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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 432 - Volume 17, New Series, April 10, 1852
Author: Various
Language: English
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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. 432 - Volume 17, New Series, April 10, 1852" ***

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                      CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

  CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S
  INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.


  NO. 432. NEW SERIES.   SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 1852.   PRICE 1-1/2_d._



THE MEDIÆVAL MANIA.


History is said to be a series of reactions. Society, like a pendulum,
first drives one way, and then swings back in the opposite direction.
At present, we may be said to be returning at full speed towards a
taste for everything old, neglected, and for ages despised. Science
and refinement have had their day, and now rude nature and the
elemental are to be in the ascendant. In our boyhood, we learned the
Roman alphabet; but youngsters now had need to add a knowledge of
black-letter, which is rapidly getting back into fashion. Perfection
is only to be found in the darkness and ignorance of the middle ages.

It is proper, no doubt, to get rid of what is tame and spiritless in
art; and it must be owned that nearly everything that was done in
architecture and decoration during the Georgian era was detestable.
But it is one thing to reform, and another to revolutionise. Let us by
all means go to nature for instruction; but nature under the exercise
of cultivated feeling--selecting what tends to ennoble and refine, not
that which degrades and sends us back to forms and ideas totally out
of place in the nineteenth century, and which, for that very reason,
can have nothing but a temporary reign, to be followed in the
succeeding age by a violent reaction.

On a former occasion, we drew attention to this tendency towards
mediævalism as regards ornamental design, and took the Great
Exhibition to witness the fact. We have also pointed to that strange
phenomenon, the rise anew of monastic institutions among us, long
after their object is accomplished, giving a spectre-like expression
to an obsolete idea; we have exposed, likewise, the inclination of the
working-classes to trust to the protection, and, on every emergency,
claim as a matter of right the aid of the wealthy, thus wilfully and
deliberately returning to the condition of serfdom: we have now to
trace the mediæval mania in a department where, notwithstanding all
this ominous conjunction of symptoms, its appearance is truly
surprising--in the department of high art in painting.

Our readers need not fear that we are about to inflict on them a
scientific dissertation. All we wish to do, is to explain to them a
word, with the meaning of which many of them are very imperfectly
acquainted, and by the mere explanation, to enable them to determine
upon its claims to designate--not merely _a_ school, but _the_ school
of art, destined, if founded in truth and nature, to overturn every
other. This word--Pre-Raphaelitism--is taken from the name of one of
the Italian masters, and it is necessary, in order to understand the
question, to ascertain what were the circumstances and the genius that
have thus set him up as a landmark in the history of art.

After the fall of the Western Empire, the fine arts were lost, and
their productions literally buried in the wreck. The minds of the
composite nations that arose in Europe had no guide. Men were left to
their own instincts, only faintly aided by the ruins and traditions of
degenerate Rome; and each series of countries had its own style of
art, framed or adopted by the genius of the people. During the middle
ages, the style most general in Northern Europe was the Gothic; and by
that term the whole system of art during the period is popularly known
in England. The state of painting, under the Gothic régime, may be
seen in the stained windows of the cathedrals; in which strong
outlines and bright colours are laid down without any reference to
chiaro-scuro, or the scientific arrangement of light and shadow. This
seems a natural stage in art-development, and at the same moment it
was seen in equal perfection in China and Europe. In the former
region, the people are now beginning to advance a step beyond, through
their imitation of English pictures; although, but a few years ago,
they burst into fits of laughter on seeing the shadow of the nose in a
portrait. In Europe, a gigantic and almost sudden stride was made,
towards the close of the fifteenth century, under an influence from
which the Chinese were debarred, and the nature of which we shall
presently explain.

Let us first, however, just notice, that the charms of gaudy
inartistic colouring frequently exercise a powerful sway even over
minds familiar with better things; although that sway is always
indicative of the decay of intellectual or moral freshness. Thus, it
is remarked by an old Greek author (Dionysius of Halicarnassus), that
the perfection to which painting had been brought by Apelles, had
degenerated under Augustus; the painters being so much fascinated by
the new art of colouring, that they neglected design, and preferred
the brilliant or gaudy to the solid, and counterfeit to natural
beauty. What this 'perfection' of Apelles was, we cannot now tell; but
the probability is, that it existed only in design, and that the union
of this with artistic colouring was reserved for the modern masters.

Before these masters appeared, and before the influence we are about
to refer to was felt in Europe, some efforts were made by unassisted
genius to rise beyond the conventionalities of the time; in the latter
half of the thirteenth century, Cimabue already surpassed his modern
Greek preceptors; and his disciple Giotto was considered so natural
and original, that his style could not be referred to any existing
school, but was called the _maniera di Giotto_. 'Instead of the harsh
outline,' says Vasari, 'circumscribing the whole figure, the glaring
eyes, the pointed hands and feet, and all the defects arising from a
total want of shadow, the figures of Giotto exhibit a better attitude;
the heads have an air of life and freedom, the drapery is more
natural, and there are even some attempts at fore-shortening the
limbs.' All this, however, although a decided improvement on mediæval
art, was rude and imperfect--it was only the first faint dawn of a
better light. 'As yet,' to use the words of Roscoe, 'the characters
rarely excelled the daily prototypes of common life; and their forms,
although at times sufficiently accurate, were often vulgar and
heavy.... To everything great and elevated, the art was yet a
stranger: even the celebrated picture of Pollajuolo exhibits only a
group of half-naked and vulgar wretches, discharging their arrows at a
miserable fellow-creature, who, by changing places with one of his
murderers, might with equal propriety become a murderer himself.'

But the time at length came when that stimulus was to be communicated
to taste which sent a thrill throughout the general heart of Europe.
The pictures of the old Greeks were lost for ever, dead and gone; but
their statues were only buried--buried alive--and now, at the command
of wealth and genius, they were dug out of their tomb of ages, and
came forth, unharmed, in their enchanted life and immortal beauty.
Yes, unharmed; for in the head, the torso, the limb, the hand, the
finger, the same principle of life existed as in the entire figure;
and, owing to the sublime law of proportion, which bound all together,
the minutest fragment indicated a perfect whole. The palace of Lorenzo
de Medici was the assembling-place, and the ideal beauty of the Greeks
found a new shrine in the groves of Florence. These became a true
academia, where genius studied and taught, and where the presiding
spirit of the place was Michael Angelo Buonarotti,[A] the
sculptor--painter--architect--poet, whose universal mind appeared to
fit him, not so much to shine in any one department--although shine he
did in all--as to give an impetus to the whole Revival. But Michael
Angelo, as a painter, excelled chiefly in design; while one who was
his contemporary, and being a few years later in the field, has been
supposed by some to be his imitator, was the painter _par excellence_
of the new era--the first great painter of the moderns. This was
RAPHAEL. He was the pupil of Perugino; and while such, contented
himself with imitating, with the utmost fidelity, the works of that
artist; till at length emancipating himself from tutelage, he went for
inspiration to the cartoons of Michael Angelo, to the sculptures of
the Medici gardens, and to nature herself. Vasari makes Michael Angelo
the magnus Apollo of Raphael; but Quatremère de Quincy assigns to the
latter artist a holier worship. In a letter from him, which he quotes,
respecting his famous picture of the Galatea, Raphael says, that in
order to paint a beautiful woman, he must see many, but that, after
all, he must work upon a certain ideal image present in his mind. 'We
thus see,' says the French critic, 'that he really sought after the
beautiful which Nature presents to art, but which the imagination of
the artist alone can seize, and genius alone realise.'

Raphael was the first of the moderns to idealise beauty, or, in other
words, to represent nature in the form she is striving, in her
infinite progression, to attain, but which as yet she only indicates
here and there in those hints and parts that prophetic genius combines
and moulds into a whole. He softened the harsh outlines, mellowed the
glaring colours, and harmonised the awkward proportions of mediæval
art. With him, a new epoch commenced, adorned by many illustrious
names, from Julio Romano, the poet of painters, to Titian, who clipped
his pencil in the rainbow. The Lombard school of Titian was the third
of the three first great schools of the Revival, in which taste,
emancipated from the darkness of the middle ages, sought inspiration
in nature and the Greek sculptures. What would be thought if a school
were to arise three hundred years later, not merely discarding the
experience and teachings of the great masters, but claiming by its
very name to return into the gulf from which these had been
emancipated? This school of decline has, in fact, made its appearance
among the other symptoms of the mediæval mania, and we now gravely
hang up in our exhibitions the productions of the _Pre_-Raphaelites!
The name at first provoked so much ridicule in England, that their
friends were at pains to inform the world, that it was assumed merely
for the purpose of intimating their entire separation from the
_schools_ of Raphael and his successors, and their exclusive devotion
to nature. The artists of Germany, however, with whom the mania
commenced, were less scrupulous.[1] They imitated, purposely, the
rudeness of the early painters, and even favourably distinguished the
juvenile works of Raphael when he was as yet the mere copyist of
Perugino. It is thus only the reformed schools the Pre-Raphaelists
avoid; for Mr Ruskin's notion, that there were no schools at all
before Raphael, is quite too wild for answer.[2] The name, however, is
of little consequence. The nature returned to is obviously, to any one
who has eyes in his head, the nature of the middle ages; and if our
readers will look again at the quotations we have made above--which
were not taken at random--they will find, in the words of Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, Vasari, and William Roscoe, a pretty accurate
description of the genius and manner of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Nor could the fact be otherwise. We have noticed the identity of taste
between the Chinese and the unawakened Europeans, as pointing to a
natural stage in art-development; and if we allot to the new school a
position one degree higher than that of Cimabue and Giotto, it is all
that can be claimed by artists, who have even attempted to dismiss
from their minds a later and nobler experience. Their rule is--to have
no rule; to copy nature, just as she happens to be before them; to
select nothing, reject nothing, subordinate nothing, and thus to have
no composition and no chiaro-scuro. They recognise no inequality, no
relationship of objects: a pin in a lady's dress, and the nose on the
lady's face, are treated with the same even-handed justice. The
harmony of colours is a mere dream: let them only be as bright as a
stained-glass window, and all is well.

At this moment, there are two specimens of Pre-Raphaelitism to be seen
at the Exhibition of the Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. They are both
distinguished, like the philosopher in Andersen's Drop of Ditchwater,
by having no name; but a quotation is appended to each of the numbers
in the catalogue, and is to be supposed to indicate, the subject. No.
9, in the Great Room, has this quatrain from Tennyson--

    'She only said: "My life is dreary--
      He cometh not!" she said;
    She said: "I'm aweary, aweary--
      I would that I were dead."'

In illustration of this awkwardly-constructed stanza, a female,
uncomely and ungraceful, is represented as standing in the attitude of
a yawn, not indicated by the gaping mouth, but by the contorted
person, and arms twisted behind the back. She is close to a
stained-glass window, whose gaudy colours are challenged by her own
bright blue dress, the object of the artist throughout appearing to be
violent opposition, not harmony. The picture, with its violent
dislocations, both of bones and impressions, conveys the idea of
anything but repose, although a mouse on the floor bids us notice,
that notwithstanding appearances, the ungainly lady stretches herself
in silence. There cannot well be anything more inelegant and untrue
than this piece; yet there is clever painting here and there; and some
of the accessories, if taken without reference to the design, in which
they are blots, are models of their kind. The thought belongs to the
middle ages; the mechanical touch to the post-Raphaelite era.

The other picture, No. 93, in the same room, is larger and more
ambitious. It represents a carpenter's workshop, with a mechanic at
each end of the long bench; one of these, a half-starved, hideous
wretch, with hardly a trace of the human anatomy in his composition;
and the other, a respectable and rather sagacious-looking person, with
immeasurable legs. Behind the bench is a frightful old woman, of the
lowest class; and before it another, younger, but repulsively ugly and
vulgar, examining, in conjunction with the respectable workman--and
with her brow knotted in an awful congeries of wrinkles up to her
fiery hair--the hand of a little boy. This little boy, though plebeian
and red-haired, is not unpleasing: he has apparently cut his hand
while playing with some of the edge-tools lying about the shop; while
his brother, a better-figured as well as better-behaved boy, with a
hairy apron round him, is making himself useful in carrying a basin of
some dark-coloured stuff--probably carpenter's glue. But let us see
what the legend attached to the number says: 'And one shall say unto
him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those
with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'--Zechariah,
xiii. 6. What does this mean? It means, innocent reader, that the
piece we have described in its principal features is the Holy Family
of the Pre-Raphaelites! This is their mode of going to nature,
selecting nothing but the mean and repulsive, and rejecting nothing
but poetical and religious feeling and common decency.

