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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 06, No. 35, September, 1860
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 06, No. 35, September, 1860" ***

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35, SEPTEMBER, 1860***


THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VOL. VI--SEPTEMBER, 1860.--NO. XXXV.



AMONG THE TREES.


In our studies of Trees, we cannot fail to be impressed with their
importance not only to the beauty of landscape, but also in the economy
of life; and we are convinced that in no other part of the vegetable
creation has Nature done so much to provide at once for the comfort, the
sustenance, and the protection of her creatures. They afford the wild
animals their shelter and their abode, and yield them the greater part
of their subsistence. They are, indeed, so evidently indispensable to
the wants of man and brute, that it would be idle to enlarge upon the
subject, except in those details which are apt to be overlooked. In a
state of Nature man makes direct use of their branches for weaving his
tent, and he thatches it with their leaves. In their recesses he hunts
the animals whose flesh and furs supply him with food and clothing, and
from their wood he obtains the implements for capturing and subduing
them. Man's earliest farinaceous food was likewise the product of trees;
for in his nomadic condition he makes his bread from the acorn and the
chestnut: he must become a tiller of the soil, before he can obtain the
products of the cereal herbs. The groves were likewise the earliest
temples for his worship, and their fruits his first offerings upon the
divine altar.

As man advances nearer to civilization, trees afford him the additional
advantage which is derived from their timber. The first houses were
constructed of wood, which enables him by its superior plastic
nature, compared with stone, to progress more rapidly in his ideas of
architecture. Wood facilitates his endeavors to instruct himself in
art, by its adaptedness to a greater variety of purposes than any
other substance. It is, therefore, one of the principal instruments of
civilization which man has derived from the material world. Though the
most remarkable works of the architect are constructed of stone, it
was wood that afforded man that early practice and experience which
initiated him into the laws of mechanics and the principles of art, and
carried him along gradually to perfection.

But as man is nomadic before he is agricultural, and a maker of tents
and wigwams before he builds houses and temples,--in like manner he is
an architect and an idolater before he becomes a student of wisdom; he
is a sacrificer in temples and a priest at their altars, before he is a
teacher of philosophy or an interpreter of Nature. After the attainment
of science, a higher state of mental culture succeeds, causing the mind
to see all Nature invested with beauty and fraught with imaginative
charms, which add new wonders to our views of creation and new dignity
to life. Man now learns to regard trees in other relations beside their
capacity to supply his physical and mechanical wants. He looks upon them
as the principal ornaments of the face of creation, and as forming the
conservatories of Nature, in which she rears those minute wonders of
her skill, the flowers and smaller plants that will flourish only under
their protection, and those insect hosts that charm the student with
their beauty and excite his wonder by their mysterious instincts.
Science, too, has built an altar under the trees, and delivers thence
new oracles of wisdom, teaching man how they are mysteriously wedded
to the clouds, and are thus made the blessed instruments of their
beneficence to the earth.

Not without reason did the ancients place the Naiad and her fountain in
the shady arbor of trees, whose foliage gathers the waters of heaven
into her fount and preserves them from dissipation. From their dripping
shades she distributes the waters, which she has garnered from the
skies, over the plain and the valley: and the husbandman, before he has
learned the marvels of science, worships the beneficent Naiad, who draws
the waters of her fountain from heaven, and from her sanctuary in the
groves showers them upon the arid glebe and adds new verdure to the
plain. After science has explained to us the law by which these supplies
of moisture are furnished by the trees, we still worship the beneficent
Naiad: we would not remove the drapery of foliage that protects her
fountain, nor drive her into exile by the destruction of the trees,
through whose leaves she holds mysterious commerce with the skies and
saves our fields from drought.

It is in these relations, leaving their uses in economy and the arts
untouched, that I would now speak of trees. I would consider them as
they appear to the poet and the painter, as they are connected with
scenery, and with the romance and mythology of Nature, and as serving
the purposes of religion and virtue, of freedom and happiness, of poetry
and science, as well as those of mere taste and economy. I am persuaded
that trees are closely connected with the fate of nations, that they are
the props of industry and civilization, and that in all countries from
which the forests have disappeared the people have sunk into indolence
and servitude.

Though we may not be close observers of Nature, we cannot fail to have
remarked that there is an infinite variety in the forms of trees, as
well as in their habits. By those who have observed them as landscape
ornaments, trees have been classified according to their shape and
manner of growth. They are round-headed or hemispherical, like the Oak
and the Plane; pyramidal, like the Pine and the Fir; obeliscal, like the
Arbor-Vitæ and Lombardy Poplar; drooping, like the White Elm and the
Weeping Willow; and umbrella-shaped, like the Palm. These are the
natural or normal varieties in the forms of trees. There are others
which may be considered accidental: such are the tall and irregularly
shaped trees which have been cramped by growing in a dense forest that
does not permit the extension of their lateral branches; such also are
the pollards which have been repeatedly cut down or dwarfed by the axe
of the woodman.

Of the round-headed trees, that extend their branches more or less at
wide angles from their trunk, the Oak is the most conspicuous and the
most celebrated. To the mind of an American, however, the Oak is far
less familiar than the Elm, as a way-side tree; but in England, where
many

  "a cottage-chimney smokes
  From betwixt two aged Oaks,"

this tree, which formerly received divine honors in that country, is now
hardly less sacred in the eyes of the inhabitants, on account of their
familiarity with its shelter and its shade, and their ideas of its
usefulness to the human family. The history of the British Isles is
closely interwoven with circumstances connected with the Oak, and the
poetry of Great Britain has derived from it many a theme of inspiration.

The Oak is remarkable for the wide spread of its lower branches and its
broad extent of shade,--for its suggestiveness of power, and consequent
expression of grandeur. It is allied with the romance of early history;
it is celebrated by its connection with the religion and religious rites
of the Druids,--with the customs of the Romans, who formed of its
green leaves the civic crown for their heroes, and who planted it to
overshadow the temple of Jupiter; and many ancient superstitions give
its name a peculiar significance to the poet and the antiquary. From its
timber marine architecture has derived the most important aid, and it
has thereby become associated with the grandeur of commerce and the
exploits of a gallant navy, and is regarded as the emblem of naval
prowess. The Oak, therefore, to the majority of the human race, is,
beyond all other trees, fraught with romantic interest, and invested
with classic and historical dignity.

The American continent contains a great many species of Oak in its
indigenous forest. Of these the White Oak bears the most resemblance to
the classical tree, in its general appearance, in the contorted growth
of its branches, and in the edible quality of its fruit. But the Red
Oak, the most northerly species, exceeds all others in size. No other
attains so great a height, or spreads its branches so widely, or
surpasses it in regularity of form. As we advance south, the White Oak
is conspicuous until we arrive at North Carolina, where the forests and
way-sides exhibit the beautiful Evergreen Oak, which, with its slender
undivided leaves, the minute subdivisions of its branches, and its
general comeliness of form, would be mistaken by a stranger for a
Willow. A close inspection, however, would soon convince him that it has
none of the fragility of the Willow. On the contrary, it is the most
noted of all the genus for its hardness and durability, being the
identical Live Oak which has supplied our navy with the most valuable
of timber. At the South the Evergreen Oak is a common way-side tree,
mingling its hues with the lighter green of the Cypress and the sombre
verdure of the Magnolia.

The Oak exceeds all other trees, not only in actual strength, but also
in that outward appearance by which this quality is manifested. This
expression is due to the general horizontal spread of its principal
boughs, the peculiar angularity of the unions of its small branches, the
want of flexibility in its spray, and its great size when compared with
its height, all manifesting its power to resist the wind and the storm.
Hence it is regarded as the monarch of trees, surpassing all in those
qualities that indicate nobleness and capacity. It is the emblem of
strength, dignity, and grandeur: the severest hurricane cannot overthrow
it, and, by destroying some of its branches, leaves it only with
more wonderful proofs of its resistance. Like the rock that rises in
mid-ocean, it becomes in its old age a just symbol of fortitude, parting
with its limbs one by one, as they are broken by the gale or withered by
decay; but still retaining its many-centuried existence, when, like an
old patriarch, it has seen all its early companions removed.

Standard Oaks are comparatively rare in the New England States, and not
many adorn our way-sides and inclosures, which are mostly shaded by
Elms, Limes, Maples, and Ash-trees. The scarcity of Oaks in these places
is attributable in some degree to the peculiar structure of their roots,
which extend downwards to a great depth in the soil, causing them to be
difficult of transplantation. It is owing in still greater measure to
the value of Oak-wood for ship-timber,--especially as those full-grown
trees which have sprung up by the road-sides, and the noble pasture
Oaks, contain the greatest number of those joints which are in special
demand for ship-building. Year after year, therefore, has witnessed the
gradual disappearance of these venerable trees, which the public should
have protected from the profane hands of the "timberer," by forcing him
to procure his materials from the forest. The community needs to be
taught that a standard tree of good size and well-developed proportions
is of more value for its shade, and as an object in the landscape, than
a whole acre of trees in the middle of a wood.

One of the most majestic trees in the American forest is the Chestnut,
remarkable, like the Oak, for its broad extent of shade. In some parts
of the country it is one of the most common standards in the field and
pasture, having been left unmolested on account of the value of its
fruit and the comparative inferiority of its timber. The foliage of this
tree is dense and flowing, and peculiar in its arrangement. The leaves
are clustered in stars of from five to seven, on short branches that
grow from one of greater length. Hence, at a little distance, the whole
mass of foliage seems to consist of tufts, each containing a tassel of
long pointed leaves, drooping divergently from a common centre. The
flowers come out from the centre of these leaves in the same manner,
and by their silvery green lustre give a pleasing variety to the darker
verdure of the whole mass. "This is the tree," says Gilpin, "which
graces the landscapes of Salvator Rosa. In the mountains of Calabria,
where Salvator painted, the Chestnut flourished. There he studied it
in all its forms, breaking and disposing of it in a thousand beautiful
shapes, as the exigencies of his composition required."

The Beech is one of the same class of trees, but does not equal the
Chestnut in magnitude. It is distinguished by the beauty of its clean,
smooth shaft, which is commonly ribbed or fluted in a perceptible
degree; and in a wood, where there is an assemblage of these columns,
rising without a branch to the height of thirty feet or more, they are
singularly beautiful. A peculiarity often observed in the Beech is a
sort of double head of foliage. This is produced by the habit of the
tree of throwing out a whorl of imperfect branches just below the union
of the main branches with the trunk. The latter, taking more of an
upward direction, cause an observable space a little below the middle
of the height of the tree. This double tier of branches and foliage has
been noticed by painters in the European Beech. I have observed it in
several instances in the American tree.

Standard Beech-trees are not numerous in this part of the country;
indeed, they are seldom seen except in a wood, or in clumps which have
originated from the root of some tree that has perished. I think they
appear to better advantage in groups and small assemblages than when
single, as there is nothing greatly attractive in the form of a standard
Beech; but there is a peculiar sweep of the lateral branches, when they
are standing in a group, which the student of trees cannot fail to
admire. They send out their branches more in right lines than most other
trees, and, as their leaves and the extremities of their spray all have
an upright tendency, they give a beautiful airy appearance to the edge
of a wood. The foliage of other deciduous trees, even when the branches
tend upward, is mostly of a drooping character. The Beech forms a
pleasing exception to this habit, having leaves that point upward and
outwardly, instead of hanging loosely. In most other trees the foliage
is so heavy and flowing, that the courses of their branches are
concealed under their drapery of leaves; but in the Beech all the
lines produced by the branches and foliage are harmonious, and may be
distinctly traced.

By taking note of these peculiarities in their arborescent growth, one
greatly magnifies his capacity for enjoying the beauties of trees.
Without this observation, their general appearance forms the chief
object of his attention: he observes them only as a person of taste who
cannot distinguish tunes would listen to music. He feels the agreeable
sensation which their forms and aspects produce; but, like one who
thinks without adequate language for his thoughts, his ideas are vague
and indefinite. The Beech is particularly worthy of study, as in many
points it differs characteristically from most other trees. I am
acquainted with no tree in the forest that equals it, when disrobed of
its foliage, in the gracefulness of its spray. There is an airiness
about its whole appearance, at all seasons, that gives an expression of
cheerfulness to the scene it graces, whether it skirt the banks of a
stream or spread out its courteous arms over a sunny knoll or little
sequestered nook.

There are some trees which are peculiarly American, being confined to
the Western continent, and unknown in other parts of the world. Among
these is the Hickory, a well-known and very common tree, celebrated
rather for its usefulness than its beauty. The different trees of this
family make an important feature in our landscape: they are not abundant
in the forest, but they are conspicuous objects in the open plain, hill,
and pasture. Great numbers of them have become standards; we see them
following the lines of old stone walls that skirt the bounds and avenues
of the farm, in company with the Ash and the Maple. In these situations,
where they would not "cumber the ground," they have been allowed to
grow, without exciting the jealousy of the proprietor of the land.
Accident, under these circumstances, has reared many a beautiful tree,
which would in any other place have been cut down as a trespasser. Thus
Nature is always striving to clothe with beauty those scenes which man
has despoiled; and while the farmer is hoeing and grubbing, and thinking
only of his physical wants, unseen hands are draping all his fences with
luxuriant vinery, and bordering his fields with trees that shall gladden
the eyes of those who can understand their beauties.

