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Title: Miscellaneous Essays
Author: De Quincey, Thomas, 1785-1859
Language: English
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DE QUINCEY'S WRITINGS.

It is the intention of the publishers to issue, at intervals, a complete
collection of Mr. De Quincey's Writings, uniform with this volume. The
first four volumes of the series will contain,--

I. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Suspiria De Profundis.

II. Biographical Essays.

III. Miscellaneous Essays.

IV. The Cæsars.



MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS.

BY

THOMAS DE QUINCEY.



CONTENTS.


ON THE KNOCKING AT THE GATE, IN MACBETH

MURDER, CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS

SECOND PAPER ON MURDER

JOAN OF ARC

THE ENGLISH MAIL-COACH

THE VISION OF SUDDEN DEATH

DINNER, REAL AND REPUTED



ON

THE KNOCKING AT THE GATE,

IN MACBETH.


From my boyish days I had always felt a great perplexity on one point in
Macbeth. It was this: the knocking at the gate, which succeeds to the
murder of Duncan, produced to my feelings an effect for which I never could
account. The effect was, that it reflected back upon the murder a peculiar
awfulness and a depth of solemnity; yet, however obstinately I endeavored
with my understanding to comprehend this, for many years I never could see
_why_ it should produce such an effect.

Here I pause for one moment, to exhort the reader never to pay any
attention to his understanding when it stands in opposition to any
other faculty of his mind. The mere understanding, however useful and
indispensable, is the meanest faculty in the human mind, and the most to
be distrusted; and yet the great majority of people trust to nothing else;
which may do for ordinary life, but not for philosophical purposes. Of this
out of ten thousand instances that I might produce, I will cite one. Ask of
any person whatsoever, who is not previously prepared for the demand by
a knowledge of perspective, to draw in the rudest way the commonest
appearance which depends upon the laws of that science; as for instance, to
represent the effect of two walls standing at right angles to each other,
or the appearance of the houses on each side of a street, as seen by a
person looking down the street from one extremity. Now in all cases, unless
the person has happened to observe in pictures how it is that artists
produce these effects, he will be utterly unable to make the smallest
approximation to it. Yet why? For he has actually seen the effect every day
of his life. The reason is--that he allows his understanding to overrule
his eyes. His understanding, which includes no intuitive knowledge of the
laws of vision, can furnish him with no reason why a line which is known
and can be proved to be a horizontal line, should not _appear_ a horizontal
line; a line that made any angle with the perpendicular less than a right
angle, would seem to him to indicate that his houses were all tumbling down
together. Accordingly he makes the line of his houses a horizontal line,
and fails of course to produce the effect demanded. Here then is one
instance out of many, in which not only the understanding is allowed to
overrule the eyes, but where the understanding is positively allowed to
obliterate the eyes as it were, for not only does the man believe the
evidence of his understanding in opposition to that of his eyes, but,
(what is monstrous!) the idiot is not aware that his eyes ever gave such
evidence. He does not know that he has seen (and therefore _quoad_ his
consciousness has _not_ seen) that which he _has_ seen every day of his
life. But to return from this digression, my understanding could furnish no
reason why the knocking at the gate in Macbeth should produce any effect,
direct or reflected. In fact, my understanding said positively that it
could _not_ produce any effect. But I knew better; I felt that it did; and
I waited and clung to the problem until further knowledge should enable me
to solve it. At length, in 1812, Mr. Williams made his _début_ on the stage
of Ratcliffe Highway, and executed those unparalleled murders which have
procured for him such a brilliant and undying reputation. On which murders,
by the way, I must observe, that in one respect they have had an ill
effect, by making the connoisseur in murder very fastidious in his taste,
and dissatisfied by anything that has been since done in that line. All
other murders look pale by the deep crimson of his; and, as an amateur once
said to me in a querulous tone, "There has been absolutely nothing _doing_
since his time, or nothing that's worth speaking of." But this is wrong;
for it is unreasonable to expect all men to be great artists, and born with
the genius of Mr. Williams. Now it will be remembered that in the first of
these murders, (that of the Marrs,) the same incident (of a knocking at the
door soon after the work of extermination was complete) did actually occur,
which the genius of Shakspeare has invented; and all good judges, and
the most eminent dilettanti, acknowledged the felicity of Shakspeare's
suggestion as soon as it was actually realized. Here, then, was a fresh
proof that I was right in relying on my own feeling in opposition to my
understanding; and I again set myself to study the problem; at length
I solved it to my own satisfaction; and my solution is this. Murder in
ordinary cases, where the sympathy is wholly directed to the case of the
murdered person, is an incident of coarse and vulgar horror; and for this
reason, that it flings the interest exclusively upon the natural but
ignoble instinct by which we cleave to life; an instinct, which, as being
indispensable to the primal law of self-preservation, is the same in kind,
(though different in degree,) amongst all living creatures; this instinct
therefore, because it annihilates all distinctions, and degrades the
greatest of men to the level of "the poor beetle that we tread on,"
exhibits human nature in its most abject and humiliating attitude. Such an
attitude would little suit the purposes of the poet. What then must he
do? He must throw the interest on the murderer. Our sympathy must be with
_him_; (of course I mean a sympathy of comprehension, a sympathy by which
we enter into his feelings, and are made to understand them,--not a
sympathy[1] of pity or approbation.) In the murdered person all strife of
thought, all flux and reflux of passion and of purpose, are crushed by one
overwhelming panic; the fear of instant death smites him "with its petrific
mace." But in the murderer, such a murderer as a poet will condescend to,
there must be raging some great storm of passion,--jealousy, ambition,
vengeance, hatred,--which will create a hell within him; and into this hell
we are to look.

[Footnote 1: It seems almost ludicrous to guard and explain my use of a
word in a situation where it would naturally explain itself. But it has
become necessary to do so, in consequence of the unscholarlike use of the
word sympathy, at present so general, by which, instead of taking it in
its proper sense, as the act of reproducing in our minds the feelings of
another, whether for hatred, indignation, love, pity, or approbation, it
is made a mere synonyme of the word _pity_; and hence, instead of saying
"sympathy _with_ another," many writers adopt the monstrous barbarism of
"sympathy _for_ another."]

In Macbeth, for the sake of gratifying his own enormous and teeming faculty
of creation, Shakspeare has introduced two murderers: and, as usual in his
hands, they are remarkably discriminated: but, though in Macbeth the strife
of mind is greater than in his wife, the tiger spirit not so awake, and his
feelings caught chiefly by contagion from her,--yet, as both were finally
involved in the guilt of murder, the murderous mind of necessity is finally
to be presumed in both. This was to be expressed; and on its own account,
as well as to make it a more proportionable antagonist to the unoffending
nature of their victim, "the gracious Duncan," and adequately to expound
"the deep damnation of his taking off," this was to be expressed with
peculiar energy. We were to be made to feel that the human nature, _i.e._,
the divine nature of love and mercy, spread through the hearts of all
creatures, and seldom utterly withdrawn from man,--was gone, vanished,
extinct; and that the fiendish nature had taken its place. And, as this
effect is marvellously accomplished in the _dialogues_ and _soliloquies_
themselves, so it is finally consummated by the expedient under
consideration; and it is to this that I now solicit the reader's attention.
If the reader has ever witnessed a wife, daughter, or sister, in a fainting
fit, he may chance to have observed that the most affecting moment in
such a spectacle, is _that_ in which a sigh and a stirring announce the
recommencement of suspended life. Or, if the reader has ever been present
in a vast metropolis, on the day when some great national idol was carried
in funeral pomp to his grave, and chancing to walk near the course through
which it passed, has felt powerfully, in the silence and desertion of the
streets and in the stagnation of ordinary business, the deep interest which
at that moment was possessing the heart of man,--if all at once he should
hear the death-like stillness broken up by the sound of wheels rattling
away from the scene, and making known that the transitory vision was
dissolved, he will be aware that at no moment was his sense of the complete
suspension and pause in ordinary human concerns so full and affecting, as
at that moment when the suspension ceases, and the goings-on of human
life are suddenly resumed. All action in any direction is best expounded,
measured, and made apprehensible, by reaction. Now apply this to the case
in Macbeth. Here, as I have said, the retiring of the human heart and the
entrance of the fiendish heart was to be expressed and made sensible.
Another world has stepped in; and the murderers are taken out of the region
of human things, human purposes, human desires. They are transfigured: Lady
Macbeth is "unsexed;" Macbeth has forgot that he was born of woman; both
are conformed to the image of devils; and the world of devils is suddenly
revealed. But how shall this be conveyed and made palpable? In order that a
new world may step in, this world must for a time disappear. The murderers,
and the murder, must be insulated--cut off by an immeasurable gulph
from the ordinary tide and succession of human affairs--locked up and
sequestered in some deep recess; we must be made sensible that the world
of ordinary life is suddenly arrested--laid asleep--tranced--racked into
a dread armistice: time must be annihilated; relation to things without
abolished; and all must pass self-withdrawn into a deep syncope and
suspension of earthly passion. Hence it is, that when the deed is done,
when the work of darkness is perfect, then the world of darkness passes
away like a pageantry in the clouds: the knocking at the gate is heard; and
it makes known audibly that the reaction has commenced: the human has made
its reflux upon the fiendish; the pulses of life are beginning to beat
again; and the re-establishment of the goings-on of the world in which we
live, first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful parenthesis that had
suspended them.

O, mighty poet! Thy works are not as those of other men, simply and merely
great works of art; but are also like the phenomena of nature, like the sun
and the sea, the stars and the flowers,--like frost and snow, rain and dew,
hail-storm and thunder, which are to be studied with entire submission of
our own faculties, and in the perfect faith that in them there can be no
too much or too little, nothing useless or inert--but that, the further
we press in our discoveries, the more we shall see proofs of design and
self-supporting arrangement where the careless eye had seen nothing but
accident!



ON MURDER,

CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS.


TO THE EDITOR OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE.


SIR,--We have all heard of a Society for the Promotion of Vice, of the
Hell-Fire Club, &c. At Brighton, I think it was, that a Society was formed
for the Suppression of Virtue. That society was itself suppressed--but I
am sorry to say that another exists in London, of a character still
more atrocious. In tendency, it may be denominated a Society for the
Encouragement of Murder; but, according to their own delicate [Greek:
euphaemismos], it is styled--The Society of Connoisseurs in Murder. They
profess to be curious in homicide; amateurs and dilettanti in the various
modes of bloodshed; and, in short, Murder-Fanciers. Every fresh atrocity
of that class, which the police annals of Europe bring up, they meet and
criticise as they would a picture, statue, or other work of art. But I
need not trouble myself with any attempt to describe the spirit of their
proceedings, as you will collect _that_ much better from one of the Monthly
Lectures read before the society last year. This has fallen into my hands
accidentally, in spite of all the vigilance exercised to keep their
transactions from the public eye. The publication of it will alarm them;
and my purpose is that it should. For I would much rather put them down
quietly, by an appeal to public opinion through you, than by such an
exposure of names as would follow an appeal to Bow Street; which last
appeal, however, if this should fail, I must positively resort to. For it
is scandalous that such things should go on in a Christian land. Even in a
heathen land, the toleration of murder was felt by a Christian writer to be
the most crying reproach of the public morals. This writer was Lactantius;
and with his words, as singularly applicable to the present occasion, I
shall conclude: "Quid tam horribile," says he, "tam tetrum, quam hominis
trucidatio? Ideo severissimis legibus vita nostra munitur; ideo bella
execrabilia sunt. Invenit tamen consuetudo quatenus homicidium sine bello
ac sine legibus faciat: et hoc sibi voluptas quod scelus vindicavit.
Quod si interesse homicidio sceleris conscientia est,--et eidem facinori
spectator obstrictus est cui et admissor; ergo et in his gladiatorum
cædibus non minus cruore profunditur qui spectat, quam ille qui facit:
nec potest esse immunis à sanguine qui voluit effundi; aut videri non
interfecisse, qui interfectori et favit et proemium postulavit." "Human
life," says he, "is guarded by laws of the uttermost rigor, yet custom has
devised a mode of evading them in behalf of murder; and the demands of
taste (voluptas) are now become the same as those of abandoned guilt." Let
the Society of Gentlemen Amateurs consider this; and let me call their
especial attention to the last sentence, which is so weighty, that I shall
attempt to convey it in English: "Now, if merely to be present at a
murder fastens on a man the character of an accomplice; if barely to be a
spectator involves us in one common guilt with the perpetrator; it follows
of necessity, that, in these murders of the amphitheatre, the hand which
inflicts the fatal blow is not more deeply imbrued in blood that his who
sits and looks on: neither can _he_ be clear of blood who has countenanced
its shedding; nor that man seem other than a participator in murder who
gives his applause to the murderer, and calls for prizes in his behalf."
The "_præmia postulavit_" I have not yet heard charged upon the Gentlemen
Amateurs of London, though undoubtedly their proceedings tend to that;
but the "_interfectori favil_" is implied in the very title of this
association, and expressed in every line of the lecture which I send you.

I am, &c. X. Y. Z.

       *       *       *       *       *

LECTURE.

GENTLEMEN,--I have had the honor to be appointed by your committee to the
trying task of reading the Williams' Lecture on Murder, considered as one
of the Fine Arts; a task which might be easy enough three or four centuries
ago, when the art was little understood, and few great models had been
exhibited; but in this age, when masterpieces of excellence have been
executed by professional men, it must be evident, that in the style
of criticism applied to them, the public will look for something of a
corresponding improvement. Practice and theory must advance _pari passu_.
People begin to see that something more goes to the composition of a fine
murder than two blockheads to kill and be killed--a knife--a purse--and a
dark lane. Design, gentlemen, grouping, light and shade, poetry, sentiment,
are now deemed indispensable to attempts of this nature. Mr. Williams
has exalted the ideal of murder to all of us; and to me, therefore, in
particular, has deepened the arduousness of my task. Like Æschylus or
Milton in poetry, like Michael Angelo in painting, he has carried his art
to a point of colossal sublimity; and, as Mr. Wordsworth observes, has in
a manner "created the taste by which he is to be enjoyed." To sketch the
history of the art, and to examine its principles critically, now remains
as a duty for the connoisseur, and for judges of quite another stamp from
his Majesty's Judges of Assize.

Before I begin, let me say a word or two to certain prigs, who affect to
speak of our society as if it were in some degree immoral in its tendency.
Immoral! God bless my soul, gentlemen, what is it that people mean? I am
for morality, and always shall be, and for virtue and all that; and I do
affirm, and always shall, (let what will come of it,) that murder is an
improper line of conduct, highly improper; and I do not stick to assert,
that any man who deals in murder, must have very incorrect ways of
thinking, and truly inaccurate principles; and so far from aiding and
abetting him by pointing out his victim's hiding-place, as a great
moralist[1] of Germany declared it to be every good man's duty to do, I
would subscribe one shilling and sixpense to have him apprehended, which is
more by eighteen-pence than the most eminent moralists have subscribed for
that purpose. But what then? Everything in this world has two handles.
Murder, for instance, may be laid hold of by its moral handle, (as it
generally is in the pulpit, and at the Old Bailey;) and _that_, I confess,
is its weak side; or it may also be treated _æsthetically_, as the Germans
call it, that is, in relation to good taste.

[Footnote 1: Kant--who carried his demands of unconditional veracity to so
extravagant a length as to affirm, that, if a man were to see an innocent
person escape from a murderer, it would be his duty, on being questioned
by the murderer, to tell the truth, and to point out the retreat of the
innocent person, under any certainty of causing murder. Lest this doctrine
should be supposed to have escaped him in any heat of dispute, on being
taxed with it by a celebrated French writer, he solemnly reaffirmed it,
with his reasons.]

To illustrate this, I will urge the authority of three eminent persons,
viz., S.T. Coleridge, Aristotle, and Mr. Howship the surgeon. To begin with
S.T.C. One night, many years ago, I was drinking tea with him in Berners'
Street, (which, by the way, for a short street, has been uncommonly
fruitful in men of genius.) Others were there besides myself; and amidst
some carnal considerations of tea and toast, we were all imbibing a
dissertation on Plotinus from the attic lips of S.T.C. Suddenly a cry arose
of "_Fire--fire_!" upon which all of us, master and disciples, Plato and
[Greek: hoi peri ton Platona], rushed out, eager for the spectacle. The
fire was in Oxford Street, at a piano-forte maker's; and, as it promised to
be a conflagration of merit, I was sorry that my engagements forced me away
from Mr. Coleridge's party before matters were come to a crisis. Some days
after, meeting with my Platonic host, I reminded him of the case, and
begged to know how that very promising exhibition had terminated. "Oh,
sir," said he, "it turned out so ill, that we damned it unanimously." Now,
does any man suppose that Mr. Coleridge,--who, for all he is too fat to be
a person of active virtue, is undoubtedly a worthy Christian,--that this
good S. T. C., I say, was an incendiary, or capable of wishing any ill
to the poor man and his piano-fortes (many of them, doubtless, with the
additional keys)? On the contrary, I know him to be that sort of man, that
I durst stake my life upon it he would have worked an engine in a case of
necessity, although rather of the fattest for such fiery trials of his
virtue. But how stood the case? Virtue was in no request. On the arrival
of the fire-engines, morality had devolved wholly on the insurance office.
This being the case, he had a right to gratify his taste. He had left his
tea. Was he to have nothing in return?

I contend that the most virtuous man, under the premises stated, was
entitled to make a luxury of the fire, and to hiss it, as he would any
other performance that raised expectations in the public mind, which
afterwards it disappointed. Again, to cite another great authority,
what says the Stagyrite? He (in the Fifth Book, I think it is, of his
Metaphysics) describes what he calls [Greek: kleptaen teleion], i.e., _a
perfect thief_; and, as to Mr. Howship, in a work of his on Indigestion, he
makes no scruple to talk with admiration of a certain ulcer which he had
seen, and which he styles "a beautiful ulcer." Now will any man pretend,
that, abstractedly considered, a thief could appear to Aristotle a perfect
character, or that Mr. Howship could be enamored of an ulcer? Aristotle,
it is well known, was himself so very moral a character, that, not content
with writing his Nichomachean Ethics, in one volume octavo, he also
wrote another system, called _Magna Moralia_, or Big Ethics. Now, it is
impossible that a man who composes any ethics at all, big or little, should
admire a thief _per se_, and, as to Mr. Howship, it is well known that he
makes war upon all ulcers; and, without suffering himself to be seduced by
their charms, endeavors to banish them from the county of Middlesex. But
the truth is, that, however objectionable _per se_, yet, relatively to
others of their class, both a thief and an ulcer may have infinite degrees
of merit. They are both imperfections, it is true; but to be imperfect
being their essence, the very greatness of their imperfection becomes their
perfection. _Spartam nactus es, hunc exorna_. A thief like Autolycus or
Mr. Barrington, and a grim phagedænic ulcer, superbly defined, and running
regularly through all its natural stages, may no less justly be regarded
as ideals after _their_ kind, than the most faultless moss-rose amongst
flowers, in its progress from bud to "bright consummate flower;" or,
amongst human flowers, the most magnificent young female, apparelled in
the pomp of womanhood. And thus not only the ideal of an inkstand may be
imagined, (as Mr. Coleridge demonstrated in his celebrated correspondence
with Mr. Blackwood,) in which, by the way, there is not so much, because an
inkstand is a laudable sort of thing, and a valuable member of society; but
even imperfection itself may have its ideal or perfect state.

Really, gentlemen, I beg pardon for so much philosophy at one time, and now
let me apply it. When a murder is in the paulo-post-futurum tense, and a
rumor of it comes to our ears, by all means let us treat it morally. But
suppose it over and done, and that you can say of it,[Greek: Tetelesai],
or (in that adamantine molossus of Medea) [Greek: eirzasai]; suppose the
poor murdered man to be out of his pain, and the rascal that did it off
like a shot, nobody knows whither; suppose, lastly, that we have done our
best, by putting out our legs to trip up the fellow in his flight, but all
to no purpose--"abiit, evasit," &c.--why, then, I say, what's the use of
any more virtue? Enough has been given to morality; now comes the turn of
Taste and the Fine Arts. A sad thing it was, no doubt, very sad; but _we_
can't mend it. Therefore let us make the best of a bad matter; and, as it
is impossible to hammer anything out of it for moral purposes, let us treat
it æsthetically, and see if it will turn to account in that way. Such is
the logic of a sensible man, and what follows? We dry up our tears, and
have the satisfaction, perhaps, to discover that a transaction, which,
morally considered, was shocking, and without a leg to stand upon,
when tried by principles of Taste, turns out to be a very meritorious
performance. Thus all the world is pleased; the old proverb is justified,
that it is an ill wind which blows nobody good; the amateur, from looking
bilious and sulky, by too close an attention to virtue, begins to pick up
his crumbs, and general hilarity prevails. Virtue has had her day; and
henceforward, _Vertu_ and Connoisseurship have leave to provide for
themselves. Upon this principle, gentlemen, I propose to guide your
studies, from Cain to Mr. Thurtell. Through this great gallery of murder,
therefore, together let us wander hand in hand, in delighted admiration,
while I endeavor to point your attention to the objects of profitable
criticism.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first murder is familiar to you all. As the inventor of murder, and the
father of the art, Cain must have been a man of first-rate genius. All the
Cains were men of genius. Tubal Cain invented tubes, I think, or some such
thing. But, whatever were the originality and genius of the artist, every
art was then in its infancy, and the works must be criticised with a
recollection of that fact. Even Tubal's work would probably be little
approved at this day in Sheffield; and therefore of Cain (Cain senior, I
mean,) it is no disparagement to say, that his performance was but so so.
Milton, however, is supposed to have thought differently. By his way of
relating the case, it should seem to have been rather a pet murder with
him, for he retouches it with an apparent anxiety for its picturesque
effect:

  Whereat he inly raged; and, as they talk'd,
  Smote him into the midriff with a stone
  That beat out life: he fell; and, deadly pale,
  Groan'd out his soul _with gushing blood effus'd_.
  _Par. Lost, B. XI_.

Upon this, Richardson, the painter, who had an eye for effect, remarks as
follows, in his Notes on Paradise Lost, p. 497: "It has been thought,"
says he, "that Cain beat (as the common saying is) the breath out of his
brother's body with a great stone; Milton gives in to this, with the
addition, however, of a large wound." In this place it was a judicious
addition; for the rudeness of the weapon, unless raised and enriched by
a warm, sanguinary coloring, has too much of the naked air of the savage
school; as if the deed were perpetrated by a Polypheme without science,
premeditation, or anything but a mutton bone. However, I am chiefly pleased
with the improvement, as it implies that Milton was an amateur. As to
Shakspeare, there never was a better; as his description of the murdered
Duke of Gloucester, in Henry VI., of Duncan's, Banquo's, &c., sufficiently
proves.

The foundation of the art having been once laid, it is pitiable to see how
it slumbered without improvement for ages. In fact, I shall now be obliged
to leap over all murders, sacred and profane, as utterly unworthy of
notice, until long after the Christian era. Greece, even in the age of
Pericles, produced no murder of the slightest merit; and Rome had too
little originality of genius in any of the arts to succeed, where her
model failed her. In fact, the Latin language sinks under the very idea of
murder. "The man was murdered;"--how will this sound in Latin? _Interfectus
est, interemptus est_--which simply expresses a homicide; and hence the
Christian Latinity of the middle ages was obliged to introduce a new word,
such as the feebleness of classic conceptions never ascended to. _Murdratus
est_, says the sublimer dialect of Gothic ages. Meantime, the Jewish,
school of murder kept alive whatever was yet known in the art, and
gradually transferred it to the Western World. Indeed the Jewish school was
always respectable, even in the dark ages, as the case of Hugh of Lincoln
shows, which was honored with the approbation of Chaucer, on occasion of
another performance from the same school, which he puts into the mouth of
the Lady Abbess.

Recurring, however, for one moment to classical antiquity, I cannot but
think that Catiline, Clodius, and some of that coterie, would have made
first-rate artists; and it is on all accounts to be regretted, that the
priggism of Cicero robbed his country of the only chance she had for
distinction in this line. As the _subject_ of a murder, no person could
have answered better than himself. Lord! how he would have howled with
panic, if he had heard Cethegus under his bed. It would have been truly
diverting to have listened to him; and satisfied I am, gentlemen, that he
would have preferred the _utile_ of creeping into a closet, or even into a
_cloaca_, to the _honestum_ of facing the bold artist.

To come now to the dark ages--(by which we, that speak with precision,
mean, _par excellence_, the tenth century, and the times immediately before
and after)--these ages ought naturally to be favorable to the art of
murder, as they were to church architecture, to stained glass, &c.; and,
accordingly, about the latter end of this period, there arose a great
character in our art, I mean the Old Man of the Mountains. He was a shining
light, indeed, and I need not tell you, that the very word "assassin" is
deduced from him. So keen an amateur was he, that on one occasion, when his
own life was attempted by a favorite assassin, he was so much pleased
with the talent shown, that notwithstanding the failure of the artist, he
created him a duke upon the spot, with remainder to the female line, and
settled a pension on him for three lives. Assassination is a branch of the
art which demands a separate notice; and I shall devote an entire lecture
to it. Meantime, I shall only observe how odd it is, that this branch of
the art has flourished by fits. It never rains, but it pours. Our own age
can boast of some fine specimens; and, about two centuries ago, there was a
most brilliant constellation of murders in this class. I need hardly say,
that I allude especially to those five splendid works,--the assassinations
of William I, of Orange, of Henry IV., of France, of the Duke of
Buckingham, (which you will find excellently described in the letters
published by Mr. Ellis, of the British Museum,) of Gustavus Adolphus, and
of Wallenstein. The King of Sweden's assassination, by the by, is doubted
by many writers, Harte amongst others; but they are wrong. He was murdered;
and I consider his murder unique in its excellence; for he was murdered at
noon-day, and on the field of battle,--a feature of original conception,
which occurs in no other work of art that I remember. Indeed, all of these
assassinations may be studied with profit by the advanced connoisseur. They
are all of them _exemplaria_, of which one may say,--

  Nociurnâ versatâ manu, versate diurne;

Especially _nocturnâ_.

In these assassinations of princes and statesmen, there is nothing to
excite our wonder; important changes often depend on their deaths; and,
from the eminence on which they stand, they are peculiarly exposed to the
aim of every artist who happens to be possessed by the craving for scenical
effect. But there is another class of assassinations, which has prevailed
from an early period of the seventeenth century, that really _does_
surprise me; I mean the assassination of philosophers. For, gentlemen, it
is a fact, that every philosopher of eminence for the two last centuries
has either been murdered, or, at the least, been very near it; insomuch,
that if a man calls himself a philosopher, and never had his life
attempted, rest assured there is nothing in him; and against Locke's
philosophy in particular, I think it an unanswerable objection (if we
needed any), that, although he carried his throat about with him in this
world for seventy-two years, no man ever condescended to cut it. As these
cases of philosophers are not much known, and are generally good and well
composed in their circumstances, I shall here read an excursus on that
subject, chiefly by way of showing my own learning.

The first great philosopher of the seventeenth century (if we except
Galileo) was Des Cartes; and if ever one could say of a man that he was all
_but_ murdered--murdered within an inch--one must say it of him. The case
was this, as reported by Baillet in his _Vie De M. Des Cartes_, tom. I. p.
102-3. In the year 1621, when Des Cartes might be about twenty-six years
old, he was touring about as usual, (for he was as restless as a hyæna,)
and, coming to the Elbe, either at Gluckstadt or at Hamburgh, he took
shipping for East Friezland: what he could want in East Friezland no man
has ever discovered; and perhaps he took this into consideration himself;
for, on reaching Embden, he resolved to sail instantly for _West_
Friezland; and being very impatient of delay, he hired a bark, with a few
mariners to navigate it. No sooner had he got out to sea than he made a
pleasing discovery, viz. that he had shut himself up in a den of murderers.
His crew, says M. Baillet, he soon found out to be "des scélérats,"--not
_amateurs_, gentlemen, as we are, but professional men--the height of
whose ambition at that moment was to cut his throat. But the story is too
pleasing to be abridged; I shall give it, therefore, accurately, from the
French of his biographer: "M. Des Cartes had no company but that of his
servant, with whom he was conversing in French. The sailors, who took him
for a foreign merchant, rather than a cavalier, concluded that he must
have money about him. Accordingly they came to a resolution by no means
advantageous to his purse. There is this difference, however, between
sea-robbers and the robbers in forests, that the latter may, without
hazard, spare the lives of their victims; whereas the other cannot put
a passenger on shore in such a case without running the risk of being
apprehended. The crew of M. Des Cartes arranged their measures with a view
to evade any danger of that sort. They observed that he was a stranger from
a distance, without acquaintance in the country, and that nobody would take
any trouble to inquire about him, in case he should never come to hand,
(_quand il viendroit à manquer_.") Think, gentlemen, of these Friezland
dogs discussing a philosopher as if he were a puncheon of rum. "His temper,
they remarked, was very mild and patient; and, judging from the gentleness
of his deportment, and the courtesy with which he treated themselves, that
he could be nothing more than some green young man, they concluded that
they should have all the easier task in disposing of his life. They made no
scruple to discuss the whole matter in his presence, as not supposing that
he understood any other language than that in which he conversed with his
servant; and the amount of their deliberation was--to murder him, then to
throw him into the sea, and to divide his spoils."

Excuse my laughing, gentlemen, but the fact is, I always _do_ laugh when I
think of this case--two things about it seem so droll. One, is, the horrid
panic or "funk," (as the men of Eton call it,) in which Des Cartes must
have found himself upon hearing this regular drama sketched for his own
death--funeral--succession and administration to his effects. But another
thing, which seems to me still more funny about this affair is, that
if these Friezland hounds had been "game," we should have no Cartesian
philosophy; and how we could have done without _that_, considering the
worlds of books it has produced, I leave to any respectable trunk-maker to
declare.

However, to go on; spite of his enormous funk, Des Cartes showed fight,
and by that means awed these Anti-Cartesian rascals. "Finding," says M.
Baillet, "that the matter was no joke, M. Des Cartes leaped upon his feet
in a trice, assumed a stern countenance that these cravens had never looked
for, and addressing them in their own language, threatened to run them
through on the spot if they dared to offer him any insult." Certainly,
gentlemen, this would have been an honor far above the merits of such
inconsiderable rascals--to be spitted like larks upon a Cartesian sword;
and therefore I am glad M. Des Cartes did not rob the gallows by executing
his threat, especially as he could not possibly have brought his vessel to
port, after he had murdered his crew; so that he must have continued to
cruise for ever in the Zuyder Zee, and would probably have been mistaken by
sailors for the _Flying Dutchman_, homeward bound. "The spirit which M. Des
Cartes manifested," says his biographer, "had the effect of magic on these
wretches. The suddenness of their consternation struck their minds with a
confusion which blinded them to their advantage, and they conveyed him to
his destination as peaceably as he could desire."

Possibly, gentlemen, you may fancy that, on the model of Cæsar's address
to his poor ferryman,--"_Cæsarem vehis et fortunas ejus_"--M. Des Cartes
needed only to have said,--"Dogs, you cannot cut my throat, for you carry
Des Cartes and his philosophy," and might safely have defied them to do
their worst. A German emperor had the same notion, when, being cautioned to
keep out of the way of a cannonading, he replied, "Tut! man. Did you ever
hear of a cannon-ball that killed an emperor?" As to an emperor I cannot
say, but a less thing has sufficed to smash a philosoper; and the next
great philosopher of Europe undoubtedly _was_ murdered. This was Spinosa.

I know very well the common opinion about him is, that he died in his bed.
Perhaps he did, but he was murdered for all that; and this I shall prove
by a book published at Brussels, in the year 1731, entitled, _La Via de
Spinosa; Par M. Jean Colerus_, with many additions, from a MS. life, by one
of his friends. Spinosa died on the 21st February, 1677, being then little
more than forty-four years old. This of itself looks suspicious; and M.
Jean admits, that a certain expression in the MS. life of him would warrant
the conclusion, "que sa mort n'a pas été tout-à-fait naturelle." Living in
a damp country, and a sailor's country, like Holland, he may be thought to
have indulged a good deal in grog, especially in punch,[1] which was then
newly discovered. Undoubtedly he might have done so; but the fact is that
he did not. M. Jean calls him "extrêmement sobre en son boire et en son
manger." And though some wild stories were afloat about his using the juice
of mandragora (p. 140,) and opium, (p. 144,) yet neither of these articles
appeared in his druggist's bill. Living, therefore, with such sobriety, how
was it possible that he should die a natural death at forty-four? Hear his
biographer's account:--"Sunday morning the 21st of February, before it was
church time, Spinosa came down stairs and conversed with the master and
mistress of the house." At this time, therefore, perhaps ten o'clock on
Sunday morning, you see that Spinosa was alive, and pretty well. But it
seems "he had summoned from Amsterdam a certain physician, whom," says the
biographer, "I shall not otherwise point out to notice than by these two
letters, L.M. This L.M. had directed the people of the house to purchase an
ancient cock, and to have him boiled forthwith, in order that Spinosa might
take some broth about noon, which in fact he did, and ate some of the _old
cock_ with a good appetite, after the landlord and his wife had returned
from church.

[Footnote 1: "June 1, 1675.--Drinke part of 3 boules of punch, (a liquor
very strainge to me,)" says the Rev. Mr. Henry Teonge, in his Diary lately
published. In a note on this passage, a reference is made to Fryer's
Travels to the East Indies, 1672, who speaks of "that enervating liquor
called _Paunch_, (which is Indostan for five,) from five ingredients."
Made thus, it seems the medical men called it Diapente; if with four only,
Diatessaron. No doubt, it was its Evangelical name that recommended it to
the Rev. Mr. Teonge.]

"In the afternoon, L.M. staid alone with Spinosa, the people of the house
having returned to church; on coming out from which they learnt, with much
surprise, that Spinosa had died about three o'clock, in the presence
of L.M., who took his departure for Amsterdam the same evening, by the
night-boat, without paying the least attention to the deceased. No doubt he
was the readier to dispense with these duties, as he had possessed himself
of a ducatoon and a small quantity of silver, together with a silver-hafted
knife, and had absconded with his pillage." Here you see, gentlemen, the
murder is plain, and the manner of it. It was L.M. who murdered Spinosa
for his money. Poor S. was an invalid, meagre, and weak: as no blood
was observed, L.M., no doubt, threw him down and smothered him with
pillows,--the poor man being already half suffocated by his infernal
dinner. But who was L.M.? It surely never could be Lindley Murray; for I
saw him at York in 1825; and besides, I do not think he Would do such a
thing; at least, not to a brother grammarian: for you know, gentlemen, that
Spinosa wrote a very respectable Hebrew grammar.

Hobbes, but why, or on what principle, I never could understand, was not
murdered. This was a capital oversight of the professional men in the
seventeenth century; because in every light he was a fine subject for
murder, except, indeed, that he was lean and skinny; for I can prove that
he had money, and (what is very funny,) he had no right to make the least
resistance; for, according to himself, irresistible power creates the very
highest species of right, so that it is rebellion of the blackest die
to refuse to be murdered, when a competent force appears to murder you.
However, gentlemen, though he was not murdered, I am happy to assure you
that (by his own account) he was three times very near being murdered. The
first time was in the spring of 1640, when he pretends to have circulated
a little MS. on the king's behalf, against the Parliament; he never could
produce this MS., by the by; but he says that, "Had not his Majesty
dissolved the Parliament," (in May,) "it had brought him into danger of his
life." Dissolving the Parliament, however, was of no use; for, in November
of the same year, the Long Parliament assembled, and Hobbes, a second time,
fearing he should be murdered, ran away to France. This looks like the
madness of John Dennis, who thought that Louis XIV. would never make peace
with Queen Anne, unless he were given up to his vengeance; and actually ran
away from the sea-coast in that belief. In France, Hobbes managed to take
care of his throat pretty well for ten years; but at the end of that time,
by way of paying court to Cromwell, he published his Leviathan. The old
coward now began to "funk" horribly for the third time; he fancied the
swords of the cavaliers were constantly at his throat, recollecting how
they had served the Parliament ambassadors at the Hague and Madrid. "Turn,"
says he, in his dog-Latin life of himself,

  "Tum venit in mentem mihi Dorislaus et Ascham;
  Tanquam proscripto terror ubique aderat."

And accordingly he ran home to England. Now, certainly, it is very true
that a man deserved a cudgelling for writing Leviathan; and two or three
cudgellings for writing a pentameter ending so villanously as--"terror
ubique aderat!" But no man ever thought him worthy of anything beyond
cudgelling. And, in fact, the whole story is a bounce of his own. For, in a
most abusive letter which he wrote "to a learned person," (meaning Wallis
the mathematician,) he gives quite another account of the matter, and says
(p. 8,) he ran home "because he would not trust his safety with the French
clergy;" insinuating that he was likely to be murdered for his religion,
which would have been a high joke indeed--Tom's being brought to the stake
for religion.

Bounce or not bounce, however, certain it is, that Hobbes, to the end of
his life, feared that somebody would murder him. This is proved by the
story I am going to tell you: it is not from a manuscript, but, (as Mr.
Coleridge says,) it is as good as manuscript; for it comes from a book
now entirely forgotten, viz., "The Creed of Mr. Hobbes Examined; in a
Conference between him and a Student in Divinity," (published about ten
years before Hobbes's death.) The book is anonymous, but it was written by
Tennison, the same who, about thirty years after, succeeded Tillotson as
Archbishop of Canterbury. The introductory anecdote is as follows: "A
certain divine, it seems, (no doubt Tennison himself,) took an annual tour
of one month to different parts of the island. In one of these excursions
(1670) he visited the Peak in Derbyshire, partly in consequence of Hobbes's
description of it. Being in that neighborhood, he could not but pay a visit
to Buxton; and at the very moment of his arrival, he was fortunate enough
to find a party of gentlemen dismounting at the inn door, amongst whom was
a long thin fellow, who turned out to be no less a person than Mr. Hobbes,
who probably had ridden over from Chattsworth. Meeting so great a lion,--a
tourist, in search of the picturesque, could do no less than present
himself in the character of bore. And luckily for this scheme, two of Mr.
Hobbes's companions were suddenly summoned away by express; so that, for
the rest of his stay at Buxton, he had Leviathan entirely to himself, and
had the honor of bowsing with him in the evening. Hobbes, it seems, at
first showed a good deal of stiffness, for he was shy of divines; but this
wore off, and he became very sociable and funny, and they agreed to go into
the bath together. How Tennison could venture to gambol in the same water
with Leviathan, I cannot explain; but so it was: they frolicked about like
two dolphins, though Hobbes must have been as old as the hills; and
"in those intervals wherein they abstained from swimming and plunging
themselves," [i.e., diving,] "they discoursed of many things relating to
the Baths of the Ancients, and the Origine of Springs. When they had in
this manner passed away an hour, they stepped out of the bath; and, having
dried and cloathed themselves, they sate down in expectation of such a
supper as the place afforded; designing to refresh themselves like the
_Deipnosophilæ_, and rather to reason than to drink profoundly. But in this
innocent intention they were interrupted by the disturbance arising from a
little quarrel, in which some of the ruder people in the house were for a
short time engaged. At this Mr. Hobbes seemed much concerned, though he was
at some distance from the persons." And why was he concerned, gentlemen?
No doubt you fancy, from, some benign and disinterested love of peace and
harmony, worthy of an old man and a philosopher. But listen--"For a while
he was not composed, but related it once or twice as to himself, with a
low and careful tone, how Sextus Roscius was murthered after supper by
the Balneæ Palatinæ. Of such general extent is that remark of Cicero, in
relation to Epicurus the Atheist, of whom he observed that he of all men
dreaded most those things which he contemned--Death and the Gods." Merely
because it was supper time, and in the neighborhood of a bath, Mr. Hobbes
must have the fate of Sextus Roscius. What logic was there in this, unless
to a man who was always dreaming of murder? Here was Leviathan, no
longer afraid of the daggers of English cavaliers or French clergy, but
"frightened from his propriety" by a row in an ale-house between some
honest clod-hoppers of Derbyshire, whom his own gaunt scare-crow of a
person that belonged to quite another century, would have frightened out of
their wits.

Malebranche, it will give you pleasure to hear, was murdered. The man who
murdered him is well known: it was Bishop Berkeley. The story is familiar,
though hitherto not put in a proper light. Berkeley, when a young man, went
to Paris and called on Père Malebranche. He found him in his cell cooking.
Cooks have ever been a _genus irritabile_; authors still more so:
Malebranche was both: a dispute arose; the old father, warm already, became
warmer; culinary and metaphysical irritations united to derange his liver:
he took to his bed, and died. Such is the common version of the story:
"So the whole ear of Denmark is abused." The fact is, that the matter was
hushed up, out of consideration for Berkeley, who (as Pope remarked) had
"every virtue under heaven:" else it was well known that Berkeley, feeling
himself nettled by the waspishness of the old Frenchman, squared at him; a
_turn-up_ was the consequence: Malebranche was floored in the first round;
the conceit was wholly taken out of him; and he would perhaps have given
in; but Berkeley's blood was now up, and he insisted on the old Frenchman's
retracting his doctrine of Occasional Causes. The vanity of the man was too
great for this; and he fell a sacrifice to the impetuosity of Irish youth,
combined with his own absurd obstinacy.

