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Title: The Uncollected Writings of Thomas de Quincey, Vol. 2 - With a Preface and Annotations by James Hogg
Author: De Quincey, Thomas, 1785-1859
Language: English
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[Transcriber's Notes: Text that was in italics in the original book is
shown between _underscore characters_ and text that was in small caps
is shown as ALL CAPS. Footnotes from the article titles are at the end
of the first paragraph of the article; all others follow the paragraph
in which they are referenced. The variation in the spelling of some
words is maintained from the original.]



                           THE UNCOLLECTED WRITINGS
                                      OF
                              THOMAS DE QUINCEY.

                                     WITH
                           A PREFACE AND ANNOTATIONS
                                      BY
                                  JAMES HOGG.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES. VOL. II.

                                [Illustration]

                                    LONDON:
                           SWAN SONNENSCHEIN & CO.,
                              PATERNOSTER SQUARE.

                                     1890.



                         RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,

                               LONDON & BUNGAY.



CONTENTS.

                                                  PAGE
THE ENGLISH IN CHINA.                                7

SHAKSPERE'S TEXT.--SUETONIUS UNRAVELLED.            37

HOW TO WRITE ENGLISH.                               55

THE CASUISTRY OF DUELLING.                          65

THE LOVE-CHARM.                                    113

LUDWIG TIECK.                                      153

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.--THE HOUSE OF WEEPING.    160

THE HOUSEHOLD WRECK.                               173

MR. SCHNACKENBERGER; OR, TWO MASTERS FOR ONE DOG.  279

ANGLO-GERMAN DICTIONARIES.                         348



THE ENGLISH IN CHINA.


This Paper, originally written for me in 1857, and published in _Titan_
for July of that year, has not appeared in any collective edition of the
author's works, British or American. It was his closing contribution to
a series of three articles concerning Chinese affairs; prepared when our
troubles with that Empire seemed to render war imminent. The first two
were given in _Titan_ for February and April, 1857, and then issued with
additions in the form of a pamphlet which is now very scarce. It
consisted of 152 pages thus arranged:--(1) Preliminary Note, i-iv; (2)
Preface, pp. 3-68; (3) China (the two _Titan_ papers), pp. 69-149; (4)
Postscript, pp. 149-152.

In the posthumous supplementary volume (XVI.) of the collected works the
_third section_ was reprinted, but all the other matter was
discarded--with a rather imperfect appreciation of the labour which the
author had bestowed upon it, and his own estimate of the value of what
he had condensed in this Series--as frequently expressed to me during
its progress.

In the twelfth volume of the 'Riverside' Edition of De Quincey's works,
published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, U.S.A., the whole of the 152
pp. of the expanded _China_ reprint are given, but not the final section
here reproduced from _Titan_.

The Chinese questions stirred DE QUINCEY profoundly, and roused all the
'John Bullism' of his nature. Two passages from the 'Preliminary Note'
will show his object in throwing so much energy into this subject:--


NATIONAL MORALITY.

'Its purpose[1] is to diffuse amongst those of the middle classes, whose
daily occupations leave them small leisure for direct personal
inquiries, some sufficient materials for appreciating the _justice_ of
our British pretensions and attitude in our coming war with China. It is
a question frequently raised amongst public journalists, whether we
British are entitled to that exalted distinction which sometimes we
claim for ourselves, and which sometimes is claimed on our behalf, by
neutral observers on the national practice of morality. There is no call
in this place for so large a discussion; but, most undoubtedly, in one
feature of so grand a distinction, in one reasonable presumption for
inferring a profounder national conscientiousness, as diffused among the
British people, stands upon record, in the pages of history, this
memorable fact, that always at the opening (and at intervals throughout
the progress) of any war, there has been much and angry discussion
amongst us British as to the equity of its origin, and the moral
reasonableness of its objects. Whereas, on the Continent, no man ever
heard of a question being raised, or a faction being embattled, upon any
demur (great or small) as to the moral grounds of a war. To be able to
face the trials of a war--_that_ was its justification; and to win
victories--_that_ was its ratification for the conscience.'

[1] That is--the publication of the pamphlet.--H.


CHINESE POLICY.

'The dispute at Shanghai, in 1848, equally as regards the origin of that
dispute, and as regards the Chinese mode of conducting it, will give the
reader a key to the Chinese character and the Chinese policy. To begin
by making the most arrogant resistance to the simplest demands of
justice, to end by cringing in the lowliest fashion before the guns of a
little war-brig, there we have, in a representative abstract, the
Chinese system of law and gospel. The equities of the present war are
briefly summed up in this one question: What is it that our brutal enemy
wants from us? Is it some concession in a point of international law, or
of commercial rights, or of local privilege, or of traditional usage,
that the Chinese would exact? Nothing of the kind. It is simply a
license, guaranteed by ourselves, to call us in all proclamations by
scurrilous names; and secondly, with our own consent, to inflict upon
us, in the face of universal China, one signal humiliation.... Us--the
freemen of the earth by emphatic precedency--us, the leaders of
civilisation, would this putrescent[2] tribe of hole-and-corner
assassins take upon themselves, not to force into entering by an ignoble
gate [the reference here is to a previous passage concerning the low
door by which Spanish fanaticism ordained that the _Cagots_ (lepers) of
the Pyrenees should enter the churches in a stooping attitude], but to
exclude from it altogether, and for ever. Briefly, then, for this
licensed scurrility, in the first place; and, in the second, for this
foul indignity of a spiteful exclusion from a right four times secured
by treaty, it is that the Chinese are facing the unhappy issues of war.'

[2] _Putrescent._ See the recorded opinions of Lord Amherst's suite upon
the personal cleanliness of the Chinese.

       *       *       *       *       *

The position and outcome of matters in those critical years may be
recalled by a few lines from the annual summaries of _The Times_ on the
New Years' days of 1858 and 1859. These indicate that DE QUINCEY was
here a pretty fair exponent of the growing wrath of the English people.


[_January 1, 1858._]

'The presence of the China force on the Indian Seas was especially
fortunate. The demand for reinforcements at Calcutta (caused by the
Indian Mutiny) was obviously more urgent than the necessity for
punishing the insolence at Canton. At a more convenient season the
necessary operations in China will be resumed, and in the meantime the
blockading squadron has kept the offending population from despising the
resentment of England. The interval which has elapsed has served to
remove all reasonable doubt of the necessity of enforcing redress.
Public opinion has not during the last twelvemonth become more tolerant
of barbarian outrages. There is no reason to believe that the punishment
of the provincial authorities will involve the cessation of intercourse
with the remainder of the Chinese Empire.'

       *       *       *       *       *

[_January 1, 1859._]

'The working of our treaties with China and Japan will be watched with
curiosity both in and out of doors, and we can only hope that nothing will
be done to blunt the edge of that masterly decision by which these two
giants of Eastern tale have been felled to the earth, and reduced to the
level and bearing of common humanity.'

       *       *       *       *       *

The titles which follow are those which were given by DE QUINCEY himself to
the three Sections.--H.


HINTS TOWARDS AN APPRECIATION OF THE COMING WAR IN CHINA.

Said before the opening of July, that same warning remark may happen to
have a prophetic rank, and practically, a prophetic value, which two
months later would tell for mere history, and history paid for by a
painful experience.

The war which is now approaching wears in some respects the strangest
features that have yet been heard of in old romance, or in prosaic
history, for we are at war with the southernmost province of
China--namely, Quantung, and pre-eminently with its chief city of
Canton, but not with the other four commercial ports of China, nor; in
fact, at present with China in general; and, again, we are at war with
Yeh, the poisoning Governor of Canton, but (which is strangest of all)
not with Yeh's master--the Tartar Emperor--locked up in a far-distant
Peking.

Another strange feature in this war is--the footing upon which our
alliances stand. For allies, it seems, we are to have; nominal, as
regards the costs of war, but real and virtual as regards its profits.
The French, the Americans,[3] and I believe the Belgians, have pushed
forward (absolutely in post-haste advance of ourselves) their several
diplomatic representatives, who are instructed duly to lodge their
claims for equal shares of the benefits reaped by our British fighting,
but with no power to contribute a single file towards the bloodshed of
this war, nor a single guinea towards its money costs. Napoleon I., in a
craze of childish spite towards this country, pleased himself with
denying the modern heraldic bearings of Great Britain, and resuscitating
the obsolete shield of our Plantagenets; he insisted that our true
armorial ensigns were the leopards. But really the Third Napoleon is
putting life and significance into his uncle's hint, and using us, as in
Hindostan they use the cheeta or hunting-leopard, for rousing and
running down his oriental game. It is true, that in certain desperate
circumstances, when no opening remains for pacific negotiation, these
French and American agents are empowered to send home for military
succours. A worshipful prospect, when we throw back our eyes upon our
own share in these warlike preparations, with all the advantages of an
unparalleled marine. Six months have slipped away since Lord Clarendon,
our Foreign Secretary, received, in Downing Street, Sir J. Bowring's
and Admiral Seymour's reports of Yeh's atrocities. Six calendar months,
not less, but more, by some days, have run past us since then; and
though some considerable part of our large reinforcements must have
reached their ground in April, and even the commander-in-chief (Sir John
Ashburnham) by the middle of May, yet, I believe, that many of the
gun-boats, on which mainly will rest the pursuit of Yeh's junks, if any
remain unabsconded northwards, have actually not yet left our own
shores. The war should naturally have run its course in one campaign.
Assuredly it will, if confined within the limits of Yeh's command, even
supposing that command to comprehend the two Quangs. Practically, then,
it is a fantastic impossibility that any reversionary service to our
British expedition, which is held out in prophetic vision as
consecrating our French and American friends from all taint of mercenary
selfishness, ever can be realised. I am not going to pursue this
subject. But a brief application of it to a question at this moment
(June 16) urgently appealing to public favour is natural and fair.
Canvassers are now everywhere moving on behalf of a ship canal across
the Isthmus of Suez. This canal proposes to call upon the subscribers
for £9,000,000 sterling; the general belief is, that first and last it
will call for £12,000,000 to £15,000,000. But at that price, or at any
price, it is cheap; and ultimate failure is impossible. Why do I mention
it? Everywhere there is a rumour that 'a narrow jealousy' in London is
the bar which obstructs this canal speculation. There is, indeed, and
already before the canal proposal there _was_, a plan in motion for a
_railway_ across the isthmus, which seems far enough from meeting the
vast and growing necessities of the case. But be _that_ as it may, with
what right does any man in Europe, or America, impute narrowness of
spirit, local jealousy, or selfishness, to England, when he calls to
mind what sacrifices she is at this moment making for those very
oriental interests which give to the ship canal its sole value--the men,
the ships, the money spent, or to _be_ spent, upon the Canton war, and
then in fairness connects that expense (or the similar expense made by
her in 1840-42) with the operative use to which, in those years, she
applied all the diplomatic concessions extorted by her arms. The first
word--a memorable word--which she uttered on proposing her terms in
1842, was, What I demand for myself, _that_ let all Christendom enjoy.
And since that era (_i. e._, for upwards of fourteen years) all
Christendom, that did not fail in the requisite energy for improving the
opportunities then first laid open, _has_ enjoyed the very same
advantages in Chinese ports as Great Britain; secondly, without having
contributed anything whatever to the winning or the securing of these
advantages; thirdly, on the pure volunteer intercession made by Britain
on their behalf. The world has seen enough of violence and cruelties,
the most bloody in the service of commercial jealousies, and nowhere
more than in these oriental regions: witness the abominable acts of the
Dutch at Amboyna, in Japan, and in Java, &c.; witness the bigoted
oppressions, where and when soever they had power, of the colonising
Portuguese and Spaniards. Tyranny and merciless severities for the ruin
of commercial rivals have been no rarities for the last three and a half
centuries in any region of the East. But first of all, from Great
Britain in 1842 was heard the free, spontaneous proclamation--this was a
rarity--unlimited access, with advantages the very same as her own, to a
commerce which it was always imagined that she laboured to hedge round
with repulsions, making it sacred to her own privileged use. A royal
gift was this; but a gift which has not been received by Christendom in
a corresponding spirit of liberal appreciation. One proof of _that_ may
be read in the invidious statement, supported by no facts or names,
which I have just cited. Were this even true, a London merchant is not
therefore a Londoner, or even a Briton. Germans, Swiss, Frenchmen, &c.,
are settled there as merchants, in crowds. No nation, however, is
compromised by any act of her citizens acting as separate and
uncountenanced individuals. So that, even if better established as a
fact, this idle story would still be a calumny; and as a calumny it
would merit little notice. Nevertheless, I have felt it prudent to give
it a prominent station, as fitted peculiarly, by the dark shadows of its
malice, pointed at our whole nation collectively, to call into more
vivid relief the unexampled lustre of that royal munificence in England,
which, by one article of a treaty, dictated at the point of her
bayonets, threw open in an hour, to all nations, that Chinese commerce,
never previously unsealed through countless generations of man.

[3] '_America_:'--For America in particular there is an American
defence offered in a Washington paper (the _Weekly Union_, for May 28,
1857), which, for cool ignoring of facts, exceeds anything that I
remember. It begins thus:--'Since our treaty with China in 1844' (and
_that_, be it remembered, was possible only in consequence of our war
and its close in 1842), 'the most amicable relations have existed
between the United States and China--China is our friend, and we are
hers.' Indeed! as a brief commentary upon that statement, I recommend to
the reader's attention our Blue-books on China of last winter. The
American commander certainly wound up his quarrel with Yeh in a
mysterious way, that drew some sneers from the various nationalities
then moving in that neighbourhood, but no less certainly he had, during
the October of 1856, a smart exchange of cannon-shots with Yeh, which
lasted for some days (three, at least, according to my remembrance), and
ended in the capture of numerous Chinese forts. The American apologist
says in effect, that the United States will not fight, because they have
no quarrel. But that is not the sole question. Does the United States
mean to take none of the benefits that may be won by our arms? He speaks
of the French as more belligerently inclined than the United States.
Would that this were really so. No good will come of schisms between the
nations of Christendom. There is a posthumous work of Commissioner Lin,
in twelve quartos, printed at Peking, urgently pressing the necessity
for China of building upon such schisms the one sole policy that can
save her from ruin.

Next, then, having endeavoured to place these preliminary points in
their true light, I will anticipate the course by which the campaign
would naturally be likely to travel, supposing no alien and mischievous
disturbance at work for deranging it. Simply to want fighting allies
would be no very menacing evil. We managed to do without them in our
pretty extensive plan of warfare fifteen years ago; and there is no
reason why we should find our difficulties now more intractable than
then. I should imagine that the American Congress and the French
Executive would look on uneasily, and with a sense of shame, at the
prospect of sharing largely in commercial benefits which they had not
earned, whilst the burdens of the day were falling exclusively upon the
troops of our nation; but _that_ is a consideration for their own
feelings, and may happen to corrode their hearts and their sense of
honour most profoundly at some future time, when it may have ceased to
be remediable. If that were all, for us there would be no arrears of
mortified sensibilities to apprehend. But what is ominous even in
relation to ourselves from these professedly inert associates, these
sleeping partners in our Chinese dealings, is, that their presence with
no active functions argues a faith lurking somewhere in the possibility
of _talking_ the Chinese into reason. Such a chimera, still surviving
the multiform experience we have had, augurs ruin to the total
enterprise. It is not absolutely impossible that even Yeh, or any
imbecile governor armed with the same obstinacy and brutal arrogance,
might, under the terrors of an armament such as he will have to face,
simulate a submission that was far from his thoughts. We ourselves found
in the year 1846, when in fidelity to our engagements we gave back the
important island of Chusan, which we had retained for four years, in
fact until all the instalments of the ransom money had been paid, that a
more negligent ear was turned to our complaints and remonstrances. The
vile mob of Canton, long kept and indulged as so many trained bull-dogs,
for the purpose of venting that insolence to Europeans which the
mandarins could no longer utter personally without coming into collision
with the treaty, became gradually unmanageable even by their masters. In
1847 Lord Palmerston, then Foreign Secretary, was reduced to the
necessity of fulminating this passage against the executive government
of the murdering city--'You' (Lord Palmerston was addressing Sir John
Davis, at that time H. M. Plenipotentiary in China) 'will inform the
Chinese authorities, in plain and distinct terms, that the British
Government will not tolerate that a Chinese mob shall with impunity
maltreat British subjects in China, whenever they get them into their
power; and that if the Chinese authorities will not punish and prevent
such outrages, the British Government will be obliged to take the matter
into their own hands; and it will not be _their_ fault if, in such case,
the innocent are involved in the punishment sought to be inflicted on
the guilty.'

This commanding tone was worthy of Lord Palmerston, and in harmony with
his public acts in all cases where he has understood the ground which
he occupied. Unhappily he did _not_ understand the case of Canton. The
British were admitted by each successive treaty, their right of entry
was solemnly acknowledged by the emperor. Satisfied with this, Lord
Palmerston said, 'Enough: the principle is secured; the mere details,
locally intelligible no doubt, I do not pretend to understand. But all
this will come in time. In time you will be admitted into Canton. And
for the present rest satisfied with having your right admitted, if not
as yet your persons.' Ay, but unfortunately nothing short of plenary
admission to British flesh and blood ever will satisfy the organised
ruffians of Canton, that they have not achieved a triumph over the
British; which triumph, as a point still open to doubt amongst
mischief-makers, they seek to strengthen by savage renewal as often as
they find a British subject unprotected by armed guardians within their
streets. In those streets murder walks undisguised. And the only measure
for grappling with it is summarily to introduce the British resident, to
prostrate all resistance, and to punish it by the gallows[4] where it
proceeds to acts of murder. It is sad consideration for those, either in
England or China, who were nearly or indirectly connected with Canton
(amongst whom must be counted the British Government), that beyond a
doubt the murders of our countrymen, which occurred in that city, would
have been intercepted by such a mastery over the local ruffians as could
not be effected so long as the Treaty of Nanking was not carried into
effect with respect to free entrance and residence of British subjects.
As things stood, all that Sir J. Davis could do, in obedience to the
directions from the Home Government, was to order a combined naval and
military attack upon all the Chinese forts which belt the approaches to
Canton. These were all captured; and the immense number of eight hundred
and twenty-seven heavy guns were in a few hours made unserviceable,
either by knocking off their trunnions, or by spiking them, or in both
ways. The Imperial Commissioner, Keying, previously known so favourably
to the English by his good sense and discretion, had on this occasion
thought it his best policy to ignore Lord Palmerston's letter: a copy
had been communicated to him; but he took not the least notice of it. If
this were intended for insolence, it was signally punished within a few
hours. It happened that on our English list of grievances there remained
a shocking outrage offered to Colonel Chesney, a distinguished officer
of the engineers,[5] and which to a certainty would have terminated in
his murder, but for the coming up at the critical moment of a Chinese in
high authority. The villains concerned in this outrage were known, were
arrested, and (according to an agreement with our plenipotentiary) were
to be punished in our presence. But in contempt of all his engagements,
and out of pure sycophantic concession to the Canton mob, Keying
notified that we the injured party were to be excluded. _In that case no
punishment at all would have been inflicted._ Luckily, our troops and
our shipping had not yet dispersed. Sir J. Davis, therefore, wrote to
Keying, openly taxing him with his breach of honour. 'I _was_ going'
[these were Sir John's words] 'to Hong-Kong to-morrow; but since you
behave with evasion and bad faith, in not punishing the offenders in
the presence of deputed officers, I shall keep the troops at Canton, and
proceed to-morrow in the steamer to Foshan, where, if I meet with
insult, I will burn the town.' Foshan is a town in the neighbourhood of
Canton, and happened to be the scene of Colonel Chesney's ill usage.
Now, upon this vigorous step, what followed? Hear Sir John:--'Towards
midnight a satisfactory reply was received, and at five o'clock next
morning three offenders were brought to the guard-house--a mandarin of
high rank being present on the part of the Chinese, and deputed officers
on the part of the British. The men were bambooed in succession by the
Chinese officers of justice;' and at the close of the scene, the
mandarin (upon a requisition from our side) explained to the mob who
crowded about the barriers _why_ the men were punished, and warned them
that similar chastisement for similar offences awaited themselves. In
one point only the example made was unsatisfactory: the men punished
were not identified as the same who had assaulted Colonel Chesney. They
might be criminals awaiting punishment for some other offence. With so
shuffling a government as the Chinese, always moving through darkness,
and on the principles of a crooked policy, no perfect satisfaction must
ever be looked for. But still, what a bright contrast between this
energy of men acquainted with the Chinese character, and the foolish
imbecility of our own government in Downing Street, who are always
attempting the plan of soothing and propitiating by concession those
ignoble Orientals, in whose eyes all concession, great or small,
through the whole scale of graduation, is interpreted as a distinct
confession of weakness. Thus did all our governments: thus, above all
others, did the East India Company for generations deal with the
Chinese; and the first act of ours that ever won respect from China was
Anson's broadsides, and the second was our refusal of the _ko-tou_. Thus
did our Indian Government, in the early stages of their intercourse,
deal with the Burmese. Thus did our government deal with the
Japanese--an exaggerated copy of the Chinese. What they wanted with
Japan was simply to do her a very kind and courteous service--namely, to
return safe and sound to their native land seven Japanese who had been
driven by hurricanes in continued succession into the Pacific, and had
ultimately been saved from death by British sailors. Our wise government
at home were well aware of the atrocious inhospitality practised
systematically by these cruel islanders; and what course did they take
to propitiate them? Good sense would have prescribed the course of
arming the British vessel in so conspicuous a fashion as to inspire the
wholesome respect of fear. Instead of which, our government actually
drew the teeth of the particular vessel selected, by carefully
withdrawing each individual gun. The Japanese cautiously sailed round
her, ascertained her powerless condition, and instantly proceeded to
force her away by every mode of insult; nor were the unfortunate
Japanese _ever_ restored to their country. Now, contrast with this
endless tissue of imbecilities, practised through many generations by
our blind and obstinate government (for such it really is in its modes
of dealing with Asiatics), the instantaneous success of 'sharp
practice' and resolute appeals to _fear_ on the part of Sir John Davis.
By midnight of the same day on which the British remonstrance had been
lodged an answer is received; and this answer, in a perfect rapture of
panic, concedes everything demanded; and by sunrise the next morning the
whole affair has been finished. Two centuries, on our old East Indian
system of negotiating with China, would not have arrived at the same
point. Later in the very same year occurred another and more atrocious
explosion of Canton ruffianism; and the instantaneous retribution which
followed to the leading criminals, showed at once how great an advance
had been made in winning respect for ourselves, and in extorting our
rights, by this energetic mode of action. On Sunday, the 5th of
December, six British subjects had gone out into the country on a
pleasure excursion, some of whom unhappily carried pocket-pistols. They
were attacked by a mob of the usual Canton character; one Chinese was
killed and one wounded by pistol-shots; but of the six British,
encompassed by a countless crowd, not one escaped: all six were
murdered, and then thrown into the river. Immediately, and before the
British had time to take any steps, the Chinese authorities were all in
motion. The resolute conduct of Sir John Davis had put an end to the
Chinese policy of shuffling, by making it no longer hopeful. It lost
much more than it gained. And accordingly it was agreed, after a few
days' debate, that the emperor's pleasure should not be taken, except
upon the more doubtful cases. Four, about whose guilt no doubts
existed, were immediately beheaded; and the others, after communicating
with Peking, were punished in varying degrees--one or two capitally.

[4] '_By the gallows:_'--Or much rather by decapitation. Accordingly, we
read of a Ming (_i. e._, native Chinese) emperor, who (upon finding
himself in a dreadfully small minority) retired into his garden with his
daughter, and there hanged both himself and the lady. On no account
would he have decapitated either; since in that case the corpses, being
headless, would in Chinese estimation have been imperfect.

[5] '_Colonel Chesney:_'--The same, I believe, whose name was at one
time so honourably known in connection with the Euphrates and its steam
navigation.


CONDUCT OF THE WAR.

Such is the condition of that guilty town, nearest of all Chinese towns
to Hong-Kong, and indissolubly connected with ourselves. From this town
it is that the insults to our flag, and the attempts at poisoning,
wholesale and retail, have collectively emanated; and all under the
original impulse of Yeh. Surely, in speculating on the conduct of the
war, either as probable or as reasonable, the old oracular sentence of
Cato the Elder and of the Roman senate (_Delenda est Carthago_) begins
to murmur in our ears--not in this stern form, but in some modification,
better suited to a merciful religion and to our western civilization. It
is a great neglect on the part of somebody, that we have no account of
the baker's trial at Hong-Kong. He was acquitted, it seems; but upon
what ground? Some journals told us that he represented Yeh as coercing
him into this vile attempt, through his natural affection for his
family, alleged to be in Yeh's power at Canton. Such a fact, if true,
would furnish some doubtful palliation of the baker's crime, and might
have weight allowed in the sentence; but surely it would place a most
dangerous power in the hands of Chinese grandees, if, through the
leverage of families within their grasp, and by official connivance on
our part, they could reach and govern a set of agents in Hong-Kong. No
sympathy with our horror of secret murders by poison, under the shelter
of household opportunities, must be counted on from the emperor, for he
has himself largely encouraged, rewarded, and decorated these claims on
his public bounty. The more necessary that such nests of crime as
Canton, and such suggestors of crime as Yeh, should be thoroughly
disarmed. This could be done, as regards the city, by three
changes:--First, by utterly destroying the walls and gates; secondly, by
admitting the British to the freest access, and placing their residence
in a special quarter, upon the securest footing; thirdly, and as one
chief means in that direction, by establishing a police on an English
plan, and to some extent English in its composition. As to the cost, it
is evident enough that the colonial head-quarters at Hong-Kong must in
future keep up a _permanent_ military establishment; and since any
danger threatening this colony must be kindled and fed chiefly in
Canton, why not make this large city, sole focus as it is of all
mischief to us, and not a hundred miles distant from the little island,
the main barrack of the armed force?

Upon this world's tariff of international connections, what is China in
relation to Great Britain? Free is she, or not--free to dissolve her
connection with us? Secondly, what is Great Britain, when commercially
appraised, in relation to China? Is she of great value or slight value
to China? First, then, concerning China, viewed in its connection with
ourselves, this vast (but perhaps not proportionably populous) country
offers by accident the same unique advantage for meeting a social
_hiatus_ in our British system that is offered by certain southern
regions in the American United States for meeting another _hiatus_
within the same British system. Without tea, without cotton, Great
Britain, no longer great, would collapse into a very anomalous sort of
second-rate power. Without cotton, the main bulwark of our export
commerce would depart. And without tea, our daily life would, generally
speaking, be as effectually-ruined as bees without a Flora. In both of
these cases it happens that the benefit which we receive is _unique_;
that is, not merely ranking foremost upon a scale of similar benefits
reaped from other lands--a largest contribution where others might still
be large--but standing alone, and in a solitude that we have always
reason to regard as alarming. So that, if Georgia, &c., withdrew from
Liverpool and Manchester her myriads of cotton bales, palsied would be
our commercial supremacy; and, if childish China should refuse her tea
(for as to her silk, that is of secondary importance), we must all go
supperless to bed: seriously speaking, the social life of England would
receive a deadly wound. It is certainly a phenomenon without a parallel
in the history of social man--that a great nation, numbering twenty-five
millions, after making an allowance on account of those amongst the very
poorest of the Irish who do not use tea, should within one hundred years
have found themselves able so absolutely to revolutionise their diet, as
to substitute for the gross stimulation of ale and wine the most
refined, elegant, and intellectual mode of stimulation that human
research has succeeded in discovering.[6] But the material basis of this
stimulation unhappily we draw from the soil of one sole nation--and that
nation (are we ever allowed to forget?) capricious and silly beyond all
that human experience could else have suggested as possible. In these
circumstances, it was not to be supposed that we should neglect any
opening that offered for making ourselves independent of a nation which
at all times we had so much reason to distrust as the Chinese. Might not
the tea-plant be made to prosper in some district of our Indian Empire?
Forty years ago we began to put forth organised botanical efforts for
settling that question. Forty years ago, and even earlier, according to
my remembrance, Dr Roxburgh--in those days the paramount authority upon
oriental botany--threw some energy into this experiment for creating our
own nurseries of the tea-plant. But not until our Burmese victories,
some thirty years since, and our consequent treaties had put the
province of Assam into our power, was, I believe, any serious progress
made in this important effort. Mr Fortune has since applied the benefits
of his scientific knowledge, and the results of his own great personal
exertions in the tea districts of China, to the service of this most
important speculation; with what success, I am not able to report.
Meantime, it is natural to fear that the very possibility of doubts
hanging over the results in an experiment so vitally national, carries
with it desponding auguries as to the ultimate issue. Were the prospects
in any degree cheerful, it would be felt as a patriotic duty to report
at short intervals all solid symptoms of progress made in this
enterprise; for it is an enterprise aiming at a triumph far more than
scientific--a triumph over a secret purpose of the Chinese, full of
anti-social malice and insolence against Great Britain. Of late years,
as often as we have accomplished a victory over any insult to our
national honour offered or meditated by the Chinese, they have recurred
to some old historical tradition (perhaps fabulous, perhaps not), of an
emperor, Tartar or Chinese, who, rather than submit to terms of
equitable reciprocity in commercial dealings with a foreign nation, or
to terms implying an original equality of the two peoples, caused the
whole establishments and machinery connected with the particular traffic
to be destroyed, and all its living agents to be banished or beheaded.
It is certain that, in the contemplation of special contingencies likely
to occur between themselves and the British, the high mandarins dallied
at intervals with this ancient precedent, and forbore to act upon it,
partly under the salutary military panic which has for years been
gathering gloomily over their heads, but more imperatively, perhaps,
from absolute inability to dispense with the weekly proceeds from the
customs, so eminently dependent upon the British shipping. Money, mere
weight of dollars, the lovely lunar radiance of silver, this was the
spell that moonstruck their mercenary hearts, and kept them for ever
see-sawing--

    'Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike.'

Now, upon this--a state of things suspected at times, or perhaps known,
but not so established as that it could have been afterwards pleaded in
evidence--a very grave question arose, but a question easily settled:
had the Chinese a right, under the law of nations, to act upon their
malicious caprice? No man, under any way of viewing the case, hesitated
in replying, '_No_.' China, it was argued, had possessed from the first
a clear, undoubted right to dismiss us with our business unaccomplished,
_re infectâ_, if that business were the establishment of a reciprocal
traffic. In the initial stage of the relations between the two powers,
the field was open to any possible movement in either party; but,
according to the course which might be severally pursued on either side,
it was possible that one or both should so act as, in the second stage
of their dealings, wilfully to forfeit this original liberty of action.
Suppose, for instance, that China peremptorily declined all commercial
intercourse with Britain, undeniably, it was said, she had the right to
do so. But, if she once renounced this right, no matter whether
_ex_plicitly in words, or silently and _im_plicitly in acts (as if, for
example, she looked on tranquilly whilst Great Britain erected elaborate
buildings for the safe housing of goods)--in any such case, China
wilfully divested herself of all that original right to withdraw from
commercial intercourse. She might say _Go_, or she might say, _Come_;
but she could not first say, _Come_; and then, revoking this invitation,
capriciously say, _Go_.

[6] Down to George I. there _could_ have been no breakfast in England for a
gentleman or lady--there is none even yet in most parts of the
Continent--without wine of some class or other.

To this doctrine, thus limited, no man could reasonably demur. But to some
people it has seemed that the limitations themselves are the only unsound
part of the argument. It is denied that this original right of refusing a
commercial intercourse has any true foundation in the relations of things or
persons. Vainly, if any such natural right existed, would that broad basis
have been laid providentially for insuring intercourse among nations, which,
in fact, we find everywhere dispersed. Such a narrow and selfish
distribution of natural gifts, all to one man, or all to one place, has in a
first stage of human inter-relations been established, only that men might
be hurried forward into a second stage where this false sequestration might
be unlocked and dispersed. Concentrated masses, impropriations gathered into
a few hands, useless alike to the possessor and to the world, why is it
that, by primary arrangements of nature, they have been frozen into vast,
inert insulation? Only that the agencies of commerce may thus the more
loudly be invoked for thawing and setting them free to the world's use.
Whereas, by a diffusive scattering, all motives to large social intercourse
would have been neutralised.

It seems clear that the practical liberation and distribution throughout the
world of all good gifts meant for the whole household of man, has been
confided to the secret sense of a _right_ existing in man for claiming such
a distribution as part of his natural inheritance. Many articles of almost
inestimable value to man, in relation to his physical well-being (at any
rate bearing such a value when substitutional remedies were as yet unknown)
such as mercury, Jesuit's bark, through a long period the sole remedy for
intermitting fevers, opium, mineral waters, &c., were at one time _locally_
concentred. In such cases, it might often happen, that the medicinal relief
to an hospital, to an encampment, to a nation, might depend entirely upon
the right to _force_ a commercial intercourse.

Now, on the other hand, having thus noticed the question, what
commercial value has China irrevocably for England, next in the reverse
question--namely, what commercial value does England bear to China?--I
would wish to place this in a new light, by bringing it for the first
time into relation to the doctrine of rent. Multitudes in past days,
when political economy was a more favoured study, have spoken and
written upon the modern doctrine of rent, without apparently perceiving
how immediately it bears upon China, and how summarily it shatters an
objection constantly made to the value of our annual dealing with that
country. First, let me sketch, in the very briefest way, an outline of
this modern doctrine. Two men, without communication, and almost
simultaneously, in the year 1815, discovered the law of rent. Suddenly
it struck them that all manufactured products of human industry must
necessarily obey one law; whilst the products of land obey another and
opposite law. Let us for a moment consider arable land as a natural
machine for manufacturing bread. Now, in all manufactures depending upon
machinery of human invention, the natural progress is from the worse
machines to the better. No man lays aside a glove-making machine for a
worse, but only for one that possesses the old powers at a less cost, or
possesses greater powers, let us suppose, at an equal cost. But, in the
natural progress of the bread-making machines, nature herself compels
him to pursue the opposite course: he travels from the best machines to
the worse. The best land is brought into cultivation first. As
population expands, it becomes necessary to take up a second quality of
land; then a third quality; and so on for ever. Left to the action of
this one law, bread would be constantly growing dearer through a long
succession of centuries. Its tendency lies in this direction even now;
but this tendency is constantly met, thwarted, and retarded, by a
counter-tendency in the general practice of agriculture, which is always
slowly improving its own powers--that is, obtaining the same result at a
cost slowly decreasing. It follows as a consequence, when closely
pursued, that, whilst the products of pure human skill and human
machines are constantly, by tendency, growing cheaper, on the other
hand, by a counter-tendency, the products of natural machines (as the
land, mines, rivers, &c.) are constantly on the ascent. Another
consequence is, that the worst of these natural machines gives the
price for the whole; whereas, in a conflict between human machines, all
the products of the worse would be beaten out of the field by those of
the better. It is in dependency upon this law that all those innumerable
proposals for cultivating waste-lands, as in the Scottish Highlands, in
the Irish bogs, &c., are radically vicious; and, instead of creating
plenty, would by their very success impoverish us. For suppose these
lands, which inevitably must have been the lowest in the scale (or else
why so long neglected?) to be brought into tillage--what follows?
Inevitably this: that their products enter the market as the very lowest
on the graduated tariff--_i. e._, as lower than any already cultured.
And these it is--namely, the very lowest by the supposition--that must
give the price for the whole; so that _every_ number on the scale will
rise at once to the level fixed by these lowest soils, so ruinously
(though benevolently) taken up into active and efficient life. If you
add 20,000 quarters of wheat to the amount already in the market, you
_seem_ to have done a service; but, if these 20,000 have been gained at
an extra cost of half-a-crown on each quarter, and if these it is that,
being from the poorest machines, rule the price, then you have added
half-a-crown to every quarter previously in the market.

Meantime, returning to China, it is important to draw attention upon this
point. A new demand for any product of land may happen to be not very large,
and thus may seem not much to affect the markets, or the interests of those
who produce it. But, since the rent doctrine has been developed, it has
become clear that a new demand may affect the producers in two separate
modes: first, in the ordinary known mode; secondly, by happening to call
into activity a lower quality of soil. A very moderate demand, nay, a very
small one, added to that previously existing, if it happens not to fall
within the powers of those numbers already in culture (as, suppose, 1, 2, 3,
4), must necessarily call out No. 5; and so on.

Now, our case, as regards Chinese land in the tea districts, is far beyond
this. Not only has it been large enough to benefit the landholder
enormously, by calling out lower qualities of land, which process again has
stimulated the counteracting agencies in the more careful and scientific
culture of the plant; but also it has been in a positive sense enormous. It
might have been large relatively to the power of calling out lower qualities
of soil, and yet in itself have been small; but _our_ demand, running up at
present to 100,000,000 pounds weight annually, is in all senses enormous.
The poorer class of Chinese tea-drinkers use the leaves three times
over--_i. e._, as the basis of three separate tea-makings. Consequently,
even upon that single deduction, 60,000,000 of Chinese tea-drinkers count
only as 20,000,000 of ours. But I conclude, by repeating that the greatest
of the impressions made by ourselves in the China tea districts, has been
derived from this--that, whilst the native demand has probably been
stationary, ours, moving by continual starts forward, must have stimulated
the tea interest by continual descents upon inferior soils.

There is no doubt that the Emperor and all his arrogant courtiers have
decupled their incomes from the British stimulation applied to inferior
soils, that but for us never would have been called into culture. Not a
man amongst them is aware of the advantages which he owes to England.
But he soon _would_ be aware of them, if for five years this exotic
demand were withdrawn, and the tea-districts resigned to native
patronage. Upon reviewing what I have said, not the ignorant and
unteachable Chinese only, but some even amongst our own well-informed
and reflecting people, will see that they have prodigiously underrated
the commercial value of England to China; since, when an Englishman
calls for a hundred tons of tea, he does not (as is usually supposed)
benefit the Chinese merchant only by giving him the ordinary profit on a
ton, repeated for a hundred times, but also infallibly either calls into
profitable activity lands lying altogether fallow, or else, under the
action of the rent laws, gives a new and secondary value to land already
under culture.

Other and greater topics connected with this coming Chinese campaign
clamorously call for notice: especially these three:--

First, the pretended literature and meagre civilisation of China--what
they are, and with what real effects such masquerading phantoms operate
upon the generation with which accidents of commerce have brought us
connected.

Secondly, what is the true mode of facing that warfare of kidnapping,
garotting, and poisoning, avowed as legitimate subjects of patronage in
the practice and in the edicts of the Tartar Government? Two things may
be said with painful certainty upon this subject: first, the British
Government has signally neglected its duties in this field through a
period of about ninety years, and apparently is not aware of any
responsibility attaching in such a case to those who wield the functions
of supreme power. Hyder Ali, the tiger, and his more ferocious son
Tippoo, practised, in the face of all India, the atrocities of Virgil's
Mezentius upon their British captives. These men filled the stage of
martial history, through nearly forty years of the eighteenth century,
with the tortures of the most gallant soldiers on earth, and were never
questioned or threatened upon the subject. In this nineteenth century,
again, we have seen a Spanish queen and her uncle sharing between them
the infamy of putting to death (unjudged and unaccused) British soldiers
on the idlest of pretences. Was it then in the power of the British
Government to have made a vigorous and effectual intercession? It was;
and in various ways they have the same power over the Chinese sovereign
(still more over his agents) at present. The other thing which occurs to
say is this: that, if we do _not_ interfere, some morning we shall
probably all be convulsed with unavailing wrath at a repetition of Mr
Stead's tragic end, on a larger scale, and exemplified in persons of
more distinguished position.

Finally, it would have remained to notice the vast approaching
revolution for the total East that will be quickened by this war, and
will be ratified by the broad access to the Orient, soon to be laid open
on one plan or other. Then will Christendom first begin to _act_
commensurately on the East: Asia will begin to rise from her ancient
prostration, and, without exaggeration, the beginnings of a new earth
and new heavens will dawn.



SHAKSPERE'S TEXT.--SUETONIUS UNRAVELLED.


_To the Editor of 'Titan'._

Dear Sir,--A year or two ago,[7] I received as a present from a
distinguished and literary family in Boston (United States), a small
pamphlet (twin sister of that published by Mr Payne Collier) on the text
of Shakspere. Somewhere in the United States, as here in England, some
unknown critic, at some unknown time, had, from some unknown source,
collected and recorded on the margin of one amongst the Folio reprints
of Shakspere by Heminge & Condell, such new readings as either his own
sagacity had summarily prompted, or calm reflection had recommended, or
possibly local tradition in some instances, and histrionic tradition in
others, might have preserved amongst the _habitués_ of a particular
theatre. In Mr P. Collier's case, if I recollect rightly, it was the
_First_ Folio (_i. e._, by much the best); in this American case, I
think it is the _Third_ Folio (about the worst) which had received the
corrections. But, however this may be, there are two literary
_collaborateurs_ concerned in each of these parallel cases--namely,
first, the original collector (possibly author) of the various readings,
who lived and died probably within the seventeenth century; and,
secondly, the modern editor, who stations himself as a repeating
frigate that he may report and pass onwards these marginal variations to
us of the nineteenth century.

[7] Written in 1856. H.

COR. for _Corrector_, is the shorthand designation by which I have
distinguished the _first_; REP. for _Reporter_ designates the other. My
wish and purpose is to extract all such variations of the text as seem
to have any claim to preservation, or even, to a momentary
consideration. But in justice to myself, and in apology for the hurried
way in which the several parts of this little memorandum are brought
into any mimicry of order and succession, I think it right to say that
my documents are all dispersed into alien and distant quarters; so that
I am reduced into dependence upon my own unassisted memory.

[THE TEMPEST. _Act I. Scene 1._

                              'Not a soul
    But felt a fever of the mad, and play'd
    Some tricks of desperation.'

COR. here substitutes, 'But felt a fever of the _mind_:' which substitution
strikes me as entirely for the worse; 'a fever of the mad' is such a fever
as customarily attacks the delirious, and all who have lost the control of
their reasoning faculties.

[_Ibid._

                        'O dear father,
    Make not too rash a trial of him; for
    He's gentle, and not fearful.'

Upon this the _Reporter's_ remark is, that 'If we take _fearful_ in its
common acceptation of _timorous_, the proposed change renders the passage
clearer;' but that, if we take the word _fearful_ in its rarer
signification of _that which excites terror_, 'no alteration is needed.'
Certainly: none _is_ needed; for the mistake (as _I_ regard it) of REP. lies
simply in supposing the passive sense of _fearful_--namely, that which
_suffers_ fear--to be the ordinary sense; which now, in the nineteenth
century, it is; but was _not_ in the age of Shakspere.

[MACBETH. _Scene 7._

                            'Thus even-handed justice
    _Commends_ the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
    To our own lips.'

COR. proposes, _Returns_ the ingredients of, &c.; and, after the word
_returns_ is placed a comma; which, however, I suppose to be a press
oversight, and no element in the correction. Meantime, I see no call for any
change whatever. The ordinary use of the word _commend_, in any advantageous
introduction of a stranger by letters, seems here to maintain
itself--namely, placing him in such a train towards winning favour as may
give a favourable bias to his opportunities. The opportunities are not left
to their own casual or neutral action, but are armed and pointed towards a
special result by the influence of the recommender. So, also, it is here
supposed that amongst several chalices, which might else all have an equal
power to conciliate notice, one specially--namely, that which contains the
poison--is armed by Providence with a power to bias the choice, and commend
itself to the poisoner's favour.

[_Ibid._

                  'His two chamberlains
    Will I with wine and wassail so _convince_.'

COR. is not happy at this point in his suggestion: tinkers are accused
(often calumniously, for tinkers have enemies as well as other people) of
insidiously enlarging holes, making simple into compound fractures, and
sometimes of planting two holes where they find one. But I have it on the
best authority--namely, the authority of three tinkers who were
unanimous--that, if sometimes there is a little treachery of this kind
amongst the profession, it is no more than would be pronounced 'in reason'
by all candid men. And certainly, said one of the three, you wouldn't look
for perfection in a tinker? Undoubtedly a seraphic tinker would be an
unreasonable postulate; though, perhaps, the man in all England that came
nearest to the seraphic character in one century _was_ a tinker--namely,
John Bunyan. But, as my triad of tinkers urged, men of all professions _do_
cheat at uncertain times, _are_ traitors in a small proportion, _must be_
perfidious, unless they make an odious hypocritical pretension to the
character of angels. That tinkers are not alone in their practice of
multiplying the blemishes on which their healing art is invoked, seems
broadly illustrated by the practice of verbal critics. Those who have
applied themselves to the ancient classics, are notorious for their corrupt
dealings in this way. And Coleridge founded an argument against the whole
body upon the confessedly dreadful failure of Bentley, prince of all the
order, when applied to a case where most of us could appreciate the
result--namely, to the _Paradise Lost_. If, said Coleridge, this Bentley
could err so extravagantly in a case of mother-English, what must we presume
him often to have done in Greek? Here we may see to this day that practice
carried to a ruinous extent, which, when charged upon tinkers, I have seen
cause to restrict. In the present case from _Macbeth_, I fear that COR. is
slightly indulging in this tinkering practice. As I view the case, there
really is no hole to mend. The old meaning of the word _convince_ is well
brought out in the celebrated couplet--

    'He, that's convinc'd against his will,
     Is of the same opinion still.

How can _that_ be? I have often heard objectors say. Being convinced by his
opponent--_i. e._, convinced that his opponent's view is the right one--how
can he retain his own original opinion, which by the supposition is in polar
opposition. But this argument rests on a false notion of the sense attached
originally to the word _convinced_. That word was used in the sense of
_refuted; redargued_, the alternative word, was felt to be pedantic. The
case supposed was that of a man who is reduced to an absurdity; he cannot
deny that, from his own view, an absurdity _seems_ to follow; and, until he
has shown that this absurdity is only apparent, he is bound to hold himself
_provisionally_ answered. Yet that does not reconcile him to his adversary's
opinion; he retains his own, and is satisfied that somewhere an answer to it
exists, if only he could discover it.

Here the meaning is, 'I will convince his chamberlains with wine'--_i. e._,
will refute by means of the confusion belonging to the tragedy itself, when
aided by intoxication, all the arguments (otherwise plausible) which they
might urge in self-defence.

    ['_Thrice_ and once the hedge-pig whined:'--

This our friend COR. alters to _twice_; but for the very reason which
should have checked him--namely, on Theobald's suggestion that '_odd_
numbers are used in enchantments and magical operations;' and here he
fancies himself to obtain an odd number by the arithmetical
summation--_twice_ added to _once_ makes thrice. Meantime the odd number is
already secured by viewing the _whines_ separately, and not as a sum. The
hedge-pig whined thrice--that was an odd number. Again he whined, and this
time only once--this also was an odd number. Otherwise COR. is perfectly
right in his general doctrine, that

    'Numero Deus _impare_ gaudet.'

Nobody ever heard of _even_ numbers in any case of divination. A dog, for
instance, howling under a sick person's window, is traditionally ominous of
evil--but not if he howls twice, or four times.

    ['I _pull_ in resolution.'--_Act V. Scene 5._

COR. had very probably not seen Dr Johnson's edition of _Shakspere_, but in
common with the Doctor, under the simple coercion of good sense, he proposes
'I _pall_;' a restitution which is so self-attested, that it ought
fearlessly to be introduced into the text of all editions whatever, let them
be as superstitiously scrupulous as in all reason they ought to be.

[HAMLET. _Act II. Scene in the Speech of Polonius._

    'Good sir, or so, or friend, or gentleman,'

is altered by COR., and in this case with an effect of solemn humour which
justifies itself, into

    'Good sir, or sir, or friend, or gentleman;'

meaning good sir, or sir simply without the epithet _good_, which implies
something of familiarity. Polonius, in his superstitious respect for ranks
and degrees, provides four forms of address applying to four separate cases:
such is the ponderous casuistry which the solemn courtier brings to bear
upon the most trivial of cases.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this point, all at once, we find our sheaf of arrows exhausted: trivial
as are the new resources offered for deciphering the hidden meanings of
Shakspere, their quality is even less a ground of complaint than their
limitation in quantity. In an able paper published by this journal, during
the autumn of 1855, upon the new readings offered by Mr Collier's work, I
find the writer expressing generally a satisfaction with the condition of
Shakspere's text. I feel sorry that I cannot agree with him. To me the text,
though improved, and gradually moving round to a higher and more hopeful
state of promise, is yet far indeed from the settled state which is
desirable. I wish, therefore, as bearing upon all such hopes and prospects,
to mention a singular and interesting case of sudden conquest over a
difficulty that once had seemed insuperable. For a period of three centuries
there had existed an enigma, dark and insoluble as that of the Sphinx, in
the text of Suetonius. Isaac Casaubon had vainly besieged it; then, in a
mood of revolting arrogance, Joseph Scaliger; Ernesti; Gronovius; many
others; and all without a gleam of success.

The passage in Suetonius which so excruciatingly (but so unprofitably) has
tormented the wits of such scholars as have sat in judgment upon it through
a period of three hundred and fifty years, arises in the tenth section of
his Domitian. That prince, it seems, had displayed in his outset
considerable promise of moral excellence: in particular, neither rapacity
nor cruelty was apparently any feature in his character. Both qualities,
however, found a pretty early development in his advancing career, but
cruelty the earliest. By way of illustration, Suetonius rehearses a list of
distinguished men, clothed with senatorian or even consular rank, whom he
had put to death upon allegations the most frivolous: amongst them Aelius
Lamia, a nobleman whose wife he had torn from him by open and insulting
violence. It may be as well to cite the exact words of Suetonius: 'Aelium
Lamiam (interemit) ob suspiciosos quidem, verum et veteres et innoxios
jocos; quòd post abductam uxorem laudanti vocem suam--dixerat, _Heu taceo_;
quòdque Tito hortanti se ad alterum matrimonium, responderat [Greek: mê kai
su gamêsai theleis];'--that is, Aelius Lamia he put to death on account of
certain jests; jests liable to some jealousy, but, on the other hand, of old
standing, and that had in fact proved harmless as regarded practical
consequences--namely, that to one who praised his voice as a singer he had
replied, _Heu taceo_; and that on another occasion, in reply to the Emperor
Titus, when urging him to a second marriage, he had said, 'What now, I
suppose _you_ are looking out for a wife?'

The latter jest is intelligible enough, stinging, and witty. As if the young
men of the Flavian family could fancy no wives but such as they had won by
violence from other men, he affects in a bitter sarcasm to take for granted
that Titus, as the first step towards marrying, counselled his friends to
marry as the natural means for creating a fund of eligible wives. The
primal qualification of any lady as a consort being, in _their_ eyes, that
she had been torn away violently from a friend, it became evident that the
preliminary step towards a Flavian wedding was, to persuade some incautious
friend into marrying, and thus putting himself into a capacity of being
robbed. How many ladies that it was infamous for this family to appropriate
as wives, so many ladies that in their estimate were eligible in that
character. Such, at least in the stinging jest of Lamia, was the Flavian
rule of conduct. And his friend Titus, therefore, simply as the brother of
Domitian, simply as a Flavian, he affected to regard as indirectly providing
a wife, when he urged his friend by marrying to enrol himself as a
_pillagee_ elect.

The latter jest, therefore, when once apprehended, speaks broadly and
bitingly for itself. But the other--what can it possibly mean? For centuries
has that question been reiterated; and hitherto without advancing by one
step nearer to solution. Isaac Casaubon, who about 230 years since was the
leading oracle in this field of literature, writing an elaborate and
continuous commentary upon Suetonius, found himself unable to suggest any
real aids for dispersing the thick darkness overhanging the passage. What he
says is this:--'Parum satisfaciunt mihi interpretes in explicatione hujus
Lamiæ dicti. Nam quod putant _Heu taceo_ suspirium esse ejus--indicem
doloris ob abductam uxorem magni sed latentis, nobis non ita videtur; sed
notatam potius fuisse tyrannidem principis, qui omnia in suo genere pulchra
et excellentia possessoribus eriperet, unde necessitas incumbebat sua bona
dissimulandi celandique.' Not at all satisfactory to me are the
commentators in the explanation of the _dictum_ (which is here equivalent to
_dicterium_) of Lamia. For, whereas they imagine _Heu taceo_ to be a sigh of
his--the record and indication of a sorrow, great though concealed, on
behalf of the wife that had been violently torn away from him--me, I
confess, that the case does not strike in that light; but rather that a
satiric blow was aimed at the despotism of the sovereign prince, who tore
away from their possessors all objects whatsoever marked by beauty or
distinguished merit in their own peculiar class: whence arose a pressure of
necessity for dissembling and hiding their own advantages. '_Sic esse
exponendum_,' that such is the true interpretation (continues Casaubon),
'_docent illa verba_ [LAUDANTI VOCEM SUAM],' (we are instructed by those
words), [to one who praised his singing voice, &c.].

This commentary was obscure enough, and did no honour to the native good
sense of Isaac Casaubon, usually so conspicuous. For, whilst proclaiming a
settlement, in reality it settled nothing. Naturally, it made but a feeble
impression upon the scholars of the day; and not long after the publication
of the book, Casaubon received from Joseph Scaliger a friendly but
gasconading letter, in which that great scholar brought forward a new
reading--namely, [Greek: entaktô], to which he assigned a profound technical
value as a musical term. No person even affected to understand Scaliger.
Casaubon himself, while treating so celebrated a man with kind and
considerate deference, yet frankly owned that, in all his vast reading, he
had never met with this strange Greek word. But, without entering into any
dispute upon that verbal question, and conceding to Scaliger the word and
his own interpretation of the word, no man could understand in what way this
new resource was meant to affect the ultimate question at issue--namely, the
extrication of the passage from that thick darkness which overshadowed it.

'_As you were_' (to speak in the phraseology of military drill), was in
effect the word of command. All things reverted to their original condition.
And two centuries of darkness again enveloped this famous perplexity of
Roman literature. The darkness had for a few moments seemed to be unsettling
itself in preparation for flight: but immediately it rolled back again; and
through seven generations of men this darkness was heavier, because less
hopeful than before.

Now then, I believe, all things are ready for the explosion of the
catastrophe; 'which catastrophe,' I hear some malicious reader whispering,
'is doubtless destined to glorify himself' (meaning the unworthy writer of
this little paper). I cannot deny it. A truth _is_ a truth. And, since no
medal, nor riband, nor cross, of any known order, is disposable for the most
brilliant successes in dealing with desperate (or what may be called
_condemned_) passages in Pagan literature, mere sloughs of despond that yawn
across the pages of many a heathen dog, poet and orator, that I could
mention, the more reasonable it is that a large allowance should be served
out of boasting and self-glorification to all those whose merits upon this
field national governments have neglected to proclaim. The Scaligers, both
father and son, I believe, acted upon this doctrine; and drew largely by
anticipation upon that reversionary bank which they conceived to be
answerable for such drafts. Joseph Scaliger, it strikes me, was drunk when
he wrote his letter on the present occasion, and in that way failed to see
(what Casaubon saw clearly enough) that he had commenced shouting before he
was out of the wood. For my own part, if I go so far as to say that the
result promises, in the Frenchman's phrase, to 'cover me with glory,' I beg
the reader to remember that the idea of 'covering' is of most variable
extent: the glory may envelope one in a voluminous robe--a princely mantle
that may require a long suite of train-bearers, or may pinch and vice one's
arms into that succinct garment (now superannuated) which some eighty years
ago drew its name from the distinguished Whig family in England of Spencer.
Anticipating, therefore, that I _shall_--nay, insisting, and mutinously, if
needful, that I _will_--be covered with glory by the approaching result, I
do not contemplate anything beyond that truncated tunic, once known as a
'spencer,' and which is understood to cover only the shoulders and the
chest.

Now, then, all being ready, and the arena being cleared of competitors
(for I suppose it is fully understood that everybody but myself has
retired from the contest), thrice, in fact, has the trumpet sounded, 'Do
you give it up?' Some preparations there are to be made in all cases of
contest. Meantime, let it be clearly understood what it is that the
contest turns upon. Supposing that one had been called, like OEdipus
of old, to a turn-up with that venerable girl the Sphinx, most
essential it would have been that the clerk of the course (or however
you designate the judge, the umpire, &c.) should have read the riddle
propounded to Greece: how else judge of the solution? At present the
elements of the case to be decided stand thus:--

A Roman noble, a man, in fact, of senatorial rank, has been robbed,
robbed with violence, and with cruel scorn, of a lovely young wife, to
whom he was most tenderly attached. But by whom? the indignant reader
demands. By a younger son[8] of the Roman emperor Vespasian.

