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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 10, August, 1858
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 10, August, 1858" ***

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10, AUGUST, 1858***


THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VOL. II.--AUGUST, 1858.--NO. X.



DAPHNAIDES:

OR THE ENGLISH LAUREL, FROM CHAUCER TO TENNYSON.


  They in thir time did many a noble dede,
  And for their worthines full oft have bore
  The crown of laurer leavés on the hede,
  As ye may in your oldé bookés rede:
  And how that he that was a conquerour
  Had by laurer alway his most honour.
                DAN CHAUCER: _The Flowre and the Leaf_.


It is to be lamented that antiquarian zeal is so often diverted from
subjects of real to those of merely fanciful interest. The mercurial
young gentlemen who addict themselves to that exciting department of
letters are open to censure as being too fitful, too prone to flit,
bee-like, from flower to flower, now lighting momentarily upon an
indecipherable tombstone, now perching upon a rusty morion, here
dipping into crumbling palimpsests, there turning up a tattered
reputation from heaps of musty biography, or discovering that the
brightest names have had sad blots and blemishes scoured off by the
attrition of Time's ceaseless current. We can expect little from
investigators so volatile and capricious; else should we expect the
topic we approach in this paper to have been long ago flooded with
light as of Maedler's sun, its dust dissipated, and sundry curves and
angles which still baffle scrutiny and provoke curiosity exposed even
to Gallio-llke wayfarers. It is, in fact, a neglected topic. Its
derivatives are obscure, its facts doubtful. Questions spring from
it, sucker-like, numberless, which none may answer. Why, for
instance, in apportioning his gifts among his posterity, did Phoebus
assign the laurel to his step-progeny, the sons of song, and pour the
rest of the vegetable world into the pharmacopoeia of the favored
Æsculapius? Why was even this wretched legacy divided in aftertimes
with the children of Mars? Was its efficacy as a non-conductor of
lightning as reliable as was held by Tiberius, of guileless memory,
Emperor of Rome? Were its leaves really found green as ever in the
tomb of St. Humbert, a century and a half after the interment of that
holy confessor? In what reign was the first bay-leaf, rewarding the
first poet of English song, authoritatively conferred? These and other
like questions are of so material concern to the matter we have in
hand, that we may fairly stand amazed that they have thus far escaped
the exploration of archaeologists. It is not for us to busy ourselves
with other men's affairs. Time and patience shall develope profounder
mysteries than these. Let us only succeed in delineating in brief
monograph the outlines of a natural history of the British
Laurel,--_Laurea nobilis, sempervirens, florida_,--and in posting
here and there, as we go, a few landmarks that shall facilitate the
surveys of investigators yet unborn, and this our modest enterprise
shall be happily fulfilled.

One portion of it presents no serious difficulty. There is an
uninterrupted canon of the Laureates running as far back as the reign
of James I. Anterior, however, to that epoch, the catalogue fades away
in undistinguishable darkness. Names are there of undoubted splendor,
a splendor, indeed, far more glowing than that of any subsequent
monarch of the bays; but the legal title to the garland falls so far
short of satisfactory demonstration, as to oblige us to dismiss the
first seven Laureates with a dash of that ruthless criticism with
which Niebuhr, the regicide, dispatched the seven kings of Rome. To
mark clearly the bounds between the mythical and the indubitable, a
glance at the following brief of the Laureate _fasti_ will
greatly assist us, speeding us forward at once to the substance of our
story.


I. The MYTHICAL PERIOD, extending from the supposititious coronation
of Laureate CHAUCER, _in temp. Edv. III., 1367_, to that of
Laureate JONSON, _in temp. Caroli I._ To this period belong,


  GEOFFREY CHAUCER,     1367-1400
  JOHN SCOGAN,          1400-1413
  JOHN KAY,             1465-
  ANDREW BERNARD,       1486-
  JOHN SKELTON,         1509-1529
  EDMUND SPENSER,       1590-1599
  SAMUEL DANIEL,   }
  MICHAEL DRAYTON, }    1600-1630
  BEN JONSON,      }



II. The DRAMATIC, extending from the latter event to the demise of
Laureate SHADWELL, _in temp. Gulielmi III., 1692._ Here we have


  BEN JONSON,           1630-1637
  WILL DAVENANT,        1637-1668
  JOHN DRYDEN,          1670-1689
  THOMAS SHADWELL,      1689-1692



III. The LYRIC, from the reign of Laureate TATE, 1693, to the demise
of Laureate PYE, 1813:--


  NAHUM TATE,           1693-1714
  NICHOLAS ROWE,        1714-1718
  LAURENCE EUSDEN,      1719-1730
  COLLEY CIBBER,        1730-1757
  WILLIAM WHITEHEAD,    1758-1785
  THOMAS WARTON,        1785-1790
  HENRY JAMES PYE,      1790-1813



IV. The VOLUNTARY, from the accession of Laureate SOUTHEY, 1813, to
the present day:--


  ROBERT SOUTHEY,       1813-1843
  WILLIAM WORDSWORTH,   1843-1850
  ALFRED TENNYSON,      1850-


Have no faith in those followers of vain traditions who assert the
existence of the Laureate office as early as the thirteenth century,
attached to the court of Henry III. Poets there were before
Chaucer,--_vixere fortes ante Agamemnona_,--but search Rymer from
cord to clasp and you shall find no documentary evidence of any one of
them wearing the leaf or receiving the stipend distinctive of the
place. Morbid credulity can go no farther back than to the "Father of
English Poetry":--


               "That renounced Poet,
  Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled,
  On Fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled":[1]


               "Him that left half-told
  The story of Cambuscan bold;
  Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
  And who had Canace to wife":[2]


  "That noble Chaucer, in those former times,
  Who first enriched our English with his rhymes,
  And was the first of ours that ever broke
  Into the Muse's treasures, and first spoke
  In mighty numbers."[3]


Tradition here first assumes that semblance of probability which
rendered it current for three centuries. Edward the Third--resplendent
name in the constitutional history of England--is supposed to have
been so deeply impressed with Chaucer's poetical merits, as to have
sought occasion for appropriate recognition. Opportunely came that
high festival at the capital of the world, whereat


  "Franccis Petrark, the laureat poete,
  ... whos rethorike swete
  Enlumined all Itaille of poetrie,"[4]


received the laurel crown at the hands of the Senate of Rome, with a
magnificence of ceremonial surpassed only by the triumphs of imperial
victors a thousand years before. Emulous of the gorgeous example, the
English monarch forthwith showered corresponding honors upon Dan
Chaucer, adding the substantial perquisites of a hundred marks and a
tierce of Malvoisie, a year. To this agreeable story, Laureate Warton,
than whom no man was more intimately conversant with the truth there
is in literary history, appears in one of his official odes to yield
assent:--


  "Victorious Edward gave the vernal bough
  Of Britain's bay to bloom on Chaucer's brow:
  Fired with the gift, he changed to sounds sublime
  His Norman minstrelsy's discordant chime."[5]


The legend, however, does not bear inquiry. King Edward, in 1367,
certainly granted an annuity of twenty marks to "his varlet, Geoffrey
Chaucer." Seven years later there was a further grant of a pitcher of
wine daily, together with the controllership of the wool and petty
wine revenues for the port of London. The latter appointment, to which
the pitcher of wine was doubtless incident, was attended with a
requirement that the new functionary should execute all the duties of
his post in person,--a requirement involving as constant and laborious
occupation as that of Charles Lamb, chained to his perch in the India
House. These concessions, varied slightly by subsequent patents from
Richard II. and Henry IV., form the entire foundation to the tale of
Chaucer's Laureateship.[6] There is no reference in grant or patent to
his poetical excellence or fame, no mention whatever of the laurel, no
verse among the countless lines of his poetry indicating the reception
of that crowning glory, no evidence that the third Edward was one whit
more sensitive to the charms of the Muses than the third William,
three hundred years after. Indeed, the condition with which the
appointment of this illustrious custom-house officer was hedged
evinced, if anything, a desire to discourage a profitless wooing of
the Nine, by so confining his mind to the incessant routine of an
uncongenial duty as to leave no hours of poetic idleness. Whatever
laurels Fame may justly garland the temples of Dan Chaucer withal, she
never, we are obliged to believe, employed royal instrument at the
coronation.

John Scogan, often confounded with an anterior Henry, has been named
as the Laureate of Henry IV., and immediate successor of
Chaucer. Laureate Jonson seems to encourage the notion:--


  "_Mere Fool._ Skogan? What was he?

  "_Jophiel._ Oh, a fine gentleman, and master of arts
   Of Henry the Fourth's time, that made disguises
   For the King's sons, and writ in ballad-royal
   Daintily well.

  "_Mere Fool_. But he wrote like a gentleman?

  "_Jophiel_. In rhyme, fine, tinkling rhyme, and flowand verse,
   With now and then some sense; and he was paid for't,
   Regarded and rewarded; which few poets
   Are nowadays."[7]


But Warton places Scogan in the reign of Edward IV., and reduces him
to the level of Court Jester, his authority being Dr. Andrew Borde,
who, early in the sixteenth century, published a volume of his
platitudes.[8] There is nothing to prove that he was either poet or
Laureate; while, on the other hand, it must be owned, one person might
at the same time fill the offices of Court Poet and Court Fool. It is
but fair to say that Tyrwhitt, who had all the learning and more than
the accuracy of Warton, inclines to Jonson's estimate of Scogan's
character and employment.

One John Kay, of whom we are singularly deficient in information, held
the post of Court Poet under the amorous Edward IV. What were his
functions and appointments we cannot discover.

Andrew Bernard held the office under Henry VII. and Henry VIII. He was
a churchman, royal historiographer, and tutor to Prince Arthur. His
official poems were in Latin. He was living as late as 1522.

John Skelton obtained the distinction of Poet-Laureate at Oxford, a
title afterward confirmed to him by the University of Cambridge: mere
university degrees, however, without royal indorsement. Henry
VIII. made him his "Royal Orator," whatever that may have been, and
otherwise treated him with favor; but we hear nothing of sack or
salary, find nothing among his poems to intimate that his performances
as Orator ever ran into verse, or that his "laurer" was of the regal
sort.

A long stride carries us to the latter years of Queen Elizabeth,
where, and in the ensuing reign of James, we find the names of Edmund
Spenser, Samuel Daniel, and Michael Drayton interwoven with the
bays. Spenser's possession of the laurel rests upon no better evidence
than that, when he presented the earlier books of the "Faery Queen" to
Elizabeth, a pension of fifty pounds a year was conferred upon him,
and that the praises of _Gloriana_ ring through his realm of
Faëry in unceasing panegyric. But guineas are not laurels, though for
sundry practical uses they are, perhaps, vastly better; nor are the
really earnest and ardent eulogia of the bard of Mulla the same in
kind with the harmonious twaddle of Tate, or the classical quiddities
of Pye. He was of another sphere, the highest heaven of song, who


             "Waked his lofty lay
    To grace Eliza's golden sway;
  And called to life old Uther's elfin-tale,
  And roved through many a necromantic vale,
    Portraying chiefs who knew to tame
    The goblin's ire, the dragon's flame,
    To pierce the dark, enchanted hall
    Where Virtue sat in lonely thrall.
    From fabling Fancy's inmost store
    A rich, romantic robe he bore,
  A veil with visionary trappings hung,
  And o'er his Virgin Queen the fairy-texture flung."[9]


Samuel Daniel was not only a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, but more
decidedly so of her successor in the queendom, Anne of Denmark. In the
household of the latter he held the position of Groom of the Chamber,
a sinecure of handsome endowment, so handsome, indeed, as to warrant
an occasional draft upon his talents for the entertainment of her
Majesty's immediate circle, which held itself as far as possible aloof
from the court, and was disposed to be self-reliant for its
amusements. Daniel had entered upon the vocation of courtier with
flattering auspices. His precocity while at Oxford has found him a
place in the "Bibliotheca Eruditorum Præcocium." Anthony Wood bears
witness to his thorough accomplishments in all kinds, especially in
history and poetry, specimens of which, the antiquary tells us, were
still, in his time, treasured among the archives of Magdalen. He
deported himself so amiably in society, and so inoffensively among his
fellow-bards, and versified his way so tranquilly into the good graces
of his royal mistresses, distending the thread, and diluting the
sense, and sparing the ornaments, of his passionless poetry,--if
poetry, which, by the definition of its highest authority, is "simple,
sensuous, passionate," can ever be unimpassioned,--that he was the
oracle of feminine taste while he lived, and at his death bequeathed a
fame yet dear to the school of Southey and Wordsworth. Daniel was no
otherwise Laureate than his position in the queen's household may
authorize that title. If ever so entitled by contemporaries, it was
quite in a Pickwickian and complimentary sense. His retreat from the
busy vanity of court life, an event which happened several years
before his decease in 1619, was hastened by the consciousness of a
waning reputation, and of the propriety of seeking better shelter than
that of his laurels. His eloquent "Defense of Rhyme" still asserts for
him a place in the hearts of all lovers of stately English prose.

Old Michael Drayton, whose portrait has descended to us, surmounted
with an exuberant twig of bays, is vulgarly classed with the
legitimate Laureates. Southey, pardonably anxious to magnify an office
belittled by some of its occupants, does not scruple to rank Spenser,
Daniel, and Drayton among the Laurelled:--


  "That wreath, which, in Eliza's golden days,
    My master dear, divinest Spenser, wore,
  That which rewarded Drayton's learned lays,
    Which thoughtful Ben and gentle Daniel bore," etc.


But in sober prose Southey knew, and later in life taught, that not
one of the three named ever wore the authentic laurel.[10] That Drayton
deserved it, even as a successor of the divinest Spenser, who shall
deny? With enough of patience and pedantry to prompt the composition
of that most laborious, and, upon the whole, most humdrum and
wearisome poem of modern times, the "Polyolbion," he nevertheless
possessed an abounding exuberance of delicate fancy and sound poetical
judgment, traces of which flash not unfrequently even athwart the
dulness of his _magnum opus_, and through the mock-heroism of
"England's Heroical Epistles," while they have full play in his "Court
of Faëry." Drayton's great defect was the entire absence of that
dramatic talent so marvellously developed among his contemporaries,--a
defect, as we shall presently see, sufficient of itself to disqualify
him for the duties of Court Poet. But, what was still worse, his mind
was not gifted with facility and versatility of invention, two equally
essential requisites; and to install him in a position where such
faculties were hourly called into play would have been to put the
wrong man in the worst possible place. Drayton was accordingly a
court-pensioner, but not a court-poet. His laurel was the honorary
tribute of admiring friends, in an age when royal pedantry rendered
learning fashionable and a topic of exaggerated regard. Southey's
admission is to this purpose. "He was," he says, "one of the poets to
whom the title of Laureate was given in that age,--not as holding the
office, but as a mark of honor, to which they were entitled." And with
the poetical topographer such honors abounded. Not only was he
gratified with the zealous labors of Selden in illustration of the
"Polyolbion," but his death was lamented in verse of Jonson, upon
marble supplied by the Countess of Dorset:--


  "Do, pious marble, let thy readers know
  What they and what their children owe
  To Drayton's name, whose sacred dust
  We recommend unto thy trust.
  Protect his memory, and preserve his story;
  Remain a lasting monument of his glory:
  And when thy ruins shall disclaim
  To be the treasurer of his name,
  His name, that cannot fade, shall be
  An everlasting monument to thee."


The Laureateship, we thus discover, had not, down to the days of
James, become an institution. Our mythical series shrink from close
scrutiny. But in the gayeties of the court of the Stuarts arose
occasion for the continuous and profitable employment of a court-poet,
and there was enough thrift in the king to see the advantage of
securing the service for a certain small annuity, rather than by the
payment of large sums as presents for occasional labors. The masque, a
form of dramatic representation, borrowed from the Italian, had been
introduced into England during the reign of Elizabeth. The interest
depended upon the development of an allegorical subject apposite to
the event which the performance proposed to celebrate, such as a royal
marriage, or birthday, or visit, or progress, or a marriage or other
notable event among the nobility and gentry attached to the court, or
an entertainment in honor of some distinguished personage. To produce
startling and telling stage effects, machinery of the most ingenious
contrivance was devised; scenery, as yet unknown in ordinary
exhibitions of the stage, was painted with elaborate finish; goddesses
in the most attenuated Cyprus lawn, bespangled with jewels, had to
slide down upon invisible wires from a visible Olympus; Tritons had to
rise from the halls of Neptune through waters whose undulations the
nicer resources of recent art could not render more genuinely marine;
fountains disclosed the most bewitching of Naiads; and Druidical oaks,
expanding, surrendered the imprisoned Hamadryad to the air of
heaven. Fairies and Elves, Satyrs and Forsters, Centaurs and Lapithae,
played their parts in these gaudy spectacles with every conventional
requirement of shape, costume, and behavior _point-de-vice_, and were
supplied by the poet, to whom the letter-press of the show had been
confided, with language and a plot, both pregnant with more than
Platonic morality. Some idea of the magnificence of these displays,
which beggared the royal privy-purse, drove household-treasurers mad,
and often left poet and machinist whistling for pay, may be gathered
from the fact that a masque sometimes cost as much as two thousand
pounds in the mechanical getting-up, a sum far more formidable in the
days of exclusively hard money than in these of paper currency. Scott
has described, for the benefit of the general reader, one such pageant
among the "princely pleasures of Kenilworth"; while Milton, in his
"Masque performed at Ludlow Castle," presents the libretto of another,
of the simpler and less expensive sort. During the reign of James, the
passion for masques kindled into a mania. The days and nights of
Inigo Jones were spent in inventing machinery and contriving
stage-effects. Daniel, Middleton, Fletcher, and Jonson were busied
with the composition of the text; and the court ladies and cavaliers
were all from morning till night in the hands of their dancing and
music masters, or at private study, or at rehearsal, preparing for the
pageant, the representation of which fell to their share and won them
enviable applause. Of course the burden of original invention fell
upon the poets; and of the poets, Daniel and Jonson were the most
heavily taxed. In 1616, James I., by patent, granted to Jonson an
annuity for life of one hundred marks, to him in hand not often well
and truly paid. He was not distinctly named as Laureate, but seems to
have been considered such; for Daniel, on his appointment, "withdrew
himself," according to Gifford, "entirely from court." The
strong-boxes of James and Charles seldom overflowed. Sir Robert Pye,
an ancestor of that Laureate Pye whom we shall discuss by-and-by, was
the paymaster, and often and again was the overwrought poet obliged to
raise


      "A woful cry
    To Sir Robert Pye,"


before some small instalment of long arrearages could be procured. And
when, rarely, very rarely, his Majesty condescended to remember the
necessities of "his and the Muses' servant," and send a present to the
Laureate's lodgings, its proportions were always so small as to excite
the ire of the insulted Ben, who would growl forth to the messenger,
"He would not have sent me this, (_scil._ wretched pittance,) did
I not live in an alley."

We now arrive at the true era of the Laureateship. Charles, in 1630,
became ambitious to signalize his reign by some fitting tribute to
literature. A petition from Ben Jonson pointed out the way. The
Laureate office was made a patentable one, in the gift of the Lord
Chamberlain, as purveyor of the royal amusements. Ben was confirmed
in the office. The salary was raised from one hundred marks to one
hundred pounds, an advance of fifty per cent, to which was added
yearly a tierce of Canary wine,--an appendage appropriate to the
poet's convivial habits, and doubtless suggested by the mistaken
precedent of Chaucer's daily flagon of wine. Ben Jonson was certainly,
of all men living in 1630, the right person to receive this honor,
which then implied, what it afterward ceased to do, the primacy of the
diocese of letters. His learning supplied ballast enough to keep the
lighter bulk of the poet in good trim, while it won that measure of
respect which mere poetical gifts and graces would not have
secured. He was the dean of that group of "poets, poetaccios,
poetasters, and poetillos," [11] who beset the court. If a display of
erudition were demanded, Ben was ready with the heavy artillery of the
unities, and all the laws of Aristotle and Horace, Quintilian and
Priscian, exemplified in tragedies of canonical structure, and
comedies whose prim regularity could not extinguish the most
delightful and original humor--Robert Burton's excepted--that
illustrated that brilliant period. But if the graceful lyric or
glittering masque were called for, the boundless wealth of Ben's
genius was most strikingly displayed. It has been the fashion, set by
such presumptuous blunderers as Warburton and such formal prigs as
Gifford, to deny our Laureate the possession of those ethereal
attributes of invention and fancy which play about the creations of
Shakspeare, and constitute their exquisite charm. This arbitrary
comparison of Jonson and Shakspeare has, in fact, been the bane of the
former's reputation. Those who have never read the masques argue,
that, as "very little Latin and less Greek," in truth no learning of
any traceable description, went to the creation of _Ariel_ and
_Caliban_, _Oberon_ and _Puck_, the possession of Latin, Greek, and
learning generally, incapacitates the proprietor for the same happy
exercise of the finer and more gracious faculties of wit and fancy.
Of this nonsense Jonson's masques are the best refutation. Marvels of
ingenuity in plot and construction, they abound in "dainty invention,"
animated dialogue, and some of the finest lyric passages to be found
in dramatic literature. They are the Laureate's true laurels. Had he
left nothing else, the "rare arch-poet" would have held, by virtue of
these alone, the elevated rank which his contemporaries, and our own,
freely assign him. Lamb, whose appreciation of the old dramatists was
extremely acute, remarks,--"A thousand beautiful passages from his
'New Inn,' and from those numerous court masques and entertainments
which he was in the daily habit of furnishing, might be adduced to
show the poetical fancy and elegance of mind of the supposed rugged
old bard." [12] And in excess of admiration at one of the Laureate's
most successful pageants, Herrick breaks forth,--


    "Thou hadst the wreath before, now take the tree,
     That henceforth none be laurel-crowned but thee." [13]


An aspiration fortunately unrealized.

It was not long before the death of Ben, that John Suckling, one of
his boon companions


      "At those lyric feasts,
    Made at 'The Sun,'
    'The Dog,' 'The Triple Tun,'
    Where they such clusters had
    As made them nobly wild, not mad," [14]


handed about among the courtiers his "Session of the Poets," where an
imaginary contest for the laurel presented an opportunity for
characterizing the wits of the day in a series of capital strokes, as
remarkable for justice as shrewd wit. Jonson is thus introduced:--


  "The first that broke silence was good old Ben,
  Prepared with Canary wine,
  And he told them plainly he deserved the bays,
  For his were called works, while others' were but plays;

  "And bid them remember how he had purged the stage
  Of errors that had lasted many an age;
  And he hoped they did not think 'The Silent Woman,'
  'The Fox,' and 'The Alchymist' outdone by no man.

  "Apollo stopt him there, and bid him not go on;
  'Twas merit, he said, and not presumption,
  Must carry it; at which Ben turned about,
  And in great choler offered to go out;

  "But those who were there thought it not fit
  To discontent so ancient a wit,
  And therefore Apollo called him back again,
  And made him mine host of his own 'New Inn.'"


This _jeu d'esprit_ of Suckling, if of no value otherwise, would
be respectable as an original which the Duke of Buckinghamshire,[15]
Leigh Hunt,[16] and our own Lowell[17] have successfully and happily
imitated.

In due course, Laureate Jonson shared the fate of all potentates, and
was gathered to the laurelled of Elysium. The fatality occurred in
1637. When his remains were deposited in the Poet's Corner, with the
eloquent laconism above them, "O Rare Ben Jonson!" all the wits of the
day stood by the graveside, and cast in their tribute of bays. The
rite over, all the wits of the day hurried from the aisles of
Westminster to the galleries of Whitehall to urge their several claims
to the successorship. There were, of the elder time, Massinger,
drawing to the close of a successful career,--Ford, with his growing
fame,--Marmion, Heywood, Carlell, Wither. There was Sandys, especially
endeared to the king by his orthodox piety, so becoming the son of an
archbishop, and by his versions of the "Divine Poems," which were next
year given to the press, and which found a place among the half-dozen
volumes which a decade later solaced the last hours of his royal
master. There were the names, in the junior class, of Tom Carew, noted
for his amatory songs and his one brilliant masque,--Tom Killigrew, of
pleasant humor, and no mean writer of tragedy,--Suckling, the wittiest
of courtiers, and the most courtly of wits,--Cartwright, Crashaw,
Davenant, and May. But of all these, the contest soon narrowed down to
the two latter. William Davenant was in all likelihood the son of an
innkeeper at Oxford; he was certainly the son of the innkeeper's
wife. A rumor, which Davenant always countenanced, alleged that
William Shakspeare, a poet of some considerable repute in those times,
being in the habit of passing between Stratford-on-the-Avon and
London, was wont to bait and often lodge at this Oxford hostelry. At
one of these calls the landlady had proved more than ordinarily frail
or the poet more than ordinarily seductive,--who can wonder at even
virtue stooping to folly when the wooer was the Swan of Avon, beside
whom the bird that captivated Leda was as a featherless gosling?--and
the consequence had been Will Davenant, born in the year of our Lord
1605, Shakspeare standing as godfather at the baptism. A boy of lively
parts was Will, and good-fortune brought those parts to the notice of
the grave and philosophic Greville, Lord Brooke, whose dearest boast
was the friendship in early life of Sir Philip Sidney. The result of
this notice was a highly creditable education at school and
university, and an ultimate introduction into the foremost society of
the capital. Davenant, finding the drama supreme in fashionable
regard, devoted himself to the drama. He also devoted himself to the
cultivation of Ben Jonson, then at the summit of renown, assisting in
an amateur way in the preparation of the court pageants, and otherwise
mitigating the Laureate's labors. From 1632 to 1637, these aids were
frequent, and established a very plausible claim to the
succession. Thomas May, who shortly became his sole competitor, was a
man of elevated pretensions. As a writer of English historical poems
and as a translator of Lucan he had earned a prominent position in
British literature; as a continuator of the "Pharsalia" in Latin verse
of exemplary elegance, written in the happiest imitation of the
martyred Stoic's unimpassioned mannerism, he secured for British
scholarship that higher respect among Continental scholars which
Milton's Latin poems and "Defensio pro Populo Anglicano" presently
after confirmed. Of the several English writers of Latin verse, May
stands unquestionably in the front rank, alongside of Milton and
Bourne,--taking precedence easily of Owen, Cowley, and Gray. His
dramatic productions were of a higher order than Davenant's. They have
found a place in Dodsley's and the several subsequent collections of
early dramas, not conceded to the plays of the latter. Masque-making,
however, was not in his line. His invention was not sufficiently
alert, his dialogue not sufficiently lively, for a species of poetry
which it was the principal duty of the Laureate to furnish. Besides,
it is highly probable, his sympathies with rebellious Puritanism were
already so far developed as to make him an object of aversion to the
king. Davenant triumphed. The defeated candidate lived to see the
court dispersed, king and Laureate alike fugitive, and to receive from
the Long Parliament the place of Historiographer, as a compensation
for the lost bays. When, in 1650, he died, Cromwell and his
newly-inaugurated court did honor to his obsequies. The body was
deposited in Westminster Abbey; but the posthumous honor was in
reserve for it, of being torn from the grave after the Restoration,
and flung into a ditch along with the remains of three or four other
republican leaders.

Davenant's career in office was unfortunate. There is reason to doubt
whether, even before the rebellion broke out, his salary was regularly
paid him. During the Civil War he exchanged the laurel for a casque,
winning knighthood by his gallant carriage at the siege of Gloucester.
Afterward, he was so far in the confidence of Queen Henrietta Maria,
as to be sent as her envoy to the captive king, beseeching him to save
his head by conceding the demands of Parliament. When, the errand
proving abortive, the royal head was lost, Davenant returned to Paris,
consoled himself by finishing the first two books of his "Gondibert,"
and then, despairing of a restoration, embarked (in 1650) from France
for Virginia, where monarchy and the rights of Charles II were
unimpaired. Fate, however, had not destined him for a colonist and
backwoodsman. His ship, tempest-tossed, was driven into an English
port, and the poet was seized and carried close prisoner to
London. There the intervention of Milton, the Latin Secretary of the
Council, is said to have saved his life. He was kept in the Tower for
at least two years longer, however. The date of his release is
uncertain, but, once at liberty, Davenant returned ardently to his
former pursuits. A license was procured for musical exhibitions, and
the phrase "musical exhibitions" was interpreted, with official
connivance, as including all manner of dramatic performances. To the
Laureate and to this period belongs the credit of introducing scenery,
hitherto restricted to court masques, into the machinery of the
ordinary drama. The substitution of female for male actors, in
feminine characters, was also an innovation of this period. And as an
incident of the Laureateship there is still another novelty to be
noted. There is no crown without its thorns. The laurel renders the
pillow of the wearer as knotty, uneasy, and comfortless as does a
coronal of gold and jewels. Among the receipts of the office have been
the jokes, good and bad, the sneers, the satire of contemporary
wits,--such being the paper currency in which the turbulent subjects
of the laurel crown think proper to pay homage to their
sovereign. From the days of Will Davenant to these of ours, the custom
has been faithfully observed. Davenant's earliest assailants were of
his own political party, followers of the exiled Charles, the men whom
Milton describes as "perditissimus ille peregrinantium aulieorum
grex." These--among them a son of the memorable Donne, Sir John
Denham, and Alan Broderick--united in a volume of mean motive and
insignificant merit, entitled, "Verses written by Several of the
Author's Friends, to be reprinted with the Second Edition of
Gondibert." This was published in 1653. The effect of the onslaught
has not been recorded. We know only that Davenant, surviving it,
continued to prosper in his theatrical business, writing most of the
pieces produced on his stage until the Restoration, when he drew forth
from its hiding-place his wreath of laurel-evergreen, and resumed it
with honor.

A fair retrospect of Davenant's career enables us to select without
difficulty that one of his labors which is most deserving of
applause. Not his "Gondibert," notwithstanding it abounds in fine
passages,--notwithstanding Gay thought it worth continuation and
completion, and added several cantos,--notwithstanding Lamb eulogized
it with enthusiasm, Southey warmly praised, and Campbell and Hazlitt
coolly commended it. Nor his comedies, which are deservedly forgotten;
nor his improvements in the production of plays, serviceable as they
were to the acting drama. But to his exertions Milton owed impunity
from the vengeance otherwise destined for the apologist of regicide,
and so owed the life and leisure requisite to the composition of
"Paradise Lost." Davenant, grateful for the old kindness of the
ex-secretary, used his influence successfully with Charles to let the
offender escape.[18] This is certainly the greenest of Davenant's
laurels. Without it, the world might not have heard one of the
sublimest expressions of human genius.

Davenant died in 1668. The laurel was hung up unclaimed until 1670,
when John Dryden received it, with patent dated back to the summer
succeeding Davenant's death. Dryden assures us that it was Sir Thomas
Clifford, whose name a year later lent the initial letter to the
"Cabal," who presented him to the king, and procured his
appointment.[19] Masques had now ceased to be the mode. What the
dramatist could do to amuse the _blasé_ court of Charles II. he
was obliged to do within the limits of legitimate dramatic
representation, due care being taken to follow French models, and
substitute the idiom of Corneille and Molière for that of
Shakspeare. Dryden, whose plays are now read only by the curious, was,
in 1670, the greatest of living dramatists. He had expiated his
Cromwellian backslidings by the "Astraea Redux," and the "Annus
Mirabilis." He had risen to high favor with the king. His tragedies
in rhyming couplets were all the vogue. Already his fellow-playwrights
deemed their success as fearfully uncertain, unless they had secured,
price three guineas, a prologue or epilogue from the Laureate. So
fertile was his own invention, that he stood ready to furnish by
contract five plays a year,--a challenge fortunately declined by the
managers of the day. Thus, if the Laureate stipend were not punctually
paid, as was often the case, seeing the necessitous state of the royal
finances and the bevy of fair ladies, whose demands, extravagant as
they were, took precedence of all others, his revenues were adequate
to the maintenance of a family, the matron of which was a Howard,
educated, as a daughter of nobility, to the enjoyment of every
indulgence. These were the Laureate's brightest days. His popularity
was at its height, a fact evinced by the powerful coalitions deemed
necessary to diminish it. Indeed, the laurel had hardly rested upon
Dryden's temples before he experienced the assaults of an organized
literary opposition. The Duke of Buckingham, then the admitted leader
of fashionable prodigacy, borrowed the aid of Samuel Butler, at whose
"Hudibras" the world was still laughing,--of Thomas Sprat, then on the
high-road to those preferments which have given him an important place
in history,--of Martin Clifford, a familiar of the green-room and
coffee-house,--and concocted a farce ridiculing the person and office
of the Laureate. "The Rehearsal" was acted in 1671. The hero,
_Mr. Bayes_, imitated all the personal peculiarities of Dryden,
used his cant phrases, burlesqued his style, and exposed, while
pretending to defend, his ridiculous points, until the laugh of the
town was fairly turned upon the "premier-poet of the realm." The wit
was undoubtedly of the broadest, and the humor at the coffee-room
level; but it was so much the more effective. Dryden affected to be
indifferent to the satire. He jested at the time taken[20] and the
number of hands employed upon the composition. Twenty years later he
was at pains to declare his perfect freedom from rancor in consequence
of the attack.

There, is much reason to suspect, however, that "The Rehearsal" was
not forgotten, when the "Absalom and Achitophel" was written, and that
the character of _Zimri_ gathered much of its intense vigor and depth
of shadow from recollections of the ludicrous _Mr. Bayes_. The
portrait has the look of being designed as a quittance in full of old
scores. "The Rehearsal," though now and then recast and reënacted to
suit other times, is now no otherwise remembered than as the suggester
of Sheridan's "Critic."

Upon the heels of this onslaught others followed rapidly. Rochester,
disposed to singularity of opinion, set up Elkanah Settle, a young
author of some talent, as a rival to the Laureate. Anonymous bardings
lampooned him. _Mr. Bayes_ was a broad target for every shaft, so
that the complaint so feelingly uttered in his latter days, that "no
man living had ever been so severely libelled" as he, had a wide
foundation of fact. Sometimes, it must be owned, the thrusts were the
natural result of controversies into which the Laureate indiscreetly
precipitated himself; sometimes they came of generous partisanship in
behalf of friends, such friends, for example, as Sir Robert Howard,
his brother-in-law, an interminable spinner of intolerable verse, who
afflicted the world in his day with plays worse than plagues, and
poems as worthless as his plays. It was to a quarrel for and a quarrel
against this gentleman that we are indebted for the most trenchant
satire in the language. Sir Robert had fallen out with Dryden about
rhyming tragedies, of which he disapproved; and while it lasted, the
contest was waged with prodigious acrimony. Among the partisans of the
former was Richard Flecknoe, a Triton among the smaller scribbling
fry. Flecknoe--blunderingly classed among the Laureates by the
compiler of "Cibber's Lives of the Poets"--was an Irish priest, who
had cast his cassock, or, as he euphuistically expressed it, "laid
aside the mechanic part of priesthood," in order to fulfil the loftier
mission of literary garreteer in London. He had written poems and
plays without number; of the latter, but one, entitled "Love's
Dominion," had been brought upon the stage, and was summarily hissed
off. Jealousy of Dryden's splendid success brought him to the side of
Dryden's opponent, and a pamphlet, printed in 1668, attacked the
future Laureate so bitterly, and at points so susceptible, as to make
a more than ordinary draft upon the poet's patience, and to leave
venom that rankled fourteen years without finding vent.[21] About the
same time, Thomas Shadwell, who is represented in the satire as
likewise an Irishman, brought Sir Robert on the stage in his "Sullen
Lovers," in the character of _Sir Positive At-all_, a caricature
replete with absurd self-conceit and impudent dogmatism. Shadwell was
of "Norfolcian" family, well-born, well-educated, and fitted for the
bar, but drawn away from serious pursuits by the prevalent rage for
the drama. The offence of laughing at the poet's brother-in-law
Shadwell had aggravated by accepting the capricious patronage of Lord
Rochester, by subsequently siding with the Whigs, and by aiding the
ambitious designs of Shaftesbury in play and pamphlet,--labors the
value of which is not to be measured by the contemptuous estimate of
the satirist. The first outburst of the retributive storm fell upon
the head of Shadwell. The second part of "Absalom and Achitophel,"
which appeared in the autumn of 1682, contains the portrait of
_Og_, cut in outlines so sharp as to remind us of an unrounded
alto-rilievo:--


  Now stop your noses, readers, all and some,
  For here's a tun of midnight work to come,
  Og, from a treason-tavern rolling home;
  Round as a globe, and liquored every chink,
  Goodly and great he sails behind his link.
  With all his bulk, there's nothing lost in Og,
  For every inch that is not fool is rogue ....

  The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull
  With this prophetic blessing, Be thou dull!
  Drink, swear, and roar, forbear no lewd delight
  Fit for thy bulk; do anything but write.
  Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink,
  Still thou mayst live, avoiding pen and ink.
  I see, I see, 'tis counsel given in vain;
  For treason botched in rhyme will be thy bane ....

  A double noose thou on thy neck dost pull,
  For writing treason, and for writing dull...

  I will not rake the dunghill of thy crimes,
  For who would read thy life who reads thy rhymes?
  But of King David's foes be this the doom,
  May all be like the young man Absalom!
  And for my foes, may this their blessing be,
  To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee!


Of the multitudinous rejoinders and counterblasts provoked by this
thunder, Dryden, it is supposed, ascribed the authorship of one of the
keenest to Shadwell. We are to conceive some new and immediate
provocation as added to the old grudge, to call for a second attack so
soon; for it was only a month later that the "MacFlecknoe" appeared;
not in 1689, as Dr. Johnson states, who, mistaking the date, also errs
in assuming the cause of Dryden's wrath to have been the transfer of
the laurel from his own to the brows of Shadwell. "MacFlecknoe" is by
common consent the most perfect and perfectly acrid satire in English
literature. The topics selected, the foibles attacked, the ingenious
and remorseless ridicule with which they are overwhelmed, the
comprehensive vindictiveness which converted every personal
characteristic into an instrument for the more refined torment of the
unhappy victim, conjoin to constitute a masterpiece of this lower form
of poetical composition;--poetry it is not. While Flecknoe's
pretensions as a dramatist were fairly a subject of derision, Shadwell
was eminently popular. He was a pretender to learning, and,
entertaining with Dryden strong convictions of the reality of a
literary metempsychosis, believed himself the heir of Jonson's genius
and erudition. The title of the satire was, therefore, of itself a
biting sarcasm. His claims to sonship were transferred from Jonson,
then held the first of dramatic writers, to Flecknoe, the last and
meanest; and to aggravate the insult, the "Mac" was inserted as an
irritating allusion to the alleged Irish origin of both,--an allusion,
however harmless and senseless now, vastly significant at that era of
Irish degradation. Of the immediate effect of this scarification upon
Shadwell we have no information; how it ultimately affected his
fortunes we shall see presently.

During the closing years of Charles, and through the reign of James,
Dryden added to the duties of Court Poet those of political
pamphleteer and theological controversialist. The strength of his
attachment to the office, his sense of the honor it conferred, and his
appreciation of the salary we may infer from the potent influence such
considerations exercised upon his conversion to Romanism. In the
admirable portrait, too, by Lely, he chose to be represented with the
laurel in his hand. After his dethronement, he sought every occasion
to deplore the loss of the bays, and of the stipend, which in the
increasing infirmity and poverty of his latter days had become
important. The fall of James necessarily involved the fall of his
Laureate and Historiographer. Lord Dorset, the generous but sadly
undiscriminating patron of letters, having become Lord Chamberlain, it
was his duty to remove the reluctant Dryden from the two places,--a
duty not to be postponed, and scarcely to be mitigated, so violent was
the public outcry against the renegade bard. The entire Protestant
feeling of the nation, then at white heat, was especially ardent
against the author of the "Hind and Panther," who, it was said, had
treated the Church of England as the persecutors had treated the
primitive martyr, dressed her in the skin of a wild beast, and exposed
her to the torments of her adversaries. It was not enough to eject him
from office,--his inability to subscribe the test oaths would have
done so much,--but he was to be replaced by that one of his political
and literary antagonists whom he most sincerely disliked, and who
still writhed under his lash. Dorset appears to have executed the
disagreeable task with real kindness. He is said to have settled upon
the poet, out of his own fortune, an annuity equal to the lost
pension,--a statement which Dr. Johnson and Macaulay have repeated
upon the authority of Prior. What Prior said on the subject may be
found in the Dedication of Tonson's noble edition of his works to the
second Earl of Dorset:--"When, as Lord Chamberlain, he was obliged to
take the king's pension from Mr. Dryden, (who had long before put
himself out of a possibility of receiving any favor from the court,)
my Lord allowed him an equivalent out of his own estate. However
displeased with the conduct of his old acquaintance, he relieved his
necessities; and while he gave him his assistance in private, in
public he extenuated and pitied his error." But there is some reason
for thinking this equivalent was only the equivalent of one year's
salary, and this assistance casual, not stated; else we are at a loss
to understand the continual complaints of utter penury which the poet
uttered ever after. Some of these complaints were addressed to his
benefactor himself, as in the Dedication to Juvenal and Persius,
1692:--"Age has overtaken me, and _want_, a more insufferable
evil, through the change of the times, _has wholly disenabled
me_. Though I must ever acknowledge, to the honor of your Lordship,
and the eternal memory of your charity, that, since this revolution,
wherein I have patiently suffered the ruin of my small fortune, and
the loss of that poor subsistence I had from two kings, whom I served
more faithfully than profitably to myself,--then your Lordship was
pleased, out of no other motive than your own nobleness, without any
desert of mine, or the least solicitation from me, to make me a most
bountiful _present_, which, in that time when I was most in want
of it, came most seasonably and unexpectedly to my relief." This
passage was the sole authority, we suspect, Prior had for a story
which was nevertheless sufficiently true to figure in an adulatory
dedication; and, indeed, Prior may have used the word "equivalent"
loosely, and had Dorset's gift been more than a year's income, Dryden
would hardly have called it a "present,"--a phrase scarcely applicable
to the grant of a pension.[22]

Dismissed from office and restored to labors more congenial than the
dull polemics which had recently engaged his mind, Dryden found
himself obliged to work vigorously or starve. He fell into the hands
of the booksellers. The poems, it deserves remark, upon which his fame
with posterity must finally rest, were all produced within the period
bounded by his deposition and his death. The translations from
Juvenal, the versions of Persius and of Virgil, the Fables, and the
"Ode upon St. Cecilia's Day," were the works of this period. He lived
to see his office filled successively by a rival he despised and a
friend who had deserted him, and in its apparently hopeless
degradation perhaps found consolation for its loss.

Thomas Shadwell was the Poet-Laureate after Dryden, assuming the
wreath in 1689. We have referred to his origin; Langbaine gives 1642
as the date of his birth; so that he must have set up as author early
in life, and departed from life shortly past middle-age. Derrick
assures us that he was lusty, ungainly, and coarse in person,--a
description answering to the full-length of _Og_. The commentators
upon "MacFlecknoe" have not made due use of one of Shadwell's habits,
in illustration of the reason why a wreath of poppies was selected for
the crown of its hero. The dramatist, Warburton informs us, was
addicted to the use of opium, and, in fact, died of an overdose of
that drug. Hence


  "His temples, last, with poppies were o'er-spread,
  That nodding seemed to consecrate his head."


A couplet which Pope echoes in the "Dunciad":--


  "Shadwell nods, the poppy on his brows."


A similar allusion may be found in the character of _Og_:--


  "Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink," etc.


That the Laureate was heavy-gaited in composition, taking five years
to finish one comedy,--that he was, on the other hand, too swift,
trusting Nature rather than elaborate Art,--that he was dull and
unimaginative,--that he was keen and remarkably sharp-witted,--that he
affected a profundity of learning of which he gave no evidences,--that
his plays were only less numerous than Dryden's, are other particulars
we gather from conflicting witnesses of the period. Certainly, no one
of the Laureates, Cibber excepted, was so mercilessly lampooned. What
Cibber suffered from the "Dunciad" Shadwell suffered from
"MacFlecknoe." Incited by Dryden's example, the poets showered their
missiles at him, and so perseveringly as to render him a traditional
butt of satire for two or three generations. Thus Prior:--


  "Thus, without much delight or grief,
  I fool away an idle life,
  Till Shadwell from the town retires,
  Choked up with fame and sea-coal fires,
  To bless the wood with peaceful lyric:
  Then hey for praise and panegyric;
  Justice restored, and nations freed,
  And wreaths round William's glorious head."


And Parnell:--


  "But hold! before I close the scene,
  The sacred altar should be clean.
  Oh, had I Shadwell's second bays,
  Or, Tate! thy pert and humble lays,--
  Ye pair, forgive me, when I vow
  I never missed your works till now,--
  I'd tear the leaves to wipe the shrine,
  That only way you please the Nine;
  But since I chance to want these two,
  I'll make the songs of Durfey do."


And in a far more venomous and violent style, the noteless mob of
contemporary writers.

Shadwell, after all, was very far from being the blockhead these
references imply. His "Third Nights" were probably far more
profitable than Dryden's.[23] By his friends he was classed with the
liveliest wits of a brilliant court. Rochester so classed him:--


  "I loathe the rabble: 'tis enough for me,
  If Sedley, Shadwell, Shephard, Wycherley,
  Godolphin, Butler, Buckhurst, Buckingham,
  And some few more, whom I omit to name,
  Approve my sense: I count their censure fame."[24]


And compares him elsewhere with Wycherley:--


  "Of all our modern wits, none seem to me
  Once to have touched upon true comedy,
  But hasty Shadwell and slow Wycherley.
  Shadwell's unfinished works do yet impart
  Great proofs of force of nature, none of art;
  With just, bold strokes, he dashes here and there,
  Showing great mastery with little care,
  Scorning to varnish his good touches o'er
  To make the fools and women praise them more.
  But Wycherley earns hard whate'er he gains;
  He wants no judgment, and he spares no pains," etc.


And, not disrespectfully, Pope:--


  "In all debates where critics bear a part,
  Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
  Of Shakspeare's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
  How Beaumont's judgment checked what Fletcher writ;
  How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow;
  But for the passions, Southerne, sure, and Rowe!
  These, only these, support the crowded stage,
  From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age."[25]


Sedley joined him in the composition of more than one comedy.
Macaulay, in seeking illustrations of the times and occurrences of
which he writes, cites Shadwell five times, where he mentions
Etherege, Wycherley, and Congreve once.[26] From his last play, "The
Stockjobbers," performed in November, 1692, while its author was on
his death-bed, the historian introduces an entire scene into his
text.[27] Any one, indeed, who can clear his mind from the unjust
prejudice produced by Dryden's satire, and read the comedies of
Shadwell with due consideration for the extemporaneous haste of their
composition, as satires upon passing facts and follies, will find,
that, so far from never deviating into sense, sound common-sense and
fluent wit were the Laureate's staple qualities. If his comedies have
not, like those of his contemporaries just named, enjoyed the
good-fortune to be collected and preserved among the dramatic
classics, the fact is primarily owing to the ephemeral interest of the
hits and allusions, and secondarily to "MacFlecknoe."

[To be continued.]


Footnote 1: SPENSER: _Faery Queen_. See also the _Two Cantos
of Mutability,_ Cant. VII.:--

  "That old Dan Geffrey, in whose gentle spright
  The pure well-head of poesie did dwell."

Footnote 2: MILTON: _Il Penseroso._

Footnote 3: WORDSWORTH: _Poems of Later Years_.

Footnote 4: CHAUCER: _Clerke's Tale_, Prologue.

Footnote 5: WARTON: _Ode on his Majesty's Birthday, 1787_.

Footnote 6: Tyrwhitt's Chaucer: _Historical Notes on his Life._

Footnote 7: _Masque of the Fortunate Islands_.

Footnote 8: _History of English Poetry_, Vol. II. pp. 335-336,
ed. 1840.

Footnote 9: WARTON: _Birthday Ode_, 1787.

Footnote 10: See his _British Poets, from Chaucer to Jonson_,
Art. _Daniel_. Southey contemplated a continuation of Warton's
_History_, and, in preparing for that labor, learned many things
he had never known of the earlier writers.

Footnote 11: Jonson's classification. See his _Poetaster_.

Footnote 12: _Lamb's Works, and Life_, by Talfourd, Vol. IV. p. 89.

Footnote 13: Hesperides, _Encomiastic Verses_.

Footnote 14: Herrick, _ubi supra._--To the haunts here named
must be added the celebrated _Mermaid_, of which Shakspeare was
the _Magnus Apollo_, and _The Devil_, where Pope imagines
Ben to have gathered peculiar inspiration:--

    "And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,
    He swears the Muses met him at _The Devil_."
        _Imitation of Horace_, Bk. ii. Epist. i.

Footnote 15: _Election of a Poet-Laureate_, 1719, Works, Vol. II.

Footnote 16: _Feast of the Poets_, 1814.

Footnote 17: _Fable for Critics_, 1850.

Footnote 18: This story rests on the authority of Thomas Betterton,
the actor, who received it from Davenant.

Footnote 19: Dedication of the _Pastorals_ of Virgil, to Hugh,
Lord Clifford, the son of Sir Thomas.

