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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 425 - Volume 17, New Series, February 21, 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. 425 - Volume 17, New Series, February 21, 1852" ***

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                     CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL


  No. 425.  NEW SERIES.  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1852.  PRICE 1½_d_.


At six, on a bright morning, the 1st of September 1851, we left the
quay of Trieste in the steamer for Venice. We were in no particular
mood upon the subject. If anything, we rather feared that the famous
City of the Sea might turn out to have been overpraised. However, we
resolved to be candid.

The morning passed pleasantly enough. We admired the snowy tops of the
Styrian Alps on the right, and the deep green of the Adriatic was
beautiful. We had calculated upon an eight hours' voyage; but it was
scarcely eleven o'clock when the pinnacles and towers of the city
began to appear above the water's edge to the west, taking us a little
by surprise. It was thenceforward an interesting occupation for an
hour or so to watch these objects gradually rising out of the waves.
By and by, a large dome took its place amongst them; then some little
domes and more pinnacles: at length a connected range of city objects
lay along the horizon, and this we knew was VENICE. The steamer by and
by began to wind through some straits or channels of the sea, with
fortifications covering the low banks on both sides. It went on; and
about one o'clock, under a bright sun, we found ourselves in an open
space of sea, opposite the famous series of buildings composed of the
Doge's Palace, the Cathedral of San Marco, the Piazza, &c.--objects
perhaps of their kind the most generally known in Europe.

The first few minutes was a confused mixture of romantic association
and solicitude about a right hotel. Our thoughts slid with prosaic
facility from the lion on the top of the obelisk, so well remembered
from Canaletti's pictures, to the sign of the Leone Bianca--a place of
entertainment not far off, much recommended by Murray. I recalled the
Byronian heroines sailing about in those gondolas, which we saw
skimming away here and there, and wondered whether it would be best to
go to Dameli's or the Emperor of Austria. The first business was to
get a gondola for ourselves and luggage; thus, at the very first
reducing to the character of a mere cab that picturesque species of
conveyance--I, the conductor of the party, wondering all the time how
much those two cowled villains would charge me. Seated there with my
two ladies, we speedily proceeded along the Grand Canal towards the
hotel last mentioned, to try if we could obtain accommodation in it.
It was curious to land from a boat at the steps of a house, and walk
from the sea into the hall. It was dazzling to see the splendour of
the building, with its fine marble vestibule within, and its superb
staircases. We did not find in it, however, exactly the range of rooms
we required, and we after all returned along the canal, and tried the
Hôtel de l'Europe, a similar, but somewhat plainer house, where we got
apartments to our mind.

I was curious at first to study the arrangements of houses and streets
in Venice. Here I found that what had once been the palace of a noble,
presented, first, a ground-floor about three feet above the medium
level of the Adriatic, composed of a broad vestibule crossing through
from front to rear, with the inferior apartments on each side; second,
a floor of good apartments, with an open hall in the centre right over
the vestibule--this hall adorned with pictures; third, a similar good
floor, with another hall in the centre, which had been the banqueting
or dining-room, and was now used as the _salle-a-manger_ of the
hotel--and this salle had balconied windows at one end looking out
upon the canal. There was, I suppose, a fourth floor of inferior
rooms, but there I never had occasion to be. Most of the rooms,
looking out at the sides of the building into narrow lanes, were
ill-lighted: only those having windows to the front were light or
cheerful. The walls, staircases, and floors, were all of marble--the
proportions large, and the decorations elegant. The date, 'JAN. 1676,'
appeared over an inner door in the salle.

A side-door in the rear of the house gave me exit for a walk into the
town. I found myself in a paved lane, here called a _calle_, with good
houses on each side. It led me into a wider lane, which had all the
characters of a street, excepting that it was comparatively narrow,
and only traversed by people on foot. Here I found shops of many
kinds, but almost all on a small scale; as also many stalls for the
sale of fruit and other petty articles. Following this way to the
right, I soon came to the outside of the great square, which is the
principal public place in the city. It was but necessary to go through
a wide passage, to find myself in the _Piazza_--that well-known paved
and arcaded quadrangle, which we have seen so often in pictures; the
far extremity being closed by the singular church of St Mark, while
close by rose the lofty campanile and the three tall flag-staffs. We
sauntered for an hour about this grand central region, viewing the
outsides of things only, and dreaming of those scenes of the past with
which they were connected. After dinner, I again went out by myself to
walk through the town, for it was agreed that we should put off
regular sight-seeing till next day. Let not the reader be surprised to
hear of walking through Venice. It is permeated in all directions by
calles and narrow streets, which cross the canals by high-arched stone
bridges, thus giving pedestrian access to and from all parts of the
city. Certainly, however, no such thing as a leading thoroughfare
exists, and it must be difficult for strangers to acquire that local
knowledge which will enable them to find their way without a guide.
Unlike all other cities, no kind of vehicle, not so much as a
wheelbarrow, ever rattles along these narrow, tortuous ways. The
gondolas upon the canals are strictly the only conveyances used in
Venice. Thus the city has a stillness which, even in its most
brilliant days, must have impressed strangers with a sense of
melancholy. In our time, when Venice is reduced at once from
independence and from wealth, the effect is peculiarly depressing. I
felt as if Venice were only a _curiosity_ to look at for a few days,
not a place in which any considerable portion of life could be spent
with comfort.

Next morning, at eight o'clock, by which time we had breakfasted, a
gondola with two rowers waited for us at the porch of the hotel, along
with a clever, well-informed youth named Alessandro, who had
undertaken to be our _cicerone_. The charges for both gondolas and
guides had, we found, been raised since the late troubles, in common
with everything else in Venice, liberty being always somehow a
provocative to taxation, whether temporarily or permanently enjoyed.
What in 1843 would have cost six English shillings, now stood us eight
or nine. The gondola, as is well known, is a long boat, pointed at
both ends, and painted black--furnished in the centre with cushioned
seats, all black, over which is erected a kind of cot, with windows,
to screen the passengers. One man stands in the fore, another in the
back part, rowing with their faces forward, the oar working in a
twisting manner on the top of a piece of wood curiously grooved for
the purpose. I cannot say that I saw anything very peculiar in the
dress of the gondoliers, or indeed in the appearance of any of the
people of Venice, excepting the female water-carriers. With that
exception, the people are dressed in much the same manner as is
customary over Europe generally. So far as I recollect, not a single
veiled or half-veiled lady, sailing in her own gondola, met our eyes
while we were in Venice. We have to revert for all such things to
Goldoni's plays and the pages of our own Byron.

The real grand thoroughfare of Venice is the _Canale Grande_--a wide
curving street, which sweeps through a great part of the city. The
principal palaces of the nobility, the superbest of the churches, and
the best hotels, are placed along this water-street. As we moved
along, Alessandro told us, in respectable French, the history of each
great mansion, and what its owners had done in the history of the
republic: a recital as intelligent and as accurate as could have been
expected in a book. Most of these buildings have a melancholy, decayed
look, being generally very old, and few of the owners being able to
spend much in or on them. A few that look tolerably fresh, are found
to be occupied by the post, the customs, or some other office, the
insignia of which figure in gaudy colouring over the principal
entrance. In connection with most of the palaces, the name of some
architect of reputation is mentioned. They are wholly of marble; and,
in many cases, round stones of a precious kind, or pieces of marble of
a brilliantly veined character, are set in a species of framework in
front, communicating a peculiarly rich effect. The least pleasing
circumstance connected with these superb mansions, is their being so
closely beset by other buildings. We saw only one or two which had any
spare space associated with them, to form either a court-yard or a
piece of garden-ground. Space is indeed the great want of Venice. Many
of the canals, dividing lines of houses as lofty as those of the Old
Town of Edinburgh, are not wider than the _wynds_ of that celebrated
city. And yet there we see the landing-places and entrances of
magnificent mansions, though more frequently the houses on such narrow
canals have the air of merchants' stores and warehouses.

It would be vain to attempt a detailed description of one-half of the
wonderfully beautiful old churches, palazzos, and other buildings,
which we examined during this and the subsequent day. We were
agreeably disappointed on the whole; for we had come with an idea that
we should see only the shell of ancient Venice, and few of those works
of art which used to be associated with its name; whereas the fact is,
that all the most remarkable old buildings are entire, and in
tolerable order; and scarcely a picture, or statue, or antique
curiosity, has been lost during the political changes which the city
has undergone. Doubtless, it is living Venice no more: it is Venice
reduced to a museum--but what a museum! And here I must do the
Austrian government the justice to say, that it appears to have a deep
feeling of interest in the ancient monuments of the republic. It
contributes handsomely for their maintenance; and no modern proprietor
of an old palazzo can make any change in it, till he has satisfied a
tribunal of taste, that the change will be in keeping with the antique
and picturesque glories of the place.

We went at an early hour one day to see the Pisani palace: one of
those which are attractive on account of their containing good works
of art. The Pisani are an illustrious family: and the representative
still lives in this fine old mansion, or at least occasionally
occupies it; but he is a broken-down old man, who has survived wife,
children, and other relatives, and his death must speedily close the
many-centuried history of his name. It was with melancholy feelings
that we stepped into the hall or vestibule, whose broken plasters are
still graced with coats-armorial and emblems of ancient dignity;
amongst the rest, two standards wrapped up round their staves,
probably memorials of the great Pisano--a naval commander of the
fourteenth century. The housekeeper's little children were playing
about the place, as children in an ordinary city would play in a
street among the dogs and carriages. Mounting a wide side-staircase,
we reached a handsome first floor, composed of a central _salle_ and
side-rooms, tolerably furnished; and here we found the two pictures
for which the Pisani are famous--The Death of Darius, and his Queen
supplicating Alexander, by Paul Veronese. They are beautiful
paintings; and by their value, still give a sort of dignity to this
decayed family.

Another palace we visited was that of the _Vendramini Colerghi_, now
the property of the Duchesse de Berri, who makes it her ordinary
winter-quarters. It is a large and elegant building, in a form
approaching that of the letter Z, with a flower-garden in front of the
receding part. The duchesse is understood to have purchased it for
120,000 zwanzigers--equivalent to about L.4000, and not the value of
the stones of which it is built. With great good taste, she has made
no alteration in the decoration or destination of the rooms, but has
added modern furniture, family portraits, and many objects of _virtu_.
The series of apartments on the first floor above the vestibule is
extensive and superb; and though the _tout ensemble_ is more
characteristic of a modern French princess than of an ancient
Venetian family, it was pleasant to see at least one of the palazzos
of the ancient republic handsomely furnished, and having the
appearance of cheerful occupation. Among the portraits are some that
could scarcely have been expected to survive the Revolution of
1792--as Louis XIV.; Louis XV. when a boy; some of the princesses,
aunts of Louis XVI.; also the dauphin, father of the latter monarch.
There is likewise a beautiful cabinet of Marie Antoinette. Such
articles, we presume, must have been obtained from the palaces at the
downfall of royalty, and preserved by various accidents till the
restoration, when the royal family would of course be eager to recover
them at whatever expense. We saw here a portrait of the Duchesse, with
her infant son, standing in widow's weeds, beside the bust of her
assassinated husband; also portraits of the Due de Bourdeaux, his
wife, the Duchesse's present husband, and her younger set of children.
In a glass-case were the gilt spurs of Henri IV. The Duchesse gives
gay parties in winter, when the full suite of rooms must have a fine

The churches of Venice are numerous--about a hundred in all, being one
for every thousand souls, while I am told there is a priest for every
hundred. We visited eight or ten of the most remarkable; and so
bewildering was their magnificence, and so confounding the multitude
of fine things shewn in them, that if I had not taken note of
everything at the moment, I must have had only one confused idea of
something supra-mundanely fine. A great church in Venice is usually a
structure of pure marble, with a dome or tower. The interior is one
open space, with the usual double colonnade, a railed off altar-space
at the upper end, and little chapels in the aisles on both sides.
Generally, over the principal altar is some large scriptural
picture--a Crucifixion, or a Taking Down from the Cross, or an
Ascension; the production of Titian, or Tintoretto, or Paul Veronese,
or some other artist of the Venetian school. Over the lateral altars
are similar works of art. Sometimes one of these side-chapels is at
the same time the tomb of a noble family, which assumes the duty of
keeping it in order. In many of the churches, nothing can exceed the
beauty of the sculpture which is lavished over the interior; and,
while many features are common, each usually contrives to have some
special beauty or some exclusive possession on which a peculiar fame
rests. For example, the church of _San Georgia Maggiore_ has some
wooden carved-work by a Belgian artist, of surprising beauty. _Gli
Scalzi_ is a paragon of elaborate decoration. The church of the
_Frari_, old and Gothic, is full of grand tombs, including those of
several doges, that of Titian, and a monument to Canova. The _Santa
Maria della Salute_ has a fine collection of pictures over and above
those in the church. This church was built in 1632, by a decree of the
Senate, as an act of thanksgiving to the Virgin for putting an end to
a pestilence by which 60,000 people had been carried off. It is a most
beautiful structure, full of fine things; and altogether a curious
monument of that delusion of ignorance and misdirected piety which
made men assign to a chapter of priests the duty now committed to a
Board of Health, and persuaded them that a church was of much greater
efficacy for the cure of the pestilence than an hospital.

