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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 439 - Volume 17, New Series, May 29, 1852
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 439 - Volume 17, New Series, May 29, 1852" ***

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                     CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL


  No. 439. NEW SERIES.   SATURDAY, MAY 29, 1852.   PRICE 1-1/2_d._


A distinguished general-officer being appointed to a command in which
he would be called on to discharge judicial as well as military
duties, expressed to Lord Mansfield his apprehensions, that he would
execute his office but ill in the former respect, and that his
inexperience and ignorance of technical jurisprudence would prove a
serious impediment to his efficient administration of justice. 'Make
your mind perfectly easy,' said the great judge; 'trust to your native
good sense in forming your opinions, but beware of attempting to state
the grounds of your judgments. The judgment will probably be
right--the argument infallibly wrong.'

This is a common case, especially with practical men, who rarely have
either leisure or inclination to recall the workings of their own
minds, or observe the intellectual process by which they have been
conducted to any conclusion. By what they are prone to consider as a
kind of instinct--if by chance they are philosophers, and delight in
what old Wilson, the essayist, calls 'inkhorn terms,' they designate
it 'intuition'--they arrive at a truth, but have no recollection
whatever of the road they travelled to reach it, and are able neither
to retrace their own steps nor indicate to another the way they came.
The poet, in describing and contrasting the intellectual
characteristics of the two sexes, attributes to the softer something
of this instinct as a distinguishing mental peculiarity, and seems to
consider it as somewhat analogous in its constitution to those animal
senses by means of which the mind becomes cognisant of external
objects, of their existence, their qualities, and their relations. In
his view, the reasoning process is vitally and essentially distinct,
as it is exercised by men and by women--

    'Her rapid mind decides while his debates;
    She _feels_ a truth which he but calculates.'

And certainly this is a very pretty, very poetical, and very
convenient way of accounting for a phenomenon that, if examined with
common care, suggests a solution more accurate and complete, if not
exactly so complimentary. In sober truth, a positive incapacity
clearly to point out the precise manner in which a conviction has been
formed, is one of the commonest of logical deficiencies, and no more
to be ascribed exclusively to the softer sex, than it is an attribute
of intellectual excellency in either.

When, in Euripides's beautiful play, the untranslatable _Hippolylus_,
Phædra's nurse is made to conclude that certain men she refers to
cannot be otherwise than lax in their morals, _because_ they have
finished the roofs of their houses in a very imperfect manner, her
reasoning is inconsequential enough; but not more so than that of the
renowned French chancellor, Michael L'Hôpital, who, when employed in
negotiating a treaty between Charles IX. and our Elizabeth, insisted
on the well-known line of the Latin poet--

    'Et penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos,'

as a _reason_ that Calais should not be returned to the English. The
connection between the premises and the conclusion was not more real
in one case than in the other. A learned member of the medical
profession, in an elaborate work on the climate and the people of
Malta, enjoins on the invalid a participation in the amusements of
cheerful society; and the propriety of his injunction few will be
disposed to dispute: they may well, however, marvel at the _reason_ he
assigns for such sensible advice--that, so far as invalids are
concerned, society has a direct tendency to promote cutaneous

Cardinal de Retz severely reprehends the historians of his time for
their pedantic affectation of explaining and accounting for every
event they record--the motives that actuated this statesman, the
reasons which prompted that policy, the wherefore it was this
enterprise miscarried, or that undertaking brought to a successful
issue. It would not be difficult to furnish a lengthy catalogue of the
blunders historical writers have perpetrated through their overweening
addiction to this folly. Let two instances here suffice: When the
Roman Church, about the middle of the eleventh century, was
endeavouring to insure the celibacy of its priesthood, the married
clergy, who braved its censures and contemned its authority, became
known as _Nicolaites_; which name, grave writers assure us, was given
them in consequence of the active share Pope Nicholas II. had taken in
punishing their contumacy and effecting their suppression. The notion
that any sect or class of religionists should have borrowed its name
from that of its most zealous opponent and indefatigable persecutor,
is worthy only of those critics, so severely reprehended by
Quintilian, who professed to discover the etymon of the Latin word
_lucus_, a grove, in the substantive _lux_, light; and vindicated the
derivation on the ground, that in groves darkness usually prevailed.
The familiar expression of _lucus à non lucendo_, owes its birth to
this striking manifestation of critical sagacity.

Again: a certain portion of the eastern and southern coast of England
was, in early times, denominated 'the Saxon Shore'--Littus
Saxonicum--and was, during the days of Roman supremacy, under the
government of a military court enjoying the appellative of _Comes
Littoris Saxonici_. Acute historical critics inform us, that this
tract was so denominated in consequence of its being open to the
aggressions of the Saxons; that, in short, it received its name from
its occasional invaders, and not from its permanent inhabitants. The
absurdity of this explanation is the greater, inasmuch as, on the
other side of the Channel, there was a large district bearing
precisely the same name, and settled entirely by adventurers, Saxon in
birth or by descent. This, one would have thought, would have
suggested to our English antiquaries a more probable explanation of
the name than that they adopted. The people of Genoa have, or had, in
speaking, a peculiar way of clipping or cutting short their syllables.
Their Italian has never been considered pure. You must not go to
maritime towns for purity of language, especially to such as have been
long and extensively engaged in commercial pursuits. Labat, however,
gives a special and peculiar reason for the fashion of mutilated
speech in which, he declares, the Genoese indulge, telling us they
call their superb city _Gena_, and not _Genoa_. He refers their
'chopping' pronunciation to their habitual economy--an economy
distinctly traceable to their mercantile habits. 'Telle est leur
économie,' he says, 'ils rognent tout jusqu'aux paroles.'

The old English law-writer, Bracton, desiring to account for the
ancient doctrine of English law, that inheritances shall lineally
descend, and never lineally ascend, finds a reason in the fact, that a
bowl being trundled, runs down a hill and never up a hill; and
Littleton, the first great writer on English real property-law, traces
the origin of the phrase 'hotchpot'--a familiar legal term--to the
archaic denomination of a pudding, in our English tongue. 'It
seemeth,'he says, 'that this word, hotchpot, is in English a pudding;
for in this pudding is not commonly put one thing alone, and
_therefore_ it behoveth, in this case, to put the lands given in
frank-marriage,' &c. Erasmus used to say of lawyers, that of ignorant
people, they were the most learned. Questionless they are not always
sound logicians. When the clown in Hamlet disserts so learnedly on
'crowner's quest-law,' he is only parodying, and that closely, a
scarcely less ludicrous judgment which had actually been pronounced,
not long before, in the Court of Queen's Bench. Dr Clarke, the
traveller, tells an amusing story to the purpose. According to him,
the Turkish lawyers recognise as an offence what they style 'homicide
by an intermediate cause'--an instance of which offence our traveller
details in these words: 'A young man, desperately in love with a girl
of Stanchio--the ancient Cos, the birthplace of Hippocrates
and Apelles, the lovely isle renowned for its lettuces and
turpentine--eagerly sought to marry her. But his proposals were
rejected. In consequence, he destroyed himself by poison. The Turkish
police arrested the father of the obdurate fairy, and tried him for
culpable homicide. "If the accused," they argued, with becoming
gravity, "had not had a daughter, the deceased would not have fallen
in love; consequently, he would not have been disappointed;
consequently, he would not have died: but he (the accused) had a
daughter, and the deceased had fallen in love," &c. &c. Upon all these
counts he was called upon to pay the price of the young man's life;
and this, being eighty piastres, was accordingly exacted.' When the
amiable and gentle John Evelyn was in the Netherlands, a woman was
pointed out to him who had had twenty-five husbands, and was then a
widow; 'yet it could not be proved,' he says, that 'she had made any
of her husbands away, though the suspicion had brought her several
times to trouble.' However, the Dutch logicians made no difficulty of
the matter; and arguing, from the number of the woman's husbands, that
she could not be wholly innocent of their death, prohibited her from
marrying again--which, her addiction to matrimony being considered,
was perhaps, of all the 'troubles' she had undergone, by no means the

The logical faculty, which not only consists with the poetical, but is
invariably and necessarily associated with it, whenever the latter
exists in an advanced stage of development, is in no writer more
conspicuous as an intellectual characteristic than in Schiller. In
this respect he is not excelled even by Wordsworth himself; but Homer
sometimes snoozes, and Schiller's reasoning is not always
consequential: as, for instance, when he denies two compositions of
Ovid--the _Tristia_ and _Ex Ponto_--to be genuine poetry, on the
ground that they were the results not of inspiration, but of
necessity; just as if poetry were not a thing to be judged of by
itself; and as if one could not determine whether it were present or
absent in a composition, without knowing to what influences the author
was subjected at the time the composition was produced!

Rousseau, in one of his moods of bilious cynicism, falls foul of human
reason altogether. No man despised it more in action; no one could
more consistently decry it in speculation. In his opinion, the
exercise of the reasoning powers is absolutely sinful--_l'homme qui
raisonne est l'homme qui péche_. Franklin, on the other hand, in a
familiar tone of playful banter, vindicates its utility, alleging that
it is mightily 'convenient to be a rational animal, who knows how to
find or invent a plausible pretext for whatever it has an inclination
to do.' Examples of this convenience abound. The Barbary Jews were
rich and industrious, and, accordingly, their wealth provoke the
cupidity of the indolent and avaricious Mussulmans. These latter,
whenever a long drought had destroyed vegetation, and the strenuous
prayers offered up in the mosques had proved unavailing for its
removal, were accustomed to argue--and a mighty convenient argument it
was--that it was the foul breath of the Jews that had offended Heaven,
and rendered the pious petitions of the faithful of none effect. The
remedy for the drought, then, who could doubt? The true believers
drove the Jews out of their cities, and quietly confiscated their
goods. Dryden, anxious to congratulate Charles II. on his 'happy
restoration,' amidst a thousand fulsome compliments--all tending to
shew that that prince was the author of blessings, not only to his own
kingdoms, but to universal humanity--declares, that it was to Charles,
and to him only, Spain was indebted for her magnificent colonial
possessions in either hemisphere. Addressing the sovereign, his words

    'Spain to your gift _alone_ her Indies owes,
    _For what the powerful takes not, he bestows_.'

A convenient fashion of reasoning truly: as convenient every whit as
that of Daniel Burgess, a witty Presbyterian minister, devoted to the
House of Brunswick and the principles of the Revolution, who was wont
to affirm, as the reason the descendants of Jacob were called
Israelites, and did not receive the original name of their progenitor,
that Heaven was unwilling they should bear a name in every way so
odious as that of Jacobites.

Once more: it appears from Dr Tschudi's valuable and interesting work
on South America, that in Peru rice is cheap, and servants both lazy
and dirty. Now, the servants in Lima have a theory about rice. They
consider it possesses certain qualities antagonistic to water, so
that, after eating, to touch water would be seriously injurious to
health; and thus does their frequent consumption of rice supply them
with a most convenient reason or excuse for their habitual abstinence
from an operation they detest--that of washing their hands.

Verily, they are mighty fine and convenient words, THEREFORE and


The whole population of the good city of Brussels was in a state of
excitement. Talma, the great French tragedian, was that evening to
close his engagement by appearing in his favourite character of
Leonidas; and from an early hour in the morning, the doors of the
theatre were beset with waiting crowds, extending to the very end of
the large square in which it stood. It was evident that the building,
spacious as it was, could not contain one-half of the eager expectants
already assembled, and yet every moment brought a fresh accession to
the number destined to be disappointed. The hero of this ovation, and
the object of all this unusual excitement to the worthy and naturally
phlegmatic beer-drinkers of old Brabant, was standing near a window in
the White Cross Hotel, engaged most prosaically in shaving himself;
and, from time to time, casting on the crowd, to which he was the
magnet of attraction, the careless glance of a monarch become from
habit almost insensible to the loyal enthusiasm of his subjects.

'So he will not come?' said the tragedian to an old friend who was
with him. 'He is a cynical old fool; and yet, I assure you, my dear M.
Lesec, that I had _Leonidas_ got up expressly for him, thinking to
tickle his old republican fancies, for to my mind it is as stupid a
play as _Germanicus_, though I contrive to produce an effect with some
of its high-sounding patriotic passages; and I thought the worthy
David would have recognised his own picture vivified. But he will not
come: he positively refused, you tell me. I might have known it. Age,
exile, the memory of the past--all this has cut him up terribly: he is
the David of the Consulate no longer.'