Footnote 20: There were some indications that portions of the farce
had been written while Davenant was living and had been intended for
him. _Mr. Bayes_ appears in one place with a plaster on his nose,
an evident allusion to Davenant's loss of that feature. In a lively
satire of the time, by Richard Duke, it is asserted that Villiers was
occupied with the composition of _The Rehearsal_ from the
Restoration down to the day of its production on the stage:--

  "But with playhouses, wars, immortal wars,
  He waged, and ten years' rage produced a farce.
  As many rolling years he did employ,
  And hands almost as many, to destroy
  Heroic rhyme, as Greece to ruin Troy.
  Once more, says Fame, for battle he prepares,
  And threatens rhymers with a second farce:
  But, if as long for this as that we stay,
  He'll finish Clevedon sooner than his play."
                            _The Review_

Footnote 21: It is little to the credit of Dryden, that, having saved
up his wrath against Flecknoe so long, he had not reserved it
altogether. Flecknoe had been dead at least four years when the
satire appeared.

Footnote 22: Macaulay quotes Blackmore's _Prince Arthur_, to
illustrate Dryden's dependence upon Dorset:--

    "The poets' nation did obsequious wait
    For the kind dole divided at his gate.
    Laurus among the meagre crowd appeared,
    An old, revolted, unbelieving bard,
    Who thronged, and shoved, and pressed, and would be heard.

    "Sakil's high roof, the Muse's palace, rung
    With endless cries, and endless songs he sung.
    To bless good Sakil Laurus would be first;
    But Sakil's prince and Sakil's God he curst.
    Sakil without distinction threw his bread,
    Despised the flatterer, but the poet fed."

_Laurus_, of course, stands for Dryden, and _Sakil_ for
Dorset.

Footnote 23: _The Squire of Alsatia_ is said to have realized him
£130.

Footnote 24: _An Allusion to the Tenth Satire of the First Book of
Horace_.--The word "censure" will, of course, be understood to mean
_judgment_, not _condemnation_.

Footnote 25: _Imitation of Horace_, Bk. ii. Epist. i.

Footnote 26: See the _History of England_, Vol. IV., Chapter 17,
for reference to Shadwell's _Volunteers_.

Footnote 27: _History of England_, Chapter 19.



THE ROMANCE OF A GLOVE.


"Halt!" cried my travelling companion. "Property overboard!"

The driver pulled up his horses; and, before I could prevent him,
Westwood leaped down from the vehicle, and ran back for the article
that had been dropped.

It was a glove,--my glove, which I had inadvertently thrown out, in
taking my handkerchief from my pocket.

"Go on, driver!" and he tossed it into my hand as he resumed his seat
in the open stage.

"Take your reward," I said, offering him a cigar; "but beware of
rendering me another such service!"

"If it had been your hat or your handkerchief, be sure I should have
let it lie where it fell. But a glove,--that is different. I once
found a romance in a glove. Since then, gloves are sacred." And
Westwood gravely bit off the end of his cigar.

"A romance? Tell me about that. I am tired of this endless stretch of
sea-like country, these regular ground-swells; and it's a good
two-hours' ride yet to yonder headland, which juts out into the
prairie, between us and the setting sun. Meanwhile, your romance."

"Did I say romance? I fear you would hardly think it worthy of the
name," said my companion. "Every life has its romantic episodes, or,
at least, incidents which appear such to him who experiences them. But
these tender little histories are usually insipid enough when told. I
have a maiden aunt, who once came so near having an offer from a pale
stripling, with dark hair, seven years her junior, that to this day
she often alludes to the circumstance, with the remark, that she
wishes she knew some competent novel-writer in whom she could confide,
feeling sure that the story of that period of her life would make the
groundwork of a magnificent work of fiction. Possibly I inherit my
aunt's tendency to magnify into extraordinary proportions trifles
which I look at through the double convex lens of a personal
interest. So don't expect too much of my romance, and you shall hear
it.

"I said I found it in a glove. It was by no means a remarkable
glove,--middle-sized, straw-colored, and a neat fit for this hand, in
which I now hold your very excellent cigar. Of course, there was a
young lady in the case;--let me see,--I don't believe I can tell you
the story," said Westwood, "after all!"

I gently urged him to proceed.

"Pshaw!" said he, after kindling his cigar with a few vigorous whiffs,
"what's the use of being foolish? My aunt was never diffident about
telling her story, and why should I hesitate to tell mine? The young
lady's name,--we'll call her simply Margaret. She was a blonde, with
hazel eyes and dark hair. Perhaps you never heard of a blonde with
hazel eyes and dark hair? She was the only one I ever saw; and there
was the finest contrast imaginable between her fair, fresh complexion,
and her superb tresses and delicately-traced eyebrows. She was
certainly lovely, if not handsome; and--such eyes! It was an event in
one's life, Sir, just to look through those luminous windows into her
soul. That could not happen every day, be sure! Sometimes for weeks
she kept them turned from me, the ivory shutters half-closed, or the
mystic curtains of reserve drawn within; then, again, when I was
tortured with unsatisfied yearnings, and almost ready to despair, she
would suddenly turn them upon me, the shutters thrown wide, the
curtains away, and a flood of radiance streaming forth, that filled me
so full of light and gladness, that I had no shadowy nook left in me
for a doubt to hide in. She must have been conscious of this power of
expression. She used it so sparingly, and, it seemed to me, artfully!
But I always forgave her when she did use it, and cherished resentment
only when she did not.

"Margaret was shy and proud; I could never completely win her
confidence; but I knew, I knew well at last, that her heart was
mine. And a deep, tender, woman's heart it was, too, despite her
reserve. Without many words, we understood each other, and
so----Pshaw!" said Westwood, "my cigar is out!"

"On with the story!"

"Well, we had our lovers' quarrels, of course. Singular, what foolish
children love makes of us!--rendering us sensitive, jealous, exacting,
in the superlative degree. I am sure, we were both amiable and
forbearing towards all the world besides; but, for the powerful reason
that we loved, we were bound to misinterpret words, looks, and
actions, and wound each other on every convenient occasion. I was
pained by her attentions to others, or perhaps by an apparent
preference of a book or a bouquet to me. Retaliation on my part and
quiet persistence on hers continued to estrange us, until I generally
ended by conceding everything, and pleading for one word of kindness,
to end my misery.

"I was wrong,--too quick to resent, too ready to concede. No doubt, it
was to her a secret gratification to exercise her power over me; and
at last I was convinced that she wounded me purposely, in order to
provoke a temporary estrangement, and enjoy a repetition of her
triumph.

"It was at a party; the thing she did was to waltz with a man whom she
knew I detested, whom _I_ knew _she_ could not respect, and
whose half-embrace, as he whirled her in the dance, almost put murder
into my thoughts.

"'Margaret,' I said, 'one last word! If you care for me, beware!'

"That was a foolish speech, perhaps. It was certainly
ineffectual. She persisted, looking so calm and composed, that a great
weight fell upon my heart. I walked away; I wandered about the
saloons; I tried to gossip and be gay; but the wound was too deep.

"I accompanied her home, late in the evening. We scarcely spoke by the
way. At the door, she looked me sadly in the face,--she gave me her
hand; I thought it trembled.

"'Good-night!' she said, in a low voice.

"'Good-bye!' I answered, coldly, and hurried from the house.

"It was some consolation to hear her close the door after I had
reached the corner of the street, and to know that she had been
listening to my footsteps. But I was very angry. I made stern
resolutions; I vowed to myself, that I would wring her heart, and
never swerve from my purpose until I had wrung out of it abundant
drops of sorrow and contrition. How I succeeded you shall hear.

"I had previously engaged her to attend a series of concerts with me;
an arrangement which I did not now regret, and for good reasons. Once
a week, with famous punctuality, I called for her, escorted her to the
concert-room, and carefully reconducted her home,--letting no
opportunity pass to show her a true gentleman's deference and
respect,--conversing with her freely about music, books, anything, in
short, except what we both knew to be deepest in each other's
thoughts. Upon other occasions, I avoided her, and even refrained from
going to places where she was expected,--especially where she knew
that I knew she was expected.

"Well," continued Westwood, "my designs upon her heart, which I was
going to wring so unmercifully, did not meet with very brilliant
success. To confess the humiliating truth, I soon found that I was
torturing myself a good deal more than I was torturing her. As a last
and desperate resort, what do you think I did?"

"You probably asked her to ask your forgiveness."

"Not I! I have a will of adamant, as people find, who tear away the
amiable flowers and light soil that cover it; and she had reached the
impenetrable, firm rock. I neither made any advances towards a
reconciliation nor invited any. But I'll tell you what I did do, as a
final trial of her heart. I had, for some time, been meditating a
European tour, and my interest in her had alone kept me at home. Some
friends of mine were to sail early in the spring, and I now resolved
to accompany them. I don't know how much pride and spite there was in
the resolution,--probably a good deal. I confess I wished to make her
suffer,--to show her that she had calculated too much upon my
weakness,--that I could be strong and happy without her. Yet, with all
this bitter and vindictive feeling, I listened to a very sweet and
tender whisper in my heart, which said, 'Now, if her love speaks
out,--now, if she says to me one true, kind, womanly word,--she shall
go with me, and nothing shall ever take her from me again!' The
thought of what _might_ be, if she would but say that word, and
of what _must_ be, irrevocably, if her pride held out, shook me
mightily. But my resolution was taken: I would trust the rest to fate.

"On the day of the last concert, I imparted the secret of my intended
journey to a person who, I felt tolerably sure, would rush at once to
Margaret with the news. Then, in the evening, I went for her; I was
conscious that my manner towards her was a little more tender, or
rather, a little less coldly courteous, that night, than it had
usually been of late; for my feelings were softened, and I had never
seen her so lovely. I had never before known what a treasure I was
about to lose. The subject of my voyage was not mentioned, and if she
had heard of it, she accepted the fact without the least
visible concern. Her quietness under the circumstances chilled
me,--disheartened me quite. I am not one of those who can give much
superfluous love, or cling with unreasonable, blind passion to an
object that yields no affection in return. A quick and effectual
method of curing a fancy in persons of my temperament is to teach them
that it is not reciprocated. Then it expires like a flame cut off from
the air, or a plant removed from the soil. The death-struggle, the
uprooting, is the painful thing; but when the heart is thoroughly
convinced that its love is misplaced, it gives up, with one last sigh
as big as fate, sheds a few tears, says a prayer or two, thanks God
for the experience, and becomes a wiser, calmer,--yes, and a happier
heart than before."

"True," I said; "but our hearts are not thus easily convinced."

"Ay, there's the rub. It is for want of a true perception. There
cannot be a true love without a true perception. Love is for the soul
to know, from its own intuition,--not for the understanding to
believe, from the testimony of those very unreliable witnesses, called
eyes and ears. This seems to have been my case,--my soul was aware of
_her_ love, and all the evidence of my external senses could not
altogether destroy that interior faith. But that evening I said,--'I
believe you now, my senses! I doubt you now, my soul!--she never loved
me!' So I was really very cold towards her--for about twenty minutes.

"I walked home with her;--we were both silent; but at the door she
asked me to go in. Here my calmness deserted me, and I could hardly
hold my heart, while I replied,--

"'If you particularly wish it.'

"'If I did not, I should not ask you,' she said; and I went in.

"I was ashamed and vexed at myself for trembling so,--for I was in a
tremor from head to foot. There was company in the parlors,--some of
Margaret's friends. I took my seat upon a sofa, and soon she came and
sat by my side.

"'I suppose,' said one, 'Mr. Westwood has been telling Margaret all
about it.'

"'About what?' Margaret inquired,--and here the truth flashed upon
me,--the news of my proposed voyage had not yet reached her! She
looked at me with a troubled, questioning expression, and said,--

"'I felt that something was going to happen. Tell me what it is.'

"I answered,--'Your friend can best explain what she means.'

"Then out came the secret. A shock of surprise sent the color from
Margaret's face; and raising her eyes, she asked, quite calmly, but in
a low and unnatural tone,--

"'Is this so?'

"I said, 'I suppose I cannot deny it.'

"'You are really going?'

"'I am really going.'

"She could not hide her agitation. Her white face betrayed her. Then
I was glad, wickedly glad, in my heart,--and vain enough to be
gratified that others should behold and know I held a power over
her. Well,--but I suffered for that folly.

"'I feel hurt,' she said, after a little while, 'because you have not
told me this. You have no sister,' (this was spoken very quietly,)
'and it would have been a privilege for me to take a sister's place,
and do for you those little things which sisters do for brothers who
are going on long journeys.'

"I was choked;--it was a minute before I could speak. Then I said that
I saw no reason why she should tax her time or thoughts to do anything
for me.

"'Oh, you know,' she said, 'you have been kind to me,--so much kinder
than I have deserved!'

"It was unendurable,--the pathos of the words! I was blinded,
stifled,--I almost groaned aloud. If we had been alone, there our
trial would have ended. I should have snatched her to my soul. But
the eyes of others were upon us, and I steeled myself.

"'Besides,' I said, 'I know of nothing that you can do for me.'

"'There must be many little things;--to begin with, there is your
glove, which you are tearing to pieces.'

"True, I was tearing my glove,--she was calm enough to observe it!
That made me angry.

"'Give it to me; I will mend it for you. Haven't you other gloves that
need mending?'

"I, who had triumphed, was humbled.

"My heart was breaking,--and she talked of mending gloves! I did not
omit to thank her. I coldly arose to go.

"Well, I felt now that it was all over. The next day I secured my
passage in the steamer in which my friends were to sail. I took pains
that Margaret should hear of that, too. Then came the preparations for
travel,--arranging affairs, writing letters, providing myself with a
compact and comfortable outfit. Europe was in prospect,--Paris,
Switzerland, Italy, lands to which my dreams had long since gone
before me, and to which I now turned my eyes with reawakening
aspirations. A new glory arose upon my life, in the light of which
Margaret became a fading star. It was so much easier than I had
thought, to give her up, to part from her! I found that I could forget
her, in the excitement of a fresh and novel experience; while
she--could she forget me? When lovers part, happy is he who goes! alas
for the one that is left behind!

"One day, when I was busy with the books which I was to take with me,
a small package was handed in. I need not tell you that I experienced
a thrill, when I saw Margaret's handwriting upon the wrapper. I tore
it open,--and what think you I found? My glove! Nothing else. I
smiled bitterly, to see how neatly she had mended it; then I sighed;
then I said, 'It is finished!' and tossed the glove disdainfully into
my trunk.

"On the day before that fixed for the sailing of the steamer, I made
farewell calls upon many of my friends,--among others, upon
Margaret. But, through the perversity of pride and will, I did not go
alone,--I took with me Joseph, a mutual acquaintance, who was to be my
_compagnon de voyage_. I felt some misgivings, to see how
Margaret had changed; she was so softened, and so pale!

"The interview was a painful one, and I cut it short. As we were going
out, she gently detained me, and said,--

"'Did you receive--your glove?'

"'Oh, yes,' I said, and thanked her for mending it.

"'And is this all--all you have to say?' she asked.

"'I have nothing more to say--except good-bye.'

"She held my hand. 'Nothing else?'

"'No,--it is useless to talk of the past, Margaret; and the
future--may you be happy!--Good-bye!'

"I thought she would speak; I could not believe she would let me go;
but she did! I bore up well, until night. Then came a revulsion. I
walked three times past the house, wofully tempted, my love and my
will at cruel warfare; but I did not go in. At midnight I saw the
light in her room extinguished; I knew she had retired, but whether to
sleep, or weep, or pray--how could I tell? I went home. I did not
close my eyes that night. I was glad to see the morning come, after
_such_ a night!

"The steamer was to sail at ten. The bustle of embarkation; strange
scenes and strange faces; parting from friends; the ringing of the
bell; last adieus,--some, who were to go with us, hurrying aboard,
others, who were to stay behind, as hastily going ashore; the
withdrawal of the plank,--sad sight to many eyes! casting off the
lines, the steamer swinging heavily around, the rushing, irregular
motion of the great, slow paddles; the waving of handkerchiefs from
the decks, and the responsive signals from the crowd lining the wharf;
off at last,--the faces of friends, the crowd, the piers, and, lastly,
the city itself, fading from sight; the dash of spray, the freshening
breeze, the novel sight of our little world detaching itself and
floating away; the feeling that America was past, and Europe was
next;--all this filled my mind with animation and excitement, which
shut out thoughts of Margaret. Could I have looked with clairvoyant
vision, and beheld her then, locked in her chamber, should I have been
so happy? Oh, what fools vanity and pride make of us! Even then, with
my heart high-strung with hope and courage, had I known the truth, I
should have abandoned my friends, the voyage, and Europe, and returned
in the pilot's boat, to find something more precious than all the
continents and countries of the globe, in the love of that heart which
I was carelessly flinging away."

Here Westwood took breath. The sun was now almost set. The prairie was
still and cool; the heavy dews were beginning to fall; the shadows of
the green and flowered undulations filled the hollows, like a rising
tide; the headland, seen at first so far and small, was growing
gradually large and near; and the horses moved at a quicker
pace. Westwood lighted his cigar, drew a few whiffs, and proceeded.

"We had a voyage of eleven days. But to me an immense amount of
experience was crowded into that brief period. The fine exhilaration
of the start,--the breeze gradually increasing to a gale; then
horrible sea-sickness, home-sickness, love-sickness; after which, the
weather which sailors love, games, gayety, and flirtation. There is no
such social freedom to be enjoyed anywhere as on board an ocean
steamer. The breaking-up of old associations, the opening of a fresh
existence, the necessity of new relationships,--this fuses the crust
of conventionality, quickens the springs of life, and renders
character sympathetic and fluent. The past is easily put away; we
become plastic to new influences; we are delighted at the discovery of
unexpected affinities, and astonished to find in ourselves so much
wit, eloquence, and fine susceptibility, which we did not before dream
we possessed.

"This freedom is especially provocative of flirtation. We see each
fair brow touched with a halo whose colors are the reflection of our
own beautiful dreams. Loveliness is ten-fold more lovely, bathed in
this atmosphere of romance; and manhood is invested with ideal
graces. The love within us rushes, with swift, sweet heart-beats, to
meet the love responsive in some other. Don't think I am now artfully
preparing your mind to excuse what I am about to confess. Take these
things into consideration, if you will; then think as you please of
the weakness and wild impulse with which I fell in love with----

"We will call her Flora. The most superb, captivating creature that
ever ensnared the hearts of the sons of Adam. A fine olive
complexion; magnificent dark auburn hair; eyes full of fire and
softness; lips that could pout or smile with incomparable fascination;
a figure of surprising symmetry, just voluptuous enough. But, after
all, her great power lay in her freedom from all affectation and
conventionality,--in her spontaneity, her free, sparkling, and
vivacious manners. She was the most daring and dazzling of women,
without ever appearing immodest or repulsive. She walked with such
proud, secure steps over the commonly accepted barriers of social
intercourse, that even those who blamed her and pretended to be
shocked were compelled to admire. She was the belle, the Juno, of the
saloon, the supreme ornament of the upper deck. Just twenty,--not
without wit and culture,--full of poetry and enthusiasm. Do you blame
me?"

"Not a whit," I said; "but for Margaret"----

"Ah, Margaret!" said Westwood, with a sigh. "But, you see, I had given
her up. And when one love is lost, there sink such awful chasms into
the soul, that, though they cannot be filled, we must at least bridge
them over with a new affection. The number of marriages built in this
way, upon false foundations of hollowness and despair, is
incomputable. We talk of jilted lovers and disappointed girls
marrying 'out of spite.' No doubt, such petty feeling hurries forward
many premature matches. But it is the heart, left shaken, unsupported,
wretchedly sinking, which reaches out its feelers for sympathy,
catches at the first penetrable point, and clings like a helpless vine
to the sunny-sided wall of the nearest consolation. If you wish to
marry a girl and can't, and are weak enough to desire her still, this
is what you should do: get some capable man to jilt her. Then seize
your chance. All the affections which have gone out to him, unmet,
ready to droop, quivering with the painful, hungry instinct to grasp
some object, may possibly lay hold of you. Let the world sneer; but
God pity such natures, which lack the faith and fortitude to live and
die true to their best love!

"Out of my own mouth do I condemn myself? Very well, I condemn myself;
_peccavi_! I If I had ever loved Margaret, then I did not love
Flora. The same heart cannot find its counterpart indifferently in two
such opposites. What charmed me in one was her purity, softness, and
depth of soul. What fascinated me in the other was her bloom, beauty,
and passion. Which was the true sympathy?

"I did not stop to ask that question when it was most important that
it should be seriously considered. I rushed into the crowd of
competitors for Flora's smiles, and distanced them all. I was pleased
and proud that she took no pains to conceal her preference for me. We
played chess; we read poetry out of the same book; we ate at the same
table; we sat and watched the sea together, for hours, in those clear,
bright days; we promenaded the deck at sunset, her hand upon my arm,
her lips forever turning up tenderly towards me, her eyes pouring
their passion into me. Then those glorious nights, when the ocean was
a vast, wild, fluctuating stream, flashing and sparkling about the
ship, spanned with a quivering bridge of splendor on one side, and
rolling off into awful darkness and mystery, on the other; when the
moon seemed swinging among the shrouds like a ball of white fire; when
the few ships went by like silent ghosts; and Flora and I, in a long
trance of happiness, kept the deck, heedless of the throng of
promenaders, forgetful of the past, reckless of the future, aware only
of our own romance, and the richness of the present hour.

"Joseph, my travelling-companion, looked on, and wrote letters. He
showed me one of these, addressed to a friend of Margaret's. In it he
extolled Flora's beauty, piquancy, and supremacy; related how she made
all the women jealous and all the men mad; and hinted at my triumph. I
knew that that letter would meet Margaret's eyes, and was vain enough
to be pleased.

"At last, one morning, at daybreak, I went on deck, and saw the shores
of England. Only a few days before, we had left America behind us,
brown and leafless, just emerging from the long gloom of winter; and
now the slopes of another world arose green and inviting in the flush
of spring. There was a bracing breeze; the dingy waters of the Mersey
rolled up in wreaths of beauty; the fleets of ships, steamers, sloops,
lighters, pilot-boats, bounding over the waves, meeting, tacking,
plunging, swaying gracefully under the full-swelling canvas, presented
a picture of wonderful animation; and the mingling hues of sunshine
and mist hung over all. I paced the deck, solemnly joyful, swift
thoughts pulsing through me of a dim far-off Margaret, of a near
radiant Flora, of hope and happiness superior to fate. It was one of
those times when the excited soul transfigures the world, and we
marvel how we could ever succumb to a transient sorrow while the whole
universe blooms, and an infinite future waits to open for us its doors
of wonder and joy.

"In this state of mind I was joined by Flora. She laid her hand on my
arm, and we walked up and down together. She was serious, almost sad,
and she viewed the English hills with a pensiveness which became her
better than mirth.

"'So,' she sighed, 'all our little romances come to an end!'

"'Not so,' I said; 'or if one romance ends, it is to give place to
another, still truer and sweeter. Our lives may be all a succession of
romances, if we will make them so. I think now I will never doubt the
future; for I find, that, when I have given up my dearest hopes, my
best-beloved friends, and accepted the gloomy belief that all life
besides is barren,--then comes some new experience, filling my empty
cup with a still more delicious wine.'

"'Don't vex me with your philosophy!' said Flora. 'I don't know
anything about it. All I know is this present,--this sky, this earth,
this sea, and the joy between, which I can't give up quite so easily
as you can, with your beautiful theory, that something better awaits
you.'

"'I have told you,' I replied,--for I had been quite frank with
her,--'how I left America,--what a blank life was to me then; and did
I not turn my back upon all that to meet face to face the greatest
happiness which I have ever yet known? Ought not this to give me faith
in the divinity that shapes our ends?'

"'And so,' she answered, 'when I have lost you, I shall have the
satisfaction of thinking that you are enjoying some still more
exquisite consolation for the slight pangs you may have felt at
parting from me! Your philosophy will make it easy for you to say,
"Good-bye! it was a pretty romance; I go to find prettier ones
still"; and then forget me altogether!'

"'And you,' I said, 'will that be easy for you?'

"'Yes,' she cried, with spirit,--'anything is easy to a proud,
impetuous woman, who finds that the brief romance of a ten-days'
acquaintance has already become tiresome to the second party. I am
glad I have enjoyed what I have; that is so much gain, of which you
cannot rob me; and now I can say good-bye as coolly as you, or I can
die of shame, or I can at once walk over this single rail into the
water, and quench this little candle, and so an end!'

"She sprang upon a bench, and, I swear to you, I thought she was going
down! I was so exalted by this passionate demonstration, that I should
certainly have gone over with her, and felt perfectly content to die
in her arms,--at least, until I began to realize what a very
disagreeable bath we had chosen to drown in.

"I drew her away; I walked up and down with that superb creature
panting and palpitating almost upon my heart; I poured into her ear I
know not what extravagant vows; and before the slow-handed sailors had
fastened their cable to the buoy in the channel, we had knotted a more
subtile and difficult noose, not to be so easily undone!

"Now see what strange, variable fools we are! Months of tender
intercourse had failed to bring about anything like a positive
engagement between Margaret and myself; and here behold me irrevocably
pledged to Flora, after a brief ten-days' acquaintance!

"Six mortal hours were exhausted in making the steamer fast,--in
sending off her Majesty's mails, of which the cockney speaks with a
tone of reverence altogether disgusting to us free-minded
Yankees,--and in entertaining the custom-house inspectors, who paid a
long and tedious visit to the saloon and our luggage. Then we were
suffered to land, and enter the noisy, solid streets of Liverpool,
amid the donkeys and beggars and quaint scenes which strike the
American so oddly upon a first visit. All this delay, the weariness
and impatience, the contrast between the morning and the hard, grim
reality of mid-day, brought me down from my elevation. I felt alarmed
to think of what had passed. I seemed to have been doing some wild,
unadvised act in a fit of intoxication. Margaret came up before me,
sad, silent, reproachful; and as I gazed upon Flora's bedimmed face, I
wondered how I had been so charmed.

"We took the first train for London, where we arrived at midnight. Two
weeks in that vast Babel,--then, ho! for Paris! Twelve hours by rail
and steamer carried us out of John Bull's dominions into the brilliant
metropolis of his French neighbor. Joseph accompanied us, and wrote
letters home, filled with gossip which I knew, or hoped, would make
Margaret writhe. I had not found it so easy to forget her as I had
supposed it would be. Flora's power over me was sovereign; but when I
was weary of the dazzle and whirl of the life she led me,--when I
looked into the depths of my heart, and saw what the thin film of
passion and pleasure concealed,--in those serious moments which
would come, and my soul put stern questions to me,--then,
Sir,--then--Margaret had her revenge.

"A month, crowded and glittering with novelty and incident, preceded
our departure for Switzerland. I accompanied Flora's party; Joseph
remained behind. We left Paris about the middle of June, and returned
in September. I have no words to speak of that era in my life. I saw,
enjoyed, suffered, learned so much! Flora was always glad,
magnificent, irresistible. But, as I knew her longer, my moments of
misgiving became more frequent and profound. If I had aspired to
nothing higher than a life of sensuous delights, she would have been
all I could wish. But----

"We were to spend the winter in Italy. Meanwhile, we had another month
in Paris. Here I had found Joseph again, who troubled me a good deal
with certain rumors he had received concerning Margaret. According to
these, she had been in feeble health ever since we left, and her
increasing delicacy was beginning to alarm her friends. 'But,' added
another of Joseph's correspondents, 'don't let Westwood flatter
himself that he is the cause, for she is cured of him; and there is
talk of an engagement between her and a handsome young clergyman, who
is both eloquent and fascinating.'

"This bit of gossip made me very bitter and angry. 'Forget me so
soon?' I said; 'and receive the attentions of another man?' You see
how consistent I was, to condemn her for the very fault I had myself
been so eager to commit!

"Well, the round of rides, excursions, soirées, visits to the operas
and theatres, walks on the Boulevards, and in the galleries of the
Louvre, ended at last. The evening before we were to set out for the
South of France, I was at my lodgings, unpacking and repacking the
luggage which I had left in Joseph's care during my absence among the
Alps; I was melancholy, dissatisfied with the dissipations which had
exhausted my time and energies, and thinking of Margaret. I had not
preserved a single memento of her; and now I wished I had one,--if
only a withered leaf, or a line of her writing. In this mood, I
chanced to cast my eye upon a stray glove, in the bottom of my
trunk. I snatched at it eagerly, and, in the impulse of the
moment,--before I reflected that I was wronging Flora,--pressed it to
my lips. Yes, I found the place where it had been mended, the spot
Margaret's fingers had touched, and gave it a kiss for every
stitch. Then, incensed at myself, I flung it from me, and hurried from
the room. I walked towards the Place de la Concorde, where the
brilliant lamps burned like a constellation. I strolled through the
Elysian Fields, and watched the lights of the carriages swarming like
fire-flies up the long avenue; stopped by the concert gardens, and
listened to the glorified girls singing under rosy and golden
pavilions the last songs of the season; wandered about the
fountains,--by the gardens of the Tuileries, where the trees stood so
shadowy and still, and the statues gleamed so pale,--along the quays
of the Seine, where the waves rolled so dark below,--trying to settle
my thoughts, to master myself, to put Margaret from me.

"Weary at length, I returned to my chamber, seated myself composedly,
and looked down at the glove which lay where I had thrown it, upon the
polished floor. Mechanically I stooped and took up a bit of folded
paper. It was written upon,--I unrolled it, and read. It was as if I
had opened the record of doom! Had the apparition of Margaret herself
risen suddenly before me, I could not have been more astounded. It was
a note from her,--and such a note!--full of love, suffering, and
humility,--poured out of a heart so deep and tender and true, that the
shallowness of my own seemed utterly contemptible, in comparison with
it. I cannot tell you what was written, but it was more than even my
most cruel and exacting pride could have asked. It was what would once
have made me wild with joy,--now it almost maddened me with
despair. I, who had often talked fine philosophy to others, had not a
grain of that article left to physic my own malady. But one course
seemed plain before me, and that was, to go quietly and drown myself
in the Seine, which I had seen flowing so swift and dark under the
bridges, an hour ago, when I stood and mused upon the tragical corpses
its solemn flood had swallowed.

"I am a little given to superstition, and the mystery of the note
excited me. I have no doubt but there was some subtile connection
between it and the near presence of Margaret's spirit, of which I had
that night been conscious. But the note had reached me by no
supernatural method, as I was at first half inclined to believe. It
was, probably, the touch, the atmosphere, the ineffably fine influence
which surrounded it, which had penetrated my unconscious perceptions,
and brought her near. The paper, the glove, were full of
Margaret,--full of something besides what we vaguely call mental
associations,--full of emanations of the very love and suffering which
she had breathed into the writing.

"How the note came there upon the floor was a riddle which I was too
much bewildered to explain by any natural means. Joseph, who burst in
upon me, in my extremity of pain and difficulty, solved it at once. It
had fallen out of the glove, where it had lain folded, silent,
unnoticed, during all this intervening period of folly and vexation of
soul. Margaret had done her duty, in time; I had only myself to blame
for the tangle in which I now found myself. I was thinking of Flora,
upon the deck of the steamship, when, in a moment of chagrin, she had
been so near throwing herself over; wondering to what fate her passion
and impetuosity would hurry her now, if she knew; cursing myself for
my weakness and perfidy; while Joseph kept asking me what I intended
to do.

"'Do? do?' I said, furiously,--'I shall kill you, that is what I shall
do, if you drive me mad with questions which neither angels nor fiends
can answer!'

"'I know what you will do,' said Joseph; 'you will go home and marry
Margaret.'

"You can have no conception of the effect of these words,--_Go home
and marry Margaret_. I shook as I have seen men shake with the
ague. All that might have been,--what might be still,--the happiness
cast away, and perhaps yet within my reach,--the temptation of the
Devil, who appealed to my cowardice, to fly from Flora, break my vows,
risk my honor and her life, for Margaret,--all this rushed through me
tumultuously. At length I said,--

"'No, Joseph; I shall do no such thing. I can never be worthy of
Margaret; it will be only by fasting and prayer that I can make myself
worthy of Flora.'

"'Will you start for Italy in the morning?' he asked, pitilessly.

"'For Italy in the morning?' I groaned. Meet Flora, travel with her,
play the hypocrite, with smiles on my lips and hell in my heart,--or
thunderstrike her at once with the truth;--what was I to do? To some
men the question would, perhaps, have presented few difficulties. But
for me, Sir, who am not quite devoid of conscience, whatever you may
think,--let me tell you, I'd rather hang by sharp hooks over a
roasting fire than be again suspended as I was betwixt two such
alternatives, and feel the torture of both!

"Having driven Joseph away, I locked myself into my room, and suffered
the torments of the damned in as quiet a manner as possible, until
morning. Then Joseph returned, and looked at me with dismay.

"'For Heaven's sake!' he said, 'you ought not to let this thing kill
you,--and it will, if you keep on.'

"'So much the better,' I said, 'if it kills nobody but me. But don't
be alarmed. Keep perfectly cool, and attend to the commission I am
going to trust to you. I can't see Flora this morning; I must gain a
little time. Go to the station of the Lyons railway, where I have
engaged to meet her party; say to her that I am detained, but that I
will join her on the journey. Give her no time to question you, and be
sure that she does not stay behind.'

"'I'll manage it,--trust me!' said Joseph. And off he started. At the
end of two hours, which seemed twenty, he burst into my room,
crying,--

"'Good news! she is gone! I told her you had lost your passport, and
would have to get another from our minister.'

"'What!' I exclaimed, 'you lied to her?'

"'Oh! there was no other way!' said Joseph, ingenuously,--'she is so
sharp! They're to wait for you at Marseilles. But I'll manage that,
too. On their arrival at the Hotel d'Orient, they'll find a
telegraphic dispatch from me. I wager a hat, they'll leave in the
first steamer for Naples. Then you can follow at your leisure.'

"'Thank you, Joseph.'

"I felt relieved. Then came a reaction. The next day I was attacked
by fever. I know not how long I struggled against it, but it mastered
me. The last things I remember were the visits of friends, the strange
talk of a French physician, whispers and consultations, which I knew
were about me, yet took no interest in,--and at length Joseph rushing
to my bedside, in a flutter of agitation, and gasping,--

"'Flora!'

"'What of Flora?' I demanded.

"'I telegraphed, but she wouldn't go; she has come back; she is here!'

"I was sinking back into the stupor from which I had been roused, when
I heard a rustling which seemed afar off, yet was in my chamber; then
a vision appeared to my sickened sight,--a face which I dimly thought
I had seen before,--a flood of curls and a rain of kisses showering
upon me,--sobs and devouring caresses,--Flora's voice calling me
passionate names; and I lying so passive, faintly struggling to
remember, until my soul sank whirling in darkness, and I knew no more.

"One morning, I cannot tell you how long after, I awoke and found
myself in a strange-looking room, filled with strange objects, not the
least strange of which was the thing that seemed myself. At first I
looked with vague and motionless curiosity out of the Lethe from which
my mind slowly emerged; painless, and at peace; listlessly questioning
whether I was alive or dead,--whether the limp weight lying in bed
there was my body,--the meaning of the silence and the closed
curtains. Then, with a succession of painful flashes, as if the pole
of an electrical battery had been applied to my brain, memory
returned,--Margaret, Flora, Paris, delirium. I next remember hearing
myself groan aloud,--then seeing Joseph at my side. I tried to speak,
but could not. Upon my pillow was a glove, and he placed it against my
cheek. An indescribable, excruciating thrill shot through me; still I
could not speak. After that, came a relapse. Like Mrs. Browning's
poet, I lay


    ''Twixt gloom and gleam,
    With Death and Life at each extreme.'


"But one morning I was better. I could talk. Joseph bent over me,
weeping for joy.

"'The danger is past!' he said. 'The doctors say you will get well!'

"'Have I been so ill, then?'

"'Ill?' echoed Joseph. 'Nobody thought you could live. We all gave you
up, except her;--and she'----

"'She!' I said,--'is she here?'

"'From the moment of her arrival,' replied Joseph, 'she has never left
you. Oh, if you don't thank God for her,'--he lowered his
voice,--'and live all the rest of your life just to reward her, you
are the most ungrateful wretch! You would certainly have died but for
her. She has scarcely slept, till this morning, when they said you
would recover.'

"Joseph paused. Every word he spoke went down like a weight of lead
into my soul. I had, indeed, been conscious of a tender hand soothing
my pillow, of a lovely form flitting through my dreams, of a breath
and magnetic touch of love infusing warm, sweet life into me,--but it
had always seemed Margaret, never Flora.

"'The glove?' I asked.

"'Here it is,' said Joseph. 'In your delirium you demanded it; you
would not be without it; you caressed it, and addressed to it the
tenderest apostrophes.'

"'And Flora,--she heard?'

"'Flora?' repeated Joseph. 'Don't you know--haven't you any idea--what
has happened? It has been terrible!'

"'Tell me at once!' I said. 'Keep nothing back!'

"'Immediately on her return from Marseilles,--you remember that?'

"'Yes, yes! go on!'

"'She established herself here. Nobody could come between her and you;
and a brave, true girl she proved herself. Oh, but she was wild about
you! She offered the doctors extravagant sums--she would have bribed
Heaven itself, if she could--not to let you die. But there came a
time,--one night, when you were raving about Margaret,--I tell
you, it was terrible! She would have the truth, and so I told
her,--everything, from the beginning. It makes me shudder now to think
of it,--it struck her so like death!'

"'What did she say?--what did she do?'

"'She didn't say much,--"Oh, my God! my God!"--something like that.
The next morning she showed me a letter which she had written to
Margaret.'

"'To Margaret?' I started up, but fell back again, helpless, with a
groan.

"'Yes,' said Joseph,--'and it was a letter worthy of the noblest
woman. I wrote another, for I thought Margaret ought to know
everything. It might save her life, and yours, too. In the mean time,
I had got worse news from her still,--that her health continued to
decline, and that her physician saw no hope for her except in a voyage
to Italy. But that she resolutely refused to undertake, until she got
those letters. You know the rest.'

"'The rest?' I said, as a horrible suspicion flashed upon me. 'You
told me something terrible had happened.'

"'Yes,--to Flora. But you have heard the worst. She is gone; she is by
this time in Rome.'

"'Flora gone? But you said she was here.'

"'_She?_ So _she_ is! But did you think I meant Flora? I
supposed you knew. Not Flora,--but Margaret! Margaret!'

"I shrieked out, 'Margaret?' That's the last I remember,--at least,
the last I can tell. She was there,--I was in her arms;--she had
crossed the sea, not to save her own life, but mine. And Flora had
gone, and my dreams were true; and the breath and magnetic touch of
love, which infused warm, sweet life into me, and seemed not Flora's,
but Margaret's, were no illusion, and----what more can I tell?

"From the moment of receiving those letters, Margaret's energies were
roused, and she had begun to regain her health. There is no such
potent medicine as hope and love. It had saved her, and it saved
me. My recovery was sure and speedy. The happiness which had seemed
too great, too dear to be ever possible, was now mine. She was with me
again, all my own! Only the convalescent, who feels the glow of love
quicken the pure pulses of returning health, knows what perfect bliss
is.

"As soon as I was strong enough to travel, we set out for Italy, the
faithful Joseph accompanying us. We enjoyed Florence, its palaces and
galleries of art, the quaint old churches, about which the religious
sentiment of ages seems to hang like an atmosphere, the morning and
evening clamor of musical bells, the Arno, and the olive-crowned
Tuscan hills,--all so delightful to the senses and the soul. After
Florence, Naples, with its beautiful, dangerous, volcanic environs,
where the ancients aptly located their heaven and hell, and where a
luxurious, passionate people absorbs into its blood the spirit of the
soil, and the fire and languor of the clime. From Naples to Rome,
where we saw St Peter's, that bubble on the surface of the globe,
which the next earthquake may burst, the Vatican, with its marvels of
statuary, the ruined temples of the old gods and heroes, the Campagna,
the Pope, and--Flora. We had but a glimpse of her. It was one night,
at the Colosseum. We had been musing about that vast and solemn pile
by the moonlight, which silvered it over with indescribable beauty,
and at last, accompanied by our guides, bearing torches, we ascended
through dark and broken passages to the upper benches of the
amphitheatre. As we were passing along one side, we saw picturesquely
moving through the shadows of the opposite walls, with the immense
arena between, the red-flaring torches and half-illuminated figures of
another party of visitors. I don't know whether it was instinct, or
acuteness of vision, that suggested Flora; but, with a sudden leap of
the heart, I felt that she was there. We descended, and passed out
under the dark arches of the stupendous ruin. The other visitors
walked a little in advance of us,--two of the number lingering behind
their companions; and certain words of tenderness and passion we
heard, which strangely brought to my mind those nights on the
ocean-steamer.

"'What is the matter with you?' said Margaret, looking in my face.

"'Hush!' I whispered,--'there--that woman--is Flora!'

"She clung to me,--I drew her closer, as we paused; and the happy
couple went on, over the ancient Forum, by the silent columns of the
ruined temples, and disappeared from sight upon the summit of the
Capitoline Hill.

"A few months later, we heard of the marriage of Flora to an English
baronet; she is now _my Lady_, and I must do her the justice to
say that I never knew a woman better fitted to bear that title. As
for Margaret,--if you will return with me to my home on the Hudson,
after we have finished our hunt after those Western lands, you shall
see her, together with the loveliest pair of children that ever made
two proud parents happy.

"And here," added Westwood, "we have arrived at the end of our day's
journey; we have had the Romance of the Glove, and now--let's have
some supper."



TO ----.


ON RECEIVING HIS "FEW VERSES FOR A FEW FRIENDS."


"(PRINTED, NOT PUBLISHED.)"


  Well thought! Who would not rather hear
    The songs to Love and Friendship sung,
    Than those which move the stranger's tongue
  And feed his unselected ear?

  Our social joys are more than fame;
    Life withers in the public look:
    Why mount the pillory of a book,
  Or barter comfort for a name?

  Who in a house of glass would dwell,
    With curious eyes at every pane?
    To ring him in and out again
  Who wants the public crier's bell?

  To see the angel in one's way,
    Who wants to play the ass's part,
    Bear on his back the wizard Art,
  And in his service speak or bray?

  And who his manly locks would shave
    And quench the eyes of common sense,
    To share the noisy recompense
  That mocked the shorn and blinded slave?

  The heart has needs beyond the head,
    And, starving in the plenitude
    Of strange gifts, craves its common food,
  Our human nature's daily bread.

  We are but men: no gods are we
    To sit in mid-heaven, cold and bleak,
    Each separate, on his painful peak,
  Thin-cloaked in self-complacency!

  Better his lot whose axe is swung
    In Wartburg woods, or that poor girl's
    Who by the Ilm her spindle whirls
  And sings the songs that Luther sung,

  Than his, who, old and cold and vain,
    At Weimar sat, a demigod,
    And bowed with Jove's imperial nod
  His votaries in and out again!

  Ply, Vanity, thy wingèd feet!
    Ambition, hew thy rocky stair!
    Who envies him who feeds on air
  The icy splendors of his seat?

  I see your Alps above me cut
    The dark, cold sky,--and dim and lone
    I see ye sitting, stone on stone,
  With human senses dulled and shut.

  I could not reach you, if I would,
    Nor sit among your cloudy shapes;
    And (spare the fable of the Grapes
  And Fox) I would not, if I could.

  Keep to your lofty pedestals!
    The safer plain below I choose:
    Who never wins can rarely lose,
  Who never climbs as rarely falls.

  Let such as love the eagle's scream
    Divide with him his home of ice:
    For me shall gentler notes suffice,--
  The valley-song of bird and stream,

  The pastoral bleat, the drone of bees,
    The flail-beat chiming far away,
    The cattle-low at shut of day,
  The voice of God in leaf and breeze!

  Then lend thy hand, my wiser friend,
    And help me to the vales below,
    (In truth, I have not far to go,)
  Where sweet with flowers the fields extend.



THE SINGING-BIRDS AND THEIR SONGS.


Those persons enjoy the most happiness, if possessed of a benevolent
heart and favored by ordinary circumstances of fortune, who have
acquired by habit and education the power of deriving pleasure from
objects that lie immediately around them. But these common sources of
happiness are opened to those only who are endowed with genius, or who
have received a certain kind of intellectual training. The more
ordinary the mental and moral organization and culture of the
individual, the more far-fetched and dear-bought must be his
enjoyments. Nature has given us in full development only those
appetites which are necessary to our physical well-being. She has
left our moral appetites and capacities in the germ, to be developed
by education and circumstances. Hence those agreeable sensations that
come chiefly from the exercise of the imagination, which may be called
the pleasures of sentiment, are available only to persons of a
peculiar refinement of mind. The ignorant and rude may be dazzled and
delighted by physical beauty, and charmed by loud and stirring sounds;
but those more simple melodies and less attractive colors and forms
that appeal to the mind for their principal effect act more powerfully
upon individuals of superior culture.

In proportion as we have been trained to be agreeably affected by the
outward forms of Nature, and the sounds that proceed from the animate
and inanimate world, are we capable of being made happy without
resorting to expensive and vulgar recreations. It ought, therefore, to
be one of the chief points in the education of youth, while teaching
them the still more important offices of humanity, to cultivate and
enliven their susceptibility to the charms of natural objects. Then
would the aspects of Nature, continually changing with the progress of
the seasons and the sounds that enliven their march, satisfy, in a
great measure, that craving for agreeable sensations which leads
mankind away from humble and healthful pursuits to those of a more
artificial and exciting life. The value of such pleasures consists not
so much in their cheapness as in their favorable moral influences,
which improve the heart, while they lead the mind to observations that
pleasantly exercise and develope, without tasking its powers. The
quiet emotions, half musical and half poetical, which are awakened by
listening to the songs of birds, belong to this class of refined
enjoyments.

But the music of birds, though agreeable to all, conveys positive and
durable pleasure only to those who have learned to associate with
their notes, in connection with the scenes of Nature, a thousand
interesting and romantic images. To many persons of this character it
affords more delight than the most brilliant music of the opera or the
concert. In vain, therefore, will it be said, as an objection, that
the notes of birds have no charm, save that which is derived from
association, and that, considered as music, they do not equal that of
the most simple reed or flageolet. It is sufficient to remark, that
the most delightful influences of Nature proceed from those sights and
sounds that appeal to the imagination and affections through the
medium of slight and almost insensible impressions made upon the eye
and the ear. At the moment when these physical impressions exceed a
certain mean, the spell is broken, and the enjoyment becomes sensual,
not intellectual. How soon, indeed, would the songs of birds lose
their effect, if they were loud and brilliant, like a band of
instruments! It is their simplicity that gives them their charm.

As a further illustration of this point, it may be remarked that
simple melodies have among all people exercised a greater power over
the imagination than louder and more complicated music. Nature employs
a very small amount of physical sensation to create an intellectual
passion, and when an excess is used a diminished effect is produced. I
am persuaded that the effect of a great part of our sacred music is
lost by an excess of harmony and a too great volume of sound. On the
same principle, a loud crash of thunder deafens and terrifies; but its
low and distant rumbling produces an agreeable emotion of sublimity.

The songs of birds are as intimately allied with poetry as with
music. The lark has been aptly denominated a "feathered lyric" by one
of the English poets; and the analogy becomes apparent when we
consider how much the song of a bird resembles a lyrical ballad in its
influence on the mind. Though it utters no words, how plainly it
suggests a long train of agreeable images of love, beauty, friendship,
and home! When a young person has suffered any severe wound of the
affections, he seldom fails, if endowed with a sensitive mind, to
listen to the birds as sharers in his affliction. Through them the
deities of the groves seem to offer him their consolation. By
indulging this habit of making companionship with the objects of
Nature, all pleasing sights and sounds gradually become certain
anodynes for his sorrow; and those who have this mental alembic for
turning grief into a poetic melancholy can seldom be reduced to a
state of absolute despondency. Poetry, or rather the poetic sentiment,
exalts all our pleasures and soothes all our afflictions by some
illusive charm, whether it be turned into the channel of religion or
romance. Without this reflection of light from the imagination, what
is the passion of love? and what is our love of beauty and of sweet
sounds, but a mere gravitation?

The voice of every singing-bird has its associations in the minds of
all susceptible persons who were born and nurtured within the
precincts of its untutored minstrelsy. The music of birds is
modulated in pleasant unison with all the chords of affection and
imagination, filling the soul with a lively consciousness of happiness
and beauty, and soothing it with romantic visions of memory,--of love,
when it was an ethereal sentiment of adoration and not a passion, and
of friendship, when it was a passion and not an expedience,--of dear
and simple adventures, and of comrades who had part in them,--of
dappled mornings, and serene and glowing sunsets,--of sequestered
nooks and mossy seats in the old wood,--of paths by the riverside, and
flowers that smiled a bright welcome to our rambling,--of lingering
departures from home, and of old by-ways, overshadowed by trees and
hedged with roses and viburnums, that spread their shade and their
perfume around our path to gladden our return. By this pleasant
instrumentality has Nature provided for the happiness of those who
have learned to be delighted with the survey of her works, and with
the sound of those voices which she has appointed to communicate to
the human soul the joys of her inferior creation.