The Hickory is not a round-headed tree; it approaches a cylindrical
form, somewhat flattened at the top, but seldom attaining any strict
regularity of shape. It does not expand into a full and flowing head,
but is often divided into distinct masses of foliage, separated by
vacant spaces of considerable size, and presenting an appearance as if
a portion of the tree had been artificially removed. These gaps do not
extend all round the tree; they are irregularly disposed, some trees
having several of them, others none or only one; and they seem to have
been caused, when the tree was young, by the dwindling of some principal
branch. The Hickory throws out its branches at first very obliquely from
the shaft; afterwards the lower ones bend down as the tree increases in
size, and acquire an irregular and contorted shape; for, notwithstanding
their toughness, they bend easily to the weight of their fruit and
foliage.

This tree is celebrated in the United States for the toughness of its
wood; and the term Hickory is used as emblematical of a sturdy and
vigorous character. It possesses some of the ruggedness, without the
breadth and majesty of the Oak, though it exceeds even this tree
in braving the force of a tempest. It is one of our most common
pasture-trees, and its deep-green foliage makes amends for the general
want of comeliness in its outline.

As we are journeying through the older settlements of New England,
the melancholy forms of the ill-fated Plane-trees tower above the
surrounding objects, and attract our attention not only by their
magnitude, but also by the marks of decay which are stamped upon all.
This appearance is chiefly remarkable in the early part of summer: for
the trees are not dead; but their vitality is so far gone that they are
tardy in putting out their leaves, and seldom before July are they fully
clad in verdure. When they are not in leaf, we may observe an unnatural
growth of slender twigs in tufts at the ends of their branches. This
is caused by the failure of the tree in perfecting its wood before the
growth of the branches is arrested by the autumnal frosts; and this
accident has been repeated annually ever since the trees began to
be affected with their malady. The Plane was formerly a very common
way-side tree in New England, until the fatality occurred which has
caused the greater number of them to perish. It is a fact worthy of
notice, that all the trees of this species below the latitude of Long
Island have escaped the malady.

The Chenar-tree, or Oriental Plane, is celebrated in history, having had
a place in all the public and private grounds of the Greeks and Romans,
as well as of the Eastern nations. The American, or Western Plane,
called in New England the Buttonwood, is not less remarkable for its
size and grandeur. It is one of the loftiest trees, and its lateral
branches, being of great length, give it extraordinary breadth. It also
runs up to an unusual height, compared with other trees, before it forms
a head, so that its lower branches are sometimes elevated above the
roofs of the houses of common height Hence it would be a valuable tree
for road-sides, if it were healthy, as it would allow the largest
vehicles to pass freely under its boughs.

A far more beautiful tree, gracing equally the forest and the way-side,
is the Ash, charming our sight with the gracefulness of its proportions
in winter, with its flowing drapery of verdure in summer, and its
variety of glowing tints in autumn. The Ash has been styled in Europe
"the painter's tree,"--a fact which is worthy of notice, inasmuch as
those writers who have theorized concerning the nature of beauty have
generally regarded trees of broken and irregular shapes, like the
Hickory, as more picturesque than those of prim and symmetrical habit,
like the Ash. The practice of the great masters in painting seems
adverse to this idea, since they have introduced the Ash more frequently
than other trees into their pictures; and it shows the futility of the
attempt to draw a distinction between picturesque and beautiful
trees. All trees, indeed, of every natural shape, may be considered
picturesque, as, in one situation or another, every species may be
introduced to heighten the character of a picture or a landscape.

The Ash never fails to attract attention by the peculiar beauty of its
outlines, the regular subdivision of its branches, its fair proportions
and equal balance without any disagreeable formality. Nothing can exceed
the gracefulness of its pinnate foliage, hanging loosely from its
equally divergent spray, easy of motion, but not fluttering, and always
harmonizing in its tints with the season of the year. Notwithstanding
the different character, in regard to symmetry, of the Ash and the
Hickory, the two trees are often mistaken for each other, and, when the
latter is evenly formed, it is sometimes difficult at first sight to
distinguish it. They differ, however, in all cases, in the opposite
arrangement of the leaves and small branches of the Ash, and their
alternate arrangement in the Hickory. One of these branches invariably
becomes abortive, as the tree increases in size, so that their opposite
character is apparent only in the spray.

In wet places which have never been subjected to the plough, in grounds
partly inundated a great portion of the year, luxuriating in company
with the Northern Cypress, over an undergrowth of Dutch Myrtles and
Button-bushes, we find the singular Tupelo-tree. This tree is the
opposite of the Ash in all its characteristics. There is no regularity
in any part of its growth, and no tree in the forest sports in such a
variety of grotesque and fantastic shapes. Sometimes it spreads out its
branches horizontally, forming a perfectly flat top, as if it had grown
under a platform; again it forms an irregular pyramid, most commonly
leaning from an upright position. It has usually no definable shape,
often sending out one or two branches greatly beyond the rest, some
directed obliquely downwards, others twisted and horizontal. This tree,
if it had no other merit, would be prized for its eccentricities; but it
is not without beauty. It possesses a fine glossy foliage, unrivalled in
its verdure, and every branch is fully clothed with it; and, whatever
may be the age of the tree, it never shows the marks of decrepitude.

The pyramidal trees are included chiefly among the coniferous
evergreens, embracing the Pine, the Fir, the Spruce, and the Cypress.
Though many of the deciduous trees assume more or less of this outline,
it is the normal and characteristic form of the Pines and their kindred
species. It is a peculiarity of the pyramidal trees, with a few
exceptions, to remain always disfigured, after the loss of an important
branch, having no power to fill the vacant space by a new growth. Other
trees readily fill up a vacancy occasioned by the loss of a branch, and
may suffer considerable mutilation without losing their beauty, because
an invariable proportion is not necessary to render them pleasing
objects of sight. On account of the symmetry of their forms, the
pyramidal trees are made ugly by the loss of a limb, as the porch of a
temple would be ruined by the removal of one of its pillars. Hence we
may understand the charm of that irregularity that prevails in the forms
of vegetation. If we remove a branch from an Elm or an Oak, or even from
an Ash, we destroy no positive symmetry; it is like removing a stone
from a loose stone wall; we do but slightly modify its disproportions.

The White Pine may be selected as the American representative of the
pyramidal trees, being the most important as well as the most striking
in its appearance. It is a Northern tree, not extending so far south as
the region of the Cypress and Magnolia, and attaining perfection only on
the northeastern part of the continent. In the New England States, it
contributes more than any other species to the beauty of our landscapes,
where it is commonly seen in scattered groups, but not often as a
solitary standard. We see it in our journeys, projecting over eminences
that are skirted by old roads, shading the traveller from the sun and
protecting him from the wind. We have sat under its fragrant shade, in
our pedestrian tours, when, weary with heat and exercise, we sought its
gift of coolness, and blessed it as one of the benign deities of the
forest. We are familiar with it in all pleasant and solitary places; and
in our afternoon rambles we have listened, underneath its boughs, to the
plaintive note of the Green Warbler, who selects it for his abode, and
who has caught a melancholy tone from the winds that from immemorial
time have tuned to soft music its long sibilant leaves.

The White Pine is a tree that harmonizes with all situations, rude
and cultivated, level and abrupt. On the side of the mountain it adds
grandeur to the declivity, and gives a look of sweeter tranquillity to
the green pastoral meadow. It yields a darker frown to the projecting
cliff, and a more awful uncertainty to the mountain-pass or the hollow
ravine. Amid desolate scenery it spreads a cheerfulness that detracts
nothing from its power over the imagination, while it relieves it of its
terrors by presenting a green bulwark to defend us from the elements.
Nothing can be more cheerful in scenery than the occasional groups of
Pines which have come up spontaneously on the bald hills near our coast,
elsewhere a dreary waste of gray rocks, stunted shrubbery, and prostrate
Juniper. In the forest the White Pine constitutes the very sanctuary of
Nature, its tall pillars extending into the clouds, and its broad canopy
of foliage mixing with the vapors that descend in the storm.

Such are its picturesque aspects: but in a figurative light it may be
regarded as a true symbol of benevolence. Under its outspread roof,
thousands of otherwise unprotected animals, nestling in the bed of dry
leaves which it has spread upon the ground, find shelter and repose. The
squirrel subsists upon the kernels obtained from its cones; the rabbit
browses upon the Trefoil and the spicy foliage of the Hypericum which
are protected in its conservatory of shade; and the fawn reposes on its
brown couch of leaves, unmolested by the outer tempest. From its green
arbors the quails may be roused in midwinter, when they resort thither
to find the still sound berries of the Mitchella and the Wintergreen.
Nature, indeed, seems to have designed this tree to protect the animal
creation, both in summer and winter, and I am persuaded that she has not
conferred upon them a more beneficent gift.

As an object of sight, the White Pine is free from some of the defects
of the Fir and Spruce, having none of their stiffness of foliage and
inflexibility of spray, that cause them to resemble artificial objects.
It has the symmetry of the Fir, joined with a certain flowing grace that
assimilates it to the deciduous trees. With sufficient amplitude to
conceal a look of primness that often arises from symmetry, we observe a
certain negligent flowing of its leafy robes that adds to its dignity a
grace which is apparent to all. It seems to wear its honors like one who
feels no constraint under their burden; and when smitten by a tempest,
it bids no defiance to the gale, bending to its wrath, but securely
resisting its power.

Of the American coniferous trees, the Hemlock is of the next importance,
being, perhaps, in its perfection, a more beautiful tree than the White
Pine, or than any other known evergreen. It is far less formal in its
shape than other trees of the same family. Its branches, being slender
and flexible, do not project stiffly from the shaft; they bend slightly
at their terminations, and are easily moved by the wind; and as they are
very numerous, and covered with foliage, we behold in the tree a dense
mass of glittering verdure, not to be seen in any other tree of the
forest.

The Hemlock is unknown as a shade-tree; it is seldom seen by the
road-side, except on the edge of a wood, and not often in cultivated
grounds. The want of success usually attending the transplantation of it
from the woods has prevented the general adoption of it as an ornamental
tree. The Hemlock, when transplanted from the wood, is almost sure to
perish; for Nature will not allow it to be desecrated by any association
with Art. She reserves it for her own demesnes; and if you would possess
one, you must go to its native spot and plant your garden around it,
and take heed, lest, by disturbing its roots, you offend the deity
who protects it. Some noble Hemlocks are occasionally seen in rude
situations, where the cultivator's art has not interrupted their
spontaneous growth; and the poet and the naturalist are inspired with a
more pleasing admiration of their beauty, because they have seen them
only where the solitary birds sing their wild notes, and where the heart
is unmolested by the crowding tumult of human settlements.

The Pitch Pine has neither grace nor elegance, and though it is allied
botanically to the pyramidal trees, it approaches the shape of the
round-headed trees. There is a singular ruggedness about it; and when
bristling all over with the stiff foliage that sometimes covers it from
the extremities of the branches down almost to the roots, it cannot fail
to attract observation. Trees of this species, for the most part too
rough and homely to please the eye, are not generally valued as objects
in the landscape; but there is a variety in their shape that makes
amends for their want of comeliness, and gives them a marked importance.
We do not in general sufficiently appreciate the value of homely objects
among the scenes of Nature,--which are, indeed, the ground-work of all
charming scenery, and set off to advantage the beauty of more comely
things. They prepare us, by increasing our susceptibility, to feel more
keenly the force of beauty in other objects. They give rest and relief
to the eye, after it has experienced the stimulating effects of
beautiful forms and colors, which would soon pall upon the sense; and
they are interesting to the imagination, by leaving it free to dress the
scene with the wreaths of fancy.

It is from these reflections that I have been led to prize many a homely
tree as possessing a high value, by exalting the impressions of beauty
which we derive from other trees, and by relieving Nature of that
monotony which would attend a scene of unexceptional beauty. This
monotony is apparent in almost all dressed grounds of considerable
extent. We soon become entirely weary of the ever-flowing lines of
grace and elegance, and the harmonious blending of forms and colors
introduced by art. On the same principle we may explain the difficulty
of reading with attention a whole volume on one subject, written in
verse. We are soon weary of luxuries; and when we have been strolling in
grounds laid out with gaudy flower-beds, the tired eye, when we go out
into the fields, rests with serene delight upon rough pastures bounded
by stone walls, and hills clothed with lichens and covered with
boulders.