Leibnitz, being every way superior to Malebranche, one might, _a fortiori_,
have counted on _his_ being murdered; which, however, was not the case. I
believe he was nettled at this neglect, and felt himself insulted by the
security in which he passed his days. In no other way can I explain
his conduct at the latter end of his life, when he chose to grow very
avaricious, and to hoard up large sums of gold, which he kept in his
own house. This was at Vienna, where he died; and letters are still in
existence, describing the immeasurable anxiety which he entertained for his
throat. Still his ambition, for being _attempted_ at least, was so
great, that he would not forego the danger. A late English pedagogue, of
Birmingham manufacture, viz., Dr. Parr, took a more selfish course, under
the same circumstances. He had amassed a considerable quantity of gold and
silver plate, which was for some time deposited in his bed-room at his
parsonage house, Hatton. But growing every day more afraid of being
murdered, which he knew that he could not stand, (and to which, indeed, he
never had the slightest pretension,) he transferred the whole to the Hatton
blacksmith; conceiving, no doubt, that the murder of a blacksmith would
fall more lightly on the _salus reipublicæ_, than that of a pedagogue. But
I have heard this greatly disputed; and it seems now generally agreed, that
one good horse-shoe is worth about 2 1/4 Spital sermons.

As Leibnitz, though not murdered, may be said to have died, partly of
the fear that he should be murdered, and partly of vexation that he was
not,--Kant, on the other hand--who had no ambition in that way--had a
narrower escape from a murderer than any man we read of, except Des Cartes.
So absurdly does fortune throw about her favors! The case is told, I think,
in an anonymous life of this very great man. For health's sake, Kant
imposed upon himself, at one time, a walk of six miles every day along a
highroad. This fact becoming known to a man who had his private reasons for
committing murder, at the third milestone from Königsberg, he waited for
his "intended," who came up to time as duly as a mail-coach. But for an
accident, Kant was a dead man. However, on considerations of "morality," it
happened that the murderer preferred a little child, whom he saw playing in
the road, to the old transcendentalist: this child he murdered; and thus it
happened that Kant escaped. Such is the German account of the matter; but
my opinion is--that the murderer was an amateur, who felt how little would
be gained to the cause of good taste by murdering an old, arid, and adust
metaphysician; there was no room for display, as the man could not possibly
look more like a mummy when dead, than he had done alive.

Thus, gentlemen, I have traced the connection between philosophy and our
art, until insensibly I find that I have wandered into our own era. This I
shall not take any pains to characterize apart from that which preceded
it, for, in fact, they have no distinct character. The seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, together with so much of the nineteenth as we have
yet seen, jointly compose the Augustan age of murder. The finest work of
the seventeenth century is, unquestionably, the murder of Sir Edmondbury
Godfrey, which has my entire approbation. At the same time, it must be
observed, that the quantity of murder was not great in this century, at
least amongst our own artists; which, perhaps, is attributable to the want
of enlightened patronage. _Sint Mæcenates, non deerunt, Flacce, Marones_.
Consulting Grant's "Observations on the Bills of Mortality," (4th edition,
Oxford, 1665,) I find, that out of 229,250, who died in London during one
period of twenty years in the seventeenth century, not more than eighty-six
were murdered; that is, about four three-tenths per annum. A small number
this, gentlemen, to found an academy upon; and certainly, where the
quantity is so small, we have a right to expect that the quality should be
first-rate. Perhaps it was; yet, still I am of opinion that the best artist
in this century was not equal to the best in that which followed. For
instance, however praiseworthy the case of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey may be
(and nobody can be more sensible of its merits than I am), still I cannot
consent to place it on a level with that of Mrs. Ruscombe of Bristol,
either as to originality of design, or boldness and breadth of style. This
good lady's murder took place early in the reign of George III., a reign
which was notoriously favorable to the arts generally. She lived in College
Green, with a single maid-servant, neither of them having any pretension
to the notice of history but what they derived from the great artist whose
workmanship I am recording. One fine morning, when all Bristol was alive
and in motion, some suspicion arising, the neighbors forced an entrance
into the house, and found Mrs. Ruscombe murdered in her bed-room, and the
servant murdered on the stairs: this was at noon; and, not more than two
hours before, both mistress and servant had been seen alive. To the best of
my remembrance, this was in 1764; upwards of sixty years, therefore, have
now elapsed, and yet the artist is still undiscovered. The suspicions of
posterity have settled upon two pretenders--a baker and a chimney-sweeper.
But posterity is wrong; no unpractised artist could have conceived so bold
an idea as that of a noon-day murder in the heart of a great city. It was
no obscure baker, gentlemen, or anonymous chimney-sweeper, be assured, that
executed this work. I know who it was. (_Here there was a general buzz,
which at length broke out into open applause; upon which the lecturer
blushed, and went on with much earnestness_.) For Heaven's sake, gentlemen,
do not mistake me; it was not I that did it. I have not the vanity to think
myself equal to any such achievement; be assured that you greatly overrate
my poor talents; Mrs. Ruscombe's affair was far beyond my slender
abilities. But I came to know who the artist was, from a celebrated
surgeon, who assisted at his dissection. This gentleman had a private
museum in the way of his profession, one corner of which was occupied by a
cast from a man of remarkably fine proportions.

"That," said the surgeon, "is a cast from the celebrated Lancashire
highwayman, who concealed his profession for some time from his neighbors,
by drawing woollen stockings over his horse's legs, and in that way
muffling the clatter which he must else have made in riding up a flagged
alley that led to his stable. At the time of his execution for highway
robbery, I was studying under Cruickshank: and the man's figure was
so uncommonly fine, that no money or exertion was spared to get into
possession of him with the least possible delay. By the connivance of the
under-sheriff he was cut down within the legal time, and instantly put into
a chaise and four; so that, when he reached Cruickshank's he was positively
not dead. Mr. ----, a young student at that time, had the honor of giving
him the _coup de grâce_, and finishing the sentence of the law." This
remarkable anecdote, which seemed to imply that all the gentlemen in the
dissecting-room were amateurs of our class, struck me a good deal; and I
was repeating it one day to a Lancashire lady, who thereupon informed me,
that she had herself lived in the neighborhood of that highwayman, and well
remembered two circumstances, which combined, in the opinion of all his
neighbors, to fix upon him the credit of Mrs. Ruscombe's affair. One was,
the fact of his absence for a whole fortnight at the period of that murder:
the other, that, within a very little time after, the neighborhood of this
highwayman was deluged with dollars: now Mrs. Ruscombe was known to have
hoarded about two thousand of that coin. Be the artist, however, who he
might, the affair remains a durable monument of his genius; for such was
the impression of awe, and the sense of power left behind, by the strength
of conception manifested in this murder, that no tenant (as I was told in
1810) had been found up to that time for Mrs. Ruscombe's house.

But, whilst I thus eulogize the Ruscombian case, let me not be supposed to
overlook the many other specimens of extraordinary merit spread over the
face of this century. Such cases, indeed, as that of Miss Bland, or of
Captain Donnellan, and Sir Theophilus Boughton, shall never have any
countenance from me. Fie on these dealers in poison, say I: can they not
keep to the old honest way of cutting throats, without introducing such
abominable innovations from Italy? I consider all these poisoning cases,
compared with the legitimate style, as no better than wax-work by the side
of sculpture, or a lithographic print by the side of a fine Volpato. But,
dismissing these, there remain many excellent works of art in a pure style,
such as nobody need be ashamed to own, as every candid connoisseur will
admit. _Candid_, observe, I say; for great allowances must be made in
these cases; no artist can ever be sure of carrying through his own fine
preconception. Awkward disturbances will arise; people will not submit to
have their throats cut quietly; they will run, they will kick, they will
bite; and whilst the portrait painter often has to complain of too much
torpor in his subject, the artist, in our line, is generally embarrassed by
too much animation. At the same time, however disagreeable to the artist,
this tendency in murder to excite and irritate the subject, is certainly
one of its advantages to the world in general, which we ought not to
overlook, since it favors the development of latent talent. Jeremy Taylor
notices with admiration, the extraordinary leaps which people will take
under the influence of fear. There was a striking instance of this in the
recent case of the M'Keands; the boy cleared a height, such as he will
never clear again to his dying day. Talents also of the most brilliant
description for thumping, and indeed for all the gymnastic exercises,
have sometimes been developed by the panic which accompanies our artists;
talents else buried and hid under a bushel to the possessors, as much as to
their friends. I remember an interesting illustration of this fact, in a
case which I learned in Germany.

Riding one day in the neighborhood of Munich, I overtook a distinguished
amateur of our society, whose name I shall conceal. This gentleman informed
me that, finding himself wearied with the frigid pleasures (so he
called them) of mere amateurship, he had quitted England for the
continent--meaning to practise a little professionally. For this purpose
he resorted to Germany, conceiving the police in that part of Europe to be
more heavy and drowsy than elsewhere. His _debut_ as a practitioner took
place at Mannheim; and, knowing me to be a brother amateur, he freely
communicated the whole of his maiden adventure. "Opposite to my lodging,"
said he, "lived a baker: he was somewhat of a miser, and lived quite alone.
Whether it were his great expanse of chalky face, or what else, I know
not--but the fact was, I 'fancied' him, and resolved to commence business
upon his throat, which by the way he always carried bare--a fashion which
is very irritating to my desires. Precisely at eight o'clock in the
evening, I observed that he regularly shut up his windows. One night I
watched him when thus engaged--bolted in after him--locked the door--and,
addressing him with great suavity, acquainted him with the nature of my
errand; at the same time advising him to make no resistance, which would be
mutually unpleasant. So saying, I drew out my tools; and was proceeding to
operate. But at this spectacle, the baker, who seemed to have been struck
by catalepsy at my first announce, awoke into tremendous agitation. 'I will
_not_ be murdered!' he shrieked aloud; 'what for will I lose my precious
throat?' 'What for?' said I; 'if for no other reason, for this--that you
put alum into your bread. But no matter, alum or no alum, (for I was
resolved to forestall any argument on that point,) know that I am a
virtuoso in the art of murder--am desirous of improving myself in its
details--and am enamored of your vast surface of throat, to which I am
determined to be a customer.' 'Is it so?' said he, 'but I'll find you
custom in another line;' and so saying, he threw himself into a boxing
attitude. The very idea of his boxing struck me as ludicrous. It is true,
a London baker had distinguished himself in the ring, and became known
to fame under the title of the Master of the Rolls; but he was young and
unspoiled: whereas this man was a monstrous feather-bed in person, fifty
years old, and totally out of condition. Spite of all this, however, and
contending against me, who am a master in the art, he made so desperate a
defence, that many times I feared he might turn the tables upon me;
and that I, an amateur, might be murdered by a rascally baker. What a
situation! Minds of sensibility will sympathize with my anxiety. How severe
it was, you may understand by this, that for the first thirteen rounds the
baker had the advantage. Round the fourteenth, I received a blow on
the right eye, which closed it up; in the end, I believe, this was my
salvation: for the anger it roused in me was so great that, in this and
every one of the three following rounds, I floored the baker.

"Round 18th. The baker came up piping, and manifestly the worse for wear.
His geometrical exploits in the four last rounds had done him no good.
However, he showed some skill in stopping a message which I was sending to
his cadaverous mug; in delivering which, my foot slipped, and I went down.

"Round 19th. Surveying the baker, I became ashamed of having been so
much bothered by a shapeless mass of dough; and I went in fiercely,
and administered some severe punishment. A rally took place--both went
down--baker undermost--ten to three on amateur.

"Round 20th. The baker jumped up with surprising agility; indeed, he
managed his pins capitally, and fought wonderfully, considering that he was
drenched in perspiration; but the shine was now taken out of him, and his
game was the mere effect of panic. It was now clear that he could not last
much longer. In the course of this round we tried the weaving system, in
which I had greatly the advantage, and hit him repeatedly on the conk.
My reason for this was, that his conk was covered with carbuncles; and I
thought I should vex him by taking such liberties with his conk, which in
fact I did.

"The three next rounds, the master of the rolls staggered about like a cow
on the ice. Seeing how matters stood, in round twenty-fourth I whispered
something into his ear, which sent him down like a shot. It was nothing
more than my private opinion of the value of his throat at an annuity
office. This little confidential whisper affected him greatly; the very
perspiration was frozen on his face, and for the next two rounds I had it
all my own way. And when I called _time_ for the twenty-seventh round, he
lay like a log on the floor."

After which, said I to the amateur, "It may be presumed that you
accomplished your purpose." "You are right," said he mildly, "I did; and a
great satisfaction, you know, it was to my mind, for by this means I killed
two birds with one stone;" meaning that he had both thumped the baker and
murdered him. Now, for the life of me, I could not see _that_; for, on the
contrary, to my mind it appeared that he had taken two stones to kill one
bird, having been obliged to take the conceit out of him first with his
fist, and then with his tools. But no matter for his logic. The moral of
his story was good, for it showed what an astonishing stimulus to latent
talent is contained in any reasonable prospect of being murdered. A
pursy, unwieldy, half cataleptic baker of Mannheim had absolutely fought
six-and-twenty rounds with an accomplished English boxer merely upon this
inspiration; so greatly was natural genius exalted and sublimed by the
genial presence of his murderer.

Really, gentlemen, when one hears of such things as these, it becomes a
duty, perhaps, a little to soften that extreme asperity with which most
men speak of murder. To hear people talk, you would suppose that all the
disadvantages and inconveniences were on the side of being murdered, and
that there were none at all in _not_ being murdered. But considerate men
think otherwise. "Certainly," says Jeremy Taylor, "it is a less temporal
evil to fall by the rudeness of a sword than the violence of a fever: and
the axe" (to which he might have added the ship-carpenter's mallet and the
crow-bar) "a much less affliction than a strangury." Very true; the
bishop talks like a wise man and an amateur, as he is; and another great
philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, was equally above the vulgar prejudices on
this subject. He declares it to be one of "the noblest functions of reason
to know whether it is time to walk out of the world or not." (Book III.,
Collers' Translation.) No sort of knowledge being rarer than this, surely
_that_ man must be a most philanthropic character, who undertakes to
instruct people in this branch of knowledge gratis, and at no little hazard
to himself. All this, however, I throw out only in the way of speculation
to future moralists; declaring in the meantime my own private conviction,
that very few men commit murder upon philanthropic or patriotic principles,
and repeating what I have already said once at least--that, as to the
majority of murderers, they are very incorrect characters.

With respect to Williams's murders, the sublimest and most entire in their
excellence that ever were committed, I shall not allow myself to speak
incidentally. Nothing less than an entire lecture, or even an entire course
of lectures, would suffice to expound their merits. But one curious fact,
connected with his case, I shall mention, because it seems to imply that
the blaze of his genius absolutely dazzled the eye of criminal justice. You
all remember, I doubt not, that the instruments with which he executed his
first great work, (the murder of the Marrs,) were a ship-carpenter's mallet
and a knife. Now the mallet belonged to an old Swede, one John Petersen,
and bore his initials. This instrument Williams left behind him, in Marr's
house, and it fell into the hands of the magistrates. Now, gentlemen, it
is a fact that the publication of this circumstance of the initials led
immediately to the apprehension of Williams, and, if made earlier, would
have prevented his second great work, (the murder of the Williamsons,)
which took place precisely twelve days after. But the magistrates kept back
this fact from the public for the entire twelve days, and until that second
work was accomplished. That finished, they published it, apparently feeling
that Williams had now done enough for his fame, and that his glory was at
length placed beyond the reach of accident.

As to Mr. Thurtell's case, I know not what to say. Naturally, I have every
disposition to think highly of my predecessor in the chair of this society;
and I acknowledge that his lectures were unexceptionable. But, speaking
ingenuously, I do really think that his principal performance, as an
artist, has been much overrated. I admit that at first I was myself carried
away by the general enthusiasm. On the morning when the murder was made
known in London, there was the fullest meeting of amateurs that I have ever
known since the days of Williams; old bed-ridden connoisseurs, who had got
into a peevish way of sneering and complaining "that there was nothing
doing," now hobbled down to our club-room: such hilarity, such benign
expression of general satisfaction, I have rarely witnessed. On every side
you saw people shaking hands, congratulating each other, and forming
dinner parties for the evening; and nothing was to be heard but triumphant
challenges of--"Well! will _this_ do?" "Is _this_ the right thing?" "Are
you satisfied at last?" But, in the midst of this, I remember we all
grew silent on hearing the old cynical amateur, L. S----, that _laudator
temporis acti_, stumping along with his wooden leg; he entered the room
with his usual scowl, and, as he advanced, he continued to growl and
stutter the whole way--"Not an original idea in the whole piece--mere
plagiarism,--base plagiarism from hints that I threw out! Besides, his
style is as hard as Albert Durer, and as coarse as Fuseli." Many thought
that this was mere jealousy, and general waspishness; but I confess that,
when the first glow of enthusiasm had subsided, I have found most judicious
critics to agree that there was something _falsetto_ in the style of
Thurtell. The fact is, he was a member of our society, which naturally gave
a friendly bias to our judgments; and his person was universally familiar
to the cockneys, which gave him, with the whole London public, a temporary
popularity, that his pretensions are not capable of supporting; for
_opinionum commenta delet dies, naturæ judicia confirmat_. There was,
however, an unfinished design of Thurtell's for the murder of a man with a
pair of dumb-bells, which I admired greatly; it was a mere outline, that he
never completed; but to my mind it seemed every way superior to his chief
work. I remember that there was great regret expressed by some amateurs
that this sketch should have been left in an unfinished state: but there
I cannot agree with them; for the fragments and first bold outlines of
original artists have often a felicity about them which is apt to vanish in
the management of the details.

The case of the M'Keands I consider far beyond the vaunted performance of
Thurtell,--indeed above all praise; and bearing that relation, in fact, to
the immortal works of Williams, which the Æneid bears to the Iliad.

But it is now time that I should say a few words about the principles of
murder, not with a view to regulate your practice, but your judgment: as
to old women, and the mob of newspaper readers, they are pleased with
anything, provided it is bloody enough. But the mind of sensibility
requires something more. _First_, then, let us speak of the kind of person
who is adapted to the purpose of the murderer; _secondly_, of the place
where; _thirdly_, of the time when, and other little circumstances.

As to the person, I suppose it is evident that he ought to be a good man;
because, if he were not, he might himself, by possibility, be contemplating
murder at the very time; and such "diamond-cut-diamond" tussles, though
pleasant enough where nothing better is stirring, are really not what a
critic can allow himself to call murders. I could mention some people (I
name no names) who have been murdered by other people in a dark lane; and
so far all seemed correct enough; but, on looking farther into the matter,
the public have become aware that the murdered party was himself, at the
moment, planning to rob his murderer, at the least, and possibly to murder
him, if he had been strong enough. Whenever that is the case, or may be
thought to be the case, farewell to all the genuine effects of the art. For
the final purpose of murder, considered as a fine art, is precisely the
same as that of tragedy, in Aristotle's account of it, viz., "to cleanse
the heart by means of pity and terror." Now, terror there may be, but how
can there be any pity for one tiger destroyed by another tiger?

It is also evident that the person selected ought not to be a public
character. For instance, no judicious artist would have attempted to murder
Abraham Newland. For the case was this; everybody read so much about
Abraham Newland, and so few people ever saw him, that there was a fixed
belief that he was an abstract idea. And I remember that once, when I
happened to mention that I had dined at a coffee-house in company with
Abraham Newland, everybody looked scornfully at me, as though I had
pretended to have played at billiards with Prester John, or to have had an
affair of honor with the Pope. And, by the way, the Pope would be a very
improper person to murder: for he has such a virtual ubiquity as the father
of Christendom, and, like the cuckoo, is so often heard but never seen,
that I suspect most people regard _him_ also as an abstract idea. Where,
indeed, a public character is in the habit of giving dinners, "with every
delicacy of the season," the case is very different: every person is
satisfied that _he_ is no abstract idea; and, therefore, there can be no
impropriety in murdering him; only that his murder will fall into the class
of assassinations, which I have not yet treated.

_Thirdly_. The subject chosen ought to be in good health: for it is
absolutely barbarous to murder a sick person, who is usually quite unable
to bear it. On this principle, no cockney ought to be chosen who is above
twenty-five, for after that age he is sure to be dyspeptic. Or at least, if
a man will hunt in that warren, he ought to murder a couple at one time; if
the cockneys chosen should be tailors, he will of course think it his duty,
on the old established equation, to murder eighteen. And, here, in this
attention to the comfort of sick people, you will observe the usual effect
of a fine art to soften and refine the feelings. The world in general,
gentlemen, are very bloody-minded; and all they want in a murder is a
copious effusion of blood; gaudy display in this point is enough for
_them_. But the enlightened connoisseur is more refined in his taste;
and from our art, as from all the other liberal arts when thoroughly
cultivated, the result is--to improve and to humanize the heart; so true is
it, that--

  ----"Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes,
  Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros."

A philosophic friend, well known for his philanthropy and general
benignity, suggests that the subject chosen ought also to have a family of
young children wholly dependent on his exertions, by way of deepening the
pathos. And, undoubtedly, this is a judicious caution. Yet I would not
insist too keenly on this condition. Severe good taste unquestionably
demands it; but still, where the man was otherwise unobjectionable in point
of morals and health, I would not look with too curious a jealousy to a
restriction which might have the effect of narrowing the artist's sphere.

So much for the person. As to the time, the place, and the tools, I have
many things to say, which at present I have no room for. The good sense of
the practitioner has usually directed him to night and privacy. Yet
there have not been wanting cases where this rule was departed from with
excellent effect. In respect to time, Mrs. Ruscombe's case is a beautiful
exception, which I have already noticed; and in respect both to time and
place, there is a fine exception in the annals of Edinburgh, (year 1805,)
familiar to every child in Edinburgh, but which has unaccountably been
defrauded of its due portion of fame amongst English amateurs. The case
I mean is that of a porter to one of the banks, who was murdered whilst
carrying a bag of money, in broad daylight, on turning out of the High
Street, one of the most public streets in Europe, and the murderer is to
this hour undiscovered.

  "Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tcmpus,
  Singula dum capti circumvectamur amore."

And now, gentlemen, in conclusion, let me again solemnly disclaim all
pretensions on my own part to the character of a professional man. I never
attempted any murder in my life, except in the year 1801, upon the body of
a tom-cat; and _that_ turned out differently from my intention. My
purpose, I own, was downright murder. "Semper ego auditor tantum?" said I,
"nunquamne reponam?" And I went down stairs in search of Tom at one o'clock
on a dark night, with the "animus," and no doubt with the fiendish looks,
of a murderer. But when I found him, he was in the act of plundering the
pantry of bread and other things. Now this gave a new turn to the affair;
for the time being one of general scarcity, when even Christians were
reduced to the use of potato-bread, rice-bread, and all sorts of things, it
was downright treason in a tom-cat to be wasting good wheaten-bread in the
way he was doing. It instantly became a patriotic duty to put him to death;
and as I raised aloft and shook the glittering steel, I fancied myself
rising like Brutus, effulgent from a crowd of patriots, and, as I stabbed
him, I

  "called aloud on Tully's name,
  And bade the father of his country hail!"

Since then, what wandering thoughts I may have had of attempting the life
of an ancient ewe, of a superannuated hen, and such "small deer," are
locked up in the secrets of my own breast; but for the higher departments
of the art, I confess myself to be utterly unfit. My ambition does not rise
so high. No, gentlemen, in the words of Horace,

  "---fungos vice cotis, excutum
  Reddere ere quæ ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi."



SECOND PAPER ON MURDER,

CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS.


DOCTOR NORTH: You are a liberal man: liberal in the true classical sense,
not in the slang sense of modern politicians and education-mongers. Being
so, I am sure that you will sympathize with my case. I am an ill-used man,
Dr. North--particularly ill used; and, with your permission, I will briefly
explain how. A black scene of calumny will be laid open; but you, Doctor,
will make all things square again. One frown from you, directed to the
proper quarter, or a warning shake of the crutch, will set me right in
public opinion, which at present, I am sorry to say, is rather hostile to
me and mine--all owing to the wicked arts of slanderers. But you shall
hear.

A good many years ago you may remember that I came forward in the character
of a _dilettante_ in murder. Perhaps _dilettante_ may be too strong a word.
_Connoisseur_ is better suited to the scruples and infirmity of public
taste. I suppose there is no harm in _that_ at least. A man is not bound
to put his eyes, ears, and understanding into his breeches pocket when he
meets with a murder. If he is not in a downright comatose state, I suppose
he must see that one murder is better or worse than another in point of
good taste. Murders have their little differences and shades of merit as
well as statues, pictures, oratorios, cameos, intaglios, or what not. You
may be angry with the man for talking too much, or too publicly, (as to the
too much, that I deny--a man can never cultivate his taste too highly;) but
you must allow him to think, at any rate; and you, Doctor, you think, I am
sure, both deeply and correctly on the subject. Well, would you believe it?
all my neighbors came to hear of that little æsthetic essay which you had
published; and, unfortunately, hearing at the very same time of a club that
I as connected with, and a dinner at which I presided--both tending to the
same little object as the essay, viz., the diffusion of a just taste among
her majesty's subjects, they got up the most barbarous calumnies against
me. In particular, they said that I, or that the club, which comes to the
same thing, had offered bounties on well conducted homicides--with a scale
of drawbacks, in case of any one defect or flaw, according to a table
issued to private friends. Now, Doctor, I'll tell you the whole truth about
the dinner and the club, and you'll see how malicious the world is. But
first let me tell you, confidentially, what my real principles are upon the
matters in question.

As to murder, I never committed one in my life. It's a well known thing
amongst all my friends. I can get a paper to certify as much, signed by
lots of people. Indeed, if you come to that, I doubt whether many
people could produce as strong a certificate. Mine would be as big as a
table-cloth. There is indeed one member of the club, who pretends to say
that he caught me once making too free with his throat on a club night,
after every body else had retired. But, observe, he shuffles in his story
according to his state of civilation. When not far gone, he contents
himself with saying that he caught me ogling his throat; and that I was
melancholy for some weeks after, and that my voice sounded in a way
expressing, to the nice ear of a connoisseur, _the sense of opportunities
lost_--but the club all know that he's a disappointed man himself, and that
he speaks querulously at times about the fatal neglect of a man's coming
abroad without his tools. Besides, all this is an affair between two
amateurs, and every body makes allowances for little asperities
and sorenesses in such a case. "But," say you, "If no murderer, my
correspondent may have encouraged, or even have bespoke a murder." No, upon
my honor--nothing of the kind. And that was the very point I wished to
argue for your satisfaction. The truth is, I am a very particular man in
everything relating to murder; and perhaps I carry my delicacy too far. The
Stagyrite most justly, and possibly with a view to my case, placed virtue
in the [Greek: to meson] or middle point between two extremes. A golden
mean is certainly what every man should aim at. But it is easier talking
than doing; and, my infirmity being notoriously too much milkiness of
heart, I find it difficult to maintain that steady equatorial line between
the two poles of too much murder on the one hand, and too little on the
other. I am too soft--Doctor, too soft; and people get excused through
me--nay, go through life without an attempt made upon them, that ought not
to be excused. I believe if I had the management of things, there would
hardly be a murder from year's end to year's end. In fact I'm for virtue,
and goodness, and all that sort of thing. And two instances I'll give you
to what an extremity I carry my virtue. The first may seem a trifle; but
not if you knew my nephew, who was certainly born to be hanged, and would
have been so long ago, but for my restraining voice. He is horribly
ambitious, and thinks himself a man of cultivated taste in most branches of
murder, whereas, in fact, he has not one idea on the subject, but such
as he has stolen from me. This is so well known, that the club has twice
blackballed him, though every indulgence was shown to him as my relative.
People came to me and said--"Now really, President, we would do much to
serve a relative of yours. But still, what can be said? You know yourself
that he'll disgrace us. If we were to elect him, why, the next thing we
should hear of would be some vile butcherly murder, by way of justifying
our choice. And what sort of a concern would it be? You know, as well as we
do, that it would be a disgraceful affair, more worthy of the shambles than
of an artist's _attelier_. He would fall upon some great big man, some huge
farmer returning drunk from a fair. There would be plenty of blood, and
_that_ he would expect us to take in lieu of taste, finish, scenical
grouping. Then, again, how would he tool? Why, most probably with a cleaver
and a couple of paving stones: so that the whole _coup d'oeil_ would remind
you rather of some hideous ogre or cyclops, than of the delicate operator
of the nineteenth century." The picture was drawn with the hand of truth;
_that_ I could not but allow, and, as to personal feelings in the matter, I
dismissed them from the first. The next morning I spoke to my nephew--I was
delicately situated, as you see, but I determined that no consideration
should induce me to flinch from my duty. "John," said I, "you seem to me to
have taken an erroneous view of life and its duties. Pushed on by ambition,
you are dreaming rather of what it might be glorious to attempt, than what
it would be possible for you to accomplish. Believe me, it is not necessary
to a man's respectability that he should commit a murder. Many a man has
passed through life most respectably, without attempting any species of
homicide--good, bad, or indifferent. It is your first duty to ask yourself,
_quid valeant humeri, quid ferre recusent_? we cannot all be brilliant men
in this life. And it is for your interest to be contented rather with a
humble station well filled, than to shock every body with failures, the
more conspicuous by contrast with the ostentation of their promises." John
made no answer, he looked very sulky at the moment, and I am in high
hopes that I have saved a near relation from making a fool of himself by
attempting what is as much beyond his capacity as an epic poem. Others,
however, tell me that he is meditating a revenge upon me and the whole
club. But let this be as it may, _liberavi animam meam_; and, as you see,
have run some risk with a wish to diminish the amount of homicide. But the
other case still more forcibly illustrates my virtue. A man came to me as
a candidate for the place of my servant, just then vacant. He had the
reputation of having dabbled a little in our art; some said not without
merit. What startled me, however, was, that he supposed this art to be
part of his regular duties in my service. Now that was a thing I would not
allow; so I said at once, "Richard (or James, as the case might be,) you
misunderstand my character. If a man will and must practise this difficult
(and allow me to add, dangerous) branch of art--if he has an overruling
genius for it, why, he might as well pursue his studies whilst living in my
service as in another's. And also, I may observe, that it can do no harm
either to himself or to the subject on whom he operates, that he should
be guided by men of more taste than himself. Genius may do much, but long
study of the art must always entitle a man to offer advice. So far I will
go--general principles I will suggest. But as to any particular case, once
for all I will have nothing to do with it. Never tell me of any special
work of art you are meditating--I set my face against it _in toto_. For if
once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think
little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and
Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once
begin upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop. Many
a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought
little of at the time. _Principiis obsta_--that's my rule." Such was my
speech, and I have always acted up to it; so if that is not being virtuous,
I should be glad to know what is. But now about the dinner and the club.
The club was not particularly of my creation; it arose pretty much as other
similar associations, for the propagation of truth and the communication of
new ideas, rather from the necessities of things than upon any one man's
suggestion. As to the dinner, if any man more than another could be held
responsible for that, it was a member known amongst us by the name of
_Toad-in-the-hole_. He was so called from his gloomy misanthropical
disposition, which led him into constant disparagements of all modern
murders as vicious abortions, belonging to no authentic school of art. The
finest performances of our own age he snarled at cynically; and at length
this querulous humor grew upon him so much, and he became so notorious as a
_laudator tentporis acti_, that few people cared to seek his society. This
made him still more fierce and truculent. He went about muttering and
growling; wherever you met him he was soliloquizing and saying, "despicable
pretender--without grouping--without two ideas upon handling--without"--and
there you lost him. At length existence seemed to be painful to him;
he rarely spoke, he seemed conversing with phantoms in the air, his
housekeeper informed us that his reading was nearly confined to _God's
Revenge upon Murder_, by Reynolds, and a more ancient book of the same
title, noticed by Sir Walter Scott in his _Fortunes of Nigel_. Sometimes,
perhaps, he might read in the Newgate Calendar down to the year 1788, but
he never looked into a book more recent. In fact, he had a theory with
regard to the French Revolution, as having been the great cause of
degeneration in murder. "Very soon, sir," he used to say, "men will have
lost the art of killing poultry: the very rudiments of the art will
have perished!" In the year 1811 he retired from general society.
Toad-in-the-hole was no more seen in any public resort. We missed him from
his wonted haunts--nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he. By the side of
the main conduit his listless length at noontide he would stretch, and pore
upon the filth that muddled by. "Even dogs are not what they were, sir--not
what they should be. I remember in my grandfather's time that some dogs had
an idea of murder. I have known a mastiff lie in ambush for a rival, sir,
and murder him with pleasing circumstances of good taste. Yes, sir, I knew
a tom-cat that was an assassin. But now"--and then, the subject growing too
painful, he dashed his hand to his forehead, and went off abruptly in a
homeward direction towards his favorite conduit, where he was seen by an
amateur in such a state that he thought it dangerous to address him. Soon
after he shut himself entirely up; it was understood that he had resigned
himself to melancholy; and at length the prevailing notion was, that
Toad-in-the-hole had hanged himself.

The world was wrong _there_, as it has been on some other questions.
Toad-in-the-hole might be sleeping, but dead he was not; and of that we
soon had ocular proof. One morning in 1812, an amateur surprised us with
the news that he had seen Toad-in-the-hole brushing with hasty steps the
dews away to meet the postman by the conduit side. Even that was something:
how much more, to hear that he had shaved his beard--had laid aside his
sad-colored clothes, and was adorned like a bridegroom of ancient days.
What could be the meaning of all this? Was Toad-in-the-hole mad? or how?
Soon after the secret was explained--in more than a figurative sense
"the murder was out." For in came the London morning papers, by which
it appeared that but three days before a murder, the most superb of the
century by many degrees had occurred in the heart of London. I need hardly
say, that this was the great exterminating _chef-d'oeuvre_ of Williams at
Mr. Marr's, No. 29, Ratcliffe Highway. That was the _début_ of the artist;
at least for anything the public knew. What occurred at Mr. Williamson's
twelve nights afterwards--the second work turned out from the same
chisel--some people pronounced even superior. But Toad-in-the-hole always
"reclaimed"--he was even angry at comparisons. "This vulgar _gout de
comparaison_, as La Bruyère calls it," he would often remark, "will be
our ruin; each work has its own separate characteristics--each in and for
itself is incomparable. One, perhaps, might suggest the _Iliad_--the other
the _Odyssey_: what do you get by such comparisons? Neither ever was, or
will be surpassed; and when you've talked for hours, you must still come
back to that." Vain, however, as all criticism might be, he often said that
volumes might be written on each case for itself; and he even proposed to
publish in quarto on the subject.

Meantime, how had Toad-in-the-hole happened to hear of this great work
of art so early in the morning? He had received an account by express,
dispatched by a correspondent in London, who watched the progress of art On
_Toady's_ behalf, with a general commission to send off a special express,
at whatever cost, in the event of any estimable works appearing--how much
more upon occasion of a _ne plus ultra_ in art! The express arrived in the
night-time; Toad-in-the-hole was then gone to bed; he had been muttering
and grumbling for hours, but of course he was called up. On reading the
account, he threw his arms round the express, called him his brother and
his preserver; settled a pension upon him for three lives, and expressed
his regret at not having it in his power to knight him. We, on our part--we
amateurs, I mean--having heard that he was abroad, and therefore had _not_
hanged himself, made sure of soon seeing him amongst us. Accordingly he
soon arrived, knocked over the porter on his road to the reading-room; he
seized every man's hand as he passed him--wrung it almost frantically, and
kept ejaculating, "Why, now here's something like a murder!--this is the
real thing--this is genuine--this is what you can approve, can recommend to
a friend: this--says every man, on reflection--this is the thing that ought
to be!" Then, looking at particular friends, he said--"Why, Jack, how are
you? Why, Tom, how are you? Bless me, you look ten years younger than
when I last saw you." "No, sir," I replied, "It is you who look ten years
younger." "Do I? well, I should'nt wonder if I did; such works are
enough to make us all young." And in fact the general opinion is, that
Toad-in-the-hole would have died but for this regeneration of art, which
he called a second age of Leo the Tenth; and it was our duty, he said
solemnly, to commemorate it. At present, and _en attendant_--rather as an
occasion for a public participation in public sympathy, than as in itself
any commensurate testimony of our interest--he proposed that the club
should meet and dine together. A splendid public dinner, therefore, was
given by the club; to which all amateurs were invited from a distance of
one hundred miles.

Of this dinner there are ample short-hand notes amongst the archives of
the club. But they are not "extended," to speak diplomatically; and the
reporter is missing--I believe, murdered. Meantime, in years long after
that day, and on an occasion perhaps equally interesting, viz., the turning
up of Thugs and Thuggism, another dinner was given. Of this I myself kept
notes, for fear of another accident to the short-hand reporter. And I here
subjoin them. Toad-in-the-hole, I must mention, was present at this dinner.
In fact, it was one of its sentimental incidents. Being as old as the
valleys at the dinner of 1812, naturally he was as old as the hills at the
Thug dinner of 1838. He had taken to wearing his beard again; why, or with
what view, it passes my persimmon to tell you. But so it was. And his
appearance was most benign and venerable. Nothing could equal the angelic
radiance of his smile as he inquired after the unfortunate reporter, (whom,
as a piece of private scandal, I should tell you that he was himself
supposed to have murdered, in a rapture of creative art:) the answer was,
with roars of laughter, from the under-sheriff of our county--"Non est
inventus." Toad-in-the-hole laughed outrageously at this: in fact, we all
thought he was choking; and, at the earnest request of the company, a
musical composer furnished a most beautiful glee upon the occasion,
which was sung five times after dinner, with universal applause and
inextinguishable laughter, the words being these, (and the chorus
so contrived, as most beautifully to mimic the peculiar laughter of
Toad-in-the-hole:)--

  "Et interrogatum est à Toad-in-the hole--Ubi est ille reporter?
  Et responsum est cum cachinno--Non est inventus."


CHORUS.

  "Deinde iteratum est ab omnibus, cum cachinnatione undulante--
  Non est inventus."

Toad-in-the-hole, I ought to mention, about nine years before, when an
express from Edinburgh brought him the earliest intelligence of the
Burke-and-Hare revolution in the art, went mad upon the spot; and, instead
of a pension to the express for even one life, or a knighthood, endeavored
to burke him; in consequence of which he was put into a strait waistcoat.
And that was the reason we had no dinner then. But now all of us were alive
and kicking, strait-waistcoaters and others; in fact, not one absentee
was reported upon the entire roll. There were also many foreign amateurs
present.

Dinner being over, and the cloth drawn, there was a general call made for
the new glee of _Non est inventus_; but, as this would have interfered with
the requisite gravity of the company during the earlier toasts, I overruled
the call. After the national toasts had been given, the first official
toast of the day was, _The Old Man of the Mountains_--drunk in solemn
silence.

Toad-in-the-hole returned thanks in a neat speech. He likened himself to
the Old Man of the Mountains, in a few brief allusions, that made the
company absolutely yell with laughter; and he concluded with giving the
health of

_Mr. Von Hammer_, with many thanks to him for his learned History of the
Old Man and his subjects the assassins.

Upon this I rose and said, that doubtless most of the company were aware
of the distinguished place assigned by orientalists to the very learned
Turkish scholar Von Hammer the Austrian; that he had made the profoundest
researches into our art as connected with those early and eminent artists
the Syrian assassins in the period of the Crusaders; that his work had been
for several years deposited, as a rare treasure of art, in the library
of the club. Even the author's name, gentlemen, pointed him out as the
historian of our art--Von Hammer--

"Yes, yes," interrupted Toad-in-the-hole, who never can sit still--"Yes,
yes, Von Hammer--he's the man for a _malleus hæreticorum_: think rightly
of our art, or he's the man to tickle your catastrophes. You all know what
consideration Williams bestowed on the hammer, or the ship carpenter's
mallet, which is the same thing. Gentlemen, I give you another great
hammer--Charles the Hammer, the Marteau, or, in old French, the Martel--he
hammered the Saracens till they were all as dead as door-nails--he did,
believe me."

"_Charles Martel_, with all the honors."

But the explosion of Toad-in-the-hole, together with the uproarious cheers
for the grandpapa of Charlemagne, had now made the company unmanageable.
The orchestra was again challenged with shouts the stormiest for the new
glee. I made again a powerful effort to overrule the challenge. I might
as well have talked to the winds. I foresaw a tempestuous evening; and I
ordered myself to be strengthened with three waiters on each side; the
vice-president with as many. Symptoms of unruly enthusiasm were beginning
to show out; and I own that I myself was considerably excited as the
orchestra opened with its storm of music, and the impassioned glee
began--"_Et interrogatum est à Toad-in-the-hole--Ubi est ille Reporter_?"
And the frenzy of the passion became absolutely convulsing, as the full
chorus fell in--"_Et iteratum est ab omnibus--Non est inventus_"

By this time I saw how things were going: wine and music were making most
of the amateurs wild. Particularly Toad-in-the-hole, though considerably
above a hundred years old, was getting as vicious as a young leopard. It
was a fixed impression with the company that he had murdered the reporter
in the year 1812; since which time (viz. twenty-six years) "ille reporter"
had been constantly reported "Non est inventus." Consequently, the glee
about himself, which of itself was most tumultuous and jubilant, carried
him off his feet. Like the famous choral songs amongst the citizens of
Abdera, nobody could hear it without a contagious desire for falling back
into the agitating music of "Et interrogatum est à Toad-in-the-hole," &c.
I enjoined vigilance upon my assessors, and the business of the evening
proceeded.

The next toast was--_The Jewish Sicarii_.