The singing-birds, with reference to their songs, may be divided into
four classes. First, the Rapid Singers, whose song is uninterrupted,
of considerable length, and uttered with fervor, and in apparent
ecstasy. Second, the Moderate Singers, whose notes are slowly
modulated, but without pauses or rests between their different
strains. Third, the Interrupted Singers, who seldom modulate their
notes with rapidity, and make decided pauses between their several
strains, of which there are in general from five to eight or
nine. Fourth, the Warblers, whose notes consist of only one or two
strains, not combined into a song.

The canary, among foreign birds, and the linnet and bobolink, among
American birds, are familiar examples of the first class; the common
robin and the veery of the second; the wood-thrush, the cat-bird, and
the mocking-bird, of the third; and the blue-bird, the pewee, and the
purple martin, of the fourth class. It may be added, that some birds
are nearly periodical in their habits of singing, preferring the
morning and evening, and occasional periods in other parts of the day,
while others sing almost indifferently at all hours. The greater
number of species, however, are more tuneful in the early morning than
at any other hour.

June, in this part of the world, is the most vocal month of the
year. Many of our principal songsters do not arrive until near the
middle of May; and all, whether they come early or late, continue in
song throughout the month of June. The bobolink, which is one of the
first to become silent, continues vocal until the second week in
July. So nearly simultaneous is the discontinuance of the songs of
this species, that it might seem as if their silence were
preconcerted, and that by a vote they had, on a certain day, adjourned
over to another year. If an unusually genial day occurs about the
seventh of July, we may hear multitudes of them singing merrily on
that occasion. Should this time be followed by two or three
successive days of chilly and rainy weather, their tunefulness is so
generally brought to a close during this period, that we may not hear
another musical note from a single individual after the seventh. The
songs of birds are discontinued as soon as their amorous dalliances
and the care of their offspring have ceased. Hence those birds that
raise but one brood of young during the season, like the bobolink, are
the first to become silent.

No one of the New England birds is an autumnal warbler; though the
song-sparrow often greets the fine mornings in October with his lays,
and the shore-lark, after spending the summer in Labrador and about
the shores of Hudson's Bay, is sometimes heard in autumn, soaring and
singing at the dawn of day, while on his passage to the South. The
bobolink, the veery, or Wilson's thrush, the red thrush, and the
golden robin, are silent after the middle of July; the wood-thrush,
the cat-bird, and the common robin, not until a month later; but the
song-sparrow alone continues to sing throughout the summer. The
tuneful season of the year, in New England, embraces a period of about
four months, from the middle of April to the middle of August.

There are certain times of the day, as well as certain seasons of the
year, when the birds are most musical. The grand concert of the
feathered tribe takes place during the hour between dawn and sunrise.
During the remainder of the day they sing less in concert, though many
species are very musical at noonday, and seem, like the nocturnal
birds, to prefer the hour when others are silent. At sunset there is an
apparent attempt to unite once more in chorus, but this is far from
being so loud or so general as in the morning. The little birds which
I have classed in the fourth division are a very important
accompaniment to the anthem of dawn, their notes, though short,
serving agreeably to fill up the pauses made by the other
musicians. Thus, the hair-bird (_Fringilla Socialis_) has a sharp
and trilling note, without any modulation, and not at all melodious,
when heard alone; but in the morning it is the chief harmonizer of the
whole chorus, and serves, more than any other voice, to give unity and
symphony to the multitude of miscellaneous parts.

There are not many birds whose notes could be accurately described
upon the gamut. The nearest approach we can make to accuracy is to
give some general idea of their time and modulation. Their musical
intervals can be distinguished but with difficulty, on account of the
rapidity of their utterance. I have often attempted to transcribe some
of their notes upon the musical scale, but I am persuaded that such
sketches can be only approximations to literal correctness. As
different individuals of the same species sing very differently, the
notes, as transcribed from the song of one individual, will never
exactly represent the song of another. If we listen attentively,
however, to a number of songs, we shall detect in all of them a
_theme_, as it is termed by musicians, of which the different
individuals of the species warble their respective variations. Every
song is, technically speaking, a _fantasia_ constructed upon this
theme, from which none of the species ever departs.

It is very generally believed that the singing-birds are confined to
temperate latitudes, and that the tropical birds have not the gift of
song. That this is an error is apparent from the testimony of
travellers, who speak of the birds in the Sandwich Islands and New
Zealand as singing delightfully, and some fine songsters are
occasionally imported in cages from tropical climates. The origin of
this notion may be explained in several ways. It is worthy of notice
that within the tropics the singing season of different species of
birds does not occur at the same time. One species may be musical in
the spring, another in summer, and others in autumn and winter. When
one species, therefore, has begun to sing, another has ceased, so
that, at whatever time of the year the traveller stops, he hears but
few birds engaged in song.

In the temperate latitudes, on the contrary, as soon as the birds
arrive, they commence building their nests, and become musical at the
same time. If a stranger from a tropical climate should arrive in this
country in the spring, and remain here during the months of May and
June, he would hear more birds singing together than he ever heard at
once in his own clime; but were he to arrive about the middle of July,
when the greater number of our birds have discontinued their songs, he
would probably, if he knew the reputation of the Northern birds,
marvel a little at their silence. If there are as many birds singing
at one time during the whole year, in the hot climates, as we hear in
this country in the latter half of summer, the greater average would
appear to be on the side of the former.

It may also be remarked, that the singing-birds of the tropics are not
so well known as those of temperate latitudes which are inhabited by
civilized men. The savages and barbarians, who are the principal
inhabitants of hot countries, are seldom observant of the habits or
the voices of the singing-birds. A musician of the feathered race, as
well as a harpist or violinist, must have an appreciating audience, or
his powers can never be made known to the world. But even with the
same audience, the tropical singing-birds would probably be less
esteemed than songsters of equal merit in the temperate latitudes;
for, amid the stridulous and deafening sounds made by the insects in
warm climates, the notes of birds would be scarcely audible.

We are still inclined to believe, however, that there is a larger
proportion of musical birds in the temperate than in the torrid zone,
because in the former region there are more of those species that
build low and live among the grass and shrubbery, and it is well known
that the singing-birds are mostly of the latter description. In warm
climates the vegetation consists chiefly of trees and tall vines,
forming together an umbrageous canopy overhead, with but a scanty
undergrowth. In temperate latitudes the shrubbery predominates,
especially in the most northerly parts. Moreover, the grasses that
furnish by their seeds a great proportion of the food of the smaller
birds are almost entirely wanting in the torrid zone.

The birds that live in trees are remarkable for their brilliant
plumage; those that live upon the ground and in the shrubbery are
plainly dressed. This is a provision of Nature for their protection,
as the ground-birds must have a predominance of tints that resemble
the general hues of the surface of the earth. I do not know a single
brightly-plumed bird that nestles upon the ground, unless the bobolink
may be considered an exception. They are almost invariably colored
like sparrows. The birds that inhabit the trees, on the other hand,
need less of this protection, though the females are commonly of an
olive or greenish yellow, which harmonizes with the general hue of the
foliage, and screens them from observation, while sitting upon the
nest. The male, on the contrary, who seldom sits upon the nest,
requires a plumage that will render him conspicuous to the female and
to the young, after they have left their nest. It is remarkable, that
Nature, in all cases in which she has created a difference in the
plumage of the male and female, has used the hues of their plumage
only for the protection of the mother and the young, for whose
advantage she has dressed the male parent in colors that must somewhat
endanger his own safety.

The color of the plumage of birds seems to bear less relation to their
powers of song than to their habitats; and as the birds that live in
trees are commonly less tuneful, they are more brilliantly arrayed.
The bird employs his song in wooing his mate, as well as in
entertaining her after she is wedded; and it is not unlikely that
Nature may have compensated those which are deficient in song by
giving them a superior beauty of plumage. As the offices of courtship
devolve entirely upon the males, it is the more necessary that they
should be possessed of conspicuous attractions; but as the task of
sitting upon the nest devolves upon the female, she requires more of
that protection which arises from the conformity of her plumage with
the general hue of the objects that surround her nest. While she is
sitting, the plain hues of her dress protect her from observation; but
when she leaves her nest to seek her companion, she is enabled by his
brilliant colors the more easily to discover him. The male is diligent
in providing for the wants of the offspring, and hence it is important
that his dress should render him conspicuous. When the young birds
have left the nest, upon seeing the flash of his plumage, they
immediately utter their call, and by this note, which might not
otherwise be sounded at the right moment, he detects them and supplies
them with food. Should a bird of prey suddenly come into their
neighborhood, he overlooks the plainly-dressed mother and off-spring,
and gives chase to the male parent, who not only escapes, but at the
same time diverts the attention of the foe from his defenceless
progeny.

But the birds that build low, either upon the ground or among the
shrubbery, are exposed to a greater number and variety of
enemies. Hence it becomes necessary that the males as well as the
females should have that protection which is afforded by sobriety of
color. Not being made conspicuous by their plumage, they are endowed
with the gift of song, that they may make known their presence to
their mate and their young by their voice. I have often thought that
the song of the bird was designed by Nature for the benefit of the
young, no less than for the entertainment of his mate. The sounds
uttered by birds on account of their young always precede the period
of incubation. The common hen begins to cluck several days before she
begins to sit upon her eggs. In like manner the male singing-bird
commences his song when the pair are making ready to build their
nest. While his mate is sitting, his song reminds her of his presence,
and inspires her with a feeling of security and content, during the
period of her confinement. As soon as the young are hatched, they
begin to learn his voice and grow accustomed to it, and when they fly
from the nest they are prevented by the sound of it from wandering and
getting bewildered. If they happen to fly beyond certain bounds, the
song of the male parent warns them of their distance, and causes them
to turn and draw near the place from which it seems to issue. Thus the
song of the male bird, always uttered within a certain circumference,
of which the nest is the centre, becomes a kind of sentinel voice, to
keep the young birds within prudent limits.

It is not easy to explain why a larger proportion of the birds that
occupy trees should be destitute of song, except on the supposition
that in such elevated situations the young are more easily guided by
sight than by hearing. Still there are many songsters which are
dressed in brilliant plumage, and of these we have some examples among
our native birds. These, however, are evident exceptions to the
general fact, and we may trace a plain analogy in this respect between
birds and insects. The musical insects are, we believe, invariably
destitute of brilliant plumage. Butterflies and moths do not sing; the
music of insects comes chiefly from the plainly-dressed locust and
grasshopper tribes.



OUR TALKS WITH UNCLE JOHN.


TALK NUMBER ONE.

We were happy children, Alice and I, when, on Alice's sixteenth
birthday, we persuaded our father, the most indulgent parent in
Cincinnati, that there was no need of our going to school any longer;
not that our education was finished,--we did not even put up such a
preposterous plea as that,--but because Mrs. C. did not intend to send
Laura, and we did not believe any of our set of girls would go back
after the holidays.

There is no being so facile as an American father, especially where
his daughters are concerned; and our dear father was no exception to
the general rule. So our school education was finished. For the
rest, for the real education of our minds and hearts, we took care of
ourselves.

How could it be otherwise? Our father, a leading merchant in
Cincinnati, spent his days in his counting-room, and his evenings
buried in his newspapers or in his business calculations, on the
absorbing nature of which we had learned to build with such certainty,
that, when his consent was necessary to some scheme of pleasure, we
preferred our requests with such a nice adjustment of time, that the
answer generally was, "January 3d,--two thousand bales,--yes, my
dear,--and twelve are sixteen,--yes, Alice, don't bother me, child!"
and, armed with that unconscious assent, we sought our mother.

"Papa says that we may go. Do you think, mamma, that Miss D. can have
our dresses in time?"

Our dear mother, most faithful and indefatigable in her care for our
bodily wants, what time had she for aught else? With feeble health,
with poor servants, with a large house crowded with fine furniture,
and with the claims of a numerous calling and party-giving
acquaintance,--claims which both my father and herself imagined his
business and her social position made imperative,--what could she do
more than to see that our innumerable white skirts were properly
tucked, embroidered, washed, and starched, that our party dresses were
equal to those which Mrs. C. and Mrs. D. provided for their girls, and
that our bonnets were fashionable enough for Fourth Street? Could she
find time for anything more? Yes,--on our bodily ailments she always
found time to bestow motherly care, watchfulness, and sympathy; of our
mental ills she knew nothing.

So we cared for ourselves, Alice and I, through those merry,
thoughtless two years that followed,--merry (not happy) in our
Fourth-Street promenades, our Saturday-afternoon assignations at the
dancing-school rooms, our parties and picnics; and merry still, but
thoughtless always, in our eager search for excitement in the novels,
whose perusal was our only literary enjoyment.

Somehow we woke up,--somehow we groped our way out of our
frivolity. First came weariness, then impatience, and last a
passing-away of all things old and a putting-on of things new.

I remember well the day when Alice first spoke out her unrest. My
pretty Alice! I see her now, as she flung herself across the foot of
the bed, and, her chin on her hand, watched me combing and parting my
hair. I see again those soft, dark brown eyes, so deep in their liquid
beauty that you lost yourself gazing down into them; again I see
falling around her that wealth of auburn hair of the true Titian
color, the smooth, low forehead, and the ripe, red lips, whose
mobility lent such varying expression to her face.

At that moment the eyes drooped and the lips trembled with weariness.

"Must we go to that tiresome party, Kate? We have been to three this
week; they are all alike."

I looked at her. "Are you in earnest? will you stay at home? I know I
shall be tired to death; but what will Laura C. say? what will all
the girls think?"

Alice raised herself on her elbow. "Kate, I don't believe it is any
matter what they think. Do we really care for any of them, except to
wish them well? and we can wish them well without being with them all
the time. Do you know, Kate, I have been tired to death of all this
for these three months? It was very well at first, when we first left
school; parties were pleasant enough then, but now"--and Alice sprang
from the bed and seated herself in a low chair at my feet, as, glowing
and eager, she went on, her face lighting with her rapid
speech,--"Kate, I have thought it over and over again, this tiresome,
useless life; it wears me out, and I mean to change it. You know we
may do just as we please; neither papa nor mamma will care. I shall stay
at home."

"But what will people say?" I put in, feebly.

Alice's eyes flashed. "You know, Kate, I don't care for 'people,' as
you call them. I only know that I am utterly weary of this petty
visiting and gossiping, this round of parties, concerts, and lectures,
where we meet the same faces. There is no harm in it that I know of,
but it is simply so stupid. If we met new people, it would be
something; but the same girls, the same beaux."

"And George W. and Henry B., what will they do for partners to-night?
what will become of them?"

Alice put up her lip. "They will console themselves with Laura C. and
those Kentucky girls from Louisville. For my part, I shall put on my
walking-dress, and go over the river to spend the evening with Uncle
John, and, what is more, I shall ask mamma to let me stay two or three
days." And, suiting the action to the word, she began to dress
hurriedly.

"You will surely never go without me, Alice?"

"You will never stay behind, if I do go, Kate," said she, looking back
at me laughingly. "But make haste, I shall gain mamma over in five
minutes; and we must be quick, if we are to reach Uncle John's before
tea-time."

Uncle John,--even now that long years have passed, so long that it
seems to me as if I had gone into another state of existence, as if I
were not the same person as in those times,--even now the thought of
him makes my heart beat quick and the blood thrill more rapidly
through my veins. He was the delight of my childhood; far better, he
was the comfort and support of my after years. Even as a child, I
knew, knew by some intuitive perception, that Uncle John was not
happy. How soon I learned that he was a disappointed man I cannot
tell; but long before I grew up into womanhood I was conscious that he
had made some mistake in life, that some cloud hung over him. I never
asked, I never talked on the subject, even to Alice; there was always
an understanding between us that we should be silent about that which
each of us felt with all the certainty of knowledge.

But if Uncle John was unhappy himself, who was there that he did not
make happy? No one who came near him,--from his nieces whom he petted
and spoiled, down to the little negroes who rolled, unrebuked, over
the grass before his window in summer, or woke him on a Christmas
morning with their shrill "Christmas gift, Massa John!" Not that Uncle
John was a busybody, troubling himself about many things, and seeking
out occasions for obtruding his kindnesses. He lived so secluded a
life in the old family-house on the outskirts of Newport, (we were a
Kentucky family,) as to raise the gossiping curiosity of all new
residents, and to call forth the explanatory remark from the old
settlers, that the Delanos were all queer people, but John Delano was
the queerest of them all.

So Uncle John spent his time between his library and his garden, while
Old Aunt Molly took upon herself the cares of the household, and kept
the pantry always in a condition to welcome the guests, to whom, with
Kentucky hospitality, Uncle John's house was always open. Courteous he
was as the finest gentleman of olden times, and sincerely glad to see
his friends, but I have thought sometimes that he was equally glad to
have them go away. While they were with him he gave them the truest
welcome, leaving garden and books to devote himself to their
entertainment; but I have detected a look of relief on his face as he
shut the gate upon them and sought the shelter of his own little
study, that sanctum which even we children were not allowed to enter
except on special occasions, on a quiet winter evening, or, perhaps,
on as quiet a summer morning.

Uncle John had not always lived in the old house. We knew, that, after
Grandpapa's death, it had been shut up,--for my father's business
engagements would not allow my mother to reside in it, and Uncle John
had been for years among the Indians in the far Northwest. We had
heard of him sometimes, but we had never seen him, we hardly realized
that he was a living person, till one day he suddenly appeared among
us, rough-looking and uncouth in his hunter's dress, with his heavy
beard and his long hair, bringing with him his multifarious
assortment, so charming to our eyes, of buffalo-robes and elk-horns,
wolf-skins and Indian moccasins.

He staid with us that winter, and very merry and happy he seemed to us
at first;--looking back upon it now, I should call it, not happiness,
but excitement;--but as the winter passed on, even we children saw
that all was not right with him. He gradually withdrew himself from
the constant whirl of society in our house, and, by the spring, had
settled himself in the old home at Newport, adding to his old
furniture only his books, which he had been all winter collecting, and
the primitive _in_conveniences of his own room, which his rough
Western life had rendered indispensable to him. His study presented a
singular mixture of civilization and barbarism, and its very
peculiarities made it a delight to Alice and me. There were a few rare
engravings on the walls, hung between enormous antlers which supported
rough-looking rifles and uncouth hunting-shirts,--cases of elegantly
bound and valuable books, half hidden by heavy buffalo-robes marked
all over with strange-looking hieroglyphics which told the Indian
_coups_,--study-chairs of the most elaborate manufacture, with
levers and screws to incline them to any, the idlest, inclination,
over the backs of which hung white wolf-skins, mounted, claws and all,
with brilliant red cloth,--and in the corner, on the pretty Brussels
carpet, the prettiest that mamma could find at Shellito's, lay the bag
of Indian weed (Uncle John scorned tobacco) with which he filled his
pipe every evening, and the moccasins which he always wore when at
home.

In vain did Alice and I spend our eyesight in embroidering slippers
for him; our Christmas gifts were received with a kiss or a stroke of
the head, and then put into Aunt Molly's hands to be taken care of,
while he still wore the rough moccasins, made far up among the
Blackfoot Indians, which he laughingly declared were warmer, cooler,
softer, and stronger than any slippers or boots that civilized
shoemaker ever turned off his last.

Quiet as it was at the old house, it had always been a source of
happiness to us to be allowed to make a visit to Uncle John. There,
if that were possible, we did more as we pleased than even at home;
there were not even the conventionalities of society to restrain us;
we were in the country, comparatively. And who like Uncle John knew
what real country pleasures were? who like him could provide for every
contingency? who was so full of expedients in those happy gypsying
expeditions which we would entice him into, and which sometimes lasted
for days, nay, weeks? He would mount Alice and myself on two of his
sure-footed little Indian ponies, with which his trader friends always
kept him supplied; and throwing a pair of saddle-bags, filled with
what he called our woman's traps, over his own, he would start with us
for a trip across the country for miles, stopping at the farm-houses
at night, laughing us out of our conventional notions about the
conveniences of lodging, and so forth,--and camping out during the
day, making what we called a continuous picnic. And then the stories
he would tell us of his adventures among the Blackfeet,--of his
trading expeditions,--his being taken prisoner by the Sioux,--his life
in the forts,--till Alice would creep nearer to him in her nervous
excitement, as if to be sure that he was really with her, and then beg
him to go on and tell us something more. Once I asked him how he
happened to go out among the Indians. His face darkened,--"My little
Kate, you must not ask questions,"--and as I turned to Alice, her eyes
were full of tears. She had been looking at him while I spoke, and she
told me afterwards that something about Uncle John's lips made her
cry, they quivered so, and were set afterwards so tight. We never
asked him that question again.

But the ferry-boat, "The Belle of Newport," has neared the landing
while I have been introducing Uncle John, and the soft summer twilight
saw us wending our way through the town towards the Kentucky hills,
whose rounded outlines were still bright with the evening red. Just
on the rise of the nearest was the Old House,--for it went with us by
no other name,--and at the garden-gate stood Uncle John, his face
brightening as he saw us, while behind him a row of eager faces showed
their wide-stretched mouths and white teeth.

"Come to spend two or three days, Alice?" said Uncle John, that
evening, as we sat with shaded lamp in the study, his moccasined feet
resting on the window-seat, while he sank into the depths of his
leather-covered Spanish chair. "Why, what has become of the parties
that Aunt Molly heard about in your kitchen on her way to market
yesterday? Where are all our handsome young students that were coming
home for the holidays? Remember, I'll have none of them following you
over here, and disarranging my books by way of showing off their
knowledge."

Alice laughed. "Not a soul knows where we are, Uncle John, except
mamma, and she promised not to tell. Laura C. has a party to-night,
and she will be provoked enough at our running away; but the truth
is,----well, Uncle John, I am tired of parties; indeed, I am tired of
our way of living, and--and Kate and I thought we would come and ask
you what we ought to do about it."

Uncle John puckered up his face with a comical expression, and then,
looking out of the window, whistled the Indian buffalo-call.

Alice sprung up. "Don't whistle that provoking thing, Uncle John!
Indeed, I am thoroughly in earnest,--parties are so tiresome,--all
exactly alike; we always see the same people, or the same sort of
people. There is nothing about them worth having, except the dancing;
and even that is not as good as a scamper over the hills with you and
the ponies. You know we have been going to parties for these two
years; we have seen so much of society, no wonder we are tired of it."

"Sit down, Alice," said Uncle John; "you do look really in earnest, so
I suppose you must not be whistled at. And you have come all the way
over here this evening to get me to solve Life's problem for you? My
dear, I cannot work it out for myself. You are 'tired of society'?
Why, little one, you have not seen society yet. Suppose I could put
you down to-night in the midst of some European court,--could show you
men whose courage, wit, or learning had made them world-famous,--women
whose beauty, grace, and cultivation brought those world-famous men to
their side, and who held them there by the fascination that
high-breeding knows how to use. Should you talk of sameness then?"

Alice's eyes sparkled for a moment, then she said,--

"Yes, I should tire even of that, after a while, glorious as it would
be at first."

"Have you reached such sublime heights of philosophy already? Then,
perhaps, I shall not seem to be talking nonsense, when I tell you that
there is nothing in the world of which you would not tire after the
first joy of possession was over, no position which would not seem
monotonous. You do not believe me? Of course not. We all buy our own
experience in life; on one of two rocks we split: either we do not
want a thing after we have got it, or we do not get it till we no
longer want it. Some of us suffer shipwreck both ways. But, Alice, you
must find that out for yourself."

"Can we not profit by each other's mistakes, Uncle?"

"No, child. To what purpose should I show you the breakers where my
vessel struck? Do you suppose you will steer exactly in my path? But
what soberness is this? you are not among breakers yet; you are simply
'tired of living';" and Uncle John's smile was too genial to be called
satirical.

"Tired of not living, I think," replied Alice,--"tired of doing
nothing, of having nothing to do. The girls, Laura and the rest of
them, find so much excitement in what seems to me so stupid!"

"You are not exactly like 'Laura and the rest of them,' I fancy, my
dear, and what suits them is rather too tame for you. But what do you
propose to do with yourself now that you are beginning to live?"

"Now you are laughing at me, Uncle, and you will laugh more when I
tell you that I mean to study and to make Kate study with me."

"Poor Kate!--if you should fancy swimming, shooting, or any other
unheard-of pursuit, Kate would be obliged to swim and shoot with
you. But I will not laugh any more. Study, if you will, Alice; you
will learn fast enough, and, in this age of fast-advancing
civilization, when the chances of eligible matrimony for young ladies
in your station are yearly becoming less and less,--oh, you need not
put up your lip and peep into my bachelor's shaving-glass!--let me
tell you that a literary taste is a recourse not to be despised. Of
course you will study now to astonish me, or to surprise your young
friends, or for some other equally wise reason; but the time may come
when literature will be its own exceeding great reward."

"Uncle, answer me one thing,--are you as happy here in your quiet
study as you were in your exciting life among the Indians? Do you not
tire of this everyday sameness?"

"Close questioning, Alice, but I will answer you truly. Other things
being equal, I confess to you that the Indian life was the more
monotonous of the two. I look back now on my twenty years of savage
life and see nothing to vary its dreary sameness; the dangers were
always alike, the excitements always the same, and the rest was a dead
blank. The whole twenty years might be comprised in four words,--we
fought, we hunted, we eat, we slept. No, there is no monotony like
that,--no life so stupid as that of the savage, with his low wants and
his narrow hopes and fears. My life here among my books, which seems
to you so tame, is excitement itself compared with that. Your
stupidest party is full of life, intelligence, wit, when put beside an
Indian powwow. There is but one charm in that wandering life,
Alice,--the free intercourse with Nature; _that_ never tires; but
then you must remember that to enjoy it you must be cultivated up to
it. There needs all the teaching of civilization, nay, the education
of life, to enjoy Nature truly. These quiet hills, these beech
forests, are more to me now than Niagara was at eighteen; and Niagara
itself, which raises the poet above the earth, falls tame on the mind
of the savage. Believe one who knows,--the man of civilization who
goes back to the savage state throws away his life; his very mind
becomes, like the dyer's hand, 'subdued to what it works in.'

"But I am going out of your depth again, girls," continued he, looking
at our wondering, half-puzzled faces. "Let it go, Alice; Life is a
problem too hard for you to solve as yet; perhaps it will solve
itself. Meantime, we will brighten ourselves up to-morrow by a good
scamper over the hills, and, the next day, if your fancy for study
still holds, we will plan out some hard work, and I will show you what
real study is. Now go to bed; but see first that Aunt Molly has her
sandwiches and gingerbread ready for the morning."


TALK NUMBER TWO.

Uncle John was well qualified to show us what real study was, for in
his early youth he had read hard and long to fit himself for a
literary life. What had changed his course and driven him to the far
West we did not know, but since his return he had brought the
perseverance and judgment of middle life to the studies of his youth,
and in his last ten years of leisure had made himself that rarest of
things among Americans, a scholar, one worthy of the name.

Under his guidance our studies took life, and Alice threw herself into
them with all the energy of her nature. In vain papa pished and
pshawed, and mamma grieved, and begged John not to spoil the girls by
making bookworms of them; in vain "Laura C. and the rest of them"
entreated us to join this picnic or show ourselves at that party; in
vain the young men professed themselves afraid of us, and the girls
tossed their heads and called us blue-stockings. Alice's answer to all
was, "I like studying; it is a great deal more entertaining than going
to parties; Uncle John's study is pleasanter than Mrs. C.'s parlor,
and a ride on his little Winnebago better fun than dancing." And so
the years went on. We were not out of society,--that could not be in
our house,--but our associates changed; young men of a higher standing
frequented the house; we knew intimately the cultivated women, to
whom, before, we had simply bowed at parties; and mamma and papa grew
quite satisfied.

Not so Alice; the spirit of unrest was on her again, but this time it
was not because of the weariness of life, but that she was oppressed
by the fulness of her own happiness. She had waked up to life in
waking up to love, and had poured out on Herbert B. the whole wealth
of her heart. There was everything in her engagement to satisfy her
friends, everything to gratify papa and mamma; and if I sometimes
thought Herbert's too feeble a nature to guide hers, or if Uncle John
sometimes talked with or listened to him as if he were measuring his
depth and then went away with an anxious expression of face, who shall
say how much of selfishness influenced us both? for was he not to take
from us the pet and pride of our lives?

They were to be married in a few weeks, on Alice's twentieth birthday,
and then leave for New York, where Herbert was connected in business
with his father.

It was on a gloomy December afternoon that Alice came running up to
our room, where I was reading my Italian lesson, and exclaimed,--

"Quick, Kate! put away those stupid books, and let us go over to Uncle
John's for the night."

"Where is Herbert?"

"Herbert? Nonsense! I have sent him off with orders not to look for me
again till to-morrow, and to-night I mean to pretend that there is no
Herbert in the world. Perhaps this will be my last talk with Uncle
John."

We walked quickly through the streets, shrouded in the dark
winter-afternoon atmosphere heavy with coal-smoke, the houses on each
side dripping with the fog-drops and looking dirty and cheerless with
the black streaks running from the corners of each window, like tears
down the face of some chimney-sweep or coal-boy, till, reaching the
foot of Ludlow Street, we stood ankle-deep in mud, waiting for the
little steamer, which still ploughed its way through the dark,
sullen-looking water thick with the red mud which the late rise had
brought down, and with here and there heavy pieces of ice floating by.

"Uncle John will never expect us to-night, Alice."

"I cannot help it,--I must go; for I shall never be satisfied without
one good talk with him before I leave, and Herbert will never spare me
another evening. Besides, Uncle John will be only too glad to see us
in this suicidal weather, as he will call it." And she sprang upon the
boat, laughing at my woebegone face.

"You are glad to see us here, Uncle John,--glad we came in spite of
the fog, and sleet, and ice, and Kate's long face. How anybody can
have a long face because of the weather, I cannot understand,--or,
indeed, why there should be long faces at all in the world, when
everything is so gloriously full of life."

"How many years is it, Alice,--three, I think,--since you were tired
of living, found life so wearisome?"

"Yes, just about three years since Kate and I ran away from Laura C.'s
party and came over here to ask you to help us out of our stupidity. I
remember it all,--how you puzzled me by telling me that every position
in life had its sameness. Ah, Uncle John, you forgot one thing when
you told me that nothing satisfied us in this world." And Alice looked
up from her little stool, where she sat before the fire at Uncle
John's feet, with the flush of deep feeling coloring her cheeks and
the dewy light of happiness in her eyes.

"And that one thing, Alice?"

"You are lying in wait for my answer, to give it that smile that I
hate,--it is so unbelieving and so sad; I will not have you wear it on
your face to-night, Uncle John. You cannot, if I speak my whole heart
out. And why should I not, before you and Kate,--Kate, who is like my
other self, and you, dear Uncle John, who, ever since the time we were
talking about, have been so much to me? Do you know, I never told
anybody before? but all you said that night never left me. I thought
of it so much! Was it true that life was so dissatisfying? You who had
tried so thoroughly, who had gone through such a life of adventure,
had seemed to me really to live, was all as flat and unprofitable to
you as one of our tiresome parties or morning calls? And something in
my own heart told me it was true, something that haunted me all
through my greatest enjoyments, through my studies that I took up
then, and which have been to me, oh, Uncle John, so much more than
ever I expected they would be! Yes, through all that I believed you,
believed you till now, believed you till I knew Herbert."

"And has Herbert told you better?"

"Uncle John, you do not know how the whole of life is glorified for
me,--glorified by his love. I do not deserve it; all I can do is to
return it ten-fold; but this I know, that, while I keep it, there can
be nothing tame or dull,--life, everything, is gilded by my own
happiness."

"And if you lose it?"

The flush on her face fell. "I should be miserable!--I should not--no,
I could not live any longer!"

"Alice," said Uncle John, his face losing its half-mocking smile with
which he had been watching her eager countenance, "Alice, did you know
that I had been married?"

We started. "Married? No. How was it, and when?"

"It is no matter now, my girls. Some time I may tell you about it. I
should not have spoken of it now, but that I know my little Alice
would not believe a word I am going to tell her, if she thought she
was listening to an old bachelor's croakings. Now I can speak with
authority. You think you could not live without Herbert's love? My
dear, we can live without a great many things that we fancy
indispensable. Nor is it so very easy to die. There comes many a time
in life when it would seem quite according to the fitness of things,
just the proper ending to the romance, to lie down and die; but,
unfortunately, or rather fortunately, dying is a thing that we cannot
do so just in the nick of time; and indeed"--and Uncle John's face
assumed its strange smile, which seemed to take you, as it were,
suddenly behind the scenes, to show you the wrong side of the
tapestry,--"and indeed," he continued, "when I look back on the times
in my life that I should have died, when it was fitting and proper to
die, when I felt that dying would be such a trump card to play, if
only I could manage it, I must say that I am glad now that it was
beyond my power to arrange things according to the melodramatic
rules. As it is, I am alive now. I shake my fist at all the ghosts of
my departed tragedies and say, 'I am worth two of you. I am alive. I
have all the chances of the future in my favor.'"

Here he caught sight of Alice's wide-opened eyes, and his smile
changed into his own genial laugh, as he kissed her forehead and went
on.

"That was a little aside, Alice, made to my other self, my
metaphysical man,--not meant at all for my audience. I was meditating
a lecture on the causes of conjugal happiness, but I seem to have
stumbled upon a knot in the very first unwinding of the thread of my
discourse."

"I'll listen to the lecture, Uncle, though I see but one simple and
all-sufficient cause for my happiness."

"That Herbert loves you, ha? Know, my pretty neophyte, that happiness,
married happiness especially, does not come from being loved, but from
loving. What says our Coleridge?


  "'For still the source, not fountain, gives
  The daily food on which Love lives.'


"And he is right, although you shake your curls. In most marriages, in
all that are not matters of convenience, one party has a stronger
heart, will, character, than the other. And that one loves the most
from the very necessity of his nature, and, loving most, is the
happier. The other falls, after a while, into a passive state, becomes
the mere recipient of love, and finds his or her happiness in
something else, or perhaps does not find it at all."

"Neither side would satisfy me, Uncle John; I hardly know which fate
would be the more terrible. Do you think I would accept such a
compromise in exchange for all I am living and feeling now? I would
rather be miserable at once than so half-happy."

"But, my darling, Colin and Chloe cannot spend their whole lives
singing madrigals and stringing daisies. It is not in human nature to
support, for any length of time, such superhuman bliss. The time will
come when Colin will find no more rhymes to 'dove,' and when Chloe
will tire of hearing the same one. It is possible that Herbert will
some time tire of reading Shelley to you,--nay, it is even possible
that the time may come when you will tire of hearing him; it is of
that time I would talk. The present is as perfectly satisfactory to me
as to you and Herbert, though not exactly in the same degree."

"Well, Uncle, what is your advice to Chloe disillusioned,--if you
insist that such a thing must be?"

"Simply this, my own dear little child," answered Uncle John, and his
voice took almost a solemn tone in its deep tenderness,--"when that
time comes, as come it must, do not worry your husband with idle
regrets for the past; remember that the husband is not the lover;
remember that your sex love through your imagination, and look always
for that clothing and refining of passion with sentiment, which, with
us, belong only to the poetry and chivalry of youthful ardor. We may
love you as well afterward,--nay, we may love you a great deal
better,--but we cannot take the trouble of telling you so every day;
we expect you to believe it once for all; and you,--you like to hear
it over and over again, and, not hearing it, you begin to fancy it no
longer true, and fall to trying experiments on your happiness. A fatal
error this, Alice. There is nothing that men so often enjoy as the
simply being let alone; but not one woman in a hundred can be made to
believe in such a strange enjoyment. Then the wife becomes
_exigeante_ and impatient, and the husband, after fruitless
attempts to find out what he has done, never suspecting that the real
trouble is what he has left undone, finds her unreasonable, and begins
to harden himself to griefs which he classes, like Miss Edgeworth,
under the head of 'Sorrows of my Lord Plumcake.'"

"Miserable fate of the nobler sex, Uncle,--disturbed, even in the
sublime heights of philosophical self-possession, by the follies and
unreasonablenesses of the weaker vessel! I suppose you allow men to
live out their natures unrebuked, while women must live down theirs?"

"Not I, Alice,--but I am by nature a special pleader, and, just now, I
am engaged on Herbert's side of the case. Fee me well, my darling, by
a kiss or a merry look, and bring Herbert up to judgment, and I will
tell him home truths too."

"Let me hear your argument for the other side, most subtile of
reasoners, and I may, perhaps, be able to repeat them at second-hand,
when occasion calls for them."

"Don't think of it, my dear! Second-hand arguments are like
second-hand coffee,--the aroma and the strength have disappeared,
never to be brought back again. But if the husband were really here,
and the wife had paid well for properly-administered advice, I should
say to him, 'Do not fancy that you have done everything for your wife
when you have given her house, servants, and clothes; she really wants
a little attention now and then. Try to turn your thoughts away from
your more important affairs long enough to notice the pretty
morning-wrapper or the well-fitting evening-dress which has cost her
some thought for your sake; do not let a change in the furniture or a
new ornament in the parlor go unnoticed till the bill comes in. And
while, of course, you claim from her the most ready sympathy in all
your interests and enthusiasms, give her, once in a great while, say
every year or so, a little genuine interest in the housekeeping trials
or dressmaker grievances that meet her at every turn.

"Moreover, I would recommend to you, should your wife happen to have
some literary or artistic tastes, not to ignore them entirely because
they do not pay so well as your counting-room accounts do, and are not
so entertaining to you as billiards. I would even indulge her by
sacrificing a whole evening to her, once in a while, even to the
detriment of your own business or pleasure. Depend upon it, it will
pay in the end."

"Now, Uncle, like Rosalind, you have simply misused your whole sex in
your special pleadings, both for and against. If Herbert were here, I
would appeal to him to know if the time can ever come when what I do
can be uninteresting to him. But I know, for myself, that such a thing
cannot be. You are not talking from your own experience, Uncle?"
added she, suddenly looking up in his face.

"My dear Alice, were it possible, should it ever seem likely, that my
experience might benefit you, how readily I would lay it open before
you! But those who have lived their lives are like the prophets of
old,--their words are believed only when they are fulfilled. The
meaning of life is never understood till it is past. Like Moses on the
rock, our faces are covered when the Lord passes by, and we see only
his back. But look behind you, my darling!"

Alice turned suddenly and her face lighted up into the full beauty of
happiness as she saw Herbert standing in the doorway.

"I hope you have room for me, Mr. Delano," said he, advancing, "for
here I am, weather-bound, as well as Miss Alice and Kate. There is a
drizzling rain falling out-of-doors, and your Kentucky roads are fast
growing impassable for walkers."

Uncle John put into words the question that Alice's eyes had been
asking so eagerly.

"Where did you stumble from, my dear fellow,--and at this time of
night, too?"

"Why, I could not find any one at home on Fourth Street, so I took the
last ferry-boat and came over, on a venture, to try the Kentucky
hospitality, of which we New-Yorkers hear so much; and my stumbling
walk through the mud made me so unpresentable, that I found the way
round the house to Aunt Molly's premises, and left the tracks of my
muddy boots all over her white kitchen, till she, in despair, provided
me with a pair of your moccasins, and, shod in these shoes of silence,
I came quietly in upon you. I do hope you are all glad to see me," he
added, sitting down on the low seat that Alice had left, and looking
up in her face as she stood by her uncle.

Alice shook her head with a pretty assumption of displeasure, as she
said, "I told you I did not want to see you till to-morrow." But
hardly half an hour had elapsed before she and Herbert had wandered
off into the parlor, and Uncle John and I were left to watch them
through the open door.

"If he were not so impulsive," said Uncle John, abruptly,--"if he were
not so full of fancies! Kate, you are a wise and discreet little lady,
and we understand each other. Did I say too much?"

Just then Alice looked back.

"Chloe is the one who sings madrigals to-night, Uncle; she is going to
read Colin a lesson"; and, sitting down at the piano, she let her
hands run over the keys and burst out joyously into that variation of
Raleigh's pretty pastoral song,--


  "Shepherd, what's Love? I prithee tell."
  "It is a fountain and a well,
    Where pleasure and repentance dwell;
    And this is Love, as I've heard tell:
  Repentance, repentance, repentance!"



TALK NUMBER THREE.


Five years have passed since Alice sat at Uncle John's feet and
listened to his words that gave lessons of wisdom while they seemed
only to amuse; and now she sits again on the low stool, looking up in
his face, while I stand behind him and look down on her, marking the
changes that those years have wrought. She has come back to us, our
own Alice still,--but how different from the impetuous, impulsive girl
who left us five years ago! Her face has lost its early freshness,
though it seems to me lovelier than before, in its matured, womanly
expression; but her eyes, which used to be lifted so eagerly, to
glance so rapidly in their varying expression, are now hidden by their
lashes even when she is talking earnestly; her lips have lost their
mobility, and have even something stern in their fixedness; whilst her
hair, brought down smoothly over her forehead and twisted firmly in
the low knot behind, and her close-fitting widow's dress add to the
sobriety and almost matronliness of her appearance.

For Alice is a widow now, and has come back to us in her bereavement.
We have known but little of her real self for some years, so guarded
have been her letters; and not until the whole terrible truth burst
upon us, did we do more than suspect that her married life had not
brought the happiness she anticipated. She is talking freely now she
is at home again among her own people.

"I have sometimes thought, Uncle John, that all you said to me, the
last night I spent here, had some meaning deeper than met the ear. Had
you second sight? Did you foresee the future? Or was there that in
the present which foreshadowed it to you?"

"I am no prophet, Alice. I spoke only from what I knew of life, and
from my knowledge of your character and Herbert's. But I am yet to
know how my words have been fulfilled."

"It makes no difference now," said she, slowly, and with a touching
weariness. "And yet," she added, rousing herself, "it would make all
the difference in the world to me, if I could see clearly where it was
that I was to blame. Certainly I must have done wrong; such
wretchedness could not have come otherwise."

Uncle John drew her hand within his, while he answered calmly,--"It is
very probable you have done wrong, my darling; who of us are wise and
prudent, loving and forbearing, as we should be?"

"You think so? How glad I am to hear you say so! Yes, I can see it
now; I can see how I did that very thing against which you warned
me. First came the time when Herbert forgot to admire everything which
I did and said, and I--I tried little pouting ways, that I did not
feel. Then they were so successful, that I carried them too far, and
Herbert did not pet me out of them. Then I grew anxious and began to
guess at that truth which was only too clear to me at last, that he
did not love me as I loved him. Next,--oh, Uncle John, how much I was
to blame!--I watched every word and look, gave meanings to things that
had none, asked explanations where Herbert had none to give, and
fairly put him under such restraint that he could neither look nor act
himself. He fretted under it,--who would not?--and then began the
thousand excuses for being away from home, business engagements,
club-meetings, some country-customers of the firm, who must be taken
to the theatre, and, at last, no excuse at all but want of time. I
knew then that his love for me had never been more than a passing
fancy, and, woman-like, I grew proud, shut my heart up from him,
buried myself in my books. I never studied before as I did then, Uncle
John, for I studied to get away from myself, and, looking back, I
wonder even now at what I accomplished. Yes, you were right, books are
fast friends,--and mine would have brought me their own exceeding
great reward, had not my spirit been so bitter.

"It was then that mamma was so sick and I came home. Did you think me
wonderfully calm, Kate? I think somebody said I showed astonishing
self-control; but, in truth, I was frightened at myself,--I had no
feeling about anything, Mamma's sickness seemed something entirely
removed from me, something which concerned me not in the least. I was
calm because I felt nothing. I wondered then and wonder now that you
did not find me out, for I knew how unlike I was to my former
self. Then mamma got well, and I was not glad; I went back to New
York, and felt no sorrow at parting with you all.

"But when I got back, oh, Uncle John, I was too late!--too late to do
right, even had I wished it! I don't know,--I made good resolutions on
my way back: Heaven knows if I should have had strength to put them in
practice. But it was all over; not only had I lost Herbert, but he had
lost himself. The first time I saw him he was not himself,--I might as
well say it,--he was drunk.

"There is no need of going through the rest, Uncle,--you will not ask
it. I think I did everything I could;--I threw away my books; I
devoted myself to making his home pleasant to him; never, no, never,
in my girlish days, did I take half the pains to please him that I did
now to win him from himself. I read to him, I sang to him, I filled
the house with people that I knew were to his taste, I dressed for
him, I let myself be admired by others that he might feel proud of me,
might think me more worthy of admiration,--but all to no
purpose. Sometimes I hoped, but more often I despaired; his fall
seemed to me fearfully rapid, though now the three years seem to have
been interminable. At last I had no hope but that of concealing the
truth from you all. You thought me churlish, Kate, in my answer to
your proposal to spend last winter with me? My darling, I dared not
have you in my house. But it is over now. I knew how that last
horrible attack would end when I sent for papa. He had gone through
two before that, and the doctor told me the third would be fatal. Poor
Herbert!--Uncle John, can I ever forgive myself?"

Alice looked up with dry and burning eyes into Uncle John's face, over
which the tears were streaming.

"My child, it is right that you should blame yourself. What sorrow do
we meet in life that we do not in part bring upon ourselves? Who is
there of us who is not wise after time? which of us has not made some
fatal mistake?"

I felt half indignant that Uncle John did not tell her how much more
to blame, how weak, how reckless Herbert had been; but the calmer
expression which came over Alice's countenance showed me that he was
right, that he best knew her heart. She could not now be just to
herself; she was happier in being unjust.

We were still and silent for a long time. The light wood-fire on the
hearth crackled and burned to ashes, but it had done its office in
tempering the chill of the autumn evening, and through the half-open
door stole the 'sweet decaying smell' of the fallen leaves, while the
hush of an Indian-summer night seemed to calm our very hearts with its
stillness.

Uncle John spoke at last. His voice was very gentle and subdued as he
said:

"I told you once, Alice, that my life should be opened to you, if ever
its errors could be either warning or consolation to you. But who am
I, to judge what beacon-lights we may hold out to each other? There is
as much egotism, sometimes, in silence as in the free speech which
asks for sympathy. Perhaps I have been too proud to lay open my
follies before you and my little Kate."

Alice looked up, with a touch of her old eagerness, as Uncle John went
on.

"It was long before you were born, my dear, that, for some college
peccadilloes,--it is so long ago that I have almost forgotten now what
they were,--I was suspended (rusticated we called it) for a term, and
advised by the grave and dignified president to spend my time in
repenting and in keeping up with my class. I had no mind to come
home; I had no wish, by my presence, to keep the memory of my
misdemeanors before my father's mind for six months; so I asked and
gained leave to spend the summer in a little town in Western
Massachusetts, where, as I said, I should have nothing to tempt me
from my studies. I had heard from a classmate what famous shooting and
fishing were to be found there, and I knew something of the beauty of
Berkshire scenery; but I honorably intended to study well and
faithfully, taking only the moderate amount of recreation necessary
for my health.

"I went, and soon established myself in a quiet farm-house with my
books, gun, and fishing-rod, and had passed there a whole month with
an approving conscience and tolerable success both in studies and
sport, when the farmer announced one morning, that, as he had one
boarder, he might as well take another, and that a New York lady had
been inquiring of his neighbor Johnson, when he was in the city last
week, for some farm-house where they would be willing to take her
cheap for the summer. She could have the best room, and he didn't
suppose she'd be in anybody's way, so he had told Johnson that she
might come, if she would put up with their country fare.

"She came the next week. She was a widow, some thirty years old, ten
years older than I was. I did not think her pretty,--perhaps
_piquante_, but that was all. In my first fastidiousness, I
thought her hardly lady-like, and laughed at her evident attempts to
attract my notice,--at her little vanities and affectations. But I do
not know; we were always together; I saw no other woman but the
farmer's wife. There were the mountain walks, the trees, the flowers,
the moonlight; she talked so well upon them all! In short, you do not
know, no young girl can know, the influence which a woman in middle
life, if she has anything in her, has over a young man; and she,--she
had shrewdness and a certain talent, and, I think now, knew what she
was doing,--at any rate, I fell madly in love. I knew my father would
never consent to my marrying then; I knew I was ruining my prospects
by doing so; but that very knowledge only made me more eager to secure
her.

"She was entirely independent of control, being left a widow with some
little property, and threw no obstacles in my way. We were married
there, in that little village, and for a few weeks I lived in a fool's
paradise.

"I could not tell you--indeed, I would not tell you, if I could--how
by degrees I found out what I had done,--that I had flung away my
heart on a woman who married me simply to secure herself the position
in society which her own imprudence had lost; how, when she found I
had nothing to offer her but a home in my father's house, entirely
dependent upon him, she accused me of having deceived her for the sake
of her own miserable pittance; how she made herself the common talk of
Newport by her dissipation, her extravagance, her affectations; how
her love of excitement led her into such undisguised flirtations,
under the name of friendships, with almost every man she met, that her
imprudences, to call them by no harsher name, made my father insist,
that, for my mother's sake, I should seek another home.

"I did so, but it was only to go through a repetition of similar
scenes, of daring follies on her part, and reproaches on mine. At
last, desperate, I induced my father to settle on her what would have
been my share of his property on condition that she should return to
New York,--while I, crushed down, mortified, and ashamed to look my
friends in the face, and sick of the wrongs and follies of civilized
life, grasped eagerly at an opportunity to join a fur-trading party,
and buried myself alive in the wilds of the Northwest.