[8] But holding what rank, and what precise station, at the time of the
outrage? At this point I acknowledge a difficulty. The criminal was in
this case Domitian, the younger son of Vespasian, the tenth Cæsar,
younger Brother of Titus, the eleventh Cæsar, and himself, under the
name of Domitian, the twelfth of the Cæsars, consequently the closing
prince in that series of the initial twelve Cæsars whom Suetonius had
undertaken to record. Now the difficulty lies here, which yet I have
never seen noticed in any book: was this violence perpetrated before or
after Domitian's assumption of the purple? If _after_, how, then, could
the injured husband have received that advice from Titus (as to
repairing his loss by a second marriage), which forms part of an
anecdote and a _bon-mot_ between Titus and Lamia? Yet again, if not
after but before, how was it Lamia had not invoked the protection of
Vespasian, or of Titus--the latter of whom enjoyed a theatrically fine
reputation for equity and moderation?

For some years the wrong has been borne in silence: the sufferer knew
himself to be powerless as against such an oppressor; and that to show
symptoms of impotent hatred was but to call down thunderbolts upon his
own head. Generally, therefore, prudence had guided him. _Patience_ had
been the word; _silence_, and below all the deep, deep word--_wait_; and
if by accident he were a Christian, not only that same word _wait_ would
have been heard, but this beside, look under the altars for others that
also wait. But poor suffering patience, sense of indignity that is
hopeless, must (in order to endure) have saintly resources. Infinite
might be the endurance, if sustained only by a finite hope. But the
black despairing darkness that revealed a tossing sea self-tormented and
fighting with chaos, showing neither torch that glimmered in the
foreground, nor star that kept alive a promise in the distance,
violently refused to be comforted. It is beside an awful aggravation of
such afflictions, that the lady herself might have co-operated in the
later stages of the tragedy with the purposes of the imperial ruffian.
Lamia had been suffered to live, because as a living man he yielded up
into the hands of his tormentor his whole capacity of suffering; no part
of it escaped the hellish range of his enemy's eye. But this advantage
for the torturer had also its weak and doubtful side. Use and monotony
might secretly be wearing away the edge of the organs on and through
which the corrosion of the inner heart proceeded. On the whole,
therefore, putting together the facts of the case, it seems to have been
resolved that he should die. But previously that he should drink off a
final cup of anguish, the bitterest that had yet been offered. The lady
herself, again--that wife so known historically, so notorious, yet so
total a stranger to man and his generations--had she also suffered in
sympathy with her martyred husband? That must have been known to a
certainty in the outset of the case, by him that knew too profoundly on
what terms of love they had lived. But at length, seeking for crowning
torments, it may have been that the dreadful Cæsar might have found the
'raw' in his poor victim, that offered its fellowship in exalting the
furnace of misery. The lady herself--may we not suppose her at the last
to have given way before the strengthening storm. Possibly to resist
indefinitely might have menaced herself with ruin, whilst offering no
benefit to her husband. And, again, though killing to the natural
interests which accompany such a case, might not the lady herself be
worn out, if no otherwise, by the killing nature of the contest? There
is besides this dreadful fact, placed ten thousand times on record, that
the very goodness of the human heart in such a case ministers fuel to
the moral degradation of a female combatant. Any woman, and exactly in
proportion to the moral sensibility of her nature, finds it painful to
live in the same house with a man not odiously repulsive in manners or
in person on terms of eternal hostility. In a community so nobly
released as was Rome from all base Oriental bondage of women, this
followed--that compliances of a nature oftentimes to belie the native
nobility of woman become painfully liable to misinterpretation. Possibly
under the blinding delusion of secret promises, unknown, nay,
inaccessible, to those outside (all contemporaries being as ridiculously
impotent to penetrate within the curtain as all posterity), the wife of
Lamia, once so pure, may have been over-persuaded to make such _public_
manifestations of affection for Domitian as had hitherto, upon one
motive or another, been loftily withheld. Things, that to a lover carry
along with them irreversible ruin, carry with them final desolation of
heart, are to the vast current of ordinary men, who regard society
exclusively from a political centre, less than nothing. Do they deny the
existence of other and nobler agencies in human affairs? Not at all.
Readily they confess these agencies: but, as movements obeying laws not
known, or imperfectly known to _them_, these they ignore. What it was
circumstantially that passed, long since has been overtaken and
swallowed up by the vast oblivions of time. This only survives--namely,
that what he said gave signal offence in the highest quarter, and that
his death followed. But what was it that he _did_ say? That is precisely
the question, and the whole question which we have to answer. At present
we know, and we do _not_ know, what it was that he said. We have
bequeathed to us by history two words--involving eight letters--which in
their present form, with submission to certain grandees of classic
literature, mean exactly nothing. These two words must be regarded as
the raw material upon which we have to work: and out of these we are
required to turn out a rational saying for Aelius Lamia, under the
following five conditions:--First, it must allude to his wife, as one
that is lost to him irrecoverably; secondly, it must glance at a gloomy
tyrant who bars him from rejoining her; thirdly, it must reply to the
compliment which had been paid to the sweetness of his own voice;
fourthly, it should in strictness contain some allusion calculated not
only to irritate, but even to alarm or threaten his jealous and vigilant
enemy; fifthly, doing all these things, it ought also to absorb, as its
own main elements, the eight letters contained in the present senseless
words--'_Heu taceo._'

Here is a monstrous quantity of work to throw upon any two words in any
possible language. Even Shakspere's clown,[9] when challenged to furnish
a catholic answer applicable to all conceivable occasions, cannot do it
in less than nine letters--namely, _Oh lord, sir_. I, for my part,
satisfied that the existing form of _Heu taceo_ was mere indictable and
punishable nonsense, but yet that this nonsense must enter as chief
element into the stinging sense of Lamia, gazed for I cannot tell how
many weeks at these impregnable letters, viewing them sometimes as a
fortress that I was called upon to escalade, sometimes as an anagram
that I was called upon to re-organise into the life which it had lost
through some dislocation of arrangement. Finally the result in which I
landed, and which fulfilled all the conditions laid down was this:--Let
me premise, however, what _at any rate_ the existing darkness attests,
that some disturbance of the text must in some way have arisen; whether
from the gnawing of a rat, or the spilling of some obliterating fluid at
this point of some critical or unique MS. It is sufficient for us that
the vital word has survived. I suppose, therefore, that Lamia had
replied to the friend who praised the sweetness of his voice, 'Sweet is
it? Ah, would to Heaven it might prove Orpheutic.' Ominous in this case
would be the word Orpheutic to the ears of Domitian: for every
school-boy knows that this means a _wife-revoking voice_. But first let
me remark that there is such a legitimate word as _Orpheutaceam_: and in
that case the Latin repartee of Lamia would stand thus--_Suavem dixisti?
Quam vellem et Orpheutaceam_. But, perhaps, reader, you fail to
recognise in this form our old friend _Heu taceo_. But here he is to a
certainty, in spite of the rat: and in a different form of letters the
compositor will show him, up to you as--_vellem et Orp_. [HEU TACEAM].
Possibly, being in good humour, you will be disposed to wink at the
seemingly surreptitious AM, though believing the real word to be
_taceo_. Let me say, therefore, that one reading, I believe, gives
_taceam_. Here, then, shines out at once--(1) Eurydice the lovely wife;
(2) detained by the gloomy tyrant Pluto; (3) who, however, is forced
into surrendering her to her husband, whose voice (the sweetest ever
known) drew stocks and stones to follow him, and finally his wife; (4)
the word Orpheutic involves an alarming threat, showing that the hope of
recovering the lady still survived; (5) we have involved in the
restoration all the eight, or perhaps nine, letters of the erroneous
form.

[9] In _All's Well that Ends Well_.



HOW TO WRITE ENGLISH.[10]


Among world-wide objects of speculation, objects rising to the dignity
of a mundane or cosmopolitish value, which challenge at this time more
than ever a growing intellectual interest, is the English language. Why
particularly at this time? Simply, because the interest in that language
rests upon two separate foundations: there are two separate principles
concerned in its pretensions; and by accident in part, but in part also
through the silent and inevitable march of human progress, there has
been steadily gathering for many years an interest of something like
sceptical and hostile curiosity about each of these principles,
considered as problems open to variable solutions, as problems already
viewed from different national centres, and as problems also that press
forward to some solution or other with more and more of a clamorous
emphasis, in proportion as they tend to consequences no longer merely
speculative and scholastic, but which more and more reveal features
largely practical and political. The two principles upon which the
English language rests the burden of its paramount interest, are
these:--first, its powers, the range of its endowments; secondly, its
apparent destiny. Some subtle judges in this field of criticism are of
opinion, and ever had that opinion, that amongst the modern languages
which originally had compass enough of strength and opulence in their
structure, or had received culture sufficient to qualify them plausibly
for entering the arena of such a competition, the English had certain
peculiar and inappreciable aptitudes for the highest offices of
interpretation. Twenty-five centuries ago, this beautiful little planet
on which we live might be said to have assembled and opened her first
parliament for representing the grandeur of the human intellect. That
particular assembly, I mean, for celebrating the Olympic Games about
four centuries and a half before the era of Christ, when Herodotus
opened the gates of morning for the undying career of history, by
reading to the congregated children of Hellas, to the whole
representative family of civilisation, that loveliest of earthly
narratives, which, in nine musical cantos, unfolded the whole luxury of
human romance as at the bar of some austere historic Areopagus, and,
inversely again, which crowded the total abstract of human records,
sealed[11] as with the seal of Delphi in the luxurious pavilions of
human romance.

[10] This fragment appeared in _The Instructor_ for July, 1853. The
subject was not continued in any form.--H.

[11] '_Sealed_,' &c.:--I do not believe that, in the sense of holy
conscientious loyalty to his own innermost convictions, any writer of
history in any period of time can have surpassed Herodotus. And the
reader must remember (or, if unlearned, he must be informed) that this
judgment has _now_ become the unanimous judgment of all the most
competent authorities--that is, of all those who, having first of all
the requisite erudition as to Greek, as to classical archæology, &c.,
then subsequently applied this appropriate learning to the searching
investigation of the several narratives authorised by Herodotus. In the
middle of the last century, nothing could rank lower than the historic
credibility of this writer. And to parody his title to be regarded as
the 'Father of History,' by calling him the 'Father of Lies,' was an
unworthy insult offered to his admirable simplicity and candour by more
critics than one. But two points startle the honourable reader, who is
loathe to believe of any laborious provider for a great intellectual
interest that he _can_ deliberately have meant to deceive: the first
point, and, separately by itself, an all-sufficient demur, is
this--that, not in proportion to the learning and profundity brought to
bear upon Herodotus, did the doubts and scruples upon his fidelity
strengthen or multiply. Precisely in the opposite current was the
movement of human opinion, as it applied itself to this patriarch of
history. Exactly as critics and investigators arose like Larcher--just,
reasonable, thoughtful, patient, and combining--or geographers as
comprehensive and as accurate as Major Rennel, regularly in that ratio
did the reports and the judgments of Herodotus command more and more
respect. The other point is this; and, when it is closely considered, it
furnishes a most reasonable ground of demur to the ordinary criticisms
upon Herodotus. These criticisms build the principle of their objection
generally upon the marvellous or romantic element which intermingles
with the current of the narrative. But when a writer treats (as to
Herodotus it happened that repeatedly he treated) tracts of history far
removed in space and in time from the domestic interests of his native
land, naturally he misses as any available guide the ordinary
utilitarian relations which would else connect persons and events with
great outstanding interests of his own contemporary system. The very
abstraction which has silently been performed by the mere effect of vast
distances, wildernesses that swallow up armies, and mighty rivers that
are unbridged, together with the indefinite chronological remoteness, do
already of themselves translate such sequestered and insulated chambers
of history into the character of moral apologues, where the sole
surviving interest lies in the quality of the particular moral
illustrated, or in the sudden and tragic change of fortune recorded.
Such changes, it is urged, are of rare occurrence; and, recurring too
often, they impress a character of suspicious accuracy upon the
narrative. Doubtless they do so, and reasonably, where the writer is
pursuing the torpid current of circumstantial domestic annals. But, in
the rapid abstract of Herodotus, where a century yields but a page or
two, and considering that two slender octavos, on the particular scale
adopted by Herodotus, embody the total records of the human race down to
his own epoch, really it would furnish no legitimate ground of scruple
or jealousy, though every paragraph should present us with a character
that seems exaggerated, or with an incident approaching to the
marvellous, or a catastrophe that is revolting. A writer is bound--he
has created it into a duty, having once assumed the office of a national
historiographer--to select from the rolls of a nation such events as are
the most striking. And a selection conducted on this principle through
several centuries, or pursuing the fortunes of a dynasty reigning over
vast populations, _must_ end in accumulating a harvest of results such
as would startle the sobriety of ordinary historic faith. If a medical
writer should elect for himself, of his own free choice, to record such
cases only in his hospital experience as terminated fatally, it would be
absurd to object the gloomy tenor of his reports as an argument for
suspecting their accuracy, since he himself, by introducing this as a
condition into the very terms of his original undertaking with the
public, has created against himself the painful necessity of continually
distressing the sensibilities of his reader. To complain of Herodotus,
or any public historian, as drawing too continually upon his reader's
profounder sensibilities, is, in reality, to forget that this belongs as
an original element to the very task which he has undertaken. To
undertake the exhibition of human life under those aspects which
confessedly bring it into unusual conflict with chance and change, is,
by a mere self-created necessity, to prepare beforehand the summons to a
continued series of agitations: it is to seek the tragic and the
wondrous wilfully, and then to complain of it as violating the laws of
probability founded on life within the ordinary conditions of
experience.

That most memorable of Panhellenic festivals it was, which first made
known to each other the two houses of Grecian blood that typified its
ultimate and polar capacities, the most and the least of exorbitations,
the utmost that were possible from its equatorial centre; viz., on the
one side, the Asiatic Ionian, who spoke the sweet musical dialect of
Homer, and, on the other side, the austere Dorian, whom ten centuries
could not teach that human life brought with it any pleasure, or any
business, or any holiness of duty, other or loftier than that of war. If
it were possible that, under the amenities of a Grecian sky, too fierce
a memento could whisper itself of torrid zones, under the stern
discipline of the Doric Spartan it was that you looked for it; or, on
the other hand, if the lute might, at intervals, be heard or fancied
warbling too effeminately for the martial European key of the Grecian
muses, amidst the sweet blandishments it was of Ionian groves that you
arrested the initial elements of such a relaxing modulation. Twenty-five
centuries ago, when Europe and Asia met for brotherly participation in
the noblest, perhaps,[12] of all recorded solemnities, viz., the
inauguration of History in its very earliest and prelusive page, the
coronation (as with propriety we may call it) of the earliest (perhaps
even yet the greatest?) historic artist, what was the language employed
as the instrument of so great a federal act? It was that divine Grecian
language to which, on the model of the old differential compromise in
favour of Themistocles, all rival languages would cordially have
conceded the second honour. If now, which is not impossible, any
occasion should arise for a modern congress of the leading nations that
represent civilisation, not probably in the Isthmus of Corinth, but on
that of Darien, it would be a matter of mere necessity, and so far
hardly implying any expression of homage, that the English language
should take the station formerly accorded to the Grecian. But I come
back to the thesis which I announced, viz., to the twofold _onus_ which
the English language is called upon to sustain:--first, to the
responsibility attached to its _powers_; secondly, to the responsibility
and weight of expectation attached to its destiny. To the questions
growing out of the first, I will presently return. But for the moment, I
will address myself to the nature of that DESTINY, which is often
assigned to the English language: what is it? and how far is it in a
fair way of fulfilling this destiny?

[12] Perhaps, seriously, the most of a _cosmopolitical_ act that has
ever been attempted. Next to it, in point of dignity, I should feel
disposed to class the inauguration of the Crusades.

As early as the middle of the last century, and by people with as little
enthusiasm as David Hume, it had become the subject of plain prudential
speculations, in forecasting the choice of a subject, or of the language
in which it should reasonably be treated, that the area of expectation
for an English writer was prodigiously expanding under the development
of our national grandeur, by whatever names of 'colonial' or 'national'
it might be varied or disguised. The issue of the American War, and the
sudden expansion of the American Union into a mighty nation on a scale
corresponding to that of the four great European potentates--Russia,
Austria, England, and France--was not in those days suspected. But the
tendencies could not be mistaken. And the same issue was fully
anticipated, though undoubtedly through the steps of a very much slower
process. Whilst disputing about the items on the tess apettiele, the
disputed facts were overtaking us, and flying past us, on the most
gigantic scale. All things were changing: and the very terms of the
problem were themselves changing, and putting on new aspects, in the
process and at the moment of enunciation. For instance, it had been
sufficiently seen that another Christendom, far more colossal than the
old Christendom of Europe, _might_, and undoubtedly _would_, form itself
rapidly in America. Against the tens of millions in Europe would rise
up, like the earth-born children of Deucalion and Pyrrha (or of the
Theban Cadmus and Hermione) American millions counted by hundreds. But
from what _radix_? Originally, it would have been regarded as madness to
take Ireland, in her Celtic element, as counting for anything. But of
late--whether rationally, however, I will inquire for a brief moment or
so--the counters have all changed in these estimates. The late Mr
O'Connell was the parent of these hyperbolical anticipations. To count
his ridiculous 'monster-meetings' by hundreds of thousands, and then at
last by millions, cost nobody so much as a blush; and considering the
open laughter and merriment with which all O'Connell estimates were
accepted and looked at, I must think that the _London Standard_ was more
deeply to blame than any other political party, in giving currency and
acceptation to the nursery exaggerations of Mr O'Connell. Meantime
those follies came to an end. Mr O'Connell died; all was finished: and a
new form of mendacity was transferred to America. There has always
existed in the United States one remarkable phenomenon of Irish politics
applied to the deception of both English, Americans, and Irish. All
people who have given any attention to partisanship and American
politics, are aware of a rancorous malice burning sullenly amongst a
small knot of Irishmen, and applying itself chiefly to the feeding of an
interminable feud against England and all things English. This, as it
chiefly expresses itself in American journals, naturally passes for the
product of American violence; which in reality it is not. And hence it
happens, and for many years it _has_ happened, that both Englishmen and
Americans are perplexed at intervals by a malice and an _acharnement_ of
hatred to England, which reads very much like that atrocious and
viperous malignity imputed to the father of Hannibal against the Romans.
It is noticeable, both as keeping open a peculiar exasperation of Irish
patriotism absurdly directed against England; as doing a very serious
injustice to Americans, who are thus misrepresented as the organs of
this violence, so exclusively Irish; and, finally, as the origin of the
monstrous delusion which I now go on to mention. The pretence of late
put forward is, that the preponderant element in the American population
is indeed derived from the British Islands, but by a vast overbalance
from Ireland, and from the Celtic part of the Irish population. This
monstrous delusion has recently received an extravagant sanction from
the London _Quarterly Review_. Half a dozen other concurrent papers, in
journals political and literary, hold the same language. And the upshot
of the whole is--that, whilst the whole English element (including the
earliest colonisation of the New England states at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, and including the whole stream of British
emigration since the French Revolution) is accredited for no more than
three and a half millions out of pretty nearly twenty millions of
_white_ American citizens, on the other hand, against this English
element, is set up an Irish (meaning a purely Hiberno-_Celtic_) element,
amounting--oh, genius of blushing, whither hast thou fled?--to a total
of eight millions. Anglo-Saxon blood, it seems, is in a miserable
minority in the United States; whilst the German blood composes, we are
told, a respectable nation of five millions; and the Irish-Celtic young
noblemen, though somewhat at a loss for shoes, already count as high as
eight millions!

Now, if there were any semblance of truth in all this, we should have
very good reason indeed to tremble for the future prospects of the
English language throughout the Union. Eight millions struggling with
three and a half should already have produced some effect on the very
composition of Congress. Meantime, against these audacious falsehoods I
observe a reasonable paper in the _Times_ (August 23, 1852), rating the
Celtic contribution from Ireland--that is, exclusively of all the
_Ulster_ contribution--at about two millions; which, however, I view as
already an exaggeration, considering the number that have always by
preference resorted to the Canadas. Two millions, whom poverty, levity,
and utter want of all social or political consideration, have reduced to
ciphers the most absolute--two millions, in the very lowest and most
abject point of political depression, cannot do much to disturb the
weight of the English language: which, accordingly, on another
occasion, I will proceed to consider, with and without the aid of the
learned Dr Gordon Latham, and sometimes (if he will excuse me) in
defiance of that gentleman, though far enough from defiance in any
hostile or unfriendly sense.



THE CASUISTRY OF DUELLING.[13]


This mention of Allan Cunningham recalls to my recollection an affair
which retains one part of its interest to this day, arising out of the
very important casuistical question which it involves. We Protestant
nations are in the habit of treating casuistry as a field of
speculation, false and baseless _per se_; nay, we regard it not so much
in the light of a visionary and idle speculation, as one positively
erroneous in its principles, and mischievous for its practical results.
This is due in part to the disproportionate importance which the Church
of Rome has always attached to casuistry; making, in fact, this
supplementary section of ethics take precedency of its elementary
doctrines in their catholic simplicity: as though the plain and broad
highway of morality were scarcely ever the safe road, but that every
case of human conduct were to be treated as an exception, and never as
lying within the universal rule: and thus forcing the simple,
honest-minded Christian to travel upon a tortuous by-road, in which he
could not advance a step in security without a spiritual guide at his
elbow: and, in fact, whenever the hair-splitting casuistry is brought,
with all its elaborate machinery, to bear upon the simplicities of
household life, and upon the daily intercourse of the world, there it
has the effect (and is expressly cherished by the Romish Church with a
view to the effect) of raising the spiritual pastor into a sort of
importance which corresponds to that of an attorney. The consulting
casuist is, in fact, to all intents and purposes, a moral attorney. For,
as the plainest man, with the most direct purposes, is yet reasonably
afraid to trust himself to his own guidance in any affair connected with
questions of law; so also, when taught to believe that an upright
intention and good sense are equally insufficient in morals, as they are
in law, to keep him from stumbling or from missing his road, he comes to
regard a conscience-keeper as being no less indispensable for his daily
life and conversation, than his legal agent, or his professional 'man of
business,' for the safe management of his property, and for his guidance
amongst the innumerable niceties which beset the real and inevitable
intricacies of rights and duties, as they grow out of human enactments
and a complex condition of society. Fortunately for the happiness of
human nature and its dignity, those holier rights and duties which grow
out of laws heavenly and divine, written by the finger of God upon the
heart of every rational creature, are beset by no such intricacies, and
require, therefore, no such vicarious agency for their practical
assertion. The primal duties of life, like the primal charities, are
placed high above us--legible to every eye, and shining like the stars,
with a splendour that is read in every clime, and translates itself into
every language at once. Such is the imagery of Wordsworth. But this is
otherwise estimated in the policy of papal Rome: and casuistry usurps a
place in her spiritual economy, to which our Protestant feelings demur.
So far, however, the question between us and Rome is a question of
degrees. They push casuistry into a general and unlimited application;
we, if at all, into a very narrow one. But another difference there is
between us even more important; for it regards no mere excess in the
_quantity_ of range allowed to casuistry, but in the _quality_ of its
speculations: and which it is (more than any other cause) that has
degraded the office of casuistical learning amongst us. Questions are
raised, problems are entertained, by the Romish casuistry, which too
often offend against all purity and manliness of thinking. And that
objection occurs forcibly here, which Southey (either in _The Quarterly
Review_ or in his _Life of Wesley_) has urged and expanded with regard
to the Romish and also the Methodist practice of _auricular
confession_--viz., that, as it _is_ practically managed, not leaving the
person engaged in this act to confess according to the light of his own
conscience, but at every moment interfering, on the part of the
confessor, to suggest _leading questions_ (as lawyers call them), and to
throw the light of confession upon parts of the experience which native
modesty would leave in darkness,--so managed, the practice of confession
is undoubtedly the most demoralising practice known to any Christian
society. Innocent young persons, whose thoughts would never have
wandered out upon any impure images or suggestions, have their ingenuity
and their curiosity sent roving upon unlawful quests: they are
instructed to watch what else would pass undetained in the mind, and
would pass unblameably, on the Miltonic principle: ('Evil into the mind
of God or man may come unblamed,' &c.) Nay, which is worst of all,
unconscious or semi-conscious thoughts and feelings or natural impulses,
rising, like a breath of wind under some motion of nature, and again
dying away, because not made the subject of artificial review and
interpretation, are now brought powerfully under the focal light of the
consciousness: and whatsoever is once made the subject of consciousness,
can never again have the privilege of gay, careless thoughtlessness--the
privilege by which the mind, like the lamps of a mail-coach, moving
rapidly through the midnight woods, illuminate, for one instant, the
foliage or sleeping umbrage of the thickets; and, in the next instant,
have quitted them, to carry their radiance forward upon endless
successions of objects. This happy privilege is forfeited for ever, when
the pointed significancy of the confessor's questions, and the direct
knowledge which he plants in the mind, have awakened a guilty
familiarity with every form of impurity and unhallowed sensuality.

[13] This appeared in _Tait's Magazine_ for February, 1841. Although
practically an independent paper, it was included in the series entitled
'Sketches of Life and Manners; from the Autobiography of an English
Opium-Eater.' The reference to Allan Cunningham occurs in the previous
chapter of these 'Sketches.'--H.

Here, then, are objections sound and deep, to casuistry, as managed in
the Romish church. Every possible objection ever made to auricular
confession applies with equal strength to casuistry; and some
objections, besides these, are peculiar to itself. And yet, after all,
these are but objections to casuistry as treated by a particular church.
Casuistry in itself--casuistry as a possible, as a most useful, and a
most interesting speculation--remains unaffected by any one of these
objections; for none applies to the essence of the case, but only to its
accidents, or separable adjuncts. Neither is this any curious or subtle
observation of little practical value. The fact is as far otherwise as
can be imagined--the defect to which I am here pointing, is one of the
most clamorous importance. Of what value, let me ask, is Paley's Moral
Philosophy? What is its imagined use? Is it that in substance it reveals
any new duties, or banishes as false any old ones? No; but because the
known and admitted duties--duties recognised in _every_ system of
ethics--are here placed (successfully or not) upon new foundations, or
brought into relation with new principles not previously perceived to be
in any relation whatever. This, in fact, is the very meaning of a
theory[14] or contemplation, [[Greek: Theôria],] when A, B, C, old and
undisputed facts have their relations to each other developed. It is
not, therefore, for any practical benefit in action, so much as for the
satisfaction of the understanding, when reflecting on a man's own
actions, the wish to see what his conscience or his heart prompts
reconciled to general laws of thinking--this is the particular service
performed by Paley's Moral Philosophy. It does not so much profess to
tell _what_ you are to do, as the _why_ and the _wherefore_; and, in
particular, to show how one rule of action may be reconciled to some
other rule of equal authority, but which, apparently, is in hostility to
the first. Such, then, is the utmost and highest aim of the Paleyian or
the Ciceronian ethics, as they exist. Meantime, the grievous defect to
which I have adverted above--a defect equally found in all systems of
morality, from the Nichomachéan ethics of Aristotle downwards--is the
want of a casuistry, by way of supplement to the main system, and
governed by the spirit of the very same laws, which the writer has
previously employed in the main body of his work. And the immense
superiority of this supplementary section, to the main body of the
systems, would appear in this, that the latter I have just been saying,
aspires only to guide the reflecting judgment in harmonising the
different parts of his own conduct, so as to bring them under the same
law; whereas the casuistical section, in the supplement, would seriously
undertake to guide the conduct, in many doubtful cases, of action--cases
which are so regarded by all thinking persons. Take, for example, the
case which so often arises between master and servant, and in so many
varieties of form--a case which requires you to decide between some
violation of your conscience, on the one hand, as to veracity, by saying
something that is not strictly true, as well as by evading (and that is
often done) all answer to inquiries which you are unable to meet
satisfactorily--a violation of your conscience to this extent, and in
this way; or, on the other hand, a still more painful violation of your
conscience in consigning deliberately some young woman--faulty, no
doubt, and erring, but yet likely to derive a lesson from her own
errors, and the risk to which they have exposed her--consigning her, I
say, to ruin, by refusing her a character, and thus shutting the door
upon all the paths by which she might retrace her steps. This I state as
one amongst the many cases of conscience daily occurring in the common
business of the world. It would surprise any reader to find how many
they are; in fact, a very large volume might be easily collected of such
cases as are of ordinary occurrence. _Casuistry_, the very word
_casuistry_ expresses the science which deals with such _cases_: for as
a case, in the declension of a noun, means a falling away, or a
deflection from the upright nominative (_rectus_), so a case in ethics
implies some falling off, or deflection from the high road of catholic
morality. Now, of all such cases, one, perhaps the most difficult to
manage, the most intractable, whether for consistency of thinking as to
the theory of morals, or for consistency of action as to the practice of
morals, is the case of DUELLING.

[14] No terms of art are used so arbitrarily, and with such perfect
levity, as the terms _hypothesis_, _theory_, _system_. Most writers use
one or other with the same indifference that they use in constructing
the title of a novel, or, suppose, of a pamphlet, where the phrase
_thoughts_, or _strictures_, or _considerations_, upon so and so, are
used _ad libitum_. Meantime, the distinctions are essential. That is
properly an _hypothesis_ where the question is about a cause: certain
phenomena are known and given: the object is to place below these
phenomena a basis [[Greek: a hypothosis]] capable of supporting them,
and accounting for them. Thus, if you were to assign a cause sufficient
to account for the _aurora borealis_, that would be an hypothesis. But a
theory, on the other hand, takes a multitude of facts all disjointed,
or, at most, suspected, of some inter-dependency: these it takes and
places under strict laws of relation to each other. But here there is no
question of a cause. Finally, a system is the synthesis of a theory and
an hypothesis: it states the relations as amongst an undigested mass,
_rudis indigestaque moles_, of known phenomena; and it assigns a basis
for the whole, as in an hypothesis. These distinctions would become
vivid and convincing by the help of proper illustrations.

As an introduction, I will state my story--the case for the casuist; and
then say one word on the reason of the case.

First, let me report the case of a friend--a distinguished lawyer at the
English bar. I had the circumstances from himself, which lie in a very
small compass; and, as my friend is known, to a proverb almost, for his
literal accuracy in all statements of fact, there need be no fear of any
mistake as to the main points of the case. He was one day engaged in
pleading before the Commissioners of Bankruptcy; a court then, newly
appointed, and differently constituted, I believe, in some respects,
from its present form. That particular commissioner, as it happened, who
presided at the moment when the case occurred, had been recently
appointed, and did not know the faces of those who chiefly practised in
the court. All things, indeed, concurred to favour his mistake: for the
case itself came on in a shape or in a stage which was liable to
misinterpretation, from the partial view which it allowed of the facts,
under the hurry of the procedure; and my friend, also, unluckily, had
neglected to assume his barrister's costume, so that he passed, in the
commissioner's appreciation, as an attorney. 'What if he _had_ been an
attorney?' it may be said: 'was he, therefore, less entitled to courtesy
or justice?' Certainly not; nor is it my business to apologise for the
commissioner. But it may easily be imagined, and (making allowances for
the confusion of hurry and imperfect knowledge of the case) it _does_
offer something in palliation of the judge's rashness, that, amongst a
large heap of 'Old Bailey' attorneys, who notoriously attended this
court for the express purpose of whitewashing their clients, and who
were in bad odour as tricksters, he could hardly have been expected to
make a special exception in favour of one particular man, who had not
protected himself by the insignia of his order. His main error, however,
lay in misapprehending the case: misapprehension lent strength to the
assumption that my friend was an 'Old Bailey' (_i. e._, a sharking)
attorney; whilst, on the other hand, that assumption lent strength to
his misapprehension of the case. Angry interruptions began: these, being
retorted or resented with just indignation, produced an irritation and
ill temper, which, of themselves, were quite sufficient to raise a cloud
of perplexity over any law process, and to obscure it for any
understanding. The commissioner grew warmer and warmer; and, at length,
he had the presumption to say:--'Sir, you are a disgrace to your
profession.' When such sugar-plums, as Captain M'Turk the peacemaker
observes, were flying between them, there could be no room for further
parley. That same night the commissioner was waited on by a friend of
the barrister's, who cleared up his own misconceptions to the
disconcerted judge; placed him, even to his own judgment, thoroughly in
the wrong; and then most courteously troubled him for a reference to
some gentleman, who would arrange the terms of a meeting for the next
day. The commissioner was too just and grave a man to be satisfied with
himself, on a cool review of his own conduct. Here was a quarrel ripened
into a mortal feud, likely enough to terminate in wounds, or, possibly,
in death to one of the parties, which, on his side, carried with it no
palliations from any provocation received, or from wrong and insult, in
any form, sustained: these, in an aggravated shape, could be pleaded by
my friend, but with no opening for retaliatory pleas on the part of the
magistrate. That name, again, of magistrate, increased his offence and
pointed its moral: he, a conservator of the laws--he, a dispenser of
equity, sitting even at the very moment on the judgment seat--_he_ to
have commenced a brawl, nay to have fastened a quarrel upon a man even
then of some consideration and of high promise; a quarrel which finally
tended to this result--shoot or be shot. That commissioner's situation
and state of mind, for the succeeding night, were certainly not
enviable: like Southey's erring painter, who had yielded to the
temptation of the subtle fiend,

    With repentance his only companion he lay;
    And a dismal companion is she.

Meantime, my friend--what was _his_ condition; and how did _he_ pass the
interval? I have heard him feelingly describe the misery, the blank
anguish of this memorable night. Sometimes it happens that a man's
conscience is wounded; but this very wound is the means, perhaps, by
which his feelings are spared for the present: sometimes his feelings
are lacerated; but this very laceration makes the ransom for his
conscience. Here, on the contrary, his feelings and his happiness were
dimmed by the very same cause which offered pain and outrage to his
conscience. He was, upon principle, a hater of duelling. Under any
circumstances, he would have condemned the man who could, for a light
cause, or almost for the weightiest, have so much as _accepted_ a
challenge. Yet, here he was positively _offering_ a challenge; and to
whom? To a man whom he scarcely knew by sight; whom he had never spoken
to until this unfortunate afternoon; and towards whom (now that the
momentary excitement of anger had passed away) he felt no atom of
passion or resentment whatsoever. As a free 'unhoused' young man,
therefore, had he been such, without ties or obligations in life, he
would have felt the profoundest compunction at the anticipation of any
serious injury inflicted upon another man's hopes or happiness, or upon
his own. But what was his real situation? He was a married man, married
to the woman of his choice within a very few years: he was also a
father, having one most promising son, somewhere about three years old.
His young wife and his son composed his family; and both were dependent,
in the most absolute sense, for all they possessed or they expected--for
all they had or ever could have--upon his own exertions. Abandoned by
him, losing him, they forfeited, in one hour, every chance of comfort,
respectability, or security from scorn and humiliation. The mother, a
woman of strong understanding and most excellent judgment--good and
upright herself--liable, therefore, to no habit of suspicion, and
constitutionally cheerful, went to bed with her young son, thinking no
evil. Midnight came, one, two o'clock; mother and child had long been
asleep; nor did either of them dream of that danger which even now was
yawning under their feet. The barrister had spent the hours from ten to
two in drawing up his will, and in writing such letters as might have
the best chance, in case of fatal issue to himself, for obtaining some
aid to the desolate condition of those two beings whom he would leave
behind, unprotected and without provision. Oftentimes he stole into the
bedroom, and gazed with anguish upon the innocent objects of his love;
and, as his conscience now told him, of his bitterest perfidy. 'Will you
then leave us? Are you really going to betray us? Will you deliberately
consign us to life-long poverty, and scorn, and grief?' These affecting
apostrophes he seemed, in the silence of the night, to hear almost with
bodily ears. Silent reproaches seemed written upon their sleeping
features; and once, when his wife suddenly awakened under the glare of
the lamp which he carried, he felt the strongest impulse to fly from the
room; but he faltered, and stood rooted to the spot. She looked at him
smilingly, and asked why he was so long in coming to bed. He pleaded an
excuse, which she easily admitted, of some law case to study against the
morning, or some law paper to draw. She was satisfied; and fell asleep
again. He, however, fearing, above all things, that he might miss the
time for his appointment, resolutely abided by his plan of not going to
bed; for the meeting was to take place at Chalk Farm, and by half-past
five in the morning: that is, about one hour after sunrise. One hour and
a half before this time, in the gray dawn, just when the silence of
Nature and of mighty London was most absolute, he crept stealthily, and
like a guilty thing, to the bedside of his sleeping wife and child;
took, what he believed might be his final look of them: kissed them
softly; and, according to his own quotation from Coleridge's _Remorse_,

In agony that could not be remembered;

and a conflict with himself that defied all rehearsal, he quitted his
peaceful cottage at Chelsea in order to seek for the friend who had
undertaken to act as his second. He had good reason, from what he had
heard on the night before, to believe his antagonist an excellent shot;
and, having no sort of expectation that any interruption could offer to
the regular progress of the duel, he, as the challenger, would have to
stand the first fire; at any rate, conceiving this to be the fair
privilege of the party challenged, he did not mean to avail himself of
any proposal for drawing lots upon the occasion, even if such a proposal
should happen to be made. Thus far the affair had travelled through the
regular stages of expectation and suspense; but the interest of the case
as a story was marred and brought to an abrupt conclusion by the conduct
of the commissioner. He was a man of known courage, but he also, was a
man of conscientious scruples; and, amongst other instances of courage,
had the courage to own himself in the wrong. He felt that his conduct
hitherto had not been wise or temperate, and that he would be sadly
aggravating his original error by persisting in aiming at a man's life,
upon which life hung also the happiness of others, merely because he had
offered to that man a most unwarranted insult. Feeling this, he thought
fit, at first coming upon the ground, to declare that, having learned,
since the scene in court, the real character of his antagonist, and the
extent of his own mistake, he was resolved to brave all appearances and
ill-natured judgments, by making an ample apology; which, accordingly,
he did; and so the affair terminated. I have thought it right, however,
to report the circumstances, both because they were really true in every
particular, but, much more, because they place in strong relief one
feature, which is often found in these cases, and which is allowed far
too little weight in distributing the blame between the parties: to this
I wish to solicit the reader's attention. During the hours of this
never-to-be-forgotten night of wretchedness and anxiety, my friend's
reflection was naturally forced upon the causes which had produced it.
In the world's judgment, he was aware that he himself, as the one
charged with the most weighty responsibility, (those who depended upon
him being the most entirely helpless,) would have to sustain by much the
heaviest censure: and yet what was the real proportion of blame between
the parties? He, when provoked and publicly insulted, had retorted
angrily: that was almost irresistible under the constitution of human
feelings; the meekest of men could scarcely do less. But surely the true
_onus_ of wrong and moral responsibility for all which might follow,
rested upon that party who, giving way to mixed impulses of rash
judgment and of morose temper, had allowed himself to make a most
unprovoked assault upon the character of one whom he did not know; well
aware that such words, uttered publicly by a person in authority, must,
by some course or other, be washed out and cancelled; or, if not, that
the party submitting to such defamatory insults, would at once exile
himself from the society and countenance of his professional brethren.
Now, then, in all justice, it should be so ordered that the weight of
public indignation might descend upon him, whoever he might be, (and, of
course, the more heavily, according to the authority of his station and
his power of inflicting wrong,) who should thus wantonly abuse his means
of influence, to the dishonour or injury of an unoffending party. We
clothe a public officer with power, we arm him with influential
authority over public opinion; not that he may apply these authentic
sanctions to the backing of his own malice, and giving weight to his
private caprices: and, wherever such abuse takes place, then it should
be so contrived that some reaction in behalf of the injured person
might receive a sanction equally public. And, upon this point, I shall
say a word or two more, after first stating my own case; a case where
the outrage was far more insufferable, more deliberate, and more
malicious; but, on the other hand, in this respect less effectual for
injury, that it carried with it no sanction from any official station or
repute in the unknown parties who offered the wrong. The circumstances
were these:--In 1824, I had come up to London upon an errand in itself
sufficiently vexatious--of fighting against pecuniary embarrassments, by
literary labours; but, as had always happened hitherto, with very
imperfect success, from the miserable thwartings I incurred through the
deranged state of the liver. My zeal was great, and my application was
unintermitting; but spirits radically vitiated, chiefly through the
direct mechanical depression caused by one important organ deranged;
and, secondly, by a reflex effect of depression through my own thoughts,
in estimating my prospects; together with the aggravation of my case, by
the inevitable exile from my own mountain home,--all this reduced the
value of my exertions in a deplorable way. It was rare indeed that I
could satisfy my own judgment, even tolerably, with the quality of any
literary article I produced; and my power to make sustained exertions,
drooped, in a way I could not control, every other hour of the day:
insomuch, that what with parts to be cancelled, and what with whole days
of torpor and pure defect of power to produce anything at all, very
often it turned out that all my labours were barely sufficient (some
times not sufficient) to meet the current expenses of my residence in
London. Three months' literary toil terminated, at times, in a result =
0; the whole _plus_ being just equal to the _minus_, created by two
separate establishments, and one of them in the most expensive city of
the world. Gloomy, indeed, was my state of mind at that period: for,
though I made prodigious efforts to recover my health, (sensible that
all other efforts depended for their result upon this elementary effort,
which was the _conditio sine qua non_ for the rest), yet all availed me
not; and a curse seemed to settle upon whatever I then undertook. Such
was my frame of mind on reaching London: in fact it never varied. One
canopy of murky clouds (a copy of that dun atmosphere which settles so
often upon London) brooded for ever upon my spirits, which were in one
uniformly low key of cheerless despondency; and, on this particular
morning, my depression had been deeper than usual, from the effects of a
long, continuous journey of 300 miles, and of exhaustion from want of
sleep. I had reached London, about six o'clock in the morning, by one of
the northern mails; and, resigning myself as usual in such cases, to the
chance destination of the coach, after delivering our bags in Lombard
Street, I was driven down to a great city hotel. Here there were hot
baths; and, somewhat restored by this luxurious refreshment, about eight
o'clock I was seated at a breakfast table; upon which, in a few minutes,
as an appendage not less essential than the tea-service, one of the
waiters laid that morning's _Times_, just reeking from the press. The
_Times_, by the way, is notoriously the leading journal of Europe
anywhere; but, in London, and more peculiarly in the city quarter of
London, it enjoys a pre-eminence scarcely understood elsewhere. Here it
is not _a_ morning paper, but _the_ morning paper: no other is known, no
other is cited as authority in matters of fact. Strolling with my eye
indolently over the vast Babylonian confusion of the enormous columns,
naturally as one of the _corps littéraire_, I found my attention drawn
to those regions of the paper which announced forthcoming publications.
Amongst them was a notice of a satirical journal, very low priced, and
already advanced to its third or fourth number. My heart palpitated a
little on seeing myself announced as the principal theme for the malice
of the current number. The reader must not suppose that I was left in
any doubt as to the quality of the notice with which I had been
honoured; and that, by possibility, I was solacing my vanity with some
anticipation of honeyed compliments. That, I can assure him, was made
altogether impossible, by the kind of language which flourished in the
very foreground of the _programme_, and even of the running title. The
exposure and _depluming_ (to borrow a good word from the fine old
rhetorician, Fuller,) of the leading 'humbugs' of the age--_that_ was
announced as the regular business of the journal: and the only question
which remained to be settled was, the more or less of the degree; and
also one other question, even more interesting still, viz.--whether
personal abuse were intermingled with literary. Happiness, as I have
experienced in other periods of my life, deep domestic happiness, makes
a man comparatively careless of ridicule, of sarcasm, or of abuse. But
calamity--the degradation, in the world's eye, of every man who is
fighting with pecuniary difficulties--exasperates beyond all that can be
imagined, a man's sensibility to insult. He is even apprehensive of
insult--tremulously fantastically apprehensive, where none is intended;
and like Wordsworth's shepherd, with his very understanding consciously
abused and depraved by his misfortunes is ready to say, at all hours--

    And every man I met or faced,
    Methought he knew some ill of me.

Some notice, perhaps, the newspaper had taken of this new satirical
journal, or some extracts might have been made from it; at all events, I
had ascertained its character so well that, in this respect, I had
nothing to learn. It now remained to get the number which professed to
be seasoned with my particular case; and it may be supposed that I did
not loiter over my breakfast after this discovery. Something which I saw
or suspected amongst the significant hints of a paragraph or
advertisement, made me fear that there might possibly be insinuations or
downright assertion in the libel requiring instant public notice; and,
therefore, on a motive of prudence, had I even otherwise felt that
indifference for slander which now I _do_ feel, but which, in those
years, morbid irritability of temperament forbade me to affect, I should
still have thought it right to look after the work; which now I did:
and, by nine o'clock in the morning--an hour at which few people had
seen me for years--I was on my road to Smithfield. Smithfield? Yes; even
so. All known and respectable publishers having declined any connexion
with the work, the writers had facetiously resorted to this _aceldama_,
or slaughtering quarter of London--to these vast shambles, as typical, I
suppose, of their own slaughtering spirit. On my road to Smithfield, I
could not but pause for one moment to reflect on the pure defecated
malice which must have prompted an attack upon myself. Retaliation or
retort it could not pretend to be. To most literary men, scattering
their written reviews, or their opinions, by word of mouth, to the right
and the left with all possible carelessness, it never can be matter of
surprise, or altogether of complaint, (unless as a question of degrees,)
that angry notices, or malicious notices, should be taken of themselves.
Few, indeed, of literary men can pretend to any absolute innocence from
offence, and from such even as may have seemed deliberate. But I, for my
part, could. Knowing the rapidity with which all remarks _of_ literary
men _upon_ literary men are apt to circulate, I had studiously and
resolutely forborne to say anything, whether of a writer or a book,
unless where it happened that I could say something that would be felt
as complimentary. And as to written reviews, so much did I dislike the
assumption of judicial functions and authority over the works of my own
brother authors and contemporaries, that I have, in my whole life,
written only two; at that time only one; and that one, though a review
of an English novel, was substantially a review of a German book, taking
little notice, or none, of the English translator; for, although he, a
good German scholar now, was a very imperfect one at that time, and was,
therefore, every way open to criticism, I had evaded this invidious
office applied to a novice in literature, and (after pointing out one or
two slight blemishes of trivial importance) all that I said of a general
nature was a compliment to him upon the felicity of his verses. Upon the
German author I was, indeed, severe, but hardly as much as he deserved.
The other review was a tissue of merriment and fun; and though, it is
true, I _did_ hear that the fair authoress was offended at one jest, I
may safely leave it for any reader to judge between us. She, or her
brother, amongst other Latin epigrams had one addressed to a young lady
_upon the loss of her keys_. This, the substance of the lines showed to
have been the intention; but (by a very venial error in one who was
writing Latin from early remembrance of it, and not in the character of
a professing scholar) the title was written _De clavis_ instead of _De
clavibus amissis_; upon which I observed that the writer had selected a
singular topic for condolence with a young lady,--viz., '_on the loss of
her cudgels_;' (_clavis_, as an ablative, coming clearly from _clava_).
This (but I can hardly believe it) was said to have offended Miss H.;
and, at all events, this was the extent of my personalities. Many kind
things I had said; much honour; much admiration, I had professed at that
period of my life in occasional papers or private letters, towards many
of my contemporaries, but never anything censorious or harsh; and simply
on a principle of courteous forbearance which I have felt to be due
towards those who are brothers of the same liberal profession with one's
self. I could not feel, when reviewing my whole life, that in any one
instance, by act, by word, or by intention, I had offered any
unkindness, far less any wrong or insult, towards a brother author. I
was at a loss, therefore, to decipher the impulse under which the
malignant libeller could have written, in making (as I suspected
already) my private history the subject of his calumnies. Jealousy, I
have since understood, jealousy, was the foundation of the whole. A
little book of mine had made its way into drawing-rooms where some book
of his had not been heard of. On reaching Smithfield, I found the
publisher to be a medical bookseller, and, to my surprise, having every
appearance of being a grave, respectable man; notwithstanding this
undeniable fact, that the libellous journal, to which he thought proper
to affix his sanction, trespassed on decency, not only by its slander,
but, in some instances, by downright obscenity; and, worse than that,
by prurient solicitations to the libidinous imagination, through blanks,
seasonably interspersed. I said nothing to him in the way of inquiry;
for I easily guessed that the knot of writers who were here clubbing
their _virus_, had not so ill combined their plans as to leave them open
to detection by a question from any chance stranger. Having, therefore,
purchased a set of the journal, then amounting to three or four numbers,
I went out; and in the elegant promenades of Smithfield, I read the
lucubrations of my libeller. Fit academy for such amenities of
literature! Fourteen years have gone by since then; and, possibly, the
unknown hound who yelled, on that occasion, among this kennel of curs,
may, long since, have buried himself and his malice in the grave.
Suffice it here to say, that, calm as I am now, and careless on
recalling the remembrance of this brutal libel, at that time I was
convulsed with wrath. As respected myself, there was a depth of
malignity in the article which struck me as perfectly mysterious. How
could any man have made an enemy so profound, and not even have
suspected it? _That_ puzzled me. For, with respect to the other objects
of attack, such as Sir Humphrey Davy, &c., it was clear that the malice
was assumed; that, at most, it was the gay impertinence of some man upon
town, armed with triple Irish brass from original defect of feeling, and
willing to raise an income by running amuck at any person just then
occupying enough of public interest to make the abuse saleable. But, in
my case, the man flew like a bull-dog at the throat, with a pertinacity
and _acharnement_ of malice that would have caused me to laugh
immoderately, had it not been for one intolerable wound to my feelings.
These mercenary libellers, whose stiletto is in the market, and at any
man's service for a fixed price, callous and insensible as they are,
yet retain enough of the principles common to human nature, under every
modification, to know where to plant their wounds. Like savage hackney
coachmen, they know where there is a _raw_. And the instincts of human
nature teach them that every man is vulnerable through his female
connexions. There lies his honour; there his strength; there his
weakness. In their keeping is the heaven of his happiness; in them and
through them the earthy of its fragility. Many there are who do not feel
the _maternal_ relation to be one in which any excessive freight of
honour or sensibility is embarked. Neither is the name of _sister_,
though tender in early years, and impressive to the fireside
sensibilities, universally and through life the same magical sound. A
sister is a creature whose very property and tendency (_qua_ sister) is
to alienate herself, not to gather round your centre. But the names of
_wife_ and _daughter_ these are the supreme and starry charities of
life: and he who, under a mask, fighting in darkness, attacks you there,
that coward has you at disadvantage. I stood in those hideous shambles
of Smithfield: upwards I looked to the clouds, downwards to the earth,
for vengeance. I trembled with excessive wrath--such was my infirmity of
feeling at that time, and in that condition of health; and had I
possessed forty thousand lives, all, and every one individually, I would
have sacrificed in vindication of her that was thus cruelly libelled.
Shall I give currency to his malice, shall I aid and promote it by
repeating it? No. And yet why not? Why should I scruple, as if afraid to
challenge his falsehoods?--why should I scruple to cite them? He, this
libeller, asserted--But faugh!

This slander seemed to have been built upon some special knowledge of
me; for I had often spoken with horror of those who could marry persons
in a condition which obliged them to obedience--a case which had
happened repeatedly within my own knowledge; and I had spoken on this
ground, that the authority of a master might be _supposed_ to have been
interposed, whether it really were so or not in favour of his designs;
and thus a presumption, however false it might be, always remained that
his wooing had been, perhaps, not the wooing of perfect freedom, so
essential to the dignity of woman, and, therefore, essential to his own
dignity; but that perhaps, it had been favoured by circumstances, and by
opportunities created, if it had not even been favoured, by express
exertions of authority. The libeller, therefore, _did_ seem to have some
knowledge of my peculiar opinions: yet, in other points, either from
sincere ignorance or from affectation, and by way of turning aside
suspicion, he certainly manifested a non-acquaintance with facts
relating to me that must have been familiar enough to all within my
circle.

Let me pursue the case to its last stage. The reader will say, perhaps,
why complain of a paltry journal that assuredly never made any noise;
for I, the reader, never heard of it till now. No, that is very
possible; for the truth is, and odd enough it seems, this malicious
journal prospered so little, that, positively, at the seventh No. it
stopped. Laugh I did, and laugh I could not help but do, at this picture
of baffled malice: writers willing and ready to fire with poisoned
bullets, and yet perfectly unable to get an effective aim, from sheer
want of co-operation on the part of the public.

However, the case as it respected me, went farther than it did with
respect to the public. Would it be believed that human malice, with
respect to a man not even known by sight to his assailants, as was clear
from one part of their personalities, finally--that is to say, months
afterwards--adopted the following course:--The journal had sunk under
public scorn and neglect; neglect at first, but, perhaps, scorn at the
last; for, when the writers found that mere malice availed not to draw
public attention, they adopted the plan of baiting their hooks with
obscenity; and they published a paper, professing to be written by Lord
Byron, called, '_My Wedding Night_;' and very possible, from internal
evidence, to have been really written by him; and yet the combined
forces of Byron and obscenity failed to save them,--which is rather
remarkable. Having sunk, one might suppose the journal was at an end,
for good and evil; and, especially, that all, who had been molested by
it, or held up to ridicule, might now calculate on rest. By no means:
First of all they made inquiries about the localities of my residence,
and the town nearest to my own family. Nothing was effected unless they
carried the insult, addressed to my family, into the knowledge of that
family and its circle. My cottage in Grasmere was just 280 miles from
London, and eighteen miles from any town whatsoever. The nearest was
Kendal; a place of perhaps 16,000 inhabitants; and the nearest
therefore, at which there were any newspapers printed. There were two:
one denominated _The Gazette_; the other _The Chronicle_. The first was
Tory and Conservative; had been so from its foundation; and was,
besides, generous in its treatment of private character. My own
contributions to it I will mention hereafter. _The Chronicle_, on the
other hand, was a violent reforming journal, and conducted in a
partisan spirit. To this newspaper the article was addressed; by this
newspaper it was published; and by this it was carried into my own
'_next-door_' neighbourhood. Next-door neighbourhood? But that surely
must be the very best direction these libellers could give to their
malice; for there, at least, the falsehood of their malice must be
notorious. Why, yes: and in that which _was_ my neighbourhood, according
to the most literal interpretation of the term, a greater favour could
not have been done me, nor a more laughable humiliation for my
unprovoked enemies. Commentary or refutation there needed none; the
utter falsehood of the main allegations were so obvious to every man,
woman, and child, that, of necessity, it discredited even those parts
which might, for any thing known to my neighbours, have been true. Nay,
it was the means of procuring for me a generous expression of sympathy,
that would else have been wanting; for some gentlemen of the
neighbourhood, who were but slightly known to me, put the malignant
journal into the fire at a public reading-room. So far was well; but, on
the other hand, in Kendal, a town nearly twenty miles distant, of
necessity I was but imperfectly known; and though there was a pretty
general expression of disgust at the character of the publication, and
the wanton malignity which it bore upon its front, since, true or not
true, no shadow of a reason was pleaded for thus bringing forward
statements expressly to injure me, or to make me unhappy; yet there must
have been many, in so large a place, who had too little interest in the
question, or too limited means of inquiry, for ever ascertaining the
truth. Consequently, in _their_ minds, to this hour, my name, as one
previously known to them, and repeatedly before the town in connexion
with political or literary articles in their Conservative journal, must
have suffered.