But if the theory of the Pre-Raphaelites is just as regards painting,
it must be just as regards the other departments of taste. Suppose it
applied to musical composition. Let us throw overboard everything that
degrades music to a science, and 'go to nature,' as Mr Ruskin
counsels, 'rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning
nothing.' What would be the result? The result would be the torture of
everybody in the country who had the misfortune to possess a
cultivated ear. And yet the music of that time would not be absolutely
disagreeable in itself: it would merely involve the deprivation of
what had become a necessary to the taste; for nature would still
inspire simple sounds, connected more or less with the feelings.
Nature, in fact, proceeds in music upon laws that are merely
elaborated and carried out by science; while in painting, she offers
an endless variety of objects and effects, to be selected, grouped,
and made into a picture by the artist. We all feel this when gazing on
natural scenery. We are actuated by an unconscious eclecticism, and
make the composition for ourselves. To some natural scenes, no skill
could impart interest of any kind; others attain to a certain
character of the picturesque; while others, again, combine in
themselves all the elements of a good picture. But even with these
last, mere imitation will not do. Nature, as Hazlitt observes, 'has a
larger canvas than man'--a canvas immensely larger; and the artist,
since he cannot copy, must select. The same reasoning applies to
figure and group-painting, and its accessories. Nature rarely forms a
perfect group, because it is not her purpose to embody a single
expression. As for small accessorial objects, such as a pin or a leaf,
being painted with the same care and accuracy as principal objects,
this is a defect in drawing, that argues a singular want of
reflection. In nature, we see distinctly the figure and its more
prominent parts, but we see the minute accessorial parts so
indistinctly, that sometimes we can scarcely tell what they are. The
precise detailing of these objects, therefore, may have the truth of
fact, but it is destitute of the truth of nature.

What would be the effect of the new system, if applied to romantic
fiction? But the question is unnecessary; for the new system ignores
romance, which is the truth of nature not of fact. A pre-Raphaelite
story, taken from real life, might be romantic in its incidents and
striking in its catastrophe; but it would want coherence in the
design, and therefore produce no sustained emotion; and its characters
being drawn, without selection, from vulgar prototypes, would excite
more disgust than interest. The drama?--but there the new theory of
art becomes too ridiculous: a tragedy on such a plan would be received
with alternate yawns of ennui and shouts of laughter. All these are
pertinent questions; for fine art, in literature, music, sculpture,
painting, architecture, forms a homogeneous circle under one law of
taste.

It may be supposed that we are ascribing too much importance to the
department of the mediæval mania under examination; but, for our part,
we 'scorn nothing' that presents a bar, however slight, to the
progress of civilisation and refinement. Pre-Raphaelitism is only one
form of a degradation of taste which appears to keep pace with the
utilities of the time, and we shall never be slow in lending our aid
to cleanse the temple of its desecrators.             L.R.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] See the _Moyen Age_ of Du Sommirard.

[2] _Pre-Raphaelitism._ By the author of _Modern Painters_.



A LEGEND OF AMEN-CORNER.


About the time that every prince in Europe was sending a special
embassy to London, to congratulate James I. on his book against
witchcraft, which none of them ever professed to have read, a strange
occurrence happened in an ancient house, situated in the Amen-Corner
of Paternoster Row. Like most of the houses of old London, its lower
half was brick, and its upper, English oak. It had been built in the
time of the first Tudor, but, being still a substantial tenement, was
purchased some ten years before the period of this narrative, by two
brothers named Christopher and Hubert, who carried on their business
there. They were of English blood, but had been born in Germany, their
grandfather having fled thither in Queen Mary's day under strong
suspicion of owning a Coverdale Bible; and in the good city of
Augsburg his son and grandsons had been brought up to his own craft,
then known as the singular art and mystery of printing. A separate and
a thinly-scattered guild was that of the printer in those days. Their
craft had nothing in common with the world's older arts, excepting
those of the scribe and the scholar. The entire book-trade, now
divided into so many branches, was in their hands--binder, engraver,
printer and publisher, being generally the same person; and this,
together with the laborious precision required in working the
primitive press, made them throughout Christendom a sort of caste who
acquired their trade by inheritance, and kept it as such. Two
generations of their family had transmitted the types to Christopher
and Hubert; but not to them alone. There had been an elder brother,
Gottleib, who printed with them at Augsburg. Their mother had died
early: the plague summoned their father when they were little more
than boys, and the man grieved sore to leave his sons so young, and an
edition of the Latin Fathers, which he had calculated on finishing in
five years with great praise and profit, just begun; but Gottleib
promised him that he would finish the work in his name, and take care
of his young brothers till they were old enough to be expert and
prudent printers; so the old man died in peace.

Gottleib was the glory of his craft, and the praise of all Augsburg.
Throughout Germany there was not a more skilful printer, nor in the
city a more wise and virtuous youth. Old men asked his help in their
difficulties, the young chose him as umpire in their disputes. He was
charitable to the poor, a peacemaker among his neighbours, and a
faithful and kindly guardian to his young brothers. Carefully he
instructed them in all the mysteries of their art, though it
lengthened his own labour by many a toilsome hour. Patiently he bore
with the waywardness and inexperience of their youth. At hearth, and
board, and labour, Gottleib was their blithe companion; in hard work,
their help; in times of trouble, their comforter; and when disputes
came between them, he was the ready arbitrator, on whose justice both
could rely. At the church, they sat one on either side of him; on
festival and holiday, they walked out with each an arm of Gottleib,
and the burgomaster's son was not more confident in his father. Thus
they lived and laboured cheerfully together, in the old house their
father left them, for five years. The complete edition of the Latin
Fathers went forward, and the boys grew to man's estate, till Gottleib
was no longer the tallest of the three. Neighbours remarked, too, that
he looked no longer the strongest. His once ruddy cheek at times grew
pale and wan; still, there was no complaint of sickness in the house,
and the edition was completed. All men praised, and some printers
envied the work, though it was finished in the name of their dead
father.

One evening, Gottleib rejoiced over it greatly, saying his promise was
fulfilled, and Christopher and Hubert were now as good printers as
himself: he bade them a kindly and glad good-night, and the young
brothers talked long together, for Gottleib slept alone; but in the
morning he did not come as usual to call them, and when they went to
wake him, their brother was kneeling at his bedside, with his hands
clasped as if in prayer--an earlier summons had reached him, and the
great soul was gone!

Honour and profit followed the work they had printed with him. Their
craft grew proud of them, and friends began to say they might be
burgomasters in time; but the light of their days had gone down with
Gottleib. The old house had grown so dreary without him, that they
could not live in it. Every street and corner of the city brought
their loss to mind; and hearing that there was peace and room for
printers in their father's country, the young men sold their German
dwelling to a wealthy burgher, collected their money, chattels, and
types, and came with them to London. Paternoster Row was even in those
days the resort of traders in books; and happening to see the
antiquated house in Amen-Corner, the strangers thought it had a
pleasant likeness to their old home; so they purchased it at the
expense of nearly all they possessed, except their printing-press,
with which they established themselves there, determined never to
part, but live together in the country of their fathers.

Hard by there lived a widow of German parentage, whose husband had
been a printer; but he and his seven children were all dead. Gunhilde,
for such was her name, was old, poor, and lonely, and she became their
housekeeper. Years of resolute toil and prudent frugality passed over
the brothers, till they were no longer strangers in old London, nor
inconsiderable among the inhabitants of the Row. Their press had done
its part in the work of the times. They had printed the 'Book of
Sports' and the 'Westminster Confession;' broadside ballads concerning
Robin Hood and Maid Marian; and heavy folios on Free-will and
Predestination. Christopher and Hubert had increased in substance also
to a degree never dreamed of in their German home. The dealers in
books began to talk of them as somewhat notable men; but cares and
causes of division had come with property and importance. In some
respects, the brothers were of the same temper: both were earnest,
brave, and high-spirited--strong to will, and steady to work. They had
been faithful friends and loving brethren through many a change and
trial; but there was a grievous fault in both. Each was given to exact
from the other's friendship, though in a different fashion; for
Christopher expected too much of inward affection, and Hubert had too
much respect to outward observances. Alike, on the ground of
resemblance and of difference, sprang up the roots of bitterness which
troubled their days. At first, their strangership, their strivings to
live and thrive in the English land, and, above all, the memory and
loving counsels of their lost Gottleib, had bound them heart and hand
together; but as the years of manhood hardened heart and mind, as
increasing gains brought leisure and anxious looks on life,
differences of opinion, of tastes, and of inclinations, gradually
crept in between them, and their elder brother waned away from their
remembrance, far off among the scenes and familiars of youth.

Time brought further occasion of discord: the house of an English
bookseller at the foot of the Row had grown more attractive than his
own to Hubert, because of a certain Mistress Margaret who lived there
with her father. The bookseller was old, narrow-minded, and stiff for
presbytery; he approved of no people but Englishmen, and had a special
prejudice against German Lutherans. His daughter believed firmly in
his wisdom, and had been from infancy the old man's darling. She was
fair, good, and clever; but the girl had a wayward pride, and a wit
that was too ready for her judgment. Nevertheless, Hubert had found
favour in her eyes as well as in those of her father, perhaps because
he endeavoured earnestly to win it; while Christopher was composing
tender verses, addressed to a young and very pious Catholic widow in
the neighbourhood, who held fast her then persecuted faith.

The bookseller hesitated on giving his daughter to a Lutheran, and the
widow remained undecided; but under their influence, Christopher and
Hubert learned to contemn each other's choice, and dispute over creeds
which neither acknowledged. Thus the controversies of the age, with
all their bigotry and uncharitableness, found entrance to their home.
Christopher lost no opportunity of throwing scorn on the Puritans, on
account of the bookseller; and Hubert never spared to testify against
Popish errors, by way of reflection on the widow. The loving
brotherhood, which had been to them a rampart against the world's sins
and follies, was broken down, and all manner of petty jealousies,
vanities, and mistakes, flowed in to swell the flood of strife. There
had been fierce debates and bitter words between them, wrath that
overcame the friendship of years, hard misjudging of each other's
motives, and mighty magnifying of small offences. One evening they sat
in sullen pride and anger by the fire. It was the same hearth at which
for ten years they had met when the work of the day was done. Their
early difficulties in the great, strange city had been debated there.
The gains of their prosperous days had been reckoned, their risks and
speculations discussed, but now their seats were pushed to the most
distant corners, and between them stood a table covered with papers
and account-books; for they had at last determined to divide their
possessions to the uttermost farthing, and part company for ever. With
merchant-like exactness, every tittle was reckoned up and shared. The
old house was to be sold to a Jew for a sum already agreed on, and one
item only remained which they could not divide, an heirloom's value
being fixed upon it. That was the Coverdale Bible with which their
grandfather had fled to Germany.

Neither would consent to take the book, or receive anything in its
stead, for a savage pride was in their hearts; and there lay the large
worn folio, with its brazen clasps, between them. The day's work had
been hard, for though comparatively rich, Christopher and Hubert were
laborious men from habit, and the elder at length leaned his head on
the table to rest a moment, and think what could be done. Hubert also
leaned his brow on his hand, and it might be the sight of that old
volume, in spite of themselves, brought faraway memories crowding back
on both. They thought of the German city where they had been born; of
their long-dead father; and, last of all, of Gottleib. They knew the
grass was long upon his German grave; but suddenly, as wild and vague
regrets for all that had come and gone began to rise upon them, the
door of their room was opened, and there entered a stranger of most
noble presence and aspect, who, without a word, drew back the table
and seated himself between them.

The brothers were astonished; but when he said in their own German
tongue: 'Friends, why do you muse so silently?' his voice sounded in
their ears like the church-bells of Augsburg.

'We have cause for silence and musing, friend,' said Christopher.

'And what is your business with us?' demanded the fiery Hubert.

'I have come,' said the stranger, 'to shew you a rare and curious
sight which lies in your very neighbourhood, though you never saw it,
not having yet reached the ground from which it is rightly seen.'

'We have no time for sights at this late hour,' cried Hubert.

'Our accounts and goods occupy us now, but we will go to-morrow,' said
Christopher.