The homely Pitch Pine serves this important purpose of relief in the
landscapes of Nature. Trees of this species are abundant in sandy
levels, in company with the slender and graceful White Birch, "The Lady
of the Woods," as the poet Coleridge called it. From these Pines proceed
those delightful odors which are wafted to our windows by a mild south
wind, not less perceptible in winter than in summer, and which are in a
different manner as charming as a beautiful prospect.

The Juniper, or Red Cedar, known in some places as the Savin, is another
homely tree that gives character to New England scenery. It is one of
the most frequent accompaniments of the bald hills near certain parts
of our coast, giving them a peculiar aspect of desolation. This tree
acquires larger dimensions and a fuller and fairer shape in the Middle
and Southern States. There the Junipers are beautiful trees, having a
finer verdure than they ever acquire at the North. But the Juniper, with
all its imperfections, its rugged form, and its inferior verdure, is not
to be contemned; and it possesses certain qualities and features which
ought to be prized hardly less than beauty. Its sombre ferruginous green
adds variety to our wood-scenery at all times, and by contrast serves to
make the foliage of other trees the more brilliant and conspicuous.
In the latter part of summer, when the woods have acquired a general
uniformity of verdure, the Junipers enliven the face of Nature by
blending their duller tints with the fading hues of the fully ripened
foliage. Thus will an assemblage of brown and gray clouds soften and at
the same time enliven the deep azure of the heavens.

In this sketch, I have omitted to describe many important trees,
especially those which have but little individuality of character,
leaving them to be the subject of another essay concerning Trees in
Assemblages. I have likewise said nothing here of those species which
are commonly distinguished as flowering trees. But I must not omit,
while speaking of the pyramidal trees, to say a word concerning the
Larch, which has some striking points of form and habit. Like the
Southern Cypress, it differs in its deciduous character from other
coniferous trees: hence both are distinguished by the brilliancy of
their verdure in the early part of summer, when the other evergreens are
particularly sombre; but they are leafless in the winter. The Larch is
beautifully pyramidal in its shape when young. In the vigor of its years
it tends to uniformity, and to variety when it is old. Indeed, an aged
Larch is often as rugged and fantastic as an old Oak. The American and
European Larches differ only in the longer flowing foliage and the
larger cones of the latter. Among the minor beauties of both species may
be mentioned the bright crimson cones that appear in June and resemble
clusters of fruit. The Larch is a Northern tree, being in its perfection
in the latitude of Maine. It seems to delight in the coldest situations,
and, like the Southern Cypress, is found chiefly in low swamps.

There are not many trees that assume the shape of an obelisk, or a long
spire; but Nature, who presents to our eyes an ever-charming variety of
forms as well as hues, in the objects of her creation, has given us the
figure of the obelisk in the Chinese Juniper, in the Balsam Fir, in the
Arbor-Vitæ, and lastly in the Lombardy Poplar, which may be offered to
exemplify this class of forms. The Lombardy Poplar is interesting to
thousands who were familiar with it in their youth, as an ornament
to road-sides and village inclosures. It was formerly a favorite
shade-tree, and still retains its privileges in many old-fashioned
places. A century ago great numbers of Poplars were planted on the
village way-sides, in front of dwelling-houses, on the borders of public
grounds, and particularly on the sides of lanes and avenues leading to
houses situated at a short distance from the high-road. Hence a row
of these trees becomes suggestive at once of the approach to some old
mansion or country-seat, which has now, perhaps, been converted into a
farm-house, having exchanged its proud honors of wealth for the more
simple and delightful appurtenances of rustic independence.

Some of these ancient rows of Poplars are occasionally seen in old
fields, where almost all traces of the habitation which they were
intended to grace are obliterated. There is a melancholy pleasure
in surveying these humble ruins, whose history would illustrate the
domestic habits of our ancestors. The cellar of the old house is now
a part of the pasture-land, and its form can be traced by the simple
swelling of the turf. Sumachs and Cornel-bushes have usurped the
place of the exotic shrubbery in the old garden; and the only ancient
companions of the Poplars, now remaining, are here and there a
straggling Lilac or Currant-bush, a tuft of Houseleek, and perhaps,
under the shelter of some dilapidated wall, the White Star of Bethlehem
is seen meekly glowing in the rude society of the wild-flowers.

The Lombardy Poplar, which was formerly a favorite way-side ornament,
a sort of idol of the public, and, like many another idol, exalted to
honors that exceeded its merits, fell suddenly into unpopularity and
disgrace. After having been admired and valued as if its leaves were all
emeralds and its buds apples of gold, it was spurned and ridiculed and
everywhere cut down as a cumberer of the ground. The faults attributed
to it did not belong to the tree, but were the effects of the climate
into which it had been removed. It was brought from the sunny vales of
Italy, where it had been delicately reared by the side of the Orange and
the Myrtle, and transplanted into the cold climate of New England. The
tender constitution of this tree could not endure our rude winters;
and every spring witnessed the decay of a large portion of its small
branches. Hence it became prematurely aged, and in its decline carried
with it the marks of its infirmities.

But, with all these imperfections, the Lombardy Poplar was more worthy
of the honors it received from our predecessors than of its present
disrepute. It is one of the fairest of trees, in the vigor of its health
and the greenness of its youth. But nearly all the old Poplars are
extirpated, and but few young trees are coming up to supply their
places. While I am now writing, I see from my window the graceful spire
of one solitary tree, towering above the surrounding objects in the
landscape, and yielding to the view something of an indescribable charm.
There it stands, the symbol of decayed reputation, in its old age still
retaining the primness of its youth; neither drooping in its infirmities
under the weight of their burden, nor losing in its desertedness the
fine lustre of its foliage; and in its disgrace still bearing itself
proudly, as if conscious that its former honors were deserved, and
not forgetting that dignity which becomes one who has fallen without
dishonor.

There is no other tree that so pleasantly adorns the sides of narrow
lanes and avenues, or so neatly accommodates itself to limited
inclosures. Its foliage is dense and of the liveliest green, tremulous,
and making delicate music to the light fingers of every breeze; its
terebinthine odors scent the soft vernal wind that enters your open
windows with the morning sunshine; its branches, always tending upward,
closely gathered together, and slenderly formed, afford a harbor to the
singing-birds, who revel among them as a favorite resort; and its long
tapering spire, that points to heaven, gives an air of cheerfulness and
religious tranquillity to village scenery.

Of the drooping trees, the Weeping Willow is the most conspicuous
example, unless we except the American Elm; but a remarkable difference
may be observed in the drooping character of these two trees. In the Elm
we perceive a general arching or curvature of all its branches, from
their points of junction with the tree to their extremities; so that two
rows of Elms, meeting over an avenue, would represent, more nearly than
any other trees disposed in the same manner, the vault of a Gothic arch.
A double row of Weeping Willows would make no such figure by the meeting
of their branches. The Weeping Willow extends its long arms in lines
more nearly straight, not originating, as in the Elm, for the most part,
from one common centre of junction, but joining the shaft of the tree at
different points;--hence the drooping character of this tree is observed
only in its long, slender, and terminal spray.

The Weeping Willow is one of the most poetical of trees, being
consecrated to the Muse by the part which has been assigned it in many
a scene of romance, and by its connection with events recorded in
Holy Writ. It is invested with a poetical interest by its symbolical
representation of sorrow in the pendulous character of its spray, by
its fanciful uses as a garland for disappointed lovers, and by the
employment of it in burying-grounds, and in pictures as drooping over
graves. We remember it in sacred history by its association with the
rivers of Babylon, with the tears of the Children of Israel, and with
the forsaken harps of their sorrowing minstrels, who hung them upon its
branches. It is distinguished by the graceful beauty of its outlines,
its light-green delicate foliage, its sorrowing attitude, and its gently
waving spray, all in sweet accordance with its picturesque, poetic, and
Scriptural associations.

Hence the Weeping Willow never fails to give pleasure to the sight even
of the most insensible observer. There are not many whose minds are so
obtuse as to be blind to its peculiarly graceful attitude and motions,
and every one is familiar with its history, as recorded in poetry and
romance, all the incidents of which have served to elevate it above any
association with fashion or vulgarity. When we see it waving its long
branches neatly over some private inclosure, overshadowing the gravelled
walk and the flower-garden,--or watching pensively over the graves of
the dead, where the light hues of its foliage help to soften the glowing
fancies which are apt to arise from our meditations among the tombs,--or
on some wide common, giving solace to the passing traveller, and
inviting the playful children to its shade,--or trailing its sweeping
spray, like the tresses of a Naiad, over some silvery pond or gently
flowing stream,--it is in all cases a delightful object, always
picturesque, always soothing, inspiring, and sacred to memory, and
serving, by its alliance with what is hallowed in literature, to bind us
more closely to Nature.

Above all the trees of the New World, the Elm deserves to be considered
the sovereign tree of New England. It is abundant both in field and
forest, and forms the most remarkable feature in our cleared and
cultivated grounds. Though the Elm is found in almost all parts of the
country, in no other is it so conspicuous as in the Northeastern States,
where, from the earliest settlement of the country, it has been planted
as a shade-tree, and has been valued as an ornament above the proudest
importations from a foreign clime. It is the most remarkable of the
drooping trees except the Willow, which it surpasses in stateliness and
in the variety of its growth.

When I look upon a noble Elm,--though I feel no disposition to contemn
the studies of those who examine its flowers and fruit with the
scrutinizing eye of science, or the calculations of those who consider
only its practical use--it is to me an object of pleasing veneration. I
look upon it as the embodiment of some benign intention of Providence,
who has adapted it in numerous ways to the wants of his creatures. While
admiring its grace and its majesty, I think of the great amount of human
happiness and of comfort to the inferior animals of which it has been
the blessed instrument. How many a happy assemblage of children and
young persons has been, during the past century, repeatedly gathered
under its shade, in the sultry noons of summer! How many a young
May-queen has been crowned under its roof, when the greensward was just
daisied with the early flowers of spring! And how many a weary traveller
has rested from his journey in its benevolent shade, and from a state of
weariness and vexation, when o'erspent by heat and length of way, has
subsided into one of quiet thankfulness and content!

Though the Elm has never been consecrated by the Muse, or dignified
by making a figure in the paintings of the old masters, the native
inhabitant of New England associates its varied forms with all that is
delightful in the scenery of his own land or memorable in its history.
He has beheld many a noble avenue formed of Elms, when standing in rows
in the village, or by the rustic road-side. He has seen them extending
their broad and benevolent arms as a protection over many a spacious old
farm-house and many an humble cottage, and equally harmonizing with all.
They meet his sight in the public grounds of the city, with their ample
shade and flowing spray, inviting him to linger under their pleasant
umbrage in summer; and in winter he has beheld them among the rude hills
and mountains, like spectral figures keeping sentry among their passes,
and, on the waking of the year, suddenly transformed into towers of
luxuriant verdure and beauty. Every year of his life has he seen the
beautiful Hang-Bird weave his pensile habitation upon the long and
flexible branches of the Elm, secure from the reach of every living
creature. From its vast dome of interwoven branches and foliage he has
listened to the songs of the earliest and the latest birds; and under
its shelter he has witnessed many a merry-making assemblage of children,
employed in the sportive games of summer.

To a native of New England, therefore, the Elm has a value more nearly
approaching that of sacredness than any other tree. Setting aside the
pleasure derived from it as an object of visual beauty, it is intimately
associated with the familiar scenes of home and the events of his
early life. In my own mind it is pleasingly allied with those old
dwelling-houses which were built in the early part of the last century,
and form one of the marked features of New England home architecture
during that period. They are known by their broad and ample, but
low-studded rooms, their numerous windows with small panes, their single
chimney in the centre of the roof that sloped down to the lower story in
the back part, and in their general unpretending appearance, reminding
one vividly of that simplicity of life which characterized our people
before the Revolution. Their very homeliness is delightful, by leaving
the imagination free to dwell upon their pleasing suggestions. Not many
of these charming old houses are now extant: but whenever we see one,
we are almost sure to find it accompanied by its Elm, standing upon the
green open space that slopes up to it in front, and waving its long
branches in melancholy grandeur over the venerable habitation which it
seems to have taken under its protection, while it droops with sorrow
over the infirmities of its old companion of a century.

The Elm is remarkable for the variety of forms which it assumes in
different situations. Often it has a drooping spray only when it has
attained a large size; but it almost invariably becomes subdivided
into several equal branches, diverging from a common centre, at a
considerable elevation from the ground. One of these forms is that of a
vase: the base being represented by the roots of the tree that project
above the soil and join the trunk,--the middle by the lower part of
the principal branches, as they swell out with a graceful curve, then
gradually diverge, until they bend downward and form the lip of the
vase, by their circle of terminal branches. Another of its forms is that
of a vast dome, as represented by those trees that send up a single
shaft to the height of twenty feet or more, and then extend their
branches at a wide divergency and to a great length. The Elms which are
remarkable for their drooping character are usually of this shape.
At other times the Elm assumes the shape of a plume, presenting a
singularly fantastical appearance. It rises upwards, with an undivided
shaft, to the height of fifty feet or more, without a limb, and bending
over with a gradual curve from about the middle of its height to its
summit, which is sometimes divided into two or three terminal branches.
The whole is covered from its roots to its summit with a fringe
of vine-like twigs, extremely slender, twisted and irregular, and
resembling a parasitic growth. Sometimes it is subdivided at the usual
height into three or four long branches, which are wreathed In the same
manner, and form a compound plume.