But the main purpose, for which I have reported the circumstances of
these two cases, relates to the casuistry of duelling. Casuistry, as I
have already said, is the moral philosophy of _cases_--that is, of
anomalous combinations of circumstances--that, for any reason
whatsoever, do not fall, or do not seem to fall, under the general rules
of morality. As a general rule, it must, doubtless, be unlawful to
attempt another man's life, or to hazard your own. Very special
circumstances must concur to make out any case of exception; and even
then it is evident, that one of the parties must always be deeply in the
wrong. But it _does_ strike me, that the present casuistry of society
upon the question of duelling, is profoundly wrong, and wrong by
manifest injustice. Very little distinction is ever made, in practice,
by those who apply their judgments to such cases, between the man who,
upon principle, practises the most cautious self-restraint and
moderation in his daily demeanour, never under any circumstance offering
an insult, or any just occasion of quarrel, and resorting to duel only
under the most insufferable provocation, between this man, on the one
side, and the most wanton ruffian, on the other, who makes a common
practice of playing upon other men's feelings, whether in reliance upon
superior bodily strength, or upon the pacific disposition of
conscientious men, and fathers of families. Yet, surely, the difference
between them goes the whole extent of the interval between wrong and
right. Even the question, 'Who gave the challenge?' which _is_ sometimes
put, often merges virtually in the transcendant question, 'Who gave the
provocation?' For it is important to observe, in both the cases which I
have reported, that the _onus_ of offering the challenge was thrown upon
the unoffending party; and thus, in a legal sense, that party is made to
give the provocation who, in a moral sense, received it. But surely, if
even the law makes allowances for human infirmity, when provoked beyond
what it can endure,--we, in our brotherly judgments upon each other,
ought, _a fortiori_, to take into the equity of our considerations the
amount and quality of the offence. It will be objected that the law, so
far from allowing for, expressly refuses to allow for, sudden sallies of
anger or explosions of vindictive fury, unless in so far as they are
extempore, and before the reflecting judgment has had time to recover
itself. Any indication that the party had leisure for calm review, or
for a cool selection of means and contrivances in executing his
vindictive purposes, will be fatal to a claim of that nature. This is
true; but the nature of a printed libel is, continually to renew itself
as an insult. The subject of it reads this libel, perhaps, in solitude;
and, by a great exertion of self-command, resolves to bear it with
fortitude and in silence. Some days after, in a public room, he sees
strangers reading it also: he hears them scoffing and laughing loudly:
in the midst of all this, he sees himself pointed out to their notice by
some one of the party who happens to be acquainted with his person; and,
possibly, if the libel take that particular shape which excessive malice
is most likely to select, he will hear the name of some female relative,
dearer, it may be to him, and more sacred in his ears, than all this
world beside, bandied about with scorn and mockery by those who have not
the poor excuse of the original libellers, but are, in fact, adopting
the second-hand malignity of others. Such cases, with respect to libels
that are quickened into popularity by interesting circumstances, or by a
personal interest attached to any of the parties, or by wit, or by
extraordinary malice, or by scenical circumstances, or by circumstances
unusually ludicrous, are but too likely to occur; and, with every fresh
repetition, the keenness of the original provocation is renewed, and in
an accelerated ratio. Again, with reference to my own case, or to any
case resembling that, let it be granted that I was immoderately and
unreasonably transported by anger at the moment;--I thought so myself,
after a time, when the journal which published the libel sank under the
public neglect; but this was an after consideration; and, at the moment,
how heavy an aggravation was given to the stings of the malice, by the
deep dejection, from embarrassed circumstances and from disordered
health, which then possessed me; aggravations, perhaps, known to the
libellers as encouragements for proceeding at the time, and often enough
likely to exist in other men's cases. Now, in the case as it actually
occurred, it so happened that the malicious writers had, by the libel,
dishonoured themselves too deeply in the public opinion, to venture upon
coming forward, in their own persons, to avow their own work; but
suppose them to have done so (as, in fact, even in this case, they might
have done, had they not published their intention of driving a regular
trade in libel and in slander); suppose them insolently to beard you in
public haunts; to cross your path continually when in company with the
very female relative upon whom they had done their best to point the
finger of public scorn; and suppose them further, by the whole artillery
of contemptuous looks, words, gestures, and unrepressed laughter, to
republish, as it were, ratify, and publicly to apply, personally, their
own original libel, as often as chance or as opportunity (eagerly
improved) should throw you together in places of general resort; and
suppose, finally, that the central figure--nay, in their account, the
very butt throughout this entire drama of malice--should chance to be an
innocent, gentle-hearted, dejected, suffering woman, utterly unknown to
her persecutors, and selected as their martyr merely for her
relationship to yourself--suppose her, in short, to be your wife--a
lovely young woman sustained by womanly dignity, or else ready to sink
into the earth with shame, under the cruel and unmanly insults heaped
upon her, and having no protector upon earth but yourself: lay all this
together, and then say whether, in such a case, the most philosophic or
the most Christian patience might not excusably give way; whether flesh
and blood could do otherwise than give way, and seek redress for the
past, but, at all events, security for the future, in what, perhaps,
might be the sole course open to you--an appeal to arms. Let it not be
said that the case here proposed, by way of hypothesis, is an extreme
one: for the very argument has contemplated extreme cases: since, whilst
conceding that duelling is an unlawful and useless remedy for cases of
ordinary wrong, where there is no malice to resist a more conciliatory
mode of settlement, and where it is difficult to imagine any deliberate
insult except such as is palliated by intoxication--conceding this, I
have yet supposed it possible that cases may arise, with circumstances
of contumely and outrage, growing out of deep inexorable malice, which
cannot be redressed, _as things now are_, without an appeal to the _voye
de fait_. 'But this is so barbarous an expedient in days of high
civilisation.' Why, yes, it labours with the semi-barbarism of
chivalry: yet, on the other hand, this mention of chivalry reminds me
to say, that if this practice of duelling share the blame of chivalry,
one memorable praise there is, which also it may claim as common to them
both. It is a praise which I have often insisted on; and the very
sublime of prejudice I would challenge to deny it. Burke, in his
well-known apology for chivalry, thus expresses his sense of the
immeasurable benefits which it conferred upon society, as a
supplementary code of law, reaching those cases which the weakness of
municipal law was then unavailing to meet, and at a price so trivial in
bloodshed or violence--he calls it 'the cheap defence of nations.' Yes,
undoubtedly; and surely the same praise belongs incontestably to the law
of duelling. For one duel _in esse_, there are ten thousand, every day
of our lives, amid populous cities, _in posse_: one challenge is given,
a myriad are feared: one life (and usually the most worthless, by any
actual good rendered to society) is sacrificed, suppose triennially,
from a nation; _every_ life is endangered by certain modes of behaviour.
Hence, then, and at a cost inconceivably trifling, the peace of society
is maintained in cases which no law, no severity of police, ever could
effectually reach. Brutal strength would reign paramount in the walks of
public life; brutal intoxication would follow out its lawless impulses,
were it not for the fear which now is always in the rear--the fear of
being summoned to a strict summary account, liable to the most perilous
consequences. This is not open to denial: the actual basis upon which
reposes the security of us all, the peace of our wives and our
daughters, and our own immunity from the vilest degradations under their
eyes, is the necessity, known to every gentleman, of answering for his
outrages in a way which strips him of all unfair advantages, except one
(which is not often possessed), which places the weak upon a level with
the strong, and the quiet citizen upon a level with the military
adventurer, or the ruffian of the gambling-house. The fact, I say,
cannot be denied; neither can the low price be denied at which this vast
result is obtained. And it is evident that, on the principle of
expediency, adopted as the basis of morality by Paley, the justification
of duelling is complete: for the greatest sum of immediate happiness is
produced at the least possible sacrifice.[15] But there are many men of
high moral principle, and yet not professing to rest upon Christianity,
who reject this prudential basis of ethics as the death of all morality.
And these men hold, that the social recognition of any one out of the
three following dangerous and immoral principles, viz.--_1st_, That a
man may lawfully sport with his own life; _2dly_, That he may lawfully
sport with the life of another; _3dly_, That he may lawfully seek his
redress for a social wrong, by any other channel than the law tribunals
of the land: that the recognition of these, or any of them, by the
jurisprudence of a nation, is a mortal wound to the very key-stone upon
which the whole vast arch of morality reposes. Well, in candour, I must
admit that, by justifying, in courts of judicature, through the verdicts
of juries, that mode of personal redress and self-vindication, to heal
and prevent which was one of the original motives for gathering into
social communities, and setting up an empire of public law as paramount
to all private exercise of power, a fatal wound is given to the sanctity
of moral right, of the public conscience, and of law in its elementary
field. So much I admit; but I say also, that the case arises out of a
great dilemma, with difficulties on both sides; and that, in all
_practical_ applications of philosophy, amongst materials so imperfect
as men, just as in all attempts to realize the rigour of mathematical
laws amongst earthly mechanics, inevitably there will arise such
dilemmas and cases of opprobrium to the reflecting intellect. However,
in conclusion, I shall say four things, which I request my opponent,
whoever he may be, to consider; for they are things which certainly
ought to have weight; and some important errors have arisen by
neglecting them.

[15] Neither would it be open to Paley to plead that the final or
remotest consequences must be taken into the calculation; and that one
of these would be the weakening of all moral sanctions, and thus,
indirectly, an injury to morality, which might more than compensate the
immediate benefit to social peace and security; for this mode of arguing
the case would bring us back to the very principle which his own
implicitly, or by involution, rejects: since it would tell us to obey
the principle itself without reference to the apparent consequences. By
the bye, Paley has an express section of his work against the law of
honour as a valid rule of action; but, as Cicero says of Epicurus, it
matters little what he says; the question for us is _quam sibi
convenienter_, how far consistently with himself. Now, as Sir James
Mackintosh justly remarks, all that Paley says in refutation of the
principle of worldly honour is hollow and unmeaning. In fact, it is
merely one of the commonplaces adopted by satire, and no philosophy at
all. Honour, for instance, allows you, upon paying gambling debts, to
neglect or evade all others: honour, again, allows you to seduce a
married woman: and he would secretly insinuate that honour _enjoins_ all
this; but it is evident that honour simply forbears to forbid all this:
in other words, it is a very limited rule of action, not applying to one
case of conduct in fifty. It might as well be said, that Ecclesiastical
Courts sanction murder, because that crime lies out of their
jurisdiction.

_First_, then, let him remember that it is the principle at stake--viz.,
the recognition by a legal tribunal, as lawful or innocent of any
attempt to violate the laws, or to take the law into our own hands: this
it is and the mortal taint which is thus introduced into the public
morality of a Christian land, thus authentically introduced; thus sealed
and countersigned by judicial authority; the majesty of law actually
interfering to justify, with the solemnities of trial, a flagrant
violation of law; this it is, this only, and not the amount of injury
sustained by society, which gives value to the question. For, as to the
injury, I have already remarked, that a very trivial annual loss--one
life, perhaps, upon ten millions, and that life often as little
practically valuable as any amongst us--that pays our fine or ransom in
that account. And, in reality, there is one popular error made upon this
subject, when the question is raised about the institution of some
_Court of Honour_, or _Court of Appeal in cases of injury to the
feelings_, under the sanction of parliament, which satisfactorily
demonstrates the trivial amount of injury sustained: it is said on such
occasions that _de minimis non curat lex_--that the mischief, in fact,
is too narrow and limited for the regard of the legislature. And we may
be assured that, if the evil were ever to become an extensive one, the
notice of Parliament soon _would_ be attracted to the subject; and hence
we may derive a hint for an amended view of the policy adopted in past
ages. Princes not distinguished for their religious scruples, made it,
in different ages and places, a capital offence to engage in a duel:
whence it is inferred, falsely, that, in former times, a more public
homage was paid to Christian principle. But the fact is, that not the
anti-Christian character of the offence so much as its greater
frequency, and the consequent extension of a civil mischief was the
ruling consideration with the lawgiver. Among other causes for this
greater prevalence of duels, was the composition of armies, more often
brought together upon mercenary principles from a large variety of
different nations, whose peculiar usages, points of traditional honour,
and even the oddness of their several languages to the ear, formed a
perpetual occasion of insult and quarrel. Fluellen's affair with Pistol,
we may be sure, was no rare but a representative case.

_Secondly_, In confirmation of what I have said about duelling, as the
great conductor for carrying off the excess of angry irritation in
society, I will repeat what was said to me by a man of great ability and
distinguished powers, as well as opportunities for observation, in
reference to a provincial English town, and the cabals which prevailed
there. These cabals--some political, arising out of past electioneering
contests; some municipal, arising out of the corporation disputes; some
personal, arising out of family rivalships, or old traditionary
disputes--had led to various feuds that vexed the peace of the town in a
degree very considerably beyond the common experience of towns reaching
the same magnitude. How was this accounted for? The word _tradesman_ is,
more than even the term _middle class_, liable to great ambiguity of
meaning; for it includes a range so large as to take in some who tread
on the heels even of the highest aristocracy, and some at the other end,
who rank not at all higher than day-labourers or handicraftsmen. Now,
those who ranked with gentlemen, took the ordinary course of gentlemen
in righting themselves under personal insults; and the result was, that,
amongst _them_ or _their_ families, no feuds were subsisting of ancient
standing. No ill blood was nursed; no calumnies or conspicuous want of
charity prevailed. Not that they often fought duels: on the contrary, a
duel was a very rare event amongst the indigenous gentry of the place;
but it was sufficient to secure all the effects of duelling, that it was
known, with respect to this class, that, in the last resort, they were
ready to fight. Now, on the other hand, the lowest order of tradesmen
had _their_ method of terminating quarrels--the old English method of
their fathers--viz., by pugilistic contests. And _they_ also cherished
no malice against each other or amongst their families. 'But,' said my
informant, 'some of those who occupied the intermediate stations in this
hierarchy of trade, found themselves most awkwardly situated. So far
they shared in the refinements of modern society, that they disdained
the coarse mode of settling quarrels by their fists. On the other hand,
there was a special and peculiar reason pressing upon this class, which
restrained them from aspiring to the more aristocratic modes of
fighting. They were sensible of a ridicule, which everywhere attaches to
many of the less elevated or liberal modes of exercising trade in going
out to fight with sword and pistol. This ridicule was sharpened and made
more effectual, in _their_ case, from the circumstance of the Royal
Family and the court making this particular town a frequent place of
residence. Besides that apart from the ridicule, many of them depended
for a livelihood upon the patronage of royalty or of the nobility,
attached to their suite; and most of these patrons would have resented
their intrusion upon the privileged ground of the aristocracy in
conducting disputes of honour. What was the consequence? These persons,
having no natural outlet for their wounded sensibilities, being
absolutely debarred from _any_ mode of settling their disputes,
cherished inextinguishable feuds: their quarrels in fact had no natural
terminations; and the result was, a spirit of malice and most
unchristian want of charity, which could not hope for any final repose,
except in death.' Such was the report of my observing friend: the
particular town may be easily guessed at; and I have little doubt that
its condition continues as of old.

_Thirdly_, It is a very common allegation against duelling, that the
ancient Romans and Grecians never practised this mode of settling
disputes; and the inference is, of course, unfavourable, not to
Christianity, but to us as inconsistent disciples of our own religion;
and a second inference is, that the principle of personal honour, well
understood, cannot require this satisfaction for its wounds. For the
present I shall say nothing on the former head, but not for want of
something to say. With respect to the latter, it is a profound mistake,
founded on inacquaintance with the manners and the spirit of manners
prevalent amongst these imperfectly civilised nations. Honour was a
sense not developed in many of its modifications amongst either Greeks
or Romans. Cudgelling was at one time used as the remedy in cases of
outrageous libel and pasquinade. But it is a point very little to the
praise of either people, that no vindictive notice was taken of any
possible personalities, simply because the most hideous license had been
established for centuries in tongue license and unmanly Billingsgate.
This had been promoted by the example hourly ringing in their ears of
vernile scurrility. _Verna_--that is, the slave born in the family--had
each from the other one universal and proverbial character of
foul-mouthed eloquence, which heard from infancy, could not but furnish
a model almost unconsciously to those who had occasion publicly to
practise vituperative rhetoric. What they remembered of this vernile
licentiousness, constituted the staple of their talk in such situations.
And the horrible illustrations left even by the most accomplished and
literary of the Roman orators, of their shameless and womanly fluency in
this dialect of unlicensed abuse, are evidences, not to be resisted, of
such obtuseness, such coarseness of feeling, so utter a defect of all
the gentlemanly sensibilities, that no man, alive to the real state of
things amongst them, would ever think of pleading their example in any
other view than as an object of unmitigated disgust. At all events, the
long-established custom of deluging each other in the Forum, or even in
the Senate, with the foulest abuse, the precedent traditionally
delivered through centuries before the time of Cæsar and Cicero, had so
robbed it of its sting, that, as a subject for patient endurance, or an
occasion for self conquest in mastering the feelings, it had no merit at
all. Anger, prompting an appeal to the cudgel, there might be, but sense
of wounded honour, requiring a reparation by appeal to arms, or a
washing away by blood, no such feeling could have been subdued or
overcome by a Roman, for none such existed. The feelings of wounded
honour on such occasions, it will be allowed, are mere reflections
(through sympathetic agencies) of feelings and opinions already
existing, and generally dispersed through society. Now, in Roman
society, the case was a mere subject for laughter; for there were no
feelings or opinions pointing to honour, personal honour as a principle
of action, nor, consequently, to wounded honour as a subject of
complaint. The Romans were not above duelling, but simply not up to that
level of civilisation.

_Finally_, with respect to the suggestion of a _Court of Honour_, much
might be said that my limits will not allow; but two suggestions I will
make. _First_, Recurring to a thing I have already said, I must repeat
that no justice would be shown unless (in a spirit very different from
that which usually prevails in society) the weight of public indignation
and the displeasure of the court were made to settle conspicuously upon
the AGGRESSOR; not upon the challenger, who is often the party suffering
under insufferable provocation (provocation which even the sternness of
penal law and the holiness of Christian faith allow for), but upon the
author of the original offence. _Secondly_, A much more searching
investigation must be made into the conduct of the SECONDS than is usual
in the unprofessional and careless inquisitions of the public into such
affairs. Often enough, the seconds hold the fate of their principals
entirely in their hands; and instances are not a few, within even my
limited knowledge, of cases where murder has been really committed, not
by the party who fired the fatal bullet, but by him who (having it in
his power to interfere without loss of honour to any party) has cruelly
thought fit--[and, in some instances, apparently for no purpose but
that of decorating himself with the name of an energetic man, and of
producing a public '_sensation_,' as it is called--a sanguinary
affair]--to goad on the tremulous sensibility of a mind distracted
between the sense of honour on the one hand, and the agonising claims of
a family on the other, into fatal extremities that might, by a slight
concession, have been avoided. I could mention several instances; but,
in some of these, I know the circumstances only by report. In one,
however, I had my information from parties who were personally connected
with the unhappy subject of the affair. The case was this:--A man of
distinguished merit, whom I shall not describe more particularly,
because it is no part of my purpose to recall old buried feuds, or to
insinuate any _personal_ blame whatsoever (my business being not with
this or that man, but with a system and its principles); this man, by a
step well-meant but injudicious, and liable to a very obvious
misinterpretation, as though taken in a view of self-interest, had
entangled himself in a quarrel. That quarrel would have been settled
amicably, or, if not amicably, at least without bloodshed, had it not
been for an unlucky accident combined with a very unwise advice. One
morning, after the main dispute had been pretty well adjusted, he was
standing at the fireside after breakfast, talking over the affair so far
as it had already travelled, when it suddenly and most unhappily came
into his head to put this general question--'Pray, does it strike you
that people will be apt, on a review of this whole dispute, to think
that there has been too much talking and too little doing?' His evil
genius so ordered it, that the man to whom he put this question, was one
who, having no military character to rest on, could not (or thought he
could not) recommend those pacific counsels which a truly brave man is
ever ready to suggest--I put the most friendly construction upon his
conduct--and his answer was this--'Why, if you insist upon my giving a
faithful reply, if you _will_ require me to be sincere (though I really
wish you would not), in that case my duty is to tell you, that the world
_has_ been too free in its remarks--that it has, with its usual
injustice, been sneering at literary men and _paper pellets_, as the
ammunition in which they trade; in short, my dear friend, the world has
presumed to say that not you only, but that both parties, have shown a
little of'----'Yes; I know what you are going to say,' interrupted the
other, 'of the _white feather_. Is it not so?'--'Exactly; you have hit
the mark--that is what they say. But how unjust it is; for, says I, but
yesterday, to Mr. L. M., who was going on making himself merry with the
affair in a way that was perfectly scandalous--"Sir," says I,'----but
this _says I_ never reached the ears of the unhappy man: he had heard
enough; and, as a secondary dispute was still going on that had grown
out of the first, he seized the very first opening which offered itself
for provoking the issue of a quarrel. The other party was not backward
or slack in answering the appeal; and thus, in one morning, the prospect
was overcast--peace was no longer possible; and a hostile meeting was
arranged. Even at this meeting much still remained in the power of the
seconds: there was an absolute certainty that all fatal consequences
might have been evaded, with perfect consideration for the honour of
both parties. The principals must unquestionably have felt _that_; but
if the seconds would not move in that direction, of course _their_ lips
were sealed. A more cruel situation could not be imagined: two persons,
who never, perhaps, felt more than that fiction of enmity which
belonged to the situation, that is to say, assumed the enmity which
society presumes rationally incident to a certain position--assumed it
as a point of honour, but did not heartily feel it; and even for the
slight shade of animosity which, for half an hour, they might have
really felt, had thoroughly quelled it before the meeting, these two
persons--under no impulses whatever, good or bad, from within, but
purely in a hateful necessity of servile obedience to a command from
without--prepared to perpetrate what must, in that frame of
dispassionate temper have appeared to each, a purpose of murder, as
regarded his antagonist--a purpose of suicide, as regarded himself.
Simply a word, barely a syllable, was needed from the 'Friends' (such
Friends!) of the parties, to have delivered them, with honour, from this
dreadful necessity: that word was not spoken; and because a breath, a
motion of the lips, was wanting--because, in fact, the seconds were
thoughtless and without feeling, one of the parties has long slept in a
premature grave--his early blossoms scattered to the wind--his golden
promise of fruit blasted; and the other has since lived that kind of
life, that, in my mind, _he_ was happier who died. Something of the same
kind happened in the duel between Lord Camelford and his friend, Mr.
Best; something of the same kind in that between Colonel Montgomery and
Captain Macnamara. In the former case, the quarrel was, at least, for a
noble subject; it concerned a woman. But in the latter, a dog, and a
thoughtless lash applied to his troublesome gambols, was the sole
subject of dispute. The colonel, as is well known, a very elegant and
generous young man, fell; and Captain Macnamara had thenceforwards a
worm at his heart whose gnawings never died. He was a post-captain; and
my brother afterwards sailed with him in quality of midshipman. From
him I have often heard affecting instances of the degree in which the
pangs of remorse had availed, to make one of the bravest men in the
service a mere panic-haunted, and, in a moral sense, almost a paralytic
wreck. He that, whilst his hand was unstained with blood, would have
faced an army of fiends in discharge of his duty, now fancied danger in
every common rocking of a boat: he made himself at times, the subject of
laughter at the messes of the junior and more thoughtless officers: and
his hand, whenever he had occasion to handle a spy-glass, shook, (to use
the common image,) or, rather, shivered, like an aspen tree. Now, if a
regular tribunal, authenticated, by Parliament, as the fountain of law,
and, by the Sovereign, as the fountain of honour, were, under the very
narrowest constitution, to apply itself merely to a review of the whole
conduct pursued by the seconds, even under this restriction such a
tribunal would operate with great advantage. It is needless to direct
any severity to the conduct of the principals, unless when that conduct
has been outrageous or wanton in provocation: supposing anything
tolerably reasonable and natural in the growth of the quarrel, after the
quarrel is once 'constituted,' (to borrow a term of Scotch law,) the
principals, as they are called with relation to the subject of dispute,
are neither principals nor even secondaries for the subsequent
management of the dispute: they are delivered up, bound hand and foot,
into the hands of their technical 'friends'; passive to the law of
social usage as regards the general necessity of pursuing the dispute;
passive to the directions of their seconds as regards the particular
mode of pursuing it. It is, therefore, the seconds who are the proper
objects of notice for courts of honour; and the error has been, in
framing the project of such a court, to imagine the inquiry too much
directed upon the behaviour of those who cease to be free agents from
the very moment that they become liable to any legal investigation
whatever: simply as quarrellers, the parties are no objects of question;
they are not within the field of any police review; and the very first
act which brings them within that field, translates the responsibility
(because the free agency) from themselves to their seconds. The whole
_questio vexata_, therefore, reduces itself to these logical moments,
(to speak the language of mathematics:) the two parties mainly concerned
in the case of duelling, are Society and the Seconds. The first, by
authorising such a mode of redress; the latter, by conducting it. Now, I
presume, it will be thought hopeless to arraign Society at the bar of
any earthly court, or apply any censure or any investigation to its mode
of thinking.[16] To the _principals_, for the reasons given, it would be
unjust to apply them; and the inference is, that the _seconds_ are the
parties to whom their main agency should be directed--as the parties in
whose hands lies the practical control of the whole affair, and the
whole machinery of opportunities, (so easily improved by a wise
humanity)--for sparing bloodshed, for promoting reconciliation, for
making those overtures of accommodation and generous apology which the
brave are so ready to agree to, in atonement for hasty words, or rash
movements of passion, but which it is impossible for _them_ to
originate. In short, for impressing the utmost possible spirit of
humanising charity and forbearance upon a practice which, after all,
must for ever remain somewhat of an opprobrium to a Christian people;
but which, tried by the law of worldly wisdom, is the finest bequest of
chivalry; the most economic safety-valve for man's malice that man's wit
could devise; the most absolute safe-guard of the weak against the
brutal; and, finally, (once more to borrow the words of Burke,) in a
sense the fullest and most practical, 'the cheap defence of nations;'
not indeed against the hostility which besieges from _without_, but
against the far more operative nuisance of bad passions that vex and
molest the social intercourse of men by ineradicable impulses from
within.

[16] If it be asked by what title I represent Society as authorising
(nay, as necessitating) duels, I answer, that I do not allude to any
floating opinions of influential circles in society; for these are in
continual conflict, and it may be difficult even to guess in which
direction the preponderance would lie. I build upon two undeniable
results, to be anticipated in any regular case of duel, and supported by
one uniform course of precedent:--_First_, That, in a civil adjudication
of any such case, assuming only that it has been fairly conducted, and
agreeably to the old received usages of England, no other verdict is
ever given by a jury than one of acquittal. _Secondly_, That, before
military tribunals, the result is still stronger; for the party liable
to a challenge is not merely acquitted, as a matter of course, if he
accepts it with any issue whatsoever, but is positively dishonoured and
degraded (nay, even dismissed the service, virtually under colour of a
request that he will sell out) if he does not. These precedents form the
current law for English society, as existing amongst gentlemen. Duels,
pushed _à l'outrance_, and on the savage principles adopted by a few
gambling ruffians on the Continent, (of which a good description is
given in the novel of _The most unfortunate Man in the World_,) or by
old buccaneering soldiers of Napoleon, at war with all the world, and in
the desperation of cowardice, demanding to fight in a saw-pit or across
a table,--this sort of duels is as little recognised by the indulgence
of English law, as, in the other extreme, the mock duels of German
Burschen are recognised by the gallantry of English society. Duels of
the latter sort would be deemed beneath the dignity of judicial inquiry:
duels of the other sort, beyond its indulgence. But all other duels,
fairly managed in the circumstances, are undeniably privileged amongst
non-military persons, and commanded to those who are military.

I may illustrate the value of one amongst the suggestions I have made,
by looking back and applying it to part of my last anecdote: the case of
that promising person who was cut off so prematurely for himself, and so
ruinously for the happiness of the surviving antagonist. I may mention,
(as a fact known to me on the very best authority,) that the Duke of
Wellington was consulted by a person of distinction, who had been
interested in the original dispute, with a view to his opinion upon the
total merits of the affair, on its validity, as a 'fighting' quarrel,
and on the behaviour of the parties to it. Upon the last question, the
opinion of his Grace was satisfactory. His bias, undoubtedly, if he has
any, is likely to lie towards the wisdom of the peacemaker; and
possibly, like many an old soldier, he may be apt to regard the right of
pursuing quarrels by arms as a privilege not hastily to be extended
beyond the military body. But, on the other question, as to the nature
of the quarrel, the duke denied that it required a duel; or that a duel
was its natural solution. And had the duke been the mediator, it is
highly probable that the unfortunate gentleman would now have been
living. Certainly, the second quarrel involved far less of irritating
materials than the first. It grew out of a hasty word, and nothing more;
such as drops from parliamentary debaters every night of any interesting
discussion--drops hastily, is as hastily recalled, or excused, perhaps,
as a venial sally of passion, either by the good sense or the
magnanimity of the party interested in the wrong. Indeed, by the
unanimous consent of all who took notice of the affair, the seconds, or
one of them at least, in this case, must be regarded as deeply
responsible for the tragical issue; nor did I hear of one person who
held them blameless, except that one who, of all others, might the most
excusably have held them wrong in any result. But now, from such a case
brought under the review of a court, such as I have supposed, and
improved in the way I have suggested, a lesson so memorable might have
been given to the seconds, by a two-years' imprisonment--punishment
light enough for the wreck of happiness which they caused--that soon,
from this single case, raised into a memorable precedent, there would
have radiated an effect upon future duels for half a century to come.
And no man can easily persuade me that he is in earnest about the
extinction of duelling, who does not lend his countenance to a
suggestion which would, at least, mitigate the worst evils of the
practice, and would, by placing the main agents in responsibility to the
court, bring the duel itself immediately under the direct control of
that court; would make a legal tribunal not reviewers subsequently, but,
in a manner, spectators of the scene; and would carry judicial
moderation and skill into the very centre of angry passions; not, as now
they act, inefficiently to review, and, by implication, sometimes to
approve their most angry ebullitions, but practically to control and
repress them.



THE LOVE-CHARM.

A TALE FROM THE GERMAN OF TIECK.[17]


Emilius was sitting in deep thought at his table, awaiting his friend
Roderick. The light was burning before him; the winter evening was cold;
and to-day he wished for the presence of his fellow-traveller, though at
other times wont rather to avoid his society: for on this evening he was
about to disclose a secret to him, and beg for his advice. The timid,
shy Emilius found in every business and accident of life so many
difficulties, such insurmountable hindrances, that it might seem to have
been an ironical whim of his destiny which brought him and Roderick
together, Roderick being in everything the reverse of his friend.
Inconstant, flighty, always determined by the first impression, and
kindling in an instant, he engaged in everything, had a plan for every
occasion; no undertaking was too arduous for him, no obstacle could
deter him. But in the midst of the pursuit he slackened and wearied just
as suddenly as at first he had caught fire and sprung forward. Whatever
then opposed him, was for him not a spur to urge him onward, but only
led him to abandon what he had so hotly rushed into; so that Roderick
was every day thoughtlessly beginning something new, and with no better
cause relinquishing and idly forgetting what he had begun the day
before. Hence, never a day passed but the friends got into a quarrel,
which seemed to threaten the death of their friendship; and yet what to
all appearance thus severed them, was perhaps the very thing that most
closely bound them together; each loved the other heartily; but each
found passing satisfaction in being able to discharge the most justly
deserved reproaches upon his friend.

[17] See the remarks in Prefatory Note, vol. i.

Emilius, a rich young man, of a susceptible and melancholy temperament,
on the death of his parents had become master of his fortune. He had set
out on a journey in order thereby to complete his education, but had now
already spent several months in a large town, for the sake of enjoying
the pleasures of the carnival, about which he never gave himself the
least trouble, and of making certain arrangements of importance about
his fortune with some relations, to whom as yet he had scarcely paid a
visit. On the road he had fallen in with the restless, ever-shifting and
veering Roderick, who was living at variance with his guardians, and
who, to free himself wholly from them and their burdensome admonitions,
eagerly grasped at the opportunity held out to him by his new friend of
becoming his companion on his travels. During their journey they had
often been on the point of separating; but each after every dispute had
only felt the more clearly that he could not live without the other.
Scarce had they left their carriage in any town, when Roderick had
already seen everything remarkable in it, to forget it all again on the
morrow; while Emilius took a week to acquire a thorough knowledge of the
place from his books, lest he should omit seeing anything that was to be
seen; and after all, from indolence and indifference thought there was
hardly anything worth his while to go and look at. Roderick had
immediately made a thousand acquaintances, and visited every public
place of entertainment; often too he brought his new-made friends to the
lonely chamber of Emilius, and would then leave him alone with them, as
soon as they began to tire him. At other times he would confound the
modest Emilius by extravagantly praising his merits and his acquirements
before intelligent and learned men, and by giving them to understand how
much they might learn from his friend about languages, or antiquities,
or the fine arts, although he himself could never find time for
listening to him on such subjects, when the conversation happened to
turn on them. But if Emilius ever chanced to be in a more active mood,
he might almost make sure of his truant friend having caught cold the
night before at a ball or a sledge-party, and being forced to keep his
bed; so that, with the liveliest, most restless, and most communicative
of men for his companion, Emilius lived in the greatest solitude.

To-day he confidently expected him; for Roderick had been forced to give
him a solemn promise of spending the evening with him, in order to learn
what it was that for weeks had been depressing and agitating his
thoughtful friend. Meanwhile Emilius wrote down the following lines:

    'Tis sweet when spring its choir assembles,
      And every nightingale is steeping
      The trees in his melodious weeping,
    Till leaf and bloom with rapture trembles.

    Fair is the net which moonlight weaves;
      Fair are the breezes' gambolings,
      As with lime-odours on their wings
    They chase each other through the leaves.

    Bright is the glory of the rose,
      When Love's rich magic decks the earth,
      From countless roses Love looks forth,
    Those stars wherewith Love's heaven glows.

    But sweeter, fairer, brighter far
      To me that little lamp's pale gleaming,
      When through the narrow casement streaming,
    It bids me hail my evening star;

    As from their braids her locks she flings,
      Then twines them in a flowery band,
      While at each motion of her hand
    The white robe to her fair form clings;

    Or when she breaks her lute's deep slumbers,
      And as at morning's touch up-darting,
      The notes, beneath her fingers starting,
    Dance o'er the strings in playful numbers.

    To stop their flight her voice she pours
      Full after them; they laugh and fly,
      And to my heart for refuge hie;
    Her voice pursues them through its doors.

    Leave me, ye fierce ones! hence remove!
      They bar themselves within, and say,
      'Till this be broken, here we stay,
    That thou mayst know what 'tis to love.'

Emilius arose fretfully. It grew darker, and Roderick came not, and he was
wishing to tell him of his love for an unknown fair one, who dwelt in the
opposite house, and who kept him all day long at home, and waking through
many a night. At length footsteps sounded up the stairs; the door opened
without anybody knocking at it, and in walked two gay masks with ugly
visages, one a Turk, dressed in red and blue silk, the other a Spaniard in
pale yellow and pink with many waving feathers on his hat. As Emilius was
becoming impatient, Roderick took off his mask, showed his well-known
laughing countenance, and said: 'Heyday, my good friend, what a drowned
puppy of a face! Is this the way to look in carnival time? I and our dear
young officer are come to fetch you away. There is a grand ball to-night at
the masquerade rooms; and as I know you have forsworn ever going out in any
other suit than that which you always wear, of the devil's own colour, come
with us as black as you are, for it is already somewhat late.'

Emilius felt angry, and said: 'You have, it seems, according to custom,
altogether forgotten our agreement. I am extremely sorry,' he continued,
turning to the stranger, 'that I cannot possibly accompany you; my friend
has been over-hasty in promising for me; indeed I cannot go out at all,
having something of importance to talk to him about.'

The stranger, who was well-bred, and saw what Emilius meant, withdrew; but
Roderick, with the utmost indifference, put on his mask again, placed
himself before the glass, and said: 'Verily I am a hideous figure, am I not?
To say the truth, it is a tasteless, worthless, disgusting device.'

'That there can be no question about,' answered Emilius, in high
indignation. 'Making a caricature of yourself, and making a fool of
yourself, are among the pleasures you are always driving after at full
gallop.'

'Because you do not like dancing yourself,' said the other, 'and look upon
dancing as a mischievous invention, not a soul in the world must wear a
merry face. How tiresome it is, when a person is made up of nothing but
whims!'

'Doubtless!' replied his angry friend, 'and you give me ample opportunity
for finding that it is so. I thought after our agreement you would have
given me this evening; but----'

'But it is the carnival, you know,' pursued the other, 'and all my
acquaintances and certain fair ladies are expecting me at the grand ball
to-night. Assure yourself, my good friend, it is mere disease in you that
makes you so unreasonable against all such matters.'

'Which of us has the fairest claim to disease,' said Emilius, 'I will not
examine. At least your inconceivable frivolousness, your hunger and thirst
after stop-gaps for every hour you are awake, your wild-goose chase after
pleasures that leave the heart empty, seem not to me altogether the
healthiest state of the soul. In certain things, at all events, you might
make a little allowance for my weakness, if it must once for all pass for
such: and there is nothing in the world that so jars through and through me
as a ball with its frightful music. Somebody once said, that to a deaf
person who cannot hear the music, a set of dancers must look like so many
patients for a mad-house; but, in my opinion, this dreadful music itself,
this twirling and whirling and pirouetting of half a dozen notes, each
treading on its own heels, in those accursed tunes which ram themselves
into our memories, yea, I might say, mix themselves up with our very blood,
so that one cannot get rid of their taint for many a miserable day
after--this to me is the very trance of madness; and if I could ever bring
myself to think dancing endurable, it must be dancing to the tune of
silence.'

'Well done, signor Paradox-monger!' exclaimed the mask. 'Why, you are so far
gone, that you think the most natural, most innocent, and merriest thing in
the world unnatural, ay, and shocking.'

'I cannot change my feelings,' said his grave friend. 'From my very
childhood these tunes have made me wretched, and have often well-nigh driven
me out of my senses. They are to me the ghosts and spectres and furies in
the world of sound, and come thus and buzz round my head, and grin at me
with horrid laughter.'

'All nervous irritability!' returned the other; 'just like your extravagant
abhorrence of spiders and many other harmless insects.'

'Harmless you call them,' cried Emilius, now quite untuned, 'because you
have no repugnance toward them. To one, however, who feels the same disgust
and loathing, the same nameless horror, that I feel, rise up in his soul and
shoot through his whole being at the sight of them, these miscreate
deformities, such as toads, spiders, or that most loathsome of nature's
excrements, the bat, are not indifferent or insignificant: their very
existence is directly at enmity and wages war with his. In truth, one might
smile at the unbelievers whose imagination is too barren for ghosts and
fearful spectres, and those births of night which we see in sickness, to
take root therein, or who stare and marvel at Dante's descriptions, when the
commonest every-day life brings before our eyes such frightful distorted
master-pieces among the works of horror. Yet, can we really and faithfully
love the beautiful, without being stricken with pain at the sight of such
monstrosities?'

'Wherefore stricken with pain?' asked Roderick. 'Why should the great realm
of the waters and the seas present us with nothing but those terrors which
you have accustomed yourself to find there? Why not rather look on such
creatures as strange, entertaining, and ludicrous mummers, and on the whole
region in the light of a great masked ball-room? But your whims go still
further; for as you love roses with a kind of idolatry, there are many
flowers for which you have a no less vehement hatred: yet what harm has the
dear good tulip ever done you, or all the other dutiful children of summer
that you persecute? So again you have an aversion to many colours, to many
scents, and to many thoughts; and you take no pains to harden yourself
against these weaknesses, but yield to them and sink down into them as into
a luxurious feather-bed; and I often fear I shall lose you altogether some
day, and find nothing but a patchwork of whims and prejudices sitting at
that table instead of my Emilius.'

Emilius was wrath to the bottom of his heart, and answered not a word.
He had long given up all design of making his intended confession; nor
did the thoughtless Roderick show the least wish to hear the secret
which his melancholy friend had announced to him with such an air of
solemnity. He sat carelessly in the arm-chair, playing with his mask,
when he suddenly cried: 'Be so kind, Emilius, as to lend me your large
cloak.'

'What for?' asked the other.

'I hear music in the church on the opposite side of the street,'
answered Roderick, 'and this hour has hitherto escaped me every evening
since we have been here. To-day it comes just as if called for. I can
hide my dress under your cloak, which will also cover my mask and
turban, and when it is over I can go straight to the ball.'

Emilius muttered between his teeth as he looked in the wardrobe for his
cloak, then constraining himself to an ironical smile, gave it to
Roderick, who was already on his legs. 'There is my Turkish dagger which
I bought yesterday,' said the mask, as he wrapped himself up; 'put it by
for me; it is a bad habit carrying about toys of cold steel: one can
never tell what ill use may be made of them, should a quarrel arise, or
any other knot which it is easier to cut than to untie. We meet again
to-morrow; farewell; a pleasant evening to you.' He waited for no reply,
but hastened down-stairs.

When Emilius was alone, he tried to forget his anger, and to fix his
attention on the laughable side of his friend's behaviour. After a while
his eyes rested upon the shining, finely-wrought dagger, and he said:
'What must be the feelings of a man who could thrust this sharp iron
into the breast of an enemy! but oh, what must be those of one who could
hurt a beloved object with it! He locked it up, then gently folded back
the shutters of his window, and looked across the narrow street. But no
light was there; all was dark in the opposite house; the dear form that
dwelt in it, and that used about this time to show herself at her
household occupations, seemed to be absent. 'Perhaps she is at the
ball,' thought Emilius, little as it suited her retired way of life.

Suddenly, however, a light entered; the little girl whom his beloved
unknown had about her, and with whom, during the day and evening, she
busied herself in various ways, carried a candle through the room, and
closed the window-shutters. An opening remained light, large enough for
over-looking a part of the little chamber from the spot where Emilius
stood; and there the happy youth would often bide till after midnight,
fixed as though he had been charmed there. He was full of gladness when
he saw her teaching the child to read, or instructing her in sewing and
knitting. Upon inquiry he had learnt that the little girl was a poor
orphan whom his fair maiden had charitably taken into the house to
educate her. Emilius's friends could not conceive why he lived in this
narrow street, in this comfortless lodging, why he was so little to be
seen in society, or how he employed himself. Without employment, in
solitude he was happy: only he felt angry with himself and his own
timidity and shyness, which kept him from venturing to seek a nearer
acquaintance with this fair being, notwithstanding the friendliness with
which on many occasions she had greeted and thanked him. He knew not
that she would often bend over him eyes no less love-sick than his own;
nor boded what wishes were forming in her heart, of what an effort, of
what a sacrifice she felt herself capable, so she might but attain to
the possession of his love.

After walking a few times up and down the room, when the light had
departed with the child, he suddenly resolved upon going to the ball,
though it was so against his inclination and his nature; for it struck
him that his Unknown might have made an exception to her quiet mode of
life, in order for once to enjoy the world, and its gaieties. The
streets were brilliantly lighted up, the snow crackled under his feet,
carriages rolled by, and masks in every variety of dress whistled and
chirped as they passed him. From many a house there sounded the
dancing-music he so abhorred, and he could not bring himself to go the
nearest way towards the ball-room, whither people from every direction
were streaming and thronging. He walked round the old church, gazed at
its lofty tower rising solemnly into the dark sky, and felt gladdened by
the stillness and loneliness of the remote square. Within the recess of
a large door-way, the varied sculptures of which he had always
contemplated with pleasure, recollecting, while so engaged, the olden
times and the arts which adorned them, he now again paused, to give
himself up for a few moments to his thoughts. He had not stood long,
before a figure drew his attention, which kept restlessly walking to and
fro, and seemed to be waiting for somebody. By the light of a lamp that
was burning before an image of the Virgin, he clearly distinguished its
features as well as its strange garb. It was an old woman of the
uttermost hideousness, which struck the eye the more from being brought
out by its extravagant contrast with a scarlet bodice embroidered with
gold; the gown she wore was dark, and the cap on her head shone likewise
with gold. Emilius fancied at first it must be some tasteless mask that
had strayed there by mistake; but he was soon convinced by the clear
light that the old, brown, wrinkled face was one of Nature's ploughing,
and no mimic exaggeration. Many minutes had not passed when there
appeared two men, wrapped up in cloaks, who seemed to approach the spot
with cautions footsteps, often looking about them, as if to observe
whether anybody was following. The old woman walked up to them. 'Have
you got the candles?' asked she hastily, and with a gruff voice. 'Here
they are,' said one of the men; 'you know the price; let the matter be
settled forthwith.' The old woman seemed to be giving him money, which
he counted over beneath his cloak. 'I rely upon you,' she again began,
'that they are made exactly according to the prescription, at the right
time and place, so that the work cannot fail.' 'Feel safe as to that,'
returned the man, and walked rapidly away. The other, who remained
behind, was a youth: he took the old woman by the hand, and said: 'Can
it then be, Alexia, that such rites and forms of words, as those old
stories, in which I never could put faith, tell us, can fetter the free
will of man, and make love and hatred grow in the heart?' 'So it is,'
answered the scarlet woman; 'but one and one must make two, and many a
one must be added thereto, before such things come to pass. It is not
these candles alone, moulded beneath the midnight darkness of the new
moon, and drenched with human blood, it is not the muttering magical
words and invocations alone, that can give you the mastery over the soul
of another; much more than this belongs to such works; but it is all
known to the initiated.' 'I rely on you then,' said the stranger.
'To-morrow after midnight I am at your service,' returned the old woman.
'You shall not be the first person that ever was dissatisfied with the
tidings I brought him. To-night, as you have heard, I have some one else
in hand, one whose senses and understanding our art shall twist about
whichever way we choose, as easily as I twist this hair out of my head.'
These last words she uttered with a half grin: they now separated, and
withdrew in different directions.

Emilius came from the dark niche shuddering, and raised his looks upon
the image of the Virgin with the Child. 'Before thine eyes, thou mild
and blessed one,' said he, half aloud, 'are these miscreants daring to
hold their market, and trafficking in their hellish drugs. But as thou
embracest thy Child with thy love, even so doth the unseen Love hold us
all in its protecting arms, and we feel their touch, and our poor hearts
beat in joy and in trembling toward a greater heart that will never
forsake us.'

Clouds were wandering along over the pinnacles of the tower and the
steep roof of the church; the everlasting stars looked down from amongst
them, sparkling with mild serenity; and Emilius turned his thoughts
resolutely away from these nightly horrors, and thought upon the beauty
of his Unknown. He again entered the living streets, and bent his steps
toward the brightly illuminated ball-room, whence voices, and the
rattling of carriages, and now and then, between the pauses, the
clamorous music came sounding to his ears.

In the hall he was instantly lost amid the streaming throng; dancers
sprang round him, masks shot by him to and fro, kettle-drums and
trumpets deafened his ears, and it was unto him as though human life
were nothing but a dream. He walked along the lines; his eye alone was
watchful, seeking for those beloved eyes and that fair head with its
brown locks, for the sight of which he yearned to-day even more
intensely than at other times; and yet he inwardly reproached the adored
being for enduring to plunge into and lose itself in such a stormy sea
of confusion and folly. 'No,' said he to himself, 'no heart that loves
can lay itself open to this waste hubbub of noise, in which every
longing and every tear of love is scoffed and mocked at by the pealing
laughter of wild trumpets. The whispering of trees, the murmuring of
fountains, harp-tones, and gentle song gushing forth from an overflowing
bosom, are the sounds in which love abides. But this is the very
thundering and shouting of hell in the trance of its despair.'

He found not what he was seeking; for the belief that her beloved face
might perchance be lying hid behind some odious mask was what he could
not possibly bring himself to. Thrice already had he ranged up and down
the hall, and had vainly passed in array every sitting and unmasked
female, when the Spaniard joined him and said: 'I am glad that after all
you are come. You seem to be looking for your friend.'

Emilius had quite forgotten him: he said, however, in some confusion:
'Indeed I wonder at not having met him here; his mask is easily known.'

'Can you guess what the strange fellow is about?' answered the young
officer. 'He did not dance, or even remain half an hour in the
ball-room; for he soon met with his friend Anderson, who is just come
from the country. Their conversation fell upon literature. As Anderson
had not yet seen the new poem, Roderick would not rest till they had
opened one of the back rooms for him; and there he now is, sitting with
his companion beside a solitary taper, and declaiming the whole poem to
him, beginning with the invocation to the Muse.'

'It is just like him,' said Emilius; 'he is always the child of the
moment. I have done all in my power, not even shunning some amicable
quarrels, to break him of this habit of always living extempore, and
playing away his whole being in impromptus, card after card, as it
happens to turn up, without once looking through his hand. But these
follies have taken such deep root in his heart, he would sooner part
with his best friend than with them. That very same poem, of which he is
so fond that he always carries a copy of it in his pocket, he was
desirous of reading to me, and I had even urgently entreated him to do
so; but we were scarcely over the first description of the moon, when,
just as I was resigning myself to an enjoyment of its beauties, he
suddenly jumped up, ran off, came back with the cook's apron round his
waist, tore down the bell-rope in ringing to have the fire lighted, and
insisted on dressing me some beef-steaks, for which I had not the least
appetite, and of which he fancies himself the best cook in Europe,
though, if he is lucky, he spoils them only nine times out of ten.'

The Spaniard laughed, and asked: 'Has he never been in love?'

'In his way,' replied Emilius very gravely; 'as if he were making game
both of love and of himself, with a dozen women at a time, and, if you
would believe his words, raving after every one of them; but ere a week
passes over his head they are all sponged out of it together, and not
even a blot of them remains.'

They parted in the crowd, and Emilius walked toward the remote
apartment, whence already from afar he heard his friend's loud
recitative. 'Ah, so you are here too,' cried Roderick, as he entered;
'that is just what it should be. I have got to the very passage at which
we broke down the other day; seat yourself, and you may listen to the
rest.'

'I am not in a humour for it now,' said Emilius; 'besides, the room and
the hour do not seem to me altogether fitted for such an employment.'

'And why not?' answered Roderick. 'Time and place are made for us, and
not we for time and place. Is not good poetry as good at one place as at
another? Or would you prefer dancing? there is scarcity of men; and with
the help of nothing more than a few hours' jumping and a pair of tired
legs, you may lay strong siege to the hearts of as many grateful
beauties as you please.'

'Good-bye!' cried the other, already in the door-way; 'I am going home.'

Roderick called after him: 'Only one word! I set off with this gentleman
at daybreak to-morrow, to spend a few days in the country, but will
look in upon you to take leave before we start. Should you be asleep, as
is most likely, do not take the trouble of waking; for in a couple of
days I shall be with you again.--The strangest being on earth!' he
continued, turning to his new friend, 'so moping and fretful and gloomy,
that he turns all his pleasures sour; or rather there is no such thing
as pleasure for him. Instead of walking about with his fellow-creatures
in broad daylight and enjoying himself, he gets down to the bottom of
the well of his thoughts, for the sake of now and then having a glimpse
of a star. Everything must be in the superlative for him; everything
must be pure and noble and celestial; his heart must be always heaving
and throbbing, even when he is standing before a puppet-show. He never
laughs or cries, but can only smile and weep; and there is mighty little
difference between his weeping and his smiling. When anything, be it
what you will, falls short of his anticipations and preconceptions,
which are always flying up out of reach and sight, he puts on a tragical
face, and complains that it is a base and soulless world. At this
moment, I doubt not, he is exacting, that under the masks of a Pantaloon
and a Pulcinello there should be a heart glowing with unearthly desires
and ideal aspirations, and that Harlequin should out moralise Hamlet
upon the nothingness of sublunary things; and should it not be so, the
dew will rise into his eyes, and he will turn his back on the whole
scene with desponding contempt.'

'He must be melancholic then?' asked his hearer.

'Not that exactly,' answered Roderick. 'He has only been spoilt by his
over-fond parents, and by himself. He has accustomed himself to let his
heart ebb and flow as regularly as the sea, and if this motion ever
chances to intermit, he cries out _miracle!_ and would offer a prize to
the genius that can satisfactorily explain so marvellous a phenomenon.
He is the best fellow under the sun; but all my painstaking to break him
of this perverseness is utterly vain and thrown away; and if I would not
earn sorry thanks for my good intentions, I must even let him follow his
own course.'

'He seems to need a physician,' remarked Anderson.

'It is one of his whims,' said Roderick, 'to entertain a supreme
contempt for the whole medical art. He will have it that every disease
is something different and distinct in every patient, that it can be
brought under no class, and that it is absurd to think of healing it,
either by attention to ancient practice or by what is called theory.
Indeed he would much rather apply to an old woman, and make use of
sympathetic cures. On the same principle, he despises all foresight, on
whatever occasion, as well as everything like regularity, moderation,
and common sense. The last above all he holds in especial abhorrence, as
the antipodes and arch-enemy of all enthusiasm. From his very childhood
he framed for himself an ideal of a noble character; and his highest aim
is to render himself what he considers such, that is, a being who shows
his superiority to all things earthy by his contempt for gold. Merely in
order that he may not be suspected of being parsimonious, or giving
unwillingly, or ever talking about money, he tosses it about him right
and left by handfuls; with all his large income is for ever poor and
distressed, and becomes the fool of everybody not endowed with precisely
the same kind of magnanimity, which for himself he is determined that he
will have. To be his friend is the undertaking of all undertakings; for
he is so irritable, one need only cough or eat with one's knife, or even
pick one's teeth, to offend him mortally.'

'Was he never in love?' asked his country friend.

'Whom should he love? whom could he love?' answered Roderick. 'He scorns
all the daughters of earth; and were he ever to suspect that his beloved
had not an angelical contempt for dress, or liked dancing as well as
star-gazing, it would break his heart; still more appalling would it be,
if she were ever so unfortunate as to sneeze.'

Meanwhile Emilius was again standing amid the throng; but suddenly there
came over him that uneasiness, that shivering, which had already so
often seized his heart when among a crowd in a state of similar
excitement; it chased him out of the ball-room and house, down along the
deserted streets; nor, till he reached his lonely chamber, did he
recover himself and the quiet possession of his senses. The night-light
was already kindled; he sent his servant to bed; everything in the
opposite house was silent and dark; and he sat down to pour forth in
verse the feelings which had been aroused by the ball.

      Within the heart 'tis still;
    Sleep each wild thought encages;
      Now stirs a wicked will,
    Would see how madness rages.
      And cries, Wild Spirit, awake!
    Loud cymbals catch the cry
      And back its echoes shake;
    And shouting peals of laughter,
    The trumpet rushes after,
      And cries, Wild Spirit, awake!
    Amidst them flute tones fly,
    Like arrows keen and numberless;
      And with bloodhound yell
      Pipes the onset swell;
    And violins and violoncellos,
      Creeking, clattering,
      Shrieking and shattering;
    And horns whence thunder bellows;
    To leave the victim slumberless,
    And drag forth prisoned madness,
    And cruelly murder all quiet and innocent gladness.
    What will be the end of this commotion?
    Where the shore to this turmoiling ocean?
    What seeks the tossing throng,
    As it wheels and whirls along?
      On! on! the lustres
    Like hell-stars bicker:
      Let us twine in closer clusters.
    On! on! ever thicker and quicker!
    How the silly things throb, throb amain!
      Hence, all quiet!
      Hither, riot!
      Peal more proudly,
      Squeal more loudly,
    Ye cymbals, ye trumpets! Be-dull all pain,
    Till it laugh again.

    Thou becomest to me, beauty's daughter;
        Smiles ripple over thy lips,
    And o'er thine eyes blue water;
      O let me breathe on thee,
      Ere parted hence we flee.
        Ere aught that light eclipse.
    I know that beauty's flowers soon wither;
      Those lips within whose rosy cells
      Thy spirit warbles its sweet spells,
    Death's clammy kiss ere long will press together.
      I know, that face so fair and full
      Is but a masquerading skull;
    But hail to thee, skull so fair and so fresh!
      Why should I weep and whine and wail,
      That what blooms now must soon grow pale,
    That worms must feed on that sweet flesh?
      Let me laugh but to-day and to-morrow,
      And I care not for sorrow,
    While thus on the waves of the dance by each other we sail!

      Now thou art mine
      And I am thine:
    And what though pain and sorrow wait
      To seize thee at the gate,
    And sob and tear and groan and sigh
      Stand ranged in state
    On thee to fly;
      Blithely let us look and cheerily
      On death, that grins so drearily.
    What would grief with us, or anguish?
    They are foes that we know how to vanquish.
      I press thine answering fingers,
      Thy look upon me lingers,
    Or the fringe of thy garment will waft me a kiss:
      Thou rollest on in light;
      I fall back into night;
    Even despair is bliss.

      From this delight,
    From this wild laughter's surge,
    Perchance there may emerge
      Foul jealousy and scorn and spite.
    But this our glory! and pride!
          When thee I despise,
        I turn but mine eyes,
      And the fair one beside thee will welcome my gaze;
    And she is my bride;
      Oh, happy, happy days!
    Or shall it be her neighbour,
    Whose eyes like a sabre
    Flash and pierce,
    Their glance is so fierce?