'I am just come from him,' answered Collector Lesec: 'he received me
almost as Hermione receives Orestes in the fourth act of _Andromache_.
To say the least of it, he was somewhat tart. "I never go to the
theatre," he answered abruptly. "Tell my friend Talma, that I thank
him for his kindness; but I always go to bed at nine. I should be very
glad if he would come, before he left Brussels, and have a tankard and
a smoke with me."'

'I see,' said Talma with a half-ironical smile, 'he is turned quite
Flemish. Poor fellow! to what has he come?--to smoking tobacco, and
losing all faith in art. Persecution does more harm than the
guillotine,' added the tragedian in a tone of bitterness. 'There is a
living death. David's exile has deprived us of many a _chef-d'oeuvre_.
I can forgive the Restoration for surrounding itself with nobodies,
but it need not banish our men of talent: they are not to be found
now-a-days in every corner. But enough. Another word, and we should be
talking politics.'

Leonidas finished shaving like any other man; and then turned suddenly
to his friend: 'I bet you ten napoleons,' said he, 'that David would
have come to the play had I gone myself to him with the invitation! I
intended it, but I had not time; these rehearsals kill me--I might as
well be a galley-slave. However, I have about three-quarters of an
hour to myself now, and I will go beard the old Roman in his
stronghold. What say you to going with me?'

It would have been difficult to name a place to which M. Lesec would
not have gone, to have the honour of being seen arm-in-arm with the
great Talma; and in another half hour they were on their way across
the Place de la Monnaie into the Rue Pierre Plate.

'Now for a storm!' said Lesec. 'We are in for it: so be prepared. I
leave it all on your shoulders, noble sir, for I must keep clear of

'Is he, then, so entirely changed?' exclaimed Talma, quickening his
pace. 'Poor exile! unhappy genius! torn from thy native soil, to
languish and die!'

The visitors soon reached the large, though somewhat dilapidated
mansion of the celebrated artist; and after they had been reconnoitred
through a small grating by an old female servant, they were ushered
into a rather gloomy apartment, presenting a singular discrepancy
between its antique decorations and modern furniture.

The illustrious exile came out of an adjoining apartment in his
dressing-gown, and advanced towards them with a quick yet almost
majestic step, though his form was slightly bent, apparently by age.
To Talma's great surprise, David received him most cordially, even
throwing away his usually inseparable companion, a long pipe, to grasp
both his hands. 'Welcome, welcome, my old friend!' he said; 'you could
not have come at a better time. I have not for many a day felt so
happy, and the sight of you is a great addition.' And the old painter
kept rubbing his hands, a token with him of exuberant satisfaction.

Talma looked at Lesec as much as to say: 'The devil is not quite so
black as he is painted;' while the worthy collector only shrugged his
shoulders, and lifted his eyebrows in pantomimic expression of his
inability to comprehend such a sudden change in the atmosphere.

'You must promise to come and dine with me to-morrow,' continued the
painter, accompanying his invitation with a smile, or rather a grin,
for David's face was very much disfigured by a wen on his cheek, which
also, by causing a twitching of the jaw, rendered his articulation

'To my great regret, I am obliged to decline your invitation, my dear
friend,' said Talma. 'This is my last night here, and I must set off
for Paris to-morrow.'

'Set off to-morrow!'

'Positively. Michelet and Dumas have the whole management on their
shoulders, and are pressing my return; and Lemercier is only waiting
for me to read to us a sort of _Richard the Third_.'

'Nevertheless, you dine with me to-morrow. One day longer will not
matter to them, and is a great matter to me. I suspect Lemercier's
_Richard the Third_ is cold enough to keep a little longer. I am to
have my friend Girodet with me; so dine with us you must. It will make
me grow young again, man, and bring back the happy meetings at
Moliker's, near the gate of the Louvre.'

The illustrious exile accompanied this sentence with another of his
grim smiles. The actor was deeply moved by it, for in that bitter
smile he read how the artist pined for his country. 'I will stay with
you, I will stay with you, dear David!' now eagerly cried Talma. 'For
your sake, I will desert my post, and steal a holiday from my Paris
friends; but it can only be on condition that you, too, will make a
little sacrifice for me, and come this evening to see me in Leonidas.'

'Well, I don't care if I do,' answered the painter, whom the sight of
one friend, and the expectation of seeing another, had made quite a
different being from the David of the morning. 'Here goes for
Leonidas; but, remember, I give you fair warning--I shall go to sleep.
I have scarcely ever been in a theatre that I did not take a sound

'But when Talma plays, plaudits will keep you awake, M. David,' said
the courtly M. Lesec; and this seasonable compliment obtained for him
a smile, and an invitation for the next day, so flattering to his
vanity that, even at the risk of compromising himself with the Prince
of Orange, he unhesitatingly accepted.

That evening, between six and seven o'clock, the old French painter,
a Baron of the Empire, entered the theatre in full dress, and with a
new red ribbon in his button-hole; but, as if shrinking from notice,
he took his seat at the back of the stage-box, reserved for him by his
friend Talma, with M. Lesec by his side, prouder, more elated,
more frizzled and befrilled, than if he had been appointed
first-commissioner of finance. But notwithstanding all the care of the
modest artist to preserve his incognito, it was soon whispered through
the theatre that he was one of the audience; and it was not long
before he was pointed out, when instantly the whole house stood up
respectfully, and repeated cheers echoed from pit to vaulted roof. The
prince himself was among the first to offer this tribute to the
illustrious exile, who, confused, agitated, and scarcely able to
restrain his tears, bowed to the audience rather awkwardly, as he
whispered to M. Lesec: 'So, then, I am still remembered. I thought no
one at Brussels cared whether I was dead or alive.'

Soon Talma appeared as Leonidas; and in his turn engrossed every eye,
every thought of that vast assembly. A triple round of applause hailed
every speech uttered by the generous Spartan. The painter of the
Sabines, of Brutus, of the Horatii, of the Coronation, seemed to heed
neither the noisy acclamations nor the deep silence that succeeded
each other. Mute, motionless, transfixed, he heard not the plaudits:
it was not Talma he saw, not Talma he was listening to. He was at
Thermopylæ by the side of Leonidas himself; ready to die with him and
his three hundred heroes. Never had he been so deeply moved. He had
talked of sleep, but he was as much alive, as eager, as animated, as
if he were an actual sharer in the heroic devotedness that was the
subject of the drama. For some moments after the curtain fell, he
seemed equally absorbed; it was not till he was out of the theatre,
and in the street, that he recovered sufficiently to speak; and then
it was only to repeat every five minutes: 'What a noble talent it is!
What a power he has had over me!'

A night of tranquil sleep, and dreams of bright happy days, closed an
evening of such agreeable excitement to the poor exile; and so
cheering was its effect upon him, that he was up the next morning
before day, and his old servant, to her surprise, saw her usually
gloomy and taciturn master looking almost gay while charging her to
have breakfast ready, and to be sure that dinner was in every way
befitting the honoured guests he expected.

'And are you going out, sir, and so early?' exclaimed the old woman;
now, for the first time, perceiving that her master had his hat on and
his cane in his hand.

'Yes, Dame Rebecca,' answered David, as he gained the outer gate. 'I
have grown a great boy, and may be trusted to go alone.'

'But it is scarcely daylight yet. None of the shops are open.'

'I do not want to make any purchases.'

'Then, where in the world can you be going, sir, at this hour?'

'_Sacre bleu!_' returned the painter, losing all patience: 'could you
not guess, you old fool, that I am going as far as the Flanders-gate
to meet my old friend Girodet?'

'O that, indeed! But are you sure he will come that way? And did he
tell you the exact time?'

'What matter, you old torment? Suppose I have to wait a few minutes
for him, I can walk up and down, and it will be exercise for me,
which, you know, Dr Fanchet has desired me to take. Go along in, and
don't let the dinner be spoiled.' And the old man went on his way with
an almost elastic step. Once more was he young, gay, happy. Was he not
soon to see the friend dearer to him than all the world? But his
eagerness had made him anticipate by two hours the usual time for the
arrival of the diligence, and he was not made aware of his
miscalculation till after he had been a good while pacing up and down
the suburb leading to the Flanders-gate. The constant companion alike
of his studio and his exile, his pipe, he had left behind him,
forgotten in his hurry; so that he had no resource but to continue his
solitary walk, the current of his happy thoughts flowing on,
meanwhile, uninterrupted, save by an occasional greeting from
labourers going to their work, or the countrywomen hastening, as much
as their Flemish _embonpoint_ would allow, to the city markets. When
sauntering about alone, especially when waiting, we, like children,
make the most of everything that can while away the time, or give even
the semblance of being occupied: a flower-pot in a window, a parrot in
a cage, nay, even an insect flying past, is an absolute gain to us.
David felt it quite a fortunate chance when he suddenly caught sight
of a sign-painter carrying on his work in the open air. Though
evidently more of a whitewasher than a painter, yet, from the top of
his ladder, he was flourishing his brush in a masterly style, and at
times pausing and contemplating his work with as much complacency as
Gros could have done his wonderful cupola of Sainte-Geneviève.

The painter of Napoleon passed the self-satisfied dauber twice, not
without some admiring glances at the way in which he was plastering
the background of his landscape with indigo, by way of making a sky.
At top of the sign, now nearly finished, was traced, in large
characters, 'Break of Day;' a precaution as indispensable to point out
the artist's design, as the inscription, 'Dutch and Flemish Beer,' was
to announce the articles dealt in by the owner of the house upon which
this masterpiece was to figure.

'Here's a pretty fellow!' said the artist to himself; 'with as much
knowledge of perspective as a carthorse; and yet, I doubt not,
thinking himself a second Rubens. He brushes away as if he were
polishing a pair of boots. And what matter? Why should he not enjoy
himself in his own way?' But when he passed the ladder for the third
time, and saw a fresh layer of indigo putting over the first, his
patience could hold out no longer, and he exclaimed, without stopping
or even looking at the offender: 'There is too much blue!'

'Eh! Do you want anything, sir?' said the sign-painter; but he who had
ventured the criticism was already at a distance.

Again, David passed by. Another glance at the 'Break of Day,' and
another exclamation: 'Too much blue, you blockhead!' The insulted
plasterer turned round to reconnoitre the speaker, and as if
concluding, from his appearance, that he could be no very great
connoisseur, he quietly set to work again, shrugging his shoulders in
wonder how it could possibly be any business of his whether the sky
was red, green, or blue. For the fourth time the unknown lounger
repeated his unwelcome criticism: 'Too much blue!'

The Brussels Wouvermans coloured, but said, in the subdued tone of a
man wishing to conceal anger he cannot help feeling: 'The gentleman
may not be aware that I am painting a sky.' By this time he had come
down from the ladder, and was standing surveying his work with one eye
closed, and at the proper distance from it to judge of its effect; and
his look of evident exultation shewed that nothing could be more
ill-timed than any depreciation of his labours.

'It is because I suppose you do want to paint a sky, that for that
very reason I wished to give you this little piece of advice, and to
tell you that there is too much blue in it.'

'And pray, Mr Amateur, when was there ever a sky seen without blue?'

'I am no amateur; but I tell you once more, that there is too much
blue. And now do as you like; and if you do not think you have enough,
you can put more.'

'This is entirely too bad!' cried the now exasperated sign-painter.
'You are an old fool, and know nothing of painting. I should like to
see you make a sky without blue.'

'I do not say I am a good hand at a sky; but if I did set about it,
there should be no blue.'

'A pretty job it would be!'

'It would look like something, at all events.'

'That is as much as to say mine is like nothing at all.'

'No indeed, for it is very like a dish of spinach, and very like a
vile daub, or like anything else you please.'

'A dish of spinach! a vile daub!' cried the artist of Brabant in a
rage. 'I, the pupil of Ruysdael--I, fourth cousin to Gerard Dow! and
you pretend to know more of my art than I do--an art I have practised
with such credit at Antwerp, Louvain, and Liege! A dish of spinach,
indeed!' And by this time the fury of the insulted painter had
increased to such a degree, that he seized David by the arm, and
shaking him violently, added: 'Do you know, you old dotard, that my
character has been long established? I have a red horse at Mechlin, a
stag at Namur, and a Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle, that no one has
ever seen without admiring!'

'This is beyond all patience,' said David; and suddenly extricating
himself from the man's grasp, and snatching his palette from him, he
was up the ladder in an instant, shouting: 'Wait awhile, and you shall
have yourself to admire, with your fool's pate and your ass's ears!'

