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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 423 - Volume 17, New Series, February 7, 1852
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 423 - Volume 17, New Series, February 7, 1852" ***

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                     CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL


  No. 423.  NEW SERIES.  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1852.  PRICE 1-1/2 _d._


Three years ago, I received orders to proceed from Kurâchee to Roree
by the river route, for the purpose of joining the siege-train then
assembling for the reduction of Mooltan. Subsequent events caused my
final destination to be changed to Sukkur. Although my journey was
thus not so long as I had both expected and wished, yet I had an
opportunity of seeing some three or four hundred miles of a river that
the records of the past, and the anticipations of the future, alike
combine to render interesting, and which in itself differs in many
respects from the other rivers of India. My position in life--that of
a non-commissioned officer of the ordnance department--has prevented
me from gleaning information on the subject, either from books or
official sources; but it may be that a narration of what I merely
_saw_, will not prove altogether without interest for those who must
run while they read--who have neither time, nor perhaps inclination,
to acquire any more than a superficial knowledge of distant countries.

Having been provided with a passage in one of the steamers of the
Indus flotilla, and informed that the vessel was to start at daybreak
on the following morning, I hastened to procure the necessary
documents to authorise my obtaining ten days' sea-rations from the
commissariat department. The following was the proportion of food for
each day, and I may remark, that I received it from government gratis,
with the exception of the spirits, as I was proceeding on
field-service:--1 lb. of biscuits, 1 lb. of salt beef or pork, 1-4th
of 1 lb. of rice, 1 oz. and 2-7ths of sugar, 5-7ths of 1 oz. of tea,
and 2 drams, or about 1-4th of a bottle of arrack, 24 degrees under
proof. Having secured the provant, my mind was now perfectly at ease,
and I leisurely set about completing my arrangements for the voyage.
These consisted mainly in locking my only box, and tying up in a
cotton quilt a blanket and the thick sheet of goat's-hair-felt that
served me for a bed. It was dark before I left camp; and as I was
detained a considerable time at the _bunder_ or landing-place, waiting
for a boat to take me off to the steamer, it was late in the night
when I got on board.

The steam-boat was about the size of the largest of those that ply
above bridge on the Thames. When I had scrambled on deck, I found that
the forepart of the vessel was crowded with the bodies of natives,
every one of whom was testifying the soundness of his repose by notes
both loud and deep. Having selected the only spot where there was room
even to sit down, I began, in a somewhat high key, to warble a lively
strain calculated to cheer the drooping spirits of such of my
neighbours as had that evening undergone the pang of parting from
their friends. This proceeding soon had the effect of drawing all eyes
upon me, and, indeed, not a few of the tongues also; for the now
thoroughly awakened sleepers--with great want of taste--growled out,
at the expense both of myself and of my performance, sundry
maledictions, with a fervency peculiar to the country, until at length
I may say I was clad with curses as with a garment. At this juncture,
I took out of my provision-bag a remarkably fine piece of pork, and
began to contemplate it by the light of the moon with the critical eye
of a connoisseur. The reader is no doubt aware, that among the natives
of India the popular prejudice does not run in favour of this
wholesome article of food; and perhaps to this fact I must attribute
it that the surrounding Mussulmans and Hindoos became wondrously
polite all on a sudden, and left a wide circle vacant around me, so
that I had ample room to make down my bed; nor was I disturbed from a
hearty sleep till the morning.

At daybreak, I was aroused by the crew getting up the anchor: in a few
minutes, the head of the 'fire-boat,' as my dusky neighbours termed
it, was turned down the coast, and on we went, steaming, smoking, and
splashing, after the most orthodox fashion of fire-boats in general. I
had now time and opportunity to look around me. Every available spot
of the deck and paddle-boxes of the small, flat-bottomed iron steamer,
was crowded with as motley a set of passengers as ever sailed since
the days of Captain Noah. Sepoys returning from furlough to join their
regiments; lascars, or enlisted workmen belonging to the different
civil branches of the army; and camp-followers in all their varieties,
were everywhere squatted on their haunches, and although muffled up to
their eyes in wrappers of cotton-cloth, were all looking miserably
cold from the sharpness of the morning breeze. The crew consisted of
about twenty sailors--half of whom were Europeans, and evidently
picked hands. Under the influence of good pay, fresh provisions
without stint, sleeping all night in their hammocks, and constant
change of scene, they were as healthy-looking and good-humoured a lot
of seamen as I had ever met with. Their principal employment seemed to
be to take their turn at the wheel; and as the natives performed most
of the little work that was to be done in a vessel of this
description, carrying no sails, I presume they were entertained only
with the view of manning the two small howitzers and half-a-dozen
swivel-guns, in case our little craft should find it necessary to shew
her teeth. The remaining portion of the men were even finer specimens
of humanity than the Europeans. With the exception of two tall, bony
Scindians, they were all Seedies, or negroes, and there was not one
among them that might not have served as a model for a Hercules. Their
huge bodies presented an appearance of massiveness and immense
strength; and the enormous muscles had even more than the prominence
we find in some statues, but so seldom meet with in men of these
effeminate times. These particulars were the more easily noted, as
their style of costume, in the daytime at least, approached very
closely to nudity. But their size was as nothing to their appetites;
and deep and vasty as their internal accommodations must have been, it
remains a matter of perplexity to me to this day to determine by what
mysterious process they managed to stow away one-half of what they
devoured. I have repeatedly watched one of these overgrown animals
seat himself before a wooden trencher, some three-quarters of a yard
broad, and clear from it, as if by magic, a mess piled up to the
greatest capacity of the vessel, and consisting of rice, garnished at
the top with a couple of pounds or so of curried meat or fish; after
which, glaring around him in a hungry and dissatisfied manner,
calculated to raise unpleasant sensations in a nervous bystander, he
would sullenly catch hold of the hookah common to the party, and seek
to deaden his appetite by swallowing down long and repeated draughts
of tobacco-smoke, until the tears came into his eyes, and he was
forced to desist by a paroxysm of coughing.

Among the passengers, there were two or three persons of my own
standing, and on the quarter-deck a small group of officers, one of
whom was accompanied by his wife. The lady had certainly no reason to
grumble at the inattention of her companions. The fair sex, although
much more plentiful at the time I speak of than ten years ago, was
still rather scarce in these parts, ladies being few and far between
in the stations beyond Kurâchee. With a praiseworthy desire to make
the most of the honour, the skipper was bustling about, giving all
sorts of orders that might in any way conduce to the comfort of his
fair passenger, and apparently in a state of mental agony when a
momentary turn of the vessel would render the awning and screens
ineffectual in preserving her from a chance ray of the sun. Two young
subalterns were tumbling over one another in the anxious endeavour to
be the first to bring a footstool; a couple of their seniors were
standing by, rubbing their hands and smiling blandly, to keep their
minds in a fit state for the perpetration of a compliment on the first
possible occasion; while even the grim old major was trying very hard
to unbend: not that it was a part of his principles to be particularly
gallant to the ladies, but as he was going to a place where he might
not have the advantage of seeing any of them for some years, and would
thus run the chance of growing rusty, he thought he might as well keep
his hand in while he had the opportunity.

After running down the coast till the sun became so uncomfortably hot
as to render an awning over the whole vessel an indispensable
necessary, we suddenly struck into one of the many creeks with which
the Delta of the Indus is everywhere interlaced. The vessel did not
answer her helm well; and as the breadth of the stream did not much
exceed her length, we were for some time running ashore, first on one
bank, and then on the opposite one. However, as the banks were steep,
and composed of a mixture of sand and mud, we were not so much delayed
by these accidents as might have been expected; for after grounding
with a shock sufficient to floor any one unused to the navigation of
the Indus, the tough little craft would slide back of her own accord
into her proper element, and go ahead again as if nothing had
happened. The first time this took place, I was sent on my beam-ends,
and was not a little alarmed into the bargain; but the crew seemed to
take it as a matter of course, and in reply to my anxious inquiries as
to the extent of damage that had been occasioned, they informed me
that she had only brushed the cobwebs off her keel. On entering the
creek, we startled large flocks of wild geese and ducks; and here and
there a pair of pelicans, after gazing at us for a few seconds, would
slowly wing their way to some more sequestered stream, unprofaned by
noisy, smoky civilisation.

As we continued on our course, the landscape--a level plain, that
stretched away for miles till it met the horizon--was covered with
camels grazing upon tamarisk-bushes, which, with a few mangostans, an
occasional specimen of acanthus, and a coarse and scanty herbage, were
the only specimens of the vegetable kingdom that met our gaze. The
scene during the remainder of the afternoon was the same, the monotony
being relieved only when we stopped for half an hour to take a supply
of wood from a large pile collected on the bank for this purpose, and
thus had an opportunity of stretching our legs on _terra firma_. At
dusk, the steam-boat was run ashore, the steam blown off, and here we
were to remain for the night. The natives immediately rushed on shore,
and began preparing fires to cook their provisions. The ship's cook
had already supplied me with a cup, or rather a tin pot of tea; but as
the growing coolness of the evening, and the example of my neighbours,
rather encouraged my appetite, I resolved to make a second edition of
my evening meal, and accordingly took under my arm the copper canteen
which formed the sum-total of my culinary apparatus--the lid being my
only plate or dish--and furnished with a supply of tea, sugar, cold
meat, and biscuit, made my way to a spot a short distance off, where I
might take my food on the solitary system, according to the custom
that we Englishmen most delight in. When I had lighted the fire, and
put the water on to boil, I cast myself on the ground, and
complacently puffing away at my pipe, gazed at the wild but
picturesque scene before me. The position of the river was marked out
by a semicircle of some fifty or sixty fires, before which dark and
ill-defined figures were ever and anon flitting like phantoms; while,
in the midst, the funnel of the steam-boat loomed tall and black above
the veil of smoke that hung around--like some dark and horrid object
Of heathen idolatry surrounded by its sacrificial fires. The sounds
that met my ear, however, dispelled this somewhat fanciful idea; for
in the stillness of the night voices grow distinct, while forms are
indebted to the imagination for filling up their outlines.

The native passengers, who had remained, silent and dull, in a
constrained position during the whole of the day, felt a load taken
off their spirits as soon as they set foot on dry land; and in a trice
the silence that had hitherto reigned was broken by a very Babel of
tongues, among which could be distinguished the guttural jargon of the
Scindian, the bastard dialect of Mahratti, of the Hindoo from the
Deccan, and the ungrammatical _patois_ of Hindostani, which--although,
when exclusively used, it marked out the Mussulman--was yet the
_lingua franca_ of the whole party; but amidst the unceasing torrent
of words, little could be distinguished, save when the ear was saluted
with an outburst of nature's universal and unvaried language in the
shape of a light-hearted laugh. By and by, my attention became
directed, by an occasional shout of merriment, to a group of Seedies
clustered round a fire near me. Negroes in this country are much the
same as in other parts of the World--a happy, easily-contented race,
forgetful of the past, and careless of the future. After keeping up
their noisy confabulation for some time, they removed to a level spot
close to where I was lying: one of them squatted down on the ground,
and commenced singing to the music of a sort of tambourine, that he
beat with the flat of his hand; and the others at once formed a
circle, and commenced a rude dance, which had probably been brought
by themselves or their fathers from the shores of Eastern Africa. The
air was at first low and monotonous, the time seeming to be more
studied than any variation of the tune; but after some minutes a few
notes in a higher key were occasionally introduced, giving the music a
strangely wild and melancholy character. The dance consisted
principally of low jumps, each foot being alternately advanced in
strict time with the music. Sometimes the dancers joined hands; again
they would pass into one another's places, until they had made the
circuit of the ring; and every now and then, in going through these
movements, they would leap completely round, apparently without an
effort, but as a natural consequence of the momentum produced by the
celerity of their motions, and the weight of their huge bodies. The
whole affair was gone through in a serious and business-like manner,
unusual in the negro. How long I watched them I cannot say; but it
seemed to me as if they went on for hours without slackening the pace,
or moving one muscle of their countenances, until my eyes became heavy
with looking at them. At length, the figures appeared to grow dim, and
among them I thought I recognised faces of friends then many thousands
of miles from me, and forms that the earth had long before covered
over. A death-like chill came over me: by a sudden impulse, I rushed
forward, and awoke. With bewildered feelings, I rose on my elbow, and
gazed around. The moon had risen; her cold, clear light making every
object near me either startlingly distinct, or else a mass of dark
shade, while a deep and solemn silence reigned around. All had
vanished--the singer and the dancers--the flaming, sparkling, roaring
fires, and the noisy groups around them; and I might have imagined
that I had awaked to find myself in another world, had it not been for
the heap of black ashes beside me, and the dark outline of the
steam-boat in the distance. I arose, stiff, cold, and drowsy, and
tucking my kitchen under my arm, slowly wended my way on board.