I have as yet said scarcely anything of the ducal palace and church of
San Marco, which are the principal and central objects of Venice. The
first is a quadrangular building, with a court in the centre; very
peculiar antique architecture, with a double row of arcades both
outside and in; the whole having a strikingly Oriental character. In
front, and at one side, is a pavement, forming the principal open
space in Venice; the haunt, of course, of many loungers of all
characters; and distinguished by the two well-known pillars, one of
which bears the lion of St Mark. The interior of the palace presents a
succession of grand old halls, the scene of the court-glories of the
ancient doges. One, called the _Sala del Maggior Consiglio_, is 154
feet long by 74 broad. It has a _dais_ at one end, on which the throne
must have been placed; and over this a picture of Paradise by
Tintoretto, covering the entire end of the room--of course 74 feet
long--being thus the largest picture ever painted on canvas. Around,
under the ceiling, are the portraits of the series of doges. The _Sala
del Senato_ still exhibits the seats of the senators, each furnished
with its candlestick for protracted discussions--a melancholy memorial
of departed independence. We gazed, too, on the Hall of the Council of
Ten, and the lesser room where the more terrible Council of Three held
its sittings; all now reduced to mere show-places, but still strongly
suggesting their original destination. The Lion's Mouth, in the outer
gallery, to which any accusation could be committed, was not
forgotten. After dwelling a due time upon the rooms, and the numerous
pictures and other works of art presented in them, we descended into
the dungeons or _pozzi_--narrow stone-chambers destitute of light,
where Venetian justice formerly kept its victims--a terrific specimen
of the reckless inhumanity of past times. Finally, we passed to the
Bridge of Sighs, which is detected to be an afterthought structure,
designed to connect the palace with the more modern prison in the
rear, a canal intervening. I suspect, after all, that many of the
stories told about the pozzi and the bridge are mere myths, the
reflection of ideas which the appearance of the places suggests.

The church of San Marco, adjoining the palace, and forming one side of
the Piazza or square, is like no other building I ever saw--decidedly
Oriental in style--indeed such a building as Aladin might have evoked
by his lamp; which reminds me, by the way, that there is a prevalent
tinge of the East all over Venice, seen in the architecture
particularly. The vaulting and arching of this church are all
described as Byzantine in style, and are therefore round; but it has
been a custom in Venice to fix up on such a building as this any
reliques of antique sculpture which have been taken in the countries
with which the Republic was at war: accordingly, the front of San
Marco bristles all over with curious pillars and carvings, including,
above all, the four celebrated bronze horses which Napoleon took to
Paris, and which were restored after his downfall. Walking through one
of the low-browed doors, we pass across a vestibule, where a stone is
pointed out in the pavement as the spot on which the emperor
Barbarossa laid his head beneath the foot of Pope Alexander III. Then
proceeding into the interior, you find the dusky atmosphere dimly
blazing with a peculiar glitter from the walls and ceilings, the whole
being one mass of gold mosaic, on which scripture subjects are
inserted in a darker colouring. Think of a huge church, the interior
facing of which is composed of pieces of gilt stone, each no bigger
than the point of your finger would cover! But this is not all. The
wide-extending pavement is seen to be composed in like manner of small
pieces of marble and precious stones, set so as to form regular
figures, all most exact, and still wonderfully entire, though it has
endured the feet of daily thousands for several centuries.
Unfortunately, from some infirmity in the vaulting below, this
singular floor is thrown into undulations, in some places so great as
to require care in walking over them. I spent hours in wandering about
and examining the many curious things which are to be seen in this
church, including those of its famous treasury. It is truly surprising
that, after so many revolutions, so many of these valuables have been
preserved. The fidelity of the priesthood to their charge is surely
deserving of some admiration, considering how many opportunities there
must have been of making away with precious articles, after which no
inquiry would probably have ever been made.

A campanile, or bell-tower, has been erected in the square near the
church, and is one of the most conspicuous objects in Venice; rising,
as it does, above every other building. It seems slender; but I was
surprised to find, on a rough measurement, that the sides are not less
than fifty feet wide. A paved way, instead of a staircase, conducts to
an open _loggia_ near the top, whence you can have a complete view of
the city. I remarked that the tops of many of the houses are of use in
the same way as gardens and summer-houses are in other countries.
People go there to smoke, or to take their coffee--the chimneys being
a very slight obstruction to such enjoyments in a country where little
fire is used. We here also had a good view of the celebrated
_orologio_ of Venice; a tower containing an ancient clock of peculiar
elaborateness of construction. On the top stand two metal giants,
armed with ponderous hammers, with which to strike the hours and
quarters on a huge bell, placed between them. There is something
terrible in these automata; and the feeling is not allayed when you
hear that one of them once committed a _murder_, having with his
hammer knocked an incautious workman over the battlements! The
campanile was begun in 902; and I felt interested in tracing its
resemblance, both in architecture and relative situation, to the
square tower of St Andrews, which is supposed to be of nearly the same

My limits leave me no room to dilate upon our visit to the Accademia.
Indeed, in the visit itself, we could do little more than pause here
and there as a Titian or Tintoretto cast up in the multitude of
pictures, or when we came before some specimen of the very early
masters, of whose works there are many dating so far back as the end
of the fourteenth century. There were some pictures representing
transactions in Venice, of not much later date, which I regarded with
interest, as preserving to us the appearance of men and things in that
age; particularly one depicting some miracle, in which several grave
ecclesiastics are seen swimming about in the Grand Canal, while ladies
look on from windows and balconies, which I convinced myself still
exist there. I must be equally brief with that place which no
countryman of Shakspeare can avoid visiting, though the present Rialto
is, after all, later than his time. It is of a curious structure as a
bridge; there being three rows of building along it, containing shops,
with two roadways for passengers. One crosses backwards and forwards,
muttering: 'On the Rialto thou hast rated me,' &c.; goes distractedly
into a shop, to purchase a breastpin, as a memorial of the place; and
then plunges down the stairs, to resume his place in the gondola. We
took a couple of hours to pay a visit to the Armenian monastery, on
the island of San Lazzaro--the place to which Byron resorted in order
to study the Armenian language. It is a curious old establishment,
with some modern activity about it in the diffusion of literature; the
monks having a printing-office in tolerable briskness, whence they
issue books in various languages. We were delighted with the flush of
beautiful flowering, from the oleander bushes in the central court,
and the vine-hung alleys in the garden behind. I must not forget, in
this hurried close of my adventure, the two moonlight sails we had
through those mysterious watery streets, where, the associations of
day and of the active world being shut out, we felt as if each light
in the old palazzi illumined some scene of mediæval romance. _That_
was like no other thing in our lives. On the third evening, we left
this dream-city by a means which we had studiously ignored all the
time of our visit--namely, a _railway_, which crosses from Venice to
the mainland. It was something of a wakener to find ourselves at 'the
station,' on the bank of one of the canals, and see a range of
'omnibus gondolas,' all duly labelled for their respective courses
through the city, and ranked up in front like so many of the
terrestrial machines which haunt the ordinary railway termini of this
earth. However, we had the consolation of reserving this to the close
of our visit, when, of course, we must have awaked out of our Venetian
feelings at anyrate. The train brought us to Padua long before


During a prolonged summer sojourn with kind friends resident in a
quiet country town, we became quite interested in the tactics of the
neighbours, and acquainted with their social condition.

'I think we have almost exhausted our visiting round,' said our
hostess, Mrs Smith, one morning, as she replenished her card-case,
'with the exception of _Really_, _Indeed_, and _Impossible_, to whom
we must introduce you. You look puzzled! but I mean the three Misses
Bonderlay, who are usually distinguished by these interjectional
names. We will forthwith send them an invitation to tea this very
evening, and they shall be their own etymologists.'

At the appointed hour, three ladies were ushered into the
drawing-room, bearing so startling a resemblance to each other in
person, manner, and costume, that we at once decided they must be
_trins_. Not so, however; there was a year or two's difference in age
between them, which rendered the strong resemblance more remarkable.
They were tall, well-formed, plump ladies, of middle or uncertain age;
with round, unmeaning faces, flaxen locks, and pale-blue eyes. There
was not a perceptible thread or pucker different in their three
dresses, which must have fitted all indiscriminately; the flaxen curls
were arranged in precisely the same waves round each mealy
countenance; and the neat caps, with bright-green ribbons, doubtless
had the same exact quantity of tulle and gauze in their fashioning.
Each sister owned a delicate work-basket--trinal baskets also; and in
each receptacle reposed a similar square of worsted-work, the same to
the last stitch. We heard the visitors named as Miss Bonderlay, Miss
Paulina Bonderlay, and Miss Constantia Bonderlay; but that was of no
use, since they were not ticketed, and our blunders became
embarrassing and ludicrous. We addressed Miss Bonderlay as Miss
Paulina, when the senior lady drew up with dignified composure, and
pointing to a sister, said: '_I_ am Miss Bonderlay: _that_ lady is
Miss Paulina Bonderlay.' And so on with the other two, who explained
that they were juniors, as they waved a lily hand towards their eldest
sister, indicative of her supremacy. But as the evening advanced, we
learned to distinguish them by a peculiarity of expression, which had
gained for these amiable maidens the somewhat singular cognomens of
Really! Indeed! and Impossible! for their conversation, if
conversation it could be called, consisted almost wholly of these
interjections, pronounced in an unvarying, monotonous voice, while no
shadow of emotion was perceptible on the cloudless expanse of their
unwrinkled physiognomies.

When they were addressed in the usual conversational appeal which
demands a reply of some kind, Miss Bonderlay, sipping her tea, or
bending over her work, softly ejaculated: 'Really!' If you turned to
Miss Paulina for some more tangible announcement of her opinion, she
responded, in precisely the same tone: 'Indeed!' And when, as a last
resource, you looked towards Miss Constantia, the word 'Impossible!'
and that word alone, fell in honeyed accents from her ruby lips. By
this means they were easily distinguished; and their most intimate
friends often failed to recognise which was which when apart, and
sometimes even when they were together, until the talismanic syllables
gave to each her individuality. The peculiarity gave rise to a little
good-humoured ridicule; but for our part, we thought it quite
wonderful how well they played their part in conversation with so
small a stock of words. There is much pliability of meaning, however,
in an interjection; and in company, where there are always several
persons who are anxious to be heard, it is a positive virtue. In Miss
Constantia's intonation of her favourite 'impossible!' it seemed to me
that there mingled a dash of sadness, a kind of musical and melancholy
cadence, which was followed by an unconscious absence of mind,
evidencing the fact, that her thoughts were what is vulgarly termed
'wool-gathering.' On mentioning this impression to Mrs Smith, she
complimented us on our keen observation, since, in truth, a tinge of
the romantic _did_ attach to the history of the fair Constantia; and
she then sketched the following outline, leaving all details to be
filled up by the imagination of the auditor:--

The Misses Bonderlay, it seems, had attained the age of womanhood,
when, by the decease of their surviving parent, a man of high moral
rectitude, but a stern disciplinarian, they were left in possession of
a comfortable independence, fully equal to their moderate wants. They
had been governed with such an iron rule, and treated as such absolute
automata from their childhood, that when the hand of death released
them from the despotic sway, its effects still continued apparent in
the constraint which habit had rendered second nature. They continued
to reside in their native town, only removing to a smaller house, and
pursued undeviatingly the routine they had always been accustomed
to--a routine which might well bear comparison, in its monotony and
apathy, with that of monastic seclusion. Rumour, with her thousand
tongues, had never singled out these vestal ladies as objects of
matrimonial schemes; no suitors darkened their doors or disturbed
their peace; they made no enemies, and, perhaps, no very enthusiastic
friends. They listened to the gossip retailed by their neighbours, as
in politeness bound, but the imperturbable 'Really!' Indeed!' and
'Impossible!' gave no encouragement to gossip: they never asked
questions, never propagated reports, but listened and ejaculated, and
ejaculated and listened, giving and receiving no offence. It never was
positively ascertained whether the Misses Bonderlay conversed among
themselves; but popular opinion maintained, that they did not,
assigning the ill-natured reason, that they had nothing to say. Being
neither oral inquirers nor readers, what could they have to talk
about? Still, popular opinion is often wrong, and perhaps it was so in
this instance. At anyrate, if they did not exchange confidential
sentiments, quarrels were avoided; and smoothly the three fair sisters
sailed down the troublous stream of time.