'Stop, stop, you villain!' roared the luckless artist, pale with
consternation. 'My splendid sign! A painting worth thirty-five francs!
I am ruined and undone!' And he continued shaking the ladder, and
pouring out a torrent of abuse upon David, who, caring neither for the
reproaches of his victim, nor for the crowd that the sudden clamour
had attracted, went on pitilessly effacing the 'Break of Day,' and
mingling in one confused mass sky and sun, and trees and figures; or
what was intended, at least, to represent them. And now--not less
rapid in creating than in destroying--and with the lightest possible
touch of his brush, the new sign-painter sketched and finished, with
magic rapidity, a sky with the gray tints of early dawn, and a group
of three men, glass in hand, watching the rising sun; one of these
figures being a striking likeness of the whitewasher, shewn at once by
his bushy eyebrows and snub-nose.

The crowd, that had at first shewn every inclination to take the part
of their countryman against a stranger unfairly interfering with him,
now stood quietly watching the outlines as they shone through the
first layers of colour, and shouts of applause burst from them as the
figures grew beneath the creative hand of the artist. The
tavern-keeper himself now swelled the number of admirers, having come
out to ascertain the cause of the tumult; and even the fourth-cousin
of Gerard Dow felt his fury fast changing into admiration.

'I see it all now,' he said to those nearest him in the crowd. 'He is
a French or Dutch sign-painter, one of ourselves, and he only wanted
to have a joke against me. It is but fair to own that he has the real
knack, and paints even better than I do.'

The artist to whom this equivocal compliment was paid, was now coming
down from the ladder amid the cheers of the spectators, when a new
admirer was added to them in the person of a man who, mounted on a
fine English horse, seemed inclined to ride over the crowd in his
eagerness to get a good view of the painting.

'That picture is mine!' he exclaimed; 'I will have it. I will buy it,
even if I have to cover it with guineas!'

'What do you mean?' asked the tavern-keeper.

'I mean, that I will give any price you choose to name for that sign,'
answered the stranger.

'The picture is not to be sold, young man; I could not think of
parting with it,' said the whitewasher with as much paternal pride as
if it had been indeed his workmanship.

'Certainly not,' said the vender of beer; 'for it has been already
sold, and partly paid for in advance. The picture is mine; and, though
not very anxious to dispose of it, yet, perhaps, we may come to some
understanding, and make a bargain.'

'Not so fast,' said the dauber; 'the sign belongs to me, and my
brother-artist was only kindly giving me a helping-hand. It is my
lawful property; and if this gentleman wants to buy it, he must deal
with me for it.'

'I tell you,' replied the tavern-keeper, 'that the "Break of Day" is
my property, as sure as it is now hanging in front of my house.'

The dispute was waxing louder and louder, when David broke in: 'And am
I to go for nothing in the matter? Methinks I might be allowed a voice
in it.'

'And a good right you have, brother,' said the sign-painter; 'and I am
sure you and I shall have no difference about it. But the open street
is no place for all this. We had better go into the house, and settle
the matter over a pot of beer.'

David, wishing to escape the continually increasing crowd, consented
to the adjournment, which, however, had no effect upon the disputants,
and the contest waged more fiercely than ever; nor did the
Englishman's reiterated offers to give for the picture its weight in
gold tend to allay it.

'But what will you say, if I won't let it be sold?' cried David, at
length losing all patience.

'Ah, good sir,' said the tavern-keeper, 'you would not deprive a poor,
struggling man like me of this opening for getting a little ready
money to enable me to lay in a stock of beer. As for that
sign-painter, he is a drunken sot, who has left himself without as
much as a stiver to give his daughter, who ought to have been married
a year ago.'

'Do not believe him, sir,' cried David's brother-artist. 'Every one
knows there is not a fonder father in the whole town; and more shame
to me if I were not, for never was there such a good daughter as my
dear, pretty Lizette. I have no money to give her, to be sure, but she
is betrothed to an honest fellow, who is glad to get her, poor as she
is. He is a young Frenchman, a cabinet-maker, and no better workman in
the whole city; and they are to be married whenever he has anything

'A good child, and a good workman, and only waiting for wherewithal to
live! This alters the matter entirely,' said David; 'and the young
couple shall have the picture. We leave it to this gentleman's
liberality to name the price he is willing to give for it.'

'Illustrious artist,' said the Englishman, 'I rejoice in the decision
you have come to: Solomon himself could not have given a wiser one. As
for me, I have already offered a hundred guineas for the sign as it
stands; but I will give two hundred, if you will consent to inscribe
on it the two words "Pierre David."'

The name was no sooner pronounced, than a cry of astonishment and
delight burst from all present; and the poor sign-painter, with tears
in his eyes, implored pardon for all his rudeness and presumption, and
poured out grateful thanks for the Master's kind intentions in favour
of the young couple.

By this time the news had reached the crowd without, and was received
with repeated shouts, and cries of 'Long live David!' 'Long live the
prince of artists!' But the cheers became almost deafening, when the
pretty Lizette, having heard the wonderful story of a sign having been
painted that was to hasten her marriage, and give her a dowry of 200
guineas, made her appearance, and, without a moment's hesitation,
threw her arms about the neck of her benefactor, who returned her
caresses most cordially; declaring that, all things considered, he did
not know any one who had a better right to a kiss from the bride.

At this instant Talma, followed by Girodet and the collector,
hurriedly entered the tavern. Not finding David at his house, and
being told of his having left home very early, they became uneasy lest
some accident had befallen him, and set off in search of him.

'Thank Heaven, we have found him!' said Girodet.

'And very well employed, too, I declare,' cried Talma. 'If I could be
sure of meeting such a kind welcome from a pretty girl, I should not
mind getting up early myself!'

'Bravo, bravo, my old friend!' said Girodet, as, after a warm embrace
from him, he turned to examine the picture: 'I never expected to hear
of your changing your style, and turning Flemish sign-painter. But it
is no shame for David to end as Rembrandt began.'


A good biography is ever welcome; and if it be the biography of a good
and a great man, the cordiality of the _bienvenu_ is doubled. Mr
Prescott remarks,[2] that there is no kind of writing, having truth
and instruction for its main object, which, on the whole, is so
interesting and popular as biography: its superiority, in this point
of view, to history, consisting in the fact, that the latter has to
deal with masses--with nations, which, like corporate societies, seem
to have no soul, and whose chequered vicissitudes may be contemplated
rather with curiosity for the lessons they convey, than with personal
sympathy. Among contemporary biographers, Mr Hepworth Dixon has
already established for himself a name of some distinction by his
popular lives of William Penn and John Howard; nor will his credit
suffer a decline in the instance of the memoir now before us--that of
the gallant and single-minded patriot, Robert Blake. Of this fine old
English worthy, republican as he was, the Tory Hume freely affirms,
that never man, so zealous for a faction, was so much respected and
even esteemed by his opponents. 'Disinterested, generous, liberal;
ambitious only of true glory, dreadful only to his avowed enemies; he
forms one of the most perfect characters of the age, and the
least stained with those errors and vices which were then so
predominant.'[3] Yet hitherto the records of this remarkable man have
been scanty in matter, and scattered in form--the most notable being
Dr Johnson's sketch in the _Gentleman's Magazine_, and another in the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_. Mr Dixon has consulted several scarce
works, of genuine though obsolete authority, and a large mass of
original documents and family papers, in preparing the present able
and attractive memoir; not omitting a careful examination of the
squibs, satires, and broadsides of that time, in his endeavour to
trace, in forgotten nooks and corners, the anecdotes and details
requisite, as he says, to complete a character thus far chiefly known
by a few heroic outlines. We propose taking a brief survey of his
life-history of the great admiral and general at sea--the 'Puritan
Sea-King,' as Mr Dixon more characteristically than accurately calls
his hero. A sea-king he was, every inch of him; but to dub him
Puritan, is like giving up to party what was meant for British
mankind. To many, the term suggests primarily a habit of speaking
through the nose; and Blake had thundered commands through too many a
piping gale and battle blast for _that_.

Robert Blake was born at Bridgewater, in August 1599. His father,
Humphrey Blake, was a merchant trading with Spain--a man whose temper
seems to have been too sanguine and adventurous for the ordinary
action of trade, finally involving him in difficulties which clouded
his latter days, and left his family in straitened circumstances: his
name, however, was held in general respect; and we find that he lived
in one of the best houses in Bridgewater, and twice filled the chair
of its chief magistrate. The perils to which mercantile enterprise was
then liable--the chance escapes and valorous deeds which the
successful adventurer had to tell his friends and children on the dark
winter nights--doubtless formed a part of the food on which the
imagination of young Blake, 'silent and thoughtful from his
childhood,' was fed in the 'old house at home.' At the Bridgewater
grammar-school, Robert received his early education, making tolerable
acquaintance with Latin and Greek, and acquiring a strong bias towards
a literary life. This _penchant_ was confirmed by his subsequent
career at Oxford, where he matriculated at sixteen, and where he
strove hard but fruitlessly for scholarships and fellowships at
different colleges. His failure to obtain a Merton fellowship has been
attributed to a crotchet of the warden's, Sir Henry Savile, in favour
of tall men: 'The young Somersetshire student, thick-set, fair
complexioned, and only five feet six, fell below his standard of manly
beauty;' and thus the Cavalier warden, in denying this aspirant the
means of cultivating literature on a little university oatmeal, was
turning back on the world one who was fated to become a republican
power of the age. This shining light, instead of comfortably and
obscurely merging in a petty constellation of Alma Mater, was to
become a bright particular star, and dwell apart. The avowed
liberalism of Robert may, however, have done more in reality to shock
Sir Henry, than his inability to add a cubit to his stature. It is
pleasant to know, that the 'admiral and general at sea' never outgrew
a tenderness for literature--his first-love, despite the rebuff of his
advances. Even in the busiest turmoil of a life teeming with accidents
by flood and field, he made it a point of pride not to forget his
favourite classics. Nor was it till after nine years' experience of
college-life, and when his father was no longer able to manage his
_res angusta vitæ_, that Robert finally abandoned his long-cherished
plans, and retired with a sigh and last adieu from the banks of the

When he returned to Bridgewater, in time to close his father's eyes,
and superintend the arrangements of the family, he was already
remarkable for that 'iron will, that grave demeanour, that free and
dauntless spirit,' which so distinguished his after-course. His tastes
were simple, his manners somewhat bluntly austere; a refined dignity
of countenance, and a picturesque vigour of conversation, invested him
with a social interest, to which his indignant invectives against
court corruptions gave distinctive character. To the Short Parliament
he was sent as member for his native town; and in 1645, was returned
by Taunton to the Long Parliament. At the dissolution of the former,
which he regarded as a signal for action, he began to prepare arms
against the king; his being one of the first troops in the field, and
engaged in almost every action of importance in the western counties.
His superiority to the men about him lay in the 'marvellous fertility,
energy, and comprehensiveness of his military genius.' Prince Rupert
alone, in the Royalist camp, could rival him as a 'partisan soldier.'
His first distinguished exploit was his defence of Prior's Hill fort,
at the siege of Bristol--which contrasts so remarkably with the
pusillanimity of his chief, Colonel Fiennes. Next comes his yet more
brilliant defence of Lyme--then a little fishing-town, with some 900
inhabitants, of which the defences were a dry ditch, a few
hastily-formed earth-works, and three small batteries, but which the
Cavalier host of Prince Maurice, trying storm, stratagem, blockade,
day after day, and week after week, failed to reduce or dishearten.
'At Oxford, where Charles then was, the affair was an inexplicable
marvel and mystery: every hour the court expected to hear that the
"little vile fishing-town," as Clarendon contemptuously calls it, had
fallen, and that Maurice had marched away to enterprises of greater
moment; but every post brought word to the wondering council, that
Colonel Blake still held out, and that his spirited defence was
rousing and rallying the dispersed adherents of Parliament in those
parts.' After the siege was raised, the Royalists found that more men
of gentle blood had fallen under Blake's fire at Lyme, than in all the
other sieges and skirmishes in the western counties since the opening
of the war. The details of the siege are given with graphic effect by
Mr Dixon, and are only surpassed in interest by those connected with
Blake's subsequent and yet more celebrated defence of Taunton, to
which the third chapter of this biography is devoted.