Upon which I made the following explanation to the company:--"Gentlemen,
I am sure it will interest you all to hear that the assassins, ancient as
they were, had a race of predecessors in the very same country. All over
Syria, but particularly in Palestine, during the early years of the Emperor
Nero, there was a band of murderers, who prosecuted their studies in a very
novel manner. They did not practise in the night-time, or in lonely places;
but justly considering that great crowds are in themselves a sort of
darkness by means of the dense pressure and the impossibility of finding
out who it was that gave the blow, they mingled with mobs everywhere;
particularly at the great paschal feast in Jerusalem; where they actually
had the audacity, as Josephus assures us, to press into the temple,--and
whom should they choose for operating upon but Jonathan himself, the
Pontifex Maximus? They murdered him, gentlemen, as beautifully as if they
had had him alone on a moonless night in a dark lane. And when it was
asked, who was the murderer, and where he was"--

"Why, then, it was answered," interrupted Toad-in-the-hole, "_Non est
inventus_." And then, in spite of all I could do or say, the
orchestra opened, and the whole company began--"Et interrogatum est à
Toad-in-the-hole--Ubi est ille Sicarius? Et responsum est ab omnibus--_Non
est inventus_."

When the tempestuous chorus had subsided, I began again:--"Gentlemen, you
will find a very circumstantial account of the Sicarii in at least three
different parts of Josephus; once in Book XX. sect. v. c. 8, of his
_Antiquities_; once in Book I. of his _Wars_: but in sect. 10 of the
chapter first cited you will find a particular description of their
tooling. This is what he says--'They tooled with small scymetars not much
different from the Persian _acinacæ_, but more curved, and for all the
world most like the Roman sickles or _sicæ_.' It is perfectly magnificent,
gentlemen, to hear the sequel of their history. Perhaps the only case
on record where a regular army of murderers was assembled, a _justus
exercitus_, was in the case of these _Sicarii_. They mustered in such
strength in the wilderness, that Festus himself was obliged to march
against them with the Roman legionary force."

Upon which Toad-in-the-hole, that cursed interrupter, broke out
a-singing--"Et interrogatum est à Toad-in-the-hole--Ubi est ille exercitus?
Et responsum est ab omnibus--Non est inventus."

"No, no, Toad--you are wrong for once: that army _was_ found, and was all
cut to pieces in the desert. Heavens, gentlemen, what a sublime picture!
The Roman legions--the wilderness--Jerusalem in the distance--an army of
murderers in the foreground!"

Mr. R., a member, now gave the next toast--"To the further improvement of
Tooling, and thanks to the Committee for their services."

Mr. L., on behalf of the committee who had reported on that subject,
returned thanks. He made an interesting extract from the report, by which
it appeared how very much stress had been laid formerly on the mode of
tooling, by the fathers, both Greek and Latin. In confirmation of this
pleasing fact, he made a very striking statement in reference to the
earliest work of antediluvian art. Father Mersenne, that learned Roman
Catholic, in page one thousand four hundred and thirty-one[1] of his
operose Commentary on Genesis, mentions, on the authority of several
rabbis, that the quarrel of Cain with Abel was about a young woman; that,
by various accounts, Cain had tooled with his teeth, [Abelem fuisse
_morsibus_ dilaceratum à Cain;] by many others, with the jaw-bone of an
ass; which is the tooling adopted by most painters. But it is pleasing to
the mind of sensibility to know that, as science expanded, sounder views
were adopted. One author contends for a pitchfork, St. Chrysostom for a
sword, Irenæus for a scythe, and Prudentius for a hedging-bill. This last
writer delivers his opinion thus:--

  "Frater, probatæ sanctitatis æmulus,
  Germana curvo colla frangit sarculo:"

_i.e_. his brother, jealous of his attested sanctity, fractures his
brotherly throat with a curved hedging-bill. "All which is respectfully
submitted by your committee, not so much as decisive of the question, (for
it is not,) but in order to impress upon the youthful mind the importance
which has ever been attached to the quality of the tooling by such men as
Chrysostom and Irenæus."

[Footnote 1: "Page one thousand four hundred and thirty-one"--_literally_,
good reader, and no joke at all.]

"Dang Irenæus!" said Toad-in-the-hole, who now rose impatiently to give the
next toast:--"Our Irish friends; and a speedy revolution in their mode of
tooling, as well as everything else connected with the art!"

"Gentlemen, I'll tell you the plain truth. Every day of the year we take
up a paper, we read the opening of a murder. We say, this is good, this
is charming, this is excellent! But, behold you! scarcely have we read a
little farther, before the word Tipperary or Ballina-something betrays the
Irish manufacture. Instantly we loath it; we call to the waiter; we say,
Waiter, take away this paper; send it out of the house; it is absolutely
offensive to all just taste.' I appeal to every man whether, on finding a
murder (otherwise perhaps promising enough) to be Irish, he does not feel
himself as much insulted as when Madeira being ordered, he finds it to be
Cape; or when, taking up what he takes to be a mushroom, it turns out
what children call a toad-stool. Tithes, politics, or something wrong in
principle, vitiate every Irish murder. Gentlemen, this must be reformed, or
Ireland will not be a land to live in; at least, if we do live there, we
must import all our murders, that's clear." Toad-in-the-hole sat
down growling with suppressed wrath, and the universal "Hear, hear!"
sufficiently showed that he spoke the general feeling.

The next toast was--"The sublime epoch of Burkism and Harism!"

This was drunk with enthusiasm; and one of the members, who spoke to the
question, made a very curious communication to the company:--"Gentlemen,
we fancy Burkism to be a pure invention of our own times: and in fact no
Pancirollus has ever enumerated this branch of art when writing _de rebus
deperditis_. Still I have ascertained that the essential principle of the
art _was_ known to the ancients, although like the art of painting upon
glass, of making the myrrhine cups, &c., it was lost in the dark ages for
want of encouragement. In the famous collection of Greek epigrams made
by Planudes is one upon a very charming little case of Burkism: it is a
perfect little gem of art. The epigram itself I cannot lay my hand upon at
this moment, but the following is an abstract of it by Salmasius, as I find
it in his notes on Vopiscus: 'Est et elegans epigramma Lucilii, (well
he might call it "elegans!") ubi medicus et pollinctor de compacto sic
egerunt, ut medicus ægros omnes curæ suæ commissos occideret:' this was
the basis of the contract, you see, that on the one part the doctor, for
himself and his assigns, doth undertake and contract duly and truly to
murder all the patients committed to his charge: but why? There lies the
beauty of the case--'Et ut pollinctori amico suo traderet pollingendos.'
The _pollinctor_, you are aware, was a person whose business it was to
dress and prepare dead bodies for burial. The original ground of the
transaction appears to have been sentimental: 'He was my friend,' says the
murderous doctor; 'he was dear to me,' in speaking of the pollinctor. But
the law, gentlemen, is stern and harsh: the law will not hear of these
tender motives: to sustain a contract of this nature in law, it is
essential that a 'consideration' should be given. Now what _was_ the
consideration? For thus far all is on the side of the pollinctor: he
will be well paid for his services; but, meantime, the generous, the
noble-minded doctor gets nothing. What _was_ the little consideration
again, I ask, which the law would insist on the doctor's taking? You shall
hear: 'Et ut pollinctor vicissim [Greek: telamonas] quos furabatur de
pollinctione mortuorum medico mitteret doni ad alliganda vulnera eorurn
quos curabat.' Now, the case is clear: the whole went on a principle of
reciprocity which would have kept up the trade for ever. The doctor was
also a surgeon: he could not murder _all_ his patients: some of the
surgical patients must be retained intact; _re infectâ_. For these he
wanted linen bandages. But, unhappily, the Romans wore woollen, on which
account they bathed so often. Meantime, there _was_ linen to be had in
Rome; but it was monstrously dear; and the [Greek: telamones] or linen
swathing bandages, in which superstition obliged them to bind up corpses,
would answer capitally for the surgeon. The doctor, therefore, contracts to
furnish his friend with a constant succession of corpses, provided, and be
it understood always, that his said friend in return should supply him with
one half of the articles he would receive from the friends of the parties
murdered or to be murdered. The doctor invariably recommended his
invaluable friend the pollinctor, (whom let us call the undertaker;) the
undertaker, with equal regard to the sacred rights of friendship, uniformly
recommended the doctor. Like Pylades and Orestes, they were models of a
perfect friendship: in their lives they were lovely, and on the gallows, it
is to be hoped, they were not divided.

"Gentlemen, it makes me laugh horribly, when I think of those two friends
drawing and redrawing on each other: 'Pollinctor in account with Doctor,
debtor by sixteen corpses; creditor by forty-five bandages, two of which
damaged.' Their names unfortunately are lost; but I conceive they must have
been Quintus Burkius and Publius Harius. By the way, gentlemen, has anybody
heard lately of Hare? I understand he is comfortably settled in Ireland,
considerably to the west, and does a little business now and then; but, as
he observes with a sigh, only as a retailer--nothing like the fine thriving
wholesale concern so carelessly blown up at Edinburgh. 'You see what comes
of neglecting business,'--is the chief moral, the [Greek: epimutheon],
as Æsop would say, which he draws from his past experience."

At length came the toast of the day--_Thugdom in all its branches_.

The speeches _attempted_ at this crisis of the dinner were past all
counting. But the applause was so furious, the music so stormy, and the
crashing of glasses so incessant, from the general resolution never again
to drink an inferior toast from the same glass, that my power is not equal
to the task of reporting. Besides which, Toad-in-the-hole now became quite
ungovernable. He kept firing pistols in every direction; sent his servant
for a blunderbuss, and talked of loading with ball-cartridge. We conceived
that his former madness had returned at the mention of Burke and Hare; or
that, being again weary of life, he had resolved to go off in a general
massacre. This we could not think of allowing: it became indispensable,
therefore, to kick him out, which we did with universal consent, the whole
company lending their toes _uno pede_, as I may say, though pitying his
gray hairs and his angelic smile. During the operation the orchestra poured
in their old chorus. The universal company sang, and (what surprised us
most of all) Toad-in-the-hole joined us furiously in singing--

  "Et interrogatum est ab omnibus--Ubi est ille Toad-in-the-hole
  Et responsum est ab omnibus--Non est inventus."



JOAN OF ARC[1]

IN REFERENCE TO M. MICHELET'S HISTORY OF FRANCE.


What is to be thought of _her_? What is to be thought of the poor shepherd
girl from the hills and forests of Lorraine, that--like the Hebrew shepherd
boy from the hills and forests of Judæa--rose suddenly out of the quiet,
out of the safety, out of the religious inspiration, rooted in deep
pastoral solitudes, to a station in the van of armies, and to the more
perilous station at the right hand of kings? The Hebrew boy inaugurated his
patriotic mission by an _act_, by a victorious _act_, such as no man could
deny. But so did the girl of Lorraine, if we read her story as it was read
by those who saw her nearest. Adverse armies bore witness to the boy as no
pretender: but so they did to the gentle girl. Judged by the voices of all
who saw them _from a station of good will_, both were found true and loyal
to any promises involved in their first acts. Enemies it was that made the
difference between their subsequent fortunes. The boy rose--to a splendor
and a noon-day prosperity, both personal and public, that rang through the
records of his people, and became a byeword amongst his posterity for a
thousand years, until the sceptre was departing from Judah. The poor,
forsaken girl, on the contrary, drank not herself from that cup of rest
which she had secured for France. She never sang together with the songs
that rose in her native Domrémy, as echoes to the departing steps of
invaders. She mingled not in the festal dances at Vaucouleurs which
celebrated in rapture the redemption of France. No! for her voice was then
silent: No! for her feet were dust. Pure, innocent, noble-hearted girl!
whom, from earliest youth, ever I believed in as full of truth and
self-sacrifice, this was amongst the strongest pledges for _thy_ side,
that never once--no, not for a moment of weakness--didst thou revel in the
vision of coronets and honor from man. Coronets for thee! O no! Honors, if
they come when all is over, are for those that share thy blood.[2] Daughter
of Domrémy, when the gratitude of thy king shall awaken, thou wilt be
sleeping the sleep of the dead. Call her, King of France, but she will not
hear thee! Cite her by thy apparitors to come and receive a robe of honor,
but she will be found _en contumace_. When the thunders of universal
France, as even yet may happen, shall proclaim the grandeur of the poor
shepherd girl that gave up all for her country--thy ear, young shepherd
girl, will have been deaf for five centuries. To suffer and to do, that was
thy portion in this life; to _do_--never for thyself, always for others;
to _suffer_--never in the persons of generous champions, always in thy
own--that was thy destiny; and not for a moment was it hidden from thyself.
Life, thou saidst, is short: and the sleep which is in the grave, is long!
Let me use that life, so transitory, for the glory of those heavenly dreams
destined to comfort the sleep which is so long. This pure creature--pure
from every suspicion of even a visionary self-interest, even as she was
pure in senses more obvious--never once did this holy child, as regarded
herself, relax from her belief in the darkness that was travelling to meet
her. She might not prefigure the very manner of her death; she saw not in
vision, perhaps, the aërial altitude of the fiery scaffold, the spectators
without end on every road pouring into Rouen as to a coronation, the
surging smoke, the volleying flames, the hostile faces all around, the
pitying eye that lurked but here and there until nature and imperishable
truth broke loose from artificial restraints; these might not be apparent
through the mists of the hurrying future. But the voice that called her to
death, _that_ she heard for ever.

Great was the throne of France even in those days, and great was he that
sate upon it: but well Joanna knew that not the throne, nor he that sate
upon it, was for _her_; but, on the contrary, that she was for _them_; not
she by them, but they by her, should rise from the dust. Gorgeous were
the lilies of France, and for centuries had the privilege to spread their
beauty over land and sea, until, in another century, the wrath of God and
man combined to wither them; but well Joanna knew, early at Domrémy she had
read that bitter truth, that the lilies of France would decorate no garland
for _her_. Flower nor bud, bell nor blossom, would ever bloom for _her_.

But stop. What reason is there for taking up this subject of Joanna
precisely in this spring of 1847? Might it not have been left till the
spring of 1947? or, perhaps, left till called for? Yes, but it _is_ called
for; and clamorously. You are aware, reader, that amongst the many original
thinkers, whom modern France has produced, one of the reputed leaders is M.
Michelet. All these writers are of a revolutionary cast; not in a political
sense merely, but in all senses; mad, oftentimes, as March hares; crazy
with the laughing-gas of recovered liberty; drunk with the wine-cup of
their mighty Revolution, snorting, whinnying, throwing up their heels, like
wild horses in the boundless pampas, and running races of defiance with
snipes, or with the winds, or with their own shadows, if they can find
nothing else to challenge. Some time or other, I, that have leisure to
read, may introduce _you_, that have not, to two or three dozen of these
writers; of whom I can assure you beforehand that they are often profound,
and at intervals are even as impassioned as if they were come of our best
English blood, and sometimes (because it is not pleasant that people should
be too easy to understand) almost as obscure as if they had been suckled
by transcendental German nurses. But now, confining our attention to M.
Michelet--who is quite sufficient to lead a man into a gallop, requiring
two relays, at least, of fresh readers,--we in England--who know him best
by his worst book, the book against Priests, &c., which has been most
circulated--know him disadvantageously. That book is a rhapsody of
incoherence. M. Michelet was light-headed, I believe, when he wrote it:
and it is well that his keepers overtook him in time to intercept a second
part. But his _History of France_ is quite another thing. A man, in
whatsoever craft he sails, cannot stretch away out of sight when he is
linked to the windings of the shore by towing ropes of history. Facts, and
the consequences of facts, draw the writer back to the falconer's lure from
the giddiest heights of speculation. Here, therefore--in his _France_,--if
not always free from flightiness, if now and then off like a rocket for
an airy wheel in the clouds, M. Michelet, with natural politeness, never
forgets that he has left a large audience waiting for him on earth, and
gazing upwards in anxiety for his return: return, therefore, he does. But
History, though clear of certain temptations in one direction, has separate
dangers of its own. It is impossible so to write a History of France, or
of England--works becoming every hour more indispensable to the
inevitably-political man of this day--without perilous openings for
assault. If I, for instance, on the part of England, should happen to turn
my labors into that channel, and (on the model of Lord Percy going to Chevy
Chase)--

  ----"A vow to God should make
  My pleasure in the Michelet woods
  Three summer days to take,"

--probably from simple delirium, I might hunt M. Michelet into _delirium
tremens_. Two strong angels stand by the side of History, whether French
History or English, as heraldic supporters: the angel of Research on the
left hand, that must read millions of dusty parchments, and of pages
blotted with lies; the angel of Meditation on the right hand, that must
cleanse these lying records with fire, even as of old the draperies of
_asbestos_ were cleansed, and must quicken them into regenerated life.
Willingly I acknowledge that no man will ever avoid innumerable errors of
detail: with so vast a compass of ground to traverse, this is impossible:
but such errors (though I have a bushel on hand, at M. Michelet's service)
are not the game I chase: it is the bitter and unfair spirit in which
M. Michelet writes against England. Even _that_, after all, is but my
secondary object: the real one is Joanna, the Pucelle d'Orleans for
herself.

I am not going to write the History of _La Pucelle_: to do this, or even
circumstantially to report the history of her persecution and bitter death,
of her struggle with false witnesses and with ensnaring judges, it would
be necessary to have before us _all_ the documents, and, therefore, the
collection only now forthcoming in Paris. But _my_ purpose is narrower.
There have been great thinkers, disdaining the careless judgments of
contemporaries, who have thrown themselves boldly on the judgment of a far
posterity, that should have had time to review, to ponder, to compare.
There have been great actors on the stage of tragic humanity that might,
with the same depth of confidence, have appealed from the levity of
compatriot friends--too heartless for the sublime interest of their story,
and too impatient for the labor of sifting its perplexities--to the
magnanimity and justice of enemies. To this class belongs the Maid of Arc.
The Romans were too faithful to the ideal of grandeur in themselves not
to relent, after a generation or two, before the grandeur of Hannibal.
Mithridates--a more doubtful person--yet, merely for the magic perseverance
of his indomitable malice, won from the same Romans the only real honor
that ever he received on earth. And we English have ever shown the same
homage to stubborn enmity. To work unflinchingly for the ruin of England;
to say through life, by word and by deed--_Delenda est Anglia Victrix_!
that one purpose of malice, faithfully pursued, has quartered some people
upon our national funds of homage as by a perpetual annuity. Better than an
inheritance of service rendered to England herself, has sometimes proved
the most insane hatred to England. Hyder Ali, even his far inferior son
Tippoo, and Napoleon, have all benefited by this disposition amongst
ourselves to exaggerate the merit of diabolic enmity. Not one of these men
was ever capable, in a solitary instance, of praising an enemy--[what
do you say to _that_, reader?] and yet in _their_ behalf, we consent to
forget, not their crimes only, but (which is worse) their hideous bigotry
and anti-magnanimous egotism; for nationality it was not. Suffrein, and
some half dozen of other French nautical heroes, because rightly they did
us all the mischief they could, [which was really great] are names justly
reverenced in England. On the same principle, La Pucelle d'Orleans, the
victorious enemy of England, has been destined to receive her deepest
commemoration from the magnanimous justice of Englishmen.

Joanna, as we in England should call her, but, according to her own
statement, Jeanne (or, as M. Michelet asserts, Jean[3]) d'Arc, was born at
Domrémy, a village on the marshes of Lorraine and Champagne, and dependent
upon the town of Vaucouleurs. I have called her a Lorrainer, not simply
because the word is prettier, but because Champagne too odiously reminds
us English of what are for _us_ imaginary wines, which, undoubtedly, _La
Pucelle_ tasted as rarely as we English; we English, because the Champagne
of London is chiefly grown in Devonshire; _La Pucelle_, because the
Champagne of Champagne never, by any chance, flowed into the fountain of
Domrémy, from which only she drank. M. Michelet will have her to be a
_Champenoise_, and for no better reason than that she "took after her
father," who happened to be a _Champenoise_. I am sure she did _not_: for
her father was a filthy old fellow, whom I shall soon teach the judicious
reader to hate. But, (says M. Michelet, arguing the case physiologically)
"she had none of the Lorrainian asperity;" no, it seems she had only "the
gentleness of Champagne, its simplicity mingled with sense and acuteness,
as you find it in Joinville." All these things she had; and she was worth a
thousand Joinvilles, meaning either the prince so called, or the fine old
crusader. But still, though I love Joanna dearly, I cannot shut my eyes
entirely to the Lorraine element of "asperity" in her nature. No; really
now, she must have had a shade of _that_, though very slightly developed--a
mere soupçon, as French cooks express it in speaking of cayenne pepper,
when she caused so many of our English throats to be cut. But could she do
less? No; I always say so; but still you never saw a person kill even a
trout with a perfectly "Champagne" face of "gentleness and simplicity,"
though, often, no doubt, with considerable "acuteness." All your cooks and
butchers wear a _Lorraine_ cast of expression.

These disputes, however, turn on refinements too nice. Domrémy stood
upon the frontiers; and, like other frontiers, produced a _mixed_ race
representing the _cis_ and the _trans_. A river (it is true) formed the
boundary line at this point--the river Meuse; and _that_, in old days,
might have divided the populations; but in these days it did not--there
were bridges, there were ferries, and weddings crossed from the right bank
to the left. Here lay two great roads, not so much for travellers, that
were few, as for armies that were too many by half. These two roads, one of
which was the great high road between France and Germany, _decussated_ at
this very point; which is a learned way of saying that they formed a St.
Andrew's cross, or letter X. I hope the compositor will choose a good large
X, in which case the point of intersection, the _locus_ of conflux for
these four diverging arms, will finish the reader's geographical education,
by showing him to a hair's breadth where it was that Domrémy stood. These
roads, so grandly situated, as great trunk arteries between two mighty
realms,[4] and haunted for ever by wars or rumors of wars, decussated (for
anything I know to the contrary) absolutely under Joanna's bed-room window;
one rolling away to the right, past Monsieur D'Arc's old barn, and the
other unaccountably preferring (but there's no disputing about tastes) to
sweep round that odious man's odious pigstye to the left.

Things being situated as is here laid down, viz. in respect of the
decussation, and in respect of Joanna's bed-room; it follows that, if she
had dropped her glove by accident from her chamber window into the very
bull's eye of the target, in the centre of X, not one of several great
potentates could (though all animated by the sincerest desires for the
peace of Europe) have possibly come to any clear understanding on the
question of whom the glove was meant for. Whence the candid reader
perceives at once the necessity for at least four bloody wars. Falling
indeed a little farther, as, for instance, into the pigstye, the glove
could not have furnished to the most peppery prince any shadow of excuse
for arming: he would not have had a leg to stand upon in taking such a
perverse line of conduct. But, if it fell (as by the hypothesis it did)
into the one sole point of ground common to four kings, it is clear that,
instead of no leg to stand upon, eight separate legs would have had
no ground to stand upon unless by treading on each other's toes. The
philosopher, therefore, sees clearly the necessity of a war, and regrets
that sometimes nations do not wait for grounds of war so solid.

In the circumstances supposed, though the four kings might be unable to
see their way clearly without the help of gunpowder to any decision upon
Joanna's intention, she--poor thing!--never could mistake her intentions
for a moment. All her love was for France; and, therefore, any glove
she might drop into the _quadrivium_ must be wickedly missent by the
post-office, if it found its way to any king but the king of France.

On whatever side of the border chance had thrown Joanna, the same love to
France would have been nurtured. For it is a strange fact, noticed by M.
Michelet and others, that the Dukes of Bar and Lorraine had for generations
pursued the policy of eternal warfare with France on their own account, yet
also of eternal amity and league with France in case anybody else presumed
to attack her. Let peace settle upon France, and before long you might rely
upon seeing the little vixen Lorraine flying at the throat of France. Let
Franco be assailed by a formidable enemy, and instantly you saw a Duke of
Lorraine or Bar insisting on having his throat cut in support of France;
which favor accordingly was cheerfully granted to them in three great
successive battles by the English and by the Turkish sultan, viz., at
Crécy, at Nicopolis, and at Agincourt.

This sympathy with France during great eclipses, in those that during
ordinary seasons were always teasing her with brawls and guerilla inroads,
strengthened the natural piety to France of those that were confessedly
the children of her own house. The outposts of France, as one may call the
great frontier provinces, were of all localities the most devoted to the
Flours de Lys. To witness, at any great crisis, the generous devotion to
these lilies of the little fiery cousin that in gentler weather was for
ever tilting at her breast, could not bin fan the zeal of the legitimate
daughter: whilst to occupy a post of honor on the frontiers against an old
hereditary enemy of France, would naturally have stimulated this zeal by a
sentiment of martial pride, had there even been no other stimulant to zeal
by a sense of danger always threatening, and of hatred always smouldering.
That great four-headed road was a perpetual memento to patriotic ardor.
To say, this way lies the road to Paris--and that other way to
Aix-la-Chapelle, this to Prague, that to Vienna--nourished the warfare of
the heart by daily ministrations of sense. The eye that watched for the
gleams of lance or helmet from the hostile frontier, the ear that listened
for the groaning of wheels, made the high road itself, with its relations
to centres so remote, into a manual of patriotic enmity.

The situation, therefore, _locally_ of Joanna was full of profound
suggestions to a heart that listened for the stealthy steps of change and
fear that too surely were in motion. But if the place were grand, the
times, the burthen of the times, was far more so. The air overhead in its
upper chambers were _hurtling_ with the obscure sound; was dark with sullen
fermenting of storms that had been gathering for a hundred and thirty
years. The battle of Agincourt in Joanna's childhood had re-opened the
wounds of France. Crécy and Poictiers, those withering overthrows for the
chivalry of France, had been tranquillized by more than half a century; but
this resurrection of their trumpet wails made the whole series of battles
and endless skirmishes take their stations as parts in one drama. The
graves that had closed sixty years ago, seemed to fly open in sympathy
with a sorrow that echoed their own. The monarchy of France labored in
extremity, rocked and reeled like a ship fighting with the darkness of
monsoons. The madness of the poor king (Charles VI.) falling in at such a
crisis, like the case of women laboring in childbirth during the storming
of a city, trebled the awfulness of the time. Even the wild story of
the incident which had immediately occasioned the explosion of this
madness--the case of a man unknown, gloomy, and perhaps maniacal himself,
coming out of a forest at noon-day, laying his hand upon the bridle of
the king's horse, checking him for a moment to say, "Oh, King, thou art
betrayed," and then vanishing no man knew whither, as he had appeared for
no man knew what--fell in with the universal prostration of mind that laid
France on her knees as before the slow unweaving of some ancient prophetic
doom. The famines, the extraordinary diseases, the insurrections of the
peasantry up and down Europe, these were chords struck from the same
mysterious harp; but these were transitory chords. There had been others
of deeper and more sonorous sound. The termination of the Crusades, the
destruction of the Templars, the Papal interdicts, the tragedies caused or
suffered by the House of Anjou, by the Emperor--these were full of a more
permanent significance; but since then the colossal figure of feudalism was
seen standing as it were on tiptoe at Crécy for flight from earth: that was
a revolution unparalleled; yet _that_ was a trifle by comparison with the
more fearful revolutions that were mining below the Church. By her own
internal schisms, by the abominable spectacle of a double Pope--so that no
man, except through political bias, could even guess which was Heaven's
vicegerent, and which the creature of hell--she was already rehearsing, as
in still earlier forms she had rehearsed, the first rent in her foundations
(reserved for the coming century) which no man should ever heal.

These were the loftiest peaks of the cloudland in the skies, that to the
scientific gazer first caught the colors of the _new_ morning in advance.
But the whole vast range alike of sweeping glooms overhead, dwelt upon all
meditative minds, even those that could not distinguish the altitudes nor
decipher the forms. It was, therefore, not her own age alone, as affected
by its immediate calamities, that lay with such weight upon Joanna's mind;
but her own age, as one section in a vast mysterious drama, unweaving
through a century back, and drawing nearer continually to crisis after
crisis. Cataracts and rapids were heard roaring ahead; and signs were seen
far back, by help of old men's memories, which answered secretly to signs
now coming forward on the eye, even as locks answer to keys. It was not
wonderful that in such a haunted solitude, with such a haunted heart,
Joanna should see angelic visions, and hear angelic voices. These voices
whispered to her the duty imposed upon herself, of delivering France. Five
years she listened to these monitory voices with internal struggles. At
length she could resist no longer. Doubt gave way; and she left her home in
order to present herself at the Dauphin's court.

The education of this poor girl was mean according to the present standard:
was ineffably grand, according to a purer philosophic standard; and only
not good for our age, because for us it would be unattainable. She read
nothing, for she could not read; but she had heard others read parts of the
Roman martyrology. She wept in sympathy with the sad _Misereres_ of the
Romish chaunting; she rose to heaven with the glad triumphant _Gloria in
Excelcis_: she drew her comfort and her vital strength from the rites of
her church. But, next after these spiritual advantages, she owed most to
the advantages of her situation. The fountain of Domrémy was on the brink
of a boundless forest; and it was haunted to that degree by fairies that
the parish priest (_curé_) was obliged to read mass there once a year, in
order to keep them in any decent bounds. Fairies are important, even in a
statistical view; certain weeds mark poverty in the soil, fairies mark
its solitude. As surely as the wolf retires before cities, does the fairy
sequester herself from the haunts of licensed victuallers. A village is too
much for her nervous delicacy: at most, she can tolerate a distant view
of a hamlet. We may judge, therefore, by the uneasiness and extra trouble
which they gave to the parson, in what strength the fairies mustered at
Domrémy, and, by a satisfactory consequence, how thinly sown with men and
women must have been that region even in its inhabited spots. But the
forests of Domrémy--those were the glories of the land: for, in them abode
mysterious powers and ancient secrets that towered into tragic strength.
"Abbeys there were, and abbey windows, dim and dimly seen--as Moorish
temples of the Hindoos," that exercised even princely power both in
Lorraine and in the German Diets. These had their sweet bells that pierced
the forests for many a league at matins or vespers, and each its own dreamy
legend. Few enough, and scattered enough, were these abbeys, in no degree
to disturb the deep solitude of the region; many enough to spread a network
or awning of Christian sanctity over what else might have seemed a heathen
wilderness. This sort of religious talisman being secured, a man the most
afraid of ghosts (like myself, suppose, or the reader) becomes armed into
courage to wander for days in their sylvan recesses. The mountains of the
Vosges on the eastern frontier of France, have never attracted much notice
from Europe, except in 1813-14, for a few brief months, when they fell
within Napoleon's line of defence against the Allies. But they are
interesting for this, amongst other features--that they do not, like some
loftier ranges, repel woods: the forests and they are on sociable terms.
_Live and let live_ is their motto. For this reason, in part, these tracts
in Lorraine were a favorite hunting ground with the Carlovingian princes.
About six hundred years before Joanna's childhood, Charlemagne was known to
have hunted there. That, of itself, was a grand incident in the traditions
of a forest or a chase. In these vast forests, also, were to be found (if
the race was not extinct) those mysterious fawns that tempted solitary
hunters into visionary and perilous pursuits. Here was seen, at intervals,
that ancient stag who was already nine hundred years old, at the least, but
possibly a hundred or two more, when met by Charlemagne; and the thing
was put beyond doubt by the inscription upon his golden collar. I believe
Charlemagne knighted the stag; and, if ever he is met again by a king, he
ought to be made an earl--or, being upon the marches of France, a marquess.
Observe, I don't absolutely vouch for all these things: my own opinion
varies. On a fine breezy forenoon I am audaciously sceptical; but as
twilight sets in, my credulity becomes equal to anything that could be
desired. And I have heard candid sportsmen declare that, outside of these
very forests near the Vosges, they laughed loudly at all the dim tales
connected with their haunted solitudes; but, on reaching a spot notoriously
eighteen miles deep within them, they agreed with Sir Roger de Coverley
that a good deal might be said on both sides.

Such traditions, or any others that (like the stag) connect distant
generations with each other, are, for that cause, sublime; and the sense of
the shadowy, connected with such appearances that reveal themselves or not
according to circumstances, leaves a coloring of sanctity over ancient
forests, even in those minds that utterly reject the legend as a fact.

But, apart from all distinct stories of that order, in any solitary
frontier between two great empires, as here, for instance, or in the desert
between Syria and the Euphrates, there is an inevitable tendency, in minds
of any deep sensibility to people the solitudes with phantom images of
powers that were of old so vast. Joanna, therefore, in her quiet occupation
of a shepherdess, would be led continually to brood over the political
condition of her country, by the traditions of the past no less than by the
mementoes of the local present.

M. Michelet, indeed, says that La Pucelle was _not_ a shepherdess. I beg
his pardon: she _was_. What he rests upon, I guess pretty well: it is
the evidence of a woman called Haumette, the most confidential friend of
Joanna. Now, she is a good witness, and a good girl, and I like her; for
she makes a natural and affectionate report of Joanna's ordinary life. But
still, however good she may be as a witness, Joanna is better; and
she, when speaking to the Dauphin, calls herself in the Latin report
_Bergereta_. Even Haumette confesses that Joanna tended sheep in her
girlhood. And I believe, that, if Miss Haumette were taking coffee alone
with me this very evening (February 12, 1847)--in which there would be
no subject for scandal or for maiden blushes, because I am an intense
philosopher, and Miss H. would be hard upon four hundred and fifty years
old--she would admit the following comment upon her evidence to be right. A
Frenchman, about thirty years ago, M. Simond, in his _Travels_, mentioned
incidentally the following hideous scene as one steadily observed and
watched by himself in France at a period some trifle before the French
Revolution:--A peasant was ploughing; and the team that drew his plough was
a donkey and a woman. Both were regularly harnessed: both pulled alike.
This is bad enough: but the Frenchman adds, that, in distributing his
lashes, the peasant was obviously desirous of being impartial: or, if
either of the yoke-fellows had a right to complain, certainly it was not
the donkey. Now, in any country, where such degradation of females could be
tolerated by the state of manners, a woman of delicacy would shrink from
acknowledging, either for herself or her friend, that she had ever been
addicted to any mode of labor not strictly domestic; because, if once
owning herself a prædial servant, she would be sensible that this
confession extended by probability in the hearer's thoughts to having
incurred indignities of this horrible kind. Haumette clearly thinks it more
dignified for Joanna to have been darning the stockings of her horny-hoofed
father, Monsieur D'Arc, than keeping sheep, lest she might then be
suspected of having ever done something worse. But, luckily, there was no
danger of _that_: Joanna never was in service; and my opinion is that her
father should have mended his own stockings, since probably he was the
party to make the holes in them, as many a better man than D'Arc does;
meaning by _that_ not myself, because, though certainly a better man than
D'Arc, I protest against doing anything of the kind. If I lived even with
Friday in Juan Fernandez, either Friday must do all the darning, or else it
must go undone. The better men that I meant were the sailors in the British
navy, every man of whom mends his own stockings. Who else is to do it?
Do you suppose, reader, that the junior lords of the admiralty are under
articles to darn for the navy?

The reason, meantime, for my systematic hatred of D'Arc is this. There was
a story current in France before the Revolution, framed to ridicule the
pauper aristocracy, who happened to have long pedigrees and short rent
rolls, viz., that a head of such a house, dating from the Crusades, was
overheard saying to his son, a Chevalier of St. Louis, "_Chevalier, as-tu
donné au cochon à manger_!" Now, it is clearly made out by the surviving
evidence, that D'Arc would much have preferred continuing to say--"_Ma
fille as-tu donné au cochon à manger_?" to saying "_Pucelle d'Orléans,
as-tu sauvé les fleurs-de-lys_?" There is an old English copy of verses
which argues thus:--

  "If the man, that turnips cries,
  Cry not when his father dies--
  Then 'tis plain the man had rather
  Have a turnip than his father."

I cannot say that the logic of these verses was ever _entirely_ to my
satisfaction. I do not see my way through it as clearly as could be wished.
But I see my way most clearly through D'Arc; and the result is--that he
would greatly have preferred not merely a turnip to his father, but the
saving a pound or so of bacon to saving the Oriflamme of France.

It is probable (as M. Michelet suggests) that the title of Virgin, or
_Pucelle_, had in itself, and apart from the miraculous stones about her,
a secret power over the rude soldiery and partisan chiefs of that period;
for, in such a person, they saw a representative manifestation of the
Virgin Mary, who, in a course of centuries, had grown steadily upon the
popular heart.

As to Joanna's supernatural detection of the Dauphin (Charles VII.) amongst
three hundred lords and knights. I am surprised at the credulity which
could ever lend itself to that theatrical juggle. Who admires more than
myself the sublime enthusiasm, the rapturous faith in herself, of this pure
creature? But I admire not stage artifices, which not _La Pucelle_, but the
Court, must have arranged; nor can surrender myself a dupe to a conjuror's
_leger-de-main_, such as may be seen every day for a shilling. Southey's
"Joan of Arc" was published in 1796. Twenty years after, talking with
Southey, I was surprised to find him still owning a secret bias in favor of
Joan, founded on her detection of the Dauphin. The story, for the benefit
of the reader new to the case, was this:--_La Pucelle_ was first made known
to the Dauphin, and presented to his court, at Chinon: and here came her
first trial. She was to find out the royal personage amongst the whole ark
of clean and unclean creatures. Failing in this _coup d'essai_, she would
not simply disappoint many a beating heart in the glittering crowd that on
different motives yearned for her success, but she would ruin herself--and,
as the oracle within had told her, would ruin France. Our own sovereign
lady Victoria rehearses annually a trial not so severe in degree, but the
same in kind. She "pricks" for sheriffs. Joanna pricked for a king. But
observe the difference: our own lady pricks for two men out of three;
Joanna for one man out of three hundred. Happy Lady of the islands and the
orient!--she _can_ go astray in her choice only by one half; to the extent
of one half she _must_ have the satisfaction of being right. And yet, even
with these tight limits to the misery of a boundless discretion, permit me,
liege Lady, with all loyalty, to submit--that now and then you prick with
your pin the wrong man. But the poor child from Domrémy, shrinking under
the gaze of a dazzling court--not because dazzling (for in visions she had
seen those that were more so,) but because some of them wore a scoffing
smile on their features--how should _she_ throw her line into so deep a
river to angle for a king, where many a gay creature was sporting that
masqueraded as kings in dress? Nay, even more than any true king would have
done: for, in Southey's version of the story, the Dauphin says, by way of
trying the virgin's magnetic sympathy with royalty,

  ----"on the throne,
  I the while mingling with the menial throng,
  Some courtier shall he seated."

This usurper is even crowned: "the jeweled crown shines on a menial's
head." But really, that is "_un peu fort_;" and the mob of spectators might
raise a scruple whether our friend the jackdaw upon the throne, and the
Dauphin himself, were not grazing the shins of treason. For the Dauphin
could not lend more than belonged to him. According to the popular notion,
he had no crown for himself, but, at most, a _petit ecu_, worth thirty
pence; consequently none to lend, on any pretence whatever, until the
consecrated Maid should take him to Rheims. This was the _popular_ notion
in France. The same notion as to the indispensableness of a coronation
prevails widely in England. But, certainly, it was the Dauphin's interest
to support the popular notion, as he meant to use the services of Joanna.
For, if he were king already, what was it that she could do for him beyond
Orleans? And above all, if he were king without a coronation, and without
the oil from the sacred ampulla, what advantage was yet open to him by
celerity above his competitor the English boy? Now was to be a race for a
coronation: he that should win _that_ race, carried the superstition of
France along with him. Trouble us not, lawyer, with your quillets. We are
illegal blockheads; so thoroughly without law, that we don't know even if
we have a right to be blockheads; and our mind is made up--that the first
man drawn from the oven of coronation at Rheims, is the man that is baked
into a king. All others are counterfeits, made of base Indian meal, damaged
by sea-water.

La Pucelle, before she could be allowed to practise as a warrior, was put
through her manual and platoon exercise, as a juvenile pupil in divinity,
before six eminent men in wigs. According to Southey (v. 393, Book III., in
the original edition of his "Joan of Arc") she "appall'd the doctors." It's
not easy to do _that_: but they had some reason to feel bothered, as that
surgeon would assuredly feel bothered, who, upon proceeding to dissect a
subject, should find the subject retaliating as a dissector upon himself,
especially if Joanna ever made the speech to them which occupies v.
354-391, B. III. It is a double impossibility; 1st, because a piracy from
Tindal's _Christianity as Old as the Creation:_ now a piracy _à parte post_
is common enough; but a piracy _à parte ante_, and by three centuries,
would (according to our old English phrase[5]) drive a coach-and-six
through any copyright act that man born of woman could frame. 2dly, it is
quite contrary to the evidence on Joanna's trial; for Southey's "Joan" of
A. Dom. 1796 (Cottle, Bristol), tells the doctors, amongst other secrets,
that she never in her life attended--1st, Mass; nor 2d, the Sacramental
table; nor 3d, Confession. Here's a precious windfall for the doctors;
they, by snaky tortuosities, had hoped, through the aid of a corkscrew,
(which every D. D. or S.T.P. is said to carry in his pocket,) for the
happiness of ultimately extracting from Joanna a few grains of heretical
powder or small shot, which might have justified their singeing her a
little. And just at such a crisis, expressly to justify their burning her
to a cinder, up gallops Joanna with a brigade of guns, unlimbers, and
serves them out with heretical grape and deistical round-shot enough to lay
a kingdom under interdict. Any miracles, to which Joanna might treat the
grim D. Ds. after _that_, would go to the wrong side of her little account
in the clerical books. Joanna would be created a _Dr_. herself, but not of
Divinity. For in the Joanna page of the ledger the entry would be--"Miss
Joanna, in acct. with the Church, _Dr._ by sundry diabolic miracles, she
having publicly preached heresy, shown herself a witch, and even tried hard
to corrupt the principles of six church pillars." In the mean time, all
this deistical confession of Joanna's, besides being suicidal for the
interest of her cause, is opposed to the depositions upon _both_ trials.
The very best witness called from first to last deposes that Joanna
attended these rites of her Church even too often; was taxed with doing so;
and, by blushing, owned the charge as a fact, though certainly not as a
fault. Joanna was a girl of natural piety, that saw God in forests,
and hills, and fountains; but did not the less seek him in chapels and
consecrated oratories.