These fantastic forms are very beautiful, and do not impress one with
the idea of monstrosity, as we are affected by the sight of a Weeping
Ash. Though the Elm has many defects of foliage, and is destitute of
those fine autumnal tints which are so remarkable in some other trees,
it is still almost without a rival in the American forest. It presents a
variety in its forms not to be seen in any other tree,--possessing the
dignity of the Oak without its ruggedness, and uniting the grace of the
slender Birch with the lofty grandeur of the Palm and the majesty of the
Cedar of Lebanon.

Of the parasol-trees the North furnishes no true examples, which are
witnessed only in the Palms of the tropics. Not many of our inhabitants
have seen these trees in their living beauty; but all have become so
familiar with them, as they are represented in paintings and engravings,
that they can easily appreciate their effect in the sunny landscapes of
the South. There they may be seen bending over fields tapestried with
Passion-Flowers and verdurous with Myrtles and Orange-trees, and
presenting their long shafts to the tendrils of the Trumpet Honeysuckle
and the palmate foliage of the Climbing Fern. But the slender Palms,
when solitary, afford but little shade. It is when they are standing in
groups, their lofty tops meeting and forming a uniform umbrage, that
they afford any important protection from the heat of the sun.

In pictures of tropical scenery we see these trees standing on the
banks of a stream, or in the vicinity of the sea, near some rude hut
constructed of Bamboo and thatched with the broad leaves of the Fan
Palm. In some warm countries Nature affords the inhabitants an almost
gratuitous subsistence from the fruit of the different Palms,--a
plantation of Dates and Cocoa-nuts supplying the principal wants of the
owner and his family, during the life of the trees. But the Palm is not
suggestive of the arts, for the South is not the region of the highest
civilization. Man's intelligence is greatest in those countries in which
he is obliged to struggle with difficulties sufficient to require the
constant exercise of the mind and body to overcome them. Science and Art
have built their altars in the region of the Oak, and in valleys which
are annually whitened with snow, where labor invigorates the frame, and
where man's contention with the difficulties presented by the elements
sharpens his ingenuity and strengthens all his facilities. Hence, while
the Oak is the symbol of hospitality and of the arts to which it has
given its aid, the Palm symbolizes the voluptuousness of a tropical
clime and the indolence of its inhabitants.

I have said that the North produces no parasol-trees; but it should be
remarked that all kinds of trees occasionally approximate to this shape,
when they have grown compactly in a forest. The general shape which they
assume under these conditions is what I have termed accidental, because
that shape cannot be natural which a growing body is forced to take
when cramped in an unnatural or constrained position. Trees when thus
situated become greatly elongated; their shafts are despoiled of the
greater part of their lateral branches, and the tree has no expansion
until it has made its way above the level of the wood. The trees that
cannot reach this level will in a few years perish; and this is the
fate of the greater number in the primitive forest. But after they have
attained this level, they spread out suddenly into a head. Many such
trees are seen in recent clearings; and when their termination is a
regular hemisphere of branches and foliage, the tree exhibits a shape
nearly approaching that of a parasol.

The Elm, under these circumstances, often acquires a very beautiful
shape. Unlike other trees that send up a single undivided shaft, the
Elm, when growing in the forest as well as in the open plain, becomes
subdivided into several slightly divergent branches, running up almost
perpendicularly until they reach the level of the wood, when they
suddenly spread themselves out, and the tree exhibits the parasol shape
more nearly even than the Palm. When one of these forest Elms is left by
the woodman, and is seen standing alone in the clearing, it presents
to our sight one of the most graceful and beautiful of all arborescent
forms.

The rows of Willows, so frequent by the way-side where the road passes
over a wet meadow, afford the most common examples of the pollard forms.
Some of these willows, having escaped the periodical trimming of the
woodcutter, have become noble standards, emulating the Oak in the sturdy
grandeur of their giant arms extending over the road. Most of them,
however, from the repeated cropping which they have suffered, exhibit a
round head of long, slender branches, growing out of the extremity of
the beheaded trunk.

My remarks thus far relate to trees considered as individual objects;
but I must not tire the patience of the reader by extending them
farther, though there are many other relations in which they may be
treated. In whatever light we regard them, they will be found to deserve
attention as the fairest ornaments of Nature, and as objects that should
be held sacred from their importance to our welfare and happiness. The
more we study them, the more desirous are we of their preservation, and
the more convinced of the necessity of using some active means to
effect this purpose. He takes but a narrow view of their importance who
considers only their value in the economy of animal and vegetable life.
The painter has always made them a particular branch of his study; and
the poet understands their advantage in increasing the effect of his
descriptions, and believes them to be the blessed gifts of Providence to
render the earth a beautiful abode and sanctify it to our affections.
The heavenly bodies affect the soul with a deeper sense of creative
power; but trees, like flowers, serve to draw us more closely to the
bosom of Nature, by exemplifying the beauties of her handiwork, and the
wonders of that Wisdom that operates unseen, and becomes, in our search
for it, a source of perpetual delight.



VICTOR AND JACQUELINE.

[Concluded.]


VII.


The three days passed away. And every hour's progress was marked as it
passed over the citizens of Meaux. Leclerc, and the doctrines for which
he suffered, filled the people's thought; he was their theme of speech.
Wonder softened into pity; unbelief was goaded by his stripes to
cruelty; faith became transfigured, while he, followed by the hooting
crowd, endured the penalty of faith. Some men looked on with awe that
would become adoring; some with surprise that would take refuge in study
and conviction. There were tears as well as exultation, solemn joy as
well as execration, in his train. The mother of Leclerc followed
him with her undaunted testimony, "Blessed be Jesus Christ and His
Witnesses!"

By day, in the field, Jacqueline Gabrie thought over the reports she
heard through the harvesters, of the city's feeling, of its purpose, of
its judgment; by night she prayed and hoped, with the mother of Leclerc;
and wondrous was the growth her faith had in those days.

On the evening of the third day, Jacqueline and Elsie walked into Meaux
together. This was not invariably their habit. Elsie had avoided too
frequent conversation with her friend of late. She knew their paths were
separate, and was never so persuaded of the fact as this night, when, of
her own will, she sought to walk with Jacqueline. The sad face of her
friend troubled her; it moved her conscience that she did not deeply
share in her anxiety. When they came from Domrémy, she had relied on
Jacqueline: there was safety in her counsel,--there was wisdom in it:
but now, either?

"It made me scream outright, when I saw the play," said she; "but it is
worse to see your face nowadays,--it is more terrible, Jacqueline."

Jacqueline made no reply to this,--and Elsie regarded the silence as
sufficient provocation.

"You seem to think I have no feeling," said she. "I am as sorry about
the poor fellows as you can be. But I cannot look as if I thought the
day of judgment close at hand, when I don't, Jacqueline."

"Very well, Elsie. I am not complaining of your looks."

"But you are,--or you might as well."

"Let not that trouble you, Elsie. Your face is smooth, at least; and
your voice does not sound like the voice of one who is in grief.
Rejoice,--for, as you say, you have a right to yourself, with which I
am not to interfere. We are old friends,--we came away from Lorraine
together. Do not forget that. I never will forget it."

"But you are done with me. You say nothing to me. I might as well be
dead, for all you care."

"Let us not talk of such things in this manner," said Jacqueline,
mildly. But the dignity of her rebuke was felt, for Elsie said,--

"But I seem to have lost you,--and now we are alone together, I may say
it. Yes, I have lost you, Jacqueline!"

"This is not the first time we have been alone together in these
dreadful three days."

"But now I cannot help speaking."

"You could help it before. Why, Elsie? You had not made up your mind.
But now you have, or you would not speak, and insist on speaking. What
have you to say, then?"

"Jacqueline! Are you Jacqueline?"

"Am I not?"

"You seem not to be."

"How is it, Elsie?"

"You are silent and stern, and I think you are very unhappy,
Jacqueline."

"I do not know,--not unhappy, I think. Perhaps I am silent,--I have been
so busy. But for all it is so dreadful--no! not unhappy, Elsie."

"Thinking of Leclerc all the while?"

"Of him? Oh, no! I have not been thinking of him,--not constantly. Jesus
Christ will take care of him. His mother is quiet, thinking that. I,
at least, can be as strong as she. I'm not thinking of the shame and
cruelty,--but of what that can be worth which is so much to him, that
he counts this punishment, as they call it, as nothing, as hardly pain,
certainly not disgrace. The Truth, Elsie!--if I have not as much to say,
it is because I have been trying to find the Truth."

"But if you have found it, then I hope I never shall,--if it is the
Truth that makes you so gloomy. I thought it was this business in
Meaux."

"Gloomy? when it may be I have found, or _shall_ find"--

Here Jacqueline hesitated,--looked at Elsie. Grave enough was that look
to expel every frivolous feeling from the heart of Elsie,--at least,
so long as she remained under its influence. It was something to trust
another as Jacqueline intended now to trust her friend. It was a
touching sight to see her seeking her old confidence, and appearing
to rely on it, while she knew how frail the reed was. But this girl,
frivolous as was her spirit, this girl had come with her from the
distant native village; their childhood's recollections were the same.
And Jacqueline determined now to trust her. For in times of blasting
heat the shadow even of the gourd is not to be despised.

"You know what I have looked for so long, Elsie," she said, "you ought
to rejoice with me. I need work for that no longer."

"What is that, Jacqueline?"

Even this question, betraying no such apprehension as Jacqueline's words
seemed to intimate, did not disturb the girl. She was in the mood when,
notwithstanding her show of dependence, she was really in no such
necessity. Never was she stronger than now when she put off all show
of strength. Elsie stood before her in place of the opposing world. To
Elsie's question she replied as readily as though she anticipated the
word, and had no expectation of better recollection,--not to speak of
better apprehension.

"To bring him out of suffering he has never been made to endure, as
surely as God lives. As if the Almighty judged men so! I shall send back
no more money to Father La Croix. It is not his prayer, nor my earnings,
that will have to do with the eternity of John Gabrie.--Do you hear me,
Elsie?"

"I seem to, Jacqueline."

"Have I any cause for wretched looks, then? I am in sight of better
fortune than I ever hoped for in this world."

"Then don't look so fearful. It is enough to scare one. You are not a
girl to choose to be a fright,--unless this dreadful city has changed
you altogether from what you were. You would frighten the Domrémy
children with such a face as that; they used not to fear Jacqueline."

"I shall soon be sailing on a smoother sea. As it is, do not speak of my
looks. That is too foolish."

"But, oh, I feel as if I must hold you,--hold you!--you are leaving
me!"

"Come on, Elsie!" exclaimed Jacqueline, as though she almost hoped this
of her dear companion.

"But where?" asked Elsie, not so tenderly.

"Where God leads. I cannot tell."

"I do not understand."

"You would not think the Truth worth buying at the price of your life?"

"My life?"

"Or such a price as he pays who--has been branded to-day?"

"It was not the truth to your mother,--or to mine. It was not the truth
to any one we ever knew, till we came here to Meaux."

"It is true to my heart, Elsie. It is true to my conscience. I know that
I can live for it. And it may be"--

"Hush!--do not! Oh, I wish that I could get you back to Domrémy! What is
going to come of this? Jacqueline, let us go home. Come, let us start
to-night. We shall have the moon all night to walk by. There is nothing
in Meaux for us. Oh, if we had never come away! It would have been
better for you to work there for--what you wanted,--for what you came
here to do."

"No, let God's Truth triumph! What am I? Less than that rush! But if His
breath is upon me, I will be moved by it,--I am not a stone."

Then they walked on in silence. Elsie had used her utmost of persuasion,
but Jacqueline not her utmost of resistance. Her companion knew this,
felt her weakness in such a contest, and was silent.

On to town they went together. They walked together through the streets,
passing constantly knots of people who stood about the corners and among
the shops, discussing what had taken place that day. They crossed the
square where the noonday sun had shone on crowds of people, men and
women, gathered from the four quarters of the town and the neighboring
country, assembled to witness the branding of a heretic. They entered
their court-yard together,--ascended the stairway leading to their
lodging. But they were two,--not one.