However, there must be an end to all things; and on the third day, we
emerged from the dreary net-work of creeks, and entered into the open
Indus. The scenery still remained much the same. Here and there,
beacons were erected, but they were only of temporary use, for the
channel of the river alters almost every year. The breadth of the
stream varies with the rise of the water consequent on the melting of
the snow on the distant mountains, among which it takes its source. At
Sukkur, it is as broad as the Thames at Blackwall; and nearly two
hundred miles lower down, it is sometimes found of no greater breadth;
while in other spots it spreads into a lake some two or three miles
across, depending upon the level of the surrounding country and the
rise of the river. Scinde has been called Young Egypt, from the
general resemblance of the physical features of the two countries, and
the fact, that the existence of an only river in each is the sole
cause of an immense tract of territory being prevented from becoming
throughout a parched and unprofitable desert. In Upper Scinde, there
are very rarely more than three or four showers in the year, and the
cultivator has to depend entirely upon the overflow of the river for
the growth of his crops, in the same way as the fellah of Egypt is
saved from famine by the annual inundation of the Nile. In Fort
Bukkur, there is a gauge on which the height of the river is
registered, in a similar manner to that of the celebrated one in
Egypt; and the news of the rise or fall of a few inches, is received
by the Scindians with an eager interest, not a little strange to those
who are unaware that such petty fluctuations determine whether a
nation shall feast or starve for the next twelve months. It is
pleasing to add, that there are hopes of a change for the better in
this state of uncertainty of obtaining the necessities of life, which,
in a case like this, where so little depends upon the energy of single
members of the community, acts as a sure check upon the progress of
civilisation. Canals, excavated at a time when all India was one vast
empire, but since choked up and fallen into ruins, have been cleaned
and repaired, and new ones projected. A late order of government has
led the way to the Indus being constituted, instead of the Ganges, the
highway from Europe to the fertile and important provinces of
North-Western Hindostan. Commerce, in the pride of her prosperity,
grows nice about her roads, and she will soon take the Indus in hand,
and put a stop to its little irregularities. Mere art, perhaps, could
do but little to remove the impediments to the navigation of this
immense river. This end could only be obtained by taking advantage of
the natural causes which have made a deep channel in one part and a
shoal out a few yards lower down. Dame Nature, like dames in general,
may be easily led if we can only persuade her that she is acting of
her own accord.

On we went, steaming, and smoking, and splashing more than ever,
buffeting against the muddy-looking stream, which, however, was
sometimes too much for us, so that we were fain to take advantage of
the still waters or back-current near the banks. The river being low
at this season, we ran aground, in spite of all the care of our
Scindian pilot and the Seedic leadsman, often enough to have wrecked a
moderately-sized navy. The leadsman was a rather pompous individual,
duly impressed with the importance of his position, in having charge
of the deep-sea line, which was something short of two fathoms in
length. He was stationed at the bows, and ever and anon proclaimed
aloud the depth of water in language that he fondly believed to be
English. As we dashed along in one fathom water, he seemed perfectly
at his ease, and drew the small lead from the river, and again tossed
it before him with a studied grace, turning round occasionally, with
an air of affected indifference, to read admiration in our eyes. As
the water shoaled to four feet, his brow contracted and his motions
were quickened; when it became three feet, he hurled the lead into the
water, as the gambler dashes down his last dice; and at last, as we
grazed on the tail of a hank, it was almost with a shriek that he
yelled out, _'Doo foots_!' But our hour had not yet come; and as the
water deepened to beyond the four yards that formed the extent of his
line, he assumed his former dignified ease, and leisurely made known
that there was 'No bot-t-a-a-m!'--an announcement which, although
gratifying in one respect, was yet somewhat startling.

But we did not always escape in this manner. Not to speak of minor
mischances, on one occasion we stuck hard and fast for twenty-four
hours, in spite of every attempt to extricate ourselves. Here was a
predicament for the captain! He had received instructions to make the
greatest speed on his trip; his passengers were all burning with
impatience lest they should be too late to acquire glory and
prize-money--the prize-money at all events; the military stores on
board were urgently required at Mooltan; and, worse than all, the lady
began to pout! This was the climax of his misfortune; and the skipper,
growing desperate, swore a mighty oath that if the obstinate little
craft would not swim through the water, she should walk over the land,
and we should see who would get tired of it first. Accordingly, an
anchor was carried forward to a spot some forty yards off, where the
water was deeper; the greater part of the passengers were made to jump
overboard, without even going through the formality of walking the
plank; while the remainder manned the capstan-bars. The chain-cable
tightened, the capstan creaked, and the paddles dashed round; but we
did not stir an inch till the natives, who had been so unceremoniously
turned overboard, began to apply the pressure from without, when,
amidst shouts and yells, and curses in a dozen different languages, we
slid along the surface of the bank until we reached a deeper channel.
The outside passengers then scrambled on board, and again we darted
on; while the captain took snuff with the triumphant air of a man who
was not to be trifled with, and informed the lady confidentially that
she (the steam-boat) was not a bad little craft after all, but it did
not do to let her have her own way altogether.

Let it now suffice to say, that the amphibious steam-boat carried us
to Sukkur in rather less than three weeks--our voyage in some respects
resembling the midnight journey of the demon horseman--

    'Tramp, tramp across the land we ride;
    Splash, splash across the sea!'

Glad we were when a bend of the river shewed us the island and
picturesque fort of Bukkur, apparently blocking up all further
progress; the left bank being studded with the white bungalows of
Sukkur, half-hidden in clumps of date-trees; while the right was
clothed to the water's edge with the bright green foliage of the
gardens of Roree.


In an age of many books, there must needs be some, highly worthy of
attention, with which the general reading-public will be but
imperfectly acquainted. Though probably known to many of our readers,
we think it likely that the writings of Mr Helps are yet unknown to
many others, who might profit by the study of them, and more or less
appreciate their excellence. Under this conviction, it is proposed to
notice them in the present pages; and we have little doubt of being
able to substantiate their claims to consideration. To readers who
require of a book something more than mere amusement, or a passing
satisfaction to their curiosity; who have any regard or relish for
independent thinking--for an enlarged observation of human life--for
the results of study and experience--for practical sense and wisdom,
and a general understanding and appreciation of the varied motives,
ways, and interests of men and of society--these volumes cannot fail
to prove delightful and profitable reading.

All Mr Helps's writings have been published anonymously; and it is
only within the last two years that he has become known, out of his
own circle, to be the author. His earliest publications were, _Essays
written in the Intervals of Business_, and _An Essay on the Duties of
the Employers to the Employed_, otherwise entitled _The Claims of
Labour_. He has also published a work in two volumes under the title
of _The Conquerors of the New World and their Bondsmen_; a historical
narrative of the principal events which led to negro slavery in the
West Indies and America. But the books from his pen with which we are
best acquainted, and which have obtained the largest measure of public
attention, are a series of essays intermixed with dialogues, called
_Friends in Council_, and a supplementary volume, somewhat different
in plan, which he calls _Companions of my Solitude_.[1] As the whole
of his characteristics as an essayist are displayed with a more
perfect effect in these two latter works than in the others, and as
they will afford us as much extract as we shall have space for, we
propose to confine our remarks to them exclusively. Matter enough, and
even more than enough, will be found in them for illustrating whatever
we may find to say respecting the author's powers and attainments.

The _Friends in Council_ purports to be edited by a clergyman named
Dunsford, who was so obliging and laborious as to set down the
conversations in which he, Ellesmere (the great lawyer), and Milverton
(the author), had engaged on various occasions, when the last read to
his companions a number of short essays which he was writing. We have
a page or two of introduction, informing us of this circumstance, and
of a few other particulars needful to be mentioned; and then, after a
little talk among the friends, an essay is read, followed by the
interlocutors' comments, and a discussion of its merits. These
conversations form a very agreeable portion of the work, and exhibit a
fine mastery of dialogue. They are exactly like the discourse of
intelligent and accomplished men, and therefore very much unlike the
ordinary run of book-reported talk. A few sentences may be not unfitly
quoted, by way of exhibiting their quality. We take the following, on
so common a matter as friendship; not because it is the best we might
select, but because it seems one of the passages which is most readily

'_Ellesmere._ I suppose all of us have, at one time or other, had a
huge longing after friendship. If one could get it, it would be much
safer than that other thing.

'_Milverton._ Well, I wonder whether love--for I imagine you mean
love--was ever so described before, "that other thing!"

'_Elles._ When the world was younger, perhaps there was more of this
friendship. David and Jonathan!--How does their friendship begin? I
know it is very beautiful; but I have forgotten the words. Dunsford
will tell us.

'_Dunsford._ "And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young
man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the
Bethlehemite. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking
unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David,
and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."

'_Elles._ Now that men are more complex, they would require so much.
For instance, if I were to have a friend, he must be an
uncommunicative man: that limits me to about thirteen or fourteen
people in the world. It is only with a man of perfect reticence that
you can speak completely without reserve. We talk together far more
openly than most people; but there is a skilful fencing even in our
talk. We are not inclined to say the whole of what we think.

'_Mil._. What I should need in a friend would be a certain breadth of
nature: I have no sympathy with people who can disturb themselves
about small things; who crave the world's good opinion; are anxious to
prove themselves always in the right; can be immersed in personal talk
or devoted to self-advancement; who seem to have grown up entirely
from the _earth_, whereas even the plants draw most of their
sustenance from the air of heaven.

'_Elles._ That is a high flight. I am not prepared to say all that. I
do not object to a little earthiness. What I should fear in friendship
is the comment, and interference, and talebearing, I often see
connected with it.

'_Mil._ That does not particularly belong to friendship, but comes
under the general head of injudicious comment on the part of those who
live with us. Divines often remind us, that in forming our ideas of
the government of Providence, we should recollect that we see only a
fragment. The same observation, in its degree, is true too as regards
human conduct. We see a little bit here and there, and assume the
nature of the whole. Even a very silly man's actions are often more to
the purpose than his friend's comments upon them.

'_Elles._ True! Then I should not like to have a man for a friend who
would bind me down to be consistent, who would form a minute theory of
me which was not to be contradicted.

'_Mil._ If he loved you as his own soul, and his soul were knit with
yours--to use the words of Scripture--he would not demand this
consistency, because each man must know and feel his own immeasurable
vacillation and inconsistency; and if he had complete sympathy with
another, he would not be greatly surprised or vexed at that other's

'_Duns._ There always seems to me a want of tenderness in what are
called friendships in the present day. Now, for instance, I don't
understand a man ridiculing his friend. The joking of intimates often
appears to me coarse and harsh. You will laugh at this in me, and
think it rather effeminate, I am afraid.

'_Mil._ No; I do not. I think a great deal of jocose raillery may pass
between intimates without the requisite tenderness being infringed
upon. If any friend had been in a painful and ludicrous position (such
as when Cardinal Balue in full dress is run away with on horseback,
which Scott comments upon as one of a class of situations combining
"pain, peril, and absurdity"), I would not remind him of it. Why
should I bring back a disagreeable impression to his mind? Besides, it
would be more painful than ludicrous to me. I should enter into his
feelings rather than into those of the ordinary spectator.

'_Duns._ I am glad we are of the same mind in this.

'_Mil._ I have also a notion that, even in the common friendships of
the world, we should be very stanch defenders of our absent friends.
Supposing that our friend's character or conduct is justly attacked in
our hearing upon some point, we should be careful to let the light and
worth of the rest of his character in upon the company, so that they
should go away with something of the impression that we have of him;
instead of suffering them to dwell only upon this fault or foible that
was commented upon, which was as nothing against him in our
hearts--mere fringe to the character, which we were accustomed to, and
rather liked than otherwise, if the truth must be told.