It was a great and stirring event in their tranquil lives, when a
maternal uncle, as if to vindicate the fidelity of old romance, did
actually return from India to his native land with a large fortune. Mr
Elliston, a childless widower, took up his abode at a watering-place,
and sent for his eldest niece, Miss Bonderlay. She promptly obeyed the
summons, and of course it was generally reported, and with some
colouring, that the bulk of the nabob's fortune would be hers if she
'played her cards well.' But she did not play her cards well, as the
event turned out; for the old splenetic Indian tired very soon of the
monotonous 'Really!'--the sole response to his wonderful narratives of
tiger-hunting and Eastern marvels in general. At length, Mr Elliston
bluntly gave his visitor to understand that he wished to see Miss
Paulina; and poor, crestfallen Miss Bonderlay returned home, and Miss
Paulina departed in her turn to fill the vacant place at the nabob's
board. She remained a considerable time longer than her elder sister
had done; and it was surmised that 'Indeed!' had proved more agreeable
than 'Really!' But, alas! for human foresight and conjecture, the
second Miss Bonderlay re-appeared in her native town for the purpose
of despatching the third relief in the person of Miss Constantia. 'The
young one will have a human tongue,' muttered the choleric Indian: 'I
want a companion, not a parrot.' The poor gentleman never imagined
that there could be three parrots in one family; and he naturally
concluded, that his choice had fallen on the right niece at last.

When he found out his mistake--and we need hardly say that he was not
long about that--his chagrin and consternation may be imagined.
Indeed, had it not been for the presence of a certain Major George,
there is no doubt that when he heard the sweet 'Impossible!' of Miss
Constantia, he would instantly have consigned her to the banishment
and oblivion of her sisters. But Major George's quiet influence
restrained the threatened ebullition of wrath; though when his best
stories and jokes after dinner were received with a gentle
'impossible!' which meant either 'really,' or 'indeed,' or anything
else it might pass for, Uncle Elliston struck the table violently with
his clenched hand, exclaiming in a passion: 'Impossible?
madam--impossible? Do you mean to give me the lie? I tell you, the
anecdote I have just related is perfectly possible, and, moreover,
perfectly true. What do you mean by impossible? I hate impossibles.
Nothing is impossible! Do you mean to insult me, madam--heigh?'

'Impossible, dear uncle--impossible!' meekly ejaculated the gentle
fair, affrighted at such an unusual display of excitement; and it was
fortunate that Major George called off her uncle's attention from poor
Miss Constantia's unconscious delinquency.

Major George was an Indian crony of Uncle Elliston's; considerably
younger, however, than the latter, and, as the spinsters remarked
sententiously, only sallow enough to be interesting, and only old
enough to be sedate! His purse was amply filled, and Major George was
on the look-out for a wife; but being most painfully shy and
sensitive, it seemed rather a doubtful case if he would succeed in his
aspirings. With the nabob, Major George was an immense favourite; but
except that they had hunted tigers together, there seemed no adequate
reason for so strong a preference--the taciturnity of the one being as
remarkable as the communicativeness of the other. Mr Elliston called
George a 'good fellow,' and slapped his shoulder approvingly; and
introduced him to Miss Constantia with sly and peculiar
_empressement_. Major George's visit was prolonged, and Miss
Constantia's visit was prolonged far beyond the period allotted to her
sisters; and Uncle Elliston gradually ceased to rave at 'Impossible!'
But a terrible climax approached, and how it came about no one ever
knew: Major George set off for Paris early one fine morning, and Miss
Constantia appeared at the breakfast-table with eyes red and swollen
with weeping. The nabob insisted on knowing what was the matter, and
why his favourite had taken flight so unceremoniously.

'You don't mean to say you've refused him, Niece Con?' cried her
uncle, 'for I know he meant to make you an offer of his hand and

'O no, uncle, no!--impossible!' sobbed the weeping lady.

'Oh! deuce take your _impossibles_, Con Bonderlay. Tell me if the lad
asked you to marry him, and what your answer was?'

She hesitated--looked up--looked down--looked startled; and then
murmured, as if examining for the first time the word, as it slipped
musically from between her lips, 'Impossible!'

'Well, Niece Con, I think you're said _impossible_ once too often in
your life, if this is to be the upshot. Come now, be candid and don't
be a fool! Did you intend to refuse Major George?'

'Impossible!' was the reply; which, habitual as it was, burst forth
this time in a passion of tears and blushes.

Mr Elliston always affirmed that he saw at a glance how the matter
stood: that, in short, Major George had made a 'fool of himself.' The
lady had not _intended_ to reject him; but the major, from his shy,
shamefaced nature, on hearing Miss Constantia's fatal 'impossible!' in
reply to his love-suit, had flown from the scene of disappointment
without an attempt at explanation. Acting on such a supposition (for
mere supposition it remained, neither the lady nor gentleman making
the slightest confession), Mr Elliston addressed his niece with more
gentleness, a dash of pity mingling in his tone: 'Niece Constantia, I
shall write to Major George, and bring him back again; but mind you
don't say "impossible" a second time!'

However, Mr Elliston indulged in the fault of procrastination, which
in him often led to results he did not anticipate: he rarely
remembered that excellent maxim, which advises us never to postpone
till to-morrow what can be performed as well to-day. To-morrow came,
indeed; but with it also came an attack of gout, which incapacitated
him from exertion for weeks: and scarcely was he convalescent, when a
letter was put into his hands from the absentee, announcing the
marriage of Major George with a very pretty and charming young lady.
Mr Elliston handed the missive to his niece: she perused it in
silence; but her uncle told Mrs Smith, in strict confidence, that he
felt almost sure a tear fell on the paper. Be that as it might,
shortly afterwards, when Mr Elliston signified his intention of
inviting Major George, Major George's young bride, and the young
bride's elder sister, to pay him a visit, Miss Constantia expressed a
desire to return home. Her uncle acquiesced with rather too much
alacrity for conventional _politesse_, exclaiming as he did so: 'I
only hope, Niece Con, that George's wife won't be a "Dear me!" or a
"Well, I never!" but a hearty, comfortable, chattering woman, with a
will and a way of her own!'

Nor were Mr Elliston's hopes in this instance doomed to
disappointment; for Mrs Major George had not only an actual tongue,
but a way and a will of her own so decided, that ere the expiration of
their visit, she succeeded in bringing about a union between the nabob
and her elder sister. Some folks affirmed, that Mr Elliston came
speedily to endure the flat contradictions of his wife with the
humility of a broken spirit, and to speak with tender regret of his
meek and inoffensive nieces. They, quiet souls, heard of their uncle
the nabob's marriage without surprise, and without expressing emotion
of any kind, beyond the 'Really!' 'Indeed!' and 'Impossible!'
appertaining to each, as her distinguishing characteristic or mark of
identity. When we first met the Misses Bonderlay, with their trinal
baskets and squares of worsted-work, they were preparing a beautiful
hearth-rug as a present for their uncle's wife, to be formed of these
identical squares, with numerous others of a similar construction, and
surrounded by a corresponding handsome border. Since that period, we
have been favoured with exquisite specimens of their united industry;
for the greatest pleasure of their lives consists in bestowing
such-like gifts of handiwork on their friends and acquaintance.

But we have derived another benefit from our intercourse with the
sisters. Whenever we find ourselves at a loss for an inoffensive
reply, or are unwilling to pursue a discussion, we find a safe refuge
in copying their harmless peculiarity; for, after all, the meaning of
words depends very much on intonation: and we have not unfrequently
had confirmed, by our own experience, the theory we have ventured to
promulgate--that there is much virtue in such interjections as Really!
Indeed! and Impossible!


Every war is a blunder; every battle a blot of shame upon human
nature; and the greatest wisdom a successful belligerent can shew,
even when he has been forced into the fray by his beaten antagonist,
is to get out of it as fast as he can. But some wars are viewed, not
as they ought to be, as indications of the slow progress of the human
race from barbarism, but through the medium of the lofty and
chivalrous feelings of the resisting party, or the party which takes
arms against oppression. Hence, war and glory have come to be
associated in the vulgar mind; and hence the mere act of fighting is
termed honourable, although it is obvious that, abstractedly, it
should excite only feelings of shame. Even the late Afghan war is
looked upon as a _calamity_, relieved throughout by flashes of heroism
and gleams of success--a war which, rightly viewed, is either one of
the greatest crimes, or one of the most stupendous blunders recorded
in history!

This war, we observe, has already found a chronicler, and one
peculiarly qualified, both by his knowledge and talent, to do justice
to the subject.[1] Although possessing all the essentials of history,
however, the book has something more, and is therefore not strictly a
history, in the conventional sense of the term; the text as well as
the margin being burdened with letters, diaries, and documents of all
kinds--the crude materials which it is the province of the historian
to digest. The author, notwithstanding, has a clear historical head;
his narrative, when he permits it to flow uninterrupted, is animated;
his reflections generally philosophical; his summaries of individual
character acute and distinct; and so peculiar have been his sources of
information, that henceforward no man will sit down to write upon this
era of the history of India, or of Central Asia, before carefully
consulting the volumes of Mr Kaye.

These volumes, however, comprise between thirteen and fourteen hundred
octavo pages, filled with hard names and minute details, and rendered
more difficult by the unpardonable want of an index. Although a
necessity, therefore, for the more respectable libraries, and a thing
to be hoarded by all collectors as a work of reference, the book has
little chance of being known to the mass of the public; and we
propose, therefore, to arrange the few extracts we are able to give,
in such a way as, with the aid of our own filling up, may convey to
the general reader--what, we suspect, he has never received
before--some distinct idea of one of the most fantastic tricks that
ever made the angels weep.

There is no country in the world more secure from external invasion
than India; but on the west, more especially, nature has interposed
between her and the more civilised powers of Europe and Asia a
succession of rivers, mountains, and deserts, absolutely impassable by
an army of any formidable magnitude. Notwithstanding this, there had
been long an uneasy feeling connected with the idea of the territorial
aggrandisement of Russia, and of late years, by the desire manifested
by that power to interfere in the affairs of Persia. In 1837-38,
therefore, when a Persian army was before Herat, with Russian officers
busy in the camp, it is no wonder that, to previously excited
imaginations, the danger should have seemed to assume a tangible
form. The principality of Herat, although on the other side of
intervening deserts, extending for many hundred miles, was in itself a
fertile and beautiful oasis, where a numerous army might be refreshed
and provisioned, and established as on a vantage-ground. From thence
the Persians, strengthened and officered by the Russians, might roll
on towards Cabool, and there prepare for a descent upon India. This
magnificent but terrible idea was not examined in its details--it was
taken for granted as a thing not only possible but probable; and the
far-distant region of Hindostan, separated as it was by deserts,
mountains, and rivers from the tumult that agitated Central Asia, was
stirred by conflicting feelings of terror and exultation. British
India, from the Himalaya to the sea, is dotted here and there with
native states, which the inconsistent policy of the Company in
Leadenhall Street has preserved in a kind of liberty, as relics and
remembrancers of a past _régime_. But besides these uncertain
protégés, we had to look to the natives in our own provinces, who
seemed to _expect_ that something would happen--they knew not what,
any more than their rulers. 'Among our Mussulman subjects,' says Mr
Kaye, 'the feeling was somewhat akin to that which had unsettled their
minds at the time when the rumoured advent of Zemaun Shah made them
look for the speedy restoration of Mohammedan supremacy in Hindostan.
In their eyes, indeed, the movement beyond the Afghan frontier took
the shape of a Mohammedan invasion; and it was believed that countless
thousands of true believers were about to pour themselves over the
plains of the Punjab and Hindostan, and to wrest all the country
between the Indus and the sea from the hands of the infidel usurpers.
The Mohammedan journals, at this time, teemed with the utterances of
undisguised sedition. There was a decline in the value of public
securities; and it went openly from mouth to mouth, in the streets and
the bazaars, that the Company's Raj was nearly at an end.'