'Nay, friends,' said the stranger, taking a hand of each, 'it were
well that you should see it soon. All who earnestly look upon that
sight, are somewhat instructed to their private benefit; and it may be
that you also will learn something touching the use of these,' he
added, pointing to the open account-books and the clasped Bible.

Christopher and Hubert felt persuaded to accompany him: he led them,
it seemed but a few steps from their own door, through a dark and
narrow lane, in which the busy men had never been; but there streets
and houses abruptly terminated, and they stood by the side of a broad
and thronged highway. A road like that the brothers had never seen in
all their journeys. It ran due east and west, from the rising to the
setting sun; but far to the eastward, a mist, like the smoke of
congregated houses, shut out the view; and on the west, a fog more
dense than that of autumn or mid-winter closed the prospect. The space
between was thronged with travellers, who emerged from the eastern
mist, and were manifestly going to the other.

A light shone on them, but it was gray and uncertain, like that of
twilight. Sometimes the sun, sometimes the stars shone through, and
strange clouds and meteors passed across the sky.

'What way is this,' thought the brothers, 'which lies so near our own
dwelling, and yet has neither night nor day?' But as their eyes grew
accustomed to the light, they perceived that the travellers on that
road were of all ages--man, woman, and child. Yet each journeyed in a
track cut for himself in the soil, from which it appeared none could
stray. Some of these tracks were wide, and others narrow; some had
numerous windings, and some were but slightly curved; many were rough
and stony, others of the bare earth, with brambles growing thick at
their edges; and some were half covered with grass and wild-flowers.
Christopher and Hubert, however, observed that none of them were
perfectly smooth or straight; that dust and rubbish were plentiful in
them all; and that every track on that highway crossed some other. The
travellers, too, differed wonderfully in their manner of journeying.
Some moved like mourners at a funeral; some like runners to a goal.
There were those who went steadily forward, with the pace of soldiers
on a march; others, who seemed in great fear, looking perpetually
behind or before them; and very few who walked at their ease.

As the brothers marvelled at this diversity, they discovered that
there was none of all the travellers without a burden, and in that
matter there appeared no less variety. Bundles of every shape and size
were on their shoulders: some looked huge, and were tied up in
sackcloth; others were covered with rich cloth, and bound with silken
cords. Some bore theirs concealed under long mantles; but Christopher
thought it was mostly weights of iron or lead they carried. Further
particulars astonished the brothers still more. The greater part
appeared to have a strange propensity for increasing the difficulties
of their way, by walking in whatever manner was least practicable.
Many augmented the burdens, under which they already staggered, with
dust and rubbish, which they collected from all sides; and far more
were endeavouring to pile up the scattered stones and thorns on their
equally burdened neighbours. All this time, the air was filled with a
clamour of complaints, generally referring to their tracks and
burdens; and Christopher and Hubert remarked with amazement, that it
was by no means those who had the roughest track, or the heaviest bale
to carry, that travelled most laboriously, or seemed least content
with the journey.

No traveller, indeed, appeared satisfied, and whenever their tracks
crossed, the unruly creatures were sure to jostle each other; but let
the accident happen as it would, every man laid the blame loudly on
his neighbour. They had also innumerable disputes concerning the
clouds and meteors of the sky; regarding the dust under their feet;
and more especially touching some glimpses of an azure heaven, which
they caught at times through the western mist. On that subject, the
fierceness of their debates was marvellous, and the clamour
occasionally became deafening; but the brothers observed that the
noisiest traveller generally came quietly out of the one mist, and
disappeared with as little tumult in the other.

'What think ye of these people?' said the stranger, when Christopher
and Hubert had gazed and wondered long.

'They are mad!' said Christopher, 'to give and take such trouble for
no end.'

'What grievous disturbance they make about so short a journey!' cried
Hubert. 'Good stranger, tell us of what Bedlam are they?'

'They belong to all the madhouses of the world,' said the stranger.

'But why are they here?--where are they going?--and what lies beyond
these mists?' cried the brothers in a breath.

'Dear brothers, who were so true and loving of old,' said the
stranger, 'concerning this matter, believe that you will learn
hereafter; for the present, know that this which ye have seen is the
great and busy road of life; but strive to become more wise and
prudent travellers, and see that ye fall not out by the way.'

As he ceased, a gleam of sunshine broke through the twilight, and fell
full upon him. In its brightness, the noble aspect did not alter, but
grew more familiar to their eyes; and Christopher and Hubert knew at
the same moment that he was none other than their brother Gottleib.
Both sprang to embrace him, but the way, the travellers, and Gottleib,
vanished from them. They looked into each other's faces by the early
sunlight which streamed through the closed shutters of their room, and
gleamed on the brazen clasps of the Coverdale Bible, still lying
between them on the table where they had fallen asleep.

Such is the account of the affair given by themselves; although more,
it is believed, to suit the taste and belief of the time they lived
in than their own. The two brothers had passed many hours silent and
in the dark; and it is not unreasonable to suppose that the visionary
world, into which they had unconsciously slipped, presented to both
such phenomena--founded on the meditations and recollections in which
both had been immersed--as were easily rendered in the exoteric types
of romance. The brothers talked long over the vision, and could
scarcely satisfy even themselves that it was indeed a dream; but they
agreed on its use of wisdom and warning, and disputed no more. The old
house was not sold, nor the types divided. It is even affirmed that
the bookseller's daughter and the Catholic widow lived there as right
friendly sisters-in-law; and after many a broadside and folio page,
the press they had worked for so many years at length struck off the
tale we have just related--the German brothers supposing that some
honest men in England might profit, as they had done, by a look upon
Life's Highway.



DUST-SHOWERS AND RED-RAIN.


Recent scientific investigations in Europe and America have thrown
some interesting light on the nature of these very curious phenomena.
The results arrived at may be brought familiarly before our readers.

Mr Charles Darwin, in the narrative of his voyage in the _Beagle_,
states that while he was at St Jago, one of the Cape de Verd islands,
in January 1832: 'The atmosphere was generally very hazy; this appears
chiefly due to an impalpable dust, which is constantly falling, even
on vessels far out at sea. The dust,' he goes on to say, 'is of a
brown colour, and under the blow-pipe, easily fuses into a black
enamel. It is produced, as I believe, from the wear and tear of
volcanic rocks, and must come from the coast of Africa.' The same
opinion was held by scientific men generally, as well of the dust met
with in the North Atlantic, as of that which sometimes falls on the
islands and shores of the Mediterranean: Africa was supposed to be the
original source of the air-borne particles. Some of the dust, however,
having been sent to Ehrenberg of Berlin, that celebrated _savant_,
after a microscopical examination, laid an account of his inquiry
before the Akademie der Wissenschaften, in May 1844, in which he
shewed that the dust, so far from being inorganic, contained numerous
specimens of a species of flint-shelled animalcules, or infusoria,
known as polygastrica, and minute portions of terrestrial plants. The
investigation led him to certain conclusions: '1. That meteoric
dust-rain is of terrestrial origin. 2. That the same is not a rain of
volcanic ashes. 3. That it is necessarily a dust carried up to a great
height by a strong current of air or whirlwind from a dried-up
swamp-region. 4. That the dust neither demonstrably nor necessarily
comes from Africa, notwithstanding that the wind may blow from thence
as the nearest land when the dust falls, because there are in it no
forms whatsoever exclusively native to Africa.' These were remarkable
facts, but warranted by the evidence: one, if not more, of the
animalcules was proved to be peculiar to America, and that country was
naturally inferred to be the quarter from which they had been derived.

The inquiry once begun was followed up; other specimens of dust were
submitted to the same critical test, and found generally to contain a
much greater number and variety of infusoria than the first--mostly
fresh-water forms, but with a few of marine origin; whence the
conclusion, that they had been brought from a coast-region; and
especially remarkable was the fact, that among all the forms there was
not one peculiar to the African continent. One example was known to
belong to the Isle of France, the others were chiefly South American.
After an examination of six specimens, obtained at different
intervals, Ehrenberg discovered that they contained four organisms in
common. 'I now consider myself,' he observes, 'justified in the
conclusion, that all the Atlantic dust may come only from one and the
same source, notwithstanding its extent and annual amount. The
constant yellow and reddish colour of the dust, produced by
ferruginous matter, its falling with the trade-winds and not with the
harmattan, increase the interest of the phenomena.'

It had always been supposed, that the dust which traversed the
Mediterranean was borne from the Great Sahara; but in a quantity
collected on board the ship _Revenge_, at Malta, an infusoria peculiar
to Chili was met with, which, with other characteristics, proved the
dust to be the same as that observed on the Atlantic. Their colour,
too, was identical; while the Sahara is a 'dazzling white sand:' hence
the dust brought across the Mediterranean by the sirocco was not
peculiar to Africa. The conclusion here arrived at was still further
verified by another sirocco-storm in May 1846, which extended to
Genoa, and bore with it a dust that 'covered the roofs of the city in
great abundance.' This, as was clearly ascertained, contained
formations identical with those which had been collected off the Cape
de Verd; and it was shewn that the dust-showers of the Atlantic, and
those of Malta and Genoa, were 'always of a yellow ochre-like
colour--not gray, like those of the kamsin, in North Africa.' The
peculiar colour of the dust was found to be caused by iron-oxide; and
from one-sixth to one-third of the whole proved to consist 'of
determinable organic parts.' In the following year, 1847, Ehrenberg
had another opportunity of testing his conclusions, in specimens of
dust which had fallen in Italy and Sicily in 1802 and 1813; the same
result came out on examination; 'several species peculiar to South
America, and none peculiar to Africa.'

Thus, omitting the two last-mentioned instances, there had been five
marked falls of dust between 1830 and 1846; how many others passed
without notice, it would now be impossible to ascertain. The showers
sometimes occur at a distance of 800 miles from the coast of Africa,
and this region lies between the parallels of 17 and 25 degrees north
latitude, and whence, as we have seen, they extend to the northern
shores of the Mediterranean. In the dust collected from these various
falls, there have been found altogether nineteen species of infusoria;
of which eight were polythalamia, seven polygastrica, and two
phytolitharia, these chiefly constituting the flint-earth portion of
the dust. The iron was composed of the gaillonilla, and 'the carbonic
chalk earth corresponded tolerably well to the smaller number of
polythalamia.' The uniform character of the specimens obtained at
intervals over so long a course of years is especially remarkable.

To turn, now, for a few moments to the second phenomenon indicated in
our title. In October 1846, a fearful and furious hurricane visited
Lyon and the district between that city and Grenoble, during which
occurred a fall of blood-rain. A number of drops were caught and
preserved, and when the moisture had evaporated, there was seen the
same kind of dust--of yellowish-brown or red colour--as that which had
fallen in a dry state on the occasions already referred to. The
strictest pains were taken to ascertain that it was not the common
dust swept from roads during a gale of wind; and when placed under the
microscope, it exhibited a greater proportion of fresh-water and
marine formations than the former instances. Phytolitharia were
numerous, as also 'neatly-lobed vegetable scales;' which, as Ehrenberg
observes, is sufficient to disprove the assertion, that the substance
is formed in the atmosphere itself, and is not of European origin. For
the first time, a living organism was met with--the '_Eunotia
amphyoxis_, with its ovaries green, and therefore capable of life.'
Here was a solution of the mystery: the dust, mingling with the drops
of water falling from the clouds, produced the red rain. Its
appearance is that of reddened water, and it cannot be called
blood-like without exaggeration.

Again, in March 1847, a coloured snow fell in the Tyrol, presenting a
most singular appearance, and, when dried, leaving behind a
brick-coloured dust. Most of the organised forms therein contained
were European and American, with a few African; and again the
microscope shewed it to be similar to the dust before examined,
leaving no room to suppose it of local origin. 'The predominating
forms, numerically, of one kind of dust, are also the predominating
forms in all the rest,' as Ehrenberg observes; and says further:
'Impossible as it is to conceive of all the storms now compared from
1830 to 1847, as having a continuous genetic connection, it is equally
impossible also to imagine the masses of dust transported by them,
with such a degree of similarity, _not to have a genetic
connection_.... The great geographic extent of the phenomenon of a
reddish dust nearly filling the atmosphere, and itself filled with
organisms so similar, many of which are characteristic of South
America, not only admits of, but demands a more earnest attention to
the probable cyclical relations in the upper and lower atmosphere,
whereby very great masses of fixed terrestrial matter, earths and
metals, and especially flint-earths, chalk, iron, and coal, apparently
heterogeneous, and yet related by certain peculiarities, are held
swimming in the atmosphere, now like clouds thinly spread by
whirlwinds or electricity over a broad space, and now condensed, and,
like the dust of the fir-blossoms, falling in showers in every
direction.'

