I remember—it can't be more than twenty years ago—a brother officer and I were opponents at a game of poker.[59] That officer and I were most intimately acquainted. Another bottle of champagne, you nigger, and fill those gentlemen's glasses. Very fine that, sir—I never tasted better wine,' said the Major, as he turned his mustachios up, and poured the gooseberry down. 'Where was I, Judge? Ah! precisely,—most intimate acquaintance, you observe. I had the highest opinion of that officer's honour—the highest possible opinion,' with an oath. 'Well, sir, the luck was against me—I never won a point! My partner couldn't stand it. 'Gad, sir, he did swear. But my friend—another slice of crane, nigger, and rather rare; come, gentlemen, help yourselves and pass the bottle—that's what I call a high old wine, you observe. Where was I, Judge? Ah! just so—Well, my friend, you observe, did not say a word; but took it all as coolly as could be. We kept on losing; they kept on winning; when, as quick as greased lightning, what do you think my partner did, sir? May I be stuck, forked end up, in a 'coon hole, if he didn't whip out his knife and chop off three of my friend's fingers. My friend, you observe, halloo'd loud enough. "You may halloo," says my partner, "but (an oath) if you'd had five trumps, sir, (an oath,) you'd have lost your hand," (an oath.) My intimate friend, you observe, had been letting his partner know how many trumps he had by putting out a finger for each one; and, having the misfortune, you observe, to hold three when my partner found him out, why, sir, you observe, he lost three of his fingers.'"

Between his roguish friend and his ruffianly partner, the Major felt himself in a dilemma how to act.

"'I think,' said the Judge, 'I have heard the story before; but, excuse me, I do not see exactly what relation it bears to these gentlemen and your offer to serve them.' 'That,' said the major, 'if you will give me time, is exactly what I am coming to.—Nigger, bring me a dozen cigars.—The sequel is soon told. Considering my duty as an officer, a friend, and a gentleman, I cut my friend, and shot my partner for insulting him; and if, you observe, these gentlemen shall honour me with their friendship, I will be most happy to do the same by them.'"


Whilst deprecating the good offices of this Yankee O'Trigger in the shooting or cutting line, Mr Coke and his companion availed of him as a guide to an adjacent faro table, where the gallant Major lost eight hundred dollars with infinite coolness, drank a cocktail, buttoned his coat, and walked away.

As matter of mere amusement, Mr Coke's last chapter is his best. It is crammed with diverting stories of "smart" Yankees and other originals whom he encountered in California. The whole book, although in parts a little drawn out, does him credit, and will doubtless be extensively read and well liked. For various classes it has features of attractive interest. The emigrant, the gold-seeker, the sportsman, the mining speculator, the lover of adventure for mere adventure's sake, will all derive pleasure from its pages, and occasionally glean from them a hint worth remembering.




When the curtain drew up, the stage was occupied by the two heroes of the establishment, who said not a word, but rushed at each other with prodigious swords, and hacked and hewed with the most amazing vigour. The fight had a running accompaniment from the partisans of the two belligerents. "Go it, Fitz-Neddie!" (this was familiar for Fitz-Edward) was answered with outcries of "At him, Martingale!" And, inspired by these demonstrations, the battle was prolonged till the combatants were fairly out of breath. While they were resting on their swords, and grinning horribly at each other, Miss de la Rose rushed upon the stage, with dishevelled locks and white satin shoes, and explained, in a very long soliloquy, the state of affairs. Baron Fitz-Edward had made various attempts to storm Baron Martingdale's castle, in search of his runaway ward—who, of course, was Miss de la Rose herself; and, on the present occasion, he had been surprised by the watchful Martingdale in the very act of applying a ladder to the donjon wall. But virtue such as Miss de la Rose's has surer guards than even the courage of Martingdale; for when that noble warrior is likely to be overcome, there uniformly appears the "sylvan demon, or the blood-red knight," whose strokes it is impossible to resist. When this exposition of the state of affairs had given breath enough to the still panting enemies to enter into conversation, Fitz-Edward sneered, and scorned, and threatened, and walked up the stage, and across it, and stamped with his feet, and clenched his hands, in a way that brought down thunders of applause, which, from another part of the house, were answered by rival peals, when Martingdale gave full career to the rage that was in his heart, and roared to an extent that shook the scene on which his baronial castle was painted, "as if a storm passed by." If it had not been of very strong canvass, it must have burst. While this dialogue was going on, it was painful to observe that some duplicity was at work, for several bearded fellows slipt across the stage in a mysterious manner, and were evidently posted between Adelgiza—Miss de la Rose—and the castle. The discovery of this stratagem was made too late, and Fitz-Edward grasped the arm of Adelgiza in triumph, and was about to lead her out for the purpose of being married to her on the spot by a convenient old priest, who accompanied all his expeditions with a special license, when suddenly a dead silence fell upon the stage, and, with noiseless steps, a tall knight, with visor closed, and a whole bush of red feathers growing luxuriantly out of his helmet, marched towards Fitz-Edward, touched his arm with his sword, and motioned majestically[197] for Adelgiza to retire in safety to her home. At this point of the story I was summoned to go behind the scenes, where Mr Montalban wished to have a few minutes' conversation.

"Difficulties have arisen, my dear sir," said the manager, "about your very excellent play. Mr Martingdale says he is willing to be quiet and subdued in presence of Fitz-Edward; but, to make up for it, he must have one or two 'bits' entirely to himself. He doesn't care whether it be as part of a scene with others or a soliloquy. He suggests a description of a shipwreck, though he thinks his powers of voice would qualify him more for a bull-fight. Perhaps you can put him asleep for a few minutes, and then he can give us his dream."

"It might be managed, no doubt," I said; "but how would it help the progress of the play?"

"O, he doesn't care for that. He is an ignorant ass; but if he gets sulky, he may spoil the run."

"Is there anything else?"

"You must omit that young girl who attends Edith and says nothing. Miss de la Rose complains that her beauty is so great, and her action so graceful, that nobody attends to anything else while she is on the stage."

"Why don't you put an ugly person in her place?"

"I have more sense," chuckled the manager. "These here ugly critturs may be as clever as they like, but the house is always pleased with the sight of a pretty girl: and there she is. Here!" he added, beckoning condescendingly to a young lady, who had been looking at us for some time, "come and speak to the author of our next new play."

She came up; and, in spite of the absurd apparel she was in—a dress composed of Greek and Turkish and Hindoo articles indiscriminately, she being a feasting lady in Baron Martingdale's castle—she struck me to be the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She did not seem above twenty years of age; tall, and exquisitely made; with an expression that led one to expect a higher position for her than a walking figure.

"I will tell you some other suggestions they make," said Mr Montalban. "In the mean time, I must go and get the daggers ready for the next scene."

"Do you think they are going to bring out your play?" inquired the young lady.

"Certainly. I should say it will be acted in a month."

"It will never be acted here, I assure you of that. Notice is already given of a play which our translator has just finished from the French; and if you have advanced any money, it is to buy dresses for that. We keep a translator at twenty-five shillings a-week, and as much gin as he requires, and I am told this next spectacle will be very fine indeed."

When I had recovered my breath after this astounding communication, I replied, "I am afraid you see everything in this theatre in an unfavourable light. Your own position is certainly not equal to your merits."

"And therefore I tell you that Hengist and Horsa is never meant to appear? It doesn't seem to follow; but, nevertheless, what I tell you is true. My situation here is exactly what I wish."

"Then your ambition is easily satisfied, for I am told you are never allowed to speak."

"I am Miss de la Rose's double," she replied, "and gain confidence and a knowledge of the stage."

"Her double?" I inquired.

"Yes. I learn every part that she learns; so that if she were taken unwell, or were run over by a cab, I should be able to take her place; and, once give me the chance, she should never get it again!"

"And for this remote hope you hang on here every night, and probably have a very small salary?"

"No salary at all—is not worth mentioning," she said. "It is not for money I devote myself to the stage, and I don't require any profession for my support. Will you let me read your play?"

"With all my heart," I answered. I have another copy at home."

"Give me your address," she said, "and I will send for it to-morrow. Say nothing in the mean time of what I have told you, but be prepared for disappointment; for now I am off to preside at the second table." A round of applause saluted her graceful walk[198] across the stage, which rose into a tempest of admiration when she acknowledged the compliment by a salaam of the deepest respect.

Miss de la Rose touched me on the shoulder. "She's the vainest fool, that Miss Claribel, that ever stept on boards. Why can't she walk quietly to her place without such coquetting with the pit?"

"Has she been an actress here long?"

"Never an actress at all, and never will be," replied the first tragedienne. "She has long watched for an opening; but we stop it up, sir, as if it were a rat-hole. So she may practise her Ophelia to the glass in the green-room. She shall never sing her ballads or spread out her hair before the lamps, I can tell her that. More applause!—what is it? It makes me quite nervous to hear all those disgusting noises. It is only Miss Claribel presenting a cup of wine to that brute Martingdale."

"She is so very beautiful," I said, and so majestic in her motion."

"Is she? You and I differ very much on that point. She certainly limps with the left leg; and—oh! there they're applauding again! It kills me, this nonsense! Why, she has only made her exit in search of me, for I am now going on to quarrel with the baron." So saying, she settled her dagger in her belt, and glided on to the stage.

Miss Claribel came to me again.

"Miss de la Rose is a severe critic—as most people are who are ignorant and vain," she began.

"I assure you I did not agree with her judgments; but one thing she told me that gives me great pleasure, and that is, that you are prepared to make a debût in Ophelia."

"And why should that give you pleasure?" she inquired. "It is a beautiful character, and I think I can enter into its simple purity and poetic charm."

"I have no doubt you can; and, in fact"—but here her bright eye was so fixed on me, that I coloured and hesitated.

"Oh," she said, "I see; you have the boy's fever on you yet, and think you could shake the spheres in Hamlet."

"I certainly have studied the character."

"And can you declaim?"

"I think so."

"Will you let me hear you?"

"Most proudly."

"Then I'll come for the play myself to-morrow, and we can rehearse a scene."

"My mother will be delighted to see you. I shall expect you at twelve o'clock." She nodded her consent to the appointment, and we parted.

"Are you quite sure, Mr Montalban," I said, "that Hengist and Horsa will be produced without delay?"

"Call me no gentleman if I deceive you," replied the manager, laying his hand on his waistcoat, a little above the left side pocket; "and the day that sees me forfeit my word of honour, will be the last of my management of this here theatre."

What could I say? I determined to wait for more certain information from Miss Claribel, and, in rather a desponding frame of mind, I slipt out of the theatre before the play was over, and wended my way home.

As I applied the latch-key, the door was opened by the lodger on the upper floor, whose performances on the violin we had often heard, but whom I had never encountered before. He was enveloped in whisker and moustache to an extent that nearly hid his features. He wore a braided coat, very wide in the tails; loose trousers, and glossy boots. He grinned when he saw me, and revealed a row of white teeth which looked like some mother-o'-pearl ornaments set in hair; and, lifting up the low-crowned, broad-brimmed hat which adorned his head, he said, "Ver' fine night for de valk—I hope you quite vell?" And with a very gracious bow he replaced his hat, tucked a long green baize parcel under his arm, and left the house. It is quite possible for people who live at the opposite ends of any great city not to meet, but London is the only place in the world where the inhabitants of the same house shall never come in each other's way. This foreigner had been our fellow-lodger for several months, and we had never thought of making his acquaintance. He continued[199] to be an abstraction as long as we merely listened to his fiddle, and heard his step on the floor; but now that our eyes had actually met, and we had exchanged words, he became a real existence, and I felt ashamed of our unsocial reserve.

Punctually at twelve Miss Claribel made her appearance, plainly dressed, modest in her demeanour, and low-toned in the voice. There was very little in her present style to recal the feasting lady of the night before. There was still great beauty in her face, and great elegance in her motion, but they had no resemblance to stage features or stage attitudes. My mother received her very kindly. "Your acquaintance with the interior workings of a theatre," she said, "will be of great use to my son, if you will be kind enough to give him the results of your experience."

"My experience is very small, except in so far as the actors in a theatre are concerned. With authors we have never had anything to do, except on this occasion."

"How?—not with authors?" I broke in. "Then how do you get possession of new plays?"

"Steal them," replied Miss Claribel quietly. "I told you we keep a translator—a remarkably clever man while he is sober; and we owe everything to the French and Germans."

"But when a new play is offered to the management?"

"The management laughs, and puts in a few advertisements in the papers about the encouragement to native talent; gets a little money, if it can, from the vanity of the aspirant, and ends with a fresh version from Scribe or Kotzebue."

"Charles, my dear," said my mother, "I wish we had known Miss Claribel some days ago."

"But still, Miss Claribel," I said, "there must be some exceptions at the Stepney Star, for Mr Montalban told me his principle was novelty and home manufacture. He did not profess the Shakspearian drama, but laid himself out for the poets of the present day."

"He has an original pantomime at Christmas-time every year, and no other poets are ever engaged in our service; but, perhaps, the merit of Hengist may open the eyes even of Mr Montalban. Will you let me judge of it for myself?"

I gave her the copy I had promised.

"There was another thing you talked of last night," I added. "You have not forgotten your promise about Ophelia?" In a moment she took off her bonnet, slung it across her arm in the manner of a basket, let loose her hair, which fell in wavy ringlets down to the middle of her back, assumed a wandering expression in the eyes, but still retained intellect enough in their look to give full effect to the pathos, and began, "There's rosemary—that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember; and there is pansies—that's for thoughts." And it was not many minutes before my mother was in tears. I was a great deal too manly to follow her example, but I felt a choaking at the throat which was very uncomfortable.

"Is it possible," I inquired, "that you have never had the opportunity of showing your delightful talents on the stage?"

"Very possible, indeed," she replied; "and, unless by some accident, I feel sure also I never shall. In fact, the rise of a junior performer entirely depends on the health or longevity of the senior. There have been limping old men tottering through Ranger and Charles Surface, exactly as they had done for forty years; and keeping in those parts for the express purpose of debarring younger men from them, whose talents, they think, would eclipse their reputation."

"But can't a manager give the part to any one he likes?"

"O, no. It is down in Miss de la Rose's engagement that she is to have all the principal characters."

"But when there are two principal characters in one play?" inquired my mother.

"Mrs Ferdinand Windleshaw has secured all the second characters. She is always the Emilia to Miss de la Rose's Desdemona."

"And you!" I cried—"is there no part left for you?"

"Both those ladies would leave the theatre at once if I were allowed to speak one line."

"Then, my dear Miss Claribel," said my mother, greatly won by the[200] simple openness of the visitor, "why do you remain on the stage, or rather not on the stage, but behind the scenes? You could surely find some other way of making your extraordinary talents of use."

"I draw a little in the intervals of study," she replied, "and compose a little music. I make quite enough for my own support; and, in short, there are reasons why I continue true to the stage."

"I have known you too short a time," replied my mother, "to ask you for your confidence; but I assure you I take a great interest in your success, and I hope you will always consider me a friend."

Miss Claribel took my mother's hand. "I won't try to thank you," she said; "for such kindness overcomes me. If you knew the loneliness of a poor actress's life, the solitude of the desolate room she goes back to after the glare of the lamps, the friendlessness she experiences in the very midst of the clapping of innumerable hands, you would know how doubly valuable to her heart is the kind sympathy of a lady in your position. You give me a new tie to existence in letting me feel assured of your goodwill, and I will come and see you whenever I feel my griefs too much for me to sustain alone."

Things had now got a great deal too sentimental for me to say a word about Hamlet. I believe both the ladies had utterly forgotten the existence of the Danish prince, and, for a while, the presence of his representative. There was a feeling of disappointment in my heart as I shook hands with Miss Claribel at the door. I did not acknowledge the reason of it even to myself; but I have no doubt now it arose from her neglect of my dramatic powers. Neglect is the most difficult to bear of all the ills that theatric flesh is heir to. My mother was delighted with her visitor. She felt sure there was a mystery about her; and she was determined to unravel it. In the mean time I determined to wait patiently for a week, as requested by Mr Montalban, and then go to the rehearsal of Hengist and Horsa.


That same evening the landlady brought me a polite message from Mr Catsbach, the occupant of the upper floor, and an invitation to visit him at eight o'clock. I was received with many apologies for the liberty he had taken—with many apologies also for not having taken it before—for he had long had a violent inclination to make my acquaintance—the more especially as he perceived, from my excellent touch on the flute, that I was as great a musical enthusiast as himself. I returned his compliment by declaring my gratification at catching the sounds of his violin; and ventured to hope that, now that we were acquainted, we might practise sometimes together.

"Dat vill most pleasant be," said Mr Catsbach; "and meantimes ve vill have die branty and wader." In a short time the table was replenished with bottles and glasses, the frost of non-acquaintance rapidly wore off, and I examined my companion more minutely than I had hitherto done. Though very much disguised, and, I thought, disfigured by the mass of whisker, beard, and moustache, in which he enveloped his countenance, I saw that his features were regular and handsome; and if he had told me he was count or baron, I should have believed him on the strength of his gentlemanly manners and appearance. However, he did not mention anything of the kind. In fact, he mentioned very little about himself at all; and I had the pleasing reflection on the following morning that I had concealed very few incidents of my own life, without getting the slightest return of confidence from him. My forthcoming triumph at the Stepney Star and my ambition to appear in Hamlet were not forgotten. I even went so far as to tell him I had discovered an Ophelia who would play up to me in very first-rate style, and that I thought of very soon astonishing the world with my debût. There are few educated foreigners now who do not understand and enjoy Shakspeare[201] as much as the generality of Englishmen. Catsbach was quite at home in Hamlet, and, after the third tumbler of our brandy and water, gave a recitation of "To be or not to be," which was very effective to me, (who never drank so much before,) in spite of the foreign pronunciation. There were now two points of sympathy between us; and what music began, Shakspeare—not to mention the brandy—completed. We parted that night as if we had been friends for years, and he was to return my visit on the following night. All people are capable of being thawed, however thick the coat of ice may appear to be at first—only it takes longer to melt in some than in others. After my mother had retired—for our fellow lodger returned my visit without delay—when the second tumbler shone upon the table, and a small shining brass kettle on the hob was singing its accompaniment to our conversation, I began a few fishing questions as to his history and position, for I felt rather ashamed of my own openness on the previous evening.

"Have you been long in England?" I inquired.

"'Es—no; a few months—or 'ears. I not know."

"You speak the language extremely well, considering you have been here so short a time."

The foreigner twirled his moustaches, and took a pull at the tumbler.

"I must say John Bull, though a little rough in his manner, is very kind and generous to foreigners."

"Ver'; too mosh," said Catsbach.

"And this is truly and honourably called the home of the patriot and the exile," I said.

"The fact is," said Mr Catsbach, in a perfectly English pronunciation, and with some energy, "our friend Jack is the greatest fool alive."

I started back. "Why, how well you speak," I cried; "but who is Jack?"

"Why, John Bull," he said. "The shallowest, bellowingest old beast that ever carried a horn. You talk of those exiles and fellows who can find no living in their own country, and come over here to eat up the fat of the land."

"You amaze me. Aren't you one of the refugees yourself?"

"Never was out of England in my life, and never will be," replied Mr Catsbach. "But you must pardon me, my dear fellow, for not having explained myself to you before. I am no foreigner, and never was—only I wear these embellishments on cheek and chin for a particular purpose; and fortunately Jack is fool enough for anything, and never suspects any man if he speaks with a strange accent and wears a queer-cut coat."

I drew back a little, not feeling quite sure of the reason for which Mr Catsbach had assumed his disguise.

He saw my movement. "You're not such a fool as Jack, I perceive," he said; "and suppose that all may not be right, in spite of foreign garb and hairy countenance. Be easy on that score," he continued. "You are a fine, honourable young fellow, full of learning and genius—your mother is a perfect lady—the brandy also is excellent; and I will tell you a small portion of my story, just to show you that I am not altogether unworthy of the society of all three."

My mother was absent; the brandy, however, and I were present, and I bowed to his compliment.

"As to birth, parentage, and education," he began, "these are matters of no consequence; and I must say for Jack, if a man behaves himself pretty well, it doesn't much matter whether his name be Mowbray or Smith."

"I beg your pardon," I interposed. "I consider there is a very great difference indeed."

"Ah! but Jack at large doesn't think so; and so I have no hesitation in telling you my name is Tooks. When I came to years of discretion, which I managed to do pretty early, I felt thankful it was not Snooks, and looked out of the window of my private existence, as it were, to see what was going on on the High Street of life. From my earliest days I devoted myself to the study of Jack—that is short for 'John Bull,' and prose for 'my country.' I took a personal interest in all his concerns. He was no abstraction like Athens or Rome, but a real breathing personage, with great peculiarities of character, and the most extraordinary position[202] the world had ever seen. I studied the Army List, the Navy List, the Shipping Gazette, and felt that Jack was the most astonishing potentate on the face of the earth. I studied the Parliamentary debates—the reports of public meetings—the list of railway directors and committee men—and I was forced to confess that Jack was little better than an ass. At sixteen I was secretary to the agglomerated association for vindicating the rights of man. The rights of property, however, were left to take care of themselves, and our chairman was transported for theft. I lost a silver watch, the bequest of my grandmother, in an unaccountable manner—an upper coat, and a gold pencil-case; so, in case of being stript of everything, I resigned my secretaryship, and had to pay half-a-year's rent of the cellar in which our meetings were held. But Jack, after all, is a noble fellow; and there are thieves and impostors in all parties. At seventeen I was an eloquent speaker among the 'Constitutional Brothers.' We were all great admirers of Jack, and would have died for the glorious constitution, the envy of surrounding nations, and the glory of our own; but we differed from the rest of the world on the date at which this constitution had been in its purest and best condition. We fixed on the reign of Harold, and were most hostile to the Norman invaders. Whatever had been introduced since then we considered a badge of conquest and subjection. We called the Parliament the Wittenagemote, and hated the feudal system. Our innovations were all in a backward sense. We wished to undo the Battle of Hastings, and find out a lineal descendant of King Harold. It was reported that one did exist in the person of a shoemaker at Northampton. We went to see him, and found him one of the constables in the town, who threatened to take us into custody if we tried on any more of our nonsense. Low fellows have no ambition, though they were grandsons of Julius Cæsar. We talked very high of what we should do in this appalling absence of a legitimate possessor of the throne; and just when we had nearly resolved to proceed to use the ancient privilege of the English people and elect a king, an uncle of mine, a merchant in Swithin's Alley, interfered with my royal candidature, and I became a clerk in his counting-house, at a hundred a-year."

Here Mr Catsbach, or rather Mr Tooks, refreshed himself with the whole remainder of his tumbler; made himself another with the utmost expedition, and proceeded.

"I need a little support," he said, "for I am now coming to a period when I fell in love. I will be very brief in my account of the interesting event, for it sticks in my throat, and has made me miserable for many months. She was the prettiest girl that ever was seen—of course they are all that when we see them through the spectacles of admiration and vanity; for a girl's principal beauty consists in the willingness, more or less, with which she reciprocates your feelings. That's the reason why misogynists are all ugly fellows—it's the reason also why old men think the average amount of beauty fallen off. The prettiest creature in the world was Ellinor Bones, a niece of my aunt; so, in a sort of way, we were cousins. She was a ward of my uncle's, with three thousand pounds in the four per cents; and the moment I saw her, I said there's my destiny. There have been few books, and no play of my acquaintance, without a young fellow marrying his uncle's ward; so I made up my mind at once, and had no doubt of converting the beautiful Ellinor into Mrs Tooks. The course of true love never did run smooth, our immortal friend says. Doesn't it?—ours flowed like a mill-pond; so either ours was not true love, or William for once is wrong. A divided allegiance now held my whole being, the beauty of Ellinor and the political condition of Jack. There was no room for bills of lading, and I hated the very sight of a ledger, unless under its canonised form, when I betted on it at Doncaster. I made love—I thought politics—I neglected my three-legged stool. My love was reciprocated. Jack improved very much; and my uncle shook his head with more ominous wisdom than the Earl of Burleigh. Ellinor was the strangest character I ever knew—a sort of miniature in enamel of Jack[203] himself. She had all his honesty and openness—his self-reliance and fixed determination. She said she would marry me, and I defied the Spanish Inquisition to torture her into a recantation. But how was the ceremony to be achieved? We put up the banns in Mary-le-Bone church. The number of matrimonial candidates is infinite. The curate speaks as if his mouth were full of hot potatoes; and you are at perfect liberty to marry any of the lot, for there is no distinction made between 'any of these parties respectively.' We had made calculations as to the expense of housekeeping, and many plans for enlarging our income. I had always one resource. Jack is the most generous of patrons, and very fond of music. I relied on my fiddle, if the worst came to the worst. I determined, in the mean time, to make myself a name, if possible, in eloquence and statistics, that might be beneficial to me if I thought of standing for a borough. I made a speech at a preliminary meeting for Westminster, and was kicked out of the room as a dishonest swindler, for advocating justice to the public creditor; at the same time I was reported in the papers as having been powerful in favour of the spunge. So, on the following morning, I got notice from my uncle that he had no farther occasion for my services. I saw Ellinor on the subject. What was to be done? We resolved to marry, and trust to our talents and good fortune for the rest. We met next morning at Mary-le-Bone church, and were bound for ever, for better for worse. At our exit from the hymeneal altar, who was waiting for us at the door? My uncle and two bailiffs!—my aunt and the housekeeper! A hand was laid on my shoulder. 'Debt?—or criminal?' I inquired. 'You'll see that in plenty of time,' growled my uncle. 'But Jack,' I exclaimed, 'will never stand this; he has too great a regard for the liberty of the subject. I will set Habeas Corpus at work.' They tore me away. 'Where's my Ellinor?' I exclaimed, as I sat in the cab, and was rapidly driven off to Swithin's Alley; but echo made its usual unsatisfactory answer. A few days put all straight. My uncle found his ruse of no use; and I discovered myself one morning on the pavement, with no particular amount of money, and a wife, without the power of offering her a home. I hurried off to my uncle's. 'Where's my wife?' I distractedly asked the cook—for I had taken the precaution to enter by the kitchen. She was a Scotchwoman—very popular for sheep's-head broth. 'Gae wa' wi' ye, ye ne'er-do-weel, rinning awa' wi' bonny lasses for the sake o' their siller.'