Under these circumstances, it seemed necessary to look to the
intervening country, Afghanistan, which in this summary manner was to
be made a 'platform of observation' for the Perso-Russian army to
prepare for its descent upon Hindostan. The Afghans were tribes of
hardy mountaineers, inhabiting a wild and thinly-peopled country. They
consisted of soldiers, husbandmen, and shepherds, all convertible, at
a moment's notice, into thieves and bandits; and through their
formidable defiles flowed an uncertain stream of commerce, connecting
India with the distant provinces of Persia and Russia. So little was
known of these mountaineers, that in the early part of this century,
their prince, Shah Zemaun, was a formidable bugbear to the Indian
Council, and nothing was thought of for a time but an invasion of the
Afghans. In one of the sudden revolutions, however, so common in
semi-barbarous states, this shah was taken captive, and his eyes
punctured with a lancet--a summary act of deposition in the East, for
a blind man cannot reign. Two of his brothers competed for the vacant
throne; and notwithstanding the efforts of a famous king-making
vizier, Futteh Khan, the prize fell for a time to the lot of him who
is so well known to English readers by the name and style of Shah
Soojah. But his incapacity was soon manifest. Sometimes a king,
sometimes a bandit, and sometimes a fugitive subsisting by the sale of
his jewels, his cause at length became altogether hopeless; and after
being robbed of his last treasure, the Koh-i-Noor--as has already been
detailed in this Journal[2]--he took refuge in the British territory.

Futteh Khan, the king-making vizier, had twenty brothers; but one of
the younger fry he treated with especial neglect. 'The son of a woman
of the Kuzzilbash tribe, looked down upon by the high-bred Douranee
ladies of his father's household, the boy had begun life in the
degrading office of a sweeper at the sacred cenotaph of Lamech.
Permitted, at a later period, to hold a menial office about the person
of the powerful Wuzeer, he served the great man with water, or bore
his pipe; was very zealous in his ministrations; kept long and painful
vigils; saw everything, heard everything in silence; bided his time
patiently, and when the hour came, trod the stage of active life as no
irresolute novice. A stripling of fourteen, in the crowded streets of
Peshawur in broad day, as the buyers and the sellers thronged the
thoroughfares of the city, he slew one of the enemies of Futteh Khan,
and galloped home to report the achievement to the Wuzeer. From that
time his rise was rapid. The neglected younger brother of Futteh Khan
became the favourite of the powerful chief, and following the fortunes
of the warlike minister, soon took his place among the chivalry of the
Douranee Empire.'

The name of this youth is well known in the annals of our time: he was
Dost Mahomed, a gay, bold, frank, daring character, who rose from the
excesses of his early years into something resembling a hero of
romance. One of these excesses was committed when he had taken by
assault the Palace of Herat. It consisted in tearing the jewelled
waistband from the person of the wife of one of the royal princes--a
terrible outrage in the eyes of these _barbarous_ soldiers of the
farther East, who, even when covered with blood, and loaded with
rapine, cast down their eyes before the females of their enemies'
household. In this case, the profaned garment was sent by the lady to
her brother, the son of the then Afghan king, and a bloody vengeance
followed, not upon the author of the outrage, but on the king-making
vizier, who, falling into the hands of the prince whom he had himself
placed upon the throne, was literally hacked to pieces. Dost Mahomed
now rose like a rocket. The base and feeble remains of legitimacy
seemed to die away of its own weakness, and the despised younger son
of the king-making vizier soon reigned supreme at Cabool. Let us note
that this was in 1826. The new king, says Mr Kaye, 'had hitherto lived
the life of a dissolute soldier. His education had been neglected, and
in his very boyhood he had been thrown in the way of pollution of the
foulest kind. From his youth, he had been greatly addicted to wine,
and was often to be seen in public reeling along in a state of
degrading intoxication, or scarcely able to keep his place in the
saddle. All this was now to be reformed. He taught himself to read and
to write, accomplishments which he had before, if at all, scantily
possessed. He studied the Koran, abandoned the use of strong liquors,
became scrupulously abstemious, plain in his attire, assiduous in his
attention to business, urbane and courteous to all.' In 1833, Shah
Soojah, issuing from the British territory, made an abortive attempt
to recover his kingdom; but Runjeet Singh, the ruler of the Sikhs, was
more successful in wresting from him Peshawur, a province of
Afghanistan, and Dost Mahomed, both in rage and terror, began to look
around him for a foreign alliance. His grand aim was to secure the
friendship of the British; but this was scornfully refused. The
governor-general, with exquisite irony, replied to his overture: 'My
friend, you are aware that it is not the practice of the British
government to interfere with the affairs of other independent states!'
and a British envoy to Cabool, while refusing everything that was
important for him to ask, kindly cautioned him to abstain from
connecting himself with any other power.

Such was the position of affairs in Afghanistan when the government of
India, in 1838, was roused to a sense of what seemed immediate danger
by the movements in Central Asia. On the one hand, there was a _de
facto_ king, who had reigned twelve years, who was now struggling in
the grasp of the ruler of the Punjab, and eagerly soliciting the
alliance of the British; while the Russians and Persians, leagued
before Herat, were already negotiating for a footing in his country.
On the other hand, there was a deposed exile, who had tried
repeatedly, and in vain, to recover his throne, whose whole life had
been a tissue of misfortunes and feeblenesses, and who now lived on
the charity of the Company in their own territory. The obvious policy
was to secure the independence of Afghanistan and aid her resources.
How to do this? To embrace the proffered alliance of Dost Mahomed, or
force Shah Soojah upon the country, and prepare for the reception of
the Persians and Russians, by kindling a civil war? The latter was the
course determined on! A league was formed, known in the history of our
time as the Tripartite Treaty--including Runjeet Singh, Shah Soojah,
and the British government. By this document, it was agreed that
certain large portions of the Afghan territory, including Peshawur,
should belong for ever to Runjeet Singh; that the maharajah should
likewise possess the passes both of the Sutlej and the Indus, with
power to bar the way at his pleasure; that the Afghans and Sikhs
should mutually exchange military assistance when required; and that
the friends and enemies of any of the three high contracting parties
should be the friends and enemies of all.

There was not a word in this treaty, it will be seen, of a British war
in Afghanistan; but the Indian government soon came to enlarge its
views, and instead of merely patting Shah Soojah on the back, and
setting him upon his countrymen, it determined to take the field in
such force as would instantaneously settle the whole affair. The
celebrated Simlah manifesto was accordingly drawn up, in which the
governor-general gave 'his most exquisite reasons,' unpolitely
stigmatised by a great portion of the Indian press as a tissue of
falsehoods. With this, however, we have nothing to do; _our_ business
is with the fact, that before this proclamation had obtained general
currency, information had been received that the siege of Herat was
raised, and the Persian army on its retreat. This was awkward. The
occasion of the intended British invasion of Afghanistan was at an
end. No matter. A large and brilliant army was already assembled on
the banks of the Indus, and the war must go on! Many persons from the
first considered the result doubtful; and Shah Soojah himself had his
misgivings, when he found that he was to be forced by Christian
bayonets upon a nation of bigoted Mohammedans!

But although the change in the state of affairs in Central Asia made
no change in the belligerent resolves of the Indian government, it
determined them to reduce the size of the army, and so make a little
war instead of a great one. Scarcely had the Army of the Indus, as it
was called, begun its march through Scinde, when it was beset with
difficulties. 'Between Sukkur and Shikarpoor the camels had dropped
down dead by scores. But there was a worse tract of country in
advance. The officers looked at their maps, and traced with dismay the
vast expanse of sandy desert, where no green pasture met the eye, and
no sound of water spoke to the ear. But the season was favourable.
Escaping the arid and pestilential blasts of April and May, and the
noxious exhalations of the four succeeding months, the column advanced
into Cutch. The hard, salt-mixed sand crackled under their horses'
feet, as the general and his staff crossed the desert, on a fine
bright night of early March--so cool, that only when in a full gallop
the riders ceased to long for the warmth of their cloaks. The distance
from Shikarpoor to Dadur is a hundred and forty-six miles. It was
accomplished by the Bengal column in sixteen painful marches. Water
and forage were so scarce, that the cattle suffered terribly on the
way. The camels fell dead by scores on the desert; and further on, the
Beloochee robbers carried them off with appalling dexterity. When the
column reached a cultivated tract of country, the green crops were
used as forage for the horses. The _ryots_ were liberally paid on the
spot; but the agents of the Beloochee chiefs often plundered the
unhappy cultivators of the money that had been paid to them, even in
front of the British camp.' The Bolan Pass was more formidable. 'The
stream of the Bolan river was tainted by the bodies of the camels that
had sunk beneath their loads. The Beloochee freebooters were hovering
about, cutting off our couriers, murdering stragglers, carrying off
our baggage and our cattle. Among the rocks of this stupendous defile,
our men pitched their tents, and toiled on again day after day, over a
wretched road, covered with loose flint-stones, surmounting, at first
by a scarcely perceptible ascent, and afterwards by a difficult
acclivity, the great Brahoo chain of hills. The Bolan Pass is nearly
sixty miles in length. The passage was accomplished in six days. They
were days of drear discomfort, but not of danger. A resolute enemy
might have wrought mighty havoc among Cotton's regiments: but the
enemies with which now they had to contend were the sharp
flint-stones, which lamed our cattle; the scanty pasturage, which
destroyed them; and the marauding tribes, who carried them off. The
way was strewn with baggage, with abandoned tents and stores; and
luxuries, which a few weeks afterwards would have fetched their weight
twice counted in rupees, were left to be trampled down by the cattle
in the rear, or carried off by the plunderers about them.'

These disagreeables were surmounted; Soojah was installed at Candahar;
Ghuznee was captured in gallant style--when fifty prisoners were
hacked to pieces by orders of the shah; Dost Mahomed was beaten
wherever he shewed himself; and, finally, our victorious army arrived
at Cabool. Glorious victories are always highly appreciated in
England. The chief actors in this expedition were rewarded with titles
of earl, baron, baronet, and knight; and 'all went merry as a
marriage-bell.' Not, however, but that there were moments of misgiving
among the conquerors at Cabool. Dost Mahomed, though beaten, was not
subdued, and his repeated small successes made him almost formidable.
But even this was at an end, and the Dost surrendered himself

The British force remained in Cabool two years, where officers and men
alike misconducted themselves, as soldiers always do in a conquered
country. The exasperation of the natives became more and more
manifest: Akbar Khan, a son of Dost Mahomed, hovered about the
country, the evil genius, as it is supposed, of the rising storm; and
at length an insurrection broke out in the city. In this tissue of
surprising blunders, perhaps none is more remarkable than the facts,
that the general selected to command an army so critically placed was
a poor old man, feeble in body and mind, and that the wives and
children of many of the officers were present with their husbands and
fathers, as if the causeless invasion of a country, and the massacre
of thousands of its inhabitants, had been a party of pleasure! The
moment of retreat at length came; snow covered the ground; the dreary
passes of Khoord-Cabool were before them; and as they turned their
backs upon the city, they were saluted with farewell volleys of

The story of this fatal retreat has been often told. The result was
communicated in the following manner to the British troops shut up in
Jelalabad: 'At last, on the 13th of January, when the garrison were
busy on the works, toiling with axe and shovel, with their arms piled
and their accoutrements laid out close at hand, a sentry on the
ramparts, looking out towards the Cabool road, saw a solitary
white-faced horseman struggling on towards the fort. The word was
passed; the tidings spread. Presently the ramparts were lined with
officers, looking out, with throbbing hearts, through unsteady
telescopes, or with straining eyes tracing the road. Slowly and
painfully, as though horse and rider both were in an extremity of
mortal weakness, the solitary mounted man came reeling, tottering on.
They saw that he was an Englishman. On a wretched, weary pony,
clinging, as one sick or wounded, to its neck, he sat or rather leant
forward; and there were those who, as they watched his progress,
thought that he could never reach, unaided, the walls of Jelalabad. A
shudder ran through the garrison. That solitary horseman looked like
the messenger of death. Few doubted that he was the bearer of
intelligence that would fill their souls with horror and dismay. Their
worst forebodings seemed confirmed. There was the one man who was to
tell the story of the massacre of a great army. A party of cavalry
were sent out to succour him. They brought him in wounded, exhausted,
half-dead. The messenger was Dr Brydon, and he now reported his belief
that he was the sole survivor of an army of some 16,000 men!'[3] From
this wholesale butchery, which we are not disposed to detail, the
women and children, the general, and the husbands of the ladies, were
rescued by Akbar Khan. They were held for a time by the son of Dost
Mahomed in a sort of captivity; where some of them had leisure to
write narratives of their adventures, while others, with an
inconsistence common and entertaining in melodramatic pieces, amused
themselves with fun and frolic!