Ehrenberg, then, states his views as to the cause of the phenomenon.
'Although far from attaching undue weight to a hypothesis, I cannot
but consider it a matter of duty to seek for a connection in the
facts, and feel myself constrained--on account of the above-mentioned
particulars, and in so far as they justify a conclusion--to suppose an
atmospheric current, connecting America and Africa with the region of
the trade-winds, and sometimes, particularly about the 15th and 16th
of May, turning towards Europe, and bringing with it this very
peculiar, and apparently not African dust, in countless measure. If
instead of attacking hypothesis by hypothesis, we strive with united
effort to multiply scientific observations, we may then hope for a
progressive explanation of these mysterious relations, so especially
worthy of study.'

Some progress has already been made by a transatlantic investigator in
the explanation so much desired by the distinguished naturalist.
Lieutenant Maury, of Washington--an outline of whose views regarding
the winds was given in No. 412 of this Journal--finds in Ehrenberg's
researches a beautiful and interesting confirmation of his own theory;
namely, that the trade-winds of either hemisphere cross the belt of
equatorial calms. Observations at the Peak of Teneriffe have proved
that, while the trade-wind is sweeping along the surface of the ocean
in one direction, a current in the higher regions of the atmosphere is
blowing in the reverse direction. According to Lieutenant Maury, a
perpetual upper current prevails from South America to North Africa,
the volume being equal to that which flows southward by the north-east
trade-wind. This wind, it should be remembered, does not touch the
African continent, but the limits of its northern border are variable;
whence the fact, that the falls of dust vary between 17 and 25 degrees
of north latitude, as before stated. As the belt of calms shifts its
position, so will there be a variation in the locality of the
descending atmospheric current.

The dust-showers take place most frequently in spring and autumn; that
is, 'after the equinoxes, but at intervals varying from thirty to
fifty days;' the cause being, that the equatorial calms, at the time
of the vernal equinox, extend to four degrees on either side the
equator; and as the rainy season then prevails between those limits,
no dust can consequently be taken up in those latitudes. But the same
period is the dry season in the valley of the lower Orinoco, and the
surface of that extensive region is in a favourable condition to give
off dust; and at the time of the autumnal equinox, another part of the
great Amazonian basin is parched with drought, on which Lieutenant
Maury observes: 'May not, therefore, the whirlwinds which accompany
the vernal equinox sweep over the lifeless plains of the lower
Orinoco, take up the "rain-dust," which descends in the northern
hemisphere in April and May--and may it not be the atmospherical
disturbances which accompany the autumnal equinox, that take up the
microscopic organisms from the upper Orinoco and the great Amazonian
basin for the showers of October?' Humboldt gives a striking picture
of the region in question, and, if the phrase may be permitted, of its
dust-producing capabilities; so that the origin of this light powder,
as regards one locality, may be said to be placed beyond a doubt.

As yet, the reason why the dust falls, as it were, concretely, and not
generally diffused through the atmosphere, is not known; it is one of
the obscure points waiting further investigation. Why it should travel
so far to fall in a particular spot is, in the present state of our
knowledge, not easy to explain. The coarsest dust is generally the
first to fall; and it seems clear, that the descent occurs when and
where the conditions are favourable. Lieutenant Maury considers, 'that
certain electrical conditions are necessary to a shower of dust as
well as to a thunder-storm;' and that, in the periodical intervals, we
may get a clue to the rate of motion of the upper aerial currents,
which appear to be 'remarkable for their general regularity, their
general direction, and sharpness of limits.'

It is scarcely possible not to feel that the investigations here
briefly sketched, possess unusual interest. As Ehrenberg says, the
subject is one 'of vast, manifold, and rapidly-increasing importance,
and is but the beginning of a future great department of knowledge.'
Now that it has been published in a connected form, and the attention
of scientific observers directed to it, we may hope soon to hear of
corroborative evidence from all parts of the world. We may mention, as
bearing on the question, that sand-showers are not unfrequent in
China. Dr M'Gowan of Ningpo, in a communication to the Asiatic Society
of Bengal, states, that at the beginning of 1851, three showers
occurred within five weeks; the last, which commenced on the 26th
March, and continued four days, being the heaviest. The wind during
the time varied from north-east to north-west, the breeze interrupted
by occasional calms. No rain had fallen for six weeks; and though, as
the doctor observes, 'neither cloud, fog, nor mist obscured the
heavens, yet the sun and moon were scarcely visible; the orb of day
appeared as if viewed through a smoked glass, the whole sky presenting
a uniform rusty hue. At times, this sameness was disturbed, exhibiting
between the spectator and the sun the appearance of a water-spout,
owing to the gyratory motions of the impalpable mineral. The sand
penetrated the most secluded apartments; furniture wiped in the
morning, would be so covered with it in the afternoon, that one could
write on it legibly. In the streets, it was annoying--entering the
eyes, nostrils, and mouth, and grating under the teeth. My ophthalmic
patients generally suffered a relapse, and an unusual number of new
cases soon after presented themselves. Were such heavy sand-storms of
frequent occurrence, diseases of the visual organs would prevail to a
destructive extent.'

These showers sometimes spread over several provinces at once, and far
out to sea. The Chinese call them yellow-sand. Their source is the
great desert of Gobi, or Sand-Ocean, more than 2000 miles long, and
from 300 to 400 broad, in the interior of Asia. Dr M'Gowan states,
that the fall amounted to ten grains per square foot, but without
specifying whether this quantity includes the whole duration of the
shower. During calms, it remains suspended. The dust thus raised from
the Mongolian steppes gives the peculiar tinge to the Yellow Sea.

Notwithstanding the annoyance of these dust-showers, they have a
valuable compensation. The Chinese, whose closeness of observation in
agricultural matters is well known, assert that they are always
followed by a fruitful season--not, it is true, as cause, but as
effect. The explanation is, that the soil of the provinces most
subject to the visitation, being of a compact character, is loosened
and lightened by the sand borne on the wind from the Tatarian plains,
and at the same time, the lighter fertilising matters carried away by
the great rivers are replaced; and thus, that which at first sight
appears an unmitigated evil, becomes the cause of good harvests, for
they invariably follow a fall of sand.



THE CITY INQUEST FOR THE POOR.


I keep a shop in the City, and open it every morning as Bow Church
bells are ringing out eight o'clock. I pay a very heavy rent, as well
as Queen's taxes and poor's-rates; and I could do neither, to say
nothing of maintaining my family, if I did not mind my business, and
work hard. But by the help of constant attention and industry, I am
happy to say, I am able to make my shop keep me and my family too,
which it does comfortably, and lifts me, in some sort, above the
world, and enables me to bear the character, which I should always
like to retain, of a respectable man.

We dwellers in London City proper are supposed to entertain a very
high regard for respectability, and so we do; and I am going now to
detail the operations of what, I suppose, must be called an
institution altogether peculiar to the City, of which the world out of
the City knows very little, and which has been in being I don't know
how many centuries--before there were any poor-laws, or any 'good
Queen Bess;' and which must have been a respectable affair--if I am
any judge of what that means--from the very first, whenever that was.
It is a good thing to relieve necessity in any shape, and a better
thing to help it to help itself; but to dispense charity without doing
a mischief in some way or other, either by rewarding imposture,
encouraging idleness, or repressing the springs of self-reliance or
self-exertion, is about the hardest business I have ever had to do
with, and I have had some knotty affairs to get through in my time.
Now, the various wards of the City do every year, I think, manage this
difficult matter very carefully and efficiently, though not without a
good deal of trouble; and as I think their mode of doing it sets a
good example, I have made up my mind to let the public know something
about the Inquest for the Poor, which comes off in December every
year. I believe it will be a novelty to most people out of the City
limits, and to not a few within them as well. What I know about it, I
have derived from experience: that, indeed, is all I have to relate;
and when I have told my tale, the reader will be as wise as I am, in
this respect at least.

About the middle of last December, I received a citation to attend a
wardmote, to be held in the schoolroom of my parish. I was in
expectation of this summons, as, the parishioners being called upon in
rotation, I knew that my turn would come on upon this occasion. The
number of tradesmen, who must be all of respectable character,
summoned to the first meeting, is always greater than the number
required to serve on the inquest, because many find it very
inconvenient, and others find it impossible, to give their services.
Valid excuses are admitted in plea against the performance of the
duty; but a frivolous excuse is not allowed; and a tradesman, whose
turn it is to serve, if he can prefer no good reason for not serving,
must serve or pay the fine. Six guineas is the heavy penalty inflicted
upon a recusant who declines service altogether. This preliminary
meeting is called merely to insure a sufficient company to be in
attendance in the vestry of ---- Church, at the general wardmote held
on St Thomas's Day.

After an early breakfast on the morning of the day above named, I
repaired to the vestry, which was very fully attended, and where, in
the course of the forenoon, the common-councilmen for the ward were
elected for the ensuing year, and, their election settled, were all
duly admonished respecting their duties by the chairman. Then, from
the number of respectable tradesmen in attendance, myself and eleven
others were elected to prosecute the inquest for that year on behalf
of the poor; and we in our turn were admonished by the same authority,
that we were not to compass any treason, nor to conspire against Her
Majesty the Queen--than which, I am very sure, nothing could have been
further from our thoughts. The inquest being thus incorporated, we
proceeded to elect a foreman and a treasurer, and to decree fines for
non-attendance. The fines were appropriated to the payment of
expenses, no part of the money collected being available for any other
purpose than that of charity. The collection commenced by a
contribution from each member of the inquest, each giving liberally,
and setting a generous example. All these necessary preliminaries
being settled, every man of us got into a handsome cloak, trimmed with
fur, hired for the occasion, at a cost of five shillings per head,
and, with the beadle of the ward blazing in scarlet and gold, pacing
majestically beneath a three-cornered hat, and pushing a ponderous
gold mace in advance, we were marched off to Guildhall, to pass muster
before Gog and Magog, and to be presented to his worship the lord
mayor. His lordship, who was surrounded by a staff of officials in
gorgeous liveries, was very glad to see us: indeed he told us so--said
that he was extremely gratified at receiving so highly respectable a
company, and expressed more than once his satisfaction at finding that
we were so ready to act in the cause of charity as to sacrifice our
valuable time, and unite together for the succour of the distressed.
He addressed us, in fact, for nearly a minute and a half; after which,
as time was pressing, and others were waiting to be presented, we were
signaled forward to a side-door, and made a very sudden exit into the
street, whence we marched back to the vestry to disrobe, with the
exception of some few of our number, who knowing that the business of
the charity was done for the day, abandoned their cloaks to the care
of the owner, who contrives generally to be in attendance at this
critical moment, and proceeded to look after their own private
affairs. We all met, however, in the evening, and partook of a
substantial dinner, to which, according to a custom which has
prevailed from time immemorial, the church-wardens of the parish and
the foreman and treasurer of the inquest of the preceding year were
invited. The dinner went off, as a dinner should do, with perfect
harmony and good-feeling; and some very excellent speeches were made
on the subject of the inquest--its undeniable efficacy and utility,
and its great antiquity. We broke up at a sober hour, each member
being charged to present himself at the vestry at nine in the morning
on that day week, under the penalty of half-a-guinea.