"'But where is she?' I again exclaimed.

"'She's as bad's yersel, and has gane aff in the search o' ye. She eloupit within an hour o' her return; so ye had best keep out o' the way, for the maister swears ye'll never get a fardin o' her tocher.'

"'Caledonian impostor!' I cried, 'I'll find my Ellinor, if she is in rerum natura;' and I distractedly rushed off to commence my search. But she is not in rerum natura, or I have never been lucky enough to discover where rerum natura is. I've tried the Times till I'm tired. 'Ellinor! your distracted husband is perishing with despair. A note addressed MISERRIMUS, Old Slaughter's, will make him the happiest of men.'—'Has Ellinor forgotten her Augustus? Come to me at the door of the New Hummums at eight to-night. Fortune smiles, and a fig for uncles and aunts.'

"I can't tell you the annuity I settled for the first year on the Times. There I was every morning. No answer at Old Slaughter's—no appearance at the New Hummums. In the mean time, how was I to live? My dear fellow, I must pause a little, for there are secrets about John Bull, and the way he manages to grub on, which it requires some ingenuity to discover, and a greater amount of ingenuousness to confess." Mr Tooks paused, and occupied his leisure moments in the concoction of another tumbler. "How do you think all the people in this tremendous London live?" he continued. "Do you think they have all money lying incubating in the bank; or with snug little farms in Suffolk or Kent, doing nothing all day long but growing wheat and hops for their benefit? What if they had?[204] Why, every fellow would live on his income, and eat his home-grown bread. There would be nobody to do anything for anybody else, and the world would stand still. Excuse my political economy, but I see great advantages in poverty, in the abstract; but when it comes too close, it loses, like many other things, the charm that distance gives them. I, sir, had nothing. Ellinor had saved ninety-two pounds seven; but it was in her reticule when we were separated at the door of Mary-le-Bone church. I had not a farthing. Was I to lie down and die for that? Had I studied Jack so ill? No. I was one of his children, and I would show all the dogged unthrashability of my sire at Waterloo and elsewhere. In short, I let my hair grow. I grew strong, like Samson, under the process. I rough-paved my throat with German gutturals. I put on pantaloons that seemed cut according to the pattern of the cover of a celestial globe, with two little dependences in which to insert the legs. I got a coat, with its tails widening like a fan. I took my fiddle in my hand, and here I am—very comfortable as regards income and enjoyment, and only miserable for the loss of my beloved Ellinor. Come with me to-morrow night, and I will show you how the world moves."


But I couldn't give myself up to Mr Tooks's guidance, for my destiny was now drawing near at the Stepney Star, and I had no spirits for anything else till that was decided. Once or twice Miss Claribel came, but her confidences were all to my mother. For several hours at a time they would retire to my mother's room, and both would reappear with their eyes rather red, as if they had been crying. Was Miss Claribel growing despondent? Was there no chance of accident or illness befalling the sempiternal Emily de la Rose? If she was indeed in low spirits, she took remarkably good care that I should bear her company. She was like the hero or heroine, I forget which, in Moore's ballad, who held a feast of tears, and was social in the deepest of woes. "You expect the rehearsal on Thursday?" she said. "Not a chance of it. They are getting up a rhyming version of the Miller and his Men, and Martingdale and Fitz-Edward are on the point of borrowing the property pistols to fight a duel with, to decide which of them goes into the sack. But come on Thursday, and then you will see for yourself." On Thursday I went. With more politeness and friendliness than usual, Mr Montalban invited me up to his room. "Great news," he said; "I have great news for you. I think I may now say our fortunes are made."

"Does the play go well at rehearsal?" I inquired, with a glow of gratification not unmingled with triumph over the sinister auguries of Miss Claribel.

"Never has been put in rehearsal at all. The Lord Chamberlain has positively said no. It is not to be done."

"On what ground has the Lord Chamberlain put his veto?" I asked, compressing my lips to restrain my anger. "Does he find anything injurious to morals or religion in Hengist and Horsa?"

"Far from it," replied Montalban. "You are aware that the Lord Chamberlain is appointed for the express purpose of seeing that plays are worthy of public approbation, both for their literary merit and moral tendency. Well, his lordship—who is always the most distinguished man in the Peerage for his literary tastes and performances—has devoted several days to the study of your excellent play, and his final decision is, that it deserves a wider field than we can afford it here. He has ordered its representation to be delayed till arrangements can be made for its appearance at one of the great national theatres. What do you say to that, Mr Dipbowing? Think of the thousands at Drury Lane! Think of the Queen in the royal box, attended by all her court? I give you joy, upon my honour, and feel highly charmed that it is through me that your glory[205] is to be secured." Here Mr Montalban shook hands with me so heartily, that I couldn't resist the influence of his friendly manner, and returned his pressure with a warmth equal to his own.

"Will it be long before arrangements can be made for its appearance at Drury Lane?" I inquired, in the midst of our gratulations.

"Well, that is a sensible question," replied Montalban. "I must consult his Lordship on the point. I have certainly made an offer for it; but as the trustees are hard-hearted people, with no love for the modern drama, they insist on a deposit towards the rent; and as I am deficient to the amount of fifty pounds——"

"Is that the whole deficiency?" I said; "for if such a sum——"

"Forty-eight pound fifteen is the exact amount that would enable me to table their demand; but with such enormous expenses as I am at here, where could a man look for assistance, even to that paltry extent? The Lord Chamberlain, I have no doubt, would forego his fee——"

"What!" I inquired, "is there a fee on the production of a new play?"

"Isn't there?" answered Montalban. "The advantage of a censorship of the press or of the stage, which is the same thing, is not to be had for nothing. No, no: we pay his Lordship—per self or deputy—a very handsome acknowledgment for the trouble he takes in correcting, altering, and improving the tragedies that are submitted to his approval."

"Has his Lordship condescended to amend any of the lines in Hengist?" I asked with gratified interest.

"He has only blotted out all the Heavens, and put in a number of skies. He has also done away with all the fiends and devils; for our improver is a very devout man, and seems to have an awful veneration for Beelzebub. O! it's well worth the money, I assure you, to have the certificate that all's right from such high literary and religious authority."

"And fifty pounds would do it," I said half to myself.

"Forty-eight pound fifteen," said Mr Montalban, altogether to the same individual.

"It shall be done," I said, and shook his hand again. "Send in your agreement to the trustees; I will give you the sum you require."

"I don't for a moment scruple to take your offer," replied the manager, "for I feel—I know—I am only acting as your trustee in doing so. Your terms, Mr Dipbowing, are quadrupled. You shall have twenty pounds a-night from the very commencement of the run. And old Drury shall feel the breath of the Legitimate again. Is there anything else that strikes you?"

"Couldn't you find an opening for Miss Claribel?" I said. "I am confident she has great dramatic powers, and only requires an opportunity to display them in order to take the town by storm."

"Name what part you like, and she shall be in the bills, in letters two inches long, on our opening night." Again I shook hands, and the matter was satisfactorily settled.

"O," said Mr Montalban, calling me back, as if he had forgotten something, "if you don't happen to have the money in hand, I can tell you of a way which will be more easy for you, and quite as agreeable to me."

I was delighted at his thoughtful friendship; and did not scruple to confess that, till some money which we expected came from India, the outlay would put me to inconvenience.

"Better and better," he exclaimed. "I can put you in clover in the mean time, and you can do as you like when the payments for the play begin. I have a friend who is oppressed with ready money, and is always delighted to make a safe and honourable investment. Here is a bill at two months for a hundred and fifty pounds. Just write your name there, and this day week I will pay you a hundred, keeping the other fifty as a loan for our Drury Lane transaction; and in consequence of the play being now sure to go on at Old Drury, we will have a dress rehearsal on that day. On Thursday, sir, you will receive a hundred pounds, and see Hengist in all his glory."

I never signed a paper with so much pleasure in my life. I considered it was merely receiving prepayment of part of my theatrical gains;[206] and felt now perfectly assured that the manager had no doubt of my success, as he in a joking manner offered to consider the money repaid, if I would give him an order on the treasurer of Old Drury for my profits of the first ten nights.

"You look very happy," said Miss Claribel to me, as I passed the wing, "and yet you have not been on the stage to see the rehearsal of your play."

"It is not in rehearsal," I said; "and moreover, my dear Miss Claribel, it isn't going to be rehearsed—to-day."

"I told you so," replied Miss Claribel, tying her bonnet and putting on her shawl; "but as I have now got up my rôle of standing behind Miss de la Rose's chair, I will walk a part of the way home with you, and hear what you have said to Montalban."

"What I have said to Montalban is this," I said, when we had got out into the street, "that you were lost and buried here, and that I requested a more prominent position for a young lady of so much beauty and so much talent."

"And he said?"

"That you should very shortly make your appearance in whatever character I chose to name."

"Did you name any character?"

"I resolved to consult you first. Will you try Desdemona or Ophelia?"

"You lent him money," said Miss Claribel, in a sad voice.

"On the contrary," I said, "he has advanced some to me." We walked for five minutes in silence. I thought she was speechless with gratitude for my interference in her behalf; I thought also it might be with reverence of my genius, now that she saw it was appreciated by the bestowers of wealth and fame.

"Will you tell my dear and kind Mrs de Bohun, that I will come to her for an hour to-morrow at twelve o'clock? In the mean time, my good young friend, I wish you good day." And without a word of thanks or congratulation, she walked away.

As I saw her graceful figure and elegant motion, I again felt a gush of gratification fill my heart at having interfered so effectually in her favour. Beautiful and modest Miss Claribel! I thought; it is to me you will owe your triumph at Drury Lane, and not solitary shall you be in your success! No, there's a Hamlet shall respond to all the divine tendernesses of the sweet Ophelia—an Othello who will weep tears of blood over the death-couch of your Desdemona—a Romeo—But here I was nearly run over by a West End omnibus; and wondering whether Miss Claribel would be as delighted with my support as I was with hers, I got into the 'bus, which awoke me from my reverie, and returned home.

I met Catsbach in the passage. "My dear fellow," he said, "I insist on your coming with me to-night. I have something very interesting to show you."

"Where'er you like," I cried in a sort of rapture—"'whatever realms to see.' My arm a nobler victory ne'er gained, and I am at your command. 'Go on: I follow thee.'"

"Come up to me at seven; bring your flute. We shall have a cheerer or two before we start; and you can tell me all about the rehearsal of your play."

"Is all right about the rehearsal, Charles?" said my mother, as I entered her room radiant with delight.

"Yes, mother—all is going charmingly—but not at the Stepney Star. No! brighter skies are opening—more enduring glory and wealth, mother—sweetened by the delightful thought that it has been honourably won, and that it will all be spent in adding comforts—ay! luxuries to you! I am to be paid a hundred pounds next week; the play is to be brought out at Drury Lane; my uncle will hear of my triumph the moment he steps on English ground, and conscience will gnaw his prosaic heart for his neglect and harshness; the Queen will probably attend the first night; horses, and spectacles, and tableaux vivants shall be banished from the English stage; and when people in the street see you and me in the nice little Brougham I intend to keep for you, they'll say the good times of the drama are come back again; that's the author of Hengist and Horsa."

It is useless to describe our rapture. We got a map of London, and looked over it all in search of a nice new street to go and live in. My mother[207] rather leant to the classic retirements of Brompton, but I put a great splash of ink on Wilton Place. "Lord John Russell," I exclaimed, "began by writing a play, and I, too, will be a Belgravian."


We left the house at half-past eight. Catsbach carried a long green bag, and I my flute-case in my pocket. We got into an omnibus, and, after a half-hour's drive, were put down at the end of a wide street. We walked a few hundred yards, and went into a long dark passage. We then mounted some steps, and, on opening a small door, emerged on the upper floor of an orchestra, in an immense assembly-room, magnificently lighted with numerous chandeliers, and already occupied by two or three hundred people, very gaily dressed. A clapping of hands saluted the appearance of my companion, who bowed to his admirers, and took his place at a small desk in the middle of the orchestra. I took up my station at his side. About ten other musicians were seated at their desks, and we waited for the amusements to begin. The floor on which the company promenaded was about twenty feet wide, and was in the shape of the letter T. It was surrounded on all sides by a raised platform about eight feet in width and six feet in elevation; at the front of which were banisters for the protection of a line of spectators, who had already begun to assemble in considerable numbers. The floor was exactly like the dried-up bed of a canal, with a great gathering of observers on the banks. Six or eight elegantly-dressed gentlemen, with silver bows at their breasts, and white wands in their hands, were busy among the company, making introductions, arranging partners, and placing the couples in their proper places. Suddenly one of them stept into the middle of the floor, looked intently at Catsbach, who had now stood up with the violin on his shoulder, and clapping his hands three times, exclaimed, "Valse a deu tang!" and with a crash from the whole orchestra, the music began, and the ball was opened.

A pretty sight as ever I saw, though I have seen many assemblies of higher pretensions since then. There was as much decorum and as much politeness, as far as I could judge, as could be shown in a duke's palace. There was a great amount of beauty; several groups were very pleasant to look on; evidently parties made up for the purpose of the evening's enjoyment: tradesmen, thought I to myself, and their wives, with two or three daughters and a son—or perhaps a lover of Marianne—dancing only with the families of their neighbours, and enjoying the gay scene and exhilarating exercise at a very moderate expense, and no damage to morals or reputation. Others, no doubt, found their way in who were not so respectably guarded as by their fathers or lovers; but from my lofty field of contemplation I saw no evidence whatever that it was not a festival of the vestal virgins held in the temple of Diana. Dance succeeded to dance; the masters of the ceremonies were indefatigable in their attentions, and all went happy as a marriage bell. Catsbach resumed all his German incomprehensibility, scolded the inferior fiddlers with a plentiful infusion of donners and blitzens, and was in all respects a most hairy and distinguished conductor of the band. In one of the pauses of the music, he whispered to me to take out my flute and accompany the next dance. With trembling hand I did so; and there was the heir of the De Bohuns, the author of Hengist and Horsa, performing at a Casino! However, one comfort is, I performed extremely well. There were several rounds of applause as the new instrument made itself heard above the violins and bassoons, and I thought I perceived a greater liveliness in the movements of the dancers when they caught the clear notes of the flute. I could have played all night; and asked Catsbach how long the assembly would last.

"Do you see those three gentlemen," he said, "leaning over the[208] banisters, and enjoying so heartily the gay scene at their feet?"

"Yes—the stout old squire, with his two sons, probably?"

"They are very pleasant fellows—a constable and two other officers of the detective police. When the clock strikes a quarter to twelve, you will see the Essex freeholder, as you thought him, pull out his watch, and in exactly fifteen minutes the hall will be deserted, the lights out, and you and I sitting down to a jolly supper in the refreshment parlour behind the assembly-room."

"Do they expect any crime to be committed at these places?" I inquired.

"No, not a crime. Sometimes a row is threatened, but it is generally by snobs whose fathers are in the peerage, or still lower snobs, who think it shows gentle blood to behave like blackguards when they have paid a shilling at the door. There's a young lord," he continued, "with one of his parasites; I shouldn't be surprised if you saw your friend the squire make his debût on the floor."

"Country dance!—the haymakers!" exclaimed the senior master of the ceremonies, and Catsbach resumed his fiddlestick.

It was most merrily and beautifully danced; and as I did not contribute to the music, I was at full liberty to watch the whole scene. I followed the young noble and his obsequious attendant in all his motions. He was a fine-featured, tall-figured youth, with soft eyes shaded by long silken lashes, a classically-shaped head, and altogether a soft, almost feminine, expression, that was at first sight very captivating, till you saw that, though the face was eminently handsome, there was no intellect in its look, and the lips, the great revealers of character, were selfish and cold. When my eyes rested on the other, I felt a sudden thrill of some strong feeling, which I could not define, rush to my heart like an electric shock. In spite of the black neckcloth, the carefully buttoned-up coat, the coloured gloves, and the green spectacles that half hid his face, I knew I had seen him before. I couldn't tell where nor when, but I felt it was in enmity we had met. At last I saw a slavish smile put fresh slime on his thick blubber lips, and I knew the man. Before I had time to ask advice from Catsbach how I could revenge myself on my enemy, I lost them for a moment in the crowd. Suddenly I saw a hand raised, and, after a sharp sound, like a stroke with the flat hand on water, I saw the young nobleman procumbent on the floor, and a stream of blood issuing from his nose and mouth. My friend the Squire in an instant was on the spot; the sufferer raised from the ground; and the music ceased. I hurried round into the front.

"See if he's a gentleman, and get his card," said the noble, still supported in the Squire's arms.

"He a gentleman, my lord! Nothing of the sort; but let us get out of this; they're nothing but thieves and shop-boys. Do come, my lord; I wouldn't have this known on any consideration," whispered the sycophant, taking him by the arm.

"We must hear more of this," said the Squire. "Don't let that man go." And one of the attendant freeholders touched the gentleman's shoulder.

"You don't know who it is," he said to the officer. "You will repent of this insolence, I assure you. He is the Right Honourable the Earl Maudlin, eldest son of the Marquis of Missletoe. I must insist on your letting us go, and punishing that low person who dared to assault his lordship."

"Take down his name," said the Squire calmly; "and have the goodness to give me your own."

A shade of despair fell on the follower's countenance.

"I am a friend of his lordship," he said; "but I won't give my name. For heaven's sake! let us go."

"I say gub'nor," interposed his lordship, "this is a pretty mess we have got into. You'll look rather queer before the beek to-morrow. As to me, I'm used to it."

"Hush, my lord! Mention no names," replied the terrified friend. "I have really nothing to do with this," he continued, addressing the Squire; "and I insist on leaving the room."

"Not yet," replied the Squire with a smile. "We must teach you fine-feathered[209] birds from Grosvenor Square to keep to your own grounds. I am Sergeant Smiffins of the police, and you must both come with me on charge of an assault—give your names or not, as you like. Many anonymous gentlemen step up and down the mill, and enjoy teazing oakum in the house of correction for two months, for far less than this."

"All in the newspapers to-morrow, gub'nor," said Earl Maudlin, who evidently enjoyed the confusion and despair of his companion.

"Do any of you know this man," inquired Sergeant Smiffins, who seemed to enter into the fan of the scene himself.

"For any sake," whispered the prisoner, taking his captor aside; "don't push this any farther. I am his lordship's tutor. I dined with his lordship at the Clarendon. I accompanied his lordship here with no evil intention."

"But only because you can't get manliness into your heart to say no to a lord," replied the sergeant. "I've met with many fellows like you before, and think you far worse than any of the thieves and pickpockets my duty brings me acquainted with. Has anybody lost a handkerchief, or a watch?" he cried aloud. "This man must be detained and I will take him on suspicion if any of you have missed anything. I can't let him go without ascertaining his name."

"I can tell you his name," I said; and a circle was made round me. "He is the Reverend Mr Vatican Scowl, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and I have every reason to believe a Jesuit in disguise."

"All up, gub'nor!" chuckled Lord Maudlin. "The Times will have you at full length; and what will the bishop say—not to mention the pope?" Mr Scowl sank in despairing silence, and seemed little moved with the hisses of the assembly. "But where is the gentleman who planted that one-two?" inquired Lord Maudlin. His antagonist stept forward. "I am sorry," continued his lordship, "that the difference of our position can't allow me to settle this matter as I should like. But as I should infallibly have apologised to you after receiving your fire, I don't see why I shouldn't do so now after feeling your bunch of fives. I beg to tell you, I am very sorry for what has occurred, and feel that I behaved like an ass."

"Do you give his lordship in charge after this?" inquired the sergeant.

"Not I," said his antagonist; "he only tried to take my partner from me. I bear no malice, and am sorry I put so much force into the blow I gave. A China vase is soon cracked, and I regret very much I didn't hit him a gentler tap."

"In that case I have nothing more to say," answered the sergeant, letting his prisoner go; "and the ball had better proceed." I therefore hurried back to my place in the orchestra, but not before I had whispered in Mr Scowl's ear, in a voice borrowed from Fitz-Edward, with a tap on the breast borrowed from Edmund Kean,—

"Raro antecedentem scelestum
Deseruit pede Pœna claudo."

"Remember your examination of Puddlecombe-Regis school!" Mr Scowl, I am happy to say, appeared at full length in the newspapers, and lost the patronage of the Marquis of Missletoe. Catsbach applauded my conduct very much, and offered me fifteen shillings as my share of the orchestral profits, which I need not say I declined; and having refused all his solicitations to accompany him to his musical engagements, sometimes at public assemblages, and sometimes at dances and quadrilles in private houses, I braced myself for the decisive event, and on the morning of Thursday set off with solemn steps and slow, towards the Stepney Star. I determined not to enter the theatre till the play was fairly begun, and I anticipated the rapture with which an author hears his own words delivered by intelligent actors to a delighted audience. On arriving at the little passage which led through a house in the long row of buildings, shops, offices, store-rooms, and humble private dwellings that constitute a main street in the district, I was surprised to see none of the lower potentates of the stage lounging on the step, and looking on the passengers[210] in a heroic and presumptuous manner, as if to persuade them that they were Coriolanuses or Brutuses. There was not even the dirty-faced little errand boy, who on previous occasions used to spy me from the end of the row, and prepare his expectant hand for the half-crown as he opened the swinging door. People passed and repassed, on business thoughts intent, as if that entrance conducted to a warehouse, and were not the gates that opened into a newer and nobler world. O blind pursuers of mammon! I thought, are you aware that within thirty feet of where you are bustling and struggling about bills of lading, and the prices of chicoried coffee, there is a scene at this moment going on that would rivet your souls to higher and purer thoughts? Know you not that the heroic Hengist is developing his grandeur and generosity,—Horsa, the fiery courage that made the Saxons triumphant in this land,—and over all an atmosphere of love and poetry, breathed from the impassioned bosom of Editha the British maid, that would elevate and refine the soul of a ship-agent or bill-broker, if he once placed himself within their influence? How can you be so absurd, I continued, getting angry at the evident ignorance of the busy crowd that there was a rehearsal of a new play going on so near them? How can you be so disgustingly dull, you miserable pork butcher, as to deny yourself such gratification? Insane grocer—delirious coal-merchant—cowardly lawyer's clerk! But the loss is yours, I went on, tossing my head, after mentally addressing the people I met, affixing trades and occupation to them according to their respective looks—the loss is yours, not mine. Here I have touched the haven's mouth, and beyond it is romance, beauty, happiness, fame! By this time I had reached the door, and was rather surprised to see it shut,—a vast red expanse of wood, with the name of the theatre conspicuously painted on it in white letters. "Every individual about the building," I thought, "so intent on the proceedings on the stage, that they have closed the entrance, to enjoy them without interruption." I felt in my pocket for five shillings to reward the errand boy's good sense, instead of the usual half-crown, and knocked gently with my cane. There was no answer, and I increased the vigour of my application. "They must be terribly interested in Hengist," I thought, and waited with patience, till I concluded they must have finished the first act. I turned about with the intention of knocking again in a more authoritative manner, when a man with a long stick in his hand, and a tin case hung round his neck, stopt at the door. He unfolded an immense bill in green and blue letters, and was proceeding to paste it up over the very name of the Stepney Star.

"What are you doing there?" I said—"Mr Montalban will give you in charge of the police. You mustn't stick your disgusting rubbish here."

"P'raps you'll let me paste it over your tatae trap," said the man, going on brushing his paste over the door. "A very fine advertising post you would make; and folks would think you was one of 'em yourself."

"One of whom?" I inquired, getting wroth at the man's impertinence.

"Why, one of the chickens," he said. "It only needs your nose to be a little sharper to make you pass for a prize bantam." Before I had time to make any retort either with stick or tongue, the man completed his work, and on the enormous expanse of paper I read "Incubitorium! Chickens hatched here by artificial heat. Admittance twopence. Parties are requested to bring their own eggs."

"There!" he said, "ain't that a finer name than the Stepney Star. Incubitorium! It fills a bill well, and will be a far better concern than the last."

"Does Mr Montalban know of this?"

"He's bolted—him and all the kit."

"And are they not at rehearsal on the stage?"