And what became of Shah Soojah? 'Rising early on the morning, he
arrayed himself in royal apparel, and, accompanied by a small party
of Hindostanees, proceeded under a salute, in a chair of state,
towards his camp, which had been pitched at Seeah-Sungh. But
Soojah-ool-dowlah, the son of the Newab, had gone out before him, and
placed in ambush a party of Jezailchees. As the shah and his followers
were making their way towards the regal tent, the marksmen fired upon
them. The volley took murderous effect. Several of the bearers and of
the escort were struck down, and the king himself killed on the spot.
A ball had entered his brain. Soojah-ool-dowlah then rode up; and as
he contemplated his bloody work, the body of the unhappy king, vain
and pompous as he was to the very last, was stripped of all the jewels
about it--the jewelled dagger, the jewelled girdle, the jewelled
head-dress--and it was then cast into a ditch.'

It was of course impossible for the Company to suffer the blot upon
their arms to remain: indeed, their safety in India required that no
tarnish of defeat should rest permanently upon their name. The British
troops at Candahar and Jelalabad were ordered to march upon Cabool,
where, as an enduring mark of the retributary visit, in addition to
pillaging the shops, setting fire to the houses, and murdering the
unresisting inhabitants, they destroyed--not the fortress--but the
_bazaar_, the great commercial depôt of Central Asia!

_The objects of the war were now accomplished._ But Shah Soojah was
dead. The king we had driven from the throne, however, was still
alive: Dost Mahomed, therefore, was restored; and nothing remained to
be done, since the grand drama had been brought to a conclusion, but
to celebrate the happy _dénouement_ by a fête. This, accordingly, came
off at Ferozepore. 'Then there was feasting and festivity in the
gigantic tents, hung with silken flags, on which, in polyglot
emblazonments, were the names of the actions that had been fought;
many complimentary effusions, in the shape of after-dinner harangues;
and in the mornings grand field-days, more or less, according to the
"skyey influences." The year--a most eventful one--was closed with a
grand military display. The plain was covered with British and Sikh
troops, and in the presence of Pertaub Singh, the heir-apparent of
Lahore; Dhyan Singh, the minister; the governor-general, the
commander-in-chief, and others of less note, some 40,000 men, with 100
guns, were man[oe]uvred on the great plain. On this grand tableau the
curtain fell; and the year opportunely closed in gaiety and
glitter--in prosperity and parade.'

We have now concluded our task, but without having been able to convey
even a faint idea of the stores of information that are contained in
these valuable volumes. They are destined, however, to retain a
permanent place among the books of reference which enrich our national
literature, and contribute to its advancement.


[1] _History of the War in Afghanistan_: from the unpublished Letters
and Journals of Political and Military Officers employed in
Afghanistan throughout the entire period of British Connection with
that Country. By John William Kaye. 2 vols. London: Bentley. 1051.

[2] See No 291.

[3] A sketch of this famous retreat will appear in a forthcoming
volume of _Chambers's Pocket Miscellany_.



However useful insects may be in the general economy of nature, it is
but too true that farmers and gardeners often find them a pest, and
with each returning summer the pages of agricultural journals abound
with remedies, offensive and defensive, against the obnoxious
invaders. In such cases, it becomes desirable to know what remedial
means are the most efficacious, and we are glad to find that the
question has been taken up by persons competent to discuss it. Among
these, Dr J. Davy has given the results of his inquiry in a paper, 'On
the Effects of certain Agents on Insects,' which has just been
published in the Transactions of the Entomological Society, and is
well worth reproduction in a condensed form. The experiments were
begun in the winter of 1850, the season, as will be remembered, being
so mild that insects were readily met with. Their objects were
threefold--to test the effects of temperature, of gases, and of
vapours. In the former, recourse was had to extremes of heat and cold.
A bee placed in a temperature of 32° became at first more active, but
the next morning was found torpid, as if dead; a register-thermometer
shewing that 25° had been the lowest temperature during the night.
Transferred to a temperature of 52°, the bee revived in half an hour,
and on the following day exhibited the same results under the same
conditions. A fly which, on December 8, was lively on the wing, in a
temperature of 52° indoors, was disinclined to move at 40°; and still
more so, stirring only when touched, at 33°, but did not become
torpid, as in the case of the bee, even at 23°, signs of life being
distinctly visible. Several trials made with different species of
flies all gave the same result--a remarkable power of sustaining life.
The method adopted was to enclose the insects in a glass tube, and
place them out of doors all night; and though the tube was frequently
covered with frost, they soon revived in the warm temperature of a
room. It is perhaps scarcely possible to estimate the degree of cold
which insect life will bear without destruction, since many of these
creatures survive the terrible winters of the arctic regions. Still, a
knowledge of the effects of reduction of temperature will be valuable,
as affording data by which to judge of the effects and probable
duration of visitations of insects, and of the nature of the
precautionary measures to be adopted. In an experiment of alternate
temperature from 40° to 65° tried for five days on a bee, the creature
at last 'ceased to give any sign of vitality.'

The influence of heat appears to be much more rapid than that of cold:
a fly exposed to a temperature of 120°, died in two or three minutes;
and 113° proved fatal to another; while a third, placed in a
temperature increased gradually to 96°, remained alive for more than
an hour. Others bore from 80° to 90° for two hours; and in one
instance, a fly survived from 86° to 100° for several hours, but
became uneasy with a slight rise, and died at 105°. A bee, taken on
March 15, from a temperature of 45°, was exposed to 80° without any
apparent diminution of activity; at 90° it ceased to buzz; and at 96°,
ceased altogether to move, and did not revive. Although these results
are too few to enable us to determine the laws with respect to the
influence of temperature on insects, they may serve a purpose, in
shewing that the effect is not that gradual one of hybernation, where
activity and torpor succeed each other but slowly.

In the series of experiments with gas, it was found that flies placed
in carbonic acid gas became instantly motionless, and died if left for
any length of time. Some revived after an hour's immersion; others,
after two or three hours--the revival being slow in proportion to the
time of exposure to the gas. Somewhat similar results were obtained
with flies and bees in hydrogen and azote. To try the effect of
deprivation, a fly was shut up in a tube with but a small quantity of
common air, on the 5th February, in a temperature varying from 52° to
60° during the whole time of the experiment. The insect manifested no
uneasiness until the 25th day, and was found dead on the 28th. Another
fly, enclosed in a similar tube, with a quantity of air not more than
a few times its own volume, became languid on the second day, and
motionless on the twelfth, but revived on being taken out.

Flies immersed in oxygen were found dead the second day, with a
diminution of the quantity of the gas. Coal-gas produced almost
immediate insensibility, with a few feeble attempts at revival, but in
no case effectual. Sulphuretted hydrogen also proved especially
fatal--an instant's immersion was sufficient to destroy life; though
withdrawn at once, not one of the flies recovered. It was the same
when the portion of gas diffused in the air of the tube was so minute
as to be scarcely appreciable. On bees, too, the effect was similar;
the deadly nature of the gas on their delicate organisation being
invariably destructive. Like results were obtained with chlorine.

In the class of vapours, ammonia proved fatal in one case, and
harmless in another; muriatic acid stupified in two, and killed in
twenty-four hours. The vapour of nitric acid was equally fatal with
sulphuretted hydrogen; and, in alcoholic vapour, at a temperature of
74°, 'for a few minutes the fly shewed increased activity; in a few
more, it became nearly motionless; after about a quarter of an hour,
it appeared to be torpid. Now, exposed to the air of the room, in a
few minutes a slight motion of its feet was seen; after a couple of
hours, it was nearly as active as before the experiment; two hours
later, it was found dead.' The same effects, with slight variations,
were produced on other flies. With ether, cessation of motion was
almost instantaneous, followed, however, by revivification, except in
one instance: brief immersion in chloroform did not prevent revival,
but an exposure of eight minutes killed: camphor and turpentine were
both fatal: with attar of roses, musk, or iodine, no ill effect was

The experiments with prussic acid are worthy the attention of
entomologists, with whom it is often a matter of importance to kill an
insect with the least possible amount of injury. In these instances,
the plan pursued was to charge a small tube with the acid, and place
it inside that containing the insects. The vapour of 1-16th of a grain
was sufficient to destroy bees and flies; and that of seven grains
proved fatal to large beetles, and the largest kind of bees. Although
as yet the investigation has taken but a limited range, it will be
seen that it opens a wide field of research: the next step will be to
group or class those agents which appear to have produced similar
effects. It is remarkable, as Dr Davy observes, 'that most of the
substances which, even in minute portions mixed with common air,
prevent the slow combustion of phosphorus, as indicated by its shining
in the dark, have the effect, on the insects on which they were tried,
of suspending animation.'

He says further: 'Some of the results may not be undeserving notice
for practical purposes--as those in the instances of sulphuretted
hydrogen, oil of turpentine, and camphor, in relation to the
destruction of parasitical insects, whether infesting plants or
minerals, or to the preservation of substances from the attacks of
insects. To be applicable to the preservation of plants, of course it
is necessary that the agents to be used should not exercise on them
any materially injurious effects. This must be determined by
experiments made expressly for the purpose. The few trials I have yet
made on seeds seem to shew, that the steeping them in a solution in
water of sulphuretted hydrogen has not prevented their germination.
The seeds tried were mignonette, cress-seed, and that of a Nemophila:
analogy--namely, that of steeping the seed of the cerealia in a
solution of the white oxide of arsenic, is in favour of the same
conclusion. Further, for the preservation of articles, whether of
clothing or furniture, it is hardly less necessary that the substances
to be employed should have no offensive odour. Judging from the
effects of attar of roses, and from what we know of scented woods not
being liable to be attacked by insects, the probability is, that any
volatile oil of agreeable perfume will answer the purpose required,
and prove a true instance of the _utile et dulce_ combined.

'As carbonic acid gas, and some of the other agents mentioned, produce
merely a temporary torpor, it may be a question whether this gas, or
simple immersion in water, may not be advantageously substituted for
the fumes of burning sulphur, destructive of life, at the yearly
gathering of honey; the former, indeed, may be said to be in use in
the Levant, where the smoke of the fire of leaves, in which the
carbonic acid generated may be considered as chiefly operative, is
employed to stupify the bees preparatory to the spoiling of their


This subject is one which will not be unwelcome to those whose faith
in the myths of Roman history has been dissipated by Niebuhr and
others: they may still believe the story of Romulus and Remus and the
wolf. The Honourable Captain Egerton, in a communication from India,
says: 'Colonel Sleeman told me one of the strangest stories I ever
heard relating to some children, natives of this country (Oude),
carried away and brought up by wolves. He is acquainted with five
instances of this, in two of which he has both seen the children and
knows the circumstances connected with their recapture from the
animals. It seems that wolves are very numerous about Cawnpore and
Lucknow, and that children are constantly carried off by them. Most of
these have, of course, served as dinners for their captors, but some
have been brought up and educated by them after their own fashion.
Some time ago, two of the king of Oude's sowars (mounted gendarmes),
riding along the banks of the Goomptje, saw three animals come down to
drink. Two were evidently young wolves, but the third was as evidently
some other animal. The sowars rushed in upon them, captured the three,
and to their great surprise found that one was a small naked boy. He
was on all-fours; like his companions; had callosities on his knees
and elbows, evidently caused by the attitude in moving about; and bit
and scratched violently in resisting the capture. The boy was brought
up in Lucknow, where he lived some time, and may, for aught I know, be
living still. He was quite unable to articulate words, but had a
dog-like intellect--quick at understanding signs, and so on. Another
_enfant trouvé_, under the same circumstances, lived with two English
people for some time. He learned at last to pronounce the name of a
lady who was kind to him, and for whom he shewed some affection; but
his intellect was always clouded, and more like the instinct of a dog
than the mind of a human being. There was another more wonderful, but
hardly so well-authenticated, story of a boy who never could get rid
of a strong wolfish smell, and who was seen, not long after his
capture, to be visited by three wolves, which came evidently with
hostile intentions, but which, after closely examining him--he seeming
not the least alarmed--played with him, and some nights afterwards
brought their relations, making the number of visitors amount to
five--the number of cubs which composed the litter from which he had
been taken. There is no account of any grown-up person having been
found among the wolves. Probably, after a certain time, the captives
may have got into a set of less scrupulous wolves, not acquainted with
the family: the result is obvious.'