This peasant girl was self-educated through her own natural meditativeness.
If the reader turns to that divine passage in _Paradise Regained_, which
Milton has put into the mouth of our Saviour when first entering the
wilderness, and musing upon the tendency of those great impulses growing
within himself--

  "Oh, what a multitude of thoughts arise!" &c.

he will have some notion of the vast reveries which brooded over the heart
of Joanna in early girlhood, when the wings were budding that should carry
her from Orleans to Rheims; when the golden chariot was dimly revealing
itself that should carry her from the kingdom of _France Delivered_ to the
eternal kingdom.

It is not requisite, for the honor of Joanna, nor is there, in this place,
room to pursue her brief career of _action_. That, though wonderful, forms
the earthly part of her story: the intellectual part is, the saintly
passion of her imprisonment, trial, and execution. It is unfortunate,
therefore, for Southey's "Joan of Arc," (which however should always be
regarded as a _juvenile_ effort,) that, precisely when her real glory
begins, the poem ends. But this limitation of the interest grew, no doubt,
from the constraint inseparably attached to the law of epic unity. Joanna's
history bisects into two opposite hemispheres, and both could not have been
presented to the eye in one poem, unless by sacrificing all unity of theme,
or else by involving the earlier half, as a narrative episode, in the
latter;--this might have been done--it might have been communicated to a
fellow-prisoner, or a confessor, by Joanna herself, in the same way that
Virgil has contrived to acquaint the reader, through the hero's mouth, with
earlier adventures that, if told by the poet speaking in his own person,
would have destroyed the unity of his fable. The romantic interest of the
early and _irrelate_ incidents (last night of Troy, &c.) is thrown as an
affluent into the general river of the personal narrative, whilst yet the
capital current of the _epos_, as unfolding ihe origin and _incunabula_ of
Rome, is not for a moment suffered to be modified by events so subordinate
and so obliquely introduced. It is sufficient, as concerns _this_ section
of Joanna's life to say--that she fulfilled, to the height of her promises,
the restoration of the prostrate throne. France had become a province of
England; and for the ruin of both, if such a yoke could be maintained.
Dreadful pecuniary exhaustion caused the English energy to droop; and
that critical opening _La Pucelle_ used with a corresponding felicity
of audacity and suddenness (that were in themselves portentous) for
introducing the wedge of French native resources, for rekindling the
national pride, and for planting the Dauphin once more upon his feet. When
Joanna appeared, he had been on the point of giving up the struggle with
the English, distressed as they were, and of flying to the south of France.
She taught him to blush for such abject counsels. She liberated Orleans,
that great city, so decisive by its fate for the issue of the war, and then
beleaguered by the English with an elaborate application of engineering
skill unprecedented in Europe. Entering the city after sunset, on the 29th
of April, she sang mass on Sunday, May 8, for the entire disappearance of
the besieging force. On the 29th of June, she fought and gained over the
English the decisive battle of Patay; on the 9th of July, she took Troyes
by a coup-de-main from a mixed garrison of English and Burgundians; on the
15th of that month, she carried the Dauphin into Rheims; on Sunday the
17th, she crowned him; and there she rested from her labor of triumph. What
remained was--to suffer.

All this forward movement was her own: excepting one man, the whole council
was against her. Her enemies were all that drew power from earth. Her
supporters were her own strong enthusiasm, and the headlong contagion
by which she carried this sublime frenzy into the hearts of women, of
soldiers, and of all who lived by labor. Henceforwards she was thwarted;
and the worst error, that she committed, was to lend the sanction of her
presence to counsels which she disapproved. But she had accomplished the
capital objects which her own visions had dictated. These involved all the
rest. Errors were now less important; and doubtless it had now become more
difficult for herself to pronounce authentically what _were_ errors. The
noble girl had achieved, as by a rapture of motion, the capital end of
clearing out a free space around her sovereign, giving him the power to
move his arms with effect; and, secondly, the inappreciable end of winning
for that sovereign what seemed to all France the heavenly ratification of
his rights, by crowning him with the ancient solemnities. She had made it
impossible for the English now to step before her. They were caught in an
irretrievable blunder, owing partly to discord amongst the uncles of Henry
VI., partly to a want of funds, but partly to the very impossibility which
they believed to press with tenfold force upon any French attempt to
forestall theirs. They laughed at such a thought; and whilst they laughed,
she _did_ it. Henceforth the single redress for the English of this capital
oversight, but which never _could_ have redressed it effectually, was--to
vitiate and taint the coronation of Charles VII. as the work of a witch.
That policy, and not malice, (as M. Michelet is so happy to believe,) was
the moving principle in the subsequent prosecution of Joanna. Unless
they unhinged the force of the first coronation in the popular mind, by
associating it with power given from hell, they felt that the sceptre of
the invader was broken.

But she, the child that, at nineteen, had wrought wonders so great for
France, was she not elated? Did she not lose, as men so often _have_ lost,
all sobriety of mind when standing upon the pinnaclè of successes so giddy?
Let her enemies declare. During the progress of her movement, and in
the centre of ferocious struggles, she had manifested the temper of her
feelings by the pity which she had every where expressed for the suffering
enemy. She forwarded to the English leaders a touching invitation to unite
with the French, as brothers, in a common crusade against infidels, thus
opening the road for a soldierly retreat. She interposed to protect
the captive or the wounded--she mourned over the excesses of her
countrymen--she threw herself off her horse to kneel by the dying English
soldier, and to comfort him with such ministrations, physical or spiritual,
as his situation allowed. "Nolebat," says the evidence, "uti onso suo, aut
quemquam interficere." She sheltered the English, that invoked her aid, in
her own quarters. She wept as she beheld, stretched on the field of battle,
so many brave enemies that had died without confession. And, as regarded
herself, her elation expressed itself thus:--on the day when she had
finished her work, she wept; for she knew that, when her task was done, her
end must be approaching. Her aspirations pointed only to a place, which
seemed to her more than usually full of natural piety, as one in which it
would give her pleasure to die. And she uttered, between smiles and tears,
as a wish that inexpressibly fascinated her heart, and yet was half
fantastic, a broken prayer that God would return her to the solitudes from
which he had drawn her, and suffer her to become a shepherdess once more.
It was a natural prayer, because nature has laid a necessity upon every
human heart to seek for rest, and to shrink from torment. Yet, again, it
was a half-fantastic prayer, because, from childhood upwards, visions that
she had no power to mistrust, and the voices which sounded in her ear for
ever, had long since persuaded her mind, that for _her_ no such prayer
could be granted. Too well she felt that her mission must be worked out to
the end, and that the end was now at hand. All went wrong from this time.
She herself had created the _funds_ out of which the French restoration
should grow; but she was not suffered to witness their development, or
their prosperous application. More than one military plan was entered upon
which she did not approve. But she still continued to expose her person
as before. Severe wounds had not taught her caution. And at length, in a
sortie from Compeigne, whether through treacherous collusion on the part
of her own friends is doubtful to this day, she was made prisoner by the
Burgundians, and finally surrendered to the English.

Now came her trial. This trial, moving of course under English influence,
was conducted in chief by the Bishop of Beauvais. He was a Frenchman, sold
to English interests, and hoping, by favor of the English leaders, to
reach the highest preferment. _Bishop that art, Archbishop that shalt be,
Cardinal that mayest be_, were the words that sounded continually in his
ear; and doubtless, a whisper of visions still higher, of a triple crown,
and feet upon the necks of kings, sometimes stole into his heart. M.
Michelet is anxious to keep us in mind that this Bishop was but an agent
of the English. True. But it does not better the case for his countryman;
that, being an accomplice in the crime, making himself the leader in the
persecution against the helpless girl, he was willing to be all this in
the spirit, and with the conscious vileness of a catspaw. Never from the
foundations of the earth was there such a trial as this, if it were laid
open in all its beauty of defence, and all its hellishness of attack. Oh,
child of France! shepherdess, peasant girl! trodden under foot by all
around thee, how I honor thy flashing intellect, quick as God's lightning,
and true as that lightning to its mark, that ran before France and laggard
Europe by many a century, confounding the malice of the ensnarer, and
making dumb the oracles of falsehood! Is it not scandalous, is it not
humiliating to civilization, that, even at this day, France exhibits the
horrid spectacle of judges examining the prisoner against himself; seducing
him, by fraud, into treacherous conclusions against his own head; using the
terrors of their power for extorting confessions from the frailty of hope;
nay, (which is worse,) using the blandishments of condescension and snaky
kindness for thawing into compliances of gratitude those whom they had
failed to freeze into terror? Wicked judges! Barbarian jurisprudence! that,
sitting in your own conceit on the summits of social wisdom, have yet
failed to learn the first principles of criminal justice; sit ye humbly and
with docility at the feet of this girl from Domrémy, that tore your webs of
cruelty into shreds and dust, "Would you examine me as a witness against
myself?" was the question by which many times she defied their arts.
Continually she showed that their interrogations were irrelevant to any
business before the court, or that entered into the ridiculous charges
against her. General questions were proposed to her on points of
casuistical divinity; two-edged questions which not one of themselves could
have answered without, on the one side, landing himself in heresy (as
then interpreted), or, on the other, in some presumptuous expression of
self-esteem. Next came a wretched Dominican that pressed her with an
objection, which, if applied to the Bible, would tax every one of its
miracles with unsoundness. The monk had the excuse of never having read the
Bible. M. Michelet has no such excuse; and it makes one blush for him, as a
philosopher, to find him describing such an argument as "weighty," whereas
it is but a varied expression of rude Mahometan metaphysics. Her answer
to this, if there were room to place the whole in a clear light, was as
shattering as it was rapid. Another thought to entrap her by asking what
language the angelic visitors of her solitude had talked: as though
heavenly counsels could want polyglott interpreters for every word, or that
God needed language at all in whispering thoughts to a human heart. Then
came a worse devil, who asked her whether the archangel Michael had
appeared naked. Not comprehending the vile insinuation, Joanna, whose
poverty suggested to her simplicity that it might be the _costliness_ or
suitable robes which caused the demur, asked them if they fancied God,
who clothed the flowers of the valleys, unable to find raiment for his
servants. The answer of Joanna moves a smile of tenderness, but the
disappointment of her judges makes one laugh horribly. Others succeeded
by troops, who upbraided her with leaving her father; as if that greater
Father, whom she believed herself to have been serving, did not retain the
power of dispensing with his own rules, or had not said, that, for a less
cause than martyrdom, man and woman should leave both father and mother.

On Easter Sunday, when the trial had been long proceeding, the poor girl
fell so ill as to cause a belief that she had been poisoned. It was not
poison. Nobody had any interest in hastening a death so certain. M.
Michelet, whose sympathies with all feelings are so quick that one would
gladly see them always as justly directed, reads the case most truly.
Joanna had a two-fold malady. She was visited by a paroxysm of the
complaint called _home-sickness_; the cruel nature of her imprisonment, and
its length, could not but point her solitary thoughts, in darkness, and in
chains, (for chained she was,) to Domrémy. And the season, which was the
most heavenly period of the spring, added stings to this yearning. That
was one of her maladies--_nostalgia_, as medicine calls it; the other was
weariness and exhaustion from daily combats with malice. She saw that
everybody hated her, and thirsted for her blood; nay, many kind-hearted
creatures that would have pitied her profoundly as regarded all political
charges, had their natural feelings warped by the belief that she had
dealings with fiendish powers. She knew she was to die; that was _not_ the
misery; the misery was that this consummation could not be reached without
so much intermediate strife, as if she were contending for some chance
(where chance was none) of happiness, or were dreaming for a moment of
escaping the inevitable. Why, then, _did_ she contend? Knowing that she
would reap nothing from answering her persecutors, why did she not retire
by silence from the superfluous contest? It was because her quick and eager
loyalty to truth would not suffer her to see it darkened by frauds, which
_she_ could expose, but others, even of candid listeners, perhaps, could
not; it was through that imperishable grandeur of soul, which taught her
to submit meekly and without a struggle to her punishment, but taught
her _not_ to submit--no, not for a moment--to calumny as to facts, or to
misconstruction as to motives. Besides, there were secretaries all around
the court taking down her words. That was meant for no good to _her_. But
the end does not always correspond to the meaning. And Joanna might say to
herself--these words that will be used against me to-morrow and the next
day, perhaps in some nobler generation may rise again for my justification.
Yes, Joanna, they _are_ rising even now in Paris, and for more than
justification.

Woman, sister--there are some things which you do not execute as well as
your brother, man; no, nor ever will. Pardon me if I doubt whether you will
ever produce a great poet from your choirs, or a Mozart, or a Phidias, or a
Michael Angelo, or a great philosopher, or a great scholar. By which last
is meant--not one who depends simply on an infinite memory, but also on an
infinite and electrical power of combination; bringing together from the
four winds, like the angel of the resurrection, what else were dust from
dead men's bones, into the unity of breathing life. If you _can_ create
yourselves into any of these great creators, why have you not? Do not ask
me to say otherwise; because if you do, you will lead me into temptation.
For I swore early in life never to utter a falsehood, and, above all, a
sycophantic falsehood; and, in the false homage of the modern press towards
women, there is horrible sycophancy. It is as hollow, most of it, and it is
as fleeting as is the love that lurks in _uxoriousness_. Yet, if a woman
asks me to tell a faleshood, I have long made up my mind--that on moral
considerations I _will_, and _ought_ to do so, whether it be for any
purpose of glory to _her_, or of screening her foibles (for she _does_
commit a few), or of humbly, as a vassal, paying a peppercorn rent to her
august privilege of caprice. Barring these cases, I must adhere to my
resolution of telling no fibs. And I repeat, therefore, but not to be rude,
I repeat in Latin--

  Excudent alii meliús spirantia signa,
  Credo equidem vivos ducent de marmore vultus:
  Altius ascendent: at tu caput, Eva, memento
  Sandalo ut infringas referenti oracula tanta.[6]

Yet, sister woman--though I cannot consent to find a Mozart or a Michael
Angelo in your sex, until that day when you claim my promise as to
falsehood--cheerfully, and with the love that burns in depths of
admiration, I acknowledge that you can do one thing as well as the best of
us men--a greater thing than even Mozart is known to have done, or Michael
Angelo--you can die grandly, and as goddesses would die were goddesses
mortal. If any distant world (which _may_ be the case) are so far ahead
of us Tellurians in optical resources as to see distinctly through their
telescopes all that we do on earth, what is the grandest sight to which we
ever treat them? St. Peter's at Rome, do you fancy, on Easter Sunday, or
Luxor, or perhaps the Himalayas? Pooh! pooh! my friend: suggest something
better; these are baubles to _them_; they see in other worlds, in their
own, far better toys of the same kind. These, take my word for it, are
nothing. Do you give it up? The finest thing, then, we have to show them
is a scaffold on the morning of execution. I assure you there is a strong
muster in those fair telescopic worlds, on any such morning, of those who
happen to find themselves occupying the right hemisphere for a peep
at _us_. Telescopes look up in the market on that morning, and bear a
monstrous premium; for they cheat, probably, in those scientific worlds as
well as we do. How, then, if it be announced in some such telescopic world
by those who make a livelihood of catching glimpses at our newspapers,
whose language they have long since deciphered, that the poor victim in the
morning's sacrifice is a woman? How, if it be published on that distant
world that the sufferer wears upon her head, in the eyes of many, the
garlands of martyrdom? How, if it should be some Marie Antoinette, the
widowed queen, coming forward on the scaffold, and presenting to the
morning air her head, turned gray prematurely by sorrow, daughter of Cæsars
kneeling down humbly to kiss the guillotine, as one that worships death?
How, if it were the "martyred wife of Roland," uttering impassioned
truth--truth odious to the rulers of her country--with her expiring breath?
How, if it were the noble Charlotte Corday, that in the bloom of youth,
that with the loveliest of persons, that with homage waiting upon her
smiles wherever she turned her face to scatter them--homage that followed
those smiles as surely as the carols of birds, after showers in spring,
follow the re-appearing sun and the racing of sunbeams over the hills--yet
thought all these things cheaper than the dust upon her sandals in
comparison of deliverance from hell for her dear suffering France? Ah!
these were spectacles indeed for those sympathizing people in distant
worlds; and some, perhaps, would suffer a sort of martyrdom themselves,
because they could not testify their wrath, could not bear witness to the
strength of love, and to the fury of hatred, that burned within them at
such scenes; could not gather into golden urns some of that glorious dust
which rested in the catacombs of earth.

On the Wednesday after Trinity Sunday in 1431, being then about nineteen
years of age, the Maid of Arc underwent her martyrdom. She was conducted
before mid-day, guarded by eight hundred spearmen, to a platform of
prodigious height, constructed of wooden billets supported by occasional
walls of lath and plaster, and traversed by hollow spaces in every
direction for the creation of air-currents. The pile "struck terror," says
M. Michelet, "by its height;" and, as usual, the English purpose in this is
viewed as one of pure malignity. But there are two ways of explaining all
that. It is probable that the purpose was merciful. On the circumstances of
the execution I shall not linger. Yet, to mark the almost fatal felicity
of M. Michelet in finding out whatever may injure the English name, at
a moment when every reader will be interested in Joanna's personal
appearance, it is really edifying to notice the ingenuity by which he draws
into light from a dark corner a very unjust account of it, and neglects,
though lying upon the high road, a very pleasing one. Both are from English
pens. Grafton, a chronicler but little read, being a stiff-necked John
Bull, thought fit to say, that no wonder Joanna should be a virgin, since
her "foule face" was a satisfactory solution of that particular merit.
Holinshead, on the other hand, a chronicler somewhat later, every way more
important, and universally read, has given a very pleasing testimony to the
interesting character of Joanna's person and engaging manners. Neither
of these men lived till the following century, so that personally this
evidence is none at all. Grafton sullenly and carelessly believed as
he wished to believe; Holinshead took pains to inquire, and reports
undoubtedly the general impression of France. But I cite the case as
illustrating M. Michelet's candor.[7]

The circumstantial incidents of the execution, unless with more space
than I can now command, I should be unwilling to relate. I should fear
to injure, by imperfect report, a martyrdom which to myself appears so
unspeakably grand. Yet for a purpose pointing, not at Joanna but at M.
Michelet,--viz., to convince him that an Englishman is capable of thinking
more highly of _La Pucelle_ than even her admiring countryman, I shall, in
parting, allude to one or two traits in Joanna's demeanor on the scaffold,
and to one or two in that of the bystanders, which authorize me in
questioning an opinion of his upon this martyr's firmness. The reader ought
to be reminded that Joanna d'Arc was subjected to an unusually unfair trial
of opinion. Any of the elder Christian martyrs had not much to fear of
_personal_ rancor. The martyr was chiefly regarded as the enemy of Cæsar;
at times, also, where any knowledge of the Christian faith and morals
existed, with the enmity that arises spontaneously in the worldly against
the spiritual. But the martyr, though disloyal, was not supposed to be,
therefore, anti-national; and still less was _individually_ hateful. What
was hated (if anything) belonged to his class, not to himself separately.
Now Joanna, if hated at all, was hated personally, and in Rouen on national
grounds. Hence there would be a certainty of calumny arising against _her_,
such as would not affect martyrs in general. That being the case, it would
follow of necessity that some people would impute to her a willingness to
recant. No innocence could escape _that_. Now, had she really testified
this willingness on the scaffold, it would have argued nothing at all but
the weakness of a genial nature shrinking from the instant approach of
torment. And those will often pity that weakness most, who, in their own
persons, would yield to it least. Meantime, there never was a calumny
uttered that drew less support from the recorded circumstances. It rests
upon no _positive_ testimony, and it has a weight of contradicting
testimony to stem. And yet, strange to say, M. Michelet, who at times seems
to admire the Maid of Arc as much as I do, is the one sole writer amongst
her _friends_ who lends some countenance to this odious slander. His words
are, that, if she did not utter this word _recant_ with her lips, she
uttered it in her heart. "Whether, she _said_ the word is uncertain: but I
affirm that she _thought_ it."

Now, I affirm that she did not; not in any sense of the word "_thought_"
applicable to the case. Here is France calumniating _La Pucelle_: here
is England defending her. M. Michelet can only mean, that, on _a priori_
principles, every woman must be presumed liable to such a weakness; that
Joanna was a woman; _ergo_, that she was liable to such a weakness. That
is, he only supposes her to have uttered the word by an argument which
presumes it impossible for anybody to have done otherwise. I, on the
contrary, throw the _onus_ of the argument not on presumable tendencies of
nature, but on the known facts of that morning's execution, as recorded
by multitudes. What else, I demand, than mere weight of metal, absolute
nobility of deportment, broke the vast line of battle then arrayed against
her? What else but her meek, saintly demeanor, won from the enemies, that
till now had believed her a witch, tears of rapturous admiration? "Ten
thousand men," says M. Michelet himself, "ten thousand men wept;" and of
these ten thousand the majority were political enemies knitted together by
cords of superstition. What else was it but her constancy, united with her
angelic gentleness, that drove the fanatic English soldier--who had sworn
to throw a faggot on her scaffold, as _his_ tribute of abhorrence, that
_did_ so, that fulfilled his vow--suddenly to turn away a penitent for
life, saying everywhere that he had seen a dove rising upon wings to heaven
from the ashes where she had stood? What else drove the executioner to
kneel at every shrine for pardon to _his_ share in the tragedy? And, if all
this were insufficient, then I cite the closing act of her life as valid
on her behalf, were all other testimonies against her. The executioner had
been directed to apply his torch from below. He did so. The fiery smoke
rose upwards in billowing volumes. A Dominican monk was then standing
almost at her side. Wrapt up in his sublime office, he saw not the danger,
but still persisted in his prayers. Even then, when the last enemy was
racing up the fiery stairs to seize her, even at that moment did this
noblest of girls think only for _him_, the one friend that would not
forsake her, and not for herself; bidding him with her last breath to care
for his own preservation, but to leave _her_ to God. That girl, whose
latest breath ascended in this sublime expression of self-oblivion, did not
utter the word _recant_ either with her lips or in her heart. No; she did
not, though one should rise from the dead to swear it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bishop of Beauvais! thy victim died in fire upon a scaffold--thou upon a
down bed. But for the departing minutes of life, both are oftentimes alike.
At the farewell crisis, when the gates of death are opening, and flesh is
resting from its struggles, oftentimes the tortured and the torturer have
the same truce from carnal torment; both sink together into sleep; together
both, sometimes, kindle into dreams. When the mortal mists were gathering
fast upon you two, Bishop and Shepherd girl--when the pavilions of life
were closing up their shadowy curtains about you--let us try, through the
gigantic glooms, to decipher the flying features of your separate visions.

The shepherd girl that had delivered France--she, from her dungeon, she,
from her baiting at the stake, she, from her duel with fire, as she entered
her last dream--saw Domrémy, saw the fountain of Domrémy, saw the pomp of
forests in which her childhood had wandered. That Easter festival, which
man had denied to her languishing heart--that resurrection of spring-time,
which the darkness of dungeons had intercepted from _her_, hungering after
the glorious liberty of forests--were by God given back into her hands, as
jewels that had been stolen from her by robbers. With those, perhaps, (for
the minutes of dreams can stretch into ages,) was given back to her by God
the bliss of childhood. By special privilege, for _her_ might be created,
in this farewell dream, a second childhood, innocent as the first; but not,
like _that_, sad with the gloom of a fearful mission in the rear. This
mission had now been fulfilled. The storm was weathered, the skirts even of
that mighty storm were drawing off. The blood, that she was to reckon for,
had been exacted; the tears, that she was to shed in secret, had been paid
to the last. The hatred to herself in all eyes had been faced steadily, had
been suffered, had been survived. And in her last fight upon the scaffold
she had triumphed gloriously; victoriously she had tasted the stings of
death. For all, except this comfort from her farewell dream, she had
died--died, amidst the tears of ten thousand enemies--died, amidst the
drums and trumpets of armies--died, amidst peals redoubling upon peals,
volleys upon volleys, from the saluting clarions of martyrs.

Bishop of Beauvais! because the guilt-burthened man is in dreams haunted
and waylaid by the most frightful of his crimes, and because upon that
fluctuating mirror--rising (like the mocking mirrors of _mirage_ in Arabian
deserts) from the fens of death--most of all are reflected the sweet
countenances which the man has laid in ruins; therefore I know, Bishop,
that you, also, entering your final dream, saw Domrémy. That fountain,
of which the witnesses spoke so much, showed itself to your eyes in pure
morning dews; but neither dews, nor the holy dawn, could cleanse away the
bright spots of innocent blood upon its surface. By the fountain, Bishop,
you saw a woman seated, that hid her face. But as _you_ draw near, the
woman raises her wasted features. Would Domrémy know them again for the
features of her child? Ah, but _you_ know them, Bishop, well! Oh, mercy!
what a groan was _that_ which the servants, waiting outside the Bishop's
dream at his bedside, heard from his laboring heart, as at this moment he
turned away from the fountain and the woman, seeking rest in the forests
afar off. Yet not so to escape the woman, whom once again he must behold
before he dies. In the forests to which he prays for pity, will he find a
respite? What a tumult, what a gathering of feet is there! In glades, where
only wild deer should run, armies and nations are assembling; towering in
the fluctuating crowd are phantoms that belong to departed hours. There is
the great English Prince, Regent of France. There is my Lord of Winchester,
the princely Cardinal, that died and made no sign. There is the Bishop of
Beauvais, clinging to the shelter of thickets. What building is that which
hands so rapid are raising? Is it a martyr's scaffold? Will they burn the
child of Domrémy a second time? No: it is a tribunal that rises to the
clouds; and two nations stand around it, waiting for a trial. Shall my Lord
of Beauvais sit again upon the judgment-seat, and again number the hours
for the innocent? Ah! no: he is the prisoner at the bar. Already all is
waiting; the mighty audience is gathered, the Court is hurrying to their
seats, the witnesses are arrayed, the trumpets are sounding, the judge
is going to take his place. Oh! but this is sudden. My lord, have you
no counsel? "Counsel I have none: in heaven above, or on earth beneath,
counsellor there is none now that would take a brief from _me_: all are
silent." Is it, indeed, come to this? Alas! the time is short, the tumult
is wondrous, the crowd stretches away into infinity, but yet I will search
in it for somebody to take your brief: I know of somebody that will be your
counsel. Who is this that cometh from Domrémy? Who is she that cometh in
bloody coronation robes from Rheims? Who is she that cometh with blackened
flesh from walking the furnaces of Rouen? This is she, the shepherd girl,
counsellor that had none for herself, whom I choose, Bishop, for yours. She
it is, I engage, that shall take my lord's brief. She it is, Bishop, that
would plead for you: yes, Bishop, SHE--when heaven and earth are silent.



NOTES.


[NOTE 1.

_Arc_:--Modern France, that should know a great deal better than myself,
insists that the name is not d'Arc, _i.e._ of Arc, but _Darc_. Now it
happens sometimes, that if a person, whose position guarantees his access
to the best information, will content himself with gloomy dogmatism,
striking the table with his fist, and saying in a terrific voice--"It is
so; and there's an end of it,"--one bows deferentially; and submits. But
if, unhappily for himself, won by this docility, he relents too amiably
into reasons and arguments, probably one raises an insurrection against him
that may never be crushed; for in the fields of logic one can skirmish,
perhaps, as well as he. Had he confined himself to dogmatism; he would have
entrenched his position in darkness, and have hidden his own vulnerable
points. But coming down to base reasons, he lets in light, and one sees
where to plant the blows. Now, the worshipful reason of modern France for
disturbing the old received spelling, is--that Jean Hordal, a descendant of
_La Pucelle's_ brother, spelled the name _Darc_, in 1612. But what of that?
Beside the chances that M. Hordal might be a gigantic blockhead, it is
notorious that what small matter of spelling Providence had thought fit to
disburse amongst man in the seventeenth century, was all monopolized by
printers: in France, much more so.]

[NOTE 2.

_Those that share thy blood_:--a collateral relative of Joanna's was
subsequently ennobled by the title of _du Lys_.]

[NOTE 3.

"_Jean_."--M. Michelet asserts that there was a mystical meaning at that
era in calling a child _Jean_; it implied a secret commendation of a child,
if not a dedication, to St. John the Evangelist, the beloved disciple, the
apostle of love and mysterious visions. But, really, as the name was so
exceedingly common, few people will detect a mystery in calling a _boy_ by
the name of Jack, though it _does_ seem mysterious to call a girl Jack. It
may be less so in France, where a beautiful practice has always prevailed
of giving to a boy his mother's name--preceded and strengthened by a male
name, as _Charles Anne_, _Victor Victoire_. In cases where a mother's
memory has been unusually dear to a son, this vocal memento of her,
locked into the circle of his own name, gives to it the tenderness of a
testamentary relique, or a funeral ring. I presume, therefore, that _La
Pacelle_ must have borne the baptismal names of Jeanne Jean; the latter
with no reference to so sublime a person as St. John, but simply to some
relative.]

[NOTE 4.

And reminding one of that inscription, so justly admired by Paul Richtor,
which a Russian Czarina placed on a guide-post near Moscow--_This is the
road that leads to Constantinople_.]

[NOTE 5.

Yes, old--very old phrase: not as ignoramuses fancy, a phrase recently
minted by a Repealer in Ireland.]

[NOTE 6.

Our sisters are always rather uneasy when we say anything of them in Latin
or Greek. It is like giving sealed orders to a sea captain, which he is not
to open for his life till he comes into a certain latitude, which latitude,
perhaps, he never _will_ come into, and thus may miss the secret till he is
going to the bottom. Generally I acknowledge that it is not polite before
our female friends to cite a single word of Latin without instantly
translating it. But in this particular case, where I am only iterating a
disagreeable truth, they will please to recollect that the politeness lies
in _not_ translating. However, if they insist absolutely on knowing this
very night, before going to bed, what it is that those ill-looking lines
contain, I refer them to Dryden's Virgil, somewhere in the 6th Book of the
Æneid, except as to the closing line and a half, which contain a private
suggestion of my own to discontented nymphs anxious to see the equilibrium
of advantages re-established between the two sexes.]

[NOTE 7.

Amongst the many ebullitions of M. Michelet's fury against us poor English,
are four which will be likely to amuse the reader; and they are the more
conspicuous in collision with the justice which he sometimes does us, and
the very indignant admiration which, under some aspects, he grants to us.

1. Our English literature he admires with some gnashing of teeth. He
pronounces it "fine and sombre," but, I lament to add, "sceptical, Judaic,
Satanic--in a word, Anti-Christian." That Lord Byron should figure as a
member of this diabolical corporation, will not surprise men. It _will_
surprise them to hear that Milton is one of its Satanic leaders. Many are
the generous and eloquent Frenchmen, beside Chateaubriand, who have, in
the course of the last thirty years, nobly suspended their own burning
nationality, in order to render a more rapturous homage at the feet of
Milton; and some of them have raised Milton almost to a level with angelic
natures. Not one of them has thought of looking for him _below_ the earth.
As to Shakspeare, M. Michelet detects in him a most extraordinary mare's
nest. It is this: he does "not recollect to have seen the name of God" in
any part of his works. On reading such words, it is natural to rub one's
eyes, and suspect that all one has ever seen in this world may have been
a pure ocular delusion. In particular, I begin myself to suspect that the
word "_la gloire_" never occurs in any Parisian journal. "The great English
nation," says M. Michelet, "has one immense profound vice," to wit,
"pride." Why, really, that may be true; but we have a neighbor not
absolutely clear of an "immense profound vice," as like ours in color and
shape as cherry to cherry. In short, M. Michelet thinks us, by fits and
starts, admirable, only that we are detestable; and he would adore some of
our authors, were it not that so intensely he could have wished to kick
them.

2. M. Michelet thinks to lodge an arrow in our sides by a very odd remark
upon Thomas à Kempis: which is, that a man of any conceivable European
blood--a Finlander, suppose, or a Zantiote--might have written Tom; only
not an Englishman. Whether an Englishman could have forged Tom, must remain
a matter of doubt, unless the thing had been tried long ago. That problem
was intercepted for ever by Tom's perverseness in choosing to manufacture
himself. Yet, since nobody is better aware than M. Michelet, that this very
point of Kempis _having_ manufactured Kempis is furiously and hopelessly
litigated, three or four nations claiming to have forged his work for him,
the shocking old doubt will raise its snaky head once more--whether this
forger, who rests in so much darkness, might not, after all, be of English
blood. Tom, it may be feared, is known to modern English literature chiefly
by an irreverent mention of his name in a line of Peter Pindar's (Dr.
Wolcot) fifty years back, where he is described as

  "Kempis Tom,
  Who clearly shows the way to Kingdom Come."

Few in these days can have read him, unless in the Methodist version of
John Wesley. Amongst those few, however, happens to be myself; which arose
from the accident of having, when a boy of eleven, received a copy of the
_De Imitatione Christi_, as a bequest from a relation, who died very young;
from which cause, and from the external prettiness of the book, being a
Glasgow reprint, by the celebrated Foulis, and gaily bound, I was induced
to look into it; and finally read it many times over, partly out of
some sympathy which, even in those days, I had with its simplicity and
devotional fervor; but much more from the savage delight I found in
laughing at Tom's Latinity. _That_, I freely grant to M. Michelet, is
inimitable; else, as regards substance, it strikes me that I could forge a
better _De Imitatione_ myself. But there is no knowing till one tries. Yet,
after all, it is not certain whether the original _was_ Latin. But, however
_that_ may have been, if it is possible that M. Michelet[A] can be accurate
in saying that there are no less than _sixty_ French versions (not
editions, observe, but separate versions) existing of the _De Imitatione_,
how prodigious must have been the adaptation of the book to the religious
heart of the fifteenth century! Excepting the Bible, but excepting
that only in Protestant lands, no book known to man has had the same
distinction. It is the most marvellous bibliographical fact on record.

[Footnote A: "If M. Michelet can be accurate." However, on consideration,
this statement does not depend on Michelet. The bibliographer, Barbier,
has absolutely _specified_ sixty in a separate dissertation, _soixante
traductions_, amongst those even that have not escaped the search. The
Italian translations are said to be thirty. As to mere _editions_, not
counting the early MSS. for half a century before printing was introduced,
those in Latin amount to two thousand, and those in French to one thousand.
Meantime, it is very clear to me that this astonishing popularity, so
entirely unparalleled in literature, could not have existed except in Roman
Catholic times, nor subsequently have lingered in any Protestant land. It
was the denial of Scripture fountains to thirsty lands which made this
slender rill of Scripture truth so passionately welcome.]

3. Our English girls, it seems, are as faulty in one way as we English
males in another. None of us lads could have written the _Opera Omnia_ of
Mr. à Kempis; neither could any of our lasses have assumed male attire like
_La Pucelle_. But why? Because, says Michelet, English girls and German
think so much of an indecorum. Well, that is a good fault, generally
speaking. But M. Michelet ought to have remembered a fact in the
martyrologies which justifies both parties,--the French heroine for doing,
and the general choir of English girls for _not_ doing. A female saint,
specially renowned in France, had, for a reason as weighty as Joanna's,
viz., expressly to shield her modesty amongst men, wore a male military
harness. That reason and that example authorized _La Pucelle_; but our
English girls, as a body, have seldom any such reason, and certainly no
such saintly example, to plead. This excuses _them_. Yet, still, if it is
indispensable to the national character that our young women should now and
then trespass over the frontier of decorum, it then becomes a patriotic
duty in me to assure M. Michelet that we have such ardent females amongst
us, and in a long series--some detected in naval hospitals, when too sick
to remember their disguise; some on fields of battle; multitudes never
detected at all; some only suspected; and others discharged without noise
by war offices and other absurd people. In our navy, both royal and
commercial, and generally from deep remembrances of slighted love, women
have sometimes served in disguise for many years, taking contentedly their
daily allowance of burgoo, biscuit, or cannon balls--anything, in short,
digestible or indigestible, that it might please Providence to send. One
thing, at least, is to their credit: never any of these poor masks, with
their deep silent remembrances, have been detected through murmuring, or
what is nautically understood by "skulking." So, for once, M. Michelet has
an _erratum_ to enter upon the fly-leaf of his book in presentation copies.

4. But the last of these ebullitions is the most lively. We English, at
Orleans, and after Orleans (which is not quite so extraordinary, if all
were told,) fled before the Maid of Arc. Yes, says M. Michelet, you _did_:
deny it, if you can. Deny it, my dear? I don't mean to deny it. Running
away, in many cases, is a thing so excellent, that no philosopher would,
at times, condescend to adopt any other step. All of us nations in Europe,
without one exception, have shown our philosophy in that way at times. Even
people, "_qui ne se rendent pas_," have deigned both to run and to shout,
"_Sauve qui pent_" at odd times of sunset; though, for my part, I have
no pleasure in recalling unpleasant remembrances to brave men; and yet,
really, being so philosophic, they ought _not_ to be unpleasant. But
the amusing feature in M. Michelet's reproach, is the way in which he
_improves_ and varies against us the charge of running, as if he were
singing a catch. Listen to him. They "_showed their backs_," did these
English. (Hip, hip, hurrah! three times three!) "_Behind good walls, they
let themselves be taken,_" (Hip, hip! nine times nine!) They "_ran as
fast as their legs could carry them._" (Hurrah! twenty-seven times
twenty-seven!) They "_ran before a girl_;" they did. (Hurrah! eighty-one
times eighty-one!) This reminds one of criminal indictments on the old
model in English courts, where (for fear the prisoner should escape) the
crown lawyer varied the charge perhaps through forty counts. The law laid
its guns so as to rake the accused at every possible angle. Whilst the
indictment was reading, he seemed a monster of crime in his own eyes; and
yet, after all, the poor fellow had but committed one offence, and not
always _that_. N.B.--Not having the French original at hand, I make my
quotations from a friend's copy of Mr. Walter Kelly's translation, which
seems to me faithful, spirited, and idiomatically English--liable, in fact,
only to the single reproach of occasional provincialisms.



THE ENGLISH MAIL-COACH;

OR,

THE GLORY OF MOTION.


Some twenty or more years before I matriculated at Oxford, Mr. Palmer,
M.P. for Bath, had accomplished two things, very hard to do on our little
planet, the Earth, however cheap they may happen to be held by the
eccentric people in comets: he had invented mail-coaches, and he had
married the daughter[1] of a duke. He was, therefore, just twice as great a
man as Galileo, who certainly invented (or _discovered_) the satellites of
Jupiter, those very next things extant to mail-coaches in the two capital
points of speed and keeping time, but who did _not_ marry the daughter of a
duke.

These mail-coaches, as organized by Mr. Palmer, are entitled to a
circumstantial notice from myself--having had so large a share in
developing the anarchies of my subsequent dreams, an agency which they
accomplished, first, through velocity, at that time unprecedented; they
first revealed the glory of motion: suggesting, at the same time, an
under-sense, not unpleasurable, of possible though indefinite danger;
secondly, through grand effects for the eye between lamp-light and the
darkness upon solitary roads; thirdly, through animal beauty and power so
often displayed in the class of horses selected for this mail service;
fourthly, through the conscious presence of a central intellect, that, in
the midst of vast distances,[2] of storms, of darkness, of night, overruled
all obstacles into one steady coöperation in a national result. To my own
feeling, this post-office service recalled some mighty orchestra, where a
thousand instruments, all disregarding each other, and so far in danger of
discord, yet all obedient as slaves to the supreme _baton_ of some great
leader, terminate in a perfection of harmony like that of heart, veins, and
arteries, in a healthy animal organization. But, finally, that particular
element in this whole combination which most impressed myself, and through
which it is that to this hour Mr. Palmer's mail-coach system tyrannizes
by terror and terrific beauty over my dreams, lay in the awful political
mission which at that time it fulfilled. The mail-coaches it was that
distributed over the face of the land, like the opening of apocalyptic
vials, the heart-shaking news of Trafalgar, of Salamanca, of Vittoria, of
Waterloo. These were the harvests that, in the grandeur of their reaping,
redeemed the tears and blood in which they had been sown. Neither was the
meanest peasant so much below the grandeur and the sorrow of the times as
to confound these battles, which were gradually moulding the destinies
of Christendom, with the vulgar conflicts of ordinary warfare, which are
oftentimes but gladiatorial trials of national prowess. The victories of
England in this stupendous contest rose of themselves as natural _Te Deums_
to heaven; and it was felt by the thoughtful that such victories, at such a
crisis of general prostration, were not more beneficial to ourselves than
finally to France, and to the nations of western and central Europe,
through whose pusillanimity it was that the French domination had
prospered.