'_Elles._ I declare we have made out amongst us an essay on
friendship, without the fuss of writing one. I always told you our
talk was better than your writing, Milverton. Now, we only want a
beginning and ending to this peripatetic essay. What would you say to
this as a beginning?--it is to be a stately, pompous plunge into the
subject, after the Milverton fashion:--"Friendship and the Phoenix,
taking into due account the fire-office of that name, have been found
upon the earth in not unsimilar abundance." I flatter myself that "not
unsimilar abundance" is eminently Milvertonian.

'_Mil._ Now observe, Dunsford, you were speaking sometime ago about
the joking of intimates being frequently unkind. This is just an
instance to the contrary. Ellesmere, who is not a bad fellow--at least
not so bad as he seems--knows that he can say anything he pleases
about my style of writing without much annoying me. I am not very
vulnerable on these points; but all the while there is a titillating
pleasure to him in being all but impertinent and vexatious to a
friend. And he enjoys that. So do I.'

This certainly reads like free and natural conversation, besides being
noteworthy for the suggestions it contains.

Mr Helps is strictly an original writer, in the sense of thinking for
himself; but at the same time, one of his excellences consists in an
adroit and novel use of commonplaces. There is, indeed, as much
originality in putting a new face upon old verities, as in producing
new ones from the mint of one's invention. As Emerson has remarked,
valuable originality does not consist in mere novelty or unlikeness to
other men, but in range and extent of grasp and insight. This is a
fact, too, which Mr Helps has noted. 'A suggestion,' says he, 'may be
ever so old; but it is not exhausted until it is acted upon, or
rejected on sufficient reason.' He has, therefore, no fastidious dread
of saying anything which has been said before, but readily welcomes
wise thoughts from all directions, often reproducing them with such
felicity of expression, as to give them new effect. Thus, in all the
elements of a profitable originality, he is rich and generous; and
from few books of modern times could so large a store of aphorisms,
fine sayings, and admirable observations be selected. We have marked a
great many more than can be incorporated in the present paper; but
some few may be, nevertheless, presented. Here, for instance, is a
fine remark on time--next to love, the most hackneyed subject in the
world:--'Men seldom feel as if they were bounded as to time: they
think they can afford to throw away a great deal of that commodity;
_thus shewing unconsciously in their trifling the sense that they have
of their immortality_.' On another familiar topic--human progress--he
writes thus:--'The progress of mankind is like the incoming of the
tide, which, from any given moment, is almost as much of a retreat as
an advance, but still the tide moves on.' Emerson has used the same
figure, but in a passage which ought not to be regarded as impairing
our author's originality.

On the vexed and perplexing question of _Evil_, Mr Helps has said many
acute and consolatory things, from among which we have culled the
following sentences:--'The man who is satisfied with any given state
of things that we are likely to see on earth, must have a creeping
imagination: on the other hand, he who is oppressed by the evils
around him so as to stand gaping at them in horror, has a feeble will
and a want of practical power, and allows his fancy to come in, like
too much wavering light upon his work, so that he does not see to go
on with it. A man of sagacity, while he apprehends a great deal of the
evil around him, resolves what part of it he will be blind to for the
present, in order to deal best with what he has in hand; and as to men
of any genius, they are not imprisoned or rendered partial even by
their own experience of evil, much less are their attacks upon it
paralysed by their full consciousness of its large presence.'
Here, in the next place, is an aphorism worth pondering and
remembrance:--'Vague injurious reports are no men's lies, but all
men's carelessness.' And by the side of it we may place a pleasant
sarcasm attributed to Ellesmere, and apparently intended as a reminder
for stump-orators: 'How exactly proportioned to a man's ignorance of
the subject is the noise he makes about it at a public meeting.' Not
altogether out of connection here may be this brief sentence:--'Next
to the folly of doing a bad thing, is that of fearing to undo it.' In
the following, we have a brief sufficient argument against the
indulgence of unavailing sorrow or anxiety:--'It has always appeared
to me, that there is so much to be done in this world, that all
self-inflicted suffering which cannot be turned to good account for
others, is a loss--a loss, if you may so express it, to the spiritual
world.' There is plain truth, too, in the next, though it is not
likely to be much remembered by those who are most in need of it:--'An
ill-tempered man often has everything his own way, and seems very
triumphant; but the demon he cherishes, tears him as well as awes
other people.' In another place, and from another point of view, he
indicates the admirable benefits of human, sympathy. 'Often,' says he,
'all that a man wants in order to accomplish something that is good
for him to do, is the encouragement of another man's sympathy. What
Bacon says the voice of the man is to the dog--the encouragement of a
higher nature--each man can in a lesser degree afford his neighbour;
for a man receives the suggestions of another mind with somewhat of
the respect and courtesy with which he would greet a higher nature.'
Speaking with reference to the pursuits of men of literary and
artistic genius, it is written: 'Almost any worldly state in which a
man can be placed is a hinderance to him, if he have other than mere
worldly things to do. Poverty, wealth, many duties, or many affairs,
distract and confuse him.' One sentence more is all that can be added
here; and if it seems to be suggested by an aphorism of Bacon, it is
equal to it in pith and penetration:--'Every _felicity_, as well as
wife and children, is a hostage to fortune.'

These sentences have been gathered chiefly from _Friends in Council_,
though a few of them are taken from _Companions of my Solitude_. The
two books are informed with the same spirit; and to a meditative
person, one could not recommend a choicer store of reading. Those,
however, to whom the works are as yet unknown, may wish to see some
longer and more connected extract. It is difficult to decide upon what
ought to be presented, where almost everything is exquisite; yet as a
choice must be made, we will take some sentences from an essay on
'Despair,' wherein the writer offers a few remedial suggestions
against the burden of remorse:--

'To have erred in one branch of our duties, does not unfit us for the
performance of all the rest, unless we suffer the dark spot to spread
over our whole nature, which may happen almost unobserved in the
torpor of despair. This kind of despair is chiefly grounded on a
foolish belief that individual words or actions constitute the whole
life of man; whereas they are often not fair representatives of
portions even of that life. The fragments of rock in a mountain stream
may tell much of its history, are, in fact, results of its doings, but
they are not the stream. They were brought down when it was turbid; it
may now be clear: they are as much the result of other circumstances
as of the action of the stream: their history is fitful: they give us
no sure intelligence of the future course of the stream, or of the
nature of its waters; and may scarcely shew more than that it has not
been always as it is. The actions of men are often but little better
indications of the men themselves....

'There is frequently much selfishness about remorse. Put what has been
done at the worst. Let a man see his own evil word or deed in full
light, and own it to be black as hell itself. He is still here. He
cannot be isolated. There still remain for him cares and duties; and
therefore hopes. Let him not in imagination link all creation to his
fate. Let him yet live in the welfare of others, and, if it may be so,
work out his own in this way; if not, be content with theirs. The
saddest cause of remorseful despair is when a man does something
expressly contrary to his character--when an honourable man, for
instance, slides into some dishonourable action; or a tender-hearted
man falls into cruelty from carelessness; or, as often happens, a
sensitive nature continues to give the greatest pain to others' from
temper, feeling all the time perhaps more deeply than the persons
aggrieved. All these cases may be summed up in the words, "That which
I would not, that I do"--the saddest of all human confessions, made
by one of the greatest men. However, the evil cannot be mended by
despair. Hope and humility are the only supports under this burden.'

As our space presses, the passages we give must necessarily be short.
The beauty of the few sentences following will not be disputed. They
are taken from a 'Chapter of Consolations' in _Companions of my
Solitude_, and will serve to exhibit our author's style under one of
its more animated aspects:--

'Lastly, there is to be said of all suffering--that it is experience.
I have forgotten in whose life it is to be found, but there is some
man who went out of his way to provide himself with every form of
human misery which he could get at. I do not myself see any occasion
for any man's going out of the way to provide misfortune for himself.
Like an eminent physician, he might stay at home, and find almost
every form of human misery knocking at his door. But still I
understand what this chivalrous inquirer meant, who sought to taste
all suffering for the sake of the experience it would give him.

'There is this admirable commonplace, too, which, from long habit of
being introduced in such discourses, wishes to come in before I
conclude--namely, that infelicities of various kinds belong to the
state here below. Who are we that we should not take our share? See
the slight amount of personal happiness requisite to go on with. In
noisome dungeons, subject to studied tortures, in abject and shifty
poverty, after consummate shame, upon tremendous change of fortune, in
the profoundest desolation of mind and soul, in forced companionship
with all that is unlovely and uncongenial--men, persevering nobly,
live on, and live through all. The mind, like water, passes through
all states, till it shall be united to what it is ever seeking. The
very loneliness of man here is the greatest proof, to my mind, of a

One of the things that strikes us most in these essays, is the
author's wise moderation of statement, his habit of looking at all
phases of a question, and of saying something appropriate on each. We
believe he makes Ellesmere observe somewhere, that moral essays
commonly require another essay from the opposite point of view to
temper and qualify their meaning. This requirement has been closely
kept in mind. There is no undue vehemence, no straining of favourite
points, no clap-trap rhetoric or elaborate phrase-makings; but
everything is clear, judicious, well considered, and conscientiously
set forth. The man does not write for the sake of writing, but because
his soul is full of thoughts, and his remembrances charged with the
wholesome lessons of experience. The thoughts generally are less
remarkable for their depth than for their _breadth_--a free and
unembarrassed all-sidedness, which is, perhaps, one of the most
difficult of all attainments in the way of writing. There is a mild
meditative wisdom in his utterances which can have been derived only
through a large acquaintance with life and society; with the manifold
diversities of motive and aspiration by which men are actuated; with
everything, in short, that interests, degrades, or elevates humanity.
Only from an extensive quarry of experience could this strong and
graceful pillar of wit, sagacity, and judgment, have been built up.
From this, too, has been acquired that broad liberality of opinion
which must be welcome to every candid mind--the enlarged tolerance,
and generous appreciation of all degrees of difference in men's ways
of thinking and of acting, which is one of the most pleasing and most
distinctive characteristics of these writings. Often, in reading, we
are inclined to say, here is one of the best-balanced souls in
England--a finely-gifted and highly-cultivated man, to whom the pains
and difficulties, the joys, the sorrows, the ambitions, and
shortcomings of his race, are all familiar; who has felt them all,
seen the good and evil of them all, and, with a calm deliberation, can
testify at last, that the great Power of the Universe has so
constrained and ordered the uncertainties and perils of our lot, as
not only to reconcile all its apparent contradictions with the ends of
moral discipline and benefit, but to make even the darkness of
calamity flash rays of brightness and of hope. Thus, along with an
enlarged knowledge of men and things, he gives us the wisest counsel
about our conduct and proceedings in the world, and also the most
encouraging conclusions with regard to our final destiny and


[1] 1. _Friends in Council: a Series of Headings and Discourse
thereon_. New Edition. Two vols. 2. _Companions of my Solitude_.
Pickering. London: 1851.


We inscribe at the head of this paper the popular name of a class of
beings, which, though simple in their organisation, are full of
interest to the zoologist, and attractive to the common observer from
the singularity or beauty of their forms, and, in many cases, the
brilliancy of their colouring. The ocean, throughout its wide extent,
swarms with myriads of gelatinous creatures--some microscopic, some of
large dimensions--which deck it with the gayest colours by day, and at
night light up its dreary waste with 'mimic fires,' and make it glow
and sparkle as if, like the heavens, it had its galaxies and
constellations. These are the jelly-fishes, or sea-nettles
(_Acalephæ_), as they are often called, from the stinging properties
with which some of them are endowed. The commoner forms are well
known, for the beach is often strewn with the carcasses of the larger
species. On fine days in summer and autumn, whole fleets of these
strange voyagers appear off our coasts. Their umbrella-shaped,
transparent disks float gracefully through the calm water, and their
long fishing-lines trail after them as they move onward. At times,
multitudes, almost invisible to the naked eye, tenant every wave, and
give it by night a crest of flame; while other kinds measure as much
as a yard in diameter. The _Acalephæ_ present the greatest variety of
form and colour, as well as of size, but they are all of the most
delicate structure, frail, gelatinous, transparent. Some are so
perfectly colourless, that their presence can with difficulty be
detected in the water.