The electro-magnetic machine invented by Professor Page, has from time
to time been noticed in our Journal, and we have now to give a further
account of this interesting mechanism, as furnished by an American
periodical. It appears that several of these machines have lately been
submitted to critical examination by competent authority at
Washington, and with very favourable conclusions. The principle has
already been explained--namely, the alternate rising and falling of an
iron rod within a helix through which an electro-magnetic current is
made to pass: when the current is _on_, the rod rises, and remains, as
it were, self-suspended, equidistant from all parts of the surrounding
helix; and falls as soon as the current ceases by breaking contact
with the battery. The 'rod' of one of the machines submitted to the
examination weighs 350 lbs.: no sooner, however, was contact made,
than it rose into its position. 'Dr Page then stood on the top of the
rod, which not only sustained his weight, in addition to its own, but
he pushed with his hands against the ceiling, increasing the downward
pressure on the rod, which was only acted upon as a powerful spring
would have been, but still maintaining its perpendicular position
concentric to the inner surface of the helices. I held,' says the
reporter, 'an iron rod in my hand, with the end of which I touched
that of the suspended rod. I could not detach it by pulling or
jerking, and could only alter its position so as to cause the annular
space to become eccentric instead of concentric. The instant the
battery was disconnected, the rod fell to the floor with its full

By moving the wires from the battery up and down outside the pile of
helices, it was clear that an upward and downward movement of the rod
would follow, 'and that a shackle-bar attached from this oscillating
rod, and to a crank, would convert this reciprocating motion into a
continuous one.' To this contrivance the name of 'Jumper' was given,
of which one was exhibited, the helices weighing 800 lbs., and the rod
526 lbs.; and by the means above mentioned, it has been converted into
a working-engine, with a twelve-inch crank, and a fly-wheel of four
and a half feet in diameter. 'On the outside of the helices,' to quote
the description, 'was placed a line of pieces of metal, so arranged as
to render the attachment with the battery and its necessary
alternations performable by the engine itself. Before starting the
engine, I tied an arm of the fly-wheel, at one-third greater distance
from the centre than the length of the crank, to an upright beam of
twelve inches diameter, which formed part of the frame of the engine.
The cord used was the better kind of bed-cord, of great strength,
nearly three-eighths of an inch thick. This was passed twice round the
fly-wheel arm and post before being tied, and with pieces of
sole-leather intervening, to prevent the cord being cut by the corners
of the post. Such a fixture, I am confident, would have held a five
horse-power steam-engine from starting, with full pressure of steam on
the piston, and no previous motion. Not so, however, with this engine,
for the breaking of the cord and contact with the battery occurred at
the same instant of time, leaving an impression in the beam to the
depth of the cord, despite the protection of the sole-leather.' The
engine continued to work in the most satisfactory manner; and Dr Page
attached a circular-saw, which was used in wood, to a depth of six
inches, and at a speed such as could be anticipated from the power
which we afterwards found the engine to possess.

Careful experiments made to test the power of the engine, shewed it to
be equal to seven horse nearly; and the estimate for consumption of
acid and use of zinc is twenty cents for each horse-power per day of
twenty-four hours. The escape of acid vapours from the batteries is an
evil that will have to be guarded against, to prevent the pernicious
effects produced in several electro-plating establishments, where the
health of the workmen has been seriously injured by the liberated
gases. This defect being overcome, Professor Page's electro-magnetic
engine may become highly valuable in engineering and manufacturing
processes. To quote the conclusions of the report--'the cost will be
less than that of a steam-engine of the same power: the weight will be
but one quarter, if boilers and contents be taken into account: the
expense of firemen and engineers is dispensed with: buildings, and
stocks of goods, and vessels may be more cheaply insured than when
steam-engines are used, as there could be no risk from explosion or
fire: the expenses are only active while the machine is positively in
action, whereas an ordinary steam-engine continues its expenses
whenever the fire is burning.

'Dr Page's engine, if used ten times during the day, of six minutes
each time, would have but one hour's expenses for the day; whereas a
steam-engine, under similar circumstances, would be subject to nearly
or quite the full expenses of fuel for twenty-four hours, or equal to
the expenses of continuous work.'


Unfortunately for our health and comfort, the teachings of science are
too often disregarded, if they interfere with our habits. Science,
when not practically applied, loses its value; it wants fixedness,
stability. Its application is its embodiment; without it, it is a mere
figment of the brain. Its business is to inform the mind, and remove
erroneous impressions; and its highest aim is usefulness. The popular
belief with respect to dress, that a black dress is warmer, both in
winter and summer, than a white one, is erroneous. The truth is that,
the material being the same, a black dress is cool in winter and warm
in summer--while a white one is warm in winter and cool in summer;
that is to say, the one is cool when we require warmth, and warm when
we require to be cooled; while the other is warm when we are cool, and
cool when we are warm, and thus answers the purpose of dress, which
is, to protect the body from the influence of the weather.

Science teaches that dark colours absorb heat, and part with it much
more rapidly than light ones; black and white being the two extremes.
How strange that this knowledge has not been applied to dress! If the
bowls of two spoons, the one polished, and the other smeared with
soot, be held near a fire, it will be found that the blackened one
becomes hot much sooner than the other; and if now they be both made
hot by holding them against the bars of the grate, and then removed
from the fire, and suspended in the air, it will be seen that the
blackened one will get cool much sooner than the other. It is true
that the difference in this case is chiefly due to the polish on one
of the spoons, but it is not altogether due to it. Again: if hot water
be poured into two vessels, the one white and the other black, the
water in the latter will cool before the other. So likewise if two
persons, one dressed in black and the other in white--all other
conditions being the same--were to go from the cold external air into
a heated room, the one in black would feel the heat sooner than the
other, and on leaving the room would feel the cold sooner;
consequently, would be more likely to take cold than the other. It is
therefore evident that a light-coloured dress is more conducive to
health and comfort than a dark one, since it prevents the external
heat or cold from too suddenly reaching the body, and prevents the
body from too suddenly parting with its heat; and thus, that it keeps
it in a more equable temperature.

We may now understand the reason why animals in the polar regions are
white--their whiteness preserves the heat of their bodies much better
than any other colour. So likewise the earth, in consequence of the
whiteness of snow, is prevented from parting with its heat. It is not
so much by snow protecting the earth from the external cold, that it
does such valuable service, as by its preventing the _radiation of the
internal heat_. This whiteness of snow, and of the polar animals, must
not be looked upon as the result of blind chance: it strikingly
exemplifies the wisdom and goodness of the Creator.

The above observations are peculiarly applicable to the case of men
engaging in arctic expeditions. I do not know what dress they usually
wear, but it is quite clear that a white woollen one would be the most
appropriate; and if it had a gloss upon it, it would be so much the
better. This they might have learned from observing the animals in
those regions.


In a recent article in this Journal,[4] we gave our opinion of
practical sea-life, and incidentally alluded to the songs of Dibdin.
The paper excited some interest; and we may, therefore, venture to say
a little more about these celebrated songs, concerning which the
public in general has always had, and still has, a very erroneous

We commence with an assertion which will startle many--namely, that
Dibdin's songs never were, are not, and never can be, popular with
sailors. About six years ago--if we recollect rightly as to date--the
Lords of the Admiralty, considering that Dibdin's songs had always
been 'worth a dozen pressgangs,' as the common saying is, ordered that
twenty of the best songs should be printed on strong paper, and
presented to every man and boy in the royal navy. This act, however,
is not so much to be regarded as a strong evidence of the private
opinion of the nautical magnates in question--but the chief of them is
invariably a _landsman_--as of their deference to the force of public
estimation on the subject of the songs. Let it not be thought, from
the tenor of our subsequent remarks, that we ourselves are at all
prejudiced against Dibdin. So far is it the reverse, that we were
brought up from childhood 'in belief' of that gifted lyrist: our
father repeated to us in early life his finest songs, and we have
never ceased to regard him with sincere admiration. He was a man of
true genius in his peculiar walk, and it has been well and truly said
of him, that, 'had he written merely to amuse, his reputation would
have been great; but it stands the higher, because his writings always
advocate the cause of virtue: charity, humanity, constancy, love of
country, and courage, are the subjects of his song and of his praise.'

Dibdin himself was not a sailor, and his knowledge of sea-life, of
seamen, and of sea-slang, is generally attributed to the instructions
of his brother, the master of a ship. This brother was subsequently
lost at sea, and Dibdin is said to have written _Poor Tom Bowling_ as
his elegy. Dibdin's sea-lore was, therefore, altogether second-hand
and theoretical; and his songs, on the whole, present an idealised and
exaggerated embodiment of the characteristics, life, and habits of
seamen; but it is wonderful how accurately and skilfully he introduces
allusions to sea-man[oe]uvres, and how very rarely he errs in nautical
technicalities. They were written in war-time, when the nation was
excited to a pitch of frenzied enthusiasm by a succession of
unparalleled naval victories--when a prince of the blood trod the
quarter-deck, and Nelson was 'Britannia's god of war.' Their
popularity with _landsmen_ was then incredible. Everybody sang
Dibdin's sea-songs, deeming them a perfect mirror of sea-life and
seamen's character. The truth is, he has exaggerated both the virtues
and the follies of sailors to an absurd degree; and his blue-jacketed
heroes are no more to be accepted as a fair type of sailors, than are
Fenimore Cooper's Chingachgook and Leatherstocking as types of the Red
Men and trappers of North America. Herein, we conceive, is the primary
cause of Dibdin failing to enlist strongly the sympathies of real
blue-water tars; and the very same reason, with some modifications,
prevents all prose works, descriptive of sea-life, from being
favourably received by practical mariners. We have heard the
'sailoring' portions of the finest works of Cooper and others scoffed
at by seamen; and the very best book on sea-life ever written, Dana's
_Two Years before the Mast_, is held in no sort of esteem by the very
men for whose benefit the author avows he wrote it, and whose life he
has so vividly, and, as _we_ think, faithfully described. Every sailor
we have questioned concerning that book--and there are few sailors who
have not read it--declared that he 'thought nothing of it;' and that
all his messmates laughed at it as much as himself. They say that Dana
'makes too much' of everything, and that he gives false and
exaggerated notions of life on shipboard. We personally deny this; but
sailors, as a body, are such prosaic people, that they will make no
allowance whatever for the least amplification of bald matter of fact.
If the author dilates at all on his own feelings and impressions, they
chuckle and sneer; and if he errs in the least--or the compositor for
him--in his nautical details, they cry out that he is a know-nothing,
a marine, a horse-jockey, a humbug. To please seamen, any book about
their profession must be written precisely in the lucid and
highly-imaginative style of a log-book--their sole standard of
literary excellence.

Sailors are shrewd and sensitive, enough in some respects. They do not
like to be flattered, and cannot bear to be caricatured; and they feel
that Dibdin has--unconsciously--been guilty of both towards them.
According to his songs, sailors lead a life of unalloyed fun and
frolic. He tells us nothing about their slavery when afloat, nothing
about the tyranny they are frequently subjected to; and in his days, a
man-o'-war was too often literally a floating pandemonium. He makes
landsmen believe that Jack is the happiest, most enviable fellow in
the world: storms and battles are mere pastime; lopped limbs and
wounds are nothing more than jokes; there is the flowing can to
'sweethearts and wives' every Saturday night; and whenever the ship
comes to port, the crew have guineas galore to spend on lasses and
fiddles. In fine, both at sea and ashore, according to his theory,
jolly Jack has little to do but make love, sing, dance, and
drink--grog being 'his sheet-anchor, his compass, his cable, his log;'
and in the _True British Sailor_, we are told that 'Jack is always
content.' Now, Jack knows very well this is all 'long-shore palaver,
and he gives a shy hail to such palpable lime-twigs. 'Let the
land-lubbers sing it!' thinks he; 'I'll none on't!'