The hero's fame had become a spell in the west: it was seen that he
rivalled Rupert in rapid and brilliant execution, and excelled him in
the caution and sagacity of his plans. He took Taunton--a place so
important at that juncture, as standing on and controlling the great
western highway--in July 1644, within a week of Cromwell's defeat of
Rupert at Marston Moor. All the vigour of the Royalists was brought
to bear on the captured town; Blake's defence of which is
justly characterised as abounding with deeds of individual
heroism--exhibiting in its master-mind a rare combination of civil and
military genius. The spectacle of an unwalled town, in an inland
district, with no single advantage of site, surrounded by powerful
castles and garrisons, and invested by an enemy brave, watchful,
numerous, and well provided with artillery, successfully resisting
storm, strait, and blockade for several months, thus paralysing the
king's power, and affording Cromwell time to remodel the army,
naturally arrested the attention of military writers at that time; and
French authors of this class bestowed on Taunton the name of the
modern Saguntum. The rage of the Royalists at this prolonged
resistance was extreme. Reckoning from the date when Blake first
seized the town, to that of Goring's final retreat, the defence lasted
exactly a year, and under circumstances of almost overwhelming
difficulty to the besieged party, who, in addition to the fatigue of
nightly watches, and the destruction of daily conflicts, suffered from
terrible scarcity of provisions. 'Not a day passed without a fire;
sometimes eight or ten houses were burning at the same moment; and in
the midst of all the fear, horror, and confusion incident to such
disasters, Blake and his little garrison had to meet the
storming-parties of an enemy brave, exasperated, and ten times their
own strength. But every inch of ground was gallantly defended. A broad
belt of ruined cottages and gardens was gradually formed between the
besiegers and the besieged; and on the heaps of broken walls and burnt
rafters, the obstinate contest was renewed from day to day.' At last
relief arrived from London; and Goring, in savage dudgeon, beat a
retreat, notwithstanding the wild oath he had registered, either to
reduce that haughty town, or to lay his bones in its trenches.

Blake was now the observed of all observers; but, unlike most of his
compeers, he abstained from using his advantages for purposes of
selfish or personal aggrandisement. He kept aloof from the 'centre of
intrigues,' and remained at his post, 'doing his duty humbly and
faithfully at a distance from Westminster; while other men, with less
than half his claims, were asking and obtaining the highest honours
and rewards from a grateful and lavish country.' Nor, indeed, did he
at any time side with the ultras of his party, but loudly disapproved
of the policy of the regicides. This, coupled with his influence, so
greatly deserved and so deservedly great, made him an object of
jealousy with Cromwell and his party; and it was owing, perhaps, to
their anxiety to keep him removed from the home-sphere of action, that
the hero of Taunton was now appointed to the chief naval command.

Hitherto, and for years afterwards, no state, ancient or modern, as
Macaulay points out, had made a separation between the military and
the naval service. Cimon and Lysander, Pompey and Agrippa, had fought
by sea as well as by land: at Flodden, the right wing of the English
was led by her admiral, and the French admiral led the Huguenots at
Jarnac, &c. Accordingly, Blake was summoned from his pacific
government at Taunton, to assume the post of 'General and Admiral at
Sea;' a title afterwards changed to 'General of the Fleet.' Two others
were associated with him in the command; but Blake seems at _least_ to
have been recognised as _primus inter pares_. The navy system was in
deplorable need of reform; and a reformer it found in Robert Blake,
from the very day he became an admiral. His care for the well-being of
his men made him an object of their almost adoring attachment. From
first to last, he stood alone as England's model-seaman. 'Envy,
hatred, and jealousy dogged the steps of every other officer in the
fleet; but of him, both then and afterwards, every man spoke well.'
The 'tremendous powers' intrusted to him by the Council of State, he
exercised with off-handed and masterly success--startling politicians
and officials of the _ancien régime_ by his bold and open tactics, and
his contempt for tortuous bypaths in diplomacy. His wondrous exploits
were performed with extreme poverty of means. He was the first to
repudiate and disprove the supposed fundamental maxim in marine
warfare, that no ship could attack a castle, or other strong
fortification, with any hope of success. The early part of his naval
career was occupied in opposing and defeating the piratical
performances of Prince Rupert, which then constituted the support of
the exiled Stuarts, and which Mr Dixon refuses to interpret in such
mild colours as Warburton and others. Blake's utmost vigilance and
activity were required to put down this extraordinary system of
freebooting; and by the time that he had successively overcome Rupert,
and the minor but stubborn adventurers, Grenville and Carteret, he was
in request to conduct the formidable war with Holland, and to cope
with such veterans as Tromp, De Witt, De Ruyter, &c. Of the various
encounters in which he thus signalised himself, his biographer gives
most spirited descriptions, such as their length alone deters us from
quoting. On one occasion only did Blake suffer a defeat; and this one
is easily explained by--first, Tromp's overwhelming superiority of
force; secondly, the extreme deficiency of men in the English fleet;
and thirdly, the cowardice or disaffection of several of Blake's
captains at a critical moment in the battle. Notwithstanding this
disaster, not a whisper was heard against the admiral either in the
Council of State or in the city; his offer to resign was flatteringly
rejected; and he soon found, that the 'misfortune which might have
ruined another man, had given him strength and influence in the
country.' This disaster, in fact, gave him power to effect reforms in
the service, and to root out abuses which had defied all his efforts
in the day of his success. He followed it up by the great battle of
Portland, and other triumphant engagements.

Then came his sweeping _tours de force_ in the Mediterranean; in six
months he established himself, as Mr Dixon says, as a power in that
great midland sea, from which his countrymen had been politically
excluded since the age of the Crusades--teaching nations, to which
England's very name was a strange sound, to respect its honours and
its rights; chastising the pirates of Barbary with unprecedented
severity; making Italy's petty princes feel the power of the northern
Protestants; causing the pope himself to tremble on his seven hills;
and startling the council-chambers of Venice and Constantinople with
the distant echoes of our guns. And be it remembered, that England had
then no Malta, Corfu, and Gibraltar as the bases of naval operations
in the Mediterranean: on the contrary, Blake found that in almost
every gulf and island of that sea--in Malta, Venice, Genoa, Leghorn,
Algiers, Tunis, and Marseilles--there existed a rival and an enemy;
nor were there more than three or four harbours in which he could
obtain even bread for love or money.

After this memorable cruise, he had to conduct the Spanish war--a
business quite to his mind; for though his highest renown had been
gained in his conflicts with the Dutch, he had secretly disliked such
encounters between two Protestant states; whereas, in the
case of Popish Spain, his soul leaped at the anticipation of
battle--sympathising as he did with the Puritan conviction, that Spain
was the devil's stronghold in Europe. At this period, Blake was
suffering from illness, and was sadly crippled in his naval
equipments, having to complain constantly of the neglect at home to
remedy the exigencies of the service. 'Our ships,' he writes,
'extremely foul, winter drawing on, our victuals expiring, all stores
failing, our men falling sick through the badness of drink, and eating
their victuals boiled in salt water for two months' space' (1655.) His
own constitution was thoroughly undermined. For nearly a year, remarks
his biographer, 'he had never quitted the "foul and defective"
flag-ship. Want of exercise and sweet food, beer, wine, water, bread,
and vegetables, had helped to develop scurvy and dropsy; and his
sufferings from these diseases were now acute and continuous.' But his
services were indispensable, and Blake was not the man to shrink from
dying in harness. His sun set gloriously at Santa Cruz--that
miraculous and unparalleled action, as Clarendon calls it, which
excited such grateful enthusiasm at home. At home! words of
fascination to the maimed and enfeebled veteran,[4] who now turned his
thoughts so anxiously towards the green hills of his native land.
Cromwell's letter of thanks, the plaudits of parliament, and the
jewelled ring sent to him by his loving countrymen, reached him while
homeward bound. But he was not again to tread the shores he had
defended so well.

As the ships rolled through the Bay of Biscay, his sickness increased,
and affectionate adherents saw with dismay that he was drawing near to
the gates of the grave. 'Some gleams of the old spirit broke forth as
they approached the latitude of England. He inquired often and
anxiously if the white cliffs were yet in sight. He longed to behold
once more the swelling downs, the free cities, the goodly churches of
his native land.... At last, the Lizard was announced. Shortly
afterwards, the bold cliffs and bare hills of Cornwall loomed out
grandly in the distance. But it was too late for the dying hero. He
had sent for the captains and other great officers of his fleet, to
bid them farewell; and while they were yet in his cabin, the
undulating hills of Devonshire, glowing with the tints of early
autumn, came full in view.... But the eyes which had so yearned to
behold this scene once more were at that very instant closing in
death. Foremost of the victorious squadron, the _St George_ rode with
its precious burden into the Sound; and just as it came into full view
of the eager thousands crowding the beach, the pier-heads, the walls
of the citadel, &c. ready to catch the first glimpse of the hero of
Santa Cruz, and salute him with a true English welcome--he, in his
silent cabin, in the midst of his lion-hearted comrades, now sobbing
like little children, yielded up his soul to God.'

The corpse was embalmed, and conveyed to Greenwich, where it lay in
state for some days. On the 4th of September 1657, the Thames bore a
solemn funeral procession, which moved slowly, amid salvos of
artillery, to Westminster, where a new vault had been prepared in the
noble abbey. The tears of a nation made it hallowed ground. A prince,
of whom the epigram declares that, if he never said a foolish thing,
he never did a wise one--saw fit to disturb the hero's grave, drag out
the embalmed body, and cast it into a pit in the abbey-yard. One of
Charles Stuart's most witless performances! For Blake is not to be
confounded--though the Merry Monarch thought otherwise--with the
Iretons and Bradshaws who were similarly exhumed. The admiral was a
moderate in the closest, a patriot in the widest sense.

In the chivalric disposition of the man, there was true affinity to
the best qualities of the Cavalier, mingled sometimes with a certain
grim humour, all his own. Many are the illustrations we might adduce
of this high-minded and generous temperament. For instance: meeting a
French frigate of forty guns in the Straits, and signaling for the
captain to come on board his flag-ship, the latter, considering the
visit one of friendship and ceremony, there being no _declared_ war
between the two nations--though the French conduct at Toulon had
determined England on measures of retaliation--readily complied with
Blake's summons; but was astounded, on entering the admiral's cabin,
at being told he was a prisoner, and requested to give up his sword.
No! was the surprised but resolute Frenchman's reply. Blake felt that
an advantage had been gained by a misconception, and scorning to make
a brave officer its victim, he told his guest he might go back to his
ship, if he wished, and fight it out as long as he was able. The
captain, we are told, thanked him for his handsome offer, and retired.
After two hours' hard fighting, he struck his flag; like a true French
knight, he made a low bow, kissed his sword affectionately, and
delivered it to his conqueror. Again: when Blake captured the Dutch
herring-fleet off Bochness, consisting of 600 boats, instead of
destroying or appropriating them, he merely took a tithe of the whole
freight, in merciful consideration towards the poor families whose
entire capital and means of life it constituted. This 'characteristic
act of clemency' was censured by many as Quixotic, and worse. But, as
Mr Dixon happily says: 'Blake took no trouble to justify his noble
instincts against such critics. His was indeed a happy fate: the only
fault ever advanced by friend or foe against his public life, was an
excess of generosity towards his vanquished enemies!' His sense of the
comic is amusingly evidenced by the story of his _ruse_ during a
dearth in the same siege. Tradition reports, that only one animal, a
hog, was left alive in the town, and that more than half starved. In
the afternoon, Blake, feeling that in their depression a laugh would
do the defenders as much good as a dinner, had the hog carried to all
the posts and whipped, so that its screams, heard in many places,
might make the enemy suppose that fresh supplies had somehow been
obtained. According to his biographer, never man had finer sense of
sarcasm, or used that weapon with greater effect--loving to find
expression for its scorn and merriment in the satires of Horace and
Juvenal; and thus in some degree relieving the stern fervour of
Puritan piety with the more easy graces of ancient scholarship.