The following description, by Professor E. Forbes, applies to a large
proportion of the species:--'They are active in their habits, graceful
in their motions, gay in their colouring, delicate as the finest
membrane, transparent as the purest crystal.' The poet Crabbe has
characterised them well in the following passage:--

    'Those living jellies which the flesh inflame,
    Fierce as a nettle, and from that the name;
    Some in huge masses, some that you might bring
    In the small compass of a lady's ring;
    Figured by hand divine--there's not a gem
    Wrought by man's art to be compared to them;
    Soft, brilliant, tender, through the wave they glow,
    And make the moonbeam brighter where they flow.'

The first thing that arrests our attention in these creatures is the
extreme delicacy and tenuity of their substance. The jelly-fish is
chiefly made up of fluid. A quantity of water and a thin membranaceous
film, these are its chief component parts. Professor Owen has
ascertained that a large individual, weighing two pounds, when removed
from the sea, will be represented, when the fluid which it contains is
drained off, 'by a thin film of membrane not exceeding thirty grams in
weight.' Naturalists have commonly described the jelly-fish as being
little more than 'coagulated water' and the description is correct.

And yet these masses of film and fluid, floating at the mercy of wind
and wave, possess powers which we should hardly associate with so
simple a structure, and can accomplish works of which we should little
suspect them. Delicate and defenceless as they appear, they can
capture fishes of large size, and digest them with ease and rapidity.
Some of them are in truth formidable monsters. Professor E. Forbes
gives the following humorous description of the destructive
propensities of some medusæ which he had captured in the Zetland
seas:--'Being kept,' he says, 'in a jar of salt-water with small
crustacea, they devoured these animals, so much more highly organised
than themselves, voraciously; apparently enjoying the destruction of
the unfortunate members of the upper classes with a truly democratic
relish. One of them even attacked and commenced the swallowing of a
_Lizzia octopunctata_, quite as good a medusa as itself. An animal
which can pout out its mouth twice the length of its body, and stretch
its stomach to corresponding dimensions, must indeed be "a triton
among the minnows;" and a very terrific one too. Yet is this ferocious
creature one of the most delicate and graceful of the inhabitants of
the ocean--a very model of tenderness and elegance.'

The jelly-fishes are all, in their adult state, locomotive beings.
They float freely and incessantly through the ocean, either impelled
by their own efforts, or driven by storm and billow. They for the most
part frequent the open seas, and shun the shore, their delicate frames
being endangered by the perennial strife between land and water. Being
designed for constant motion, for the navigation of the great waters,
their entire organisation is adapted to such a mode of life. We find
amongst those ocean-floaters the greatest perfection and variety of
locomotive apparatus; and they have been divided into sections,
according to the modifications of this portion of structure which they
exhibit. We shall endeavour to give a popular account of the leading
peculiarities of each, and note the most interesting points in the
history of the tribe.

In the first section, the animals are furnished with a disk or
umbrella of varying shape, which serves as a float, beneath which hang
certain processes connected with the functions of prehension and
digestion. In this division are included some of the best-known forms.
The creature, in this case, propels itself by the alternate
contraction and expansion of its disk, thus striking the water, and
driving itself forward. These movements take place at regular
intervals, and serve a double purpose. They not only propel, but at
the same time drive the water over the lower surface of the disk. Here
is situated a complicated net-work of vessels, and the fluids of the
body are thus exposed to the influence of oxygen, and receive the
needed aeration. The stroke of the disk, therefore, is not only a
locomotive, but also a respiratory act. The jelly-fishes of this
section move as they breathe, and breathe as they move. Hence the name
which has been given them--_Pulmonigrades_. We find the same admirable
economy of resources amongst the lower animalcules. The cilia which
propel them secure the aeration of the system.

It is evident that the motive apparatus in this section of the
_Acalephæ_ is but a feeble one. It only avails in calm weather. When
the sea is agitated, the jelly-fish is driven helplessly along. It
cannot choose its path. As its food, however, is everywhere abundant
around it, and it has no business that should lead it in one direction
more than another, there is no great hardship in this.

In this section are included some of the most beautiful, as well as
common of the tribe. The forms of the umbrella are often most lovely,
and present an astonishing variety. As an example of the beauty which
they sometimes display, we may refer to a species which resembles an
exquisitely formed glass-shade, ornamented with a waved and tinted
fringe. The most perfect grace of form, the transparency of the
crystal, and colour as delicate as that of the flower, combine to
render this frail being one of the loveliest of living things.

In another section, locomotion is effected by a modification of
ciliary apparatus. We have a familiar example in the _Beroe_ of our
own seas, a most attractive little being, and a prime favourite with
naturalists, who have described its habits and celebrated its beauty
with enthusiasm. We shall not soon forget the delight with which we
first made acquaintance with this graceful little rover. While
rambling along the shore in quest of marine animals, our attention was
arrested by a drop of the clearest jelly, as it seemed to be, lying on
a mass of rock, from which the tide had but just receded. On
transferring it to a phial of sea-water, its true nature was at once
revealed to us. A globular body floated gracefully in the vessel,
scarcely less transparent than the fluid which filled it. Presently it
began to move up and down within its prison-house, and the paddles by
means of which the beroe dances along its ocean-path were distinctly
visible. These paddles are nothing more or less than cilia of a
peculiar kind, ranged in eight bands upon the surface of the body.
They are set in motion at the will of the animal, and their incessant
strokes propel it swiftly through the water. By stopping some of its
paddles, and keeping others in play, the beroe can change its course
at pleasure, and so wander 'at its own sweet will,' through the
trackless waste. Beauty waits upon the course of this little crystal
globe. The grace and sprightliness of its movements must strike the
commonest observer. As the sunlight falls upon its cilia, they are
'tinted with the most lovely iridescent colours;' and at night they
flash forth phosphoric light, as though the little creature were
giving a saucy challenge to the stars.

The beroe is a most active being, its habits conforming to the
organisation with which it is endowed. Such an array of paddles
prophesies of a mercurial temperament and an energetic character. It
can, however, anchor itself and lie by when occasion offers. It is
provided with two long cables, prettily set with spiral filaments or
tendrils, by means of which it can make fast to any point. When not in
use, it can retract them, and stow them away in two _sacs_ or pouches
within the body, where they may be seen coiled up, through the
transparent walls. The mouth is a simple opening at one pole of the
globular body. No arms are needed. The beroe is spared the labour and
uncertainty of the chase. As it dances gaily along, streams of water,
bearing nutritive particles, pass through the orifice into its

In this creature, as in many of the lower animals, there is a
remarkable power of retaining vitality after the most serious
injuries; nay, in portions actually severed from the body, it will
continue for some time. Mr Patterson, in his excellent _Introduction
to Zoology_, mentions that on one occasion he divided a fragment of
the body of a beroe, lately taken from the shore and shattered by a
storm, 'into portions so minute that one piece of skin had but two
cilia attached to it, yet the vibration of these organs continued for
nearly a couple of days afterwards!' But we must leave the beroe,
charmer though it be.

Another member of this section--the _Ciliograde acalephæ_, as they are
called--is the Girdle of Venus, which resembles a ribbon in form, and
is sometimes five or six feet in length, covered with cilia, and
brilliantly phosphorescent. This must be one of the most beautiful of
the _fireworks_ of the ocean.

The jelly-fishes of another section are furnished with one or more
air-bags, which assist them in swimming, and hence bear the name of
_hydrostatic acalephæ_. In the Portuguese man-of-war (_Physalia_), the
bag is large, and floats conspicuously on the surface of the water.
From the top of it rises a purple crest, which acts as a sail, and by
its aid the little voyager scuds gaily before the wind. But should
danger threaten--should some hungry, piratical monster in quest of a
dinner heave in sight, or the blast grow furious--the float is at once
compressed, through two minute orifices at the extremities a portion
of the air escapes, and down goes the little craft to the tranquil
depths, leaving the storm or the pirate behind. In one species
(_Cuvieria_), the floats are numerous and prettily ranged round the
margin of the body. Resting on these, the creature casts about its
long fishing-lines, and arrests the passing prey.

One more section remains to be noticed. The jelly-fishes which belong
to it have a rudimentary skeleton--a plate which supports the soft,
circular body. From the lower part of the body hang numerous tentacles
(_cirri_), amidst which the mouth is placed. Probably these
multitudinous arms assist in locomotion; and, hence the name of the
family, _Cirrigrades_. Amongst the creatures of this division we meet
with some very interesting locomotive apparatus. There are some of
them by no means obliged to trust to their oars alone--they have also
sails. The _Velella_, large fleets of which visit our seas at times,
has a plate (the mast) rising from its bluish disk or deck, covered
with a delicate membrane (the sail) of snowy whiteness, by means of
which it traverses the ocean. This sail, it has been noticed, 'is set
at the same angle as the lateen-sail' of the Malays. We cannot doubt
that it is admirably suited to its purpose, and the Malays may be
proud of having nature as a voucher for their contrivance.

We find in another species a still more perfect rigging. In it
(_Rataria_) the crest is supplied with muscular bands, by means of
which the sail can be lowered or raised at pleasure. These adaptations
of structure are full of interest. Nothing can be more admirable than
the sailing-gear of these little creatures. They have to traverse the
surface of the ocean amidst all diversities of weather. Paddles alone
would not suffice for them. They must be enabled to take advantage of
the winds. Sails, therefore, are added, and the mightiest agents in
nature are commissioned to speed the little voyagers on their way.

We have already mentioned that some of the jelly-fishes possess the
power of stinging. Only a few of the larger species, however, seem to
be thus endowed; and the name sea-nettle is by no means applicable to
the class as a whole. The poisonous fluid which produces the
irritating effect on the skin, and no doubt paralyses the creatures
upon which the jelly-fish feeds, is secreted by the arms. By means of
its poison-bearing tentacles, the soft, gelatinous medusa is more than
a match for the armed crustacean and the scale-clad fish. We take from
Professor Forbes the following graphic description of one of the
stinging species:--'The _Cyanæa capillata_ of our seas is a most
formidable creature, and the terror of tender-skinned bathers. With
its broad, tawny, festooned, and scalloped disk, often a full foot or
more across, it flaps its way through the yielding waters, and drags
after it a long train of ribbon-like arms, and seemingly interminable
tails, marking its course when its body is far away from us. Once
tangled in its trailing "hair," the unfortunate who has recklessly
ventured across the graceful monster's path too soon writhes in
prickly torture. Every struggle but binds the poisonous threads more
firmly round his body, and then there is no escape; for when the
winder of the fatal net finds his course impeded by the terrified
human wrestling in its coils, he, seeking no contest with the mightier
biped, casts loose his envenomed arms, and swims away. The amputated
weapons severed from their parent body vent vengeance on the cause of
their destruction, and sting as fiercely as if their original
proprietor itself gave the word of attack.'

We now approach the most extraordinary portion of the history of
these creatures. Recent investigations have brought to light the most
interesting facts respecting their reproduction and development. It is
now known that the young jelly-fish passes through a series of
transformations before reaching its perfect state.

At certain seasons, eggs are produced within the body of the parent in
appropriate ovaries, where they are retained for a time. They are then
transferred to a kind of marsupial pouch, analogous to that of the
kangaroo, where their development proceeds. After passing through
certain changes here, the egg issues from the maternal pouch as an
oval body, clothed with cilia--an animalcule in external aspect, and
as unlike its parent as can well be imagined. For awhile the little
creature dances freely through the water, and leads a gay, roving
life; but at last it prepares to 'settle;' selects a fitting locality;
applies one extremity of its body to the surface of stone or weed, and
becomes attached. And now another change passes over it. The cilia, no
longer needed, disappear. A mouth is developed at the upper extremity
of the body, furnished with a number of arms. Gradually this number
increases, and the jelly-fish now appears in the disguise of a polype,
which feeds voraciously on the members of the class from which it has
itself so lately emerged. At this point there is a halt. The medusa
remains in its polype state for some months. At the expiration of this
term, a strange alteration in its appearance begins to take place.
Rings are formed round its body, from ten to fifteen in number. These
gradually deepen, until at length it is literally cut up into a number
of segments, which rest one upon the other--their upper margins
becoming elevated, and divided into eight lobes. It is, in fact, a
pile of cup-shaped pieces, very loosely connected together. A little
later, these pieces free themselves successively, and the sedate
polype disappears in a company of sprightly young medusæ. These
beings, indeed, still differ in some respects from the adult animal;
but the differences gradually vanish, and we have the perfect
jelly-fish as the final result of this extraordinary series of

Similar observations have been made respecting other tribes amongst
the lower animals, and some interesting generalisations have been
founded upon them, into which, however, it is not our present purpose
to enter.