Dibdin takes the first sip of his _Flowing Can_ with the ominous

    'A sailor's life's a life of wo!'

But what follows?--

    'Why, then, he takes it cheerily!'

A pleasant philosophy this; but we happen to know that sailors do
_not_ take cheerily to 'a life of wo'--they would be more than men if
they did. He talks coolly about times at sea when 'no duty calls the
gallant tars.' We should very much like to know on board what 'old
barkey,' and in what latitude and longitude, this phenomenon happened,
and would have no particular objection to sign articles for a voyage
in such a Ph[oe]nix of a ship; for in all the vessels we ever were
acquainted with, there was never such a thing heard of, as 'nothing to
do.' As to 'Saturday nights' exclusively devoted to pledging
'sweethearts and wives' over a flowing can in the forecastle, we are
sorry to say, we regard that as little better than a poetic myth.

Doubtless, at the time Dibdin's songs were written, sailors sang them
to a considerable extent, for the public enthusiasm would in a way
compel Jack to acquiesce in these eulogies on himself; but the said
Jack never took them fairly to heart--how could he, when every voyage
he made must have given the lie to many of these glowing pictures of
life at sea? And from that time to the present, Dibdin's songs have
gradually been forgotten among seamen, till, at this day, we question
whether there is a foremast--Jack afloat who can sing half-a-dozen of
them; and, probably, not many men aboard merchantmen know more than
one or two songs of the hundred in question, although they may
recollect fragments of several.

Dibdin's songs might be 'worth a dozen pressgangs' for manning the
navy in war-time, and, for aught we can predicate to the contrary,
they may be so again; but we reiterate our conviction, that they never
caused sailors to ship aboard a man-o'-war. Landsmen might volunteer
by scores through the influence of such stirring, patriotic ditties;
but seamen, who 'knew the ropes,' would never be induced to ship
through their agency.

Dibdin does ample justice to the bravery, the generosity, the
good-humour, the kind-heartedness of sailors; and, as a class, they
deserve his encomiums. His songs abound with just and noble
sentiments, and manly virtues were never more constantly and
strikingly enunciated by any author. We dearly love Charles Dibdin for
this; and as a writer of popular lyrics, we class him as the very
first England has ever produced. In this department of literature, we
consider he holds the same place in England as Burns does in Scotland;
Béranger, in France; Freiligrath, in Germany; and Hans Christian
Andersen, in Denmark.

The reader will now ask: 'What songs _do_ sailors sing?' We answer,
that their favourite _sea_-songs[5] are the most dismal, droning
doggrel it is possible to conceive; and yet they relish them mightily,
because they are stern matter of fact, and in most instances are
descriptive of a battle, a chase, a storm, or a shipwreck--subjects
appealing powerfully to their sympathies. The following may be taken
as a tolerably fair specimen of the style of the genuine 'sailors'

    'It was the seventeenth day of May, in the year 'ninety-six,
      Our taut frigate the _Ajax_, she from Plymouth did set sail;
    Eight days out, com'd a squall from north-east by north,
      And then by four bells, morning-watch, it did freshen to a gale.'

Perhaps the most universally popular song among seamen is _Rule
Britannia_; but in general they do little more than sing the chorus,
and the way in which a crew of tars, when half-seas-over, will
monotonously drawl out 'Britons never, never, never shall be
slaves!'--repeating it over and over again, as if they never could
have too much of a good thing--is highly amusing. We believe that a
decided majority of the songs sang in the forecastle are not sea-songs
at all, but purely land-songs; and, strange to say, the most popular
of these are sentimental ditties, such as were, a score of years ago,
drawing-room favourites! It is very rich to hear 'ancient marineres,'
rough as bears, hoarsely quavering, _I'd be a butterfly!_ or, _O no!
we never mention her_; or, _The days we went a-gipsying, long time
ago!_ They are also very partial to songs about bandits and robbers.

Well, after all, we have often, when in a tight craft, tossing amid
howling billows, complacently repeated--and perchance shall again--the
closing lines of _The Sailor's Consolation_, which, we believe, but
are not certain, Dibdin wrote--

    'Then, Bill, let us thank Providence
        That you and I are sailors!'


[4] See _The 'Romance' of Sea-Life_, No. 414 of the Journal.

[5] We must explain that the _working_-songs of seamen--or such as
they sing when heaving at the pawl-windlass, catting the anchor, and
other heavy pieces of work--are of a different class altogether, and
consist chiefly of a variety of appropriate choruses to lively and
inspiriting tunes. These songs sound well, and are worth anything on
shipboard, for they stimulate the men far more than grog would do with
only a dead, silent heave or haul.


Under the above technical name is produced in Glasgow a manufacture
little known beyond the sphere of those immediately engaged in the
business, the importance of which, however, as a means of employment
to the poorer Scotch and Irish peasantry, renders it deserving of more
attention than it has hitherto received. Sewed muslins include all
those articles which are composed of muslin with a pattern embroidered
on it by the hand--such as collars, sleeves, chemisettes, &c. together
with the long strips of embroidery used, like laces, for trimming
dresses, petticoats, &c. and called, technically, trimmings. The
manufacture of these articles in the form in which they are now used
was for a long period peculiar to France, and that country alone
supplied all the rest of the world with the limited quantities which
the high cost permitted to be consumed. An embroidered collar,
thirty-five years ago, was an article of luxury only attainable by the
rich, while the far greater part either dispensed with it altogether,
or contented themselves with one of plain muslin or cheap net. Soon
after that period, the rudiments of the manufacture began to be
established at Glasgow, where for some time it made but moderate
progress, and was confined to the production of a very low class of
goods, leaving still to the French all the finer and more tasteful
departments of the trade. During the last ten years, however, the
progress has been very rapid; and now it supplies abundantly, with
cheap and good embroidery, the whole British and American demand, to
the almost total exclusion of both French and Swiss work.

The process by which a perfect piece of embroidery, delicately worked
in a graceful pattern, and as white as snow, is produced, is far more
complicated than might be imagined. The simple plan by which
industrious ladies work a single collar on a traced pattern, with
clean hands in a pure atmosphere, will not do when hundreds of
thousands of collars are to be made, at the lowest rate, by poor
children, in smoky hovels. In order to understand the matter clearly,
it may be as well to transport ourselves to one of the large
establishments in Glasgow, in whose extensive, well-lighted lofts the
whole mechanism of the manufacture may be seen at work.

In the highest room, where the best light is obtained, we find a
number of men, seated at small tables at the windows, engaged in
drawing patterns. These are the designers, whose business it is to
produce a constant and rapid succession of new patterns, either
original or adapted from the French designs, which lie scattered on
their tables. They are a very intelligent class, possessing
considerable originality, and, what is even more important, thoroughly
understanding the art of practical adaptation of costly designs to
the necessities of the manufacture, without which the ingenious
sketches of the French would be valueless. It is proper to add, that
their powers of invention are steadily increasing year after year, and
that the time is probably not remote when they will be independent of
the Parisian designers.

The patterns sketched by them are transferred by the ordinary process
to lithographic stones; and on entering the adjoining room, we find a
large number of lithographic presses at work, some of great size. The
unbleached muslin here receives the impression of the outline pattern,
as paper is printed in the ordinary press; and the substitution of
stones for the wooden blocks formerly used, has greatly cheapened and
facilitated this process. The carved blocks were expensive to cut, and
useless when the pattern was finished: the pattern is now put on the
stone with great economy, and, the requisite number being struck off,
is erased to make room for another.

The printed webs are now carried from the press-room to the floor
below, where the green warehouse is situated--the common receptacle of
the unbleached muslin going out to the working, and of the sewed goods
coming in. The former are now made up into parcels, and sent off to
the agents who are employed in the working districts to give out the
work to the sewers, from whom they are again returned into the same
department when sewed. We see them lying heaped in every direction, so
saturated with dirt, that the pattern is hardly distinguishable from
the muslin, looking and smelling as if no purative process could ever
render them clean and sweet. The interval which elapses between the
goods leaving the green warehouse and returning to it varies, with the
nature of the goods, from a fortnight to six months; although
occasionally pieces remain out much longer, and sometimes drop in
after the lapse of years; while a per-centage are never returned at
all, a loss which constitutes an item in the cost of the remainder.
About three-quarters, at least, of all the embroidery is worked in
Ireland; the remaining quarter being sewed in the south-western
counties of Scotland. In Ireland, the sewing districts, at first
confined to a very limited space in the neighbourhood of Donaghadee,
have gradually spread, until the whole north, and even a portion of
the western wilds of Connaught, have been covered with the agents of
the Scotch and Irish manufacturers. There is every prospect that their
extension will not stop here. It is requisite that the work should be
performed at a very small cost; and from the position and habits of
the Irish, they are able to work cheaper than the Scotch. The nature
of the employment is also peculiarly fitted to them. It can be
performed in their own cottages at leisure times, or by children, not
otherwise useful. No cleanliness is required, as it matters not how
dirty the piece is when finished; and the payments are prompt and in
ready money. The remuneration is small, especially to children
learning, and varies, according to the skill and industry of the
worker, from 6d. to 5s. a week; but this is paid in cash immediately
on the completion of the piece. It is easy to see what an important
addition may thus be made to the means of a poor cotter, by the labour
of the young children and girls, who would probably otherwise have no
employment whatever.

The goods being fairly back in the green warehouse, the next process
is to discharge the load of dirt contracted in the smoky mud-hovel,
and restore the original snowy hue of the cotton. For this purpose
they are sent out to what is termed a bleachfield, although those who
should visit such a place in hopes of seeing a verdant lawn, strewn
with the white folds of muslin waving in the summer breeze, would be
grievously disappointed. A bleachfield is simply a huge steam
wash-house, with red brick walls and a tall chimney vomiting smoke,
with not a particle of turf about it. Here, amidst volumes of steam,
and the unceasing splash of water, the mirky mass is subjected to
repeated agitations in hot and cold solutions, by means of revolving
hollow wheels, inside of which the embroidery is tossed and tumbled
for many days. A little chlorine is at last used, with much care, to
complete the bleaching; and after a term, varying from ten days to
three weeks, the goods are once more returned to the manufacturer, of
a pure white, starched and dressed as may be required. We shall find
them by walking from the green warehouse into the darning and ironing
rooms where the final process of examination and finishing goes on,
and whence they are turned out in a complete state into the saleroom,
on the lowest floor of the establishment, to be disposed on long
mahogany polished counters for sale. The extreme economy and method of
this long process may be imagined when we are shewn very pretty
collars, the entire cost of which--designing, sewing, muslin,
bleaching, and profit--only amounts to 3d., yet including a rather
elaborate pattern; while a yard of good serviceable edging is produced
for 2-1/4d.

The entire amount of the manufacture must of course be conjectural,
but it has been estimated at about three-quarters of a million
sterling a year. The principal part is sold in Glasgow, but a part of
the Irish production is disposed of in Belfast. If we take, as the
price of the work, two-thirds of the gross sum, the remaining third
being cost of muslin, expenses, charges, and profit, we shall have
L.500,000 as the sum annually distributed, in ready money, in small
sums over the south of Scotland and the north of Ireland--a most
important addition to the resources of the rural population of those
districts. In addition to this, a large class of workers, male and
female, are employed in Glasgow in the preparation and in the
finishing of the goods--as designers, lithographers, weavers, clerks,
darners, ironers, and patterners. These are all well paid--some very
highly; and the young women composing the three latter classes are a
remarkably well-to-do, prosperous class.