    Thus capering and prancing,
    All together go dancing
      Adown life's giddy cave;
    Nor living nor loving,
    But dizzily roving
      Through dreams to a grave.
    There below 'tis yet worse;
      Its flowers and its clay
      Roof a gloomier day,
    Hide a still deeper curse.
    Ring then, ye cymbals, enliven this dream!
    Ye horns, shout a fiercer, more vulture-like scream!
    And jump, caper, leap, prance, dance yourselves out of breath!
      For your life is all art;
      Love has given you no heart:
    Therefore shout till ye plunge into bottomless death.

He had ended and was standing at the window. Then came she into the
opposite chamber, lovely, as he had never yet seen her; her brown hair
floated freely and played in wanton ringlets about the whitest of necks;
she was but lightly clad, and it seemed as though she was about to
finish some household task at this late hour of the night before going
to bed; for she placed two lights in two corners of the room, set to
rights the green baize on the table, and again retired. Emilius was
still sunk in his sweet dreams, and gazing on the image which his
beloved had left on his mind, when to his horror the fearful, the
scarlet old woman walked through the chamber; the gold on her head and
breast glared ghastlily as it threw back the light. She had vanished
again. Was he to believe his eyes? Was it not some blinding deception of
the night, some spectre that his own feverish imagination had conjured
up before him? But no! she returned still more hideous than before, with
a long gray-and-black mane flying wildly and ruggedly about her breast
and back. The fair maiden followed her, pale, frozen up; her lovely
bosom was without a covering; but the whole form was like a marble
statue. Betwixt them they led the little sweet child, weeping and
clinging entreatingly to the fair maiden, who looked not down upon it.
The child clasped and lifted up its little beseeching hands, and stroked
the pale neck and cheeks of the marble beauty. But she held it fast by
the hair, and in the other hand a silver basin. Then the old woman gave
a growl, and pulled out a long knife, and drew it across the white neck
of the child. Here something wound forth from behind them, which they
seemed not to perceive; or it must have produced in them the same deep
horror as in Emilius. The ghastly neck of a serpent curled forth, scale
after scale, lengthening and ever lengthening out of the darkness, and
stooped down between them over the child, whose lifeless limbs hung from
the old woman's arms; its black tongue licked up the spirting red blood,
and a green sparkling eye shot over into Emilius's eye, and brain, and
heart, so that he fell at the same instant to the ground.

He was senseless when found by Roderick some hours after.

       *       *       *       *       *

A party of friends was sitting, on the brightest summer morning, in a
green arbour, assembled round an excellent breakfast. Laughter and jests
passed round, and many a time did the glasses kiss with a merry health
to the youthful couple, and a wish that they might be the happiest of
the happy. The bride and bridegroom were not present; the fair one being
still busied about her dress, while the young husband was sauntering
alone in a distant avenue, musing upon his happiness.

'What a pity,' said Anderson, 'that we are to have no music. All our
ladies are beclouded at the thought, and never in their whole lives
longed for a dance so much as to-day, when to have one is quite out of
the question. It is far too painful to his feelings.'

'I can tell you a secret though,' said a young officer; 'which is, that
we are to have a dance after all, and a rare madcap and riotous one it
will he. Everything is already arranged; the musicians are come
secretly, and quartered out of sight. Roderick has managed it all; for
he says, one ought not to let him have his own way, or to humour his
strange prejudices over-much, especially on such a day as this. Besides,
he is already grown far more like a human being, and is much more
sociable than he used to be; so that I think even he will not dislike
this alteration. Indeed, the whole wedding has been brought about all of
a sudden, in a way that nobody could have expected.'

'His whole life,' said Anderson, 'is no less singular than his
character. You must all remember how, being engaged on his travels, he
arrived last autumn in our city, fixed himself there for the winter,
lived like a melancholy man, scarcely ever leaving his room, and never
gave himself the least trouble about our theatre or any other amusement.
He almost quarrelled with Roderick, his most intimate friend, for trying
to divert him, and not pampering him in all his moping humours. In fact,
this exaggerated irritability and moodiness must have been a disease
that was gathering in his body; for, as you know, he was seized four
months since with a most violent nervous fever, so that we were all
forced to give him up for lost. After his fancies had raved themselves
out, on returning to his senses, he had almost entirely lost his
memory; his childhood, indeed, and his early youth were still present to
his mind, but he could not recollect anything that had occurred during
his travels, or immediately before his illness. He was forced to begin
anew his acquaintance with all his friends, even with Roderick; and only
by little and little has it grown lighter with him; but slowly has the
past with all that had befallen him come again, though still in dim
colours, over his memory. He had been removed into his uncle's house,
that the better care might be taken of him, and he was like a child,
letting them do with him whatever they chose. The first time he went out
to enjoy the warmth of spring in the park, he saw a girl sitting
thoughtfully by the road-side. She looked up; her eye met his; and, as
it were seized with an unaccountable yearning, he bade the carriage
stop, got out, sat down by her, took hold of her hands, and poured
himself forth in a full stream of tears. His friends were again alarmed
for his understanding; but he grew tranquil, lively and conversable, got
introduced to the girl's parents, and at the very first besought her
hand; which, as her parents did not refuse their consent, she granted
him. Thenceforward he was happy, and a new life sprang up within him;
every day he became healthier and more cheerful. A week ago he visited
me at this country-seat of mine, and was above measure delighted with
it; indeed so much so that he would not rest till he had made me sell it
to him. I might easily have turned his passionate wish to my own good
account, and to his injury; for, whenever he sets his heart on a thing,
he will have it, and that forthwith. He immediately made his
arrangements, and had furniture brought hither that he may spend the
summer months here; and in this way it has come to pass that we are all
now assembled together to celebrate our friend's marriage at this
villa, which a few days since belonged to me.'

The house was large, and situated in a very lovely country. One side
looked down upon a river, and beyond it upon pleasant hills, clad and
girt round with shrubs and trees of various kinds; immediately before it
lay a beautiful flower-garden. Here the orange and lemon trees were
ranged in a large open hall, from which small doors led to the
store-rooms and cellars, and pantries. On the other side spread the
green plain of a meadow, which was immediately bordered by a large park;
here the two long wings of the house formed a spacious court; and three
broad, open galleries, supported by rows of pillars standing above each
other, connected all the apartments in the building, which gave it on
this side an interesting and singular character; for figures were
continually moving along these arcades in the discharge of their various
household tasks; new forms kept stepping forth between the pillars and
out of every room, which reappeared soon after above or below, to be
lost behind some other doors; the company too would often assemble there
for tea or for play; and thus, when seen from below, the whole had the
look of a theatre, before which everybody would gladly pause awhile,
expecting, as his fancies wandered, that something strange or pleasing
would soon be taking place above.

The party of young people were just rising, when the full-dressed bride
came through the garden and walked up to them. She was clad in
violet-coloured velvet; a sparkling necklace lay cradled on her white
neck; the costly lace just allowed her swelling bosom to glimmer
through; her brown hair was tinged yet more beautifully by its wreath of
myrtles and white roses. She addressed each in turn with a kind
greeting, and the young men were astonished at her surpassing beauty.
She had been gathering flowers in the garden, and was now returning into
the house, to see after the preparations for the dinner. The tables had
been placed in the lower open gallery, and shone dazzlingly with their
white coverings and their load of sparkling crystal; rich clusters of
many-coloured flowers rose from the graceful necks of alabaster vases;
green garlands, starred with white blossoms, twined round the columns;
and it was a lovely sight to behold the bride gliding along with gentle
motion between the tables and the pillars, amid the light of the
flowers, overlooking the whole with a searching glance, then vanishing,
and re-appearing a moment afterwards higher up to pass into her chamber.

'She is the loveliest and most enchanting creature I ever saw,' cried
Anderson; 'our friend is indeed the happiest of men.'

'Even her paleness,' said the officer, taking up the word, 'heightens
her beauty. Her brown eyes sparkle only more intensely above those white
cheeks, and beneath those dark locks; and the singular, almost burning,
redness of her lips gives a truly magical appearance to her face.'

'The air of silent melancholy that surrounds her,' said Anderson, 'sheds
a lofty majesty over her whole form.'

The bridegroom joined them, and inquired after Roderick. They had all
missed him some time since, and could not conceive where he could be
tarrying; and they all set out in search of him. 'He is below in the
hall,' said at length a young man whom they happened to ask, 'in the
midst of the coachmen, footmen, and grooms, showing off tricks at cards,
which they cannot grow tired of staring at.' They went in, and
interrupted the noisy admiration of the servants, without, however,
disturbing Roderick, who quietly pursued his conjuring exhibition. When
he had finished, he walked with the others into the garden, and said, 'I
do it only to strengthen the fellows in their faith: for these puzzles
give a hard blow to their groomships' free-thinking inclinations, and
help to make them true believers.'

'I see,' said the bridegroom, 'my all-sufficing friend, among his other
talents, does not think that of a mountebank beneath his cultivation.'

'We live in a strange time,' replied the other. 'Who knows whether
mountebanks may not come to rule the roost in their turn. One ought to
despise nothing nowadays: the veriest straw of talent may be that which
is to break the camel's back.'

When the two friends found themselves alone, Emilius again turned down
the dark avenue, and said, 'Why am I in such a gloomy mood on this the
happiest day of my life? But I assure you, Roderick, little as you will
believe it, I am not made for this moving about among such a mob of
human beings; for this keeping my attention on the _qui vive_ for every
letter of the alphabet, so that neither A nor Z may go without all
fitting respect; for this making a bow to her tenth, and shaking hands
with my twentieth; for this rendering of formal homage to her parents;
for this handing a flower from my nosegay of compliments to every lady
that crosses my eye; for this waiting to receive the tide of newcomers
as wave after wave rushes over me, and then turning to give orders that
their servants and horses may have each a full trough and pail set
before them.'

'That is a watch that goes of its own accord,' answered Roderick. 'Only
look at your house, it was just built for such an occasion; and your
head-butler, with his right hand taking up at the same time that his
left is setting down, and one leg running north while the other seems to
be making for south, was begotten and born for no other end than to put
confusion in order. He would even set my brains to rights if he could
get at them; were the whole city here he would find room for all; and he
will make your hospitality the proverb of fifty miles round. Leave all
such things to him and to your lovely bride; and where will you find so
sweet a lightener of this world's cares?'

'This morning before sunrise,' said Emilius, 'I was walking through the
wood; my thoughts were solemnly tuned, and I felt to the bottom of my
soul that my life was now receiving its determinate character, that it
was become a serious thing, and that this passion had created for me a
home and a calling. I passed along by that arbour there, and heard
sounds: it was my beloved in close conversation. "Has it not turned out
now as I told you?" said a strange voice; "just as I knew it must turn
out. You have got your wish, so cheer up and be merry." I would not go
near them; afterwards I walked toward the arbour, but they had both
already left it. Since then I keep thinking and thinking, what can these
words mean?'

Roderick answered: 'Perhaps she may have been in love with you for some
time without your knowing it; you are only so much the happier.'

A late nightingale here upraised her song, and seemed to be wishing the
lover health and bliss. Emilius became more thoughtful. 'Come down with
me, to cheer up your spirits,' said Roderick, 'down to the village,
where you will find another couple; for you must not fancy that yours is
the only wedding on which to-day's sun is to shine. A young clown,
finding his time wear heavily in the house with an ugly old maid, for
want of something better to do, did what makes the booby now think
himself bound in honour to transform her into his wife. By this time
they must both be already dressed, so let us not miss the sight; for
doubtless, it will be a most interesting wedding.'

The melancholy man let himself be dragged along by his lively chattering
friend, and they soon came to the cottage. The procession was just
sallying forth, to go to the church. The young countryman was in his
usual linen frock; all his finery consisted in a pair of leather
breeches, which he had polished till they shone like a field of
dandelions; he was of simple mien, and appeared somewhat confused. The
bride was sun-burnt, with but a few farewell leaves of youth still
hanging about her; she was coarsely and poorly, but cleanly dressed;
some red and blue silk ribbons, already a good deal faded; but what
chiefly disfigured her was, that her hair, stiffened with lard, flour,
and pins, had been swept back from her forehead, and piled up at the top
of her head in a mound, on the summit of which lay the bridal chaplet.
She smiled and seemed glad at heart, but was shamefaced and downcast.
Next came the aged parents; the father too was only a servant about the
farm, and the hovel, the furniture, and the clothing, all bore witness
that their poverty was extreme. A dirty, squinting musician followed the
train, who kept grinning and screaming, and scratching his fiddle, which
was patched together of wood and pasteboard, and instead of strings had
three bits of pack-thread. The procession halted when his honour, their
new master, came up to them. Some mischief-loving servants, young lads
and girls, tittered and laughed, and jeered the bridal couple,
especially the ladies' maids, who thought themselves far handsomer, and
saw themselves infinitely better clad, and wondered how people could be
so vulgar. A shuddering came over Emilius; he looked round for Roderick,
but the latter had already run away from him again. An impertinent
coxcomb, with a head pilloried in his high starched neck-cloth, a
servant to one of the visitors, eager to show his wit, pressed up to
Emilius, giggling, and cried: 'Now, your honour, what says your honour
to this grand couple? They can neither of them guess where they are to
find bread for to-morrow, and yet they mean to give a ball this
afternoon, and that famous performer there is already engaged.' 'No
bread!' said Emilius; 'can such things be?' 'Their wretchedness,'
continued the chatterbox, 'is known to the whole neighbourhood; but the
fellow says he bears the creature the same good-will, although she is
such a sorry bit of clay. Ay, verily, as the song says, love can make
black white! The couple of baggages have not even a bed, and must pass
their wedding night on the straw. They have just been round to every
house begging a pint of small beer, with which they mean to get drunk; a
royal treat for a wedding day, your honour!' Everybody round about
laughed loudly, and the unhappy, despised pair cast down their eyes.
Emilius indignantly pushed the chatterer away. 'Here, take this!' he
cried, and threw a hundred ducats, which he had received that morning,
into the hands of the amazed bridegroom. The betrothed couple and their
parents wept aloud, threw themselves clumsily on their knees, and kissed
his hands and the skirts of his coat. He tried to make his escape. 'Let
that keep hunger out of your doors as long as it lasts!' he exclaimed,
quite stunned by his feelings. 'Oh!' they all screamed, 'oh, your
honour! we shall be rich and happy till the day of our deaths, and
longer too, if we live longer.'

He knew not how he got away from them; but he found himself alone, and
hastened with unsteady steps into the wood. Here he sought out the
thickest, loneliest spot, and threw himself down on a grassy knoll, no
longer keeping back the bursting stream of his tears. 'I am sick of
life,' he sobbed; 'I cannot be glad and happy, I will not. Make haste
and receive me, thou dear kind earth, and hide me in thy cool,
refreshing arms from the wild beasts that tread over thee and call
themselves men. Oh, God in heaven! how have I deserved that I should
rest upon down and wear silk, that the grape should pour forth her most
precious blood for me, and that all should throng around me and offer
me their homage and love? This poor wretch is better and worthier than
I, and misery is his nurse, and mockery and venomous scorn are the only
sounds that hail his wedding. Every delicacy that is placed before me,
every draught out of my costly goblets, my lying on soft beds, my
wearing gold and rich garments, will be unto me like so many sins, now
that I have beheld how the world hunts down many thousand thousand
wretches, who are hungering after the dry bread that I throw away, and
who never know what a good meal is. Oh, now I can fully understand your
feelings, ye holy pious, whom the world despises and scorns and scoffs
at, who scatter abroad your all, even unto the raiment of your poverty,
and did gird sack-cloth about your loins, and did resolve as beggars to
endure the gibes and the kicks wherewith brutal insolence and swilling
voluptuousness drive away misery from their tables, that by so doing ye
might thoroughly purge yourselves from the foul sin of wealth.'

The world, with all its forms of being, hung in a mist before his eyes;
he determined to look upon the destitute as his brethren, and to depart
far away from the communion of the happy. They had already been waiting
for him a long time in the hall, to perform the ceremony; the bride had
become uneasy; her parents had gone in search of him through the garden
and park; at length he returned, lighter for having wept away his cares,
and the solemn knot was tied.

The company then walked from the lower hall toward the open gallery, to
seat themselves at table. The bride and bridegroom led the way, and the
rest followed in their train. Roderick offered his arm to a young girl
who was gay and talkative. 'Why does a bride always cry, and look so sad
and serious during the ceremony,' said she, as they mounted the steps.

'Because it is the first moment in which she feels intensely all the
weight and meaning and mystery of life,' answered Roderick.

'But our bride,' continued the girl, 'far surpasses in gravity all I
have ever yet seen. Indeed, she almost always looks melancholy, and one
can never catch her in a downright hearty laugh.'

'This does more honour to her heart,' answered Roderick, himself,
contrary to custom, feeling somewhat seriously disposed. 'You know not,
perhaps, that the bride a few years ago took a lovely little orphan girl
into the house, to educate her. All her time was devoted to the child,
and the love of this gentle being was her sweetest reward. The girl was
become seven years old, when she was lost during a walk through the
town, and in spite of all the means that have been employed, nobody
could ever find out what became of her. Our noble-minded hostess has
taken this misfortune so much to heart that she has been preyed upon
ever since by a silent melancholy, nor can anything win her away from
her longing after her little play-fellow.'

'A most interesting adventure, indeed,' said the lady. 'One might see a
whole romance in three volumes grow out of this seed. It will be a
strange sight, and it will not be for nothing, when this lost star
reappears. What a pretty poem it would make! Don't you think so, sir?'

The party arranged themselves at table. The bride and bridegroom sat in
the centre, and looked out upon the gay landscape. They talked and drank
healths, and the most cheerful humour reigned; the bride's parents were
quite happy; the bridegroom alone was reserved and thoughtful, eat but
little, and took no part in the conversation. He started when some
musical sounds rolled down from above, but grew calm again on finding it
was nothing but the soft notes of a bugle, which wandered along with a
pleasant murmur over the shrubs and through the park, till they died
away on the distant hills. Roderick had stationed the musicians in the
gallery overhead, and Emilius was satisfied with this arrangement.
Toward the end of the dinner he called his butler, and turning to his
bride, said, 'My love, let poverty also have a share of our
superfluities.' He then ordered him to send several bottles of wine,
some pastry, and other dishes in abundant portions, to the poor couple,
so that with them also this day might be a day of rejoicing, unto which
in after-times they might look back with delight. 'See, my friend,'
cried Roderick, 'how beautifully all things in this world hang together.
My idle trick of busying myself about other people's concerns, and my
chattering, though you are for ever finding fault with them, have after
all been the occasion of this good deed.' Several persons began making
pretty speeches to their host on his compassion and kind heart, and the
young lady next to Roderick lisped about romantic feelings and
sentimental magnanimity. 'O, hold your tongues,' cried Emilius
indignantly. 'This is no good action; it is no action at all; it is
nothing. When swallows and linnets feed themselves with the crumbs that
are thrown away from the waste of this meal, and carry them to their
young ones in their nests, shall not I remember a poor brother who needs
my help? If I durst follow my heart, ye would laugh and jeer at me, just
as ye have laughed and jeered at many others who have gone forth into
the wilderness, that they might hear no more of this world and its
generosity.'

Everybody was silent, and Roderick, perceiving the most vehement
displeasure in his friend's glowing eyes, feared he might forget himself
still more in his present ungracious mood, and tried to give the
conversation a sudden turn upon other subjects. But Emilius was becoming
restless and absent; his eyes were continually wandering toward the
upper gallery, where the servants who lived in the top story had many
things to do.

'Who is that ugly old woman,' he at length asked, 'that is so busy
there, going backwards and forwards, in her gray cloak?' 'She is one of
my attendants,' said his bride; 'she is to overlook and manage my
waiting-maids and the other girls.' 'How can you bear to have anything
so hideous always at your elbow?' replied Emilius. 'Let her alone,'
answered the young lady; 'God meant the ugly to live as well as the
handsome: and she is such a good, honest creature, she may be of great
use to us.'

On rising from table, everybody pressed round the new husband, again
wished him joy, and urgently begged that he would consent to their
having a ball. The bride too said, breathing a gentle kiss on his
forehead: 'You will not deny your wife's first request, my beloved; we
have all been looking forward with delight to this moment. It is so
long since I danced last, and you have never yet seen me dance. Have you
no curiosity how I shall acquit myself in this new character? My mother
tells me I look better than at any other time.'

'I never saw you thus cheerful,' said Emilius; 'I will be no disturber
of your joys: do just what you please; only let me bargain for nobody
asking me to make myself ridiculous by any clumsy capers.'

'Oh, if you are a bad dancer,' she answered, laughing, 'you may feel
quite safe; everybody will readily consent to your sitting still.' The
bride then retired to put on her ball-dress.

'She does not know,' said Emilius to Roderick, with whom he withdrew,
'that I can pass from the next room into hers through a secret door; I
will surprise her while she is dressing.'

When Emilius had left them, and many of the ladies were also gone to
make such changes in their attire as were necessary for the ball,
Roderick took the young men aside, and led the way to his own room. 'It
is wearing toward evening,' said he, 'and will soon be dark; so make
haste, every one of you, and mask yourselves, that we may render this
night glorious in the annals of merriment and madness. Give your fancies
free range in choosing your characters: the wilder and uglier the
better. Try every combination of shaggy mane, and squinting eye, and
mouth like a gaping volcano; build mountains upon your shoulders, or
fatten yourselves into Falstaffs; and as a whet to your inventions, I
hereby promise a kiss from the bride to the figure that would be the
likeliest to make her miscarry. A wedding is such a strange event in
one's life; the bride and bridegroom are so suddenly plunged, as it were
by magic, head over heels into a new, unaccustomed element, that it is
impossible to infuse too much of madness and folly into this feast, in
order to keep pace with the whirlpool that is bearing a brace of human
beings from the state in which they were two, into the state in which
they become one, and to let all things round about them be fit
accompaniments for the dizzy dream on the wings of which they are
floating toward a new life. So let us rave away the night, making all
sail before the breeze; and a fig for such as look twice on the grave
sour faces that would have you behave rationally.'

'Don't be afraid,' said the young officer; 'we have brought from town
with us a large chest full of masks and mad carnival dresses, such as
would make even you stare.'

'But see here,' returned Roderick, 'what a gem I have got from my
tailor, who was just going to cut up this peerless robe into strips. He
bought it of an old crone, who must doubtless have worn it on gala days
when she went to Lucifer's drawing-room on the Blocksberg. Look at this
scarlet bodice, with its gold tassels and fringe, at this cap besmeared
with the last fee the hag got from Beelzebub or his imps: it will give
me a right worshipful air. To match such jewels, there is this green
velvet petticoat with its saffron-coloured trimming, and this mask
would melt even Medusa to a grin. Thus accoutred I mean to lead the
chorus of Graces, myself their mother-queen, toward the bed-chamber.
Make all the haste you can; and we will then go in procession to fetch
the bride.'

The bugles were still playing; the company were walking about the
garden, or sitting before the house. The sun had gone down behind thick,
murky clouds, and the country was lying in the gray dusk, when a parting
gleam suddenly burst forth athwart the cloudy veil, and flooded every
spot around, but especially the building, and its galleries, and
pillars, and wreaths of flowers, as it were with red blood. At this
moment the parents of the bride and the other spectators beheld a train
of the wildest appearances move toward the upper corridor. Roderick led
the way as the scarlet old woman, and was followed by hump-backs,
mountain-paunches, massy wigs, clowns, punches, skeleton-like
pantaloons, female figures embanked by enormous hoops and over-canopied
with three feet of horsehair, powder and pomatum, and by every
disgusting shape that can be conceived, as though a nightmare were
unrolling her stores. They jumped, and twirled, and tottered, and
stumbled, and straddled, and strutted, and swaggered along the gallery,
and then vanished behind one of the doors. But few of the beholders had
been able to laugh: so utterly were they amazed by the strange sight.
Suddenly a piercing shriek burst from one of the rooms, and there rushed
forth into the blood-red glow of the sunset the pale bride, in a short
white frock, round which wreaths of flowers were waving, with her lovely
bosom all uncovered, and her rich locks streaming through the air. As
though mad, with rolling eyes and distorted face, she darted along the
gallery, and, blinded by terror, could find neither door nor staircase;
and immediately after rushed Emilius in chase of her, with the sparkling
Turkish dagger in his high, upraised hand. Now she was at the end of the
passage; she could go no further; he reached her. His masked friends and
the gray old woman were running after him. But he had already furiously
pierced her bosom, and cut through her white neck; her blood spouted
forth into the radiance of the setting sun. The old woman had clasped
round him to tear him back; he struggled with her, and hurled himself
together with her over the railing, and they both fell, almost lifeless,
down at the feet of the relations who had been staring in dumb horror at
the bloody scene. Above and below, or hastening down the stairs and
along the galleries, were seen the hideous masks, standing or running
about in various clusters, like fiends of hell.

Roderick took his dying friend in his arms. He had found him in his
wife's room playing with the dagger. She was almost dressed when he
entered. At the sight of the hated red bodice his memory had rekindled;
the horrible vision of the night had risen upon his mind; and gnashing
his teeth he had sprung after his trembling flying bride, to avenge that
murder and all those devilish doings. The old woman, ere she expired,
confessed the crime that had been wrought; and the gladness and mirth of
the whole house were suddenly changed into sorrow and lamentation and
dismay.



LUDWIG TIECK.


The author of the foregoing tale, Ludwig Tieck, has lately been
introduced to the English reader by an admirable translation of his two
exquisite little novels, _The Pictures_ and _The Betrothing_. He is one
among the great German writers who made their appearance during the last
ten years of the eighteenth century; a period--whether from any
extraordinary productiveness in the power that regulates the seed-time
and the harvests of the human race, or from the mighty excitements and
stimulants wherewith the world was then teeming--among the richest in
the blossoming of genius. For not to mention the great military talents
first developed in those days, among the holders of which were he who
conquered all the continent of Europe, and he before whom that conqueror
fell; turning away from the many rank but luxuriant weeds that sprang up
in France, after all its plains had been manured with blood; and fixing
the eye solely upon literary excellence, we find in our own country,
that the chief part of those men by whom we may hope that the memory of
our days will be transmitted to posterity as a thing precious and to be
held in honour, that Wordsworth, and Coleridge, and Southey, and Lamb,
and Landor, and Scott, put forth during those ten years the first-fruits
of their minds; while in Germany, the same period was rendered
illustrious by Fichte and John Paul Richter at its commencement, and
subsequently by Schelling, and Hegel, and Steffens, Schleiermacher, and
the Schlegels, and Novalis, and Tieck. Of this noble brotherhood, who
all, I believe, studied at the same university, that of Jena, and who
were all bound together by friendship, by affinity of genius, and by
unity of aim, the two latter, Novalis and Tieck, were the poets: for
though there are several things of great poetical beauty in the works of
the Schlegels, their fame, upon the whole, rests on a different basis.
The lovely dreamy mind of Novalis was cut off in the full promise of its
spring; it only just awoke from the blissful visions of its childhood,
to breathe forth a few lyrical murmurs about the mysteries it had been
brooding over, and then fell asleep again. Upon Tieck, therefore, the
character of German poetry in the age following those of Goethe and
Schiller will mainly depend: and never did Norwegian or Icelandic spring
burst forth more suddenly than the youth of Ludwig Tieck. I know not in
the whole history of literature, any poet who can count up so many and
so great exploits achieved on his first descent into the arena: in
number and variety even Goethe must yield the precedence, though his
youthful triumphs were _Goetz of Berlichingen_ and _Werther_. There was
in Tieck's early works the promise, and far more than the promise, of
the greatest dramatic poet whom Europe had seen since the days of
Calderon; there was a rich, elastic, buoyant, comic spirit, not like the
analytical reflection, keen biting wit of Molière and Congreve, and
other comic writers of the satirical school, but like the living
merriment, the uncontrollable, exuberant joyousness, the humour arising
from _good_ humour, not, as it often does, from _ill_ humour, the
incarnation, so to say, of the principle of mirth, in Shakespeare, and
Cervantes, and Aristophanes; and as a wreath of flowers to crown the
whole, there was the heavenly purity and starlike loveliness of his
_Genoveva_. Had the rest of Tieck's life kept pace with the fertility of
the six years from 1798 to 1804, he must have been beyond all rivalry
the second of German poets; and as Eschylus in the _Frogs_ shares his
supremacy with Sophocles, so would Goethe have invited Tieck to sit
beside him on his throne. Unfortunately for those who would have feasted
upon his fruits, the poet, during the last twenty years, has been so
weighed down by almost unintermitting ill health, that he has published
but little. There was a short interval indeed that seemed to bid fairer,
about the year 1812, when he began to collect his tales and lesser
dramas, on a plan something like that of the _Decameron_, in the
_Phantasm_, but it has not yet been carried beyond the second reign, out
of seven through which it was designed to extend. Of that collection the
chief part had been known to the world ten or twelve years before: some
things, however, appeared then for the first time, and among them, I
believe, was the tale of _The Love-Charm_. Latterly, Tieck's genius has
taken a new spring, in a somewhat different direction from that of his
youth. He has written half a dozen novels, in the manner of the couple
recently translated; nor are the others of less excellence than those
two; a beautiful tale of magic has also been just published; and the
speedy appearance of several other things that have employed him during
the long period of seeming inactivity, is promised; wherein he has been
engaged more or less for above a quarter of a century, and to gather
materials for which he some years since visited England. Of this work
the highest expectations may justly be formed: not many people, even, in
this country, possess a more extensive and accurate acquaintance with
our ancient drama than Tieck; no one has entered more fully into the
spirit of its great poets, than Tieck has shown himself to have done in
the prefaces to his _Old English Theatre_ and his _Shakespeare's
Vorschule_; few have ever bestowed such attention on the history of the
stage in all countries, or have so studied the principles of dramatic
composition and the nature of dramatic effect; hardly any one, I may say
no one, ever learnt so much from Shakespeare: no one, therefore, can
have more to teach us about him; and to judge from the remarks on some
of the plays which have already been printed in the _Abendzeitung_, no
one was ever so able to trace out the most secret workings of the great
master's mind, or to retain his full, calm self-possession when
following him on his highest flights; no one ever united in such
perfection the great critic with the great poet. One may look forward,
therefore, with confidence to the greatest work in æsthetical criticism
that even Germany will ever have produced.

Of the foregoing tale itself little need be said. If the translator has
failed so grievously that an English reader cannot see its merits, he
would hardly help himself out of the scrape by talking about the effect
he ought to have produced. And grievously he must have failed, if any
reader with a feeling for poetry does not perceive and enjoy the beauty
of the descriptions, especially of the two eventful scenes, the power
and passion of the wild dithyramb, the admirable delineation of the
characters in proportion to their relative importance, and the poetical
harmony and perfect _keeping_ of the whole. Nothing can be more delicate
than the way of softening the horror that might be felt for the bride:
she has not even a name, that there may be no distinct object for our
disgust to fasten on; she is only spoken of under titles of a
pleasurable meaning; her beauty, like Helen's on the walls of Troy, is
manifested by its effect: the young men are astonished at it; her air of
deep melancholy impresses even the gayest and most thoughtless, and is
thus more powerful than if pages had been employed in giving utterance
to her remorse; besides which, had the latter course been adopted, the
main object would have been the wicked heart, not the wicked deed, the
sin, not the crime; and sin is always loathsome, whereas a crime may
often be looked upon with pity. The poet has therefore wisely kept all
his power of characteristic delineation for the two chief persons in the
tale; and rarely have any characters been brought out so distinctly
within a work of such dimensions; the contrast between them runs through
every feature, yet each is the necessary complement to the other; the
abuse which they vent in the ball-room each against his dearest friend,
and in the ears of almost a stranger, is in the true style of our frail
affections, veering before the slightest puff of self-will; nor is there
a circumstance mentioned about either, which tends not to complete the
picture, and is not all but indispensable. On some occasions a whole
life and character are revealed by a single touch; as for instance when
Emilius exclaims, _No bread! Can such things be?_ No other man could
have been so ignorant of what goes on in the world, as to marvel at such
a common occurrence; yet Emilius, it is quite certain, would be
surprised, when awaked from his dreams, to behold the face of real life;
so that this exclamation is, as it were, a great toe from which to
construct one who is anything rather than a Hercules. Indeed the whole
scene of the peasant's marriage, which at first sight may appear like a
somewhat idle digression, brought in for no better reason than
amusement, is absolutely necessary to the tale as a work of art: it not
only shows the character of Emilius in a fresh and important point of
view, not only supplies him with fuel, so that he is ready to burn at
the approach of the first spark, as for the former scene he had been
prepared by the arousal of his feelings in the ball-room; which,
besides, cast a mysterious haze over the scene, and leave it half
doubtful how much of the crime was actually perpetrated: the peasant's
wedding is necessary as a contrast, as a complement, and as a relief to
the other marriage; nor can that calm and masterly irony, which is among
the first elements in the mind of a great poet, be more clearly
manifested, than it is here, where the pomp and rejoicing of the great
and wealthy are suddenly turned 'into sorrow and lamentation and
dismay;' while the poor and the abashed and the despised are enabled to
pass their days in what to them is comfort, and to obtain the enjoyment
of a day 'unto which in after-times they may look back with delight.'

Everything about the one marriage seems happy; everything about the
other seems wretched; but neither is what it seems: they who seem happy
are a prey to extravagant and sinful desires; those who seem wretched
have moderate wishes, and, though they have offended, have not done it
wantonly or in malice; they are making what seems to them the only
atonement in their power, and 'the fellow bears the creature the same
good-will, though she is such a sorry bit of clay'; therefore the end of
each marriage is according, not unto the outward show and promise, but
unto that which lies within the heart. It is thus that poetical justice
endeavours, so far as it may, to anticipate the sentence of Omniscient
justice.



LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.--THE HOUSE OF WEEPING.

_From Jean Paul Frederick Richter._


Since the day when the town of Haslau first became the seat of a Court,
no man could remember that any one event in its annals (always excepting
the birth of the hereditary prince) had been looked for with so anxious
a curiosity as the opening of the last will and testament left by Van
der Kabel. This Van der Kabel may be styled the Haslau Croesus; and
his whole life might be termed, according to the pleasure of the wits,
one long festival of god-sends, or a daily washing of golden sands
nightly impregnated by golden showers of Danæ. Seven distant surviving
relatives of seven distant relatives deceased of the said Van der Kabel,
entertained some little hopes of a place amongst his legatees, grounded
upon an assurance which he had made, 'that upon his oath he would not
fail to _remember them_ in his will.' These hopes, however, were but
faint and weakly; for they could not repose any extraordinary confidence
in his good faith--not only because in all cases he conducted his
affairs in a disinterested spirit, and with a perverse obstinacy of
moral principle, whereas his seven relatives were mere novices, and
young beginners in the trade of morality,--but also because, in all
these moral extravagances of his (so distressing to the feelings of the
sincere rascal), he thought proper to be very satirical, and had his
heart so full of odd caprices, tricks, and snares for unsuspicious
scoundrels, that (as they all said) no man who was but raw in the art of
virtue could deal with him, or place any reliance upon his intentions.
Indeed the covert laughter which played about his temples, and the
falsetto tones of his sneering voice, somewhat weakened the advantageous
impression which was made by the noble composition of his face, and by a
pair of large hands, from which were daily dropping favours little and
great--benefit nights, Christmas-boxes and New-Year's gifts; for this
reason it was that, by the whole flock of birds who sought shelter in
his boughs, and who fed and built their nests on him, as on any wild
service-tree, he was, notwithstanding, reputed a secret magazine of
springes; and they were scarce able to find eyes for the visible berries
which fed them, in their scrutiny after the supposed gossamer snares.

In the interval between two apoplectic fits he had drawn up his will,
and had deposited it with the magistrate. When he was just at the point
of death he transferred to the seven presumptive heirs the certificate
of this deposit; and even then said, in his old tone--how far it was
from his expectation, that by any such anticipation of his approaching
decease, he could at all depress the spirits of men so steady and
sedate, whom, for his own part, he would much rather regard in the light
of laughing than of weeping heirs; to which remark one only of the whole
number, namely, Mr. Harprecht, inspector of police, replied as a cool
ironist to a bitter one--'that the total amount of concern and of
_interest_, which might severally belong to them in such a loss, was
not (they were sincerely sorry it was not) in their power to determine.'

At length the time is come when the seven heirs have made their
appearance at the town-hall, with their certificate--of deposit;
_videlicet_, the ecclesiastical councillor Glantz; Harprecht, the
inspector of police; Neupeter, the court-agent; the court-fiscal, Knoll;
Pasvogel, the bookseller; the reader of the morning lecture, Flacks; and
Monsieur Flitte, from Alsace. Solemnly, and in due form, they demanded
of the magistrate the schedule of effects consigned to him by the late
Kabel, and the opening of his will. The principal executor of this will
was Mr Mayor himself; the sub-executors were the rest of the
town-council. Thereupon, without delay, the schedule and the will were
fetched from the register office of the council to the council chamber:
both were exhibited in rotation to the members of the council and the
heirs, in order that they might see the privy seal of the town impressed
upon them: the registry of consignment, indorsed upon the schedule, was
read aloud to the seven heirs by the town-clerk: and by that registry it
was notified to them, that the deceased had actually consigned the
schedule to the magistrate, and entrusted it to the corporation-chest;
and that on the day of consignment he was still of sound mind: finally,
the seven seals, which he had himself affixed to the instrument, were
found unbroken. These preliminaries gone through, it was now (but not
until a brief registry of all these forms had been drawn up by the
town-clerk) lawful, in God's name, that the will should be opened and
read aloud by Mr Mayor, word for word as follows:--

'I, Van der Kabel, on this 7th day of May, 179-, being in my house at
Haslau, situate in Dog-street, deliver and make known this for my last
will; and without many millions of words, notwithstanding I have been
both a German notary and a Dutch schoolmaster. Howsoever I may disgrace
my old professions by this parsimony of words, I believe myself to be so
far at home in the art and calling of a notary, that I am competent to
act for myself as a testator in due form, and as a regular devisor of
property.

'It is a custom of testators to premise the moving causes of their
wills. These, in my case, as in most others, are regard for my happy
departure, and for the disposal of the succession to my property--which,
by the way, is the object of a tender passion in various quarters. To
say anything about my funeral, and all that, would be absurd and stupid.
This, and what shape my remains shall take, let the eternal sun settle
above, not in any gloomy winter, but in some of his most verdant
springs.

'As to those charitable foundations and memorial institutions of
benevolence, about which notaries are so much occupied, in my case I
appoint as follows: to three thousand of my poor townsmen of every
class, I assign just the same number of florins, which sum I will that,
on the anniversary of my death, they shall spend in feasting upon the
town common, where they are previously to pitch their camp, unless the
military camp of his Serene Highness shall be already pitched there, in
preparation for the reviews; and when the gala is ended, I would have
them cut up the tents into clothes. Item, to all the school-masters in
our locality I bequeath one golden augustus. Item, to the Jews of this
place I bequeath my pew in the high church.--As I would wish that my
will should be divided into clauses, this is considered to be the first.

       *       *       *       *       *

CLAUSE II.

'Amongst the important offices of a will, it is universally agreed to be
one, that from amongst the presumptive and presumptuous expectants, it
should name those who are, and those who are not, to succeed to the
inheritance; that it should create heirs and destroy them. In conformity to
this notion, I give and bequeath to Mr Glantz, the councillor for
ecclesiastical affairs, as also to Mr Knoll, the exchequer officer; likewise
to Mr Peter Neupeter, the court-agent; item to Mr Harprecht, director of
police; furthermore to Mr Flacks, the morning lecturer; in like manner to
the court-bookseller, Mr Pasvogel; and finally to Monsieur Flitte,--nothing;
not so much because they have no just claims upon me--standing, as they do,
in the remotest possible degree of consanguinity; nor again, because they
are for the most part themselves rich enough to leave handsome inheritances;
as because I am assured, indeed I have it from their own lips, that they
entertain a far stronger regard for my insignificant person than for my
splendid property; my body, therefore, or as large a portion of it as they
can get, I bequeath to them.'

At this point seven faces, like those of the Seven Sleepers, gradually
elongated into preternatural extent. The ecclesiastical councillor, a young
man, but already famous throughout Germany for his sermons printed or
preached, was especially aggrieved by such offensive personality; Monsieur
Flitte rapped out a curse that rattled even in the ears of magistracy; the
chin of Flacks the morning lecturer gravitated downwards into the dimensions
of a patriarchal beard; and the town-council could distinguish an assortment
of audible reproaches to the memory of Mr Kabel, such as prig, rascal,
profane wretch, &c. But the Mayor motioned with his hand, and immediately
the fiscal and the bookseller recomposed their features and set their faces
like so many traps with springs, and triggers, at full cock, that they might
catch every syllable; and then with a gravity that cost him some efforts:--

       *       *       *       *       *


CLAUSE III.

'Excepting always, and be it excepted, my present house in Dog-street: which
house by virtue of this third clause is to descend and to pass in full
property just as it now stands, to that one of my seven relatives
above-mentioned, who shall, within the space of one half-hour (to be
computed from the reciting of this clause), shed, to the memory of me his
departed kinsman, sooner than the other six competitors, one, or, if
possible, a couple of tears, in the presence of a respectable magistrate,
who is to make a protocol thereof. Should, however, _all remain dry_, in
that case, the house must lapse to the heir-general--whom I shall proceed to
name.'

Here Mr Mayor closed the will: doubtless, he observed, the condition annexed
to the bequest was an unusual one, but yet, in no respect contrary to law:
to him that wept the first the court was bound to adjudge the house: and
then placing his watch on the session table, the pointers of which indicated
that it was now just half-past eleven, he calmly sat down--that he might
duly witness in his official character of executor, assisted by the whole
court of aldermen, who should be the first to produce the requisite tear or
tears on behalf of the testator.

That since the terraqueous globe has moved or existed, there can ever
have met a more lugubrious congress, or one more out of temper and
enraged than this of Seven United Provinces, as it were, all dry and all
confederated for the purpose of weeping,--I suppose no impartial judge
will believe. At first some invaluable minutes were lost in pure
confusion of mind, in astonishment, in peals of laughter: the congress
found itself too suddenly translated into the condition of the dog to
which, in the very moment of his keenest assault upon some object of his
appetite, the fiend cried out--Halt! Whereupon, standing up as he was,
on his hind legs, his teeth grinning, and snarling with the fury of
desire, he halted and remained petrified:--from the graspings of hope,
however distant, to the necessity of weeping for a wager, the congress
found the transition too abrupt and harsh.

One thing was evident to all--that for a shower that was to come down at
such a full gallop, for a baptism of the eyes to be performed at such a
hunting pace, it was vain to think of any pure water of grief: no
hydraulics could effect this: yet in twenty-six minutes (four
unfortunately were already gone), in one way or other, perhaps, some
business might be done.

'Was there ever such a cursed act,' said the merchant Neupeter, 'such a
price of buffoonery enjoined by any man of sense and discretion? For my
part, I can't understand what the d----l it means.' However, he
understood this much, that a house was by possibility floating in his
purse upon a tear: and _that_ was enough to cause a violent irritation
in his lachrymal glands.

Knoll, the fiscal, was screwing up, twisting, and distorting his
features pretty much in the style of a poor artisan on Saturday night,
whom some fellow-workman is bar_ber_ously razoring and scraping by the
light of a cobbler's candle: furious was his wrath at this abuse and
profanation of the title _Last Will and Testament_: and at one time,
poor soul! he was near enough to tears--of vexation.

The wily bookseller, Pasvogel, without loss of time, sate down quietly
to business: he ran through a cursory retrospect of all the works any
ways moving or affecting that he had himself either published or sold on
commission;--took a flying survey of the pathetic in general: and in
this way of going to work, he had fair expectations that in the end he
should brew something or other: as yet, however, he looked very much
like a dog who is slowly licking off an emetic which the Parisian
surgeon Demet has administered by smearing it on his nose:
time--gentlemen, time was required for the operation.

Monsieur Flitte, from Alsace, fairly danced up and down the sessions
chamber; with bursts of laughter he surveyed the rueful faces around
him: he confessed that he was not the richest among them, but for the
whole city of Strasburg, and Alsace to boot, he was not the man that
could or would weep on such a merry occasion. He went on with his
unseasonable laughter and indecent mirth, until Harprecht, the police
inspector, looked at him very significantly, and said--that perhaps
Monsieur flattered himself that he might by means of laughter squeeze or
express the tears required from the well-known meibomian glands, the
caruncula, &c., and might thus piratically provide himself with
surreptitious rain;[18] but in that case, he must remind him that he
would no more win the day with any such secretions than he could carry
to account a course of sneezes or wilfully blowing his nose; a channel
into which it was well known that very many tears, far more than were
now wanted, flowed out of the eyes through the nasal duct; more indeed
by a good deal than were ever known to flow downwards to the bottom of
most pews at a funeral sermon. Monsieur Flitte of Alsace, however,
protested that he was laughing out of pure fun, for his own amusement;
and, upon his honour, with no _ulterior views_.

[18] In the original, the word is Fenster schweiss, window-sweat, _i.
e._ (as the translator understands the passage) Monsieur Flitte was
suspected of a design to swindle the company by exhibiting his two
windows streaming with spurious moisture, such as hoar frost produces on
the windows when melted by the heat of the room, rather than with the
genuine and unadulterated rain which Mr Kabel demanded.

The inspector on his side, being pretty well acquainted with the
hopeless condition of his own dephlegmatised heart, endeavoured to force
into his eyes something that might meet the occasion by staring with
them wide open and in a state of rigid expansion.

The morning-lecturer, Flacks, looked like a Jew beggar mounted on a
stallion which is running away with him: meantime, what by domestic
tribulations, what by those he witnessed at his own lecture, his heart
was furnished with such a promising bank of heavy-laden clouds, that he
could easily have delivered upon the spot the main quantity of water
required had it not been for the house which floated on the top of the
storm; and which, just as all was ready, came driving in with the tide,
too gay and gladsome a spectacle not to banish his gloom, and thus
fairly dammed up the waters.

The ecclesiastical councillor--who had become acquainted with his own
nature by long experience in preaching funeral sermons, and sermons on
the New Year, and knew full well that he was himself always the first
person and frequently the last, to be affected by the pathos of his own
eloquence--now rose with dignified solemnity, on seeing himself and the
others hanging so long by the dry rope, and addressed the chamber:--No
man, he said, who had read his printed works, could fail to know that he
carried a heart about him as well as other people; and a heart, he would
add, that had occasion to repress such holy testimonies of its
tenderness as tears, lest he should thereby draw too heavily on the
sympathies and the purses of his fellow-men, rather than elaborately to
provoke them by stimulants for any secondary views, or to serve an
indirect purpose of his own: 'This heart,' said he, 'has already shed
tears (but they were already shed secretly), for Kabel was my friend;'
and, so saying, he paused for a moment and looked about him.

With pleasure he observed that all were sitting as dry as corks: indeed,
at this particular moment, when he himself, by interrupting their
several water-works, had made them furiously angry, it might as well
have been expected that crocodiles, fallow-deer, elephants, witches, or
ravens should weep for Van der Kabel, as his presumptive heirs. Among
them all, Flacks was the only one who continued to make way: he kept
steadily before his mind the following little extempore assortment of
objects:--Van der Kabel's good and beneficent acts; the old petticoats
so worn and tattered, and the gray hair of his female congregation at
morning service; Lazarus with his dogs; his own long coffin; innumerable
decapitations; the Sorrows of Werther; a miniature field of battle; and
finally, himself and his own melancholy condition at this moment, itself
enough to melt any heart, condemned as he was in the bloom of youth by
the second clause of Van der Kabel's will to tribulation, and tears, and
struggles:--Well done, Flacks! Three strokes more with the pump-handle,
and the water is pumped up and the house along with it.

Meantime Glantz, the ecclesiastical councillor, proceeded in his
pathetic harangue--'Oh, Kabel, my Kabel!' he ejaculated, and almost wept
with joy at the near approach of his tears, 'the time shall come that by
the side of thy loving breast, covered with earth, mine also shall lie
mouldering and in cor----' _ruption_ he would have said; but Flacks,
starting up in trouble, and with eyes overflowing, threw a hasty glance
around him, and said, 'With submission, gentlemen, to the best of my
belief I am weeping.' Then sitting down, with great satisfaction he
allowed the tears to stream down his face; that done, he soon recovered
his cheerfulness and his _aridity_. Glantz the councillor thus saw the
prize fished away before his eyes--those very eyes which he had already
brought into an _Accessit_,[19] or inchoate state of humidity; this
vexed him: and his mortification was the greater on thinking of his own
pathetic exertions, and the abortive appetite for the prize which he had
thus uttered in words as ineffectual as his own sermons; and at this
moment he was ready to weep for spite--and 'to weep the more because he
wept in vain.' As to Flacks, a protocol was immediately drawn up of his
watery compliance with the will of Van der Kabel: and the messuage in
Dog-street was knocked down to him for ever. The Mayor adjudged it to
the poor devil with all his heart: indeed, this was the first occasion
ever known in Haslau, on which the tears of a schoolmaster and a curate
had converted themselves--not into mere amber that incloses only a
worthless insect, like the tears of Heliodes, but like those of the
goddess Freia, into heavy gold. Glantz congratulated Flacks very
warmly; and observed with a smiling air, that possibly he had himself
lent him a helping hand by his pathetic address. As to the others, the
separation between them and Flacks was too palpable, in the mortifying
distinction of _wet_ and _dry_, to allow of any cordiality between them;
and they stood aloof therefore: but they stayed to hear the rest of the
will, which they now awaited in a state of anxious agitation.

[19] To the English reader it may be necessary to explain, that in the
continental universities, etc., when a succession of prizes is offered,
graduated according to the degrees of merit, the illiptical formula of
'_Accessit_' denotes the second prize; and hence, where only a single
prize is offered, the second degree of merit may properly be expressed
by the term here used.



THE HOUSEHOLD WRECK.


'_To be weak_,' we need not the great archangel's voice to tell us, '_is
to be miserable_.' All weakness is suffering and humiliation, no matter
for its mode or its subject. Beyond all other weakness, therefore, and
by a sad prerogative, as more miserable than what is most miserable in
all, that capital weakness of man which regards the _tenure_ of his
enjoyments and his power to protect, even for a moment, the crown of
flowers--flowers, at the best, how frail and few!--which sometimes
settles upon his haughty brow. There is no end, there never will be an
end, of the lamentations which ascend from earth and the rebellious
heart of her children, upon this huge opprobrium of human pride--the
everlasting mutabilities of all which man can grasp by his power or by
his aspirations, the fragility of all which he inherits, and the
hollowness visible amid the very raptures of enjoyment to every eye
which looks for a moment underneath the draperies of the shadowy
_present_--the hollowness--the blank treachery of hollowness, upon which
all the pomps and vanities of life ultimately repose. This trite but
unwearying theme, this impassioned commonplace of humanity, is the
subject in every age of variation without end, from the Poet, the
Rhetorician, the Fabulist, the Moralist, the Divine, and the
Philosopher. All, amidst the sad vanity of their sighs and groans,
labour to put on record and to establish this monotonous complaint,
which needs not other record or evidence than those very sighs and
groans. What is life? Darkness and formless vacancy for a beginning, or
something beyond all beginning--then next a dim lotos of human
consciousness, finding itself afloat upon the bosom of waters without a
shore--then a few sunny smiles and many tears--a little love and
infinite strife--whisperings from paradise and fierce mockeries from the
anarchy of chaos--dust and ashes--and once more darkness circling round,
as if from the beginning, and in this way rounding or making an island
of our fantastic existence,--_that_ is human life; _that_ the inevitable
amount of man's laughter and his tears--of what he suffers and he
does--of his motions this way and that way--to the right or to the
left--backwards or forwards--of all his seeming realities and all his
absolute negations--his shadowy pomps and his pompous shadows--of
whatsoever he thinks, finds, makes or mars, creates or animates, loves,
hates, or in dread hope anticipates;--so it is, so it has been, so it
will be, for ever and ever.

Yet in the lowest deep there still yawns a lower deep; and in the vast
halls of man's frailty there are separate and more gloomy chambers of a
frailty more exquisite and consummate. We account it frailty that
threescore years and ten make the upshot of man's pleasurable existence,
and that, far before that time is reached, his beauty and his power have
fallen among weeds and forgetfulness. But there is a frailty, by
comparison with which this ordinary flux of the human race seems to have
a vast duration. Cases there are, and those not rare, in which a single
week--a day--an hour sweeps away all vestiges and landmarks of a
memorable felicity; in which the ruin travels faster than the flying
showers upon the mountain-side, faster 'than a musician scatters
sounds;' in which 'it was' and 'it is not' are words of the self-same
tongue, in the self-same minute; in which the sun that at noon beheld
all sound and prosperous, long before its setting hour looks out upon a
total wreck, and sometimes upon the total abolition of any fugitive
memorial that there ever had been a vessel to be wrecked, or a wreck to
be obliterated.

These cases, though here spoken of rhetorically, are of daily
occurrence; and, though they may seem few by comparison with the
infinite millions of the species, they are many indeed, if they be
reckoned absolutely for themselves; and throughout the limits of a whole
nation, not a day passes over us but many families are robbed of their
heads, or even swallowed up in ruin themselves, or their course turned
out of the sunny beams into a dark wilderness. Shipwrecks and nightly
conflagrations are sometimes, and especially among some nations,
wholesale calamities; battles yet more so; earthquakes, the famine, the
pestilence, though rarer, are visitations yet wider in their desolation.
Sickness and commercial ill-luck, if narrower, are more frequent
scourges. And most of all, or with most darkness in its train, comes the
sickness of the brain--lunacy--which, visiting nearly one thousand in
every million, must, in every populous nation, make many ruins in each
particular day. 'Babylon in ruins,' says a great author, 'is not so sad
a sight as a human soul overthrown by lunacy.' But there is a sadder
even than _that_,--the sight of a family-ruin wrought by crime is even
more appalling. Forgery, breaches of trust, embezzlement, of private or
public funds--(a crime sadly on the increase since the example of
Fauntleroy, and the suggestion of its great feasibility first made by
him)--these enormities, followed too often, and countersigned for their
final result to the future happiness of families, by the appalling
catastrophe of suicide, must naturally, in every wealthy nation, or
wherever property and the modes of property are much developed,
constitute the vast majority of all that come under the review of public
justice. Any of these is sufficient to make shipwreck of all peace and
comfort for a family; and often, indeed, it happens that the desolation
is accomplished within the course of one revolving sun; often the whole
dire catastrophe, together with its total consequences, is both
accomplished and made known to those whom it chiefly concerns within one
and the same hour. The mighty Juggernaut of social life, moving onwards
with its everlasting thunders, pauses not for a moment to spare--to
pity--to look aside, but rushes forward for ever, impassive as the
marble in the quarry--caring not for whom it destroys, for the how many,
or for the results, direct and indirect, whether many or few. The
increasing grandeur and magnitude of the social system, the more it
multiplies and extends its victims, the more it conceals them; and for
the very same reason: just as in the Roman amphitheatres, when they grew
to the magnitude of mighty cities (in some instances accommodating
400,000 spectators, in many a fifth part of that amount), births and
deaths became ordinary events, which, in a small modern theatre, are
rare and memorable; and exactly as these prodigious accidents
multiplied, _pari passu_, they were disregarded and easily concealed:
for curiosity was no longer excited; the sensation attached to them was
little or none.