The moral aspects of his character appear in this memoir in an
admirable light. If he did not stand so high as some others in public
notoriety, it was mainly because, to stand higher than he did, he must
plant his feet on a _bad_ eminence. His patriotism was as pure as
Cromwell's was selfish. Mr Dixon alludes to the strong points of
contrast, as well as of resemblance, between the two men. Both, he
says, were sincerely religious, undauntedly brave, fertile in
expedients, irresistible in action. Born in the same year, they began
and almost closed their lives at the same time. Both were country
gentlemen of moderate fortune; both were of middle age when the
revolution came. Without previous knowledge or professional training,
both attained to the highest honours of the respective services. But
there the parallel ends. Anxious only for the glory and interest of
his country, Blake took little or no care of his personal
aggrandisement. His contempt for money, his impatience with the mere
vanities of power, were supreme. Bribery he abhorred in all its
shapes. He was frank and open to a fault; his heart was ever in his
hand, and his mind ever on his lips. His honesty, modesty, generosity,
sincerity, and magnanimity, were unimpeached. Cromwell's inferior
moral qualities made him distrust the great seaman; yet now and then,
as in the case of the street tumult at Malaga, he was fain to express
his admiration of Robert Blake. The latter was wholly unversed in the
science of nepotism, and 'happy family' compacts; for although
desirous of aiding his relatives, he was jealous of the least offence
on their part, and never overlooked it. Several instances of this
disposition are on record. When his brother Samuel, in rash zeal for
the Commonwealth, ventured to exceed his duty, and was killed in a
fray which ensued, Blake was terribly shocked, but only said: 'Sam had
no business there.' Afterwards, however, he shut himself up in his
room, and bewailed his loss in the words of Scripture: 'Died Abner as
a fool dieth!' His brother Benjamin, again, to whom he was strongly
attached, falling under suspicion of neglect of duty, was instantly
broken, and sent on shore. 'This rigid measure of justice against his
own flesh and blood, silenced every complaint, and the service gained
immeasurably in spirit, discipline, and confidence.' Yet more touching
was the great admiral's inexorable treatment of his favourite brother
Humphrey, who, in a moment of extreme agitation, had failed in his
duty. The captains went to Blake in a body, and argued that Humphrey's
fault was a neglect rather than a breach of orders, and suggested his
being sent away to England till it was forgotten. But Blake was
outwardly unmoved, though inwardly his bowels did yearn over his
brother, and sternly said: 'If none of you will accuse him, I must be
his accuser.' Humphrey was dismissed from the service. It is affecting
to know how painfully Blake missed his familiar presence during his
sick and lonely passage homewards, when the hand of death was upon
that noble heart. To Humphrey he bequeathed the greater part of his

In the rare intervals of private life which he enjoyed on shore, Blake
also compels our sincere regard. When released for awhile from
political and professional duties, he loved to run down to Bridgewater
for a few days or weeks, and, as his biographer says, with his chosen
books, and one or two devout and abstemious friends, to indulge in all
the luxuries of seclusion. 'He was by nature self-absorbed and
taciturn. His morning was usually occupied with a long walk, during
which he appeared to his simple neighbours to be lost in profound
thought, as if working out in his own mind the details of one of his
great battles, or busy with some abstruse point of Puritan theology.
If accompanied by one of his brothers, or by some other intimate
friend, he was still for the most part silent. Always good-humoured,
and enjoying sarcasm when of a grave, high class, he yet never talked
from the loquacious instinct, or encouraged others so to employ their
time and talents in his presence. Even his lively and rattling brother
Humphrey, his almost constant companion when on shore, caught, from
long habit, the great man's contemplative and self-communing gait and
manner; and when his friends rallied him on the subject in
after-years, he used to say, that he had caught the trick of silence
while walking by the admiral's side in his long morning musings on
Knoll Hill. A plain dinner satisfied his wants. Religious
conversation, reading, and the details of business, generally filled
up the evening until supper-time; after family prayers--always
pronounced by the general himself--he would invariably call for his
cup of sack and a dry crust of bread, and while he drank two or three
horns of Canary, would smile and chat in his own dry manner with his
friends and domestics, asking minute questions about their neighbours
and acquaintance; or when scholars or clergymen shared his simple
repast, affecting a droll anxiety--rich and pleasant in the conqueror
of Tromp--to prove, by the aptness and abundance of his quotations,
that, in becoming an admiral, he had not forfeited his claim to be
considered a good classic.'

The care and interest with which he looked to the well-being of his
humblest followers, made him eminently popular in the fleet. He was
always ready to hear complaints and to rectify grievances. When
wounded at the battle of Portland, and exhorted to go on shore for
repose and proper medical treatment, he refused to seek for himself
the relief which he had put in the way of his meanest comrade. Even at
the early period of his cruise against the Cavalier corsairs of
Kinsale, such was Blake's popularity, that numbers of men were
continually joining him from the enemy's fleet, although he offered
them less pay, and none of that licence which they had enjoyed under
Prince Rupert's flag. They gloried in following a leader _sans peur et
sans reproche_--one with whose renown the whole country speedily
rang--the renown of a man who had revived the traditional glories of
the English navy, and proved that its meteor flag could 'yet terrific


[1] _Robert Blake: Admiral and General at Sea._ By Hepworth Dixon.
London: Chapman and Hall. 1852.

[2] _Biographical and Critical Miscellanies._

[3] _History of Great Britain_, c. lxi.

[4] He had been lamed for life, by a wound in the thigh, at the battle
of Portland, 1653.


In the dominions of the Czar, the backs of the serfs suffer a weekly
titillation as insufferable, although not so deadly, as the less
frequent knout. When it comes to Wednesday, they begin to imagine that
they are not exactly comfortable; on Thursday, the natural moisture of
their skin seems fast drying up, and they are in an incipient fit of
the fidgets; on Friday, the epidermis cracks all over, or
makes-believe to do so; and on Saturday, the whole population, with a
shout of impatient joy, rush to the bath-house of the village, like a
herd of bullocks in the dog-days to the river, and boil themselves in
steam. When thoroughly done, they come out, beautifully plumped, as
the cooks say, and feeling fresh and vigorous, and as fit as ever they
were in their lives to encounter a new week of serfdom.

An annual process analogous to this takes place in our own country. In
spring, we begin to look wistfully at the garden, to watch the opening
of the lettuces, and count the colours of the pansies. As the season
advances, we wander into the fields, examine curiously the thin grass,
and turn an admiring eye towards the green hills in the distance. As
May breaks upon us in sunlight, though the east wind is still chill,
we half persuade ourselves that this really _is_ the season of love
and sentiment; and when the month ripens into June, when the grass
beneath our feet actually deserves the name of a carpet, when the
trees are rich and umbrageous, when the birds are in full song, and
the roses in full blow--then the hitherto indefinite longing of our
heart acquires strength and purpose. The dry streets look unnatural;
the formal lines of houses offend the taste; the air is close and hot;
the younger children look pale, and their elder sisters languish. The
month is at length out, and we wonder how we have survived it. The
thing can no longer be borne: the town looks and breathes like a
pest-house; while hill-sides glimmer in our waking dreams, broad seas
stretch away till they are lost in the golden light--

    'And dying winds and waters near
    Make music to the lonely ear:'

still worse--everybody that is anybody is off to the country and the
sea, and we rush madly after.

But the country? Where is the country? That is the puzzle. In our
youth, we knew many a quiet village, many a fine beach, many a
sheltered bay, where one might wander, or swim, or muse, or rusticate
in any way he chose. The village has grown into a town; the beach is
lined with villas; the bay swarms with vessels, and its shores with
population. Every eligible spot on the coast becomes the resort of
country-goers, till it is no longer the country. All local advantages
are taken advantage of, till they disappear. The citizen, charmed with
the countryness of the spot, builds his box by the water-side; the
speculator runs up lines of houses; a handsome inn rises in the midst;
and benevolent individuals hasten to the new centre of attraction,
loaded with every kind of commodity men stand in need of, and are
likely to buy. Here, in Scotland, on the Clyde, which is the grand
sanatorium of the east as well as the west country, this process of
change is remarkable. The once wildly beautiful shores, wherever there
is not a town or a village, are dotted with trim white villas,
glimmering here and there among the trees. The angles of the lochs,
where these diverge from the parent stream, are covered with houses.
The Gair Loch, which we remember as one of the sweetest mysteries of a
mountain lake whose banks ever echoed to the songs of poetry and love,
is a snug suburban retreat. The entrance of the Holy Loch, and of the
dark and awful Loch Long, are fortified against the spirit of nature
by groups of streets. At the heretofore quiet village of Dunoon,
slumbering at the foot of its almost obliterated castle, you might
lose yourself in the wilderness of new habitations. Gourock, on the
opposite side, where in our boyhood the fairies disported round the
Kempuck Stane, is a bustling town, with a suburb stretching along the
Clyde, nearly as long as the long town of Kirkaldy, on the Forth; and
at Largs, the barrows of the ancient Danes have become the cellars of
the sons of little men, who confine spirits in them, as the prophet
Solomon used to do, with a sealed cork. The once solitary island of
Cumbrae is the town of Milport; the hoary ruins of Rothsay Castle are
almost buried in a congeries of seaport streets and lanes; and,
smoking, sputtering, and flapping their water-wings, scores of
steamers ply in endless succession among these and a multitude of
other places of renown.

All this, we may be told, is as it should be; a house is better than a
hut, and the conveniences of civilised life better than roughing it in
the desert: but we will not be comforted. Roughing it! that is just
what the smoke-dried citizen wants occasionally, to prevent his blood
from stagnating, and keep his faculties in working order. Physically,
at least, we are not half the men we were when we used to rumble, and
sometimes tumble, in stage-coaches, exposed to all the excitement and
adventures of a journey; or to get as sick as forty dogs, tossing
about whole days and nights in a sailing vessel. Then, when we landed,
how delightful were the miseries of a cottage; the makeshifts, the
squeezing, the dirt, the hunger--that veal-pie was _always_ left
behind!--the hunting of the neighbourhood for eggs for the children,
the compulsory abstinence for three days out of four from
butcher-meat, and the helpless dependence upon the chapter of
accidents for everything else!

Now, we get into a railway carriage, or the cabin of a steamer, and
after taking a book or a nap for an hour or two, raise our heads, and
find ourselves, somehow or other, fifty miles off--in the country. The
country is a genteel house in a genteel street, or a nice villa in a
row of nice villas, where we are surrounded with all the conveniences
we enjoy at home. The very society is the same; for our friends,
Thomson and Smith, and the whole of that set, have brought their
families to the same place for summer lodgings--it is so agreeable to
be among one's acquaintances. Then we begin to enjoy ourselves: we
have conversation-parties, and dancing-parties, and balls, all the
same as at home. We enjoy our newspaper, as usual, in our comfortable
reading-room. In the morning, we take a stroll or a dip, or drink
water at the Wells, which, although undoubtedly nasty, is undeniably
wholesome. Then there is a steamer in sight, and we all hasten to the
pier, to ascertain if we know anybody on board. Then we dine early,
for one _must_ dine early in the country. Then we take a nap; then
another stroll; then there is another steamer to watch; then we drink
tea; then to the pier again. This time, the vessel's head is pointed
homewards; and as she breaks away from the land, we follow her with
our eyes till she is swallowed up in the distance. Then we turn away
with a sigh; go back to our lodgings; lounge into bed; and fall asleep
in the midst of the delightful sensation of having nothing to do, and
being in the country.

All this _is_ delightful, no doubt; every bit as good as being at
home. Our aim, in fact, is to carry home with us--to feel as if we had
never left No. 24. The closer the resemblance between our country
lodgings and our town-house, the better we are off; for we then get
what we have come for--change of air--without any sacrifice of

But we doubt whether 'change of air' has so limited a meaning.
Hygienically speaking, it includes, we suspect, change of habits,
change of diet, change of company, change of thought. The miseries of
the old country lodgings were better for the health than the comforts
of the new. The very grumbling they gave rise to was a wholesome
exercise. The short allowance was worth a whole pharmacopoeia. The
ravenous appetite that fastened upon things common and unclean was a
glorious symptom. We came back strengthened in mind as well as body.
Our country sojourn had the effect of foreign travel in opening the
heart and expanding the intellect; it smoothed away prejudices and
upset conventionalities; and the ruddy glow of our sunburnt cheeks was
the external token of the healthy natural tone of the feelings within.
No; this passion for comfort and gentility in the wilderness, is a bad
sign of the generation: it bespeaks effeminacy of character, and a
vanity which, however graceful it may be thought in the town, shews
mean and ridiculous among the hills, and woods, and waters of the

Among our neighbours on the continent, the summer move is not so
universal as with us. In Paris, for instance, everything is considered
the country that is outside the barriers; and in the fine season,
every bourgeois family is outside the barriers at least once a
week--eating, drinking, dancing, and singing. Then there are the walks
in the Bois de Boulogne, and the picnics at St Cloud, and the
excursions to Versailles: wherever there is green turf and shady
trees, you hear the sounds of mirth and music rising in the clearest,
brightest atmosphere in the world. Thus a sojourn out of town is not a
necessity. They take change of air by instalments, and pass the summer
in a state of chronic excitement.