It would have suited my interests very well, when the day came round,
to have forfeited my half-guinea, and have attended exclusively to my
own business; but judging it more to my credit to go through with the
work I had undertaken, I was at my post, together with several of my
colleagues, before the hour had struck. Some of our members did not
come at all the first day, but sent their half-guineas; others, having
to come in from the suburbs before omnibus-time, arrived too late, and
were fined in smaller sums for the breach of punctuality. Our party
being at length complete, to the number of ten, we indue our cloaks,
and, pioneered by the ward-beadle with his ponderous mace, we sally
forth to feel the charitable pulse of several parishes. Ten good men
and true, swathed to the chin in voluminous folds of broad-cloth
fringed with fur, and headed by the ample proportions of the
mace-bearer in scarlet and cloth of gold; our apparition, and our
mission too, were plainly a mystery to the major part of the
population, who, seeing us but once a year, and then but momentarily,
as the procession emerges suddenly from one door to plunge into
another, do not very well know what to make of it. 'Is that there a
buryin' or a marryin'?' 'What's that lot o' fellows after?' 'What's up
now, Jem?'--such are a few of the inquiries which from time to time
testified the astonishment of the uninitiated; to all of which our
imperturbable leader opposed a face as impenetrable as that of the
sphinx of the desert. We should have been sadly at a loss, by the way,
without him. He knew every soul in the whole ward who would come down
to the extent of a sixpence for the sake of the poor; and he led his
small phalanx boldly to the charge through all impediments. Under his
guidance, we did what certainly we should never have attempted without
it. We stormed the stout citadels of the merchants, and carried their
strongholds up as high as the third and fourth floors, and captured
many a poor man's dinner from the very jaws of the cash-box. We dived
into cellars, and crouched and crept into subterranean dens. We
threaded muddy lanes, and wandered among bewildering wharfs, and
mounted lofts and sheds, and squeezed ourselves into all sorts of
out-of-the-way slums. We climbed ladders leading up into creaking
timber galleries, and got into regions of old planks and cobwebs, dim
with dust and odorous with ancient smells. We assailed the scholar at
his studies, and the craftsman at his labour, and from all and each we
met with a courteous reception, and gathered the sinews of
benevolence. The dispositions of men vary in few things more than in
their several modes of conferring a favour. Some of our most liberal
donors thoughtfully sent their bank-notes to the vestry, to save us
the trouble of waiting upon them; others, on the contrary, levied the
full value of their gifts, by keeping us wearily waiting before we got
them. A barber, whom we found at his block busily weaving a wig, and
whose diminutive crib would not contain half our company, apologised
because it was not in his power to do much for us, and then
diffidently tendered a guinea. A portly dealer in feminine luxuries
talked largely of the claims of our indigent brethren, and the sacred
obligations of charity, and wound up his sonorous homily with the
climax of half-a-crown. We found one burly gentleman, buried up to the
elbows in red-tape and legal documents, who professed a perfect
horror, a rooted antipathy, to the poor in every shape, and who had a
decided conviction that poverty was a nuisance which ought to be put
down. When he had said all this, and a great deal more, he very
consistently lent a hand towards abating the nuisance, by presenting
us with a contribution of double his usual annual subscription. When
we had got out of earshot, our experienced chaperon remarked to me:
'When I hered him agoin' on so, I knowed he was agoin' to come down
'ansome. He's a wery nice genelman, what enjoys a grumble, and don't
mind paying for it!'

Our domiciliary visits occupied between three and four days, and the
rain fell in torrents during the whole time. We were wet through in
spite of the cloaks we wore, but canvassed the whole district
successfully notwithstanding, and probably collected every shilling
that was to be got. Our guide had so often felt the pulse of the whole
ward in this way, that he never suffered us to waste our time or our
demands upon those whom he knew to be impracticable; and thus we got
through the business much more quickly, as well as more prosperously,
than we could possibly have done had we been left to our own
resources. The result of our united labours was a purse of nearly
L.200; and now came the more pleasant part of our duty--the
distribution of alms, at a season when poverty is most severely felt,
to the most deserving of the most needy.

The distribution took place a few days after the collection was
finished. In the interim, blank tickets had been distributed to such
of the donors as chose to receive them, upon which they inscribed the
names of the poor persons whom they recommended for relief. The vestry
where we were elected was the scene of the distribution. The body of
the church was allotted for the accommodation of the poor
ticket-holders, who formed a numerous and very motley crowd, and who
were called in to receive their dole in rotation, by the ward-beadle,
from a list which he had prepared. I suspect, however, that the system
of rotation was not very rigidly observed, inasmuch as half-a-dozen
women, with squalling children in their arms, were among the very
first who were called in and dealt with, by which means something like
peace and quietness were obtained while the claims of the crowd of the
remaining applicants were severally considered. What followed was a
very different affair from that which transpires weekly at the parish
pay-table. I have been church-warden, overseer, and guardian of
various parishes in my time, and I have seen the poor in all
conditions and under all circumstances, and I thought I knew them well
enough; but I derived a new lesson now, and learned that it is
possible for humanity to undergo the direst misfortunes without losing
heart and hope--to drain the cup of misery to the dregs without
becoming utterly selfish--and to be long immersed in the lowest depths
of necessity, and yet be human still. I shall describe one or two of
these hapless claimants upon the benevolence of their wealthy
fellow-citizens, premising that a few of them only are the recipients
of parish pay. They see no disgrace, perhaps, in participating in a
voluntary alms, because it is voluntary, and, as such, cannot be
regarded as the peculiar property of that numerous class who assert
and maintain a life-interest in compulsory funds legally levied for
their support.

One of the first who seemed to attract general sympathy was an old,
old man, trembling on the very verge of the grave, who had outlived
almost every faculty of mind and body. He could walk only by instinct,
advancing his foot mechanically, to save himself from falling, when
he was pushed gently forwards. When standing, he could not seat
himself--and when sitting, he could not get up without help. In
whatever posture he was placed, there he remained. Altogether
insensible to question and remark, he looked wildly round upon us, and
smiled, and winked with both eyes. These were his sole remaining
capabilities--to wink, and to look agreeable. He had been recommended
as an object worthy of charity by a liberal donor, and he was brought
in person to justify the recommendation. He was clean, and neat, and
tidily dressed, but evidently in a state of perfect unconsciousness of
everything around him. He had lived once, but it was in times long
past and gone: you might guess him to be what age you chose, but you
could hardly think him older than he was; time, who had stolen his
faculties, had forgotten to wreck the casket that contained them: the
spirit of life had left its tenement, and by some strange mistake, the
animated machine had gone on without it. My neighbour, the watchmaker,
compared him to a clock with the striking-train run down, and the
works rusty beyond repair. He could not thank us for the alms we gave
him, but he did all he could--he winked, and smiled, and tried to make
a bow, but failed in the attempt, and resigned himself cheerfully to
the care of his friends, who carried him off.

Another quiet applicant was a lady, whose natural-born gentility
poverty might obscure but could not conceal. Years of want and
struggling deprivation had dimmed her charms; but they had neither
bowed nor bent her stately form, nor quenched the inherent virtue of
self-respect, nor deprived her of the correct and appropriate diction,
and the winning and courteous expression which once graced a
drawing-room. She was introduced to us by the beadle as Lady W----;
and although draped in very humble and well-worn apparel, she looked
what she was--a gentlewoman in every sense of the word; though beyond
an empty title, she possessed hardly anything in the world. She
answered our inquiries with a natural courtesy, which at least some of
us felt to be a condescension. 'Gentlemen,' she said, 'it is true, as
your attendant states, that I am a lady. In my youth, I married a
titled man. I make no boast of that--it was, indeed, my misfortune. I
was brought up and educated to occupy a station inferior to few: I
filled that station for many years; it is not for me to say how
appropriately; and though calamity has overtaken me now, and I have
been familiar with necessity for so long a time, yet I feel that I am
a lady still. I may be reproached with poverty, and that I can bear;
but I trust I shall never be justly reproached with having fallen to
the level of my circumstances. I am grateful to you for the assistance
you so kindly render me; and I can express that sentiment, and feel it
deeply, too, without humiliation, because the aid you supply is as
voluntary on your part as its acceptance is necessary on mine.' When
our foreman had instinctively wrapped the donation awarded to her in a
quarter sheet of letter-paper, and presented her with it, she bent
with a dignified obeisance, and silently withdrew.

A third applicant, worthy of a passing notice, was a lady of a very
different stamp. Who or what she had been in former years, I could not
ascertain, but she appeared before us in the character of a
middle-aged mince-pie monomaniac, and jam-tart amateur. The poor
harmless creature was clad in the veriest shreds of dusky feminine
attire, which barely shielded her limbs from the inclemency of the
weather. She had a notion that she, too, was a lady, and that, being a
lady, she was bound to live by the consumption of pastry, and nothing
else. We were admonished by our custodian that whatever amount we
awarded her, whether it were much or little, would be forthwith
consigned to the confectioner, in exchange for mince-pies and tarts of
the very best quality; and I regret to say, that this announcement had
the effect of reducing considerably the sum she derived from the
charity of the ward, and effectually preventing the consummation of
any very formidable debauch with her favourite viands. But the poor
simpleton was as merry as she was innocent and harmless; and all
unsuspicious of the latent grudge which had lessened her gratuity,
tripped hastily off, to enjoy at least one delicious repast.

After we had sat some hours, a very distressing case was brought
forward. A poor woman, the wife of a working-man, and the mother of a
young family, had been deserted by her husband, who had left her,
besides her own children, the charge of his bedridden parents. Under
this accumulation of burdens, she had been heroically struggling for
some months, in the vain attempt, by her single energies, to ward off
the approach of want, and to act at the same time the part of nurse to
the old couple. She had succeeded in a great measure, and modestly
sought but a little help to enable her to persevere in her arduous
undertaking.

Then came an old man, verging on fourscore, the very _beau ideal_ of
the merchant's serving-man of the last century. He had once been
comparatively prosperous, but, judging from his cheerful face, perhaps
hardly ever happier than he was now. For fifty years of his life, he
had been _custos_ and confidential house keeper to a well-known firm,
which, after four or five generations of unvarying prosperity, had
sunk in the panic of 1846 into the gulf of bankruptcy. In the general
wreck that followed, old Benjamin was forgotten, or remembered only
with a pang of unavailing regret. He found a refuge, however, in some
small garret, where he contrives to preserve his cheerfulness and his
pigtail, the only outward and visible sign of his former
respectability, and where he acts as master of the ceremonies to a
clique of ancient ladies, his fellow-lodgers, to whom he is at once
the guardian and the beau of the fourth floor. When he had received
his own little modicum of benevolence, he pleaded hard for the
immediate settlement of the claim of one of his fair _coterie_, a
widow of fourscore and five; and finding that his request could not be
complied with, but that she must be left till her turn came, he
retired to a corner of the room, and waited a full hour and more,
until her business was settled, when he bowed ceremoniously, till his
pigtail pointed to the zenith, and tendering his arm, escorted her
home with all the vivacity and politeness of the days of hoops and
high-heeled shoes. I have scarcely yet found out the reason why it was
that the spectacle of this happy, kind old soul, made me feel a
little, only a little, ashamed of myself.

This cosy old couple had hardly tripped out of sight, when our prosy
synod was honoured by the advent of a real and extraordinary
phenomenon. This was nothing less than a half-crazy poetess, who
prided herself on speaking in rhyme--and such rhyme, amusing from its
very badness. On she was going at a great rate, when she was called to
order in a manner which admitted of no demur.

'Mrs Margaret Maggs!' roared the beadle; and the tenth Muse, brought
to a sudden stand-still, ceased her oracular utterances, and, grasping
her modicum of shining silver, vanished from the presence.

The distribution lasted the whole of the day; and it was a weary day
for some of the poor applicants, whose turn came last, and who almost
fainted for want of refreshment. But all who deserved it, went home
effectually relieved and gladdened; and many who did not, got a lesson
upon the occasion, and learned that Charity is not always as blind as
she is supposed to be. The whole of the money collected is not
distributed at once. About a third part of the amount is reserved
until the approach of the next ensuing winter, when a second
distribution takes place, generally to the same applicants.

I have heard it insinuated before now, that City functionaries of all
sorts are prone to take too good care of themselves, whenever they
meet to consider the wants of the poor. I may perhaps be allowed to
say, that when we have a feast, we pay for it; and that not one
farthing of any collection made in the City for the poor was ever, to
my knowledge, appropriated to any other purpose. As a respectable man,
I, for one, would never countenance any intromission of that kind.



OCCASIONAL NOTES.


LONDON CAB REFORM.

If John Bull were not, with all his grumbling, one of the most patient
animals in existence, he could never have endured so long the cabs
which he has to employ for the conveyance of his person through the
streets of his metropolis. They are very poorly furnished and nasty,
far below similar conveyances in any continental city with which we
are acquainted. Greater fault still is to be found with the drivers, a
large proportion of whom are so prone to overreach, that it is hardly
possible to settle for their fares without a squabble. Our experience
leads us to say, that at an average a stranger pays 30 per cent. above
the proper sum, besides having his temper in almost every instance
ruffled to some extent by the sense of having no adequate protection
from the rudeness of this class of men. For a lady, there seems to be
no chance of escape but by the alternative of some enormous
overcharge. Altogether, this department of public economy in London is
in a most unsatisfactory state. Most people avoid using these street
vehicles whenever they can, and this is especially true of strangers.
We can state as a fact, that a provincial gentleman of our
acquaintance is accustomed to take the inconvenience of the cab-system
into account in deliberating whether he shall have a month of London
life or not. It is one of the repelling considerations, to a degree
that the Londoners themselves are not aware of.