From these terrific tragedies, which, like monsoons or tornadoes,
accomplish the work of years in an hour, not merely an impressive lesson
is derived, sometimes, perhaps, a warning, but also (and this is of
universal application) some consolation. Whatever may have been the
misfortunes or the sorrows of a man's life, he is still privileged to
regard himself and his friends as amongst the fortunate by comparison,
in so far as he has escaped these wholesale storms, either as an actor
in producing them, or a contributor to their violence--or even more
innocently (though oftentimes not less miserably)--as a participator in
the instant ruin, or in the long arrears of suffering which they
entail.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following story falls within the class of hasty tragedies, and sudden
desolations here described. The reader is assured that every incident is
strictly true: nothing, in that respect, has been altered; nor, indeed,
anywhere except in the conversations, of which, though the results and
general outline are known, the separate details have necessarily been lost
under the agitating circumstances which produced them. It has been judged
right and delicate to conceal the name of the great city, and therefore of
the nation in which these events occurred, chiefly out of consideration for
the descendants of one person concerned in the narrative: otherwise, it
might not have been requisite: for it is proper to mention, that every
person directly a party to the case has been long laid in the grave: all of
them, with one solitary exception, upwards of fifty years.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was early spring in the year 17--; the day was the 6th of April; and the
weather, which had been of a wintry fierceness for the preceding six or
seven weeks--cold indeed beyond anything known for many years, gloomy for
ever, and broken by continual storms--was now by a Swedish transformation
all at once bright--genial--heavenly. So sudden and so early a prelusion of
summer, it was generally feared, could not last. But that only made
everybody the more eager to lose no hour of an enjoyment that might prove so
fleeting. It seemed as if the whole population of the place, a population
among the most numerous in Christendom, had been composed of hybernating
animals suddenly awakened by the balmy sunshine from their long winter's
torpor. Through every hour of the golden morning the streets were resonant
with female parties of young and old, the timid and the bold, nay even of
the most delicate valetudinarians, now first tempted to lay aside their
wintry clothing together with their fireside habits, whilst the whole rural
environs of our vast city, the woodlands, and the interminable meadows began
daily to re-echo the glad voices of the young and jovial awaking once again,
like the birds and the flowers, and universal nature, to the luxurious
happiness of this most delightful season.

Happiness do I say? Yes, happiness; happiness to me above all others. For I
also in those days was among the young and the gay; I was healthy; I was
strong; I was prosperous in a worldly sense! I owed no man a shilling;
feared no man's face; shunned no man's presence. I held a respectable
station in society; I was myself, let me venture to say it, respected
generally for my personal qualities, apart from any advantages I might draw
from fortune or inheritance; I had reason to think myself popular amongst
the very slender circle of my acquaintance; and finally, which perhaps was
the crowning grace to all these elements of happiness, I suffered not from
the presence of _ennui_; nor ever feared to suffer: for my temperament was
constitutionally ardent; I had a powerful animal sensibility; and I knew the
one great secret for maintaining its equipoise, viz. by powerful daily
exercise; and thus I lived in the light and presence, or (if I should not be
suspected of seeking rhetorical expressions, I would say)--in one eternal
solstice, of unclouded hope.

These, you will say, were blessings; these were golden elements of felicity.
They were so; and yet, with the single exception of my healthy frame and
firm animal organisation, I feel that I have mentioned hitherto nothing but
what by comparison might be thought of a vulgar quality. All the other
advantages that I have enumerated, had they been yet wanting, might have
been acquired; had they been forfeited, might have been reconquered; had
they been even irretrievably lost, might, by a philosophic effort, have
been dispensed with; compensations might have been found for any of them,
many equivalents, or if not, consolations at least, for their absence. But
now it remains to speak of other blessings too mighty to be valued, not
merely as transcending in rank and dignity all other constituents of
happiness, but for a reason far sadder than that--because, once lost, they
were incapable of restoration, and because not to be dispensed with;
blessings in which 'either we must live or have no life:' lights to the
darkness of our paths and to the infirmity of our steps--which, once
extinguished, never more on this side the gates of Paradise can any man hope
to see re-illumined for himself. Amongst these I may mention an intellect,
whether powerful or not in itself, at any rate most elaborately cultivated;
and, to say the truth, I had little other business before me in this life
than to pursue this lofty and delightful task. I may add, as a blessing, not
in the same _positive_ sense as that which I have just mentioned, because
not of a nature to contribute so hourly to the employment of the thoughts,
but yet in this sense equal, that the absence of either would have been an
equal affliction,--namely, a conscience void of all offence. It was little
indeed that I, drawn by no necessities of situation into temptations of that
nature, had done no injury to any man. That was fortunate; but I could not
much value myself upon what was so much an accident of my situation.
Something, however, I might pretend to beyond this _negative_ merit; for I
had originally a benign nature; and, as I advanced in years and
thoughtfulness, the gratitude which possessed me for my own exceeding
happiness led me to do that by principle and system which I had already
done upon blind impulse; and thus upon a double argument I was incapable of
turning away from the prayer of the afflicted, whatever had been the
sacrifice to myself. Hardly, perhaps, could it have been said in a
sufficient sense at that time that I was a religious man: yet undoubtedly I
had all the foundations within me upon which religion might hereafter have
grown. My heart overflowed with thankfulness to Providence: I had a natural
tone of unaffected piety; and thus far at least I might have been called a
religious man, that in the simplicity of truth I could have exclaimed,

    'O, Abner, I fear God, and I fear none beside.'

But wherefore seek to delay ascending by a natural climax to that final
consummation and perfect crown of my felicity--that almighty blessing which
ratified their value to all the rest? Wherefore, oh! wherefore do I shrink
in miserable weakness from----what? Is it from reviving, from calling up
again into fierce and insufferable light the images and features of a
long-buried happiness? That would be a natural shrinking and a reasonable
weakness. But how escape from reviving, whether I give it utterance or not,
that which is for ever vividly before me? What need to call into artificial
light that which, whether sleeping or waking--by night or by day--for
eight-and-thirty years has seemed by its miserable splendour to scorch my
brain? Wherefore shrink from giving language, simple vocal utterance, to
that burden of anguish which by so long an endurance has lost no atom of its
weight, nor can gain any most surely by the loudest publication? Need there
can be none, after this, to say that the priceless blessing, which I have
left to the final place in this ascending review, was the companion of my
life--my darling and youthful wife. Oh! dovelike woman! fated in an hour the
most defenceless to meet with the ravening vulture,--lamb fallen amongst
wolves,--trembling--fluttering fawn, whose path was inevitably to be crossed
by the bloody tiger;--angel, whose most innocent heart fitted thee for too
early a flight from this impure planet; if indeed it were a necessity that
thou shouldst find no rest for thy footing except amidst thy native heavens,
if indeed to leave what was not worthy of thee were a destiny not to be
evaded--a summons not to be put by,--yet why, why, again and again I
demand--why was it also necessary that this thy departure, so full of wo to
me, should also to thyself be heralded by the pangs of martyrdom? Sainted
love, if, like the ancient children of the Hebrews, like Meshech and
Abednego, thou wert called by divine command, whilst yet almost a child, to
walk, and to walk alone, through the fiery furnace,--wherefore then couldst
not thou, like that Meshech and that Abednego, walk unsinged by the dreadful
torment, and come forth unharmed? Why, if the sacrifice were to be total,
was it necessary to reach it by so dire a struggle? and if the cup, the
bitter cup, of final separation from those that were the light of thy eyes
and the pulse of thy heart might not be put aside,--yet wherefore was it
that thou mightst not drink it up in the natural peace which belongs to a
sinless heart?

But these are murmurings, you will say, rebellious murmurings against
the proclamations of God. Not so: I have long since submitted myself,
resigned myself, nay even reconciled myself, perhaps, to the great wreck
of my life, in so far as it was the will of God, and according to the
weakness of my imperfect nature. But my wrath still rises, like a
towering flame, against all the earthly instruments of this ruin; I am
still at times as unresigned as ever to this tragedy, in so far as it
was the work of human malice. Vengeance, as a mission for _me_, as a
task for _my_ hands in particular, is no longer possible; the
thunder-bolts of retribution have been long since launched by other
hands; and yet still it happens that at times I do--I must--I shall
perhaps to the hour of death, rise in maniac fury, and seek, in the very
impotence of vindictive madness, groping as it were in blindness of
heart, for that tiger from hell-gates that tore away my darling from my
heart. Let me pause, and interrupt this painful strain, to say a word or
two upon what she was--and how far worthy of a love more honourable to
her (that was possible) and deeper (but that was not possible) than
mine. When first I saw her, she--my Agnes--was merely a child, not much
(if anything) above sixteen. But, as in perfect womanhood she retained a
most childlike expression of countenance, so even then in absolute
childhood she put forward the blossoms and the dignity of a woman.
Never yet did my eye light upon creature that was born of woman, nor
could it enter my heart to conceive one, possessing a figure more
matchless in its proportions, more statuesque, and more deliberately and
advisedly to be characterised by no adequate word but the word
_magnificent_ (a word too often and lightly abused). In reality,
speaking of women, I have seen many beautiful figures, but hardly one
except Agnes that could without hyperbole be styled truly and memorably
magnificent. Though in the first order of tall women, yet, being full in
person, and with a symmetry that was absolutely faultless, she seemed to
the random sight as little above the ordinary height. Possibly from the
dignity of her person, assisted by the dignity of her movements, a
stranger would have been disposed to call her at a distance a woman of
_commanding_ presence; but never after he had approached near enough to
behold her face. Every thought of artifice--of practised effect--or of
haughty pretension, fled before the childlike innocence--the sweet
feminine timidity--and the more than cherub loveliness of that
countenance, which yet in its lineaments was noble, whilst its
expression was purely gentle and confiding. A shade of pensiveness there
was about her; but _that_ was in her manners, scarcely ever in her
features; and the exquisite fairness of her complexion, enriched by the
very sweetest and most delicate bloom that ever I have beheld, should
rather have allied it to a tone of cheerfulness. Looking at this noble
creature, as I first looked at her, when yet upon the early threshold of
womanhood--

    'With household motions light and free,
     And steps of virgin liberty'--

you might have supposed her some Hebe or young Aurora of the dawn. When
you saw only her superb figure, and its promise of womanly development,
with the measured dignity of her step, you might for a moment have
fancied her some imperial Medea of the Athenian stage--some Volumnia
from Rome,

    'Or ruling bandit's wife amidst the Grecian isles.'

But catch one glance from her angelic countenance--and then combining
the face and the person, you would have dismissed all such fancies, and
have pronounced her a Pandora or an Eve, expressly accomplished and held
forth by nature as an exemplary model or ideal pattern for the future
female sex:

    'A perfect woman, nobly plann'd,
     To warn, to comfort, to command:
     And yet a spirit too, and bright
     With something of an angel light.'

To this superb young woman, such as I have here sketched her, I
surrendered my heart for ever, almost from my first opportunity of
seeing her: for so natural and without disguise was her character, and
so winning the simplicity of her manners, due in part to her own native
dignity of mind, and in part to the deep solitude in which she had been
reared, that little penetration was required to put me in possession of
all her thoughts; and to win her love, not very much more than to let
her see, as see she could not avoid, in connection with that chivalrous
homage which at any rate was due to her sex and her sexual perfections,
a love for herself on my part, which was in its nature as exalted a
passion and as profoundly rooted as any merely human affection can ever
yet have been.

On the seventeenth birthday of Agnes we were married. Oh! calendar of
everlasting months--months that, like the mighty rivers, shall flow on
for ever, immortal as thou, Nile, or Danube, Euphrates, or St. Lawrence!
and ye, summer and winter, day and night, wherefore do you bring round
continually your signs, and seasons, and revolving hours, that still
point and barb the anguish of local recollections, telling me of this
and that celestial morning that never shall return, and of too blessed
expectations, travelling like yourselves through a heavenly zodiac of
changes, till at once and for ever they sank into the grave! Often do I
think of seeking for some quiet cell either in the Tropics or in Arctic
latitudes, where the changes of the year, and the external signs
corresponding to them, express themselves by no features like those in
which the same seasons are invested under our temperate climes: so that,
if knowing, we cannot at least feel the identity of their revolutions.
We were married, I have said, on the birthday--the seventeenth
birthday--of Agnes; and pretty nearly on her eighteenth it was that she
placed me at the summit of my happiness, whilst for herself she thus
completed the circle of her relations to this life's duties, by
presenting me with a son. Of this child, knowing how wearisome to
strangers is the fond exultation of parents, I shall simply say, that he
inherited his mother's beauty; the same touching loveliness and
innocence of expression, the same chiselled nose--mouth--and chin, the
same exquisite auburn hair. In many other features, not of person
merely, but also of mind and manners, as they gradually began to open
before me, this child deepened my love to him by recalling the image of
his mother; and what other image was there that I so much wished to keep
before me, whether waking or asleep? At the time to which I am now
coming but too rapidly, this child, still our only one, and unusually
premature, was within four months of completing his third year;
consequently Agnes was at that time in her twenty-first year; and I may
here add, with respect to myself, that I was in my twenty-sixth.

But before I come to that period of wo, let me say one word on the
temper of mind which so fluent and serene a current of prosperity may be
thought to have generated. Too common a course I know it is, when the
stream of life flows with absolute tranquillity, and ruffled by no
menace of a breeze--the azure overhead never dimmed by a passing cloud,
that in such circumstances the blood stagnates: life, from excess and
plethora of sweets, becomes insipid: the spirit of action droops: and it
is oftentimes found at such seasons that slight annoyances and
molestations, or even misfortunes in a lower key, are not wholly
undesirable, as means of stimulating the lazy energies, and disturbing a
slumber which is, or soon will be, morbid in its character. I have known
myself cases not a few, where, by the very nicest gradations, and by
steps too silent and insensible for daily notice, the utmost harmony and
reciprocal love had shaded down into fretfulness and petulance, purely
from too easy a life, and because all nobler agitations that might have
ruffled the sensations occasionally, and all distresses even on the
narrowest scale that might have reawakened the solicitudes of love, by
opening necessities for sympathy--for counsel--or for mutual aid, had
been shut out by foresight too elaborate, or by prosperity too cloying.
But all this, had it otherwise been possible with my particular mind,
and at my early age, was utterly precluded by one remarkable peculiarity
in my temper. Whether it were that I derived from nature some jealousy
and suspicion of all happiness which seems too perfect and unalloyed--[a
spirit of restless distrust which in ancient times often led men to
throw valuable gems into the sea, in the hope of thus propitiating the
dire deity of misfortune, by voluntarily breaking the fearful chain of
prosperity, and led some of them to weep and groan when the gems thus
sacrificed were afterwards brought back to their hands by simple
fishermen, who had recovered them in the intestines of fishes--a
portentous omen, which was interpreted into a sorrowful indication that
the Deity thus answered the propitiatory appeal, and made solemn
proclamation that he had rejected it]--whether, I say, it were this
spirit of jealousy awaked in me by too steady and too profound a
felicity--or whether it were that great overthrows and calamities have
some mysterious power to send forward a dim misgiving of their advancing
footsteps, and really and indeed

    'That in to-day already walks to-morrow;'--

or whether it were partly, as I have already put the case in my first
supposition, a natural instinct of distrust, but irritated and enlivened
by a particular shock of superstitious alarm; which, or whether any of
these causes it were that kept me apprehensive, and on the watch for
disastrous change, I will not here undertake to determine. Too certain
it is that I was so. I never ridded myself of an over-mastering and
brooding sense, shadowy and vague, a dim abiding feeling (that sometimes
was and sometimes was not exalted into a conscious presentiment) of some
great calamity travelling towards me; not perhaps immediately
impending--perhaps even at a great distance; but already--dating from
some secret hour--already in motion upon some remote line of approach.
This feeling I could not assuage by sharing it with Agnes. No motive
could be strong enough for persuading me to communicate so gloomy a
thought with one who, considering her extreme healthiness, was but too
remarkably prone to pensive, if not to sorrowful contemplations. And
thus the obligation which I felt to silence and reserve, strengthened
the morbid impression I had received; whilst the remarkable incident I
have adverted to served powerfully to rivet the superstitious chain
which was continually gathering round me. The incident was this--and
before I repeat it, let me pledge my word of honour, that I report to
you the bare facts of the case, without exaggeration, and in the
simplicity of truth:--There was at that time resident in the great city
which is the scene of my narrative a woman, from some part of Hungary,
who pretended to the gift of looking into futurity. She had made herself
known advantageously in several of the greatest cities of Europe under
the designation of the Hungarian Prophetess; and very extraordinary
instances were cited amongst the highest circles of her success in the
art which she professed. So ample were the pecuniary tributes which she
levied upon the hopes and the fears, or the simple curiosity of the
aristocracy, that she was thus able to display not unfrequently a
disinterestedness and a generosity, which seemed native to her
disposition, amongst the humbler classes of her applicants; for she
rejected no addresses that were made to her, provided only they were not
expressed in levity or scorn, but with sincerity, and in a spirit of
confiding respect. It happened, on one occasion, when a nursery-servant
of ours was waiting in her anteroom for the purpose of taking her turn
in consulting the prophetess professionally, that she had witnessed a
scene of consternation and unaffected maternal grief in this Hungarian
lady upon the sudden seizure of her son, a child of four or five years
old, by a spasmodic inflammation of the throat (since called croup),
peculiar to children, and in those days not very well understood by
medical men. The poor Hungarian, who had lived chiefly in warm, or at
least not damp climates, and had never so much as heard of this
complaint, was almost wild with alarm at the rapid increase of the
symptoms which attend the paroxysms, and especially of that loud and
distressing sound which marks the impeded respiration. Great, therefore,
was her joy and gratitude on finding from our servant that she had
herself been in attendance more than once upon cases of the same nature,
but very much more violent,--and that, consequently, she was well
qualified to suggest and to superintend all the measures of instant
necessity, such as the hot-bath, the peculiar medicines, &c., which are
almost sure of success when applied in an early stage. Staying to give
her assistance until a considerable improvement had taken place in the
child, our servant then hurried home to her mistress. Agnes, it may be
imagined, despatched her back with such further and more precise
directions as in a very short time availed to re-establish the child in
convalescence. These practical services, and the messages of maternal
sympathy repeatedly conveyed from Agnes, had completely won the heart of
the grateful Hungarian, and she announced her intention of calling with
her little boy, to make her personal acknowledgments for the kindness
which had been shown to her. She did so, and we were as much impressed
by the sultana-like style of her Oriental beauty, as she, on her part,
was touched and captivated by the youthful loveliness of my angelic
wife. After sitting for above an hour, during which time she talked with
a simplicity and good feeling that struck us as remarkable in a person
professing an art usually connected with so much of conscious fraud, she
rose to take her leave. I must mention that she had previously had our
little boy sitting on her knee, and had at intervals thrown a hasty
glance upon the palms of his hands. On parting, Agnes, with her usual
frankness, held out her hand. The Hungarian took it with an air of sad
solemnity, pressed it fervently, and said,--'Lady, it is my part in this
life to look behind the curtain of fate; and oftentimes I see such
sights in futurity--some near, some far off--as willingly I would _not_
see. For you, young and charming lady, looking like that angel which you
are, no destiny can be equal to your deserts. Yet sometimes, true it is,
God sees not as man sees; and He ordains, after His unfathomable
counsels, to the heavenly-minded a portion in heaven, and to the
children whom He loves a rest and a haven not built with hands.
Something that I have seen dimly warns me to look no farther. Yet, if
you desire it, I will do my office, and I will read for you with truth
the lines of fate as they are written upon your hands.' Agnes was a
little startled, or even shocked, by this solemn address; but, in a
minute or so, a mixed feeling--one half of which was curiosity, and the
other half a light-hearted mockery of her own mysterious awe in the
presence of what she had been taught to view as either fraud or
insanity--prompted her playfully to insist upon the fullest application
of the Hungarian's art to her own case; nay, she would have the hands of
our little Francis read and interpreted as well as her own, and she
desired to hear the full professional judgment delivered without
suppression or softening of its harshest awards. She laughed whilst she
said all this; but she also trembled a little. The Hungarian first took
the hand of our young child, and perused it with a long and steady
scrutiny. She said nothing, but sighed heavily as she resigned it. She
then took the hand of Agnes--looked bewildered and aghast--then gazed
piteously from Agnes to her child--and at last, bursting into tears,
began to move steadily out of the room. I followed her hastily, and
remonstrated upon this conduct, by pointing her attention to the obvious
truth--that these mysterious suppressions and insinuations, which left
all shadowy and indistinct, were far more alarming than the most
definite denunciations. Her answer yet rings in my ear:--'Why should I
make myself odious to you and to your innocent wife? Messenger of evil I
am, and have been to many; but evil I will not prophesy to her. Watch
and pray! Much may be done by effectual prayer. Human means, fleshly
arms, are vain. There is an enemy in the house of life' [here she
quitted her palmistry for the language of astrology]; 'there is a
frightful danger at hand, both for your wife and your child. Already on
that dark ocean, over which we are all sailing, I can see dimly the
point at which the enemy's course shall cross your wife's. There is but
little interval remaining--not many hours. All is finished; all is
accomplished; and already he is almost up with the darlings of your
heart. Be vigilant, be vigilant, and yet look not to yourself, but to
heaven, for deliverance.'

This woman was not an impostor: she spoke and uttered her oracles under
a wild sense of possession by some superior being, and of mystic
compulsion to say what she would have willingly left unsaid; and never
yet, before or since, have I seen the light of sadness settle with so
solemn an expression into human eyes as when she dropped my wife's hand,
and refused to deliver that burden of prophetic wo with which she
believed herself to be inspired.

The prophetess departed; and what mood of mind did she leave behind her
in Agnes and myself? Naturally there was a little drooping of spirits at
first; the solemnity and the heart-felt sincerity of fear and grief
which marked her demeanour, made it impossible, at the moment when we
were just fresh from their natural influences, that we should recoil
into our ordinary spirits. But with the inevitable elasticity of youth
and youthful gaiety we soon did so; we could not attempt to persuade
ourselves that there had been any conscious fraud or any attempt at
scenical effect in the Hungarian's conduct. She had no motive for
deceiving us; she had refused all offerings of money, and her whole
visit had evidently been made under an overflow of the most grateful
feelings for the attentions shown to her child. We acquitted her,
therefore, of sinister intentions; and with our feelings of jealousy,
feelings in which we had been educated, towards everything that tended
to superstition, we soon agreed to think her some gentle maniac or sad
enthusiast, suffering under some form of morbid melancholy. Forty-eight
hours, with two nights' sleep, sufficed to restore the wonted
equilibrium of our spirits; and that interval brought us onwards to the
6th of April--the day on which, as I have already said, my story
properly commences.

On that day, on that lovely 6th of April, such as I have described it,
that 6th of April, about nine o'clock in the morning, we were seated at
breakfast near the open window--we, that is Agnes, myself, and little
Francis; the freshness of morning spirits rested upon us; the golden
light of the morning sun illuminated the room; incense was floating
through the air from the gorgeous flowers within and without the house;
there in youthful happiness we sat gathered together, a family of love,
and there we never sat again. Never again were we three gathered
together, nor ever shall be, so long as the sun and its golden
light--the morning and the evening--the earth and its flowers endure.

Often have I occupied myself in recalling every circumstance the most
trivial of this the final morning of what merits to be called my life.
Eleven o'clock, I remember, was striking when Agnes came into my study,
and said that she would go into the city (for we lived in a quite rural
suburb), that she would execute some trifling commissions which she had
received from a friend in the country, and would be at home again
between one and two for a stroll which we had agreed to take in the
neighbouring meadows. About twenty minutes after this she again came
into my study dressed for going abroad; for such was my admiration of
her, that I had a fancy--fancy it must have been, and yet still I felt
it to be real--that under every change she looked best; if she put on a
shawl, then a shawl became the most feminine of ornaments; if she laid
aside her shawl and her bonnet, then how nymph-like she seemed in her
undisguised and unadorned beauty! Full-dress seemed for the time to be
best, as bringing forward into relief the splendour of her person, and
allowing the exposure of her arms; a simple morning-dress, again, seemed
better still, as fitted to call out the childlike innocence of her face,
by confining the attention to that. But all these are feelings of fond
and blind affection, hanging with rapture over the object of something
too like idolatry. God knows, if that be a sin, I was but too profound a
sinner; yet sin it never was, sin it could not be, to adore a beauty
such as thine, my Agnes. Neither was it her beauty by itself, and that
only, which I sought at such times to admire; there was a peculiar sort
of double relation in which she stood at moments of pleasurable
expectation and excitement, since our little Francis had become of an
age to join our party, which made some aspects of her character trebly
interesting. She was a wife--and wife to one whom she looked up to as
her superior in understanding and in knowledge of the world, whom,
therefore, she leaned to for protection. On the other hand, she was also
a mother. Whilst, therefore, to her child she supported the matronly
part of guide, and the air of an experienced person; to me she wore,
ingenuously and without disguise, the part of a child herself, with all
the giddy hopes and unchastised imaginings of that buoyant age. This
double character, one aspect of which looks towards her husband and one
to her children, sits most gracefully upon many a young wife whose heart
is pure and innocent; and the collision between the two separate parts
imposed by duty on the one hand, by extreme youth on the other, the one
telling her that she is a responsible head of a family and the
depository of her husband's honour in its tenderest and most vital
interests, the other telling her, through the liveliest language of
animal sensibility, and through the very pulses of her blood, that she
is herself a child; this collision gives an inexpressible charm to the
whole demeanour of many a young married woman, making her other
fascinations more touching to her husband, and deepening the admiration
she excites; and the more so, as it is a collision which cannot exist
except among the very innocent. Years, at any rate, will irresistibly
remove this peculiar charm, and gradually replace it by the graces of
the matronly character. But in Agnes this change had not yet been
effected, partly from nature, and partly from the extreme seclusion of
her life. Hitherto she still retained the unaffected expression of her
childlike nature; and so lovely in my eyes was this perfect exhibition
of natural feminine character, that she rarely or never went out alone
upon any little errand to town which might require her to rely upon her
own good sense and courage, that she did not previously come to exhibit
herself before me. Partly this was desired by me in that lover-like
feeling of admiration already explained, which leads one to court the
sight of a beloved object under every change of dress, and under all
effects of novelty. Partly it was the interest I took in that exhibition
of sweet timidity, and almost childish apprehensiveness, half disguised
or imperfectly acknowledged by herself, which (in the way I have just
explained) so touchingly contrasted with (and for that very reason so
touchingly drew forth) her matronly character. But I hear some objector
say at this point, ought not this very timidity, founded (as in part at
least it was) upon inexperience and conscious inability to face the
dangers of the world, to have suggested reasons for not leaving her to
her own protection? And does it not argue on my part, an arrogant or too
blind a confidence in the durability of my happiness, as though charmed
against assaults, and liable to no shocks of sudden revolution? I reply
that, from the very constitution of society, and the tone of manners in
the city which we inhabited, there seemed to be a moral impossibility
that any dangers of consequence should meet her in the course of those
brief absences from my protection, which only were possible; that even
to herself any dangers, of a nature to be anticipated under the known
circumstances of the case, seemed almost imaginary; that even _she_
acknowledged a propriety in being trained, by slight and brief
separations from my guardianship, to face more boldly those cases of
longer separation and of more absolute consignment to her own resources
which circumstances might arise to create necessarily, and perhaps
abruptly. And it is evident that, had she been the wife of any man
engaged in the duties of a profession, she might have been summoned from
the very first, and without the possibility of any such gradual
training, to the necessity of relying almost singly upon her own courage
and discretion. For the other question, whether I did not depend too
blindly and presumptuously upon my good luck in not at least affording
her my protection so long as nothing occurred to make it impossible? I
may reply most truly that all my feelings ran naturally in the very
opposite channel. So far from confiding too much in my luck, in the
present instance I was engaged in the task of writing upon some points
of business which could not admit of further delay; but now, and at all
times, I had a secret aversion to seeing so gentle a creature thrown
even for an hour upon her own resources, though in situations which
scarcely seemed to admit of any occasion for taxing those resources; and
often I have felt anger towards myself for what appeared to be an
irrational or effeminate timidity, and have struggled with my own mind
upon occasions like the present, when I knew that I could not have
acknowledged my tremors to a friend without something like shame, and a
fear to excite his ridicule. No; if in anything I ran into excess, it
was in this very point of anxiety as to all that regarded my wife's
security. Her good sense, her prudence, her courage (for courage she had
in the midst of her timidity), her dignity of manner, the more
impressive from the childlike character of her countenance, all should
have combined to reassure me, and yet they did not. I was still anxious
for her safety to an irrational extent; and to sum up the whole in a
most weighty line of Shakspeare, I lived under the constant presence of
a feeling which only that great observer of human nature (so far as I am
aware) has ever noticed, viz., that merely the excess of my happiness
made me jealous of its ability to last, and in that extent less capable
of enjoying it; that in fact the prelibation of my tears, as a homage to
its fragility, was drawn forth by my very sense that my felicity was too
exquisite; or, in the words of the great master--

    'I wept to have' [absolutely, by anticipation, shed tears in
     possessing] 'what I so feared to lose.'

Thus end my explanations, and I now pursue my narrative: Agnes, as I have
said, came into my room again before leaving the house--we conversed for
five minutes--we parted--she went out--her last words being that she would
return at half-past one o'clock; and not long after that time, if ever mimic
bells--bells of rejoicing, or bells of mourning, are heard in desert spaces
of the air, and (as some have said), in unreal worlds, that mock our own,
and repeat, for ridicule, the vain and unprofitable motions of man, then too
surely, about this hour, began to toll the funeral knell of my earthly
happiness--its final hour had sounded.

       *       *       *       *       *

One o'clock had arrived; fifteen minutes after, I strolled into the
garden, and began to look over the little garden-gate in expectation of
every moment descrying Agnes in the distance. Half an hour passed, and
for ten minutes more I was tolerably quiet. From this time till
half-past two I became constantly more agitated--_agitated_, perhaps, is
too strong a word--but I was restless and anxious beyond what I should
have chosen to acknowledge. Still I kept arguing, What is half an
hour?--what is an hour? A thousand things might have occurred to cause
that delay, without needing to suppose any accident; or, if an accident,
why not a very trifling one? She may have slightly hurt her foot--she
may have slightly sprained her ankle. 'Oh, doubtless,' I exclaimed to
myself, 'it will be a mere trifle, or perhaps nothing at all.' But I
remember that, even whilst I was saying this, I took my hat and walked
with nervous haste into the little quiet lane upon which our garden-gate
opened. The lane led by a few turnings, and after a course of about five
hundred yards, into a broad high-road, which even at that day had begun
to assume the character of a street, and allowed an unobstructed range
of view in the direction of the city for at least a mile. Here I
stationed myself, for the air was so clear that I could distinguish
dress and figure to a much greater distance than usual. Even on such a
day, however, the remote distance was hazy and indistinct, and at any
other season I should have been diverted with the various mistakes I
made. From occasional combinations of colour, modified by light and
shade, and of course powerfully assisted by the creative state of the
eye under this nervous apprehensiveness, I continued to shape into
images of Agnes forms without end, that upon nearer approach presented
the most grotesque contrasts to her impressive appearance. But I had
ceased even to comprehend the ludicrous; my agitation was now so
overruling and engrossing that I lost even my intellectual sense of it;
and now first I understood practically and feelingly the anguish of hope
alternating with disappointment, as it may be supposed to act upon the
poor shipwrecked seaman, alone and upon a desolate coast, straining his
sight for ever to the fickle element which has betrayed him, but which
only can deliver him, and with his eyes still tracing in the far
distance

    'Ships, dim-discover'd, dropping from the clouds,'--

which a brief interval of suspense still for ever disperses into hollow
pageants of air or vapour. One deception melted away only to be
succeeded by another; still I fancied that at last to a certainty I
could descry the tall figure of Agnes, her gipsy hat, and even the
peculiar elegance of her walk. Often I went so far as to laugh at
myself, and even to tax my recent fears with unmanliness and effeminacy,
on recollecting the audible throbbings of my heart, and the nervous
palpitations which had besieged me; but these symptoms, whether
effeminate or not, began to come back tumultuously under the gloomy
doubts that succeeded almost before I had uttered this self-reproach.
Still I found myself mocked and deluded with false hopes; yet still I
renewed my quick walk, and the intensity of my watch for that radiant
form that was fated never more to be seen returning from the cruel city.

It was nearly half-past three, and therefore close upon two hours beyond
the time fixed by Agnes for her return, when I became absolutely
incapable of supporting the further torture of suspense, and I suddenly
took the resolution of returning home and concerting with my female
servants some energetic measures, though _what_ I could hardly say, on
behalf of their mistress. On entering the garden-gate I met our little
child Francis, who unconsciously inflicted a pang upon me which he
neither could have meditated nor have understood. I passed him at his
play, perhaps even unaware of his presence, but he recalled me to that
perception by crying aloud that he had just seen his mamma.

'When--where?' I asked convulsively.

'Up-stairs in her bedroom,' was his instantaneous answer.

His manner was such as forbade me to suppose that he could be joking;
and, as it was barely possible (though, for reasons well-known to me, in
the highest degree improbable), that Agnes might have returned by a
by-path, which, leading through a dangerous and disreputable suburb,
would not have coincided at any one point with the public road where I
had been keeping my station. I sprang forward into the house, up-stairs,
and in rapid succession into every room where it was likely that she
might be found; but everywhere there was a dead silence, disturbed only
by myself, for, in my growing confusion of thought, I believe that I
rang the bell violently in every room I entered. No such summons,
however, was needed, for the servants, two of whom at the least were
most faithful creatures, and devotedly attached to their young mistress,
stood ready of themselves to come and make inquiries of me as soon as
they became aware of the alarming fact that I had returned without her.

Until this moment, though having some private reasons for surprise that
she should have failed to come into the house for a minute or two at the
hour prefixed, in order to make some promised domestic arrangements for
the day, they had taken it for granted that she must have met with me at
some distance from home--and that either the extreme beauty of the day
had beguiled her of all petty household recollections, or (as a
conjecture more in harmony with past experiences) that my impatience and
solicitations had persuaded her to lay aside her own plans for the
moment at the risk of some little domestic inconvenience. Now, however,
in a single instant vanished _every_ mode of accounting for their
mistress's absence; and the consternation of our looks communicated
contagiously, by the most unerring of all languages, from each to the
other what thoughts were uppermost in our panic-stricken hearts. If to
any person it should seem that our alarm was disproportioned to the
occasion, and not justified at least by anything as yet made known to
us, let that person consider the weight due to the two following
facts--first, that from the recency of our settlement in this
neighbourhood, and from the extreme seclusion of my wife's previous life
at a vast distance from the metropolis, she had positively no friends on
her list of visitors who resided in this great capital; secondly, and
far above all beside, let him remember the awful denunciations, so
unexpectedly tallying with this alarming and mysterious absence, of the
Hungarian prophetess; these had been slighted--almost dismissed from our
thoughts; but now in sudden reaction they came back upon us with a
frightful power to lacerate and to sting--the shadowy outline of a
spiritual agency, such as that which could at all predict the events,
combining in one mysterious effect, with the shadowy outline of those
very predictions. The power, that could have predicted, was as dim and
as hard to grasp as was the precise nature of the evil that had been
predicted.

An icy terror froze my blood at this moment when I looked at the
significant glances, too easily understood by me, that were exchanged
between the servants. My mouth had been for the last two hours growing
more and more parched, so that at present, from mere want of moisture, I
could not separate my lips to speak. One of the women saw the vain
efforts I was making, and hastily brought me a glass of water. With the
first recovery of speech, I asked them what little Francis had meant by
saying that he had seen his mother in her bedroom. Their reply was--that
they were as much at a loss to discover his meaning as I was; that he
had made the same assertion to them, and with so much earnestness, that
they had, all in succession, gone up-stairs to look for her, and with
the fullest expectation of finding her. This was a mystery which
remained such to the very last; there was no doubt whatsoever that the
child believed himself to have seen his mother; that he could not have
seen her in her human bodily presence, there is as little doubt as there
is, alas! that in this world he never _did_ see her again. The poor
child constantly adhered to his story, and with a circumstantiality far
beyond all power of invention that could be presumed in an artless
infant. Every attempt at puzzling him or entangling him in
contradictions by means of cross-examination was but labour thrown away;
though, indeed, it is true enough that for those attempts, as will soon
be seen, there was but a brief interval allowed.

Not dwelling upon this subject at present, I turned to Hannah--a woman
who held the nominal office of cook in our little establishment, but
whose real duties had been much more about her mistress's person--and
with a searching look of appeal I asked her whether, in this moment of
trial, when (as she might see) I was not so perfectly master of myself
as perhaps always to depend upon seeing what was best to be done, she
would consent to accompany me into the city, and take upon herself those
obvious considerations of policy or prudence which might but too easily
escape my mind, darkened, and likely to be darkened, as to its power of
discernment by the hurricane of affliction now too probably at hand. She
answered my appeal with the fervour I expected from what I had already
known of her character. She was a woman of a strong, fiery, perhaps I
might say of heroic mind, supported by a courage that was absolutely
indomitable, and by a strength of bodily frame very unusual in a woman,
and beyond the promise even of her person. She had suffered as deep a
wrench in her own affections as a human being can suffer; she had lost
her one sole child, a fair-haired boy of most striking beauty and
interesting disposition, at the age of seventeen, and by the worst of
all possible fates; he lived (as we did at that time) in a large
commercial city overflowing with profligacy, and with temptations of
every order; he had been led astray; culpable he had been, but by very
much the least culpable of the set into which accident had thrown him,
as regarded acts and probable intentions; and as regarded palliations
from childish years, from total inexperience, or any other alleviating
circumstances that could be urged, having everything to plead--and of
all his accomplices the only one who had anything to plead. Interest,
however, he had little or none; and whilst some hoary villains of the
party, who happened to be more powerfully befriended, were finally
allowed to escape with a punishment little more than nominal, he and two
others were selected as sacrifices to the offended laws. They suffered
capitally. All three behaved well; but the poor boy in particular, with
a courage, a resignation, and a meekness, so distinguished and beyond
his years as to attract the admiration and the liveliest sympathy of the
public universally. If strangers could feel in that way, if the mere
hardened executioner could be melted at the final scene,--it may be
judged to what a fierce and terrific height would ascend the affliction
of a doating mother, constitutionally too fervid in her affections. I
have heard an official person declare, that the spectacle of her
desolation and frantic anguish was the most frightful thing he had ever
witnessed, and so harrowing to the feelings, that all who could by
their rank venture upon such an irregularity, absented themselves during
the critical period from the office which corresponded with the
government; for, as I have said, the affair took place in a large
provincial city, at a great distance from the capital. All who knew this
woman, or who were witnesses to the alteration which one fortnight had
wrought in her person as well as her demeanour, fancied it impossible
that she could continue to live; or that, if she did, it must be through
the giving way of her reason. They proved, however, to be mistaken; or,
at least, if (as some thought) her reason did suffer in some degree,
this result showed itself in the inequality of her temper, in moody fits
of abstraction, and the morbid energy of her manner at times under the
absence of all adequate external excitement, rather than in any positive
and apparent hallucinations of thought. The charm which had mainly
carried off the instant danger to her faculties, was doubtless the
intense sympathy which she met with. And in these offices of consolation
my wife stood foremost. For, and that was fortunate, she had found
herself able, without violence to her own sincerest opinions in the
case, to offer precisely that form of sympathy which was most soothing
to the angry irritation of the poor mother; not only had she shown a
_direct_ interest in the boy, and not a mere interest of _reflection_
from that which she took in the mother, and had expressed it by visits
to his dungeon, and by every sort of attention to his comforts which his
case called for, or the prison regulations allowed; not only had she
wept with the distracted woman as if for a brother of her own; but,
which went farther than all the rest in softening the mother's heart,
she had loudly and indignantly proclaimed her belief in the boy's
innocence, and in the same tone her sense of the crying injustice
committed as to the selection of the victims, and the proportion of the
punishment awarded. Others, in the language of a great poet,

    'Had pitied _her_ and not her grief;'

they had either not been able to see, or, from carelessness, had neglected
to see, any peculiar wrong done to her in the matter which occasioned her
grief,--but had simply felt compassion for her as for one summoned, in a
regular course of providential and human dispensation, to face an
affliction, heavy in itself, but not heavy from any special defect of
equity. Consequently their very sympathy, being so much built upon the
assumption that an only child had offended to the extent implied in his
sentence, oftentimes clothed itself in expressions which she felt to be not
consolations but insults, and, in fact, so many justifications of those whom
it relieved her overcharged heart to regard as the very worst of enemies.
Agnes, on the other hand, took the very same view of the case as herself;
and, though otherwise the gentlest of all gentle creatures, yet here, from
the generous fervour of her reverence for justice, and her abhorrence of
oppression, she gave herself no trouble to moderate the energy of her
language: nor did I, on my part, feeling that substantially she was in the
right, think it of importance to dispute about the exact degrees of the
wrong done or the indignation due to it. In this way it happened naturally
enough that at one and the same time, though little contemplating either of
these results, Agnes had done a prodigious service to the poor desolate
mother by breaking the force of her misery, as well as by arming the active
agencies of indignation against the depressing ones of solitary grief, and
for herself had won a most grateful and devoted friend, who would have gone
through fire and water to serve her, and was thenceforwards most anxious for
some opportunity to testify how deep had been her sense of the goodness
shown to her by her benign young mistress, and how incapable of suffering
abatement by time. It remains to add, which I have slightly noticed before,
that this woman was of unusual personal strength: her bodily frame matched
with her intellectual: and I notice this _now_ with the more emphasis,
because I am coming rapidly upon ground where it will be seen that this one
qualification was of more summary importance to us--did us more 'yeoman's
service' at a crisis the most awful--than other qualities of greater name
and pretension. _Hannah_ was this woman's Christian name; and her name and
her memory are to me amongst the most hallowed of my earthly recollections.

One of her two fellow-servants, known technically amongst us as the
'parlour-maid,' was also, but not equally, attached to her mistress; and
merely because her nature, less powerfully formed and endowed, did not allow
her to entertain or to comprehend any service equally fervid of passion or
of impassioned action. She, however, was good, affectionate, and worthy to
be trusted. But a third there was, a nursery-maid, and therefore more
naturally and more immediately standing within the confidence of her
mistress--her I could not trust: her I suspected. But of that hereafter.
Meantime, Hannah--she upon whom I leaned as upon a staff in all which
respected her mistress, ran up-stairs, after I had spoken and received her
answer, in order hastily to dress and prepare herself for going out along
with me to the city. I did not ask her to be quick in her movements: I knew
there was no need: and, whilst she was absent, I took up, in one of my
fretful movements of nervousness, a book which was lying upon a side table:
the book fell open of itself at a particular page; and in that, perhaps,
there was nothing extraordinary; for it was a little portable edition of
_Paradise Lost_; and the page was one which I must naturally have turned to
many a time: for to Agnes I had read all the great masters of literature,
especially those of modern times; so that few people knew the high classics
more familiarly: and as to the passage in question, from its divine beauty I
had read it aloud to her, perhaps, on fifty separate occasions. All this I
mention to take away any appearance of a vulgar attempt to create omens; but
still, in the very act of confessing the simple truth, and thus weakening
the marvellous character of the anecdote, I must notice it as a strange
instance of the '_Sortes Miltonianæ_'--that precisely at such a moment as
this I should find thrown in my way, should feel tempted to take up, and
should open, a volume containing such a passage as the following: and
observe, moreover, that although the volume, _once being taken up_, would
naturally open where it had been most frequently read, there were, however,
many passages which had been read _as_ frequently--or more so. The
particular passage upon which I opened at this moment was that most
beautiful one in which the fatal morning separation is described between
Adam and his bride--that separation so pregnant with wo, which eventually
proved the occasion of the mortal transgression--the last scene between our
first parents at which both were innocent and both were happy--although the
superior intellect already felt, and, in the slight altercation preceding
this separation, had already expressed a dim misgiving of some coming
change: these are the words, and in depth of pathos they have rarely been
approached:--

    'Oft he to her his charge of quick return
     Repeated; she to him as oft engag'd
     To be returned by noon amid the bow'r,
     And all things in best order to invite
     Noon-tide repast, or afternoon's repose.
     Oh much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve!
     Of thy presumed return, event perverse!
     Thou never from that hour in Paradise
     Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose.'

'_My_ Eve!' I exclaimed, 'partner in _my_ paradise, where art thou? _Much
failing_ thou wilt not be found, nor _much deceived_; innocent in any case
thou art; but, alas! too surely by this time _hapless_, and the victim of
some diabolic wickedness.' Thus I murmured to myself; thus I ejaculated;
thus I apostrophised my Agnes; then again came a stormier mood. I could not
sit still; I could not stand in quiet; I threw the book from me with
violence against the wall; I began to hurry backwards and forwards in a
short uneasy walk, when suddenly a sound, a step; it was the sound of the
garden-gate opening, followed by a hasty tread. Whose tread! Not for a
moment could it be fancied the oread step which belonged to that daughter of
the hills--my wife, my Agnes; no, it was the dull massy tread of a man: and
immediately there came a loud blow upon the door, and in the next moment,
the bell having been found, a furious peal of ringing. Oh coward heart! not
for a lease of immortality could I have gone forwards myself. My breath
failed me; an interval came in which respiration seemed to be stifled--the
blood to halt in its current; and then and there I recognised in myself the
force and living truth of that Scriptural description of a heart consciously
beset by evil without escape: 'Susannah _sighed_.' Yes, a long long sigh--a
deep deep sigh--that is the natural language by which the overcharged heart
utters forth the wo that else would break it. I sighed--oh how profoundly!
But that did not give me power to move. Who will go to the door? I whispered
audibly. Who is at the door? was the inaudible whisper of my heart. Then
might be seen the characteristic differences of the three women. That one,
whom I suspected, I heard raising an upper window to look out and
reconnoitre. The affectionate Rachael, on the other hand, ran eagerly
down-stairs; but Hannah, half dressed, even her bosom exposed, passed her
like a storm; and before I heard any sound of opening a door, I saw from the
spot where I stood the door already wide open, and a man in the costume of a
policeman. All that he said I could not hear; but this I heard--that I was
wanted at the police office, and had better come off without delay. He
seemed then to get a glimpse of me, and to make an effort towards coming
nearer; but I slunk away, and left to Hannah the task of drawing from him
any circumstances which he might know. But apparently there was not much to
tell, or rather, said I, there is too much, the _much_ absorbs the _many_;
some one mighty evil transcends and quells all particulars. At length the
door was closed, and the man was gone. Hannah crept slowly along the
passage, and looked in hesitatingly. Her very movements and stealthy pace
testified that she had heard nothing which, even by comparison, she could
think good news. 'Tell me not now, Hannah,' I said; 'wait till we are in
the open air.' She went up-stairs again. How short seemed the time till she
descended!--how I longed for further respite! 'Hannah!' I said at length
when we were fairly moving upon the road, 'Hannah! I am too sure you have
nothing good to tell. But now tell me the worst, and let that be in the
fewest words possible.'

'Sir,' she said, 'we had better wait until we reach the office; for really I
could not understand the man. He says that my mistress is detained upon some
charge; but _what_, I could not at all make out. He was a man that knew
something of you, sir, I believe, and he wished to be civil, and kept
saying, "Oh! I dare say it will turn out nothing at all, many such charges
are made idly and carelessly, and some maliciously." "But what charges?" I
cried, and then he wanted to speak privately to you. But I told him that of
all persons he must not speak to you, if he had anything painful to tell;
for that you were too much disturbed already, and had been for some hours,
out of anxiety and terror about my mistress, to bear much more. So, when he
heard that, he was less willing to speak freely than before. He might prove
wrong, he said; he might give offence; things might turn out far otherwise
than according to first appearances; for his part, he could not believe
anything amiss of so sweet a lady. And alter all it would be better to wait
till we reached the office.'

Thus much then was clear--Agnes was under some accusation. This was already
worse than the worst I had anticipated. 'And then,' said I, thinking aloud
to Hannah, 'one of two things is apparent to me; either the accusation is
one of pure hellish malice, without a colour of probability or the shadow of
a foundation, and that way, alas! I am driven in my fears by that Hungarian
woman's prophecy; or, which but for my desponding heart I should be more
inclined to think, the charge has grown out of my poor wife's rustic
ignorance as to the usages then recently established by law with regard to
the kind of money that could be legally tendered. This, however, was a
suggestion that did not tend to alleviate my anxiety; and my nervousness had
mounted to a painful, almost to a disabling degree, by the time we reached
the office. Already on our road thither some parties had passed us who were
conversing with eagerness upon the case: so much we collected from the many
and ardent expressions about 'the lady's beauty,' though the rest of such
words as we could catch were ill calculated to relieve my suspense. This,
then, at least, was certain--that my poor timid Agnes had already been
exhibited before a tumultuous crowd; that her name and reputation had gone
forth as a subject of discussion for the public; and that the domestic
seclusion and privacy within which it was her matronly privilege to move had
already undergone a rude violation.

The office, and all the purlieus of the office, were occupied by a dense
crowd. That, perhaps, was always the case, more or less, at this time of
day; but at present the crowd was manifestly possessed by a more than
ordinary interest; and there was a unity in this possessing interest; all
were talking on the same subject, the case in which Agnes had so recently
appeared in some character or other; and by this time it became but too
certain in the character of an accused person. Pity was the prevailing
sentiment amongst the mob; but the opinions varied much as to the probable
criminality of the prisoner. I made my way into the office. The presiding
magistrates had all retired for the afternoon, and would not reassemble
until eight o'clock in the evening. Some clerks only or officers of the
court remained, who were too much harassed by applications for various forms
and papers connected with the routine of public business, and by other
official duties which required signatures or attestations, to find much
leisure for answering individual questions. Some, however, listened with a
marked air of attention to my earnest request for the circumstantial details
of the case, but finally referred me to a vast folio volume, in which were
entered all the charges, of whatever nature, involving any serious
tendency--in fact, all that exceeded a misdemeanour--in the regular
chronological succession according to which they came before the magistrate.
Here, in this vast calendar of guilt and misery, amidst the _aliases_ or
cant designations of ruffians--prostitutes--felons, stood the description,
at full length, Christian and surnames all properly registered, of my
Agnes--of her whose very name had always sounded to my ears like the very
echo of mountain innocence, purity, and pastoral simplicity. Here in another
column stood the name and residence of her accuser. I shall call him
_Barratt_, for that was amongst his names, and a name by which he had at one
period of his infamous life been known to the public, though not his
principal name, or the one which he had thought fit to assume at this era.
James Barratt, then, as I shall here call him, was a haberdasher--keeping a
large and conspicuous shop in a very crowded and what was then considered a
fashionable part of the city. The charge was plain and short. Did I live to
read it? It accused Agnes M---- of having on that morning secreted in her
muff, and feloniously carried away, a valuable piece of Mechlin lace, the
property of James Barratt. And the result of the first examination was thus
communicated in a separate column, written in red ink--'Remanded to the
second day after to-morrow for final examination.' Everything in this
sin-polluted register was in manuscript; but at night the records of each
day were regularly transferred to a printed journal, enlarged by comments
and explanatory descriptions from some one of the clerks, whose province it
was to furnish this intelligence to the public journals. On that same night,
therefore, would go forth to the world such an account of the case, and such
a description of my wife's person, as would inevitably summon to the next
exhibition of her misery, as by special invitation and advertisement, the
whole world of this vast metropolis--the idle, the curious, the brutal, the
hardened amateur in spectacles of wo, and the benign philanthropist who
frequents such scenes with the purpose of carrying alleviation to their
afflictions. All alike, whatever might be their motives or the spirit of
their actions, would rush (as to some grand festival of curiosity and
sentimental luxury) to this public martyrdom of my innocent wife.

Meantime, what was the first thing to be done? Manifestly, to see Agnes:
her account of the affair might suggest the steps to be taken. Prudence,
therefore, at any rate, prescribed this course; and my heart would not have
tolerated any other. I applied, therefore, at once, for information as to
the proper mode of effecting this purpose without delay. What was my horror
at learning that, by a recent regulation of all the police offices, under
the direction of the public minister who presided over that department of
the national administration, no person could be admitted to an interview
with any accused party during the progress of the official examinations--or,
in fact, until the final committal of the prisoner for trial. This rule was
supposed to be attended by great public advantages, and had rarely been
relaxed--never, indeed, without a special interposition of the police
minister authorising its suspension. But was the exclusion absolute and
universal? Might not, at least, a female servant, simply as the bearer of
such articles as were indispensable to female delicacy and comfort, have
access to her mistress? No; the exclusion was total and unconditional. To
argue the point was manifestly idle; the subordinate officers had no
discretion in the matter; nor, in fact, had any other official person,
whatever were his rank, except the supreme one; and to him I neither had any
obvious means of introduction, nor (in case of obtaining such an
introduction) any chance of success; for the spirit of the rule, I foresaw
it would be answered, applied with especial force to cases like the present.

Mere human feelings of pity, sympathy with my too visible agitation,
superadded to something of perhaps reverence for the blighting misery that
was now opening its artillery upon me--for misery has a privilege, and
everywhere is felt to be a holy thing--had combined to procure for me some
attention and some indulgence hitherto. Answers had been given with
precision, explanations made at length, and anxiety shown to satisfy my
inquiries. But this could not last; the inexorable necessities of public
business coming back in a torrent upon the official people after this
momentary interruption, forbade them to indulge any further consideration
for an individual case, and I saw that I must not stay any longer. I was
rapidly coming to be regarded as a hindrance to the movement of public
affairs; and the recollection that I might again have occasion for some
appeal to these men in their official characters, admonished me not to abuse
my privilege of the moment. After returning thanks, therefore, for the
disposition shown to oblige me, I retired.

Slowly did I and Hannah retrace our steps. Hannah sustained, in the tone of
her spirits, by the extremity of her anger, a mood of feeling which I did
not share. Indignation was to her in the stead of consolation and hope. I,
for my part, could not seek even a momentary shelter from my tempestuous
affliction in that temper of mind. The man who could accuse my Agnes, and
accuse her of such a crime, I felt to be a monster; and in my thoughts he
was already doomed to a bloody atonement (atonement! alas! what atonement!)
whenever the time arrived that _her_ cause would not be prejudiced, or the
current of public feeling made to turn in his favour by investing him with
the semblance of an injured or suffering person. So much was settled in my
thoughts with the stern serenity of a decree issuing from a judgment-seat.
But that gave no relief, no shadow of relief, to the misery which was now
consuming me. Here was an end, in one hour, to the happiness of a life. In
one hour it had given way, root and branch--had melted like so much
frost-work, or a pageant of vapoury exhalations. In a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, and yet for ever and ever, I comprehended the total
ruin of my situation. The case, as others might think, was yet in suspense;
and there was room enough for very rational hopes, especially where there
was an absolute certainty of innocence. Total freedom from all doubt on that
point seemed to justify almost more than hopes. This might be said, and most
people would have been more or less consoled by it. I was not. I felt as
certain, as irredeemably, as hopelessly certain of the final results as
though I had seen the record in the books of heaven. 'Hope nothing,' I said
to myself; 'think not of hope in this world, but think only how best to walk
steadily, and not to reel like a creature wanting discourse of reason, or
incapable of religious hopes under the burden which it has pleased God to
impose, and which in this life cannot be shaken off. The countenance of man
is made to look upward and to the skies. Thither also point henceforwards
your heart and your thoughts. Never again let your thoughts travel
earthwards. Settle them on the heavens, to which your Agnes is already
summoned. The call is clear, and not to be mistaken. Little in _her_ fate
now depends upon you, or upon anything that man can do. Look, therefore, to
yourself; see that you make not shipwreck of your heavenly freight because
your earthly freight is lost; and miss not, by any acts of wild and
presumptuous despair, that final reunion with your Agnes, which can only be
descried through vistas that open through the heavens.'

Such were the thoughts, thoughts often made audible, which came
spontaneously like oracles from afar, as I strode homewards with Hannah
by my side. Her, meantime, I seemed to hear; for at times I seemed and I
intended to answer her. But answer her I did not; for not ten words of
all that she said did I really and consciously hear. How I went through
that night is more entirely a blank in my memory, more entirely a
chapter of chaos and the confusion of chaos, than any other passage the
most impressive in my life. If I even slumbered for a moment, as at
intervals I did sometimes, though never sitting down, but standing or
pacing about throughout the night, and if in this way I attained a
momentary respite from self-consciousness, no sooner had I reached this
enviable state of oblivion, than some internal sting of irritation as
rapidly dispersed the whole fickle fabric of sleep; and as if the
momentary trance--this fugitive beguilement of my wo--had been conceded
by a demon's subtle malice only with the purpose of barbing the pang, by
thus forcing it into a stronger relief through the insidious peace
preceding it. It is a well-known and most familiar experience to all the
sons and daughters of affliction, that under no circumstances is the
piercing, lancinating torment of a recent calamity felt so keenly as in
the first moments of awaking in the morning from the night's slumbers.
Just at the very instant when the clouds of sleep, and the whole
fantastic illusions of dreaminess are dispersing, just as the realities
of life are re-assuming their steadfast forms--re-shaping
themselves--and settling anew into those fixed relations which they are
to preserve throughout the waking hours; in that particular crisis of
transition from the unreal to the real, the wo which besieges the brain
and the life-springs at the heart rushes in afresh amongst the other
crowd of realities, and has at the moment of restoration literally the
force and liveliness of a new birth--the very same pang, and no whit
feebler, as that which belonged to it when it was first made known.
From the total hush of oblivion which had buried it and sealed it up, as
it were, during the sleeping hours, it starts into sudden life on our
first awaking, and is to all intents and purposes a new and not an old
affliction--one which brings with it the old original shock which
attended its first annunciation.