"No; they're fitting up nests for the young poultry, and won't let you in at no price. You needn't kick at the door; you'll disturb the old hens,[211] and p'raps they wouldn't do their duty to-night."

So saying, the man passed on to ornament the neighbouring walls with the announcements of the Incubitorium. The passengers must have thought me mad, so continued and powerful were my kicks upon the unopening door. I paused for breath—tried to laugh myself out of the belief that the whole proceeding wasn't a ludicrous mistake; and just as I was going at it again with fresh vigour, a hand was laid on my arm.

"Are you going to crack the eggs before they're hatched?" said Miss Claribel. "They'll take you up for a housebreaker, if you're not quiet."

"For heaven's sake," I said, "tell me what is all this?"

"It is that you are swindled by Mr Montalban; and if you have only lost the money you advanced, you may hold yourself very fortunate."

"But he is to give me a hundred pounds," I said.

"You've accepted a bill?"

"I have."

"I thought so. Do you see that man with the fishy kind of eyes, the large nose beginning in the middle of his forehead, and the white hat perched on one side of his head?"

"Yes; I see him. A blackguard Jew-looking fellow he is."

"He has been taking note of you for some time, that he may know you when the bill is due. He is a bailiff, and, I believe, brother-in-law of Mr Montalban."

"But I have not had a farthing; how can they ask me to pay it?"

"O, that makes no difference. I hear a great deal of talk on these subjects, and I fear you will have to advance the full amount. When was it due?"

"In two months. The amount a hundred and fifty pounds."

"We must make the money," she said, "before that time. We must make our debût in Hamlet. Now I am free from the Stepney Star, I feel that I am certain of success. Have you any friend who could get us an engagement in some country theatre, for our first appearance? I want nothing more than an opportunity of showing what I can do."

"Ha!" I said; "yes. I have a friend—a German. His name is Catsbach. I know he can do what we require. Long before the two months are over we shall both be rolling in wealth; and who knows, after all, if this disappointment may not turn out the best piece of good fortune that could have befallen us?"

Full of brighter anticipations than ever, I went up stairs that evening to consult with Mr Tooks. He entered most warmly into the scheme; undertook to get us permission to give a taste of our quality at a theatre a few miles from town, to act as leader of the band; and, in short, was the very best man I could have applied to on the subject. In return, however, he insisted on my accompanying him to his musical engagements, where he felt sure my flute would be as popular as it had proved on the last occasion. He added, also, that he could not allow me to be so useful without being paid; and, in short, I saw the good fellow's design was to be useful to me, at the same time that he put it entirely on the awkward position it put him into if I declined all compensation. I told him he might arrange about that entirely as he pleased, and we shook hands half-a-dozen times in satisfaction of the new agreement.

"Consider, my dear fellow," he said, as he made me my fourth tumbler, "consider what respectability it brings to the profession that we have the heir of the De Bohuns first flute in the orchestra. I feel as the tailors must have felt when the King of Prussia and Alexander of Russia used to cut out the soldiers' jackets. It isn't the profession that makes the gentleman, it's the gentleman that makes the profession."



There must, after all, be some occult but irresistible charm in the leading idea of old Goethe's Faust. We say this, not on account of the numerous translations of that poem which have appeared in our language—though the names of Shelley, Gower, Anstey, Hayward, Blackie, Syme, and perhaps two dozen more, testify that it has been selected by a large section of German scholars, as a master-piece every way worthy of being converted into our native tongue—but from the numerous efforts which have been made to produce imitations of it. From Byron to Festus Bailey—a sad declension, we admit—poets and poetasters have thought it their privilege to make free with the Satanic character, and to introduce the author of evil, or at least one of his subordinate imps, in the capacity of a tempter. Leaving Byron altogether out of the question, we must say that most of the imitators of Goethe have represented their fiends as taking a great deal of unnecessary trouble. In perusing their grand dramatic efforts, the question ever and anon occurs to us, what temptation the tempter could have in besetting such pitiable milksops and nincompoops as the gentlemen who are selected for seduction? Astaroth may assault Saint Anthony, Apollyon wrestle with Bunyan, or Sathanas disturb Martin Luther at his meditations with perfect propriety—there is at least some measure of equality between the two contending parties. But why Lucifer, fallen angel though he be, should stoop so low as to attach himself personally to a hazy maunderer like Festus, when he might be doing an infinite deal of more effectual mischief elsewhere, entirely baffles our comprehension. We had given him credit for a keener sense of his own dignity and position. However, as Mr Bailey is no doubt an inspired poet, we must suppose that he knows best; though certainly, Lucifer, in his hands, is anything but a Morning Star.

It is rather remarkable that the majority of the poets who make free with Satan, or rather with Lucifer—for they affect the more dazzling and less murky name—restrict his apparition and familiar intercourse with their heroes to the Middle Ages. Their poems exhibit a sprinkling of alchemists, minnesingers, and crusaders, which abundantly mark out the period; and they seem to think that, by throwing back the epoch of the infernal visitation, they increase the elements of credulity, and establish a certain fitness of relation between Diabolus and his proposed victim. In this they commit a gross mistake. The fiend of the Middle Ages was not, as they represent him, a mere metaphysical atheist—a tiresome arguer on abstract principles, who could do little else than reproduce the most pernicious doctrines of a depraved scholastic philosophy for the recreation of his particular pupil. He was, on the contrary, a fellow of infinite fancy. Rely upon it, Saint Dunstan took him by the nose for something else than a mere foreshadowing of the opinions of Kant or Hegel. He did not visit Saint Anthony to pester him with perplexing questions. His allurements were of the flesh, fleshly; and, if monkish legends say true, they were oftentimes difficult to resist. He ensnared the avaricious through promises of gold, the sensual by pandering to their lusts, the ambitious by false pretences of worldly pre-eminence and honour. But everything was based on delusion. None of the Devil's gifts turned out worth the having; and Johann Faust himself in his conjuring-book, which still exists, and which we have seen, has borne sad testimony to the juggling of the infernal agents. As to the gifts of knowledge which the tempter could convey, these were limited to such feats of hocus-pocus as Hermann Boaz or the Wizard of the North could rival. To bring wine out of a wooden table—to change a truss of straw into a steed—or to produce the phantasm of a deer-hunt in a banqueting hall—were the masterpieces of demoniacal lore: and, paltry as they were, it must be confessed that, if any gentleman was willing to subscribe[213] a scroll with his blood, such acquirements were a more likely bribe than the privilege of conversing with an imp as stupid as any lecturer on modern German rationalism. Therefore, in selecting the Middle Ages for their time, our poetasters have greatly erred. Lucifer, as they portray him, might possibly have cut a figure in a mechanics' institute—he is sadly out of place in the part and period which they have assigned him. In our deliberate opinion, they had better have let the Devil alone.

We repeat it—they had better let Lucifer alone. It is dangerous meddling with edge-tools. Temptations enough beset even the best of us, without the realisation of the actual corporeality of the tempter. Most hideously alarmed, we doubt not, would Mr Bailey be, if his poetical imaginations became practical realities, and Lucifer were to enter his study some time about midnight, when every other light in the house was extinguished, in the garb of a travelling scholasticus! If not more loftily elevated than the second story, he would bolt through the window like an arrow. We mean no reflection upon his personal valour; under such circumstances we should do the same, and consider it to be our bounden duty, even though a whole legion of cats were serenading beneath. But we have this safeguard against such visits, that we never represented ourselves as intimate with the opinions of Abaddon. Mr Bailey, on the contrary, knows all about him—nay, has no doubt whatever as to his ultimate felicitous destination. He is several universes beyond Milton. He foresees restoration to the whole powers of evil; and having thus, in his philosophy, kindly reinstated the fallen angels, of course those who have fallen by their agency become at once immaculate. But the subject is too grave to be pursued in a light strain. Great allowance is always to be made for poetic license; but there is a bound to everything; and we are compelled to record our deliberate opinion, that nowhere, in literature, can we find passages more hideously and revoltingly presumptuous than occur in the concluding pages of the Festus of Mr Bailey.

We have not now to deal with Mr Bailey. The author before us, Professor Longfellow, is infinitely his superior in poetical accomplishment, in genius, in learning, and in delicacy of sentiment. It was, we think, very well remarked by a former critic in this Magazine, that "he has studied foreign literature with somewhat too much profit." We adopt that observation as rather addressed to the form or shape of his compositions, than to the intrinsic value of his thoughts, or to their expression. For, in perfect candour, we must own that, in our opinion, Longfellow at this moment stands, beyond comparison, at the head of the poets of America, and may be considered as an equal competitor for the palm with any one of the younger poets of Great Britain. We cannot pass a higher eulogy; and it is not the less impartial, because in this his latest poem, The Golden Legend, he has laid himself open to censure, not only on the ground of palpable imitation of design, from the model of Goethe, but in other respects more nearly and more seriously affecting his ultimate reputation as a creative poet.

We have no hesitation in expressing our opinion that there is nearly as much fine poetry in Mr Longfellow's Golden Legend as in the celebrated drama of Goethe. In the latter there are, unquestionably, isolated scenes of singular power and magnificence. The opening song of the angels is, in point of diction, a grand effort of genius; and the wonderful conception of the "Walpurgis-Nacht on the Brocken," with all its weird and fantastic accessories, has been, and will be, cited by the admirers of the German poet as a proof of the vastness of his imagination, and of his consummate dexterity as an artist. To these, as specimens of first-class poetry, we may add the lyrical passages which are put into the mouth of Gretchen; but, granting all this, much matter still remains of inferior merit. The scenes in the witch's apartment, and in Auerbach's cellar—the conversations of Wagner, and even some of the more recondite dialogue between Faust and Mephistopheles—are[214] clearly unworthy of Goethe. Notwithstanding an occasional affected mysticism, as if they conveyed, or were intended to convey, some occult or allegorical significance to the reader, these latter passages are, take them all in all, both dull and monotonous. In a drama like the Faust, we do not insist upon continuous action; but where action is excluded, we expect at least to find the absence of that grand source of interest compensated by a more than common display of poetical accomplishment. In the later Greek drama, the chorus, by the splendour of its lyrical outbursts, causes us to overlook the fact that it does not materially aid the action of the piece; but, in order to achieve this, who does not perceive that the genius of Euripides was strained to its utmost point? Sometimes, according to our view, Goethe is too metaphysical—at other times he condescends to a style beneath the dignity of a poet. Humour was by no means his forte. Whenever he intended to be humorous he failed; and a failure in that respect, as we all know, is peculiarly distressing. Out of the orgies of the drunken Leipzigers, and the hocus-pocus which is practised upon them, we can extract no food for merriment—the German Canidia, with her filthy attendants, is simply sickening—and Wagner is no better than an ass. Again, if we look to the relation which the represented characters bear to the world without, it is impossible to deny that Goethe has failed in giving extrinsic interest to his drama. There is nothing in it to indicate time, which, as much as locality, is an implied requisite in a poem, especially if it be cast in the dramatic form. The reason of this is obvious. Unless time and locality be distinctly marked, there is no room for that interest which is created by our willing surrender of belief to the poet. What we require from him is, that he shall establish that degree of probability which gives life and animation to the poem, by identifying it, to a certain extent, with human action and character. This hardly can be accomplished, unless, within the poem itself, we find distinct and unmistakeable materials for ascertaining the period to which it properly refers. Whatever may be the genius of the author, and however beautiful may be the form and disposition of his abstract conceptions, we still maintain that he sacrifices much, if he dispenses with or rejects those peculiar associations which enable the reader at once to recognise the tale as belonging to some known period of the world's history. Now, in the Faust, there is very little to mark the period. We may not feel the want, accepting the poem as we have it, on account of its intrinsic beauty: nevertheless it does appear to us that the effect might have been materially heightened, had Goethe introduced some accessories characteristic of the age in which Johann Faust of Wittenberg really lived; and that thus a greater degree of energy, as well as of verisimilitude, would have been imparted to his poem.

Many, we are well aware, will dissent from the opinions we have just expressed. The thorough disciple of Goethe has such an unbounded and obstinate admiration of his master, that he can discern beauties in passages which, to the sense of the ordinary reader, appear essentially commonplace; and he never will admit that any one of his works could have been improved by the adoption of a different plan. We honour such enthusiasm, though we cannot share in it now. A good many years have gone by since we, in the first fervour of our Teutonic zeal, actually accomplished a complete translation of the Faust, a treasure which we would very willingly have submitted to the public gaze, had we been intimately acquainted with a publisher of more than common daring. At that time we should have done eager battle with any man who ventured to impugn the merit of any portion of the drama. But, since then, our opinions on matters of taste have undergone considerable modification; and, whilst expressing, as we hope we have distinctly done, the highest admiration for the genius displayed in many parts of the work, we cannot[215] regard it, on the whole, either as a perfect poem, or as one which, from its form, should recommend itself to later poets as a model.

Mr Longfellow will, in all probability, not receive that credit which is really his due, for the many exquisite passages contained in his Golden Legend, simply on account of its manifest resemblance to the Faust. Men in general look upon the inventive faculty as the highest gift of genius, and are apt to undervalue, without proper consideration, everything which appears to be not original, but imitative. This is hardly fair. The inventive faculty is not always, indeed it is very rarely, combined with adequate powers of description. The best inventors have not always taken the trouble to invent for themselves. Shakspeare stole his plots—so did Scott; and perhaps no more imitative poet than Virgil ever existed. Even in the instance before us, Goethe can hardly be said to have a right to the priority of invention, since Marlowe preceded him in England, and Friedrich Müller in Germany. But it must be confessed that Mr Longfellow does not possess the art of disguising his stolen goods. It is one thing to take a story, and to dress it up anew, and another to adopt a story or a plot, which, throughout, shall perpetually put you in mind of some notorious antecedent. Could we endure a second Hamlet, even though, in respect of genius, it were not inferior to the first? We do not think so. The fault lies, not in the conveyance of ideas, but in the absence of their proper disguise. No man can read six pages of The Golden Legend, without being reminded of the Faust, and that so strongly that there is a perpetual challenge of comparison. So long as the popularity of the elder poem continues, the later one must suffer in consequence.

Whether Mr Longfellow could have avoided this, is quite another question. We confess that we entertain very great doubts as to that point. In respect of melody, feeling, pathos, and that exquisite simplicity of expression which is the criterion of a genuine poet, Mr Longfellow need not shun comparison with any living writer. He is not only by nature a poet, but he has cultivated his poetical powers to the utmost. No man, we really believe, has bestowed more pains upon poetry than he has. He has studied rhythm most thoroughly; he has subjected the most beautiful strains of the masters of verbal melody, in many languages, to a minute and careful analysis; he has arrived at his poetical theories by dint of long and thoughtful investigation; and yet, exquisite as the product is which he has now given us, there is a large portion of it which we cannot style as truly original. In the honey which he presents to us—and a delicious compound it is—we can always detect the flavour of the parent flowers. He possesses, more than any other writer, the faculty of assuming, for the time, or for the occasion, the manner of the poet most qualified by nature to illustrate his immediate theme. He not only assumes his manner, but he actually adopts his harmonies. Those who do not understand the subject of poetic harmonies will be able, perhaps, to realise our meaning, if they will imagine what effect would be excited on their minds by hearing the air of "The Flowers of the Forest" reproduced with the accompaniment of new words. Just so is it with Mr Longfellow. He is a great master of harmonies, but he borrows them too indiscreetly. He gives us a very splendid concert; but then the music is not always, nor indeed in the majority of instances, his own.

Do we complain of this? By no manner of means. We are thankful that the present age is graced by such a poet as Mr Longfellow, whose extraordinary accomplishment, and research, and devotion to his high calling, can hardly be overrated. His productions must always command our deep attention, for in them we are certain to meet with great beauty of thought, and very elegant diction. He ought to be one of the best of translators; for, in consequence of the peculiarity which we have noticed, many of his original poems sound exactly like translations. At one time we hear the music of Uhland, at another of Grillparzer, at another of Goethe, and at another of Calderon. He has even thrown some of his poetry into the mould of Massinger[216] and Decker; and, if we mistake not much, Paul Gerhard is one of his especial favourites. To the wideness of this harmonic range we should be inclined to ascribe many of his shortcomings. It is not an unqualified advantage to a poet to be able to assume at will the manner of another, and even, as Mr Longfellow frequently does, to transcend him. Every poet should have his own style, by which he is peculiarly distinguished. He should have his own harmonies, which cannot be mistaken for another's. When such is not the case, the poet is apt to go on experimenting too far. He is tempted, in versification, to adopt new theories, which, upon examination, will not bear to be tried by any æsthetical test. Southey was one instance of this, and Mr Longfellow is another. Southey had a new theory for every poem; Mr Longfellow, within the compass of the same poem, presents us with various theories. This surely is a blemish, because it necessarily detracts from unity of tone and effect. We are no advocates for close poetical precision, or the maintenance of those notes which, a century ago, were deemed almost imperative; but we think that poetic license may sometimes be carried too far. In various passages of The Golden Legend, Mr Longfellow, acting no doubt upon some principle, but one which is wholly unintelligible to us, discards not only metre, but also rhyme and rhythm—an experiment which has rarely been tried since Karl Wilhelm Justi presented the German public with the Song of Solomon in the novel form of an opera. The following dialogue may be sweetly and naturally expressed, but the reader will no doubt be at a loss to determine whether it belongs to the domain of poetry, or to that of prose:—

"Here are flowers for you,
But they are not all for you.
Some of them are for the Virgin,
And for Saint Cecilia.
As thou standest there
Thou seemest to me like the angel
That brought the immortal roses
To Saint Cecilia's bridal chamber.
But these will fade.
Themselves will fade,
But not their memory;
And memory has the power
To recreate them from the dust.
They remind me, too,
Of martyred Dorothea,
Who, from celestial gardens, sent
Flowers as her witnesses
To him who scoffed and doubted.
Do you know the story
Of Christ and the Sultan's daughter?
That is the prettiest legend of them all.
Then tell it to me;
But first come hither.
Lay the flowers down beside me,
And put thy hands in mine.
Now, tell me the story."

This, whatever else it may be, has certainly no pretensions to the name of verse.

Occasionally, whilst retaining rhyme and the semblance of metre, Mr Longfellow is betrayed into great extravagance. What plea of justification can be urged in behalf of the construction of the following lines, which are put into the mouth of Lucifer?—

"My being here is accidental;
The storm, that against yon casement drives,
In the little village below waylaid me.
And there I heard, with a secret delight,
Of your maladies physical and mental,
Which neither astonished nor dismayed me.
And I hastened hither, though late in the night,
To proffer my aid!"

We are almost tempted to say, with old Mr Osbaldistone, that the bellman makes better verses: certainly he could hardly construct more dislocated specimens of versification than these.

Sometimes, even when revelling in the luxuriance of verse, Mr Longfellow commits strange improprieties. To the structure and music of the lines which we shall now transcribe, no abstract objection need be stated, though such objection could be found; but they are terribly out of place in a poem of this kind, and inconsistent with its general structure. An eclogue after the manner of Virgil or Theocritus would hardly appear more incongruous if introduced in the middle of a Shakspearean drama—


"Onward and onward the highway runs to the distant city, impatiently bearing
Tidings of human joy and disaster, of love and of hate, of doing and daring!
This life of ours is a wild æolian harp of many a joyous strain,
But under them all there runs a loud perpetual wail, as of souls in pain.
Faith alone can interpret life, and the heart that aches and bleeds with the stigma
Of pain, alone bears the likeness of Christ, and can comprehend its dark enigma.
Man is selfish, and seeketh pleasure with little care of what may betide;
Else why am I travelling here beside thee, a demon that rides by an angel's side?"

We were wrong in limiting our remark to the incongruity. To such verse as this, if verse it can be termed, there are serious objections. We presume it is constructed on some rhythmical principle; but what that principle may be, we defy any living artist to discover.

From reading the foregoing extracts, any one might naturally conclude that Mr Longfellow has no ear. So far from this being the case, he is one of the most accomplished and skilful versifiers of his time, and therefore we regret the more that he will not confine him to the safe, familiar, and yet ample range of recognised Saxon metres. We could almost find it in our heart to wish that Evangeline had proved a decided failure, if by that means his return could have been secured to simpler habits of composition. Surely he must see, on reflection, that there are natural limits to the power and capacity of each language, and that it is utterly absurd to strain our own in order to compass metres and melodies which peculiarly belong to another. There can be no doubt that the German language, from its construction and sound, can be adapted to many of the most intricate of the Grecian metres. But the English language is not so easily welded, and beyond a certain point it is utterly hopeless to proceed. Mr Longfellow thoroughly understands the value of pure and simple diction—why will he not apply the same rules to the form and structure of his verse? As sincere admirers of his genius, we would entreat his attention to this; for he may rely upon it that, if he continues to give way to this besetting sin of experiment, he is imperilling that high position which his poetical powers may well entitle him to attain.

After this lecture to the author, we are bound, for the satisfaction of our readers, to look a little more closely into the poem in question. We have already said that, in general form and design, it has too near a resemblance to the Faust. We might even extend this observation to details; for there are several scenes evidently suggested by passages in the German drama. Those who remember Goethe's prayer of Margaret addressed to the Virgin, will at once understand the suggestion that led to the insertion of Elsie's prayer in The Golden Legend. We insert it here on account of its intrinsic beauty; and, being beautiful, no comparison with any other poet is required.

          Night.Elsie praying.

"My Redeemer and my Lord,
I beseech thee, I entreat thee,
Guide me in each act and word,
That hereafter I may meet thee,
Watching, waiting, hoping, yearning,
With my lamp well trimmed and burning!
With those bleeding
Wounds upon thy hands and side,
For all who have lived and erred
Thou hast suffered, thou hast died,
Scourged, and mocked, and crucified,
And in the grave hast thou been buried!
If my feeble prayer can reach thee,
O my Saviour, I beseech thee,
Even as thou hast died for me,
More sincerely
Let me follow where thou leadest,
Let me, bleeding as thou bleedest,
Die, if dying I may give
Life to one who asks to live,
And more nearly,
Dying thus, resemble thee!"

Sweet, virginal thoughts—not such as poor Margaret, in the intense[218] anguish of her soul, poured forth at the shrine of the Mater Dolorosa! Still, by close adherence to form, even though the situations are changed, Longfellow provokes comparison—in this instance not wisely, for Margaret's prayer might wring tears from a heart of stone.

If, however, we go on in this way, looking alternately towards Goethe and Longfellow, we shall never reach the poem. Therefore we return the Faust to its proper place on our book-shelves, solemnly vowing not to allude, to it again in the course of the present article, or to repeat the name of Goethe, under the penalty of reviewing—which, according to our scrupulous notions, implies reading—even at this late period of time, Lord John Russell's tragedy of Don Carlos.

The story of The Golden Legend is not very intelligible, and has received by far too little consideration from the author. Whether it be taken or not from the venerable tome printed by our typographical Father Caxton, we cannot say; because we are unable, from its scarcity, to lay our hands upon the old book bearing that name. As Mr Longfellow gives it to us, it would appear that a certain Prince Henry of Hoheneck, on the Rhine—not a very young gentleman, but one who has attained nearly the middle period of existence—is afflicted with some disease, nearly corresponding to that doubtful malady the vapours. He does not know what is the matter with him; and, what is worse, none of the doctors, either allopathic or homœopathic, whom he has consulted, can enlighten him on the subject. He describes his symptoms thus:—

"It has no name.
A smouldering, dull, perpetual flame,
As in a kiln, burns in my veins,
Sending up vapours to the head;
My head has become a dull lagoon,
Which a kind of leprosy drinks and drains;
I am accounted as one who is dead,
And, indeed, I think that I shall be soon."

A very melancholious view, indeed, for a patient!

Under these circumstances, Lucifer, who, it seems, is always ready for a job, drops in under the disguise of a quack physician, and proceeds, with considerable skill, to take his diagnosis. Prince Henry tells him that he has consulted the doctors of Salerno, and that their reply to the statement of his case is as follows:—

"Not to be cured, yet not incurable!
The only remedy that remains
Is the blood that flows from a maiden's veins,
Who of her own free will shall die,
And give her life as the price of yours."

Lucifer, with much show of propriety, laughs at the prescription; and, in place of it, recommends his own, which we take to be not at all unsuited to the peculiar feelings and unnatural despondency of the patient. So far as we can make out from Mr Longfellow, he simply advises a caulker—not by any means a bad thing in muggy weather, if used in moderation, or likely to produce any very diabolical consequences. Thus speaks Lucifer, displaying at the same time his bottle:—

"This art the Arabian Gebir taught,
And in alembics, finely wrought,
Distilling herbs and flowers, discovered
The secret that so long had hovered
Upon the misty verge of Truth,
The Elixir of Perpetual Youth,
Called Alcohol, in the Arab speech!
Like him, this wondrous lore I teach!"

The result is that Prince Henry adopts the prescription, imbibes a considerable quantity of the stimulant, which seems presently to revive him—and then falls asleep. This is plain enough, but surely there was no occasion for the Devil to appear in person, simply to administer a dram. But what follows? That is a grand mystery which Mr Longfellow has not explained in a satisfactory manner. There is no insinuation that the Prince, in his cups, committed any gross act of extravagance. He may, indeed, on this occasion have applied himself to the alcohol rather too freely, as would appear from the subsequent account of a servant.