In an age of such exquisite contrivance and precision in mechanical
and commercial matters, it might have been anticipated that the bad
system of London cabs could not long survive. All dishonest businesses
write their own doom. Those only thrive which sincerely seek the good
of the public. Accordingly, it is not surprising, at a time when
one-and-a-half per cent. is a fact in banking, to find two large and
powerful companies getting up to supersede the bad, old, dear,
cheating cabs with a new and civilised set. It is proposed by one of
these bodies to 'provide for the public a superior class of carriages,
horses, and drivers, at reduced and definite fares; to afford the
utmost possible security for property, and especially prompt and easy
redress of complaints.' With better vehicles at three-fourths of the
present charges--namely, 6d. a mile--and these to be settled for in a
manner which will preclude disputes, this company deserves, and will
be sure to obtain, the public patronage. One good feature of the
proposed arrangements will, we think, be highly satisfactory: the
company will form a sufficient magistracy in itself to give quick and
easy redress in the case of any wrong. But, indeed, from the
precautions taken as to the employment of drivers, and the hold which
the company will have over them, through the medium of guarantee and
their own deposits in a benefit-fund, it seems to us that the good
conduct of the men towards their 'fares' must be effectually secured.
The other company proposes to have two classes of vehicles--one at 8d.
and the other at 4d. a mile; and it contemplates the use of a
mechanism for indicating the distance passed over. We most earnestly
hope that both companies will succeed in establishing themselves and
carrying an improvement so important to the public into effect.


COLONIAL PENNY-POSTAGE.

'I shall write to every one in turn, but it is expensive sending to
many at once,' says one of the poor needlewomen, whom Mr Sydney
Herbert's Female Emigration Fund has enabled to obtain a comfortable
home at Adelaide. Well might she complain of the expense. When at
home, she could send a letter to the most distant corner of the United
Kingdom for a penny. In Australia, she finds that the cost of sending
a letter to her mother in London is a shilling. It is strange that the
colonists do not make an outcry about so extravagant a charge. Of all
the anomalies in English legislation, our colonial postage-system is
certainly one of the most glaring; and yet, in the midst of so much
effort for emigration and colonisation, hardly any one seems to be
aware of it. The people of England, Ireland, and Scotland have, for
the last twelve years, enjoyed the incalculable benefits of
Penny-Postage, but they have never thought of extending its blessings
to their fellow-countrymen, scattered abroad among our various
colonies over the whole surface of the globe.

Under the old dear system, the cost of sending a letter home from any
of the colonies was not felt so much as it is now. The emigrant,
before he left home, had always been accustomed to pay from 9d. to 1s.
2d. for letters from distant parts of the United Kingdom, and he could
not complain at finding the postage from Canada or Australia to the
mother-country only a little dearer. But the case has been entirely
changed since Rowland Hill's plan came into operation. What seemed a
moderate rate before that great improvement took place, is now an
exorbitant charge, which no working-man will pay very frequently. In
this, as in most other affairs, it is not the actual but the
comparative cost of the article which makes it seem dear. To a person
who has recently left his native land, and who is probably still
suffering from homesickness, a letter from any beloved friend or
relative is worth far more than many shillings; indeed, the value
cannot be estimated in sterling coin. But, unfortunately, the first
mode in which the emigrant discovers that the social luxury of
correspondence has advanced 1100 per cent. in price, is not in the
tempting shape of a letter from home. He must first write to his
friends before he can expect them to write to him, and that is a task
which nine persons out of ten, on the most charitable calculation, are
very strongly tempted to procrastinate, from day to day, even without
any pecuniary obstacle. But how much stronger the temptation to put
off the writing of 'that letter' from day to day for weeks, and at
last for months, when the poor emigrant, still struggling with
difficulties, finds that, instead of only a penny for each letter, he
must now pay a shilling? What wonder though many thousands, who have
left friends and relatives behind them, all anxiously on the outlook
for some tidings of their welfare, should defer the task of writing
home for a month or two, finding it so dear; and, having got over the
first few months, gradually become careless, and never write home at
all? There are few people who have not known many instances of this
kind; and we have little doubt that it is owing mainly to this cause
that they have given up all correspondence with the old country.

It is strange that Mr Sydney Herbert, Mrs Chisholm, and the rest of
those honourable men and women who have taken so much pains to promote
emigration, should not have seen the importance of obtaining colonial
postage reform. Mr Gibbon Wakefield, in his _England and America_,
published nearly twenty years ago, lays much stress upon the impulse
which healthy emigration to our colonies would derive from any measure
which should enable the poorer class of emigrants to write home more
frequently. As a proof of this, he remarks, that the great emigration
from England which had recently taken place--an increase of about 200
per cent. over former years--had been mainly caused by the publication
of letters from poor emigrants to their friends at home. With a view
to encourage such correspondence, he suggests that, for some years
after their arrival in a colony, poor emigrants should be allowed the
privilege of sending their letters free of postage. Thanks to Rowland
Hill, we have learned that letters can be carried at so very small a
cost, that even the poor can afford to pay the sum charged by the
post-office authorities in this country; and it requires little more
than a stroke of the colonial secretary's pen to extend the same
invaluable privilege to the thousands of emigrants who leave this
country every month for some one or other of our numerous colonies.
What Mr Gibbon Wakefield says of the free-postage plan of that time,
would apply with nearly equal force to the proposed Colonial
Penny-Postage:--'In this way, not only would the necessary evil of
going to a colony be diminished--that is, the emigrants would depart
with the pleasant assurance of being able to communicate with their
friends at home--but the poorer classes in the mother-country would
always hear the truth as to the prospects of emigrants; and not only
the truth, but truth in which they would not suspect any falsehood.'
He goes on to say, that the statements published about that time, by
an emigration-board sitting in Downing Street, shewing what high wages
were obtainable in the colonies, 'though perfectly true, have not been
received with implicit faith by the harassed, and therefore suspicious
class to whom they were addressed; nor would any statements made by
the government ever obtain so much credit as letters from the
emigrants themselves.' All who have ever paid any attention to the
subject of emigration, and who have mixed familiarly among the poorer
classes, will agree with Mr Wakefield. All the government returns that
ever were made, backed by ever so many extracts from colonial
newspapers, about the high rate of wages, and the cheapness of
provisions, will not make half the impression upon a poor man which a
single letter from an emigrant brother, a son, or a trustworthy
friend, will produce.

We should be glad to see the country rouse itself on this important
question, regarding which numerous meetings have already been held.



SURVEYING VOYAGE OF THE RATTLESNAKE.


Since war went out of fashion, many officers of the British navy have
been employed in exploring seas, and surveying coasts, in different
parts of the world, for the laudable purpose of facilitating
navigation; and there would be little harm in supposing, that there
might be as much glory in verifying the position and extent of a shoal
or sunken rock, as in capturing an enemy's frigate. At all events,
these surveying voyages furnish useful occupation, not unattended with
danger; and they involve the necessity for a good deal of hard work,
of a dry and technical character, three years being the time usually
allotted to a cruise. Australia, owing to the dangerous character of
its northern and eastern shores, has been the scene of numerous
surveys, among the latest of which was that by Captain Blackwood in
the _Fly_. One important result of this survey was the finding of a
passage through the great Barrier Reef for vessels navigating Torres
Strait; but as more than one passage was considered essential to the
safety of a route so much frequented, the _Rattlesnake_ was
commissioned, in September 1846, for a further survey, to be carried
on in what is called the Coral Sea, having New Guinea, the Louisiade
Archipelago, and the continent of Australia, as its boundaries.[3]

After some months spent in preliminary examination of different parts
of the Australian shores and seas, the _Rattlesnake_ sailed from
Sydney, at the end of April 1848, for the main object of her cruise.
She had the _Bramble_, a small schooner, as tender, and was
accompanied by the _Tam o' Shanter_, a vessel chartered for the
conveyance of Mr Kennedy's expedition, which was to land at Rockingham
Bay, 1200 miles to the northward, 'and explore the country to the
eastward of the dividing range, running along the north-east coast of
Australia, at a variable distance from the shore, and terminating at
Cape York.' Having assisted in landing this party, and arranged to
meet them at the head of Princess Charlotte's Bay, on their toilsome,
and, as it proved, disastrous overland journey, the ships pursued
their route, and soon commenced a series of triangulations, which were
continued without a break for more than 600 miles. The _Bramble_
waited ten days at the appointed rendezvous without seeing anything of
the overland expedition, which, as it afterwards appeared, did not
reach the same latitude until two months later, and then at a
considerable distance from the coast.

In October, the vessels were at Cape York, waiting for Mr Kennedy, and
receiving supplies from a storeship despatched from Sydney, and
letters from the 'post-office' on Booby Island. In his capacity as
naturalist and ethnologist, Mr Macgillivray made frequent excursions,
collecting plants and animals, and words for a vocabulary. The natives
are described as inordinately fond of smoking whenever they can get
_choka_, as they call tobacco. 'The pipe--which is a piece of bamboo
as thick as the arm, and two or three feet long--is first filled with
tobacco-smoke, and then handed round the company, seated on the ground
in a ring; each takes a long inhalation, and passes the pipe to his
neighbour, slowly allowing the smoke to exhale. On several occasions
at Cape York,' continues the author, 'I have seen a native so affected
by a single inhalation, as to be rendered nearly senseless, with the
perspiration bursting out at every pore, and require a draught of
water to restore him; and although myself a smoker, yet, on the only
occasion when I tried this mode of using tobacco, the sensations of
nausea and faintness were produced.' There is something new in the
idea of taking whiffs of ready-made smoke, which might perhaps be
turned to account by enterprising purveyors of social enjoyments on
this side of the world.

After the abortive attempt to establish the colony of 'North
Australia' at Port Curtis, at a cost of L.15,000, and the abandonment
of Port Essington, it is not uninteresting to learn that Cape York
presents many natural capabilities for a settlement. There is a good
harbour, safe anchorage, abundance of fresh water all the year round,
and a moderate extent of cultivable land, all of which will help to
constitute it a desirable coaling station for the contemplated line of
steamers from Sydney to Singapore and India. The Port-Essington
experiment was so complete a failure, that after trying for eleven
years, the colonists were 'not even able to keep themselves in fresh
vegetables.' Fortunately, but little encouragement was ever offered to
permanent settlers, or the disappointments caused by an unproductive
soil and unhealthy climate would have been greatly multiplied. A
singular example of the _lex talionis_ occurred among the natives at
this place. One of them having been severely wounded in punishment for
an offence, the penalty was considered too severe, and 'it was finally
determined that, upon Munjerrijo's recovery, the two natives who had
wounded him should offer their heads to him to be struck with a
club--the usual way, it would appear, of settling such matters.'

Here we find, too, another of those instances of intelligence in a
native, the more extraordinary when contrasted with the low mental
condition of the aborigines in general. Sir Thomas Mitchell, and other
Australian travellers, have spoken of their acutely-endowed guides in
terms almost of affection; and Mr Macgillivray relates that, during
his stay at Port Essington, a native named Neinmal became greatly
attached to him. 'One day,' he continues, 'while detained by rainy
weather at my camp, I was busy in skinning a fish; Neinmal watched me
attentively for some time, and then withdrew, but returned in half an
hour afterwards with the skin of another fish in his hand, prepared by
himself, and so well done, too, that it was added to the collection.
He went with us to Singapore, Java, and Sydney, and, from his great
good-humour, became a favourite with all on board--picking up the
English language with facility, and readily conforming himself to our
customs and the discipline of the ship. He was very cleanly in his
personal habits, and paid much attention to his dress, which was
always kept neat and tidy. I was often much amused and surprised by
the oddity and justness of his remarks upon the many strange sights
which a voyage of this kind brought before him.' The _Nemesis_ steamer
underweigh puzzled him at first; he then thought it was 'all same big
cart, only got him shingles (wooden roofing-tiles, so called) on
wheels!' Neinmal spoke of his countrymen as 'big fools,' and held
white men in such estimation, that he volunteered for a voyage to
England; but having been prevented, returned to Port Essington, where
he learned to read and write. His superiority rendered him obnoxious
to the older members of his family; and one day, while on a visit to
his tribe, 'he was roused from sleep to find himself surrounded by a
host of savages thirsting for his blood. They told him to rise, but he
merely raised himself upon his elbow, and said: "If you want to kill
me, do so where I am; I won't get up. Give me a spear and club, and
I'll fight you all one by one!" He had scarcely spoken, when he was
speared from behind; spear after spear followed, and as he lay
writhing on the ground, his savage murderers literally dashed him to
pieces with their clubs.'