"I had no object in going there but to escape from my wife and from
myself; but, once there, the charm of that free life took possession
of me; adventure followed adventure; opportunities opened to me, and I
grew to be an influential person, and made myself a home among the
Indians. It is a wild life that the Indian traders live up in that
far-away country, and many a reckless deed is done there which public
opinion would frown upon here. I am afraid I was no better than my
companions; I lived my life and drew from it whatever enjoyment it
would bring; but, at least, I did not brutalize myself as some of them
did; for that I may thank the refining influence of my early
education. Meantime, I was almost lost to my family and, indeed, I
hardly regretted it, for nothing would have brought me back while my
wife lived, and, if I were not to be with my friends, why eat my heart
out with longings for them? So, for nearly twenty years, I lived the
life of adventure, danger, and privation, that draws its only charm
from its independence.

"At last came a letter from your mother. It found its way to me from
fort to fort, brought up part of the way with the letters to the
troops stationed at our upper forts, then carried by the Indian
runners to the trading-posts of the fur-companies till it reached me
in the depths of the Rocky Mountains. My wife was dead,--she had died
suddenly; my property, all that she had not squandered, (and it was so
tied up by my father's forethought that she could only throw away a
part of it,) was my own again; my sister longed to see me, and
promised me a welcome to her house and heart. I grew restless from
that moment, and, converting into money the not inconsiderable wealth
with which I had surrounded myself in the shape of furs, horses,
buffalo-robes, and so forth, I came down to the States again to begin
life anew, a man of forty-five, my head whitened, and my features
marked before their time from the life of exposure which I had
led. Alice, I, too, was too late. I had dropped out of the tide of
life and progress in my twenty years' seclusion, and, struggle as I
might, I could not retrieve the time lost. The present age knew not of
me,--I had lost my place in it; the thoughts, feelings, habits, of all
around were strange to me; I had been pushed out of the line of march,
and never could I fall into step again. In society, in business, in
domestic life, it was all the same. Trial after trial taught me, at
last, the truth; and when I had learned not only to believe it, but to
accept it, I came home to my father's house, now mine, and made myself
friends of my books,--those faithful ones who were as true to me as if
I had never deserted them. They have brought me content, if not
happiness; and you, Alice, you and Kate, you have filled fully an old
man's heart."

Alice's tears were dropping fast on Uncle John's hand as she said,--

"I will be more to you henceforward than ever before. I have nothing
else to live for now. Kate is the home child; but I--I will stay with
you, and you shall teach me, too, to be contented,--to find my
happiness, as you do, in making the happiness of all around."

Uncle John passed his other hand over her hair,--

"You shall stay with me for the present, my darling,--perhaps as long
as I live. But life is not over for you, Alice. You have youth,--you
have years in store. For you it is not _too late_."



AN EVENING MELODY.


  Oh that yon pines which crown the steep
    Their fires might ne'er surrender!
  Oh that yon fervid knoll might keep,
    While lasts the world, its splendor!

  Pale poplars on the wind that lean,
    And in the sunset shiver,
  Oh that your golden stems might screen
    For aye yon glassy river!

  That yon white bird on homeward wing
    Soft-sliding without motion,
  And now in blue air vanishing
    Like snow-flake lost in ocean,

  Beyond our sight might never flee,
    Yet onward still be flying;
  And all the dying day might be
    Immortal in its dying!

  Pellucid thus in golden trance,
    Thus mute in expectation,
  What waits the Earth? Deliverance?
    Ah, no! Transfiguration!

  She dreams of that New Earth divine,
    Conceived of seed immortal:
  She sings, "Not mine the holier shrine,
    But mine the cloudy portal!"



CHESUNCOOK


[Concluded.]

Early the next morning we started on our return up the Penobscot, my
companion wishing to go about twenty-five miles above the Moosehead
carry to a camp near the junction of the two forks, and look for moose
there. Our host allowed us something for the quarter of the moose
which we had brought, and which he was glad to get. Two explorers from
Chamberlain Lake started at the same time that we did. Red flannel
shirts should be worn in the woods, if only for the fine contrast
which this color makes with the evergreens and the water. Thus I
thought when I saw the forms of the explorers in their birch, poling
up the rapids before us, far off against the forest. It is the
surveyor's color also, most distinctly seen under all circumstances.
We stopped to dine at Ragmuff, as before. My companion it was who
wandered up the stream to look for moose this time, while Joe went to
sleep on the bank, so that we felt sure of him; and I improved the
opportunity to botanize and bathe. Soon after starting again, while
Joe was gone back in the canoe for the frying-pan, which had been
left, we picked a couple of quarts of tree-cranberries for a sauce.

I was surprised by Joe's asking me how far it was to the Moosehorn. He
was pretty well acquainted with this stream, but he had noticed that I
was curious about distances, and had several maps. He, and Indians
generally, with whom I have talked, are not able to describe
dimensions or distances in our measures with any accuracy. He could
tell, perhaps, at what time we should arrive, but not how far it
was. We saw a few wood-ducks, sheldrakes, and black ducks, but they
were not so numerous there at that season as on our river at home. We
scared the same family of wood-ducks before us, going and returning.
We also heard the note of one fish-hawk, somewhat like that of a
pigeon-woodpecker, and soon after saw him perched near the top of a
dead white-pine against the island where we had first camped, while a
company of peetweets were twittering and teetering about over the
carcass of a moose on a low sandy spit just beneath. We drove the
fish-hawk from perch to perch, each time eliciting a scream or
whistle, for many miles before us. Our course being up-stream, we were
obliged to work much harder than before, and had frequent use for a
pole. Sometimes all three of us paddled together, standing up, small
and heavily laden as the canoe was. About six miles from Moosehead, we
began to see the mountains east of the north end of the lake, and at
four o'clock we reached the carry.

The Indians were still encamped here. There were three, including the
St. Francis Indian who had come in the steamer with us. One of the
others was called Sabattis. Joe and the St. Francis Indian were
plainly clear Indian, the other two apparently mixed Indian and white;
but the difference was confined to their features and complexions, for
all that I could see. We here cooked the tongue of the moose for
supper,--having left the nose, which is esteemed the choicest part, at
Chesuncook, boiling, it being a good deal of trouble to prepare it. We
also stewed our tree-cranberries, (_Viburnum opulus_,) sweetening
them with sugar. The lumberers sometimes cook them with
molasses. They were used in Arnold's expedition. This sauce was very
grateful to us who had been confined to hard bread, pork, and
moose-meat, and, notwithstanding their seeds, we all three pronounced
them equal to the common cranberry; but perhaps some allowance is to
be made for our forest appetites. It would be worth the while to
cultivate them, both for beauty and for food. I afterward saw them in
a garden in Bangor. Joe said that they were called _ebeemenar_.

While we were getting supper, Joe commenced curing the moose-hide, on
which I had sat a good part of the voyage, he having already cut most
of the hair off with his knife at the Caucomgomoc. He set up two
stout forked poles on the bank, seven or eight feet high, and as much
asunder east and west, and having cut slits eight or ten inches long,
and the same distance apart, close to the edge, on the sides of the
hide, he threaded poles through them, and then, placing one of the
poles on the forked stakes, tied the other down tightly at the
bottom. The two ends also were tied with cedar bark, their usual
string, to the upright poles, through small holes at short intervals.
The hide, thus stretched, and slanted a little to the north, to expose
its flesh side to the sun, measured, in the extreme, eight feet long
by six high. Where any flesh still adhered, Joe boldly scored it with
his knife to lay it open to the sun. It now appeared somewhat spotted
and injured by the duck shot. You may see the old frames on which
hides have been stretched at many camping-places in these woods.

For some reason or other, the going to the forks of the Penobscot was
given up, and we decided to stop here, my companion intending to hunt
down the stream at night. The Indians invited us to lodge with them,
but my companion inclined to go to the log-camp on the carry. This
camp was close and dirty, and had an ill smell, and I preferred to
accept the Indians' offer, if we did not make a camp for ourselves;
for, though they were dirty, too, they were more in the open air, and
were much more agreeable, and even refined company, than the
lumberers. The most interesting question entertained at the
lumberers' camp was, which man could "handle" any other on the carry;
and, for the most part, they possessed no qualities which you could
not lay hands on. So we went to the Indians' camp or wigwam.

It was rather windy, and therefore Joe concluded to hunt after
midnight, if the wind went down, which the other Indians thought it
would not do, because it was from the south. The two mixed bloods,
however, went off up the river for moose at dark, before we arrived at
their camp. This Indian camp was a slight, patched-up affair, which
had stood there several weeks, built shed-fashion, open to the fire on
the west. If the wind changed, they could turn it round. It was
formed by two forked stakes and a cross-bar, with rafters slanted from
this to the ground. The covering was partly an old sail, partly
birch-bark, quite imperfect, but securely tied on, and coming down to
the ground on the sides. A large log was rolled up at the back side
for a headboard, and two or three moose-hides were spread on the
ground with the hair up. Various articles of their wardrobe were
tucked around the sides and corners, or under the roof. They were
smoking moose-meat on just such a crate as is represented by With in
De Bry's "Collectio Peregrinationum," published in 1588, and which the
natives of Brazil called _boucan_, (whence buccaneer,) on which
were frequently shown pieces of human flesh drying along with the
rest. It was erected in front of the camp over the usual large fire,
in the form of an oblong square. Two stout forked stakes, four or five
feet apart and five feet high, were driven into the ground at each
end, and then two poles ten feet long were stretched across over the
fire, and smaller ones laid transversely on these a foot apart. On the
last hung large, thin slices of moose-meat smoking and drying, a space
being left open over the centre of the fire. There was the whole
heart, black as a thirty-two pound ball, hanging at one corner. They
said, that it took three or four days to cure this meat, and it would
keep a year or more. Refuse pieces lay about on the ground in
different stages of decay, and some pieces also in the fire, half
buried and sizzling in the ashes, as black and dirty as an old
shoe. These last I at first thought were thrown away, but afterwards
found that they were being cooked. Also a tremendous rib-piece was
roasting before the fire, being impaled on an upright stake forced in
and out between the ribs. There was a moose-hide stretched and curing
on poles like ours, and quite a pile of cured skins close by. They had
killed twenty-two moose within two months, but, as they could use but
very little of the meat, they left the carcasses on the
ground. Altogether it was about as savage a sight as was ever
witnessed, and I was carried back at once three hundred years. There
were many torches of birch-bark, shaped like straight tin horns, lying
ready for use on a stump outside.

For fear of dirt, we spread our blankets over their hides, so as not
to touch them anywhere. The St. Francis Indian and Joe alone were
there at first, and we lay on our backs talking with them till
midnight. They were very sociable, and, when they did not talk with
us, kept up a steady chatting in their own language. We heard a small
bird just after dark, which, Joe said, sang at a certain hour in the
night,--at ten o'clock, he believed. We also heard the hylodes and
tree-toads, and the lumberers singing in their camp a quarter of a
mile off. I told them that I had seen pictured in old books pieces of
human flesh drying on these crates; whereupon they repeated some
tradition about the Mohawks eating human flesh, what parts they
preferred, etc., and also of a battle with the Mohawks near Moosehead,
in which many of the latter were killed; but I found that they knew
but little of the history of their race, and could be entertained by
stories about their ancestors as readily as any way. At first I was
nearly roasted out, for I lay against one side of the camp, and felt
the heat reflected not only from the birch-bark above, but from the
side; and again I remembered the sufferings of the Jesuit
missionaries, and what extremes of heat and cold the Indians were said
to endure. I struggled long between my desire to remain and talk with
them, and my impulse to rush out and stretch myself on the cool grass;
and when I was about to take the last step, Joe, hearing my murmurs,
or else being uncomfortable himself, got up and partially dispersed
the fire. I suppose that that is Indian manners,--to defend yourself.

While lying there listening to the Indians, I amused myself with
trying to guess at their subject by their gestures, or some proper
name introduced. There can be no more startling evidence of their
being a distinct and comparatively aboriginal race, than to hear this
unaltered Indian language, which the white man cannot speak nor
understand. We may suspect change and deterioration in almost every
other particular, but the language which is so wholly unintelligible
to us. It took me by surprise, though I had found so many arrow-heads,
and convinced me that the Indian was not the invention of historians
and poets. It was a purely wild and primitive American sound, as much
as the barking of a _chickaree_, and I could not understand a
syllable of it; but Paugus, had he been there, would have understood
it. These Abenakis gossiped, laughed, and jested, in the language in
which Eliot's Indian Bible is written, the language which has been
spoken in New England who shall say how long? These were the sounds
that issued from the wigwams of this country before Columbus was born;
they have not yet died away; and, with remarkably few exceptions, the
language of their forefathers is still copious enough for them. I felt
that I stood, or rather lay, as near to the primitive man of America,
that night, as any of its discoverers ever did.

In the midst of their conversation, Joe suddenly appealed to me to
know how long Moosehead Lake was.

Meanwhile, as we lay there, Joe was making and trying his horn, to be
ready for hunting after midnight. The St. Francis Indian also amused
himself with sounding it, or rather calling through it; for the sound
is made with the voice, and not by blowing through the horn. The
latter appeared to be a speculator in moose-hides. He bought my
companion's for two dollars and a quarter, green. Joe said that it
was worth two and a half at Oldtown. Its chief use is for moccasins.
One or two of these Indians wore them. I was told, that, by a recent
law of Maine, foreigners are not allowed to kill moose there at any
season; white Americans can kill them only at a particular season, but
the Indians of Maine at all seasons. The St. Francis Indian
accordingly asked my companion for a _wighiggin_, or bill, to
show, since he was a foreigner. He lived near Sorel. I found that he
could write his name very well, _Tahmunt Swasen_. One Ellis, an
old white man of Guilford, a town through which we passed, not far
from the south end of Moosehead, was the most celebrated moose-hunter
of those parts. Indians and whites spoke with equal respect of
him. Tahmunt said, that there were more moose here than in the
Adirondack country in New York, where he had hunted; that three years
before there were a great many about, and there were a great many now
in the woods, but they did not come out to the water. It was of no use
to hunt them at midnight,--they would not come out then. I asked
Sabattis, after he came home, if the moose never attacked him. He
answered, that you must not fire many times so as to mad him. "I fire
once and hit him in the right place, and in the morning I find him. He
won't go far. But if you keep firing, you mad him. I fired once five
bullets, every one through the heart, and he did not mind 'em at all;
it only made him more mad." I asked him if they did not hunt them with
dogs. He said, that they did so in winter, but never in the summer,
for then it was of no use; they would run right off straight and
swiftly a hundred miles.

Another Indian said, that the moose, once scared, would run all day. A
dog will hang to their lips, and be carried along till he is swung
against a tree and drops off. They cannot run on a "glaze," though
they can run in snow four feet deep; but the caribou can run on
ice. They commonly find two or three moose together. They cover
themselves with water, all but their noses, to escape flies. He had
the horns of what he called "the black moose that goes in low lands."
These spread three or four feet. The "red moose" was another kind,
"running on mountains," and had horns which spread six feet. Such were
his distinctions. Both can move their horns. The broad flat blades are
covered with hair, and are so soft, when the animal is alive, that you
can run a knife through them. They regard it as a good or bad sign, if
the horns turn this way or that. His caribou horns had been gnawed by
mice in his wigwam, but he thought that the horns neither of the moose
nor of the caribou were ever gnawed while the creature was alive, as
some have asserted. An Indian, whom I met after this at Oldtown, who
had carried about a bear and other animals of Maine to exhibit, told
me that thirty years ago there were not so many moose in Maine as now;
also, that the moose were very easily tamed, and would come back when
once fed, and so would deer, but not caribou. The Indians of this
neighborhood are about as familiar with the moose as we are with the
ox, having associated with them for so many generations. Father
Rasles, in his Dictionary of the Abenaki Language, gives not only a
word for the male moose, (_aianbé_) and another for the female,
(_hèrar_,) but for the bone which is in the middle of the heart
of the moose (!), and for his left hind-leg.

There were none of the small deer up there; they are more common about
the settlements. One ran into the city of Bangor two years before, and
jumped through a window of costly plate glass, and then into a mirror,
where it thought it recognized one of its kind, and out again, and so
on, leaping over the heads of the crowd, until it was captured. This
the inhabitants speak of as the deer that went a-shopping. The
last-mentioned Indian spoke of the _lunxus_ or Indian devil,
(which I take to be the cougar, and not the _Gulo luscus_,) as
the only animal in Maine which man need fear; it would follow a man,
and did not mind a fire. He also said, that beavers were getting to be
pretty numerous again, where we went, but their skins brought so
little now that it was not profitable to hunt them.

I had put the ears of our moose, which were ten inches long, to dry
along with the moose-meat over the fire, wishing to preserve them; but
Sabattis told me that I must skin and cure them, else the hair would
all come off. He observed, that they made tobacco-pouches of the skins
of their ears, putting the two together inside to inside. I asked him
how he got fire; and he produced a little cylindrical box of
friction-matches. He also had flints and steel, and some punk, which
was not dry; I think it was from the yellow birch. "But suppose you
upset, and all these and your powder get wet." "Then," said he, "we
wait till we get to where there is some fire." I produced from my
pocket a little vial, containing matches, stoppled water-tight, and
told him, that, though we were upset, we should still have some dry
matches; at which he stared without saying a word.

We lay awake thus a long while talking, and they gave us the meaning
of many Indian names of lakes and streams in the vicinity,--especially
Tahmunt. I asked the Indian name of Moosehead Lake. Joe answered,
_Sebamook_; Tahmunt pronounced it _Sebemook_. When I asked
what it meant, they answered, Moosehead Lake. At length, getting my
meaning, they alternately repeated the word over to themselves, as a
philologist might,--_Sebamook_,--_Sebamook_,--now and then
comparing notes in Indian; for there was a slight difference in their
dialects; and finally Tahmunt said, "Ugh! I know,"--and he rose up
partly on the moose-hide,--"like as here is a place, and there is a
place," pointing to different parts of the hide, "and you take water
from there and fill this, and it stays here; that is _Sebamook_."
I understood him to mean that it was a reservoir of water which did
not run away, the river coming in on one side and passing out again
near the same place, leaving a permanent bay. Another Indian said,
that it meant Large-Bay Lake, and that _Sebago_ and _Sebec_,
the names of other lakes, were kindred words, meaning large open
water. Joe said that _Seboois_ meant Little River. I observed
their inability, often described, to convey an abstract idea. Having
got the idea, though indistinctly, they groped about in vain for words
with which to express it. Tahmunt thought that the whites called it
Moosehead Lake, because Mount Kineo, which commands it, is shaped like
a moose's head, and that Moose River was so called "because the
mountain points right across the lake to its mouth." John Josselyn,
writing about 1673, says, "Twelve miles from Casco Bay, and passable
for men and horses, is a lake, called by the Indians Sebug. On the
brink thereof, at one end, is the famous rock, shaped like a moose
deer or helk, diaphanous, and called the Moose Rock." He appears to
have confounded Sebamook with Sebago, which is nearer, but has no
"diaphanous" rock on its shore.

I give more of their definitions, for what they are worth,--partly
_because_ they differ sometimes from the commonly received ones. They
never analyzed these words before. After long deliberation and
repeating of the word, for it gave much trouble, Tahmunt said that
_Chesuncook_ meant a place where many streams emptied in (?), and he
enumerated them,--Penobscot, Umbazookskus, Cusabesex, Red Brook,
etc.--"_Caucomgomoc_,--what does that mean?" "What are those
large white birds?" he asked. "Gulls," said I. "Ugh! Gull
Lake."--_Pammadumcook_, Joe thought, meant the Lake with Gravelly
Bottom or Bed.--_Kenduskeag_, Tahmunt concluded at last, after asking
if birches went up it, for he said that he was not much acquainted
with it, meant something like this: "You go up Penobscot till you come
to _Kenduskeag_, and you go by, you don't turn up there. That is
_Kenduskeag_." (?) Another Indian, however, who knew the river better,
told us afterward that it meant Little Eel River.--_Mattawamkeag_ was
a place where two rivers meet. (?)--_Penobscot_ was Rocky River. One
writer says, that this was "originally the name of only a section of
the main channel, from the head of the tide-water to a short distance
above Oldtown."

A very intelligent Indian, whom we afterward met, son-in-law of
Neptune, gave us also these other definitions:--_Umbazookskus_, Meadow
Stream; _Millinoket_, Place of Islands; _Aboljacarmegus_, Smooth-Ledge
Falls (and Dead-Water); _Aboljacarmeguscook_, the stream emptying in;
(the last was the word he gave when I asked about _Aboljacknagesic_,
which he did not recognize;) _Mattahumkeag_, Sand-Creek Pond;
_Piscataquis_, Branch of a River.

I asked our hosts what _Musketaquid_, the Indian name of Concord,
Mass., meant; but they changed it to _Musketicook_, and repeated
that, and Tahmunt said that it meant Dead Stream, which is probably
true. _Cook_ appears to mean stream, and perhaps _quid_
signifies the place or ground. When I asked the meaning of the names
of two of our hills, they answered that they were another language. As
Tahmunt said that he traded at Quebec, my companion inquired the
meaning of the word _Quebec_, about which there has been so much
question. He did not know, but began to conjecture. He asked what
those great ships were called that carried soldiers. "Men-of-war," we
answered. "Well," he said, "when the English ships came up the river,
they could not go any further, it was so narrow there; they must go
back,--go-back,--that's Que-bec." I mention this to show the value of
his authority in the other cases.

Late at night the other two Indians came home from moose-hunting, not
having been successful, aroused the fire again, lighted their pipes,
smoked awhile, took something strong to drink, and ate some
moose-meat, and, finding what room they could, lay down on the
moose-hides; and thus we passed the night, two white men and four
Indians, side by side.

When I awoke in the morning the weather was drizzling. One of the
Indians was lying outside, rolled in his blanket, on the opposite side
of the fire, for want of room. Joe had neglected to awake my
companion, and he had done no hunting that night. Tahmunt was making a
cross-bar for his canoe with a singularly shaped knife, such as I have
since seen other Indians using. The blade was thin, about three
quarters of an inch wide, and eight or nine inches long, but curved
out of its plane into a hook, which he said made it more convenient to
shave with. As the Indians very far north and northwest use the same
kind of knife, I suspect that it was made according to an aboriginal
pattern, though some white artisans may use a similar one. The Indians
baked a loaf of flour bread in a spider on its edge before the fire
for their breakfast; and while my companion was making tea, I caught a
dozen sizable fishes in the Penobscot, two kinds of sucker and one
trout. After we had breakfasted by ourselves, one of our bedfellows,
who had also breakfasted, came along, and, being invited, took a cup
of tea, and finally, taking up the common platter, licked it
clean. But he was nothing to a white fellow, a lumberer, who was
continually stuffing himself with the Indians' moose-meat, and was the
butt of his companions accordingly. He seems to have thought that it
was a feast "to eat all." It is commonly said that the white man
finally surpasses the Indian on his own ground, and it was proved true
in this case. I cannot swear to his employment during the hours of
darkness, but I saw him at it again as soon as it was light, though he
came a quarter of a mile to his work.

The rain prevented our continuing any longer in the woods; so giving
some of our provisions and utensils to the Indians, we took leave of
them. This being the steamer's day, I set out for the lake at once. At
the carry-man's camp I saw many little birds, brownish and yellowish,
with some white tail-feathers, hopping on the wood-pile, in company
with the slate-colored snow-bird, (_Fringilla hiemalis_,) but
more familiar than they. The lumberers said that they came round their
camps, and they gave them a vulgar name. Their simple and lively note,
which was heard in all the woods, was very familiar to me, though I
had never before chanced to see the bird while uttering it, and it
interested me not a little, because I had had many a vain chase in a
spring-morning in the direction of that sound, in order to identify
the bird. On the 28th of the next month, (October,) I saw in my yard,
in a drizzling day, many of the same kind of birds flitting about amid
the weeds, and uttering a faint _chip_ merely. There was one
full-plumaged Yellow-crowned Warbler (_Sylvia coronata_) among
them, and I saw that the others were the young birds of that
season. They had followed me from Moosehead and the North. I have
since frequently seen the full-plumaged ones while uttering that note
in the spring.

I walked over the carry alone and waited at the head of the lake. An
eagle, or some other large bird, flew screaming away from its perch by
the shore at my approach. For an hour after I reached the shore there
was not a human being to be seen, and I had all that wide prospect to
myself. I thought that I heard the sound of the steamer before she
came in sight on the open lake. I noticed at the landing, when the
steamer came in, one of our bedfellows, who had been a-moose-hunting
the night before, now very sprucely dressed in a clean white shirt and
fine black pants, a true Indian dandy, who had evidently come over the
carry to show himself to any arrivers on the north shore of Moosehead
Lake, just as New York dandies take a turn up Broadway and stand on
the steps of a hotel.

Midway the lake we took on board two manly-looking middle-aged men,
with their _bateau_, who had been exploring for six weeks as far
as the Canada line, and had let their beards grow. They had the skin
of a beaver, which they had recently caught, stretched on an oval
hoop, though the fur was not good at that season. I talked with one of
them, telling him that I had come all this distance partly to see
where the white-pine, the Eastern stuff of which our houses are built,
grew, but that on this and a previous excursion into another part of
Maine I had found it a scarce tree; and I asked him where I must look
for it. With a smile, he answered, that he could hardly tell
me. However, he said that he had found enough to employ two teams the
next winter in a place where there was thought to be none left. What
was considered a "tip-top" tree now was not looked at twenty years
ago, when he first went into the business; but they succeeded very
well now with what was considered quite inferior timber then. The
explorer used to cut into a tree higher and higher up, to see if it
was false-hearted, and if there was a rotten heart as big as his arm,
he let it alone; but now they cut such a tree, and sawed it all around
the rot, and it made the very best of boards, for in such a case they
were never shaky.

One connected with lumbering operations at Bangor told me that the
largest pine belonging to his firm, cut the previous winter, "scaled"
in the woods four thousand five hundred feet, and was worth ninety
dollars in the log at the Bangor boom in Oldtown. They cut a road
three and a half miles long for this tree alone. He thought that the
principal locality for the white-pine that came down the Penobscot now
was at the head of the East Branch and the Allegash, about Webster
Stream and Eagle and Chamberlain Lakes. Much timber has been stolen
from the public lands. (Pray, what kind of forest-warden is the Public
itself?) I heard of one man who, having discovered some particularly
fine trees just within the boundaries of the public lands, and not
daring to employ an accomplice, cut them down, and by means of block
and tackle, without cattle, tumbled them into a stream, and so
succeeded in getting off with them without the least assistance.
Surely, stealing pine-trees in this way is not so mean as robbing
hen-roosts.

We reached Monson that night, and the next day rode to Bangor, all the
way in the rain again, varying our route a little. Some of the taverns
on this road, which were particularly dirty, were plainly in a
transition state from the camp to the house.

       *     *     *     *     *

The next forenoon we went to Oldtown. One slender old Indian on the
Oldtown shore, who recognized my companion, was full of mirth and
gestures, like a Frenchman. A Catholic priest crossed to the island in
the same _bateau_ with us. The Indian houses are framed, mostly of one
story, and in rows one behind another, at the south end of the island,
with a few scattered ones. I counted about forty, not including the
church and what my companion called the council-house. The last, which
I suppose is their town-house, was regularly framed and shingled like
the rest. There were several of two stories, quite neat, with
front-yards inclosed, and one at least had green blinds. Here and
there were moose-hides stretched and drying about them. There were no
cart-paths, nor tracks of horses, but foot-paths; very little land
cultivated, but an abundance of weeds, indigenous and naturalized;
more introduced weeds than useful vegetables, as the Indian is said to
cultivate the vices rather than the virtues of the white man. Yet
this village was cleaner than I expected, far cleaner than such Irish
villages as I have seen. The children were not particularly ragged nor
dirty. The little boys met us with bow in hand and arrow on string,
and cried, "Put up a cent." Verily, the Indian has but a feeble hold
on his bow now; but the curiosity of the white man is insatiable, and
from the first he has been eager to witness this forest
accomplishment. That elastic piece of wood with its feathered dart, so
sure to be unstrung by contact with civilization, will serve for the
type, the coat-of-arms of the savage. Alas for the Hunter Race! the
white man has driven off their game, and substituted a cent in its
place. I saw an Indian woman washing at the water's edge. She stood on
a rock, and, after dipping the clothes in the stream, laid them on the
rock, and beat them with a short club. In the grave-yard, which was
crowded with graves, and overrun with weeds, I noticed an inscription
in Indian, painted on a wooden grave-board. There was a large wooden
cross on the island.

Since my companion knew him, we called on Governor Neptune, who
lived in a little "ten-footer," one of the humblest of them
all. Personalities are allowable in speaking of public men, therefore
I will give the particulars of our visit. He was a-bed. When we
entered the room, which was one half of the house, he was sitting on
the side of the bed. There was a clock hanging in one corner. He had
on a black frock-coat, and black pants, much worn, white cotton shirt,
socks, a red silk handkerchief about his neck, and a straw hat. His
black hair was only slightly grayed. He had very broad cheeks, and his
features were decidedly and refreshingly different from those of any
of the upstart Native American party whom I have seen. He was no
darker than many old white men. He told me that he was eighty-nine;
but he was going a-moose-hunting that fall, as he had been the
previous one. Probably his companions did the hunting. We saw various
squaws dodging about. One sat on the bed by his side and helped him
out with his stories. They were remarkably corpulent, with smooth,
round faces, apparently full of good-humor. Certainly our much-abused
climate had not dried up their adipose substance. While we were
there,--for we stayed a good while,--one went over to Oldtown,
returned and cut out a dress, which she had bought, on another bed in
the room. The Governor said, that "he could remember when the moose
were much larger; that they did not use to be in the woods, but came
out of the water, as all deer did. Moose was whale once. Away down
Merrimack way, a whale came ashore in a shallow bay. Sea went out and
left him, and he came up on land a moose. What made them know he was a
whale was, that at first, before he began to run in bushes, he had no
bowels inside, but"----and then the squaw who sat on the bed by his
side, as the Governor's aid, and had been putting in a word now and
then and confirming the story, asked me what we called that soft thing
we find along the sea-shore. "Jelly-fish," I suggested. "Yes," said
he, "no bowels, but jelly-fish."

There may be some truth in what he said about the moose growing larger
formerly; for the quaint John Josselyn, a physician who spent many
years in this very district of Maine in the seventeenth century, says,
that the tips of their horns "are sometimes found to be two fathoms
asunder,"--and he is particular to tell us that a fathom is six
feet,--"and [they are] in height, from the toe of the forefoot to the
pitch of the shoulder, twelve foot, both which hath been taken by some
of my sceptique readers to be monstrous lies"; and he adds,--"There
are certain transcendentia in every creature, which are the indelible
character of God, and which discover God." This is a greater dilemma
to be caught in than is presented by the cranium of the young Bechuana
ox, apparently another of the _transcendentia_, in the collection
of Thomas Steel, Upper Brook Street, London, whose "entire length of
horn, from tip to tip, along the curve, is 13 ft. 5 in.; distance
(straight) between the tips of the horns, 8 ft. 8-1/2 in." However, the
size both of the moose and the cougar, as I have found, is generally
rather underrated than overrated, and I should be inclined to add to
the popular estimate a part of what I subtracted from Josselyn's.

But we talked mostly with the Governor's son-in-law, a very sensible
Indian; and the Governor, being so old and deaf, permitted himself to
be ignored, while we asked questions about him. The former said, that
there were two political parties among them,--one in favor of schools,
and the other opposed to them, or rather they did not wish to resist
the priest, who was opposed to them. The first had just prevailed at
the election and sent their man to the legislature. Neptune and
Aitteon and he himself were in favor of schools. He said, "If Indians
got learning, they would keep their money." When we asked where Joe's
father, Aitteon, was, he knew that he must be at Lincoln, though he
was about going a-moose-hunting, for a messenger had just gone to him
there to get his signature to some papers. I asked Neptune if they had
any of the old breed of dogs yet. He answered, "Yes." "But that," said
I, pointing to one that had just come in, "is a Yankee dog." He
assented. I said that he did not look like a good one. "Oh, yes!" he
said, and he told, with much gusto, how, the year before, he had
caught and held by the throat a wolf. A very small black puppy rushed
into the room and made at the Governor's feet, as he sat in his
stockings with his legs dangling from the bedside. The Governor rubbed
his hands and dared him to come on, entering into the sport with
spirit. Nothing more that was significant transpired, to my knowledge,
during this interview. This was the first time that I ever called on a
governor, but, as I did not ask for an office, I can speak of it with
the more freedom.

An Indian who was making canoes behind a house, looking up pleasantly
from his work,--for he knew my companion,--said that his name was Old
John Pennyweight. I had heard of him long before, and I inquired after
one of his contemporaries, Joe Four-pence-ha'penny; but, alas! he no
longer circulates. I made a faithful study of canoe-building, and I
thought that I should like to serve an apprenticeship at that trade
for one season, going into the woods for bark with my "boss," making
the canoe there, and returning in it at last.

While the _bateau_ was coming over to take us off, I picked up
some fragments of arrow-heads on the shore, and one broken stone
chisel, which were greater novelties to the Indians than to me. After
this, on Old Fort Hill, at, the bend of the Penobscot, three miles
above Bangor, looking for the site of an Indian town which some think
stood thereabouts, I found more arrow-heads, and two little dark and
crumbling fragments of Indian earthenware, in the ashes of their
fires. The Indians on the Island appeared to live quite happily and
to be well treated by the inhabitants of Oldtown.

We visited Veazie's mills, just below the Island, where were sixteen
sets of saws,--some gang saws, sixteen in a gang, not to mention
circular saws. On one side, they were hauling the logs up an
inclined plane by water-power; on the other, passing out the boards,
planks, and sawed timber, and forming them into rafts. The trees were
literally drawn and quartered there. In forming the rafts, they use
the lower three feet of hard-wood saplings, which have a crooked and
knobbed butt-end, for bolts, passing them up through holes bored in
the corners and sides of the rafts, and keying them. In another
apartment they were making fence-slats, such as stand all over New
England, out of odds and ends,--and it may be that I saw where the
picket-fence behind which I dwell at home came from. I was surprised
to find a boy collecting the long edgings of boards as fast as cut
off, and thrusting them down a hopper, where they were _ground
up_ beneath the mill, that they might be out of the way; otherwise
they accumulate in vast piles by the side of the building, increasing
the danger from fire, or, floating off, they obstruct the river. This
was not only a saw-mill, but a grist-mill, then. The inhabitants of
Oldtown, Stillwater, and Bangor cannot suffer for want of
kindling-stuff, surely. Some get their living exclusively by picking
up the drift-wood and selling it by the cord in the winter. In one
place I saw where an Irishman, who keeps a team and a man for the
purpose, had covered the shore for a long distance with regular piles,
and I was told that he had sold twelve hundred dollars' worth in a
year. Another, who lived by the shore, told me that he got all the
material of his out-buildings and fences from the river; and in that
neighborhood I perceived that this refuse wood was frequently used
instead of sand to fill hollows with, being apparently cheaper than
dirt.

I got my first clear view of Katadn, on this excursion, from a hill
about two miles northwest of Bangor, whither I went for this
purpose. After this I was ready to return to Massachusetts.

       *     *     *     *     *

Humboldt has written an interesting chapter on the primitive forest,
but no one has yet described for me the difference between that wild
forest which once occupied our oldest townships, and the tame one
which I find there to-day. It is a difference which would be worth
attending to. The civilized man not only clears the land permanently
to a great extent, and cultivates open fields, but he tames and
cultivates to a certain extent the forest itself. By his mere
presence, almost, he changes the nature of the trees as no other
creature does. The sun and air, and perhaps fire, have been
introduced, and grain raised where it stands. It has lost its wild,
damp, and shaggy look, the countless fallen and decaying trees are
gone, and consequently that thick coat of moss which lived on them is
gone too. The earth is comparatively bare and smooth and dry. The
most primitive places left with us are the swamps, where the spruce
still grows shaggy with usnea. The surface of the ground in the Maine
woods is everywhere spongy and saturated with moisture. I noticed that
the plants which cover the forest floor there are such as are commonly
confined to swamps with us,--the _Clintonia borealis_, orchises,
creeping snowberry, and others; and the prevailing aster there is the
_Aster acuminatus_, which with us grows in damp and shady
woods. The asters _cordifolias_ and _macrophyllus_ also are
common, asters of little or no color, and sometimes without petals. I
saw no soft, spreading, second-growth white-pines, with smooth bark,
acknowledging the presence of the wood-chopper, but even the young
white-pines were all tall and slender rough-barked trees.

Those Maine woods differ essentially from ours. There you are never
reminded that the wilderness which you are threading is, after all,
some villager's familiar wood-lot, some widow's thirds, from which her
ancestors have sledded fuel for generations, minutely described in
some old deed which is recorded, of which the owner has got a plan
too, and old bound-marks may be found every forty rods, if you will
search. 'Tis true, the map may inform you that you stand on land
granted by the State to some academy, or on Bingham's purchase; but
these names do not impose on you, for you see nothing to remind you of
the academy or of Bingham. What were the "forests" of England to
these? One writer relates of the Isle of Wight, that in Charles the
Second's time "there were woods in the island so complete and
extensive, that it is said a squirrel might have travelled in several
parts many leagues together on the top of the trees." If it were not
for the rivers, (and he might go round their heads,) a squirrel could
here travel thus the whole breadth of the country.

We have as yet had no adequate account of a primitive pine-forest. I
have noticed that in a physical atlas lately published in
Massachusetts, and used in our schools, the "wood land" of North
America is limited almost solely to the valleys of the Ohio and some
of the Great Lakes, and the great pine-forests of the globe are not
represented. In our vicinity, for instance, New Brunswick and Maine
are exhibited as bare as Greenland. It may be that the children of
Greenville, at the foot of Moosehead Lake, who surely are not likely
to be scared by an owl, are referred to the valley of the Ohio to get
an idea of a forest; but they would not know what to do with their
moose, bear, caribou, beaver, etc., there. Shall we leave it to an
Englishman to inform us, that "in North America, both in the United
States and Canada, are the most extensive pine-forests in the world"?
The greater part of New Brunswick, the northern half of Maine, and
adjacent parts of Canada, not to mention the northeastern part of New
York and other tracts further off, are still covered with an almost
unbroken pine-forest.

But Maine, perhaps, will soon be where Massachusetts is. A good part
of her territory is already as bare and common-place as much of our
neighborhood, and her villages generally are not so well shaded as
ours. We seem to think that the earth must go through the ordeal of
sheep-pasturage before it is habitable by man. Consider Nahant, the
resort of all the fashion of Boston,--which peninsula I saw but
indistinctly in the twilight, when I steamed by it, and thought that
it was unchanged since the discovery. John Smith described it in 1614
as "the Mattahunts, two pleasant isles of groves, gardens, and
cornfields"; and others tell us that it was once well wooded, and even
furnished timber to build the wharves of Boston. Now it is difficult
to make a tree grow there, and the visitor comes away with a vision of
Mr. Tudor's ugly fences a rod high, designed to protect a few
pear-shrubs. And what are we coming to in our Middlesex towns?--a
bald, staring town-house, or meeting-house, and a bare liberty-pole,
as leafless as it is fruitless, for all I can see. We shall be obliged
to import the timber for the last, hereafter, or splice such sticks as
we have;--and our ideas of liberty are equally mean with these. The
very willow-rows lopped every three years for fuel or powder,--and
every sizable pine and oak, or other forest tree, cut down within the
memory of man! As if individual speculators were to be allowed to
export the clouds out of the sky, or the stars out of the firmament,
one by one. We shall be reduced to gnaw the very crust of the earth
for nutriment.

They have even descended to smaller game. They have lately, as I hear,
invented a machine for chopping up huckleberry-bushes fine, and so
converting them into fuel!--bushes which, for fruit alone, are worth
all the pear-trees in the country many times over. (I can give you a
list of the three best kinds, if you want it.) At this rate, we shall
all be obliged to let our beards grow at least, if only to hide the
nakedness of the land and make a sylvan appearance. The farmer
sometimes talks of "brushing up," simply as if bare ground looked
better than clothed ground, than that which wears its natural
vesture,--as if the wild hedges, which, perhaps, are more to his
children than his whole farm beside, were _dirt_. I know of one
who deserves to be called the Tree-hater, and, perhaps, to leave this
for a new patronymic to his children. You would think that he had
been warned by an oracle that he would be killed by the fall of a
tree, and so was resolved to anticipate them. The journalists think
that they cannot say too much in favor of such "improvements" in
husbandry; it is a safe theme, like piety; but as for the beauty of
one of these "model farms," I would as lief see a patent churn and a
man turning it. They are, commonly, places merely where somebody is
making money, it may be counterfeiting. The virtue of making two
blades of grass grow where only one grew before does not begin to be
superhuman.

Nevertheless, it was a relief to get back to our smooth, but still
varied landscape. For a permanent residence, it seemed to me that
there could be no comparison between this and the wilderness,
necessary as the latter is for a resource and a background, the raw
material of all our civilization. The wilderness is simple, almost to
barrenness. The partially cultivated country it is which chiefly has
inspired, and will continue to inspire, the strains of poets, such as
compose the mass of any literature. Our woods are sylvan, and their
inhabitants woodmen and rustics,--that is, _selvaggia_, and the
inhabitants are _salvages_. A civilized man, using the word in
the ordinary sense, with his ideas and associations, must at length
pine there, like a cultivated plant, which clasps its fibres about a
crude and undissolved mass of peat. At the extreme North, the voyagers
are obliged to dance and act plays for employment. Perhaps our own
woods and fields,--in the best wooded towns, where we need not quarrel
about the huckleberries,--with the primitive swamps scattered here and
there in their midst, but not prevailing over them, are the perfection
of parks and groves, gardens, arbors, paths, vistas, and landscapes.
They are the natural consequence of what art and refinement we as a
people have,--the common which each village possesses, its true
paradise, in comparison with which all elaborately and wilfully
wealth-constructed parks and gardens are paltry imitations. Or, I
would rather say, such _were_ our groves twenty years ago. The
poet's, commonly, is not a logger's path, but a woodman's. The logger
and pioneer have preceded him, like John the Baptist; eaten the wild
honey, it may be, but the locusts also; banished decaying wood and the
spongy mosses which feed on it, and built hearths and humanized Nature
for him.

But there are spirits of a yet more liberal culture, to whom no
simplicity is barren. There are not only stately pines, but fragile
flowers, like the orchises, commonly described as too delicate for
cultivation, which derive their nutriment from the crudest mass of
peat. These remind us, that, not only for strength, but for beauty,
the poet must, from time to time, travel the logger's path and the
Indian's trail, to drink at some new and more bracing fountain of the
Muses, far in the recesses of the wilderness.

The kings of England formerly had their forests "to hold the king's
game," for sport or food, sometimes destroying villages to create or
extend them; and I think that they were impelled by a true
instinct. Why should not we, who have renounced the king's authority,
have our national preserves, where no villages need be destroyed, in
which the bear and panther, and some even of the hunter race, may
still exist, and not be "civilized off the face of the earth,"--our
forests, not to hold the king's game merely, but to hold and preserve
the king himself also, the lord of creation,--not for idle sport or
food, but for inspiration and our own true re-creation? or shall we,
like villains, grub them all up, poaching on our own national domains?



MY CHILDREN.


  Have you seen Annie and Kitty,
    Two merry children of mine?
  All that is winning and pretty
    Their little persons combine.

  Annie is kissing and clinging
    Dozens of times in a day,--
  Chattering, laughing, and singing,
    Romping, and running away.

  Annie knows all of her neighbors.
    Dainty and dirty alike,--
  Learns all their talk, and, "be jabers,"
    Says she "adores little Mike!"

  Annie goes mad for a flower,
    Eager to pluck and destroy,--
  Cuts paper dolls by the hour,
    Always her model--a boy!

  Annie is full of her fancies,
    Tells most remarkable lies,
  (Innocent little romances,)
    Startling in one of her size.

  Three little prayers we have taught her,
    Graded from winter to spring;
  Oh, you should listen my daughter
    Saying them all in a string!

  Kitty--ah, how my heart blesses
    Kitty, my lily, my rose!
  Wary of all my caresses,
    Chary of all she bestows.

  Kitty loves quietest places,
    Whispers sweet sermons to chairs,
  And, with the gravest of faces,
    Teaches old Carlo his prayers.

  Matronly, motherly creature!
    Oh, what a doll she has built--
  Guiltless of figure or feature--
    Out of her own little quilt!

  Nought must come near it to wake it;
    Noise must not give it alarm;
  And when she sleeps, she must take it
    Into her bed, on her arm.

  Kitty is shy of a caller,
    Uttering never a word;
  But when alone in the parlor,
    Talks to herself like a bird.

  Kitty is contrary, rather,
    And, with a comical smile,
  Mutters, "I won't," to her father,--
    Eyeing him slyly the while.

  Loving one more than the other
    Isn't the thing, I confess;
  And I observe that their mother
    Makes no distinction in dress.

  Preference must be improper
    In a relation like this;
  I wouldn't toss up a copper--
    (Kitty, come, give me a kiss!)



THE KINLOCH ESTATE, AND HOW IT WAS SETTLED.

[Continued.]


CHAPTER VII.


Early Monday morning, Mr. Hardwick walked across the green to call
upon Mrs. Kinloch. Lucy Ransom, the house-maid, washing in the
back-yard, saw him coming, and told her mistress;--before he rang,
Mrs. Kinloch had time to tie on her lace cap, smooth her hair, and
meet him in the hall.

"Good mum-morning, Mrs. Kinloch!"

"Walk in, Mr. Hardwick,--this way, into the sitting-room."

He took a seat quietly by the maple-shaded window. Mrs. Kinloch was
silent and composed. Her coolness nerved instead of depressing him,
and he began at once.

"I've ker-come to see you about the debt which my nun-nephew, Mark,
owes the estate."

"I don't know what _I_ can do about it," she replied, in a placid
tone.

"We've ben nun-neighbors, now, these f-fifteen years, Mrs. Kinloch,
and never h-had any difficulty th-that I know on. An' as the ler-law
had been used per-pretty ha'sh toward Mark, I th-thought I'd see ef
'twa'n't per-possible't some mistake had ben made."

"I don't know what mistake there has been. Squire Clamp must collect
whatever is due. It isn't harsh to do that, is it?"

"Not ha'sh to a-ask for it, but not jest the ker-kind thing to bring
ser-suit before askin'. Mark got a word and a ber-blow, but the blow
came f-first. We didn't treat yer-you so when you was a widder."

"So you go back to old times, and bring up my poverty and your
charity, do you?" said the widow, bitterly.

"By nun-no means," replied the blacksmith. "I don't w-wish to open
'counts th-that've ben settled so long; an' more, I don't intend to
ber-ber-beg from you, nor a-anybody else. We pay our debts, an' don't
'xpect nor don't wer-want to do any different."

"Then I don't see what you are so flurried about."

"Ef so be Squire Ker-Kinloch was alive, I could tell you ber-better;
or rather, I shouldn't have to go to yer-you about it. He allers give
Mark to underst-hand that he shouldn't be hard upon him,--th-that he
could pay along as he ger-got able."

"Why should he favor him more than others? I am sure not many men
would have lent the money in the first place, and I don't think it
looks well to be hanging back now."

"As to why yer-your husband was disposed to favor Mark, I have
_my_ opinion. But the der-dead shall rest; I sh-sha'n't call up
their pale faces." He drew his breath hard, and his eyes looked full
of tender memories.

After a moment he went on. "I don't w-wish to waste words; I
mum-merely come to say that Mark has five hunderd dollars, and that I
can scrape up a couple o' hunderd more, and will give my note w-with
him for the balance. Th-that's all we can handily do; an' ef that'll
arnswer, we should ler-like to have you give word to stop the suit."

"You will have to go to Squire Clamp," was the reply. "I don't presume
to dictate to my lawyer, but shall let him do what he thinks best. You
haven't been to him, I conclude? I don't think he will be
unreasonable."

Mr. Hardwick looked steadily at her.

"Wer-well, Mrs. Kinloch," said he, slowly, "I th-think I
understand. Ef I don't, it isn't because you don't mum-make the matter
plain. I sha'n't go to Squire Clamp till I have the mum-money, all of
it. I hope no a-a-enemy of yourn will be so hard to y-you as my
friends are to me."

With singular command over her tongue and temper, Mrs. Kinloch
contented herself with hoping that he would find no difficulty in
arranging matters with the lawyer, bade him good-morning, civilly, and
shut the door behind him. But when he was gone, her anger, kept so
well under control before, burst forth.

"Stuttering old fool!" she exclaimed, "to come here to badger me!--to
throw up to me the wood he cut, or the apples he brought me!--as
though Mr. Kinloch hadn't paid that ten times over! He'll find how it
is before long."

"What's the matter?" asked Mildred, meeting her step-mother in the
hall, and noticing her flushed cheek, her swelling veins, and
contorted brows.

"Why, nothing, but a talk with Uncle Ralph, who has been rather
saucy."

"Saucy? Uncle Ralph saucy? Why, he is the most kindly man in the
world,--sometimes hasty, but always well-mannered. I don't see how he
could be saucy."

"I advise you not to stand up for him against your mother."

"I shouldn't defend him in anything wrong; but I think there must be
some misunderstanding."

"He is like Mark, I suppose, always perfect in your eyes."