The mail-coach, as the national organ for publishing these mighty events,
became itself a spiritualized and glorified object to an impassioned heart;
and naturally, in the Oxford of that day, all hearts were awakened. There
were, perhaps, of us gownsmen, two thousand _resident_[3] in Oxford, and
dispersed through five-and-twenty colleges. In some of these the custom
permitted the student to keep what are called "short terms;" that is, the
four terms of Michaelmas, Lent, Easter, and Act, were kept severally by a
residence, in the aggregate, of ninety-one days, or thirteen weeks. Under
this interrupted residence, accordingly, it was possible that a student
might have a reason for going down to his home four times in the year. This
made eight journeys to and fro. And as these homes lay dispersed through
all the shires of the island, and most of us disdained all coaches except
his majesty's mail, no city out of London could pretend to so extensive a
connection with Mr. Palmer's establishment as Oxford. Naturally, therefore,
it became a point of some interest with us, whose journeys revolved every
six weeks on an average, to look a little into the executive details of
the system. With some of these Mr. Palmer had no concern; they rested upon
bye-laws not unreasonable, enacted by posting-houses for their own benefit,
and upon others equally stern, enacted by the inside passengers for the
illustration of their own exclusiveness. These last were of a nature to
rouse our scorn, from which the transition was not _very long_ to mutiny.
Up to this time, it had been the fixed assumption of the four inside
people, (as an old tradition of all public carriages from the reign
of Charles II.,) that they, the illustrious quaternion, constituted
a porcelain variety of the human race, whose dignity would have been
compromised by exchanging one word of civility with the three miserable
delf ware outsides. Even to have kicked an outsider might have been held to
attaint the foot concerned in that operation; so that, perhaps, it would
have required an act of parliament to restore its purity of blood. What
words, then, could express the horror, and the sense of treason, in that
case, which _had_ happened, where all three outsides, the trinity of
Pariahs, made a vain attempt to sit down at the same breakfast table or
dinner table with the consecrated four? I myself witnessed such an attempt;
and on that occasion a benevolent old gentleman endeavored to soothe his
three holy associates, by suggesting that, if the outsides were indicted
for this criminal attempt at the next assizes, the court would regard it as
a case of lunacy (or _delirium tremens_) rather than of treason. England
owes much of her grandeur to the depth of the aristocratic element in her
social composition. I am not the man to laugh at it. But sometimes
it expressed itself in extravagant shapes. The course taken with the
infatuated outsiders, in the particular attempt which I have noticed, was,
that the waiter, beckoning them away from the privileged _salle-à-manger_,
sang out, "This way, my good men;" and then enticed them away off to the
kitchen. But that plan had not always answered. Sometimes, though very
rarely, cases occurred where the intruders, being stronger than usual, or
more vicious than usual, resolutely refused to move, and so far carried
their point, as to have a separate table arranged for themselves in a
corner of the room. Yet, if an Indian screen could be found ample enough
to plant them out from the very eyes of the high table, or _dais_, it then
became possible to assume as a fiction of law--that the three delf fellows,
after all, were not present. They could be ignored by the porcelain men,
under the maxim, that objects not appearing, and not existing, are governed
by the same logical construction.

Such now being, at that time, the usages of mail-coaches, what was to be
done by us of young Oxford? We, the most aristocratic of people, who were
addicted to the practice of looking down superciliously even upon the
insides themselves as often very suspicious characters, were we voluntarily
to court indignities? If our dress and bearing sheltered us, generally,
from the suspicion of being "raff," (the name at that period for
"snobs,"[4]) we really _were_ such constructively, by the place we assumed.
If we did not submit to the deep shadow of eclipse, we entered at least the
skirts of its penumbra. And the analogy of theatres was urged against us,
where no man can complain of the annoyances incident to the pit or gallery,
having his instant remedy in paying the higher price of the boxes. But
the soundness of this analogy we disputed. In the case of the theatre,
it cannot be pretended that the inferior situations have any separate
attractions, unless the pit suits the purpose of the dramatic reporter. But
the reporter or critic is a rarity. For most people, the sole benefit is in
the price. Whereas, on the contrary, the outside of the mail had its own
incommunicable advantages. These we could not forego. The higher price we
should willingly have paid, but that was connected with the condition of
riding inside, which was insufferable. The air, the freedom of prospect,
the proximity to the horses, the elevation of seat--these were what we
desired; but, above all, the certain anticipation of purchasing occasional
opportunities of driving.

Under coercion of this great practical difficulty, we instituted a
searching inquiry into the true quality and valuation of the different
apartments about the mail. We conducted this inquiry on metaphysical
principles; and it was ascertained satisfactorily, that the roof of the
coach, which some had affected to call the attics, and some the garrets,
was really the drawing-room, and the box was the chief ottoman or sofa
in that drawing-room; whilst it appeared that the inside, which had been
traditionally regarded as the only room tenantable by gentlemen, was, in
fact, the coal-cellar in disguise.

Great wits jump. The very same idea had not long before struck the
celestial intellect of China. Amongst the presents carried out by our first
embassy to that country was a state-coach. It had been specially selected
as a personal gift by George III.; but the exact mode of using it was a
mystery to Pekin. The ambassador, indeed, (Lord Macartney,) had made some
dim and imperfect explanations upon the point; but as his excellency
communicated these in a diplomatic whisper, at the very moment of his
departure, the celestial mind was very feebly illuminated; and it became
necessary to call a cabinet council on the grand state question--"Where was
the emperor to sit?" The hammer-cloth happened to be unusually gorgeous;
and partly on that consideration, but partly also because the box offered
the most elevated seat, and undeniably went foremost, it was resolved by
acclamation that the box was the imperial place, and, _for the scoundrel
who drove, he might sit where he could find a perch_. The horses,
therefore, being harnessed, under a flourish of music and a salute of guns,
solemnly his imperial majesty ascended his new English throne, having the
first lord of the treasury on his right hand, and the chief jester on his
left. Pekin gloried in the spectacle; and in the whole flowery people,
constructively present by representation, there was but one discontented
person, which was the coachman. This mutinous individual, looking as
blackhearted as he really was, audaciously shouted, "Where am _I_ to sit?"
But the privy council, incensed by his disloyalty, unanimously opened the
door, and kicked him into the inside. He had all the inside places
to himself; but such is the rapacity of ambition, that he was still
dissatisfied. "I say," he cried out in an extempore petition, addressed to
the emperor through the window, "how am I to catch hold of the reins?" "Any
how," was the answer; "don't trouble _me_, man, in my glory; through the
windows, through the key-holes--how you please." Finally this contumacious
coachman lengthened the checkstrings into a sort of jury-reins,
communicating with the horses; with these he drove as steadily as may be
supposed. The emperor returned after the briefest of circuits; he descended
in great pomp from his throne, with the severest resolution never to
remount it. A public thanksgiving was ordered for his majesty's prosperous
escape from the disease of a broken neck; and the state-coach was dedicated
for ever as a votive offering to the god Fo, Fo--whom the learned more
accurately called Fi, Fi.

A revolution of this same Chinese character did young Oxford of that era
effect in the constitution of mail-coach society. It was a perfect French
revolution; and we had good reason to say, _Ca ira_. In fact, it soon
became _too_ popular. The "public," a well known character, particularly
disagreeable, though slightly respectable, and notorious for affecting the
chief seats in synagogues, had at first loudly opposed this revolution;
but when the opposition showed itself to be ineffectual, our disagreeable
friend went into it with headlong zeal. At first it was a sort of race
between us; and, as the public is usually above thirty, (say generally from
thirty to fifty years old,) naturally we of young Oxford, that averaged
about twenty, had the advantage. Then the public took to bribing, giving
fees to horse-keepers, &c., who hired out their persons as warming-pans on
the box-seat. _That_, you know, was shocking to our moral sensibilities.
Come to bribery, we observed, and there is an end to all morality,
Aristotle's, Cicero's, or anybody's. And, besides, of what use was it?
For _we_ bribed also. And as our bribes to those of the public being
demonstrated out of Euclid to be as five shillings to sixpence, here
again young Oxford had the advantage. But the contest was ruinous to
the principles of the stable establishment about the mails. The whole
corporation was constantly bribed, rebribed, and often sur-rebribed; so
that a horse-keeper, ostler, or helper, was held by the philosophical at
that time to be the most corrupt character in the nation.

There was an impression upon the public mind, natural enough from the
continually augmenting velocity of the mail, but quite erroneous, that
an outside seat on this class of carriages was a post of danger. On the
contrary, I maintained that, if a man had become nervous from some
gipsey prediction in his childhood, allocating to a particular moon now
approaching some unknown danger, and he should inquire earnestly, "Whither
can I go for shelter? Is a prison the safest retreat? Or a lunatic
hospital? Or the British Museum?" I should have replied, "Oh, no; I'll tell
you what to do. Take lodgings for the next forty days on the box of his
majesty's mail. Nobody can touch you there. If it is by bills at ninety
days after date that you are made unhappy--if noters and protesters are the
sort of wretches whose astrological shadows darken the house of life--then
note you what I vehemently protest, viz., that no matter though the sheriff
in every county should be running after you with his _posse_, touch a hair
of your head he cannot whilst you keep house, and have your legal domicile
on the box of the mail. It's felony to stop the mail; even the sheriff
cannot do that. And an _extra_ (no great matter if it grazes the sheriff)
touch of the whip to the leaders at any time guarantees your safety." In
fact, a bed-room in a quiet house, seems a safe enough retreat; yet it is
liable to its own notorious nuisances, to robbers by night, to rats, to
fire. But the mail laughs at these terrors. To robbers, the answer is
packed up and ready for delivery in the barrel of the guard's blunderbuss.
Rats again! there _are_ none about mail-coaches, any more than snakes in
Van Troil's Iceland; except, indeed, now and then a parliamentary rat, who
always hides his shame in the "coal cellar." And, as to fire, I never knew
but one in a mail-coach, which was in the Exeter mail, and caused by an
obstinate sailor bound to Devonport. Jack, making light of the law and the
lawgiver that had set their faces against his offence, insisted on taking
up a forbidden seat in the rear of the roof, from which he could exchange
his own yarns with those of the guard. No greater offence was then known to
mail-coaches; it was treason, it was _læsa majestas_, it was by tendency
arson; and the ashes of Jack's pipe, falling amongst the straw of the
hinder boot, containing the mail-bags, raised a flame which (aided by the
wind of our motion) threatened a revolution in the republic of letters. But
even this left the sanctity of the box unviolated. In dignified repose,
the coachman and myself sat on, resting with benign composure upon our
knowledge--that the fire would have to burn its way through four inside
passengers before it could reach ourselves. With a quotation rather too
trite, I remarked to the coachman,--

  ----"Jam proximus ardet
  Ucalegon."

But recollecting that the Virgilian part of his education might have been
neglected, I interpreted so far as to say, that perhaps at that moment the
flames were catching hold of our worthy brother and next-door neighbor
Ucalegon. The coachman said nothing, but, by his faint sceptical smile, he
seemed to be thinking that he knew better; for that in fact, Ucalegon, as
it happened, was not in the way-bill.

No dignity is perfect which does not at some point ally itself with the
indeterminate and mysterious. The connection of the mail with the state
and the executive government--a connection obvious, but yet not strictly
defined--gave to the whole mail establishment a grandeur and an official
authority which did us service on the roads, and invested us with
seasonable terrors. But perhaps these terrors were not the less impressive,
because their exact legal limits were imperfectly ascertained. Look at
those turnpike gates; with what deferential hurry, with what an obedient
start, they fly open at our approach! Look at that long line of carts
and carters ahead, audaciously usurping the very crest of the road. Ah!
traitors, they do not hear us as yet; but as soon as the dreadful blast of
our horn reaches them with the proclamation of our approach, see with what
frenzy of trepidation they fly to their horses' heads, and deprecate our
wrath by the precipitation of their crane-neck quarterings. Treason they
feel to be their crime; each individual carter feels himself under the
ban of confiscation and attainder: his blood is attainted through six
generations, and nothing is wanting but the headsman and his axe, the block
and the sawdust, to close up the vista of his horrors. What! shall it be
within benefit of clergy to delay the king's message on the high
road?--to interrupt the great respirations, ebb or flood, of the national
intercourse--to endanger the safety of tidings, running day and night
between all nations and languages? Or can it be fancied, amongst the
weakest of men, that the bodies of the criminals will be given up to their
widows for Christian burial? Now the doubts which were raised as to our
powers did more to wrap them in terror, by wrapping them in uncertainty,
than could have been effected by the sharpest definitions of the law from
the Quarter Sessions. We, on our parts, (we, the collective mail, I mean,)
did our utmost to exalt the idea of our privileges by the insolence with
which we wielded them. Whether this insolence rested upon law that gave
it a sanction, or upon conscious power, haughtily dispensing with that
sanction, equally it spoke from a potential station; and the agent in each
particular insolence of the moment, was viewed reverentially, as one having
authority.

Sometimes after breakfast his majesty's mail would become frisky: and in
its difficult wheelings amongst the intricacies of early markets, it would
upset an apple cart, a cart loaded with eggs, &c. Huge was the affliction
and dismay, awful was the smash, though, after all, I believe the damage
might be levied upon the hundred. I, as far as possible, endeavored in such
a case to represent the conscience and moral sensibilities of the mail;
and, when wildernesses of eggs were lying poached under our horses' hoofs,
then would I stretch forth my hands in sorrow, saying (in words too
celebrated in those days from the false[5] echoes of Marengo)--"Ah!
wherefore have we not time to weep over you?" which was quite impossible,
for in fact we had not even time to laugh over them. Tied to post-office
time, with an allowance in some cases of fifty minutes for eleven miles,
could the royal mail pretend to undertake the offices of sympathy and
condolence? Could it be expected to provide tears for the accidents of the
road? If even it seemed to trample on humanity, it did so, I contended, in
discharge of its own more peremptory duties.

Upholding the morality of the mail, _à fortiori_ I upheld its rights,
I stretched to the uttermost its privilege of imperial precedency, and
astonished weak minds by the feudal powers which I hinted to be lurking
constructively in the charters of this proud establishment. Once I remember
being on the box of the Holyhead mail, between Shrewsbury and Oswestry,
when a tawdry thing from Birmingham, some _Tallyho_ or _Highflier_, all
flaunting with green and gold, came up alongside of us. What a contrast to
our royal simplicity of form and color is this plebeian wretch! The single
ornament on our dark ground of chocolate color was the mighty shield of the
imperial arms, but emblazoned in proportions as modest as a signet-ring
bears to a seal of office. Even this was displayed only on a single panel,
whispering, rather than proclaiming, our relations to the state; whilst the
beast from Birmingham had as much writing and painting on its sprawling
flanks as would have puzzled a decipherer from the tombs of Luxor. For some
time this Birmingham machine ran along by our side--a piece of familiarity
that seemed to us sufficiently jacobinical. But all at once a movement of
the horses announced a desperate intention of leaving us behind. "Do you
see _that_?" I said to the coachman. "I see," was his short answer. He was
awake, yet he waited longer than seemed prudent; for the horses of our
audacious opponent had a disagreeable air of freshness and power. But
his motive was loyal; his wish was that the Birmingham conceit should be
full-blown before he froze it. When _that_ seemed ripe, he unloosed, or, to
speak by a stronger image, he sprang his known resources, he slipped our
royal horses like cheetas, or hunting leopards, after the affrighted game.
How they could retain such a reserve of fiery power after the work they had
accomplished, seemed hard to explain. But on our side, besides the physical
superiority, was a tower of strength, namely, the king's name, "which they
upon the adverse faction wanted." Passing them without an effort, as it
seemed, we threw them into the rear with so lengthening an interval between
us, as proved in itself the bitterest mockery of their presumption; whilst
our guard blew back a shattering blast of triumph, that was really too
painfully full of derision.

I mention this little incident for its connection with what followed. A
Welshman, sitting behind me, asked if I had not felt my heart burn within
me during the continuance of the race? I said--No; because we were not
racing with a mail, so that no glory could be gained. In fact, it was
sufficiently mortifying that such a Birmingham thing should dare to
challenge us. The Welshman replied, that he didn't see _that_; for that a
cat might look at a king, and a Brummagem coach might lawfully race the
Holyhead mail. "_Race_ us perhaps," I replied, "though even _that_ has an
air of sedition, but not _beat_ us. This would have been treason; and for
its own sake I am glad that the Tallyho was disappointed." So dissatisfied
did the Welshman seem with this opinion, that at last I was obliged to tell
him a very fine story from one of our elder dramatists, viz.--that once, in
some oriental region, when the prince of all the land, with his splendid
court, were flying their falcons, a hawk suddenly flew at a majestic eagle;
and in defiance of the eagle's prodigious advantages, in sight also of all
the astonished field sportsmen, spectators, and followers, killed him on
the spot. The prince was struck with amazement at the unequal contest, and
with burning admiration for its unparalleled result. He commanded that the
hawk should be brought before him; caressed the bird with enthusiasm, and
ordered that, for the commemoration of his matchless courage, a crown
of gold should be solemnly placed on the hawk's head; but then that,
immediately after this coronation, the bird should be led off to execution,
as the most valiant indeed of traitors, but not the less a traitor that had
dared to rise in rebellion against his liege lord the eagle. "Now," said I
to the Welshman, "How painful it would have been to you and me as men of
refined feelings, that this poor brute, the Tallyho, in the impossible case
of a victory over us, should have been crowned with jewellery, gold, with
Birmingham ware, or paste diamonds, and then led off to instant execution."
The Welshman doubted if that could be warranted by law. And when I hinted
at the 10th of Edward III., chap. 15, for regulating the precedency of
coaches, as being probably the statute relied on for the capital punishment
of such offences, he replied drily--that if the attempt to pass a mail was
really treasonable, it was a pity that the Tallyho appeared to have so
imperfect an acquaintance with law.

These were among the gaieties of my earliest and boyish acquaintance with
mails. But alike the gayest and the most terrific of my experiences rose
again after years of slumber, armed with preternatural power to shake my
dreaming sensibilities; sometimes, as in the slight case of Miss Fanny on
the Bath road, (which I will immediately mention,) through some casual or
capricious association with images originally gay, yet opening at some
stage of evolution into sudden capacities of horror; sometimes through the
more natural and fixed alliances with the sense of power so various lodged
in the mail system.

The modern modes of travelling cannot compare with the mail-coach system
in grandeur and power. They boast of more velocity, but not however as
a consciousness, but as a fact of our lifeless knowledge, resting upon
_alien_ evidence; as, for instance, because somebody _says_ that we have
gone fifty miles in the hour, or upon the evidence of a result, as that
actually we find ourselves in York four hours after leaving London. Apart
from such an assertion, or such a result, I am little aware of the pace.
But, seated on the old mail-coach, we needed no evidence out of ourselves
to indicate the velocity. On this system the word was--_Non magna
loquimur_, as upon railways, but _magna vivimus_. The vital experience of
the glad animal sensibilities made doubts impossible on the question of our
speed; we heard our speed, we saw it, we felt it as a thrilling; and this
speed was not the product of blind insensate agencies, that had no sympathy
to give, but was incarnated in the fiery eyeballs of an animal, in his
dilated nostril, spasmodic muscles, and echoing hoofs. This speed was
incarnated in the _visible_ contagion amongst brutes of some impulse, that,
radiating into _their_ natures, had yet its centre and beginning in man.
The sensibility of the horse, uttering itself in the maniac light of his
eye, might be the last vibration of such a movement; the glory of Salamanca
might be the first--but the intervening link that connected them, that
spread the earthquake of the battle into the eyeball of the horse, was
the heart of man--kindling in the rapture of the fiery strife, and then
propagating its own tumults by motions and gestures to the sympathies, more
or less dim, in his servant the horse.

But now, on the new system of travelling, iron tubes and boilers have
disconnected man's heart from the ministers of his locomotion. Nile nor
Trafalgar has power any more to raise an extra bubble in a steam-kettle.
The galvanic cycle is broken up for ever: man's imperial nature no longer
sends itself forward through the electric sensibility of the horse; the
inter-agencies are gone in the mode of communication between the horse and
his master, out of which grew so many aspects of sublimity under accidents
of mists that hid, or sudden blazes that revealed, of mobs that agitated,
or midnight solitudes that awed. Tidings, fitted to convulse all nations,
must henceforwards travel by culinary process; and the trumpet that once
announced from afar the laurelled mail, heart-shaking, when heard screaming
on the wind, and advancing through the darkness to every village
or solitary house on its route, has now given way for ever to the
pot-wallopings of the boiler.

Thus have perished multiform openings for sublime effects, for interesting
personal communications, for revelations of impressive faces that could not
have offered themselves amongst the hurried and fluctuating groups of
a railway station. The gatherings of gazers about a mail-coach had one
centre, and acknowledged only one interest. But the crowds attending at
a railway station have as little unity as running water, and own as many
centres as there are separate carriages in the train.

How else, for example, than as a constant watcher for the dawn, and for
the London mail that in summer months entered about dawn into the lawny
thickets of Marlborough Forest, couldst thou, sweet Fanny of the Bath road,
have become known to myself? Yet Fanny, as the loveliest young woman for
face and person that perhaps in my whole life I have beheld, merited
the station which even _her_ I could not willingly have spared; yet
(thirty-five years later) she holds in my dreams: and though, by an
accident of fanciful caprice, she brought along with her into those dreams
a troop of dreadful creatures, fabulous and not fabulous, that were more
abominable to a human heart than Fanny and the dawn were delightful.

Miss Fanny of the Bath road, strictly speaking, lived at a mile's distance
from that road, but came so continually to meet the mail, that I on my
frequent transits rarely missed her, and naturally connected her name
with the great thoroughfare where I saw her; I do not exactly know, but I
believe with some burthen of commissions to be executed in Bath, her own
residence being probably the centre to which these commissions gathered.
The mail coachman, who wore the royal livery, being one amongst the
privileged few,[6] happened to be Fanny's grandfather. A good man he
was, that loved his beautiful granddaughter; and, loving her wisely, was
vigilant over her deportment in any case where young Oxford might happen
to be concerned. Was I then vain enough to imagine that I myself,
individually, could fall within the line of his terrors? Certainly not,
as regarded any physical pretensions that I could plead; for Fanny (as a
chance passenger from her own neighborhood once told me) counted in her
train a hundred and ninety-nine professed admirers, if not open aspirants
to her favor; and probably not one of the whole brigade but excelled myself
in personal advantages. Ulysses even, with the unfair advantage of his
accursed bow, could hardly have undertaken that amount of suitors. So
the danger might have seemed slight--only that woman is universally
aristocratic; it is amongst her nobilities of heart that she _is_ so. Now,
the aristocratic distinctions in my favor might easily with Miss Fanny have
compensated my physical deficiencies. Did I then make love to Fanny? Why,
yes; _mais oui donc_; as much love as one _can_ make whilst the mail is
changing horses, a process which ten years later did not occupy above
eighty seconds; but _then_, viz., about Waterloo, it occupied five times
eighty. Now, four hundred seconds offer a field quite ample enough for
whispering into a young woman's ear a great deal of truth; and (by way of
parenthesis) some trifle of falsehood. Grandpapa did right, therefore, to
watch me. And yet, as happens too often to the grandpapas of earth, in
a contest with the admirers of granddaughters, how vainly would he have
watched me had I meditated any evil whispers to Fanny! She, it is my
belief, would have protected herself against any man's evil suggestions.
But he, as the result showed, could not have intercepted the opportunities
for such suggestions. Yet he was still active; he was still blooming.
Blooming he was as Fanny herself.

  "Say, all our praises why should lords--"

No, that's not the line.

  "Say, all our roses why should girls engross?"

The coachman showed rosy blossoms on his face deeper even than his
granddaughter's,--_his_ being drawn from the ale cask, Fanny's from youth
and innocence, and from the fountains of the dawn. But, in spite of his
blooming face, some infirmities he had; and one particularly (I am very
sure, no _more_ than one,) in which he too much resembled a crocodile. This
lay in a monstrous inaptitude for turning round. The crocodile, I presume,
owes that inaptitude to the absurd _length_ of his back; but in our
grandpapa it arose rather from the absurd _breadth_ of his back, combined,
probably, with some growing stiffness in his legs. Now upon this crocodile
infirmity of his I planted an easy opportunity for tendering my homage to
Miss Fanny. In defiance of all his honorable vigilance, no sooner had he
presented to us his mighty Jovian back (what a field for displaying to
mankind his royal scarlet!) whilst inspecting professionally the buckles,
the straps, and the silver turrets of his harness, than I raised Miss
Fanny's hand to my lips, and, by the mixed tenderness and respectfulness of
my manner, caused her easily to understand how happy it would have made
me to rank upon her list as No. 10 or 12, in which case a few casualties
amongst her lovers (and observe--they _hanged_ liberally in those days)
might have promoted me speedily to the top of the tree; as, on the other
hand, with how much loyalty of submission I acquiesced in her allotment,
supposing that she had seen reason to plant me in the very rearward of her
favor, as No. 199+1. It must not be supposed that I allowed any trace
of jest, or even of playfulness, to mingle with these expressions of my
admiration; that would have been insulting to her, and would have been
false as regarded my own feelings. In fact, the utter shadowyness of our
relations to each other, even after our meetings through seven or eight
years had been very numerous, but of necessity had been very brief, being
entirely on mail-coach allowance--timid, in reality, by the General
Post-Office--and watched by a crocodile belonging to the antepenultimate
generation, left it easy for me to do a thing which few people ever _can_
have done--viz., to make love for seven years, at the same time to be
as sincere as ever creature was, and yet never to compromise myself by
overtures that might have been foolish as regarded my own interests,
or misleading as regarded hers. Most truly I loved this beautiful and
ingenuous girl; and had it not been for the Bath and Bristol mail, heaven
only knows what might have come of it. People talk of being over head and
ears in love--now, the mail was the cause that I sank only over ears in
love, which, you know, still left a trifle of brain to overlook the whole
conduct of the affair. I have mentioned the case at all for the sake of
a dreadful result from it in after years of dreaming. But it seems, _ex
abundanti_, to yield this moral--viz., that as, in England, the idiot and
the half-wit are held to be under the guardianship of chancery, so the man
making love, who is often but a variety of the same imbecile class, ought
to be made a ward of the General Post-Office, whose severe course of
_timing_ and periodical interruption might intercept many a foolish
declaration, such as lays a solid foundation for fifty years' repentance.

Ah, reader! when I look back upon those days, it seems to me that all
things change or perish. Even thunder and lightning, it pains me to say,
are not the thunder and lightning which I seem to remember about the
time of Waterloo. Roses, I fear, are degenerating, and, without a Red
revolution, must come to the dust. The Fannies of our island--though this
I say with reluctance--are not improving; and the Bath road is notoriously
superannuated. Mr. Waterton tells me that the crocodile does _not_
change--that a cayman, in fact, or an alligator, is just as good for riding
upon as he was in the time of the Pharaohs. _That_ may be; but the reason
is, that the crocodile does not live fast--he is a slow coach. I believe
it is generally understood amongst naturalists, that the crocodile is a
blockhead. It is my own impression that the Pharaohs were also blockheads.
Now, as the Pharaohs and the crocodile domineered over Egyptian society,
this accounts for a singular mistake that prevailed on the Nile. The
crocodile made the ridiculous blunder of supposing man to be meant chiefly
for his own eating. Man, taking a different view of the subject, naturally
met that mistake by another; he viewed the crocodile as a thing sometimes
to worship, but always to run away from. And this continued until Mr.
Waterton changed the relations between the animals. The mode of escaping
from the reptile he showed to be, not by running away, but by leaping on
its back, booted and spurred. The two animals had misunderstood each other.
The use of the crocodile has now been cleared up--it is to be ridden; and
the use of man is, that he may improve the health of the crocodile by
riding him a fox-hunting before breakfast. And it is pretty certain that
any crocodile, who has been regularly hunted through the season, and is
master of the weight he carries, will take a six-barred gate now as well as
ever he would have done in the infancy of the pyramids.

Perhaps, therefore, the crocodile does _not_ change, but all things else
_do_: even the shadow of the pyramids grows less. And often the restoration
in vision of Fanny and the Bath road, makes me too pathetically sensible of
that truth. Out of the darkness, if I happen to call up the image of Fanny
from thirty-five years back, arises suddenly a rose in June; or, if I think
for an instant of the rose in June, up rises the heavenly face of Fanny.
One after the other, like the antiphonies in the choral service, rises
Fanny and the rose in June, then back again the rose in June and Fanny.
Then come both together, as in a chorus; roses and Fannies, Fannies and
roses, without end--thick as blossoms in paradise. Then comes a venerable
crocodile, in a royal livery of scarlet and gold, or in a coat with sixteen
capes; and the crocodile is driving four-in-hand from the box of the
Bath mail. And suddenly we upon the mail are pulled up by a mighty dial,
sculptured with the hours, and with the dreadful legend of TOO LATE. Then
all at once we are arrived at Marlborough forest, amongst the lovely
households[7] of the roe-deer: these retire into the dewy thickets; the
thickets are rich with roses; the roses call up (as ever) the sweet
countenance of Fanny, who, being the granddaughter of a crocodile, awakens
a dreadful host of wild semi-legendary animals,--griffins, dragons,
basilisks, sphinxes,--till at length the whole vision of fighting images
crowds into one towering armorial shield, a vast emblazonry of human
charities and human loveliness that have perished, but quartered
heraldically with unutterable horrors of monstrous and demoniac natures,
whilst over all rises, as a surmounting crest, one fair female hand, with
the fore-finger pointing, in sweet, sorrowful admonition, upwards to
heaven, and having power (which, without experience, I never could have
believed) to awaken the pathos that kills in the very bosom of the horrors
that madden the grief that gnaws at the heart, together with the monstrous
creations of darkness that shock the belief, and make dizzy the reason of
man. This is the peculiarity that I wish the reader to notice, as having
first been made known to me for a possibility by this early vision of
Fanny on the Bath road. The peculiarity consisted in the confluence of two
different keys, though apparently repelling each other, into the music
and governing principles of the same dream; horror, such as possesses the
maniac, and yet, by momentary transitions, grief, such as may be supposed
to possess the dying mother when leaving her infant children to the mercies
of the cruel. Usually, and perhaps always, in an unshaken nervous system,
these two modes of misery exclude each other--here first they met in horrid
reconciliation. There was also a separate peculiarity in the quality of the
horror. This was afterwards developed into far more revolting complexities
of misery and incomprehensible darkness; and perhaps I am wrong in
ascribing any value as a _causative_ agency to this particular case on the
Bath road--possibly it furnished merely an _occasion_ that accidentally
introduced a mode of horrors certain, to any rate, to have grown up,
with or without the Bath road, from more advanced stages of the nervous
derangement. Yet, as the cubs of tigers or leopards, when domesticated,
have been observed to suffer a sudden development of their latent ferocity
under too eager an appeal to their playfulness--the gaieties of sport in
_them_ being too closely connected with the fiery brightness of their
murderous instincts--so I have remarked that the caprices, the gay
arabesques, and the lovely floral luxuriations of dreams, betray a shocking
tendency to pass into finer maniacal splendors. That gaiety, for instance
(for such as first it was,) in the dreaming faculty, by which one principal
point of resemblance to a crocodile in the mail-coachman was soon made to
clothe him with the form of a crocodile, and yet was blended with accessory
circumstances derived from his _human_ functions, passed rapidly into a
further development, no longer gay or playful, but terrific, the most
terrific that besieges dreams, viz--the horrid inoculation upon each other
of incompatible natures. This horror has always been secretly felt by
man; it was felt even under pagan forms of religion, which offered a very
feeble, and also a very limited gamut for giving expression to the human
capacities of sublimity or of horror. We read it in the fearful composition
of the sphinx. The dragon, again, is the snake inoculated upon the
scorpion. The basilisk unites the mysterious malice of the evil eye,
unintentional on the part of the unhappy agent, with the intentional venom
of some other malignant natures. But these horrid complexities of evil
agency are but _objectively_ horrid; they inflict the horror suitable to
their compound nature; but there is no insinuation that they _feel_ that
horror. Heraldry is so full of these fantastic creatures, that, in some
zoologies, we find a separate chapter or a supplement dedicated to what is
denominated heraldic zoology. And why not? For these hideous creatures,
however visionary[8], have a real traditionary ground in medieval
belief--sincere and partly reasonable, though adulterating with mendacity,
blundering, credulity, and intense superstition. But the dream-horror
which I speak of is far more frightful. The dreamer finds housed
within himself--occupying, as it were, some separate chamber in his
brain--holding, perhaps, from that station a secret and detestable commerce
with his own heart--some horrid alien nature. What if it were his own
nature repeated,--still, if the duality were distinctly perceptible, even
_that_--even this mere numerical double of his own consciousness--might
be a curse too mighty to be sustained. But how, if the alien nature
contradicts his own, fights with it, perplexes, and confounds it? How,
again, if not one alien nature, but two, but three, but four, but five, are
introduced within what once he thought the inviolable sanctuary of himself?
These, however, are horrors from the kingdoms of anarchy and darkness,
which, by their very intensity, challenge the sanctity of concealment, and
gloomily retire from exposition. Yet it was necessary to mention them,
because the first introduction to such appearances (whether causal,
or merely casual) lay in the heraldic monsters, (which monsters were
themselves introduced though playfully,) by the transfigured coachman of
the Bath mail.


GOING DOWN WITH VICTORY.

But the grandest chapter of our experience, within the whole mail-coach
service, was on those occasions when we went down from London with the
news of victory. A period of about ten years stretched from Trafalgar to
Waterloo: the second and third years of which period (1806 and 1807)
were comparatively sterile; but the rest, from 1805 to 1815 inclusively,
furnished a long succession of victories; the least of which, in a contest
of that portentous nature, had an inappreciable value of position--partly
for its absolute interference with the plans of our enemy, but still
more from its keeping alive in central Europe the sense of a deep-seated
vulnerability in France. Even to tease the coasts of our enemy, to mortify
them by continual blockades, to insult them by capturing if it were but a
baubling schooner under the eyes of their arrogant armies, repeated from
time to time a sullen proclamation of power lodged in a quarter to which
the hopes of Christendom turned in secret. How much more loudly must this
proclamation have spoken in the audacity[9] of having bearded the _elite_
of their troops, and having beaten them in pitched battles! Five years of
life it was worth paying down for the privilege of an outside place on a
mail-coach, when carrying down the first tidings of any such event. And it
is to be noted that, from our insular situation, and the multitude of our
frigates disposable for the rapid transmission of intelligence, rarely
did any unauthorized rumor steal away a prelibation from the aroma of the
regular dispatches. The government official news was generally the first
news.

From eight, P.M. to fifteen or twenty minutes later, imagine the mails
assembled on parade in Lombard Street, where, at that time, was seated the
General Post-Office. In what exact strength we mustered I do not remember;
but, from the length of each separate _attelage_, we filled the street,
though a long one, and though we were drawn up in double file. On _any_
night the spectacle was beautiful. The absolute perfection of all the
appointments about the carriages and the harness, and the magnificence of
the horses, were what might first have fixed the attention. Every
carriage, on every morning in the year, was taken down to an inspector
for examination--wheels, axles, linch-pins, pole, glasses, &c., were
all critically probed and tested. Every part of every carriage had been
cleaned, every horse had been groomed, with as much rigor as if they
belonged to a private gentleman; and that part of the spectacle offered
itself always. But the night before us is a night of victory; and behold!
to the ordinary display, what a heart-shaking addition!--horses, men,
carriages--all are dressed in laurels and flowers, oak leaves and ribbons.
The guards, who are his majesty's servants, and the coachmen, who are
within the privilege of the post-office, wear the royal liveries of course;
and as it is summer (for all the _land_ victories were won in summer,) they
wear, on this fine evening, these liveries exposed to view, without any
covering of upper coats. Such a costume, and the elaborate arrangement of
the laurels in their hats, dilated their hearts, by giving to them openly
an _official_ connection with the great news, in which already they have
the general interest of patriotism. That great national sentiment surmounts
and quells all sense of ordinary distinctions. Those passengers who happen
to be gentlemen are now hardly to be distinguished as such except by dress.
The usual reserve of their manner in speaking to the attendants has on this
night melted away. One heart, one pride, one glory, connects every man
by the transcendent bond of his English blood. The spectators, who are
numerous beyond precedent, express their sympathy with these fervent
feelings by continual hurrahs. Every moment are shouted aloud by the
post-office servants the great ancestral names of cities known to history
through a thousand years,--Lincoln, Winchester, Portsmouth, Gloucester,
Oxford, Bristol, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Perth,
Glasgow--expressing the grandeur of the empire by the antiquity of its
towns, and the grandeur of the mail establishment by the diffusive
radiation of its separate missions. Every moment you hear the thunder of
lids locked down upon the mail-bags. That sound to each individual mail is
the signal for drawing off, which process is the finest part of the entire
spectacle. Then come the horses into play,--horses! can these be horses
that (unless powerfully reined in) would bound off with the action and
gestures of leopards? What stir!--what sea-like ferment!--what a thundering
of wheels, what a trampling of horses!--what farewell cheers--what
redoubling peals of brotherly congratulation, connecting the name of the
particular mail--"Liverpool for ever!"--with the name of the particular
victory--"Badajoz for ever!" or "Salamanca for ever!" The half-slumbering
consciousness that, all night long and all the next day--perhaps for even
a longer period--many of these mails, like fire racing along a train of
gunpowder, will be kindling at every instant new successions of burning
joy, has an obscure effect of multiplying the victory itself, by
multiplying to the imagination into infinity the stages of its progressive
diffusion. A fiery arrow seems to be let loose, which from that moment
is destined to travel, almost without intermission, westwards for three
hundred[10] miles--northwards for six hundred; and the sympathy of our
Lombard Street friends at parting is exalted a hundred fold by a sort of
visionary sympathy with the approaching sympathies, yet unborn, which we
are going to evoke.

Liberated from the embarrassments of the city, and issuing into the broad
uncrowded avenues of the northern suburbs, we begin to enter upon our
natural pace of ten miles an hour. In the broad light of the summer
evening, the sun, perhaps, only just at the point of setting, we are
seen from every story of every house. Heads of every age crowd to
the windows--young and old understand the language of our victorious
symbols--and rolling volleys of sympathizing cheers run along behind and
before our course. The beggar, rearing himself against the wall, forgets
his lameness--real or assumed--thinks not of his whining trade, but stands
erect, with bold exulting smiles, as we pass him. The victory has healed
him, and says--Be thou whole! Women and children, from garrets alike and
cellars, look down or look up with loving eyes upon our gay ribbons and our
martial laurels--sometimes kiss their hands, sometimes hang out, as signals
of affection, pocket handkerchiefs, aprons, dusters, anything that lies
ready to their hands. On the London side of Barnet, to which we draw near
within a few minutes after nine, observe that private carriage which is
approaching us. The weather being so warm, the glasses are all down; and
one may read, as on the stage of a theatre, everything that goes on within
the carriage. It contains three ladies, one likely to be "mama," and two
of seventeen or eighteen, who are probably her daughters. What lovely
animation, what beautiful unpremeditated pantomime, explaining to us every
syllable that passes, in these ingenuous girls! By the sudden start and
raising of the hands, on first discovering our laurelled equipage--by the
sudden movement and appeal to the elder lady from both of them--and by the
heightened color on their animated countenances, we can almost hear them
saying--"See, see! Look at their laurels. Oh, mama! there has been a great
battle in Spain; and it has been a great victory." In a moment we are on
the point of passing them. We passengers--I on the box, and the two on the
roof behind me--raise our hats, the coachman makes his professional salute
with the whip; the guard even, though punctilious on the matter of his
dignity as an officer under the crown, touches his hat. The ladies move to
us, in return, with a winning graciousness of gesture: all smile on each
side in a way that nobody could misunderstand, and that nothing short of a
grand national sympathy could so instantaneously prompt. Will these ladies
say that we are nothing to _them_? Oh, no; they will not say _that_. They
cannot deny--they do not deny--that for this night they are our sisters:
gentle or simple, scholar or illiterate servant, for twelve hours to
come--we on the outside have the honor to be their brothers. Those poor
women again, who stop to gaze upon us with delight at the entrance of
Barnet, and seem, by their air of weariness, to be returning from labor--do
you mean to say that they are washerwomen and char-women? Oh, my poor
friend, you are quite mistaken; they are nothing of the kind. I assure you
they stand in a higher rank; for this one night they feel themselves by
birthright to be daughters of England, and answer to no humbler title.

Every joy, however, even rapturous joy--such is the sad law of earth--may
carry with it grief, or fear of grief, to some. Three miles beyond Barnet,
we see approaching us another private carriage, nearly repeating the
circumstances of the former case. Here, also, the glasses are all
down--here, also, is an elderly lady seated; but the two amiable daughters
are missing; for the single young person, sitting by the lady's side, seems
to be an attendant--so I judge from her dress, and her air of respectful
reserve. The lady is in mourning; and her countenance expresses sorrow.
At first she does not look up; so that I believe she is not aware of our
approach, until she hears the measured beating of our horses' hoofs. Then
she raises her eyes to settle them painfully on our triumphal equipage.
Our decorations explain the case to her at once; but she beholds them with
apparent anxiety, or even with terror. Some time before this, I, finding it
difficult to hit a flying mark, when embarrassed by the coachman's person
and reins intervening, had given to the guard a _Courier_ evening paper,
containing the gazette, for the next carriage that might pass. Accordingly
he tossed it in so folded that the huge capitals expressing some such
legend as--GLORIOUS VICTORY, might catch the eye at once. To see the paper,
however, at all, interpreted as it was by our ensigns of triumph, explained
everything; and, if the guard were right in thinking the lady to have
received it with a gesture of horror, it could not be doubtful that she had
suffered some deep personal affliction in connection with this Spanish war.