Elsie's chief desire had been to get Jacqueline safely into the house
ere she could find opportunity for expression of what was passing in her
mind. Her fear was even greater than her curiosity. She had no desire to
learn, under these present circumstances, the arguments and incidents
which the knots of men and women were discussing with so much vehemence
as they passed by. She could guess enough to satisfy her. So she had
hurried along, betraying more eagerness than was common with her to get
out of the street. Not often was she so overcome of weariness,--not
often so annoyed by heat and dust. Jacqueline, without remonstrance,
followed her. But they were two,--not one.

Once safe in their upper room, Elsie appeared to be, after all, not so
devoid of interest in what was passing in the street as her hurried
walk would seem to betoken. She had not quite yet lost her taste for
excitement and display. For immediately she seated herself by the
window, and was all eye and ear to what went on outside.

Jacqueline's demonstrations also were quite other than might have been
anticipated. Each step she took in her chamber gave an indication that
she had a purpose,--and that she would perform it.

She removed from her dress the dust and stain of toil, arranged her
hair, made herself clean and decent, to meet the sober gaze of others.
Then she placed upon the table the remains of their breakfast,--but she
ate nothing.


VIII.


It was nearly dark when Jacqueline said to Elsie,--

"I am now going to see John and his mother. I must see with my own eyes,
and hear with my own ears. I may be able to help them,--and I know they
will be able to help me. John's word will be worth hearing,--and I want
to hear it. He must have learned in these days more than we shall ever
be able to learn for ourselves. Will you go with me?"

"No," cried Elsie,--as though she feared she might against her will
be taken into such company. Then, not for her own sake, but for
Jacqueline's, she added, almost as if she hoped that she might prove
successful in persuasion, "I remember my father and mother. What they
taught me I believe. And that I shall live by. I shall never be wiser
than they were. And I know I never can be happier. They were good and
honest. Jacqueline, we shall never be as happy again as we were in
Domrémy, when the pastor blessed us, and we hunted flowers for the
altar,--never!--never!" And Elsie Méril, overcome by her recollections
and her presentiments, burst into tears.

"It was the happiness of ignorance," said Jacqueline, after a solemn
silence full of hurried thought. "No,--I, for one, shall never be as
happy as I was then. But my joy will be full of peace and bliss. It will
be full of satisfaction,--very different, but such as belongs to me,
such as I must not do without. God led us from Domrémy, and with me
shall He do as seemeth good to Him. We were children then, Elsie; but
now may we be children no longer!"

"I will be faithful to my mother. Go, Jacqueline,--let me alone."

Elsie said this with so much spirit that Jacqueline answered quickly,
and yet very kindly,--

"I did not mean to trouble you, dear,--but--no matter now."

No sooner had Jacqueline left the house than Elsie went down to a church
near by, where she confessed herself to the priest, and received such
goodly counsel as was calculated to fortify her against Jacqueline in
the future.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jacqueline went to the house of the wool-comber, as of late had been her
nightly custom,--but not, as heretofore, to lighten the loneliness
and anxiety of the mother of Leclerc. Already she had said to the old
woman,--

"I need not work now for my father's redemption. Then I will work for
you, if your son is disabled. Let us believe that God brought me here
for this. I am strong. You can lean on me. Try it."

Now she went to make repetition of the promise to Leclerc, if,
perchance, he had come back to his mother sick and sore and helpless.
For this reason, when she entered the humble home of the martyr, his
eyes fell on her, and he saw her as she had been an angel; how serene
was her countenance; and her courage was manifestly such as no mortal
fear, no human affliction, could dismay.

Already in that room faithful friends had gathered, to congratulate the
living man, and to refresh their strength from the abounding richness of
his.

Martial Mazurier, the noted preacher, was there, and Victor Le Roy;
besides these, others, unknown by name or presence to Jacqueline.

Among them was the wool-comber,--wounded with many stripes, branded,
a heretic! But a man still, it appeared,--a living man,--brave as any
hero, determined as a saint,--ready to proclaim now the love of God, and
from the couch where he was lying to testify to Jesus and his Truth.

It was a goodly sight to see the tenderness of these men here gathered;
how they were forgetful of all inequalities of station, such as
worldlings live by,--meeting on a new ground, and greeting one another
in a new spirit.

They had come to learn of John. A halo surrounded him; he was
transfigured; and through that cloud of glory they would fain penetrate.
Perchance his eyes, as Stephen's, had seen heaven open, when men had
tried their torments. At least, they had witnessed, when they followed
the crowd, that his face, in contrast with theirs who tormented, shone,
as it had been the face of an angel. They had witnessed his testimony
given in the heroic endurance of physical pain. There was more to be
learned than the crowd were fit to hear or _could_ hear. Broken strains
of the Lord's song they heard him singing through the torture. Now they
had come longing for the full burden of that divinest melody.

Jacqueline entered the room quietly, scarcely observed. She sat down by
the door, and it chanced to be near the mother of Leclerc, near Victor
Le Roy.

To their conversation she listened as one who listens for his life,--to
the reading of the Scripture,--to the singing of the psalm,--that grand
old version,--

  "Out of the depths I cry to thee,
  Lord God! Oh, hear my prayer!
  Incline a gracious ear to me,
  And bid me not despair.
  If thou rememberest each misdeed,
  If each should have its rightful meed,
  Lord, who shall stand before thee?

  "Lord, through thy love alone we gain
  The pardon of our sin:
  The strictest life is but in vain,
  Our works can nothing win,
  That man should boast himself of aught,
  But own in fear thy grace hath wrought
  What in him seemeth righteous.

  "Wherefore my hope is in the Lord,
  My works I count but dust;
  I build not there, but on his word,
  And in his goodness trust.
  Up to his care myself I yield;
  He is my tower, my rook, my shield,
  And for his help I tarry."

To the praying of the broken voice of John Leclerc she listened. In his
prayer she joined. To the eloquence of Mazurier, whose utterances she
laid up in her heart,--to the fervor of Le Roy, which left her eyes not
dry, her soul not calm, but strong in its commotion, grasping fast the
eternal truths which he, too, would proclaim, she listened.

She was not only now among them, she was of them,--of them forevermore.
Though she should never again look on those faces, nor listen to those
voices, of them, of all they represented, was she forevermore. Their God
was hers,--their faith was hers; their danger would she share,--their
work would aid.

Their talk was of the Truth, and of the future of the Truth. Well they
understood that the spirit roused among the people would not be quieted
again,--that what of ferocity in the nature of the bigot and the
powerful had been appeased had but for the moment been satisfied. There
would be unremitting watch for victims; everywhere the net for the
unwary and the fearless would be laid. Blood-thirstiness and lust and
covetousness would make grand their disguises,--broad would their
phylacteries be made,--shining with sacred gems, their breast-plates.

Of course it was of the great God's honor these men would be jealous.
This heresy must needs be uprooted, or no knowing where would be the end
of the wild growth. And, indeed, there was no disputing the fact that
there was danger in open acceptance of such doctrines as defied the
authority of priestcraft,--ay, danger to falsehood, and death to
falsehood!

Fanaticism, cowardice, cruelty, the spirit of persecution, the spirit
of authority aroused, ignorance and vanity and foolishness would make
themselves companions, no doubt. Should Truth succumb to these? Should
Love retreat before the fierce onset of Hate? These brave men said not
so. And they looked above them and all human aid for succor,--Jacqueline
with them.

When Mazurier and Victor Le Roy went away, they left Jacqueline with
the wool-comber's mother, but they did not pass by her without notice.
Martial lingered for a moment, looking down on the young girl.

"She is one of us," said the old woman.

Then the preacher laid his hand upon her head, and blessed her.

"Continue in prayer, and listen to the testimony of the Holy Ghost,"
said he. "Then shall you surely come deep into the blessed knowledge and
the dear love of Jesus Christ."

When he had passed on, Victor paused in turn.

"It is good to be here, Jacqueline," said he. '"This is the house of
God; this is the gate of heaven."

And he also went forth, whither Mazurier had gone.

Then beside the bed of the poor wool-comber women like angels
ministered, binding up his wounds, and soothing him with voices soft as
ever spoke to man. And from the peasant whose toil was in harvest-fields
and vineyards came offers of assistance which the poor can best give the
poor.

But the wool-comber did not need the hard-earned pence of Jacqueline.
When she said, "Let me serve you now, as a daughter and a sister, you
two,"--he made no mistake in regard to her words and offer. But he had
no need of just such service as she stood prepared to render. In his
toil he had looked forward to the seasons of adversity,--had provided
for a dark day's disablement; and he was able now to smile upon his
mother and on Jacqueline, and to say,--

"I will, indeed, be a brother to you, and my mother will love you as if
you were her child. But we shall not take the bread from your mouth to
prove it. Our daughter and our sister in the Lord, we thank you and love
you, Jacqueline. I know what you have been doing since I went away.
The Lord love you, Jacqueline! You will no longer be a stranger and
friendless in Meaux, while John Leclerc and his mother are alive,--nay,
as long as a true man or woman lives in Meaux. Fear not."

"I will not fear," said Jacqueline.

And she sat by the side of the mother of Leclerc, and thought of her
own mother in the heavens, and was tranquil, and prepared, she said to
herself, to walk, if indeed she must, through the valley of the shadow
of death, and would still fear no evil.


IX.


Strengthened and inspired by the scenes of the last three days, Martial
Mazurier began to preach with an enthusiasm, bravery, and eloquence
unknown before to his hearers. He threw himself into the work of
preaching, the new revelation of the ancient eternal Truth, with
an ardor that defied authority, that scorned danger, and with a
recklessness that had its own reward.

Victor Le Roy was his ardent admirer, his constant follower, his
loving friend, his servant. Day by day this youth was studying with
indefatigable zeal the truths and doctrines adopted by his teacher.
Enchanted by the wise man's eloquence, already a convert to the faith
he magnified, he was prepared to follow wherever the preacher led. The
fascination of danger he felt, and was allured by. Frowning faces had
for him no terrors. He could defy evil.

Jacqueline and he might be called most friendly students. Often in
the cool of the day the young man walked out from Meaux along the
country-roads, and his face was always toward the setting sun, whence
towards the east Jacqueline at that hour would be coming. The girls were
living in the region of the vineyards now, and among the vines they
worked.

It began to be remarked by some of their companions how much Jacqueline
Gabrie and the young student from the city walked together. But the
subject of their discourse, as they rested under the trees that fringed
the river, was not within the range of common speculation; far enough
removed from the ordinary use to which the peasants put their thought
was the thinking of Le Roy and Jacqueline.

Often Victor went, carefully and with a student's precision, over the
grounds of Martial's arguments, for the satisfaction of Jacqueline.
Much pride as well as joy had he in the service; for he reverenced his
teacher, and feared nothing so much, in these repetitions, as that this
listener, this animated, thinking, feeling Jacqueline, should lose
anything by his transmission of the preacher's arguments and eloquence.

And sometimes, on those special occasions which were now constantly
occurring, she walked with him to the town, and hearkened for herself in
the assemblages of those who were now one in the faith.

Elsie looked on and wondered, but did not jest with Jacqueline, as girls
are wont to jest with one another on such points as seemed involved in
this friendship between youth and youth, between man and woman.

Towards the conclusion of the girls' appointed labor in the vineyard, a
week passed in which Victor Le Roy had not once come out from Meaux in
the direction of the setting sun. He knew the time when the peasants'
labor in the vineyard would be done; Jacqueline had told him; and with
wonder, and with trouble, she lived through the days that brought no
word from him.

At work early and late, Jacqueline had no opportunity of discovering
what was going on in Meaux. But it chanced, on the last day of the last
week in the vineyard, tidings reached her: Martial Mazurier had been
arrested, and would be tried, the rumor said, as John Leclerc had been
tried; and sentence would be pronounced, doubtless, said conjecture,
severe in proportion to the influence the man had acquired, to the
position he held.

Hearing this, oppressed, troubled, yet not doubting, Jacqueline
determined that she would go to Meaux that evening, and so ascertain the
truth. She said nothing to Elsie of her purpose. She was careful in all
things to avoid that which might involve her companion in peril in an
unknown future; but at nightfall she had made herself ready to set
out for Meaux, when her purpose was changed in the first steps by the
appearing of Victor Le Roy.

He had come to Jacqueline,--had but one purpose in his coming; yet it
was she who must say,--

"Is it true, Victor, that Martial Mazurier is in prison?"

His answer surprised her.

"No, it is not true."

But his countenance did not answer the glad expression of her face with
an equal smile. His gravity almost communicated itself to her. Yet this
rebound from her recent dismay surely might demand an opportunity.

"I believe you," said she. "But I was coming to see if it could be true.
It was hard to believe, and yet it has cost me a great deal to persuade
myself against belief, Victor."

"It will cost you still more, Jacqueline. Martial Mazurier has
recanted."

"He has been in prison, then?"

"He has retracted, and is free again,--has denied himself. No more
glorious words from him, Jacqueline, such as we have heard! He has sold
himself to the Devil, you see."

"Mazurier?"