In other parts of the world, the move is as entire as with us; and in
at least one instance, all classes of the population desert the cities
at the same time, and flock to the same sea-side. To be sure, this
sea-side is somewhat extensive, and there need be no more crowding
than is social and comfortable. An amusing account of the migration,
and of the summer lodgings of Central America is given in Mr Squier's
_Nicaragua_, recently published. The state of Nicaragua occupies that
part of the Isthmus lying between the lake of the same name and the
Pacific, the distance between being in some places only about fifteen
miles. In this narrow tract there are several large towns, such as
Grenada and Leon, which, in spite of the breath of the two oceans, get
smoke-dried by the time the dry season advances into March. Then comes
on the 'Paseo al mar,' or bathing-season, when a great portion of the
population, taken not merely from the upper classes, but from the
bourgeoisie and Indian peasantry, rush down to the shores of the
Pacific. 'At that time,' says Mr Squier, 'a general movement of carts
and servants takes place in the direction of the sea, and the
government despatches an officer and a guard, to superintend the
pitching of the annual camp upon the beach, or rather upon the
forest-covered sand-ridge which fringes the shore. Each family builds
a temporary cane-hut, lightly thatched with palm-leaves, and floored
with petates or mats. The whole is wickered together with vines, or
woven together basketwise, and partitioned in the same way, by means
of coloured curtains of cotton cloth. This constitutes the penetralia,
and is sacred to the _bello sexo_ and the babies. The more luxurious
ladies bring down their neatly-curtained beds, and make no mean show
of elegance in the interior arrangements of their impromptu dwellings.
Outside, and something after the fashion of their permanent
residences, is a kind of broad and open shed, which bears a very
distant relation to the corridor. Here hammocks are swung, the
families dine, the ladies receive visitors, and the men sleep.... The
establishments here described pertain only to the wealthier visitors,
the representatives of the upper classes. There is every intermediate
variety, down to those of the _mozo_ and his wife, who spread their
blankets at the foot of a tree, and weave a little bower of branches
above them--an affair of ten or a dozen minutes. And there are yet
others who disdain even this exertion, and nestle in the dry sand.'

This kind of gipsying expedition to the sea in summer would hardly
suit the form of European, or at least British civilisation; but we do
not see why, in the one continent more than in the other, one's
country lodgings should be required to resemble a town-house. In the
Clyde, which we have mentioned as a resort for summer loiterers, there
is one exceptional place--the island of Arran. Here the Marquis of
Douglas has determined, with much good taste, that his property shall
not be vulgarised by the new style of country lodgings, and so far
from feuing the ground, he will not permit even a pier to be built for
the accommodation of visitors. The village, accordingly, is simply a
line of thatched cottages, which, in the fine season, are filled to
overflowing. A few houses of more pretension stand on the other side
of the bay; but, in general, no one sets his foot in Brodick who has
not made up his mind to rough it pretty much in the fashion of the
last generation. Sometimes, on the occasion of a holiday in Glasgow,
which is six hours' steaming distant, the village is flooded with a
moving population that can neither find house-room on the island nor
means of quitting it the same day. Then comes a scene of something
more than Mexican roughness. Shawls, cloaks, plaids, are the only
substitute for tents, and a bush or a tree the only shelter from the
summer wind. Such wandering companies are rarely short of provisions,
for they have a wholesome dread of Highland hunger; and hearty is the
feast and loud the merriment, as they sit thus, houseless and homeless
outcasts of the Clyde. The night comes on, neither dark nor
unpleasantly cold, and the trooping stars assemble in the heavens, and
look down on the slumbrous waters, as bright and new as they were seen
of old from the hill-tops of Chaldea. Higher swell the hearts of the
spectators for a time, till, yielding to the influence of the hour,
lower and lower sink their pulses of emotion, like the tide of the
lately panting deep. Their voices fall; their words are few and
whispered, then heard no more; the lights of the village disappear one
by one; the last door is heard to shut; there is silence on the earth.

We never heard of anybody being the worse of this adventure, although
it is a kind of roughing we would not positively recommend to Miss
Laura Matilda, or any of her fair sisters. We would give _them_ a
thatched roof over their heads, a weather-tight room for their
slumbers, and a substantial wall between them and the couple of cows
that yield their warm milk in the morning. We would afford them a
homely sitting-room, with no temptation to keep them within doors for
a single moment, except during their brief and humble meals. We would
plant their tabernacle in some lonely place on a hillside, or on the
shores of a romantic loch, an hour's smart walk from any society they
are accustomed to at home. We would have them make acquaintances of
the said two cows; of both the dogs, even the surly one, which cannot
for some time understand who or what they are, or what business they
have there; of the hens, that present them with newly-laid eggs to
breakfast; of the five or six sheep, to whom they are evidently
objects of curiosity and admiration; of that sociable goat, which
accompanies the sheep to the hill like one of themselves; and more
especially of the little boy, who is proud of being called the herd;
and of the cotter and his old mother, and his wife and two young
daughters. We would insist upon their feeling a kindly interest in
these new friends, one and all; on their taking leave of them
individually when coming away; and on their carrying home with them an
impression which would sometimes, in the crowded street, or the hot
room, well suddenly up in their hearts like a fresh stream, or pass
across their cheeks like a breath of mountain air.

Depend upon it, we lose much humanising feeling, much true refinement,
much of the poetry of life, in parting with the roughness of our
Summer Lodgings.


The origin or prototype of so many of our European arts and customs
has been found in the 'central flowery land,' that it is not
surprising to hear of the Chinese having begun to use paper-money as
currency in the second century preceding the Christian era. At that
time, the coinage of the Celestials was of a more bulky and ponderous
nature than it is at the present day; and we may easily believe that a
people so cunning and ingenious, would contrive not a few schemes to
avoid the burden of carrying it about; as the man did, who scratched
the figure of an ox on a piece of leather, and went from door to door
with that until he had found a customer, leaving the animal, meantime,
at home in the stall. There was a deficiency, too, in the ways and
means of the government: money was never plentiful enough in the
imperial coffers. At last, to get out of the difficulty, it was
determined to try the effect of a paper-currency, and an issue was
made of assignats or treasury-warrants, which, being based on the
credit of the highest authorities, were regarded as secure; which
fact, with their facility of transfer, soon brought them into
circulation. Of course, a good deal of legislation was expended on the
measure, before it could be got to work satisfactorily, and it
underwent many fluctuations in its progress towards permanence. The
intestine wars to which China was exposed at that period, by
overturning dynasty after dynasty, led one government to disavow the
obligations of its predecessor, and the natural consequences of bad
faith followed. After circulating with more or less success for five
hundred years, the government paper-money disappeared.

This happened under the Ming dynasty: the Manchus, who succeeded,
gave themselves no trouble to restore the paper-currency; on which the
trading portion of the community took the matter into their own hands,
and by the time that their Tatar conquerors were quietly settled in
their usurped authority, the merchants had revived the use of paper.
They were too sensible of its great utility not to make the attempt;
and since that time, they have gone on without any aid from the state,
developing their plans as experience suggested, and so cautiously as
to insure success. This result is, however, far below what has been
obtained by Europeans. In comparison with ours, the banking-system of
China is in a very primitive condition; theirs is extremely limited in
its application, each city restricting itself to its own method; and
while the means of intercommunication are imperfect, there is little
prospect of improvement.

One example may be taken as an illustration of the whole; and we avail
ourselves of a communication made by Mr Parkes to the Royal Asiatic
Society on the paper-currency of Fuhchowfoo, for the substance of the
present article. As in other places, the system was started in the
city of Fuhchow by private individuals, who began by circulating among
each other notes payable on demand. As the convenience of such a
medium became apparent, the circulation was extended, and ultimately
offices were opened for the special purpose of issuing notes; but as
the only guarantee for their security was the character of those who
put them forth, the circulation remained comparatively trifling, until
their credit was recognised and established. Not till the first
quarter of the present century did the use of paper become extensive
or permanent; and now, everybody in Fuhchowfoo prefers notes to coin.

As no licence is required, any one may commence the banking business,
and at first considerable mischief resulted from this liberty.
Speculators who forced their notes largely into circulation, not
unfrequently met with a reverse, with the usual consequences of
distress and embarrassment to their connection. Although this for a
time brought paper into disfavour, it has now recovered, and the great
competition is found to have the effect of mitigating the evils of
failure. Where so many are concerned, individual suffering must be
comparatively slight. The banks, moreover, are not banks of deposit;
the proprietors prefer not to receive deposits, so that private
parties run no risk of a great and sudden loss, beyond that of such
notes as they may hold at the time of a stoppage. On the other hand,
the usefulness of a bank is limited by this arrangement; there can be
no paying of cheques; but very few of the banking establishments can
transact business beyond the city or the department in which they may
be located, and seldom or never beyond the limits of the province.
Hence the convenience and safety of making payments at places remote
from each other, through the medium of a banker, is almost unknown in

Within certain limits, the large bankers undertake mercantile
exchanges; they also refine the sycee, or silver, for the receivers of
taxes. The government will take no silver under a standard quality;
the collector delivers his sycee to the banker, who weighs, refines,
and casts it into ingots, for a consideration, giving a receipt, which
is handed to the treasurer of the department, who calls for the amount
when required.

The small banks transact their business on an extremely petty scale.
On first starting in business, their notes are seldom in circulation
above a few hours, and they have always to be watchful to avoid a
'run.' It is among this class that failures most frequently occur, the
time of the crash being the end of the year, owing to the demand for
specie which then arises. As a precautionary measure, some of them
mostly circulate the notes of the large banks, which do not return to
them as their own would. Their own are sure to come back once at least
in the twenty-four hours, as the large banks make a rule of sending
all petty bank-notes to their issuers every day, and exchanging them
for specie or larger notes. The petty establishments resort to various
expedients for the sake of profit; one is, to locate themselves in a
good situation: if far from a large bank, they charge a higher rate of
discount on notes presented for payment, than is charged by their more
powerful competitor; and the people who live in the neighbourhood
submit to this charge, rather than take the trouble of going to the
large bank. On the contrary, if the great and the small are near
together, the latter charge lower, and make their profit by placing
base coin among the strings of copper _cash_ which they pay to their
customers in exchange for notes. The inferior cash is manufactured for
the purpose, in the same way as Birmingham halfpence used to be for
distribution by the keepers of toll-gates.

'Such petty chicanery is not viewed, as with us, in the light of an
offence, since, from the exceeding low value of the Chinese
cash--twenty-seven being only equivalent to a penny--those must be bad
indeed which will not pass current with the rest; and, accordingly,
the inferior sorts, when used in moderation, are accepted along with
the better in all the ordinary transactions of life. The profits of
these establishments must, therefore, be but slender--proportioned,
however, to the extent of their dealings; and some of the smallest
firms may not make more than half a dollar in the course of a day.'

'The banking establishments in the city and suburbs of Fuhchow,' says
Mr Parkes, 'may be enumerated by hundreds. Most of them are naturally
very insignificant, and the circulation of their notes exceedingly
limited. Many of the outside notes will not pass current inside; and
are only convertible at the place of issue. Such branches as these
must be entirely superfluous, and might seriously inconvenience or
trammel the transactions of the higher ones; but, in order to guard
against encroachment from this direction, and as a self-protective
measure, several of the leading banks of known stability co-operate
with each other to keep up the value of their notes; and thus, by
holding a strong check on the issues of those minor parties,
effectually continue to regulate the whole system. There are thirty of
these establishments inside and outside the city, all reported to be
possessed of capital to the amount of from 500,000 to upwards of
1,000,000 dollars.