Here now was the case of one, who, having formerly suffered, might,
erroneously perhaps, be distressing herself with anticipations of another
similar suffering. That same night, and hardly three hours later, occurred
the reverse case. A poor woman, who too probably would find herself, in a
day or two, to have suffered the heaviest of afflictions by the battle,
blindly allowed herself to express an exultation so unmeasured in the
news, and its details, as gave to her the appearance which amongst Celtic
Highlanders is called _fey_. This was at some little town, I forget what,
where we happened to change horses near midnight. Some fair or wake had
kept the people up out of their beds. We saw many lights moving about as
we drew near; and perhaps the most impressive scene on our route was our
reception at this place. The flashing of torches and the beautiful radiance
of blue lights (technically Bengal lights) upon the heads of our horses;
the fine effect of such a showery and ghostly illumination falling upon
flowers and glittering laurels, whilst all around the massy darkness seemed
to invest us with walls of impenetrable blackness, together with the
prodigious enthusiasm of the people, composed a picture at once scenical
and affecting. As we staid for three or four minutes, I alighted. And
immediately from a dismantled stall in the street, where perhaps she had
been presiding at some part of the evening, advanced eagerly a middle-aged
woman. The sight of my newspaper it was that had drawn her attention upon
myself. The victory which we were carrying down to the provinces on _this_
occasion was the imperfect one of Talavera. I told her the main outline of
the battle. But her agitation, though not the agitation of fear, but of
exultation rather, and enthusiasm, had been so conspicuous when listening,
and when first applying for information, that I could not but ask her if
she had not some relation in the Peninsular army. Oh! yes: her only son was
there. In what regiment? He was a trooper in the 23d Dragoons. My heart
sank within me as she made that answer. This sublime regiment, which an
Englishman should never mention without raising his hat to their memory,
had made the most memorable and effective charge recorded in military
annals. They leaped their horses--_over_ a trench where they could, _into_
it, and with the result of death or mutilation when they could _not_. What
proportion cleared the trench is nowhere stated. Those who _did_, closed up
and went down upon the enemy with such divinity of fervor--(I use the
word _divinity_ by design: the inspiration of God must have prompted this
movement to those whom even then he was calling to his presence)--that two
results followed. As regarded the enemy, this 23d Dragoons, not, I believe,
originally three hundred and fifty strong, paralyzed a French column, six
thousand strong, then ascending the hill, and fixed the gaze of the whole
French army. As regarded themselves, the 23d were supposed at first to have
been all but annihilated; but eventually, I believe, not so many as one in
four survived. And this, then, was the regiment--a regiment already for
some hours known to myself and all London, as stretched, by a large
majority, upon one bloody aceldama--in which the young trooper served whose
mother was now talking with myself in a spirit of such hopeful enthusiasm.
Did I tell her the truth? Had I the heart to break up her dreams? No. I
said to myself, to-morrow, or the next day, she will hear the worst. For
this night, wherefore should she not sleep in peace? After to-morrow,
the chances are too many that peace will forsake her pillow. This brief
respite, let her owe this to _my_ gift and _my_ forbearance. But, if I told
her not of the bloody price that had been paid, there was no reason for
suppressing the contributions from her son's regiment to the service and
glory of the day. For the very few words that I had time for speaking, I
governed myself accordingly. I showed her not the funeral banners under
which the noble regiment was sleeping. I lifted not the overshadowing
laurels from the bloody trench in which horse and rider lay mangled
together. But I told her how these dear children of England, privates and
officers, had leaped their horses over all obstacles as gaily as hunters to
the morning's chase. I told her how they rode their horses into the mists
of death, (saying to myself, but not saying to _her_,) and laid down their
young lives for thee, O mother England! as willingly--poured out their
noble blood as cheerfully--as ever, after a long day's sport, when infants,
they had rested their wearied heads upon their mother's knees, or had sunk
to sleep in her arms. It is singular that she seemed to have no fears, even
after this knowledge that the 23d Dragoons had been conspicuously engaged,
for her son's safety: but so much was she enraptured by the knowledge that
_his_ regiment, and therefore _he_, had rendered eminent service in the
trying conflict--a service which had actually made them the foremost topic
of conversation in London--that in the mere simplicity of her fervent
nature, she threw her arms round my neck, and, poor woman, kissed me.



NOTES.


[NOTE 1.

Lady Madeline Gordon.]

[NOTE 2.

"_Vast distances_."--One case was familiar to mail-coach travellers, where
two mails in opposite directions, north and south, starting at the same
minute from points six hundred miles apart, met almost constantly at a
particular bridge which exactly bisected the total distance.]

[NOTE 3.

"_Resident_."--The number on the books was far greater, many of whom kept
up an intermitting communication with Oxford. But I speak of those only who
were steadily pursuing their academic studies, and of those who resided
constantly as _fellows_.]

[NOTE 4.

"_Snobs_," and its antithesis, "_nobs_," arose among the internal fractions
of shoemakers perhaps ten years later. Possibly enough, the terms may have
existed much earlier; but they were then first made known, picturesquely
and effectively, by a trial at some assizes which happened to fix the
public attention.]

[NOTE 5.

"_False echoes_"--yes, false! for the words ascribed to Napoleon, as
breathed to the memory of Desaix, never were uttered at all.--They stand
in the same category of theatrical inventions as the cry of the foundering
_Vengeur_, as the vaunt of General Cambronne at Waterloo, "_La Garde meurt,
mais ne se rend pas_," as the repartees of Talleyrand.]

[NOTE 6.

"_Privileged few_." The general impression was, that this splendid costume
belonged of right to the mail-coachmen as their professional dress. But
that was an error. To the guard it _did_ belong, as a matter of course, and
was essential as an official warrant, and a means of instant identification
for his person, in the discharge of his important public duties. But the
coachman, and especially if his place in the series did not connect him
immediately with London and the General Post-Office, obtained the scarlet
coat only as an honorary distinction after long or special service.]

[NOTE 7.

"_Households_."--Roe-deer do not congregate in herds like the fallow or the
red deer, but by separate families, parents, and children; which feature
of approximation to the sanctity of human hearths, added to their
comparatively miniature and graceful proportions, conciliate to them
an interest of a peculiarly tender character, if less dignified by the
grandeurs of savage and forest life.]

[NOTE 8.

"_However visionary_."--But _are_ they always visionary? the unicorn, the
kraken, the sea-serpent, are all, perhaps, zoological facts. The unicorn,
for instance, so far from being a lie, is rather _too_ true; for, simply
as a _monokeras_, he is found in the Himalaya, in Africa, and elsewhere,
rather too often for the peace of what in Scotland would be called the
_intending_ traveller. That which really _is_ a lie in the account of the
unicorn--viz., his legendary rivalship with the lion--which lie may God
preserve, in preserving the mighty imperial shield that embalms it--cannot
be more destructive to the zoological pretensions of the unicorn, than
are to the same pretensions in the lion our many popular crazes about his
goodness and magnanimity, or the old fancy (adopted by Spenser, and noticed
by so many among our elder poets) of his graciousness to maiden innocence.
The wretch is the basest and most cowardly among the forest tribes; nor
has the sublime courage of the English bull-dog ever been so memorably
exhibited as in his hopeless fight at Warwick with the cowardly and cruel
lion called Wallace. Another of the traditional creatures, still doubtful,
is the mermaid, upon which Southey once remarked to me, that, if it
had been differently named (as, suppose, a mer-ape,) nobody would have
questioned its existence any more than that of sea-cows, sea-lions, &c.
The mermaid has been discredited by her human name and her legendary human
habits. If she would not coquette so much with melancholy sailors, and
brush her hair so assiduously upon solitary rocks, she would be carried on
our books for as honest a reality, as decent a female, as many that are
assessed to the poor-rates.]

[NOTE 9.

"_Audacity_!"--Such the French accounted it; and it has struck me that
Soult would not have been so popular in London, at the period of her
present Majesty's coronation, or in Manchester, on occasion of his visit to
that town, if they had been aware of the insolence with which he spoke of
us in notes written at intervals from the field of Waterloo. As though it
had been mere felony in our army to look a French one in the face, he said
more than once--"Here are the English--we have them: they are caught _en
flagrant delit_" Yet no man should have known us better; no man had drunk
deeper from the cup of humiliation than Soult had in the north of Portugal,
during the flight from an English army, and subsequently at Albuera, in the
bloodiest of recorded battles.]

[NOTE 10.

"_Three hundred_." Of necessity this scale of measurement, to an American,
if he happens to be a thoughtless man, must sound ludicrous. Accordingly, I
remember a case in which an American writer indulges himself in the luxury
of a little lying, by ascribing to an Englishman a pompous account of
the Thames, constructed entirely upon American ideas of grandeur, and
concluding in something like these terms:--"And, sir, arriving at London,
this mighty father of rivers attains a breadth of at least two furlongs,
having, in its winding course, traversed the astonishing distance of one
hundred and seventy miles." And this the candid American thinks it fair to
contrast with the scale of the Mississippi. Now, it is hardly worth while
to answer a pure falsehood gravely, else one might say that no Englishman
out of Bedlam ever thought of looking in an island for the rivers of
a continent; nor, consequently, could have thought of looking for the
peculiar grandeur of the Thames in the length of its course, or in the
extent of soil which it drains: yet, if he _had_ been so absurd, the
American might have recollected that a river, not to be compared with the
Thames even as to volume of water--viz. the Tiber--has contrived to make
itself heard of in this world for twenty-five centuries to an extent
not reached, nor likely to be reached very soon, by any river, however
corpulent, of his own land. The glory of the Thames is measured by the
density of the population to which it ministers, by the commerce which
it supports, by the grandeur of the empire in which, though far from the
largest, it is the most influential stream. Upon some such scale, and not
by a transfer of Columbian standards, is the course of our English mails to
be valued. The American may fancy the effect of his own valuations to our
English ears, by supposing the case of a Siberian glorifying his country in
these terms:--"These rascals, sir, in France and England, cannot march half
a mile in any direction without finding a house where food can be had and
lodging; whereas, such is the noble desolation of our magnificent country,
that in many a direction for a thousand miles, I will engage a dog shall
not find shelter from a snow-storm, nor a wren find an apology for
breakfast."]



THE VISION OF SUDDEN DEATH.


[THE reader is to understand this present paper, in its two sections of
_The Vision_, &c., and _The Dream-Fugue_, as connected with a previous
paper on _The English Mail-Coach_. The ultimate object was the Dream-Fugue,
as an attempt to wrestle with the utmost efforts of music in dealing with
a colossal form of impassioned horror. The Vision of Sudden Death contains
the mail-coach incident, which did really occur, and did really suggest
the variations of the Dream, here taken up by the Fugue, as well as other
variations not now recorded. Confluent with these impressions, from the
terrific experience on the Manchester and Glasgow mail, were other and more
general impressions, derived from long familiarity with the English mail,
as developed in the former paper; impressions, for instance, of animal
beauty and power, of rapid motion, at that time unprecedented, of
connection with the government and public business of a great nation, but,
above all, of connection with the national victories at an unexampled
crisis,--the mail being the privileged organ for publishing and dispersing
all news of that kind. From this function of the mail, arises naturally the
introduction of Waterloo into the fourth variation of the Fogue; for the
mail itself having been carried into the dreams by the incident in the
Vision, naturally all the accessory circumstances of pomp and grandeur
investing this national carriage followed in the train of the principal
image.]

What is to be thought of sudden death? It is remarkable that, in different
conditions of society it has been variously regarded as the consummation of
an earthly career most fervently to be desired, and, on the other hand,
as that consummation which is most of all to be deprecated. Cæsar the
Dictator, at his last dinner party, (_coena_,) and the very evening before
his assassination, being questioned as to the mode of death which, in _his_
opinion, might seem the most eligible, replied--"That which should be most
sudden." On the other hand, the divine Litany of our English Church, when
breathing forth supplications, as if in some representative character for
the whole human race prostrate before God, places such a death in the very
van of horrors. "From lightning and tempest; from plague, pestilence, and
famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death,--_Good Lord, deliver
us_." Sudden death is here made to crown the climax in a grand ascent of
calamities; it is the last of curses; and yet, by the noblest of Romans,
it was treated as the first of blessings. In that difference, most readers
will see little more than the difference between Christianity and Paganism.
But there I hesitate. The Christian church may be right in its estimate of
sudden death; and it is a natural feeling, though after all it may also
be an infirm one, to wish for a quiet dismissal from life--as that which
_seems_ most reconcilable with meditation, with penitential retrospects,
and with the humilities of farewell prayer. There does not, however, occur
to me any direct scriptural warrant for this earnest petition of the
English Litany. It seems rather a petition indulged to human infirmity,
than exacted from human piety. And, however _that_ may be, two remarks
suggest themselves as prudent restraints upon a doctrine, which else _may_
wander, and _has_ wandered, into an uncharitable superstition. The first
is this: that many people are likely to exaggerate the horror of a sudden
death, (I mean the _objective_ horror to him who contemplates such a
death, not the _subjective_ horror to him who suffers it,) from the false
disposition to lay a stress upon words or acts, simply because by an
accident they have become words or acts. If a man dies, for instance,
by some sudden death when he happens to be intoxicated, such a death is
falsely regarded with peculiar horror; as though the intoxication were
suddenly exalted into a blasphemy. But _that_ is unphilosophic. The man
was, or he was not, _habitually_ a drunkard. If not, if his intoxication
were a solitary accident, there can be no reason at all for allowing
special emphasis to this act, simply because through misfortune it became
his final act. Nor, on the other hand, if it were no accident, but one of
his _habitual_ transgressions, will it be the more habitual or the more a
transgression, because some sudden calamity, surprising him, has caused
this habitual transgression to be also a final one? Could the man have had
any reason even dimly to foresee his own sudden death, there would have
been a new feature in his act of intemperance--a feature of presumption and
irreverence, as in one that by possibility felt himself drawing near to the
presence of God. But this is no part of the case supposed. And the only new
element in the man's act is not any element of extra immorality, but simply
of extra misfortune.

The other remark has reference to the meaning of the word _sudden_. And it
is a strong illustration of the duty which for ever calls us to the stern
valuation of words--that very possibly Cæesar and the Christian church do
not differ in the way supposed; that is, do not differ by any difference
of doctrine as between Pagan and Christian views of the moral temper
appropriate to death, but that they are contemplating different cases.
Both contemplate a violent death; a [Greek: biathanatos]--death that
is [Greek: biaios]: but the difference is--that the Roman by the word
"sudden" means an _unlingering_ death: whereas the Christian Litany
by "sudden" means a death _without warning_, consequently without any
available summons to religious preparation. The poor mutineer, who kneels
down to gather into his heart the bullets from twelve firelocks of his
pitying comrades, dies by a most sudden death in Cæsar's sense: one shock,
one mighty spasm, one (possibly _not_ one) groan, and all is over. But,
in the sense of the Litany, his death is far from sudden; his offence,
originally, his imprisonment, his trial, the interval between his sentence
and its execution, having all furnished him with separate warnings of his
fate--having all summoned him to meet it with solemn preparation.

Meantime, whatever may be thought of a sudden death as a mere variety in
the modes of dying, where death in some shape is inevitable--a question
which, equally in the Roman and the Christian sense, will be variously
answered according to each man's variety of temperament--certainly, upon
one aspect of sudden death there can be no opening for doubt, that of all
agonies incident to man it is the most frightful, that of all martyrdoms it
is the most freezing to human sensibilities--namely, where it surprises a
man under circumstances which offer (or which seem to offer) some hurried
and inappreciable chance of evading it. Any effort, by which such an
evasion can be accomplished, must be as sudden as the danger which it
affronts. Even _that_, even the sickening necessity for hurrying in
extremity where all hurry seems destined to be vain, self-baffled, and
where the dreadful knell of _too_ late is already sounding in the ears by
anticipation--even that anguish is liable to a hideous exasperation in one
particular case, namely, where the agonising appeal is made not exclusively
to the instinct of self-preservation, but to the conscience, on behalf of
another life besides your own, accidentally cast upon _your_ protection. To
fail, to collapse in a service merely your own, might seem comparatively
venial; though, in fact, it is far from venial. But to fail in a case where
Providence has suddenly thrown into your hands the final interests of
another--of a fellow-creature shuddering between the gates of life and
death; this, to a man of apprehensive conscience, would mingle the misery
of an atrocious criminality with the misery of a bloody calamity. The man
is called upon, too probably, to die; but to die at the very moment when,
by any momentary collapse, he is self-denounced as a murderer. He had but
the twinkling of an eye for his effort, and that effort might, at the best,
have been unavailing; but from this shadow of a chance, small or great, how
if he has recoiled by a treasonable _lâcheté_? The effort _might_ have been
without hope; but to have risen to the level of that effort, would have
rescued him, though not from dying, yet from dying as a traitor to his
duties.

The situation here contemplated exposes a dreadful ulcer, lurking far down
in the depths of human nature. It is not that men generally are summoned
to face such awful trials. But potentially, and in shadowy outline, such
a trial is moving subterraneously in perhaps all men's natures--muttering
under ground in one world, to be realized perhaps in some other. Upon the
secret mirror of our dreams such a trial is darkly projected at intervals,
perhaps, to every one of us. That dream, so familiar to childhood, of
meeting a lion, and, from languishing prostration in hope and vital energy,
that constant sequel of lying down before him, publishes the secret
frailty of human nature--reveals its deep-seated Pariah falsehood to
itself--records its abysmal treachery. Perhaps not one of us escapes that
dream; perhaps, as by some sorrowful doom of man, that dream repeats for
every one of us, through every generation, the original temptation in Eden.
Every one of us, in this dream, has a bait offered to the infirm places of
his own individual will; once again a snare is made ready for leading him
into captivity to a luxury of ruin; again, as in aboriginal Paradise, the
man falls from innocence; once again, by infinite iteration, the ancient
Earth groans to God, through her secret caves, over the weakness of her
child; "Nature, from her seat, sighing through all her works," again "gives
signs of woe that all is lost;" and again the counter sigh is repeated to
the sorrowing heavens of the endless rebellion against God. Many people
think that one man, the patriarch of our race, could not in his single
person execute this rebellion for all his race. Perhaps they are wrong.
But, even if not, perhaps in the world of dreams every one of us ratifies
for himself the original act. Our English rite of "Confirmation," by which,
in years of awakened reason, we take upon us the engagements contracted
for us in our slumbering infancy,--how sublime a rite is that! The little
postern gate, through which the baby in its cradle had been silently placed
for a time within the glory of God's countenance, suddenly rises to the
clouds as a triumphal arch, through which, with banners displayed and
martial pomps, we make our second entry as crusading soldiers militant
for God, by personal choice and by sacramental oath. Each man says in
effect--"Lo! I rebaptise myself; and that which once was sworn on my
behalf, now I swear for myself." Even so in dreams, perhaps, under some
secret conflict of the midnight sleeper, lighted up to the consciousness
at the time, but darkened to the memory as soon as all is finished, each
several child of our mysterious race completes for himself the aboriginal
fall.

As I drew near to the Manchester post office, I found that it was
considerably past midnight; but to my great relief, as it was important for
me to be in Westmorland by the morning, I saw by the huge saucer eyes of
the mail, blazing through the gloom of overhanging houses, that my chance
was not yet lost. Past the time it was; but by some luck, very unusual in
my experience, the mail was not even yet ready to start. I ascended to
my seat on the box, where my cloak was still lying as it had lain at
the Bridgewater Arms. I had left it there in imitation of a nautical
discoverer, who leaves a bit of bunting on the shore of his discovery, by
way of warning off the ground the whole human race, and signalising to the
Christian and the heathen worlds, with his best compliments, that he has
planted his throne for ever upon that virgin soil: henceforward claiming
the _jus dominii_ to the top of the atmosphere above it, and also the right
of driving shafts to the centre of the earth below it; so that all people
found after this warning, either aloft in the atmosphere, or in the
shafts, or squatting on the soil, will be treated as trespassers--that is,
decapitated by their very faithful and obedient servant, the owner of the
said bunting. Possibly my cloak might not have been respected, and the _jus
gentium_ might have been cruelly violated in my person--for, in the dark,
people commit deeds of darkness, gas being a great ally of morality--but it
so happened that, on this night, there was no other outside passenger;
and the crime, which else was but too probable, missed fire for want of
a criminal. By the way, I may as well mention at this point, since a
circumstantial accuracy is essential to the effect of my narrative, that
there was no other person of any description whatever about the mail--the
guard, the coachman, and myself being allowed for--except only one--a
horrid creature of the class known to the world as insiders, but whom young
Oxford called sometimes "Trojans," in opposition to our Grecian selves, and
sometimes "vermin." A Turkish Effendi, who piques himself on good breeding,
will never mention by name a pig. Yet it is but too often that he has
reason to mention this animal; since constantly, in the streets of
Stamboul, he has his trousers deranged or polluted by this vile creature
running between his legs. But under any excess of hurry he is always
careful, out of respect to the company he is dining with, to suppress the
odious name, and to call the wretch "that other creature," as though all
animal life beside formed one group, and this odious beast (to whom, as
Chrysippus observed, salt serves as an apology for a soul) formed another
and alien group on the outside of creation. Now I, who am an English
Effendi, that think myself to understand good-breeding as well as any son
of Othman, beg my reader's pardon for having mentioned an insider by his
gross natural name. I shall do so no more; and, if I should have occasion
to glance at so painful a subject, I shall always call him "that other
creature." Let us hope, however, that no such distressing occasion will
arise. But, by the way, an occasion arises at this moment; for the reader
will be sure to ask, when we come to the story, "Was this other creature
present?" He was _not_; or more correctly, perhaps, _it_ was not. We
dropped the creature--or the creature, by natural imbecility, dropped
itself--within the first ten miles from Manchester. In the latter case, I
wish to make a philosophic remark of a moral tendency. When I die, or when
the reader dies, and by repute suppose of fever, it will never be known
whether we died in reality of the fever or of the doctor. But this other
creature, in the case of dropping out of the coach, will enjoy a coroner's
inquest; consequently he will enjoy an epitaph. For I insist upon it, that
the verdict of a coroner's jury makes the best of epitaphs. It is brief, so
that the public all find time to read; it is pithy, so that the surviving
friends (if any _can_ survive such a loss) remember it without fatigue; it
is upon oath, so that rascals and Dr. Johnsons cannot pick holes in it.
"Died through the visitation of intense stupidity, by impinging on a
moonlight night against the off hind wheel of the Glasgow mail! Deodand
upon the said wheel--two-pence." What a simple lapidary inscription! Nobody
much in the wrong but an off-wheel; and with few acquaintances; and if it
were but rendered into choice Latin, though there would be a little bother
in finding a Ciceronian word for "off-wheel," Marcellus himself, that great
master of sepulchral eloquence, could not show a better. Why I call this
little remark _moral_, is, from the compensation it points out. Here, by
the supposition, is that other creature on the one side, the beast of the
world; and he (or it) gets an epitaph. You and I, on the contrary, the
pride of our friends, get none.

But why linger on the subject of vermin? Having mounted the box, I took a
small quantity of laudanum, having already travelled two hundred and fifty
miles--viz., from a point seventy miles beyond London, upon a simple
breakfast. In the taking of laudanum there was nothing extraordinary. But
by accident it drew upon me the special attention of my assessor on the
box, the coachman. And in _that_ there was nothing extraordinary. But by
accident, and with great delight, it drew my attention to the fact that
this coachman was a monster in point of size, and that he had but one eye.
In fact he had been foretold by Virgil as--

  "Monstrum. horrendum, informe, ingens cui lumen adempium."

He answered in every point--a monster he was--dreadful, shapeless, huge,
who had lost an eye. But why should _that_ delight me? Had he been one of
the Calendars in the Arabian Nights, and had paid down his eye as the price
of his criminal curiosity, what right had I to exult in his misfortune? I
did _not_ exult: I delighted in no man's punishment, though it were even
merited. But these personal distinctions identified in an instant an old
friend of mine, whom I had known in the south for some years as the most
masterly of mail-coachmen. He was the man in all Europe that could best
have undertaken to drive six-in-hand full gallop over _Al Sirat_--that
famous bridge of Mahomet across the bottomless gulf, backing himself
against the Prophet and twenty such fellows. I used to call him _Cyclops
mastigophorus_, Cyclops the whip-bearer, until I observed that his skill
made whips useless, except to fetch off an impertinent fly from a leader's
head; upon which I changed his Grecian name to Cyclops _diphrélates_
(Cyclops the charioteer.) I, and others known to me, studied under him the
diphrelatic art. Excuse, reader, a word too elegant to be pedantic. And
also take this remark from me, as a _gage d'amitié_--that no word ever
was or _can_ be pedantic which, by supporting a distinction, supports the
accuracy of logic; or which fills up a chasm for the understanding. As a
pupil, though I paid extra fees, I cannot say that I stood high in
his esteem. It showed his dogged honesty, (though, observe, not his
discernment,) that he could not see my merits. Perhaps we ought to excuse
his absurdity in this particular by remembering his want of an eye. _That_
made him blind to my merits. Irritating as this blindness was, (surely
it could not be envy?) he always courted my conversation, in which art I
certainly had the whip-hand of him. On this occasion, great joy was at our
meeting. But what was Cyclops doing here? Had the medical men recommended
northern air, or how? I collected, from such explanations as he
volunteered, that he had an interest at stake in a suit-at-law pending at
Lancaster; so that probably he had got himself transferred to this station,
for the purpose of connecting with his professional pursuits an instant
readiness for the calls of his lawsuit.

Meantime, what are we stopping for? Surely, we've been waiting long enough.
Oh, this procrastinating mail, and oh this procrastinating post-office!
Can't they take a lesson upon that subject from _me_? Some people have
called _me_ procrastinating. Now you are witness, reader, that I was in
time for _them_. But can _they_ lay their hands on their hearts, and say
that they were in time for me? I, during my life, have often had to wait
for the post-office; the post-office never waited a minute for me. What are
they about? The guard tells me that there is a large extra accumulation of
foreign mails this night, owing to irregularities caused by war and by the
packet service, when as yet nothing is done by steam. For an _extra_ hour,
it seems, the post-office has been engaged in threshing out the pure
wheaten correspondence of Glasgow, and winnowing it from the chaff of all
baser intermediate towns. We can hear the flails going at this moment. But
at last all is finished. Sound your horn, guard. Manchester, good bye;
we've lost an hour by your criminal conduct at the post-office; which,
however, though I do not mean to part with a serviceable ground of
complaint, and one which really is such for the horses, to me secretly is
an advantage, since it compels us to recover this last hour amongst the
next eight or nine. Off we are at last, and at eleven miles an hour; and at
first I detect no changes in the energy or in the skill of Cyclops.

From Manchester to Kendal, which virtually (though not in law) is the
capital of Westmoreland, were at this time seven stages of eleven miles
each. The first five of these, dated from Manchester, terminated in
Lancaster, which was therefore fifty-five miles north of Manchester, and
the same distance exactly from Liverpool. The first three terminated in
Preston, (called, by way of distinction from other towns of that name,
_proud_ Preston,) at which place it was that the separate roads from
Liverpool and from Manchester to the north became confluent. Within these
first three stages lay the foundation, the progress, and termination of our
night's adventure. During the first stage, I found out that Cyclops was
mortal: he was liable to the shocking affection of sleep--a thing which I
had never previously suspected. If a man is addicted to the vicious habit
of sleeping, all the skill in aurigation of Apollo himself, with the horses
of Aurora to execute the motions of his will, avail him nothing. "Oh,
Cyclops!" I exclaimed more than once, "Cyclops, my friend; thou art mortal.
Thou snorest." Through this first eleven miles, however, he betrayed
his infirmity--which I grieve to say he shared with the whole Pagan
Pantheon--only by short stretches. On waking up, he made an apology for
himself, which, instead of mending the matter, laid an ominous foundation
for coming disasters. The summer assizes were now proceeding at Lancaster:
in consequence of which, for three nights and three days, he had not lain
down in a bed. During the day, he was waiting for his uncertain summons as
a witness on the trial in which he was interested; or he was drinking with
the other witnesses, under the vigilant surveillance of the attorneys.
During the night, or that part of it when the least temptations existed to
conviviality, he was driving. Throughout the second stage he grew more and
more drowsy. In the second mile of the third stage, he surrendered himself
finally and without a struggle to his perilous temptation. All his past
resistance had but deepened the weight of this final oppression. Seven
atmospheres of sleep seemed resting upon him; and, to consummate the case,
our worthy guard, after singing "Love amongst the Roses," for the fiftieth
or sixtieth time, without any invitation from Cyclops or myself, and
without applause for his poor labors, had moodily resigned himself to
slumber--not so deep doubtless as the coachman's, but deep enough for
mischief; and having, probably, no similar excuse. And thus at last, about
ten miles from Preston, I found myself left in charge of his Majesty's
London and Glasgow mail, then running about eleven miles an hour.

What made this negligence less criminal than else it must have been
thought, was the condition of the roads at night during the assizes. At
that time all the law business of populous Liverpool, and of populous
Manchester, with its vast cincture of populous rural districts, was called
up by ancient usage to the tribunal of Lilliputian Lancaster. To break up
this old traditional usage required a conflict with powerful established
interests, a large system of new arrangements, and a new parliamentary
statute. As things were at present, twice in the year so vast a body of
business rolled northwards, from the southern quarter of the county, that
a fortnight at least occupied the severe exertions of two judges for its
dispatch. The consequence of this was--that every horse available for such
a service, along the whole line of road, was exhausted in carrying down the
multitudes of people who were parties to the different suits. By sunset,
therefore, it usually happened that, through utter exhaustion amongst
men and horses, the roads were all silent. Except exhaustion in the vast
adjacent county of York from a contested election, nothing like it was
ordinarily witnessed in England.

On this occasion, the usual silence and solitude prevailed along the road.
Not a hoof nor a wheel was to be heard. And to strengthen this false
luxurious confidence in the noiseless roads, it happened also that the
night was one of peculiar solemnity and peace. I myself, though slightly
alive to the possibilities of peril, had so far yielded to the influence of
the mighty calm as to sink into a profound reverie. The month was August,
in which lay my own birth-day; a festival to every thoughtful man
suggesting solemn and often sigh-born thoughts.[1] The county was my own
native county--upon which, in its southern section, more than upon any
equal area known to man past or present, had descended the original curse
of labour in its heaviest form, not mastering the bodies of men only as of
slaves, or criminals in mines, but working through the fiery will. Upon no
equal space of earth, was, or ever had been, the same energy of human
power put forth daily. At this particular season also of the assizes, that
dreadful hurricane of flight and pursuit, as it might have seemed to a
stranger, that swept to and from Lancaster all day long, hunting the
county up and down, and regularly subsiding about sunset, united with the
permanent distinction of Lancashire as the very metropolis and citadel of
labour, to point the thoughts pathetically upon that counter vision of
rest, of saintly repose from strife and sorrow, towards which, as to their
secret haven, the profounder aspirations of man's heart are continually
travelling. Obliquely we were nearing the sea upon our left, which also
must, under the present circumstances, be repeating the general state of
halcyon repose. The sea, the atmosphere, the light, bore an orchestral part
in this universal lull. Moonlight, in the first timid tremblings of the
dawn, were now blending: and the blendings were brought into a still more
exquisite state of unity, by a slight silvery mist, motionless and dreamy,
that covered the woods and fields, but with a veil of equable transparency.
Except the feet of our own horses, which, running on a sandy margin of the
road, made little disturbance, there was no sound abroad. In the clouds,
and on the earth, prevailed the same majestic peace; and in spite of all
that the villain of a schoolmaster has done for the ruin of our sublimer
thoughts, which are the thoughts of our infancy, we still believe in no
such nonsense as a limited atmosphere. Whatever we may swear with our false
feigning lips, in our faithful hearts we still believe, and must for ever
believe, in fields of air traversing the total gulf between earth and the
central heavens. Still, in the confidence of children that tread without
fear _every_ chamber in their father's house, and to whom no door is
closed, we, in that Sabbatic vision which sometimes is revealed for an hour
upon nights like this, ascend with easy steps from the sorrow-stricken
fields of earth, upwards to the sandals of God.

[Footnote 1: "Sigh-born:" I owe the suggestion of this word to an obscure
remembrance of a beautiful phrase in Giraldus Gambrensis, viz., _suspiriosæ
cogilationes_.]

Suddenly from thoughts like these, I was awakened to a sullen sound, as
of some motion on the distant road. It stole upon the air for a moment; I
listened in awe; but then it died away. Once roused, however, I could not
but observe with alarm the quickened motion of our horses. Ten years'
experience had made my eye learned in the valuing of motion; and I saw that
we were now running thirteen miles an hour. I pretend to no presence of
mind. On the contrary, my fear is, that I am miserably and shamefully
deficient in that quality as regards action. The palsy of doubt and
distraction hangs like some guilty weight of dark unfathomed remembrances
upon my energies, when the signal is flying for _action_. But, on the other
hand, this accursed gift I have, as regards _thought_, that in the first
step towards the possibility of a misfortune, I see its total evolution: in
the radix I see too certainly and too instantly its entire expansion; in
the first syllable of the dreadful sentence, I read already the last. It
was not that I feared for ourselves. What could injure _us_? Our bulk and
impetus charmed us against peril in any collision. And I had rode through
too many hundreds of perils that were frightful to approach, that were
matter of laughter as we looked back upon them, for any anxiety to rest
upon _our_ interests. The mail was not built, I felt assured, nor bespoke,
that could betray _me_ who trusted to its protection. But any carriage that
we could meet would be frail and light in comparison of ourselves. And I
remarked this ominous accident of our situation. We were on the wrong side
of the road. But then the other party, if other there was, might also be on
the wrong side; and two wrongs might make a right. _That_ was not likely.
The same motive which had drawn _us_ to the right-hand side of the road,
viz., the soft beaten sand, as contrasted with the paved centre, would
prove attractive to others. Our lamps, still lighted, would give the
impression of vigilance on our part. And every creature that met us, would
rely upon _us_ for quartering.[1] All this, and if the separate links of
the anticipation had been a thousand times more, I saw--not discursively or
by effort--but as by one flash of horrid intuition.

[Footnote 1: "_Quartering_"--this is the technical word; and, I presume
derived from the French _carlayer_, to evade a rut or any obstacle.]

Under this steady though rapid anticipation of the evil which _might_ be
gathering ahead, ah, reader! what a sullen mystery of fear, what a sigh of
woe, seemed to steal upon the air, as again the far-off sound of a
wheel was heard! A whisper it was--a whisper from, perhaps, four miles
off--secretly announcing a ruin that, being foreseen, was not the less
inevitable. What could be done--who was it that could do it--to check the
storm-flight of these maniacal horses? What! could I not seize the reins
from the grasp of the slumbering coachman? You, reader, think that it would
have been in _your_ power to do so. And I quarrel not with your estimate of
yourself. But, from the way in which the coachman's hand was viced between
his upper and lower thigh, this was impossible. The guard subsequently
found it impossible, after this danger had passed. Not the grasp only, but
also the position of this Polyphemus, made the attempt impossible. You
still think otherwise. See, then, that bronze equestrian statue. The cruel
rider has kept the bit in his horse's mouth for two centuries. Unbridle
him, for a minute, if you please, and wash his mouth with water. Or stay,
reader, unhorse me that marble emperor; knock me those marble feet from
those marble stirrups of Charlemagne.

The sounds ahead strengthened, and were now too clearly the sounds of
wheels. Who and what could it be? Was it industry in a taxed cart? Was it
youthful gaiety in a gig? Whoever it was, something must be attempted to
warn them. Upon the other party rests the active responsibility, but upon
_us_--and, woe is me! that _us_ was my single self--rest the responsibility
of warning. Yet, how should this be accomplished? Might I not seize the
guard's horn? Already, on the first thought, I was making my way over the
roof to the guard's seat. But this, from the foreign mails being piled upon
the roof, was a difficult, and even dangerous attempt, to one cramped by
nearly three hundred miles of outside travelling. And, fortunately, before
I had lost much time in the attempt, our frantic horses swept round an
angle of the road, which opened upon us the stage where the collision must
be accomplished, the parties that seemed summoned to the trial, and the
impossibility of saving them by any communication with the guard.

Before us lay an avenue, straight as an arrow, six hundred yards, perhaps,
in length; and the umbrageous trees, which rose in a regular line from
either side, meeting high overhead, gave to it the character of a cathedral
aisle. These trees lent a deeper solemnity to the early light; but there
was still light enough to perceive, at the further end of this gothic
aisle, a light, reedy gig, in which were seated a young man, and, by his
side, a young lady. Ah, young sir! what are you about? If it is necessary
that you should whisper your communications to this young lady--though
really I see nobody at this hour, and on this solitary road, likely to
overhear your conversation--is it, therefore, necessary that you should
carry your lips forward to hers? The little carriage is creeping on at one
mile an hour; and the parties within it, being thus tenderly engaged, are
naturally bending down their heads. Between them and eternity, to all human
calculation, there is but a minute and a half. What is it that I shall do?
Strange it is, and to a mere auditor of the tale, might seem laughable,
that I should need a suggestion from the _Iliad_ to prompt the sole
recourse that remained. But so it was. Suddenly I remembered the shout of
Achilles, and its effect. But could I pretend to shout like the son of
Peleus, aided by Pallas? No, certainly: but then I needed not the shout
that should alarm all Asia militant; a shout would suffice, such as should
carry terror into the hearts of two thoughtless young people, and one
gig horse. I shouted--and the young man heard me not. A second time I
shouted--and now he heard me, for now he raised his head.

Here, then, all had been done that, by me, _could_ be done: more on _my_
part was not possible. Mine had been the first step: the second was for the
young man: the third was for God. If, said I, the stranger is a brave man,
and if, indeed, he loves the young girl at his side--or, loving her not, if
he feels the obligation pressing upon every man worthy to be called a man,
of doing his utmost for a woman confided to his protection--he will at
least make some effort to save her. If _that_ fails, he will not perish the
more, or by a death more cruel, for having made it; and he will die as a
brave man should, with his face to the danger, and with his arm about the
woman that he sought in vain to save. But if he makes no effort, shrinking,
without a struggle, from his duty, he himself will not the less certainly
perish for this baseness of poltroonery. He will die no less: and why not?
Wherefore should we grieve that there is one craven less in the world? No;
_let_ him perish, without a pitying thought of ours wasted upon him; and,
in that case, all our grief will be reserved for the fate of the helpless
girl, who now, upon the least shadow of failure in _him_, must, by the
fiercest of translations--must, without time for a prayer--must, within
seventy seconds, stand before the judgment-seat of God.

But craven he was not: sudden had been the call upon him, and sudden was
his answer to the call. He saw, he heard, he comprehended, the ruin that
was coming down: already its gloomy shadow darkened above him; and already
he was measuring his strength to deal with it. Ah! what a vulgar thing does
courage seem, when we see nations buying it and selling it for a shilling a
day: ah! what a sublime thing does courage seem, when some fearful crisis
on the great deeps of life carries a man, as if running before a hurricane,
up to the giddy crest of some mountainous wave, from which accordingly as
he chooses his course, he describes two courses, and a voice says to him
audibly, "This way lies hope; take the other way and mourn for ever!" Yet,
even then, amidst the raving of the seas and the frenzy of the danger, the
man is able to confront his situation--is able to retire for a moment
into solitude with God, and to seek all his counsel from _him_! For seven
seconds, it might be, of his seventy, the stranger settled his countenance
steadfastly upon us, as if to search and value every element in the
conflict before him. For five seconds more he sate immovably, like one that
mused on some great purpose. For five he sate with eyes upraised, like one
that prayed in sorrow, under some extremity of doubt, for wisdom to guide
him towards the better choice. Then suddenly he rose; stood upright; and,
by a sudden strain upon the reins, raising his horse's forefeet from the
ground, he slewed him round on the pivot of his hind legs, so as to plant
the little equipage in a position nearly at right angles to ours. Thus
far his condition was not improved; except as a first step had been taken
towards the possibility of a second. If no more were done, nothing was
done; for the little carriage still occupied the very centre of our path,
though in an altered direction. Yet even now it may not be too late:
fifteen of the twenty seconds may still be unexhausted; and one almighty
bound forward may avail to clear the ground. Hurry then; hurry! for the
flying moments--_they_ hurry! Oh hurry, hurry, my brave young man! for the
cruel hoofs of our horses--_they_ also hurry! Fast are the flying moments,
faster are the hoofs of our horses. Fear not for _him_, if human energy can
suffice: faithful was he that drove, to his terrific duty; faithful was the
horse to _his_ command. One blow, one impulse given with voice and hand by
the stranger, one rush from the horse, one bound as if in the act of rising
to a fence, landed the docile creature's forefeet upon the crown or arching
centre of the road. The larger half of the little equipage had then cleared
our over-towering shadow: _that_ was evident even to my own agitated sight.
But it mattered little that one wreck should float off in safety, if upon
the wreck that perished were embarked the human freightage. The rear part
of the carriage--was _that_ certainly beyond the line of absolute ruin?
What power could answer the question? Glance of eye, thought of man, wing
of angel, which of these had speed enough to sweep between the question and
the answer, and divide the one from the other? Light does not tread upon
the steps of light more indivisibly, than did our all-conquering arrival
upon the escaping efforts of the gig. _That_ must the young man have felt
too plainly. His back was now turned to us; not by sight could he any
longer communicate with the peril; but by the dreadful rattle of our
harness, too truly had his ear been instructed--that all was finished as
regarded any further effort of _his_. Already in resignation he had rested
from his struggle; and perhaps, in his heart he was whispering--"Father,
which art above, do thou finish in heaven what I on earth have attempted."
We ran past them faster than ever mill-race in our inexorable flight. Oh,
raving of hurricanes that must have sounded in their young ears at the
moment of our transit! Either with the swingle-bar, or with the haunch of
our near leader, we had struck the off-wheel of the little gig, which stood
rather obliquely and not quite so far advanced as to be accurately parallel
with the near wheel. The blow, from the fury of our passage, resounded
terrifically. I rose in horror, to look upon the ruins we might have
caused. From my elevated station I looked down., and looked back upon the
scene, which in a moment told its tale, and wrote all its records on my
heart for ever.