"Mazurier has thought raiment better than life. _He_ has believed a
man's life to consist in the abundance of the things he possesseth,"
said the youth, bitterly. He continued, looking steadfastly at
Jacqueline,--"Probably I must give up the Truth also. My uncle is dead:
must I not secure my possessions?--for I am no longer a poor man; I
cannot afford to let my life fall into the hands of those wolves."

"Mazurier retracted? I cannot believe it, Victor Le Roy!"

"Believe, then, that yesterday the man was in prison, and to-day he is
at large. Yes, he says that he can serve Jesus Christ more favorably,
more successfully, by complying with the will of the bishop and the
priests. You see the force of his argument. If he should be silenced, or
imprisoned long, or his life should be cut off, he would then be able
to preach no more at all in any way. He only does not believe that
whosoever will save his life, in opposition to the law of the
everlasting gospel, must lose it."

"Oh, do you remember what he said to John,--what he prayed in that room?
Oh, Victor, what does it mean?"

"It means what cannot be spoken,--what I dare not say or think."

"Not that we are wrong, mistaken, Victor?"

"No, Jacqueline, never! it can never mean that! Whatever we may do with
the Truth, we cannot make it false. We may act like cowards, unworthy,
ungrateful, ignorant; but the Truth will remain, Jacqueline."

"Victor, you could not desert it."

"How can I tell, Jacqueline? The last time I saw Martial Mazurier, he
would have said nobler and more loving words than I can command. But
with my own eyes I saw him walking at liberty in streets where liberty
for him to walk could be bought only at an infamous price."

"Is there such danger for all men who believe with John Leclerc, and
with--with you, Victor?"

"Yes, there is danger, such danger."

"Then you must go away. You must not stay in Meaux," she said, quickly,
in a low, determined voice.

"Jacqueline, I must remain in Meaux," he answered, as quickly, with
flushed face and flashing eyes. The dignity of conscious integrity, and
the "fear of fear," a beholder who could discern the tokens might have
perceived in him.

"Oh, then, who can tell? Did he not pray that he might not be led into
temptation?"

"Yes," Victor replied, more troubled than scornful,--"yes, and allowed
himself to be led at last."

"But if you should go away"----

"Would not that be flying from danger?" he asked, proudly.

"Nay, might it not be doing with your might what you found to do, that
you might not be led into temptation?"

"And you are afraid, that, if I stay here, I shall yield to them."

"You say you are not certain, Victor. You repeat Mazurier's words."

"Yet shall I remain. No, I will never run away."

The pride of the young fellow, and the consternation occasioned by the
recreancy of his superior, his belief in the doctrines he had confessed
with Mazurier, and the time-serving of the latter, had evidently thrown
asunder the guards of his peace, and produced a sad state of confusion.

"It were better to run away," said Jacqueline, not pausing to choose the
word,--"far better than to stay and defy the Devil, and then find that
you could not resist him, Victor. Oh, if we could go, as Elsie said,
back to Domrémy,--anywhere away from this cruel Meaux!"

"Have you, then, gained nothing, Jacqueline?"

"Everything. But to lose it,--oh, I cannot afford that!"

"Let us stand together, then. Promise me, Jacqueline," he exclaimed,
eagerly, as though he felt himself among defences here, with her.

"What shall I promise, Victor?" she asked, with the voice and the look
of one who is ready for any deed of daring, for any work of love.

"I, too, have preached this word."

Her only comment was, "I know you preached it well."

"What has befallen others may befall me."

"Well."

So strongly, so confidently did she speak this word, that the young man
went on, manifestly influenced by it, hesitating no more in his speech.

"May befall me," he repeated.

"'Whosoever believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,'"
she answered, with lofty voice, repeating the divine word. "What is our
life, that we should hold it at the expense of his Truth? Mazurier was
wrong. He can never atone for the wrong he has done."

"I believe it!" exclaimed Victor, with a brightening countenance. The
clouds of doubt rose from his face and floated away, as we see the mists
ascending from the heights, when we are so happy as to live in the wild
hill-country. "You prize Truth more than life. Stand with me in this,
Jacqueline. Speak of this Truth as it has come to me. You are all that
I have left. I have lost Mazurier. Jacqueline, you are a woman, but you
never,--yes! yes! though I dare not say as much of myself, I dare say
it of you,--you never could have bought your liberty at such a price as
Martial has paid. I know not how, even with the opportunity, he will
ever gain the courage to speak of these things again,--those great
mysteries which are hidden from the eyes of the covetous and worldly and
unbelieving. Promise, stand with me, Jacqueline, and I will rely on you.
Forsake me not."

"Victor, has He not said, who can best say it, 'I will never leave you
nor forsake you'?"

"But, Jacqueline, I love you."

Having said these words, the face of the young man emerged wholly from
the eclipse of the former shadow.

"What is this?" said the brave peasant from Domrémy, manifestly doubting
whether she had heard aright; and her clear pure eyes were gazing full
on Victor Le Roy, actually looking for an explanation of his words.

"I love you, Jacqueline," he repeated. "And I do not involve you in
danger, oh, my friend! Only let me have it to believe that my life is
dear to Jacqueline, and I shall not be afraid then to lose it, if that
testimony be required of me. Shall we not stand side by side, soldiers
of Christ, stronger in each other than in all the world beside? Shall it
not be so, Jacqueline? True heart, answer me! And if you will not love
me, at least say, say you are my friend, you trust me. I will hold your
safety sacred."

"I am your friend, Victor."

"Say my wife, Jacqueline. I honored you, that you came from Domrémy.
You are my very dream of Joan,--as brave and as true as beautiful.
Jacqueline, it is not all for the Truth's sake, but for my love's sake.
Is not our work one, moreover? Are we not one in heart and purpose,
Jacqueline? You are alone; let me protect you."

He needed no other answer than he had while his eyes constantly sought
hers. Her calm look, the dignity and strength of her composure, assured
him of all he longed to learn,--assured him that their hearts, even as
their purposes and faith, were one."

"But speak one word," he urged.

The word she spoke was, "I can be true to you, Victor."

Won hardly by a word: too easily, you think? She loved the youth, my
friends, and she loved the Truth for which he dared not say that he
could sacrifice himself.

"We are one, then," said Victor Le Roy. "It concerned me above all
things to prove that, Jacqueline. So you shall have no more to do with
these harvest-fields and vineyards henceforth, except to eat of the
fruits, if God will. You have borne all the burden and heat of labor you
shall ever bear. I can say that, with God's blessing. We shall sit under
our own vine. Death in one direction has prepared for life in another.
I inherit what my uncle can make use of no longer. We shall look out
on our own fields, our harvests; for I think this city will keep us no
longer than may he needful. We will go away into Picardy, and I will
show you where our Joan was a prisoner; and we will go back to Domrémy,
and walk in the places she loved, and pray God to bless us by that
fountain, and in the grave-yard where your father and mother sleep. Oh,
Jacqueline, is it not all blessed and all fair?"

She could hardly comprehend all the brightness of this vision which
Victor Le Roy would fain bring before her. The paths he pointed out to
her were new and strange; but she could trust him, could believe that
together they might walk without stumbling.

She had nothing to say of her unfitness, her unworthiness, to occupy the
place to which he pointed. Not a doubt, not a fear, had she to express.
He loved her, and that she knew; and she had no thought of depreciating
his choice, its excellency or its wisdom. Whatever excess of wonder she
may have felt was not communicated. How know I that _she_ marvelled at
her lover's choice, though all the world might marvel?

Then remembering Mazurier, and thinking of her strength of faith, and
her high-heartedness, he was eager that Jacqueline should appoint their
marriage-day. And more than he, perhaps, supposed was betrayed by this
haste. He made his words profoundly good. Strong woman that she was, he
wanted her strength joined to his. He was secretly disquieted, secretly
afraid to trust himself, since this defection of Martial Mazurier.

What did hinder them? They might be married on Sunday, if she would:
they might go down together to the estate, which he must immediately
visit.

Through the hurry of thought, and the agitation of heart, and the rush
of seeming impossibilities, he brought out at length in triumph her
consent.

She did consent. It should all be as he wished. And so they parted
outside that town of Meaux on the fair summer evening.--plighted
lovers,--hopeful man and woman. For them the evening sky was lovely with
the day's last light; for them the serene stars of night arose.

So they parted under the open sky: he going forward to the city,
strengthened and refreshed in faith and holy courage; she, adorned with
holy hopes which never until now had found place among her visions.
Neither was she prepared for them; until he brought them to a heart
which, indeed, could never be dismayed by the approach and claim of
love.

Love was no strange guest. Fresh and fair as Zephyrus, he came from the
forest depths, and she welcomed him,--no stranger,--though the breath
that bore him was all heavenly, and his aspiration was remote from
earthly sources. Yes, she so imagined.

She went back to the cottage where she and Elsie lodged now, to tell
Elsie what had happened,--to thankfulness,--to gazing forward Into a
new world,--to aspiration, expectation, joy, humility,--to wonder, and
to praise,--to all that my best reader will perceive must be true of
Jacqueline on this great evening of her life.


X.


That same night Victor Le Roy was arrested on charge of
heresy,--arrested and imprisoned. Watchmen were on the look-out when the
lover walked forward with triumphant steps to Meaux.

"This fellow also was among the wool-comber's disciples," said they; and
their successful dealing with Mazurier encouraged the authorities to
hope that soon all this evil would be overcome,--trampled in the dust:
this impudent insurrection of thought should certainly be stifled; youth
and age, high station, low, should be taught alike of Rome.

Tidings reached Martial Mazurier next day of what had befallen Victor Le
Roy, and he went instantly to visit him in prison. It was an interview
which the tender-hearted officials would have invited, had he not
forestalled them by inviting himself to the duty. Mazurier had something
to do in the matter of reconciling his conscience to the part he had
taken, in his recent opportunity to prove himself equally a hero with
Leclerc. He had recanted, done evil, in short, that good might come; and
was not content with having done this thing: how should he be? Now that
his follower was in the same position, he had but one wish,--that he
should follow his example. He did not, perhaps, entirely ascertain his
motive in this; but it is hardly to be supposed that Mazurier was so
persuaded of the justice of his course that he desired to have it
imitated by another under the same circumstances.

No! he was forever disgraced in his own eyes, when he remembered the
valiant John Leclerc; and it was not to be permitted that Victor Le Roy
should follow the example of the wool-comber in preference to that
he had given,--that politic, wise, blood-sparing, flesh--loving,
truth-depreciating, God-defrauding example.

Accordingly he lost no time in seeking Victor in his cell. It was the
very cell in which he himself had lately been imprisoned. Within those
narrow walls he had meditated, prayed, and made his choice. There he had
stood face to face with fate, with God, with Jesus, and had decided--not
in favor of the flogging, and the branding, and the glorious infamy.
There, in spite of eloquence and fervor and devotion, in spite of all
his past vows and his hopes, he had decided to take the place and part
of a timeserver;--for he feared disgrace and pain, and the hissing
and scoff and persecution, more than he feared the blasting anger of
insulted and forsaken Truth.

He found Victor within his cell, his bright face not overcast with
gloom, his eyes not betraying doubts, neither disappointed, astonished,
nor in deep dejection. The mood he deemed unfavorable for his special
word,--poor, deceived, self-deceiving Mazurier!

He was not merely surprised at these indications,--he was at a loss. A
little trepidation, doubt, suspicion would have better suited him. Alas!
and was _his_ hour the extremity of another's weakness, not in the
elevation of another's spiritual strength? Once when he preached the
Truth as moved by the Holy Ghost, it was not to the prudence or the
worldly wisdom of his hearers he appealed, but to the higher feelings
and the noblest powers of men. Then he called on them to praise God by
their faith in all that added to His glory and dominion. But now his
eloquence was otherwise directed,--not full of the old fire and
enthusiasm,--not trustful in God, but dependent on prudence, as though
all help were in man. He had to draw from his own experience now,
things new and old,--and was not, by confession of the result of such
experience, humiliated!

"You are under a mistake," was his argument. "You have not gone deep
into these matters; you have made acquaintance only with the agitated
surface of them." And he proceeded to make good all this assertion, it
was so readily proven! _He_ also had been beguiled,--ah, had he not? He
had been beguiled by the rude eloquence, the insensibility to pain, the
pride of opposition, the pride of poverty, the pride of a rude nature,
exhibited by John Leclerc.

He acknowledged freely, with a fatal candor, that, until he came to
consider these things in their true light, when shut away from all
outward influences, until compelled to quiet meditation beyond the reach
and influence of mere enthusiasm, he had believed with Leclerc, even as
Victor was believing now. He could have gone on, who might tell to what
fanatical length? had it not been for that fortunate arrest which made a
sane man of him!

Leclerc was not quite in the wrong,--not absolutely,--but neither was
he, as Mazurier had once believed, gloriously in the right. It was
clearly apparent to him, that Victor Le Roy, having now also like
opportunity for calm reflection, would come to like conclusions.