'These latter establishments command the utmost confidence, and their
notes pass current everywhere and with everybody. They contribute
mutual support by constantly exchanging and continually cashing each
other's notes, which they severally seem to value as highly as their
own particular issues. This reciprocal and implicit trust must add
greatly to their solidity, and tend to prevent the possibility of
failure. The chief banker gained his high reputation by a voluntary
subscription, about thirty years ago, of no less than 100,000 dollars
to the government toward the repairs of the city walls and other
public works, for which he was rewarded with honorary official
insignia, and the extensive patronage or business of all the
authorities. These large banks are complete rulers of the
money-market; they regulate the rates of exchange, which are
incessantly fluctuating, and are known to alter several times in the
course of the day. The arrival or withdrawal from the place of specie
to the amount of a few thousands, has an immediate effect in either
raising or lowering the exchange. The bankers are kept most accurately
informed on the subject by some twenty men in their general employ,
whose sole business it is to be in constant attendance in the market,
and to acquaint the banks with everything that is going on, when they,
guided by the transactions of the day, determine and fix upon, between
themselves, the various prices of notes, sycee, and dollars. Their
unanimity on those points is very remarkable; and they are all deeply
impressed with the salutary conviction, that their chief strength
consists in the degree of mutual harmony that they preserve, and the
confidence they place in one another. These reporters are also very
useful to new arrivals, in affording them guidance on matters of
exchange, or in introducing them to the best bankers; and the
allowances that the stranger makes to them for their assistance, and
the banker for procuring him custom, constitute the gains of their
calling. They have also to report the prices of silver every morning
at the Magistracy, which, from its daily increasing value, has become
an object of especial attention.' Twenty years ago, much discontent
was expressed that silver, which had been worth 1000 cash per ounce,
rose to 1500; now it is over 2000, owing to the continuous drain of
the metal from the country.

Still, with all this, failures are rare. The petty banks are most
liable to this reverse; and on such occasions, they generally contrive
to arrange the matter quietly among themselves; but the whole property
or lands belonging to the defaulters may be seized and sold to satisfy
the claims of the creditors: the dividend is usually from 10s. to 12s.
in the pound. Wilful fraud is seldom practised; the heaviest instance
known, was for 70,000 dollars; from the year 1843 to 1848, there were
but four bankruptcies, and three of these were for less than 6000
dollars. The defaulters frequently escape punishment owing to the high
cost of prosecution. The large banks are safe; but at times, from
false or malicious reports, are exposed to a sudden 'run;' a great
crowd besets the doors when least expected, and numbers of vagabonds
seize the opportunity for mischief and plunder. These outbreaks grew
to such a pitch, that the magistrates now, whenever possible, hasten
to the threatened establishment, to repress violence by their presence
and authority. The rush, however, is so sudden, that before they can
arrive on the spot, the mob has improved its opportunity for
destruction, and disappeared.

Forgery is not often attempted, probably because it does not pay,
owing to the fact of its being extremely difficult to circulate any
but notes of small value. The penalty for this offence is
transportation to a distance of three thousand _le_--about a thousand
miles; or imprisonment or flogging, according to circumstances. We
question if such an instance as the following ever occurred out of
China:--'A forger of some notoriety having been several times
prosecuted by the bankers, and with but little success, for he still
continued to carry on his malpractices, they conferred together, and
agreed _to take him into their pay_, making him responsible for any
future frauds of the kind. He continues to receive a stipend from them
at the present time, and is one of their most effective safeguards
against further imposition, as it devolves upon him to detect and
apprehend any other offender.'

Most of the bank-notes are printed from copperplates, but some of the
petty dealers still use wooden blocks. They are longer and narrower
than ours, and have a handsomely engraved border, within which are
paragraphs laudatory of the ability or reputation of the firm. The
notes are of three kinds: for cash, dollars, and sycee. The first are
from 400 cash (1s. 3d. sterling), to hundreds of thousands, and are
largely circulated in all the smaller business transactions. The
dollar-notes, varying from a unit to 500, and, in some instances, to
1000, circulate among the merchants, their value continually
fluctuating with that of the price of the silver which they represent.
The sycee-notes are from one to several hundred _taels_ (ounces), and
are chiefly confined to the government offices, to avoid the trouble
and inconvenience of making payments in silver by weight. Whatever be
the value or denomination of the notes, the holder is at liberty to
demand payment of the whole whenever he pleases, and receives it
without abatement, as the banker makes his profit at the time of their
issue. When notes are lost, payment is stopped, as here, and they are
speedily traced, as it is the practice not to take notes of a high
value--say, 100 dollars--without first inquiring at the bank as to
their genuineness. But no indemnification is made for notes lost or
destroyed by accident. Promissory-notes are the chief medium of
interchange among merchants, who take ten days' grace on all bills,
except those on which is written the word 'immediate.'

The rates of interest are, on lands and houses, from 10 to 15 per
cent.; on government deposits, which the people are made to take at
times against their will, 8 per cent.; on insurance of ships and
cargoes, owing to the risk from storms and pirates, from 20 to 30 per
cent.; on pawnbrokers' loans, 2 per cent. per month, or 20 per cent.
per annum. Five days' grace is allowed on pledges; and if goods be not
redeemed within three years, they are made over to the old clothes'
shops at a settled premium of 20 per cent. on the amount lent on them.
Pawnbrokers' establishments are numerous, and are frequented by all
classes, who pawn without scruple anything they may possess. The
banks, we are informed, 'keep up an intimate connection with the
pawnbrokers, who make and receive all their payments in notes for
copper cash, and will not take sycee, dollars, or dollar-notes--the
former, lest they should prove counterfeit, and the latter, on account
of the fluctuating value. They are very particular in passing the
bank-notes, and will accept only those of the large banks. A notice is
hung up in each shop, specifying what notes pass current with them;
and when the people go to redeem the articles they have pledged, as
they can present only those notes in payment, they have often to
repair previously to the bank where they are issued, to purchase them,
and, being at a premium, the banker thus gains his discount upon them.
Of such importance is this considered, that, without the support of
the pawnbrokers' connection, the business of a banker will always be
limited. Indeed, many of the banks keep pawnbrokers' shops also; and
the chief banker at Fuhchow is known to have opened no less than five
of these establishments. This is on account of the high interest paid
on pawnbrokers' loans.'


_May, 1852._

As May of last year was made memorable by the opening of the Great
Exhibition, so will the present month become famous for the pulling
down of the Crystal Palace. Parliament has decreed it, and there is an
end of the matter. If the people by and by find reason to complain of
the proceeding, they will have no one to blame but themselves;
because, had they spoken out as only a whole nation can speak, the
decision of the legislature would have been on the other side of the
question. We are promised, however, that it shall be re-erected on
some other site, and herein must solace ourselves for disappointment
at the removal, while waiting for the National Exhibition to be opened
at Cork, or that of the Arts and Manufactures of the Indian Empire
promised by the Society of Arts. Besides this, the present May will be
noteworthy in the annals of ocean steam-navigation: the steamers to
Australia are to commence their trips, as also those to Brazil and
Valparaiso. Who would have dreamed, twenty years ago, that the
redoubtable Cape Horn would, before a quarter century had expired, be
rounded by a steamer from an English port? Captain Denham is about to
sail in the _Herald_, to survey the islands of the great ocean, one
object being to find the best route and coaling-stations among the
islands for steamers from the Isthmus to Sydney. The vessel will carry
an interpreter, a supply of English seeds and plants, and a number of
articles, to serve as presents for the natives. Should this survey be
successful, and the United States' expedition to Japan produce the
effect anticipated, the vast solitudes of the Pacific will be erelong
continually echoing with the beat of paddle-wheels and the roar of
steam. Rapid intercommunication will bring about changes, whereat
politicians and ethnologists shall wonder. The Chinese still keep
pouring into California by shiploads of 200 or 300 at a time, where
they will perhaps learn that a year of Anglo-Saxondom is 'worth cycle
of Cathay.' We may regard as evidence of progress, that Loo-choo has
been visited by Captain Shadwell of the _Sphynx_; he was received with
great favour, and conducted to the royal city of Shooi, three miles
inland. Readers of Captain Basil Hall's pleasant account of the same
island will remember, that he was jealously forbidden to approach the
interior. Do the Loo-chooans want to conciliate an ally? If, as is
said, Japan is to become to the Americans what India is to us, we
shall have them for neighbours in the east, as we now have them in the
west. It will be an interesting event should England, America, and
Russia some day meet on the Asiatic continent.

One good effect of railways, as you know, has been to cheapen coal,
and excite activity in heretofore dormant mining districts--results
which tell upon the trade in sea-borne coals. To meet this emergency,
a scheme is on foot for sending coal from the Tyne to the Thames in
steam-colliers, which, by their short and regular passages, shall
compete successfully with the railways. The experiment is well worth
trying, and ought to pay, if properly managed: meantime, our railways
will extend their ramifications. Looking for a moment at what is doing
in other parts of the world, it appears that there are at present 2000
miles of railway in France, besides as much more which is to be
completed in four years. Portugal is only just beginning to think of
iron routes: a few wakeful people are trying to impress that backward
land with a sense of the advantages of rapid locomotion; and it is
shewn that, by a simple system of railways, Lisbon would be placed at
sixteen hours' distance from Madrid, forty-three from Paris,
fifty-three from Brussels, and fifty-seven from London. Would it not
be a comfort to be able to run away from the north-east monsoon, which
has so long afflicted us, to the orange groves on the banks of the
Tagus, in about two days and a half? A telegraph is about to
be carried from the Austrian States over the Splugen into
Switzerland--the Alps, it would appear, being no bar to the
thought-flasher. There is a project, too, for a regular and universal
dispatch of telegraph messages from all parts of the world. A mail and
telegraph route from the Mississippi across to San Francisco is talked
about. The proposer considers that post-houses might be erected at
every twenty miles across the American continent, in which companies
of twenty men of the United States' army might be stationed, to
protect and facilitate the intercommunication; news would then find
its way across in six or seven days. Should this scheme fail to be
realised, the Americans may content themselves with having nearly
11,000 miles of railway already open, and another 11,000 in progress.

A beginning is made towards the abolition of the duty on foreign books
imported. Government have consented that certain learned societies,
and a number of scientific individuals, shall receive, duty free, such
scientific publications as may be sent to them from abroad.
Considering that the whole amount realised by the present customs'
charge is only L.8000, it is easy to believe that the authorities will
shortly have to abolish it altogether. Another question in which books
are concerned, is the dispute that has been going on for some time
among the fraternity of booksellers, as to whether a retailer shall be
allowed to sell books for any price he pleases, or not. Whether
'free-trade' or 'monopoly' is to prevail, will depend on the decision
of the arbitrators who have been chosen. Leaving out all the rest of
the kingdom, there are nearly 1000 booksellers in London; so the
subject is an important one. This number affords a notable datum for
comparison with other countries. In Germany, the number of booksellers
is 2651, of which 2200 are retailers, 400 publishers only, while 451
combine the two. They are distributed--36 in Frankfort, 56 in
Stuttgart, 52 in Vienna, 129 in Berlin, 145 in Leipsic. The figures
are suggestive. Another fact may be instanced: in 1851 the number of
visits to the British Museum for reading was 78,419--giving an average
of 269 per day, the room having been open during 292 days. The number
of books consulted was 424,851, or 1455 daily. This is an agreeable
view of what one part of society is doing; but there is a reverse to
the picture, as shewn in a recently published parliamentary report,
from which it appears that in 1849 the juvenile offenders in England
numbered 6849--in Wales, 73--of whom 167 were transported; in 1850,
the numbers were respectively 6988, 82, 184, shewing an increase under
each head. Of the whole number in confinement last November, 169 were
under thirteen years of age, and 568 under sixteen: 205 had been in
prison once before, 90 twice, 49 three times, 85 four times and
upwards; 329 had lost one parent, 103 both parents; 327 could not
read, and 554 had not been brought up to any settled employment. These
facts may be taken as demonstrative of the necessity for multiplying
reformatory agricultural schools, such as have been established in
various parts of the continent with the happiest effects.

Among the prizes just announced by the French Académie, is one for
'the best work on the state of pauperism in France, and the means of
remedying it,' to be adjudged in 1853. It is greatly to be wished that
some gifted mind would arise capable of taking a proper survey of so
grave a question, and bringing it to a practical and satisfactory
solution. Some people are beginning to ask, whether it would not be
better, with the proceeds of poor-rates, to send paupers to colonies
which are scant of labourers, rather than to expend the money in
keeping them at home. The Académie of Literature, too, has offered a
prize for an essay on the parliamentary eloquence of England--a
significant fact in a country where the legislature is not permitted
to be eloquent, and where forty-nine provincial papers have died since
the 2d of December. Coming again to science: the judicial _savants_
have awarded a medal to Mr Hind for his discovery of some two or three
of the minor planets--an acknowledgment of merit which will not fail
of good results in more ways than one.