"In the Round Tower, night after night,
He sat, and bleared his eyes with books;
Until one morning we found him there
Stretched on the floor, as if in a swoon
He had fallen from his chair.
We hardly recognised his sweet looks!"

But surely this temporary aberration from the paths of sobriety would not justify the conduct of the monks, who appear shortly afterwards to have taken Hoheneck by storm, compelled[219] the Prince to do penance in the Church of St Rochus, and then excommunicated him. We were not aware that the clergy in those days were so extremely ascetic. There is no sort of allegation that they suspected the nature of the cellar from which the Devil's Elixir was drawn, or that they were resolved to punish the Prince for having unwittingly pledged Sathanas. This story, however, which appears entirely unintelligible to us, seems to have satisfied the curiosity of the minstrel, Walter von der Vogelweide, whom Mr Longfellow has once more pressed into his service, and who, as an old friend of the Prince, has called at the castle to inquire after his welfare. He learns that the Prince is now residing at the house of a small farmer in the Odenwald; whereupon he of the Bird-meadows determines to make himself comfortable for the evening.

"But you, good Hubert, go before,
Fill me a goblet of May-drink,
As aromatic as the May
From which it steals the breath away,
And which he loved so well of yore;
It is of him that I would think.
You shall attend me, when I call,
In the ancestral banquet-hall."

Previous to retiring, however, he utters the following soliloquy, which we transcribe as a passage of considerable descriptive merit.

"The day is done; and slowly from the scene
The stooping sun upgathers his spent shafts,
And puts them back into his golden quiver!
Below me in the valley, deep and green
As goblets are, from which in thirsty draughts
We drink its wine, the swift and mantling river
Flows on triumphant through those lovely regions,
Etched with the shadows of its sombre margent,
And soft, reflected clouds of gold and argent!
Yes, there it flows for ever, broad and still,
As when the vanguard of the Roman legions
First saw it from the top of yonder hill.
How beautiful it is! Fresh fields of wheat,
Vineyard, and town, and tower with fluttering flag,
The consecrated chapel on the crag,
And the white hamlet gathered round its base,
Like Mary sitting at her Saviour's feet,
And looking up at his beloved face!
O friend! O best of friends! Thy absence more
Than the impending night darkens the landscape o'er!"

The scene then changes to the farm where Prince Henry is residing. Elsie, the farmer's daughter, scarcely more than a child in years, but a woman in tenderness and devotion, is as beautiful a conception as ever was formed in the mind of the poet. She resolves, in conformity with the mysterious remedy suggested by the doctors of Salerno, to offer her life for that of her Prince, and communicates her resolution to her parents. We regard this scene as by far the most touching in the drama; and, as we have quoted passages in which the author does not appear to great advantage, we gladly request the attention of the reader to extracts of another kind. We regret that our limits will not permit us to transcribe the scene at length.

"What dost thou mean? my child! my child!
That for our dear Prince Henry's sake,
I will myself the offering make,
And give my life to purchase his.
Am I still dreaming or awake?
Thou speakest carelessly of death,
And yet thou knowest not what it is.
'Tis the cessation of our breath.
Silent and motionless we lie:
And no one knoweth more than this.
I saw our little Gertrude die;
She left off breathing, and no more
I smoothed the pillow beneath her head.
She was more beautiful than before.
Like violets faded were her eyes;
By this we knew that she was dead.
Through the open window looked the skies
Into the chamber where she lay,
And the wind was like the sound of wings
As if angels came to bear her away.
Ah! when I saw and felt these things,
I found it difficult to stay;
I longed to die as she had died;
And go forth with her side by side.
The saints are dead, the martyrs dead,
And Mary, and our Lord; and I
Would follow in humility
The way by them illumined!

Alas! that I should live to see
Thy death, beloved, and to stand
Above thy grave! Ah, woe the day!
Thou wilt not see it. I shall lie
Beneath the flowers of another land;
For at Salerno, far away
Over the mountains, over the sea,
It is appointed me to die!
And it will seem no more to thee
[220] Than if at the village on market-day
I should a little longer stay
Than I am used.

Not now! not now!
Christ died for me, and shall not I
Be willing for my Prince to die?
You both are silent; you cannot speak.
This said I, at our Saviour's feast,
After confession to the priest,
And even he made no reply.
Does he not warn us all to seek
The happier, better land on high,
Where flowers immortal never wither;
And could he forbid me to go thither?
In God's own time, my heart's delight!
When he shall call thee, not before!
I heard him call. When Christ ascended
Triumphantly, from star to star,
He left the gates of heaven ajar;
I had a vision in the night,
And saw him standing at the door
Of his Father's mansion, vast and splendid,
And beckoning to me from afar.
I cannot stay!"

We need not point out the exquisite simplicity of the language here employed, or the beauty and tenderness of the thought. It is in such passages that Mr Longfellow's genius is most eminently apparent; because in them all is nature, and there is no indication of a model. In his more laboured scenes there is generally an appearance of effort, beside the imitative propensity, to which we have already sufficiently alluded.

The acceptance of Elsie's offer, on the part of Prince Henry of Hoheneck, seems to be the turning-point of the story and the temptation. Here again Lucifer interposes, in the character of a monk, who, from the Confessional, gives unholy advice to the Prince; but this scene does not strike us with peculiar admiration. In brief, the offer is accepted. Prince Henry and the peasant's daughter set out together for Salerno, and the greater portion of the remainder of the drama is occupied with the description of their route, and what befel them on their way. Mr Longfellow has made excellent use of this dioramic method. He has contrived to throw himself entirely into the age which he has selected for illustration; and crusaders, monks, pilgrims, and minstrels pass before us in varied procession, giving life and animation to the scenery through which the voyagers move.

The most remarkable passages are the Friar's Sermon, and the Miracle play represented in the cathedral of Strasburg. We observe that several critics have already fallen foul of the author on account of those scenes, denouncing him in no measured terms for the levity, and even the profanity, of his tone. One or two have even gone the length of declaring that he is more impious than Lord Byron; and that Cain is, in the hands of the youthful reader, a less dangerous work than the Golden Legend. This is sheer nonsense. Mr Longfellow, as the general tenor of his writings discloses, is eminently a Christian poet, and the last charge which can be brought against him is that of scepticism and infidelity. His aim, in this part of the Golden Legend, is to reproduce a true and vivid picture of the manners, the customs, and even the superstition of the age; and this he has been enabled to do, through his intimate familiarity with writings which are very little studied at the present day. He is deeply versed, not only in the monkish legends and traditions, but in that kind of theological literature which, in the thirteenth century, and even much later, was mixed up with the pure evangelical doctrine, and retailed to the people as truth, by the ministers of a corrupted Church. That the sermon delivered by Friar Cuthbert, in the square of Strasburg, must sound irreverent to modern ears, is a proposition which no one can deny. It is irreverent, but not a whit more so than were all the sermons of the period. It is intended to mark, and does mark more accurately than anything we ever read, the license of language which was employed by the emissaries of the Church of Rome—the haughty claims and systematic usurpations of that Church—and the mixture of truth and fable which then constituted the staple of her doctrine. Friar Cuthbert is not preaching from the Evangelists: he is preaching half from his own invention, and half from the spurious Gospel of Nicodemus. His sermon is nothing more nor less than[221] a satire upon the teaching of the Church of Rome, and a most effective one it is. Into what, then, do the objections of our scrupulous brethren resolve themselves? Is it wrong to depict, in prose or verse—for the lesson may be conveyed in either—the ignorance of the people of Europe in past ages, and the exceeding presumption and monstrous latitude of their teachers? If so, it would be better for us at once to get rid of history. A work of fiction, which does nothing more than reproduce historical truths, can never, in our opinion, be condemned for giving a faithful picture of the manners of the time; and that Mr Longfellow's is a faithful picture, no one who has studied the manners and perused the literature of the middle ages will deny. It is very possible, however, that our purists never heard of the Gospel of Nicodemus, and are not aware that such liberties were ever taken with the revealed truths of religion. That is no fault of Mr Longfellow's. But if the Golden Legend is to be condemned on account of these scenes, we very much fear that Chaucer must also be voted unfit for reading, and our old friend and favourite Sir David Lindesay consigned to entire oblivion. What is more, the ban must be extended to many of the early reformers, nay, martyrs of the Protestant Church. The sermons of Latimer, from their familiarity of allusion and illustration, and their frequent reference to tradition, would sound strangely in modern Calvinistic ears. It is a notorious fact that, for a considerable period after the Reformation, the most eminent divines, finding that the people were greatly attached to the legendary tales and fictions which formed so large a portion of the teaching of the Romish Church, were compelled in some measure to continue the practice, and to look for illustrations beyond the compass of the sacred writings, in order to give effect to their discourses. This of course was only a temporary expedient, but still it was employed, in order that the change might appear less sudden and violent. But on that account, are the writings of Latimer and many more of the early reformers to be condemned? We should be sorry to think so. What sort of picture of the age would have been presented to us, had Mr Longfellow put into the mouth of Friar Cuthbert the language of an adherent of Geneva? Is the sermon towards the conclusion of Queenhoo Hall, written by Sir Walter Scott, to be pronounced blasphemous, because it is conceived in the manner of the times? If not, Mr Longfellow also must be relieved from this preposterous censure, which one or two critics, wishing to be thought more reverent—being, in fact, more ignorant—than their neighbours, have attempted to fasten upon him.

As to the Miracle play, we look upon it as a most successful reproduction, or rather image, of those strange religious shows which were long represented in the Romish churches all over Europe, and which, though somewhat altered in their form, are not yet abolished in some parts of the Continent. Mr Longfellow, whilst preserving so much of the spirit of the old Mysteries as to convey an adequate idea of their grotesqueness, has lent to this composition a charm which none of the old plays possess. Those who are anxious to ascertain what a Miracle play really was, will find a fair specimen in the first volume of Hawkins' English Drama. The general reader may, however, content himself with Mr Longfellow's production, which is, in many points of view, remarkable. The scenes represented are principally taken from the Apocryphal Gospels, attributed to St Thomas, of the Infancy of our Saviour—which gospels were long read in some of the Nestorian churches. Here, again, Mr Longfellow has been charged with impiety, as if, by his own invention, he were supplementing Scripture. He has done nothing of the kind. He has simply reproduced, in a peculiar form, a legend or tradition well known in the middle ages; and if this license is to be prohibited, what imaginative or poetical author who has treated of sacred subjects can escape? Milton has sinned in this respect far more deeply than Longfellow. But we really do not think it necessary to pursue this subject further.

We must not, any more than the travellers, loiter on the road, therefore[222] we pass over the scenes at the Convent of Hirschau, as also that in the neighbouring nunnery. We confess that the carousal of the monks, in which Lucifer bears a share, (for the fiend continues to travel in disguise along with his expected victim,) does not strike us as being happily conceived. It is coarse, and we are sorry to say, vulgar; though it may be, doubtless, that such things were often said and enacted within convent walls. But the poet is bound to use a certain degree of discretion in his choice of materials, and in his manner of setting them forth. We think some of the ribaldry in this scene might have been spared with advantage, without in the least injuring that contrast between outward profession and real purity which the author evidently intended to draw; and we would urge upon Mr Longfellow the propriety of revising in future editions the passages to which we refer, as tending in no way to promote the strength, whilst they undoubtedly diminish the pleasure which we receive from other parts of the drama. The scene in the nunnery, in which the Abbess Irmengarde relates to Elsie the tale of her youthful attachment, and the preference which she gave to Walter of the Vogelweide over Prince Henry of Hoheneck, when both of them were her suitors, is very sweetly written, and entirely in keeping with the times.

Then follow several scenes of much beauty, which conduct us through Switzerland into Italy. The travellers embark from Genoa in a felucca, bound for Salerno; and thus speaks the captain or padrone of the vessel, as the wind is freshening. It is a strange piece of rhyme, but worth listening to, were it only on account of its singularity.

"I must entreat you, friends, below!
The angry storm begins to blow,
For the weather changes with the moon.
All this morning, until noon,
We had baffling winds, and sudden flaws
Struck the sea with their cat's-paws.
Only a little hour ago
I was whistling to Saint Antonio
For a capful of wind to fill our sail,
And instead of a breeze he has sent us a gale.
Last night I saw Saint Elmo's stars,
With their glimmering lanterns, all at play
On the tops of the masts and the tips of the spars,
And I knew we should have foul weather to-day.
Cheerly, my hearties! yo heave ho!
Brail up the mainsail, and let her go
As the winds will and Saint Antonio!
Do you see that Livornese felucca,
That vessel to the windward yonder,
Running with her gunwale under?
I was looking when the wind o'ertook her.
She had all sail set, and the only wonder
Is, that at once the strength of the blast
Did not carry away her mast.
She is a galley of the Gran Duca,
That, through fear of the Algerines,
Convoys those lazy brigantines,
Laden with wine and oil from Lucca.
Now all is ready, high and low;
Blow, blow, good Saint Antonio!
Ha! that is the first dash of the rain,
With a sprinkle of spray above the rails,
Just enough to moisten our sails,
And make them ready for the strain,
See how she leaps, as the blasts o'ertake her,
And speeds away with a bone in her mouth!
Now keep her head towards the south,
And there is no danger of bank or breaker.
With the breeze behind us, on we go;
Not too much, good Saint Antonio!"

The verse sounds like an echo of the shrill piping of the Mediterranean wind.

The voyagers arrive at Salerno; and we are immediately introduced to the schools, sonorous with academical wrangling. Mr Longfellow displays much humour in this part of his poem, having, we think, hit off excellently the extreme acerbity exhibited by the scholastic disputants on the most worthless of imaginable subjects. He has given us a vivid picture of the war which was so long maintained between the sect of the Nominalists and that of the Realists; and not less of the fury which possessed the souls of ancient hostile grammarians. "The heat and acrimony of verbal critics," says Disraeli the elder, "have exceeded description. Their stigmas and anathemas have been long known to bear no proportion against the offences to which they have been directed. 'God confound you,' cried one grammarian to another, 'for your theory of impersonal verbs!'" In the Golden Legend we have first a travelling Scholastic affixing, as was the usual custom, his Theses to the gate of the college, and offering to maintain his one hundred and twenty-five[223] propositions against all the world. Then appear two Doctors disputing, followed by their pupils.

"I, with the Doctor Seraphic, maintain
That a word which is only conceived in the brain
Is a type of eternal Generation;
The spoken word is the Incarnation.
What do I care for the Doctor Seraphic,
With all his wordy chaffer and traffic?
You make but a paltry show of resistance;
Universals have no real existence!
Your words are but idle and empty chatter;
Ideas are eternally joined to matter!
May the Lord have mercy on your position,
You wretched, wrangling, culler of herbs!
May he send your soul to eternal perdition,
For your Treatise on the Irregular Verbs!"
(They rush out fighting.)

The sort of intellectual diet supplied to the students of Salerno is next explained by a hopeful votary of Sangrado. It seems very tempting.

"What are the books now most in vogue?
Quite an extensive catalogue;
Mostly, however, books of our own;
As Gariopontus' Passionarius,
And the writings of Matthew Platearius;
And a volume universally known
As the Regimen of the School of Salern,
For Robert of Normandy written in terse
And very elegant Latin verse.
Each of these writings has its turn.
And when at length we have finished these,
Then comes the struggle for degrees,
With all the oldest and ablest critics;
The public thesis and disputation,
Question, and answer, and explanation
Of a passage out of Hippocrates,
Or Aristotle's Analytics.
There the triumphant Magister stands!
A book is solemnly placed in his hands,
On which he swears to follow the rule
And ancient forms of the good old School;
To report if any confectionarius
Mingles his drugs with matters various,
And to visit his patients twice a-day,
And once in the night, if they live in town;
And if they are poor, to take no pay.
Having faithfully promised these,
His head is crowned with a laurel crown;
A kiss on his cheek, a ring on his hand,
The Magister Artium et Physices
Goes forth from the school like a lord of the land.
And now, as we have the whole morning before us,
Let us go in, if you make no objection,
And listen awhile to a learned prelection
On Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus."

Lucifer now comes upon the stage in the garb of the Doctor who is to decide regarding Elsie's fate. The main plot of the story, as we have already stated, is at once so obscure and unnatural that it will not stand examination. It is, therefore, rather from conjecture than assertion that we presume the author intended to represent the power of the Evil Spirit over the Prince, as depending upon his acceptance or rejection of the innocent self-offered sacrifice. Be that as it may, the Prince and Elsie appear; and, in spite of the remonstrances of the former, the girl persists in her resolution. Let us quote one more passage in Mr Longfellow's best and most pathetic manner.

"O my Prince! remember
Your promises. Let me fulfil my errand.
You do not look on life and death as I do.
There are two angels that attend unseen
Each one of us, and in great books record
Our good and evil deeds. He who writes down
The good ones, after every action closes
His volume, and ascends with it to God.
The other keeps his dreadful day-book open
Till sunset, that we may repent; which doing,
The record of the action fades away,
And leaves a line of white across the page.
Now, if my act be good, as I believe it,
It cannot be recalled. It is already
Sealed up in heaven, as a good deed accomplished.
The rest is yours. Why wait you? I am ready.
(To her Attendants.)
Weep not, my friends! rather rejoice with me.
I shall not feel the pain, but shall be gone,
And you will have another friend in heaven.
Then start not at the creaking of the door
Through which I pass. I see what lies beyond it.
(To Prince Henry.)
And you, O Prince! bear back my benison
Unto my father's house, and all within it.
This morning in the church I prayed for them,
After confession, after absolution,
When my whole soul was white, I prayed for them.
God will take care of them, they need me not.
And in your life let my remembrance linger,
As something not to trouble or disturb it,
But to complete it, adding life to life.
[224] And if at times beside the evening fire
You see my face among the other faces,
Let it not be regarded as a ghost
That haunts your house, but as a guest that loves you.
Nay, even as one of your own family,
Without whose presence there were something wanting.
I have no more to say. Let us go in.
Friar Angelo! I charge you on your life,
Believe not what she says, for she is mad,
And comes not here to die, but to be healed.
Alas! Prince Henry!
Come with me; this way.
(Elsie goes in with Lucifer, who thrusts
Prince Henry back and closes the door.)"

There is, however, happily no occasion for the expenditure of our tears. Prince Henry plucks up heart of grace, bursts open the door, and rescues Elsie just as she is on the point of submitting to the Luciferian lancet. The pair return in triumph to the Rhine—the hearts of the old people are made glad by the recovery of their daughter—and the drama ends, not with horror, but with the agreeable finale of a marriage.

Such is the nature of the poem, which does undeniably exhibit many proofs of genius, accomplishments, power of expression, and learning; but which, nevertheless, we cannot accept as a great work. It is like an ornament in which some gems of the purest lustre are set, side by side with fragments of coloured glass, and even inferior substances. The evident presence of the latter sometimes shakes our faith in the absolute value of the jewels, which are deserving of better association; and we cannot help wishing that the whole work could be taken to pieces, the counterfeit materials thrown aside, and the remainder entirely reconstructed on a new principle and design. There is ever an intimate connection between the design and the material. Thoughts, however rich in themselves, lose their effect when ill displayed; and the want of the knowledge of this has ere now proved fatal to the fame of many a promising artist. The language and sentiments of Elsie, however beautiful in themselves—and that they are beautiful we most unhesitatingly maintain—excite in our minds no sympathy. They are simply portions of an ill-constructed drama, almost aimless in purpose, and without even an intelligible moral; they do not tend to any point upon which our interest or expectations are concentrated, and therefore, in order to do justice to them, we are forced to regard them as fragmentary. Mr Longfellow has not succeeded in giving a human interest to his drama. His story is poor, or rather incomprehensible, and his plan essentially vicious; and these are faults which no brilliancy of execution can ever serve to redeem. We are deeply disappointed to find that such is the case, for we can assure the author that we have watched his poetical career with no common interest—that we have long been aware of the great extent of his powers—and that we have waited, with much anxiety, in the expectation of seeing those powers exhibited in their full measure. We fear that we must wait a little longer before he shall do justice to himself. It is a sound rule in criticism that every work is to be judged according to its profession; an epic as an epic—a drama as a drama—a ballad as a ballad. After making every allowance for the avowed irregularity of this composition, we cannot admit that it satisfies even the requirements of a dramatic romance. It cannot be said that it was purposely constructed to exclude belief, and therefore, interest; because Mr Longfellow has taken obvious pains to mark the time by the accessories, in which he has perfectly succeeded; and also to give us a vivid sketch of society as it then existed. His radical error, we think, may be traced to two things—the want of a life-like plot, and the introduction of supernatural machinery.

No reader of The Golden Legend will venture to aver that he has derived the slightest interest from the story, apart from the poetry with which it is surrounded. Now, although there is undoubtedly a great deal in the manner of telling a story, the matter of the story itself is obviously of greater consequence. The matter is the body of the tale—the manner its dress and ornament.[225] And inasmuch as no accumulation of ornament will suffice to make up for want of symmetry, or disguise deformity in the body to which it is applied, how can we expect that a poem radically defective in plan, can be rendered interesting by any amount of adventitious accomplishment? In the acted drama we know very well that a bad or uninteresting plot can never be redeemed, even by the most brilliant speeches. To the epos, or narrative tale, the same rule applies; for episodes, however spirited or pathetic, never can make up for the want of interest in the leading story. The fault is not peculiar to Mr Longfellow—it is discernible in most of the compositions, both in prose and poetry, of the present age. Aptitude of handling is considered a greater accomplishment than unity or strength of design; and the consequence is that we lay down works, written by many of our best authors, with a vague feeling of disappointment, which can be attributed only to their total disregard of that preliminary consideration of story and plan which occupied the attention, as it constituted the triumph, of our older literary masters. Surely, when a man sits down to write, his first care ought to be that his subject is not only intelligible, but also interesting to his readers. We have already, at the commencement of this paper, expressed our decided objection to the machinery employed by Mr Longfellow. It is the reverse of original, being now very hackneyed; and it is absurdly disproportionate to the object for which it is introduced. Most devoutly do we trust that both poets and poetasters will henceforth refrain from including Lucifer in their dramatis personæ. By introducing him as they have done, they have read no valuable lesson in ethics to mankind. If they represent him as a talented fiend, he is certain to blaspheme—if as an amiable one, they mistake the character altogether. If malice, envy, and a desire to plunge others into perdition, are the characteristic impulses which a poet thinks necessary to portray, surely he can find samples enough of these upon earth, without invoking the presence of an actual demon. Even in poetry or fiction, familiarity with the Powers of Darkness is a thing by no means to be coveted.

We hope hereafter to find Mr Longfellow engaged on some subject more worthy of his genius. Of his powers there can be no doubt, nor of his success, provided he will apply those powers properly. We are fully sensible of the many beauties contained within the compass of this volume; and our only regret, while laying down the pen, is that we cannot yet congratulate the author on having achieved a work, fully developing his excellencies, natural and acquired, and entitling him to assume a higher rank among the masters of English song.


"To see a bull-fight," says Mr Ford, "forms, and has long formed, one of the first objects of most travellers in Spain." But, although Spanish inns may be better, and Spanish brigands less numerous, than of yore—although we have railway to beyond Tours, and tri-monthly steam to the Peninsular ports—and although a certain Handbook, writ by one Ford, and published by Murray, greatly facilitates and tempts to trans-Pyrenean travel, it still is fact that English travellers in Spain are but as one in a thousand. The other nine hundred and ninety-nine are fain to content themselves, in respect of matters Tauromachian, with such delineations as[226] pen and pencil afford—as artists and authors publish. We thought, until lately, that in this respect the public had been indifferently well catered for. We now suspect ourselves to have been mistaken, and that, until Mr Lake Price painted, and Messrs Ford and Hoskins wrote, the bull-fights of Spain had never been fully elucidated and displayed to the eyes of England.

Every writer of travels in Spain thinks it his duty to describe a bull-fight; but such descriptions are too frequently spoiled by injudicious straining after picturesque effects. French writers are especially open to this reproach. They walk about the bull-ring on stilts. There can be no greater mistake. To attempt to embroider a Spanish bull-fight is akin to painting the lily. Nothing can add to its originality and picturesque character. Every circumstance connected with it is so striking, so thoroughly national, so unlike civilised Europe, that no effort of imagination or inflation of language can heighten the general effect, although they may, and usually do, materially impair it. A plain and accurate description is the one thing needful. This we have in the two books before us; but with a difference. Mr Ford, minutely acquainted with his subject, and thoroughly versed in things of Spain, writes of a bull-fight as might write some enlightened Spanish man of letters, who had miraculously divested himself of national prejudices. Mr Hoskins writes in pure John Bull style, giving a plain matter-of-fact account of what he saw and was struck by—such an account as he might give of a boxing or wrestling match, or of any other athletic or hazardous sport he for the first time witnessed. He does not trace the history, or go into the æsthetics of bull-fighting, but limits himself to a clear and off-hand relation of what he attentively and carefully observed. His is a thoroughly English narrative of a strictly Spanish spectacle. As such we like it. Both Mr Ford's and Mr Hoskins' pages will be found most useful and interesting companions to Mr Price's spirited drawings.