That night--that first night of separation from my wife--_how_ it
passed, I know not; I know only _that_ it passed, I being in our common
bedchamber, that holiest of all temples that are consecrated to human
attachments whenever the heart is pure of man and woman and the love is
strong--I being in that bedchamber, once the temple now the sepulchre of
our happiness,--I there, and my wife--my innocent wife--in a dungeon. As
the morning light began to break, somebody knocked at the door; it was
Hannah; she took my hand--misery levels all feeble distinctions of
station, sex, age--she noticed my excessive feverishness, and gravely
remonstrated with me upon the necessity there was that I should maintain
as much health as possible for the sake of 'others,' if not for myself.
She then brought me some tea, which refreshed me greatly; for I had
tasted nothing at all beyond a little water since the preceding
morning's breakfast. This refreshment seemed to relax and thaw the stiff
frozen state of cheerless, rayless despair in which I had passed the
night; I became susceptible of consolation--that consolation which lies
involved in kindness and gentleness of manner--if not susceptible more
than before of any positive hope. I sat down; and, having no witnesses
to my weakness but this kind and faithful woman, I wept, and I found a
relief in tears; and she, with the ready sympathy of woman, wept along
with me. All at once she ventured upon the circumstances (so far as she
had been able to collect them from the reports of those who had been
present at the examination) of our calamity. There was little indeed
either to excite or to gratify any interest or curiosity separate from
the _personal_ interest inevitably connected with a case to which there
were two such parties as a brutal, sensual, degraded ruffian, on one
side in character of accuser, and on the other as defendant, a meek
angel of a woman, timid and fainting from the horrors of her situation,
and under the licentious gaze of the crowd--yet, at the same time, bold
in conscious innocence, and in the very teeth of the suspicions which
beset her, winning the good opinion, as well as the good wishes of all
who saw her. There had been at this first examination little for her to
say beyond the assigning her name, age, and place of abode; and here it
was fortunate that her own excellent good sense concurred with her
perfect integrity and intuitive hatred of all indirect or crooked
courses in prompting her to an undisguised statement of the simple
truth, without a momentary hesitation or attempt either at evasion or
suppression. With equally good intentions in similar situations many a
woman has seriously injured her cause by slight evasions of the entire
truth, where nevertheless her only purpose has been the natural and
ingenuous one of seeking to save the reputation untainted of a name
which she felt to have been confided to her keeping. The purpose was an
honourable one, but erroneously pursued. Agnes fell into no such error.
She answered calmly, simply, and truly, to every question put by the
magistrates; and beyond _that_ there was little opportunity for her to
speak; the whole business of this preliminary examination being confined
to the deposition of the accuser as to the circumstances under which he
alleged the act of felonious appropriation to have taken place. These
circumstances were perfectly uninteresting, considered in themselves;
but amongst them was one which to us had the most shocking interest,
from the absolute proof thus furnished of a deep-laid plot against
Agnes. But for this one circumstance there would have been a possibility
that the whole had originated in error--error growing out of and acting
upon a nature originally suspicious, and confirmed perhaps by an
unfortunate experience. And in proportion as that was possible, the
chances increased that the accuser might, as the examinations advanced,
and the winning character of the accused party began to develop itself,
begin to see his error, and to retract his own over-hasty suspicions.
But now we saw at a glance that for this hope there was no countenance
whatever, since one solitary circumstance sufficed to establish a
conspiracy. The deposition bore--that the lace had been secreted and
afterwards detected in a muff; now it was a fact as well-known to both
of us as the fact of Agnes having gone out at all--that she had laid
aside her winter's dress for the first time on this genial sunny day.
Muff she had not at the time, nor could have had appropriately from the
style of her costume in other respects. What was the effect upon us of
this remarkable discovery! Of course there died at once the hope of any
abandonment by the prosecutor of his purpose; because here was proof of
a predetermined plot. This hope died at once; but then, as it was one
which never had presented itself to my mind, I lost nothing by which I
had ever been solaced. On the other hand, it will be obvious that a new
hope at the same time arose to take its place, viz., the reasonable one
that by this single detection, if once established, we might raise a
strong presumption of conspiracy, and moreover that, as a leading fact
or clue, it might serve to guide us in detecting others. Hannah was
sanguine in this expectation; and for a moment her hopes were
contagiously exciting to mine. But the hideous despondency which in my
mind had settled upon the whole affair from the very first, the
superstitious presentiment I had of a total blight brooding over the
entire harvest of my life and its promises (tracing itself originally, I
am almost ashamed to own, up to that prediction of the Hungarian
woman)--denied me steady light, anything--all in short but a wandering
ray of hope. It was right, of course, nay, indispensable, that the
circumstance of the muff should be strongly insisted upon at the next
examination, pressed against the prosecutor, and sifted to the
uttermost. An able lawyer would turn this to a triumphant account; and
it would be admirable as a means of pre-engaging the good opinion as
well as the sympathies of the public in behalf of the prisoner. But, for
its final effect--my conviction remained, not to be shaken, that all
would be useless; that our doom had gone forth, and was irrevocable.

Let me not linger too much over those sad times. Morning came on as
usual; for it is strange, but true, that to the very wretched it seems
wonderful that times and seasons should keep their appointed courses in
the midst of such mighty overthrows and such interruption to the courses
of their own wonted happiness and their habitual expectations. Why
should morning and night, why should all movements in the natural world
be so regular, whilst in the moral world all is so irregular and
anomalous? Yet the sun and the moon rise and set as usual upon the
mightiest revolutions of empire and of worldly fortune that this planet
ever beholds; and it is sometimes even a comfort to know that this will
be the case. A great criminal, sentenced to an agonising punishment, has
derived a fortitude and a consolation from recollecting that the day
would run its inevitable course--that a day after all was _but_ a
day--that the mighty wheel of alternate light and darkness must and
would revolve--and that the evening star would rise as usual, and shine
with its untroubled lustre upon the dust and ashes of what _had_ indeed
suffered, and so recently, the most bitter pangs, but would then have
ceased to suffer. 'La Journée,' said Damien,

    'La journée sera dure, mais elle se passera.'

'----_Se passera_:' yes, that is true, I whispered to myself; my day also,
my season of trial will be hard to bear; but that also will have an end;
that also '_se passera_.' Thus I talked or thought so long as I thought at
all; for the hour was now rapidly approaching when thinking in any shape
would for some time be at an end for me.

That day, as the morning advanced, I went again, accompanied by Hannah,
to the police court and to the prison--a vast, ancient, in parts
ruinous, and most gloomy pile of building. In those days the
administration of justice was, if not more corrupt, certainly in its
inferior departments by far more careless than it is at present, and
liable to thousands of interruptions and mal-practices, supporting
themselves upon old traditionary usages which required at least half a
century, and the shattering everywhere given to old systems by the
French Revolution, together with the universal energy of mind applied to
those subjects over the whole length and breadth of Christendom, to
approach with any effectual reforms. Knowing this, and having myself had
direct personal cognizance of various cases in which bribery had been
applied with success, I was not without considerable hope that perhaps
Hannah and myself might avail ourselves of this irregular passport
through the gates of the prison. And, had the new regulation been of
somewhat longer standing, there is little doubt that I should have been
found right; unfortunately, as yet it had all the freshness of new-born
vigour, and kept itself in remembrance by the singular irritation it
excited. Besides this, it was a pet novelty of one particular minister
new to the possession of power, anxious to distinguish himself, proud of
his creative functions within the range of his office, and very
sensitively jealous on the point of opposition to his mandates. Vain,
therefore, on this day were all my efforts to corrupt the jailers; and,
in fact, anticipating a time when I might have occasion to corrupt some
of them for a more important purpose and on a larger scale, I did not
think it prudent to proclaim my character beforehand as one who tampered
with such means, and thus to arm against myself those jealousies in
official people which it was so peculiarly important that I should keep
asleep.

All that day, however, I lingered about the avenues and vast courts in
the precincts of the prison, and near one particular wing of the
building, which had been pointed out to me by a jailer as the section
allotted to those who were in the situation of Agnes; that is, waiting
their final commitment for trial. The building generally he could
indicate with certainty, but he professed himself unable to indicate the
particular part of it which 'the young woman brought in on the day
previous' would be likely to occupy; consequently he could not point out
the window from which her cell (her '_cell!_' what a word!) would be
lighted. 'But, master,' he went on to say, 'I would advise nobody to try
that game.' He looked with an air so significant, and at the same time
used a gesture so indicative of private understanding, that I at once
apprehended his meaning, and assured him that he had altogether
misconstrued my drift; that, as to attempts at escape, or at any mode of
communicating with the prisoner from the outside, I trusted all _that_
was perfectly needless; and that at any rate in my eyes it was perfectly
hopeless. 'Well, master,' he replied, 'that's neither here nor there.
You've come down handsomely, that I _will_ say; and where a gentleman
acts like a gentleman, and behaves himself as such, I'm not the man to
go and split upon him for a word. To be sure it's quite nat'ral that a
gentleman--put case that a young woman is his fancy woman--it's nothing
but nat'ral that he should want to get her out of such an old rat-hole
as this, where many's the fine-timbered creature, both he and she, that
has lain to rot, and has never got out of the old trap at all, first or
last'----'How so?' I interrupted him; 'surely they don't detain the
corpses of prisoners?' 'Ay, but mind you--put case that he or that she
should die in this rat-trap before sentence is past, why then the prison
counts them as its own children, and buries them in its own chapel--that
old stack of pigeon-holes that you see up yonder to the right hand.' So,
then, after all, thought I, if my poor Agnes should, in her desolation
and solitary confinement to these wretched walls, find her frail
strength give way--should the moral horrors of her situation work their
natural effect upon her health, and she should chance to die within this
dungeon, here within this same dungeon will she lie to the resurrection,
and in that case her prison-doors have already closed upon her for ever.
The man, who perhaps had some rough kindness in his nature, though
tainted by the mercenary feelings too inevitably belonging to his
situation, seemed to guess at the character of my ruminations by the
change in my countenance, for he expressed some pity for my being 'in so
much trouble'; and it seemed to increase his respect for me that this
trouble should be directed to the case of a woman, for he appeared to
have a manly sense of the peculiar appeal made to the honour and
gallantry of man, by the mere general fact of the feebleness and the
dependence of woman. I looked at him more attentively in consequence of
the feeling tone in which he now spoke, and was surprised that I had not
more particularly noticed him before; he was a fine-looking, youngish
man, with a bold Robin-hood style of figure and appearance; and, morally
speaking, he was absolutely transfigured to my eyes by the effect worked
upon him for the moment, through the simple calling up of his better
nature. However, he recurred to his cautions about the peril in a legal
sense of tampering with the windows, bolts, and bars of the old decaying
prison; which, in fact, precisely according to the degree in which its
absolute power over its prisoners was annually growing less and less,
grew more and more jealous of its own reputation, and punished the
attempts to break loose with the more severity, in exact proportion as
they were the more tempting by the chances of success. I persisted in
disowning any schemes of the sort, and especially upon the ground of
their hopelessness. But this, on the other hand, was a ground that in
his inner thoughts he treated with scorn; and I could easily see that,
with a little skilful management of opportunity, I might, upon occasion,
draw from him all the secrets he knew as to the special points of
infirmity in this old ruinous building. For the present, and until it
should certainly appear that there was some use to be derived from this
species of knowledge, I forbore to raise superfluous suspicions by
availing myself further of his communicative disposition. Taking,
however, the precaution of securing his name, together with his
particular office and designation in the prison, I parted from him as if
to go home, but in fact to resume my sad roamings up and down the
precincts of the jail.

What made these precincts much larger than otherwise they would have
been, was the circumstance that, by a usage derived from older days,
both criminal prisoners and those who were prisoners for debt, equally
fell under the custody of this huge caravanserai for the indifferent
reception of crime, of misdemeanour, and of misfortune. And those who
came under the two first titles were lodged here through all stages of
their connection with public justice; alike when mere objects of vague
suspicion to the police, when under examination upon a specific charge,
when fully committed for trial, when convicted and under sentence,
awaiting the execution of that sentence, and, in a large proportion of
cases, even through their final stage of punishment, when it happened to
be of any nature compatible with indoor confinement. Hence it arose that
the number of those who haunted the prison gates with or without a title
to admission was enormous; all the relatives, or more properly the
acquaintances and connections of the criminal population within the
prison, being swelled by all the families of needy debtors who came
daily either to offer the consolation of their society, or to diminish
their common expenditure by uniting their slender establishments. One of
the rules applied to the management of this vast multitude that were
every day candidates for admission was, that to save the endless trouble
as well as risk, perhaps, of opening and shutting the main gates to
every successive arrival, periodic intervals were fixed for the
admission by wholesale: and as these periods came round every two hours,
it would happen at many parts of the day that vast crowds accumulated
waiting for the next opening of the gate. These crowds were assembled in
two or three large outer courts, in which also were many stalls and
booths, kept there upon some local privilege of ancient inheritance, or
upon some other plea made good by gifts or bribes--some by Jews and
others by Christians, perhaps equally Jewish. Superadded to these
stationary elements of this miscellaneous population, were others, drawn
thither by pure motives of curiosity, so that altogether an almost
permanent mob was gathered together in these courts; and amid this mob
it was,--from I know not what definite motive, partly because I thought
it probable that amongst these people I should hear the case of Agnes
peculiarly the subject of conversation; and so, in fact, it did really
happen,--but partly, and even more, I believe, because I now awfully
began to shrink from solitude. Tumult I must have, and distraction of
thought. Amid this mob, I say, it was that I passed two days. Feverish I
had been from the first,--and from bad to worse, in such a case, was, at
any rate, a natural progress; but, perhaps, also amongst this crowd of
the poor, the abjectly wretched, the ill-fed, the desponding, and the
dissolute, there might be very naturally a larger body of contagion
lurking than accorded to their mere numerical expectations. There was at
that season a very extensive depopulation going on in some quarters of
this great metropolis, and in other cities of the same empire, by means
of a very malignant typhus. This fever is supposed to be the peculiar
product of jails; and though it had not as yet been felt as a scourge
and devastator of this particular jail, or at least the consequent
mortality had been hitherto kept down to a moderate amount, yet it was
highly probable that a certain quantity of contagion, much beyond the
proportion of other popular assemblages less uniformly wretched in their
composition, was here to be found all day long; and doubtless my excited
state, and irritable habit of body, had offered a peculiar
predisposition that favoured the rapid development of this contagion.
However this might be, the result was, that on the evening of the second
day which I spent in haunting the purlieus of the prison (consequently
the night preceding the second public examination of Agnes), I was
attacked by ardent fever in such unmitigated fury, that before morning I
had lost all command of my intellectual faculties. For some weeks I
became a pitiable maniac, and in every sense the wreck of my former
self; and seven entire weeks, together with the better half of an eighth
week, had passed over my head whilst I lay unconscious of time and its
dreadful freight of events, excepting in so far as my disordered brain,
by its fantastic coinages, created endless mimicries and mockeries of
these events--less substantial, but oftentimes less afflicting, or less
agitating. It would have been well for me had my destiny decided that I
was not to be recalled to this world of wo. But I had no such happiness
in store. I recovered, and through twenty and eight years my groans
have recorded the sorrow I feel that I did.

       *       *       *       *       *

I shall not rehearse circumstantially, and point by point, the sad
unfolding, as it proceeded through successive revelations to me, of all
which had happened during my state of physical incapacity. When I first
became aware that my wandering senses had returned to me, and knew, by the
cessation of all throbbings, and the unutterable pains that had so long
possessed my brain, that I was now returning from the gates of death, a sad
confusion assailed me as to some indefinite cloud of evil that had been
hovering over me at the time when I first fell into a state of
insensibility. For a time I struggled vainly to recover the lost connection
of my thoughts, and I endeavoured ineffectually to address myself to sleep.
I opened my eyes, but found the glare of light painful beyond measure.
Strength, however, it seemed to me that I had, and more than enough, to
raise myself out of bed. I made the attempt, but fell back, almost giddy
with the effort. At the sound of the disturbance which I had thus made, a
woman whom I did not know came from behind a curtain, and spoke to me.
Shrinking from any communication with a stranger, especially one whose
discretion I could not estimate in making discoveries to me with the
requisite caution, I asked her simply what o'clock it was.

'Eleven in the forenoon,' she replied.

'And what day of the month?'

'The second,' was her brief answer.

I felt almost a sense of shame in adding--'The second! but of what month?'

'Of June,' was the startling rejoinder.

On the 8th of April I had fallen ill, and it was now actually the 2nd of
June. Oh! sickening calculation! revolting register of hours! for in that
same moment which brought back this one recollection, perhaps by steadying
my brain, rushed back in a torrent all the other dreadful remembrances of
the period, and now the more so, because, though the event was still
uncertain as regarded my knowledge, it must have become dreadfully certain
as regarded the facts of the case, and the happiness of all who were
concerned. Alas! one little circumstance too painfully assured me that this
event had not been a happy one. Had Agnes been restored to her liberty and
her home, where would she have been found but watching at my bedside? That
too certainly I knew, and the inference was too bitter to support.

       *       *       *       *       *

On this same day, some hours afterwards, upon Hannah's return from the city,
I received from her, and heard with perfect calmness, the whole sum of evil
which awaited me. Little Francis--she took up her tale at that point--'was
with God:' so she expressed herself. He had died of the same fever which had
attacked me--had died and been buried nearly five weeks before. Too probably
he had caught the infection from me. Almost--such are the caprices of human
feeling--almost I could have rejoiced that this young memorial of my
vanished happiness had vanished also. It gave me a pang, nevertheless, that
the grave should thus have closed upon him before I had seen his fair little
face again. But I steeled my heart to hear worse things than this. Next she
went on to inform me that already, on the first or second day of our
calamity, she had taken upon herself, without waiting for authority, on
observing the rapid approaches of illness in me, and arguing the state of
helplessness which would follow, to write off at once a summons in the most
urgent terms to the brother of my wife. This gentleman, whom I shall call
Pierpoint, was a high-spirited, generous young man as I have ever known.
When I say that he was a sportsman, that at one season of the year he did
little else than pursue his darling amusement of fox-hunting, for which
indeed he had almost a maniacal passion--saying this, I shall already have
prejudged him in the opinions of many, who fancy all such persons the slaves
of corporal enjoyments. But, with submission, the truth lies the other way.
According to my experience, people of these habits have their bodies more
than usually under their command, as being subdued by severe exercise; and
their minds, neither better nor worse on an average than those of their
neighbours, are more available from being so much more rarely clogged by
morbid habits in that uneasy yoke-fellow of the intellectual part--the body.
He at all events was a man to justify in his own person this way of
thinking; for he was a man not only of sound, but even of bold and energetic
intellect, and in all moral respects one whom any man might feel proud to
call his friend. This young man, Pierpoint, without delay obeyed the
summons; and on being made acquainted with what had already passed, the
first step he took was to call upon Barratt, and without further question
than what might ascertain his identity, he proceeded to inflict upon him a
severe horsewhipping. A worse step on his sister's account he could not have
taken. Previously to this the popular feeling had run strongly against
Barratt, but now its unity was broken. A new element was introduced into the
question: Democratic feelings were armed against this outrage; gentlemen and
nobles, it was said, thought themselves not amenable to justice; and again,
the majesty of the law was offended at this intrusion upon an affair already
under solemn course of adjudication. Everything, however, passes away under
the healing hand of time, and this also faded from the public mind. People
remembered also that he was a brother, and in that character, at any rate,
had a right to some allowances for his intemperance; and what quickened the
oblivion of the affair was, which in itself was sufficiently strange, that
Barratt did not revive the case in the public mind by seeking legal
reparation for his injuries. It was, however, still matter of regret that
Pierpoint should have indulged himself in this movement of passion, since
undoubtedly it broke and disturbed the else uniform stream of public
indignation by investing the original aggressor with something like the
character of an injured person; and therefore with some set-off to plead
against his own wantonness of malice: his malice might now assume the nobler
aspect of revenge.

Thus far, in reporting the circumstances, Hannah had dallied--thus far I
had rejoiced that she dallied, with the main burden of the wo; but now
there remained nothing to dally with any longer--and she rushed along in
her narrative, hurrying to tell--I hurrying to hear. A second, a third
examination had ensued, then a final committal--all this within a week.
By that time all the world was agitated with the case; literally not the
city only, vast as that city was, but the nation was convulsed and
divided into parties upon the question, Whether the prosecution were one
of mere malice or not? The very government of the land was reported to
be equally interested, and almost equally divided in opinion. In this
state of public feeling came the trial. Image to yourself, oh reader,
whosoever you are, the intensity of the excitement which by that time
had arisen in all people to be spectators of the scene--then image to
yourself the effect of all this, a perfect consciousness that in herself
as a centre was settled the whole mighty interest of the
exhibition--that interest again of so dubious and mixed a
character--sympathy in some with mere misfortune--sympathy in others
with female frailty and guilt, not perhaps founded upon an absolute
unwavering belief in her innocence even amongst those who were most loud
and positive as partisans in affirming it,--and then remember that all
this hideous scenical display and notoriety settled upon one whose very
nature, constitutionally timid, recoiled with the triple agony of
womanly shame--of matronly dignity--of insulted innocence, from every
mode and shape of public display. Combine all these circumstances and
elements of the case, and you may faintly enter into the situation of my
poor Agnes. Perhaps the best way to express it at once is by recurring
to the case of a young female Christian martyr, in the early ages of
Christianity, exposed in the bloody amphitheatre of Rome or Verona to
'fight with wild beasts,' as it was expressed in mockery--she to fight!
the lamb to fight with lions! But in reality the young martyr _had_ a
fight to maintain, and a fight (in contempt of that cruel mockery)
fiercer than the fiercest of her persecutors could have faced
perhaps--the combat with the instincts of her own shrinking, trembling,
fainting nature. Such a fight had my Agnes to maintain; and at that time
there was a large party of gentlemen in whom the gentlemanly instinct
was predominant, and who felt so powerfully the cruel indignities of her
situation, that they made a public appeal in her behalf. One thing, and
a strong one, which they said, was this:--'We all talk and move in this
case as if, because the question appears doubtful to some people, and
the accused party to some people wears a doubtful character, it would
follow that she therefore had in reality a mixed character composed in
joint proportions of the best and the worst that is imputed to her. But
let us not forget that this mixed character belongs not to her, but to
the infirmity of our human judgments--_they_ are mixed--_they_ are
dubious--but she is not--she is, or she is not, guilty--there is no
middle case--and let us consider for a single moment, that if this young
lady (as many among us heartily believe) _is_ innocent, then and upon
that supposition let us consider how cruel we should all think the
public exposure which aggravates the other injuries (as in that case
they must be thought) to which her situation exposes her.' They went on
to make some suggestions for the officers of the court in preparing the
arrangements for the trial, and some also for the guidance of the
audience, which showed the same generous anxiety for sparing the
feelings of the prisoner. If these did not wholly succeed in repressing
the open avowal of coarse and brutal curiosity amongst the intensely
vulgar, at least they availed to diffuse amongst the neutral and
indifferent part of the public a sentiment of respect and forbearance
which, emanating from high quarters, had a very extensive influence upon
most of what met the eye or the ear of my poor wife. She, on the day of
trial, was supported by her brother; and by that time she needed support
indeed. I was reported to be dying; her little son was dead; neither had
she been allowed to see him. Perhaps these things, by weaning her from
all further care about life, might have found their natural effect in
making her indifferent to the course of the trial, or even to its issue.
And so, perhaps, in the main, they did. But at times some lingering
sense of outraged dignity, some fitful gleams of old sympathies, 'the
hectic of a moment,' came back upon her, and prevailed over the
deadening stupor of her grief. Then she shone for a moment into a starry
light--sweet and woful to remember. Then----but why linger? I hurry to
the close: she was pronounced guilty; whether by a jury or a bench of
judges, I do not say--having determined, from the beginning, to give no
hint of the land in which all these events happened; neither is that of
the slightest consequence. Guilty she was pronounced: but sentence at
that time was deferred. Ask me not, I beseech you, about the muff or
other circumstances inconsistent with the hostile evidence. These
circumstances had the testimony, you will observe, of my own servants
only; nay, as it turned out, of one servant exclusively: _that_
naturally diminished their value. And, on the other side, evidence was
arrayed, perjury was suborned, that would have wrecked a wilderness of
simple truth trusting to its own unaided forces. What followed? Did
this judgment of the court settle the opinion of the public? Opinion of
the public! Did it settle the winds? Did it settle the motion of the
Atlantic? Wilder, fiercer, and louder grew the cry against the wretched
accuser: mighty had been the power over the vast audience of the
dignity, the affliction, the perfect simplicity, and the Madonna beauty
of the prisoner. That beauty so childlike, and at the same time so
saintly, made, besides, so touching in its pathos by means of the
abandonment--the careless abandonment and the infinite desolation of her
air and manner--would of itself, and without further aid, have made many
converts. Much more was done by the simplicity of her statements, and
the indifference with which she neglected to improve any strong points
in her own favour--the indifference, as every heart perceived, of
despairing grief. Then came the manners on the hostile side--the haggard
consciousness of guilt, the drooping tone, the bravado and fierce strut
which sought to dissemble all this. Not one amongst all the witnesses,
assembled on that side, had (by all agreement) the bold natural tone of
conscious uprightness. Hence it could not be surprising that the storm
of popular opinion made itself heard with a louder and a louder sound.
The government itself began to be disturbed; the ministers of the
sovereign were agitated; and, had no menaces been thrown out, it was
generally understood that they would have given way to the popular
voice, now continually more distinct and clamorous. In the midst of all
this tumult obscure murmurs began to arise that Barratt had practised
the same or similar villainies in former instances. One case in
particular was beginning to be whispered about, which at once threw a
light upon the whole affair: it was the case of a young and very
beautiful married woman, who had been on the very brink of a catastrophe
such as had befallen my own wife, when some seasonable interference, of
what nature was not known, had critically delivered her. This case arose
'like a little cloud no bigger than a man's hand,' then spread and
threatened to burst in tempest upon the public mind, when all at once,
more suddenly even than it had arisen, it was hushed up, or in some way
disappeared. But a trifling circumstance made it possible to trace this
case:--in after times, when means offered, but unfortunately no
particular purpose of good, nor any purpose, in fact, beyond that of
curiosity, it _was_ traced: and enough was soon ascertained to have
blown to fragments any possible conspiracy emanating from this Barratt,
had that been of any further importance. However, in spite of all that
money or art could effect, a sullen growl continued to be heard amongst
the populace of villainies many and profound that had been effected or
attempted by this Barratt; and accordingly, much in the same way as was
many years afterwards practised in London, when a hosier had caused
several young people to be prosecuted to death for passing forged
bank-notes, the wrath of the people showed itself in marking the shop
for vengeance upon any favourable occasion offering through fire or
riots, and in the meantime in deserting it. These things had been going
on for some time when I awoke from my long delirium; but the effect they
had produced upon a weak and obstinate and haughty government, or at
least upon the weak and obstinate and haughty member of the government
who presided in the police administration, was, to confirm and rivet the
line of conduct which had been made the object of popular denunciation.
More energetically, more scornfully, to express that determination of
flying in the face of public opinion and censure, four days before my
awakening, Agnes had been brought up to receive her sentence. On that
same day (nay, it was said in that same hour), petitions, very
numerously signed, and various petitions from different ranks, different
ages, different sexes, were carried up to the throne, praying, upon
manifold grounds, but all noticing the extreme doubtfulness of the case,
for an unconditional pardon. By whose advice or influence, it was
guessed easily, though never exactly ascertained, these petitions were
unanimously, almost contemptuously, rejected. And to express the
contempt of public opinion as powerfully as possible, Agnes was
sentenced by the court, reassembled in full pomp, order, and ceremonial
costume, to a punishment the severest that the laws allowed--viz. hard
labour for ten years. The people raged more than ever; threats public
and private were conveyed to the ears of the minister chiefly concerned
in the responsibility, and who had indeed, by empty and ostentatious
talking, assumed that responsibility to himself in a way that was
perfectly needless.

Thus stood matters when I awoke to consciousness: and this was the fatal
journal of the interval--interval so long as measured by my fierce
calendar of delirium--so brief measured by the huge circuit of events
which it embraced, and their mightiness for evil. Wrath, wrath
immeasurable, unimaginable, unmitigable, burned at my heart like a
cancer. The worst had come. And the thing which kills a man for
action--the living in two climates at once--a torrid and a frigid
zone--of hope and fear--that was past. Weak--suppose I were for the
moment: I felt that a day or two might bring back my strength. No
miserable tremors of hope _now_ shook my nerves: if they shook from that
inevitable rocking of the waters that follows a storm, so much might be
pardoned to the infirmity of a nature that could not lay aside its
fleshly necessities, nor altogether forego its homage to 'these frail
elements,' but which by inspiration already lived within a region where
no voices were heard but the spiritual voices of transcendant
passions--of

    'Wrongs unrevenged, and insults unredress'd.'

Six days from that time I was well--well and strong. I rose from bed; I
bathed; I dressed: dressed as if I were a bridegroom. And that _was_ in
fact a great day in my life. I was to see Agnes. Oh! yes: permission had
been obtained from the lordly minister that I should see my wife. Is it
possible? Can such condescensions exist? Yes: solicitations from ladies,
eloquent notes wet with ducal tears, these had won from the thrice
radiant secretary, redolent of roseate attar, a countersign to some
order or other, by which I--yes I--under license of a fop, and
supervision of a jailer--was to see and for a time to converse with my
own wife.

The hour appointed for the first day's interview was eight o'clock in
the evening. On the outside of the jail all was summer light and
animation. The sports of children in the streets of mighty cities are
but sad, and too painfully recall the circumstances of freedom and
breezy nature that are not there. But still the pomp of glorious summer,
and the presence, 'not to be put by,' of the everlasting light, that is
either always present, or always dawning--these potent elements
impregnate the very city life, and the dim reflex of nature which is
found at the bottom of well-like streets, with more solemn powers to
move and to soothe in summer. I struck upon the prison gates, the first
among multitudes waiting to strike. Not because we struck, but because
the hour had sounded, suddenly the gate opened; and in we streamed. I,
as a visitor for the first time, was immediately distinguished by the
jailers, whose glance of eye is fatally unerring. 'Who was it that I
wanted?' At the name a stir of emotion was manifest, even there: the dry
bones stirred and moved: the passions outside had long ago passed to the
interior of this gloomy prison: and not a man but had his hypothesis on
the case; not a man but had almost fought with some comrade (many had
literally fought) about the merits of their several opinions.

If any man had expected a scene at this reunion, he would have been
disappointed. Exhaustion, and the ravages of sorrow, had left to dear
Agnes so little power of animation or of action, that her emotions were
rather to be guessed at, both for kind and for degree, than directly to
have been perceived. She was in fact a sick patient, far gone in an
illness that should properly have confined her to bed; and was as much
past the power of replying to my frenzied exclamations, as a dying
victim of fever of entering upon a strife of argument. In bed, however,
she was not. When the door opened she was discovered sitting at a table
placed against the opposite wall, her head pillowed upon her arms, and
these resting upon the table. Her beautiful long auburn hair had escaped
from its confinement, and was floating over the table and her own
person. She took no notice of the disturbance made by our entrance, did
not turn, did not raise her head, nor make an effort to do so, nor by
any sign whatever intimate that she was conscious of our presence, until
the turnkey in a respectful tone announced me. Upon that a low groan, or
rather a feeble moan, showed that she had become aware of my presence,
and relieved me from all apprehension of causing too sudden a shock by
taking her in my arms. The turnkey had now retired; we were alone. I
knelt by her side, threw my arms about her, and pressed her to my heart.
She drooped her head upon my shoulder, and lay for some time like one
who slumbered; but, alas! not as she had used to slumber. Her breathing,
which had been like that of sinless infancy, was now frightfully short
and quick; she seemed not properly to breathe, but to gasp. This,
thought I, may be sudden agitation, and in that case she will gradually
recover; half an hour will restore her. Wo is me! she did _not_ recover;
and internally I said--she never _will_ recover. The arrows have gone
too deep for a frame so exquisite in its sensibility, and already her
hours are numbered.

At this first visit I said nothing to her about the past; _that_, and
the whole extent to which our communications should go, I left rather to
her own choice. At the second visit, however, upon some word or other
arising which furnished an occasion for touching on this hateful topic,
I pressed her, contrary to my own previous intention, for as full an
account of the fatal event as she could without a distressing effort
communicate. To my surprise she was silent--gloomily--almost it might
have seemed obstinately silent. A horrid thought came into my mind;
could it, might it have been possible that my noble-minded wife, such
she had ever seemed to me, was open to temptations of this nature? Could
it have been that in some moment of infirmity, when her better angel was
away from her side, she had yielded to a sudden impulse of frailty, such
as a second moment for consideration would have resisted, but which
unhappily had been followed by no such opportunity of retrieval? I had
heard of such things. Cases there were in our own times (and not
confined to one nation), when irregular impulses of this sort were known
to have haunted and besieged natures not otherwise ignoble or base. I
ran over some of the names amongst those which were taxed with this
propensity. More than one were the names of people in a technical sense
held noble. That, nor any other consideration, abated my horror. Better,
I said, better (because more compatible with elevation of mind) better
to have committed some bloody act--some murderous act. Dreadful was the
panic I underwent. God pardon the wrong I did; and even now I pray to
him--as though the past thing were a future thing and capable of
change--that he would forbid her for ever to know what was the
derogatory thought I had admitted. I sometimes think, by recollecting a
momentary blush that suffused her marble countenance,--I think--I fear
that she might have read what was fighting in my mind. Yet that would
admit of another explanation. If she did read the very worst, meek
saint! she suffered no complaint or sense of that injury to escape her.
It might, however, be that perception, or it might be that fear which
roused her to an effort that otherwise had seemed too revolting to
undertake. She now rehearsed the whole steps of the affair from first to
last; but the only material addition, which her narrative made to that
which the trial itself had involved, was the following:--On two
separate occasions previous to the last and fatal one, when she had
happened to walk unaccompanied by me in the city, the monster Barratt
had met her in the street. He had probably,--and this was, indeed,
subsequently ascertained,--at first, and for some time afterwards,
mistaken her rank, and had addressed some proposals to her, which, from
the suppressed tone of his speaking, or from her own terror and
surprise, she had not clearly understood; but enough had reached her
alarmed ear to satisfy her that they were of a nature in the last degree
licentious and insulting. Terrified and shocked rather than indignant,
for she too easily presumed the man to be a maniac, she hurried
homewards; and was rejoiced, on first venturing to look round when close
to her own gate, to perceive that the man was not following. There,
however, she was mistaken; for either on this occasion, or on some
other, he had traced her homewards. The last of these rencontres had
occurred just three months before the fatal 6th of April; and if, in any
one instance, Agnes had departed from the strict line of her duty as a
wife, or had shown a defect of judgment, it was at this point--in not
having frankly and fully reported the circumstances to me. On the last
of these occasions I had met her at the garden-gate, and had
particularly remarked that she seemed agitated; and now, at recalling
these incidents, Agnes reminded me that I had noticed that circumstance
to herself, and that she had answered me faithfully as to the main fact.
It was true she had done so; for she had said that she had just met a
lunatic who had alarmed her by fixing his attention upon herself, and
speaking to her in a ruffian manner; and it was also true that she did
sincerely regard him in that light. This led me at the time to construe
the whole affair into a casual collision with some poor maniac escaping
from his keepers, and of no future moment, having passed by without
present consequences. But had she, instead of thus reporting her own
erroneous impression, reported the entire circumstances of the case, I
should have given them a very different interpretation. Affection for
me, and fear to throw me needlessly into a quarrel with a man of
apparently brutal and violent nature--these considerations, as too often
they do with the most upright wives, had operated to check Agnes in the
perfect sincerity of her communications. She had told nothing _but_ the
truth--only, and fatally it turned out for us both, she had not told the
_whole_ truth. The very suppression, to which she had reconciled herself
under the belief that thus she was providing for my safety and her own
consequent happiness, had been the indirect occasion of ruin to both. It
was impossible to show displeasure under such circumstances, or under
any circumstances, to one whose self-reproaches were at any rate too
bitter; but certainly, as a general rule, every conscientious woman
should resolve to consider her husband's honour in the first case, and
far before all other regards whatsoever; to make this the first, the
second, the third law of her conduct, and his personal safety but the
fourth or fifth. Yet women, and especially when the interests of
children are at stake upon their husband's safety, rarely indeed are
able to take this Roman view of their duties.

To return to the narrative.--Agnes had not, nor could have, the most
remote suspicion of this Barratt's connection with the shop which she
had not accidentally entered; and the sudden appearance of this wretch
it was, at the very moment of finding herself charged with so vile and
degrading an offence, that contributed most of all to rob her of her
natural firmness, by suddenly revealing to her terrified heart the depth
of the conspiracy which thus yawned like a gulf below her. And not only
had this sudden horror, upon discovering a guilty design in what before
had seemed accident, and links uniting remote incidents which else
seemed casual and disconnected, greatly disturbed and confused her
manner, which confusion again had become more intense upon her own
consciousness that she _was_ confused, and that her manner was greatly
to her disadvantage; but--which was the worst effect of all, because the
rest could not operate against her, except upon those who were present
to witness it, whereas this was noted down and recorded--so utterly did
her confusion strip her of all presence of mind, that she did not
consciously notice (and consequently could not protest against at the
moment when it was most important to do so, and most natural) the
important circumstance of the muff. This capital objection, therefore,
though dwelt upon and improved to the utmost at the trial, was looked
upon by the judges as an after-thought; and merely because it had not
been seized upon by herself, and urged in the first moments of her
almost incapacitating terror on finding this amongst the circumstances
of the charge against her--as if an ingenuous nature, in the very act of
recoiling with horror from a criminal charge the most degrading, and in
the very instant of discovering, with a perfect rapture of alarm, the
too plausible appearance of probability amongst the circumstances, would
be likely to pause, and with attorney-like dexterity, to pick out the
particular circumstance that might admit of being _proved_ to be false,
when the conscience proclaimed, though in despondence for the result,
that all the circumstances were, as to the use made of them, one tissue
of falsehoods. Agnes, who had made a powerful effort in speaking of the
case at all, found her calmness increase as she advanced; and she now
told me, that in reality there were two discoveries which she made in
the same instant, and not one only, which had disarmed her firmness and
ordinary presence of mind. One I have mentioned--the fact of Barratt,
the proprietor of the shop, being the same person who had in former
instances persecuted her in the street; but the other was even more
alarming--it has been said already that it was _not_ a pure matter of
accident that she had visited this particular shop. In reality, that
nursery-maid, of whom some mention has been made above, and in terms
expressing the suspicion with which even then I regarded her, had
persuaded her into going thither by some representations which Agnes had
already ascertained to be altogether unwarranted. Other presumptions
against this girl's fidelity crowded dimly upon my wife's mind at the
very moment of finding her eyes thus suddenly opened. And it was not
five minutes after her first examination, and in fact five minutes after
it had ceased to be of use to her, that she remembered another
circumstance which now, when combined with the sequel, told its own
tale;--the muff had been missed some little time before the 6th of
April. Search had been made for it; but, the particular occasion which
required it having passed off, this search was laid aside for the
present, in the expectation that it would soon reappear in some corner
of the house before it was wanted: then came the sunny day, which made
it no longer useful, and would perhaps have dismissed it entirely from
the recollection of all parties, until it was now brought back in this
memorable way. The name of my wife was embroidered within, upon the
lining, and it thus became a serviceable link to the hellish cabal
against her. Upon reviewing the circumstances from first to last, upon
recalling the manner of the girl at the time when the muff was missed,
and upon combining the whole with her recent deception, by which she had
misled her poor mistress into visiting this shop, Agnes began to see the
entire truth as to this servant's wicked collusion with Barratt, though,
perhaps, it might be too much to suppose her aware of the unhappy result
to which her collusion tended. All this she saw at a glance when it was
too late, for her first examination was over. This girl, I must add, had
left our house during my illness, and she had afterwards a melancholy
end.

One thing surprised me in all this, Barratt's purpose must manifestly
have been to create merely a terror in my poor wife's mind, and to stop
short of any legal consequences, in order to profit of that panic and
confusion for extorting compliances with his hideous pretensions. It
perplexed me, therefore, that he did not appear to have pursued this
manifestly his primary purpose, the other being merely a mask to conceal
his true ends, and also (as he fancied) a means for effecting them. In
this, however, I had soon occasion to find that I was deceived. He had,
but without the knowledge of Agnes, taken such steps as were then open
to him, for making overtures to her with regard to the terms upon which
he would agree to defeat the charge against her by failing to appear.
But the law had travelled too fast for him and too determinately; so
that, by the time he supposed terror to have operated sufficiently in
favour of his views, it had already become unsafe to venture upon such
explicit proposals as he would otherwise have tried. His own safety was
now at stake, and would have been compromised by any open or written
avowal of the motives on which he had been all along acting. In fact, at
this time he was foiled by the agent in whom he confided; but much more
he had been confounded upon another point--the prodigious interest
manifested by the public. Thus it seems--that, whilst he meditated only
a snare for my poor Agnes, he had prepared one for himself; and finally,
to evade the suspicions which began to arise powerfully as to his true
motives, and thus to stave off his own ruin, had found himself in a
manner obliged to go forward and consummate the ruin of another.

       *       *       *       *       *

The state of Agnes, as to health and bodily strength, was now becoming
such that I was forcibly warned--whatsoever I meditated doing, to do
quickly. There was this urgent reason for alarm: once conveyed into that
region of the prison in which sentences like hers were executed, it
became hopeless that I could communicate with her again. All intercourse
whatsoever, and with whomsoever, was then placed under the most rigorous
interdict; and the alarming circumstance was, that this transfer was
governed by no settled rules, but might take place at any hour, and
would certainly be precipitated by the slightest violence on my part,
the slightest indiscretion, or the slightest argument for suspicion.
Hard indeed was the part I had to play, for it was indispensable that I
should appear calm and tranquil, in order to disarm suspicions around
me, whilst continually contemplating the possibility that I myself might
be summoned to extremities which I could not so much as trust myself to
name or distinctly to conceive. But thus stood the case; the
Government, it was understood, angered by the public opposition,
resolute for the triumph of what they called 'principle,' had settled
finally that the sentence should be carried into execution. Now that
she, that my Agnes, being the frail wreck that she had become, could
have stood one week of this sentence practically and literally
enforced--was a mere chimera. A few hours probably of the experiment
would have settled that question by dismissing her to the death she
longed for; but because the suffering would be short, was I to stand by
and to witness the degradation--the pollution--attempted to be fastened
upon her. What! to know that her beautiful tresses would be shorn
ignominiously--a felon's dress forced upon her--a vile taskmaster with
authority to----; blistered be the tongue that could go on to utter, in
connection with her innocent name, the vile dishonours which were to
settle upon her person! I, however, and her brother had taken such
resolutions that this result was one barely possible; and yet I sickened
(yes, literally I many times experienced the effect of physical
sickness) at contemplating our own utter childish helplessness, and
recollecting that every night during our seclusion from the prison the
last irreversible step might be taken--and in the morning we might find
a solitary cell, and the angel form that had illuminated it gone where
we could not follow, and leaving behind her the certainty that we should
see her no more. Every night, at the hour of locking up, _she_, at
least, manifestly had a fear that she saw us for the last time; she put
her arms feebly about my neck, sobbed convulsively, and, I believe,
guessed--but, if really so, did not much reprove or quarrel with the
desperate purposes which I struggled with in regard t o her own life.
One thing was quite evident--that to the peace of her latter days, now
hurrying to their close, it was indispensable that she should pass them
undivided from me; and possibly, as was afterwards alleged, when it
became easy to allege anything, some relenting did take place in high
quarters at this time; for upon some medical reports made just now, a
most seasonable indulgence was granted, viz. that Hannah was permitted
to attend her mistress constantly; and it was also felt as a great
alleviation of the horrors belonging to this prison, that candles were
now allowed throughout the nights. But I was warned privately that these
indulgences were with no consent from the police minister; and that
circumstances might soon withdraw the momentary intercession by which we
profited. With this knowledge we could not linger in our preparations;
we had resolved upon accomplishing an escape for Agnes, at whatever risk
or price; the main difficulty was her own extreme feebleness, which
might forbid her to co-operate with us in any degree at the critical
moment; and the main danger was--delay. We pushed forward, therefore, in
our attempts with prodigious energy, and I for my part with an energy
like that of insanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first attempt we made was upon the fidelity to his trust of the
chief jailer. He was a coarse vulgar man, brutal in his manners, but
with vestiges of generosity in his character--though damaged a good deal
by his daily associates. Him we invited to a meeting at a tavern in the
neighbourhood of the prison, disguising our names as too certain to
betray our objects, and baiting our invitation with some hints which we
had ascertained were likely to prove temptations under his immediate
circumstances. He had a graceless young son whom he was most anxious to
wean from his dissolute connections, and to steady, by placing him in
some office of no great responsibility. Upon this knowledge we framed
the terms of our invitation.

These proved to be effectual, as regarded our immediate object of
obtaining an interview of persuasion. The night was wet; and at seven
o'clock, the hour fixed for the interview, we were seated in readiness,
much perplexed to know whether he would take any notice of our
invitation. We had waited three quarters of an hour, when we heard a
heavy lumbering step ascending the stair. The door was thrown open to
its widest extent, and in the centre of the door-way stood a short,
stout-built man, and the very broadest I ever beheld--staring at us with
bold enquiring eyes. His salutation was something to this effect.

'What the hell do you gay fellows want with me? What the blazes is this
humbugging letter about? My son, and be hanged! what do you know of my
son?'

Upon this overture we ventured to request that he would come in and
suffer us to shut the door, which we also locked. Next we produced the
official paper nominating his son to a small place in the customs,--not
yielding much, it was true, in the way of salary, but fortunately, and
in accordance with the known wishes of the father, unburdened with any
dangerous trust.

'Well, I suppose I must say thank ye: but what comes next? What am I to
do to pay the damages?' We informed him that for this particular little
service we asked no return.

'No, no,' said he, 'that'll not go down: that cat'll not jump. I'm not
green enough for that. So, say away--what's the damage?' We then
explained that we had certainly a favour and a great one to ask: ['Ay,
I'll be bound you have,' was his parenthesis:] but that for this we were
prepared to offer a separate remuneration; repeating that with respect
to the little place procured for his son, it had not cost us anything,
and therefore we did really and sincerely decline to receive anything in
return; satisfied that, by this little offering, we had procured the
opportunity of this present interview. At this point we withdrew a
covering from a table upon which we had previously arranged a heap of
gold coins, amounting in value to twelve hundred English guineas: this
being the entire sum which circumstances allowed us to raise on so
sudden a warning: for some landed property that we both had was so
settled and limited, that we could not convert it into money either by
way of sale, loan, or mortgage. This sum, stating to him its exact
amount, we offered to his acceptance, upon the single condition that he
would look aside, or wink hard, or (in whatever way he chose to express
it) would make, or suffer to be made, such facilities for our liberating
a female prisoner as we would point out. He mused: full five minutes he
sat deliberating without opening his lips; At length he shocked us by
saying, in a firm decisive tone that left us little hope of altering his
resolution,--'No: gentlemen, it's a very fair offer, and a good deal of
money for a single prisoner. I think I can guess at the person. It's a
fair offer--fair enough. But, bless your heart! if I were to do the
thing you want----why perhaps another case might be overlooked: but this
prisoner, no: there's too much depending. No, they would turn me out of
my place. Now the place is worth more to me in the long run than what
you offer; though you bid fair enough, if it were only for my time in
it. But look here: in case I can get my son to come into harness, I'm
expecting to get the office for him after I've retired. So I can't do
it. But I'll tell you what: you've been kind to my son: and therefore
I'll not say a word about it. You're safe for me. And so good-night to
you.' Saying which, and standing no further question, he walked
resolutely out of the room and down-stairs.

Two days we mourned over this failure, and scarcely knew which way to
turn for another ray of hope;--on the third morning we received
intelligence that this very jailer had been attacked by the fever,
which, after long desolating the city, had at length made its way into
the prison. In a very few days the jailer was lying without hope of
recovery: and of necessity another person was appointed to fill his
station for the present. This person I had seen, and I liked him less by
much than the one he succeeded: he had an Italian appearance, and he
wore an air of Italian subtlety and dissimulation. I was surprised to
find, on proposing the same service to him, and on the same terms, that
he made no objection whatever, but closed instantly with my offers. In
prudence, however, I had made this change in the articles: a sum equal
to two hundred English guineas, or one-sixth part of the whole money, he
was to receive beforehand as a retaining fee; but the remainder was to
be paid only to himself, or to anybody of his appointing, at the very
moment of our finding the prison gates thrown open to us. He spoke
fairly enough, and seemed to meditate no treachery; nor was there any
obvious or known interest to serve by treachery; and yet I doubted him
grievously.

The night came: it was chosen as a gala night, one of two nights
throughout the year in which the prisoners were allowed to celebrate a
great national event: and in those days of relaxed prison management the
utmost license was allowed to the rejoicing. This indulgence was
extended to prisoners of all classes, though, of course, under more
restrictions with regard to the criminal class. Ten o'clock came--the
hour at which we had been instructed to hold ourselves in readiness. We
had been long prepared. Agnes had been dressed by Hannah in such a
costume externally (a man's hat and cloak, &c.) that, from her height,
she might easily have passed amongst a mob of masquerading figures in
the debtors' halls and galleries for a young stripling. Pierpoint and
myself were also to a certain degree disguised; so far at least, that we
should not have been recognised at any hurried glance by those of the
prison officers who had become acquainted with our persons. We were all
more or less disguised about the face; and in that age when masks were
commonly used at all hours by people of a certain rank, there would have
been nothing suspicious in any possible costume of the kind in a night
like this, if we could succeed in passing for friends of debtors.

I am impatient of these details, and I hasten over the ground. One
entire hour passed away, and no jailer appeared. We began to despond
heavily; and Agnes, poor thing! was now the most agitated of us all. At
length eleven struck in the harsh tones of the prison-clock. A few
minutes after, we heard the sound of bolts drawing, and bars
unfastening. The jailer entered--drunk, and much disposed to be
insolent. I thought it advisable to give him another bribe, and he
resumed the fawning insinuation of his manner. He now directed us, by
passages which he pointed out, to gain the other side of the prison.
There we were to mix with the debtors and their mob of friends, and to
await his joining us, which in that crowd he could do without much
suspicion. He wished us to traverse the passages separately; but this
was impossible, for it was necessary that one of us should support Agnes
on each side. I previously persuaded her to take a small quantity of
brandy, which we rejoiced to see had given her, at this moment of
starting, a most seasonable strength and animation. The gloomy passages
were more than usually empty, for all the turnkeys were employed in a
vigilant custody of the gates, and examination of the parties going out.
So the jailer had told us, and the news alarmed us. We came at length to
a turning which brought us in sight of a strong iron gate, that divided
the two main quarters of the prison. For this we had not been prepared.
The man, however, opened the gate without a word spoken, only putting
out his hand for a fee; and in my joy, perhaps, I gave him one
imprudently large. After passing this gate, the distant uproar of the
debtors guided us to the scene of their merriment; and when there, such
was the tumult and the vast multitude assembled, that we now hoped in
good earnest to accomplish our purpose without accident. Just at this
moment the jailer appeared in the distance; he seemed looking towards
us, and at length one of our party could distinguish that he was
beckoning to us. We went forward, and found him in some agitation, real
or counterfeit. He muttered a word or two quite unintelligible about the
man at the wicket, told us we must wait a while, and he would then see
what could be done for us. We were beginning to demur, and to express
the suspicions which now too seriously arose, when he, seeing, or
affecting to see some object of alarm, pushed us with a hurried movement
into a cell opening upon the part of the gallery at which we were now
standing. Not knowing whether we really might not be retreating from
some danger, we could do no otherwise than comply with his signals; but
we were troubled at finding ourselves immediately locked in from the
outside, and thus apparently all our motions had only sufficed to
exchange one prison for another.

We were now completely in the dark, and found, by a hard breathing from
one corner of the little dormitory, that it was not unoccupied. Having
taken care to provide ourselves separately with means for striking a
light, we soon had more than one torch burning. The brilliant light
falling upon the eyes of a man who lay stretched on the iron bedstead,
woke him. It proved to be my friend the under-jailer, Ratcliffe, but no
longer holding any office in the prison. He sprang up, and a rapid
explanation took place. He had become a prisoner for debt; and on this
evening, after having caroused through the day with some friends from
the country, had retired at an early hour to sleep away his
intoxication. I on my part thought it prudent to entrust him
unreservedly with our situation and purposes, not omitting our gloomy
suspicions. Ratcliffe looked, with a pity that won my love, upon the
poor wasted Agnes. He had seen her on her first entrance into the
prison, had spoken to her, and therefore knew _from_ what she had
fallen, _to_ what. Even then he had felt for her; how much more at this
time, when he beheld, by the fierce light of the torches, her wo-worn
features!

'Who was it,' he asked eagerly, 'you made the bargain with? Manasseh?'

'The same.'

'Then I can tell you this--not a greater villain walks the earth. He is
a Jew from Portugal; he has betrayed many a man, and will many another,
unless he gets his own neck stretched, which might happen, if I told all
I know.'

'But what was it probable that this man meditated? Or how could it
profit him to betray us?'