Various scientific matters, which are deserving of a passing notice,
have come before the same learned body. Matteucci, who has been
steadily pursuing his electro-chemical labours, now states that with
certain liquids and a single metal he can form a pile, the
electro-magnetic and electro-chemical effects of which are much
greater than those obtained with the old piles of Volta and Wollaston,
and come nearer to those of the batteries of Bunsen and Grove. As yet,
he withholds the particulars, but they will shortly be forthcoming. M.
Dureau de la Malle, in remarks on the breeding of fish, a subject
which has of late occupied much attention in France, says, that he has
now discovered the reason 'why domestic servants in Holland and
Scotland, when taking a situation, stipulate that they shall not be
made to eat salmon more than three times a week;' it is, the insipid
taste of young salmon. It is safe to say, that however much M. de la
Malle may know about fish, he knows but little of the habits of the
countries to which he refers. M. Yvart mentions a fact that may be
useful to graziers--the breed of cattle has been improved in France by
the introduction of the Durham bull; but, as experience has shewn, it
is at the expense of certain qualities deemed essential on the other
side of the Channel. Here, we require meat as speedily as possible in
young animals for consumption in our great towns; there, the great
rural population use milk largely, and keep the animals longer before
they are killed. The quantity of milk, it appears, is materially
reduced in the Durham breed, and on this account M. Yvart suggests,
that it should not be too much encouraged. Then there is something
about dogs by Messrs Gruby and Delafond, who shew that the worms which
have long been known to exist in the larger blood-vessels of certain
dogs, are the parents of the almost innumerable _filaria_ or
microscopic worms, found circulating also in the veins. The number
generally in one dog is estimated at 52,000, though at times it is
more than 200,000; and being smaller than the blood-globules, the
creatures penetrate the minutest blood-vessels. They are met with on
the average in one dog in twenty-five, though most frequent in the
adult and old, and without distinction of sex or race. The examination
of the phenomenon is to be continued, with a view to ascertain whether
dogs infested with these blood-worms are subject to any peculiar

More interesting is the account of a successful case of transfusion of
blood in the human subject, performed in presence of the ablest
surgeons of Paris. A woman was taken to the Hôtel Dieu reduced by
hemorrhage to the last stage of weakness, unable to speak, to open her
eyes, or to draw back her tongue when put out. The basilic vein was
opened, and the point of a syringe, warmed to the proper temperature,
was introduced, charged with blood drawn from the same vein in the arm
of one of the assistants. The quantity, 180 grammes, was injected in
2-1/2 minutes, after which the wound was dressed, and the patient
placed in a comfortable position. Gradually, the beatings of the pulse
rose from 130 to 138, and became firmer; the action of the heart
increased in energy; the eyes opened with a look of intelligence; and
the tongue could be advanced and withdrawn with facility, and regained
its redness. On the following day, there was a little delirium, after
which the pulse fell to 90, the signs of vitality acquired strength,
and at the end of a week the woman left the hospital restored to
health. Cases of successful transfusion are so rare, that it is not
surprising the one here recorded should have excited attention among
our physiologists.

People inclined to corpulence may profit by M. Dancel's observations
on the development of fat. He says, that some of his patients, whose
obesity was a constant inconvenience and cause of disease, 'lost very
notably of their _embonpoint_ by a change in their alimentary
regimen--abstaining almost entirely from vegetables, feculent
substances, diminishing their quantity of drink, and increasing, when
necessary, their portion of meat.' On another, subject, M. Guérin
Méneville believes he has found a new cochineal insect (_Coccus fabæ_)
on the common bean, which grows wild in the south of France, and in
such abundance, that a considerable quantity may be collected in a
short time. The yield of colouring matter is of such amount, that a
project is talked of for cultivating the plant extensively.

A communication has been made to the Geological Society at Paris by M.
de Hauslab, on a subject which has from time to time occupied the
thoughts of those who study the _physique_ of the planet on which we
live--namely, the origin of the present state of our globe, and its
crystal-like cleavage. After a few preliminary remarks about
mountains, rocks, dikes and their line of direction, he shews that the
globe presents the form approximately of a great octahedron
(eight-sided figure); and further, that the three axial planes which
such a form necessitates, may be described by existing circles round
the earth: the first being Himalaya and Chimborazo; starting from Cape
Finisterre, passing to India, Borneo, the eastern range of Australia,
New Zealand, across to South America, Caracas, the Azores, and so
round to Finisterre. The second runs in the opposite direction;
includes the Andes, Rocky Mountains, crosses Behring's Strait to
Siberia, thence to the Altaï, Hindostan, Madagascar, Cape Colony, and
ending again at the Andes of Brazil. The third, which cuts the two
former at right angles, proceeds from the Alps, traverses the
Mediterranean by Corsica and Sardinia to the mountains of Fezzan,
through Central Africa to the Cape, on to Kerguelen's Land, Blue
Mountains of Australia, Spitzbergen, Scandinavia, and completing
itself in the Alps, from whence it started. These circles shew the
limits of the faces of the huge crystal, and may be divided into
others, comprising forty-eight in the whole. The views thus set forth
exhibit much ingenuity; and when we consider that metals crystallise
in various forms, and native iron in the octahedral, there is much to
be said in their favour.

We shall probably not be long before hearing of another gold field,
for Dr Barth writes from the interior of Africa, that grains of the
precious metal have been found in two rivers which flow into Lake
Tchad, and that the mountains in the neighbourhood abound with it.
Should the first discovery be verified by further explorations, gold
will be more abundant than it now promises to be, and Africa perhaps
the richest source of supply. Apropos of this continent, a French
traveller is about to prove from the results of a journey from the
Cape towards the equator, that the Carthaginian discoveries had been
pushed much further towards the south than is commonly supposed.

Agassiz, who, as you know, has become a citizen of the United States,
has had the Cuvierian prize awarded to him for his great work on
fossil fishes--an honour approved by every lover of science. This
distinguished writer says, in his latest publications on fossil
zoology, that the number of fossil fishes distributed over the globe
is more than 25,000 species; of mammifera, over 3000; reptiles, over
4000; shells, more than 40,000; numbers which greatly exceed all
former calculation. Of other American items, there is one worthy the
notice of apiarians: some emigrants who sailed from Boston wished to
convey a hive of bees to the Sandwich Islands, where the industrious
insects have not as yet been introduced; all went well until the
vessel reached the tropics, and there the heat was so great as to melt
the wax of the combs, and consequently to destroy the bees.

Lieutenant Hunt, of the American Coast Survey, states that
copper-plate engravings may be copied on stone; specimens are to
appear in the forthcoming report. To quote his description: 'A
copper-plate being duly engraved, it is inked, and an impression taken
on transfer-paper. A good paper, which wetting does not expand, is
needed, and a fatty coating is used in the process. The transfer-paper
impression is laid on the smooth stone, and run through a press. It is
then wetted, heated, and stripped off from the stone, leaving the ink
and fat on its face. The heated fat is softly brushed away, leaving
only the ink-lines. From this reversed impression on the stone, the
printing is performed just as in ordinary lithography. A good transfer
produces from 3000 to 5000 copies. Thus prints from a single
copper-plate can be infinitely multiplied, the printing being,
moreover, much cheaper than copper-plate.'


    When I was young, my lover stole
      One of my ringlets fair:
    I wept--'Ah no! Those always part,
    Who having once changed heart for heart,
      Change also locks of hair.

    'And wonder-opened eyes have seen
      The spirits of the dead,
    Gather like motes in silent bands
    Round hair once reft by tender hands
      From some now shrouded head.

    'If'---- Here he closed my quivering mouth,
      And where the curl had lain,
    Laid payment rich for what he stole:--
    Could I to one hour crush life's whole,
      I'd live that hour again!

    My golden curls are silvering o'er--
      Who heeds? The seas roll wide;
    When one I know their bounds shall pass,
    There'll be no tresses--save long grass--
      For _his_ hands to divide;

    While I shall lie, low, deep, a-cold,
      And never hear him tread:
    Whether he weep, or sigh, or moan,
    I shall be passive as a stone,
      He living, and I--dead!

    And then he will rise up and go,
      With slow steps, looking back,
    Still--going: leaving me to keep
    My frozen and eternal sleep,
      Beneath the earth so black.

    Pale brow--oft leant against his brow:
      Dear hand--where his lips lay;
    Dim eyes, that knew not they were fair,
    Till his praise made them half they were--
      Must all these pass away?

    Must nought of mine be left for him
      Save the poor curl he stole?
    Round which this wildly-loving _me_
    Will float unseen continually,
      A disembodied soul.

    A soul! Glad thought--that lightning-like
      Leaps from this cloud of doom:
    If, living, all its load of clay
    Keeps not my spirit from him away,
      Thou canst not, cruel tomb!

    The moment that these earth-chains burst,
      Like an enfranchised dove,
    O'er seas and lands to him I fly,
    Whom only, whether I live or die,
      I loved, love, and shall love.

    I'll wreathe around him--he shall breathe
      My life instead of air;
    In glowing sunbeams o'er his head
    My visionary hands I'll spread,
      And kiss his forehead fair.

    I'll stand, an angel bold and strong,
      Between his soul and sin;
    If Grief lie stone-like on his heart,
    I'll beat its marble doors apart,
      To let Peace enter in.

    He never more shall part from me,
      Nor I from him abide;
    Let these poor limbs in earth find rest!
    I'll live like Love within his breast,
      Rejoicing that I died.


Some four-fifths of the weight of the human body are nothing but
water. The blood is just a solution of the body in a vast excess of
water--as saliva, mucus, milk, gall, urine, sweat, and tears are the
local and partial infusions effected by that liquid. All the soft
solid parts of the frame may be considered as ever temporary
precipitates or crystallisations (to use the word but loosely) from
the blood, that mother-liquor of the whole body; always being
precipitated or suffered to become solid, and always being
redissolved, the forms remaining, but the matter never the same for
more than a moment, so that the flesh is only a vanishing solid, as
fluent as the blood itself. It has also to be observed, that every
part of the body, melting again into the river of life continually as
it does, is also kept perpetually drenched in blood by means of the
blood-vessels, and more than nine-tenths of that wonderful current is
pure water. Water plays as great a part, indeed, in the economy of
that little world, the body of man, as it still more evidently does in
the phenomenal life of the world at large. Three-fourths of the
surface of the earth is ocean; the dry ground is dotted with lakes,
its mountain-crests are covered with snow and ice, its surface is
irrigated by rivers and streams, its edges are eaten by the sea; and
aqueous vapour is unceasingly ascending from the ocean and inland
surfaces through the yielding air, only to descend in portions and at
intervals in dews and rains, hails and snows. Water is not only the
basis of the juices of all the plants and animals in the world; it is
the very blood of nature, as is well known to all the terrestrial
sciences; and old Thales, the earliest of European speculators,
pronounced it the mother-liquid of the universe. In the later systems
of the Greeks, indeed, it was reduced to the inferior dignity of being
only one of the four parental natures--fire, air, earth, and water;
but water was the highest--[Greek: udôr men ariston]--in
rank.--_Westminster Review_.


The Polish and German peasantry have given the authorities at Posen
considerable trouble by their inquiries respecting a 'Rothschild's
Lottery.' They have been led to believe, that the 'great Rothschild'
has been sentenced to be beheaded; but that he has been allowed to
procure a substitute, if he can, by lottery! For this purpose, a sum
of many millions is devoted, all the tickets to be prizes of 3000
thalers each, except one; that fatal number is a blank; and whoever
draws it, is to be decapitated instead of the celebrated banker!
Notwithstanding the risk, the applicants for shares have been
numerous. [There is nothing surprising in the number of applications
for these shares. Every man who enters the army in wartime, takes out
a ticket in a similar lottery. In China, human life is of still less
account; for there it is easy for a condemned criminal, whose escape
the authorities are willing to connive at, to obtain a substitute,
who, for a sum of money, suffers death in his stead.]


A successful merchant in New Zealand, a Scotchman, commenced business
with the following characteristic entry on the first page of his
ledger:--'Commenced business this day--with no money--little
credit--and L.70 in debt. Faint heart never won fair lady. Set a stout
heart to a stay (steep) brae. God save the Queen!'

       *       *       *       *       *

_Just Published_, _Price 6d. Paper Cover_,



To be continued in Monthly Volumes.

       *       *       *       *       *

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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