With such confident prophecy, Mazurier left the young man. His visit was
brief and hurried;--no duty that could be waived should call him away
from his friend at such a time; but he would return; they would speak of
this again; and he kissed Victor, and blessed him, and went out to bid
the authorities delay yet before the lad was brought to trial, for he
was confident, that, if left to reflection, he would come to his senses,
and choose wisely--between God and Mammon? Mazurier expressed it in
another way.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the street, Elsie Méril heard of Victor's arrest, and she brought the
news to Jacqueline. They had returned to Meaux, to their old lodging,
and a day had passed, during which, moment by moment, his arrival was
anticipated. Elsie went out to buy a gift for Jacqueline, a bit of fine
apparelling which she had coveted from the moment she knew Jacqueline
should be a bride. She stole away on her errand without remark, and
came back with the gift,--but also with that which made it valueless,
unmentionable, though it was a costly offering, purchased with the wages
of more than a week's labor in the fields.

It was almost dark when she returned to Jacqueline. Her friend was
sitting by the window,--waiting,--not for her; and when she went in to
her, it was silently, with no mention of her errand or her love-gift.
Quietly she sat down, thankful that the night was falling, waiting for
its darkness before she should speak words which would make the darkness
to be felt.

"He does not come," said Jacqueline, at length.

"Did you think it was he, when I came up the stairs?" inquired Elsie,
tenderly.

"Oh, no! I can tell your step from all the rest."

"His, too, I think."

"Yes, and his, too. My best friends. Strange, if I could not!"

"Oh, I'm glad you said that, Jacqueline!"

"My best friends," repeated Jacqueline,--not merely to please Elsie.
Love had opened wide her heart,--and Elsie, weak and foolish though
she might be,--Elsie, her old companion, her playmate, her
fellow-laborer,--Elsie, who should be to her a sister always, and share
in her good-fortune,--Elsie had honorable place there.

"Could anything have happened, Jacqueline?" said Elsie, trembling: her
tremulous voice betrayed it.

"Oh, I think not," was the answer.

"But he is so fearless,--he might have fallen into--into trouble."

"What have you heard, Elsie?"

This question was quietly asked, but it struck to the heart of the
questioned girl. Jacqueline suspected!--and yet Jacqueline asked so
calmly! Jacqueline could hear it,--and yet how could this be declared?

Her hesitation quickened what was hardly suspicion into a conviction.

"What have you heard?" Jacqueline again questioned,--not so calmly as
before; and yet it was quite calmly, even to the alarmed ear of Elsie
Méril.

"They have arrested Victor, Jacqueline."

"For heresy?"

"I heard it in the street."

Jacqueline arose,--she crossed the chamber,--her hand was on the latch.
Instantly Elsie stood beside her.

"What will you do? I must go with you, Jacqueline."

"Where will you go?" said Jacqueline.

"With you. Wait,--what is it you will do? Or,--no matter, go on, I will
follow you,--and take the danger with you."

"Is there danger? For him there is! and there might be for you,--but
none for me. Stay, Elsie. Where shall I go, in truth?"

Yet she opened the door, and began to descend the stairs even while she
spoke; and Elsie followed her.

First to the house of the wool-comber. John was not at home,--and his
mother could tell them nothing, had heard nothing of the arrest of
Victor. Then to the place which Victor had pointed out to her as the
home of Mazurier. Mazurier likewise they failed to find. Where, then,
was the prison of Le Roy's captivity? That no man could tell them; so
they came home to their lodging at length in the dark night, there to
wait through endless-seeming hours for morning.

On the Sunday they had chosen for their wedding-day Mazurier brought
word of Victor to Jacqueline,--was really a messenger, as he announced
himself, when she opened for him the door of her room in the fourth
story of the great lodging-house. He had come on that day with a
message; but it was not in all things--in little beside the love it was
meant to prove--the message Victor had desired to convey. In want of
more faithful, more trustworthy messenger, Le Roy sent word by this man
of his arrest,--and bade Jacqueline pray for him, and come to him, if
that were possible. He desired, he said, to serve his Master,--and, of
all things, sought the Truth.

To go to the prisoner, Mazurier assured Jacqueline, was impossible, but
she might send a message; indeed, he was here to serve his dear friends.
Ah, poor girl, did she trust the man by whom she sent into a prison
words like these?--

"Hold fast to the faith that is in you, Victor. Let nothing persuade you
that you have been mistaken. We asked for light,--it was given us,--let
us walk in it; and no matter where it leads,--since the light is from
heaven. Do not think of me,--nor of yourself,--but only of Jesus Christ,
who said, 'Whosoever would save his life shall lose it.'"

Mazurier took this message. What did he do with it? He tossed it to the
winds.

A week after, Le Roy was brought to trial,--and recanted; and so
recanting, was acquitted and set at liberty.

Mazurier supposed that he meant all kindly in the exertion he made to
save his friend. He would never have ceased from self-reproach, had he
conveyed the words of Jacqueline to Victor,--for the effect of those
words he could clearly foresee.

And so far from attempting to bring about an interview between the pair,
he would have striven to prevent it, had he seen a probability that it
would be allowed. He set little value on such words as Jacqueline spoke,
when her conscience and her love rose up against each other. The
words she had committed to him he could account for by no supposition
acceptable and reasonable to him. There was something about the girl he
did not understand; she was no fit guide for a man who had need of clear
judgment, when such a decision was to be made as the court demanded of
Le Roy.

Elsie Méril, between hope and fear, was dumb in these days; but her
presence and her tenderness, though not heroic in action nor wise in
utterance, had a value of which neither she nor Jacqueline was fully
aware.

When Jacqueline learned the issue of the trial, and that Victor had
falsified his faith, her first impulse was to fly, that she might never
see his face again. For, the instant she heard his choice, her heart
told her what she had been hoping during these days of suspense. She had
tried to see Martial Mazurier, but without success, since he conveyed,
or promised to convey, her message to the prisoner. Of purpose he had
avoided her. He guessed what strength she would by this time have
attained, and he was determined to save both to each other, though it
might be against their will.


XI.


Victor Le Roy's first endeavor, on being liberated, was--of course to
find Jacqueline? Not so. That was far from his first design. His impulse
was to avoid the girl he had dared to love. Mazurier had, indeed,
conveyed to his mind an impression that would have satisfied him, if
anything of this character could do so. But this was impossible. The
secret of his disquiet was far too profound for such easy removal.

He had not in himself the witness that he had fulfilled the will of God.
He was disquieted, humiliated, wretched. He could not think of Leclerc,
nor upon his protestations, except with shame and remorse,--remorse,
already. In his heart, in spite of the impression Mazurier had contrived
to convey, he believed not that Jacqueline would bless him to such
work as he could henceforth perform, no longer a free man,--no longer
possessed of liberty of speech and thought.

He had no sooner renounced his liberty than he became persuaded, by an
overwhelming reasoning, as he had never been convinced before, of
the pricelessness of that he had sacrificed. When he went from the
court-room, from the presence of his judges, he was not a free man,
though the dignitaries called him so. Martial Mazurier walked arm in arm
with him, but the world was a den of horrors, a blackened and accursed
world, to the young man who came from prison, free to use his
freedom--as the priests directed!

He went home from the prison with Mazurier. The world had conquered.
Love had conquered,--Love, that in the conquest felt itself disgraced.
He had sold the divine, he had received the human: it was the old
pottage speculation over again. This privilege of liberty from his
dungeon had looked so fair!--but now it seemed so worthless! This
prospect of life so priceless in contemplation of its loss,--oh, the
beggar who crept past him was an enviable man, compared with young
Victor Le Roy, the heir of love and riches, the heir of liberty and
life!

Yes,--he went home with Mazurier. Where else should he go?
Congratulations attended him. He was compelled to receive them with a
countenance not too sombre, and a grace not all thankless, or--or--they
would say it was of cowardice he had saved his precious body from the
sentence of the judges, and given his precious LIFE up to the sentence
of the JUDGE.

Yes,--Martial took him home. There they might talk at leisure of those
things,--and ask a blessing on the testimony of Jesus, made and kept by
them!

Victor Le Roy was too proud to complain now. He assented to all the
preacher's sophistry. He allowed himself to be cheered. But this was
no such evening as had been spent in the room of the wool-comber, when
Leclerc's voice, strong, even through his weakness, called on God,
and blessed and praised Him, and the spirit conquered the flesh
gloriously,--the old mother of Leclerc sharing his joy, as she had also
shared his anguish. Here was no Jacqueline to say to Victor, "Thou hast
done well! 'Glory be to Jesus Christ, and His witnesses!'"

Mazurier thanked God for the deliverance of His servant! He dedicated
himself and Victor anew to the service of Truth, which they had shrunk
from defending! And his eloquence and fervor seemed to stamp the words
with sincerity. He seemed not in the least to suspect or fear himself.

With Victor Le Roy such self-deception, such sophistry, was simply
impossible.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not of purpose did he meet Jacqueline that night. She had heard that Le
Roy was at liberty, and alone now she applied at the door of Martial
Mazurier for admittance, but in vain. The master had signified that his
evening was not to be interrupted. Therefore she returned, from waiting
near his door, to the street where she and Elsie lived.

Should her woman's pride have led her to her lofty lodging, and kept her
there without a sign, till Victor himself came seeking her? She knew
nothing of such pride,--but much of love; and her love took her back to
the post where she had waited many an hour since that disastrous arrest:
she would wait there till morning, if she must,--at least, till one
should enter, or come forth, who might tell her of Victor Le Roy.

The light in the preacher's study she could see from the door-step in a
court-yard where she waited. Should Mazurier come with Victor, she would
let them pass; but if Victor came alone, she had a right to speak.

It was after midnight when the student came down from the preacher's
study. She heard his voice when the door opened,--by the street-lamp
saw his face. And she recognized also the voice of Mazurier, who, till
the last moment of separation, seemed endeavoring to dissuade his friend
from leaving him that night.

He heard footsteps following him, as he passed along the
pavement,--observed that they gained on him. And could it be any other
than Jacqueline who touched his arm, and whispered, "Victor"?

His fast-beating heart told him it was she. He took her hand, and
drew it within his arm, and looked upon her face,--the face of his
Jacqueline.

"Now where?" said he. "It is late. It is after midnight. Why are you
alone in the street?"

"Waiting for you, Victor. I heard you were at liberty, and I supposed
you were with him. I was safe."

"Yes,--for you fear nothing. That is the only reason. You knew I was
with the preacher, Jacqueline. Why? Because--because I _am_ with him,
of course."

"Yes," she said. "I heard it was so, Victor."

"Strange!--strange!--is it not? A prison is a better place to learn the
truth than the pure air of liberty, it seems," said he, bitterly.

"What is that?" she asked. She seemed not to understand his meaning.

"Nothing. I am acquitted of heresy, you know. It seems, what we talked
so bravely meant--nothing. Oh, I am safe, now!"

"It was to preach none the less,--to hold the truth none the less. But
if he lost his life, there was an end of all; or if he lost his
liberty, it was as bad. But he would keep both, and serve God so," said
Jacqueline.

"Yes," cried Victor, "precisely what he said. I have said the same, you
think?"

"If you are quite clear that Leclerc and the rest of us are all wrong,
Victor."

"Jacqueline!"

"What is it, Victor?"

"'The rest of us,' you say. What would _you_ have done in my place?"

"God knows. I pretend not to know anything more."

"But 'the rest of us,' you said. You think that you at least are with
Leclerc?"

"That was the truth you taught me, Victor. But--I have not yet been
tried."

"That is safe to say. What makes you speak so prudently, Jacqueline? Why
do you not declare, 'Though all men deny Thee, yet will I never deny
Thee'? Ah, you have not been tried! You are not yet in danger of the
judgment, Jacqueline!"

"Do not speak so; you frighten me; it is not like you. How can I tell?
I do not know but in this retirement, in this thought you have been
compelled to, you have obtained more light than any one can have until
he comes to just such a place."

"Ah, Jacqueline, why not say to me what you are thinking? Have you lost
your courage? Say, 'Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.'"

"No,--oh, no! How could I say it, my poor Victor? How do you know?"

"Surely you cannot know, as you say. But from where you stand, that is
what you are thinking. Jacqueline, confess! If you should speak your
mind, it would be, 'Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God, poor
coward!' Oh, Jacqueline, Mazurier may deceive himself! I speak not for
him; but what will you do with your poor Victor, my poor Jacqueline?"

She did not linger in the answer,--she did not sob or tremble,--he was
by her side.

"Love him to the end. As He, when He loved His own."

"Your own, poor girl? No, no!"

"You gave yourself to me," she answered straightway, with resolute
firmness clinging to the all she had.