This was the first time since Mr. Kinloch's death that the step-mother
had ever alluded to the fondness which had existed between Mark and
Mildred as school-children, and her eyes were bent upon the girl
eagerly. It was as though she had knocked at the door of her heart,
and waited for its opening to look into the secret recesses. A quick
flush suffused Mildred's face and neck.

"You are unkind, mother," she said; for the glance was sharper than
the words; and then, bursting into tears, she went to her room.

"So it has come to this!" said Mrs. Kinloch to herself. "Well, I did
not begin at all too soon."

She walked through the hall to the back piazza. She heard voices from
beyond the shrubbery that bordered the grass-plot where the clothes
were hung on lines to dry. Lucy, the maid, evidently was there, for
one; indeed, by shifting her position so as to look through an opening
in the bushes, Mrs. Kinloch could see the girl; but she was not busy
with her clothes-basket. An arm was bent around her plump and graceful
figure. The next instant, as Mrs. Kinloch saw by standing on tiptoe,
two forms swayed toward each other, and Lucy, no way reluctantly,
received a kiss from--Hugh Branning!

Very naughty, certainly,--but it is incumbent on me to tell the truth,
and accordingly I have put it down.

Now my readers are doubtless prepared for a catastrophe. They will
expect to hear Mrs. Kinloch cry, "Lucy Ransom, you jade, what are you
doing? Take your clothes and trumpery and leave this house!" You will
suppose that her son Hugh will be shut up in the cellar on bread and
water, or sent off to sea in disgrace. That is the traditional way
with angry mistresses, I know; but Mrs. Kinloch was not one of the
common sort. She did not know Talleyrand's maxim,--"Never act from
first impulses, for they are always--_right_!" Indeed, I doubt if
she had ever heard of that slippery Frenchman; but observation and
experience had led her to adopt a similar line of policy.

Therefore she did not scold or send away Lucy; she could not well do
without her; and besides, there were reasons which made it desirable
that the girl should remain friendly. She did not call out to her
hopeful son, either,--although her fingers _did_ itch to tweak
his profligate ears. She knew that a dispute with him would only end
in his going off in a huff, and she thought she could employ him
better. So she coughed first and then stepped out into the yard. Hugh
presently came sauntering down the walk, and Lucy sang among the
clothes-lines as blithely and unconcerned as though her lips had never
tasted any flavor more piquant than bread and butter.

It was rather an equivocal look which the mistress cast over her
shoulder at the girl. It might have said,--"Poor fool! singe your
wings in the candle, if you will." It might have been only the scorn
of outraged virtue.

"Hugh," said Mrs. Kinloch, "come into the house a moment. I want to
speak with you."

The young man looked up rather astonished, but he could not read his
mother's placid face. Her hair lay smooth on her temples, under her
neat cap; her face was almost waxy pale, her lips gently pressed
together; and if her clear, gray eyes had beamed with a warm or more
humid light, she might have served a painter as a model for a


  "steadfast nun, devout and pure."


When they reached the sitting-room, Mrs. Kinloch began.

"Hugh, do you think of going to sea again? Now that I am alone in the
world, don't you think you can make up your mind to stay at home?"

"I haven't thought much about it, mother. I suppose I should go when
ordered, as a matter of course; I have nothing else to do."

"That need not be a reason. There is plenty to do without waiting for
promotion in the navy till you are gray."

"Why, mother, you know I have no profession, and, I suppose I may say,
no money. At least, the Squire made no provision for me that I know
of, and I'm sure you cannot wish me to live on your 'thirds.'"

"My son, you should have some confidence in my advice, by this
time. It doesn't require a great fortune to live comfortably here."

"Yes, but it is deused dull in this old town. No theatre,--no
concert,--no music at all, but from organ-grinders,--no
parties,--nothing, in fact, but prayer-meetings from one week's end to
another. I should die of the blues here."

"Only find something to do, settle yourself into a pleasant home, and
you'll forget your uneasiness."

"That's very well to say"----

"And very easy to do. But it isn't the way to begin by flirting with
every pretty, foolish girl you see. Oh, Hugh! you are all I have now
to love. I shall grow old soon, and I want to lean upon you. Give up
the navy; be advised by me."

Hugh whistled softly. He did not suppose that his mother knew of his
gallantry. He was amused at her sharp observation.

"So you think I'm a flirt, mother?" said he. "You are out,
entirely. I'm a pattern of propriety at home!"

"You need not tell me, Hugh! I know more than you think. But I didn't
know that a son of mine could be so simple as I find you are."

"She's after me," thought Hugh. "She saw me, surely."

His mother went on.

"With such an opportunity as you have to get yourself a wife----Don't
laugh! I want to see you married, for you will never sow your wild
oats until you are. With such a chance as you have"----

"Why, mother," broke in Hugh, "it isn't so bad as that."

"Isn't so bad? What do you mean?"

"Why, _you_ know what you're driving at, and so do I. Lucy is a
good girl enough, but I never meant anything serious. There's no need
of my marrying her."

"What _are_ you talking about?"

"Now, mother, what's the use? You are only trying to read me a moral
lecture, because I gave Lucy a harmless smack."

"Lucy Ransom!" repeated Mrs. Kinloch, with ineffable scorn. "Lucy
Ransom! I hope my son isn't low enough to dally with a housemaid, a
scullion! If I _had_ seen such a spectacle, I should have kept my
mouth shut for shame. 'A guilty conscience needs no accuser'; but I am
sorry you had not pride enough to keep your disgusting fooleries to
yourself."

"Regularly sold!" muttered Hugh, as he beat a rat-tattoo on the
window-pane.

"I gave you credit for more penetration, Hugh. Now, just look a
minute. What would you think of the shrewdness of a young man, who
had no special turn for business, but a great fondness for taking his
ease,--with no money nor prospect of any,--and who, when he had the
opportunity to step at once into fortune and position, made no
movement to secure it?"

"Well, the application?"

"The fortune may be yours, if you will."

"Don't tell me riddles. Show me the prize, and I'm after it."

"But it has an incumbrance."

"Well?"

"A pretty, artless, affectionate little woman, who will make you the
best wife in the world."

"Splendid, by Jove! Who is she?"

"You needn't look far. We generally miss seeing the thing that is
under our nose."

"Why, mother, there isn't an heiress in Innisfield except my sister
Mildred."

"Mildred is not your sister. You are no more to each other than the
two farthest persons on earth."

"True enough! Well, mother, you _are_ an old 'un!"

"Don't!"--with a look of disgust,--"don't use your sailor slang here!
To see that doesn't require any particular shrewdness."

"But Mildred never liked me much. She always ran from me, like the
kitten from old Bose. She has always looked as though she thought I
would bite, and that it was best she should keep out of reach under a
chair."

"Any young man of good address and fair intelligence can make an
impression on a girl of eighteen, if he has the will, the time, and
the opportunity. You have everything in your favor, and if you don't
take the fortune that lies right in your path, you deserve to go to
the poor-house."

Hugh meditated.

"Good-morning," said Mrs. Kinloch. "You know the horse and carriage,
or the saddle-ponies, are always yours when you want to use them."

Great discoveries seem always so simple, that we wonder they were not
made from the first. The highest truths are linked with the commonest
objects and events of daily life.

Hugh looked about him as much astonished as though he had been shown a
gold mine in old Quobbin, where he could dig for the asking. What
determination he made, the course of our story will show.



CHAPTER VIII.


Hugh had ordered George, the Asiatic, to saddle the ponies after
dinner, intending to ask Mildred to take a ride northward, through the
pine woods; but on making inquiries, he found that she had walked out,
leaving word that she should be absent all day.

"Confound it!" thought he,--"a mishap at the start! I'm afraid the
omen isn't a good one. However, I must kill time some way. I can't lay
up here, like a ship in ordinary; better be shaken by storms or
covered with barnacles at sea than be housed up, worm-eaten or
crumbled into powder by dry-rot on shore."

He went to ride alone, but did not go in the direction of the pine
woods.

Mildred could not get over the unpleasant impressions of the morning,
so, rather than remain in her room this fine day, she had walked
across the meadow, east of the mill-pond, to a farm-house, where she
was a frequent and welcome visitor. On her way, she called for Lizzy
Hardwick, the blacksmith's daughter, who accompanied her. Mr. Alford,
the farmer, was a blunt, good-humored, and rather eccentric man,
shrewd and well to do, but kindly and charitable. He had no children,
and he enjoyed the occasional visits of his favorites heartily; so did
his wife, Aunt Mercy. Her broad face brightened as she saw the girls
coming, and her plump hands were both extended to greet them. They
went to the dairy to see the creaking cheese-presses, ate of the fresh
curd, saw the golden stores of butter;--thence to the barn, where they
clambered upon the hay-mow, found the nest of a bantam, took some of
the little eggs in their pockets;--then coming into the yard, they
patted the calves' heads, scattered oats for the doves, that, with
pink feet and pearly blue necks, crowded around them to be fed, and
next began to chase a fine old gander down to the brook, when
Mr. Alford, getting over the fence, called out, "Hold on, girls! don't
bother Uncle Ralph!--don't!"

"Where is Uncle Ralph?" asked Mildred.

"Why, that gander you've been chasin'; and he's about the harn'somest
bird I know on, too. Talk about swans! there never was a finer neck,
nor a prettier coat of feathers on anything that ever swum. His wings
are powerful; only let him spread 'em, and up he goes; but as for his
feet, he limps just a little, as you see. No offence, Lizzy. I love
your father as well as you do; but when I hear him, with his idees so
grand,--the minister don't begin with him,--and yet to be bothered, as
he is sometimes, to get a word out, I think of my good old fellow
here, whose wings are so much better'n his legs. Come here, Ralph! You
see he knows his name. There!"--patting his head,--"that's a good
fellow! Now go and help marm attend to your goslins."

The kindly tone and the caress took away from the comparison any idea
of disrespect, and the girls laughed at the odd conceit,--Lizzy, at
least, not a little proud of the implied compliment. Mr. Alford left
them, to attend to his affairs, and they went on with their
romp,--running on the top of the smooth wall beside the meadow,
gathering clusters of lilac blossoms from the fatherly great posy that
grew on the sunny side of the house, and admiring the solitary state
of the peacock, as, with dainty step, he trailed his royal robe over
the sward. Soon they heard voices at the house, and, going round the
corner of the shed, saw Uncle Ralph and Mark Davenport talking with
Mr. Alford at the door.

Not to make a mystery of a simple matter, the blacksmith had come to
borrow of Mr. Alford the money necessary to make up the amount owing
by Mark to the Kinloch estate.

The young man had shown great readiness to accompany his uncle;
praiseworthy, certainly; but I am inclined to think he had somehow got
an intimation that the girls had preceded him.

Fortunately, the farmer was able to lend the sum wanted, and, as he
had an errand in town, he took Mr. Hardwick with him in his wagon.

Mark was left, nothing loath, to walk home with the girls. Do not
think he was wanting in affection for his cousin Lizzy, if he wished
that she were, just for one hour, a hundred miles away. They took a
path that led over the plain to the river, intending to cross upon a
foot-bridge, a short distance above the village. But though Mark was
obliged to be silent on the matter he had most at heart, Mildred was
not unaware of his feelings. A tone, a look, a grasp of the hand
serves for an index, quite as well as the most fervent speech. The
river makes a beautiful bend near the foot-bridge, and its bank is
covered with a young growth of white pines. They sat down on a
hillock, under the trees, whose spicy perfume filled the air, and
looked down the stream towards the village. How fair it lay in the
soft air of that June day! The water was deep and blue, with a
reflected heaven. The mills that cluster about the dam, a mile below,
were partially concealed by young elms, silver-poplars, and
water-maples. Gardens sloped on either bank to the water's edge. Neat,
white houses gleamed through the trees and shrubbery around the bases
of the hills that hem in the valley; and the tall, slender spire of
the meeting-house shewed fairly against its densely-wooded
background. Verily, if I were a painter, I should desire no lovelier
scene for my canvas than that on which Mark and Mildred looked. Lizzy
walked away, and began hunting checkerberries with an unusual
ardor. She _did_ understand; she would not be Mademoiselle de
Trop any longer. Kind soul! so unlike young women in general, who
won't step aside gracefully, when they should! Further I can vouch,
that she neither hemmed, nor made eyes, nor yet repeated the well-worn
proverb, "Two's company, but three's none." No, she gathered berries
and sang snatches of songs as though she were quite alone.

Now those of my readers who have the good-fortune still to linger in
teens are expecting that I shall treat them to a report of this
delightful _tête-à-tête_. But it must not be told. The older
people would skip it, or say, "Pshaw!" And besides, if it were set
down faithfully, you would be sadly disappointed; the cleverest men,
even, are quite sure to appear silly (to other people) when in
love. The speeches of the Romeos and Claude Melnottes, with which you
have been so enchanted, would be common-place enough, if translated
into the actual prose in which they were delivered. When Shakspeare
wooed Anne Hathaway, it might have been different; but consider, you
will wait some time before you find a lover like him. No, when your
time comes, it will be soon enough. You will see your hero in his
velvet cloak and plumed hat, with the splendor of scenery and the
intoxication of the music. I don't choose to show him to you in
morning dress at rehearsal, under daubed canvas and dangling
machinery.

However full of poetry and passion Mark's declaration was for Mildred,
to him it was tame and hesitating enough. It seemed to him that he
could not force into the cold formula of words the emotion that
agitated him. But with quickening breath he poured out his love, his
hopes, and his fears,--the old burden! She trembled, her eyelids
fell; but at length, roused by his pleading tones, she looked
up. Their eyes met; one look was enough; it was a reciprocal electric
flash. With a sudden energy he clasped her in his arms; and it was a
very pretty tableau they made! But in the quick movement his heedless
foot chanced to touch a stone, which rolled down the bank and fell
into the stream with a splash. The charm was broken.

"What's that?" cried Lizzy from a distance, forgetting her
discretion. "Did a pickerel jump?"

"No," replied Mark, "the pickerel know me of old, and don't come about
for fear that I have a hook and line in my pocket. It was only a stone
rolling into the river."

"You come here a moment," continued the unthoughtful Lizzy; "here's a
beautiful sassafras sapling, and I can't pull it up by the roots
alone."

"Send for the dentist, then."

"Go and help her," said Mildred, softly.

"Well," said Mark, with a look of enforced resignation,--"if I must."

The sapling grew on the steep bank, perhaps fifty yards from where he
had been sitting. He did not use sufficient care to brace himself, as
he pulled with all his might, and in a moment, he knew not how, he
rolled down into the river. The girls first screamed, and then, as he
came out of the water, shaking himself like a Newfoundland dog, they
laughed immoderately. The affair did not seem very funny to Mark, and
he joined in the laugh with no great heartiness. The shock had
effectually dispelled all the romance of the hour.

"I'm so sorry!" said Lizzy, still laughing at his grotesque and
dripping figure.

"You must hurry and get dry clothes on, Mark," said Mildred. "Squire
Clamp's is the nearest house across the bridge."

"Hang Squire Clamp! his clothes would poison me. I'd as lief go to a
quarantine hospital to be dressed."

"Don't!" said Lizzy.

But he kept on in the same mercurial strain.--"Clamp lives on poison,
like Rappaccini's daughter, in Hawthorne's story; only it makes him
ugly instead of fair, as that pretty witch was. His wife never had any
trouble with spiders as long as she lived; he had only to blow into a
nest, and the creatures would tumble out, and give up their venomous
ghosts. No vermin but himself are to be seen in his neighborhood; the
rats even found they couldn't stand it, and had to emigrate."

"The breath that killed spiders must have been a little too powerful,
at times, for Mrs. Clamp, one would think," said Mildred.

"It was," said Mark. "She died one day, after Clamp had cheated a
widow out of her dower."

"Don't stop longer for your fun," said Mildred, "you'll surely take
cold. Besides, I can't have you making any disparaging remarks upon my
guardian."

"Bless my soul! your guardian! how imprudent, to be sure!"--with a
significant twinkle. "Well, I'm going. Banfield's is the nearest
house; so we'll part here."

The girls went towards the village; and Mark, making vigorous strides
across the meadow, took a straight line for Banfield's. Near the
house is a piece of woods,--one corner of the leafy mantle that covers
the hill slipped down its side and trailing upon the borders of the
fertile field below. Just as he passed the woods he saw Hugh Branning
letting down the bars and leading his pony out into the road. The only
bridle-path through the woods led over the hill to the little house on
the westerly slope, where lived Dame Ransom, Lucy's bowed and wrinkled
grandmother. Mark wondered not a little where the midshipman had been;
but as he still retained the memory of the old quarrel, he did not
accost him, and presently thought no more of it. Reaching the house,
he got some dry clothes and then went home with bounding steps. The
earth was never so beautiful nor the sky so benign. The cloud of
doubt had furled off and left his heaven blue. He had spoken and found
that the dream of his boyhood and the hope of his youth had become the
proud triumph of his manhood. Mildred Kinloch loved him! loved him as
sincerely as when they were both children! What higher felicity was
to be thought of? And what a motive for exertion had he now! He would
be worthy of her, and the world should acknowledge that the heiress
had not stooped when she mated with him.



CHAPTER IX.


Mrs. Kinloch was surprised at finding that neither Hugh nor Mildred,
nor yet Lucy Ransom, was in the house.

Mildred came home first and was not accompanied by Hugh, as
Mrs. Kinloch had hoped. He had not found her, then,--perhaps he had
not sought for her. Next Lucy returned, coming through the garden
which stretched up the hill. Being questioned, she answered that she
had been to her grandmother's, and had come back the nearest way over
the hill, through the woods.

"What had she gone for after the fatigue of washing-day?"

"Because Squire Clamp, who owned the house her grandmother lived in,
wanted her to take a message."

Mrs. Kinloch began to become interested. "Squire Clamp!" she
exclaimed,--"when did you see him?"

"He called here yesterday evening,--on his way to Mr. Hardwick's, I
guess."

"Why didn't he ask _me_ if you could go? I think he's pretty free
to send my girls about the town on his errands."

"You were out, Ma'am,--in the next house; and after he'd gone I forgot
it."

"You remembered it to-day, it seems."

"Yes'm; after dinner I thought of it and hurried right off; but granny
was sick and foolish, and didn't want to let me come away, so I
couldn't get back as quick as I meant to."

"Well, you can go to the kitchen."

"Yes'm."

"I must keep an eye on that girl," thought Mrs. Kinloch. "She is
easily persuaded, fickle, without strong sense, and with only a very
shallow kind of cunning. She might do mischief. What can Squire Clamp
want? The old hovel her grandmother lives in isn't worth fifty
dollars. Whatever has been going on, I'm glad Hugh is not mixed up in
it."

Just then Hugh rode up, and, tying his horse, came in. He seemed to
have lost something of the gayety of the morning. "I am tired," he
said. "I had to get off and lead the pony down the hill, and it's
steep and stony enough."

"There are pleasant roads enough in the neighborhood," said his
mother, "without your being obliged to take to the woods and clamber
over the mountains."

"I know it," he replied; "but I had been up towards the Allen place,
and I took a notion to come back over the hill."

"Then you passed Lucy's house?"

"Yes. The bridle-path leads down the hill about a mile above this; but
on foot one may keep along the ridge and come down into the valley
through our garden."

"So I suppose; in fact, I believe Lucy has just returned that way."

"Indeed! it's strange I didn't see her."

"It is strange."

Hugh bore the quiet scrutiny well, and his mother came to the
conclusion that the girl had told the truth about her going for the
lawyer.

Presently Mildred came down from her room, and after a few minutes
Mrs. Kinloch went out, casting a fixed and meaning look at her
son. She seemed as impatient for the issue of her scheme, as the child
who, after planting a seed, waits for the green shoot, and twice a day
digs down to see if it has not sprouted.

Mildred, as the reader may suppose, was not likely to be very
agreeable to her companion; the recollections of the day were too
vivid, too delicious.

She could not part with them, but constantly repeated to herself the
words of love, of hope, and enthusiasm, which she had heard. So she
moved or talked as in a dream, mechanically, while her soul still
floated away on the summer-sea of reverie.

Hugh looked at her with real admiration; and, in truth, she deserved
it. A fairer face you would not see in a day's journey; her smooth
skin, not too white, but of a rich creamy tint,--eyes brown and
inclined to be dreamy,--her hair chestnut and wavy,--a figure rather
below the medium size, but with full, graceful lines,--these, joined
with a gentle nature and a certain tremulous sensibility, constituted
a divinity that it was surely no sin to worship. If sin it were, all
the young men in Innisfield had need of immediate forgiveness.

Hugh had some qualms about approaching the goddess. He was sensible of
a wide gulf between himself and her, and he could not but think that
she was aware of it too.

"You have been to Mr. Alford's?"

A momentary pause.

"Did you speak, Hugh?"

He repeated the question. Her eyes brightened a moment as she nodded
in the affirmative; then they grew dim again, like windows seen from
without when the light is withdrawn to an inner room. She seemed as
unconscious as a pictured Madonna.

"A beautiful day for your walk," he ventured again. The same pause,
the same momentary interest as she answered, followed by the same
abstraction.

"I suppose," said he, at length, "that I am having the last of my idle
days here; I expect to be ordered to sea shortly."

"Indeed!" Mildred looked up.

"I shall be very sorry to leave here," he continued.

"Yes, Innisfield _is_ quite pretty this summer. But I supposed
that the pleasures of the seaport and of adventure abroad were more
attractive to you than this monotonous life."

"'Tis rather slow here, but--I--I meant to say that I shall be sorry
to leave you."

"Me? Why, mother can take care of me."

"Certainly she will, but I shall miss you."

"No doubt you'll think of us, when you are away; I'm sure we shall
remember you. We shall never sit down to the table without thinking of
your vacant chair."

It was impossible to misinterpret her kind, simple, sisterly
tones. And Hugh could but feel that they indicated no particle of
tenderness for him. The task of winning her was yet wholly to be done,
and there was no prospect that she would give him the least
encouragement in advance, if she did not utterly refuse him at the
end. He saw that he must not count on an easy victory, but prepare for
it by a slow and gradual approach.

Mildred sat some time leaning out of the window, then opening her
piano, for the first time since her father's death, she sat down and
played a nocturne by Mendelssohn. The music seemed a natural
expression of her feelings,--suited to the heart "steeped in golden
languors," in the "tranced summer calm." The tones rang through the
silent rooms, pervading all the charmed air, so that the ear tingled
in listening,--as the lips find a sharpness with the luscious flavor
of the pine-apple. The sound reached to the kitchen, and brought a
brief pleasure, but a bitterer pang of envy, to Lucy's swelling bosom.
It calmed for a moment the evil spirit in Hugh's troubled heart. And
Mrs. Kinloch in her solitary chamber, though she had always detested
the piano, thought she had never heard such music before. She had
found a new sense, that thrilled her with an exquisite delight. It was
a good omen, she was sure, that Mildred should now, after so long a
time, feel inclined to play. Only a light heart, and one supremely
careless or supremely happy, could touch the keys like that. "Hugh
must be a fortunate boy," she thought; and she could have hugged him
for joy. What thought Hugh, as she rose from her seat at the
instrument like one in a trance and walked towards the hall?
Conflicting emotions struggled for mastery; but, hardly knowing what
he did, he started up and offered her a caress. It was not unusual,
but her nerves had acquired an unwonted sensitiveness; she shuddered,
and rushed from him up the stairs. He could have torn his hair with
rage.

"Am I, then, such a bear," he asked himself, "that she is afraid of
me?"

A light at the end of the hall caught his eye. It was Lucy with
tear-stained cheeks going to bed,--unconscious that the flaring candle
she carried was dripping upon her dress,--unconscious that the one she
both loved and feared was looking at her as she slowly went up the
back-stairs. Truly, how little the inmates of that house knew of the
secrets of each other's hearts! It was strange,--was it not?--that,
after so long intimacy, they could not understand each other better!
How many hearts do _you_ really know?



CHAPTER X.


"Verily, a good day's work," thought Squire Clamp, as he stretched his
legs in his office that Monday evening. "Mrs. Kinloch is a very shrewd
woman, an extraordinarily capable woman. What a wife for a lawyer
she'd make!--so long as she plotted for, and not against him. But
Theophilus Clamp was not born to be overreached by one of the weaker
sex. I was sure my late lamented friend could not have left his
affairs in such utter disorder,--no schedule of property,--no
statement of debts; too good a business man for that was Walter
Kinloch. I shall now be able to know from these documents what my
late client was really worth, and how large a dower the disconsolate
widow has reserved for herself. Doubtless she has put by enough to
suffice for her old age,--and mine, too, I am inclined to think; for I
don't believe I can do better than marry her when the mourning is
ended. My late spouse, to be sure, would make a quiet man rather
apprehensive about a second venture; but if Mrs. Kinloch _is_ a
Tartar, she is not a vulgar shrew, but will be lady-like, even if she
is bitter. I think I shall take her. Of course she'll consent. I
should like to see the unmarried woman in Innisfield that would dare
refuse Theophilus Clamp. When she knows--that I know--what she knows,
she'll do pretty much what I tell her. I wonder if she hasn't set on
foot a marriage between her scapegrace son and Mildred? That would be
a mishap, truly! But, as guardian, I can stave that off until the
estate is settled, my wedding over, and myself comfortably in
possession. Then, perhaps, we'll let the young folks marry,--at least
we'll think of it. If my son George, now, had not that unlucky
hare-lip, who knows? H'm, well, to business again. Let's see. It's
just as that remarkably keen woman suspected. Hardwick's shop does
stand partly on the land of the estate that joins it; the line will
run right through his forge, and leave the trip-hammer and water-wheel
in our possession; for I paced the distance this morning. Tomorrow
Gunter will make sure of it by a survey; though I think we'd better do
it while the old man is gone to dinner. He's sometimes apt to use
emphatic language. Perhaps now his mangy cur Caesar will seize me by
the coat again! Perhaps Mark will insult me, and the old man laugh at
it in his sleeve! I shouldn't wonder if they managed to pay the notes,
but on the title to the shop we have them fast."

The lawyer looked at his watch. "Dear me! it's tea-time. I must go,
for the church-committee meet this evening. I think, however, I won't
complain of Hardwick to the deacons this time; for he'll be sure to
get into a passion when we commence our suit for ejectment, and I
shall then have a better case against him. A more disagreeable
Christian to fellowship with I don't know anywhere.

"I _should_ like to know," he continued, as he locked the
office-door, "if that Lucy told me true,--if those were all the
papers. No will, no memorandum for one! Well, perhaps Mrs. Kinloch was
careful enough to give that secret to the keeping of the flames,
instead of her bureau. I will make close copies of what I have got for
Lucy to put back, and keep the originals myself. They'll be safest
with me. There's no telling what may happen to papers in a house where
there is a prying servant-girl."

Whether the insects were poisoned by the air of the room, as Mark
Davenport suggested, I cannot say. But when Squire Clamp left the
office, it was as still as a tomb. No cricket chirped under the
hearth, no fly buzzed on the window-pane, no spiders came forth from
the dilapidated, dangling webs. Silence and dust had absolute
dominion.

The next day Mark returned to New York. He had no opportunity of
bidding Mildred farewell, but he comforted himself by thinking he had
provided the means of safely communicating with her by letter. And as
the stage passed by the house, he caught a glimpse, first of her
fluttering handkerchief, and then of her graceful fingers wafting to
him a kiss. It was enough; it furnished him with food for a delightful
reverie as he went on his way. We shall leave him in his former
situation, from which, as a starting-point, he determines to win
fortune or fame, or both. He has your best wishes, no doubt, though
perhaps you think he will not force his way into the close ranks of
the great procession of life so soon as he expects.

That day, while Mr. Hardwick was taking his dinner, his second son,
Milton, who had been fishing at the dam, came running into the house
quite out of breath.

"F-father!" he stammered out.

"Nun-now st-hop," said the black-smith. "W-what are you st-stuttering
for? Wah-wait till you can talk."

"Why, father, yer-_you_ stutter."

"Wer-well, yer-_you_ shan't."

The look that came with this seemed to end the matter. A moment's rest
quieted the nerves of the boy, and he went on to say, that Squire
Clamp, and a man with a brass machine on his shoulder, and a chain,
ever so long, were walking about the shop on the bank of the
river. Lizzy at once looked out of the window and saw the man peering
into the shop-door, as if exploring the premises.

Impelled by some presentiment of evil, Mr. Hardwick got up from the
table, and sternly motioning the boys back, went down to the shop. As
he came near the door, he saw the surveyor holding one end of the
chain and taking sight upon a staff which the lawyer within was
adjusting to its place by his direction.

"Just as I expected," said Squire Clamp, in a satisfied tone.

"An' jest as I expected," broke in Mr. Hardwick upon the astonished
pair. "I knew th-that ef Squire Clamp hed anythin' to do against me,
he wer-would sneak into the shop sus-some time when I'd ger-gone to
dinner."

"We thought it would be most convenient, so as not to interrupt you
about your work."

"Very ker-kind indeed! As ef you wa'n't tryin' to turn me out of
wer-work altogether! But 'tisn't any yer-use, Squire; this is a case
you can't be ber-both sides on."

The lawyer turned, with a placid smile, to his companion. "Mr. Gunter,
I believe we have finished our measurements?"

The man of chain and compass nodded. Nothing abashed by the lawyer's
cool manner, Mr. Hardwick turned to the surveyor, and asked if he
undertook to say that Walter Kinloch's deed called for land that was
covered by the shop?

"I suppose so," was the answer.

"An' now, Sus-squire Clamp," said Mr. Hardwick, "you know that it's
sus-seventeen or eighteen year sence I per-pulled down the old shop
and bought this land."

"Yes, but, unfortunately, it takes twenty years to give you title,"
put in the Squire.

"Nun-never mind that now. Squire Kinloch knew this,--at least, that
there was room for der-difficulty; for we'd talked it over sus-several
times afore he died. An' he allers said th-that he'd hev new deeds
made out, so's to per-per-prevent just such a wrong as this. He didn't
'xpect to go so sus-sudden."

"I'm sorry, Brother Hardwick, to see you bringing up your talk with
the lamented deceased, whom you represent as being willing to part
with his legal rights without a consideration. Even if you had
evidence of it, such an agreement would be a mere _nudum pactum_,
binding neither upon himself nor his heirs."

"Squire Clamp! ger-get out of my shop! Fust to call me _Brother_,
next to doubt my word, an' last to sus-say that a man's free an'
der-deliberet promise--now he's where he can't sh-shame you into
honesty--sha'n't be kept!"

The Squire smiled feebly. "You don't intend, Mister Hardwick, assault
and battery, do you?"

"Yer-yes, ef you don't leave in q-q-q-quick time." And he strode up to
the astonished attorney, his blue eyes flashing, his curly gray hair
flying back from his forehead, like a lion's.

Squire Clamp retreated to the street, took sight each way to be sure
he was off his antagonist's territory, and then vented his cautious
resentment in such well-considered phrases as a long course of
experience had taught him were not actionable at law, nor ground for
discipline in church.

Prudence came to Uncle Ralph's aid, and he did not make further reply,
but locked the shop-door and returned to the house to finish his
dinner. The suit was commenced a few days afterwards. Mr. Hardwick
went to the county seat, some dozen miles distant, and secured the aid
of an able lawyer, who gave him hope of prevailing and keeping his
shop.

The affair necessarily created a great stir in the busy little
town. As the cheerful clatter of the trip-hammer echoed along the
stream on still evenings, and the fiery plume waved over the chimney,
neighbors looked out from their windows, and wondered if the good
blacksmith would, after so many years of honest toil, be stripped of
his property and be reduced to dependence in his old age. The sympathy
of the villagers was wholly with him; but the lawyer held so many
threads of interest in his hands, that few dared to give an opinion
with much emphasis.

Probably the person most grieved and indignant was the one who, next
after the blacksmith, was most interested in the event of the
suit,--namely, Mildred Kinloch. Though no mention was made of the
matter, at home, in her hearing, she could not fail to know what was
going on; but she had now sufficient knowledge of her step-mother and
her guardian to be aware that her influence would not be of the least
avail in changing their purpose.

Mrs. Kinloch did not repeat the experiment she once made on Mildred's
sensibilities by referring to her partiality for Mark Davenport and
his relatives; but, on the contrary, was most gentle in her treatment
and most assiduous in her endeavors to provide amusement, so far as
the resources of the town allowed. In company with Hugh, Mildred
explored all the pleasant roads in the vicinity, all the picturesque
hills and brooks, caught trout, and snared gamebirds, (the last much
against her will,)--and by these means her time was fully
occupied. Hugh seemed to have totally changed; he no longer absented
himself from the family on mysterious errands; he went to church
regularly, and appeared to take pleasure in the frequent calls of
Mr. Rook, the minister. The neighbors began to say that there never
was a more dutiful son or a more attentive and affectionate brother.
Some half suspected the reason of the reformation,--no one so quick as
Squire Clamp, who had reasons of his own, as the reader knows, for
wishing delay. After a few months had passed, he thought it would be
dangerous to let the schemes of the widow go on longer without
interruption, and accordingly prepared to make a step towards his own
long-cherished purpose.



CHAPTER XI.


One afternoon, about six months after the opening of our story,
Mrs. Kinloch and her son were talking together concerning the progress
of his suit. He complained that he was no nearer the point than on the
first day he and Mildred rode out together. "It was like rounding Cape
Horn," he said, "where a ship might lie twenty days and drift back as
fast as she got ahead by tacking." In spite of all his attention and
kindness, Mildred was merely courteous in return;--he could not get
near her. If she smiled, it seemed as though it was from behind a
grating, as in a nunnery. Her pulse was always firm; and if her eye
was soft, it was steady as the full moon. He didn't believe she had
any blood in her. If she was in love with that fellow, she kept it
pretty closely covered up.

Mrs. Kinloch encouraged her son to persevere; she was sure he had not
been skilful. "Mildred," she said, "was not to be won with as little
trouble as a silly, low-bred girl, like--like Lucy, for instance."

"What the deuse are you always bringing up Lucy to me for?" said the
dutiful son.

"Don't speak so!"

"Confound it! I must. You keep a fellow shut up here for six months,
going to meeting five times a week; you give him no chance to work off
his natural spirits, and the devil in him will break out
somewhere. It's putting a stopper in a volcano; if you don't allow a
little fire and smoke, you're bound to have an earthquake."

After this philosophical digression, the first topic was resumed, and
Mrs. Kinloch gave the young man some counsel, drawn from her own
experience or observation, touching the proper mode of awakening and
cultivating the tender passion. It is not every mother that does so
much for her son, but then few mothers have so urgent a motive.

"_What_ was it that she advised him to do," did you ask? Really,
I've quite forgotten; and I am sure Mrs. Kinloch forgot also, at least
for that day, because something occurred which turned her thoughts for
the time in quite a different direction.

The ponies were brought out for Hugh and Mildred to take their
customary canter. The young heiress, for whom so much time and pains
were spent, looked ill; the delicate flush had vanished from her
cheek; she seemed languid, and cheerful only by effort. A moment after
they had gone, as Mrs. Kinloch closed the door, for it was a raw
November day, she saw and picked up a rudely-folded letter in the
hall. "Good-bye, Lucy Ransom," were the words she read. They were
enough. Mrs. Kinloch felt that her heart was struck by a bolt of
ice. "Poor, misguided, miserable girl!" she said. "Why did I not see
that something was wrong? I felt it, I knew it,--but only as one knows
of evil in a dream. Who can calculate the mischief that will come of
this? O God! to have my hopes of so many years ruined, destroyed, by a
wretch whose power and existence even I had not once thought of! Has
she drowned herself, or fled to the city to hide her disgrace? But if
this should be imagination merely! She may have run away with some
lubberly fellow from the factory, whom she was ashamed to marry at
home. But no! she was too sad last evening when she asked to go to her
grandmother's for a day. What if"--The thought coursed round her brain
like fire on a train of gunpowder,--flew quicker than words could
utter it; and the woman bounded to her bureau, as though with muscles
of steel. She clutched at the papers and bank-notes in her private
drawer, and looked and counted them over a dozen times before she
could satisfy herself. Her thin fingers nervously opened the packages
and folds,--the papers crackling as her eye glanced over them. They
were there; but not _all_. She pored over the mystery,--her
thoughts running away upon every side-avenue of conjecture, and as
often returning to the frightful, remediless fact before her. She was
faint with sudden terror. By degrees she calmed herself, wiped the
cold sweat from her forehead, smiled at her fright, and sat down
again, with an attempt at self-control, to look through the drawers
thoroughly. As she went on, the tremor returned, and before she had
finished the fruitless search her heart beat so as to stop her breath;
she gasped in an agony that the soul rarely feels more than once in
this life. She shut up the drawers, walked up and down the room,
noticed with a shudder her own changed expression as she passed before
the mirror, and strove in vain to give some order to her confused and
tumultuous thoughts. At length she sat down exhausted. She was
startled by a knock. Opening the door, there in a newly-furbished
suit, with clean linen, and a brown wig worn for the first time on his
hitherto shining head, stood Theophilus Clamp. He had even picked a
blossom from the geranium in the hall and was toying with it like a
bashful boy.

"A fine day, Ma'am!" said he, as he took a seat.

"Yes, very," she answered, mechanically, scarcely looking up.

"The young folks have gone out to ride, I suppose."

"Yes, Sir."--A pause, in which Mrs. Kinloch covered her face with her
handkerchief.

"You don't seem well, Ma'am. Shall I call Lucy?"

"Lucy is gone," she answered,--quickly adding, "gone to her
grandmother's."

"Well, that is singular. I've been today to look at my land above the
old lady's house, and she asked me to send word to Lucy to come up and
see her."

"To-day?"

"Yes, Ma'am; not two hours ago."

Mrs. Kinloch was rapidly revolving probabilities. What interest had
Lucy to interfere with her affairs? As for Mildred, she was not to be
thought of as prying into secrets; she was too innocent. Hugh was too
careless. Who more than this man Clamp was likely to have done or
procured the mischief? "Have you given her the message?"

"Of course not, Ma'am,--how could I?"

"Then you haven't sent Lucy away on any errand?"

"Certainly not, Madam," said the lawyer, beginning to wince under the
cross-examination. "Lucy's gone, you say; didn't she leave things all
right,--your papers, and--and so forth?"

"Papers? Lucy is not presumed to know that I _have_ any papers;
if any are missing, I'll warrant they are in the hands of some one who
knows at least enough to read them."

"She suspects me," thought the lawyer, "but can't have discovered that
hers are only copies; they're too well done." He then added aloud,
"Perhaps, Mrs. Kinloch, if you had honored me, your associate in the
administration of the estate, with your confidence touching the
private papers you speak of, I might have saved you some trouble in
keeping them."

"Very likely; but no one spoke of papers beside yourself," she
replied, with a trace of sarcasm in the tone which ill suited the
expression of her pallid face and drooping head.

"I'm sorry to see you looking so careworn, Mrs. Kinloch," said he,
with his blandest air. "I intended to bring up a topic more agreeable,
it is to be hoped, than runaway house-maids or old documents." He
rubbed his hands softly and turned his eyes with a glance meant to be
tender towards the place where her chair stood; if he had been a cat,
he would have purred the while.

Mrs. Kinloch now, for the first time, observed the wig, the unusual
look of tidiness, and, above all, the flower in his hand; she also saw
the crucified smile that followed his last remark. "The ridiculous old
fool!" thought she,--"what can he mean?" But to him she translated
it,--

"What is the more agreeable topic?"

"Really, you attack me like a lawyer. Don't you know, my dear Madam,
how it confuses one to be sharply interrogated?"

"It would be something novel to see you confused, Squire Clamp."

"Pray, don't banter, Mrs. Kinloch. I hoped to find you in a more
complaisant humor. There are topics which cannot be discussed with the
square precision of legal rules,--thoughts that require sympathy
before they can be expressed." And he dropped his eyes with a
ludicrous sigh.

"Oh, I appreciate your tender susceptibilities. Please consider me as
asking the question again in the most engaging manner."

His new wig was becoming uncomfortable, and he fidgeted in his chair,
twirling the luckless blossom.

"Why, Mrs. Kinloch, the long regard I entertained for your late
lamented husband,--ah, I mean my regard for you,--ah, my lonely
domicil,--ah, since the decease of my--my sainted wife,--ah, and since
the Scripture says it is not good for man to live alone,--ah, your
charming qualities and many virtues,--not that your fortune,--ah,--I
mean to say, that, though not rich, I am not grasping,--and the
cottage where you lived would be a palace,--ah, for me, if not
unworthy,--ah, no desire to unduly shorten the period of
mourning,--ah, but life is short and uncertain"----

There was a dead silence. His mouth was vainly working, and his
expression confused and despairing. The flower had wilted in his moist
hand. Little streams of perspiration trickled down his face, to be
mopped up by his bandanna. Such was the ordeal of talking hollow
sentiment to a cool and self-possessed woman. She enjoyed the
exhibition for a time,--as what woman would not? But the waves of her
trouble rushed back upon her, and the spirit of mischief and coquetry
was overwhelmed. So she answered,--

"You are pleased to be polite,--perhaps gallant. You must excuse me
from taking part in such conversation to-day, however little is meant
by it,--and the less meant the better,--I am not well."

She rose feebly, and walked towards the door with as much dignity as
her trembling frame could assume. He was abashed; his fine speeches
jumbled in meaningless fragments, his airy castle ready to topple on
his unlucky head. He would have been glad to rebuke her fickle humor,
as he thought it; but he knew he had made a fool of himself, so he
merely said,--

"No offence, I hope, Ma'am; none meant, certainly. Wish you
good-afternoon, Ma'am. Call and see you again some day, and hope to
find you better."

_Would_ he find her better? While the mystery remained, while the
ruin of her hopes impended, what could restore to her the
cheerfulness, the courage, the self-command she had lost?

[To be continued.]



"BRINGING OUR SHEAVES WITH US."


  The time for toil is past, and night has come,--
      The last and saddest of the harvest-eves;
  Worn out with labor long and wearisome,
  Drooping and faint, the reapers hasten home,
          Each laden with his sheaves.

  Last of the laborers thy feet I gain,
      Lord of the harvest! and my spirit grieves
  That I am burdened not so much with grain
  As with a heaviness of heart and brain;--
          Master, behold my sheaves!

  Few, light, and worthless,--yet their trifling weight
      Through all my frame a weary aching leaves;
  For long I struggled with my hapless fate,
  And staid and toiled till it was dark and late,--
          Yet these are all my sheaves.

  Full well I know I have more tares than wheat,--
      Brambles and flowers, dry stalks, and withered leaves
  Wherefore I blush and weep, as at thy feet
  I kneel down reverently, and repeat,
          "Master, behold my sheaves!"

  I know these blossoms, clustering heavily
      With evening dew upon their folded leaves,
  Can claim no value nor utility,--
  Therefore shall fragrancy and beauty be
          The glory of my sheaves.

  So do I gather strength and hope anew;
      For well I know thy patient love perceives
  Not what I did, but what I strove to do,--
  And though the full, ripe ears be sadly few,
          Thou wilt accept my sheaves.



FARMING LIFE IN NEW ENGLAND.


New England does not produce the bread she eats, nor the raw materials
of the fabrics she wears. A multitude of her purely agricultural towns
are undergoing, more or less rapidly, a process of depopulation. Yet
these facts exist by the side of positive advances in agricultural
science and decided improvements in the means and modes of farming.
The plough is perfected, and the theory of ploughing is
understood. The advantages of thorough draining are universally
recognized, and tiles are for sale everywhere. Mowing and reaping
machines have ceased to be a novelty upon our plains and meadows. The
natural fertilizers have been analyzed, and artificial nutrients of
the soil have been contrived. The pick and pride of foreign herds
have regenerated our neat stock, and the Morgan and the Black-Hawk eat
their oats in our stalls. The sheepfold and the sty abound with choice
blood. Sterling agricultural journals are on every farmer's table, and
Saxton's hand-books upon agricultural specialties are scattered
everywhere. Public shows and fairs bring on an annual exacerbation of
the agricultural fever, which is constantly breaking out in new
places, beyond the power of the daily press to chronicle. Yet it is
too evident that the results are not at all commensurate with the
means under tribute and at command. What is the reason?

In looking at the life of the New England farmer, the first fact that
strikes us is, that it is actually a very different thing from what it
might be and ought to be. There dwells in every mind, through all
callings and all professions, the idea that the farmer's life is, or
may be, is, or should be, the truest and sweetest life that man can
live. The merchant may win all the prizes of trade, the professional
man may achieve triumphs beyond his hopes, the author may find his
name upon every lip, and his works accounted among the nation's
treasures, and all may move amid the whirl and din of the most
inspiring life, yet there will come to every one, in quiet
evening-hours, the vision of the old homestead, long since forsaken;
or the imagination will weave a picture of its own,--a picture of
rural life, so homely, yet so beautiful, that the heart will breathe a
sigh upon it, the eye will drop a tear upon it, and the voice will
say, "It were better so!"

In a city like Boston there are farms enough imagined every year to
make another New England. Could the fairest fancies of that congeries
of minds be embodied and exhibited, we should see green meadows
sparkling with morning dew,--silver-slippered rivulets skipping into
musical abysses,--quiet pasture-lands shimmering so sleepily in the
sun that the lazy flocks and herds forget to graze, and lie winking
and ruminating under the trees,--and yellow fields of grain, along the
hill-sides, billowy in the breeze, and bending before the shadows of
the clouds that sail above them. And mingling and harmonizing with
these visions, we should hear the lowing of kine, and the tinkle of
the bell that leads the flock, and the shout of the boy behind the
creeping plough, and the echoes of the axe, and the fall of the tree
in the distant forest, and the rhythmical clangor, softened into a
metallic whisper by the distance, of the mowers whetting their
scythes. With these visions and these sounds there would come to the
minds which give them birth convictions that rural life is the best
life, and resolutions that, by-and-by, in some golden hour, when the
sun of life begins to lengthen the eastward shadows, that life shall
be enjoyed, and that the soul shall pass at last from the quiet scenes
of Nature into those higher scenes which they symbolize. There is a
thought in all this that the farm is nearer heaven than the street,--a
reminiscence of the first estate, when man was lord of Eden; and this
thought, old as art and artificial life, cannot be rooted out of the
mind. It has a life of its own, independent of reason, above instinct,
among the quickest intuitions of the soul.

Now this idea, so universal, so identical in millions of minds,
springing with such spontaneity in the midst of infinitely varied
circumstances, abiding with such tenacity in every soul, can have its
basis nowhere save in a Divine intention and a human possibility. The
cultivation of the farm is the natural employment of man. It is upon
the farm that virtue should thrive the best, that the body and the
mind should be developed the most healthfully, that temptations should
be the weakest, that social intercourse should be the simplest and
sweetest, that beauty should thrill the soul with the finest raptures,
and that life should be tranquillest in its flow, longest in its
period, and happiest in its passage and its issues. This is the
general and the first ideal of the farmer's life, based upon the
nature of the farmer's calling and a universally recognized human
want. Why does the actual differ so widely from the ideal? It is not
because the farmer's labor is hard and constant, alone. There is no
fact better established than that it is through the habitual use both
of the physical and mental powers that the soul achieves, or receives,
its most healthful enjoyment, and acquires that tone which responds
most musically to the touch of the opportunities of leisure. Why,
then, we repeat, does the actual differ so widely from the ideal?

A general answer to this question is, that that is made an end of life
which should be but an incident or a means. Life is confounded with
labor, and thrift with progress; and material success is the aim to
which all other aims are made subordinate. There is no fact in
physiology better established than that hard labor, followed from day
to day and year to year, absorbing every thought and every physical
energy, has the direct tendency to depress the intellect, blunt the
sensibilities, and animalize the man. In such a life, all the
energies of the brain and nervous system are directed to the support
of nutrition and the stimulation of the muscular system. Man thus
becomes a beast of burden,--the creature of his calling; and though he
may add barn to barn and acre to acre, he does not lead a life which
rises in dignity above that of the beasts which drag his plough. He
eats, he works, he sleeps. Surely, there is no dignity in a life like
this; there is nothing attractive and beautiful and good in it. It is
a mean and contemptible life; and all its maxims, economies,
associations, and objects are repulsive to a mind which apprehends
life's true enjoyments and ends. We say that it is a pestilent
perversion. We say that it is the sale of the soul to the body; it is
turning the back upon life, upon growth, upon God, and descending into
animalism.

The true ideal of the farmer's life--of any life--contemplates
something outside of, and above, the calling which is its instrument.
The farmer's life is no better than the life of a street-sweeper, if
it rise no higher than the farmer's work. If the farmer, standing
under the broad sky, breathing the pure air, listening to the song of
birds, watching the progress of


  "The great miracle that still goes on,"


to work the transformation of the brown seeds which he drops into the
soil into fields of green and gold, and gazing upon landscapes
shifting with the seasons and flushed with new tints through every
sunlit and moonlit hour, does not apprehend that his farm has higher
uses for him than those of feeding his person and his purse, he might
as well dwell in a coal-mine.