'That's more than I can tell. He wants to get your money, and that he
doesn't know how to bring about without doing his part. But that's what
he never _will_ do, take my word for it. That would cut him out of all
chance for the head-jailer's place.' He mused a little, and then told us
that he could himself put us outside the prison-walls, and _would_ do it
without fee or reward. 'But we must be quiet, or that devil will bethink
him of me. I'll wager something he thought that I was out merry-making
like the rest; and if he should chance to light upon the truth, he'll be
back in no time.' Ratcliffe then removed an old fire-grate, at the back
of which was an iron plate, that swung round into a similar fireplace
in the contiguous cell. From that, by a removal of a few slight
obstacles, we passed, by a long avenue, into the chapel. Then he left
us, whilst he went out alone to reconnoitre his ground. Agnes was now in
so pitiable a condition of weakness, as we stood on the very brink of
our final effort, that we placed her in a pew, where she could rest as
upon a sofa. Previously we had stood upon graves, and with monuments
more or less conspicuous all around us: some raised by friends to the
memory of friends--some by subscriptions in the prison--some by
children, who had risen into prosperity, to the memory of a father,
brother, or other relative, who had died in captivity. I was grieved
that these sad memorials should meet the eye of my wife at this moment
of awe and terrific anxiety. Pierpoint and I were well armed, and all of
us determined not to suffer a recapture, now that we were free of the
crowds that made resistance hopeless. This Agnes easily perceived; and
_that_, by suggesting a bloody arbitration, did not lessen her
agitation. I hoped therefore that, by placing her in the pew, I might at
least liberate her for the moment from the besetting memorials of sorrow
and calamity. But, as if in the very teeth of my purpose, one of the
large columns which supported the roof of the chapel had its basis and
lower part of the shaft in this very pew. On the side of it, and just
facing her as she lay reclining on the cushions, appeared a mural
tablet, with a bas-relief in white marble, to the memory of two
children, twins, who had lived and died at the same time, and in this
prison--children who had never breathed another air than that of
captivity, their parents having passed many years within these walls,
under confinement for debt. The sculptures were not remarkable, being a
trite, but not the less affecting, representation of angels descending
to receive the infants; but the hallowed words of the inscription,
distinct and legible--'Suffer little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God'--met her eye, and,
by the thoughts they awakened, made me fear that she would become
unequal to the exertions which yet awaited her. At this moment Ratcliffe
returned, and informed us that all was right; and that, from the ruinous
state of all the buildings which surrounded the chapel, no difficulty
remained for us, who were, in fact, beyond the strong part of the
prison, excepting at a single door, which we should be obliged to break
down. But had we any means arranged for pursuing our flight, and turning
this escape to account when out of confinement? All that, I assured him,
was provided for long ago. We proceeded, and soon reached the door. We
had one crow-bar amongst us, but beyond that had no better weapons than
the loose stones found about some new-made graves in the chapel.
Ratcliffe and Pierpoint, both powerful men, applied themselves by turns
to the door, whilst Hannah and I supported Agnes. The door did not
yield, being of enormous strength; but the wall did, and a large mass of
stone-work fell outwards, twisting the door aside; so that, by
afterwards working with our hands, we removed stones many enough to
admit of our egress. Unfortunately this aperture was high above the
ground, and it was necessary to climb over a huge heap of loose rubbish
in order to profit by it. My brother-in-law passed first in order to
receive my wife, quite helpless at surmounting the obstacle by her own
efforts, out of my arms. He had gone through the opening, and, turning,
round so as to face me, he naturally could see something that I did
_not_ see. 'Look behind!' he called out rapidly. I did so, and saw the
murderous villain Manasseh with his arm uplifted and in the act of
cutting at my wife, nearly insensible as she was, with a cutlass. The
blow was not for me, but for her, as the fugitive prisoner; and the law
would have borne him out in the act. I saw, I comprehended the whole. I
groped, as far as I could without letting my wife drop, for my pistols;
but all that I could do would have been unavailing, and too late--she
would have been murdered in my arms. But--and that was what none of us
saw--neither I, nor Pierpoint, nor the hound Manasseh--one person stood
back in the shade; one person had seen, but had not uttered a word on
seeing Manasseh advancing through the shades; one person only had
forecast the exact succession of all that was coming; me she saw
embarrassed and my hands preoccupied--Pierpoint and Ratcliffe useless by
position--and the gleam of the dog's eye directed her to his aim. The
crow-bar was leaning against the shattered wall. This she had silently
seized. One blow knocked up the sword; a second laid the villain
prostrate. At this moment appeared another of the turnkeys advancing
from the rear, for the noise of our assault upon the door had drawn
attention in the interior of the prison, from which, however, no great
number of assistants could on this dangerous night venture to absent
themselves. What followed for the next few minutes hurried onwards,
incident crowding upon incident, like the motions of a dream:--Manasseh,
lying on the ground, yelled out 'The bell! the bell!' to him who
followed. The man understood, and made for the belfry-door attached to
the chapel; upon which Pierpoint drew a pistol, and sent the bullet
whizzing past his ear so truly, that fear made the man obedient to the
counter-orders of Pierpoint for the moment. He paused and awaited the
issue.--In a moment had all cleared the wall, traversed the waste
ground beyond it, lifted Agnes over the low railing, shaken hands with
our benefactor Ratcliffe and pushed onwards as rapidly as we were able
to the little dark lane, a quarter of a mile distant, where had stood
waiting for the last two hours a chaise-and-four.

[Ratcliffe, before my story closes, I will pursue to the last of my
acquaintance with him, according to the just claims of his services. He
had privately whispered to me, as we went along, that he could speak to
the innocence of that lady, pointing to my wife, better than anybody. He
was the person whom (as then holding an office in the prison) Barratt
had attempted to employ as agent in conveying any messages that he found
it safe to send--obscurely hinting the terms on which he would desist
from prosecution. Ratcliffe had at first undertaken the negotiation from
mere levity of character. But when the story and the public interest
spread, and after himself becoming deeply struck by the prisoner's
affliction, beauty, and reputed innocence, he had pursued it only as a
means of entrapping Barratt into such written communications and such
private confessions of the truth as might have served Agnes effectually.
He wanted the art, however, to disguise his purposes: Barratt came to
suspect him violently, and feared his evidence so far, even for those
imperfect and merely oral overtures which he had really sent through
Ratcliffe--that on the very day of the trial he, as was believed, though
by another nominally, contrived that Ratcliffe should be arrested for
debt; and, after harassing him with intricate forms of business, had
finally caused him to be conveyed to prison. Ratcliffe was thus
involved in his own troubles at the time; and afterwards supposed that,
without written documents to support his evidence, he could not be of
much service to the re-establishment of my wife's reputation. Six months
after his services in the night-escape from the prison, I saw him, and
pressed him to take the money so justly forfeited to him by Manasseh's
perfidy. He would, however, be persuaded to take no more than paid his
debts. A second and a third time his debts were paid by myself and
Pierpoint. But the same habits of intemperance and dissolute pleasure
which led him into these debts, finally ruined his constitution; and he
died, though otherwise of a fine generous manly nature, a martyr to
dissipation at the early age of twenty-nine. With respect to his prison
confinement, it was so frequently recurring in his life, and was
alleviated by so many indulgences, that he scarcely viewed it as a
hardship: having once been an officer of the prison, and having thus
formed connections with the whole official establishment, and done
services to many of them, and being of so convivial a turn, he was, even
as a prisoner, treated with distinction, and considered as a privileged
son of the house.]

It was just striking twelve o'clock as we entered the lane where the
carriage was drawn up. Rain, about the profoundest I had ever witnessed,
was falling. Though near to midsummer, the night had been unusually dark
to begin with, and from the increasing rain had become much more so. We
could see nothing; and at first we feared that some mistake had occurred
as to the station of the carriage--in which case we might have sought
for it vainly through the intricate labyrinth of the streets in that
quarter. I first descried it by the light of a torch, reflected
powerfully from the large eyes of the leaders. All was ready.
Horse-keepers were at the horses' heads. The postilions were mounted;
each door had the steps let down: Agnes was lifted in: Hannah and I
followed: Pierpoint mounted his horse; and at the word--Oh! how strange
a word!--'_All's right_,' the horses sprang off like leopards, a manner
ill suited to the slippery pavement of a narrow street. At that moment,
but we valued it little indeed, we heard the prison-bell ringing out
loud and clear. Thrice within the first three minutes we had to pull up
suddenly, on the brink of formidable accidents, from the dangerous speed
we maintained, and which, nevertheless, the driver had orders to
maintain, as essential to our plan. All the stoppages and hinderances of
every kind along the road had been anticipated previously, and met by
contrivance, of one kind or other; and Pierpoint was constantly a little
ahead of us to attend to anything that had been neglected. The
consequence of these arrangements was--- that no person along the road
could possibly have assisted to trace us by anything in our appearance:
for we passed all objects at too flying a pace, and through darkness too
profound, to allow of any one feature in our equipage being distinctly
noticed. Ten miles out of town, a space which we traversed in forty-four
minutes, a second relay of horses was ready; but we carried on the same
postilions throughout. Six miles a-head of this distance we had a second
relay; and with this set of horses, after pushing two miles further
along the road, we crossed by a miserable lane five miles long, scarcely
even a bridge road, into another of the great roads from the capital;
and by thus crossing the country, we came back upon the city at a point
far distant from that at which we left it. We had performed a distance
of forty-two miles in three hours, and lost a fourth hour upon the
wretched five miles of cross-road. It was therefore four o'clock, and
broad daylight, when we drew near the suburbs of the city; but a most
happy accident now favoured us; a fog the most intense now prevailed;
nobody could see an object six feet distant; we alighted in an
uninhabited new-built street, plunged into the fog, thus confounding our
traces to any observer. We then stepped into a hackney-coach which had
been stationed at a little distance. Thence, according to our plan, we
drove to a miserable quarter of the town, whither the poor only and the
wretched resorted; mounted a gloomy dirty staircase, and, befriended by
the fog, still growing thicker and thicker, and by the early hour of the
morning, reached a house previously hired, which, if shocking to the eye
and the imagination from its squalid appearance and its gloom, still was
a home--a sanctuary--an asylum from treachery, from captivity, from
persecution. Here Pierpoint for the present quitted us: and once more
Agnes, Hannah, and I, the shattered members of a shattered family, were
thus gathered together in a house of our own.

Yes: once again, daughter of the hills, thou sleptst as heretofore in my
encircling arms; but not again in that peace which crowned thy innocence
in those days, and should have crowned it now. Through the whole of our
flying journey, in some circumstances at its outset strikingly recalling
to me that blessed one which followed our marriage, Agnes slept away
unconscious of our movements. She slept through all that day and the
following night; and I watched over her with as much jealousy of all
that might disturb her, as a mother watches over her new-born baby; for
I hoped, I fancied, that a long--long rest, a rest, a halcyon calm, a
deep, deep Sabbath of security, might prove healing and medicinal. I
thought wrong; her breathing became more disturbed, and sleep was now
haunted by dreams; all of us, indeed, were agitated by dreams; the past
pursued me, and the present, for high rewards had been advertised by
Government to those who traced us; and though for the moment we were
secure, because we never went abroad, and could not have been naturally
sought in such a neighbourhood, still that very circumstance would
eventually operate against us. At length, every night I dreamed of our
insecurity under a thousand forms; but more often by far my dreams
turned upon our wrongs; wrath moved me rather than fear. Every night,
for the greater part, I lay painfully and elaborately involved, by deep
sense of wrong,

    '----in long orations, which I pleaded
     Before unjust tribunals.'[20]

And for poor Agnes, her also did the remembrance of mighty wrongs occupy
through vast worlds of sleep in the same way--though coloured by that
tenderness which belonged to her gentler nature. One dream in
particular--a dream of sublime circumstances--she repeated to me so
movingly, with a pathos so thrilling, that by some profound sympathy it
transplanted itself to my own sleep, settled itself there, and is to
this hour a part of the fixed dream-scenery which revolves at intervals
through my sleeping life. This it was:--She would hear a trumpet
sound--though perhaps as having been the prelude to the solemn entry of
the judges at a town which she had once visited in her childhood; other
preparations would follow, and at last all the solemnities of a great
trial would shape themselves and fall into settled images. The audience
was assembled, the judges were arrayed, the court was set. The prisoner
was cited. Inquest was made, witnesses were called; and false witnesses
came tumultuously to the bar. Then again a trumpet was heard, but the
trumpet of a mighty archangel; and then would roll away thick clouds and
vapours. Again the audience, but another audience, was assembled; again
the tribunal was established; again the court was set; but a tribunal
and a court--how different to her! _That_ had been composed of men
seeking indeed for truth, but themselves erring and fallible creatures;
the witnesses had been full of lies, the judges of darkness. But here
was a court composed of heavenly witnesses--here was a righteous
tribunal--and then at last a judge that could not be deceived. The judge
smote with his eye a person who sought to hide himself in the crowd; the
guilty man stepped forward; the poor prisoner was called up to the
presence of the mighty judge; suddenly the voice of a little child was
heard ascending before her. Then the trumpet sounded once again; and
then there were new heavens and a new earth; and her tears and her
agitation (for she had seen her little Francis) awoke the poor
palpitating dreamer.

[20] From a MS. poem of a great living Poet. [Written in January 1838.
The lines occur in Wordsworth's _Prelude_, Book Tenth, line 410. The
passage stands thus:--

    ----------'the unbroken dream entangled me
    In long orations, which I strove to plead
    Before unjust tribunals,--with a voice
    Labouring, a brain confounded, and a sense,
    Death-like, of treacherous desertion, felt
    In the last place of refuge--my own soul.'--H.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Two months passed on: nothing could possibly be done materially to raise
the standard of those wretched accommodations which the house offered.
The dilapidated walls, the mouldering plaster, the blackened
mantel-pieces, the stained and polluted wainscots--what could be
attempted to hide or to repair all this by those who durst not venture
abroad? Yet whatever could be done, Hannah did, and, in the meantime,
very soon indeed my Agnes ceased to see or to be offended by these
objects. First of all her sight went from her; and nothing which
appealed to that sense could ever more offend her. It is to me the one
only consolation I have, that my presence and that of Hannah, with such
innocent frauds as we concerted together, made her latter days pass in a
heavenly calm, by persuading her that our security was absolute, and
that all search after us had ceased, under a belief on the part of
Government that we had gained the shelter of a foreign land. All this
was a delusion; but it was a delusion--blessed be Heaven!--which lasted
exactly as long as her life, and was just commensurate with its
necessity. I hurry over the final circumstances.

There was fortunately now, even for me, no fear that the hand of any
policeman or emissary of justice could effectually disturb the latter
days of my wife; for, besides pistols always lying loaded in an inner
room, there happened to be a long narrow passage on entering the house,
which, by means of a blunderbuss, I could have swept effectually, and
cleared many times over; and I know what to do in a last extremity. Just
two months it was, to a day, since we had entered the house; and it
happened that the medical attendant upon Agnes, who awakened no
suspicion by his visits, had prescribed some opiate or anodyne which had
not come; being dark early, for it was now September, I had ventured out
to fetch it. In this I conceived there could be no danger. On my return
I saw a man examining the fastenings of the door. He made no opposition
to my entrance, nor seemed much to observe it--but I was disturbed. Two
hours after, both Hannah and I heard a noise about the door, and voices
in low conversation. It is remarkable that Agnes heard this also--so
quick had grown her hearing. She was agitated, but was easily calmed;
and at ten o'clock we were all in bed. The hand of Agnes was in mine; so
only she felt herself in security. She had been restless for an hour,
and talking at intervals in sleep. Once she certainly wakened, for she
pressed her lips to mine. Two minutes after, I heard something in her
breathing which did not please me. I rose hastily--brought a
light--raised her head--two long, long gentle sighs, that scarcely moved
the lips, were all that could be perceived. At that moment, at that very
moment, Hannah called out to me that the door was surrounded. 'Open it!'
I said; six men entered; Agnes it was they sought; I pointed to the bed;
they advanced, gazed, and walked away in silence.

After this I wandered about, caring little for life or its affairs, and
roused only at times to think of vengeance upon all who had contributed
to lay waste my happiness. In this pursuit, however, I was confounded as
much by my own thoughts as by the difficulties of accomplishing my
purpose. To assault and murder either of the two principal agents in
this tragedy, what would it be, what other effect could it have, than to
invest them with the character of injured and suffering people, and thus
to attract a pity or a forgiveness at least to their persons which never
otherwise could have illustrated their deaths? I remembered, indeed, the
words of a sea-captain who had taken such vengeance as had offered at
the moment upon his bitter enemy and persecutor (a young passenger on
board his ship), who had informed against him at the Custom-house on his
arrival in port, and had thus effected the confiscation of his ship, and
the ruin of the captain's family. The vengeance, and it was all that
circumstances allowed, consisted in coming behind the young man
clandestinely and pushing him into the deep waters of the dock, when,
being unable to swim, he perished by drowning. 'And the like,' said the
captain, when musing on his trivial vengeance, 'and the like happens to
many an honest sailor.' Yes, thought I, the captain was right. The
momentary shock of a pistol-bullet--what is it? Perhaps it may save the
wretch after all from the pangs of some lingering disease; and then
again I shall have the character of a murderer, if known to have shot
him; he will with many people have no such character, but at worst the
character of a man too harsh (they will say), and possibly mistaken in
protecting his property. And then, if not known as the man who shot him,
where is the shadow even of vengeance? Strange, it seemed to me, and
passing strange, that I should be the person to urge arguments in behalf
of letting this man escape. For at one time I had as certainly, as
inexorably, doomed him as ever I took any resolution in my life. But the
fact is, and I began to see it upon closer view, it is not easy by any
means to take an adequate vengeance for any injury beyond a very trivial
standard; and that with common magnanimity one does not care to avenge.
Whilst I was in this mood of mind, still debating with myself whether I
should or should not contaminate my hands with the blood of this
monster, and still unable to shut my eyes upon one fact, viz. that my
buried Agnes could above all things have urged me to abstain from such
acts of violence, too evidently useless, listlessly and scarcely knowing
what I was in quest of, I strayed by accident into a church where a
venerable old man was preaching at the very moment I entered; he was
either delivering as a text, or repeating in the course of his sermon,
these words--'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' By some
accident also he fixed his eyes upon me at the moment; and this
concurrence with the subject then occupying my thoughts so much
impressed me, that I determined very seriously to review my half-formed
purposes of revenge; and well it was that I did so: for in that same
week an explosion of popular fury brought the life of this wretched
Barratt to a shocking termination, pretty much resembling the fate of
the De Witts in Holland. And the consequences to me were such, and so
full of all the consolation and indemnification which this world could
give me, that I have often shuddered since then at the narrow escape I
had had from myself intercepting this remarkable retribution. The
villain had again been attempting to play off the same hellish scheme
with a beautiful young rustic which had succeeded in the case of my
ill-fated Agnes. But the young woman in this instance had a high, and,
in fact, termagant spirit. Rustic as she was, she had been warned of the
character of the man; everybody, in fact, was familiar with the recent
tragedy. Either her lover or her brother happened to be waiting for her
outside the window. He saw in part the very tricks in the act of
perpetration by which some article or other, meant to be claimed as
stolen property, was conveyed into a parcel she had incautiously laid
down. He heard the charge against her made by Barratt, and seconded by
his creatures--heard her appeal--sprang to her aid--dragged the ruffian
into the street, when in less time than the tale could be told, and
before the police (though tolerably alert) could effectually interpose
for his rescue, the mob had so used or so abused the opportunity they
had long wished for, that he remained the mere disfigured wreck of what
had once been a man, rather than a creature with any resemblance to
humanity. I myself heard the uproar at a distance, and the shouts and
yells of savage exultation; they were sounds I shall never forget,
though I did not at that time know them for what they were, or
understood their meaning. The result, however, to me was something
beyond this, and worthy to have been purchased with my heart's blood.
Barratt still breathed; spite of his mutilations he could speak; he was
rational. One only thing he demanded--it was that his dying confession
might be taken. Two magistrates and a clergyman attended. He gave a list
of those whom he had trepanned, and had failed to trepan, by his
artifices and threats, into the sacrifice of their honour. He expired
before the record was closed, but not before he had placed my wife's
name in the latter list as the one whose injuries in his dying moments
most appalled him. This confession on the following day went into the
hands of the hostile minister, and my revenge was perfect.



MR. SCHNACKENBERGER;

OR,

TWO MASTERS FOR ONE DOG.

FROM THE GERMAN.



CHAPTER I.

IN WHAT MANNER MR. SCHNACKENBERGER MADE HIS ENTRY INTO B----.


The sun had just set, and all the invalids at the baths of B---- had
retired to their lodgings, when the harsh tones of welcome from the
steeple announced the arrival of a new guest. Forthwith all the windows
were garrisoned with young faces and old faces, pretty faces and ugly
faces; and scarce one but was overspread with instantaneous merriment--a
_feu-de-joie_ of laughter, that travelled up the street in company with
the very extraordinary object that now advanced from the city gates.
Upon a little, meagre, scare-crow of a horse, sate a tall,
broad-shouldered young fellow, in a great-coat of bright pea-green,
whose variegated lights and shades, from soaking rains and partial
dryings, bore sullen testimony to the changeable state of the weather
for the last week. Out of this great-coat shot up, to a monstrous
height, a head surmounted by a huge cocked hat, one end of which hung
over the stem, the other over the stern of the horse: the legs belonging
to this head were sheathed in a pair of monstrous boots, technically
called 'field-pieces,' which, descending rather too low, were well
plaistered with flesh-coloured mud. More, perhaps, in compliance with
the established rule, than for any visible use, a switch was in the
rider's hand; for to attribute to such a horse, under such a load, any
power to have quitted a pace that must have satisfied the most rigorous
police in Poland, was obviously too romantic. Depending from his side,
and almost touching the ground, rattled an enormous back-sword, which
suggested to the thinking mind a salutary hint to allow free passage,
without let or unseasonable jesting, to Mr. Jeremiah Schnackenberger,
student at the University of X----. He, that might be disposed to
overlook this hint, would certainly pay attention to a second, which
crept close behind the other in the shape of a monstrous dog, somewhat
bigger than the horse, and presenting on every side a double tier of
most respectable teeth. Observing the general muster of the natives,
which his appearance had called to the windows, the rider had unslung
and mounted a pipe, under whose moving canopy of clouds and vapours he
might advance in greater tranquillity: and during this operation, his
very thoughtful and serious horse had struck up a by-street--and made a
dead stop, before his rider was aware, at the sign of the Golden Sow.

Although the gold had long since vanished from the stone beast, and, to
say the truth, every part of the house seemed to sympathise admirably
with the unclean habits of its patron image, nevertheless, Mr. Jeremiah
thought proper to comply with the instincts of his horse; and, as nobody
in the street, or in the yard, came forward to answer his call, he gave
himself no further trouble, but rode on through the open door right
forwards into the bar.



CHAPTER II.

HOW MR. JEREMIAH CAME TO TAKE UP HIS QUARTERS AT THE GOLDEN SOW.


'The Lord, and his angels, protect us!--As I live, here comes the late
governor!' ejaculated the hostess, Mrs. Bridget Sweetbread; suddenly
startled out of her afternoon's nap by the horse's hoofs--and seeing
right before her what she took for the apparition of Don Juan; whom, as
it afterwards appeared, she had seen in a pantomime the night before.

'Thunder and lightning! my good woman,' said the student laughing,
'would you dispute the reality of my flesh and blood?'

Mrs. Bridget, however, on perceiving her mistake, cared neither for the
sword nor for the dog, but exclaimed, 'Why then, let me tell you, Sir,
it's not the custom in this country to ride into parlours, and disturb
honest folks when they're taking their rest. Innkeeping's not the trade
it has been to me, God he knows: but, for all that, I'll not put up with
such work from nobody.'

'Good, my dear creature; what you say is good--very good: but let me
tell you, it's _not_ good that I must be kept waiting in the street, and
no soul in attendance to take my horse and feed him.'

'Oh, that base villain of a hostler!' said the landlady, immediately
begging pardon, and taking hold of the bridle, whilst Mr.
Schnackenberger dismounted.

'That's a good creature,' said he; 'I love you for this: and I don't
care if I take up my quarters here, which at first was not my intention.
Have you room for me?'

'Room!' answered Mrs. Sweetbread; 'ah! now there's just the whole Golden
Sow at your service; the more's the pity.'

On Mr. Jeremiah's asking the reason for this superfluity of room, she
poured out a torrent of abuse against the landlord of _The
Double-barrelled Gun_, who--not content with having at all times done
justice to his sign--had latterly succeeded, with the help of vicious
coachmen and unprincipled postilions, in drawing away her whole
business, and had at length utterly ruined the once famous inn of _The
Golden Sow_. And true it was that the apartment, into which she now
introduced her guest, showed some vestiges of ancient splendour, in the
pictures of six gigantic sows. The late landlord had been a butcher, and
had christened his inn from his practice of slaughtering a pig every
week; and the six swine, as large as life, and each bearing a separate
name, were designed to record his eminent skill in the art of fattening.

His widow, who was still in mourning for him, must certainly have
understood Mr. Schnackenberger's words, '_I love you for this_,' in a
sense very little intended by the student. For she brought up supper
herself; and, with her own hand, unarmed with spoon or other implement,
dived after and secured a little insect which was floundering about in
the soup. So much the greater was her surprise on observing, that, after
such flattering proofs of attention, her guest left the soup untouched;
and made no particular application to the other dishes--so well
harmonising with the general character of the Golden Sow. At last,
however, she explained his want of appetite into the excess of his
passion for herself; and, on that consideration, failed not to lay
before him a statement of her flourishing circumstances, and placed in
a proper light the benefits of a marriage with a woman somewhat older
than himself.

Mr. Schnackenberger, whose good-nature was infinite, occasionally
interrupted his own conversation with Juno, the great dog, who meantime
was dispatching the supper without any of her master's scruples, to
throw in a 'Yes,' or a 'No,'--a, 'Well,' or a 'So, so.' But at length
his patience gave way, and he started up--saying, 'Well: _Sufficit_:
Now--march, old witch!' This harmless expression she took in such ill
part, that, for mere peace' sake, he was obliged to lead her to the door
and shut her out: and then, undressing himself, he stepped into bed;
and, in defiance of the straw which everywhere stuck out, and a quilt of
a hundred-weight,[21] he sunk into a deep slumber under the agreeable
serenade of those clamorous outcries which Mrs. Sweetbread still kept up
on the outside of the door.

[21] The custom in North Germany is to sleep _under_ a bed as well as
_upon_ one; consequently, when this happens to be a cheap one, it cannot
be stuffed with feathers, down, &c., but with some heavier material.



CHAPTER III.

IN WHICH OUR HERO POLISHES A ROUGH-RIDER.


'Fire and furies!' exclaimed Mr. Schnackenberger, as Juno broke out into
uproarious barking about midnight: the door was opened from the outside;
and in stepped the landlady, arrayed in a night-dress that improved her
charms into a rivalry with those of her sign at the street-door;
accompanied by a fellow, who, by way of salutation, cracked an immense
hunting-whip.

'So it's here that I'm to get my own again?' cried the fellow: and
forthwith Mr. Jeremiah stepped out of bed, and hauled him up to the
light of the lamp which the landlady carried.

'Yes, Sir,' said, the rough-rider, 'it's I, sure enough;' and, to judge
by the countenance of his female conductor, every accent of his anger
was music of the spheres to her unquenchable wrath: 'I'm the man, sure
enough, whose horse you rode away with; and _that_ you'll find to be a
true bill.'

'Rode away with!' cried Mr. Jeremiah: 'Now, may the sweetest of all
thunderbolts----But, rascal, this instant what's to pay? then take thy
carrion out of the stable, and be off.' So saying, Mr. Schnackenberger
strode to the bed for his well-filled purse.

On these signs of solvency, however, the horse-dealer turned up the
gentle phasis of his character, and said, 'Nay, nay; since things are
so, why it's all right; and, in the Lord's name, keep the horse as long
as you want him.'


'Dog! in the first place, and firstly, tell me what's your demand? in
the second place, and secondly, go to the d----l.'

But whilst the rough-rider continued with low bows to decline the first
offer, being satisfied, as it seemed, with the second, the choleric Mr.
Schnackenberger cried out, 'Seize him, Juno!' And straightway Juno
leaped upon him, and executed the arrest so punctually--that the
trembling equestrian, without further regard to ceremony, made out his
charge.

Forthwith Mr. Jeremiah paid down the demand upon the table, throwing in
something extra, with the words, '_That_ for the fright.' The dealer in
horse-flesh returned him a thousand thanks; hoped for his honour's
further patronage; and then, upon being civilly assured by Mr. Jeremiah,
that if he did not in one instant _walk_ down the stairs, he would, to
his certain knowledge, have to _fly_ down them; the rough-rider, in
company with the landlady, took a rapid and polite leave of Mr.
Schnackenberger; who was too much irritated by the affront to compose
himself again to sleep.



CHAPTER IV.

HOW MR. SCHNACKENBERGER AND JUNO CONDUCT THEMSELVES WHEN THE HOUSE
BECOMES TOO HOT TO HOLD THEM.


Day was beginning to dawn, when a smoke, which forced its way through
the door, and which grew every instant thicker and more oppressive, a
second time summoned Mr. Schnackenberger from his bed. As he threw open
the door, such a volume of flames rolled in from the staircase--which
was already on fire from top to bottom--that he saw there was no time to
be lost: so he took his pipe, loaded it as quickly as possible, lighted
it from the flames of the staircase, began smoking, and then, drawing on
his pea-green coat and buckling on his sword, he put his head out of the
window to see if there were any means of escape. To leap right down upon
the pavement seemed too hazardous; and the most judicious course, it
struck him, would be to let himself down upon the Golden Sow, which was
at no great depth below his window, and from this station to give the
alarm. Even this, however, could not be reached without a leap: Mr.
Schnackenberger attempted it; and, by means of his great talents for
equilibristic exercises, he hit the mark so well, that he planted
himself in the very saddle, as it were, upon the back of this
respectable brute. Unluckily, however, there was no house opposite; and
Mrs. Sweetbread with her people slept at the back. Hence it was, that
for a very considerable space of time he was obliged to continue riding
the sign of the Golden Sow; whilst Juno, for whom he could not possibly
make room behind him, looked out of the window, and accompanied her
master's text of occasional clamours for assistance, with a very
appropriate commentary of howls.

Some Poles at length passed by: but, not understanding one word of
German--and seeing a man thus betimes in the morning mounted on the
golden sow, smoking very leisurely, and occasionally hallooing, as if
for his private amusement, they naturally took Mr. Schnackenberger for a
maniac: until, at length, the universal language of fire, which now
began to burst out of the window, threw some light upon the darkness of
their Polish understandings. Immediately they ran for assistance, which
about the same moment the alarm-bells began to summon.

However, the fire-engines arrived on the ground before the ladders:
these last were the particular objects of Mr. Jeremiah's wishes:
meantime, in default of those, and as the second best thing that could
happen, the engines played with such a well-directed stream of water
upon the window--upon the Golden Sow--and upon Mr. Jeremiah
Schnackenberger, that for one while they were severally rendered
tolerably fire-proof. When at length the ladders arrived, and the people
were on the point of applying them to the Golden Sow, he earnestly
begged that they would, first of all, attend to a case of more urgent
necessity: for himself, he was well mounted--as they saw; could assure
them that he was by no means in a combustible state; and, if they would
be so good as to be a little more parsimonious with their water, he
didn't care if he continued to pursue his morning's ride a little
longer. On the other hand, Juno at the window to the right was reduced
every moment to greater extremities, as was pretty plainly indicated by
the increasing violence of her howling.

But the people took it ill that they should be desired to rescue a
four-legged animal; and peremptorily refused.

'My good lads,' said the man upon the sow, 'for heaven's sake don't
delay any longer: one heaven, as Pfeffel observes, is over all good
creatures that are pilgrims on this earth--let their travelling coat
(which by the way is none of their own choosing) be what it may;--smooth
like yours and mine, or shaggy like Juno's.'

But all to no purpose: not Pfeffel himself _in propriâ personâ_ could
have converted them from the belief that to take any trouble about such
a brute was derogatory to the honour of the very respectable citizens of
B----.

However, when Mr. Jeremiah drew his purse-strings, and offered a golden
ducat to him that would render this service to his dog, instantly so
many were the competitors for the honour of delivering the excellent
pilgrim in the shaggy coat, that none of them would resign a ladder to
any of the rest: and thus, in this too violent zeal for her safety,
possibly Juno would have perished--but for a huge Brunswick sausage,
which, happening to go past in the mouth of a spaniel, violently
irritated the appetite of Juno, and gave her courage for the _salto
mortale_ down to the pavement.

'God bless my soul,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, to the men who stood
mourning over the golden soap-bubble that had just burst before their
eyes, 'what's to be done now?' and, without delay, he offered the ducat
to him that would instantly give chase to Juno, who had already given
chase to the sausage round the street corner, and would restore her to
him upon the spot. And such was the agitation of Mr. Schnackenberger's
mind, that for a few moments he seemed as if rising in his stirrups--and
on the point of clapping spurs to the Golden Sow for the purpose of
joining in the chase.



CHAPTER V.

FROM WHICH MAY BE DESCRIED THE OBJECT OF MR. SCHNACKENBERGER'S JOURNEY
TO B----, AND A PROSPECT OF AN INTRODUCTION TO HIGH LIFE.


Mr. Schnackenberger's consternation was, in fact, not without very
rational grounds. The case was this. Juno was an English bitch--infamous
for her voracious appetite in all the villages, far and wide, about the
university--and, indeed, in all respects, without a peer throughout the
whole country. Of course, Mr. Schnackenberger was much envied on her
account by a multitude of fellow students; and very large offers were
made him for the dog. To all such overtures, however, the young man had
turned a deaf ear for a long time, and even under the heaviest pecuniary
distresses; though he could not but acknowledge to himself that Juno
brought him nothing but trouble and vexation. For not only did this
brute (generally called the monster) make a practice of visiting other
people's kitchens, and appropriating all unguarded dainties--but she
went even to the length of disputing the title to their own property
with he-cooks and she-cooks, butchers, and butchers' wives, &c.; and
whosoever had once made acquaintance with the fore-paws of this ravenous
lady, allowed her thenceforwards, without resistance, to carry off all
sausages or hams which she might choose to sequestrate, and directly
presented a bill to her master; in which bill it commonly happened that
indemnification for the fright, if not expressly charged as one of the
items, had a blank space, however, left for its consideration beneath
the sum total. At length, matters came to that pass, that the
reimbursement of Juno's annual outrages amounted to a far larger sum
than Mr. Schnackenberger's own--not very frugal expenditure. On a day,
therefore, when Juno had made an entire clearance of the larder
appropriated to a whole establishment of day-labourers--and Mr.
Schnackenberger had, in consequence, been brought into great trouble in
the university courts, in his first moments of irritation he asked his
friend Mr. Fabian Sebastian, who had previously made him a large offer
for the dog, whether he were still disposed to take her on those terms.
'Undoubtedly,' said Mr. Sebastian--promising, at the same time, to lay
down the purchase money on that day se'nnight, upon delivery of the
article.

Delivery of the article would, no question, have been made upon the
spot, had not the vendor repented of his bargain the next moment after
it was concluded: on that account he still kept the dog in his own
possession, and endeavoured, during the week's respite, to dispose his
friend's mind to the cancelling of the contract. He, however, insisted
on the punctual fulfilment of the treaty--letter and spirit. Never had
Mr. Schnackenberger been so much disturbed in mind as at this period.
Simply with the view of chasing away the nervous horrors which possessed
his spirits, he had mounted his scare-crow and ridden abroad into the
country. A remittance, which he had lately received from home, was still
in his purse; and, said he to himself, suppose I were just to ride off
to the baths at B---- about fifteen miles distant! Nobody would know me
there; and I might at any rate keep Juno a fortnight longer! And exactly
in this way it had happened that Mr. Schnackenberger had come to B----.

At this instant, he was indebted to a lucky accident for a momentary
diversion of his thoughts from the danger which threatened him in regard
to Juno. Amongst other visitors to the baths, who were passing by at
this early hour, happened to be the Princess of * *. Her carriage drew
up at the very moment when Mr. Jeremiah, having dismounted from the sow,
was descending the ladder: with her usual gracious manner, she
congratulated the student upon his happy deliverance; and, finding that
he was a countryman of her own, she invited him to a ball which she gave
on the evening of that day, in honour of the King's birthday.

Now it must be acknowledged that a ball-room was not exactly the stage
on which Mr. Schnackenberger's habits of life had qualified him for
shining: however, the pleasure of a nearer acquaintance with the
interesting princess--held out too flattering a prospect to allow of
his declining her invitation. Just at this moment Juno returned.

Meantime the fire (occasioned probably by a spark falling from the
landlady's lamp amongst the straw under the staircase) had been
extinguished: and Mrs. Sweetbread, who had at length been roused at the
back, now made her appearance; and with many expressions of regret for
what had happened to Mr. Schnackenberger, who had entirely
re-established himself in her esteem by his gold-laden purse, and also
by what she called his 'very handsome behaviour' to the horse-dealer,
she requested that he would be pleased to step into one of her back
rooms; at the same time, offering to reinstate his clothes in wearable
condition by drying them as rapidly as possible: a necessity which was
too clamorously urgent for immediate attention--to allow of the dripping
student's rejecting her offer.



CHAPTER VI.

IN WHAT MANNER MR. JEREMIAH PREPARED HIMSELF FOR THE BALL.


As Mr. Jeremiah stood looking out of the window for the purpose of
whiling away a tedious forenoon, it first struck his mind--upon the
sight of a number of men dressed very differently from himself--that
his wardrobe would scarcely match with the festal splendour of the
_fête_ at which he was to be present in the evening. Even if it had been
possible to overlook the tarnished lustre of his coat, not much
embellished by its late watery trials upon the golden sow, yet he could
not possibly make his appearance in a surtout. He sent therefore to one
tailor after another: but all assured him that they had their hands much
too full of business to undertake the conversion of his surtout into a
dress coat against the evening; still less could they undertake to make
a new one. Just as vainly did he look about for shoes: many were on
sale; but none of them with premises spacious enough to accommodate his
very respectable feet.

All this put him into no little perplexity. True it was, that Mrs.
Sweetbread had spontaneously thrown open to his inspection the wardrobe
of her deceased husband. But even _he_ had contrived to go through this
world in shoes of considerably smaller dimensions than Mr. Jeremiah
demanded. And from a pretty large choice of coats there was not one
which he could turn to account. For, to say nothing of their being one
and all too short by a good half ell, even in the very best of them he
looked precisely as that man looks who has lately slaughtered a hog, or
as that man looks who designs to slaughter a hog.

Now, then, when all his plans for meeting the exigencies of his case had
turned out abortive, suddenly a bold idea struck him. In a sort of
inspiration he seized a pair of scissors, for the purpose of converting
with his own untutored hand of genius his pea-green surtout into a
pea-green frock. This operation having, in his own judgment, succeeded
to a marvel, he no longer hesitated to cut out a pair of ball shoes from
his neat's-leather 'field-pieces.' Whatever equipments were still
wanting could be had for money, with the exception of a shirt; and, as
to _that_, the wedding shirt of the late Mr. Sweetbread would answer the
purpose very passably.

What provoked our hero most of all were the new patent shoe-buckles, the
fine points of which would not take firm hold of the coarse leather
shoes, but on every bold step burst asunder--so that he was obliged to
keep his eye warily upon them, and in consideration of their tender
condition, to set his feet down to the ground very gently.

The hostess had just sunk pretty deep into her customary failing of
intoxication, when he went to her and asked how he looked in his gala
dress.

'Look!' said she; 'why, like a king baked in gingerbread. Ah! now, such
a man as you is the man for my money:--stout, and resolute, and active,
and a man that----'

'Basta! sufficit, my dear.'

'To be sure, for his professional merit, I mustn't say anything against
the late Mr. Sweetbread: No, nobody must say anything against _that_: he
was the man for slaughtering of swine; Oh! he slaughtered them, that it
was beautiful to see! pigs in particular, and pigs in general, were what
he understood. Ah! lord! to my dying day I shall never forget the great
sow that he presented to our gracious princess when she was at the
baths, two years come Michaelmas. Says her Highness to him, says
she,--"Master," says she, "one may see by your look that you understand
how to fatten: anybody," says she, "may see it in his face: a child may
see it by the very look on him. Ah!" says her Highness, "he's the man
for swine: he was born to converse with hogs: he's a heaven-born curer
of bacon."--Lord! Mr. Schnackenberger, you'll not believe how these
gracious words revived my very heart! The tears came into my eyes, and I
couldn't speak for joy. But, when all's said and done, what's fame?
what's glory? say I. A man like you is the man for me: but for such
another lazy old night-cap as the late Mr. Sweetbread----'

'Bah! sufficit, sweetheart;' at the same time squeezing her hand, which
she took as an intimation that she ought not to trouble herself with the
past, but rather look forward to a joyous futurity.

As the hour drew near for presenting himself in the circle of the
princess, Mr. Jeremiah recommended to her the most vigilant care of
Juno, from whom he very unwillingly separated himself in these last days
of their connection--and not until he had satisfied himself that it was
absolutely impossible to take her with him to the ball. Another
favourite, namely, his pipe, ought also, he feared, in strict propriety
to be left behind. But in the first place, 'who knows,' thought he, 'but
there may be one room reserved for such ladies and gentlemen as choose
to smoke?' And, secondly, let _that_ be as it might, he considered that
the great _meerschaum_[22] head of his pipe--over which he watched as
over the apple of his eye--could nowhere be so safely preserved as in
his own pocket: as to any protuberance that it might occasion, _that_ he
valued not at a rush. Just as little did he care for the grotesque
appearance of the mouth-piece, which in true journeyman's fashion stuck
out from the opening of his capacious pocket to a considerable distance.

[22] '_Meerschaum_:' I believe a particular kind of clay, called
'sea-spray,' from its fineness and lightness, from which the boles of
pipes are made in Turkey--often at enormous prices, and much imported
into Germany, where they are in great request. Such is the extent of
_my_ knowledge on the subject; or perhaps of my ignorance. But, in fact,
I know nothing about it.

'And now don't you go and forget some people in the midst of all this
show of powdered puppies,' cried the landlady after him.

'Ah! my darling!' said he, laughing, 'just mind Juno: have an eye to
Juno, my darling;' and for Juno's sake he suppressed the '_old witch_,'
that his lips were itching a second time to be delivered of.



CHAPTER VII.

MR. SCHNACKENBERGER IS ENAMOURED, AND OF WHOM; AND WHAT PROSPECTS OPEN
UPON HIM IN HIS PURSUIT OF 'LA BELLE PASSION.'


At the hotel of the princess, all the resources of good taste and
hospitality were called forth to give _éclat_ to the _fête_, and do
honour to the day; and by ten o'clock, a very numerous and brilliant
company had already assembled.

So much the more astounding must have been the entry of Mr. Jeremiah
Schnackenberger; who, by the way, was already familiar to the eyes of
many, from his very public entrance into the city on the preceding
evening, and to others from his morning's exhibition on the golden sow.
His eyes and his thoughts being occupied by the single image of the
fascinating hostess, of course it no more occurred to him to remark that
his self-constructed coat was detaching itself at every step from its
linings, whilst the pockets of the ci-devant surtout still displayed
their original enormity of outline--than in general it would ever have
occurred to him that the _tout ensemble_ of his costume was likely to
make, and _had_, in fact, made a very great sensation.

This very general attention to Mr. Schnackenberger, and the total
unconsciousness of this honour on the part of Mr. Schnackenberger
himself, did not escape the notice of the princess; and, at the first
opportunity, she dispatched a gentleman to draw his attention to the
indecorum of his dress--and to put him in the way of making the proper
alterations. Laughter and vexation struggled in Mr. Schnackenberger's
mind, when he became aware of the condition of his equipments: and he
very gladly accompanied the ambassador of his hostess into a private
room, where clothes and shoes were furnished him, in which he looked
like any other reasonable man. On his return to the ball-room, he lost
no time in making his acknowledgments to the princess, and explaining
the cause of his unbecoming attire. The princess, with a natural
goodness of heart and true hospitality, was anxious to do what she could
to restore her strange guest to satisfaction with himself, and to
establish him in some credit with the company: she had besides
discovered with pleasure that amidst all his absurdities, Mr.
Schnackenberger was really a man of some ability: on these several
considerations, therefore, she exerted herself to maintain a pretty long
conversation with him; which honour Mr. Jeremiah so far misinterpreted,
as to ascribe it to an interest of a very tender character. To Mr.
Schnackenberger, who had taken up the very extraordinary conceit that
his large person had some attractions about it, there could naturally be
nothing very surprising in all this: and he felt himself called upon not
to be wanting to himself, but to push his good fortune. Accordingly, he
kept constantly about the person of the princess: let her move in what
direction she would, there was Mr. Jeremiah Schnackenberger at hand
ready to bewitch her with his conversation; and, having discovered that
she was an amateur of botany, and purposed visiting a botanical garden
on the following day, he besieged her with offers of his services in the
capacity of guide.

'Possibly, when the time comes,' said the princess, aloud, 'I shall
avail myself of your goodness;' and the visible displeasure, with which
she withdrew herself from his worrying importunities, so obviously
disposed all the bystanders to smile--that Mr. Schnackenberger himself
became alive to his own _bétise_, and a blush of shame and vexation
suffused his countenance. What served at the moment greatly to
exasperate these feelings, was the behaviour of a certain Mr. Von
Pilsen--who had from the first paid uncommon attention to the very
extraordinary phenomenon presented by Mr. Schnackenberger's person--had
watched the whole course of the persecutions with which he had
distressed the princess--and at this moment seemed quite unable to set
any bounds to his laughter. In extreme dudgeon, Mr. Schnackenberger
hastened into one of the most remote apartments, and flung himself back
upon a sofa. Covering his, eyes with his hands, he saw none of the
numbers who passed by him. But the first time that he looked up, behold!
a paper was lying upon his breast. He examined it attentively; and found
the following, words written in pencil, to all appearance by a female
hand: 'We are too narrowly watched in this place. To-morrow morning
about nine o'clock! The beautiful botanic gardens will secure us a
fortunate rendezvous.'

'Aye,' said Mr. Jeremiah, 'sure enough it's from her!' He read the note
again and again: and the more unhappy he had just now been, so much the
more was he now intoxicated with his dawning felicities.



CHAPTER VIII.

IN WHICH JUNO PLAYS A PRINCIPAL PART.


The rattling of a chain through crashing glass and porcelain, which
spread alarm through the ball-room, would hardly have drawn Mr.
Schnackenberger's attention in his present condition of rapturous
elevation, had not the well-known voice of Juno reached his ears at the
same moment. He hurried after the sound--shocked, and to be shocked. The
fact was simply this: Juno had very early in the evening withdrawn
herself from the _surveillance_ of the Golden Sow, and had followed her
master's steps. Often ejected from the mansion of the princess, she had
as often returned; so that at last it was thought best to chain her up
in the garden. Unfortunately, a kitten belonging to a young female
attendant of the princess had suddenly run past; Juno made a rush after
it; the chain broke away from the woodwork of the kennel; the
panic-struck kitten retreated into the house--taking the first road
which presented: close upon the rear of the kitten pressed Juno and her
chain; close upon the rear of Juno pressed the young woman in anguish
for her kitten's life, and armed with a fly-flapper; and, the road
happening to lead into the ball-room, the whole train--pursuers and
pursued--helter-skelter fell into the quarters of the waltzers. The
kitten attempted to take up a position behind a plateau on one of the
side-boards: but from this she was immediately dislodged by Juno; and
the retreat commencing afresh right across the side-boards which were
loaded with refreshments, all went to wreck--glasses and china, all was
afloat--sherbet and lemonade, raspberry-vinegar and orgeat: and at the
very moment when Mr. Jeremiah returned, the belligerent powers dripping
with celestial nectar--having just charged up a column of dancers--were
wheeling through the door by which he had entered: and the first check
to the wrath of Juno was the seasonable arrest of her master's voice.

That the displeasure of the dancers, who had been discomposed and
besprinkled by Juno, fell entirely upon her master, was pretty evident
from their faces. Of all the parties concerned, however, none was more
irritated than the young woman; she was standing upon the stairs,
caressing and fondling her kitten, as Mr. Schnackenberger went down,
leading Juno in his pocket-handkerchief; and she let drop some such very
audible hints upon the ill-breeding and boorishness of certain pretended
gentlemen, that Mr. Schnackenberger would, without doubt, have given her
a very severe reprimand--if he had not thought it more dignified to
affect to overlook her.



CHAPTER IX.

WHICH TREATS OF EXPERIMENTS NOT VERY COMMON AT BIRTHDAY _FÊTES_.


'Now, my dears,' said Mr. Von Pilsen to a party who were helping him to
laugh at the departed Mr. Schnackenberger, 'as soon as the fellow
returns, we must get him into our party at supper.'

'Returns?' exclaimed another; 'why I should fancy he had had enough of
birthday _fêtes_ for one life.'

'You think so?' said Von Pilsen: 'so do not I. No, no, my good creature;
I flatter myself that I go upon pretty sure grounds: I saw those eyes
which he turned upon the princess on making his exit: and mind what I
say, he takes his beast home, and----comes back again. Therefore, be
sure, and get him amongst us at supper, and set the barrel abroach. I
wouldn't for all the world the monster should go away untapped.'

The words were scarce uttered, when, sure enough, the body, or 'barrel,'
of Mr. Schnackenberger did roll into the room for a second time.
Forthwith Von Pilsen and his party made up to him; and Pilsen having
first with much art laboured to efface any suspicions which might have
possessed the student's mind in consequence of his former laughter,
proceeded to thank him for the very extraordinary sport which his dog
had furnished; and protested that he must be better acquainted with
him.

'Why, as to _that_,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, 'a better acquaintance
must naturally be very agreeable to me. But, in respect to the dog, and
what you call the sport, I'm quite of another opinion; and would give
all I'm worth that it had not happened.'

'Oh! no,' they all declared; 'the _fête_ would have wanted its most
brilliant features if Mr. Schnackenberger or his dog had been absent.
No, no: without flattery he must allow them to call him the richest fund
of amusement--the brightest attraction of the evening.' But
Schnackenberger shook his head incredulously; said he wished he could
think so: but with a deep sigh he persisted in his own opinion; in which
he was the more confirmed, when he perceived that the princess, who was
now passing him to the supper-room, turned away her eyes the moment she
perceived him.

In this state of mind Mr. Jeremiah naturally, but unconsciously, lent
himself to the designs of his new acquaintances. Every glass that the
devil of mischief and of merry malice poured out, did the devil of
Schnackenberger's despair drink off; until at last the latter devil was
tolerably well drowned in wine.

About this time enter Juno again--being her second (and positively last)
appearance upon these boards. Mr. Jeremiah's new friends paid so much
homage to the promising appearance of her jaws, that they made room for
her very respectfully as she pressed up to her master. He, whose recent
excesses in wine had re-established Juno in the plenitude of her favour,
saw with approving calmness his female friend lay both her fore-paws on
the table--and appropriate all that remained on his plate, to the
extreme astonishment of all present.

'My friend,' said Mr. Jeremiah, to a footman who was on the point of
pulling away the unbidden guest, 'don't you, for God's sake, get into
any trouble. My Juno understands no jesting on these occasions: and it
might so happen that she would leave a mark of her remembrance with you,
that you would not forget so long as you lived.'

'But I suppose, Sir, you won't expect that a dog can be allowed to sup
with her Highness's company!'

'Oh! faith, Sir, credit me--the dog is a more respectable member of
society than yourself, and many a one here present: so just leave me and
my Juno unmolested. Else I may, perhaps, take the trouble to make an
example of you.'

The princess, whose attention was now drawn, made a sign to the servant
to retire; and Von Pilsen and his friends could scarcely keep down their
laughter to a well-bred key, when Mr. Schnackenberger drew his pipe from
his pocket--loaded it--lit it at one of the chandeliers over the
supper-table--and, in one minute, wrapped the whole neighbourhood in a
voluminous cloud of smoke.

As some little damper to their merriment, however, Mr. Schnackenberger
addressed a few words to them from time to time:--'You laugh,
gentlemen,' said he; 'and, doubtless, there's something or other very
amusing,--no doubt, infinitely amusing, if one could but find it out.
However, I could make your appetites for laughing vanish--aye, vanish in
one moment. For, understand me now, one word--one little word from me to
Juno, and, in two minutes, the whole room shall be as empty as if it had
been swept out with a broom. Just the first that I look at, no matter
whom, she catches by the breast--aye, just you, Sir, or you, Sir, or
you, Mr. Von Pilsen,' (fixing his eye upon him) 'if I do but say--seize
him, Juno!' The word had fled: and in the twinkling of an eye, Juno's
fore-paws, not over clean, were fixed in the elegant white silk
waistcoat of Mr. Von Pilsen.

This scene was the signal for universal uproar and alarm. Even Mr.
Jeremiah, on remarking the general rising of the company, though totally
unaware that his harmless sport had occasioned it, rose also; called the
dog off: and comforted Von Pilsen, who was half dead with fright, by
assuring him that had he but said--'Bite him, Juno!'--matters would have
ended far worse.

On Mr. Schnackenberger's standing up, his bodily equilibrium was
manifestly so much endangered, that one of the company, out of mere
humanity, offered his servant to see him safe home. A slight
consciousness of his own condition induced our hero to accept of this
offer: through some misunderstanding, however, the servant led him, not
to the Golden Sow, but to the Double-barrelled Gun.

Mr. Schnackenberger, on being asked for his number, said 'No. 5;' that
being the number of his room at the Golden Sow. He was accordingly shown
up to No. 5: and, finding a bed under an alcove, he got into it dressed
as he was; and, in one moment, had sunk into a profound slumber.



CHAPTER X.

WHICH NARRATES AN ENGAGEMENT ON UNEQUAL TERMS--FIRST FOR ONE SIDE, THEN
FOR THE OTHER.


Half an hour after came the true claimant; who, being also drunk, went
right up-stairs without troubling the waiter; and forthwith getting into
bed, laid himself right upon Mr. Jeremiah Schnackenberger.

'D----n this heavy quilt,' said the student, waking up and recollecting
the hundred-pounder of the preceding night; and, without further
ceremony, he kicked the supposed quilt into the middle of the room.

Now began war: for the 'quilt' rose up without delay; and Mr.
Schnackenberger, who had been somewhat worse handled than his opponent
by the devil of drunkenness, would doubtless have come by the worst, had
he not in his extremity ejaculated 'Juno!' whereupon she, putting aside
all selfish considerations, which at the moment had fastened her to a
leg of mutton in the kitchen, rushed up on the summons of duty, and
carried a reinforcement that speedily turned the scale of victory. The
alarm, which this hubbub created, soon brought to the field of battle
the whole population of the inn, in a very picturesque variety of
night-dresses; and the intruding guest would in all likelihood have been
kicked back to the Golden Sow; but that the word of command to the
irritated Juno, which obviously trembled on his lips, was deemed worthy
of very particular attention and respect.



CHAPTER XI.

IN WHICH UNFORTUNATE LOVE MEDITATES REVENGE.


At half-past ten on the following morning, at which time Mr.
Schnackenberger first unclosed his eyes, behold! at the foot of his bed
was sitting my hostess of the Golden Sow. 'Aye,' said she, 'I think it's
time, Sir: and it's time, I think, to let you know what it is to affront
a creditable body before all the world.'

'Nay, for God's sake, old one, what's the matter?' said Mr.
Schnackenberger, laughing and sitting bolt upright in bed.

'Old? Well, if I have a few more years on my head, I've a little more
thought _in_ it: but, perhaps, you're not altogether so thoughtless as
I've been fancying in your actings towards me poor unfortunate widow: if
that's the case, you are a base wicked man; and you deserve--'

'Why, woman, how now? Has a tarantula bit you; or what is it? Speak.'

'Speak! Aye, I'll speak; and all the world shall hear me. First of all
come you riding into my bar like a crazy man: and I, good easy creature,
let myself be wheedled, carry you meat--drink--everything--with my own
hands; sit by your side; keep you in talk the whole evening, for fear
you should be tired; and, what was my reward? "March," says you, "old
witch." Well, that passed on. At midnight I am called out of my bed--for
your sake: and the end of that job is, that along of you the Sow is half
burned down. But for all that, I say never an ill word to you. I open
the late Mr. Sweetbread's clothes-presses to you: his poor innocent
wedding-shirt you don over your great shameless body; go off; leave me
behind with a masterful dog, that takes a roast leg of mutton from off
the spit; and, when he should have been beat for it, runs off with it
into the street. You come back with the beast. Not to offend you, I say
never a word of what he has done. Off you go again: well: scarce is your
back turned, when the filthy carrion begins running my rabbits up and
down the yard; eats up all that he can catch; and never a one would have
been left to tell the tale, if the great giantical hostler (him as
blacked your shoes) hadn't ha' cudgelled him off. And after all this,
there are you hopping away at the ball wi' some painted doll--looking
babies in her eyes--quite forgetting me that has to sit up for you at
home pining and grieving: and all isn't enough, but at last you must
trot off to another inn.'

'What then,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, 'is it fact that I'm not at the
Golden Sow?'

'Charming!' said Mrs. Sweetbread; 'and so you would make believe you
don't know it; but I shall match you, or find them as will: rest you
sure of _that_.'

'Children!' said Mr. Schnackenberger to the waiter and boots, who were
listening in astonishment with the door half-open; 'of all loves, rid me
of this monster.'

'Aye, what!' said she in a voice of wrath; and put herself on the
defensive. But a word or two of abuse against the landlord of the
Double-barrelled Gun, which escaped her in her heat, irritated the men
to that degree, that in a few moments afterwards Mrs. Sweetbread was
venting her wrath in the street--to the wonder of all passers-by, who
looked after her until she vanished into the house of a well-known
attorney.

Meantime, Mr. Schnackenberger, having on inquiry learned from the waiter in
what manner he had come to the inn--and the night-scene which had followed,
was apologizing to the owner of No. 5,--when, to his great alarm the church
clock struck eleven. 'Nine,' he remembered, was the hour fixed by the
billet: and the more offence he might have given to the princess by his
absurdities over-night, of which he had some obscure recollection, so much
the more necessary was it that he should keep the appointment. The botanic
garden was two miles off: so, shutting up Juno, he ordered a horse: and in
default of boots, which, alas! existed no longer in that shape, he mounted
in silk stockings and pumps; and rode off at a hand gallop.