Mr Price has travelled much in Spain, and witnessed many bull-fights. Whoever has seen one will be convinced of this by a single glance at his work. For those whose own experience does not constitute them judges, there is Mr Ford's assurance (no mean guarantee) that his friend "has made himself perfectly acquainted with the whole performance, has studied the changes of acts, scenes, and characters, and has fixed on the spot, with his accurate pencil, every salient feature and impressive incident. A mirror of the bull-fight, from the beginning to the end, is now held up in his series of plates."

For phrases a translator can always contrive a just equivalent, but not always for a word. "Our boxing term, Bull-fight," says Mr Ford, "is a very low translation of the time-honoured Castilian title, Fiestas de Toros, the Feasts, Festivals, Holy Days of Bulls." The difference is as great as between the burly prize-fighter, big-boned, broken-nosed, and brutal, and the graceful and dignified matador, the magnificent dandy of the circus, the beloved of women, the cherished of his tailor. Hear Mr Ford describe him, since we cannot here present Mr Price's admirable plate:—

"The Matador, or slayer, is the most important personage of the performance; his is the dangerous part of killing the bull, the catastrophe with which the Tauromachian tragedy is concluded. He can only arrive at this height of his hazardous profession by long study, experience, and practice, and by ascending regularly from the inferior grades. As he is the star, the observed and admired of all observers, his costume is worthy of his eminent rank; and as his gains are great, and commensurate with the perils to which he is exposed, he can afford to indulge in personal decoration, the dearest delight of the semi-oriental Spaniard. He adheres to the fashion of the majos, or fancy men of Andalusia, the native province of the celebrities of his gentle craft. He displays his taste and magnificence in a prodigal richness of silks and velvets, gold and silver embroidery. His wardrobe is as extensive as it is expensive, for he seldom makes his appearance twice in the same dress in the same city. He wears on his head a montera, or small cap, decked with black ribbons; his hair is gathered behind into a thick pigtail, like those of which our sailors were wont to be so proud; a gaudy silk handkerchief is passed once round his naked throat,[227] and often through a jewelled ring; his short jacket—the type of which is quite Moorish—glitters all gorgeous with epaulettes, fringes, tags, and bullion lace; his loins are girded up with the national sash—the zone of antiquity; his short tight breeches, enriched with a gold or silver band and knee-knots, his silk stockings and ball-room pumps, show off to advantage a light, sinewy, active figure. When not called on the stage, he carries a gay silken cloak, that is laid aside when the death-signal is given, and a long Toledan blade, and blood-red flag, are substituted.

"The majority of these worthies are known by some endearing nickname, derived from the place of their birth, or from some peculiarity of person or conduct. Such nicknames are familiar as household words to the million, whose idols these heroes of the ring are, even more than our champions, the Cribbs and Springs, used to be, when prize-fights were in vogue; and in the Matadors there is much to fascinate their countrymen and women. To personal form and courage—sure passports of themselves to popular favour—the attraction of dress, of extravagant expenditure, and boon companionship, are added. Theirs, moreover, is the peculiar dialect, half gipsy and half slang, which, pregnant with idiomatic pungency, gives a racy expression to the humours of the ring, and to the epigrammatic wit of the south, which is termed throughout the Peninsula the Sal Andaluza, 'Andalucian salt:' this, it must be confessed, can scarcely be pronounced Attic.

"The names of the two best Matadors that ever graced the arenas of Spain live immortal in the memories of Spaniards. Both excelled equally with pen and sword. Joseph Delgado, alias Pepe Illo, wrote a profound treatise on Tauromachia, which has gone through several editions. He was killed at Madrid, May 11, 1801, by a Penaranda bull. The veteran had felt unwell in the morning, and had a presentiment of his fate, but declared that "he would do his duty," and, like Nelson, fell gloriously, his harness on his back. Scarcely second to him was Francisco Montes,'the first sword of Spain.' He was the author of a most Complete Art of Bull-Fighting. All amateurs who contemplate going the circuit of the plazas of the Peninsula will do well to study these works. The more the toresque intellect is cultivated, the greater the consequent enjoyment; a thousand minute beauties in the conduct and character of the combatants are caught, and relished by the learned, which are lost upon the ignorant and uneducated.

"Montes, also, like his renowned predecessor, was severely wounded, July 21, 1850, but was snatched from death by his nephew, el Chiclanero, whose portrait is given by Mr Lake Price. The youth rushed forth, and pierced with his sword the spinal narrow of the goring bull, who fell at his feet. He then bowed to the spectators and retired, amid thunders of applause, to attend his wounded uncle. An additional bull was conceded to his honour, and sacrificed as a blood-offering to the adored Montes. The remark of Seneca, that the world had seen as many examples of courage in gladiators of the Roman amphitheatre as in the Catos and Scipios, may be truly applied to the gallant Matadors of Spain. Montes is no more, but his mantle has descended to his nephew, who rules now decidedly the champion of the Spanish ring, and is considered by many eminent judges a greater man than even his illustrious uncle."

We revert to Plate No. I. of Mr Price's series, with its accompanying explanatory notice. The subject is the office where tickets for the amphitheatre are sold. The heart-flutterings of the emancipated school-girl, on the brink of her first ball, the eagerness of the Etonian, who, to-morrow, for the first time, is to sport pink and cross a hunter, are faint and feeble emotions compared to the Spaniard's vehement desire for his darling sport. In the choice of places many things are to be considered. The prices depend upon position—enclosed boxes being much dearer than open benches, and shade than sun.

"The sun of tawny, torrid Spain, on whose flag it once never set, is not to be trifled with; and its coup is, indeed, frequent and fatal in summer, the season selected perforce for the bull-fight. In winter the bulls fall off, from the want of artificial green crops, which are hardly known in the Peninsula; they only recover their prime condition, courage, and fierceness, when refreshed, like giants, by a free range over the rich pastures which the spring of the south calls into life and luxuriance. Again, it is in summer that fine weather is certain, and the days are long—considerations of importance in a spectacle that is to be enacted out of doors, and which lasts many hours. The glare and heat of a vertical summer sun in Spain, when the heavens and earth seem on fire, is intolerable to man and beast; the bull-fights, therefore, are naturally deferred until the afternoon, when[228] a welcome shade is cast over the northern portion of the amphitheatre. The sun's transit, or zodiacal progress into Taurus, is not the worst calculated astronomical observation in Spain. The line of subdued coolness, as divided from burning brightness, is sharply marked on the circular arena; and this demarcation determines the relative prices, which range from one to five shillings each, and are very high for Spain considering the wages of labour.... The love of the bull-fights amounts to madness in the masses of Spaniards. There is no sacrifice, no denial, that they will not endure, to save money to go to their national exhibition!"

"The Bulls in the Court of the Plaza" is the subject of the second plate. Here the bulls are seen in the yard attached to the amphitheatre in which, to-morrow, they are to combat and die. Groups of amateurs are enjoying a "private view," scanning their points and conjecturing their prowess. "The white and brown bull in front proved so unusually savage and murderous in the ring of Madrid, that a Spanish nobleman caused its head to be mounted in silver, and placed among the most cherished memorials of his ancient palace."

After a picture of the Madrid "Place of Bulls," which is capable of containing eighteen thousand spectators, comes the processional entrance of the toreros or bull-fighters, all in full costume. "The locality selected by Mr Lake Price for this opening scene is the Plaza of Seville; and a most picturesque one it is, although not finished—the usual fate of many splendid beginnings and promises of Spain. The deficient portion lets in, as if on purpose, a view of the glorious cathedral. On grand occasions this side is decorated with flags; and when the last crimson sun ray sets on the Moorish belfry, and brings it out like a pillar of fire, and the flapping banners wave in triumph as the evening breeze springs up, no more beautiful conclusion of a beautiful spectacle can be imagined by poet or painter." Preceding the procession, the alguazil, in his ancient Spanish costume of Philip IV.'s day, applies to the chief personage present for the key of the toril or bull-den. When Mr Hoskins visited the circus at Seville—Seville, once "the capital of the bull-fight," but now surpassed by Madrid in the ceremony and magnificence of that spectacle—the Duke de Montpensier occupied the state-box. "The alguazil rode beneath the prince's box for the key of the cell of the bulls, which the prince threw; but in catching it the alguazil displayed such bad horsemanship, that the crowd were convulsed with laughter." The alguazil ought to catch the key in his hat, but seldom does. When he has handed it to one of the chulos or footmen, he gallops off full speed, "amid the hootings of the populace, who instinctively persecute the finisher of the law, as little birds mob a hawk: more than a thousand kind wishes are offered up that the bull may catch and toss him. The brilliant army of combatants now separate like a bursting shell, and take up their respective places, as our fielders do at a cricket-match. The spectacle, which consists of three acts, now commences in earnest; from six to eight bulls are generally killed for the day's feast."

In the first act, the principal performers, besides the bull, are the picadors. Mr Price has illustrated their proceedings and exploits in six plates. "When the bull-calf is one year old," says Mr Ford, "his courage is tested by the mounted herdsman, who charges him violently with his garrocha, or sharp goad. If the bold brute turns twice on his assailant, facing the steel, he is set apart for the future honours of the arena." Sometimes, when, emerging from his dark cell into the dazzling glare of the amphitheatre, the bull beholds, presented to his charge, the sharp spear of the expectant picador, he calls to mind his calf-days and the keen goad, swerves in his headlong and seemingly irresistible rush, and passes on to a second and a third antagonist. "If still baffled, stunning are the pæans raised in honour of the men. Such bulls as will not fight at all, and show a white feather, become the objects of popular insult and injury; they are hooted at as 'cows,' which is no compliment to a bull, and, as they sneak by the barriers, are mercilessly punished with a forest of porros, or lumbering cudgels, with which the mob[229] is provided for the nonce. When the bull is slow to charge, the picador rides out into the arena, and challenges him with his vara (spear.) Should the bull decline his polite invitation and turn tail, he is baited by dogs, which is most degrading." If execrations and abuse are lavished upon a craven, on the other hand frantic is the applause and enthusiasm when the bull displays unusual pluck. Mr Hoskins saw some capital fights.

"A brown bull with white spots," he writes, "then came in and soon rolled on the ground two picadors and their worthless steeds: one of the animals was killed on the spot, and the other soon dropped. Immediately the bull upset the third horse and his rider, and was rapturously cheered: 'Viva, toro! viva, toro! Bravo, toro!' Again he upset two more steeds, and the picadors fell heavily to the ground; the plaudits were deafening. Soon he raised from the earth the third horse and his rider, who kept his seat at first; but both fell—the picador underneath, stunned, but able, after a short time, to mount again. Horse after horse this fine beast attacked: one poor animal and his rider were soon prostrate on the ground, and immediately afterwards another. The banderillas made him still more mad, and the chulos were obliged to run their best to escape his rage. It was most exciting to see them vaulting over the barriers, flying, as it were, out of his horns. At last the matador struck him; and though the sword was, as usual, deep between the left shoulder and the blade, he seemed as fierce as ever. He was near the enclosure, and a man adroitly drew it out. The matador was preparing to strike him again, when he lay down as if to die, but soon rose, apparently desirous of revenge: after one effort he sank on the arena, and the matador gave him his coup de grace. The band played, and the teams dragged out his carcase and three dead horses, besides two which he had wounded dreadfully: the Spaniards sang with delight."

A little black bull, which in Smithfield would have been slightly esteemed, next rushed into the circle, and quickly cleared it, rolling over the picadors, and making the chulos fly for dear life. After one of these "he galloped at a fearful speed. Not a voice was heard, so deep was the anxiety; but the chulo flew over the barricade as if the bull had pitched him, so near to his legs were its horns. The animal seemed astonished at having lost its victim, and then vented its rage on the red cloak the chulo had been obliged to drop." This fierce little bull killed and badly wounded half-a-dozen horses, goring them disgustingly when on the ground, and galloped round the arena in triumphant defiance, until the terrible matador, with red flag and straight blade, answered the challenge, and slew him with a thrust.

The risks run by the picadors are terrible; although less, perhaps, from the horns of the bull than from bad falls, and from their horses rolling over them. Few of them, Mr Ford assures us, have a sound rib in their body.

"Occasionally, the bull tosses man and steed in one ruin, and, when they fall, exhausts his fury on the poor beast; for the picador either manages to make him a barrier, or is dragged of by the attendant chulos, who always hover near, and with their cloaks entice the bull from the man, leaving the horse to his sad fate. When these deadly struggles take place, when life hangs on a thread, every feeling of eagerness and excitement is stamped on the countenances of the spectators. Their rapture is wrought to its pitch, when the horse, maddened with the wounds and terror, the crimson seams streaking his foam-and-sweat whitened body, flies from the still pursuing bull: then are displayed the nerve and horsemanship of the picador. It is a piteous sight to behold the mangled horses treading out their protruding and quivering entrails, and yet carrying off their riders unhurt. This too frequent occurrence, and which horrifies every Englishman, has, with some other painful incidents, been kindly kept out of sight by our artist, whose object is to please. Spaniards are no more affected with the reality, than Italians are moved by the abstract tanti palpiti of Rossini. The miserable horse, when dead, is rapidly stripped of his accoutrements by his rider, who hobbles off, and the carcass is then dragged out by the mules, often leaving a bloody furrow on the sand, as Spain's river-beds are marked with the scarlet fringe of flowering oleanders. The riders have a more than veterinary skill in pronouncing off-hand what wounds are mortal or not. Those thrusts which are not immediately fatal, are plugged up by them with tow, and then they remount the crippled steed, and carry him, like a battered battle-ship, again into action."


Mr Lake Price has certainly shown good taste in suppressing the more revolting and painful details of bull-fights. The bloody minutiæ of the spectacle would have spoiled his pictures. In painting bull-fights, as in painting battles, the artist must leave to imagination by far the greater part of the gaping wounds and streaming blood, and horrible mutilations. No field of severe battle was ever painted, we apprehend, exactly as it appeared to him who walked over it just as the fight was done. The fidelity of a daguerreotype would be inadmissible in such cases. Imagine an exact representation of Borodino's redoubt, or Albuera's heights, at the very moment of the battle's close, before the fast-accumulating wounded were half removed, or the ghastly dead committed to the shallow grave. From such a picture, whatever its artistic merit, all would turn with shuddering and sickness. If we may compare small things with great, so it is with bull-fights. The painter, if he does not actually suppress fact, must at least choose his moment well, and spare his admirers the more revolting circumstances of the barbarous sport. For barbarous it really is, and some of the occurrences incidendal to it doubtless "horrify every Englishman," as Mr Ford says; but, at the same time, we have observed that nearly all Englishmen who pass even a short time in Spain get over their horror, and become pretty regular attendants at the bull-ring. So that we must not press too severely on Spaniards for their ardent and passionate love of a spectacle which, from childhood, they are accustomed to hear spoken of with enthusiasm, as the finest and most essentially national sport in the world.

No less than eight of Mr Price's pictures are devoted to the second act of the Bull's Tragedy, in which the chulos chiefly figure. This employment is the noviciate of bull-fighting. Great activity and speed of foot are the chief qualifications requisite.

"The duty of this light division is to skirmish and draw off the bull when the picador is endangered, which they do with their particoloured silken cloaks. Their mercurial address and agility is marvellous; they skim over the sand like glittering humming-birds, seeming scarcely to touch the earth. The most dangerous position is when they venture into the middle of the Plaza, and are pursued by the bull to the barrier, over which they bound. The escape often takes place in the very nick of time, and they win by a neck; and frequently so close is the run, that they seem to be helped over the fence by the bull's horns; nay, so active are the bulls, that they often clear the six feet high palisado, on which occasion an indescribable hubbub and confusion take place amid the combatants, water-sellers, alguazils, and persons within; all the doors are immediately opened, and the perplexed beast soon finds his way back again into the arena, to new inflictions. The Plates XIV. and XVII. represent two of the most difficult and dangerous performances of the combatants on foot, and which are rarely attempted, except by the most skilful and experienced toreros and matadors, who take part in these interludes. Such is the Suerte de la Capa, or feat of the cloak. When the infuriated bull, foaming with rage, stands lord of all he surveys, Montes would coolly advance, and, when within two yards, turn his back to the animal, and, holding his cloak behind his shoulders, receive the rushing charge five or six times, stepping adroitly aside at each. The second, El Salto trascuerno, is even more hazardous. The performer advances as before, and when the bull lowers his head to charge, places his foot between the horns, is lifted up, and lights on the other side. These touch-and-go experiments form no part of the strict duties of the chulo; his exclusive province is the banderilla. This implement consists of a barbed dart or arrow, which is wrapt round with papers of different colours, cut in fanciful patterns of ornamental cruelty; the bearer, holding one in each hand, approaches the bull, presenting the point to him, and at the instant when he stoops to toss him, jerks them into his neck, turns aside, and eludes him. To do this neatly requires a quick eye, and a light hand and foot. The ambition of the performer is to place the barbs evenly and symmetrically, one on each side of the bull's neck. Three and four pairs of these are usually stuck in. Sometimes, when the bull has given dissatisfaction, these banderillas are armed with crackers, which, by means of detonating powder, explode the moment they are fixed; the agony of the scorched animal makes him plunge and snort frantically, to the delight of a people whose ancestors welcomed the Auto da Fé, and the perfume of burning living flesh."


Five plates, exhibiting the bull's last moments, complete and conclude this masterly and accurate series. Here is the matador, craving permission to kill the bull in honour of the municipality of Seville: here he advances—his long four-edged sword, of more than bayonet strength, firmly grasped in his right hand, whilst his left waves the scarlet muleta, further exasperating the menaced brute. Be it observed, that there is no "thrusting" in the case. Rapier work were here of little avail. The sword is solid, stiff, and heavy; it receives the bull, but does not meet him. Entering between the shoulder and blade-bone, it is buried, by the victim's own impetus, to the very hilt. Only by so profound and desperate a wound could this energetic vitality be thus instantaneously extinguished. When successful, skilful matadors will sometimes withdraw the sword from the wound, and raise it in triumph above their prostrate victim. On all occasions, a firm hand, great nerve, and a quick eye, are essential. The bull is very often not killed by the first thrust: if the sword strikes a bone, it is ejected high in the air by the rising neck. When a bull will not run on the flag, he is doomed to the dishonourable death of a traitor, and is houghed from behind with a sharp steel crescent fixed on a long pole. When the sinews of his hind legs are thus cruelly divided, the poor beast crawls in agony, and squats down; then a butcher-like assistant, the cachetero, creeps up, and pierces the spinal marrow with a pointed dagger, which is the usual mode of slaughtering cattle in the Spanish shambles. To perform any of these vile operations is beneath the matador, who sometimes will kill such a bull by plunging the point of his sword into the vertebræ. The great danger gives dignity to this most difficult feat, el descabellar. If the exact spot be hit, death is immediate; if the aim misses, and the animal's side only is pricked, he dashes at the unprotected torero, and frequently disables him.

Artists and authors travelling in Spain may, for some time to come, give their brushes and pens a holiday, so far as bull-fights go. There remains little that is new to be written or painted concerning them. Every phase and incident of the contest has been correctly seized and vividly portrayed by Mr Price, who has fairly exhausted his subject. As regards description, that given by Mr Ford is exactly what is needed to accompany an artistical work. It tells us all that is wanted, and, in conjunction with the pictures, gives to fire-side travellers as good an idea of what a bull-fight really is, as can possibly be obtained without actually witnessing one. It has not suited our purpose, in the present brief paper, to extend our examination of "Spain as it is" beyond the fourth chapter of the second volume; but it is only fair to say, lest it should be supposed the merit of the book is also confined to that chapter, that Mr Hoskins' volumes contain a mass of useful information and clever criticism on the public and private picture-galleries of Spain.



[The incidents upon which the following little poem is founded, are amusingly related by John Lydgate, monk of Bury, who flourished about the year 1430. Warton has done full justice to his poetical genius; but his prose works, though comparatively less known, deserve equal attention.

"I will tell you now of a plesaunt story recorded by Plotinus. One daye a certaine man of the cytie of Athens going forthe into an olde foreste, wherein was many dyuers of byrdes synging, did hear, nye unto a brokken Tempill, that tyme afore was dedicat unto a hethen Godde, a voice as of a yonge chylde that was carolying swetely. How be it, the man knew not the tonge wherein the lyttel chylde did synge. Astonied at thys maruyl, for the place[232] was not nighe unto the cytie, so that chylderne colde furthlie passe thereunto, he looked ovir the walle, and soughte al aboute what this myght mene. Than sawe he sytting amonge the herbes, a fayre yonge boie, with winges besprent with fetheris, behynde his sholderis, and noghte lyving thynge besyde. Than sayde he: 'What doest thow here, chylde?' but the chylde answered noght, but smyled. Soe the man, being in perplexitie, for he knew not what it mycht bee, yet lyking not to leeve so yonge a chylde in the wodes, where wylde bestes were manie, did have him up into his mantill, and convaied him home until his awn duellynge. There, in defaulte of anie cage, he did putte the chylde into an olde Cabynett, that afore tyme stode longe there, and dyd give hym mete and drynke. Yet the chylde waxed not, but sange contynuously, soe that al the pepill of Athens maruyled at hys mynstrelsye. But what was grete wonder, the Cabynett wherein he was, which afore was brast in dyuers places, wherein chinkis and riftis dyd appere, semed to become of a sodaine newe and stronge, and was couered with gemmis and jowellis of grete prys, yet colde no man telle whens they did come. And the lyttel chylde had hys duellynge there, lyke unto an byrdis neste, and dyde synge rychte swetely, so that manie cam from afar to see the wonder. So dyd he manie yeris. At the last, deceisit the master of the house, and he that cam after hym loued nat musike, but was given up to thochtes of merchaunsedyse, and was of an ille fauour, regardynge nocht but his own gettynges. Soe one daye, heryng the chylde synge euer, he wox angery, and did command hym to holde his pees. Howe be it the chylde wolde nat. Than thys man, being wrothe, caused to bringe leveris, and to brak open the Cabynett, and take forth the chylde, and to put hym to the wyndowe. But the chylde sayd, 'Ye will curse the tyme ye put me forth;' and with those wordes vanyshed the chylde away, and was neuer sene a geyne. From that tyme the Cabynett was rent, and fall asonder in peces, Dyuers were angery with the man for his myssedede, but he sayd, 'The deuyll satysfye you, for I dyd it for the beste; but I shall neuer more medyll.' And he dyd nat, but sone after departed that cytie. And Plotinus sayth that thys chylde was estemit to be Cupido, and so was called in hys daies."]

Lydgate's Boke of Tradycion.