Our soil is sterile, our modes of farming have been rude until within
a few years; and under the circumstances,--with the Yankee notion that
the getting of money is the chief end of man,--exclusive devotion to
labor has been deemed indispensable to success. The maxims of Franklin
have been literally received and adopted as divine truth. We have
believed that to labor is to be thrifty, that to be thrifty is to be
respectable, that to be respectable is to afford facilities for being
still more thrifty; and our experience is, that with increased thrift
comes increased labor. This is the circle of our ambitions and
rewards. All begins and ends in labor. The natural and inevitable
result of this is both physical and mental deterioration.

It is doubtful whether the world furnishes a finer type of man,
physically and intellectually, than the Irish gentleman. He is
handsome, large, courageous,--a man of fine instincts, brilliant
imagination, courtly manners, and full, vital force. By the side of
the Irish gentleman, there has grown for centuries the Irish
peasant. He is ugly, of stunted stature, and pugnacious; and he
produces children like himself. The two classes started from a common
blood; they now present the broadest contrast. We do not say that
freedom from severe labor on one side, and confinement to it on the
other, are entirely responsible for this contrast; difference of food
and other obvious causes have had something to do with it; but we say
that hard labor has, directly and indirectly, degraded from a true
style of manhood the great mass of the Irish peasantry. They are a
marked class, and carry in their forms and faces the infallible
insignia of mental and physical degeneration.

We would by no means compare New England farmers with the Irish
peasantry. We only present the contrast between these two classes of
the Irish population as the result of unremitting toil on one side,
and a more rational kind of life on the other. If we enter a New
England church, containing a strictly rural assembly, and then visit
another containing a class whose labor is lighter, and whose style of
life is based upon different ideas, we shall see a contrast less
marked, perhaps, but presenting similar features. The farming
population of New England is not a handsome population, generally.
The forms of both men and women are angular; their features are not
particularly intellectual; their movements are not graceful; and their
calling is evident by indubitable signs. The fact that the city
assemblage is composed of a finer and higher grade of men, women, and
children is of particular moment to our argument, because it is
composed of people who are only one, two, or three removes from a
rural origin. The city comes from the country; the street is
replenished by the farm; but the city children, going back to the
farm, show that a new element has been introduced into their
blood. The angles are rounded; the face is brighter; the movements are
more graceful; there is in every way a finer development.

There is probably no better exponent of the farmer's life than the
farmer's home. We propose to present the portrait of such a home, and,
while we offer it as a just outline of the farmer's home generally, in
districts removed from large social centres, we gladly acknowledge the
existence of a great multitude of happy exceptions. But the sketch:--A
square, brown house; a chimney coming out of the middle of a roof; not
a tree nearer than the orchard, and not a flower at the door. At one
end projects a kitchen; from the kitchen projects a wood-shed and
wagon-cover, occupied at night by hens; beyond the wood-shed, a
hog-pen, fragrant and musical. Proceeding no farther in this
direction, we look directly across the road, to where the barn stands,
like the hull of a great black ship-of-the-line, with its port-holes
opened threateningly upon the fort opposite, out of one of which a
horse has thrust his head for the possible purpose of examining the
strength of the works. An old ox-sled is turned up against the wall
close by, where it will have the privilege of rotting. This whole
establishment was contrived with a single eye to utility. The barn
was built in such a manner that its deposits might be convenient to
the road which divides the farm, while the sty was made an attachment
of the house for convenience in feeding its occupants.

We enter the house at the back door, and find the family at dinner in
the kitchen. A kettle of soap-grease is stewing upon the stove, and
the fumes of this, mingled with those that were generated by boiling
the cabbage which we see upon the table, and by perspiring men in
shirt-sleeves, and by boots that have forgotten or do not care where
they have been, make the air anything but agreeable to those who are
not accustomed to it. This is the place where the family live. They
cook everything here for themselves and their hogs. They eat every
meal here. They sit here every evening, and here they receive their
friends. The women in this kitchen toil incessantly, from the time
they rise in the morning until they go to bed at night. Here man and
woman, sons and daughters, live, in the belief that work is the great
thing, that efficiency in work is the crowning excellence of manhood
and womanhood, and willingly go so far into essential self-debasement,
sometimes, as to contemn beauty and those who love it, and to glory
above all things in brute strength and brute endurance.

Here we are ready to state the point and the lesson of our
discussion:--The real reason for the deterioration of agriculture in
New England is to be found in the fact, that the farmer's life and the
farmer's home, generally, are unloved and unlovable things, and in the
multitude of causes which have tended to make them so. Let the son of
such a home as we have pictured get a taste of a better life than
this, or, through sensibilities which he did not inherit, apprehend a
worthier style of existence, and what inducements, save those which
necessity imposes, can retain him there? He hates the farm, and will
flee from it at the first opportunity. If the New England farmer's
life were a loved and lovable thing, the New England boys could hardly
be driven from the New England hills. They would not only find a way
to live here, but they would make farming profitable. They would honor
the employment to which they are bred, and would leave it, save in
exceptional instances, for no other. It is not strange that the
country grows thin and the city plethoric. It is not strange that
mercantile and mechanical employments are thronged by young men,
running all risks for success, when the alternative is a life in which
they find no meaning, and no inspiring and ennobling influence.

The popular ideal of the farmer's life and home, to which we have
alluded, we believe to be what God intended. That life contemplates
the institution and maintenance of personal and social habits, and the
cultivation of tastes and faculties, separate from, and above, labor.
Every farm-house should be a residence of men and women, boys and
girls, who, appreciating something of the meaning and end of life,
rise from every period of labor into an atmosphere of intellectual and
social activity, or into some form of refined family enjoyment. It is
impossible to do this while surrounded with all the associations of
labor. If there is a room in every farmer's house where the work of
the family is done, there should be a room in every farmer's house
where the family should live,--where beauty should appeal to the eye,
where genuine comfort of appointments should invite to repose, where
books should be gathered, where neatness and propriety of dress should
be observed, and where labor may be forgotten. The life led here
should be labor's exceeding great reward. A family living like
this--and there are families that live thus--will ennoble and beautify
all their surroundings. There will be trees at their door, and
flowers in their garden, and pleasant and graceful architectural ideas
in their dwelling. Human life will stand in the foreground of such a
home,--human life, crowned with its dignities and graces,--while
animal life will be removed among the shadows, and the gross material
utilities, tastefully disguised, will be made to retire into an
unoffending and harmonious perspective.

But we have alluded to other causes than labor as in some measure
responsible for the unattractiveness of the farmer's life, and
affecting adversely the farming interest. These touch the matter at
various points, and are charged with greater or less importance. We
know of no one cause more responsible for whatever there may be of
physical degeneracy among the farming population than the treatment of
its child-bearing women; and this, after all, is but a result of
entire devotion to the tyrannical idea of labor. If there be one
office or character higher than all others, it is the office or
character of mother. Surely, the bringing into existence of so
marvellous a thing as a human being, and the training of that being
until it assumes a recognized relation to God and human society, is a
sacred office, and one which does not yield in dignity and importance
to any other under heaven. For a woman who faithfully fulfils this
office, who submits without murmuring to all its pains, who patiently
performs its duties, and who exhausts her life in a ceaseless overflow
of love upon those whom God has given her, no words can express a true
man's veneration. She claims the homage of our hearts, the service of
our hands, the devotion of our lives.

Yet what is the position of the mother in the New England farmer's
home? The farmer is careful of every animal he possesses. The
farm-yard and the stall are replenished with young, by creatures for
months dismissed from labor, or handled with intelligent care while
carrying their burden; because the farmer knows that only in this way
can he secure improvement, and sound, symmetrical development, to the
stock of his farm. In this he is a true, practical philosopher. But
what is his treatment of her who bears his children? The same
physiological laws apply to her that apply to the brute. Their strict
observance is greatly more imperative, because of her finer
organization; yet they are not thought of; and if the farm-yard fail
to shame the nursery, if the mother bear beautiful and well-organized
children, Heaven be thanked for a merciful interference with the
operation of its own laws! Is the mother in a farm-house ever regarded
as a sacred being? Look at her hands! Look at her face! Look at her
bent and clumsy form! Is it more important to raise fine colts than
fine men and women? Is human life to be made secondary and subordinate
to animal life? Is not she who should receive the tenderest and most
considerate ministries of the farmer's home, in all its appointments
and in all its service, made the ceaseless minister and servant of the
home and all within it, with utter disregard of her office? To expect
a population to improve greatly under this method is simply to expect
miracles; and to expect a farmer's life and a farmer's home to be
attractive, where the mother is a drudge, and secures less
consideration than the pets of the stall, is to expect impossibilities.

Another cause which has tended to the deterioration of the farmer's
life is its solitariness. The towns in New England which were settled
when the Indians were in possession of the country, and which, for
purposes of defence, were settled in villages, have enjoyed great
blessings; but a large portion of agricultural New England was
differently settled. It is difficult to determine why isolation
should produce the effect it does upon the family development. The
Western pioneer, who, leaving a New England community, plants himself
and his young wife in the forest, will generally become a coarse man,
and will be the father of coarse children. The lack of the social
element in the farmer's life is doubtless a cause of some of its most
repulsive characteristics. Men are constituted in such a manner, that
constant social contact is necessary to the healthfulness of their
sympathies, the quickness of their intellects, and the symmetrical
development of their powers. It matters little whether a family be
placed in the depths of a Western forest, or upon the top of a New
England hill; the result of solitude will be the same in kind, if not
in degree.

Now the farmer, partly from isolation and partly from absorption in
labor, is the most unsocial man in New England. The farmers are
comparatively few who go into society at all, who ever dine with their
neighbors, or who take any genuine satisfaction in the company of the
women whom their wives invite to tea. They may possibly be
farmers among farmers, but they are not men among men and
women. Intellectually, they are very apt to leave life where they
begin it. Socially, they become dead for years before they die. The
inhabitants of a city can have but a poor apprehension of the amount
of enjoyment and development that comes to them through social
stimulus. Like gold, humanity becomes bright by friction, and grows
dim for lack of it. So, we say, the farmer's life and home can never
be what they should be,--can never be attractive by the side of other
life containing a true social element,--until they have become more
social. The individual life must not only occupy a place above that of
a beast of burden, but that life must be associated with all congenial
life within its reach. The tree that springs in the open field, though
it be fed by the juices of a rood, through absorbents that penetrate
where they will, will present a hard and stunted growth; while the
little sapling of the forest, seeking for life among a million roots,
or growing in the crevice of a rock, will lift to the light its cap of
leaves upon a graceful stem, and whisper, even-headed, with the
stateliest of its neighbors. Men, like trees, were made to grow
together, and both history and philosophy declare that this Divine
intention cannot be ignored or frustrated with impunity.

Traditional routine has also operated powerfully to diminish the
attractiveness of agricultural employments. This cause, very happily,
grows less powerful from year to year. The purse is seen to have an
intimate sympathy with intelligent farming. Were we to say that God
had so constituted the human mind that routine will tire and disgust
it, we should say in effect that he never intended the farmer's life
to be one of routine. Nature has done all she can to break up routine.
While the earth swings round its orbit once a year, and turns on its
axis once in twenty-four hours,--while the tide ebbs and flows twice
daily, and the seasons come and go in rotation, every atom changes its
relations to every other atom every moment. Influences are tossed into
these skeleton cycles of motion and event which start a myriad of
diverse currents, and break up the whole surface of life and being
into a healthful confusion. There are never two days alike. The
motherly sky never gives birth to twin clouds. The weather shakes its
bundle of mysteries in our faces, and banters us with, "Don't you wish
you knew?" We prophesy rain upon the morrow, and wake with a bar of
golden sunlight on the coverlet. We foretell a hard winter, and,
before it is half gone, become nervous lest we should miss our supply
of ice. The fly, the murrain, the potato-rot, and the grasshoppers,
all have a divine office in tipping over our calculations. The
phantom host of the great North come out for parade without
announcement, and shoot their arrows toward the zenith, and flout the
stars with their rosy flags, and retire, leaving us looking into
heaven and wondering. Long weeks of drought parch the earth, and then
comes the sweet rain, and sets the flowers and the foliage
dancing. All the seasons are either very late or very early, or, for
some reason, "the most remarkable within the memory of man."

This is God's management for destroying routine within the law of
stated revolution, and for bringing the mind constantly into contact
with fresh influences. The soul, encased by a wall of adamantine
circumstances, and driven around a track of unvarying duties,
shrivels, or gets diseased. But these circumstances need not imprison
the farmer, nor these duties become the polished pavement of his
cell. He has his life among the most beautiful scenes of Nature and
the most interesting facts of Science. Chemistry, geology, botany,
meteorology, entomology, and a dozen other related or constituent
sciences,--what is intelligent farming but a series of experiments,
involving, first and last, all of these? What is a farm but a
laboratory where the most important and interesting scientific
problems are solved? The moment that any field of labor becomes
intelligently experimental, that moment routine ceases, and that field
becomes attractive. The most repulsive things under heaven become
attractive, on being invested with a scientific interest. All,
therefore, that a farmer has to do, to break up the traditional
routine of his method and his labor, is to become a scientific
farmer. He will then have an interest in his labor and its results
above their bare utilities. Labor that does not engage the mind has no
dignity; else the ox and the ass are kings in the world, and we are
but younger brothers in the royal family. So we say to every
farmer,--If you would make your calling attractive to yourself and
your boys, seek that knowledge which will break up routine, and make
your calling, to yourself and to them, an intelligent pursuit.

A recent traveller in England speaks enthusiastically of a visit which
he paid to an old farm-house in that country, and of the garden-farm
upon which it stood, which had descended from father to son through a
period of five hundred years. He found a family of charming
intelligence and the politest culture. That hallowed soil was a
beautiful body, of which the family interests and associations were
the soul. To be dissociated from that soil forever would be
regarded by its proprietors as almost equivalent to family
annihilation. Proprietorship in English soil is one of the prime
ambitions of the true Englishman; but we do not find in New England
any kindred sentiments of pride in landed property and family
affection for the paternal acres. The nomadic tribes of Asia would
seem to have quite as strong local attachments as Yankee landholders,
most of whom will sell their homesteads as readily as they will their
horses. This fact we cannot but regard as one among the many causes
which have conspired to despoil the farmer's calling of some of its
legitimate attractions. The son slips away from the old homestead as
easily as he does from the door of a hotel. Very likely his father has
rooted up all home attachments by talking of removing Westward ever
since the boy saw the light. This lack of affection for the family
acres is doubtless owing somewhat to the fact that in this country
landed property is not associated with political privilege, as it has
been in England; but this cannot be the sole reason; for the sentiment
has a genuine basis in nature, and, in not a few instances, an actual
existence amongst us.

Resulting from the operation of all the causes which we have briefly
noticed, there is another cause of the deterioration of farming life
in New England, which cannot be recovered from in many years. Actual
farming life has been brought into such harsh contrast with other
life, that its best materials have been sifted out of it, have slid
away from it. An inquiry at the doors of the great majority of farmers
would exhibit the general fact, that the brightest boys have gone to
college, or have become mechanics, or are teaching school, or are in
trade, or have emigrated to the West. There have been taken directly
out from the New England farming population its best elements,--its
quickest intelligence, its most stirring enterprise, its noblest and
most ambitious natures,--precisely those elements which were necessary
to elevate the standard of the farmer's calling and make it what it
should be. It is very easy to see why these men have not been retained
in the past; it is safe to predict that they will not be retained in
the future, unless a thorough reform be instituted. These men cannot
be kept on a routine farm, or tied to a home which has no higher life
than that of a workshop or a boarding-house. It is not because the
work of the farm is hard that men shun it. They will work harder and
longer in other callings for the sake of a better style of individual
and social life. They will go to the city, and cling to it while half
starving, rather than engage in the dry details and the hard and
homely associations of the life which they forsook.

The boys are not the only members of the farmer's family that flee
from the farmer's life. The most intelligent and most enterprising of
the farmer's daughters become school-teachers, or tenders of shops, or
factory-girls. They contemn the calling of their father, and will,
nine times in ten, marry a mechanic in preference to a farmer. They
know that marrying a farmer is a very serious business. They remember
their worn-out mothers. They thoroughly understand that the vow that
binds them in marriage to a farmer seals them to a severe and homely
service that will end only in death.

As a consequence of this sifting process, to which we have given but a
glance, a very decidedly depressing element is now being rapidly
introduced into New England farming life. The Irish girls have found
their way into the farmer's kitchen, and the Irish laborer has become
the annual "hired man." At present, there are no means of measuring
the effect of this new element; but it cannot fail to depress the tone
of farming society, and surround it with a new swarm of menial
associations.

In our judgment, there is but little in the improved modes of farming,
in scientific discoveries, and new mechanical appliances, to be relied
upon for the elevation of New England agriculture and the emancipation
of New England farming life. The farmer needs new ideas more than he
needs new implements. The process of regeneration must begin in the
mind, and not in the soil. The proprietor of that soil should be the
true New England gentleman. His house should be the home of
hospitality, the embodiment of solid comfort and liberal taste, the
theatre of an exalted family-life which shall be the master and not
the servant of labor, and the central sun of a bright and happy social
atmosphere. When this standard shall be reached, there will be no
fear for New England agriculture. The noblest race of men and women
the sun ever shone upon will cultivate these valleys and build their
dwellings upon these hills; and they will cling to a life which
blesses them with health, plenty, individual development, and social
progress and happiness. This is what the farmer's life may be and
should be; and if it ever rise to this in New England, neither prairie
nor savanna can entice her children away; and waste land will become
as scarce, at last, as vacant lots in Paradise.



LES SALONS DE PARIS.[1]


The title is an ambitious one, for the _salons_ of Paris are
Paris itself; and, from the days of the Fronde and of the Hôtel
Rambouillet down to our own, you may judge pretty accurately of what
is going on upon the great political stage of France by what is
observable in those green-rooms and _coulisses_ called the
Parisian drawing-rooms, and where, more or less, the actors of all
parties may be seen, either rehearsing their parts before the
performance, or seeking, after the performance is over, the several
private echoes of the general public sentiment that has burst forth
before the light of the foot-lamps. Shakspeare's declaration, that
"all the world's a stage," is nowhere so true as in the capital of
Gaul. There, most truly may it be said, are


  ----"All the men and women merely players;
  They have their exits and their entrances,
  And one man in his time plays many parts."


Therefore might a profound and comprehensive study of the
drawing-rooms of Paris be in a manner a history of France in our own
times.

Madame Ancelot's little volume does not aim so high; nor, had it done
so, would its author have possessed the talent requisite for carrying
out such a design. Madame Ancelot is a writer of essentially
second-rate and subordinate capacity, and consequently her account of
those _salons de Paris_ that she has seen (and she by no means
saw them all) derives no charm from the point of view she takes. To
say the truth, she has no "point of view" of her own; she tells what
she saw, and (thus far we must praise her) she tells it very
conscientiously. Having waited in every instance till the people she
has to speak of were dead, Mme. Ancelot has a pretty fair field before
her for the display of her sincerity, and we, the public, who are
neither kith nor kin of the deceased, are the gainers thereby.

So interesting and so amusing is the subject Madame Ancelot has
chosen, that, in spite of her decided want of originality or even
talent in treating it, her book is both an amusing and an interesting
one. It is even more than that; for those who wish to have a correct
notion of certain epochs of the social civilization of modern France,
and of certain predominant types in French society during the
last forty years, Madame Ancelot's little volume is full of
instruction. Perhaps in no society, so much as in that of France, have
the political convulsions of the state reacted so forcibly upon the
relations of man to man, revolutionizing the homes of private persons,
even as the government and the monarchy were revolutionized. In
England, nothing of this kind is to be observed; and if you study
English society ten years, or twenty years, or fifty years after the
fall of Charles I., after the establishment of the Commonwealth, or
after the restoration of Charles II., the definitive exile of the
Stuarts, and the advent of a foreign dynasty to the throne, you find
everywhere its constitutive elements the same,--modified only by such
changes of time, circumstance, and fashion, as naturally, in every
country, modify the superficial aspect of all society. But in France,
it is the very _substratum_ of the social soil that is overturned, it
is the constitutive elements of society that are displaced; and the
consequence is a general derangement of all relative positions.

In what is still termed _la vieille société Française_, little or
nothing was left to chance, and one of its great characteristics was
order and the perfectly regular play of its machinery. Everything was
set down, _noted_, as it were, beforehand,--as strictly so as the
ceremonies of a grand diplomatic ceremony, after some treaty, or
marriage, or other occasion of solemn conference. Under this
_régime_, which endured till the Revolution of '93, (and even,
strangely enough, _beyond_ that period,) politeness was, of
course, the one chief quality of whosoever was well brought
up,--urbanity was the first sign of good company,--and for the simple
reason, that no one sought to infringe. There was no cause for
insolence, or for what in England is called "exclusiveness," because
there was no necessity to repel any disposition to encroach. No one
dreamed of the possibility of encroaching upon his neighbor's grounds,
or of taking, in the slightest degree, his neighbor's place.

The first French Revolution caused no such sudden and total disruption
of the old social traditions as has been generally supposed; and as
far as mere social intercourse and social conventionalities were
concerned, there was, even amongst the terrible popular dictators of
1793, more of the _tone_ of the _ci-devant_ good company
than could possibly be imagined. In later times, every one who knew
Fouché remembers that he was constantly in the habit of expressing his
indignation at the want of good-breeding of the young exquisites of
the Empire, and used perpetually to exclaim, "In _my time_" this
or that "would not have been allowed," or, "In _my_ time we were
accustomed to do" so and so. Now Fouché's "time" was that which is
regarded as the period of universal beheading and levelling.

It is certain, that, under the _régime_ of the Revolution itself,
bitter class-hatreds did not at first show themselves in the peaceful
atmosphere of society,--and that for more than one reason. First of
all, in a certain sense, "society," it may be said, was
_not_. Next, what subsisted of society was fragmentary, and was
formed by small isolated groups or coteries, pretty homogeneously
composed, or, when not so as to rank and station, rendered homogeneous
by community of suffering. It must not be imagined that only the
highest class in France paid for its opinions or its vanities with
loss of life and fortune. The victims were everywhere; for the changes
in the governing forces were so perpetual, that, more or less, every
particular form of envy and hatred had its day of power, and levelled
its blows at the objects of its special antipathy. In this way, the
aristocracy and the _bourgeoisie_ were often brought into
contact; marriages even were contracted, whether during imprisonment
or under the pressure of poverty, that never would have been dreamt of
in a normal state of things; and whilst parents of opposite conditions
shook hands in the scaffold-surveying _charrettes_, the children
either drew near to each other, in a mutual helpfulness, the principle
whereof was Christian charity, or met together to partake of
amusements, the aim whereof was oblivion. For several years, the turn
of every individual for execution might come, and therefore it was
difficult, on the other hand, to see who might also _not_ be a
friend.

This began to be modified under the Empire, but in a shape not
hitherto foreseen. Military glory began to long for what the genuine
Revolutionists termed "feudal distinctions." Napoleon was desirous of
a court and of an aristocracy; he set to work to create a
_noblesse_, and dukes and counts were fabricated by the
dozen. Very soon the strong love of depreciation, that is inherent in
every Frenchman, seized upon even the higher plebeian classes, and,
discontented as they were at seeing the liberties of the movement of
'89 utterly confiscated by a military chief, and antipathetic as they
have been, time out of mind, to what are called _les traineurs de
sabre_, the civilians of France, her _bourgeois_, who were to
have their day,--but with very different feelings in 1830,--joined
with the genuine Pre-Revolutionary aristocrats, and the _noblesse de
l'Empire_ was laughed at and taken _en grippe_. Here was, in
reality, the first wide breach made in France in the edifice of
good-breeding and good-manners; and those who have been eye-witnesses
to the metamorphosis will admit that the guillotine of Danton and
Robespierre did even less to destroy _le bon ton_ of the
_ancien régime_ than was achieved by the guard-room habits and
morals of Bonaparte's glorious troopers, rushing, as they did, booted
and spurred, into the emblazoned sanctuary of heraldic distinctions,
and taking, as it were, _la société_ by storm.

But soon another alliance and other enmities were to be formed. The
Empire fell; the Bourbons returned to France; Louis XVIII. recognized
the _noblesse_ of the Imperial government, and the constitution of
society as it had been battled for by the Revolution. At the same time
his court was filled with all the great historic names of the country,
who returned, no longer avowedly the first in authority, and therefore
prompt to condescend, but the first in presumption, and therefore
prompt to take offence. The new alliance that was formed was that of
the plebeian caste with the _noblesse de l'Empire_, against which it
had been previously so incensed. Notwithstanding all the efforts
sincerely made by Louis XVIII. to establish a constitutional
government and to promote a genuine constitutional feeling throughout
France, class-hatreds rose gradually to so violent a height that the
king's only occupation soon grew to be the balancing of expediencies.
He was forever obliged to reflect upon the choices he could make
around him, since each choice made from one party insured him a
hundred enemies in the party opposed. This, which was the political
part of the drama,--that which regarded the scenes played upon the
public stage,--had its instantaneous reflex, as we have already said
in the commencement of these pages, in the _salons_, which were the
green-rooms and _coulisses_. Urbanity, amenity of language, the bland
demeanor hitherto characterized as _la grâce Française_, all these
were at an end. Society in France, such as it had been once, the
far-famed model for all Europe, had ceased to exist. The ambition
which had once been identified with the cares of office or the dangers
of war now found sufficient food in the bickerings of party-spirit,
and revenged itself by _salon_ jokes and _salon_ impertinence for the
loss of a lead it either could not or would not take in
Parliament. The descendants of those very fathers and mothers who had,
in many cases, suffered incarceration, and death even, together, set
to hating each other cordially, because these would not abdicate what
those would not condescend to compete for. The _noblesse_ cried out,
that the _bourgeoisie_ was usurping all its privileges; and the
_bourgeoisie_ retorted, that the time for privilege was past. The two
classes could no longer meet together in the world, but formed utterly
different sets and _cliques_; and it must be avowed that neither of
the two gained in good-manners, or what may be called drawing-room
distinction.

From 1815 to 1830, the _noblesse_ had officially the
advantage. From 1830 to 1848, the _bourgeoisie_ ruled over the
land. But now was to be remarked another social phenomenon, that
complicated _salon_ life more than ever. The middle classes, we
say, were in power; they were in all the centres of political
life,--in the Chambers, in the ministries, in the king's councils, in
diplomacy; and with them had risen to importance the Imperial
aristocracy, whose representatives were to be found in every
department of the public service. All this while, the old families of
the _ancien régime_ shut themselves up among themselves entirely,
constituted what is now termed the _Faubourg St. Germain_, which
never was so exclusive or so powerful (socially speaking) as under
Louis Philippe, and a tacit combat between envy and disdain was
carried on, such as perhaps no modern civilization ever witnessed. The
Faubourg St. Germain arrogated to itself the privilege of exclusively
representing _la société Française_, and it must be confessed
that the behavior of its adversaries went far to substantiate its
claims.

Our purpose in these pages is not to touch upon anything connected
with politics, or we could show, that, whilst apparently severed from
all activity upon the more conspicuous field of the capital, the
ancient French families were employed in reëstablishing their
influence in the rural provincial centres; the result of which was the
extraordinary influx of Legitimist members into the Chamber formed by
the first Republican elections in 1848. But this is foreign to our
present aim. As to what regards French _society_, properly so
called, it was, from 1804, after the proclamation of the Empire, till
1848, after the fall of Louis Philippe, in gradual but incessant
course of sub-division into separate cliques, each more or less
bitterly disposed towards the others. From the moment when this began
to be the case, the edifice of French society could no longer be
studied as a whole, and it only remained to examine its component
parts as evidences of the tendencies of various classes in the nation.
In this assuredly not uninteresting study, Mme. Ancelot's book is of
much service; for a certain number of the different _salons_ she
names are, as it were, types of the different stages civilization has
attained to in the city which chooses to style itself "the brain of
Europe."

The description, given in the little book before us, of what in Paris
constitutes a genuine _salon_, is a tolerably correct one. "A
_salon_," says Mme. Ancelot, "is not in the least like one of
those places in a populous town, where people gather together a crowd
of individuals unknown to each other, who never enter into
communication, and who are where they are, momentarily, either because
they expect to dance, or to hear music, or to show off the
magnificence of their dress. This is not what can ever be called a
_salon_. A _salon_ is an intimate and periodical meeting of
persons who for several years have been in the habit of frequenting
the same house, who enjoy each other's society, and who have some
reason, as they imagine, to be happy when they are brought in
contact. The persons who receive, form a link between the various
persons they invite, and this link binds the _habitués_ more
closely to one another, if, as is commonly the case, it is a woman of
superior mind who forms the point of union. A _salon_, to be
homogeneous, and to endure, requires that its _habitués_ should
have similar opinions and tastes, and, above all, enough of the
urbanity of bygone days to enable its frequenters to feel _at
home_ with every one in it, without the necessity of a formal
introduction. Formerly, this practice of speaking to persons you had
not been presented to was a proof of good-breeding; for it was well
known that in no house of any distinction would there be found a guest
who was not worthy to be the associate of whoever was noblest and
best. These habits of social intercourse gave a value to the
intellectual and moral qualities of the individual, quite independent
of his fortune or his rank; and in these little republics the real
sovereign was _merit_."

Madame Ancelot is right here, and there were in Paris several of these
_salons_, which served as the models for those of all the rest of
Europe. Under the Restoration, two illustrious ladies tried to recall
to the generation that had sprung from the Empire or from emigration
what the famous _salons_ of old had once been, and the Duchesse
de Duras and the Marquise de Montcalm (sister to the then minister,
the Duc de Richelieu) drew around them all that was in any way
distinguished in France. But the many causes we have noted above made
the enterprise a difficult one, and the various divergences of
society, politically speaking, rendered the task of the mistress of a
house one of surpassing arduousness. Mme. de Staël, who, by her very
superiority perhaps,--certainly by her vehemence,--was prevented from
ever being a perfect example of what was necessary in this respect,
acquired the nickname of _Présidente de Salons_; and it would
appear, that, with her resolute air, her loud voice, and her violent
opinions, she really did seem like a kind of speaker of some House of
Commons disguised as a woman. That the management of a _salon_
was no easy affair the following anecdote will prove. The Duchesse de
Duras one day asked M. de Talleyrand what he thought of the evening
_réunions_ at her house, and after a few words of praise, he
added: "But you are too vivacious as yet, too young. Ten years hence
you will know better how to manage it all." Mme. de Duras was then
somewhere about fifty-four or five! We perceive, therefore, that,
according to M. de Talleyrand, the proper manner of receiving a
certain circle of _habitués_ was likely to be the study of a
whole life.

We select from Mme. Ancelot's book sketches of the following
_maitresses de maison_, because they seem to us the types of the
periods of transformation to which they correspond in the order of
date:--Mme. Lebrun, Mme. Gérard, Mme. d'Abrantès, Mme. Récamier, Mme.
Nodier. Mme. Lebrun corresponds to the period when Pre-Revolutionary
traditions were still in force, and when the remembrance yet
subsisted of a society that had been a real and not a fictive
unity. Mme. Gérard--or we should rather say her husband, for she
occupied herself little with her guests, whom the illustrious painter
entertained--represents the period of the Empire, prolonging itself
into the Restoration, and seeking by the immunities of talent and
intelligence to bring the two _régimes_ to meet upon what might be
termed neutral ground. Mme. d'Abrantès is the type of that last
remnant of the half-heroic, half-sentimental epoch which tried to
endure even after the first days of 1830, and of which certain verses
of Delphine Gay, certain impossible portraits of invincible colonels,
certain parts played by the celebrated Elleviou, and the
Troubadourish "_Partant pour la Syrie_" of Queen Hortense, are
emblematical. Mme. Récamier, although in date all but the contemporary
of Mme. Lebrun, is, in her position of mistress of a _salon_,
essentially the impersonation of a foible peculiar to the present day;
she typifies the class of women who, in Paris, are absolutely absorbed
by the thought of their _salons_, for whom to receive is to live, and
who are ready to expire at the notion of any celebrity not being a
frequenter of their tea-table. Mme. Nodier's--and here, as with Mme.
Gérard, we must substitute the husband for the wife, and say Charles
Nodier's--_salon_ was the menagerie whither thronged all the strange
beings who, after the Revolution of July, fancied they had some
special and extraordinary "call" in the world of Art. Nodier's
receptions at the Arsenal represent the literary and artistic movement
of 1830.

To begin, then, with Mme. Lebrun. This lady was precisely one of
those individualities who, since the days of Louis XIV., had found it
easy to take their place in French society, who, under the ancien
_régime_, were the equals of the whole world, and who, since
"Equality" has been so formally decreed by the laws of the land, would
have found it impossible, under the Citizen King, Louis Philippe, or
under the so-called "Democratic Empire" of Louis Napoleon, to surround
themselves with any society save that of a perfectly inferior
description.

Mme. Lebrun was the daughter of a very second-rate painter of the name
of Vigée, the sister of a poet of some talent of the same name, and
was married young to a picture-dealer of large fortune and most
expensive and dissipated, not to say dissolute habits, M. Lebrun. She
was young,--and, like Mme. Récamier and a few others, remained
youthful to a very late term of her existence,--remarkably beautiful,
full of talent, grace, and _esprit_, and possessed of the magnificent
acquirements as a portrait-painter that have made her productions to
this day valuable throughout the galleries of Europe. She was very
soon so brilliantly in fashion, that there was not a _grand seigneur_
of the court, a _grande dame_ of the queen's intimacy, a rich
_fermier-général_, or a famous writer, artist, or _savant_, who did
not petition to be admitted to her soirées; and in her small
apartment, in the Rue de Cléry, were held probably the last of those
intimate and charmingly unceremonious réunions which so especially
characterized the manners of the high society of France when all
question of etiquette was set aside. The witty Prince de Ligne, the
handsome Comte de Vaudreuil, the clever M. de Boufflers, and his
step-son, M. de Sabran, with such men as Diderot, d'Alembert,
Marmontel, and Laharpe, were the original _habitués_ of Mme. Lebrun's
drawing-room. At the same time used to visit her the bitter, bilious,
discontented David, the painter, who, though very young, was annoyed
at a woman having such incontestable proficiency in his own art, and
whose democratic ideas were hurt at her receiving such a number of
what he styled "great people." Madame Lebrun, one day,--little
dreaming that she was addressing a future _coupe-tête_ of the most
violent species, (perhaps the only genuine admirer of Marat,)--said,
smilingly, to the future painter of _Les Sabines_, "David, you are
wretched because you are neither Duke nor Marquis. I, to whom all such
titles are absolutely indifferent, I receive with sincere pleasure all
who make themselves agreeable." The apostrophe apparently hit home,
for David never returned to Mme. Lebrun's house, and was no
well-wisher of hers in later times. But on this occasion she had not
only told the truth to an individual, she had touched upon the secret
sore of the nation and the time; and vast classes were already
brooding in silence over the absurd, vain, and empty regret at being
"neither Duke nor Marquis." The Revolution was at hand, and the days
rapidly approaching when all such pleasant assemblies as those held by
Mme. Lebrun would become forever impossible. At some of these, the
crowd of intimates, and of persons all acquainted with each other, was
so great, that the highest dignitaries of the realm had to content
themselves with sitting down upon the floor; and on one occasion, the
Maréchal de Noailles, who was of exceedingly large build, had to
request the assistance of several of his neighbors before he could be
brought from his squatting attitude to his feet again.

Mme. Lebrun emigrated, like the majority of her associates,--going to
Russia, to Italy, to Germany, to England, and everywhere increasing
the number of her friends, besides preserving all those of former
times, whom she sedulously sought out in their voluntary exile, and to
whom, in many cases, she even proved an invaluable friend. In the
commencement of the Restoration, Mme. Lebrun returned to France, and
established herself definitively at Paris, and at Louveciennes near
Marly, where she had a delightful summer residence. Here, as in her
salons in the metropolis, she tried to bring back the tone of French
society to what it had been before the Revolution, and to show the
younger generations what had been the gayety, the grace, the
affability, the exquisite good-breeding of those who had preceded
them. The men and women of her own standing seconded her, but the
younger ones were not to be drawn into high-heartedness; and an
observer might have had before him the somewhat strange spectacle of
old age gay, gentle, unobservant of any stiff formality, and of youth
preoccupied and grave, and, instead of being refined in manners,
pedantic. "The younger frequenters of Mme. Lebrun's salon," says
Mme. Ancelot, "were strangers to the world into which they found
themselves raised; those who surrounded them were of an anterior
civilization; they could not grow to be identified with a past which
was unknown to them, or known only through recitals that disfigured
it.... Amidst the remnants of a society that had been historical,
there was, as it were, the breath of a spirit born of our days; new
ideas, new opinions, new hopes, nay, even new recollections, were
evident all around, and served to render social unity impossible; but,
above all, what failed in this one particular centre was youth,--there
were few or no young people." This was perfectly true; and
Mme. Lebrun's _salon_ is interesting only from the fact of its
being the last, perhaps, in which French people of our day can have
acquired a complete notion of what the Pre-Revolutionary _salons_
of France were.

The evening _réunions_ at the house of Gérard, the celebrated
painter, were among the most famous features of the society of the
Restoration. The gatherings at Mmes. de Duras's and de Montcalm's
splendid hotels were all but exclusively political and diplomatic;
whereas at Gérard's there was a mixture of these with the purely
mundane and artistic elements, and, above all, there was a portion of
Imperialist fame blended with all the rest, that was hard to be found
anywhere else. Gérard, too, had painted the portraits of so many
crowned heads, and been so much admitted into the intimacy of his
royal models, that, whenever a foreigner of any note visited Paris, he
almost immediately asked to be put in a way to be invited to the
celebrated artist's Wednesday receptions. This was, to a certain
degree, an innovation in regular French society; the French being most
truly, as has been said, the "Chinese of Europe," and liking nothing
less than the intermixture with themselves of anything foreign. But
Gérard was one of those essentially superior men who are able to
influence those around them, and bring them to much whereto no one
else could have persuaded them. Gérard, like many celebrated persons,
was infinitely superior to what he _did_. As far as what he
_did_ was concerned, Gérard, though a painter of great merit, was
far inferior to two or three of whom France has since been justly
proud; but in regard to what he _was_, Gérard was a man of
genius, who had in many ways few superiors. Few men, even in France,
have so highly deserved the reputation of _un homme d'esprit_. He
was as _spirituel_ as Talleyrand himself, and almost as
clear-sighted and profound. Add to this that nothing could surpass the
impression made by Gérard at first sight. He was strikingly like the
first Napoleon, but handsomer; with the same purity of outline, the
same dazzlingly lustrous eyes, full of penetration and thought, but
with a certain _sympathetic_ charm about his whole person that
the glorious conqueror of Marengo and Dictator of Gaul never
possessed.

Gérard was not entirely French; born in Rome in 1770, his father only
was a native of France, his mother was an Italian; and from her he
inherited a certain combination of qualities and peculiarities that at
once distinguished him from the majority of his countrymen. Full of
poetic fire and inspiration, there was in Gérard at the same time a
strong critical propensity, that showed itself in his caustic wit and,
sometimes, not unmalicious remarks. There was also a perpetual
struggle in his character between reflection and the first impulse,
and sometimes the _étourderie_ of the French nature was suddenly
checked by the caution of the Italian; but, take him as he was, he was
a man in a thousand, and those who were in the habit of constantly
frequenting his house affirm loudly and with the deepest regret, that
they shall never "look upon his like again."

Gérard had built for himself a house in the Rue des Augustins, near
the ancient church of St. Germain des Près; and there, every Wednesday
evening, summer and winter, he received whatever was in any way
illustrious in France, or whatever the other capitals of Europe sent
to Paris, _en passant_. "Four small rooms," says Mme. Ancelot,
"and a very small antechamber, composed the whole apartment. At twelve
o'clock tea was served, with eternally the same cakes, over which a
pupil of Gérard's, Mlle. Godefroy, presided. Gérard himself talked;
his wife remained nailed to a whist-table, attending to nothing and to
nobody. Evening once closed in, cards were the only occupation of
Mme. Gérard."

From Mme. de Staël down to Mlle. Mars, from Talleyrand and Pozzo di
Borgo down to M. Thiers, there were no celebrities, male or female,
that, during thirty years, (from 1805 to 1835,) did not flock to
Gérard's house, and all, how different soever might be their character
or position, agreed in the same opinion of their host; and those who
survive say of him to this day,--"Nothing in his _salons_
announced that you were received by a great _Artist_, but before
half an hour had elapsed you felt you were the guest of a
distinguished Man; you had seen by a glance at Gérard's whole person
and air that he was something apart from others,--that the sacred fire
burned there!"

The regret felt for Gérard's loss by all who ever knew him is not to
be told, and speaks as highly for those who cherished as for him who
inspired it. His, again, was one of the _salons_ (impossible now
in France) where genius and social superiority, whether of birth or
position, met together on equal terms. Without having, perhaps, as
large a proportion of the old _noblesse de cour_ at his house as
had Mme. Lebrun, Gérard received full as many of those eminent
personages whose political occupations would have seemed to estrange
them from the world of mixed society and the Arts. This is a
_nuance_ to be observed. Under the Empire, hard and despotic as
was the rule of Bonaparte, and anxious even as he was to draw round
him all the aristocratic names that would consent to serve his
government, there was--owing to the mere force of events and the
elective origin of the throne--a strong and necessary democratic
feeling, that assigned importance to each man according to his
works. Besides this, let it be well observed, the first Empire had a
strong tendency to protect and exalt the Arts, from its own very
ardent desire to be made glorious in the eyes of posterity. Napoleon
I. was, in his way, a consummate artist, a prodigiously intelligent
_metteur en scène_ of his own exploits, and he valued full as
much the man who delineated or sang his deeds, as the minister who
helped him to legislate, or the diplomatist who drew up protocols and
treaties. The Emperor was a lover of noise and show, and his time was
a showy and a noisy one. Bonaparte had, in this respect, little enough
of the genuine Tyrant nature. Unlike his nephew, he loved neither
silence nor darkness; he loved the reflection of his form in the broad
noon of publicity, and the echo of his tread upon the sounding soil of
popular renown. Could he have been sure that all free men would have
united their voices in chanting his exploits, he would have made the
citizens of France the freest in the whole world. Compression with him
was either a mere preventive against or vengeance for detraction.

Now this publicity-loving nature was, we repeat, as much served by Art
and artists as by politicians; nay, perhaps more; and for this reason
artists stood high during the period of the Empire. Talma held a
social rank that under no other circumstances could have been his, and
a painter like Gérard could welcome to his house statesmen such as
Talleyrand or Daru, or marshals of France, and princes even. We shall
show, by-and-by, how this grew to be impossible later. At present we
will recur to Mme. Ancelot for a really very true description of two
persons who were among the _habitués_ of the closing years of
Gérard's weekly receptions, and one of whom was destined to universal
celebrity: we allude to Mme. Gay, and her daughter, Delphine,--later,
Mme. Girardin. Of these two, the mother, famous as Sophie Gay, was as
thorough a remnant of the exaggerations and bad taste of the Empire as
were the straight, stiff, mock-classical articles of furniture of the
Imperialist hotels, or the _or-moulu_ clocks so ridiculed by
Balzac, on which turbaned Mamelukes mourned their expiring steeds. All
the false-heroics of the literature of the Empire found their
representative (their last one, perhaps) in Mme. Sophie Gay, and it
has not been sufficiently remarked that she even transmitted a shade
of all this to her daughter, in other respects one of the most
sagacious spirits and one of the most essentially unconventional of
our own day. A certain something that was not in harmony with the tone
of contemporary writers here and there surprised you in Delphine de
Girardin's productions, and, as Jules Janin once said, "One would
think the variegated plumes of Murat's fantastic hat[2] were sweeping
through her brains!" This was her mother's doing. Delphine, who had
never lived during one hour of the glory of the Empire, had, through
the medium of her mother, acquired a slight tinge of its
_boursouflure_; and had it not been for her own personal good
taste, she would have been misled precisely by her strong lyrical
aptitudes. Madame Gay found in Gérard's _salon_ all the people
she had best known in her youth, and she was delighted to have her
early years recalled to her. Mme. Ancelot, who, like many of her
country women, felt a marked antipathy for Madame Gay, has given a
very true portrait of both mother and daughter.

"Many years after," she writes, "when these ladies were (through M. de
Girardin) at the head of one of the chief organs of the Paris press,
they were much flattered and courted; at the period I speak of" (about
1817-1825) "their position was far from brilliant, and Mme. Gay was
far from popular. Every word that fell from her mouth, uttered in a
sharp tone, and full of bitterness and envy, went to speak ill of
others and prodigiously well of herself. She had a mania for titles
and tuft-hunting, and could speak of no one under a marquis, a count,
or a baron. Her daughter's beauty and talents caused her afterwards to
be more generally admitted into society; but at this period she was
avoided by most people."

Her daughter's beauty was certainly marvellous, and when, under the
reign of Louis Philippe, American society had in Paris more than one
brilliant representative and more than one splendid centre of
hospitality, where all that was illustrious in the society of France
perpetually flocked, we make no doubt many of our countrymen noticed,
whether at theatre or concert or ball, the really queenlike air of
Mme. de Girardin, and the exquisitely classic profile, which,
enframed, as it were, by the capricious spirals of the lightest,
fairest flaxen hair, resembled the outline of some antique statue of a
Muse.

Delphine Gay and her mother were more the ornaments of the
_salon_ of the Duchesse d'Abrantès, perhaps, than of that of
Gérard; and as the former continued open long after the latter was
closed by death, not only the young girl, whose verses were so
immensely in fashion during the Restoration, was one of the constant
guests of Junot's widow, but she continued to be so as the wife of
Émile de Girardin, the intelligent and enterprising founder of the
newspaper "La Presse."

The _salon_ of the Duchesse d'Abrantès was one of the first of a
species which has since then found imitators by scores and hundreds
throughout France. It was the _salon_ of a person not in herself
sufficiently superior or even celebrated to attract the genuine
superiorities of the country without the accessory attractions of
luxury, and not sufficiently wealthy to draw around her by her
splendid style of receiving, and to disdain the bait held out to those
she invited by the presence of great "lions." Gérard gave to his
guests, at twelve o'clock at night, a cup of tea and "eternally the
same cakes" all the year round; but Gérard was the type of the great
honors rendered, as we have observed, to Art under the Empire, and to
his house men went as equals, whose daily occupations made them the
associates of kings. This was not the case with the Duchesse
d'Abrantès. She had notoriety, not fame. Her "Mémoires" had been read
all through Europe, but it is to be questioned whether anything beyond
curiosity was satisfied by the book, and it certainly brought to its
author little or none of that which in France stands in lieu even of
fortune, but which is not easy to obtain, namely,--_consideration_.

The Duchesse d'Abrantès was rather popular than otherwise; she was
even beloved by a certain number of persons; but she never was what is
termed _considérée_,--and this gave to her _salon_ a different aspect
from that of the others we have spoken of. A dozen names could be
mentioned, whose wearers, without any means of "entertaining" their
friends, or giving them more than a glass of _eau sucrée_, were yet
surrounded by everything highest and best in the land, simply because
they were _gens considérables_, as the phrase went; but
Mme. d'Abrantès, who more or less received all that mixed population
known by the name of _tout Paris_, never was, we repeat, _considérée_.

The way in which Mme. Ancelot introduces her "friend," the poor
Duchesse d'Abrantès, on the scene, is exceedingly amusing and natural;
and we have here at once the opportunity of applying the remark we
made in commencing these pages, upon Mme. Ancelot's truthfulness. She
is the _habituée_ of the house of Mme. d'Abrantès; she professes
herself attached to the Duchess; yet she does not scruple to tell
everything as it really is, nor, out of any of the usual little
weaknesses of friendship, does she omit any one single detail that
proves the strange and indeed somewhat "Bohemian" manner of life of
her patroness. We, the readers of her book, are obviously obliged to
her for her indiscretions; with those who object to them from other
motives we have nothing to do.

Here, then, is the fashion in which we are introduced to Mme. la
Duchesse d'Abrantès, widow of Marshal Junot, and a born descendant of
the Comneni, Emperors of Byzantium.

Mme. Ancelot is sitting quietly by her fireside, one evening in
October, (some short time after the establishment of the monarchy of
July,) waiting to hear the result of a representation at the Théâtre
Français, where a piece of her own is for the first time being
performed. All at once, she hears several carriages stop at her door,
a number of persons rush up the stairs, and she finds herself in the
arms of the Duchesse d'Abrantès, who was resolved, as she says, to be
the first to congratulate her on her success. The hour is a late one;
supper is served, and conversation is prolonged into the "small
hours." All at once Mme. d'Abrantès exclaims, with an explosion of
delight,--"Ah! what a charming time is the night! one is so
deliciously off for talking! so safe! so secure! safe from bores and
from duns!" (_on ne craint ni les ennuyeux ni les créanciers_.')

Madame Ancelot affirms that this speech made a tremendous effect, and
that her guests looked at each other in astonishment. If this really
was the case, we can only observe that it speaks well for the
Parisians of the epoch at which it occurred; for, assuredly, at the
present day, no announcement of the kind would astonish or scandalize
any one. People in "good society," nowadays, in France, have got into
a habit of living from hand to mouth, and of living by expedients,
simply because they have not the strength of mind to live _out_
of society, and because the life of "the world" forces them to
expenses utterly beyond what they have any means of providing
for. However, we are inclined to believe that some five-and-twenty
years ago this was in no degree a general case, and that Mme.
d'Abrantès might perfectly well have been the first _maitresse de
maison_ to whom it happened.