The horse was planted immovably, with his fore-feet upon the paved crest of
the central road. He of the whole party was alone untouched by the passion
of death. The little cany carriage--partly perhaps from the dreadful
torsion of the wheels in its recent movement, partly from the thundering
blow we had given to it--as if it sympathized with human horror, was all
alive with tremblings and shiverings. The young man sat like a rock. He
stirred not at all. But _his_ was the steadiness of agitation frozen into
rest by horror. As yet he dared not to look round; for he knew that, if
anything remained to do, by him it could no longer be done. And as yet he
knew not for certain if their safety were accomplished. But the lady--

But the lady--! Oh heavens! will that spectacle ever depart from my dreams,
as she rose and sank upon her seat, sank and rose, threw up her arms wildly
to heaven, clutched at some visionary object in the air, fainting, praying,
raving, despairing! Figure to yourself, reader, the elements of the case;
suffer me to recall before your mind the circumstances of the unparalleled
situation. From the silence and deep peace of this saintly summer
night--from the pathetic blending of this sweet moonlight, dawnlight,
dreamlight--from the manly tenderness of this flattering, whispering,
murmuring love--suddenly as from the woods and fields--suddenly as from
the chambers of the air opening in revelation--suddenly as from the ground
yawning at her feet, leaped upon her, with the flashing of cataracts, Death
the crowned phantom, with all the equipage of his terrors, and the tiger
roar of his voice.

The moments were numbered. In the twinkling of an eye our flying horses had
carried us to the termination of the umbrageous aisle; at right angles we
wheeled into our former direction; the turn of the road carried the scene
out of my eyes in an instant, and swept it into my dreams for ever.



DREAM-FUGUE.

ON THE ABOVE THEME OF SUDDEN DEATH.


  "Whence the sound
  Of instruments, that made melodious chime,
  Was heard, of harp and organ; and who mov'd
  Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch
  Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
  Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue."

_Par. Lost, B. XL_

_Tumultuosissimamente_.

Passion of Sudden Death! that once in youth I read and interpreted by the
shadows of thy averted[1] signs;--Rapture of panic taking the shape which
amongst tombs in churches I have seen, of woman bursting her sepulchral
bonds--of woman's Ionic form bending forward from the ruins of her grave
with arching foot, with eyes upraised, with clasped adoring hands--waiting,
watching, trembling, praying, for the trumpet's call to rise from dust
for ever!--Ah, vision too fearful of shuddering humanity on the brink
of abysses! vision that didst start back--that didst reel away--like a
shrivelling scroll from before the wrath of fire racing on the wings of the
wind! Epilepsy so brief of horror--wherefore is it that thou canst not die?
Passing so suddenly into darkness, wherefore is it that still thou sheddest
thy sad funeral blights upon the gorgeous mosaics of dreams? Fragment of
music too stern, heard once and heard no more, what aileth thee that thy
deep rolling chords come up at intervals through all the worlds of sleep,
and after thirty years have lost no element of horror?

[Footnote 1: "_Averted signs_."--I read the course and changes of the
lady's agony in the succession of her involuntary gestures; but let it be
remembered that I read all this from the rear, never once catching the
lady's full face, and even her profile imperfectly.]


1.

Lo, it is summer, almighty summer! The everlasting gates of life and summer
are thrown open wide; and on the ocean, tranquil and verdant as a savanna,
the unknown lady from the dreadful vision and I myself are floating: she
upon a fairy pinnace, and I upon an English three-decker. But both of
us are wooing gales of festal happiness within the domain of our common
country--within that ancient watery park--within that pathless chase where
England takes her pleasure as a huntress through winter and summer, and
which stretches from the rising to the setting sun. Ah! what a wilderness
of floral beauty was hidden, or was suddenly revealed, upon the tropic
islands, through which the pinnace moved. And upon her deck what a bevy
of human flowers--young women how lovely, young men how noble, that were
dancing together, and slowly drifting towards _us_ amidst music and
incense, amidst blossoms from forests and gorgeous corymbi from vintages,
amidst natural caroling and the echoes of sweet girlish laughter. Slowly
the pinnace nears us, gaily she hails us, and slowly she disappears beneath
the shadow of our mighty bows. But then, as at some signal from heaven, the
music and the carols, and the sweet echoing of girlish laughter--all are
hushed. What evil has smitten the pinnace, meeting or overtaken her? Did
ruin to our friends couch within our own dreadful shadow? Was our shadow
the shadow of death? I looked over the bow for an answer; and, behold! the
pinnace was dismantled; the revel and the revellers were found no more; the
glory of the vintage was dust; and the forest was left without a witness to
its beauty upon the seas. "But where," and I turned to our own crew--"Where
are the lovely women that danced beneath the awning of flowers and
clustering corymbi? Whither have fled the noble young men that danced with
_them_?" Answer there was none. But suddenly the man at the mast-head,
whose countenance darkened with alarm, cried out--"Sail on the weather
beam! Down she comes upon us: in seventy seconds she will founder!"


2.

I looked to the weather side, and the summer had departed. The sea was
rocking, and shaken with gathering wrath. Upon its surface sate mighty
mists, which grouped themselves into arches and long cathedral aisles. Down
one of these, with the fiery pace of a quarrel from a cross-bow, ran a
frigate right athwart our course. "Are they mad?" some voice exclaimed from
our deck. "Are they blind? Do they woo their ruin?" But in a moment, as she
was close upon us, some impulse of a heady current or sudden vortex gave a
wheeling bias to her course, and off she forged without a shock. As she ran
past us, high aloft amongst the shrouds stood the lady of the pinnace. The
deeps opened ahead in malice to receive her, towering surges of foam ran
after her, the billows were fierce to catch her. But far away she was borne
into desert spaces of the sea: whilst still by sight I followed her, as she
ran before the howling gale, chased by angry sea-birds and by maddening
billows; still I saw her, as at the moment when she ran past us, amongst
the shrouds, with her white draperies streaming before the wind. There
she stood with hair dishevelled, one hand clutched amongst the
tackling--rising, sinking, fluttering, trembling, praying--there for
leagues I saw her as she stood, raising at intervals one hand to heaven,
amidst the fiery crests of the pursuing waves and the raving of the storm;
until at last, upon a sound from afar of malicious laughter and mockery,
all was hidden for ever in driving showers; and afterwards, but when I know
not, and how I know not.


3.

Sweet funeral bells from some incalculable distance, wailing over the dead
that die before the dawn, awakened me as I slept in a boat moored to some
familiar shore. The morning twilight even then was breaking; and, by the
dusky revelations which it spread, I saw a girl adorned with a garland
of white roses about her head for some great festival, running along the
solitary strand with extremity of haste. Her running was the running of
panic; and often she looked back as to some dreadful enemy in the rear. But
when I leaped ashore, and followed on her steps to warn her of a peril in
front, alas! from me she fled as from another peril; and vainly I shouted
to her of quicksands that lay ahead. Faster and faster she ran; round a
promontory of rocks she wheeled out of sight; in an instant I also wheeled
round it, but only to see the treacherous sands gathering above her head.
Already her person was buried; only the fair young head and the diadem of
white roses around it were still visible to the pitying heavens; and, last
of all, was visible one marble arm. I saw by the early twilight this fair
young head, as it was sinking down to darkness--saw this marble arm, as it
rose above her head and her treacherous grave, tossing, faultering,
rising, clutching as at some false deceiving hand stretched out from the
clouds--saw this marble arm uttering her dying hope, and then her dying
despair. The head, the diadem, the arm,--these all had sunk; at last over
these also the cruel quicksand had closed; and no memorial of the fair
young girl remained on earth, except my own solitary tears, and the funeral
bells from the desert seas, that, rising again more softly, sang a requiem
over the grave of the buried child, and over her blighted dawn.

I sate, and wept in secret the tears that men have ever given to the memory
of those that died before the dawn, and by the treachery of earth, our
mother. But the tears and funeral bells were hushed suddenly by a shout
as of many nations, and by a roar as from some great king's artillery
advancing rapidly along the valleys, and heard afar by its echoes among
the mountains. "Hush!" I said, as I bent my ear earthwards to
listen--"hush!--this either is the very anarchy of strife, or else"--and
then I listened more profoundly, and said as I raised my head--"or else, oh
heavens! it is _victory_ that swallows up all strife."


4.

Immediately, in trance, I was carried over land and sea to some distant
kingdom, and placed upon a triumphal car, amongst companions crowned with
laurel. The darkness of gathering midnight, brooding over all the land, hid
from us the mighty crowds that were weaving restlessly about our carriage
as a centre--we heard them, but we saw them not. Tidings had arrived,
within an hour, of a grandeur that measured itself against centuries; too
full of pathos they were, too full of joy that acknowledged no fountain
but God, to utter themselves by other language than by tears, by restles
anthems, by reverberations rising from every choir, of the _Gloria in
excelsis_. These tidings we that sate upon the laurelled car had it for our
privilege to publish amongst all nations. And already, by signs audible
through the darkness, by snortings and tramplings, our angry horses, that
knew no fear of fleshly weariness, upbraided us with delay. Wherefore _was_
it that we delayed? We waited for a secret word, that should bear witness
to the hope of nations, as now accomplished for ever. At midnight the
secret word arrived; which word was--Waterloo and Recovered Christendom!
The dreadful word shone by its own light; before us it went; high above our
leaders' heads it rode, and spread a golden light over the paths which we
traversed. Every city, at the presence of the secret word, threw open its
gates to receive us. The rivers were silent as we crossed. All the infinite
forests, as we ran along their margins, shivered in homage to the secret
word. And the darkness comprehended it.

Two hours after midnight we reached a mighty minster. Its gates, which rose
to the clouds, were closed. But when the dreadful word, that rode before
us, reached them with its golden light, silently they moved back upon their
hinges; and at a flying gallop our equipage entered the grand aisle of the
cathedral. Headlong was our pace; and at every altar, in the little chapels
and oratories to the right hand and left of our course, the lamps, dying or
sickening, kindled anew in sympathy with the secret word that was flying
past. Forty leagues we might have run in the cathedral, and as yet no
strength of morning light had reached us, when we saw before us the aërial
galleries of the organ and the choir. Every pinnacle of the fretwork, every
station of advantage amongst the traceries, was crested by white-robed
choristers, that sang deliverance; that wept no more tears, as once their
fathers had wept; but at intervals that sang together to the generations,
saying--

  "Chaunt the deliverer's praise in every tongue,"

and receiving answers from afar,

  --"such as once in heaven and earth were sung."

And of their chaunting was no end; of our headlong pace was neither pause
nor remission.

Thus, as we ran like torrents--thus, as we swept with bridal rapture over
the Campo Santo[1] of the cathedral graves--suddenly we became aware of
a vast necropolis rising upon the far-off horizon--a city of sepulchres,
built within the saintly cathedral for the warrior dead that rested from
their feuds on earth. Of purple granite was the necropolis; yet, in the
first minute, it lay like a purple stain upon the horizon--so mighty was
the distance. In the second minute it trembled through many changes,
growing into terraces and towers of wondrous altitude, so mighty was the
pace. In the third minute already, with our dreadful gallop, we were
entering its suburbs. Vast sarcophagi rose on every side, having towers and
turrets that, upon the limits of the central aisle, strode forward with
haughty intrusion, that ran back with mighty shadows into answering
recesses. Every sarcophagus showed many bas-reliefs--bas-reliefs of
battles--bas-reliefs of battle-fields; of battles from forgotten ages--of
battles from yesterday--of battle-fields that, long since, nature had
healed and reconciled to herself with the sweet oblivion of flowers--of
battle-fields that were yet angry and crimson with carnage. Where the
terraces ran, there did _we_ run; where the towers curved, there did _we_
curve. With the flight of swallows our horses swept round every angle. Like
rivers in flood, wheeling round headlands; like hurricanes that side
into the secrets of forests; faster than ever light unwove the mazes of
darkness, our flying equipage carried earthly passions--kindled warrior
instincts--amongst the dust that lay around us; dust oftentimes of our
noble fathers that had slept in God from Créci to Trafalgar. And now had we
reached the last sarcophagus, now were we abreast of the last bas-relief,
already had we recovered the arrow-like flight of the illimitable central
aisle, when coming up this aisle to meet us we beheld a female infant that
rode in a carriage as frail as flowers. The mists, which went before her,
hid the fawns that drew her, but could not hide the shells and tropic
flowers with which she played--but could not hide the lovely smiles by
which she uttered her trust in the mighty cathedral, and in the cherubim
that looked down upon her from the topmast shafts of its pillars. Face to
face she was meeting us; face to face she rode, as if danger there were
none. "Oh, baby!" I exclaimed, "shalt thou be the ransom for Waterloo? Must
we, that carry tidings of great joy to every people, be messengers of ruin
to thee?" In horror I rose at the thought; but then also, in horror at the
thought, rose one that was sculptured on the bas-relief--a dying trumpeter.
Solemnly from the field of battle he rose to his feet; and, unslinging
his stony trumpet, carried it, in his dying anguish, to his stony
lips--sounding once, and yet once again; proclamation that, in _thy_ ears,
oh baby! must have spoken from the battlements of death. Immediately deep
shadows fell between us, and aboriginal silence. The choir had ceased to
sing. The hoofs of our horses, the rattling of our harness, alarmed the
graves no more. By horror the bas-relief had been unlocked into life. By
horror we, that were so full of life, we men and our horses, with their
fiery fore-legs rising in mid air to their everlasting gallop, were frozen
to a bas-relief. Then a third time the trumpet sounded; the seals were
taken off all pulses; life, and the frenzy of life, tore into their
channels again; again the choir burst forth in sunny grandeur, as from
the muffling of storms and darkness; again the thunderings of our horses
carried temptation into the graves. One cry burst from our lips as the
clouds, drawing off from the aisle, showed it empty before us--"Whither has
the infant fled?--is the young child caught up to God?" Lo! afar off, in a
vast recess, rose three mighty windows to the clouds: and on a level with
their summits, at height insuperable to man, rose an altar of purest
alabaster. On its eastern face was trembling a crimson glory. Whence came
_that_? Was it from the reddening dawn that now streamed _through_ the
windows? Was it from the crimson robes of the martyrs that were painted
_on_ the windows? Was it from the bloody bas-reliefs of earth? Whencesoever
it were--there, within that crimson radiance, suddenly appeared a female
head, and then a female figure. It was the child--now grown up to woman's
height. Clinging to the horns of the altar, there she stood--sinking,
rising, trembling, fainting--raving, despairing; and behind the volume of
incense that, night and day, streamed upwards from the altar, was seen the
fiery font, and dimly was descried the outline of the dreadful being that
should baptize her with the baptism of death. But by her side was kneeling
her better angel, that hid his face with wings; that wept and pleaded for
_her_; that prayed when _she_ could _not_; that fought with heaven by tears
for _her_ deliverance; which also, as he raised his immortal countenance
from his wings, I saw, by the glory in his eye, that he had won at last.

[Footnote 1: _Campo Santo_.--It is probable that most of my readers will be
acquainted with the history of the Campo Santo at Pisa--composed of earth
brought from Jerusalem for a bed of sanctity, as the highest prize which
the noble piety of crusaders could ask or imagine. There is another Campo
Santo at Naples, formed, however, (I presume,) on the example given by
Pisa. Possibly the idea may have been more extensively copied. To readers
who are unacquainted with England, or who (being English) are yet
unacquainted with the cathedral cities of England, it may be right to
mention that the graves within-side the cathedrals often form a flat
pavement over which carriages and horses might roll; and perhaps a boyish
remembrance of one particular cathedral, across which I had seen passengers
walk and burdens carried, may have assisted my dream.]


5.

Then rose the agitation, spreading through the infinite cathedral, to its
agony; then was completed the passion of the mighty fugue. The golden
tubes of the organ, which as yet had but sobbed and muttered at
intervals--gleaming amongst clouds and surges of incense--threw up, as
from fountains unfathomable, columns of heart-shattering music. Choir
and anti-choir were filling fast with unknown voices. Thou also, Dying
Trumpeter!--with thy love that was victorious, and thy anguish that was
finishing, didst enter the tumult: trumpet and echo--farewell love, and
farewell anguish--rang through the dreadful _sanctus_. We, that spread
flight before us, heard the tumult, as of flight, mustering behind us. In
fear we looked round for the unknown steps that, in flight or in pursuit,
were gathering upon our own. Who were these that followed? The faces, which
no man could count--whence were _they_? "Oh, darkness of the grave!" I
exclaimed, "that from the crimson altar and from the fiery font wert
visited with secret light--that wert searched by the effulgence in the
angel's eye--were these indeed thy children? Pomps of life, that, from the
burials of centuries, rose again to the voice of perfect joy, could it be
_ye_ that had wrapped me in the reflux of panic?" What ailed me, that I
should fear when the triumphs of earth were advancing? Ah! Pariah heart
within me, that couldst never hear the sound of joy without sullen whispers
of treachery in ambush; that, from six years old, didst never hear the
promise of perfect love, without seeing aloft amongst the stars fingers
as of a man's hand, writing the secret legend--"_Ashes to ashes, dust to
dust_!"--wherefore shouldst _thou_ not fear, though all men should rejoice?
Lo! as I looked back for seventy leagues through the mighty cathedral, and
saw the quick and the dead that sang together to God, together that sang
to the generations of man--ah! raving, as of torrents that opened on every
side: trepidation, as of female and infant steps that fled--ah! rushing,
as of wings that chase! But I heard a voice from heaven, which said--"Let
there be no reflux of panic--let there be no more fear, and no more sudden
death! Cover them with joy as the tides cover the shore!" _That_ heard the
children of the choir, _that_ heard the children of the grave. All the
hosts of jubilation made ready to move. Like armies that ride in pursuit,
they moved with one step. Us, that, with laurelled heads, were passing from
the cathedral through its eastern gates, they overtook, and, as with a
garment, they wrapped us round with thunders that overpowered our own.
As brothers we moved together; to the skies we rose--to the dawn that
advanced--to the stars that fled; rendering thanks to God in the
highest--that, having hid his face through one generation behind thick
clouds of War, once again was ascending--was ascending from Waterloo--in
the visions of Peace; rendering thanks for thee, young girl! whom having
overshadowed with his ineffable passion of death--suddenly did God relent;
suffered thy angel to turn aside his arm; and even in thee, sister unknown!
shown to me for a moment only to be hidden for ever, found an occasion to
glorify his goodness. A thousand times, amongst the phantoms of sleep, has
he shown thee to me, standing before the golden dawn, and ready to enter
its gates--with the dreadful word going before thee--with the armies of the
grave behind thee; shown thee to me, sinking, rising, fluttering, fainting,
but then suddenly reconciled, adoring: a thousand times has he followed
thee in the worlds of sleep--through storms; through desert seas; through
the darkness of quicksands; through fugues and the persecution of fugues;
through dreams, and the dreadful resurrections that are in dreams--only
that at the last, with one motion of his victorious arm, he might record
and emblazon the endless resurrections of his love!



DINNER, REAL AND REPUTED.


Great misconceptions have always prevailed about the Roman _dinner_.
Dinner [_coena_] was the only meal which the Romans as a nation took. It
was no accident, but arose out of their whole social economy. This we shall
show by running through the history of a Roman day. _Ridentem dicere, verum
quid vetat_? And the course of this review will expose one or two important
truths in ancient political economy, which have been wholly overlooked.

With the lark it was that the Roman rose. Not that the earliest lark rises
so early in Latium as the earliest lark in England; that is, during summer:
but then, on the other hand, neither does it ever rise so late. The Roman
citizen was stirring with the dawn--which, allowing for the shorter
longest-day and longer shortest-day of Rome, you may call about four in
summer--about seven in winter. Why did he do this? Because he went to bed
at a very early hour. But why did he do that? By backing in this way, we
shall surely back into the very well of truth: always, if it is possible,
let us have the _pourquoi_ of the _pourquoi_. The Roman went to bed early
for two special reasons. 1st, Because in Rome, which had been built for a
martial destiny, every habit of life had reference to the usages of war.
Every citizen, if he were not a mere proletarian animal kept at the public
cost, held himself a sort of soldier-elect: the more noble he was, the
more was his liability to military service: in short, all Rome, and at all
times, was consciously "in procinct."[1] Now it was a principle of ancient
warfare, that every hour of daylight had a triple worth, if valued
against hours of darkness. That was one reason--a reason suggested by the
understanding. But there was a second reason, far more remarkable; and this
was a reason dictated by a blind necessity. It is an important fact, that
this planet on which we live, this little industrious earth of ours, has
developed her wealth by slow stages of increase. She was far from being the
rich little globe in Cæsar's days that she is at present. The earth in our
days is incalculably richer, as a whole, than in the time of Charlemagne:
at that time she was richer, by many a million of acres, than in the era
of Augustus. In that Augustan era we descry a clear belt of cultivation,
averaging about six hundred miles in depth, running in a ring-fence about
the Mediterranean. This belt, _and no more_, was in decent cultivation.
Beyond that belt, there was only a wild Indian cultivation. At present
what a difference! We have that very belt, but much richer, all things
considered _æquatis æquandis_, than in the Roman era. The reader must not
look to single cases, as that of Egypt or other parts of Africa, but take
the whole collectively. On that scheme of valuation, we have the old Roman
belt, the Mediterranean riband not much tarnished, and we have all the
rest of Europe to boot--or, speaking in scholar's language, as a _lucro
ponamus_. We say nothing of remoter gains. Such being the case, our mother,
the earth, being (as a whole) so incomparably poorer, could not in the
Pagan era support the expense of maintaining great empires in cold
latitudes. Her purse would not reach that cost. Wherever she undertook in
those early ages to rear man in great abundance, it must be where nature
would consent to work in partnership with herself; where _warmth_ was to
be had for nothing; where _clothes_ were not so entirely indispensable but
that a ragged fellow might still keep himself warm; where slight _shelter_
might serve; and where the _soil_, if not absolutely richer in reversionary
wealth, was more easily cultured. Nature must come forward liberally, and
take a number of shares in every new joint-stock concern before it could
move. Man, therefore, went to bed early in those ages, simply because his
worthy mother earth could not afford him candles. She, good old lady, (or
good young lady, for geologists know not[2] whether she is in that stage
of her progress which corresponds to gray hairs, or to infancy, or to "a
_certain_ age,")--she, good lady, would certainly have shuddered to hear
any of her nations asking for candles. "Candles!" She would have said, "Who
ever heard of such a thing? and with so much excellent daylight running to
waste, as I have provided _gratis_! What will the wretches want next?"

The daylight, furnished _gratis_, was certainly "neat," and "undeniable"
in its quality, and quite sufficient for all purposes that were honest.
Seneca, even in his own luxurious period, called those men "_lucifugæ_,"
and by other ugly names, who lived chiefly by candle-light. None but rich
and luxurious men, nay, even amongst these, none but idlers _did_ live much
by candle-light. An immense majority of men in Rome never lighted a candle,
unless sometimes in the early dawn. And this custom of Rome was the custom
also of all nations that lived round the great pond of the Mediterranean.
In Athens, Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, everywhere, the ancients went to
bed, like good boys, from seven to nine o'clock.[3] The Turks and other
people, who have succeeded to the stations and the habits of the ancients,
do so at this day.

The Roman, therefore, who saw no joke in sitting round a table in the dark,
went off to bed as the darkness began. Everybody did so. Old Numa Pompilius
himself, was obliged to trundle off in the dusk. Tarquinius might be a very
superb fellow; but we doubt whether he ever saw a farthing rushlight. And,
though it may be thought that plots and conspiracies would flourish in
such a city of darkness, it is to be considered, that the conspirators
themselves had no more candles than honest men: both parties were in the
dark.

Being up then, and stirring not long after the lark, what mischief did the
Roman go about first? Now-a-days, he would have taken a pipe or a cigar.
But, alas for the ignorance of the poor heathen creatures! they had neither
one nor the other. In this point, we must tax our mother earth with
being really _too_ stingy. In the case of the candles, we approve of her
parsimony. Much mischief is brewed by candle-light. But, it was coming it
too strong to allow no tobacco. Many a wild fellow in Rome, your Gracchi,
Syllas, Catilines, would not have played "h---- and Tommy" in the way they
did, if they could have soothed their angry stomachs with a cigar--a pipe
has intercepted many an evil scheme. But the thing is past helping now. At
Rome, you must do as "they does" at Rome. So, after shaving, (supposing the
age of the _Barbati_ to be passed), what is the first business that our
Roman will undertake? Forty to one he is a poor man, born to look upwards
to his fellow-men--and not to look down upon anybody but slaves. He goes,
therefore, to the palace of some grandee, some top-sawyer of the Senatorian
order. This great man, for all his greatness, has turned out even sooner
than himself. For he also has had no candles and no cigars; and he well
knows, that before the sun looks into his portals, all his halls will be
overflowing and buzzing with the matin susurrus of courtiers--the "mane
salutantes."[4] it is as much as his popularity is worth to absent himself,
or to keep people waiting. But surely, the reader may think, this poor man
he might keep waiting. No, he might not; for, though poor, being a citizen,
he is a gentleman. That was the consequence of keeping slaves. Wherever
there is a class of slaves, he that enjoys the _jus suffragii_ (no
matter how poor) is a gentleman. The true Latin word for a gentleman is
_ingentius_--a freeman and the son of a freeman.

Yet even here there _were_ distinctions. Under the Emperors, the courtiers
were divided into two classes: with respect to the superior class, it was
said of the sovereign--that he _saw_ them, (_videbat_;) with respect to the
other--that he _was seen_, ("_videbatur_.") Even Plutarch mentions it as
a common boast in his times, [Greek: aemas eiden ho basileus]--_Cæsar is
in the habit of seeing me_; or, as a common plea for evading a suit,
[Greek: ora mallon]--_I am sorry to say he is more inclined to look upon
others_. And this usage derived itself (mark that well!) from the
_republican_ era. The aulic spirit was propagated by the Empire, but from
a republican root.

Having paid his court, you will suppose that our friend comes home to
breakfast. Not at all: no such discovery as "breakfast" had then been made:
breakfast was not invented for many centuries after that. We have always
admired, and always shall admire, as the very best of all human stories,
Charles Lamb's account of the origin of _roast pig_ in China. Ching Ping,
it seems, had suffered his father's house to be burned down; the outhouses
were burned along with the house; and in one of these the pigs, by
accident, were roasted to a turn. Memorable were the results for all future
China and future civilization. Ping, who (like all China beside) had
hitherto eaten his pig raw, now for the first time tasted it in a state
of torrefaction. Of course he made his peace with his father by a part
(tradition says a leg) of the new dish. The father was so astounded with
the discovery, that he burned his house down once a year for the sake of
coming at an annual banquet of roast pig. A curious prying sort of fellow,
one Chang Pang, got to know of this. He also burned down a house with a
pig in it, and had his eyes opened. The secret was ill kept--the discovery
spread--many great conversions were made--houses were blazing in every part
of the Celestial Empire. The insurance offices took the matter up.
One Chong Pong, detected in the very act of shutting up a pig in his
drawing-room, and then firing a train, was indicted on a charge of arson.
The chief justice of Pekin, on that occasion, requested an officer of the
court to hand him a piece of the roast pig, the _corpus delicti_, for pure
curiosity led him to taste; but within two days after it was observed that
his lordship's town-house was burned down. In short, all China apostatized
to the new faith; and it was not until some centuries had passed, that a
great genius arose, who established the second era in the history of roast
pig, by showing that it could be had without burning down a house.

No such genius had yet arisen in Rome. Breakfast was not suspected. No
prophecy, no type of breakfast had been published. In fact, it took as much
time and research to arrive at that great discovery as at the Copernican
system. True it is, reader, that you have heard of such a word as
_jentaculum_; and your dictionary translates that old heathen word by
the Christian word _breakfast_. But dictionaries, one and all, are dull
deceivers. Between _jentaculum_ and _breakfast_ the differences are as wide
as between a horse-chestnut and chestnut horse; differences in the _time
when_, in the _place where_, in the _manner how_, but preeminently in the
_thing which_.

Galen is a good authority upon such a subject, since, if (like other
pagans) he ate no breakfast himself, in some sense he may be called the
cause of breakfast to other men, by treating of those things which could
safely be taken upon an empty stomach. As to the time, he (like many other
authors) says, [peri tritaen, ae (to makroteron) peri tetartaen,]
about the third, or at farthest about the fourth hour: and so exact is he,
that he assumes the day to lie exactly between six and six o'clock, and to
be divided into thirteen equal portions. So the time will be a few minutes
before nine, or a few minutes before ten, in the forenoon. That seems fair
enough. But it is not time in respect to its location that we are so
much concerned with, as time in respect to its duration. Now, heaps of
authorities take it for granted, that you are not to sit down--you are to
stand; and, as to the place, that any place will do--"any corner of the
forum," says Galen, "any corner that you fancy;" which is like referring a
man for his _salle à manger_ to Westminster Hall or Fleet Street. Augustus,
in a letter still surviving, tells us that he _jentabat_, or took his
_jentaculum_ in his carriage; now in a wheel carriage, (_in essedo_,) now
in a litter or palanquin (_in lecticâ_.) This careless and disorderly
way as to time and place, and other circumstances of haste, sufficiently
indicate the quality of the meal you are to expect. Already you are
"sagacious of your quarry from so far." Not that we would presume,
excellent reader, to liken you to Death, or to insinuate that you are
"a grim feature." But would it not make a saint "grim," to hear of such
preparations for the morning meal? And then to hear of such consummations
as _panis siccus_, dry bread; or, (if the learned reader thinks it will
taste better in Greek,) [Greek: artos xaeros!] And what may this word
_dry_ happen to mean? "Does it mean stale bread?" says Salmasius. "Shall
we suppose," says he, in querulous words, "_molli et recenti opponi_," and
from that antithesis conclude it to be, "_durum et non recens coctum, eoque
sicciorem_?" Hard and stale, and for that reason the more arid! Not quite
so bad as that, we hope. Or again--"_siccum pro biscocto, ut hodie vocamus,
sumemus_?"[5] By _hodie_ Salmasius means, amongst his countrymen of France,
where _biscoctus_ is verbatim reproduced in the word _bis_ (twice) _cuit_,
(baked;) whence our own _biscuit_. Biscuit might do very well, could we be
sure that it was cabin biscuit: but Salmasius argues--that in this case he
takes it to mean "_buccellatum, qui est panis nauticus_;" that is, the ship
company's biscuit, broken with a sledge-hammer. In Greek, for the benefit
again of the learned reader, it is termed [Greek: dipuros], indicating
that it has passed twice under the action of fire.

"Well," you say, "No matter if it had passed fifty times--and through the
fires of Moloch; only let us have this biscuit, such as it is." In good
faith, then, fasting reader, you are not likely to see much more than you
_have_ seen. It is a very Barmecide feast, we do assure you--this same
"jentaculum;" at which abstinence and patience are much more exercised than
the teeth: faith and hope are the chief graces cultivated, together with
that species of the _magnificum_ which is founded on the _ignotum_. Even
this biscuit was allowed in the most limited quantities; for which reason
it is that the Greeks called this apology for a a meal by the name
of [Greek: bouchismos], a word formed (as many words were in the
Post-Augustan ages) from a Latin word--viz., _buccea_, a mouthful; not
literally such, but so much as a polished man could allow himself to put
into his mouth at once. "We took a mouthful," says Sir William Waller, the
Parliamentary general, "took a mouthful; paid our reckoning; mounted;
and were off." But there Sir William means, by his plausible "mouthful,"
something very much beyond either nine or nineteen ordinary quantities of
that denomination, whereas the Roman "jentaculum" was literally such; and,
accordingly, one of the varieties under which the ancient vocabularies
express this model of evanescent quantities is _gustatio_, a mere tasting;
and again it is called by another variety, _gustus_, a mere taste: [whence
by the usual suppression of the _s_, comes the French word for a collation
or luncheon, viz. _gouter_] Speaking of his uncle, Pliny the Younger
says--"Post solem plerumque lavabatur; deinde gustabat; dormiebat minimum;
mox, quasi alio die, studebat in coenæ tempus". "After taking the air he
bathed; after that he broke his fast on a bit of biscuit, and took a
very slight _siesta_: which done, as if awaking to a new day, he set in
regularly to his studies, and pursued them to dinner-time." _Gustabat_
here meant that nondescript meal which arose at Rome when _jentaculum_ and
_prandium_ were fused into one, and that only a _taste_ or mouthful of
biscuit, as we shall show farther on.

Possibly, however, most excellent reader, like some epicurean traveller,
who, in crossing the Alps, finds himself weather-bound at St. Bernard's
on Ash-Wednesday, you surmise a remedy: you descry some opening from "the
loopholes of retreat," through which a few delicacies might be insinuated
to spread verdure on this arid desert of biscuit. Casuistry can do much. A
dead hand at casuistry has often proved more than a match for Lent with all
his quarantines. But sorry we are to say that, in this case, no relief is
hinted at in any ancient author. A grape or two, (not a bunch of grapes,)
a raisin or two, a date, an olive--these are the whole amount of relief[6]
which the chancery of the Roman kitchen granted in such cases. All things
here hang together, and prove each other; the time, the place, the mode,
the thing. Well might man eat standing, or eat in public, such a trifle
as this. Go home to such a breakfast as this! You would as soon think of
ordering a cloth to be laid in order to eat a peach, or of asking a friend
to join you in an orange. No man makes "two bites of a cherry." So let
us pass on to the other stages of the day. Only in taking leave of this
morning stage, throw your eyes back with us, Christian reader, upon this
truly heathen meal, fit for idolatrous dogs like your Greeks and your
Romans; survey, through the vista of ages, that thrice-cursed biscuit, with
half a fig, perhaps, by way of garnish, and a huge hammer by its side, to
secure the certainty of mastication, by previous comminution. Then turn
your eyes to a Christian breakfast--hot rolls, eggs, coffee, beef; but
down, down, rebellious visions: we need say no more! You, reader, like
ourselves, will breathe a malediction on the classical era, and thank your
stars for making you a Romanticist. Every morning we thank ours for keeping
us back, and reserving us to an age in which breakfast had been already
invented. In the words of Ovid we say:--

"Prisca juvent alios: ego me nunc denique natum Gratulor. Hæc ætas moribus
apta meis."

Our friend, the Roman cit, has therefore thus far, in his progress through
life, obtained no breakfast, if he ever contemplated an idea so frantic.
But it occurs to you, our faithful reader, that perhaps he will not always
be thus unhappy. We could bring waggon-loads of sentiments, Greek as well
as Roman, which prove, more clearly than the most eminent pikestaff, that,
as the wheel of fortune revolves, simply out of the fact that it has
carried a man downwards, it must subsequently carry him upwards, no matter
what dislike that wheel, or any of its spokes, may bear to that man: "non,
si male nunc sit, et olim sic erit:" and that if a man, through the madness
of his nation, misses coffee and hot rolls at nine, he may easily run into
a leg of mutton at twelve. True it is he may do so: truth is commendable;
and we will not deny that a man may sometimes, by losing a breakfast, gain
a dinner. Such things have been in various ages, and will be again, but not
at Rome. There are reasons against it. We have heard of men who consider
life under the idea of a wilderness--dry as "a remainder biscuit after a
voyage:" and who consider a day under the idea of a little life. Life
is the macrocosm, or world at large; day is the microcosm, or world in
miniature. Consequently, if life is a wilderness, then day, as a little
life, is a little wilderness. And this wilderness can be safely traversed
only by having relays of fountains, or stages for refreshment. Such
stages, they conceive, are found in the several meals which Providence has
stationed at due intervals through the day, whenever the perverseness of
man does not break the chain, or derange the order of succession.

These are the anchors by which man rides in that billowy ocean between
morning and night. The first anchor, viz., breakfast, having given way in
Rome, the more need there is that he should pull up by the second; and
that is often reputed to be dinner. And as your dictionary, good reader,
translated _breakfast_ by that vain word _jentaculum_, so, doubtless, it
will translate _dinner_ by that still vainer word _prandium_. Sincerely we
hope that your own dinner on this day, and through all time coming, may
have a better root in fact and substance than this most visionary of all
baseless things--the Roman _prandium_, of which we shall presently show you
that the most approved translation is _moonshine_.

Reader, we are not jesting here. In the very spirit of serious truth, we
assure you, that the delusion about "jentaculum" is even exceeded by this
other delusion about "prandium." Salmasius himself, for whom a natural
prejudice of place and time partially obscured the truth, admits, however,
that _prandium_ was a meal which the ancients rarely took; his very words
are--"_raro prandebant veteres_." Now, judge for yourself of the good sense
which is shown in translating by the word _dinner_, which must of necessity
mean the chief meal--a Roman word which represents a fancy meal, a meal of
caprice, a meal which few people took. At this moment, what is the single
point of agreement between the noon meal of the English laborer and the
evening meal of the English gentleman? What is the single circumstance
common to both, which causes us to denominate them by the common name of
_dinner_? It is that in both we recognize the _principal_ meal of the
day, the meal upon which is thrown the _onus_ of the day's support. In
everything else they are as wide asunder as the poles; but they agree in
this one point of their function. Is it credible that, to represent such a
meal amongst ourselves, we select a Roman word so notoriously expressing a
mere shadow, a pure apology, that very few people ever tasted it--nobody
sate down to it--not many washed their hands after it, and gradually the
very name of it became interchangeable with another name, implying the
slightest possible act of trying or sipping? "_Post larationem sine mensâ
prandium_," says Seneca, "_post quod non sunt lavandæ manus_;" that is,
"after bathing, I take a _prandium_ without sitting down to table, and such
a _prandium_ as brings after itself no need of washing the hands." No;
moonshine as little soils the hands as it oppresses the stomach.

Reader! we, as well as Pliny, had an uncle, an East Indian uncle; doubtless
you have such an uncle; everybody has an Indian uncle. Generally such a
person is "rather yellow, rather yellow," [to quote Canning _versus_ Lord
Durham:] that is the chief fault with his physics; but, as to his morals,
he is universally a man of princely aspirations and habits. He is not
always so orientally rich as he is reputed; but he is always orientally
munificent. Call upon him at any hour from two to five, he insists on your
taking _tiffin_: and such a tiffin! The English corresponding term is
luncheon: but how meagre a shadow is the European meal to its glowing
Asiatic cousin! Still, gloriously as tiffin shines, does anybody imagine
that it is a vicarious dinner, or ever meant to be the substitute of
dinner? Wait till eight, and you will have your eyes opened on that
subject. So of the Roman _prandium_: had it been as luxurious as it was
simple, still it was always viewed as something meant only to stay the
stomach, as a prologue to something beyond. The _prandium_ was far enough
from giving the feeblest idea of the English luncheon; yet it stood in the
same relation to the Roman day. Now to English_men_ that meal scarcely
exists; and were it not for women, whose delicacy of organization does
not allow them to fast so long as men, would probably be abolished. It is
singular in this, as in other points, how nearly England and ancient Rome
approximate. We all know how hard it is to tempt a man generally into
spoiling his appetite, by eating before dinner. The same dislike of
violating what they called the integrity of the appetite, [_integram
famem_,] existed at Rome. Every man who knows anything of Latin critically,
sees the connection of the word _integer_ with _in_ and _tetigi_: _integer_
means what is _intact_, unviolated by touch. Cicero, when protesting
against spoiling his appetite for dinner, by tasting anything beforehand,
says, _integram famem ad coenam afferam_; I shall bring to dinner an
appetite untampered with. Nay, so much stress did the Romans lay on
maintaining this primitive state of the appetite undisturbed, that any
prelusions with either _jentaculum_ or _prandium_ were said, by a very
strong phrase indeed, _polluere famem_, to pollute the sanctity of the
appetite. The appetite was regarded as a holy vestal flame, soaring upwards
towards dinner throughout the day: if undebauched, it tended to its natural
consummation in _coena_: expired like a phoenix, to rise again out of its
own ashes. On this theory, to which language had accommodated itself, the
two prelusive meals of nine o'clock, A.M., and of one, P.M., so far from
being ratified by the public sense, and adopted into the economy of the
day, were regarded gloomily as gross irregularities, enormities, debauchers
of the natural instinct; and, in so far as they thwarted that instinct,
lessened it, or depraved it, were universally held to be full of pollution;
and, finally, to _profane_ a motion of nature. Such was the language.