The _Acalephæ_ are the principal agents concerned in the production of
the beautiful phenomena of phosphorescence. The minute species--mere
gelatinous specks--swarm at times by countless myriads in the waters
of the ocean, and make its surface glow with 'vitalised fire.' The
waves, as they curl and break, sparkle and flash forth light, and the
track of the moving ship is marked by a lustrous line. 'In the torrid
zones between the tropics,' says Humboldt, 'the ocean simultaneously
develops light over a space of many thousand square miles. Here the
magical effect of light is owing to the forces of organic nature.
Foaming with light, the eddying waves flash in phosphorent sparks over
the wide expanse of waters, where every scintillation is the vital
manifestation of an invisible animal world.' Beneath the surface
larger forms are seen, brilliantly illuminated, and lighting up the
mystic depths of the sea. Fiery balls and flaming ribbons shoot past;
and submarine moons shine with a soft and steady light amidst the
crowds of meteors. 'While sailing a little south of the Plata on one
very dark night,' says Mr Darwin, 'the sea presented a wonderful and
most beautiful spectacle. There was a fresh breeze; and every part of
the surface, which during the day is seen as foam, now glowed with a
pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two billows of liquid
phosphorus, and in her wake she was followed by a milky train. As far
as the eye reached, the crest of every wave was bright; and the sky
above the, horizon, from the reflected glare of these livid flames,
was not so utterly obscure as over the vault of the heavens.' Even in
our own seas very beautiful displays of phosphorescence may be
witnessed. On fine summer nights, a soft, tender light plays round the
boat as it moves onward, and the oars drop liquid fire. For how much
of beauty are we indebted to these living specks of jelly?

Of the extreme minuteness of some of the species, an idea may be
formed from the fact, that 110,000 might be contained in a cubic foot
of water. We can say nothing with certainty as to the cause of the
phosphorescence of the medusæ, and shall not trouble our readers with
mere speculations.

The jelly-fishes furnish us with a striking illustration of the
profusion of life in the ocean. Provision has indeed been made for
securing in all the realms of our globe the largest possible amount of
sentient being, and consequently of happiness. And to each tribe a
definite part is assigned--a special mission is intrusted. None can be
spared from the economy of nature. The shoals of microscopic medusæ
store up in their own tissues the minute portions of nutritious matter
diffused through the waters, and supply food for the support of higher
organisms. All the tribes of animated beings are dependent one upon
another. That the greatest may enjoy its existence and fulfil its
work, the least must hold its place and discharge its function. They
co-operate unconsciously to secure the unity and harmony of a system
which is designed to promote alike the interests of each and all of


You want me to tell you how it comes to pass that I am able to glide
up a steeple like a spider, get astride upon the cross, and pull off
my cap to the crowd below, like a gentleman on horseback saluting his
acquaintances.[2] You want me to explain on what principle, as you
call it, I do this. Well: principle, I suppose, means the rule or law
by which a man does what he ought to do; and if so, it is a very good
word to use. I will oblige you by explaining my principle, for I am as
affable as any man that creeps to his dying day upon the surface of
the earth; and I will tell you how it chanced that I found it out: at
least I will try, for I am no scholar; and if you wish to understand
me, you must have your ears open, and catch a meaning when you can.
And this will do you good, whether you make anything out or not. I
know fellows that go to the lectures, and come back as empty as they
went. But what of that? They think they understand, and thought breeds
thought; and when a man's mind is fairly astir, it is odds but
something good turns up.

You must know, then, I began the world as a sailor; and I marvel to
this day how I ever became anything else. Sailors are the stupidest
set in creation. They are mere animals, except in the gift of speech;
good, honest, docile animals, perhaps, but dull and narrow. They go
round the small circle of their duties like a blind horse in a mill.
Their faculties are rocked by the waves and lulled by the winds; and
when they come ashore, they can see and understand nothing for the
swimming of their heads. Drink makes them feel as if at sea again; and
when the tankard is out, they return on board, and exchange one state
of stupefaction for another. Well, I _was_ a sailor, and the dullest
of the tribe. No wonder, for I was at it when a young boy. I was never
startled by the sights or sounds of the sea. The moaning of the wind,
the rush of the waves, the silence of the calm, were parts of my own
existence; and in the wildest storm, my mind never took a wider tack
than just to think what the poor devils on shore would do now.

I was a handy lad, however. I could go aloft with any man on board,
and never troubled the shrouds in coming down when a rope was within
springing distance. But this was instinct or habit: thought was not
concerned in it--I had not found the principle. One day, it blew what
sailors call great guns; our bulwarks were stove in pieces, and the
sea swept the deck, crashing and roaring like a whole herd of tigers.
There was something to do at the mast-head; and when the order came
through the speaking-trumpet, seeing the men hesitate, I jumped upon
the shrouds without thinking twice. But at that moment the ship gave a
lurch, and, holding on like grim death, I was buried deep in the
waves. Although still clutching the ropes, I had at first an idea that
they had parted, and that we were on our way to the bottom together.
This could not have lasted above a minute or so; but it seemed to me
like a year. I heard every voice that had ever sounded in my ear since
childhood; I saw every apparition that had ever glided before my
fancy: the Sea-Serpent twisted his folds round my neck, and the keel
of the Flying Dutchman grated along my back. When the vessel rose at
last, and I rose with her, the waters gurgling in my throat and
hissing in my ears, I did not attempt to spring up the shrouds. I
looked round in horror for the objects of my excited thoughts; and as
I saw another enormous wave advancing till it overhung me, instead of
getting out of its reach, which I could easily have done, I kept
staring at it as it broke into what seemed innumerable goblin faces
and yelling voices over my head. I was down again. My leading thought
now was that I would strike out and swim for my life. But when I had
just made up my mind to this--which the sailors would have called
being washed away--I rose once more to the surface--and struck _up_
like a good one! I was at the cross-trees in a breath, and once in
safety there, I looked back both with shame and indignation.

When my job was finished, I went higher up in a sort of dogged humour.
I went higher, and higher, and higher than I ever ventured before,
till I felt the mast bending and quivering in the gale like the point
of a fishing-rod; and then I looked down upon the sea. And what, think
you, I found there? Why, the goblin faces were small white specks of
foam that I could hardly see; and their yelling voices were a smooth,
round, swelling tone, that rolled like music through the rigging. The
mountain-waves were like a flock of sheep in a meadow, running and
gamboling, and lying down and rising up; and in the expanse beyond the
neighbourhood of the ship, they were all lying down together, or
wandering like shadows over a smooth surface. I felt grand then, I
assure you. I looked down, and around, and above, till thoughts that
were not the instincts of an animal, came dancing up in my mind, like
bubbles upon the face of the sea. And as I returned slowly to the
deck, these thoughts grew and multiplied, and began to arrange
themselves into a form which I am not scholar enough to describe. But
through this new medium, I saw things as they are, not as habit and
prejudice make them. I did not fear the waves, and I did not despise
them. I humoured the sea as I got down towards the bulwarks, which
were still buried every now and then; and so I reached my quarters in

And what has all this to do with it? I will tell you. With the means
of doing a thing, nothing is difficult, if you only understand
thoroughly the nature of the thing. The obstacles that commonly deter
you are not in the thing, but in you; and until you understand this,
you will keep gaping and shrinking, and saying, 'It is impossible.'
Some folk, when looking out of a three or four storey window, feel as
if they were going to fall. This is their own fault, not the fault of
the window, for that is just like a parlour window, where they have no
sensation of the sort. A man sits peaceably enough on the top of a
tall, three-legged stool, and could hitch himself round and round, and
then get up and stand upon it erect for half a day, without any risk
of falling. Now, a steeple is much more securely fixed than a stool;
its top is as broad as a table; and there is nothing to prevent
anybody from standing upon it as long as he pleases, if he only will
not think he is going to fall. You go up half-a-dozen steps of a
ladder without fear, and then persuade yourself you can go no farther;
but there is nothing more dangerous in the next half-dozen, so far as
they are themselves concerned; nor in the next hundred, nor the next
thousand, for that matter. My secret consists in my _knowing_ all
this, although I feel that I have only described when, not how the
knowledge came. Perhaps you, who are book-learned, may be able to make
it out, and shew how it is that, when anything occurs to awaken the
mind, and enable one to work from knowledge, not habit, he is ten
times the man he was. Without this, I should have climbed a mast all
my life; but with it, I took to leaping up steeples by means of a
kite, in a way that makes many ignorant persons report that I manage
it by holding on by the tail.

But a man who goes up a steeple must take care how he behaves, for the
eyes of the world are upon him. He is not lost in a crowd, where he is
seen only by his next neighbours. That man must pull off his cap and
be affable; but he must not do even that to extravagance. When the
Queen was passing up the Clyde, an American seaman got on the
topgallant, and stood on his head. What was that for, I should be glad
to know? Suppose her Majesty was coming along Princes Street, just to
take the air like a lady, and look into the shop-windows, and I was to
go right up to her, and stand on my head--what would she say? I
surmise, that she would turn round to her Lord Gold Stick, and order
him to give me a knock on the shins. I know she would, for she is a
regular trump, and knows how people in every station should behave. I
am ashamed of that American: he is a Yankee Noodle!

It may be said, that the Queen has the same advantage as myself--that
she is up the steeple; but so is every ordinary bricklayer or emperor.
The thing is to be able to look and understand when you _are_ up. I
once saw a curious sight as I sat with the swallows flying far under
my feet. The people did not wander about the street here and there as
usual, but hundreds after hundreds of small objects came on in regular
array. Then I could see long lines of Lilliputian soldiers marching in
the procession, with their tiny bayonets glancing in the sun; and
every now and then came up a soft swell of music, feeble but sweet.
'What is all this about?' thought I. 'Are they going to set one of
these little creatures over them for a bailie or a king?' And one did
march in the middle with a small space round him; 'but perhaps,'
thought I again, 'he is only a trumpeter.' Howbeit, the procession at
last halted, and gathered, and closed, and stood still for a time; and
there was another small swell of the instruments, with a feeble shout
from the throng, and then they all stirred, and broke, and dispersed,
and disappeared. This was just like the view from the mast-head: it
made me feel grand. But when I came down, I had not replaced one
prejudice with another. I did not despise the creatures I came among;
for they were then of the same size as myself. I pulled off my cap to
them, and was affable; only it did give me a queer thought--not a
merry one--when I heard that the official they had made that day, on
going home to his house, out of the grandeur and the din, was heard to
commune with himself, saying: 'And me but a mortal man after all!'

Poetry? No, sirs, I have learned no poetry. I had poetry enough of my
own without learning it, and so has everybody else. I once knew a
fellow who wrote very good poetry; but few of us understood it. That
man lost his labour. It is nature that _makes_ poetry; the poet has
merely found out the art of stirring it in the hearts of men, where it
lies ready-made, like the perfume of a flower. A poet who is not
understood only makes a noise; and he is the greatest poet who makes
the greatest number of human hearts to leap and tingle. But the fellow
I mean piqued himself on not being understood. Like the Yankee Noodle,
he cut capers that had no intelligible meaning in them, just to make
people stare. As for my own share of poetry, I will tell you when I
feel it stirring most. You must know that in the view from a steeple
the form of objects is changed only in one direction--that is
downwards. The small houses, the narrow streets, the little creatures
creeping along them, and the feeble sounds they send up, make me feel
grand. But when I turn my eyes to the heavens, I see no shadow of
change. The clouds look awful, as if despising my poor attempt at
approach; and they glide, and break, and fade, and build themselves up
again--all in deep silence--in a way that makes me feel mean. Now this
mean feeling is real poetry. The meaner I feel, the grander are they;
and when I look long at them, and think long, and then begin to
descend to the earth, to mingle with the little creatures who are my
fellows, I tremble--but not with fear.