"Alas!" sighs Mme. Ancelot, commenting upon her excellent friend's
strange confidence,--"it was the secret of her whole life that she
thus revealed to us in a moment of _abandon_,--the secret of an
existence that tried still to reflect the splendors of the Imperial
epoch, and that was at the same time perplexed and tormented by all
the thousand small miseries of pecuniary embarrassment. There were the
two extremes of a life that to the end excited my surprise. Grandeur!
want!--between those two opposites oscillated every day of the last
years of the Duchesse d'Abrantès; the exterior and visible portion of
that life arranged itself well or ill, as it best could, in the
middle,--now apparently colored by splendor, and now degraded by
distress; but at bottom the existence was unvaryingly what I state."

Madame d'Abrantès, at the period of her greatest notoriety, occupied
the ground-floor of a hotel in the Rue Rochechouart, with a garden,
where dancing was often introduced upon the lawn. Some remnants of
the glories of Imperialism were collected there, but the principal
_habitués_ were men of letters, artists, and young men who danced
well! (_les jeunes beaux qui dansaient bien!_) That one phrase
characterizes at once the ex-_belle_ of the Empire, the
contemporary of the sentimental Hortense de Beauharnais, and of the
more than _légère_ Pauline Borghése.

To the "new society of July" Mme. d'Abrantès was an object of great
curiosity. "I dote on seeing that woman!" said Balzac, one evening,
to Mme. Ancelot. "Only fancy! she saw Napoleon Bonaparte as a mere
boy,--knew him well,--knew him as a young man, unknown,--saw him
occupied, like anybody else, with the ordinary occurrences of
every-day life; then she saw him grow, and grow, and rise, and throw
the shadow of his name over the world. She seems to me somewhat like a
canonized creature who should all at once come and recount to me the
glories of paradise."

Balzac, it must be premised, was bitten just at this period by the
Napoleon mania, and this transformed his inquisitive attachment for
Mme. d'Abrantès into a kind of passion. It was at this period that he
chose to set up in his habitation in the Rue Cassini a sort of altar,
on which he placed a small statue of the Emperor, with these words
engraved upon the pedestal:--


  "Ce qu'il avait commencé par l'épée,
  Je l'achèverai par la plume!"


What particular part of the Imperial work this was that Balzac was to
"complete by the pen" was never rightly discovered,--but for a time he
had a sun-stroke for Napoleon, and his attachment for Mme. d'Abrantès
partook of this influence.

One anecdote told by Mme. Ancelot proves to what a degree the union of
"grandeur" and "want" she has alluded to went. "Mme. d'Abrantès," says
her biographer of the moment, "was always absorbed by the present
impression, whatever that might happen to be; she passed from joy to
despair like a child, and I never knew any house that was either so
melancholy or so gay." One evening, however, it would seem that the
Hôtel d'Abrantès was gayer than usual. Laughter rang loud through the
rooms, the company was numerous, and the mistress of the house in
unparalleled high spirits. If the tide of conversation seemed to
slacken, quickly Madame la Duchesse had some inimitable story of the
_ridicules_ of the ladies of the Imperial court, and the whole
circle was soon convulsed at her stories, and at her way of telling
them. The tea-table was forgotten. Generally, tea at her house was
taken at eleven o'clock; but on this occasion, midnight was long past
before it was announced, and before her guests assembled round the
table. If our readers are curious to know why, here was the reason:
All that remained of the plate had that very morning been put in pawn,
and when tea should have been served it was found that tea-spoons were
wanting! Whilst these were being sent for to the house of a friend
who lent them, Madame la Duchesse took charge of her guests, and
drowned their impatience in their hilarity.

It must be allowed that this lady was worthy to be the mother of the
young man who, one day, pointing to a sheet of stamped paper, on which
a bill of exchange might be drawn, said: "You see that; it is worth
five sous now; but if I sign my name to it, it will be worth nothing!"
This was a speech made by Junot's eldest son, known in Paris as the
Duc d'Abrantès, and as the intimate friend of Victor Hugo, from whom
at one time he was almost inseparable.

The eccentric personage we have just spoken of--the Duchesse
d'Abrantès--died in the year 1838, in a garret, upon a truckle-bed,
provided for her by the charity of a friend. The royal family paid the
expenses of her funeral, and Chateaubriand, accompanied by nearly
every celebrity of the literary world, followed on foot behind her
coffin, from the church to the burying-ground.

Madame d'Abrantès may be considered as the inventor, in France, of
what has since become so widely spread under the name of _les salons
picaresques_, and of what, at the present day, is famous under the
appellation of the _demi-monde_. Her example has been followed
by numberless imitators, and now, instead of presuming (as was the
habit formerly) that those only receive who are rich enough to do so,
it is constantly inquired, when any one in Paris opens his or her
house, whether he or she is ruined, and whether the _soirées_
given are meant merely to throw dust into people's eyes. The history
of the tea-spoons--so singular at the moment of its occurrence--has
since been parodied a hundred times over, and sometimes by mistresses
of houses whose fortune was supposed to put them far above all such
expedients. Madame d'Abrantès, we again say, was the founder of a
_genre_ in Paris society, and as such is well worth studying. The
_genre_ is by no means the most honorable, but it is one too
frequently found now in the social centres of the French capital for
the essayist on Paris _salons_ to pass it over unnoticed.

The _salon_ of Mme. Récamier is one of a totally different order,
and the world-wide renown of which may make it interesting to the
reader of whatever country. As far as age was concerned, Mme.
Récamier was the contemporary of Mme. d'Abrantès, of Gérard, nay,
almost of Mme. Lebrun; for the renown of her beauty dates from the
time of the French Revolution, and her early friendships associate her
with persons who even had time to die out under the first Empire; but
the _salon_ of Madame Récamier was among the exclusively modern
ones, and enjoyed all its lustre and its influence only after
1830. The cause of this is obvious: the circumstance that attracted
society to Mme. Récamier's house was no other than the certainty of
finding there M. de Chateaubriand. He was the divinity of the temple,
and the votaries flocked around his shrine. Before 1830 the temple had
been elsewhere, and, until her death, Mme. la Duchesse de Duras was
the high-priestess of the sanctuary, where a few privileged mortals
only were admitted to bow down before the idol. It is inconceivable
how easy a certain degree of renown finds it in Paris to establish one
of these undisputed sovereignties, before which the most important,
highest, most considerable individualities abdicate their own merit,
and prostrate themselves in the dust. M. de Chateaubriand in no way
justified the kind of worship that was paid him, nor did he even
obtain it so long as he was in a way actively to justify it. It was
when he grew old and produced nothing, and was hourly more and more
rusted over by selfishness, churlishness, and an exorbitant adoration
of his own genius, that the society of his country fell down upon its
knees before him, and was ready to make any sacrifice to insure to
itself the honor of one of his smiles or one of his looks. In this
disposition, Madame Récamier speedily obtained a leading influence
over Paris society, and when it was notorious that from four to six
every day the "Divinity" would be visible in her _salons_, her
_salons_ became the place of pilgrimage for all Paris. As with
those of Mme. d'Abrantès, there was a certain mixture amongst the
guests, because, without that, the _notoriety_, which neither
Chateaubriand nor Mme. Récamier disliked, would have been less easily
secured; but the tone of the _réunions_ was vastly different, and
at the celebrated receptions of the Abbaye aux Bois (where
Mme. Récamier spent her last quarter of a century) the somewhat
austere deportment of the _siècle de Louis XIV._ was in
vogue. All the amusements were in their nature grave. Mlle. Rachel
recited a scene from "Polyeucte" for the author of "Les Martyrs," and
for archbishops and cardinals; the Duc de Noailles read a chapter from
his history of Mme. de Maintenon; some performance of strictly
classical music was to be heard; or, upon state occasions,
Chateaubriand himself vouchsafed to impart to a chosen few a few pages
of the "Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe."

In her youth Mme. Récamier had been reputed beautiful, and her sole
occupation then was to do the honors of her beauty. She did not dream
of ever being anything else; and as she remained young marvellously
long,--as her beauty, or the charm, whatever it was, that
distinguished her, endured until a very late epoch of her life,--she
was far advanced in years before the idea of becoming famous through
any other medium save that of her exterior advantages ever struck
her. Madame Récamier had no intellectual superiority, but,
paraphrasing in action Molière's witty sentence, that "silence, well
employed, may go far to establish a man's capacity," she resolved to
employ well the talent she possessed of making other people believe
themselves clever. Mme. Ancelot, whose "good friend" she is supposed
to have been, and who treats her with the same sincerity she applies
to Mme. d'Abrantès, has a very ingenious and, we have reason to fancy,
a very true parallel, for Mme. Récamier. She compares her to the
mendicant described by Sterne, (or Swift,) who always obtained alms
even from those who never gave to any other, and whose secret lay in
the adroit flatteries with which he seasoned all his beggings. The
best passages in Mme. Ancelot's whole Volume are those where she
paints Mme. Récamier, and we will therefore quote them.

"The Recluse of the Abbaye aux Bois," she says, "had either read the
story of the beggar, or her instinct had persuaded her that vanity and
pride are the surest vulnerable points by which to attack and subject
the human heart. From the first to the last of all the orators,
writers, artists, or celebrities of no matter what species, that were
invited to Mme. Récamier's house, _all_ heard from her lips the
same admiring phrases, the first time they were presented to her. With
a trembling voice she used to say: 'The emotion I feel in the presence
of a superior being does not permit me to express, as I should wish to
do, all my admiration, all my sympathy;--but you can divine,--you can
understand;--my emotion tells the rest!' This eulogistic sentence, a
well-studied hesitation, words interrupted, and looks of the most
perfect enthusiasm, produced in the person thus received a far more
genuine emotion than that with which he was met. It was no other than
the artifice of wholesale, universal flattery,--always and invariably
the same,--with which Mme. Récamier achieved her greatest conquests,
and continued to draw around her almost all the eminent men of our
epoch. All this was murmured in soft, low tones, so that he only to
whom she spoke tasted the honey poured into his ear. Her grace of
manner all the while was infinite; for though she had no talent for
conversation, she had, in the highest degree, the ability which
enables one to succeed in certain little combinations, and when she
had determined that such or such a great man should become her
_habitué_, the web she spun round him on all sides was composed
of threads so imperceptibly fine and so innumerable, that those who
escaped were few, and gifted with marvellous address."

Mme. Ancelot confesses to having "studied narrowly" all
Mme. Récamier's manoeuvres, and to having watched all the thousand
little traps she laid for social "lions"; but we are rather astonished
herein at Mme. Ancelot's astonishment, for, with more or less talent
and grace, these are the devices resorted to in Paris by a whole class
of _maitresses de maison_, of whom Mme. Récamier is simply the
most perfect type.

But the most amusing part of all, and one that will be above all
highly relished by any one who has ever seen the same game carried on,
is the account of Mme. Récamier's campaign against M. Guizot, which
signally failed, all her small webs having been coldly brushed away by
the intensely vainglorious individual who knew he should not be placed
above Chateaubriand, and who would for no consideration under heaven
have been placed beneath him. The spectacle of this small and delicate
vanity doing battle against this vanity so infinitely hard and robust
is exquisitely diverting. Mme. Récamier put herself so prodigiously
out of her way; she who was indolent became active; she who was
utterly insensible to children became maternal; she who was of
delicate health underwent what only a vigorous constitution would
undertake. But all in vain; she either did not or would not see that
M. Guizot would not be _second_ where M. de Chateaubriand was
_first_. Besides, she split against another rock, that she had
either chosen to overlook, or the importance of which she had
undervalued. If Mme. Récamier had for the idol of her shrine at the
Abbaye aux Bois M. de Chateaubriand, M. Guizot had also _his_
Madame Récamier, the "Egeria" of the Hôtel Talleyrand,--the Princess
Lieven. The latter would have resisted to the death any attempt to
carry off "her Minister" from the _salons_ where his presence was
the "attraction" reckoned upon daily, nay, almost hourly; and against
such a rival as the venerable Princess Lieven, Mme. Récamier, spite of
all her arts and wiles, had no possible chance. However, she left
nothing untried, and when M. Guizot took a villa at Auteuil, whither
to repair of an evening and breathe the freshness of the half-country
air after the stormy debates of the Chambers, she also established
herself close by, and opened her attack on the enemy's outposts by a
request to be allowed to walk in the Minister's grounds, her own
garden being ridiculously small! This was followed by no end of
attentions directed towards Mme. de Meulan, M. Guizot's sister-in-law,
who saw through the whole, and laughed over it with her friends; no
end of little dancing _matinées_ were got up for the Minister's
young daughters, and no end even of sweet biscuits were perpetually
provided for a certain lapdog belonging to the family! All in vain!
We may judge, too, what transports of enthusiasm were enacted when the
Minister himself was _by chance (!)_ encountered in the alleys of
the park, and with what outpourings of admiration he was greeted, by
the very person who, of all others, was so anxious to become one of
his votaries. But, as we again repeat, it was of no use. M. Guizot
never consented to be one of the _habitués_ of the _salon_
of the Abbaye aux Bois. It should be remarked, also, that M. Guizot
cared little for anything out of the immediate sphere of politics, and
of the politics of the moment; he took small interest in what went on
in Art, and none whatever in what went on in the so-called "world"; so
that where a _salon_ was not predominantly political, there was
small chance of presenting Louis Philippe's Prime-Minister with any
real attraction. For this reason he was now and then to be met at the
house of Mme. de Châtenay, often at that of Mme. de Boigne, but
_never_ in any of the receptions of the ordinary run of men and
women of the world. _His own salon_, we again say,--the
_salon_ where he was what Chateaubriand was at the Abbaye aux
Bois,--was the _salon_ of the Princess Lieven; and to have ever
thought she could induce M. Guizot to be in the slightest degree
faithless to this _habit_ argues, on the part of Mme. Récamier,
either a vanity more egregious than we had even supposed, or an
ignorance of what she had to combat that seems impossible. To have
imagined for a moment that she could induce M. Guizot to frequent her
_réunions_ shows that she appreciated neither Mme. de Lieven, nor
M. Guizot, nor, we may say, herself, in the light of the
high-priestess of Chateaubriand's temple.

However, what Mme. Récamier went through with regard to the arrogant
Président du Conseil of the Orléans dynasty, more than one of her
imitators are at this hour enduring for some "lion" infinitely
illustrious. This kind of hunt after celebrated persons is a feature
of French civilization, and a feature peculiarly characteristic of the
French women who take a pride in their receptions. A genuine
_maitresse de maison_ in Paris has no affections, no ties, save
those of her _salon_. She is wholly absorbed in thinking how she
shall render this more attractive than the _salon_ of some other
lady, who is her intimate friend, but whose sudden disappearance from
the social scene, by any catastrophe, death even, would not leave her
inconsolable. She has neither husband, children, relatives, nor
friends (in the genuine acceptation of the word);--she has, above all,
before all, always and invariably, her _salon_. This race of
women, who date undoubtedly from the famous Marquise de Rambouillet in
the time of the Fronde, are now dying out, and are infinitely less
numerous than they were even twenty years ago in Paris; but a few of
them still exist, and in these few the ardor we allude to, and which
would lead them, following in Mme. Récamier's track, to embark for the
North Cape in search of some great celebrity, is in no degree
abated. Madame Récamier is curious as the arch-type of this race, so
purely, thoroughly, exclusively Parisian.

Perhaps to a foreigner, however, no _salon_ was more amusing than
that of Charles Nodier; but this was of an utterly different
description, and all but strictly confined to the world of Literature
and Art. Nodier himself occupied a prominent place in the literature
that was so much talked of during the last years of the Restoration
and the first years of the Monarchy of July, and his house was the
rendezvous for all the combatants of both sides, who at that period
were engaged in the famous Classico-Romantic struggle. Nodier was the
Head Librarian of the Arsenal, and it was in the _salons_ of this
historic palace that he held his weekly gatherings. He himself was
scarcely to be reputed exclusively of either party; he enjoyed the
favors of the Monarchy, and the sympathies of the Opposition; the
"Classics" elected him a member of the Académie Française, and the
"Romantics" were perpetually in his intimacy. The fact was, that
Nodier at heart believed in neither Classics nor Romantics, laughed at
both in his sleeve, and only cared to procure to himself the most
agreeable house, the greatest number of comforts, and the largest sums
of money possible.

"By degrees," says Mme. Ancelot, "as Nodier cared less for other
people, he praised them more, probably in order to compensate them in
words for the less he gave them in affection. Besides this, he was
resolved not to be disturbed in his own vanities, and for this he knew
there was one only way, which was to foster the vanities of everybody
else. Never did eulogium take such varied forms to laud and exalt the
most mediocre things. Nowhere were so many geniuses whom the public
never guessed at raised to the rank of _divinities_ as in the
_salons_ of Charles Nodier."

The description contained in the little volume before us, the manner
in which every petty scribbler of fiftieth-rate talent was transformed
into a giant in the society of Nodier, is extremely curious and
amusing, and the more so that it is strictly true, and tallies
perfectly with the recollections of the individuals who, at the period
mentioned, were admitted to the _réunions_ of the Arsenal.

Every form of praise having been expended upon persons of infinitely
small merit, what was to be done when those of real superiority
entered upon the scene? It was impossible to apply to them the forms
of laudation adapted to their inferiors. Well, then, a species of
slang was invented, by which it was thought practicable to make the
genuine great men conceive they had passed into the condition of
demigods. A language was devised that was to express the fervor of the
adorers who were suddenly allowed to penetrate into Olympus, and the
strange, misapplied terms whereof seemed to the uninitiated the
language of insanity. For instance, if, after a dozen little unshaved,
unkempt poetasters had been called "sublime," Victor Hugo vouchsafed
to recite one of his really best Odes, what was the eulogistic form to
be adopted? Mme. Ancelot will tell us.

"A pause would ensue, and at the end of a silence of some minutes,
when the echo of Hugo's sonorous voice had subsided, one after another
of the _elect_ would rise, go up to the poet, take his hand with
solemn emotion, and raise to the ceiling eyes full of mute enthusiasm.
The crowd of bystanders would listen all agape. Then, to the surprise,
almost to the consternation, of the uninitiated, one word only would
be spoken,--loudly, distinctly, and with strong, deep emphasis spoken;
that word would be:

  "_Cathedral!!!_

"The first orator, after this effort, would return to the place whence
he had come, and another, succeeding to him, after repeating the same
pantomime as the former, would exclaim:

  "_Ogive!!!_

"Then a third would come forward, and, after looking all around, would
risk the word:

  "_Pyramid-of-Egypt!!!_

"And thereat the whole assembly would start off into frenzies of
applause, and fifty or sixty voices would repeat in chorus the
sacramental words that had just been pronounced separately."

The degree of absurdity to which a portion of society must have
attained before such scenes as the above could become possible may
serve as a commentary and an explanation to half the literature which
flooded the stage and the press in France for the first six or eight
years after the Revolution of 1830. However, to be just, we must, in
extenuation of all these absurdities, cite one passage more from
Mme. Ancelot's book, in which, in one respect, at all events, the
youth of twenty years ago in Paris are shown to have been superior to
the youth of the present day.

"Nodier's parties were extremely amusing," says our authoress; "his
charming daughter was the life of the whole; she drew around her young
girls of her own age; poets, musicians, painters, young and joyous as
these, were their partners in the dance, and every one was
full of hope and dreaming of glory. But what brought all the
light-heartedness, all the enthusiasm, all the exultation to its
utmost height was, that, in all that youth, so trusting and so
hopeful, _no one gave a single thought to money!_"

Assuredly, it would be impossible to say as much nowadays.

Taken as a whole, Mme. Ancelot's little volume is, as we said, an
amusing and an instructive one. It is not so from any portion of her
own individuality she has infused into it, but, on the contrary, from
the entire sincerity with which it mirrors other people. We recommend
it to our readers, for it is a record of Paris society in its
successive transformations from 1789 to 1848, and paints a class of
people and a situation of things, equally true types whereof may
possibly not be observable in future times.


Footnote 1: _Les Salons de Paris.--Foyers Eteints_. Par
Mme. Ancelot. 12mo. Paris.

Footnote 2: It will be remembered that on field-days Murat had
adopted a hat and feathers of a most ridiculous kind, and that have
become proverbial.



THE DISCOVERER OF THE NORTH CAPE.


A LEAF FROM KING ALFRED'S "OROSIUS."


  Othere, the old sea-captain,
    Who dwelt in Helgoland,
  To Alfred, the Lover of Truth,
  Brought a snow-white walrus-tooth,
    Which he held in his brown right-hand.

  His figure was tall and stately;
    Like a boy's his eye appeared;
  His hair was yellow as hay,
  But threads of a silvery gray
    Gleamed in his tawny beard.

  Hearty and hale was Othere,
    His cheek had the color of oak;
  With a kind of laugh in his speech,
  Like the sea-tide on a beach,
    As unto the King he spoke.

  And Alfred, King of the Saxons,
    Had a book upon his knees,
  And wrote down the wondrous tale
  Of him who was first to sail
    Into the Arctic seas.

  "So far I live to the northward,
    No man lives north of me;
  To the east are wild mountain-chains,
  And beyond them meres and plains;
    To the westward all is sea.

  "So far I live to the northward,
    From the harbor of Skeringes-hale,
  If you only sailed by day,
  With a fair wind all the way,
    More than a month would you sail.

  "I own six hundred reindeer,
    With sheep and swine beside;
  I have tribute from the Fins,--
  Whalebone, and reindeer-skins,
    And ropes of walrus-hide.

  "I ploughed the land with horses,
    But my heart was ill at ease,
  For the old seafaring men
  Came to me now and then
    With their sagas of the seas,--

  "Of Iceland, and of Greenland,
    And the stormy Hebrides,
  And the undiscovered deep;--
  I could not eat nor sleep
    For thinking of those seas.

  "To the northward stretched the desert,--
    How far I fain would know;
  So at last I sallied forth,
  And three days sailed due north,
    As far as the whale-ships go.

  "To the west of me was the ocean,--
    To the right the desolate shore;
  But I did not slacken sail
  For the walrus or the whale,
    Till after three days more.

  "The days grew longer and longer,
    Till they became as one;
  And southward through the haze
  I saw the sullen blaze
    Of the red midnight sun.

  "And then uprose before me,
    Upon the water's edge,
  The huge and haggard shape
  Of that unknown North Cape,
    Whose form is like a wedge.

  "The sea was rough and stormy,
    The tempest howled and wailed,
  And the sea-fog, like a ghost,
  Haunted that dreary coast,--
    But onward still I sailed.

  "Four days I steered to eastward,
    Four days without a night:
  Bound in a fiery ring
  Went the great sun, O King,
    With red and lurid light."

  Here Alfred, King of the Saxons,
    Ceased writing for a while;
  And raised his eyes from his book,
  With a strange and puzzled look,
    And an incredulous smile.

  But Othere, the old sea-captain,
    He neither paused nor stirred;
  And the King listened, and then
  Once more took up his pen,
    And wrote down every word.

  "And now the land," said Othere,
    "Bent southward suddenly,
  And I followed the curving shore
  And ever southward bore
    Into a nameless sea.

  "And there we hunted the walrus,
    The narwhale, and the seal:
  Ha! 'twas a noble game,
  And like the lightning's flame
    Flew our harpoons of steel!

  "There were six of us altogether,
    Norsemen of Helgoland;
  In two days and no more
  We killed of them threescore,
    And dragged them to the strand!"

  Here Alfred the Truth-Teller
    Suddenly closed his book,
  And lifted his blue eyes
  With doubt and strange surmise
    Depicted in their look.

  And Othere, the old sea-captain,
    Stared at him wild and weird,
  Then smiled, till his shining teeth
  Gleamed white from underneath
    His tawny, quivering beard.

  And to the King of the Saxons,
    In witness of the truth,
  Raising his noble head,
  He stretched his brown hand, and said.
    "Behold this walrus-tooth!"



THE AUTOCRAT OF THE BREAKFAST-TABLE.


EVERY MAN HIS OWN BOSWELL.

[The schoolmistress came down with a rose in her hair,--a fresh June
rose. She has been walking early; she has brought back two
others,--one on each cheek.

I told her so, in some such pretty phrase as I could muster for the
occasion. Those two blush-roses I just spoke of turned into a couple
of damasks. I suppose all this went through my mind, for this was what
I went on to say:--]

I love the damask rose best of all. The flowers our mothers and
sisters used to love and cherish, those which grow beneath our eaves
and by our doorstep, are the ones we always love best. If the
Houyhnhnms should ever catch me, and, finding me particularly vicious
and unmanageable, send a man-tamer to Rareyfy me, I'll tell you what
drugs he would have to take and how he would have to use them. Imagine
yourself reading a number of the Houyhnhnms Gazette, giving an account
of such an experiment.

"MAN-TAMING EXTRAORDINARY.

"The soft-hoofed semi-quadruped recently captured was subjected to the
art of our distinguished man-tamer in presence of a numerous
assembly. The animal was led in by two stout ponies, closely confined
by straps to prevent his sudden and dangerous tricks of
shoulder-hitting and foot-striking. His countenance expressed the
utmost degree of ferocity and cunning.

"The operator took a handful of _budding lilac-leaves_, and
crushing them slightly between his hoofs, so as to bring out their
peculiar fragrance, fastened them to the end of a long pole and held
them towards the creature. Its expression changed in an instant,--it
drew in their fragrance eagerly, and attempted to seize them with its
soft split hoofs. Having thus quieted his suspicious subject, the
operator proceeded to tie a _blue hyacinth_ to the end of the
pole and held it out towards the wild animal. The effect was
magical. Its eyes filled as if with raindrops, and its lips trembled
as it pressed them to the flower. After this it was perfectly quiet,
and brought a measure of corn to the man-tamer, without showing the
least disposition to strike with the feet or hit from the shoulder."

That will do for the Houyhnhnms Gazette.--Do you ever wonder why poets
talk so much about flowers? Did you ever hear of a poet who did not
talk about them? Don't you think a poem, which, for the sake of being
original, should leave them out, would be like those verses where the
letter _a_ or _e_ or some other is omitted? No,--they will
bloom over and over again in poems as in the summer fields, to the end
of time, always old and always new. Why should we be more shy of
repeating ourselves than the spring be tired of blossoms or the night
of stars? Look at Nature. She never wearies of saying over her floral
pater-noster. In the crevices of Cyclopean walls,--in the dust where
men lie, dust also,--on the mounds that bury huge cities, the Birs
Nemroud and the Babel-heap,--still that same sweet prayer and
benediction. The Amen! of Nature is always a flower.

Are you tired of my trivial personalities,--those splashes and streaks
of sentiment, sometimes perhaps of sentimentality, which you may see
when I show you my heart's corolla as if it were a tulip? Pray, do
not give yourself the trouble to fancy me an idiot whose conceit it is
to treat himself as an exceptional being. It is because you are just
like me that I talk and know that you will listen. We are all
splashed and streaked with sentiments,--not with precisely the same
tints, or in exactly the same patterns, but by the same hand and from
the same palette.

I don't believe any of you happen to have just the same passion for
the blue hyacinth which I have,--very certainly not for the crushed
lilac-leaf-buds; many of you do not know how sweet they are. You love
the smell of the sweet-fern and the bayberry-leaves, I don't doubt;
but I hardly think that the last bewitches you with young memories as
it does me. For the same reason I come back to damask roses, after
having raised a good many of the rarer varieties. I like to go to
operas and concerts, but there are queer little old homely sounds that
are better than music to me. However, I suppose it's foolish to tell
such things.

----It is pleasant to be foolish at the right time,--said the
divinity-student;--saying it, however, in one of the dead languages,
which I think are unpopular for summer-reading, and therefore do not
bear quotation as such.

Well, now,--said I,--suppose a good, clean, wholesome-looking
countryman's cart stops opposite my door.--Do I want any
huckleberries?--If I do not, there are those that do. Thereupon my
soft-voiced handmaid bears out a large tin pan, and then the wholesome
countryman, heaping the peck-measure, spreads his broad hands around
its lower arc to confine the wild and frisky berries, and so they run
nimbly along the narrowing channel until they tumble rustling down in
a black cascade and tinkle on the resounding metal beneath.--I won't
say that this rushing huckleberry hail-storm has not more music for me
than the "Anvil Chorus."

----I wonder how my great trees are coming on this summer.

----Where are your great trees, Sir? said the divinity-student.

Oh, all round about New England. I call all trees mine that I have put
my wedding-ring on, and I have as many tree-wives as Brigham Young has
human ones.

----One set's as green as the other,--exclaimed a boarder, who has
never been identified.

They're all Bloomers,--said the young fellow called John.

[I should have rebuked this trifling with language, if our landlady's
daughter had not asked me just then what I meant by putting my
wedding-ring on a tree.]

Why, measuring it with my thirty-foot tape, my dear,--said I.--I have
worn a tape almost out on the rough barks of our old New England elms
and other big trees.--Don't you want to hear me talk trees a little
now? That is one of my specialties.

[So they all agreed that they should like to hear me talk about
trees.]

I want you to understand, in the first place, that I have a most
intense, passionate fondness for trees in general, and have had
several romantic attachments to certain trees in particular. Now, if
you expect me to hold forth in a "scientific" way about my
tree-loves,--to talk, for instance, of the Ulmus Americana, and
describe the ciliated edges of its samara, and all that,--you are an
anserine individual, and I must refer you to a dull friend who will
discourse to you of such matters. What should you think of a lover who
should describe the idol of his heart in the language of science,
thus: Class, Mammalia; Order, Primates; Genus, Homo; Species,
Europeus; Variety, Brown; Individual, Ann Eliza; Dental Formula


         2-2  1-1  2-2  3-3
        i--- c--- p--- m----,
         2-2  1-1  2-2  3-3


and so on?

No, my friends, I shall speak of trees as we see them, love them,
adore them in the fields, where they are alive, holding their green
sun-shades over our heads, talking to us with their hundred thousand
whispering tongues, looking down on us with that sweet meekness which
belongs to huge, but limited organisms,--which one sees in the brown
eyes of oxen, but most in the patient posture, the outstretched arms,
and the heavy-drooping robes of these vast beings endowed with life,
but not with soul,--which outgrow us and outlive us, but stand
helpless,--poor things!--while Nature dresses and undresses them, like
so many full-sized, but underwitted children.

Did you ever read old Daddy Gilpin? Slowest of men, even of English
men; yet delicious in his slowness, as is the light of a sleepy eye in
woman. I always supposed "Dr. Syntax" was written to make fun of
him. I have a whole set of his works, and am very proud of it, with
its gray paper, and open type, and long ff, and orange-juice
landscapes. The _Père_ Gilpin had the kind of science I like in
the study of Nature,--a little less observation than White of
Selborne, but a little more poetry.--Just think of applying the
Linnæan system to an elm! Who cares how many stamens or pistils that
little brown flower, which comes out before the leaf, may have to
classify it by? What we want is the meaning, the character, the
expression of a tree, as a kind and as an individual.

There is a mother-idea in each particular kind of tree, which, if well
marked, is probably embodied in the poetry of every language. Take the
oak, for instance, and we find it always standing as a type of
strength and endurance. I wonder if you ever thought of the single
mark of supremacy which distinguishes this tree from all our other
forest-trees? All the rest of them shirk the work of resisting
gravity; the oak alone defies it. It chooses the horizontal direction
for its limbs, so that their whole weight may tell,--and then
stretches them out fifty or sixty feet, so that the strain may be
mighty enough to be worth resisting. You will find, that, in passing
from the extreme downward droop of the branches of the weeping-willow
to the extreme upward inclination of those of the poplar, they sweep
nearly half a circle. At 90° the oak stops short; to slant upward
another degree would mark infirmity of purpose; to bend downwards,
weakness of organization. The American elm betrays something of both;
yet sometimes, as we shall see, puts on a certain resemblance to its
sturdier neighbor.

It won't do to be exclusive in our taste about trees. There is hardly
one of them which has not peculiar beauties in some fitting place for
it. I remember a tall poplar of monumental proportions and aspect, a
vast pillar of glossy green, placed on the summit of a lofty hill, and
a beacon to all the country round. A native of that region saw fit to
build his house very near it, and, having a fancy that it might blow
down some time or other, and exterminate himself and any incidental
relatives who might be "stopping" or "tarrying" with him,--also
laboring under the delusion that human life is under all circumstances
to be preferred to vegetable existence,--had the great poplar cut
down. It is so easy to say, "It is only a poplar!" and so much harder
to replace its living cone than to build a granite obelisk!

I must tell you about some of my tree-wives. I was at one period of my
life much devoted to the young lady-population of Rhode Island, a
small, but delightful State in the neighborhood of Pawtucket. The
number of inhabitants being not very large, I had leisure, during my
visits to the Providence Plantations, to inspect the face of the
country in the intervals of more fascinating studies of physiognomy. I
heard some talk of a great elm a short distance from the locality just
mentioned. "Let us see the great elm,"--I said, and proceeded to find
it,--knowing that it was on a certain farm in a place called Johnston,
if I remember rightly. I shall never forget my ride and my
introduction to the great Johnston elm.

I always tremble for a celebrated tree when I approach it for the
first time. Provincialism has no _scale_ of excellence in man or
vegetable; it never knows a first-rate article of either kind when it
has it, and is constantly taking second and third rate ones for
Nature's best. I have often fancied the tree was afraid of me, and
that a sort of shiver came over it as over a betrothed maiden when she
first stands before the unknown to whom she has been plighted. Before
the measuring-tape the proudest tree of them all quails and shrinks
into itself. All those stories of four or five men stretching their
arms around it and not touching each other's fingers, of one's pacing
the shadow at noon and making it so many hundred feet, die upon its
leafy lips in the presence of the awful ribbon which has strangled so
many false pretensions.

As I rode along the pleasant way, watching eagerly for the object of
my journey, the rounded tops of the elms rose from time to time at the
road-side. Wherever one looked taller and fuller than the rest, I
asked myself,--"Is this it?" But as I drew nearer, they grew
smaller,--or it proved, perhaps, that two standing in a line had
looked like one, and so deceived me. At last, all at once, when I was
not thinking of it,--I declare to you it makes my flesh creep when I
think of it now,--all at once I saw a great, green cloud swelling in
the horizon, so vast, so symmetrical, of such Olympian majesty and
imperial supremacy among the lesser forest-growths, that my heart
stopped short, then jumped at my ribs as a hunter springs at a
five-barred gate, and I felt all through me, without need of uttering
the words,--"This is it!"

You will find this tree described, with many others, in the excellent
Report upon the Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts. The author has
given my friend the Professor credit for some of his measurements, but
measured this tree himself, carefully. It is a grand elm for size of
trunk, spread of limbs, and muscular development,--one of the first,
perhaps the first, of the first class of New England elms.

The largest actual girth I have ever found at five feet from the
ground is in the great elm lying a stone's throw or two north of the
main road (if my points of compass are right) in Springfield. But
this has much the appearance of having been formed by the union of two
trunks growing side by side.

The West-Springfield elm and one upon Northampton meadows belong also
to the first class of trees.

There is a noble old wreck of an elm at Hatfield, which used to spread
its claws out over a circumference of thirty-five feet or more before
they covered the foot of its bole up with earth. This is the American
elm most like an oak of any I have ever seen.

The Sheffield elm is equally remarkable for size and perfection of
form. I have seen nothing that comes near it in Berkshire County, and
few to compare with it anywhere. I am not sure that I remember any
other first-class elms in New England, but there may be many.

----What makes a first-class elm?--Why, size, in the first place, and
chiefly. Anything over twenty feet of clear girth, five feet above
the ground; and with a spread of branches a hundred feet across, may
claim that title, according to my scale. All of them, with the
questionable exception of the Springfield tree above referred to,
stop, so far as my experience goes, at about twenty-two or
twenty-three feet of girth and a hundred and twenty of spread.

Elms of the second class, generally ranging from fourteen to eighteen
feet, are comparatively common. The queen of them all is that glorious
tree near one of the churches in Springfield. Beautiful and stately
she is beyond all praise. The "great tree" on Boston Common comes in
the second rank, as does the one at Cohasset, which used to have, and
probably has still, a head as round as an apple-tree, and that at
Newburyport, with scores of others which might be mentioned. These
last two have perhaps been over-celebrated. Both, however, are
pleasing vegetables. The poor old Pittsfield elm lives on its past
reputation. A wig of false leaves is indispensable to make it
presentable.

[I don't doubt there may be some monster-elm or other, vegetating
green, but inglorious, in some remote New England village, which only
wants a sacred singer to make it celebrated. Send us your
measurements,--(certified by the postmaster, to avoid possible
imposition,)--circumference five feet from soil, length of line from
bough-end to bough-end, and we will see what can be done for you.]

--I wish somebody would get us up the following work:--


SYLVA NOVANGLICA.

Photographs of New England Elms and other Trees, taken upon the Same
Scale of Magnitude. With Letter-Press Descriptions, by a Distinguished
Literary Gentleman. Boston: ---- ---- & Co. 185..

The same camera should be used,--so far as possible,--at a fixed
distance. Our friend, who is giving us so many interesting figures in
his "Trees of America," must not think this Prospectus invades his
province; a dozen portraits, with lively descriptions, would be a
pretty complement to his larger work, which, so far as published, I
find excellent. If my plan were carried out, and another series of a
dozen English trees photographed on the same scale, the comparison
would be charming.

It has always been a favorite idea of mine to bring the life of the
Old and the New World face to face, by an accurate comparison of their
various types of organization. We should begin with man, of course;
institute a large and exact comparison between the development of
_la pianta umana_, as Alfieri called it, in different sections of
each country, in the different callings, at different ages, estimating
height, weight, force by the dynamometer and the spirometer, and
finishing off with a series of typical photographs, giving the
principal national physiognomies. Mr. Hutchinson has given us some
excellent English data to begin with.

Then I would follow this up by contrasting the various parallel forms
of life in the two continents. Our naturalists have often referred to
this incidentally or expressly; but the _animus_ of Nature in the
two half-globes of the planet is so momentous a point of interest to
our race, that it should be made a subject of express and elaborate
study. Go out with me into that walk which we call _the Mall_,
and look at the English and American elms. The American elm is tall,
graceful, slender-sprayed, and drooping as if from languor. The
English elm is compact, robust, holds its branches up, and carries its
leaves for weeks longer than our own native tree.

Is this typical of the creative force on the two sides of the ocean,
or not? Nothing but a careful comparison through the whole realm of
life can answer this question.

There is a parallelism without identity in the animal and vegetable
life of the two continents, which favors the task of comparison in an
extraordinary manner. Just as we have two trees alike in many ways,
yet not the same, both elms, yet easily distinguishable, just so we
have a complete flora and a fauna, which, parting from the same ideal,
embody it with various modifications. Inventive power is the only
quality of which the Creative Intelligence seems to be economical;
just as with our largest human minds, that is the divinest of
faculties, and the one that most exhausts the mind which exercises it.
As the same patterns have very commonly been followed, we can see
which is worked out in the largest spirit, and determine the exact
limitations under which the Creator places the movement of life in all
its manifestations in either locality. We should find ourselves in a
very false position, if it should prove that Anglo-Saxons can't live
here, but die out, if not kept up by fresh supplies, as Dr. Knox and
other more or less wise persons have maintained. It may turn out the
other way, as I have heard one of our literary celebrities argue,--and
though I took the other side, I liked his best,--that the American is
the Englishman reinforced.

--Will you walk out and look at those elms with me after breakfast?--I
said to the schoolmistress.

[I am not going to tell lies about it, and say that she blushed,--as I
suppose she ought to have done, at such a tremendous piece of
gallantry as that was for our boarding-house. On the contrary, she
turned a little pale,--but smiled brightly and said,--Yes, with
pleasure, but she must walk towards her school.--She went for her
bonnet.--The old gentleman opposite followed her with his eyes, and
said he wished he was a young fellow. Presently she came down,
looking very pretty in her half-mourning bonnet, and carrying a
school-book in her hand.]


MY FIRST WALK WITH THE SCHOOLMISTRESS.

This is the shortest way,--she said, as we came to a corner.--Then we
won't take it,--said I.--The schoolmistress laughed a little, and said
she was ten minutes early, so she could go round.

We walked under Mr. Paddock's row of English elms. The gray squirrels
were out looking for their breakfasts, and one of them came toward us
in light, soft, intermittent leaps, until he was close to the rail of
the burial-ground. He was on a grave with a broad blue-slate-stone at
its head, and a shrub growing on it. The stone said this was the
grave of a young man who was the son of an Honorable gentleman, and
who died a hundred years ago and more.--Oh, yes, _died_,--with a
small triangular mark in one breast, and another smaller opposite, in
his back, where another young man's rapier had slid through his body;
and so he lay down out there on the Common, and was found cold the
next morning, with the night-dews and the death-dews mingled on his
forehead.

Let us have one look at poor Benjamin's grave,--said I.--His bones lie
where his body was laid so long ago, and where the stone says they
lie,--which is more than can be said of most of the tenants of this
and several other burial-grounds.

[The most accursed act of Vandalism ever committed within my knowledge
was the uprooting of the ancient gravestones in three at least of our
city burial-grounds, and one at least just outside the city, and
planting them in rows to suit the taste for symmetry of the
perpetrators. Many years ago, when this disgraceful process was going
on under my eyes, I addressed an indignant remonstrance to a leading
journal. I suppose it was deficient in literary elegance, or too warm
in its language; for no notice was taken of it, and the hyena-horror
was allowed to complete itself in the face of daylight. I have never
got over it. The bones of my own ancestors, being entombed, lie
beneath their own tablet; but the upright stones have been shuffled
about like chessmen, and nothing short of the Day of Judgment will
tell whose dust lies beneath any of those records, meant by affection
to mark one small spot as sacred to some cherished memory. Shame!
shame! shame!--that is all I can say. It was on public thoroughfares,
under the eye of authority, that this infamy was enacted. The red
Indians would have known better; the selectmen of an African
kraal-village would have had more respect for their ancestors. I
should like to see the gravestones which have been disturbed all
removed, and the ground levelled, leaving the flat tombstones;
epitaphs were never famous for truth, but the old reproach of "Here
lies" never had such a wholesale illustration as in these outraged
burial-places, where the stone does lie above, and the bones do not
lie beneath.]

Stop before we turn away, and breathe a woman's sigh over poor
Benjamin's dust. Love killed him, I think. Twenty years old, and out
there fighting another young fellow on the Common, in the cool of that
old July evening;--yes, there must have been love at the bottom of it.

The schoolmistress dropped a rosebud she had in her hand, through the
rails, upon the grave of Benjamin Woodbridge. That was all her
comment upon what I told her.--How women love Love! said I;--but she
did not speak.

We came opposite the head of a place or court running eastward from
the main street.--Look down there,--I said.--My friend the Professor
lived in that house at the left hand, next the further corner, for
years and years. He died out of it, the other day.--Died?--said the
schoolmistress.--Certainly,--said I.--We die out of houses, just as we
die out of our bodies. A commercial smash kills a hundred men's
houses for them, as a railroad crash kills their mortal frames and
drives out the immortal tenants. Men sicken of houses until at last
they quit them, as the soul leaves its body when it is tired of its
infirmities. The body has been called "the house we live in"; the
house is quite as much the body we live in. Shall I tell you some
things the Professor said the other day?--Do!--said the
schoolmistress.

A man's body,--said the Professor,--is whatever is occupied by his
will and his sensibility. The small room down there, where I wrote
those papers you remember reading, was much more a portion of my body
than a paralytic's senseless and motionless arm or leg is of his.

The soul of a man has a series of concentric envelopes round it, like
the core of an onion, or the innermost of a nest of boxes. First he
has his natural garment of flesh and blood. Then, his artificial
integuments, with their true skin of solid stuffs, their cuticle of
lighter tissues, and their variously-tinted pigments. Thirdly, his
domicile, be it a single chamber or a stately mansion. And then, the
whole visible world, in which Time buttons him up as in a loose
outside wrapper.

You shall observe,--the Professor said,--for, like Mr. John Hunter and
other great men, he brings in that _shall_ with great effect
sometimes,--you shall observe that a man's clothing or series of
envelopes do after a certain time mould themselves upon his individual
nature. We know this of our hats, and are always reminded of it when
we happen to put them on wrong side foremost. We soon find that the
beaver is a hollow cast of the skull, with all its irregular bumps and
depressions. Just so all that clothes a man, even to the blue sky
which caps his head,--a little loosely,--shapes itself to fit each
particular being beneath it. Farmers, sailors, astronomers, poets,
lovers, condemned criminals, all find it different, according to the
eyes with which they severally look.

But our houses shape themselves palpably on our inner and outer
natures. See a householder breaking up and you will be sure of
it. There is a shell-fish which builds all manner of smaller shells
into the walls of its own. A house is never a home until we have
crusted it with the spoils of a hundred lives besides those of our own
past. See what these are, and you can tell what the occupant is.

I had no idea,--said the Professor,--until I pulled up my domestic
establishment the other day, what an enormous quantity of roots I had
been making during the years I was planted there. Why, there wasn't a
nook or a corner that some fibre had not worked its way into; and when
I gave the last wrench, each of them seemed to shriek like a mandrake,
as it broke its hold and came away.

There is nothing that happens, you know, which must not inevitably,
and which does not actually, photograph itself in every conceivable
aspect and in all dimensions. The infinite galleries of the Past await
but one brief process and all their pictures will be called out and
fixed forever. We had a curious illustration of the great fact on a
very humble scale. When a certain bookcase, long standing in one
place, for which it was built, was removed, there was the exact image
on the wall of the whole, and of many of its portions. But in the
midst of this picture was another,--the precise outline of a map
which had hung on the wall before the bookcase was built. We had all
forgotten everything about the map until we saw its photograph on the
wall. Then we remembered it, as some day or other we may remember a
sin which has been built over and covered up, when this lower universe
is pulled away from before the wall of Infinity, where the wrongdoing
stands self-recorded.

The Professor lived in that house a long time,--not twenty years, but
pretty near it. When he entered that door, two shadows glided over the
threshold; five lingered in the doorway when he passed through it for
the last time,--and one of the shadows was claimed by its owner to be
longer than his own. What changes he saw in that quiet place! Death
rained through every roof but his; children came into life, grew to
maturity, wedded, faded away, threw themselves away; the whole drama
of life was played in that stock-company's theatre of a dozen houses,
one of which was his, and no deep sorrow or severe calamity ever
entered his dwelling. Peace be to those walls, forever,--the Professor
said,--for the many pleasant years he has passed within them!

The Professor has a friend, now living at a distance, who has been
with him in many of his changes of place, and who follows him in
imagination with tender interest wherever he goes.--In that little
court, where he lived in gay loneliness so long,--

--in his autumnal sojourn by the Connecticut, where it comes loitering
down from its mountain fastnesses like a great lord, swallowing up the
small proprietary rivulets very quietly as it goes, until it gets
proud and swollen and wantons in huge luxurious oxbows about the fair
Northampton meadows, and at last overflows the oldest inhabitant's
memory in profligate freshets at Hartford and all along its lower
shores,--up in that caravansary on the banks of the stream where
Ledyard launched his log canoe, and the jovial old Colonel used to
lead the Commencement processions,--where blue Ascutney looked down
from the far distance, and the hills of Beulah, as the Professor
always called them, rolled up the opposite horizon in soft climbing
masses, so suggestive of the Pilgrim's Heavenward Path that he used to
look through his old "Dollond" to see if the Shining Ones were not
within range of sight,--sweet visions, sweetest in those Sunday walks
that carried them by the peaceful common, through the solemn village
lying in cataleptic stillness under the shadow of the rod of Moses, to
the terminus of their harmless stroll,--the patulous fage, in the
Professor's classic dialect,--the spreading beech, in more familiar
phrase,--[stop and breathe here a moment, for the sentence is not done
yet, and we have another long journey before us,]--

--and again once more up among those other hills that shut in the
amber-flowing Housatonic,--dark stream, but clear, like the lucid orbs
that shine beneath the lids of auburn-haired, sherry-wine-eyed
demi-blondes,--in the home overlooking the winding stream and the
smooth, flat meadow; looked down upon by wild hills, where the tracks
of bears and catamounts may yet sometimes be seen upon the winter
snow; facing the twin summits which rise in the far North, the highest
waves of the great land-storm in all this billowy region,--suggestive
to mad fancies of the breasts of a half-buried Titaness, stretched out
by a stray thunderbolt, and hastily hidden away beneath the leaves of
the forest,--in that home where seven blessed summers were passed,
which stand in memory like the seven golden candlesticks in the
beatific vision of the holy dreamer,--

--in that modest dwelling we were just looking at, not glorious, yet
not unlovely in the youth of its drab and mahogany,--full of great and
little boys' playthings from top to bottom,--in all these summer or
winter nests he was always at home and always welcome.

This long articulated sigh of reminiscences,--this calenture which
shows me the maple-shadowed plains of Berkshire and the
mountain-circled green of Grafton beneath the salt waves that come
feeling their way along the wall at my feet, restless and
soft-touching as blind men's busy fingers,--is for that friend of mine
who looks into the waters of the Patapsco and sees beneath them the
same visions that paint themselves for me in the green depths of the
Charles.