But we guess what is passing in the reader's mind. He thinks that all this
proves the _prandium_ to have been a meal of little account; and in very
many cases absolutely unknown. But still he thinks all this might happen to
the English dinner--_that_ might be neglected; supper might be generally
preferred; and, nevertheless, dinner would be as truly entitled to the name
of dinner as before. Many a student neglects his dinner; enthusiasm in any
pursuit must often have extinguished appetite for all of us. Many a time
and oft did this happen to Sir Isaac Newton. Evidence is on record, that
such a deponent at eight o'clock, A.M., found Sir Isaac with one stocking
on, one off; at two, said deponent called him to dinner. Being interrogated
whether Sir Isaac had pulled on the _minus_ stocking, or gartered the
_plus_ stocking, witness replied that he had not. Being asked if Sir Isaac
came to dinner, replied that he did not. Being again asked, "At sunset, did
you look in on Sir Isaac?" Witness replied, "I did." "And now, upon your
conscience, sir, by the virtue of your oath, in what state were the
stockings?" _Ans. "In statu quo ante bellum_." It seems Sir Isaac had
fought through that whole battle of a long day, so trying a campaign to
many people--be had traversed that whole sandy Zaarah, without calling, or
needing to call at one of those fountains, stages, or _mansiones_,[7] by
which (according to our former explanation) Providence has relieved the
continuity of arid soil, which else disfigures that long dreary level. This
happens to all; but was dinner not dinner, and did supper become dinner,
because Sir Isaac Newton ate nothing at the first, and threw the whole
day's support upon the last? No, you will say, a rule is not defeated by
one casual deviation, nor by one person's constant deviation. Everybody
else was still dining at two, though Sir Isaac might not; and Sir Isaac
himself on most days no more deferred his dinner beyond two, than he sate
with one stocking off. But what if everybody, Sir Isaac included, had
deferred his substantial meal until night, and taken a slight refection
only at two? The question put does really represent the very case which has
happened with us in England. In 1700, a large part of London took a meal
at two, P.M., and another at seven or eight, P.M. In 1839, a large part
of London is still doing the very same thing, taking one meal at two, and
another at seven or eight. But the names are entirely changed: the two
o'clock meal used to be called _dinner_, and is now called _luncheon_; the
eight o'clock meal used to be called _supper_, and is now called _dinner_.

Now the question is easily solved: because, upon reviewing the idea of
dinner, we soon perceive that time has little or no connection with it:
since, both in England and France, dinner has travelled, like the hand of a
clock, through _every_ hour between ten, A.M. and ten, P.M. We have a list,
well attested, of every successive hour between these limits having been
the known established hour for the royal dinner-table within the last three
hundred and fifty years. Time, therefore, vanishes from the equation: it is
a quantity as regularly exterminated as in any algebraic problem. The true
elements of the idea, are evidently these:--1. That dinner is that meal, no
matter when taken, which is the principal meal; _i.e._ the meal on which
the day's support is thrown. 2. That it is the meal of hospitality. 3. That
it is the meal (with reference to both Nos 1 and 2) in which animal food
predominates. 4. That it is that meal which, upon necessity arising for the
abolition of all _but_ one, would naturally offer itself as that one. Apply
these four tests to _prandium_:--How could that meal answer to the first
test, as _the day's support_, which few people touched? How could that meal
answer to the second test, as the _meal of hospitality_, at which nobody
sate down? How could that meal answer to the third test, as the meal of
animal food, which consisted exclusively and notoriously of bread? Or to
the fourth test, of the meal _entitled to survive the abolition of the
rest_, which was itself abolished at all times in practice?

Tried, therefore, by every test, _prandium_ vanishes. But we have something
further to communicate about this same _prandium_.

I. It came to pass, by a very natural association of feeling, that
_prandium_ and _jentuculum_, in the latter centuries of Rome, were
generally confounded. This result was inevitable. Both professed the
same basis Both came in the morning. Both were fictions. Hence they were
confounded.

That fact speaks for itself,--breakfast and luncheon never could have been
confounded; but who would be at the pains of distinguishing two shadows? In
a gambling-house of that class, where you are at liberty to sit down to a
splendid banquet, anxiety probably prevents your sitting down at all; but,
if you do, the same cause prevents your noticing what you eat. So of the
two _pseudo_ meals of Rome, they came in the very midst of the Roman
business; viz. from nine, A.M. to two, P.M. Nobody could give his mind
to them, had they been of better quality. There lay one cause of their
vagueness, viz.--in their position. Another cause was, the common basis of
both. Bread was so notoriously the predominating "feature" in each of these
prelusive banquets, that all foreigners at Rome, who communicated with
Romans through the Greek language, knew both the one and the other by the
name of [Greek: artositos], or the _bread repast_. Originally this name
had been restricted to the earlier meal. But a distinction without a
difference could not sustain itself: and both alike disguised their
emptiness under this pompous quadrisyllable. In the identity of substance,
therefore, lay a second ground of confusion. And, then, thirdly, even as
to the time, which had ever been the sole real distinction, there arose
from accident a tendency to converge. For it happened that while some had
_jentaculum_ but no _prandium_, others had _prandium_ but no _jentaculum_;
a third party had both; a fourth party, by much the largest, had neither.
Out of which varieties (who would think that a nonentity could cut up
into so many somethings?) arose a fifth party of compromisers, who,
because they could not afford a regular _coena_, and yet were
hospitably disposed, fused the two ideas into one; and so, because the
usual time for the idea of a breakfast was nine to ten, and for the idea
of a luncheon twelve to one, compromised the rival pretensions by what
diplomatists call a _mezzo termine_; bisecting the time at eleven, and
melting the two ideas into one. But by thus merging the separate times
of each, they abolished the sole real difference that had ever divided
them. Losing that, they lost all.

Perhaps, as two negatives make one affirmative, it may be thought that two
layers of moonshine might coalesce into one pancake; and two Barmecide
banquets might compose one poached egg. Of that the company were the best
judges. But probably, as a rump and dozen, in our land of wagers, is
construed with a very liberal latitude as to the materials, so Martial's
invitation, "to take bread with him at eleven," might be understood by the
[Greek: sunetoi] as significant of something better than
[Greek: artositos]. Otherwise, in good truth, "moonshine and turn-out"
at eleven, A.M., would be even worse than "tea and turn-out" at eight,
P.M., which the "fervida juventus" of young England so loudly detests. But
however that might be, in this convergement of the several frontiers, and
the confusion that ensued, one cannot wonder that, whilst the two bladders
collapsed into one idea, they actually expanded into four names, two Latin
and two Greek, _gustus_ and _gustatio_, [Greek: geusis], and
[Greek: geusma], which all alike express the merely tentative or
exploratory act of a _prægustator_ or professional "taster" in a
king's household: what, if applied to a fluid, we should denominate
sipping.

At last, by so many steps all in one direction, things had come to such
a pass--the two prelusive meals of the Roman morning, each for itself
separately vague from the beginning, had so communicated and interfused
their several and joint vaguenesses, that at last no man knew or cared to
know what any other man included in his idea of either; how much or how
little. And you might as well have hunted in the woods of Ethiopia for
Prester John, or fixed the parish of the everlasting Jew,[8] as have
attempted to say what "jentaculum" might be, or what "prandium." Only one
thing was clear--what they were _not_. Neither was or wished to be anything
that people cared for. They were both empty shadows; but shadows as they
were, we find from Cicero that they had a power of polluting and profaning
better things than themselves.

We presume that no rational man will henceforth look for "dinner"--that
great idea according to Dr. Johnson--that sacred idea according to
Cicero--in a bag of moonshine on one side, or a bag of pollution on
the other. _Prandium_, so far from being what our foolish dictionaries
pretend--dinner itself--never in its palmiest days was more or other than
a miserable attempt at being _luncheon_. It was a _conatus_, what
physiologists call a _nisus_, a struggle in a very ambitious spark,
or _scintilla_, to kindle into a fire. This _nisus_ went on for some
centuries; but finally issued in smoke. If _prandium_ had worked out his
ambition, had "the great stream of tendency" accomplished all his wishes,
_prandium_ never could have been more than a very indifferent luncheon. But
now,

II. We have to offer another fact, ruinous to our dictionaries on another
ground. Various circumstances have disguised the truth, but a truth it is,
that "prandium", in its very origin and _incunabula_, never was a meal
known to the Roman _culina_. In that court it was never recognized except
as an alien. It had no original domicile in the city of Rome. It was a _vot
casfren-sis_, a word and an idea purely martial, and pointing to martial
necessities. Amongst the new ideas proclaimed to the recruit, this was
one--"Look for no '_coenu_', no regular dinner, with us. Resign these
unwarlike notions. It is true that even war has its respites; in these
it would be possible to have our Roman _coena_ with all its equipage of
ministrations. Such luxury untunes the mind for doing and suffering. Let us
voluntarily renounce it; that when a necessity of renouncing it arrives, we
may not feel it among the hardships of war. From the day when you enter the
gates of the camp, reconcile yourself, tyro, to a new fashion of meal, to
what in camp dialect we call _prandium_." This "prandium," this essentially
military meal, was taken standing, by way of symbolizing the necessity of
being always ready for the enemy. Hence the posture in which it was taken
at Rome, the very counter-pole to the luxurious posture of dinner. A writer
of the third century, a period from which the Romans naturally looked back
upon everything connected with their own early habits, and with the same
kind of interest as we extend to our Alfred, (separated from us as Romulus
from them by just a thousand years,) in speaking of _prandium_, says, "Quod
dictum est _parandium_, ab eo quod milites ad bellum _paret_." Isidorus
again says, "Proprie apud veteres prandium vocatum fuisse oinnem militum
cibum ante pugnam;" i.e. "that, properly speaking, amongst our ancestors
every military meal taken before battle was termed _prandium_." According
to Isidore, the proposition is reciprocating, viz., that, as every
_prandium_ was a military meal, so every military meal was called
_prandium_. But, in fact, the reason of that is apparent. Whether in the
camp or the city, the early Romans had probably but one meal in a day. That
is true of many a man amongst ourselves by choice; it is true also, to our
knowledge, of some horse regiments in our service, and may be of all. This
meal was called _coena_, or dinner in the city--_prandium_ in camps. In the
city it would always be tending to one fixed hour. In the camp innumerable
accidents of war would make it very uncertain. On this account it would
be an established rule to celebrate the daily meal at noon, if nothing
hindered; not that a later hour would not have been preferred had the
choice been free; but it was better to have a certainty at a bad hour, than
by waiting for a better hour to make it an uncertainty. For it was a camp
proverb--_Pransus, paratus_; armed with his daily meal, the soldier
is ready for service. It was not, however, that all meals, as Isidore
imagined, were indiscriminately called _prandium_; but that the one sole
meal of the day, by accidents of war, might, and did, revolve through all
hours of the day.

The first introduction of this military meal into Rome itself, would be
through the honorable pedantry of old centurions, &c., delighting (like the
_Trunnions_, &c., of our navy) to keep up in peaceful life some image or
memorial of their past experience, so wild, so full of peril, excitement,
and romance, as Roman warfare must have been in those ages. Many
non-military people for health's sake, many as an excuse for eating early,
many by way of interposing some refreshment between the stages of forensic
business, would adopt this hurried and informal meal. Many would wish to
see their sons adopting such a meal as a training for foreign service in
particular, and for temperance in general. It would also be maintained by a
solemn and very interesting commemoration of this camp repast in Rome.

This commemoration, because it has been grossly misunderstood by Salmasius,
(whose error arose from not marking the true point of a particular
antithesis,) and still more, because it is a distinct confirmation of all
we have said as to the military nature of _prandium_, we shall detach from
the series of our illustrations, by placing it in a separate paragraph.

On a set day the officers of the army were invited by Cæsar to a banquet;
it was a circumstance expressly noticed in the invitation, by the proper
officers of the palace, that the banquet was not a "coena," but a
"prandium." What followed, in consequence? Why, that all the guests sate
down in full military accoutrement; whereas, observes the historian, had it
been a coena, the officers would have unbelted their swords; for, he adds,
even in Cæsar's presence the officers lay aside their swords. The word
_prandium_, in short, converted the palace into the imperial tent; and
Cæsar was no longer a civil emperor and _princeps senatûs_, but became a
commander-in-chief amongst a council of his staff, all belted and plumed,
and in full military fig.

On this principle we come to understand why it is, that, whenever the Latin
poets speak of an army as taking food, the word used is always _prandens_
and _pransus_; and, when the word used is _prandens_, then always it is an
army that is concerned. Thus Juvenal in a well-known satire--

  ----"Credimus altos
  Desiccasse amnes, epotaque ftumina, Medo _Prandente_."

Not _coenante_, observe: you might as well talk of an army taking tea
and toast. Nor is that word ever applied to armies. It is true that the
converse is not so rigorously observed: nor ought it, from the explanations
already given. Though no soldier dined, (_coenabat_,) yet the citizen
sometimes adopted the camp usage and took a _prandium_. But generally the
poets use the word merely to mark the time of day. In that most humorous
appeal of Perseus--"Cur quis non prandeat, hoc est?" "Is this a sufficient
reason for losing one's _prandium_?" He was obliged to say _prandium_,
because no exhibitions ever could cause a man to lose his _coenia_, since
none were displayed at a time of day when anybody in Rome would have
attended. Just as, in alluding to a parliamentary speech notoriously
delivered at midnight, an English satirist must have said, Is this a speech
to furnish an argument for leaving one's bed?--not as what stood foremost
in his regard, but as the only thing that _could_ be lost at the time of
night.

On this principle, also, viz. by going back to the military origin of
_prandium_, we gain the interpretation of all the peculiarities attached to
it; viz.--1, its early hour--2, its being taken in a standing posture--3,
in the open air--4, the humble quality of its materials--bread and biscuit,
(the main articles of military fare.) In all these circumstances of the
meal, we read, most legibly written, the exotic and military character of
the meal.

Thus we have brought down our Roman friend to noonday, or even one hour
later than noon, and to this moment the poor man has had nothing to eat.
For, supposing him to be not _impransus_, and supposing him _jentâsse_
beside; yet it is evident, (we hope,) that neither one nor the other means
more than what it was often called, viz. [Greek: Bouchismos], or, in
plain English, a mouthful. How long do we intend to keep him waiting?
Reader, he will dine at three, or (supposing dinner put off to the latest)
at four. Dinner was never known to be later than the tenth hour in Rome,
which in summer would be past five; but for a far greater proportion of
days would be near four in Rome, except for one or two of the emperors,
whom the mere business attached to their unhappy station kept sometimes
dinnerless till six. And so entirely was a Roman the creature of ceremony,
that a national mourning would probably have been celebrated, and the "sad
augurs" would have been called in to expiate the prodigy, had the general
dinner lingered beyond four.

But, meantime, what has our friend been about since perhaps six or seven in
the morning? After paying his little homage to his _patronus_, in what
way has he fought with the great enemy Time since then? Why, reader, this
illustrates one of the most interesting features in the Roman character.
The Roman was the idlest of men. "Man and boy," he was "an idler in the
land." He called himself and his pals "rerum dominos, gentemque togatam;"
_the gentry that wore the toga_. Yes, and a pretty affair that "toga" was.
Just figure to yourself, reader, the picture of a hardworking man, with
horny hands like our hedgers, ditchers, weavers, porters, &c., setting to
work on the highroad in that vast sweeping toga, filling with a strong
gale like the mainsail of a frigate. Conceive the roars with which this
magnificent figure would be received into the bosom of a poor-house
detachment sent out to attack the stones on some new line of road, or a
fatigue party of dustmen sent upon secret service. Had there been nothing
left as a memorial of the Romans but that one relic--their immeasurable
toga,[9]--we should have known that they were born and bred to idleness. In
fact, except in war, the Roman never did anything at all but sun himself.
_Ut se apricaret_ was the final cause of peace in his opinion; in literal
truth, that he might make an _apricot_ of himself. The public rations at
all times supported the poorest inhabitant of Rome if he were a citizen.
Hence it was that Hadrian was so astonished with the spectacle of
Alexandria, "_civitas opulenta, fæcunda, in qua nemo vivat otiosus_." Here
first he saw the spectacle of a vast city, second only to Rome, where every
man had something to do; "_podagrosi quod agant habent; habent cæci quod
faciant; ne chiragrici_" (those with gout in the fingers) "_apud eos otiosi
vivunt_." No poor rates levied upon the rest of the world for the benefit
of their own paupers were there distributed _gratis_. The prodigious
spectacle (so it seemed to Hadrian) was exhibited in Alexandria, of all men
earning their bread in the sweat of their brow. In Rome only, (and at one
time in some of the Grecian states,) it was the very meaning of _citizen_
that he could vote and be idle.

In these circumstances, where the whole sum of life's duties amounted
to voting, all the business a man _could_ have was to attend the public
assemblies, electioneering, or factious. These, and any judicial trial
(public or private) that might happen to interest him for the persons
concerned, or for the questions, amused him through the morning; that
is, from eight till one. He might also extract some diversion from
the _columnæ_, or pillars of certain porticoes to which they pasted
advertisements. These _affiches_ must have been numerous; for all the girls
in Rome who lost a trinket, or a pet bird, or a lap-dog, took this mode of
angling in the great ocean of the public for the missing articles.

But all this time we take for granted that there were no shows in a course
of exhibition, either the dreadful ones of the amphitheatre, or the
bloodless ones of the circus. If there were, then that became the business
of all Romans; and it was a business which would have occupied him from
daylight until the light began to fail. Here we see another effect from the
scarcity of artificial light amongst the ancients. These magnificent shows
went on by daylight. But how incomparably greater would have been the
splendor by lamp-light! What a gigantic conception! Eighty thousand human
faces all revealed under one blaze of lamp-light! Lord Bacon saw the mighty
advantage of candle-light for the pomps and glories of this world. But the
poverty of the earth was the ultimate cause that the Pagan shows proceeded
by day. Not that the masters of the world, who rained Arabian odors and
perfumed waters of the most costly description from a thousand fountains,
simply to cool the summer heats, would have regarded the expense of light;
cedar and other odorous woods burning upon vast altars, together with every
variety of fragrant torch, would have created light enough to shed a new
day over the distant Adriatic.

However, as there are no public spectacles, we will suppose, and the courts
or political meetings, (if not closed altogether by superstition,) would at
any rate be closed in the ordinary course by twelve or one o'clock, nothing
remains for him to do, before returning home, except perhaps to attend the
_palæstra_, or some public recitation of a poem written by a friend, but in
any case to attend the public baths. For these the time varied; and many
people have thought it tyrannical in some of the Cæsars that they imposed
restraints on the time open for the baths; some, for instance, would not
suffer them to open at all before two, and in any case, if you were later
than four or five in summer, you would have to pay a fine which most
effectually cleaned out the baths of all raff, since it was a sum that
_John Quires_ could not have produced to save his life. But it should be
considered that the emperor was the steward of the public resources for
maintaining the baths in fuel, oil, attendance, repairs. We are prepared
to show, on a fitting occasion, that every fourth person[10] amongst the
citizens bathed daily, and non-citizens, of course, paid an _extra_ sum.
Now the population of Rome was far larger than has ever been hinted at
except by Lipsius. But certain it is, that during the long peace of the
first Cæsars, and after the _annonaria prorisio_, (that great pledge of
popularity to a Roman prince,) had been increased by the corn tribute from
the Nile, the Roman population took an immense lurch ahead. The subsequent
increase of baths, whilst no old ones were neglected, proves _that_
decisively. And as citizenship expanded by means of the easy terms on which
it could be had, so did the bathers multiply. The population of Rome in the
century after Augustus, was far greater than during that era; and this,
still acting as a vortex to the rest of the world, may have been one great
motive with Constantine for "transferring" the capital eastwards; in
reality, for breaking up one monster capital into two of more manageable
dimensions. Two o'clock was often the earliest hour at which the public
baths were opened. But in Martial's time a man could go without blushing
(_salvâ fronte_) at eleven, though even then two o'clock was the meridian
hour for the great uproar of splashing, and swimming, and "larking" in the
endless baths of endless Rome.

And now, at last, bathing finished, and the exercises of the _palæstra_, at
half-past two, or three, our friend finds his way home--not again to leave
it for that day. He is now a new man; refreshed, oiled with perfumes, his
dust washed off by hot water, and ready for enjoyment. These were the
things that determined the time for dinner. Had there been no other proof
that _coena_ was the Roman dinner, this is an ample one. Now first the
Roman was fit for dinner, in a condition of luxurious ease; business
ever--that day's load of anxiety laid aside--his _cuticle_, as he delighted
to talk, cleansed and polished--nothing more to do or to think of until
the next morning, he might now go and dine, and get drunk with a safe
conscience. Besides, if he does not get dinner now, when will he get it?
For most demonstrably he has taken nothing yet which comes near in value
to that basin of soup which many of ourselves take at the Roman hour of
bathing. No; we have kept our man fasting as yet. It is to be hoped that
something is coming at last.

It _does_ come,--dinner, the great meal of "coena;" the meal sacred to
hospitality and genial pleasure, comes now to fill up the rest of the day,
until light fails altogether.

Many people are of opinion that the Romans only understood what the
capabilities of dinner were. It is certain that they were the first great
people that discovered the true secret and meaning of dinner, the great
office which it fulfils, and which we in England are now so generally
acting on. Barbarous nations,--and none were, in that respect, more
barbarous than our own ancestors,--made this capital blunder; the brutes,
if you asked them what was the use of dinner, what it was meant for, stared
at you and replied--as a horse would reply if you put the same question
about his provender--that it was to give him strength for finishing his
work! Therefore, if you point your telescope back to antiquity about twelve
or one o'clock in the daytime, you will descry our most worthy ancestors
all eating for their very lives, eating as dogs eat, viz. in bodily fear
that some other dog will come and take their dinner away. What swelling of
the veins in the temples! (see Boswell's natural history of Dr. Johnson at
dinner;) what intense and rapid deglutition! what odious clatter of knives
and plates! what silence of the human voice! what gravity! what fury in the
libidinous eyes with which they contemplate the dishes! Positively it was
an _indecent_ spectacle to see Dr. Johnson at dinner. But, above all, what
maniacal haste and hurry, as if the fiend were waiting with red-hot pincers
to lay hold of the hindermost!

Oh, reader, do you recognize in this abominable picture your respected
ancestors and ours? Excuse us for saying--"What monsters!" We have a right
to call our own ancestors monsters; and, if so, we must have the same right
over yours. For Dr. Southey has shown plainly in the "Doctor," that every
man having four grand parents in the second stage of ascent, (each of whom
having four, therefore,) sixteen in the third, and so on, long before you
get to the Conquest, every man and woman then living in England will be
wanted to make up the sum of my separate ancestors; consequently, you must
take your ancestors out of the very same fund, or (if you are too proud for
that) you must go without ancestors. So that, your ancestors being clearly
mine, I have a right in law to call the whole "kit" of them monsters. _Quod
erat demonstrandum_. Really and upon our honor, it makes one, for the
moment, ashamed of one's descent; one would wish to disinherit one's-self
backwards, and (as Sheridan says in the _Rivals_) to "cut the connection."
Wordsworth has an admirable picture in Peter Bell of "A snug party in a
parlor," removed into _limbus patrum_ for their offences in the flesh:--

  "Cramming, as they on earth were cramm'd;
  All sipping wine, all sipping tea;
  But, as you by their faces see,
  All silent, and all d--d."

How well does that one word describe those venerable ancestral
dinners--"All silent!" Contrast this infernal silence of voice and fury
of eye with the "risus amabilis," the festivity, the social kindness, the
music, the wine, the "dulcis insania," of a Roman "coena." We mentioned
four tests for determining what meal is, and what is not, dinner; we may
now add a fifth, viz. the spirit of festal joy and elegant enjoyment, of
anxiety laid aside, and of honorable social pleasure put on like a marriage
garment.

And what caused the difference between our ancestors and the Romans? Simply
this--the error of interposing dinner in the middle of business, thus
courting all the breezes of angry feeling that may happen to blow from the
business yet to come, instead of finishing, absolutely closing, the account
with this world's troubles before you sit down. That unhappy interpolation
ruined all. Dinner was an ugly little parenthesis between two still uglier
clauses of a tee-totally ugly sentence. Whereas with us, their enlightened
posterity, to whom they have the honor to be ancestors, dinner is a great
reaction. There lies our conception of the matter. It grew out of the very
excess of the evil. When business was moderate, dinner was allowed to
divide and bisect it. When it swelled into that vast strife and agony, as
one may call it, that boils along the tortured streets of modern London or
other capitals, men began to see the necessity of an adequate counterforce
to push against this overwhelming torrent, and thus maintain the
equilibrium. Were it not for the soft relief of a six o'clock dinner, the
gentle manner succeeding to the boisterous hubbub of the day, the soft
glowing lights, the wine, the intellectual conversation, life in London is
now come to such a pass, that in two years all nerves would sink before it.
But for this periodic reaction, the modern business which draws so cruelly
on the brain, and so little on the hands, would overthrow that organ in
all but those of coarse organization. Dinner it is,--meaning by dinner
the whole complexity of attendant circumstances,--which saves the modern
brain-working men from going mad.

This revolution as to dinner was the greatest in virtue and value ever
accomplished. In fact, those are always the most operative revolutions
which are brought about through social or domestic changes. A nation must
be barbarous, neither could it have much intellectual business, which dined
in the morning. They could not be at ease in the morning. So much must be
granted: every day has its separate _quantum_, its dose (as the doctrinists
of rent phrase it) of anxiety, that could not be digested so soon as noon.
No man will say it. He, therefore, who dined at noon, was willing to sit
down squalid as he was, with his dress unchanged, his cares not washed off.
And what follows from that? Why, that to him, to such a canine or cynical
specimen of the genus _homo_, dinner existed only as a physical event, a
mere animal relief, a mere carnal enjoyment. For what, we demand, did this
fleshly creature differ from the carrion crow, or the kite, or the vulture,
or the cormorant? A French judge, in an action upon a wager, laid it down
in law, that man only had a _bouche_, all other animals had a _gueule_:
only with regard to the horse, in consideration of his beauty, nobility,
use, and in honor of the respect with which man regarded him, by the
courtesy of Christendom, he might be allowed to have a _bouche_, and his
reproach of brutality, if not taken away, might thus be hidden. But surely,
of the rabid animal who is caught dining at noonday, the _homo ferus_, who
affronts the meridian sun like Thyestes and Atreus, by his inhuman meals,
we are, by parity of reason, entitled to say, that he has a "maw," (so has
Milton's Death,) but nothing resembling stomach. And to this vile man a
philosopher would say--"Go away, sir, and come back to me two or three
centuries hence, when you have learned to be a reasonable creature, and to
make that physico-intellectual thing out of dinner which it was meant to
be, and is capable of becoming." In Henry VII.'s time the court dined at
eleven in the forenoon. But even that hour was considered so shockingly
late in the French court, that Louis XII. actually had his gray hairs
brought down with sorrow to the grave, by changing his regular hour of
half-past nine for eleven, in gallantry to his young English bride.[11] He
fell a victim to late hours in the forenoon. In Cromwell's time they dined
at one, P.M. One century and a half had carried them on by two hours.
Doubtless, old cooks and scullions wondered what the world would come to
next. Our French neighbors were in the same predicament. But they far
surpassed us in veneration for the meal. They actually dated from it.
Dinner constituted the great era of the day. _L'apres diner_ is almost the
sole date which you find in Cardinal De Retz's memoirs of the _Fronde_.
Dinner was their _Hegira_--dinner was their _line_ in traversing the ocean
of day: they crossed the equator when they dined. Our English revolution
came next; it made some little difference, we have heard people say, in
Church and State; but its great effects were perceived in dinner. People
now dined at two. So dined Addison for his last thirty years; so dined
Pope, who was coeval with the revolution through his entire life. Precisely
as the rebellion of 1745 arose, did people (but observe, very great people)
advance to four, P.M. Philosophers, who watch the "semina rerum," and the
first symptoms of change, had perceived this alteration singing in the
upper air like a coming storm some little time before. About the year 1740,
Pope complains to a friend of Lady Suffolk's dining so late as four. Young
people may bear those things, he observes; but as to himself, now turned
of fifty, if such doings went on, if Lady Suffolk would adopt such strange
hours, he must really absent himself from Marble Hill. Lady Suffolk had a
right to please herself: he himself loved her. But if she would persist,
all which remained for a decayed poet was respectfully to "cut his stick,
and retire." Whether Pope ever put up with four o'clock dinners again, we
have vainly sought to fathom. Some things advance continuously, like a
flood or a fire, which always make an end of A, eat and digest it, before
they go on to B. Other things advance _per saltum_--they do not silently
cancer their way onwards, but lie as still as a snake after they have made
some notable conquest, then when unobserved they make themselves up "for
mischief," and take a flying bound onwards. Thus advanced dinner, and by
these fits got into the territory of evening. And ever as it made a motion
onwards, it found the nation more civilized, (else the change would not
have been effected,) and raised them to a still higher civilization. The
next relay on that line of road, the next repeating frigate, is Cowper in
his poem on _Conversation_. He speaks of four o'clock as still the elegant
hour for dinner--the hour for the _lautiores_ and the _lepidi homines_. Now
this was written about 1780, or a little earlier; perhaps, therefore,
just one generation after Pope's Lady Suffolk. But then Cowper was living
amongst the rural gentry, not in high life; yet, again, Cowper was nearly
connected by blood with the eminent Whig house of Cowper, and acknowledged
as a _kinsman_. About twenty-five years after this, we may take Oxford as
a good exponent of the national advance. As a magnificent body of
"foundations," endowed by kings, and resorted to by the flower of the
national youth, Oxford is always elegant and even splendid in her habits.
Yet, on the other hand, as a grave seat of learning, and feeling the weight
of her position in the commonwealth, she is slow to move: she is inert as
she should be, having the functions of _resistance_ assigned to her against
the popular instinct of _movement_. Now, in Oxford, about 1804-5, there was
a general move in the dinner hour. Those colleges who dined at three, of
which there were still several, now dined at four; those who had dined
at four, now translated their hour to five. These continued good general
hours, but still amongst the more intellectual orders, till about Waterloo.
After that era, six, which had been somewhat of a gala hour, was promoted
to the fixed station of dinner-time in ordinary; and there perhaps it will
rest through centuries. For a more festal dinner, seven, eight, nine, ten,
have all been in requisition since then; but we have not yet heard of any
man's dining later than 10, P.M., except in that single classical instance
(so well remembered from our father Joe) of an Irishman who must have dined
_much_ later than ten, because his servant protested, when others were
enforcing the dignity of their masters by the lateness of their dinner
hours, that _his_ master dined "to-morrow."

Were the Romans not as barbarous as our own ancestors at one time? Most
certainly they were; in their primitive ages they took their _coena_ at
noon,[12] _that_ was before they had laid aside their barbarism; before
they shaved: it was during their barbarism, and in consequence of their
barbarism, that they timed their _coena_ thus unseasonably. And this is
made evident by the fact, that, so long as they erred in the hour, they
erred in the attending circumstances. At this period they had no music
at dinner, no festal graces, and no reposing upon sofas. They sate bolt
upright in chairs, and were as grave as our ancestors, as rabid, and
doubtless as furiously in haste.

With us the revolution has been equally complex. We do not, indeed, adopt
the luxurious attitude of semi-recumbency; our climate makes that less
requisite; and, moreover, the Romans had no knives and forks, which could
scarcely be used in that posture: they ate with their fingers from dishes
already cut up--whence the peculiar force of Seneca's "post quod non sunt
lavandæ manus." But exactly in proportion as our dinner has advanced
towards evening, have we and has that advanced in circumstances of
elegance, of taste, of intellectual value." That by itself would be much.
Infinite would be the gain for any people that it had ceased to be
brutal, animal, fleshly; ceased to regard the chief meal of the day as a
ministration only to an animal necessity; that they had raised it to a far
higher standard; associated it with social and humanizing feelings,
with manners, with graces both moral and intellectual; moral in the
self-restraint; intellectual in the fact, notorious to all men, that the
chief arenas for the _easy_ display of intellectual power are at our dinner
tables. But dinner has _now_ even a greater function than this; as the
fervor of our day's business increases, dinner is continually more needed
in its office of a great _reaction_. We repeat that, at this moment, but
for the daily relief of dinner, the brain of all men who mix in the strife
of capitals would be unhinged and thrown off its centre.

If we should suppose the case of a nation taking three equidistant meals
all of the same material and the same quantity, all milk, for instance, it
would be impossible for Thomas Aquinas himself to say which was or was not
dinner. The case would be that of the Roman _ancile_ which dropped from
the skies; to prevent its ever being stolen, the priests made eleven
_facsimiles_ of it, that the thief, seeing the hopelessness of
distinguishing the true one, might let all alone. And the result was, that,
in the next generation, nobody could point to the true one. But our dinner,
the Roman _coena_, is distinguished from the rest by far more than the
hour; it is distinguished by great functions, and by still greater
capacities. It _is_ most beneficial; it may become more so.

In saying this, we point to the lighter graces of music, and conversation
_more varied_, by which the Roman _coena_ was chiefly distinguished from
our dinner. We are far from agreeing with Mr. Croly, that the Roman meal
was more "intellectual" than ours. On the contrary, ours is the more
intellectual by much; we have far greater knowledge, far greater means
for making it such. In fact, the fault of our meal is--that it is _too_
intellectual; of too severe a character; too political; too much tending,
in many hands, to disquisition. Reciprocation of question and answer,
variety of topics, shifting of topics, are points not sufficiently
cultivated. In all else we assent to the following passage from Mr. Croly's
eloquent Salathiel:--

"If an ancient Roman could start from his slumber into the midst of
European life, he must look with scorn on its absence of grace, elegance,
and fancy. But it is in its festivity, and most of all in its banquets,
that he would feel the incurable barbarism of the Gothic blood. Contrasted
with the fine displays that made the table of the Roman noble a picture,
and threw over the indulgence of appetite the colors of the imagination,
with what eyes must he contemplate the tasteless and commonplace dress,
the coarse attendants, the meagre ornament, the want of mirth, music, and
intellectual interest--the whole heavy machinery that converts the feast
into the mere drudgery of devouring!"

Thus far the reader knows already that we dissent violently; and by looking
back he will see a picture of our ancestors at dinner, in which they
rehearse the very part in relation to ourselves that Mr. Croly supposes
all moderns to rehearse in relation to the Romans; but in the rest of the
beautiful description, the positive, though not the comparative part, we
must all concur:--

"The guests before me were fifty or sixty splendidly dressed men,"
(they were in fact Titus and his staff, then occupied with the siege of
Jerusalem,) "attended by a crowd of domestics, attired with scarcely less
splendor; for no man thought of coming to the banquet in the robes of
ordinary life. The embroidered couches, themselves striking objects,
allowed the ease of position at once delightful in the relaxing climates of
the South, and capable of combining with every grace of the human figure.
At a slight distance, the table loaded with plate glittering under a
profusion of lamps, and surrounded by couches thus covered by rich
draperies, was like a central source of light radiating in broad shafts of
every brilliant hue. The wealth of the patricians, and their intercourse
with the Greeks, made them masters of the first performances of the arts.
Copies of the most famous statues, and groups of sculpture in the precious
metals; trophies of victories; models of temples; were mingled with vases
of flowers and lighted perfumes. Finally, covering and closing all, was
a vast scarlet canopy, which combined the groups beneath to the eye, and
threw the whole into the form that a painter would love."

Mr. Croly then goes on to insist on the intellectual embellishments of the
Roman dinner; their variety, their grace, their adaptation to a festive
purpose. The truth is, our English imagination, more profound than the
Roman, is also more gloomy, less gay, less _riante_. That accounts for our
want of the gorgeous _trictinium_, with its scarlet draperies, and for many
other differences both to the eye and to the understanding. But both we and
the Romans agree in the main point; we both discovered the true purpose
which dinner might serve,--1, to throw the grace of intellectual enjoyment
over an animal necessity; 2, to relieve and antagonize the toil of brain
incident to high forms of social life.

Our object has been to point the eye to this fact; to show uses imperfectly
suspected in a recurring accident of life; to show a steady tendency to
that consummation, by holding up, as in a mirror, (together with occasional
glimpses of hidden corners in history,) the corresponding revolution
silently going on in a great people of antiquity.



NOTES.


[NOTE 1.

"_In procinct_."--Milton's translation (somewhere in The Paradise Regained)
of the technical phrase "in procinctu."]

[NOTE 2.

"_Geologists know not_."--Observe, reader, we are not at all questioning
the Scriptural Chronology of the earth as a _habitation for man_, for on
the pre-human earth Scripture is silent: not upon the six thousand years
does our doubt revolve, but upon a very different thing, viz. to what age
in man these six thousand years correspond by analogy in a planet. In man
the sixtieth part is a very venerable age. But as to a planet, as to our
little earth, instead of arguing dotage, six thousand years may have
scarcely carried her beyond babyhood. Some people think she is cutting her
first teeth; some think her in her teens. But, seriously, it is a very
interesting problem. Do the sixty centuries of our earth imply youth,
maturity, or dotage?]

[NOTE 3.

"_Everywhere the ancients went to bed, like good boys, from seven to nine
o'clock_."--As we are perfectly serious, we must beg the reader, who
fancies any joke in all this, to consider what an immense difference
it must have made to the earth, considered as a steward of her own
resources-whether great nations, in a period when their resources were so
feebly developed, did, or did not, for many centuries, require candles;
and, we may add, fire. The five heads of human expenditure are,--1, Food;
2, Shelter; 3, Clothing; 4, Fuel; 5, Light. All were pitched on a lower
scale in the Pagan era; and the two last were almost banished from ancient
housekeeping. What a great relief this must have been to our good mother
the earth! who, at _first_, was obliged to request of her children that
they would settle round the Mediterranean. She could not even afford them
water, unless they would come and fetch it themselves out of a common tank
or cistern.]

[NOTE 4.

"_The manesalutantes_."--There can be no doubt that the _levees_ of modern
princes and ministers have been inherited from this ancient usage of Rome;
one which belonged to Rome republican, as well as Rome imperial. The
fiction in our modern practice is--that we wait upon the _levé_, or rising
of the prince. In France, at one era, this fiction was realized: the
courtiers did really attend the king's dressing. And, as to the queen, even
up to the revolution, Marie Antoinette almost from necessity gave audience
at her toilette.]

[NOTE 5.

"_Or again, 'siccum pro biscodo, ut hodie vocamus, sumemus_?'"--It is odd
enough that a scholar so complete as Salmasius, whom nothing ever escapes,
should have overlooked so obvious an alternative as that of _siccus_,
meaning without _opsonium--Scoticè_, without "kitchen."]

[NOTE 6.

"_The whole amount of relief_;"--from which it appears how grossly Locke
(see his _Education_) was deceived in fancying that Augustus practised any
remarkable abstinence in taking only a bit of bread and a raisin or two, by
way of luncheon. Augustus did no more than most people did; secondly, he
abstained only with a view to dinner; and, thirdly, for this dinner he
never waited longer than up to four o'clock.]

[NOTE 7.

"_Mansiones_"--the halts of the Roman legions, the stationary places of
repose which divided the marches, were so called.]

[NOTE 8.

"_The everlasting Jew_;"--the German name for what we English call the
Wandering Jew. The German imagination has been most struck with the
duration of the man's life, and his unhappy sanctity from death; the
English by the unrestingness of the man's life, his incapacity of repose.]

[NOTE 9.

"_Immeasurable toga_."--It is very true that in the time of Augustus the
_toga_ had disappeared amongst the lowest plebs, and greatly Augustus was
shocked at that spectacle. It is a very curious fact in itself, especially
as expounding the main cause of the civil wars. Mere poverty, and the
absence of bribery from Rome, whilst all popular competition for offices
drooped, can alone explain this remarkable revolution of dress.]

[NOTE 10.

That boys in the Prætexta did not bathe in the public baths, is certain;
and most unquestionably that is the meaning of the expression in Juvenal
so much disputed--"Nisi qui nondum _ære_ lavantur." By _æs_ he means the
_ahenum_, a common name for the public bath, which was made of copper; in
our navy, "the _coppers_" is a name for the boilers. "Nobody believes in
such tales except children," is the meaning. This one exclusion cut off
three eighths of the Roman males.]

[NOTE 11.

"_His young--English bride_."--The case of an old man, or one reputed
old, marrying a very girlish wife, is always too much for the gravity of
history; and, rather than lose the joke, the historian prudently disguises
the age, which, after all, was little above fifty. And the very persons
who insist on the late dinner as the proximate cause of death, elsewhere
insinuate something else, not so decorously expressed. It is odd that this
amiable prince, so memorable as having been a martyr to late dining at
eleven, A.M., was the same person who is so equally memorable for the noble
answer about a King of France not remembering the wrongs of a Duke of
Orleans.]

[NOTE 12.

"_Took their coena at noon_."--And, by the way, in order to show how little
_coena_ had to do with any evening hour (though, in any age but that of our
fathers, four in the afternoon would never have been thought an evening
hour in the sense implied by _supper_,)--the Roman _gourmands_ and _bons
vivants_ continued through the very last ages of Rome to take their coena,
when more than usually sumptuous, at noon. This, indeed, all people did
occasionally, just as we sometimes give a dinner even now so early as four,
P.M., under the name of a _dejeuner à la fourchette_. Those who took their
_coena_ so early as this, were said _de die coenare_--to begin dining from
high day. Just as the line in Horace--"Ut jugulent homines surgunt _de
nocte_ latrones," does not mean that the robbers rise when others are going
to bed, viz., at nightfall, but at midnight. For, says one of the three
best scholars of this earth, _de die, de nocte_, mean from that hour
which was most fully, most intensely day or night, viz., the centre, the
meridian. This one fact is surely a clencher as to the question whether
_coena_ meant dinner or supper.]





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