In June 1849, the _Rattlesnake_ and _Bramble_ were at work in the
Louisiade Archipelago, finding out the safest channels and anchorages
among its numerous rocks, shoals, and reefs. The natives of some of
the islands had never seen Europeans before, yet seemed little
inclined to acknowledge the superiority of their visitors. They
manifested but little alarm on witnessing the effects of firearms; and
on one occasion attacked two of the ship's boats with a courage and
self-reliance extraordinary under the circumstances. In general
characteristics, they resemble the Torres Strait islanders: some of
them friz their hair up into a mop two feet in diameter, wear a comb
nearly a yard long, and bunches of dogs' teeth hanging behind, by way
of ornament, and take no little pride in adorning their persons with
paint and tattoo-marks, and flowers and plants of strong odour.
Bracelets of various kinds are a favourite decoration, and among these
the most curious 'is that made of a human lower jaw, with one or more
collar-bones closing the upper side, crossing from one angle to the
other. Whether these are the jaws of former friends or enemies,' says
Mr Macgillivray, 'we had no means of ascertaining; no great value
appeared to be attached to them; and it was observed, as a curious
circumstance, that none of these jaws had the teeth discoloured by the
practice of betel-chewing.'

A supply of yams being wanted, the cutter was sent one day at the
beginning of July to open a trade, if possible, with the natives of
Brierly Island, on which occasion 'Mr Brady took charge of the
bartering, and drawing a number of lines upon the sandy beach,
explained that when each was covered with a yam, he would give an axe
in return. At first, some little difficulty occurred, as the yams were
brought down very slowly--two or three at a time; but at length the
first batch was completed, and the axe handed over. The man who got it
had been trembling with anxiety for some time back, holding Mr Brady
by the arm, and watching the promised axe with eager eye. When he
obtained possession of it, he became quite wild with joy, laughing and
screaming, and flourishing the axe over his head. After this
commencement, the bartering went on briskly, amidst a great deal of
uproar--the men passing between the village and the beach at full
speed, with basketfuls of yams, and too intent on getting the _kiram
kelumai_ (iron axes) to think of anything else.' In this way, 368
pounds of yams were collected, at a cost of about a half-penny per
pound.

Among contrivances for procuring food, the natives of some of the
islands train the sucking-fish (_Echeneis remora_) for the chase in
the water, as dogs are trained to hunt on land. A line is made fast to
the creature's tail; it is then started in pursuit of prey, and as
soon as it has attached itself to a turtle, or any other 'game,' the
line is hauled in, and the prize secured. While the _Rattlesnake_ lay
at anchor, a number of sucking-fishes took up their quarters under her
bottom, and whenever the sailors dropped a bait overboard, it was
always seized by one of the _remoræ_, greatly to the annoyance of the
anglers on deck. 'Being quite a nuisance,' writes Mr Macgillivray,
'and useless as food, Jack often treated them as he would a shark, by
"spritsail-yarding," or some still less refined mode of torture. One
day, some of us, while walking the poop, had our attention directed to
a sucking-fish, about two and a half feet in length, which had been
made fast by the tail to a billet of wood, by a fathom or so of
spun-yarn, and turned adrift. An immense striped shark, apparently
about fourteen feet in length, which had been cruising about the ship
all the morning, sailed slowly up, and turning slightly on one side,
attempted to seize the seemingly helpless fish; but the sucker, with
great dexterity, made himself fast in a moment to the shark's back.
Off darted the monster at full speed--the sucker holding on as fast as
a limpet to a rock, and the billet towing astern. He then rolled over
and over, tumbling about, when, wearied with his efforts, he lay quiet
for a little. Seeing the float, the shark got it into his mouth, and
disengaging the sucker by a tug on the line, made a bolt at the fish;
but his puny antagonist was again too quick, and fixing himself close
behind the dorsal fin, defied the efforts of the shark to disengage
him, although he rolled over and over, lashing the water with his tail
until it foamed all round.' After such a spirited combat, it is
somewhat tantalising to read, that the final result could not clearly
be made out; it is scarcely possible, however, not to wish success to
the remora.

On the 18th August, a party landed on the coast of New Guinea, and
paid a friendly visit to some of the Papuans who had been off to the
ship, and found them less fierce and distrustful than those of the
islands. Some of them thought the muskets were water-vessels, and
others were afraid of a knife: it was too sharp. They are excellent
mimics; and one of them imitated the English drummer so cleverly on an
old tin-can, as to excite roars of laughter among all who witnessed
the performance. Some of their dances are extraordinary, more
resembling a fencing-match than movements of the light fantastic toe;
and the following description of a dance after nightfall is
curious:--'On seeing a number of lights along the beach, we at first
thought they proceeded from a fishing-party, but on looking through a
night-glass, the group was seen to consist of above a dozen people,
each carrying a blazing torch, and going through the movements of a
dance. At one time, they extended rapidly into line; at another,
closed, dividing into two parties, advancing and retreating, crossing
and recrossing, and mixing up with each other. This continued for half
an hour; and having apparently been got up for our amusement, a rocket
was sent up for theirs, and a blue-light burned; but the dancing had
ceased, and the lights disappeared.'

On the 1st October, the _Rattlesnake_ was again at Cape York. About
the middle of the month, an incident occurred which relieved the
dulness of a period of inactivity--the discovery and rescue of a white
woman, who had been for some time a prisoner among the natives. We
shall abridge Mr Macgillivray's narrative of her story. Her name is
Barbara Thomson; she was born at Aberdeen, and emigrated to New South
Wales with her parents. About four and a half years prior to the
event, she had accompanied her husband in a small cutter, to try to
save some part of the cargo of a whaler that had been wrecked on the
Bampton shoal. The pilot missed his route, two of the crew were
drowned by accident, another was left on a desert island, and at last
the little vessel, caught by a gale in Torres Strait, struck upon a
reef on Prince of Wales Island. The only two men left on board were
drowned in attempting to swim to shore; but the woman was saved by a
party of natives, one of whom, Boroto by name, forced her to live with
him as his wife, in which position she for a time was exposed to much
cruelty, owing to the jealousy of the women of the tribe. She
eventually was saved from persecution by a singular belief prevalent
among the natives--that white people are the ghosts of departed
aborigines--one of the principal among the blacks having persuaded
himself that he had found in her his long-lost daughter, after whom
Barbara was named Giom. The head-quarters of the tribe were on an
island, and the captive frequently saw vessels pass on their way to
Torres Strait, but without any opportunity of making her case known.
She had heard of the first arrival of the _Rattlesnake_ and tender at
Cape York; and on the last visit, had induced the blacks to escort her
to within a short distance of the anchorage, they believing that she
only wished to shake hands with her countrymen, and would soon return,
laden with knives, axes, and tobacco. Although lame, she hurried on,
fearing that her conductors might change their mind, and made towards
some of the ship's company, who were on shore shooting. Except a
fringe of leaves, she was quite naked, and her appearance was so dirty
and miserable, that they took her for a _gin_, or native woman, and
paid no attention to her, when she called out: 'I am a white woman;
why do you leave me?' She was immediately taken on board the ship, and
but just in time to escape from a small party of the tribe, who had
followed to detain her.

Mr Macgillivray continues: 'Upon being asked by Captain Stanley,
whether she really preferred remaining with us to accompanying the
natives back to their island, as she would be allowed her free choice
in the matter, she was so much agitated as to find difficulty in
expressing her thankfulness, making use of scraps of English
alternately with the Kowrarega language, and then, suddenly awakening
to the recollection that she was not understood, the poor creature
blushed all over, and with downcast eyes beat her forehead with her
hand, as if to assist in collecting her scattered thoughts. At length,
after a pause, she found words to say: "Sir, I am a Christian, and
would rather go back to my own friends." At the same tune, it was
remarked by every one that she had not lost the feelings of womanly
modesty; even after having lived so long among naked blacks, she
seemed acutely to feel the singularity of her position, dressed only
in a couple of shirts, in the midst of a crowd of her own countrymen.'

In accordance with her wish, Mrs Thomson was kept on board, and had a
cabin given up to her own use; good living and medical attendance soon
cured the soreness of her tanned and blistered skin, and the
ophthalmia, which had deprived her of the sight of one eye. The black
Boroto grew desperate when he found that she would not return to him,
and threatened to cut off her head to satisfy his vengeance--a
catastrophe which the rescued woman avoided by not going on shore; and
she was eventually handed over, in good condition, to her parents on
the return of the vessel to Sydney, at the beginning of 1850.

Shortly afterwards, to the great sorrow of all on board, Captain
Stanley died, at the early age of thirty-eight. He had brought his
scientific labours to a successful close, and might have looked
forward to a brief period of honourable repose; but the fatigue and
anxiety of a laborious survey in a hot climate, and the news of the
decease of his father, the late Bishop of Norwich, depressed him
beyond the power of recovery. This was not the only melancholy
incident connected with the _Rattlesnake's_ voyage. Mr Kennedy's
expedition had proved a most disastrous failure. The party, as we have
seen, had landed in Rockingham Bay, and commenced their journey
northwards, with a well-appointed caravan of carts, horses, and men,
all in high spirits. But more than a month elapsed before they could
extricate themselves from the swamps and scrub which cover that part
of the country; and at the beginning of November, five months later,
they had not advanced more than 400 miles in a direct line: nineteen
of the horses were dead, and the stock of provisions nearly exhausted.
Mr Kennedy then determined on pushing forwards, with a light party,
for Cape York, 150 miles distant, whence relief was to be sent to the
eight individuals who were left behind, nearly worn out with fatigue
and exhaustion. This party consisted of the leader; Jackey Jackey, a
faithful and intelligent native; and three of the strongest of the
men. One of the latter accidentally shot himself, and the other two
became so weak, that they also were left at an encampment, with as
large a supply of provisions as could be spared. After incredible
hardships, Mr Kennedy and his companion reached Escape River, twenty
miles from Cape York, where they were attacked by a party of natives,
while entangled in a scrub, and the gallant leader of the expedition
fell a victim to their ferocity. Three spears had entered his body,
and Jackey Jackey, in simple but touching words, describes his last
moments. 'Mr Kennedy,' he asked, after having carried the wounded man
out of sight of the natives, 'are you going to leave me?' 'Yes, my
boy, I am going to leave you,' was the reply of the dying man. 'I am
very bad, Jackey. You take the books, Jackey, to the captain; but not
the big ones: the governor will give anything for them.' 'I then tied
up the papers. He then said: "Jackey, give me paper, and I will
write." I gave him paper and pencil, and he tried to write; and he
then fell back and died, and I caught him as he fell back, and held
him, and I then turned round myself, and cried. I was crying a good
while, until I got well; that was about an hour, and then I buried
him, I dug up the ground with a tomahawk, and covered him over with
logs, then grass, and my shirt and trousers. That night I left him,
near dark.'

Jackey contrived to evade the pursuers, and a week afterwards got on
board the schooner, which was lying in Port Albany, Cape York, waiting
the arrival of Mr Kennedy's expedition. On learning the fatal result,
the captain sailed, in the hope of saving the men who had been left
behind. Of the two who had belonged to the advanced party, nothing was
discovered except some articles of clothing, and it was believed they
had perished. Of the eight first left near Weymouth Bay, two were
still alive, but in the last stage of exhaustion, having endured
privations and hardships almost without a parallel.

The brig _Freak_ was subsequently despatched from Sydney, for the
purpose of securing any papers or documents, or the mortal remains of
any of the unfortunate expedition. Jackey Jackey was on board, and by
means of his remarkable sagacity, led the way to the respective camps.
The bones of two of the men were found; also some of Mr Kennedy's
instruments, portions of his clothing, and his manuscript journal,
which had been hidden in the hollow of a tree; but after a minute
search for the place where his body had been buried, it could not be
discovered.