----Did I talk all this off to the schoolmistress?--Why, no,--of course
not. I have been talking with you, the reader, for the last ten
minutes. You don't think I should expect any woman to listen to such a
sentence as that long one, without giving her a chance to put in a
word?

----What did I say to the schoolmistress?--Permit me one moment. I don't
doubt your delicacy and good-breeding; but in this particular case, as
I was allowed the privilege of walking alone with a very interesting
young woman, you must allow me to remark, in the classic version of a
familiar phrase, used by our Master Benjamin Franklin, it is _nullum
tui negotii_.

When the schoolmistress and I reached the school-room door, the damask
roses I spoke of were so much heightened in color by exercise that I
felt sure it would be useful to her to take a stroll like this every
morning, and made up my mind I would ask her to let me join her again.


EXTRACT FROM MY PRIVATE JOURNAL.

(_To be burned unread._)

I am afraid I have been a fool; for I have told as much of myself to
this young person as if she were of that ripe and discreet age which
invites confidence and expansive utterance. I have been low-spirited
and listless, lately,--it is coffee, I think,--(I observe that which
is bought _ready-ground_ never affects the head,)--and I notice
that I tell my secrets too easily when I am downhearted.

There are inscriptions on our hearts, which, like that on Dighton
Rock, are never to be seen except at dead-low tide.

There is a woman's footstep on the sand at the side of my deepest
ocean-buried inscription!

----Oh, no, no, no! a thousand times, no!--Yet what is this which has
been shaping itself in my soul?--Is it a thought?--is it a dream?--is
it a _passion_?--Then I know what comes next.

----The Asylum stands on a bright and breezy hill; those glazed
corridors are pleasant to walk in, in bad weather. But there are iron
bars to all the windows. When it is fair, some of us can stroll
outside that very high fence. But I never see much life in those
groups I sometimes meet;--and then the careful man watches them so
closely! How I remember that sad company I used to pass on fine
mornings, when I was a schoolboy!--B., with his arms full of yellow
weeds,--ore from the gold mines which he discovered long before we
heard of California,--Y., born to millions, crazed by too much
plum-cake, (the boys said,) dogged, explosive,--made a Polyphemus of
my weak-eyed schoolmaster, by a vicious flirt with a stick,--(the
multi-millionnaires sent him a trifle, it was said, to buy another eye
with; but boys are jealous of rich folks,--and I don't doubt the good
people made him easy for life,)--how I remember them all!

I recollect, as all do, the story of the Hall of Eblis, in "Vathek,"
and how each shape, as it lifted its hand from its breast, showed its
heart,--a burning coal. The real Hall of Eblis stands on yonder
summit. Go there on the next visiting-day, and ask that figure
crouched in the corner, huddled up like those Indian mummies and
skeletons found buried in the sitting posture, to lift its hand,--look
upon its heart, and behold, not fire, but ashes.--No, I must not think
of such an ending! Dying would be a much more gentlemanly way of
meeting the difficulty. Make a will and leave her a house or two and
some stocks, and other little financial conveniences, to take away her
necessity for keeping school.--I wonder what nice young man's feet
would be in my French slippers before six months were over! Well,
what then? If a man really loves a woman, of course he wouldn't marry
her for the world, if he were not quite sure that he was the best
person she could by any possibility marry.

----It is odd enough to read over what I have just been writing.--It
is the merest fancy that ever was in the world. I shall never be
married. She will; and if she is as pleasant as she has been so far, I
will give her a silver tea-set, and go and take tea with her and her
husband, sometimes. No coffee, I hope, though,--it depresses me
sadly. I feel very miserably;--they must have been grinding it at
home.--Another morning walk will be good for me, and I don't doubt the
schoolmistress will be glad of a little fresh air before school.

       *       *       *       *       *

----The throbbing flushes of the poetical intermittent have been
coming over me from time to time of late. Did you ever see that
electrical experiment which consists in passing a flash through
letters of gold-leaf in a darkened room, whereupon some name or legend
springs out of the darkness in characters of fire?

There are songs all written out in my soul, which I could read, if the
flash might but pass through them,--but the fire must come down from
heaven. Ah! but what if the stormy _nimbus_ of youthful passion
has blown by, and one asks for lightning from the ragged _cirrus_
of dissolving aspirations, or the silvered _cumulus_ of sluggish
satiety? I will call on her whom the dead poets believed in, whom
living ones no longer worship,--the immortal maid, who, name her what
you will,--Goddess, Muse, Spirit of Beauty,--sits by the pillow of
every youthful poet, and bends over his pale forehead until her
tresses lie upon his cheek and rain their gold into his dreams.


MUSA.

  O my lost Beauty!--hast thou folded quite
     Thy wings of morning light
     Beyond those iron gates
  Where Life crowds hurrying to the haggard Fates,
  And Age upon his mound of ashes waits
     To chill our fiery dreams,
  Hot from the heart of youth plunged in his icy streams?

  Leave me not fading in these weeds of care,
     Whose flowers are silvered hair!--
     Have I not loved thee long,
  Though my young lips have often done thee wrong
  And vexed thy heaven-tuned ear with careless song?
     Ah, wilt thou yet return,
  Bearing thy rose-hued torch, and bid thine altar burn?

  Come to me!--I will flood thy silent shrine
     With my soul's sacred wine,
     And heap thy marble floors
  As the wild spice-trees waste their fragrant stores
  In leafy islands walled with madrepores
     And lapped in Orient seas,
  When all their feathery palms toss, plume-like, in the breeze.

  Come to me!--thou shalt feed on honeyed words,
     Sweeter than song of birds;--
     No wailing bulbul's throat,
  No melting dulcimer's melodious note,
  When o'er the midnight wave its murmurs float,
     Thy ravished sense might soothe
  With flow so liquid-soft, with strain so velvet-smooth.

  Thou shalt be decked with jewels, like a queen,
     Sought in those bowers of green
      Where loop the clustered vines
  And the close-clinging dulcamara twines,--
  Pure pearls of Maydew where the moonlight shines,
      And Summer's fruited gems,
  And coral pendants shorn from Autumn's berried stems.

  Sit by me drifting on the sleepy waves,--
      Or stretched by grass-grown graves,
      Whose gray, high-shouldered stones,
  Carved with old names Life's time-worn roll disowns,
  Lean, lichen-spotted, o'er the crumbled bones
      Still slumbering where they lay
  While the sad Pilgrim watched to scare the wolf away!

  Spread o'er my couch thy visionary wing!
      Still let me dream and sing,--
      Dream of that winding shore
  Where scarlet cardinals bloom,--for me no more,--
  The stream with heaven beneath its liquid floor,
      And clustering nenuphars
  Sprinkling its mirrored blue like golden-chaliced stars!

  Come while their balms the linden-blossoms shed!--
      Come while the rose is red,--
      While blue-eyed Summer smiles
  O'er the green ripples round yon sunken piles
  Washed by the moon-wave warm from Indian isles,
      And on the sultry air
  The chestnuts spread their palms like holy men in prayer!

  Oh, for thy burning lips to fire my brain
      With thrills of wild sweet pain!--
      On life's autumnal blast,
  Like shrivelled leaves, youth's passion-flowers are cast,--
  Once loving thee, we love thee to the last!--
      Behold thy new-decked shrine,
  And hear once more the voice that breathed "Forever thine!"


THE TRUSTEE'S LAMENT.

_Per aspera ad astra._

(SCENE.--Outside the gate of the Astronomical Observatory at Albany.)


  There was a time when I was blest;
  The stars might rise in East or West
      With all their sines and wonders;
  I cared for neither great nor small,
  As pointedly unmoved by all
  As, on the top of steeple tall,
      A lightning-rod at thunders.

  What did I care for Science then?
  I was a man with fellow-men,
      And called the Bear the Dipper;
  Segment meant piece of pie,--no more;
  Cosine, the parallelogram that bore
  JOHN SMITH & CO. above a door;
      Arc, what called Noah skipper.

  No axes weighed upon my mind,
  (Unless I had a few to grind.)
      And as for my astronomy,
  Had Hedgecock's quadrant then been known,
  I might a lamp-post's height have shown
  By gas-tronomic skill,--if none
      Find fault with the metonymy.

  O hours of innocence! O ways
  How far from these unhappy days
      When all is vicy-versy!
  No flower more peaceful took its due
  Than I, who then no difference knew
  'Twixt Ursy Major and my true
      Old crony, Major Hersey.

  Now in long broils and feuds we roast,
  Like Strasburg geese that living toast
      To make a liver-_paté_,--
  And all because we fondly strove
  To set the city of our love
  In scientific fame above
      Her sister Cincinnati!

  We built our tower and furnished it
  With everything folks said was fit,
      From coping-stone to grounsel;
  And then, to give a knowing air,
  Just nominally assigned its care
  To that unmanageable affair,
      A Scientific Council.

  We built it, not that one or two
  Astronomers the stars might view
      And count the comets' hair-roots,
  But that it might by all be said
  How very freely we had bled,--
  We were not laying out a bed
      To force their early square-roots.

  The observations _we_ wished made
  Were on the spirit we'd displayed,
      Worthy of Athens' high days;
  But _they_'ve put in a man who thinks
  Only of planets' nodes and winks,
  So full of astronomic kinks
      He eats star-fish on Fridays.

  The instruments we did not mean
  For seeing through, but to be seen
      At tap of Trustee's knuckle;
  But the Director locks the gate,
  And makes ourselves and strangers wait
  While he is ciphering on a slate
      The rust of Saturn's buckle.

  So on the wall's outside we stand,
  Admire the keyhole's contour grand
      And gateposts' sturdy granite;--
  But, ah, is Science safe, we say,
  With one who treats Trustees this way?
  Who knows but he may snub, some day,
      A well-conducted planet?

  Who knows what mischief he may brew
  With such a telescope brand-new
      At the four-hundredth power?
  He may bring some new comet down
  So near that it'll singe the town
  And do the Burgess-Corps crisp-brown
      Ere they can storm his tower.

  We wanted (having got our show)
  Some man, that had a name or so,
      To be our public showman;
  But this one shuts and locks the gate:
  Who'll answer but he'll peculate,
  (And, faith, some stars are missed of late,)
      Now that he's watched by no man?

  Our own discoveries he may steal,
  Or put night's candles out, to deal
      At junkshops with the sockets:
  _Savants_, in other lands or this,
  If any theory you miss
  Whereon your cipher graven is,
      Don't fail to search his pockets!

  Lock up your comets: if that fails,
  Then notch their ears and clip their tails,
      That you at need may swear to 'em;
  And watch your nebulous flocks at night,
  For, if your palings are not tight,
  He may, to gratify his spite,
      Let in the Little Bear to 'em.

  Then he's so quarrelsome, we've fears
  He'll set the very Twins by the ears,--
      So mad, if you resist him,
  He'd get Aquarius to play
  A milkman's trick, some cloudy day,
  And water all the Milky Way
      To starve some sucking system.

  But plaints are vain! through wrath or pride,
  The Council all espouse his side
      And will our missives con no more;
  And who that knows what _savants_ are,
  Each snappish as a Leyden jar,
  Will hope to soothe the wordy war
      'Twixt Ologist and Onomer?

  Search a Reform Convention, where
  He- and she-resiarehs prepare
      To get the world in _their_ power,
  You will not, when 'tis loudest, find
  Such gifts to hug and snarl combined
  As drive each astronomic mind
      With fifty-score Great-Bear-power!

  No! put the Bootees on your foot,
  Elope with Virgo, strive to shoot
      That arrow of O'Ryan's,
  Drain Georgian Ciders to the lees,
  Attempt what crackbrained thing you please,
  But dream not you can e'er appease
      An angry man of science!

  Ah, would I were, as I was once,
  To fair Astronomy a dunce,
      Or launching _jeux d'esprit_ at her,
  Of light zodiacal making light,
  Deaf to all tales of comets bright,
  And knowing but such stars as might
      Roll r-rs at our theatre!

  Then calm I drew my night-cap on,
  Nor bondsman was for what went on
      Ere morning in the heavens;
  Twas no concern of mine to fix
  The Pleiades at seven or six,--
  But now the _omnium genitrix_
      Seems all at sixes and sevens.

  Alas, 'twas in an evil hour
  We signed the paper for the tower,
      With Mrs. D. to head it!
  For, if the Council have their way,
  We've merely had, as Frenchmen say,
  The painful _maladie du_ pay,
      While they get all the credit!

  Boys, henceforth doomed to spell Trustees,
  Think not it ends in double ease
      To those who hold the office;
  Shun Science as you would Despair,
  Sit not in Cassiopeia's chair,
  Nor hope from Berenice's hair
      To bring away your trophies!



THE POCKET-CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH.


Well, it has happened, and we have survived it pretty well. The
Democratic Almanacs predicted a torrent, a whirlwind, and we know not
what meteoric phenomena,--but the next day Nature gave no sign, the
dome of the State-House was in its place, the Monument was as plumb as
ever, no chimney mourned a ravished brick, and the Republican Party
took its morning tea and toast in peace and safety. On the whole, it
must be considered a wonderful escape. Since Partridge's time there
had been no such prophecies,--since Miller's, no such perverse
disobligingness in the event.

But what had happened? Why, the Democratic Young Men's Celebration, to
be sure, and Mr. Choate's Oration.

The good city of Boston in New England, for we know not how many
years, had been in the habit of celebrating the National Birthday,
first, with an oration, as became the Athens of America, and second,
with a dinner, as was meet in the descendants of Teutonic forefathers.
The forenoon's oration glorified us in the lump as a people, and every
man could reckon and appropriate his own share of credit by the simple
arithmetical process of dividing the last census by the value he set
upon himself, a divisor easily obtained by subtracting from the total
of inhabitants in his village the number of neighbors whom he
considered ciphers. At the afternoon's dinner, the pudding of praise
was served out in slices to favored individuals; dry toasts were drunk
by drier dignitaries; the Governor was compared to Solon; the Chief
Justice to Brutus; the Orator of the Day to Demosthenes; the Colonel
of the Boston Regiment to Julius Cæsar; and everybody went home happy
from a feast where the historic parallels were sure to hold out to the
last Z in Lemprière.

Gradually matters took a new course; the Union was suddenly supposed
to lie at the point of dissolution, and what we may call the
Doctor-Brandreth style of oratory began. Every orator mounted the
rostrum, like a mountebank at a fair, to proclaim the virtues of his
private panacea for the morbid Commonwealth, and, as was natural in
young students of political therapeutics, fancied that he saw symptoms
of the dread malady of Disunion in a simple eruption of Jethro Furber
at a convention of the Catawampusville Come-outers, or of Pyrophagus
Quattlebum at a training of the Palmetto Plug-Uglies,--neither of
which was skin-deep. The dinners became equally dreary. Did the eye of
a speaker light on the national dish of beans, he was reminded of the
languid pulse of the sentiment of union; did he see a broiled chicken,
it called up to his mind's eye the bird of our _un_common
country, with the gridiron on his breast, liable to be reduced at any
moment to the heraldic duality of his Austrian congener by the strife
of contending sections pulling in opposite directions; an innocent
pippin was enough to suggest the apple of discord; and with the
removal of the cloth came a dessert of diagnoses on the cancer that
was supposed to be preying on the national vitals. The only variety
was a cringing compliment, in which Bunker Hill curtsied to King's
Mountain, to any Southern brother who chanced to be present, and who
replied patronizingly,--while his compatriots at the warmer end of the
Union were probably, with amiable sincerity, applying to the Yankees
that epithet whose expression in type differs but little from that of
a doctorate in divinity, but which precedes the name it qualifies, as
that follows it, and was never, except by Beaumarchais and Fielding,
reckoned among titles of honor or courtesy.

A delusion seemed to have taken possession of our public men, that the
people wanted doctors of the body-politic to rule over them, and, if
those were not to be had, would put up with the next best
thing,--quacks. Every one who was willing to be an Eminent Statesman
issued his circulars, like the Retired Physician, on all public
occasions, offering to send his recipe in return for a vote. The
cabalistic formula always turned out to be this:--"Take your humble
servant for four years at the White House; if no cure is effected,
repeat the dose."

Meanwhile were there any symptoms of disease in the Constitution? Not
the least. The whole affair was like one of those alarms in a
country-town which begin with the rumor of ten cases of confluent
small-pox and end with the discovery that the doctor has been called
to a case of nettle-rash at Deacon Scudder's. But sober men, who
loved the Union in a quiet way, without advertising it in the
newspapers, and who were willing to sacrifice everything to the
Constitution but the rights it was intended to protect, began to fear
that the alarmists might create the disease which they kept up so much
excitement about.

This being the posture of affairs, the city of Boston, a twelvemonth
since, chose for their annual orator a clergyman distinguished for
eloquence, and for that important part of patriotism, at least, which
consists in purity of life. This gentleman, being neither a candidate
for office nor the canvasser of a candidate, ventured upon a new kind
of address. He took for his theme the duties consequent upon the
privileges of Freedom, ventured to mention self-respect as one of
them, and commented upon the invitation of a Virginia Senator, the
author of the Fugitive Slave Bill, to a Seventeenth-of-June
Celebration, while the Senators of Massachusetts were neglected. In
speaking of this, he used, we believe, the word "flunkeyism." It is
not an elegant word; it is not even an English one;--but had the
speaker sought for a Saxon correlative, he could hardly have found one
that would have seemed more satisfactory, especially to those who
deserved it; for Saxon is straightforward, and a reluctance to be
classified (fatal to science) is characteristic of the human animal.

An orator who suggests a new view of any topic is a disturber of the
digestive organs,--this was very properly a matter of offence to the
Aldermen who were to dine after the oration,--but an orator who
tampers with the language we have inherited from Shakspeare and
Milton, and which we share with Tupper, was an object for deeper
reprobation. The Young Men's Democratic Association of Boston are
purists; they are jealous for their mother-tongue,--and it is the more
disinterested in them as a large proportion of them are Irishmen; they
are exclusive,--a generous confusion of ideas as to the meaning of
democracy, even more characteristically Hibernian; they are
sentimental, too,--melancholy as gibcats,--and feared (from last
year's example) that the city might not furnish them with a
sufficiently lachrymose Antony to hold up before them the bloody
garment of America, and show what rents the envious Blairs and Wilsons
and Douglasses had made in it. Accordingly they resolved to have a
public celebration all to themselves,--a pocket-edition of the
cumbrous civic work,--and as the city provided fireworks in the
evening, in order to be beforehand with it in their pyrotechnics, they
gave Mr. Choate in the forenoon.

We did not hear Mr. Choate's oration; we only read it in the
newspapers. Cold fireworks, the morning after, are not enlivening.
You have the form without the fire, and the stick without the soar.
But we soon found that we were to expect no such disappointment from
Mr. Choate. He seems to announce at the outset that he has closed his
laboratory. The Prospero of periods had broken his wand and sunk his
book deeper than ever office-hunter sounded. The boys in the street
might wander fancy-free, and fire their Chinese crackers as they
listed; but for him this was a solemn occasion, and he invited his
hearers to a Stoic feast of Medford crackers and water, to a
philosophic banquet of metaphors and metaphysics.

We confess that we expected a great deal. Better a crust with Plato
than nightingales' tongues with Apicius; and if Mr. Choate promised
only the crust, we were sure of one melodious tongue, at least, before
the meal was over. He is a man of whom any community might be
proud. Were society an organized thing here, as in Europe, no dinner
and no drawing-room would be perfect without his talk. He would have
been heard gladly at Johnson's club. The Hortensins of our courts,
with a cloud of clients, he yet finds time to be a scholar and a
critic, and to read Plato and Homer as they were read by Plato's and
Homer's countrymen. Unsurpassed in that eloquence which, if it does
not convince, intoxicates a jury, he was counted, so long as Webster
lived, the second advocate of our bar.

All this we concede to Mr. Choate with unreserved admiration; but
when, leaving the field where he had won his spurs as the successful
defender of men criminally accused, he undertakes to demonstrate the
sources whence national life is drawn, and the causes which lead to
its decay,--to expound authoritatively the theory of political ethics
and the principles of sagacious statesmanship, wary in its steps, and
therefore durable in its results,--it becomes natural and fair to ask,
What has been the special training that has fitted him for the task?
More than this: when he comes forward as the public prosecutor of the
Republican Party, it becomes our duty to examine the force of his
arguments and the soundness of his logic. Has his own experience given
him any right to talk superciliously to a great party overwhelmingly
triumphant in the Free States? And does his oration show him to
possess such qualities of mind, such grasp of reason, such continuity
of induction, as to entitle him to underrate the intelligence of so
large a number of his fellow-citizens by accusing them of being
incapable of a generalization and incompetent to apprehend a
principle?

The Bar has given few historically-great statesmen to the
world,--fewer than the Church, which Mr. Choate undervalues in a
sentence which, we cannot help thinking, is below the dignity of the
occasion, and jarringly discordant with the generally elevated tone of
his address. Burke, an authority whom Mr. Choate will not call in
question, has said that the training of the bar tends to make the
faculties acute, but at the same time narrow. The study of
jurisprudence may, no doubt, enlarge the intellect; but the habit of
mind induced by an indiscriminate advocacy--which may be summoned to
the defence of a Sidney to-day and of a spoon-thief to-morrow--is
rather that of the sophist than of the philosophic reasoner. Not
truth, but the questionable victory of the moment, becomes naturally
and inevitably the aim and end of all the pleader's faculties. For
him the question is not what principle, but what interest of John Doe,
may be at stake. Such has been Mr. Choate's school as a reasoner. As
a politician, his experience has been limited. The member of a party
which rarely succeeded in winning, and never in long retaining, the
suffrages of the country, he for a time occupied a seat in the Senate,
but without justifying the expectations of his friends. So far, his
history shows nothing that can give him the right to assume so high
and mighty a tone in speaking of his political opponents.

But in his scholarship he has a claim to be heard, and to be heard
respectfully. Here lies his real strength, and hence is derived the
inspiration of his better eloquence. The scholar enjoys more than the
privilege, without the curse, of the Wandering Jew. He can tread the
windy plain of Troy, he can listen to Demosthenes, can follow Dante
through Paradise, can await the rising of the curtain for the first
acting of Hamlet. Mr. Choate's oration shows that he has drawn that
full breath which is, perhaps, possible only under a Grecian sky, and
it is, in its better parts, scholarly in the best sense of the
word.[1] It shows that he has read out-of-the-way books, like Bodinus
"De Republicâ," and fresh ones, like Gladstone's Homer,--that he can
do justice, with Spinoza, to Machiavelli,--and that in letters, at
least, he has no narrow prejudices. Its sentences are full of
scholarly allusion, and its language glitters continually with pattins
of bright gold from Shakspeare. We abhor that profane vulgarity of our
politics which denies to an antagonist the merits which are justly
his, because he may have been blinded to the truth of our principles
by the demerits which are justly ours,--which hates the man because it
hates his creed, and, instead of grappling with his argument, seeks in
the kitchen-drains of scandal for the material to bespatter his
reputation. Let us say, then, honestly, what we honestly think,--the
feeling, the mastery and choice of language, the intellectual
comprehensiveness of glance, which can so order the many-columned
aisle of a period, that the eye, losing none of the crowded
particulars, yet sees through all, at the vista's end, the gleaming
figure of thought to enshrine which the costly fabric was reared,--all
these qualities of the orator demand and receive our sincere
applause. In an age when indolence or the study of French models has
reduced our sentences to the economic curtness of telegraphic
despatches, to the dimension of the epigram without its point,
Mr. Choate is one of the few whose paragraphs echo with the
long-resounding pace of Dryden's coursers, and who can drive a
predicate and six without danger of an overset.

Mr. Choate begins by congratulating his hearers that there comes one
day in our year when "faults may be forgotten,-- ... when the
arrogance of reform, the excesses of reform, the strife of parties,
the rivalries of regions, shall give place to a wider, warmer, juster
sentiment,--when, turning from the corners and dark places of
offensiveness, ... we may go up together to the serene and secret
mountain-top," etc. Had he kept to the path which he thus marked out
for himself, we should have had nothing to say. But he goes out of
his way to indulge a spleen unworthy of himself and the occasion, and
brings against political opponents, sometimes directly, sometimes by
innuendo, charges which, as displaying personal irritation, are
impolitic and in bad taste. One fruit of scholarship, and its fairest,
he does not seem to have plucked,--one proof of contented conviction
in the truth of his opinions he does not give,--that indifference to
contemporary clamor and hostile criticism, that magnanimous
self-trust, which, assured of its own loyalty to present duty, can
wait patiently for future justice.

His exordium over, Mr. Choate proceeds to define and to discuss
Nationality. We heartily agree with him in all he says in its praise,
and draw attention, in passing, to a charming idyllic passage in which
he speaks of the early influences which first develope in us its
germinal principle. But when he says, that the sentiment of a national
life, once existing, must still be kept alive by an exercise of the
reason and the will, we dissent. It must be a matter of instinct, or
it is nothing. The examples of nationality which he cites are those of
ancient Greece and modern Germany. Now we affirm, that, with
accidental exceptions, nationality has always been a matter of race,
and was eminently so in the instances he quotes. If we read rightly,
the nationality which glows in the "Iliad," and which it was, perhaps,
one object of the poem to rouse or to make coherent, is one of blood,
not territory. The same is true of Germany, of Russia, (adding the
element of a common religious creed,) and of France, where the Celtic
sentiment becomes day by day more predominant. The exceptions are
England and Switzerland, whose intense nationality is due to
insulation, and Holland, which was morally an island, cut off as it
was from France by difference of language and antipathy of race, and
from kindred Germany by the antagonism of institutions. A patriotism
by the chart is a monster that the world ne'er saw. Men may fall in
love with a lady's picture, but not with the map of their country.
Few persons have the poetic imagination of Mr. Choate, that can vivify
the dead lines and combine the complex features. It seems to us that
our own problem of creating a national sentiment out of such diverse
materials of race, such sometimes discordant or even hostile
traditions, and then of giving it an intenseness of vitality that can
overcome our vast spaces and our differences of climate and interest,
is a new problem, not easily to be worked out by the old
methods. Mr. Choate's plan seems to consist in the old formula of the
Fathers. He would have us think of their sacrifices and their
heroisms, their common danger and their common deliverance.
Excellent, as far as it goes; but what are we to do with the large
foreign fraction of our population imported within the last forty
years, a great proportion of whom never so much as heard even of the
war of 1812? Shall we talk of Bennington and Yorktown to the Germans,
whose grandfathers, if they were concerned at all in those memorable
transactions, were concerned on the wrong side? Shall we talk of the
constancy of Puritan Pilgrims to the Romanist Irishman, who knows more
of Brian Boroo than of the Mayflower?

It will be many generations before we become so fused as to have a
common past, and the conciliation and forbearance which Mr. Choate
recommends to related sections of country will be more than equally
necessary to unrelated races. But while we are waiting for a past in
which we can all agree, Mr. Choate sees danger in the disrespect which
he accuses certain _anonymi_ of entertaining for the past in
general. But for what past? Does Mr. Choate mean our own American
past? Does he refer us to that for lessons of forbearance, submission,
and waiting for God's good time? Is the contemplation of their own
history and respect for their own traditions the lenitive he
prescribes for a people whose only history is a revolution, whose only
tradition is rebellion? To what past and to what tradition did the
Pilgrim Fathers appeal, except to that past, older than all history,
that tradition, sacred from all decay, which, derived from an
antiquity behind and beyond all the hoary generations, points the
human soul to the God from whom it derived life, and with it the
privilege of freedom and the duty of obedience? To what historical
past did Jefferson go for the preamble of the Declaration, unless to
the reveries of a half-dozen innovating enthusiasts, men of the
closet,--of that class which Mr. Choate disparages by implication,
though it has done more to shape the course of the world than any
number of statesmen, whose highest office is, commonly, to deal
prudently with the circumstances of the moment?

Mr. Choate does a great injustice to the Republican Party when he lays
this irreverence for the past to their charge. As he seems to think
that he alone has read books and studied the lessons of antiquity, he
will be pleased to learn that there are persons also in that party who
have not neglected all their opportunities in that kind. The object of
the Republicans is to bring back the policy and practice of the
Republic to some nearer agreement with the traditions of the
fathers. They also have a National Idea,--for some of them are capable
of distinguishing "a phrase from an idea," or Mr. Choate would find it
easier to convert them. They propose to create a National Sentiment,
in the only way that is possible under conditions like ours, by
clearing the way for the development of a nation which shall be, not
only in Fourth-of-July orations, but on every day in the year, and in
the mouths of all peoples, great and wise, just and brave, and whose
idea, always august and venerable, by turns lovely and terrible, shall
bind us all in a common nationality by our loyalty to what is true,
our reverence for what is good, our love for what is beautiful, and
our sense of security in what is mighty. That is the America which the
Fathers conceived, and it is that to which the children look
forward,--an America which shall displace Ireland and Germany,
Massachusetts and Carolina, in the hearts of those who call them
mother, with an image of maternity at once more tender and more
majestic.

There is a past for which Republicans have indeed no respect,--but it
is one of recent date; there is a history from which they refuse to
take lessons except for warning and not example,--but it is a history
which is not yet written. When the future historian shall study that
past and gather materials for writing that history, he will find cause
for wonder at the strength of that national vitality which could
withstand and survive, not the efforts of Mr. Choate's dreadful
reformers, but of an administration calling itself Democratic, which,
with the creed of the Ostend Manifesto for its foreign, and the
practice of Kansas for its domestic policy, could yet find a scholar
and a gentleman like Mr. Choate to defend it.

Mr. Choate charges the Republicans with being incapable of a
generalization. They can, at least, generalize so far as this, that,
when they find a number of sophistries in an argument, they conclude
that the cause which requires their support must be a weak one. One of
the most amusing of these in the oration before us is where (using the
very same arguments that were urged in favor of that coalition in
Massachusetts against the morality of which the then party of Mr.
Choate exclaimed so loudly) he extols the merits of Compromise in
statesmanship. In support of what he says on this subject, he quotes
from a speech of Archbishop Whately a passage in favor of
Expediency. It is really too bad, that the Primate of Ireland, of all
men living, should be made the abetter in two fallacies. In the first
place, Mr. Choate assumes that there are certain deluded persons who
affirm that all compromises in politics are wrong. Having stuffed out
his man of straw, he proceeds gravely to argue with him, as if he were
as cunning of fence as Duns Scotus. One would think, from some of the
notions he deems it necessary to combat, that we were living in the
time of the Fifth-Monarchy men, and that Captain Venner with his troop
was ready to issue from the garrets of Batterymarch Street, to find
Armageddon in Dock Square, and the Beast of the Revelation in the
Chief of Police. There is no man who believes that the ship of State,
any more than an ordinary vessel, can be navigated by the New
Testament alone; but neither will be the worse for having it
aboard. The Puritans sailed theirs by Deuteronomy, but it was a
Deuteronomy qualified by an eye to the main chance. Mr. Choate's
syllogism may be stated thus: Some compromises are necessary in order
to carry on a free government; but this is a compromise; therefore it
is necessary. Here is the first fallacy. The other syllogism runs
thus: Expediency is essential in politics; so also is compromise;
therefore some particular compromise is expedient. Fallacy number
two. The latent application in this part of Mr. Choate's oration is,
of course, to Compromises on the Slavery question. We agree with him,
that no man of sense will deny that compromise is essential in
politics, and especially in our politics. With a single exception, all
that he says on this topic is expressed with masterly force and
completeness. But when we come to the application of it, the matter
assumes another face. Men of sense may, and do, differ as to what _is_
a compromise, or, agreeing in that, they may differ again as to
whether it be expedient. For example, if a man, having taken another's
cloak, insist on taking his coat also, the denudee, though he might
congratulate himself on having been set forward so far on his way
toward the natural man of Rousseau, would hardly call the affair a
compromise on the part of the denuder. Or again, if his brother with
principles should offer to compromise about the coat by taking only
half of it, he would be in considerable doubt whether the arrangement
were expedient. Now there are many honest people, not as eloquent as
Mr. Choate, not as scholarly, and perhaps not more illogical, who
firmly believe that our compromises on the question of Slavery have
afforded examples of both the species above described. It is not
unnatural, therefore, that, while they assent to his general
theory, they should protest against his mode of applying it to
particulars. They may be incapable of a generalization, (they
certainly are, if this be Mr. Choate's notion of one,) but they are
incapable also of a deliberate fallacy. We think we find here one of
the cases in which his training as an advocate has been of evil effect
on his fairness of mind. No more potent lie can be made than of the
ashes of truth. A fallacy is dangerous because of the half-truth in
it. Swallow a strong dose of pure poison, and the stomach may reject
it; but take half as much, mixed with innocent water, and it will do
you a mischief. But Mr. Choate is nothing, if not illogical:
recognizing the manifest hand of God in the affairs of the world, he
would leave the question of Slavery with Him. Now we offer Mr. Choate
a _dilemma_: either God _always_ interferes, or _sometimes_: if
always, why need Mr. Choate meddle? why not leave it to Him to avert
the dangers of Anti-slavery, as well as to remedy the evils of
Slavery?--if only sometimes, (_nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice
nodus,_) who is to decide when the time for human effort has come?
Each man for himself, or Mr. Choate for all?

Let us try Mr. Choate's style of reasoning against himself. He says,
"One may know Aristophanes and Geography and the Cosmical Unity and
Telluric Influences," (why _didn't_ he add, "Neptune, Plutarch,
and Nicodemus"!) "and the smaller morals of life, and the sounding
pretensions of philanthropy," (this last, at any rate, is useful
knowledge,) "and yet not know America." We must confess, that we do
not see why on earth he should. In fact, by the time he had got to
the "Telluric Influences," (whatever they are,) we should think he
might consider his education completed, and his head would even then
be as great a wonder as that of the schoolmaster in the "Deserted
Village." In the same way, a man might have seen a horse, (if only a
clothes-horse,) a dog, a cat, and a tadpole, and yet never have seen
the elephant,--a most blame-worthy neglect of opportunities. But let
us apply Mr. Choate's syllogistic process to the list of this
extraordinary nameless person's acquirements. The Republican Party do
_not_ know any of these amazing things; _ergo_, they must
know America; and the corollary (judging from Mr. Choate's own
practice, as displayed in the parts of his oration which we are sure
he will one day wish to blot) would seem to be, that, having the honor
of her acquaintance, they may apply very contemptuous epithets to
everybody that disagrees with them. The only weak point in our case
is, that Mr. Choate himself seems to allow them the one merit of
knowing something of Geography,--for he says they wished to elect a
"geographical President,"--but, perhaps, as they did not succeed in
doing so, he will forgive them the possession of that accomplishment,
so hostile to a knowledge of America.

We confess that we were surprised to find Mr. Choate reviving, on "the
serene and secret mountain-top,"--which, being interpreted, means the
rather prosaic Tremont Temple,--the forgotten slang of a bygone
political contest, as in the instance we have just quoted of the
"geographical President." We think that Colonel Fremont might be
allowed to rest in peace, now that a California court has
decided--with a logic worthy of Mr. Choate himself--that he has no
manner of right to the gold in his Mariposa mines, _because_ he
owns them. But we should like to have Mr. Choate define, when he has
leisure, where an unfortunate candidate can take up his abode, in
order to escape the imputation of being "geographical." It is a grave
charge to be brought against any man, as we see by its being coupled
with those dreadful Telluric Influences and Cosmical (ought we not to
_dele_ the _s?_) Unities; and since the most harmless man in
the world may become a candidate before he expects it, it would be
charitable to warn him beforehand what is an allowable _habitat_
in such a contingency.

We said we were surprised at seeing our old friend, the "geographical
President," again; but we soon found that he reappeared only as the
file-leader of a ragged regiment of kindred scarecrows,--nay, with
others so battered and bedraggled, that they were scarce fit to be the
camp-followers of the soldiery with whom Falstaff refused to march
through Coventry. The sarcasms which Mr. Choate vents against the
Anti-slavery sentiment of the country are so old as to be positively
respectable,--we wish we could say that their vivacity increased with
their years,--and as for his graver indictments, there never was
anything so ancient, unless it be an American lad of eighteen. There
are not a great many of either, but they are made to recur often
enough to produce the impression of numbers. They remind us of the
theatric army, composed always of the same old guard of
supernumeraries and candle-snuffers, and which, by marching round and
round the paper forest in the background, would make six men pass
muster very well for sixty, did not the fatally regular recurrence of
the hero whose cotton armor bunches at the knees, and the other whose
legs insist on the un-Grecian eccentricity of being straight in
profile and crooked in a front view, bring us back to calmer
estimates.

We used the word _indictments_ with design, both as appropriate
to Mr. Choate's profession and exactly descriptive of the thing
itself. For, as in an indictment for murder, in order to close every
loophole of evasion, the prudent attorney affirms that the accused did
the deed with an awfully destructive _to-wit_,--with a knife,
axe, bludgeon, pistol, bootjack, six-pounder, and what not, which were
then and there in the Briarean hands of him the said What's-his-name,
so Mr. Choate represents the Republican Party to have attempted the
assassination of the Constitution with a most remarkable medley of
instruments. He does not, indeed, use the words "Republican Party,"
but it is perfectly clear from the context, as in the case of the
"geographical President," for whom the charges are intended. Out of
tenderness for the artist, let him for whom the garment is intended
put it on, though it may not fit him,--and for our own parts, as
humble members of the Anti-slave-trade, Anti-filibuster, and
Anti-disreputable-things-generally Party, we don our Joseph's coat
(for Mr. Choate could not make one that was not of many colors) with
good-humored serenity.

Of course, Sectionalism is not forgotten. The pumpkin-lantern, that
had performed so many offices of alarm, though a little wrinkled now,
was too valuable a stage-property to be neglected. In the hands of so
skilful an operator, its slender body flutters voluminous with new
folds of inexpensive cotton, and its eyes glare with the baleful
terrors of unlimited tallow. Mr. Choate honestly confesses that
sectional jealousies are coeval with the country itself, but it is
only as fomented by Anti-slavery-extension that he finds them
dreadful. When South Carolina threatened disunion unless the Tariff of
the party to which Mr. Choate then belonged were modified, did he
think it necessary for the Protectionists to surrender their policy?
There is not, and there never was, any party numerically considerable
at the North, in favor of disunion. Were homilies on fraternal
concessions the things to heal this breach, the South is the fitting
place for their delivery; but mouth-glue, however useful to stick
slight matters together, is not the cement with which confederacies
are bound to a common centre. There must be the gravitation of
interest as well as of honor and duty. We wonder that the parallel
case of Scotland and England did not occur to Mr. Choate, in speaking
upon this point. Scotland was clamorous and England jealously
contemptuous, for nearly a century. Twice since the union, the land
of cakes has been in rebellion; but as long as a pound Scots was only
a twentieth part of a pound English,--as long as the treasury was
filled chiefly from south the Tweed, and the sons of poor and proud
Scottish lairds could make glittering abstractions from it,--as long
as place was to be won or hoped for,--there was no danger. So with
us,--though Jacob and Esau quarrelled already in the womb, yet, so
long as the weaker and more politic brother can get the elder
brother's portion, and simple Esau hunts his whales and pierces his
untrodden forests, content with his mess of pottage,--honestly abiding
by his bargain, though a little puzzled at its terms,--we think that
fratricide, or the sincere thought of it, is very far off.

       *       *       *       *       *

We should be glad to extract some passages of peculiar force and
beauty,--such as that where Mr. Choate rebukes the undue haste of
reformers, and calls to mind the slow development and longevity of
states and ideas. But our duty is the less pleasing one of pointing to
some of the sophistries of the argument and some of the ill-advised
ebullitions of the orator. We leave his exegesis of "Render unto
Cæsar" to answer itself; but what can be worse than this,--worse in
taste, in temper, in reason?


  "There is a cant of shallowness and fanaticism which misunderstands
  and denies this. There is a distempered and ambitious morality which
  says civil prudence is no virtue. There is a philanthropy,--so it
  calls itself,--pedantry, arrogance, folly, cruelty, impiousness, I
  call it, fit enough for a pulpit, totally unfit for a people,--fit
  enough for a preacher, totally unfit for a statesman."


Think of it!--fit enough for St. Augustine and St. Francis, (to
mention no greater names,) fit enough for Taylor and Barrow, for
Bossuet and Fénelon, but not for Mr. Buchanan or Mr. Cushing!

In another place Mr. Choate says, "that even the laughter of fools,
and children, and madmen, little ministers, little editors, and little
politicians, can inflict the mosquito-bite, not deep, but stinging."
As this is one of the best of his sarcasms, we give it the advantage
of the circulation of the "Atlantic,"--generous and tidal circulation,
as he himself might call it. We do not think the mosquito image
new,--if we remember, the editor of the Bungtown Copperhead uses it
weekly against "our pitiful contemporary,"--though the notion of a
mosquito-bite inflicted by a laugh is original with Mr. Choate, unless
Lord Castlereagh may have used it before. But we would seriously ask
Mr. Choate who the big ministers of the country are, if the Beechers,
if Wayland, Park, Bushnell, Cheever, Furness, Parker, Hedge, Bellows,
and Huntington are the little ones?

There is an amusing passage in which Mr. Choate would seem to assume
to himself and those who agree with him the honors of martyrdom. This
shows a wonderful change in public opinion; though the martyrs in the
"Legenda Aurea" and Fox seem to have had a harder time of it than we
supposed to be the case with Mr. Choate.

We have not space to follow him farther, and only the reputation of
the man, and the singularity of the occasion, which gave a kind of
national significance to the affair, would have tempted us to intrude
upon the select privacy of the Young Men's Democratic Association.

Finally, as Mr. Choate appears to have a very mean opinion of the
understandings and the culture of those opposed to him in politics, we
beg to remind him, since he has been led out, like Balaam, to prophesy
against the tents and armies of the Republican Israel, and has ended
by proving their invincibility, that it was an animal in all respects
inferior to a prophet, and in some to a politician, who was first
aware of the presence of the heavenly messenger; and it may be that
persons incapable of a generalization--as that patient creature
undoubtedly was--may see as far into the future as the greatest
philosopher who turns his eyes always to the past.


Footnote 1: We may be allowed to wonder, however, at his speaking of
"memories that burn and revel in the pages of Herodotus,"--a phrase
which does injustice to the simple and quiet style of the delightful
Pepys of Antiquity.



LITERARY NOTICES.

DR. ASA GRAY'S _Botanical Series_, New York, Ivison & Phinney,
consisting of--

I. _How Plants Grow_, etc., _with a Popular Flora,_
etc. 16mo. pp. 233.

II. _First Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology._
8vo. pp. 236.

III. _Introduction to Structural and Systematic Botany and Vegetable
Physiology._ 8vo. pp. 555.

IV. _Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, including
Virginia, Kentucky,_ etc. 8vo. pp. 636.

V. Same as IV., with the _Mosses and Liverworts_ added,
illustrated by Engravings, pp. 739.

VI. Same as IV., with II. bound up with it. pp. 872.

The first-named of these books is a new candidate for public favor;
the others are revised and improved editions of books which have
already been favorably received. We have sometimes thought that the
popularity of a school-book is in inverse proportion to its merits,
and are glad to learn that five editions of Dr. Gray's "Structural and
Systematic Botany" are witnesses against the truth of this assumption.
No man can deny that Dr. Gray's books are all of the highest order of
merit. The accuracy and extent of his scholarship are manifest on
every page,--a scholarship consisting not merely in an extensive
acquaintance with the works of other botanists, but in a careful
confirmation of their results, and in additions to their knowledge, by
an observation of Nature for himself. His clearness of style is an
equally valuable characteristic, making the reader sure that he
understands Dr. Gray, and that Dr. Gray understands the subject. In
the "Manual" this clearness of style extends to the judicious
selection of distinctive marks, whereby allied species may be
distinguished from each other. Even the most difficult genera of
golden-rods, asters, and grasses become intelligible in this manual;
and many a less difficult genus which puzzled our boyhood, with
Beck's, Eaton's, and Pursh's manuals, became so plain in Gray, that we
cannot now imagine where was the difficulty. The extent of the field
which Gray's Manual covers prevents him, of course, from giving
such lifelike descriptions of plants as may be found in Dr.
Bigelow's "Plants of Boston and its Vicinity," or such minute
word-daguerreotypes as those in Mr. Emerson's "Trees of
Massachusetts,"--books which no New England student of botany can
afford to be without; but, on the other hand, the description of each
species, aided by typographical devices of Italics, etc., is
sufficient for any intelligent observer to identify a specimen. The
exquisite engravings, illustrating the genera of Ferns, Hepaticæ, and
Mosses, are also a great assistance.

The volume which we have marked III. is the fifth revised edition of
the "Botanical Text-Book." It contains a complete, although concise,
sketch of Structural Botany and Vegetable Physiology, and a birds'-eye
view of the whole vegetable kingdom in its subdivision into families,
illustrated by over thirteen hundred engravings on wood. It has become
a standard of botany, wherever our language is read.

For those who do not wish to pursue the study so far, the "First
Lessons" is one of the most happily arranged and happily written
scientific text-books ever published, and is illustrated by three
hundred and sixty well-executed wood-cuts. This takes scholars of
thirteen or fourteen years of age far enough into the recesses of the
science for them to see its beauties, and to learn the passwords which
shall admit them to all its hidden and inexhaustible treasures. It
goes over substantially the same ground that is covered by the volume
we have marked III., but in simpler language and with much less
detail; and closes with clear practical directions how to collect
specimens and make an herbarium.

The first book is intended for children of ten or twelve years old, at
home or in school. We hail it as a remarkably successful effort of a
truly learned man to write a book actually adapted to young children.
While all teachers, and writers upon education, insist on the
importance of having a child's first impressions such as shall not
need to be afterwards corrected, and such as shall attract the child
towards the study to which it is introduced, our elementary books have
usually sinned in one or both these points. They are either dry and
repulsive, or else vague and incorrect;--frequently have both
faults. But the child is here told "how plants grow" in a very
pleasant manner, with neat and pretty pictures to illustrate the
words, by one whose thorough knowledge and perspicuity of style
prevent him from ever giving a wrong impression. The "Popular Flora"
which is appended, contains a description of about one hundred
families of the most common cultivated and wild plants, and of the
most familiar genera and species in each family. The English names are
in all cases put in the foreground in bold type,--while the Latin
names stand modestly back, half hidden in parentheses and Italics; and
these English names are in general very well selected,--although we
think that when two or three English names are given to one plant, or
one name to several plants, Dr. Gray ought to indicate which name he
prefers. He allows "Dogwood" to stand without rebuke for the poison
sumac, as well as for the flowering cornel; and gives "Winterberry"
and "Black Alder" without comment to _Prinos verticellata_. A
word of preference on his part might do something towards reforming
and simplifying the popular nomenclature, and this child's manual is
the place to utter that word. We think also that in a second edition
of this Popular Flora it would be well to give a _popular_
description of a few of the most beautiful flowers belonging to those
families which are too difficult for the child properly to
analyze. Thus, Arethusa, Cypripedium, Pogonia, Calopogon, Spiranthes,
Festuca, Osmunda, Onoclea, Lycopodium, Polytrichum, Bryum, Marchantia,
Usnea, Parmelia, Cladonia, Agaricus, Chondrus, and perhaps a few other
genera, furnish plants so familiar and so striking that a child will
be sure to inquire concerning them, and a general description could
easily be framed in a few words which could not mislead him concerning
them.

In writing for children, Dr. Gray seems to have put on a new nature,
in which we have a much fuller sympathy with him than we have ever had
in reading his larger books. We do not like that cold English common
sense which seems reluctant to admit any truth in the higher regions
of thought; and we confess, that, until we had read this little
child's book, "How Plants Grow," we had always suspected Dr. Gray of
leaning towards that old error, so finely exposed by Agassiz in
zoölogy, of considering genera, families, etc., as divisions made by
human skill, for human convenience,--instead of as divisions belonging
to the Creator's plan, as yet but partially understood by human
students.

We hope that the appearance of this masterly little book, so finely
adapted to the child's understanding, may have the effect of
introducing botany into the common schools. The natural taste of
children for flowers indicates clearly the propriety and utility of
giving them lessons upon botany in their earliest years. Go into any
of our New England country-schools at this season of the year, and you
will find a bouquet of wild flowers on the teacher's desk. Take it up
and separate it,--show each flower to the school, tell its name, and
its relationship to other and more familiar cultivated flowers, the
characteristic sensible properties of its family, etc.,--and you will
find the younger scholars your most attentive listeners. And if any
practical man ask, What is the use of the younger scholars learning
anything about wild flowers, which the cultivation of the country may
soon render extinct, and which are but weeds at best?--there are two
sufficient answers ready: first, that all truth is divine, and that
the workmanship of infinite skill is beautiful and worthy of the eyes
which may behold it; secondly, that no mental discipline is better
adapted for the young mind than this learning how to distinguish
plants. No more striking deficiency is observable, in most men, than
the lack of a power to observe closely and with accuracy. The general
inaccuracy of testimony, usually ascribed to inaccuracy of memory, is
in fact to be attributed to inaccuracy of observation. In like
manner, a large proportion of popular errors of judgment spring from
an imperfect perception of the data on which the true conclusions
should be founded. The best remedy for this lack of clear perceptions
would evidently be the cultivation of those habits of close
observation and nice discrimination necessary in a successful
naturalist.





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