Pray you, gentle ladies, hearken
To a tale of ancient time:
Let no doubt your bosoms darken,
Love is always in his prime.
Young, and fair, and gladly singing
As he did in days of yore,
O'er the bright blue ocean winging
To the sweet Idalian shore.
Cupid is not dead, dear ladies!
You may hear him even now
At the early dawn of May-days,
Singing underneath the bough.
But beware, for he deceiveth;
Tempt him not within the door,
For the house that Cupid leaveth
Shall not prosper evermore.
Old Plotinus, now in glory,
Hath bequeathed to us a story,
Which perhaps may sound as new—
And 'tis neither long nor stupid—
Of a man who captured Cupid;
If you please, I'll tell it you.
Wandering through the forests wide,
Rising from Cephisus' side,
Went a stout Athenian Archon,
With a vacant listless eye,
[233] Till he heard a little cry,
That made him stop and hearken.
From a ruined temple near,
Came a voice both soft and clear,
Singing in some foreign tongue
Sweeter strains than e'er were sung,
Till the birds forbore their call,
Wondering who the wight might be
That in forest minstrelsy
Overcame them, one and all.
Slowly went the Archon on—
Peered above the broken stone—
There, within the waste enclosure,
On a bed of myrtle wild,
Lay a little yearling child,
Who smiled and sung, and sung and smiled,
In innocent composure.
From his chubby shoulders, wings
Sprouted outwards; tender things,
Hardly fledged, as are the callow
Nestlings of the household swallow.
And the Archon, gazing there,
Thought that never child so fair
Had he looked on, anywhere.
"Whence art thou, my pretty boy?
But the infant nought replied,
Turning to the other side
With an unknown song of joy.
"Can it be," the Archon pondered,
"That some little god hath wandered
From his home within the skies,
To a dreary spot like this?
Ever welcome to the wise
Such a rare occasion is;
So within my cloak I'll fold him!"
Little trouble was to hold him—
Calm and still the infant lay,
Smiling ever, singing ever,
Till the Archon crossed the river
Just above Piræus' bay.
"In what place to lodge my darling!"
Mused the much-bewildered sage,
"He might dwell within a cage
Safe as any finch or starling;
But an infant god to hold,
All the wires should be of gold.
Ha! I see—the very thing!
This will give him room to play,
Yet so far restrain his wing
That he cannot fly away.
Therefore come, my pretty pet,
I'll put thee in my Cabinet!"
Crazy was that Cabinet
When he let the Cupid in,
Loosely were the joinings set
Both without it and within:
You had sworn in any weather
That it could not hold together
[234] Longer than a year or so.
But no sooner was the god
Ushered to his new abode,
Than he wrought a change; for, lo!
Bright and fresh the place became,
Renovated in its frame.
With a lustre shone the wood
As it were from opal hewed;
And the vases twain, that stood
On its top, both cracked and grey,
Glistened with metallic ray,
As if golden jars were they.
Every thing grew bright and fair,
For the God of Love was there.
As a bird within a cage
So that it be tended well,
Careth not elsewhere to dwell;
Will not leave its hermitage,
Even for the wild and free
Chorus of the greenwood tree—
So the god, though famed for changing,
Never seemed to think of ranging.
Were the seasons dry or wet—
Rose the sun, or did it set—
Still he kept his Cabinet.
And he sang so loud and clear,
That the people clustered round
In the hope that they might hear
Something of that magic sound;
Though the words that Cupid sung
None could fathom, old nor young.
Sometimes, listening from afar,
You might catch a note of war,
Like the clarion's call; and often
Would his voice subside, and soften
To a tone of melancholy,
Ending in a long-drawn note,
Like that from Philomela's throat—
'Twas, "Proto-proto-proto-colly!"
But at last the Archon died,
And another filled his place—
He was a man of ancient race,
But jaundiced all with bitter pride,
Oppressed with jealousy and care;
Though quite unfitted to excel,
Whate'er the task, he could not bear
To see another do it well!
No soul had he for wanton strains,
Or strains indeed of any kind:
To nature he was deaf and blind,
His deepest thoughts were bent on drains.
Yet in his ear were ever ringing
The notes the little god was singing.
"Peace, peace! thou restless creature—peace!
I cannot bear that voice of thine—
'Tis not more dulcet, sure, than mine!—
From thy perpetual piping cease!
[235] Why come the people here to hearken?
The asses, dolts! both dull and stupid!
Why listen to a silly Cupid,
Preferring him to me, their Archon?
Hush, sirrah, hush! and never more,
While I am here, presume to sing!"
Yet still, within the mystic door,
Was heard the rustling of the wing,
And notes of witching melancholy,
In wrath the furious Archon rose—
"Bring levers here!" he loudly cried,
"If he must sing—though Pallas knows
His voice is tuneless as a crow's—
E'en let him sit and sing outside!"
They burst the door. The bird was caught,
And to the open window brought—
"Now get thee forth to wood or spray,
Thou tiresome, little, chattering jay!"
Paused the fair boy, ere yet he raised
His wing to take his flight;
And on the Archon's face he gazed,
As stars look on the night.
No woe was there—he only smiled,
As if in secret scorn,
And thus with human speech the child
Addressed the nobly born,—
"Farewell! You'll rue the moment yet
You drove me from your Cabinet!"
He sped away. And scarce the wind
Had borne him o'er the garden wall,
Ere a most hideous crash behind
Announced an unexpected fall.
The Cabinet was rent in twain!
The wood was broken into splinters,
As though for many hundred winters
It had been dashed by wind and rain.
Golden no more, the jars of clay
Were dull and cracked, and dingy grey.
Down fell a beam of rotten oak;
The chair beneath the Archon broke;
And all the furniture around
Appeared at once to be unsound.
Now have I nothing more to say!
Of Cupid's entrance all beware:
But if you chance to have him there,
'Tis always wise to let him stay.
And, ladies, do not sneer at me,
Or count my words without avail;
For in a little time you'll see
There is a moral to my tale.
What has been done in days of yore
May well again be acted o'er,
And other things have been upset
By Cupid, than a Cabinet!





"Glory of War, my heart beat time to thee,
In my young day; but there—behold the end!"
The Old Soldier said: 'twas by his evening fire—
Winter the time: so saving, out he jerked
His wooden leg before him. With a look
Half comic, half pathetic, his grey head
Turned down askance, the pigtail out behind
Stiff with attention, saying nothing more,
He sat and eyed the horizontal peg.
Back home the stump he drew not, till with force
Disdainful deep into the slumbering fire
He struck the feruled toe, and poking roused
A cheery blaze, to light him at his work.
The unfinished skep is now upon his knee,
For June top-swarmers in his garden trim:
With twists of straw, and willow wattling thongs,
Crooning, he wrought. The ruddy flickering fire
Played on his eye-brow shag, and thin fresh cheek,
Touching his varying eye with many a gleam.
His cot behind, soldierly clean and neat,
Gave back the light from many a burnished point.
His simple supper o'er, he reads The Book;
Then loads and mounts his pipe, puffing it slow,
Musing on days of yore, and battles old,
And many a friend and comrade dead and gone,
And vital ones, boughs of himself, cut off
From his dispeopled side, naked and bare.
Puffs short and hurried, puff on puff, betray
His swelling heart: up starts the Man, to keep
The Woman down: forth from his door he eyes
The frosty heaven—the moon and all the stars.
"Peace be with hearts that watch!" thus, heaven forgot,
And all its hosts, true to the veins of blood,
Thoughtful his spirit runs:—"'Tis now the hour
When the lone matron, from her cottage door,
Looks for her spouse into the moonlit ways;
But hears no foot abroad in all the night.
Then turns she in: the tale of murder done,
In former days, by the blue forest's edge,
Which way he must return—why tarries he?—
Comes o'er her mind; up starting quick, she goes
To be assured that she has barred her door;
Then sits anew. Her little lamp of oil
Is all burnt out; the wasting embers whiten;
And the cat winks before the drowsy fire.
What sound was that? 'Tis but her own heart beating.
Up rises she again; her little ones
Are all asleep, she'll go and waken them,
And hear their voices in the eerie night;
But yet she pauses, loth to break their rest.
God send the husband and the father home!
"No one looks out for me in all this world,
No one have I to look for! Ah poor me!
Well, well!" he murmurs meek. Turning, he locks
His lonely door, and stumps away to bed.


How fresh the morning meadow of the spring,
Pearl-seeded with the dew: adown its path,
Bored by the worms of night, the Old Soldier takes
His wonted walk, and drinks into his heart
The gush and gurgle of the cold green stream.
The huddled splendour of the April noon;
Glancings of rain; the mountain-tops all quick
With shadowy touches and with greening gleams;
Blue bent the Bow of God; the coloured clouds,
Soaked with the glory of the setting sun,—
These all are his for pleasure: his the Moon,
Chaste huntress, dipping, o'er the dewy hills,
Her silver buskin in the dying day.
The summer morn is up: the tapering trees
Are all a-glitter. In his garden forth
The Old Soldado saunters: hovering on
Before him, oft upon the naked walk
Rests the red butterfly; now full dispread;
Now, in the wanton gladsomeness of life,
Half on their hinges folding up its wings;
Again full spread and still: o'erhead away,
Lo! now it wavers through the liquid blue.
But he intent from out their straw-roofed hives
Watches his little foragers go forth,
Boot on the buds to make, to suck the depths
Of honey-throated blooms, and home return,
Their thighs half smothered with the yellow dust.
Dibble and hoe he plies; anon he props
His heavy-beaded plants, and visits round
His herbs of grace: the simple flowerets here
Open their infant buttons; there the flowers
Of preference blow, the lily and the rose.
Fast by his cottage door there grows an oak,
Of state supreme, drawn from the centuries.
Pride of the old man's heart, in many a walk.
Far off he sees its top of sovereignty,
And with instinctive loyalty his cap
Soldierly touches to the Royal Tree—
King of all trees that flourish! King revered!
Trafalgars lie beneath his rugged vest,
And in his acorns is The Golden Age!
Summer the time; thoughtful beneath his tree
The Veteran puffs his intermittent pipe,
And cheats the sweltering hours; yet noting oft
The flight of bird, and exhalation far
Quivering and drifting o'er the fallow field,
And the great cloud rising upon the noon,
The sultry smithy of the thunder-forge.
Anon the weekly journal of events
[238] Conning, he learns the doings of the world,
And what it suffers—justice-loosened wrath
Falling from Heaven upon unrighteous states,
Famine, and plague, earthquake, and flood, and fire;
Lean Sorrow tracking still the bread-blown Sin;
A spirit of lies; high-handed wrong; the curse
Of ignorance crass and fat stupidity;
Glib demagogue tongues that sow the dragon-teeth
Of wars along the valleys of the earth;
And maddened nations at their contre-dance
Of revolutions, when each bloody hour
Comes staggering in beneath its load of crimes,
Enough to bend the back of centuries.
The sun goes down the western afternoon,
Lacing the clouds with his diverging rays:
Homeward the children from the village school
Come whooping on; but aye their voices fall,
As aye they turn unto the old man's door—
So much they love him. He their progress notes
In learning, and has prizes for their zeal,
Flowers for the girls, and fruit, hooks for the boys,
Whistles, and cherry-stones; and, to maintain
The thews and sinews of our coming men,
He makes them run and leap upon the green.
The nodding wain has borne the harvest home,
And yellowing apples spot the orchard trees:
Now may you oft the Old Soldado see
Stumping relieved against the evening sky
Along the ferny height—so much he loves
Its keen and wholesome air; nor less he loves
To hear the rustling of the fallen leaves,
Swept by the wind along the glittering road,
As home he goes beneath the autumnal moon.
Thus round the starry girdle of the year
His spirit circles thankfully. Not grieved
When winter comes once more, with chosen books
He sits with Wisdom by his evening fire;
Puff goes his cheerful pipe; by turns he works;
And ever from his door, before he sleeps,
He views the stars of night, and thinks of Him
Whose simplest fiat is the birth of worlds.


Lo! yonder sea-mew seeks the inland moss:
Beautiful bird! how snowy clean it shows
Behind the ploughman, on a glinting day,
Trooping with rooks, and farther still relieved
Against the dark-brown mould, alighting half,
Half hovering still; yet far more beautiful
Its glistening sleekness, when from out the deep
Sudden and shy emerging on your lee,
What time through breeze, and spray, and freshening brine,
Your snoring ship, beneath her cloud of sail,
Bends on her buried side, carried it rides
The green curled billow and the seething froth,
[239] Turning its startled head this way and that,
Half looking at you with its wild blue eye,
Then moves its fluttering wings and dives anew!
Smoking his pipe of peace, wearing away
The summer eve, the old Soldado sits
Beneath his buzzing oak, and eyes the bird,
With many a thought of the suggested sea.
The veering gull came circling back and near:
"What! nearer still?" the Veteran said, and rose,
And doffed his bonnet, and held down his pipe:
"Give me her message, then! O be to me
Her spirit not unconscious from the deep
Of how I mourn her lost! Ah! bird, you're gone.
Vain dreamer I! For every night my soul
Knocks at the gates of the invisible world
But no one answers me, no little hand
Comes out to grasp at mine. Well, all is good:
Even, bird, thy heart-deceiving change of flight,
To teach me patience, was ordained of old."
Yes, all is ordered well. Aimless may seem
The wandering foot; even it commissioned treads
The very lines by Providence laid down,
Sure though unseen, of all-converging good.
Look up, old man, and see:—
Along the road
Came one in sailor's garb: his shallow hat,
Of glazed and polished leather, shone like tin.
A fair young damsel led him by the hand—
For he was blind: and to the summer sun,
Fearless and free, he held his bronzed face.
An armless sleeve, pinned to his manly breast,
Told he had been among the "Hearts of Oak."
The damsel saw the old man of the tree,
His queue of character, and wooden leg,
And smiling whispered to the tar she led.
Near turned, both stood. Down from her shoulder then
The maid unslung a mandolin, and played,
High singing as she played, a battle-piece
Of bursts and pauses: keeping time the while,
Now furious fast, now dying slow away,
His pigtail wagging with emotion deep,
The Old Soldier puffed his sympathetic pipe.
The minstrel ceased; he drew his leathern purse,
With pension lined, and offered guerdon due.
"Nay," said the maiden, smiling, "for your tye
Alone I played, and for your wooden leg;
Yea, but for these, the symbols of the things
You've done and suffered—like my father here."
"Well, then, you'll taste my honey and my bread?"
The Soldier said, and from his cot he brought
Seats for the strangers; him the damsel helped,
Bearing the bread and honey; and they ate,
The damsel serving, and she ate in turn.
When various talk had closed the simple feast,
The strangers rose to go: "My head! my head!"
The sailor cried, and fell in sudden pangs.
They bore and laid him on the Soldier's bed.
[240] Forth ran the lass, and from the neighbouring town
Brought the physician; but his skill was vain,
For God had touched him, and the man must die.
His mind was clear: "Give me that cross, my child,
That I may kiss it ere my spirit part,"
He said. And from her breast the damsel drew
A little cross, peculiar shaped and wrought,
And gave it him. It caught the Soldier's eye
And when the girl received it back, he took
And looked at it.
"This cross, O dying man,
Was round my daughter's neck, when in the deep
She perished from me, on that fatal night
The 'Sphinx' was burnt, forth sailing from the Clyde.
Her dying mother round the infant's neck
This holy symbol, with her blessing, hung.
Friendless at home, I took my only child,
Bound to the Western World, where we had friends.
Scarce out of port, up flamed our ship on fire,
With crowding terrors through the umbered night.
O! what a shout of joy, when through the gloom
That walled us round within our glaring vault,
Spectral and large, we saw the ships of help.
Our boats were lowered; the first, o'ercrowded, swamped;
Down to the second, as it lurched away,
I flung my child: the monstrous waves went by
With backs like blood: the sudden-shifting boat
Is off with one, another has my babe.
I sprung to save her—all the rest is drear,
Grisly confusion, till I found me laid,
On some far island, in a fisher's hut.
Me, as they homeward scudded past the fire,
Those lonely farmers of the deep picked up,
Floating away, and rubbed to vital heat;
And through the fever-gulf that had me next,
With simple love they brought my weary life.
The shores and islands round, for lingering news
Of people saved from off that burning wreck,
O! how I haunted then; but of my child
No man had heard. Hopeless, and naked poor,
To war I rushed. This cot received me next;
And here, I trust, my mortal chapter ends.
But say, O say! how came you by this cross?"
The dying man upon his arm had risen,
Ere ceased the Soldier's tale: "She is thy child,
Take her," he said; "and may she be to thee,
As she to me has been, a daughter true,
A child of good, a blessing from on high!"
So saying, back he fell. Around his neck
Her arms of love the sobbing damsel threw,
And kissed him many a time. And then she rose,
And flung herself upon the Soldier's breast—
For he's her father too. And many tears,
Silent, the old man rained upon her neck.
"O wondrous night!" the dying tar went on,
"Who could have thought of this! I am content.
The Lord be praised that she has found a friend,
Since I must go from her! That night of fire,
[241] Our brig of war bore down upon your ship,
And sent her boats to save you from the flame.
Near you we could not come; so forth I swam,
And to your crowded stern I fixed a rope,
To take the people off. Back as I slid
Along the line, to show them how to come,
A child, upheaved upon the billow top,
Was borne against my breast; I snatched her up;
Fast to my neck she clung; none could I find
To claim and take her: she was thus mine own.
That night she wore the cross which now she wears.
Why need I tell the changes of my life?
In war I lost an arm, and then an eye;
My other eye went out from sympathy,
And home I came a blind and helpless man.
But I had still one comforter, my child—
My young breadwinner, too! From wake to wake
She led me on, playing her mandolin,
Which I had brought her from the south of Spain.
She'll tell you all the rest when I am gone.
Bury me now in your own burial-place,
That still our daughter may be near my dust.
And Jesus keep you both!" he said, and died.
They buried him in their own burial-place.
And many a flower, heart-planted by that maid
And good Old Soldier, bloomed upon his grave.
And many a requiem, when the gloaming came,
The damsel played above his honoured dust.
Not less, but all the more, her heart was knit
Unto her own true father. He, the while,
How proud was he to give her up his keys,
Mistress installed of all his little stores;
And introduce her to his flowers, and bees,
Making the sea-green honey—all for her;
And sit beside her underneath the oak,
Listening the story of her bygone life.
In turn she made him of her mother tell,
And aye a tear dropped on her needlework;
And all his wars the old campaigner told.
And God was with them, and in peace and love
They dwelt together in their happy home.



The fall of Napoleon completed the first drama of the historical series arising out of the French Revolution. Democratic ambition had found its natural and inevitable issue in warlike achievement; the passions of the camp had succeeded those of the forum, and the conquest of all the Continental monarchies had, for a time, apparently satiated the desires of an insatiable people. But the reaction was as violent as the action. In every warlike operation two parties are to be considered—the conquerors and the conquered. The rapacity, the insolence, the organised exactions of the French proved grievous in the extreme, and the hardship was felt as the more insupportable when the administrative powers of Napoleon gave to them the form of a regular tribute, and conducted the riches of conquered Europe, in a perennial stream, to the imperial treasury. A unanimous cry of indignation arose from every part of the Continent; a crusade commenced, in all quarters, from the experienced suffering of mankind; from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, the liberating warriors came forth, and the strength of an injured world collected by a convulsive effort at the heart, to throw off the load which had oppressed it. Securely cradled amidst the waves, England, like her immortal chief at Waterloo, had calmly awaited the hour when she might be called on to take the lead in the terrible strife. Her energy, when it arrived, rivalled her former patience in privation, her fortitude in suffering; and the one only, nation which, throughout the struggle, had been unconquered, at length stood foremost in the fight, and struck the final and decisive blow for the deliverance of the world.

But the victory of nations did not terminate the war of opinion; the triumph of armies did not end the collision of thought. France was conquered, but the principles of her Revolution were not extirpated; they had covered her own soil with mourning, but they were too flattering to the pride of the human heart to be subdued but by many ages of suffering. The lesson taught by the subjugation of her power, the double capture of her capital, was too serious to be soon forgotten by her rulers; but the agony which had been previously felt by the people, had ended with a generation which was now mouldering in its grave. It is by, the last impressions that the durable opinions of mankind are formed; and effects had here succeeded each other so rapidly, that the earlier ones were in a great measure forgotten. The conscription had caused the guillotine to be forgotten; grief for the loss of the frontier of the Rhine had obliterated that of the dissolution of the National Assembly. Men did not know that the first was the natural result of the last. There was little danger of France soon crossing the Rhine, but much of her reviving the opinions of Mirabeau and Siéyès. The first drama, where the military bore the prominent part, was ended; but the second, in which civil patriots were to be the leading characters, and vehement political passions excited, was still to commence; the Lager had terminated, but the Piccolomini was only beginning, and Wallenstein's Death had not yet commenced.

Everything conspired to render the era subsequent to the fall of Napoleon as memorable for civil changes as that era itself had been for military triumphs. Catherine of Russia had said at the commencement of the Revolution, that the only way to prevent its principles spreading, and save Europe from civil convulsion, was to engage in war, and cause the national to supersede the social passions. The experiment, after a fearful struggle, succeeded; but it succeeded only for a time. War wore itself out; a contest of twenty years' duration at once drained away the blood and exhausted the treasures of Europe. The excitement, the animation, the mingled horrors and glories of military strife, were followed by a long period of repose, during which the social passions were daily gaining[243] strength from the very magnitude of the contest which had preceded it. The desire for excitement continued, and the means of gratifying it had ceased: the cannon of Leipsic and Waterloo still resounded through the world, but no new combats furnished daily materials for anxiety, terror, or exultation. The nations were chained to peace by the immensity of the sacrifices made in the preceding war: all governments had suffered so much during its continuance, that, like wounded veterans, they dreaded a renewal of the fight. During the many years of constrained repose which succeeded the battle of Waterloo, the vehement excitement occasioned by the Revolutionary wars continued; but, from default of external, it turned to internal objects. Democratic came instead of military ambition; the social succeeded the national passions; the spirit was the same, but its field was changed. Meanwhile the blessed effect of long continued peace, by allowing industry in every quarter to reap its fruits in quiet, was daily adding to the strength and energy, because augmenting the resources, of the middle class, in whom these feelings are ever the strongest, because they are the first to be promoted by a change; while, in a similar proportion, the power of government was daily declining, from the necessity of providing for the interest of the debts contracted during the preceding strife, and reducing the military forces which had so long averted its dangers or achieved its triumphs.

The change in the ruling passions of mankind has clearly appeared in the annals of nations, in the thirty years which followed the fall of Napoleon. Governments have often great difficulties to contend with, but it has been not with each other, but with their subjects; many of them have been overturned, not by foreign armies, but by their own. Europe has been often on the verge of a general war, but the danger of it arose not, as in former days, from the throne, but the cottage; the persons who urged it on were not kings or their ministers, but the tribunes of the people. The chief efforts of governments in every country have been directed to the preservation of that peace which the collisions of so many interests, and the vehemence of such passions, endangered: war was repeatedly threatened, but it was so, not by sovereigns, but by the people. The sovereigns were successful; but their being so only augmented the dangers of their position, and increased the peril arising from the ardour of the social passions with which they had to contend; for every year of peace added to the strength of their opponents as much as it diminished their own.

The preservation of peace, unbroken from 1815 to 1830, was fraught with immense blessings to Europe; and, had it been properly improved, might have been so to the cause of freedom throughout the world; but it proved fatal to the dynasty of the Restoration. From necessity, as well as inclination, from the recollection of the double capture of Paris, as well as conscious inability to conduct warlike operations, Louis XVIII. remained at peace; and no monarch who does so seems likely to remain long on the French throne. Death, and extreme prudence of conduct, alone saved him from dethronement. The whole history of the Restoration, from 1815 to 1830, was that of one vast and ceaseless conspiracy against the Bourbons, existing rather in the hearts and minds than the measures and designs of men. No concessions to freedom, no moderation of government, no diminution of public burdens, could reconcile the people to a dynasty imposed on them by the stranger. One part of the people were dreaming of the past, another speculating on the future; all were dissatisfied with the present. The wars, the glories of the Empire, rose up in painful contrast to the peace and monotony of the present. Successive contractions of the elective constituency, and restrictions on the press, had no effect in diminishing the danger it excited in the minds of men, and only became, like all other concealed passions, more powerful from the difficulty of giving it expression. France was daily increasing in wealth, freedom, and material well-being, but it was as steadily declining in contentment, loyalty, and happiness—a strange combination, but such as is by no means unknown in private life,[244] when all external appliances are favourable, but the heart is gnawed by a secret and ungratified passion. At length the general discontent rose to such a pitch that it became impossible to carry on the government; a coup d'état was attempted, to restore some degree of efficiency to the executive, but it was attempted by the "feeble arms of confessors and kings;" the army wavered in its duty; the Orleans family took advantage of the tumult, and the dynasty of the elder branch of the Bourbons was overthrown.

That so great an event as the overthrow of a dynasty by a sudden urban insurrection, should have produced a great impression all over the world, was to have been expected; but it could hardly have been anticipated it would have been attended by the effects with which it actually was in Great Britain. But many causes had conspired at that period to prepare the public mind in England for changes; and, what is very remarkable, these causes had arisen mainly from the magnitude of the successes with which the war had been attended. The capital which had been realised during the war had been so great, the influence of the moneyed interest had become so powerful, that the legislature became affected by their desires. The Monetary Bill of 1819, before many years had elapsed, had added 50 per cent to the value of money, and the weight of debts and taxes, and taken as much from the remuneration of industry. Hence a total change in the feelings, influences, and political relations of society. The territorial aristocracy was weakened as much as the commercial was aggrandised; small landed proprietors were everywhere ruined from the fall of prices; the magnates stood forth in increased lustre from the enhanced value of their revenues. Industry was querulous from long-continued suffering; wealth, ambitious from sudden exaltation. Political power was coveted by one class, from the excess of their riches; by another, from the depth of their misery. The emancipation of the Roman Catholics severed the last bond, that of a common religion, which had hitherto held together the different classes, and imprinted on the minds of a large and sincere class a thirst for vengeance, which overwhelmed every consideration of reason. The result of these concurring causes was that the institutions of England were essentially altered by the earthquake of 1830, and a new class elevated to supreme power by means, bloodless indeed, but scarcely less violent than the revolution which had overturned Charles X.

The revolution of 1830 elevated the middle class to the direction of affairs in France, and the Reform Bill vested the same class in effect with supreme power in the British empire. Vast effects followed this all-important change in both countries. For the first time in the history of mankind the experiment was made of vesting the electoral franchise, not in a varied and limited class, as in Old England, or in the whole citizens, as in revolutionary France or America, but in persons possessed only of a certain money qualification. The franchise was not materially changed in France, but the general arming of the National Guard, and the revolutionary origin of the new government, effectually secured attention to the wishes of the burgher aristocracy; in England they were at once vested with the command of the state, for the House of Commons was returned by a million of electors, who voted for 658 members, of whom two-thirds were the representatives of boroughs, and two-thirds of their constituents shopkeepers, or persons whom they influenced. Thence consequences of incalculable importance in both countries, and effects which have left indelible traces in the future history of mankind.