CHAPTER XII.

MR. SCHNACKENBERGER'S ENGAGEMENT WITH AN OLD BUTTERWOMAN.


The student was a good way advanced on his road, when he descried the
princess, attended by another lady and a gentleman approaching in an open
carriage. As soon, however, as he was near enough to be recognised by the
party in the carriage, the princess turned away her head with manifest signs
of displeasure--purely, as it appeared, to avoid noticing Mr. Jeremiah.
Scarcely, however, was the carriage past him, together with Mr. Von Pilsen,
who galloped by him in a tumult of laughter, when the ill-fate of our hero
so ordered it, that all eyes which would not notice him for his honour
should be reverted upon his disgrace. The white turnpike gate so frightened
our rider's horse, that he positively refused to pass it: neither whip nor
spur would bring him to reason. Meantime, up comes an old butterwoman.[23]
At the very moment when she was passing, the horse in his panic steps back
and deposits one of his hind legs in the basket of the butterwoman: down
comes the basket with all its eggs, rotten and sound; and down comes the old
woman, squash, into the midst of them. "Murder! Murder!" shouted the
butterwoman; and forthwith every individual thing that could command a pair
or two pair of legs ran out of the turnpike-house; the carriage of the
princess drew up, to give the ladies a distant view of Mr. Schnackenberger
engaged with the butterwoman; and Mr. Von Pilsen wheeled his horse round
into a favourable station for seeing anything the ladies might overlook.
Rage gave the old butterwoman strength; she jumped up nimbly, and seized Mr.
Schnackenberger so stoutly by the laps of his coat, that he vainly
endeavoured to extricate himself from her grasp. At this crisis, up came
Juno, and took her usual side in such disputes. But to do this with effect,
Juno found it necessary first of all to tear off the coat lap; for, the old
woman keeping such firm hold of it, how else could Juno lay her down on her
back--set her paws upon her breast--and then look up to her master, as if
asking for a certificate of having acquitted herself to his satisfaction?

[23] In the original--'eine marketenderin,' a female sutler: but I have
altered it, to save an explanation of what the old sutler was after.

To rid himself of spectators, Mr. Jeremiah willingly paid the old woman the
full amount of her demand, and then returned to the city. It disturbed him
greatly, however, that the princess should thus again have seen him under
circumstances of disgrace. Anxious desire to lay open his heart before
her--and to place himself in a more advantageous light, if not as to his
body, yet at all events as to his intellect--determined him to use his
utmost interest with her to obtain a private audience; 'at which,' thought
he, 'I can easily beg her pardon for having overslept the appointed hour.'



CHAPTER XIII.

IN WHICH GOOD LUCK AND BAD LUCK ARE DISTRIBUTED IN EQUAL PROPORTIONS.


The good luck seemed to have anticipated Mr. Schnackenberger's nearest
wishes. For on reaching the Double-barrelled Gun, whither he arrived without
further disturbance than that of the general gazing to which he was exposed
by the fragment of a coat which survived from the late engagement, a billet
was put into his hands of the following tenor: 'Come and explain this
evening, if you can explain, your astonishing neglect of this morning's
appointment. I shall be at the theatre; and shall do what I can to dismiss
my attendants.'

But bad luck came also--in the person of a lawyer. The lawyer stated that he
called on the part of the landlady of the Golden Sow, to put the question
for the last time in civil terms, 'whether Mr. Schnackenberger were prepared
to fulfil those just expectations which he had raised in her heart; or
whether she must be compelled to pursue her claims by due course of law.'

Mr. Schnackenberger was beginning to launch out with great fury upon the
shameless and barefaced impudence of such expectations: but the attorney
interrupted him; and observed with provoking coolness, 'that there was no
occasion for any warmth--no occasion in the world; that certainly Mrs.
Sweetbread could not have framed these expectations wholly out of the air:
something (and he grinned sarcastically), something, it must be supposed,
had passed: now, for instance, this wedding-shirt of the late Mr.
Sweetbread--she would hardly, I think, have resigned this to your use, Mr.
Schnackenberger, unless some engagements had preceded either in the shape of
words or of actions. However, said he, this is no part of my business: what
remains for me to do on this occasion is to present her account; and let me
add, that I am instructed to say that, if you come to a proper understanding
with her on the first point, no further notice will be taken of this last
part of my client's demand.

The unfortunate Mr. Schnackenberger considered the case most ruefully and in
awful perturbation. He perspired exceedingly. However, at length--'Come, I
don't care,' said he, 'I know what I'll do:' and then sitting down, he drew
up a paper, which he presented to Mr. Attorney; at the same time, explaining
to him that, rather than be exposed in a court of justice as a supposed
lover of Mrs. Sweetbread's, he was content to pay the monstrous charges of
her bill without applying to a magistrate for his revision: but upon this
condition only, that Mrs. Sweetbread should for herself, heirs, and
assigns, execute a general release with regard to Mr. Jeremiah
Schnackenberger's body, according to the form here drawn up by himself, and
should engage on no pretence whatever to set up any claim to him in times to
come.

The attorney took his leave for the purpose of laying this _release_ before
his client: but the landlord of the Double-barrelled Gun, to whom in
confidence Mr. Jeremiah disclosed his perilous situation, shook his head,
and said, that if the other party signed the release on the conditions
offered, it would be fortunate: as in that case, Mr. Schnackenberger would
come off on much easier terms than twenty-three other gentlemen had done,
who had all turned into the Golden Sow on different occasions, but not one
of whom had ever got clear of the Golden Sow without an expensive contest at
law. 'God bless my soul!' said Mr. Schnackenberger, who now 'funked'[24]
enormously; 'if that's the case, she might well have so much spare room to
offer me: twenty-three gentlemen! God bless my soul!'

[24] If any reader should happen not to be acquainted with this word, which,
however, is fine old English, and classical at Eton, &c.--the nearest
synonym which I remember at this moment is _Expavesco_.

At this instant, a servant brought back the shoes and clothes of Mr.
Schnackenberger's own manufacture, which had been pulled off and left at the
hotel of the princess. The student gave up the pumps and the borrowed coat
to the astonished servant, with an assurance that he would wait on her
Highness and make his personal excuses to her, on account of 'a little
accident' which had that morning befallen the coat. He then dispatched his
own coat to a quarter where something or other might be done to fit it for
this sublunary world.



CHAPTER XIV.

IN WHAT WAY MR. JEREMIAH SUPPLIES THE WANT OF HIS COAT.


The play-hour was arrived; and yet no coat was forthcoming from the tailor:
on the contrary, the tailor himself was gone to the play. The landlord of
the Double-barrelled Gun, who would readily have lent one, was off upon a
rural excursion, and not expected at home before the next morning; and the
waiter, whose assistance would not have been disdained in such a pressing
emergency, was of so spare and meagre a habit, that, in spite of furious
exertions on the part of Mr. Schnackenberger, John's coat would not let
itself be entered upon by this new tenant. In this exigency, John bethought
him of an old clothesman in the neighbourhood. There he made inquiries. But
he, alas! was out on his summer rounds with his whole magazine of clothes;
no one article being left with his wife, except a great box-coat, such as is
technically called a 'dreadnought,' for which it was presumed that no demand
could possibly arise at this season of the year.

On this report being made, to the great astonishment of the waiter, Mr.
Jeremiah said, 'Well, then, let us have the dreadnought. If the Fates
ordain that I should go to the play in the dog-days apparelled in a
dreadnought, let not me vainly think of resisting their decrees.'

'But,' said the waiter, shrugging his shoulders, 'the people----'

'The what?' said Mr. Schnackenberger: 'the _people_--was it you said; the
_people_? Pray how many people do you reckon to a man? No, Sir, do as I bid
you; just bring me the dreadnought and a round hat.'

The waiter obeyed: and, although the dreadnought was by one good ell too
short, yet Mr. Jeremiah exulted in his strange apparel, because he flattered
himself that in such a disguise he could preserve a strict incognito; with a
view to which he also left Juno behind, recommending her to the vigilant
attentions of the waiter.



CHAPTER XV.

WHICH CONTAINS A PLAY WITHIN A PLAY.


All the world was astonished, when from the door of the Double-barrelled Gun
a man stepped forth on the hottest day in August, arrayed as for a Siberian
winter in a dreadnought, guarded with furs, and a hat pressed down, so as
almost to cover his face. The train of curious persons who attended his
motions naturally grew larger at every step.

Whosoever had hitherto doubted whether this man were mad--doubted no
longer when he was seen to enter the theatre; where in the lightest
summer-clothing the heat was scarcely supportable.

Within the theatre, the attention of all people was directed so
undividedly upon himself, that even Mr. Schnackenberger began to opine
that he had undertaken something extraordinary: so much the more,
thought he, will it be prudent to hide my face, that I may not again
compromise my dignity in the presence of her Highness. But this
concealment of his face raised the strongest suspicions against him.
Throughout the whole house--pit--boxes--and galleries--there was but one
subject of conversation, viz. the man in the dreadnought; and, whilst
in all other parts the house was crowded to excess, upon his bench no
soul would sit: and he _created_ as much superfluity of room as he had
_found_ at the Golden Sow. At length the manager waited upon him, and
requested that he would either retire from the theatre, or that he would
explain what could have induced him to make his appearance in a costume
which had spread alarm and anxiety through the public mind; and which
was likely to do a serious injury to the receipts of the night.

At this moment several children began to cry--taking him for black[25]
Robert. The consequence was, that, as they could not be pacified, the
first scene was mere dumb show to the audience; and some giddy young
people set up a loud 'off, off, Dreadnought!' which cry was instantly
seconded by the public. Nevertheless, as the princess at that instant
entered her box, Mr. Schnackenberger, however hard pressed, thought it
became him to maintain his post to the last extremity. This extremity
forthwith appeared in the shape of three armed soldiers, who, on behalf
of the police, took him into custody. Possibly Mr. Jeremiah might have
shown himself less tractable to the requests of these superannuated
antiquities--but for two considerations; first, that an opportunity
might thus offer of exchanging his dreadnought for a less impressive
costume; and, secondly, that in case of his declining to accompany them,
he saw signs abroad that a generous and enlightened public did very
probably purpose to kick him out; a conjecture which was considerably
strengthened by the universal applause which attended his exit at quick
time.

[25] In the original _Knecht Rupert_. The allusion is to an old
Christmas usage of North Germany: a person comes in disguise, in the
character of an ambassador from heaven, with presents for all the young
children who are reported to him as good and obedient: but those who are
naughty he threatens and admonishes. See Coleridge's _Friend_, vol. ii.
p. 322.

Mr. Schnackenberger was escorted by an immense retinue of old
street-padders and youthful mud-larks to the city gaol. His own view of
the case was, that the public had been guilty of a row, and ought to be
arrested. But the old Mayor, who was half-deaf, comprehended not a
syllable of what he said: all his remonstrances about 'pressing
business' went for nothing: and, when he made a show of escaping upon
seeing the gloomy hole into which he was now handed, his worship
threatened him with drawing out the city guard.

From one of this respectable body, who brought him straw to lie upon,
and the wretched prison allowance of food, he learned that his
examination could not take place that day nor even the next; for the
next was a holiday, on which Mr. Mayor never did any business. On
receiving this dolorous information, Mr. Schnackenberger's first impulse
was to knock down his informant and run away: but a moment's
consideration satisfied him--that, though he might by this means escape
from his cell, he could have no chance of forcing the prison gates.



CHAPTER XVI.

IN WHAT WAY MR. JEREMIAH ESCAPES; AND WHAT HE FINDS IN THE STREET.


A most beautiful moonlight began at this juncture to throw its beams in
the prison, when Mr. Schnackenberger, starting up from his sleepless
couch, for pure rage, seized upon the iron bars of his window, and shook
them with a fervent prayer, that instead of bars it had pleased God to
put Mr. Mayor within his grasp. To his infinite astonishment, the bars
were more obedient to his wrath than could have been expected. One shake
more, and like a row of carious teeth they were all in Mr.
Schnackenberger's hand.

It may be supposed that Mr. Schnackenberger lost no time in using his
good fortune; indeed, a very slight jump would suffice to place him at
liberty. Accordingly, when the sentinel had retired to a little
distance, he flung his dreadnought out of the window--leaped upon
it--and stood without injury on the outside of the prison.

'Who goes there?' cried the alarmed sentinel, coyly approaching the spot
from which the noise issued.

'Nobody,' said the fugitive: and by way of answer to the
challenge--'Speak, or I must fire'--which tremulously issued from the
lips of the city hero, Mr. Schnackenberger, gathering up his
dreadnought to his breast, said in a hollow voice, 'Fellow, thou art a
dead man.'

Straightway the armed man fell upon his knees before him, and cried
out--'ah! gracious Sir! have mercy upon me. I am a poor wig-maker; and a
bad trade it is; and I petitioned his worship, and have done for this
many a year, to be taken into the city guard; and yesterday I passed--'

'Passed what?'

'Passed my examination, your honour:--his worship put me through the
manual exercise: and I was 'triculated into the corps. It would be a sad
thing, your honour, to lose my life the very next day after I was
'triculated.'

'Well,' said Mr. Jeremiah, who with much ado forbore laughing
immoderately, 'for this once I shall spare your life: but then
remember--not a word, no sound or syllable.'

'Not one, your honour, I vow to heaven.'

'And down upon the spot deliver me your coat, side arms, and hat.'

But the martial wig-maker protested that, being already ill of a cold,
he should, without all doubt, perish if he were to keep guard in his
shirt-sleeves.

'Well, in that case, this dreadnought will be a capital article: allow
me to prescribe it--it's an excellent sudorific.'

Necessity has no law: and so, to save his life, the city hero, after
some little struggle, submitted to this unusual exchange.

'Very good!' said Mr. Schnackenberger, as the warrior in the
dreadnought, after mounting his round hat, again shouldered his
musket:--'Now, good-night;' and so saying, he hastened off to the
residence of the Mayor.



CHAPTER XVII.

MR. JEREMIAH'S NIGHT INTERVIEW WITH THE MAYOR UPON STATE AFFAIRS.


'Saints in heaven! is this the messenger of the last day?' screamed out
a female voice, as the doorbell rang out a furious alarum--peal upon
peal--under that able performer, Mr. Jeremiah Schnackenberger. She
hastened to open the door; but, when she beheld a soldier in the state
uniform, she assured him it was all over with him; for his worship was
gone to bed; and, when _that_ was the case, he never allowed of any
disturbance without making an example.

'Aye, but I come upon state business.'

'No matter,' said the old woman, 'it's all one: when his worship sleeps,
business must sleep: that's the law, I'll assure you, and _has_ been any
time since I can think on. He always commits, at the least.'

'Very likely; but I _must_ speak to him.'

'Well, then, take the consequences on yourself,' said she: 'recollect,
you're a state soldier; you'll be brought to a court-martial; you'll be
shot.'

'Ah! well: that's _my_ concern.'

'Mighty well,' said the old woman: 'one may as well speak to the wind.
However, _I_'ll get out the way: _I_'ll not come near the hurricane. And
don't you say, I didn't warn you.'

So saying, she let him up to her master's bed-room door, and then
trotted off as fast and as far as she could.

At this moment Mr. Mayor, already wakened and discomposed by the violent
tintinnabulation, rushed out: 'What!' said he, 'am I awake? Is it a
guardsman that has this audacity?'

'No guardsman, Mr. Mayor,' said our hero; in whose face his worship was
vainly poring with the lamp to spell out the features of some one
amongst the twelve members of the state-guard; 'no guardsman, but a
gentleman that was apprehended last night at the theatre.'

'Ah!' said the Mayor, trembling in every limb, 'a prisoner, and escaped?
And perhaps has murdered the guard?--What would you have of me--me, a
poor, helpless, unfortunate man?'

And, at every word he spoke, he continued to step back towards a bell
that lay upon the table.

'_Basta_,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, taking the bell out of his hands.
'Mr. Mayor, I'm just the man in the dreadnought. And I've a question to
ask you, Mr. Mayor; and I thought it was rather long to wait until
morning; so I took the liberty of coming for an answer to-night; and I'd
think myself particularly obliged to you for it now:--Upon what
authority do you conceive yourself entitled to commit me, an innocent
man, and without a hearing, to an abominable hole of a dungeon? I have
not murdered the guard, Mr. Mayor: but I troubled him for his regimental
coat, that I might gain admittance to your worship: and I left him the
dreadnought in exchange.'

'The dreadnought?' said the Mayor. 'Aye: now this very dreadnought it
was, Sir, that compelled me (making a low bow) to issue my warrant for
your apprehension.' And it then came out, that in a list of stolen
goods recently lodged with the magistrates, a dreadnought was
particularly noticed: and Mr. Mayor having seen a man enter the theatre
in an article answering to the description, and easily identified by a
black cross embroidered upon the back, was obliged by his duty to have
him arrested; more especially as the wearer had increased the suspicion
against himself by concealing his face.

This explanation naturally reconciled Mr. Schnackenberger to the arrest:
and as to the filthy dungeon, _that_ admitted of a still simpler
apology, as it seemed that the town afforded no better.

'Why then, Mr. Mayor,--as things stand, it seems to me that in the point
of honour I ought to be satisfied: and in that case I still consider
myself your prisoner, and shall take up my quarters for this night in
your respectable mansion.'

'But no!' thought Mr. Mayor: 'better let a rogue escape, than keep a man
within my doors that may commit a murder on my body.' So he assured Mr.
Schnackenberger--that he had accounted in the most satisfactory manner
for being found in possession of the dreadnought; took down the name of
the old clothesman from whom it was hired; and lighting down his now
discharged prisoner, he declared, with a rueful attempt at smiling, that
it gave him the liveliest gratification on so disagreeable an occasion
to have made so very agreeable an acquaintance.



CHAPTER XVIII.

MISERY ACQUAINTS MR. SCHNACKENBERGER WITH STRANGE BEDFELLOWS.


When Mr. Schnackenberger returned home from his persecutions, he found
the door of the Double-barrelled Gun standing wide open: and, as he had
observed a light in his own room, he walked right up-stairs without
disturbing the sleeping waiter. But to his great astonishment, two
gigantic fellows were posted outside the door; who, upon his affirming
that he must be allowed to enter his own room, seemed in some foreign
and unintelligible language to support the negative of that proposition.
Without further scruple or regard to their menacing gestures, he pressed
forwards to the chamber door; but immediately after felt himself laid
hold of by the two fellows--one at his legs, the other at his head--and,
spite of his most indignant protests, carried down-stairs into the yard.
There he was tumbled into a little _dépôt_ for certain four-footed
animals--with whose golden representative he had so recently formed an
acquaintance no less intimate;--and, the height of the building not
allowing of his standing upright, he was disposed to look back with
sorrow to the paradise lost of his station upon the back of the quiet
animal whom he had ridden on the preceding day. Even the dungeon
appeared an elysium in comparison with his present lodgings, where he
felt the truth of the proverb brought home to him--that it is better to
be alone than in bad company.

Unfortunately, the door being fastened on the outside, there remained
nothing else for him to do than to draw people to the spot by a vehement
howling. But the swine being disturbed by this unusual outcry, and a
general uproar taking place among the inhabitants of the stye, Mr.
Schnackenberger's single voice, suffocated by rage, was over-powered by
the swinish accompaniment. Some little attention was, however, drawn to
the noise amongst those who slept near to the yard: but on the waiter's
assuring them that it was 'only a great pig who would soon be quiet,'
that the key could not be found, and no locksmith was in the way at that
time of night, the remonstrants were obliged to betake themselves to the
same remedy of patience, which by this time seemed to Mr. Jeremiah also
the sole remedy left to himself.



CHAPTER XIX.

WHOSE END RECONCILES OUR HERO WITH ITS BEGINNING.


Mr. Schnackenberger's howling had (as the waiter predicted) gradually
died away, and he was grimly meditating on his own miseries, to which
he had now lost all hope of seeing an end before daylight, when the
sudden rattling of a key at the yard door awakened flattering hopes in
his breast. It proved to be the waiter, who came to make a gaol
delivery--and on letting him out said, 'I am commissioned by the
gentlemen to secure your silence;' at the same time putting into his
hand a piece of gold.

'The d----l take your gold!' said Mr. Schnackenberger: 'is this the
practice at your house--first to abuse your guests, and then have the
audacity to offer them money?'

'Lord, protect us!' said the waiter, now examining his face, 'is it you?
but who would ever have looked for you in such a dress as this? The
gentlemen took you for one of the police. Lord! to think what a trouble
you'll have had!'

And it now came out, that a party of foreigners had pitched upon Mr.
Jeremiah's room as a convenient one for playing at hazard and some other
forbidden games; and to prevent all disturbance from the police, had
posted their servants, who spoke not a word of German, as sentinels at
the door.

'But how came you to let my room for such a purpose?'

'Because we never expected to see you to-night; we had heard that the
gentleman in the dreadnought had been taken up at the theatre, and
committed. But the gentlemen are all gone now; and the room's quite at
your service.'

Mr. Schnackenberger, however, who had lost the first part of the night's
sleep from suffering, was destined to lose the second from pleasure: for
the waiter now put into his hands the following billet: 'No doubt you
must have waited for me to no purpose in the passages of the theatre:
but alas! our firmest resolutions we have it not always in our power to
execute; and on this occasion, I found it quite impossible consistently
with decorum to separate myself from my attendants. Will you therefore
attend the hunt to-morrow morning? there I hope a better opportunity
will offer.'

It added to his happiness on this occasion that the princess had
manifestly not detected him as the man in the dreadnought.



CHAPTER XX.

IN WHICH MR. SCHNACKENBERGER ACTS UPON THE AMBITIOUS FEELINGS OF A MAN
IN OFFICE FOR AN AMIABLE PURPOSE.


Next morning, when the Provost-marshal came to fetch back the
appointments of the military wig-maker, it struck our good-natured
student that he had very probably brought the poor fellow into an
unpleasant scrape. He felt, therefore, called upon as a gentleman, to
wait upon the Mayor, and do his best to beg him off. In fact, he arrived
just in time: for all the arrangements were complete for demonstrating
to the poor wig-maker, by an _à posteriori_ line of argument, the
importance of valour in his new employment.

Mr. Schnackenberger entreated the Mayor to be lenient: courage, he said,
was not every man's business: as a wig-maker, the prisoner could have
had little practice in that virtue: the best of wigs were often made by
cowards: 'and even as a soldier,' said he, 'it's odds if there should be
such another alarm for the next hundred years.' But all in vain: his
judge was too much incensed: 'Such a scandalous dereliction of duty!'
said he; 'No, no: I must make an example of him.'

Hereupon, Mr. Jeremiah observed, that wig-makers were not the only
people who sometimes failed in the point of courage: 'Nay,' said he, 'I
have known even mayors who by no means shone in that department of duty:
and in particular, I am acquainted with some who would look exceedingly
blue, aye d----lish blue indeed, if a student whom I have the honour to
know should take it into his head to bring before the public a little
incident in which they figured, embellished with wood-cuts, representing
a retreat by forced marches towards a bell in the background.'

Mr. Mayor changed colour; and pausing a little to think, at length he
said--'Sir, you are in the right; every man has his weak moments. But
it would be unhandsome to expose them to the scoffs of the public.'

'Why, yes, upon certain conditions.'

'Which conditions I comply with,' said his worship; and forthwith he
commuted the punishment for a reprimand and a short confinement.

On these terms Mr. Schnackenberger assured him of his entire silence
with respect to all that had passed.



CHAPTER XXI.

IN WHICH THE HOPES OF TWO LOVERS ARE WRECKED AT ONCE.


'Beg your pardon, Sir, are you Mr. Schnackenberger?' said a young man to
our hero, as he was riding out of the city gate.

'Yes, Sir, I'm the man; what would you have with me?' and, at the same
time looking earnestly at him, he remembered his face amongst the
footmen on the birth-night.

'At the Forester's house--about eleven o'clock,' whispered the man
mysteriously.

'Very good,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, nodding significantly; and
forthwith, upon the wings of rapturous anticipation, he flew to the
place of rendezvous.

On riding into the Forester's court-yard, among several other open
carriages, he observed one lined with celestial blue, which, with a
strange grossness of taste, exhibited upon the cushions a medley of
hams, sausages, &c. On entering the house, he was at no loss to discover
the owner of the carriage; for in a window-seat of the bar sate the
landlady of the Golden Sow, no longer in widow's weeds, but arrayed in
colours brighter than a bed of tulips.

Mr. Schnackenberger was congratulating himself on his quarrel with her,
which he flattered himself must preclude all amicable intercourse, when
she saw him, and to his horror approached with a smiling countenance.
Some overtures towards reconciliation he saw were in the wind: but, as
these could not be listened to except on one condition, he determined to
meet her with a test question: accordingly, as she drew near, simpering
and languishing,

'Have you executed?' said he abruptly, 'Have you executed?'

'Have I what?' said Mrs. Sweetbread.

'Executed? Have you executed the release?'

'Oh! you bad man! But come now: I know----'

At this moment, however, up came some acquaintances of Mrs.
Sweetbread's, who had ridden out to see the hunt; and, whilst her
attention was for one moment drawn off to them, Mr. Schnackenberger
slipped unobserved into a parlour: it was now half-past ten by the
Forester's clock; and he resolved to wait here until the time fixed by
the princess. Whilst sitting in this situation, he heard in an adjoining
room (separated only by a slight partition) his own name often repeated:
the voice was that of Mr. Von Pilsen; loud laughter followed every
sentence; and on attending more closely, Mr. Schnackenberger perceived
that he was just terminating an account of his own adventures at the
Golden Sow, and of his consequent embroilment with the amorous landlady.
All this, however, our student would have borne with equanimity. But
next followed a disclosure which mortified his vanity in the uttermost
degree. A few words sufficed to unfold to him that Mr. Von Pilsen, in
concert with the waiter of the Double-barrelled Gun and that young
female attendant of the princess, whose kitten had been persecuted by
Juno, had framed the whole plot, and had written the letters which Mr.
Schnackenberger had ascribed to her Highness. He had scarce patience to
hear out the remainder. In some way or other, Von Pilsen had so far
mistaken our hero, as to pronounce him 'chicken-hearted:' and upon this
ground, he invited his whole audience to an evening party at the public
rooms of the Double-barrelled Gun--where he promised to play off Mr.
Schnackenberger as a glorious exhibition for this night only.

Furious with wrath, and moreover anxious to escape before Von Pilsen and
his party should see him, and know that this last forgery no less than
the others had succeeded in duping him into a punctual observance of the
appointment, Mr. Schnackenberger rushed out of the room, seized his
horse's bridle--and was just on the point of mounting, when up came his
female tormentor, Mrs. Sweetbread.

'Come, come, now,' said she, smiling in her most amiable manner; 'we
were both under a mistake yesterday morning: and both of us were too
hasty. The booby of a lad took you to the Gun, when you wanted nothing
but the Sow: you were a little "fresh," and didn't know it; and I
thought you did it on purpose. But I know better now. And here I am to
fetch you back to the Sow: so come along: and we'll forget and forgive
on both sides.'

So saying, she would have taken his arm most lovingly: but Mr.
Schnackenberger stoutly refused. He had nothing to do with her but to
pay his bill; he wanted nothing of her but his back-sword, which he had
left at the Sow; and he made a motion towards his stirrup. But Mrs.
Sweetbread laid her hand upon his arm, and asked him tenderly--if her
person were then so utterly disgusting to him that, upon thus meeting
him again by his own appointment, he had at once forgotten all his
proposals?

'Proposals! what proposals?' shrieked the persecuted student;
'Appointment! what appointment?'

'Oh, you base, low-lived villain! don't you go for to deny it, now:
didn't you offer to be reconciled? didn't you bid me to come here, that
we might settle all quietly in the forest? Aye, and we _will_ settle it:
and nothing shall ever part us more; nothing in the world; for what God
has joined----'

'Drunken old witch!' interrupted Mr. Jeremiah, now sufficiently
admonished by the brandy fumes which assailed him as to the proximate
cause of Mrs. Sweetbread's boldness; 'seek lovers elsewhere.' And
hastily turning round to shake her off, he perceived to his horror that
an immense crowd had by this time assembled behind them. In the rear,
and standing upon the steps of the Forester's house, stood Von Pilsen
and his party, convulsed with laughter; immediately below them was the
whole body of the hunters, who had called here for refreshment--upon
whose faces struggled a mixed expression of merriment and wonder: and at
the head of the whole company stood a party of butchers and butchers'
boys returning from the hunt, whose fierce looks and gestures made it
evident that they sympathized with the wrongs of Mrs. Sweetbread, the
relict of a man who had done honour to their body--and were prepared to
avenge them in any way she might choose. She, meantime, whose whole
mighty love was converted into mighty hatred by the opprobrious words
and fierce repulse of Mr. Schnackenberger, called heaven and earth, and
all present, to witness her wrongs; protested that he had himself
appointed the meeting at the Forest-house; and in confirmation drew
forth a letter.

At sight of the letter, a rattling peal of laughter from Mr. Von Pilsen
left no room to doubt, in our student's mind, from whose witty
manufactory it issued; and a rattling peal of wrath from the butchers'
boys left no room to doubt in anybody's mind what would be its
consequences. The letter was, in fact, pretty much what Mrs. Sweetbread
alleged: it contained a large and unlimited offer of Mr.
Schnackenberger's large and unlimited person; professed an ardour of
passion which could brook no delay; and entreated her to grant him an
interview for the final arrangement of all preliminaries at the
Forest-house.

Whilst this letter was reading, Mr. Schnackenberger perceived that there
was no time to be lost: no Juno, unfortunately, was present, no 'deus ex
machinâ' to turn the scale of battle, which would obviously be too
unequal, and in any result (considering the quality of the assailants)
not very glorious. So, watching his opportunity, he vaulted into his
saddle, and shot off like an arrow. Up went the roar of laughter from
Von Pilsen and the hunters: up went the roar of fury from the butchers
and their boys: in the twinkling of an eye all were giving chase;
showers of stones sang through the trees; threats of vengeance were in
his ears; butchers' dogs were at his horse's heels; butchers' curses
were on the wind; a widow's cries hung upon his flight. The hunters
joined in the pursuit; a second chase was before them; Mr. Pilsen had
furnished them a second game. Again did Mr. Schnackenberger perspire
exceedingly; once again did Mr. Schnackenberger 'funk' enormously; yet,
once again did Mr. Schnackenberger shiver at the remembrance of the
Golden Sow, and groan at the name of Sweetbread. He retained, however,
presence of mind enough to work away at his spurs incessantly; nor ever
once turned his head until he reached the city gates, which he entered
at the _pas de charge_, thanking heaven that he was better mounted than
on his first arrival at B----.



CHAPTER XXII.

IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS.


Rapidly as Mr. Schnackenberger drove through the gates, he was arrested
by the voice of the warder, who cited him to instant attendance at the
town-hall. Within the memory of man, this was the first time that any
business had been transacted on a holiday; an extraordinary sitting was
now being held; and the prisoner under examination was----Juno. 'Oh!
heaven and its mercies! when will my afflictions cease?' said the
exhausted student; 'when shall I have a respite?' Respite there could be
none at present; for the case was urgent; and, unless Juno could find
good bail, she was certain of being committed on three very serious
charges of 1. trespass; 2. assault and battery; 3. stealing in a
dwelling-house. The case was briefly this: Juno had opened so
detestable an overture of howling on her master's departure for the
forest, that the people at the Double-barrelled Gun, out of mere
consideration for the city of B----, had found it necessary to set her
at liberty; whereupon, as if the devil drove her, forthwith the brute
had gone off in search of her old young enemy the kitten, at the hotel
of the princess. She beat up the kitten's quarters again; and again she
drove in the enemy pell-mell into her camp in the kitchen. The young
mistress of the kitten, out of her wits at seeing her darling's danger,
had set down a pail of milk, in which she was washing a Brussels' veil
and a quantity of Mechlin lace belonging to the princess--and hurried
her kitten into a closet. In a moment she returned, and found--milk,
Brussels' veil, Mechlin lace, vanished--evaporated into Juno's throat,
'abiit--evasit--excessit--erupit!' only the milk-pail, upon some
punctilio of delicacy in Juno, was still there; and Juno herself stood
by, complacently licking her milky lips, and expressing a lively
satisfaction with the texture of Flanders' manufactures. The princess,
vexed at these outrages on her establishment, sent a message to the
town-council, desiring that banishment for life might be inflicted on a
dog of such revolutionary principles, whose presence (as she understood)
had raised a general consternation throughout the city of B----.

Mr. Mayor, however, had not forgotten the threatened report of a certain
retreat to a bell, illustrated by wood-cuts; and therefore, after
assuring her Highness of his readiness to serve her, he added, that
measures would be adopted to prevent similar aggressions--but that
unhappily, from peculiar circumstances connected with this case, no
further severities could be inflicted. Meantime, while this note was
writing, Juno had contrived to liberate herself from arrest.

Scarce had she been absent three minutes, when in rushed to the
town-council the eternal enemy of the Mayor--Mr. Deputy Recorder. The
large goose's liver, the largest, perhaps, that for some centuries had
been bred and born in B----, and which was destined this very night to
have solemnised the anniversary of Mrs. Deputy Recorder's birth; this
liver, and no other, had been piratically attacked, boarded, and
captured, in the very sanctuary of the kitchen, 'by that flibustier
(said he) that buccaneer--that Paul Jones of a Juno.' Dashing the tears
from his eyes, Mr. Deputy Recorder went on to perorate; 'I ask,' said
he, 'whether such a Kentucky marauder ought not to be outlawed by all
nations, and put to the ban of civilised Europe? If not'--and then Mr.
Deputy paused for effect, and struck the table with his fist--'if not,
and such principles of Jacobinism and French philosophy are to be
tolerated; then, I say, there is an end to social order and religion:
Sansculotterie, Septemberising, and red night-caps, will flourish over
once happy Europe; and the last and best of kings, and our most shining
lights, will follow into the same bottomless abyss, which has already
swallowed up (and his voice faltered)--my liver.'

'Lights and liver!' said Mr. Schnackenberger; 'I suppose you mean liver
and lights; but, lord! Mr. Recorder, what a bilious view you take of the
case! Your liver weighs too much in this matter; and where that happens,
a man's judgment is sure to be jaundiced.'

However, the council thought otherwise: Mr. Deputy's speech had produced
a deep impression; and, upon his motion, they adjudged that, in twelve
hours, Juno should be conducted to the frontiers of the city lands, and
there solemnly outlawed: after which it should be free to all citizens
of B---- to pursue her with fire and sword; and even before that period,
if she were met without a responsible guide. Mr. Schnackenberger pleaded
earnestly for an extension of the armistice; but then arose, for the
second time, with Catonic severity of aspect, Mr. Deputy Recorder; he
urged so powerfully the necessity of uncompromising principle in these
dangerous times, insisted so cogently on the false humanity of misplaced
lenity, and wound up the whole by such a pathetic array of the crimes
committed by Juno--of the sausages she had robbed, the rabbits she had
strangled, the porcelain she had fractured, the raspberry-vinegar she
had spilt, the mutton she had devoted to chops ('her own "chops,"
remember,' said Mr. Schnackenberger), the Brussels' veil, and the
Mechlin lace, which she had swallowed, the domestic harmony which she
had disturbed, the laws of the land which she had insulted and outraged,
the peace of mind which she had invaded, and, finally, (said he) 'as if
all this were not enough, the liver--the goose's liver--_my_ liver--my
unoffending liver'--('and lights,' said Mr. Schnackenberger) 'which she
has burglariously and inhumanly immolated to her brutal propensities:'
on all this Mr. Deputy executed such a bravura, and the sins of Juno
chased each other so rapidly, and assumed so scarlet a hue, that the
council instantly negatived her master's proposition; the single
dissentient voice being that of Mr. Mayor, who, with tears in his eyes,
conjured Mr. Schnackenberger not to confound the innocent with the
guilty.



CHAPTER XXIII.

IN WHICH MISFORTUNE EMPTIES HER LAST VIAL UPON THE HEAD OF MR.
SCHNACKENBERGER.


Exhausted by the misfortunes of the day, towards evening Mr. Jeremiah
was reposing at his length, and smoking in the window-seat of his room.
Solemn clouds of smoke expressed the gloomy vapours which rested on his
brain. The hours of Juno's life, it seemed to him, were numbered; every
soul in B----was her sworn foe--bipeds and quadrupeds, men, women, dogs,
cats, children, kittens, deputy-recorders, rabbits, cooks,
legs-of-mutton, to say nothing of goose-livers, sausages, haunches of
venison, and 'quilts.'--If he were to take country-lodgings for her, and
to send her out of B----, what awaited her there? Whither could she go,
but some butcher--some butterwoman--some rough-rider or other had a
private account to settle with her?--'Unhappy creature!' ejaculated the
student, 'torment of my life!'

At this moment Mr. Schnackenberger's anxious ruminations were further
enforced by the appearance of the town-crier under his window: inert as
the town-council were in giving effect to their own resolutions, on this
occasion it was clear that they viewed the matter as no joke; and were
bent on rigorously following up their sentence. For the crier proclaimed
the decree by beat of drum; explained the provisos of the twelve hours'
truce, and enjoined all good citizens, and worthy patriots, at the
expiration of that period, to put the public enemy to the sword,
wherever she should be found, and even to rise _en masse_, if that
should be necessary, for the extermination of the national robber--as
they valued their own private welfare, or the honour and dignity of the
state.

'English fiend!' said Mr. Schnackenberger, 'will nothing reclaim thee?
Now that I am rid of my German plague, must I be martyred by my English
plague?' For be it mentioned that, on our hero's return from the
council, he had received some little comfort in his afflictions from
hearing that Mrs. Sweetbread had, upon her return to B----, testified
her satisfaction with the zealous leader of the butchers' boys, by
forthwith bestowing upon him her widowed hand and heart, together with
the Sow and its appurtenances. 'English fiend!' resumed Mr.
Schnackenberger, 'most _e_dacious and _au_dacious of quadrupeds! can
nothing be done for thee? Is it impossible to save thy life?' And again
he stopped to ruminate. For her _meta_physics it was hopeless to cure;
but could nothing be done for her _physics_? At the university of X----
she had lived two years next door neighbour to the Professor of Moral
Philosophy, and had besides attended many of his lectures without any
sort of benefit to her morals, which still continued of the very worst
description. 'But could no course of medical treatment,' thought her
master, 'correct her inextinguishable voracity? Could not her pulse be
lowered? Might not her appetite, or her courage, be tamed? Would a
course of tonics be of service to her? Suppose I were to take her to
England to try the effect of her native air; would any of the great
English surgeons or physicians be able to prescribe for her effectually?
Would opium cure her? Yet there was a case of bulimy at Toulouse, where
the French surgeons caught the patient and saturated him with opium; but
it was of no use; for he ate[26] as many children after it as before.
Would Mr. Abernethy, with his blue pill and his Rufus pill, be of any
service to her? Or the acid bath--or the sulphate of zinc--or the white
oxide of bismuth?--or soda-water? For, perhaps, her liver may be
affected. But, lord! what talk I of her liver? Her liver's as sound as
mine. It's her disposition that's in fault; it's her moral principles
that are relaxed; and something must be done to brace them. Let me
consider.'

[26] This man, whose case I have read in some French Medical Memoirs,
was a desperate fellow: he cared no more for an ounce of opium, than for
a stone of beef, or half a bushel of potatoes: all three would not have
made him a breakfast. As to children, he denied in the most tranquil
manner that he ate them. ''Pon my honour,' he sometimes said, 'between
ourselves, I never _do_ eat children.' However, it was generally agreed,
that he was pædophagous, or infantivorous. Some said that he first
drowned them; whence I sometimes called him the pædobaptist. Certain it
is, that wherever he appeared, a sudden scarcity of children
prevailed.--_Note of the Translator._

At this moment a cry of 'murder, murder!' drew the student's eyes to
the street below him; and there, to afflict his heart, stood his
graceless Juno, having just upset the servant of a cook's shop, in the
very act of rifling her basket; the sound of the drum was yet ringing
through the streets; the crowd collected to hear it had not yet
withdrawn from the spot; and in this way was Juno expressing her
reverence for the proclamation of the town-council of B----.

'Fiend of perdition!' said Mr. Schnackenberger, flinging his darling
pipe at her head, in the anguish of his wrath, and hastening down to
seize her. On arriving below, however, there lay his beautiful sea-foam
pipe in fragments upon the stones; but Juno had vanished--to reappear no
more in B----.



CHAPTER XXIV.

AND SET YOU DOWN THAT IN ALEPPO ONCE--OTHELLO.


The first thing Mr. Schnackenberger did was to draw his purse-strings,
and indemnify the cook-maid. The next thing Mr. Schnackenberger did was
to go into the public-room of the Gun, call for a common pipe, and seat
himself growling in a corner.--Of all possible privileges conferred by
the laws, the very least desirable is that of being created game: Juno
was now invested with that 'painful pre-eminence;' she was solemnly
proclaimed game: and all qualified persons, _i. e._ every man, woman,
and child, were legally authorised to sink--burn--or destroy her. 'Now
then,' said Mr. Schnackenberger to himself, 'if such an event should
happen--if any kind soul should blow out the frail light of Juno's life,
in what way am I to answer the matter to her purchaser, Mr. Fabian
Sebastian?' Such were the thoughts which fumed away from the anxious
mind of Mr. Schnackenberger in surging volumes of smoke.

Together with the usual evening visitors of the public-rooms at the Gun,
were present also Mr. Von Pilsen, and his party. Inflamed with wine and
insolence, Mr. Von Pilsen began by advancing the following proposition:
That in this sublunary world there are marvellous fools. 'Upon this
hint' he spake: and 'improving' his text into a large commentary, he
passed in review various sketches from the life of Mr. Schnackenberger
in B----, not forgetting the hunting scene; and everywhere threw in such
rich embellishments and artist-like touches, that at last the room rang
with laughter.

Mr. Jeremiah alone sat moodily in his corner, and moved no muscle of his
face; so that even those, who were previously unacquainted with the
circumstances, easily divined at whose expense Mr. Von Pilsen's witty
performance proceeded.

At length Von Pilsen rose and said, 'Gentlemen, you think, perhaps,
that I am this day in the best of all possible humours. Quite the
contrary, I assure you: pure fiction--mere counterfeit mirth--put on to
disguise my private vexation; for vexed I am, and will be, that I can
find nobody on whom to exercise my right arm. Ah! what a heavenly fate
were mine, if any man would take it into his head to affront me; or if
any other man would take it into his head to think that I had affronted
him, and would come hither to demand satisfaction!' So saying, he
planted himself in a chair in the very middle of the saloon; and ever
and anon leered at Mr. Schnackenberger in so singular a manner, that no
one could fail to see at whom his shafts were pointed.

Still it seemed as if our hero had neither ears nor eyes. For he
continued doggedly to work away at his 'cloud-compelling' pipe ([Greek:
nephelêgereta Schnakenberger]), without ever looking at his challenger.

When at length he rose, everybody supposed that probably he had had
badgering enough by this time, and meant to decamp quietly. All present
were making wry faces, in order to check their bursting laughter, until
Mr. Schnackenberger were clear of the room; that done, each prepared to
give free vent to his mirth and high compliments to Mr. Von Pilsen, upon
the fine style in which he had 'done execution upon Cawdor.'
_De_camping, however, entered not into Mr. Schnackenberger's military
plans; he rather meant to _en_camp over against Von Pilsen's position:
calmly, therefore, with a leisurely motion, and _gradu militari_, did he
advance towards his witty antagonist. The latter looked somewhat paler
than usual: but, as this was no time for retreating, and he saw the
necessity of conducting the play with spirit to its _dénouement_,--he
started up, and exclaimed: 'Ah! here is the very man I was wishing for!
framed after my very heart's longing. Come, dear friend, embrace me: let
us have a fraternal hug.'

'Basta!' cried Mr. Jeremiah, attaching his shoulder, and squeezing him,
with a right hand of 'high pressure,' down into his chair--'This is a
very good story, Mr. Von Pilsen, that you have told us: and pity it were
that so good a story should want a proper termination. In future,
therefore, my Pilsen,

    When you shall these unhappy deeds relate,

be sure you do not forget the little sequel which I shall furnish: tell it
to the end, my Pilsen:

    And set you down that in Aleppo once--'

Here the whole company began to quake with the laughter of anticipation--

    'And set you down that in Aleppo once--

when a fribble--a coxcomb--a puppy dared to traduce a student from the
university of X----

    I took the circumcised dog by the nose, And smote him thus----'

at the same time breaking his pipe calmly on the very prominent nose of Mr.
Von Pilsen.

Inextinguishable laughter followed from all present: Mr. Von Pilsen quitted
the room forthwith: and next morning was sought for in vain in B----.



CHAPTER XXV.

WHICH CONTAINS A DUEL--AND A DEATH.


Scarcely had Mr. Schnackenberger withdrawn to his apartment, when a pair of
'field-pieces' were heard clattering up-stairs--such and so mighty as, among
all people that on earth do dwell, no mortal wore, himself only except, and
the student, Mr. Fabian Sebastian. Little had he thought under his evening
canopy of smoke, that Nemesis was treading so closely upon his heels.

'Sir, my brother,' began Mr. Student Fabian, 'the time is up: and here am I,
to claim my rights. Where is the dog? The money is ready: deliver the
article: and payment shall be made.'

Mr. Schnackenberger shrugged his shoulders.

'Nay, my brother, no jesting (if you please) on such serious occasions: I
demand my article.'

'What, if the article have vanished?'

'Vanished!' said Mr. Fabian; 'why then we must fight, until it comes back
again.--Sir, my brother, you have acted nefariously enough in absconding
with goods that you had sold: would you proceed to yet greater depths in
nefariousness, by now withholding from me my own article?'

So saying, Mr. Fabian paid down the purchase money in hard gold upon the
table. 'Come, now, be easy,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, 'and hear me.'

'Be easy, do you say? _That_ will I not: but hear I will, and with all my
heart, provided it be nothing unhearable--nor anything in question of my
right to the article: else, you know, come knocks.' 'Knocks!' said Jeremiah:
'and since when, I should be glad to know, has the Schnackenberger been in
the habit of taking knocks without knocking again, and paying a pretty large
per centage?'

'Ah! very likely. That's your concern. As to me, I speak only for myself and
for my article.' Hereupon Mr. Schnackenberger made him acquainted with the
circumstances, which were so unpalatable to the purchaser of 'the article,'
that he challenged Mr. Schnackenberger to single combat there and then.

'Come,' said Mr. Fabian; 'but first put up the purchase money: for I, at
least, will practise nothing that is nefarious.'

Mr. Schnackenberger did so; redeemed his sword from Mrs. Sweetbread by
settling her bill; buckled it on; and attended Mr. Fabian to the
neighbouring forest.

Being arrived at a spot suitable to their purpose, and their swords drawn,
Mr. Schnackenberger said--'Upon my word it's a shocking thing that we must
fight upon this argument: not but it's just what I have long expected.
Junonian quarrels I have had, in my time, 747; and a Junonian duel is
nothing more than I have foreseen for this last week. Yet, after all,
brother, I give you my honour that the brute is not worth a duel: for, fools
as we have been in our rivalship about her, between ourselves she is a mere
agent of the fiend, and minister of perdition, to him who is so unhappy as
to call her his.'

'Like enough, my brother; haven't a doubt you're in the right, for you know
her best: still it would be nefarious in a high degree if our blades were to
part without crossing each other. We must tilt a bit: Sir, my brother, we
must tilt. So lunge away at me; and never fear but I'll lunge as fast as
you.'

So said--so done: but scarce had Mr. Sebastian pushed his first 'carte over
the arm,' which was well parried by his antagonist, when, with a loud
outcry, in rushed Juno; and, without troubling herself about the drawn
swords, she drove right at the pit of Mr. Sebastian's stomach, knocked the
breath out of his body, the sword out of his hand, and himself upon his
back.

'Ah! my goddess, my Juno!' cried Mr. Schnackenberger; 'Nec vox hominem
sonat, oh Dea certe!'

'Nec vox hominem sonat?' said Mr. Fabian, rising: 'Faith, you're right
there; for I never heard a voice more like a brute's in my life.'

'Down then, down, Juno,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, as Juno was preparing for
a second campaign against Mr. Fabian's stomach: Mr. Fabian, on his part,
held out his hand to his brother student--saying, 'all quarrels are now
ended.' Mr. Jeremiah accepted his hand cordially. Mr. Fabian offered to
resign 'the article,' however agitating to his feelings. Mr. Jeremiah,
though no less agitated, protested he should not. 'I will, by all that's
magnanimous,' said Mr. Fabian. 'By the memory of Curtius, or whatever else
is most sacred in self-sacrifice, you shall not,' said Mr. Jeremiah. 'Hear
me, thou light of day,' said Mr. Fabian kneeling. 'Hear _me_,' interrupted
Mr. Jeremiah, kneeling also: yes, the Schnackenberger knelt, but carefully
and by circumstantial degree; for he was big and heavy as a rhinoceros, and
afraid of capsizing, and perspired freely. Mr. Fabian kneeled like a
dactyle: Mr. Jeremiah kneeled like a spondee, or rather like a molossus.
Juno, meantime, whose feelings were less affected, did not kneel at all;
but, like a tribrach, amused herself with chasing a hare which just then
crossed one of the forest ridings. A moment after was heard the report of a
fowling-piece. Bitter presentiment of the truth caused the kneeling duelists
to turn their heads at the same instant. Alas! the subject of their
high-wrought contest was no more: English Juno lay stretched in her blood!
Up started the 'dactyle;' up started the 'spondee;' out flew their swords;
curses, dactylic and spondaic, began to roll; and the gemini of the
university of X, side by side, strode after the Junonicide, who proved to be
a forester. The forester wisely retreated, before the storm, into his
cottage; from an upper window of which he read to the two coroners, in this
inquest after blood, a section of the forest-laws, which so fully justified
what he had done--that, like the reading of the English riot act, it
dispersed the gemini, both dactylic and spondaic, who now held it advisable
to pursue the matter no further.

'Sir, my brother,' said Mr. Fabian, embracing his friend over the corpse of
Juno, 'see what comes of our imitating Kotzebue's plays! Nothing but our
nefarious magnanimity was the cause of Juno's untimely end. For had we,
instead of kneeling (which by the way seemed to "punish" you a good deal),
had we, I say, vested the property in one or other of us, she, instead of
diverting her ennui by hunting, would have been trotting home by the side of
her master--and the article would have been still living.'



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE FUNERAL GAMES.


'Now then,' said Mr. Schnackenberger, entering the Double-barrelled Gun with
his friend,--'Now, waiter, let us have Rhenish and Champagne, and all other
good things with which your Gun is charged: fire off both barrels upon us:
Come, you dog, make ready--present; for we solemnise a funeral to-day:' and,
at the same time, he flung down the purchase-money of Juno upon the table.
The waiter hastened to obey his orders.

The longer the two masters of Juno drank together, the more did they
convince themselves that her death was a real blessing to herself, who had
thus obviously escaped a life of severe cudgelling, which her voracity would
have entailed upon her: 'yes,' they both exclaimed; 'a blessing to
herself--to her friends in particular--and to the public in general.'

To conclude, the price of Juno was honourably drunk up to the last farthing,
in celebration of her obsequies at this one sitting.

[Greek: Hôs hoi g'amphiepon taphon Hektoros hippodamoio.]


END OF 'MR. SCHNACKENBERGER.'



ANGLO-GERMAN DICTIONARIES.


The German dictionaries, compiled for the use of Englishmen studying that
language, are all bad enough, I doubt not, even in this year 1823; but those
of a century back are the most ludicrous books that ever mortal read:
_read_, I say, for they are well worth reading, being often as good as a
jest book. In some instances, I am convinced that the compilers (Germans
living in Germany) had a downright hoax put upon them by some facetious
Briton whom they had consulted; what is given as the English equivalent for
the German word being not seldom a pure coinage that never had any existence
out of Germany. Other instances there are, in which the words, though not of
foreign manufacture, are almost as useless to the English student as if they
were; slang-words, I mean, from the slang vocabulary, current about the
latter end of the seventeenth century. These must have been laboriously
culled from the works of Tom Brown, Sir Roger L'Estrange, Echard, Jeremy
Collier, and others, from 1660 to 1700, who were the great masters of this
_vernacular_ English (as it might emphatically be called, with a reference
to the primary[27] meaning of the word _vernacular_): and I verily believe,
that, if any part of this slang has become, or ever should become a dead
language to the English critic, his best guide to the recovery of its true
meaning will be the German dictionaries of Bailey, Arnold, &c. in their
earliest editions. By one of these, the word _Potztausend_ (a common German
oath) is translated, to the best of my remembrance, thus:--'Udzooks,
Udswiggers, Udswoggers, Bublikins, Boblikins, Splitterkins,' &c. and so on,
with a large choice of other elegant varieties. Here, I take it, our friend
the hoaxer had been at work: but the drollest example I have met with of
their slang is in the following story told to me by Mr. Coleridge. About the
year 1794, a German, recently imported into Bristol, had happened to hear of
Mrs. X., a wealthy widow. He thought it would be a good speculation to offer
himself to the lady's notice as well qualified to 'succeed' to the late Mr.
X.; and accordingly waited on the lady with that intention. Having no great
familiarity with English, he provided himself with a copy of one of the
dictionaries I have mentioned; and, on being announced to the lady, he
determined to open his proposal with this introductory sentence--Madam,
having heard that Mr. X., late your husband, is dead: but coming to the last
word 'gestorben' (dead), he was at a loss for the English equivalent; so,
hastily pulling out his dictionary (a huge 8vo.), he turned to the word
'sterben,' (to die),--and there found----; but what he found will be best
collected from the dialogue which followed, as reported by the lady:--

_German._ Madam, hahfing heard that Mein Herr X., late your man,
is----(these words he kept chiming over as if to himself, until he arrived
at No. 1 of the interpretations of 'sterben,'--when he roared out, in high
glee at his discovery)----is, dat is--has, _kicked de bucket_.

_Widow._ (With astonishment.)--'Kicked the bucket,' Sir!--what--

_German._ Ah! mein Gott!--Alway Ich make mistake: I vou'd have
said--(beginning again with the same solemnity of tone)--since dat Mein Herr
X., late your man, hav--_hopped de twig_--(which words he screamed out with
delight, certain that he had now hit the nail upon the head).

_Widow._ Upon my word, Sir, I am at a loss to understand you: 'Kicked the
bucket,' and 'hopped the twig----!'

_German._ (Perspiring with panic.) Ah, Madam! von--two--tree--ten tousand
pardon: vat sad, wicket dictionary I haaf, dat alway bring me in trouble:
but now you shall hear--(and then, recomposing himself solemnly for a third
effort, he began as before)--Madam, since I did hear, or wash hearing, dat
Mein Herr X., late your man, haaf--(with a triumphant shout) haaf, I say,
_gone to Davy's locker_----

[27] What I mean is this. Vernacular (from _verna_, a slave born in his
master's house). 1. The homely idiomatic language in opposition to any mixed
jargon, or lingua franca, spoken by an imported slave:--2. Hence, generally,
the pure mother-tongue as opposed to the same tongue corrupted by false
refinement. By vernacular English, therefore, in the primary sense, and I
mean, such homely English as is banished from books and polite conversation
to Billingsgate and Wapping.

Further he would have gone; but the widow could stand no more: this nautical
phrase, familiar to the streets of Bristol, allowed her no longer to
misunderstand his meaning; and she quitted the room in a tumult of
laughter, sending a servant to show her unfortunate suitor out of the house,
with his false friend the dictionary; whose help he might, perhaps, invoke
for the last time, on making his exit, in the curses--'Udswoggers,
Boblikins, Bublikins, Splitterkins!'

N.B. As test words for trying a _modern_ German dictionary, I will advise
the student to look for the words--_Beschwichtigen Kulisse_, and _Mansarde_.
The last is originally French, but the first is a true German word; and, on
a question arising about its etymology, at the house of a gentleman in
Edinburgh, could not be found in any one, out of five or six modern
Anglo-German dictionaries.



                                   THE END.



                         RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,

                               LONDON & BUNGAY.





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