A philosopher, do you say? Fie! don't call names: I am a bricklayer. I
know that such distance as human beings can climb to is but a small
matter. I see things as they are. I do not fancy that it is more
difficult to stand on a steeple than on a stool, or that it is more
difficult to hold on by a rope at one height than at another. I
observe that men and their affairs, when viewed from a steeple, are
very insignificant; but the same insight into things teaches me, when
I am among them myself, to pull off my cap and be affable. I know that
the things of earth change according to distance, but that the things
of heaven are unchangeable. And all I have got further to say is, that
I am quite sensible that although when up in the air I am a sign and a
marvel to the people below, when down among themselves I am but plain.

                                        STEEPLE JACK.


[2] See article, 'A Child's Toy,' in No. 418.


A certain class of reasoners have argued themselves into the belief
that, setting all other considerations aside, Sir John Franklin and
his companions must have necessarily perished ere now from _lack of
food_. When the four years, or so, of provisions he took out with him
for the large crews of the vessels were all consumed, how, say they,
would it be possible for so great a number of men to obtain food
sufficient to support life in those awfully desolate regions? Let us
examine the question a little.

Men in very cold climates certainly require a much larger amount of
gross animal food than in southern latitudes--varying, of course, with
their particular physical constitutions. Now, let us grant--though we
do not positively admit it--that, however the provisions taken from
England may have been economised, they have, nevertheless, all been
consumed a couple of years ago, with the exception of a small quantity
of preserved meats, vegetables, lemon-juice, &c. kept in reserve for
the sick, or as a resource in the last extremity. As to spirits, we
have the testimony of all arctic explorers, that their regular
supply and use, so far from being beneficial, is directly the
reverse--weakening the constitution, and predisposing it to scurvy and
other diseases; and that, consequently, spirits should not be given at
all, except on extraordinary occasions, or as a medicine. Sir John
Ross, in his search of the North-West Passage in 1829, and following
years, early stopped the issue of spirits to his men, and with a most
beneficial result. Therefore, the entire consumption of the stock of
spirits on board Sir John Franklin's ships must not be regarded as a
deficiency of any serious moment.

We shall then presume, that for upwards of two years the adventurers
have been wholly dependent on wild animals, birds, and fish for their
support. Here it becomes an essential element of consideration to form
some approximate idea of the particular locality in which the missing
expedition is probably frozen. Captain Penny tracked it up Wellington
Strait and thence into Victoria Channel--a newly-discovered lake or
sea of unknown extent, which reaches, for anything that can be
demonstrated to the contrary, to the pole. It has long been noticed,
that the mere latitude in the arctic regions is far from being a
certain indication of the degree of cold which might naturally be
expected from a nearer approach to the pole. For instance, cold is
more intense in some parts of latitude 60 degrees than in 70 or 77
degrees; but this varies very much in different districts of the
coast, and in different seasons; and we may remark in passing, that
whenever there is a particularly mild winter in Britain, it is the
reverse in the arctic regions; and so _vice versâ_. The astonishment
of Captain Penny on discovering the new polar sea in question was
heightened by the fact, that it possessed a much warmer climate than
more southern latitudes, and that it swarmed with fish, while its
shores were enlivened with animals and flocks of birds. Moreover,
_trees_ were actually floating about: how they got there, and whence
they came, is a mysterious and deeply-interesting problem. Somewhere
in this sea Sir John Franklin's ships are undoubtedly at this moment.
We say the ships are; for we do not for one moment believe that they
have been sunk or annihilated. It is not very likely that any icebergs
of great magnitude would be tossing about this inland sea in the
summer season--in winter its waters would be frozen--and in navigating
it, the ships would, under their experienced and judicious commander,
pursue their unknown way with extreme caution and prudence. It is more
probable that they were at length fast frozen up in some inlet, or
that small floating fields of ice have conglomerated around them, and
bound them in icy fetters to the mainland. Or it may be that Franklin
sailed slowly along this mystic polar sea, until he reached its
extremity and could get no farther; and that extremity would actually
seem to be towards the Siberian coasts. One thing is quite
certain--namely, that so far as Captain Penny's people were able to
penetrate the channel--several hundred miles--there was no indication
whatever that up to that point Franklin had met with any serious
calamity, or that he had suffered from a fatal deficiency of the
necessaries of life.

Wherever his exact position may be, there is every reason to suppose
that the country around him produces a supply of food at least equal
to any other part of the arctic regions; and probably much more than
equal, owing to the greater mildness of the climate. But we will only
base our opinion on the fair average supply of food obtainable in the
arctic regions generally; and now let us see what result we shall
fairly arrive at.

The first consideration that strikes us, is the fact that all over
these icy regions isolated tribes of natives are to be met with; and
they do not exist in a starved and almost famished condition, like the
miserable dwellers in Terra del Fuego, but in absolute abundance--such
as it is. When Sir John Ross's ship was frozen up during the
remarkably severe winter of 1829-30, in latitude 69 degrees 58
minutes, and longitude 90 degrees, he made the following remarks
concerning a tribe of Esquimaux in his vicinity, which we quote as
being peculiarly applicable to our view of the subject:--'It was for
philosophers to interest themselves in speculating on a horde so
small and so secluded, occupying so apparently hopeless a country--so
barren, so wild, and so repulsive, and yet enjoying the most perfect
vigour, the most _well-fed health_, and all else that here constitutes
not merely wealth, but the opulence of luxury, since they were as
amply furnished with provisions as with every other thing that could
be here necessary to their wants.'

'Yes,' exclaims our friend the reasoner, 'but the constitution of an
Esquimaux is peculiarly adapted to the climate and food: what he
enjoys would poison a European; and he also possesses skill to capture
wild animals and fish, which the civilised man cannot exercise.' Is
this true? We answer to the first objection: only partially true; and
the second, we utterly deny. The constitution of vigorous men--and all
Franklin's crew were fine, picked young fellows--has a marvellous
adaptability. It is incredible how soon a man becomes reconciled to,
and healthful under, a totally different diet from that to which he
has been all his life accustomed, so long as that change is suitable
to his new home. We ourselves have personally experienced this to some
extent, and were quite amazed at the rapid and easy way in which
nature enabled us to enjoy and thrive on food at which our stomach
would have revolted in England or any southern land. In every country
in the world, 'from Indus to the pole,' the food eaten by the natives
is that which is incomparably best suited to the climate. In the
frozen regions, and every cold country, the best of all nourishment is
that which contains a large proportion of fat and oil. In Britain, we
read with disgust of the Greenlander eagerly swallowing whale-oil and
blubber; but in his country, it is precisely what is best adapted to
sustain vital energy. Europeans in the position of Franklin's crew
would become acclimatised, and gradually accustomed to the food of the
natives, even before their own provisions were exhausted; and after
that, we may be very sure their appetites would lose all delicacy, and
they would necessarily and easily conform to the usages, as regards
food, of the natives around them. We may strengthen our opinion by the
direct and decisive testimony of Sir John Boss himself, who says: 'I
have little doubt, indeed, that many of the unhappy men who have
perished from wintering in these climates, and whose histories are
well known, might have been saved had they conformed, as is so
generally prudent, to the usages and the experience of the natives.'
Undoubtedly they might!

Secondly, as to the Europeans being unable to capture the beasts,
birds, and fishes so dexterously as the natives, we have reason to
know that the reverse is the case. It is true that the latter know the
habits and haunts of wild creatures by long experience, and also know
the best way to capture some of them; but a very little communication
with natives enables the European to learn the secret; and he soon far
excels his simple instructors in the art, being aided by vastly
superior reasoning faculties, and also by incomparably better
appliances for the chase. Firearms for shooting beasts and birds, and
seines for catching fish, render the Esquimaux spears, and arrows, and
traps mere children's toys in comparison. Moreover, a ship is never
frozen up many weeks, before some wandering tribe is sure to visit it;
and all navigators have found the natives a mild, friendly, grateful
people, with fewer vices than almost any other savages in the World.
They will thankfully barter as many salmon as will feed a ship's crew
one day for a file or two, or needles, or a tin-canister, or piece of
old iron-hoop, or any trifling article of hardware; and so long as the
vessel remains, they and other tribes of their kindred will frequently
visit it, and bring animals and fish to barter for what is literally
almost valueless to European adventurers.

An important consideration, is the _variety_ of food obtainable in the
arctic regions. We need not particularly classify the creatures found
in the two seasons of summer and winter, but may enumerate the
principal together. Of animals fit for food are musk-oxen, bears,
reindeer, hares, foxes, &c. Of fish, there is considerable variety,
salmon and trout being the chief and never-failing supply. Of birds,
there are ducks, geese, cranes, ptarmigan, grouse, plovers,
partridges, sand-larks, shear-waters, gannets, gulls, mollemokes,
dovekies, and a score of other species. We personally know that the
flesh of bears, reindeer, and some of the other animals, is most
excellent: we have partaken of them with hearty relish. As to foxes,
Ross informs us that, although his men did not like them at first,
they eventually preferred fox-flesh to any other meat! And as to such
birds as gannets and shear-waters, which are generally condemned as
unpalatable, on account of their fishy taste, we would observe that
the rancid flavour exists only in the fat. Separate it, and, as we
ourselves can testify, the flesh of these birds is little inferior to
that of the domestic pigeon, when either boiled or roasted. The
majority of the creatures named may be captured in considerable
numbers, in their several seasons, with only ordinary skill. But
necessity sharpens the faculties of men to an inconceivable degree;
and when the life of a crew depends on their success in the chase,
they will speedily become expert hunters. It is true that the wild
animals habitually existing in a small tract of country may soon be
thinned, if not altogether exterminated; but bears, foxes, &c.
continue to visit it with little average diminution in numbers. The
fish never fail. The quantity of salmon is said to be immense, and
they can be preserved in stock a very long period by being simply
buried in snow-pits. The birds also regularly make their periodical
appearance. Besides, parties of hunters would be despatched to scour
the country at considerable distances, and their skill and success
would improve with each coming season. In regard to fuel, the
Esquimaux plan of burning the oil and blubber of seals, the fat of
bears, &c. would be quite effective. In the brief but fervid summer
season, every inch of ground is covered with intensely green verdure,
and even with flowers; and there is a great variety of wild plants,
including abundance of Angelica, sorrel, and scurvy-grass, also
lichens and mosses, all of antiscorbutic qualities. We have ourselves
seen the Laplanders eat great quantities of the sorrel-grass; and the
Nordlanders told us that they boiled it in lieu of greens at table.
These vegetables might be gathered each summer, and preserved for
winter use.

We repeat, that since the poor, ignorant natives live in rude
abundance, and lack nothing for mere animal enjoyment of life, it is
impossible to doubt that Europeans, who in intelligence and resources
are a superior race of beings, can fail to participate equally in all
things which the Creator has provided for the support of man in this
extremity of the habitable globe; also let it be borne in mind, that
half-a-dozen Esquimaux devour almost as much food every day as will
suffice for a ship's crew. Sir John Ross declares, that if they only
ate moderately, any given district would support 'double their number,
and with scarcely the hazard of want.' He says that an Esquimaux eats
twenty pounds of flesh and oil a day, and, in fact, never ceases from
devouring until compelled to desist from sheer repletion. Speaking
of one meal taken in their company, we have this edifying
observation:--'While we found that one salmon and half of another were
more than enough for all us English, these voracious animals (the
Esquimaux) had devoured two each. At this rate of feeding, it is not
wonderful that their whole time is occupied in procuring food: each
man had eaten fourteen pounds of this raw salmon, and it was probably
but a luncheon after all, of a superfluous meal for the sake of our
society!.... The glutton bear--scandalised as it may be by its
name--might even be deemed a creature of moderate appetite in
comparison: with their human reason in addition, these people, could
they always command the means, would doubtless outrival a glutton and
a boa-constrictor together.'

Finally, we expressly deny that the Esquimaux can or do bear extreme
cold and privations better than Englishmen who have been a season or
two in their country. Arctic explorers testify that the natives always
appeared to suffer from cold quite as much as Europeans; and what
little we have ourselves seen of northern countries, induces us to
give ample credence to this.