The first effect of this identity of feeling and interest, in the class thus for the first time intrusted with the practical direction of affairs in both countries, was a close political alliance between their governments, and an entire change in the Foreign policy of Great Britain. To the vehement hostility and ceaseless rivalry of four centuries succeeded an alliance sincere and cordial at the time; though, like other intimacies founded on identity of passion, not of interest, it might be doubted whether it would survive the emotions which gave it[245] birth. In the mean time, however, the effects of this alliance were novel, and in the highest degree important. When the lords of the earth and the sea united, no power in Europe ventured to confront them; the peace of Europe was preserved by their union. The Czar in full march towards Paris was arrested on the Vistula; he found ample employment for his arms in resisting the efforts of the Poles to restore their much-loved nationality. Austria and Prussia were too much occupied with the surveillance of the discontented in their own dominions to think of renewing the crusade of 1813; nor did they venture to do so when the forces of England were united to those of France. The consequence was that the march of revolution was unresisted in Western Europe, and an entire change effected in the institutions and dynasties on the throne in its principal continental states. The Orleans family continued firmly, and to all appearance permanently, seated on the throne of France; Belgium was revolutionised, torn from the monarchy of the Netherlands, and the Cobourg family seated on its throne: the monarchies of Spain and Portugal were overturned, and a revolutionary dynasty of queens placed on the thrones of these countries, in direct violation of the Treaty of Utrecht; while in the east of Europe the last remnants of Polish nationality were extinguished on the banks of the Vistula. Durable interests were overlooked, ancient alliances broken, long-established rivalries forgotten in the fleeting passions of the moment. Confederacies the most opposite to the lasting policy of the very nations who contracted them, were not only formed, but acted upon. Europe beheld with astonishment the arms of Prussia united with those of Russia to destroy the barrier of the Continent against the Muscovite power on the Sarmatian plains; the Leopards of England joined to the tricolor standard to wrest Antwerp from Holland, and secure the throne of the Netherlands to a son-in-law of France; and the scarlet uniforms blended with the ensigns of revolution to beat down the liberties of the Basque provinces, and prepare the heiress of Spain for the arms of a son of France, on the very theatre of Wellington's triumphs.

Novel and extraordinary as were these results of the revolution of 1830 upon the political relations of Europe, its effects upon the colonial empire of England, and, through it, upon the future destinies of the human species, were still greater and more important. To the end of the world, the consequences of the change in the policy of England will be felt in every quarter of the globe. Its first effect was to bring about the emancipation of the negroes in the West Indies. Eight hundred thousand slaves in the British colonies in that quarter of the globe received the perilous gift of unconditional freedom. For the first time in the history of mankind the experiment was made of extending the institutions of Japhet to the sons of Ham. As a natural result of so vast and sudden a change, and of the conferring of the institutions of the Anglo-Saxons upon unlettered savages, the proprietors of those noble colonies were ruined, their affections alienated, and the authority of the mother country preserved only by the terror of arms. Canada shared in the moral earthquake which shook the globe, and that noble offshoot of the empire was only preserved to Great Britain by the courage of its soldiers and the loyalty of its English and Highland citizens. Australia rapidly advanced in wealth, industry, and population during these eventful years. Every commercial crisis which paralysed industry, every social struggle which excited hope, every successful innovation which diminished security, added to the stream of hardy and enterprising emigrants who crowded to its shores; New Zealand was added to the already colossal empire of England in Oceania; and it is apparent that the foundations have been laid in a fifth hemisphere of another nation, destined to rival, perhaps eclipse, Europe itself in the career of human improvement. For the first time in the history of mankind the course of advancement ceased to be from East to West; but it was not destined to be arrested by[246] the Rocky Mountains; the mighty day of four thousand years was drawing to its close; but before its light was extinguished in the West, civilisation had returned to the land of its birth; and ere its orb had set in the waves of the Pacific, the sun of knowledge was illuminating the isles of the Eastern Sea.

Great and important as have been these results of the social convulsions of France and England in the first instance, they sink into insignificance compared to those which have followed the change in the commercial policy and increased stringency of the monetary laws of Great Britain. The effect of these all-important measures, from which so much was expected, and so little, save suffering, has been received, has been to augment to an extraordinary and unparalleled degree the outward tendency of the British people. The agricultural population, especially in Ireland, has been violently torn up from the land of its birth by woeful suffering; a famine of the thirteenth appeared amidst the population of the nineteenth century; and to this terrible but transient source of suffering has been superadded the lasting discouragement arising from the virtual closing of the market of England to Irish produce, by the inundations of grain from foreign states. Since the barriers raised by human regulations have been thrown down, the eternal laws of nature have appeared in full operation; the old and rich state can always undersell the young and poor one in manufactures, and is always under-sold by it in agricultural produce. The fate of old Rome apparently is reserved for Great Britain; the harvests of Poland, the Ukraine, and America, prostrate agriculture in the British Isles as effectually as those of Sicily, Libya, and Egypt did the old Patrimony of the Legions; and after the lapse of eighteen hundred years the same effects appear. The great cities flourish, but the country decays; the exportation of human beings and the importation of human food keep up a gainful traffic in the seaport towns; but it is every day more and more gliding into the hands of the foreigner; and while exports and imports are constantly increasing, the mainstay of national strength, the cultivation of the soil, is rapidly declining. The effects upon the strength, resources, and population of the empire, and the growth of its colonial possessions, have been equally important. Europe, before the middle of the century, beholds with astonishment Great Britain, which, at the end of the war, had been self-supporting, importing ten millions of quarters of grain, being a full fifth of the national subsistence, and a constant stream of three hundred thousand emigrants annually leaving its shores. Its inhabitants, which for four centuries had been constantly increasing, have declined a million in the last five years in the two islands, and two millions in Ireland, taken separately; but the foundations of a vast empire have been laid in the Transatlantic and Australian wilds; and the annual addition of three hundred thousand souls to the European population of the New World by immigration alone, has come almost to double the already marvellous rapidity of American increase.

While this vast transference of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic population to the embryo states of America and Australia has been going forward, the United States of America are rapidly increasing in numbers and extent of territory. The usual and fearful ambition of republican states has appeared there in more than its usual proportions. During the ten years from 1840 to 1850, the inhabitants of the United States have increased six millions: they have grown from eighteen to twenty-four millions. But the increase of its territory has been still more extraordinary: it has been extended, during the same period, from somewhat above two millions, to three million three hundred thousand square miles. A territory nine times the size of Old France has been added to the devouring Republic in ten years. The conquests of Rome in ancient, of the English in India in modern times, afford no parallel instance of rapid and unbroken increase. Everything indicates that a vast migration of the human species is going forward, and the family of Japhet in the course of being transferred from its native to its destined seats. To[247] this prodigious movement it is hard to say whether the disappointed energies of democratic vigour in Europe, or the insatiable spirit of republican ambition in America, has most contributed; for the first overcame all the attachments of home, and all the endearments of kindred in a large—and that the most energetic—portion of the people in the old world; while the latter has prepared for their reception ample seats—in which a kindred tongue and institutions prevail—in the new.

While this vast and unexampled exodus of the Anglo-Saxon race, across a wider ocean than the Red Sea, and to a greater promised land than that of Canaan, has been going forward, a corresponding, and in some respects still more marvellous, increase of the Sclavonic race in the Muscovite dominions has taken place. The immense dominions and formidable power of the Czar, which had received so vast an addition from the successful termination of the contest with Napoleon, were scarcely less increased by the events of the long peace which followed. The inhuman cruelty with which the Turks prosecuted the war with the Greeks, awakened all the sympathies of the Christian world; governments were impelled by their subjects into a crusade against the Crescent; and the battle of Navarino, which, for the first time in history, beheld the flags of England, France, and Russia side by side, at once ruined the Ottoman navy, and reft the most important provinces of Greece from Turkey. The inconceivable infatuation of the Turks, and their characteristic ignorance of the strength of the enemy whom they provoked, impelled them soon after into a war with Russia; and then the immeasurable superiority which the Cross had now acquired over the Crescent at once appeared. Varna, the scene of the bloody defeat of the French chivalry by the Janizaries of Bajazet, yielded to the scientific approaches of the Russians; the barrier, hitherto insurmountable, of the Balkan, was passed by Diebitch; Adrianople fell; and the anxious intervention of the other European powers alone prevented the entire subjugation of Turkey, and the entry of the Muscovite battalions through the breach made by the cannon of Mahomet in the walls of Constantinople.

Great as were these results to the growth of Russia, of the forced and long-continued pacification of Western Europe, still more important were those which followed its intestine convulsions. Every throe of the revolutionary earthquake in France has tended to its ultimate advantage, and been attended by a great accession of territory or augmentation of influence. The Revolution of 1789 in its ultimate effects brought the Cossacks to Paris; that of 1830 extinguished the last remains of Polish nationality, and established the Muscovites in a lasting sway on the banks of the Vistula. The revolt of Ibrahim Pacha, and the victory of Koniah, which reduced the Ottoman empire to the verge of destruction, brought the Russian battalions to Scutari, and averted subjugation from a rebellious vassal, only by surrendering the keys of the Dardanelles to the Czar, and converting the Black Sea into a Russian lake. Greater still have been the results of the French Revolution of 1848 to the moral influence, and through it the real power, of Russia. Germany, torn by revolutionary passions, was soon brought into the most deplorable state of anarchy; Austria, distracted at once by a Bohemian, Italian, and Hungarian revolt, was within a hair-breadth of destruction; and the presence of 150,000 Russians on the Hungarian plains alone determined the Magyar contest in favour of Austria. Immense is the addition which this decisive move has made to the influence of Russia; no charge of the Old Guard of Napoleon at the close of the day was ever more triumphant. Russia now boasts of 66,000,000 of men within her dominions; her territories embrace a seventh of the habitable globe; and her influence is paramount from the wall of China to the banks of the Rhine.

Great as the acquisitions of the Muscovite power have been during the last thirty years, they have almost been rivalled by those of the British in India. They have fairly outstripped everything in this age of wonders; a parallel will in vain be[248] sought for them in the whole annals of the world. They do not resemble the conquests of the Romans in ancient, or of the Russians in modern times; they have not been the result of the lust of conquest, steadily and perseveringly applied to general subjugation, or the passions of democracy finding their natural vent in foreign conquest. As little were they the offspring of a vehement and turbulent spirit, similar to that which carried the French eagles to Vienna and the Kremlin. The disposition of the Anglo-Saxons, practically gain-seeking, and shunning wars as an interruption of their profits, has been a perpetual check to any such disposition—their immense distance from the scene of action on the plains of Hindostan, an effectual bar to its indulgence. India has not been governed by a race of warlike sovereigns, eager for conquest, covetous of glory; but by a company of pacific merchants, intent only on the augmentation of their profits and the diminution of their expenses. Their great cause of complaint against the Governors-General to whom have been successively intrusted the government of their vast dominions, was, that they were too prone to defensive preparations; that they did not sufficiently study the increase of these profits or the saving of these expenses. War was constantly forced upon them as a measure of necessity; repeated coalitions of the native sovereigns compelled them to draw the sword to prevent their expulsion from the peninsula. Conquest has been the condition of existence.

Yet such is the vigour of the Anglo-Saxon race, and the energy with which the successive contests were maintained by the diminutive force at the disposal of the company, that marvellous beyond all example have been the victories which they gained and the conquests which they achieved. The long period of European peace which followed the battle of Waterloo, was anything but one of repose in India. It beheld successively the final war with, and subjugation of, the Mahrattas by the genius of Lord Hastings, the overthrow of the Pindaree horsemen, the difficult subjugation of the Goorkha mountaineers; the storming of Bhurtpore, the taming of "the giant strength of Ava;" the conquest of Cabul, and fearful horrors of the Coord Cabul retreat; the subsequent gallant recovery of its capital; the conquest of Scinde, and reduction of Gwalior; the wars with the Sikhs, the desperate passages of arms at Ferozeshah and Chilianwalah, and the final triumphs of Sobraon and Goojerat. Nor was it in the peninsula of Hindostan alone that the strength of the British, when at length fairly aroused, was exerted; the vast empire of China was wrestled with at the very moment when their strength in the East was engaged in the Affghanistan expedition; and the world, which was anxiously expecting the fall of the much-envied British empire in India, beheld with astonishment, in the same Delhi Gazette, the announcement of the second capture of Cabul in the heart of Asia, and the dictating of a glorious peace to the Chinese under the walls of Nankin.

While successes so great and bewildering were attending the arms of civilisation on the remote parts of the earth, a great and most disastrous convulsion was preparing in its heart. Paris, as in every age, was the centre of impulsion to the whole civilised world. Louis Philippe had a very difficult game to play, and he long played it with success; but no human ability could, with the disposition of the people, permanently maintain the government of the country. He aimed at being the Napoleon of Peace; and his great predecessor knew better than any one, and has said oftener, that he himself would have failed in the attempt. Louis Philippe owed his elevation to revolution; and he had the difficult, if not impossible, task to perform, without foreign war, of coercing its passions. Hardly was he seated on the throne, when he felt the necessity in deeds, if not in words, of disclaiming his origin. His whole reign was a continued painful and perilous conflict with the power which had created him, and at length he sank in this struggle. He had not the means of maintaining the conflict. A successful usurper, he could not appeal to traditionary influences; a revolutionary monarch, he was compelled to coerce the passions of revolution; a[249] military chief, he was obliged to restrain the passions of the soldiers. They demanded war, and he was constrained to keep them at peace; they sighed for plunder, and he could only meet them with economy; they panted for glory, and his policy retained them in obscurity.

Political influence—in other words, corruption—was the only means left of carrying on the government, and that state engine was worked with great industry, and for a time with great success. But although gratification to the selfish passions must always, in the long run, be the main foundation of government, men are not entirely and for ever governed by their influence. "C'est l'imagination," said Napoleon, "qui domine le monde." All nations, and most of all the French, occasionally require aliment to the passions; and no dynasty will long maintain its sway over them which does not frequently gratify their ruling dispositions. Napoleon was so popular because he at once consulted their interests and gratified their passions; Louis Philippe the reverse, because he attended only to their interests. Great as was his influence, unbounded his patronage, immense his revenue, it yet fell short of the wants of his needy supporters: he experienced erelong the truth of the well-known saying, that every office given away made one ungrateful and three discontented. The immediate cause of his fall in February 1848 was the pusillanimity of his family, who declined to head his troops, and the weakness of his counsellors, who urged submission in presence of danger; but its remote causes were of much older date and wider extent. Government, to be lasting, must be founded either on traditionary influence, the gratification of new interests and passions, or the force of arms; and that one which has not the first will do well to rest as soon as possible on the two last.

Disastrous beyond all precedent, or what even could have been conceived, have been the effects of this new revolution in Paris on the whole Continent; and a very long period must elapse before they are obviated. The spectacle of a government, esteemed one of the strongest in Europe, and a dynasty which promised to be of lasting duration, overturned almost without resistance by an urban tumult, roused the revolutionary party everywhere to a perfect pitch of frenzy. A universal liberation from government, and restraint of any kind, was expected, and for a time attained, by the people in the principal Continental states, when a republic was again proclaimed in France; and the people, strong in their newly-acquired rights of universal suffrage, were seen electing a National Assembly, to whom the destinies of the country were to be intrusted. The effect was instantaneous and universal; the shock of the moral earthquake was felt in every part of Europe. Italy was immediately in a blaze; Piedmont joined the revolutionary crusade; and the Austrian forces, expelled from Milan, were glad to seek an asylum behind the Mincio. Venice threw off the German yoke, and proclaimed again the independence of St Mark; the Pope was driven from Rome, the Bourbons in Naples were saved only by the fidelity of their Swiss guards from destruction; Sicily was severed from their dominion, and all Italy, from the extremity of Calabria to the foot of the Alps, was arraying its forces against constituted authority, and in opposition to the sway of the Tramontane governments. The ardent and enthusiastic were everywhere in transports, and prophesied the resurrection of a great and united Roman republic from the courage of modern patriotism; the learned and experienced anticipated nothing but ruin to the cause of freedom from the transports of a people incapable of exercising its power, and unable to defend its rights.

Still more serious and formidable were the convulsions in Germany; for these were more inspired with the Teutonic love of freedom, and wielded the arm which so long had been victorious in the fields of European fame. So violent were the shocks of the revolutionary earthquake in the Fatherland, that the entire disruption of society and ruin of the national independence seemed to be threatened by its effects. Government was overturned after a violent contest in Berlin. It fell almost without a struggle,[250] from the pusillanimity of the Emperor, in Vienna. The Prussians, especially in the great towns, entered, with the characteristic ardour of their disposition, into the career of revolution; universal suffrage was everywhere proclaimed—national guards established. The lesser states on the Rhine all followed the example of Prussia; and an assembly of delegates, from every part of the Fatherland, at Frankfort, seemed to realise for a brief period the dream of German unity and independence. But while the enthusiasts on the Rhine were speculating on the independence of their country, the enthusiasts in Vienna and Hungary were taking the most effectual steps to destroy it. A frightful civil war ensued in all the Austrian provinces, and soon acquired such strength as threatened to tear in pieces the whole of its vast dominions. No sooner was the central authority in Vienna overturned, than rebellion broke out in all the provinces. The Sclavonians revolted in Bohemia, the Lombards in Italy, the Magyars in Hungary; the close vicinity of a powerful Russian force alone restrained the Poles in Gallicia. Worse, even, because more widely felt than the passions of democracy, the animosities of Race burst forth with fearful violence in eastern Europe. The standard of Georgey in Hungary—whom the Austrians, distracted by civil war in all their provinces, were unable to subdue—soon attracted a large part of the indignant Poles, and nearly the whole of the warlike Magyars, to the field of battle on the banks of the Danube. Not a hope seemed to remain for the great and distracted Austrian empire. Chaos had returned; society seemed resolved into its original elements; and the chief bulwark of Europe against Moscovite domination seemed on the point of being broken up into several separate states, actuated by the most violent hatred at each other, and alike incapable, singly or together, of making head against the vast and centralised power of Russia.

The first successful stand against the deluge of revolution was made in Great Britain; and there it was withstood, not by the bayonets of the soldiers, but by the batons of the citizens. The 10th April was the Waterloo of chartist rebellion in England; a memorable proof that the institutions and traditionary influences of a free people, suited to their wants, and in harmony with their dispositions, can, in such felicitous circumstances, oppose a more successful barrier to social dangers than the most powerful military force at the command of a despotic chief. Rebellion, as usual when England is in distress, broke out in Ireland; but it terminated in ridicule, and revealed at once the ingratitude and impotence of the Celtic race in the Emerald isle. But a far more serious and bloody conflict awaited the cause of order in the streets of Paris; and society there narrowly escaped the restoration of the reign of terror and the government of Robespierre. As usual in civil convulsions, the leaders of the first successful revolt soon became insupportable to their infuriated followers; a second 10th August followed, and that much more quickly than on the first occasion—a second dethronement of the Bourbons; but it was met by very different opponents. Cavaignac and the army were not so easily beat down as Louis, deserted by all the world but his faithful Swiss Guards. The contest was long, and bloody, and, for a time, it seemed more than doubtful to which side victory would incline; but at length the cause of order prevailed. The authority of the Assembly, however, was not established till above a hundred barricades had been carried at the point of the bayonet, several thousands of the insurgents slain, and eleven thousand sentenced to transportation by the courts-martial of the victorious soldiers.

Less violent in the outset, but more disastrous far in the end, were the means by which Austria was brought through the throes of her revolutionary convulsion. It was the army, and the army alone, which in the last extremity saved the state; but, unhappily, it was not the national army alone which achieved the deliverance. So violent were the passions by which the country was torn, so great the power of the rival races and nations which contended for its mastery, that the unaided strength of the monarchy[251] was unequal to the task of subduing them. In Prague, indeed, the firmness of Windischgratz extinguished the revolt—in Italy the consummate talents of Radetsky restored victory to the imperial standards, and drove the Piedmontese to a disgraceful peace; and in the heart of the monarchy, Vienna, after a fierce struggle, was regained by the united arms of the Bohemian and Croatian. But in Hungary the Magyars were not so easily overcome. Such was the valour of that warlike race, and such the military talents of their chiefs, that, although not numbering more than a third of the population of Hungary, and an eighth of that of the whole monarchy, it was found impracticable to subdue them without external aid. The Russians, as a matter of necessity, were called in to prevent the second capture of Vienna; a hundred and fifty thousand Moscovites ere long appeared on the Hungarian plains—numbers triumphed over valour—and Austria was saved by the sacrifice of its independence. Incalculable have been the consequences of this great and decisive movement on the part of the Czar. Not less than the capture of Paris, it has fascinated and subdued the minds of men. It has rendered him the undisputed master of the east of Europe, and led to a secret alliance, offensive and defensive, which at the convenient season will open to the Russians the road to Constantinople.

At length the moment of reaction arrived in France itself, and the country, whose vehement convulsions had overturned the institutions of so many other states, was itself doomed to undergo the stern but just law of retribution. The undisguised designs of the Socialists against property of every kind, the frequent revolts, the notorious imbecility and trifling of the National Assembly, had so discredited republican institutions, that the nation was fully prepared for a change of any kind from democratic to monarchical institutions. Louis Napoleon had the advantage of a great name, and of historical associations, which raised him by a large majority to the presidency, and of able counsellors who steered him through its difficulties; but the decisive success of the coup d'etat of December 2nd was mainly owing to the universal contempt into which the republican rulers had fallen, and the general terror which the designs of the Socialists had excited. The nation would, perhaps, not so willingly have ranged itself under the banners of any merely military chief who promised to shelter them from the evident dangers with which society was menaced; and the vigour and fidelity of the army ensured its success. The restoration of military despotism in France in 1851, after the brief and fearful reign of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" in that everchanging country, adds another to the numerous proofs which history affords, that successful revolution, by whomsoever effected, and under all imaginable diversity of nations, race, and circumstances, can end only in the empire of the sword.

But although the dangers of revolutionary convulsion have been adjourned, at least, if not entirely removed, by the general triumph of military power on the Continent, and its entire re-establishment in France, other dangers, of an equally formidable, and perhaps still more pressing, kind, have arisen from its very success. Since the battle of Waterloo all the contests in Europe have been internal only. There have been many desperate and bloody struggles, but they have not been those of nation against nation, but of class with class, or race with race. No foreign wars have desolated Europe; and the whole efforts of government in every country have been directed to moderating the warlike propensities of their subjects, and preventing the fierce animosities of nationality and race from involving the world in general conflagration. So decisively was this the characteristic of the period, and so great was the difficulty in moderating the warlike dispositions of their subjects, that it seemed that the sentiment of the poet should be reversed, and it might with truth be said—

"War is a game, which, were their rulers wise,
The people should not play at."

But this has been materially changed by the consequences of the great European revolution of 1848; and it may now be doubted whether the[252] greatest dangers which threaten society are not those of foreign subjugation and the loss of national independence. By the natural effects of the general convulsions of 1848, the armies of the Continental states have been prodigiously augmented; and such are the dangers of their respective positions, from the turbulent disposition of their own subjects, that they cannot be materially reduced. In France there are 385,000 men in arms; in Austria as many; in Prussia, 200,000; in Russia, 600,000. Fifteen hundred thousand regular soldiers are arrayed on the Continent ready for mutual slaughter, and awaiting only a signal from their respective cabinets to direct their united hostility against any country which may have provoked their resentment. Such have been the results of the French Revolution of 1848, and the rise of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" in the centre of European civilisation.

Disastrous beyond all precedent have been the effects of this revolutionary convulsion, from which so much was expected by the ardent and enthusiastic in every country, upon the cause of freedom throughout the world. Not only has the reign of representative institutions, and the sway of constitutional ideas, been arrested on the Continent, but the absolute government of the sword has been established in its principal monarchies. Austria has openly repudiated all the liberal institutions forced upon her during the first throes of the convulsion, and avowedly based the government upon the army, and the army alone. Prussia is more covertly, but not less assiduously, following out the same system; and in France, the real council of state, servile senate, and mock assembly of deputies of Napoleon, have been re-established, the national guard generally dissolved, and the centralised despotism of Louis Napoleon promises to rival in efficiency and general support the centralised despotism of Augustus in ancient days. Parties have become so exasperated at each other, that no accommodation or compromise is longer possible; injuries that never can be forgiven have been mutually inflicted; the despotism of the Prætorians, and a Jacquerie of the Red Republicans, are the only alternatives left to Europe; and the fair form of real freedom, which grows and flourishes in peace, but melts away before the first breath of war, has disappeared from the earth. Such is the invariable and inevitable result of unchaining the passions of the people, and of a successful revolt on their part against the government of knowledge and property.

Still more pressing, and to ourselves formidable, are the dangers which now threaten this country, from the consequences of that revolt against established institutions, from which the reign of universal peace was anticipated four years ago. Our position has been rendered insecure by the very effects of our former triumphs; we are threatened with perils, not so much from our enemies, as from ourselves; it is our weakness which is their strength; and we owe our present critical position infinitely more to our own blindness than to their foresight. Insensibility to future and contingent dangers has in every age been the characteristic of the English people, and is the real cause why the long wars, in which we have been engaged for the last century and a half, have been deeply chequered in the outset with disaster; and to this is to be ascribed three-fourths of the debt which now oppresses the energies and cramps the exertions of our people. But several causes, springing from the very magnitude of our former triumphs, have rendered these influences in an especial manner powerful during the last thirty years; and it is the consequence of their united influence which now renders the condition of this country so precarious.