The growth of the manufacture has been much accelerated by the
export-trade to the United States, where its superior cheapness and
intrinsic excellence have induced a large consumption. Could we
prevail on the French government to relax the prohibition which now
bars its entrance into that country, a new and wide field would be
opened for its extension, even at a pretty high duty; as the French
manufacture, in its present state, is quite inadequate to supply the
demand for cheap embroidery there. Even as it is, a good deal is
smuggled in, and may be recognised by the experienced eye adorning the
windows of the shops in Paris. An increased demand must tell
immediately in favour of Ireland, the only place affording an
increased supply of labour; and on this account, the prosperity and
extension of the trade in sewed muslins must be an object of interest
to all who desire the amelioration of the condition of the Irish


The Americans are said to be grievously addicted to ----: we would
rather avoid the word. Travellers have spread the imputation; but
travellers are known to speak from prejudice, and their report did not
appear to be altogether trustworthy. At length, strange to say, the
charge of being intolerable--must we say it?--_spitters_ is made by
one of themselves, and of course there can be no more said on the
subject: the fact is confessed. This marvellously candid, but painful
acknowledgment, occurs in the recently-published work, _Sketches of
European Capitals_, by W. Ware, M.D., the well-known author of those
charming historical romances, _Letters from Palmyra_, _Aurelian_, &c.
We trust that Dr Ware will not be ostracised on the score of taste or
patriotism by his countrymen, for his extraordinary audacity in
telling them of a fault, and, what is more, in drawing an unfavourable
comparison between them and Englishmen on this most delicate subject.
The following are his remarks:--

'An Englishman, I believe, rarely chews, and, compared with the
American, rarely smokes; but whether he does not secretly practise
both these abominations, I am not prepared to say. But with both these
provocatives, if it be so, one thing he never does--is to spit. That
fact draws a line of demarcation between the Englishman and the
American, broader and deeper a thousandfold than any other in
politics, government, laws, language, religion. _The Englishman never
spits_; or, if he does, he first goes home, shuts himself up in his
room, locks his door, argues the necessity of the case; if necessary,
performs the disagreeable duty, and returns to society with a clear
conscience. The American spits always and everywhere; sometimes when
it is necessary; always, when it is not. It is his occupation, his
pastime, his business. Many do nothing else all their lives, and
always indulge in that singular recreation when they _have_ nothing
else to do. Sometimes, in a state of momentary forgetfulness, he
intermits; but then, as if he had neglected a sworn duty, returns to
it again with conscience-smitten vigour. He spits at home and abroad,
by night and by day, awake and asleep, in company and in solitude, for
his own amusement and the edification of a spitting community; on the
freshly-painted or scoured floor, on the clean deck of a ship or
steam-boat, on parlour floors--covered whether with ingrained
Brussels, Wilton, or Turkey--even there he voids his rheum; upon the
unabsorbent canvas, so that one may see, where numbers congregate, the
railway cars to run in more ways than one; the pulpits and pews of
churches are not safe; the foot-pavement of the streets, the floors of
all public places--of exchanges, hotels, of Congress halls--are foul
with it; and in railway cars it must always be necessary for a lady to
shorten her garments, as if about to walk in the deep mud of the
street, or the snow and water of spring, if she would escape
defilement to either her dress or her slippers. As the power of
direction of these human missiles is by no means unerring,
notwithstanding so much practice, one's own person, and all parts of
his person, are exposed to the random shots of this universal foe of
American civilised life; and often he finds, on different parts of his
dress, proofs abundant of the company he has kept. The only single
spot absolutely secure is a man's face--and that would not be, were it
not for the fear of a duel. That there is not the shadow of
exaggeration in this description, coarse as it is, and coarse as it
has been my intention to make it, all Americans, and all travellers
who have ever been within an American hotel, steam-boat, or
rail-car--all will testify. And the result of it all is, I suppose,
that we are the freest and most enlightened people on the face of the
earth! But for one, republican as I am in principle, I think, on the
whole, I would prefer the despotism of Austria, Russia, or Rome, to
the freedom, if I must take with it the spit, of America. It is vice
enough to tempt one to forswear home, country, kindred, friends,
religion; it is ample cause for breaking acquaintance, friendship, for
a divorce; in a word, it is our grand national distinction, if we did
but know it. There are certainly parts of the country comparatively,
but only comparatively, free from this vice. Here at the north, there
is much less than at the west and the south, though here enough of it
to disgust one with his race. In proportion as general refinement
prevails, the custom abates. At the south, no carpets, no rooms, no
presence, affords protection.[6] Here, in the best rooms, the best
society, there is partial exemption, though not often enough from the
presence of that ingenious, fearful patent--the brazen, china, or
earthen _box_. Would that my country could be induced to pause in this
its wonderful career! Pity some public effort could not be made by way
of general convention, or otherwise, for the abatement of this
national mischief--certainly as worthy of attention as very many of
our political and moral reforms. The advice of the London surgeon,
Abernethy, to an American sea-captain, was at anyrate useful to us
all, and pregnant with good medical philosophy. "Keep your saliva in
your mouth to help to digest your food with," said he, "and do not
spit it all over my carpet." Very wholesome counsel. And, seriously,
who can say how much the pallid face, the proverbial indigestion of
our country, even consumption itself, may not be owing to this
constant drain, which deprives the stomach of a secretion which nature
provided for the most important purposes in the manufacture of the
blood, and which she certainly did not provide to be wasted and thrown
about in the manner of the Anglo-American?'

There is so much frankness and sorrow in this confession of a national
sin against good manners, that the least thing we can do is to assure
Dr Ware, that he takes much too favourable a view of the habits of the
English in the matter in question. That among the highly-educated, the
refined, and in what is called 'good society' generally, no one is
guilty of the crime he speaks of, is quite true; but we take leave to
say that inferior grades of people--the bulk of those walking the
street, for example--are about as guilty of it as are the Americans;
and it must doubtless be from this source that our transatlantic
brethren have been contaminated. This hint as to the origin of a bad
practice may perhaps suggest amendment in those departments of our
population where it is required. Might not something also be done in
the way of school instruction?


[6] 'Let six such Americans meet round a stove, in a bar-room, or
parlour, or hotel drawing-room, of a morning--of the six, four will
spit before speaking a word; one will bid good-morning first, and spit
afterwards; the sixth will make a remark somewhat at length upon the
weather, and, by way of compensation for extraordinary retention, spit
twice or thrice.'


In No. 415 of this Journal, we printed a paper with the above title,
merely as one likely to excite interest, but warning the reader that
we did not ourselves vouch for its statements. This caution appears to
have been very necessary; for Dr Madden--the substance of whose
lecture was given in the article--now declares, that 'very shortly
after its delivery, he, in common with many others, detected a serious
fallacy in the whole series of experiments; and that, by prosecuting
his inquiry in this new direction, he ascertained that not one of the
hitherto recorded experiments can be looked upon as proving the
existence of _magnetic currents_ at all.' The pendulations, it seems,
are caused solely by 'slight mechanical impulsions, unconsciously or
half consciously conveyed to the instrument by the luckless


It is a serious mistake to suppose that sanitary arrangements are
required only for London and other large cities. Few small towns or
even villages are exactly what they should be as regards health.
Villages, indeed, by having no jurisdiction, are in many cases far
more unhealthy than populous towns. We could point out a village of a
few hundred inhabitants--a pretty place to look at, at a
distance--where there is much mortality among infants and others in
consequence of foul gutters and bad drainage. In a small pamphlet,
forming an appeal to the ratepayers of Keswick on this subject, there
occur the following observations respecting the state of a place
called Braithwaite, which we candidly believe might apply to a hundred
other villages in England, and more particularly Scotland:--'The
village of Braithwaite, for example, contains, in proportion to its
population, more dirt, disease, and death than any decent town. It is
one of the most romantic and filthy villages in England, and yet it
might easily be made one of the cleanest and neatest. There are lanes,
alleys, and courts in almost all small towns and villages, in which
the mortality is greater far than that of our great towns; nay, in
hamlets, and isolated farmhouses in this, as in many other country
districts, there is often more sickness in proportion to the
population than in cities; and I could point out within a circuit of a
few miles, localities in which, during the last few years, scrofula,
small-pox, measles, and typhus fever have left their ravages; and
which, with proper care and cleanliness, might, I firmly believe, have
escaped. But that disease, and especially infectious disease, haunts
all ill-drained, ill-cleansed, and ill-ventilated places in both town
and country, there are now few intelligent persons that require to be
convinced; and the question has come to be with the well-informed part
of the public, as it has long been the question with medical men--has
not the time now arrived to _compel_ those who harbour the filth and
the contagion that carry off one-half of mankind, to expel those
enemies to the human race? The innumerable statistical inquiries of
the last ten years on this subject, all go to prove that dirt,
squalor, close air, and stagnant water, are the causes of one-half the
mortality of mankind in civilised countries. The majority of thinking
people of all classes--and these, though a small minority of mankind,
are the directors of every great social movement--are coming to see
that we must proceed with this sanitary business at once; and that, if
not by mild means, then by a little wholesome compulsion, we must
oblige the owners of property haunted by death and contagion, to yield
to the demands of society. If a man may not harbour a ferocious
bull-dog in his alley, is he to keep a noisome ditch running at large
there?--and if he may not hold a main of fighting cocks, is he to keep
cholera and typhus in his house? For my part, I cannot see, if a
justice of the peace can stop a man from knocking me down with a
bludgeon, why he should not be authorised to interfere to save me from
a typhus fever; and if he can prevent boys from endangering the lives
of passengers by firing guns on the high roads, why he should not also
be enabled to forbid the open sewers and other nuisances, which, if
not so noisy, are even more dangerous. A railway company pays heavily
for the lives and limbs of passengers sacrificed by the neglect or
rashness of its officials--should not a town be equally liable for the
losses caused by a public violation of the laws of health? We move
slowly in this neighbourhood, disliking changes, and hold strongly,
while the rest of the world is advancing, to the old ideas; yet even
Wordsworth's consecration of this sentiment to Cumberland--

    "Hail usages of pristine mould,
    And ye that guard them, mountains old!"

can scarcely apply to bad drainage and ventilation.' We should think
not. There is a scandalous deficiency in the ordinary institutes of
the country on this important subject of town and village cleaning!


Sir C. Napier put down the practice of suttee, which, however, was
rare in Scinde, by a process entirely characteristic; for, judging the
real cause of these immolations to be the profit derived by the
priests, and hearing of an intended burning, he made it known that he
would stop the sacrifice. The priests said it was a religious rite
which must not be meddled with--that all nations had customs which
should be respected, and this was a very sacred one. The general,
affecting to be struck with the argument, replied: 'Be it so. This
burning of widows is your custom: prepare the funeral pile. But my
nation has also a custom: When men burn women alive, we hang them, and
confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect
gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let
us all act according to national customs!' No suttee took place then
or afterwards.--_Sir C. Napier's Administration of Scinde._



    When tired of towns, and pining sore
      For change to healthful ground,
    Thou turn'st from crowds--still at the core
      Feeling thy heart's worst wound--
    When thou hast knocked at every door,
      Yet no admittance found:
    At every door where Pleasure in
      Glides, with a sunny grace,
    But which thine own bale barreth up
      From thee--then seek a place
    Where gates of stone and brass are none
      To frown thee in the face!

    The woods have walks, where thou mayst find
      A balm to salve thy grief;
    And in and out where waters wind,
      Are sources of relief,
    In which, if thou wilt bathe the mind,
      Thou'lt have no comfort brief,
    But peace--that falleth like the dew!
      For everything that shews
    God's sunshine speaketh marvels true
      Of mercy and repose,
    And joy, in rural scenes, beyond
      All that the loud world knows!

    Yet more, than wood or woodland rill
      Can give of keen delight,
    We glean from ocean-margins, till
      The spirit--at the sight
    Of all its range of changeful change--
      Becometh, like it, bright!
    Bright when the sunlight on it falls,
      Or grave and grand when, dark,
    The shadowy night lets down its pall
      Upon each human ark;
    And every surge seems but to urge
      Extinction of life's spark!

    A change, an always active change,
      An everness of grace,
    Of grace and grandeur, takes its range
      Over the ocean's face:
    As in a book for thoughts men look,
      Thoughts in it we can trace!
    A thought to turn us from ourselves
      And all our petty cares--
    A thought to move the spirit's love
      To God, and God's affairs;
    And thereby give to all that live
      The sympathy that spares--

    That spares our brother man from blame,
      And pities him when o'er
    His nature come such clouds of shame
      As menaced us before:
    God only can the sea-swell tame,
      The mental peace restore!
    Look on the ocean, then, and feel
      Its turmoil and its calm
    Arouse or tranquillise thy mind--
      A stimulant or balm;
    A thundertone to make thee think,
      Or, gently soothing psalm!

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. and R. 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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