The conclusion, then, at which we arrive is this: that under such
experienced and energetic leaders as Sir John Franklin and his chief
officers, the gallant crews of the missing expedition have _not_
perished for lack of food, and will be enabled, if God so wills, to
support life for years to come. Great, indeed, their sufferings must
be; for civilised men do not merely eat to sleep, and sleep to eat,
like the Esquimaux; but they will be upheld under every suffering by a
firm conviction that their countrymen are making almost superhuman
exertions to rescue them from their fearful isolation. What the final
issue will be, is known only to Him who tempers the wind to the shorn
lamb, and can, if He deems meet, provide a way of deliverance when
hope itself has died in every breast. Our individual opinion is, that
it is not improbable the lost crews will, sooner or later, achieve
their own deliverance by arriving at some coast whence they may be
taken off, even as Ross was, after sojourning during four years of
unparalleled severity. But it is the bounden duty of our country never
to relax its efforts to save Franklin, until there is an absolute
certainty that all further human exertions are in vain.

[We give the above as a paper on the food of the arctic regions, and
can only hope that our correspondent's cheering views as to the fate
of the missing expedition may prove to be correct.--ED.]


On a cold evening in January--one of those dark and gloomy evenings
which fill one with sadness--there sat watching by the bed of a sick
man, in a little room on the fifth floor, a woman of about forty, and
two pretty children--a boy of twelve and a little girl of eight. The
exquisite neatness of the room almost concealed its wretchedness:
everything announced order and economy, but at the same time great
poverty. A painted wooden bedstead, covered with coarse but clean
calico sheets, blue calico curtains, four chairs, a straw arm-chair, a
high desk of dark wood, with a few books and boxes placed on shelves,
composed the entire furniture of the room. And yet the man who lay on
that wretched bed, whose pallid cheek, and harsh, incessant cough,
foretold the approach of death, was one of the brightest ornaments of
our literature. His historical works had won for him a European
celebrity, his writings having been translated into all the modern
languages; yet he had always remained poor, because his devotion to
science had prevented him from devoting a sufficient portion of his
time to productive labour.

An unfinished piece of costly embroidery thrown on a little stand near
the bed, another piece of a less costly kind, but yet too luxurious to
be intended for the use of this poor family, shewed that his wife and
daughter--this gentle child whose large dark eyes were so full of
sadness--endeavoured by the work of their hands to make up for the
unproductiveness of his efforts. The sick man slept, and the mother,
taking away the lamp and the pieces of embroidery, went with her
children into the adjoining room, which served both as antechamber and
dining-room: she seated herself at the table, and took up her work
with a sad and abstracted air; then observing her little daughter
doing the same thing cheerfully, and her son industriously colouring
some prints destined for a book of fashions, she embraced them; and
raising her tearful eyes towards heaven, she seemed to be thanking the
Almighty, and in the midst of her affliction, to be filled with
gratitude to Him who had blessed her with such children.

Soon after, a gentle ring was heard at the door, and M. Raymond, a
young doctor, with a frank, pleasing countenance, entered and inquired
for the invalid. 'Just the same, doctor,' said Mme G----.

The young man went into the next room, and gazed for some moments
attentively on the sleeper, whilst the poor wife fixed her eyes on the
doctor's countenance, and seemed there to read her fate.

'Is there no hope, doctor?' she asked in a choking voice, as she
conducted him to the other room. The doctor was silent, and the
afflicted mother embraced her children and wept. After a pause she
said: 'There is one idea which haunts me continually: I should wish so
much to have my husband's likeness. Do you know of any generous and
clever artist, doctor? Oh, how much this would add to the many
obligations you have already laid me under!'

'Unfortunately, I am not acquainted with a single artist,' replied the
young doctor.

'I must then renounce this desire,' said Mme G---- sighing.

The next morning Henry--so the little boy was called--having assisted
his mother and his sister Marie in their household labours, dressed
himself carefully, and, as it was a holiday, asked leave to go out.

'Go, my child,' said his mother; 'go and breathe a little fresh air:
your continual work is injurious to you.'

The boy kissed his father's wasted hand, embraced his mother and
sister, and went out, at once sad and pleased. When he reached the
street he hesitated for a moment, then directed his steps towards the
drawing-school where he attended every day: he entered, and rung at
the door of the apartment belonging to the professor who directed this
academy. A servant opened the door, and conducted him into an
elegantly-furnished breakfast-room; for the professor was one of the
richest and most distinguished painters of the day. He was
breakfasting alone with his wife, when Henry entered.

'There, my dear,' He said to her, as he perceived Henry; 'there is the
cleverest pupil in the academy. This little fellow really promises to
do me great credit one day. Well, my little friend, what do you wish
to say to me?'

'Sir, my father is very ill--the doctor fears that he may die: poor
mamma, who is very fond of papa, wishes to have his portrait. Would
you, sir, be kind enough to take it? O do not, pray, sir, do not
refuse me!' said Henry, whose tearful eyes were fixed imploringly on
the artist.

'Impossible, Henry--impossible!' replied the painter. 'I am paid three
thousand francs for every portrait I paint, and I have five or six at
present to finish.'

'But, my dear,' interposed his wife, 'it seems to me that this
portrait would take you but little time: think of the poor mother,
whose husband will so soon be lost to her for ever.'

'It grieves me to refuse you, my dear; but you know that my
battle-piece, which is destined for Versailles, must be sent to the
Louvre in a fortnight, for I cannot miss the Exposition this year. But
stay, my little friend, I will give you the address of several of my
pupils: tell them I sent you, and you will certainly find some one of
them who will do what you wish. Good-morning, Henry!'

'Good-by, my little friend,' added the lady. 'I hope you may be
successful.' The boy took his leave with a bursting heart.

Henry wandered through the gardens of the Luxembourg, debating with
himself if he should apply to the young artists whose addresses he
held in his hand. Fearing that his new efforts might be equally
unsuccessful, he was trying to nerve himself to encounter fresh
refusals, when he was accosted by a boy of his own age, his
fellow-student at the drawing-school. Jules proposed that they should
walk together; then observing Henry's sadness, he asked him the cause.
Henry told him of his mother's desire; their master's refusal to take
the portrait; and of his own dislike to apply to those young artists,
who were strangers to him.

'Come with me,' cried Jules, when his friend had ceased speaking. 'My
sister is also an artist: she has always taken care of me, for our
father and mother died when we were both very young. She is so kind
and so fond of me that I am very sure she will not refuse.'

The two boys traversed the Avenue de l'Observatoire, the merry, joyous
face of the one contrasting with the sadness and anxiety of the other.
When they got to the end of the avenue they entered the Rue de
l'Ouest, and went into a quiet-looking house, up to the fourth storey
of which Jules mounted with rapid steps, dragging poor Henry with him.
He tapped gaily at a little door, which a young servant opened: he
passed through the antechamber, and the two boys found themselves in
the presence of Emily d'Orbe, the sister of Jules.

She appeared to be about twenty-five: she was not tall, and her face
was rather pleasing than handsome; yet her whole appearance indicated
cultivation and amiability. Her dress was simple, but exquisitely
neat; her gown of brown stuff fitted well to her graceful figure; her
linen cuffs and collar were of a snowy whiteness; her hair was parted
in front, and fastened up behind _à l'antique_: but she wore no
ribbon, no ornament--nothing but what was necessary. The furniture of
the room, which served at the same time as a sitting-room and studio,
was equally simple: a little divan, some chairs and two arm-chairs
covered with gray cloth, a round table, a black marble time-piece of
the simplest form; two engravings, the 'Spasimo di Sicilia' and the
'Three Maries,' alone ornamented the walls; green blinds were placed
over the windows, not for ornament, but to moderate the light,
according to the desire of the artist; finally, three easels, on which
rested some unfinished portraits, and a large painting representing
Anna Boleyn embracing her daughter before going to execution.

When he entered, little Jules went first to embrace his sister; she
tenderly returned his caresses, then said to him in a gentle voice, as
she returned to her easel: 'Now, my dear child, let me go on with my
painting;' not, however, without addressing a friendly 'Good-morning'
to Henry, who she thought had come to play with Jules.

Henry had been looking at the unfinished pictures with a sort of
terror, because they appeared to him as obstacles between him and his
request. He dared not speak, fearing to hear again the terrible word
'impossible!' and he was going away, when Jules took him by the hand
and drew him towards Emily. 'Sister,' he said, 'I have brought my
friend Henry to see you; he wishes to ask you something; do speak to

'Jules,' she replied, 'let me paint; you know I have very little time.
You are playing the spoiled child: you abuse my indulgence.'

'Indeed, Emily, I am not jesting; you must really speak to Henry. If
you knew how unhappy he is!'

Mlle d'Orbe, raising her eyes to the boy, was struck with his pale
and anxious face, and said to him in a kind voice, as she continued
her painting: 'Forgive my rudeness, my little friend; this picture is
to be sent to the Exposition, and I have not a moment to lose,
because, both for my brother's sake and my own, I wish it to do me
credit. But speak, my child; speak without fear, and be assured that I
will not refuse you anything that is in the power of a poor artist.'

Henry, regaining a little courage, told her what he desired: then
Jules having related his friend's visit to their master, Henry added:
'But I see very well, mademoiselle, that you cannot do this portrait
either, and I am sorry to have disturbed you.'

In the meantime little Jules had been kissing his sister, and
caressing her soft hair, entreating her not to refuse his little
friend's request. Mlle d'Orbe was painting Anna Boleyn: she stopped
her work; a struggle seemed to arise in the depth of her heart, while
she looked affectionately on the children. She, however, soon laid
aside her pallett, and casting one glance of regret on her picture: 'I
will take your father's portrait,' she said to Henry--'that man of
sorrow, and of genius. Your mother's wish shall be fulfilled.'

She had scarcely uttered these words when a lady entered the room. She
was young, pretty, and richly dressed. Having announced her name, she
asked Mlle d'Orbe to take her portrait, on the express condition that
it should be finished in time to be placed in the Exposition.

'It is impossible for me to have this honour, madame,' replied the
artist: 'I have a picture to finish, and I have just promised to do a
portrait to which I must give all my spare time.'

'You would have been well paid for my portrait, and my name in the
catalogue would have made yours known,' added the young countess.

Mlle d'Orbe only replied by a bow; and the lady had scarcely
withdrawn, when taking her bonnet and shawl, the young artist embraced
her brother, took Henry by the hand, and said to him: 'Bring me to
your mother, my child.'

Henry flew rather than walked; Mlle d'Orbe could with difficulty keep
up with him. Both ascended to the fifth storey in the house in the Rue
Descartes, where this poor family lived. When they reached the door,
Henry tapped softly at it. Mme G---- opened it.

'Mamma,' said the boy, trembling with emotion, 'this lady is an
artist: she is come to take papa's portrait.' The poor woman, who had
not hoped for such an unexpected happiness, wept as she pressed to her
lips the hands of Mlle d'Orbe, and could not find words to express
her gratitude.

The portrait was commenced at once; and the young artist worked with
zeal and devotion, for her admiration of the gifted and unfortunate
man was intense. She resolved to make the piece valuable as a work of
art, for posterity might one day demand the portrait of this gifted
man, and her duty as a painter was to represent him in his noblest

Long sittings fatigued the invalid; so it was resolved to take two
each day, and the young artist came regularly twice every day. As by
degrees the strength of the sick man declined, the portrait advanced.
At length, at the end of twelve days, it was finished: this was about
a week before the death of M. G----.

At the same time that she was painting this portrait, Mlle d'Orbe
worked with ardour on her large painting, always hoping to have it
ready in time. This hope did not fail her until some days before the
1st of February. There was but a week longer to work: and this year
she must abandon the idea of sending to the Exposition.

Some artists who had seen her picture had encouraged her very much;
she could count, in their opinion, on brilliant success. This she
desired with all her heart: first, from that noble thirst of glory
which God has implanted in the souls of artists; and, secondly, from
the influence it would have on the prospects of her little Jules, whom
she loved with a mother's tenderness, and whom she wished to be able
to endow with all the treasures of education. This disappointment,
these long hours of toil, rendered so vain at the very moment when
she looked forward to receive her reward, so depressed the young
artist, that she became dangerously ill.