The contractions of the currency introduced in 1819, and rendered still more stringent by the acts of 1844 and 1845, have changed the value of money fifty per cent; coupled with Free Trade in all the branches of industry, it has doubled it. In other words, it has doubled the weight of taxes, debts, and encumbrances of every description, and at the same time halved the resources of those who are to pay them. Fifty millions a-year raised[253] for the public revenue, are as great a burden now as a hundred millions a-year were during the war; the nation, at the close of thirty-five years of unbroken peace, is in reality more heavily taxed than it was at the end of twenty years of uninterrupted hostility. The necessary consequence of this has been, that it has become impossible to maintain the national armaments on a scale at all proportionate to the national extension and necessities; and it has been exposed, on the first rupture, to the most serious dangers from the attacks of artless and contemptible enemies. Our Indian empire, numbering a hundred millions of men among its subjects, was brought to the verge of ruin by the assault of the Sikhs, who had only six millions to feed their armies; and the military strength of Great Britain is now strained to the uttermost to withstand the hostility at the Cape of Good Hope of the Caffres, who never have brought six thousand men together into the field. In proportion to the extension of our colonial empire and the necessity of increased forces to defend it, our armaments have been reduced both by sea and land. Every gleam of colonial peace has been invariably followed by profuse demands at home for a reduction of the establishments and a diminution of the national expenses; until they have been reduced to so low a point that the nation, which, during the war, had a million of men in arms, two hundred and forty ships of the line bearing the royal flag, and a hundred in commission, could not now muster thirty thousand men and ten ships of the line to guard Great Britain from invasion, London from capture, and the British Empire from destruction.

Still more serious, because more irremediable, in its origin, and disastrous in its effects, has been the change which has come over the public mind in a powerful and influential part of the nation. This has mainly arisen from the very magnitude of our former triumphs, and the long-continued peace to which it has given rise. The nation had gained such extraordinary successes during the war, and vanquished so formidable an opponent, that it had come to regard itself, not without a show of reason, as invincible; hostilities have been so long intermitted that the younger and more active, and therefore influential, part of the people, have generally embraced the idea that they would never be renewed. Here, as elsewhere, the wish became the father to the thought; the immediate interests of men determined their opinions and regulated their conduct. The pacific interests of the Empire had increased so immensely during the long peace; so many fortunes and establishments had become dependant on its continuance; exports, imports, and manufactures, had been so enormously augmented by the growth of our Colonial Empire, and the preservation of peace with the rest of the world, that all persons interested in those branches of industry turned with a shudder from the very thoughts of its interruption. To this class the Reform Bill, by giving a majority in the House of Commons, yielded the government of the State. To the astonishment of every thinking or well-informed man in the world, the doctrine was openly promulgated, to admiring and assenting audiences in Manchester and Glasgow, by the most popular orators of the day, that the era of war had passed away; that it was to be classed hereafter with the age of the mammoth and the mastodon; and that, in contemplation of the speedy arrival of the much-desired Millennium, our wisdom would be to disband our troops, sell our ships of the line, and trust to pacific interest in future to adjust or avert the differences of nations. The members for the boroughs—three-fifths of the House of Commons—openly embraced or in secret inclined to these doctrines; and how clearly soever the superior information of our rulers might detect their fallacy, the influence of their adherents was paramount in the Legislature, and Government was compelled, as the price of existence, in part at least, to yield to their suggestions.

The danger of acting upon such Utopian ideas has been much augmented, in the case of this country, by the commercial policy at the same time pursued by the dominant class who had come to entertain them. If[254] it be true, as the wisest of men have affirmed in every age, and as universal experience has proved, that the true source of riches, as well as independence, is to be found in the cultivation of the soil, and that a nation which has come to depend for a considerable part of its subsistence on foreign states has made the first step to subjugation, the real patriot will find ample subject of regret and alarm in the present condition of Great Britain. Not only are ten millions of quarters of grain, being a full fifth of the national consumption, now imported from abroad, but nearly the half of this immense importation is of wheat, the staple food of the people, of which a third comes from foreign parts. Not only is the price of this great quantity of grain—certainly not less than twelve millions sterling—lost to the nation, but so large a portion of its food has come to be derived from foreign nations, that the mere threat of closing their harbours may render it a matter of necessity for Great Britain to submit to any terms which they may choose to exact. Our Colonies, once so loyal and great a support to the mother country, have been so thoroughly alienated by the commercial policy of the last few years, which has deprived them of all the advantages they enjoyed from their connection with it, that they have become a burden rather than a benefit. One-half of our diminutive army is absorbed in garrisoning their forts to guard against revolt. Lastly, the navy, once our pride and glory, and the only certain safeguard either against the dangers of foreign invasion, or the blockade of our harbours and ruin of our commerce, is fast melting away; for the reciprocity system established in 1823, and the repeal of the navigation laws in 1849, have given such encouragement to foreign shipping in preference to our own, that in a few years, if the same system continue, more than half of our whole commerce will have passed into the hands of foreign states, which may any day become hostile ones.

To complete the perils of Great Britain, arising out of the very magnitude of its former triumphs and extent of its empire, while so many causes were conspiring to weaken its internal strength, and disqualify it for withstanding the assault of a formidable enemy, others, perhaps more pressing, were alienating foreign nations, breaking up old alliances, and tending more and more to isolate England in the midst of European hostility. The triumph of the democratic principle, by the Revolution of 1830 in France, was the cause of this; for it at once induced an entire change of government and foreign policy in England, and substituted new revolutionary for the old conservative alliances. Great Britain no longer appeared as the champion of order, but as the friend of rebellion; revolutionary dynasties were, by her influence, joined with that of France, established in Belgium, Spain, and Portugal; and the policy of our Cabinet avowedly was to establish an alliance of constitutional sovereigns in Western, which might counter balance the coalition of despots in Eastern, Europe. This system has been constantly pursued, and for long with ability and success by our Government. Strong in the support of France, whether under a "throne, surrounded by republican institutions," or under those institutions themselves, England became indifferent to the jealousy of the other continental powers; and in the attempt to extend the spread of liberal institutions, or the sympathy openly expressed for foreign rebels, irritated beyond forgiveness the cabinets of St Petersburg, Vienna, and Berlin. While the French alliance continued, these powers were constrained to devour their indignation in silence; they did not venture, with the embers of revolt slumbering in their own dominions, to brave the combined hostility of France and England. But all alliances formed on identity of feeling, not interest, are ephemeral in their duration. A single day destroyed the whole fabric on which we rested for our security. Revolutionary violence everywhere worked out its natural and unavoidable result in the principal continental states. A military despotism was, after a sanguinary struggle, established in Austria and Prussia; the 2d December arrived in France, and that power in an instant[255] was turned over to the side of the absolute governments on the Continent. Our efforts to revolutionise Europe have ended in the establishment of military despotisms in all its principal states, supported by fifteen hundred thousand armed men—our boasted alliance with France, in the placing of it in the very front rank of what may eventually become the league of our enemies.

Lord Palmerston, by whom our foreign policy for the last twenty years has been mainly conducted, is a man of great talent, both for eloquence and business, and of extraordinary energy and powers of application. The charm and grace of his manners are such that they disarm the most hostile of his opponents in the intercourse of private society; and such was the vigour of his application, that he conducted nearly the whole business of the Foreign Office himself, and reduced the labour of his secretaries and clerks to the mere copying of despatches and answering routine letters. He was perfectly master of all the details of his department, and is probably better acquainted than any man alive with the intricacies of a diplomacy, which, from the commanding position of England, has come to embrace the whole civilised world. No man, when called to account in Parliament for any of his acts which had brought the country to the very verge of hostility, could defend himself with more intrepidity, or carry away the House by a more eloquent and intrepid assertion of the principles, or appeal to the feelings, which find a responsive echo in the most moving, because the noblest and most disinterested, chords of the British heart.

Yet, with all this, he was one of the most dangerous Ministers that ever held the portfolio of the Foreign Office in Great Britain; and at the period he was displaced, his removal had become, in a manner, a matter of necessity, if we would avoid an immediate rupture with the principal Continental powers. The reason was, that his ideas were entirely at variance with the policy of the ruling party in the country; and his ambition for his country not less inconsistent with the situation into which, by the general policy of the Cabinet, it had been brought, and the views which he himself entertained on the social institutions of the world. He had been bred in the school of Mr Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, and his ideas of the position and influence of England were founded on the state of the country when it had a million of men in arms and a thousand vessels of war in the royal navy. He forgot that this was not the condition of the country after thirty years of unbroken peace; that the spirit which called forth such vast armaments had expired with the necessities which created it; that 1851 was not 1815, nor the school of Mr Cobden that of Mr Pitt. The consequence was, that by his dignified and patriotic, but withal imprudent and ill-timed assertion of national demands, he brought us repeatedly to the very verge of hostility with the most formidable powers on the Continent, at the very time when, from the total want of any preparation for hostilities in the country, and the pitiable state of weakness to which our defensive establishments had been reduced, nothing but disaster was to be anticipated from their commencement.

These dangers were rendered still more pressing by the extreme divergence between his political principles and those of the cabinets of the ruling powers, formerly the allies of England, who directed the destinies of the Continent. He supported openly, so far as he could—favoured covertly when this was impossible—the cause of revolution all over the world. He aided, by the fleets of England, the establishment of one revolutionary throne in Belgium—by the marines and volunteers, of another in Spain. He concluded the quadruple alliance to force revolutionary queens upon a reluctant people in both kingdoms of the Peninsula. He covertly aided in the spread of liberal ideas in Italy—openly in supporting the insurgents in Sicily. He took Russia by the beard in the Dardanelles, on account of the Hungarian insurgents; and afterwards, for a wretched private dispute at Athens, ranged France by her side;—all but brought on a war with France by the bombardment of Beyrout and hostilities against[256] Greece; and irritated Austria past forgiveness by the open sympathy expressed for the Hungarian insurgents. Such conduct might be manly and consistent: a nation which goes about over the world supporting the cause of revolutions everywhere, and presenting to every state the alternative of war or liberal institutions, may be consistent; but its rulers are next to insane if they are not prepared for the consequences of such aggressions, and provoke the combined hostility of the greatest powers, at a time when their country is barely able to sustain the attack of the smallest.

The great reliance of England throughout this long course of revolutionary encouragement and aggression, was on the alliance with France, and the fond belief entertained by our liberal rulers that the attente cordiale would be perpetual, and form a national compact which would effectually screen us, whatever we did, from the hostility of the despotic powers on the Continent. The Revolution of December 2, 1851, in Paris, and the subsequent approval of military despotism by seven millions and a half of French citizens, may teach us what foundation there is for such a hope, or what reliance, in this free country, there is to be placed on identity of feeling with a military power, which begins its career with the deportation of some thousand citizens to Cayenne without trial, the decimation of the Assembly, dissolution of the National Guard, and promulgation, with general consent, of the despotic institutions of Napoleon. The dangers arising from those changes to the alliance with England, are so obvious that they have attracted universal attention; and Government, however pacifically inclined, and however much under the control of the Manchester clique, are most properly taking measures to provide against the danger. Sheerness and Tilbury forts have been armed, and their magazines filled; two new batteries, of a hundred guns each, traced out at Plymouth; fortified camps, it is said, are to be formed round London, and a considerable addition made to our land and sea forces. We regret as much as any one can do, the necessity which exists for these changes; but the career of Liberalism, and of patronising revolutions all over the world, which we have pursued for the last twenty years, could not by possibility terminate in any other result.

What makes us augur more favourably than we have done for long, on the state of the country, notwithstanding these accumulating foreign dangers, is, that the national mind at home seems to be at length awakening to a sense of the perils which threaten the Empire. We have the greatest pleasure in quoting the following article from the Times on this all-important subject, which is the more valuable as that able journal has so long derided the idea of any danger being to be apprehended from foreign hostility:—

"At the accession of Harold to the crown, the English had enjoyed a peace of nearly fifty years, purchased by the final expulsion and destruction of their Danish invaders; they were becoming more and more enamoured of the arts of peace, and had made considerable progress in such civilisation as the times allowed. Agriculture was cultivated with great assiduity and success, and the national mind began to appreciate the benefits to be derived from foreign trade and commerce. The military spirit which had animated the descendants of Hengist and Horsa was gradually dying out, and the nation, united under one head, looked back with disgust and contempt on the obscure and bloody civil wars of the Heptarchy. The fortifications of the towns were allowed to fall into decay, and the equipment and discipline of the troops were almost entirely neglected. Dwelling in peace and security under their free elective institutions, the English looked with gradually increasing disfavour on the profession of arms. While the mailed chivalry of Normandy were carrying their banners even to the islands and peninsulas of the Mediteranean, the Saxon was content to fight on foot and to protect himself from the blows of a steel-clad man-at-arms by the imperfect defence of a surcoat of hide. His offensive arms were as imperfect as his defensive; he relied almost exclusively on the ponderous battleaxe, which, requiring both hands to wield it, necessarily left the person of the soldier exposed to the lance or the arrow. Yet, with all this, the nation was possessed by a spirit of the most overweening confidence and self-satisfied[257] security. Proud of the exploits of their ancestors, believing in the perpetuity of the long peace they had enjoyed, satisfied with their republican institutions, and mistaking internal freedom for external strength, they looked with inert tranquillity on the gradual increase and organization of the power which was to overwhelm them; and when at last the blow fell, the nation, at once confident in its valour and impatient of military fatigue and privations, flung away its hopes in a single unequal conflict rather than endure the slow and desolating tactics which must have worn out the strength of the invader. The English met their enemies with one-third of their number, believing as devoutly as the pothouse heroes of our own times that one Englishman to three Frenchmen was a perfectly equal match, and that the total absence of cavalry and artillery on their side would be easily compensated by superior personal bravery. The nation was, at any rate, content to abide the trial, thinking that even if this army miscarried, it would be easy to overwhelm the invaders by a general rising. The army fell, and the nation with it.

"It may seem almost superfluous to apply this analogy to the state of modern England. We also have been in the enjoyment of a long and profound peace, and have learnt to consider a war as Something almost impossible. We also have entirely outlived the military spirit of the earlier years of this century, and in the pursuit of wealth and in the development of civilization have half learnt to believe in the preachers of a millennium, of the peaceful sweets of which we have already had a foretaste. We also take no care for the fortification of our country or the equipment of our troops. We arm them with weapons which are all but harmless; we load them with accoutrements which are worse than useless; and we sedulously and successfully endeavour to render them incapable of bearing fatigue and hardship. Our navy is employed in training sailors, and, as soon as we have succeeded in rendering them expert seamen and gunners, we dismiss them to enter into the service of foreign nations. Our infantry can hardly march, our cavalry can hardly ride. These troops, so armed, so disciplined, and so accoutred, are extremely scanty in numbers; and those numbers we have materially diminished by sending ten thousand of our best to make war upon savages five hundred miles on the other side of the tropic of Capricorn. Yet, under all these circumstances, we entertain an unbounded confidence in our own resources and position—we mistake the internal balance and equipoise of our polity for the power of resisting external force. We view without apprehension an enormous military power beside us, assuming a position which renders foreign war almost a necessity of its existence. We talk of our old victories by land and by sea, and forget that they were gained by men whose arms and training placed them on an equality with their antagonists. We rely on our insular position, which protected us so efficiently against Napoleon the Great, and insist upon the impregnable trench that surrounds us, although science has effectually bridged it over for Napoleon the Little. We forget the existence of the new power of steam, and the means of organising combined and unlooked-for movements afforded by the electric telegraph. We believe that if the storm with which France is now pregnant does burst, it will be upon the great military powers of the Continent, who sympathise with the proceedings of her government, who possess enormous military resources, and who offer but a poor prize to the victor, instead of upon us, whose free institutions are a daily reproach to the slavery and tyranny which disgrace France, whose military resources are such as we have described, and whose rich shores have not seen the footprint of a foreign army since the days of King John. Stranger still, we believe that we are secure against any sudden blow, and base this agreeable conviction on the good faith of a man who is what he now is solely because he has been able to dissemble and to deceive, to swear and to forswear. Strangest of all, we believe that if a French army should effect a landing, there is some unknown force in the population of this country which would overwhelm and absorb them; and that, while every other people in Europe has proved utterly unable to contend against military discipline, ours, the least warlike of any, will easily succeed where they have failed. The historic parallel seems tolerably close as regards the antecedents; let us hope, for the sake of this island and the cause of civilisation and liberty all over the world, that similar causes may not, in our time, result in a similar catastrophe.

"If disasters are destined for this country in its military and naval operations, they will, at least, not arrive without warning. The visitations of the last year have been absolutely ominous. As if to show us the futility of the resources on which we are relying, our ships have broken down, our stores have been condemned,[258] our firearms have proved useless, and our soldiers are found incapacitated by their equipments from encountering half their number of naked savages. It would be hard to overlook such tokens of evil. If, with all our vaunted wealth and skill, we cannot send reinforcements to the Cape without miscarriages, or victual our vessels without peril of pestilence, what is to become of us in the face of such hostilities as men now living can well remember, and may see again?"—Times, Jan. 8 and 10, 1852.

It is a curious coincidence that the views here so ably and energetically put forth by the great organ of the moneyed and commercial interests, are precisely those which we have been constantly enforcing in this miscellany for many years past, and in an especial manner unfolded on this day year, February 1, 1851.[61] No one need be told with what ridicule these views were received by the whole Manchester school of politicians, and especially by the able journal which has now so powerfully advocated them.

If views of this kind are entertained by the influential bodies who now rule the State, and they are acted upon by an able and energetic Government, there is no cause for despondence as to the external dangers which, from the necessary consequences of our own acts, now menace the British Empire. If the powers which may join to assail us are now much stronger and more united than they were in the time of Napoleon, our resources have augmented in a similar proportion. We have the means of defence and security in our own hands, if we will only make use of them. But it is not by a suicidal policy, and sacrificing everything to the foreigner, while he is contemplating the sacrificing us to himself, that this vital object is to be attained. Our whole dangers, external and internal, are of our own creation. But for the infatuation of our rulers and people, not one of them would have had any existence. But for the sacrifice of the national industry to the moneyed and manufacturing interests by our Monetary and Free Trade system, we might, five years ago, by merely keeping up the Sinking Fund as it stood at the battle of Waterloo, have paid off every shilling of our National Debt, and now reduced our taxation from fifty to twenty-five millions, and yet maintained an army of two hundred thousand men, and a fleet of fifty ships of the line and a hundred steamers, which would have enabled us to bid defiance to the hostility, by land and sea, of combined Europe. Instead of our Colonial Empire being on the verge of dissolution, from universal irritation at our Home Government, and the principal states of Europe in a state of suppressed hostility, from injuries that can never be forgiven, we might have had a flourishing and contented Colonial Empire, and steady friends in our old allies among the Continental states. Possibly it is too late to remedy the evils arising from the infatuated policy we have so long pursued at home and abroad; but this much is certain, that if anything can avert our dangers, it is the wisdom which can discern—the courage which can face them—and the magnanimity which can amend the errors from which they have arisen.


[1] The Life of John Duke of Marlborough; with some Account of his Contemporaries, and of the War of the Succession. By Archibald Alison, LL.D. Second edition, greatly enlarged, 2 vols. 8vo. William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh and London. 1852.

[2] "How much do the events of real life outstrip all that romance has figured or would venture to portray!" observes Mr Alison, (vol. i. p. 403,) in describing the pious and enthusiastic greeting given by Prince Eugene to his aged mother, whom he had not seen since his youth, having been driven into exile by the haughty Louis XIV., on whom he had since inflicted such crushing defeats, and at whose expense he had become so great a hero! This interview took place at Brussels, whither Eugene eagerly repaired, immediately after the bloody victory of Oudenarde. "The fortnight I spent with her was the happiest of my life," said her laurelled son.

[3] Alison, vol. ii. p. 320.

[4] Mr Alison seems to attribute this speech, or a similar one, to Lord Bolingbroke.

[5] History of England, from the Peace of Utrecht to that of Aix-la-Chapelle, vol. i. p. 3.

[6] Macaulay's History of England, from the Accession of James II., p. 255.

[7] Alison's Marlborough, vol. i. p. 16, 17, 18.

[8] "Napoleon hummed the well-known air, Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre, when he crossed the Niemen to commence the Russian campaign. The French nurses used to frighten their children with stories of Marlbrook!—as the Orientals, when their horses start, say they see the shadow of Richard Cœur-de-Lion crossing their path."—Pref., iv. v.

[9] Vol. i. p. 447, 448.

[10] Vol. ii. p. 298.

[11] It would seem that Charles II. would have surprised him, on one occasion, in the company of the Countess; but, to save her credit with the King, he leaped through the window at the risk of his life; in return for which she presented him with £5000. With reference to this latter part of the business may be noted a diversity between two of Marlborough's biographers. Archdeacon Coxe ludicrously attempts to explain this splendid present of £5000, on the ground of Churchill's being in some way distantly related to the Duchess! "If the reverend Archdeacon," says Mr Alison—with a quaint approach to sarcasm very rare with him—"had been as well acquainted with women as he was with his books, he would have known that beautiful ladies do not, in general, bestow £5000 on distant cousins, whatever they may do on favourite lovers!"

[12] Macaulay, 256, note.

[13] Alison, i. 22.

[14] Mahon, i. 21, 22.

[15] Lectures in Modern History, delivered in the University of Cambridge, (Lecture xxiii.)

[16] Alison, ii. p. 300.

[17] "Even the great William," says Professor Smyth, "trained up amid a life of difficulties and war, with an intrepid heart and a sound understanding, was able only to stay the enterprises of Louis; successfully to resist, but not to humble him. It was for Marlborough to teach that unprincipled monarch the danger of ambition, and the instability of human grandeur; it was for Marlborough to disturb his dreams of pleasure and of pride, by filling them with spectres of terror and images of desolation." The lecture from which this is taken is well worthy of a careful perusal.

[18] Alison, ii. p. 347.

[19] In Sir James Stephen's Lectures on the History of France, just published, there is an admirable and elaborate portraiture of Louis XIV. If the rest of the work is equal to this portion, which is all that we have as yet been able to examine, Cambridge has cause to congratulate herself on the accession of so accomplished and able a professor of modern history.

[20] Alison, i. p. 108.

[21] Alison, i. p. 92-3.

[22] Alison, i. p. 125.

[23] Alison, i. p. 159.

[24] Ibid. p. 187.

[25] Ibid. p. 141.

[26] Alison, i. 247.

[27] Alison, i. 277, 278.

[28] Ibid. p. 287.

[29] Ibid. p. 330.

[30] Alison, i. 406.

[31] Ibid. p. 419.

[32] Ibid. p. 423.

[33] Ibid. p. 448.

[34] Alison, i. 448.

[35] Alison, ii. 125.

[36] Alison, vol. ii. p. 185, note.

[37] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 194.

[38] Alison, ii. 199, 200.

[39] Ibid. p. 203.

[40] Ibid. p. 213.

[41] Parl. Hist. vi. p. 1137.

[42] Alison, ii. 263, note.

[43] Ibid. p. 266.

[44] Ibid. p. 303.

[45] Ante, p. 146.

[46] Alison, ii. p. 305.

[47] Marlborough had received the sacrament with great solemnity at the midnight preceding the day of the battle of Blenheim; and shortly before, divine service had been performed at the head of every regiment and squadron in the Allied army. After the battle he said, that "he had prayed to God more frequently during its continuance than all the chaplains of both armies put together which served under his orders."—Ibid. vol. i. p. 166.

[48] Ibid. ii. 100.

[49] Ibid. p. 307.

[50] History of England, ii. 41, 42.

[51] Alison, i. 14, 15, note.

[52] Alison, i. 211, note.

[53] Lectures, i. 143.

[54] A very happy idea is embodied in a work recently published, and which has quickly reached a second edition—Mr Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, from Marathon to Waterloo. The idea was suggested by a remark of Mr Hallam, placed on the title-page by way of motto, "These few battles, of which a contrary event would have essentially varied the drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes." Mr Alison frequently puts such cases, in both The Life of Marlborough and his History of Europe. Mr Creasy, as a distinguished scholar and a professor of history, has acquitted himself very ably. His fifteen battles are well selected, as radiating centres of enduring influence upon human affairs in their greatest crises—as so many nuclei of historical knowledge.

[55] As there have been so many revolutions in France, it may be convenient to suggest that, according to the dates of this story, Harley no doubt alludes to that revolution which exiled Charles X. and placed Louis Philippe on the throne.

[56] Have you fifty friends?—it is not enough.—Have you one enemy?—it is too much.


At home—"In the serene regions
Where dwell the pure forms."

[58] A Ride over the Rocky Mountains to Oregon and California. By the Hon. Henry J. Coke. London: 1852.

[59] A sort of whist.

[60] Tauromachia; or, The Bull-fights of Spain: Illustrated by Twenty-six Plates, representing the most remarkable Incidents and Scenes in the Arenas of Madrid, Seville, and Cadiz. The whole drawn and lithographed from Studies made expressly for the Work, by Lake Price: with Preliminary Explanations by Richard Ford. London: Hogarth. 1852.

Spain, as it is. By G. A. Hoskins, Esq. London: Colburn. 1851.

[61] See the "Dangers of the Country," Blackwood's Magazine, February 1, 1851.

Transcriber's note:

Minor typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as printed.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume
71, No. 436, February 1852, by Various


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