We might extend this painful narrative did our space permit; but we
must now close, with a recommendation of the book under notice to
those who are interested in the progress of natural or geographical
discovery.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, commanded by the
late Captain Owen Stanley, during the years 1846-50, including
Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade Archipelago, &c.
&c. By John Macgillivray, F.R.G.S., Naturalist to the Expedition.
London: Boone. 2 vols. 8vo.



A CELEBRATED FRENCH CLOCKMAKER.


The superiority of French clocks and watches has been achieved only by
the laborious efforts of many ingenious artisans. Of one of these, to
whom France owes no little of its celebrity in this branch of art, we
propose to speak. Bréguet was the name of this remarkable individual.
He was a native of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland, and thence he was
removed, while young, to Versailles, for the purpose of learning his
business as a horologist. His parents being poor, he found it
necessary to rely on his own energy for advancement in life.

At Versailles, he served a regular apprenticeship, during which his
diligence in improving himself was almost beyond example. He became
greatly attached to his profession; and soon, by studious
perseverance, his talents were developed by real knowledge. At length
the term of apprenticeship expired, and as the master was expressing
to the pupil the satisfaction which his good conduct and diligence had
given him, he was struck with astonishment when he replied: 'Master, I
have a favour to ask of you. I feel that I have not always as I ought
employed my time, which was to have indemnified you for the cares and
lessons you have spent on me. I beg of you, then, to permit me to
continue with you three months longer without salary.' This request
confirmed the attachment of the master to his pupil. But scarcely was
the apprenticeship of the latter over, when he lost his mother and his
stepfather, and found himself alone in the world with an elder
sister--being thus left to provide, by his own industry, for the
maintenance of two persons. Nevertheless, he ardently desired to
complete his necessary studies, for he felt that the knowledge of
mathematics was absolutely indispensable to his attaining perfection
in his art. This determined purpose conquered every obstacle. Not only
did he labour perseveringly for his sister and himself, but also found
means to attend regularly a course of public lectures which the Abbé
Marie was then giving at the College Mazarin. The professor, having
remarked the unwearied assiduity of the young clockmaker, made a
friend of him, and delighted in considering him as his beloved pupil.
This friendship, founded on the truest esteem and the most
affectionate gratitude, contributed wondrously to the progress of the
student.

The great metamorphosis which was effected so suddenly in the young
clockmaker was very remarkable. There is something very encouraging in
his example, affording as it does a proof of the power of the man who
arms himself with a determined purpose. At first, the struggle with
difficulties appears hard, painful, almost impossible; but only let
there be a little perseverance, the obstacles vanish one after the
other, the way is made plain: instead of the thorns which seem to
choke it, verdant laurels suddenly spring up, the reward of constant
and unwearied labour. Thus it was with our studious apprentice. His
ideas soon expand; his work acquires more precision; a new and a more
extended horizon opens before him. From a skilful workman, it is not
long before he becomes an accomplished artist. Yet a few years, and
the name of Bréguet is celebrated.

At the epoch of the first troubles of the Revolution of 1789, Bréguet
had already founded the establishment which has since produced so many
master-pieces of mechanism. The most honourable, the most flattering
reputation was his. One anecdote will serve to prove the high repute
in which he was held, even out of France. One day a watch, to the
construction of which he had given his whole attention, happened to
fall into the hands of Arnold, the celebrated English watchmaker. He
examined it with interest, and surveyed with admiration the simplicity
of its mechanism, the perfection of the workmanship. He could scarcely
be persuaded that a specimen thus executed could be the work of French
industry. Yielding to the love of his art, he immediately set out for
Paris, without any other object than simply to become acquainted with
the French artist. On arriving in Paris, he went immediately to see
Bréguet, and soon these two men were acquainted with each other. They
seem, indeed, to have formed a mutual friendship. In order that
Bréguet might give Arnold the highest token of his esteem and
affection, he requested him to take his son with him to be taught his
profession, and this was acceded to.

The Revolution destroyed the first establishment of Bréguet, and
finally forced the great artist to seek an asylum on a foreign shore.
There generous assistance enabled him, with his son, to continue his
ingenious experiments in his art. At length, having returned to Paris
after two years' absence, he opened a new establishment, which
continued to flourish till 1823, when France lost this man, the pride
and boast of its industrial class. Bréguet was member of the
Institute, was clockmaker to the navy, and member of the Bureau of
Longitude. He was indeed the most celebrated clockmaker of the age; he
had brought to perfection every branch of his art. Nothing could
surpass the delicacy and ingenuity of his free escapement with a
maintaining power. To him we owe another escapement called 'natural,'
in which there is no spring, and oil is not needed; but another, and
still more perfect one, is the double escapement, where the precision
of the contacts renders the use of oil equally unnecessary, and in
which the waste of power in the pendulum is repaired at each
vibration.

The sea-watches or chronometers of Bréguet are famous throughout the
world. It is well known that these watches are every moment subject to
change of position, from the rolling and pitching of the vessel.
Bréguet conceived the bold thought of enclosing the whole mechanism of
the escapement and the spring in a circular envelope, making a
complete revolution every two minutes. The inequality of position is
thus, as it were, equalised on that short lapse of time; the mechanism
itself producing compensation, whether the chronometer is subjected to
any continuous movement, or kept steady in an inclined or upright
position. Bréguet did still more: he found means to preserve the
regularity of his chronometers even in case of their getting any
sudden shock or fall, and this he did by the parachute. Sir Thomas
Brisbane put one of them to the proof, carrying it about with him on
horseback, and on long journeys and voyages; in sixteen months, the
greatest daily loss was only a second and a half--that is, the
57,600th part of a daily revolution.

Such is the encouraging example of Bréguet, who was at first only a
workman. And to this he owes his being the best judge of good workmen,
as he was the best friend to them. He sought out such everywhere, even
in other countries; gave them the instruction of a master of the art;
and treated them with the kindness of a father. They were indebted to
him for their prosperity, and he owed to them the increase of fortune
and of fame. He well understood the advantages of a judicious division
of labour, according to the several capabilities of artisans. By this
means, he was able to meet the demand for pieces of his workmanship,
not less remarkable for elegance and beauty than for extreme accuracy.
It may indeed be said, that Bréguet's efforts gave a character to
French horology that it has never lost. So much may one man do in his
day and generation to give an impetus to an important branch of
national industry.



SAINT ELIZABETH OF BOHEMIA.


         'Would that we two were lying
           Beneath the church-yard sod,
         With our limbs at rest in the green earth's breast,
           And our souls at home with God!'[4]

    I never lay me down to sleep at night
      But in my heart I sing that little song:
      The angels hear it, as, a pitying throng,
    They touch my burning lids with fingers bright,
    Like moonbeams--pale, impalpable, and light.
      And when my daily pious tasks are done,
      And all my patient prayers said one by one,
    God hears it. Seems it sinful in His sight
    That round my slow burnt-offering of quenched will,
    One quivering human sigh creeps windlike still?
    That when my orisons in silence fail,
    Lingers one tremulous note of human wail?
    Dear lord--spouse--hero--martyr--saint! erelong
    I think God will forgive my singing that poor song.

    A year ago, I bade my little son
      Bear on a pilgrimage a sacred load
      Of alms; he cried out, fainting on the road,
    'Mother, O mother, would that this were done!'
    Him I reproved with tears, and said: 'Go on,
      Nor feebly sink ere half thy task be o'er.'
      Would not God say to me the same, and more?
    I will not sing that song. Thou, dearest one,
    Husband--no, _brother_--stretch thy steadfast hand
    Across the void! Mine grasps it. Now I stand,
    My woman-weakness nerved to strength divine.
    We'll quaff life's aloe-cup as though 'twere wine,
    Each to the other; journeying on apart,
    Till at heaven's golden doors we two leap heart to heart.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] From Kingsley's _Saint's Tragedy_. Elizabeth, Princess of Bohemia,
the most sincere among the mistaken devotee saints of the middle ages,
renounced her royal state, her husband and children, and spent her
life in the sternest asceticism, and in the most self-denying acts of
charity.



A MAN-OF-WAR, OR A MAN OF PEACE.


It will probably be remembered that, a few years ago, a great
excitement was caused by the discovery of vast deposits of guano upon
the island of Ichaboe, situated on the west coast of Africa. The
remarkable fertilising qualities of guano gave it great value as an
article of commerce, and a large number of vessels were despatched
from various ports to take in cargoes at the island. It was computed
that at one time not less than 500 vessels were lying off Ichaboe, and
as there was no settled authority to regulate the trade of the place,
a scene of indescribable confusion and tumult soon presented itself.
The crews of several of the ships having established themselves upon
the table-land at the top of the island (the island being little more
than a huge rock, rising with almost perpendicular cliffs from the
ocean), a dispute arose between them and their captains, which soon
proceeded to open mutiny on the part of the men. The only access to
their position being by long ladders, the men set their masters at
defiance, and held possession of their stronghold, which was
inaccessible, except by permission of the mutineers. The captains
despatched a vessel to the Cape of Good Hope, for the purpose of
laying a complaint before the governor, and soliciting his aid. The
governor was about to despatch a man-of-war--the only remedy that is
generally thought of in such cases--when a good, devoted man, a
missionary at Cape Town, named Bertram, hearing of the affair,
represented to the governor his earnest desire to spare the effusion
of blood, and his conviction that, if he were allowed to proceed to
the island, he could bring the quarrel to an amicable settlement. Mr
Bertram obtained the consent of the authorities, and the order for the
sailing of the man-of-war was suspended. He proceeded to Ichaboe, and
being rowed ashore, began to ascend one of the lofty ladders. Two
seamen, well armed, who had guard above, shouted to know who he was
and what he wanted. 'A friend, who wants to speak to you,' was the
reply. The guards seeing a single man, unarmed, climbing fearlessly
towards them, permitted him to ascend. He called the men round him,
spoke kindly but faithfully to them, heard their complaints, and
undertook to negotiate for them. He did this with so much tact and
judgment, that a reconciliation was soon effected, and harmony
restored between the captains and their crews. Mr Bertram remained ten
days with the men on the summit of the island, employing the time to
the best advantage in preaching and teaching amongst them. It was only
on the plea of urgent duty that the men would permit him to leave
them. They clustered round him, as he was about to descend from
amongst them for the last time; each was eager to wring him by the
hand, and tears rolled down many a weather-beaten cheek as he bade
them a last adieu. 'God bless you, sir!' they exclaimed; 'you have
been our true friend; would that you could stay amongst us, for we
feel that you have done us good.' It will be well for nations when
they have more faith in the power of a man of peace, and less in that
of a man-of-war.--_Bond of Brotherhood_.



NOTE TO INTENDING EMIGRANTS.


In reply to numerous correspondents who make inquiry respecting the
most suitable fields for emigration, we have again to intimate, that
we cannot assume the responsibility of privately advising individuals
on the important step of emigrating to one place in preference to
another. Every one is best acquainted with his own desires, abilities,
and necessities, and should, with the general assistance of public
opinion and the press, be able to make up his mind whether he should
or should not emigrate, or what distant land will be to him most
answerable and agreeable. With the view of doing all in our power to
assist in forming this resolution, we have lately had prepared, under
our own inspection, a series of cheap and accessible Manuals on the
subject of Emigration; containing, we believe, all desirable
information for those who are disposed to emigrate; and a perusal of
which may possibly obviate the necessity of seeking private counsel on
any point. The Manuals may be had from any of the ordinary agents for
supplying this Journal; they separately refer to AUSTRALIA, AMERICA,
NEW ZEALAND, the CAPE, and PORT NATAL; and in addition, there is one
devoted to general considerations and directions. The whole, however,
may be obtained bound in a single volume.


_Price 4s. 6d. Cloth, Lettered,_

THE EMIGRANT'S MANUAL.

A complete MANUAL for EMIGRANTS, embracing the latest and most
trustworthy information, in One Volume. It may also be had in Parts,
each referring to a distinct FIELD OF EMIGRATION.

AUSTRALIA, 1_s._--NEW ZEALAND, CAPE of GOOD HOPE, &c. 1_s._--BRITISH
AMERICA, and UNITED STATES of AMERICA, 1_s._--EMIGRATION in its
PRACTICAL APPLICATION to INDIVIDUALS and COMMUNITIES, 1_s._

       *       *       *       *       *

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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