Mlle d'Orbe had very few friends, as she was an orphan, and lived in
great retirement; she found herself therefore completely left to the
care of her young attendant. When Jules met Henry at the
drawing-school he told him of his sister's illness: Henry informed his
mother, and Mme G---- immediately hastened to Mlle d'Orbe, whom she
found in the delirium of a fever from which she had been suffering for
some days. The servant said that her mistress had refused to send for
a doctor, pretending that her illness did not signify. Mme G----,
terrified at the state of her young friend, went out and soon returned
with Dr Raymond.

The invalid was delirious: she unceasingly repeated the
words--'portrait,' 'Anna Boleyn,' 'exposition,' 'fortune,'
'disappointed hopes;' which plainly indicated the cause of her
illness, and brought tears into the eyes of Mme G----. 'Alas!' she
said, 'it is on my account she suffers: I am the cause of her not
finishing her picture. Doctor, I am very unfortunate.'

'All may be repaired,' replied the doctor: 'if you will promise to
nurse the invalid, I will answer for her recovery.'

In fact, Mme G---- never left the sick-bed of Mlle d'Orbe. The
doctor visited her twice in the day, and their united care soon
restored the health of the interesting artist.

Mademoiselle was scarcely convalescent when she went to the Exposition
of paintings at the Louvre, of which she had heard nothing--the doctor
and Mme G---- having, as she thought, avoided touching on a subject
which might pain her. She passed alone through the galleries, crowded
with distinguished artists and elegantly-dressed ladies, saying to
herself that perhaps her picture would have been as good as many which
attracted the admiration of the crowd. She was thus walking sadly on,
looking at the spot where she had hoped to have seen her Anna Boleyn,
when she found herself stopped by a group of artists. They were
unanimous in their praises. 'This is the best portrait in the
Exposition,' said one. 'A celebrated engraver is about to buy from the
artist the right to engrave this portrait for the new edition of the
author's works,' said another. 'We are very fortunate in having so
faithful a likeness of so distinguished a writer as M. G----.'

At this name Mlle d'Orbe raised her eyes, and recognised her own
work! Pale, trembling with emotion, the young artist was obliged to
lean on the rail for support; then opening the catalogue, she read her
name as if in a dream, and remained for some time to enjoy the
pleasure of hearing the praises of her genius.

When the Exposition closed she hastened to Mme G----, and heard that
it was Dr Raymond who had conceived the happy idea of sending the
portrait to the Louvre. 'My only merit is the separating myself for a
time from a picture which is my greatest consolation,' added Mme

From this day the young artist became the friend of the poor widow,
whose prospects soon brightened. Through the influence of some of the
friends of her lost husband, she obtained a pension from government--a
merited but tardy reward! The two ladies lived near each other, and
spent their evenings together. Henry and Jules played and studied
together. Marie read aloud, while her mother and Mlle d'Orbe worked.
Dr Raymond sometimes shared in this pleasant intercourse. He had loved
the young artist from the day he had seen her renounce so much to do a
generous action; but, an orphan like herself, and with no fortune but
his profession, he feared to be rejected if he offered her his hand.
It was therefore Mme G---- who charged herself with pleading his suit
with the young artist.

Mlle d'Orbe felt a lively gratitude towards the young doctor for the
care and solicitude he had shewn during her illness, and for sending
her portrait to the Exposition. Thanks to him, she had become known;
commissions arrived in numbers, a brilliant future opened before her
and Jules. Mme G---- had, then, a favourable answer to give to her
young friend, who soon became the husband of the interesting artist
whose generous sacrifice had been the foundation of her happiness.


On this subject an interesting return to an order of the House of
Commons was lately made by the management of Lloyd's, and has caused
some discussion in the public prints. The return applies to the four
years ending December 1850; and during this period, it appears that
the number of collisions, wrecks, and other accidents at sea, was
13,510; being at the rate of 3377 per annum, 9 per diem, or 1 for
every 2-3/4 hours. Commenting on these details, the _Times_ observes,
that 'it must not be understood that every accident implies a total
wreck, with the loss of all hands. If a ship carries away any of her
important spars, or, on entering her port, strikes heavily against a
pier, whereby serious damage is occasioned, the accident is duly
registered in this pithy chronicle of Lloyd's. Nevertheless, as we
glance up and down the columns, it is no exaggeration to say, that
two-thirds of the accidents recorded are of the most serious
description. We are unable to say to what degree this register of
Lloyd's can be accepted as a fair index to the tragedies which are of
such hourly occurrence upon the surface of the ocean. If all were
known, we fear that this average of accident or wreck every 2-3/4
hours would be fearfully increased. The truth must he told. The
incapacity of too many of the masters in the British mercantile marine
has been the pregnant cause of loss to their owners and death to their
crews. Men scarcely competent to take the responsibility of an
ordinary day's work, or, if competent, of notoriously intemperate
habits, were placed in command of sea-going ships through the
parsimony or nepotism of the owners. The result of the educational
clauses in the Mercantile Marine Bill of last session, will no doubt
be to provide a much larger body of well-trained men, from among whom
our shipowners can select the most competent persons for command.'

These observations called forth a reply from the President of the
Seaman's Association, vindicating mariners from the charges so brought
against them. A few passages from the letter of this respondent are
worth noticing. 'Are British sailors,' he asks, 'really so bad as you
represent? If so, then you condemn by implication the seamen of the
United States, for they are also Anglo-Saxon. Let me direct your
attention to a few facts bearing out this assertion. The desertions
from the royal navy in 1846 (see Parliamentary Returns) were 2382;
this is about 1 out of every 14 seamen annually. Nearly the whole of
these men keep to the United States' service. Again, the desertions
from Quebec in consequence of three things--first, low wages;
secondly, register-tickets; thirdly, the payment of 1s., exacted from
every man on shipment and discharge, to a shipping office, to uphold
the Mercantile Marine Act, for which the men receive no value--were
upwards of 1400 this season; and about 4000 from all other ports. From
American statistics, it is proved that two-thirds of the seamen
sailing in ships of the United States are British subjects; and if
American ships are preferred to British, it must be because they are
manned by our fine spirited tars. A large proportion of their ships
are commanded by Englishmen.'

An effort, as is well known, has lately been made to elevate the
character of British seamen, by means of registries under the
Mercantile Marine Act, and the issuing of tickets, which must be
produced by sailors. Our belief is, that much of the legislation on
this subject has been injurious; as any law must be which attempts to
regulate the bargains of employers and employed. It may be proper for
master-mariners to be subjected to some kind of test of ability, but
it appears to us that it would be equally beneficial to encourage
young men to enter the profession. To pay well is, after all, the true
way to get good servants. Why do British sailors desert to the
American service? Because they are better paid. And having so
deserted, they unfortunately cannot again procure employment under the
British flag without producing a register-ticket, which, of course,
they cannot do. Thus, picked men are permanently lost to the British
navy. Besides offering higher wages, it might have proved extremely
advantageous to open nautical schools for youths desirous of going to
sea. According to existing arrangements, the sailor--like the French
workman with his _livret_--is considered to be a child not fit to take
care of himself; and the law interposes to say he shall do this, and
do that, under a penalty for neglect of its provisions. This is to
keep sailors in a state of perpetual tutelage; and being at variance
with the principles of civil liberty, it is to be feared that the
practice can lead to nothing but mischief.

As to wrecks, the cause of the chief disasters seems as often to be
imperfect construction of vessels and imperfect stowage, as anything
else; while loss of life for the greater part arises from a deficiency
of boats, and the means of readily unshipping them. As victims of
ill-made, badly-found, and rotten vessels, not to speak of land-sharks
and sea-sharks--as the sufferers in life and limb when shippers and
brokers may be actually benefiting from casualties--sailors, as a
class, merit public sympathy instead of reproach or discouragement.


We have received a letter from the Abbot of Mount St Bernard's,
pointing out, in courteous terms, several inaccuracies in the article
which appeared with the above title in No. 413 of this Journal. Meat,
it seems, is only 'strictly prohibited' to the healthy: it is allowed
to the sick and infirm when prescribed by the doctor. Every night
before compline the brethren meet to hear some pious lecture read, not
to confess their thoughts to the superior. Instead of one meal a day,
as stated by our correspondent, the lay-brethren, who are employed
chiefly in manual labour, have at least two meals every day during the
whole year, excepting fast-days; and the choir-brethren two meals a
day during the summer, and one during the winter. To the latter, when
they are of a weakly constitution, a collation is allowed in addition.
The greatest error of all, however, appears to us to exist in the
estimate formed of the abbot, who, judging by his correspondence, is
evidently as informed and intelligent a person as is usually met with
out of the monastic circle.


There is a work to which many of our readers are probably strangers,
but which has roused the enthusiasm of the New World. It is a work of
immense labour, which in writing and correcting proofs occupied its
author sixteen years. This author is a lady, and the production on
which she bestowed so much unwearied patience and perseverance, during
a space of time equivalent in most cases to an entire literary life,
is a Concordance to Shakspeare. 'Her work,' says Mr Webster, the
American Secretary of State, 'is a perfect wonder, surprisingly full
and accurate, and exhibiting proof of unexampled labour and patience.
She has treasured up every word of Shakspeare, as if he were her
lover, and she were his.' But Mr Webster and his countrymen were not
satisfied even with such generous praise: they determined to present
Mrs Clarke with an enduring testimonial of their gratitude and
respect; and, accordingly, the ceremony has recently been performed by
Mr Abbot Laurence, the American minister. The list of subscribers, we
are told, 'contains names from Maine to Mexico. Even the far, far
west, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois, have contributed; whilst
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and South Carolina, swell the list of the most
distinguished American literati, embracing a fair sprinkling of fair
ladies. There is even a subscriber from the shores of the Pacific.'
The testimonial is an elaborately carved library chair, bearing on the
top rail a mask of Shakspeare, copied in ivory from the Stratford
bust, wreathed with oak-leaves and laurel, and shaded by the wings of
two of 'Avon's swans.' Although an elegant and costly gift, however,
in itself, there is attached to this testimonial a meaning and a value
which we trust will make its due impression in the native land of
Shakspeare--in that mother-country to which the eyes of her western
descendants are thus turned in the lofty sympathy which binds together
throughout the whole world the children and worshippers of genius.


    The voice of Nature in her changeful moods
    Breathes o'er the solemn waters as they flow,
    And 'mid the wavings of the ancient woods
    Murmurs, now filled with joy, now sad and low.
    Thou gentle poet, she hath tuned thy mind
    To deep accordance with the harmony
    That floats above the mountain summits free--
    A concert of Creation on the wind.
    And thy calm strains are breathed as though the dove
    And nightingale had given thee for thy dower
    The soul of music and the heart of love;
    And with a holy, tranquillising power
    They fall upon the spirit, like a gleam
    Of quiet star-light on a troubled stream.
                                         M.A. HOARE.


Are labour and self-culture irreconcilable to each other? In the first
place, we have seen that a man, in the midst of labour, may and ought
to give himself to the most important improvements, that he may
cultivate his sense of justice, his benevolence, and the desire of
perfection. Toil is the school for these high principles; and we have
here a strong presumption that, in other respects, it does not
necessarily blight the soul. Next, we have seen that the most fruitful
sources of truth and wisdom are not books, precious as they are, but
experience and observation; and these belong to all conditions. It is
another important consideration, that almost all labour demands
intellectual activity, and is best carried on by those who invigorate
their minds; so that the two interests, toil and self-culture, are
friends to each other. It is mind, after all, which does the work of
the world, so that the more there is of mind, the more work will be
accomplished. A man, in proportion as he is intelligent, makes a given
force accomplish a greater task; makes skill take the place of muscle,
and with less labour, gives a better product. Make men intelligent,
and they become inventive; they find shorter processes. Their
knowledge of nature helps them to turn its laws to account, to
understand the substances on which they work, and to seize on useful
hints, which experience continually furnishes. It is among workmen
that some of the most useful machines have been contrived. Spread
education, and as the history of this country shews, there will be no
bounds to useful invention.--_Channing._

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. and K. CHAMBERS, High Street, Edinburgh.
Also sold by W.S. ORR, Amen Corner, London; D.N. CHAMBERS, 55 West
Nile Street, Glasgow; and J. M'GLASHAN, 50 Upper Sackville Street,
Dublin.--Advertisements for Monthly Parts are requested to be sent to
MAXWELL & Co., 31 Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street, London, to whom all
applications respecting their insertion must be made.

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