"I was a man then," he answered. "But I will never give a liar and a
coward to Jacqueline Gabrie. Everything but myself, Jacqueline! Take
the old words, and the old memory. But for this outcast, him you shall
forget. My God! thou hast not brought this brave girl from Domrémy, and
lighted her heart with a coal from Thine altar, that she should turn
from Thee to me! If you love a liar and a coward, Jacqueline, you cannot
help yourself,--he will make you one, too. And what I loved you for was
your truth and purity and courage. I have given you a treasure which was
greater than I could keep.--Where is it that you live now, Jacqueline? I
am not yet such a poltroon that I am afraid to conduct you. I think that
I should have the courage to protect you to-night, if you were in any
immediate danger. Come, lead the way."

"No," said Jacqueline. "I am not going home. I could not sleep; and
a roof over my head--any save God's heaven--would suffocate me, I
believe."

"Go, then, as you will. But where?"

Jacqueline did not answer, but walked quietly on; and so they passed
beyond the city-borders to the river-bank,--far away into the country,
through the fields, under the light of stars and of the waning moon.

"If I had been true!" said Victor,--"if I had not listened to him! But
him I will not blame. For why should I blame him? Am I an idiot? And his
influence could not have prevailed, had I not so chosen, when I stood
before my judges and they questioned me. No,--I acquit Mazurier. Perhaps
what I have denied never appeared to him so glorious as it did once to
me; and so he was guiltless at least of knowing what it was I did. But I
knew. And I could not have been deceived for a moment. No,--I think it
impossible that for a moment I should have been deceived. They would
have made a notable example of me, Jacqueline. I am rich,--I am a
student.--Oh, yes! Jesus Christ may die for me, and I accept the
benefit; but when it comes to suffering for His sake,--you could not
have expected that of such a poltroon, Jacqueline! We may look for it in
brave men like Leclerc, whose very living depends on their ability to
earn their bread,--to earn it by daily sweat; but men who need not
toil, who have leisure and education,--of course you would not expect
such testimony to the truth of Jesus from them! Bishop Briconnet
recants,--and Martial Mazurier; and Victor Le Roy is no braver man, no
truer man than these!"

With bitter shame and self-scorning he spoke.--Poor Jacqueline had not
a word to say. She sat beside him. She would help him bear his cross.
Heavy-laden as he, she awaited the future, saying, in the silence of her
spirit's dismal solitude, "Oh, teach us! Oh, help us!" But she called
not on any name; her prayer went out in search of a God whom in that
hour she knew not. The dark cloud and shadow of Satan that overshadowed
him was also upon her.

"Mazurier is coming in the morning to take me with him, Jacqueline,"
said Victor. "We are to make a journey."

"What is it, Victor?" she asked, quietly.

There was nothing left for her but patience,--that she clearly
saw,--nothing but patience, and quiet enduring of the will of God.

"He is afraid of me,--or of himself,--or of both, I believe. He thinks
a change of scene would be good for both of us, poor lepers that we
are."

"I must go with you, Victor Le Roy," said the resolute Jacqueline.

"Wherefore?" asked he.

"Because, when you were strong and happy, that was your desire, Victor;
and now that you are sick and sorrowing, I will not give you to another:
no! not to Mazurier, nor to any one that breathes, except myself, to
whom you belong."

"I must stay here in Meaux, then?"

"That depends upon yourself, Victor."

"We were to have been married. We were going to look after our estate,
now that the hard summer and the hard years of work are ended."

"Yes, Victor, it was so."

"But I will not wrong you. You were to be the wife of Victor Le Roy.
You are his widow, Jacqueline. For you do not think that he lives any
longer?"

"He lives, and he is free! If he has sinned, like Peter even, he weeps
bitterly."

"Like Peter? Peter denied his Lord. But he did weep, as you
say,--bitterly. Peter confessed again."

"And none served the Master with truer heart or greater courage
afterward. Victor, you remember."

"Even so,--oh, Jacqueline!"

"Victor! Victor! it was only Judas who hanged himself."

"Come, Jacqueline!"

She arose and went with him. At dawn they were married. Love did lead
and save them.

I see two youthful students studying one page. I see two loving spirits
walking through thick darkness. Along the horizon flicker the promises
of day. They say, "O Holy Ghost, hast thou forsaken thine own temples?"
Aloud they cry to God.

I see them wandering among Domrémy woods and meadows,--around the castle
of Picardy,--talking of Joan. I see them resting by the graves they find
in two ancient villages. I see them walk in sunny places; they are not
called to toil; they may gather all the blossoms that delight their
eyes. Their love grows beyond childhood,--does not die before it comes
to love's best estate. Happy bride and bridegroom! But I see them as
through a cloud whose fair hues are transient.

From the meadow-lands and the vineyards and the dark forests of the
mountains, from study and from rest, I see them move with solemn faces
and calm steps. Brave lights are in their eyes, and flowers that are
immortal they carry in their hands. No distillation can exhaust the
fragrance of those blooms.

What dost thou here, Victor? What dost thou here, Jacqueline?

This is the place of prisons. Here they light again, as they have often
lighted, torch and fagot;--life must pay the cost! Angry crowds and
hooting multitudes love this dreary square. Oh, Jacqueline and Victor,
what is this I behold?

They come together from their prison, hand in hand. "The testimony
of Jesus!" Stand back, Mazurier! Retire, Briconnet! Here is not your
place,--this is not your hour! Yet here incendiaries fire the temples
of the Holy Ghost!

The judges do not now congratulate. Jacqueline waits not now at midnight
for the coming of Le Roy. Bride and bridegroom, there they stand; they
face the world to give their testimony.

And a woman's voice, almost I deem the voice of Elsie Méril, echoes the
mother's cry that followed John Leclerc when he fought the beasts at
Meaux,--

"Blessed be Jesus Christ, and His witnesses."

So of the Truth were they borne up that day in a blazing chariot to meet
their Lord in the air, to be forever with their Lord.

       *       *       *       *       *


ON A MAGNOLIA-FLOWER.


  Memorial of my former days,
  Magnolia, as I scent thy breath,
  And on thy pallid beauty gaze,
  I feel not far from death!

  So much hath happened! and so much
  The tomb hath claimed of what was mine!
  Thy fragrance moves me with a touch
  As from a hand divine:

  So many dead! so many wed!
  Since first, by this Magnolia's tree,
  I pressed a gentle hand and said,
  A word no more for me!

  Lady, who sendest from the South
  This frail, pale token of the past,
  I press the petals to my mouth,
  And sigh--as 'twere my last.

  Oh, love, we live, but many fell!
  The world's a wreck, but we survive!--
  Say, rather, still on earth we dwell,
  But gray at thirty-five!



SOME NOTES ON SHAKSPEARE.


In 1849, the discovery by Mr. Payne Collier of a copy of the Works
of Shakspeare, known as the folio of 1632, with manuscript notes and
emendations of the same or nearly the same date, created a great and
general interest in the world of letters.

The marginal notes were said to be in a handwriting not much later
than the period when the volume came from the press; and Shakspearian
scholars and students of Shakspeare, and the far more numerous class,
lovers of Shakspeare, learned and unlearned, received with respectful
eagerness a version of his text claiming a date so near to the lifetime
of the master that it was impossible to resist the impression that the
alterations came to the world with only less weight of authority than if
they had been undoubtedly his own.

The general satisfaction of the literary world in the treasure-trove was
but little alloyed by the occasional cautiously expressed doubts of
some caviller at the authenticity of the newly discovered "curiosity of
literature"; the daily newspapers made room in their crowded columns for
extracts from the volume; the weekly journals put forth more elaborate
articles on its history and contents; and the monthly and quarterly
reviews bestowed their longer and more careful criticism upon the new
readings of that text, to elucidate which has been the devout industry
of some of England's ripest scholars and profoundest thinkers; while
the actors, not to be behindhand in a study especially concerning their
vocation, adopted with more enthusiasm than discrimination some of the
new readings, and showed a laudable acquaintance with the improved
version, by exchanging undoubtedly the better for the worse, upon the
authority of Mr. Collier's folio, soon after the publication of which
I had the ill-fortune to hear a popular actress destroy the effect
and meaning of one of the most powerful passages in "Macbeth" by
substituting the new for the old reading of the line,--

  "What beast was it, then,
  That made you break this enterprise to me?"

The cutting antithesis of "What _beast_" in retort to her husband's
assertion, "I dare do all that may become a _man_," was tamely rendered
by the lady, in obedience to Mr. Collier's folio, "What _boast_ was
it, then,"--a change that any one possessed of poetical or dramatic
perception would have submitted to upon nothing short of the positive
demonstration of the author's having so written the passage.

Opinions were, indeed, divided as to the intrinsic merit of the
emendations or alterations. Some of the new readings were undoubted
improvements, some were unimportant, and others again were beyond all
controversy inferior to the established text of the passages; and it
seemed not a little difficult to reconcile the critical acumen and
poetical insight of many of the corrections with the feebleness and
prosaic triviality of others.

Again, it was observed by those conversant with the earlier editions,
especially with the little read or valued Oxford edition, that a vast
number of the passages given as emendations in Mr. Collier's folio were
precisely the same in Hanmer's text. Indeed, it seems not a little
remarkable that neither Mr. Collier nor his opponents have thought it
worth their while to state that nearly half, and that undoubtedly the
better half, of the so-called new readings are to be found in the finely
printed, but little esteemed, text of the Oxford Shakspeare. If, indeed,
these corrections now come to us with the authority of a critic but
little removed from Shakspeare's own time, it is remarkable that Sir
Thomas Hanmer's, or rather Mr. Theobald's, ingenuity should have
forestalled the _fiat_ of Mr. Collier's folio in so many instances. On
the other hand, it may have been judged by others besides a learned
editor of Shakspeare from whom I once heard the remark, that the fact of
the so-called new readings being many of them in Rowe and Hanmer, and
therefore well known to the subsequent editors of Shakspeare, who
nevertheless did not adopt them, proved that in their opinion they were
of little value and less authority. But, says Mr. Collier, inasmuch as
they are in the folio of 1632, which I now give to the world, they are
of authority paramount to any other suggestion or correction that has
hitherto been made on the text of Shakspeare.

Thus stood the question in 1853. How stands it in 1860? After a slow,
but gradual process of growth and extension of doubt and questionings,
more or less calculated to throw discredit on the authority of the
marginal notes in the folio,--the volume being subjected to the careful
and competent examination of certain officers of the library of the
British Museum,--the result seems to threaten a considerable reduction
in the supposed value of the authority which the public was called upon
to esteem so highly.

The ink in which the annotations are made has been subjected to chemical
analysis, and betrays, under the characters traced in it, others made in
pencil, which are pronounced by some persons of a more modern date than
the letters which have been traced over them.

Here at present the matter rests. Much angry debate has ensued between
the various gentlemen interested in the controversy,--Mr. Collier not
hesitating to suggest that pencil-marks in imitation of his handwriting
had been inserted in the volume, and a fly-leaf abstracted from it,
while in the custody of Messrs. Hamilton and Madden of the British
Museum; while the replies of these gentlemen would go towards
establishing that the corrections are forgeries, and insinuating that
they are forgeries for which Mr. Collier is himself responsible.

While the question of the antiquity and authority of these marginal
notes remains thus undecided, it may not be amiss to apply to them the
mere test of common sense in order to determine upon their intrinsic
value, to the adequate estimate of which all thoughtful readers of
Shakspeare must be to a certain degree competent.

The curious point, of whose they are, may test the science of
decipherers of palimpsest manuscripts; the more weighty one, of what
they are worth, remains, as it was from the first, a matter on which
every student of Shakspeare may arrive at some conclusion for himself.
And, indeed, to this ground of judgment Mr. Collier himself appeals, in
his preface to the "Notes and Emendations," in no less emphatic terms
than the following:--"As Shakspeare was especially the poet of common
life, so he was emphatically the poet of common sense; and to the
verdict of common sense I am willing to submit all the more material
alterations recommended on the authority before me."

I take "The Tempest," the first play in Mr. Collier's volume of "Notes
and Emendations," and, while bestowing my principal attention on the
inherent worth of the several new readings, shall point out where
they tally exactly with the text of the Oxford edition, because that
circumstance has excited little attention in the midst of the other
various elements of interest in the controversy, and also because I have
it in my power to give from a copy of that edition in my possession some
passages corrected by John and Charles Kemble, who brought to the study
of the text considerable knowledge of it and no inconsiderable ability
for poetical and dramatic criticism.

In the first scene of the first act of "The Tempest" Mr. Collier gives
the line,--

  "Good Boatswain, have care,"--

adding, "It may be just worth remark, that the colloquial expression is
_have a care_, and _a_ is inserted in the margin of the corrected folio,
1632, to indicate, probably, that the poet so wrote it, or, at all
events, that the actor so delivered it."

In the copy of Hanmer in my possession the _a_ is also inserted in the
margin, upon the authority of one of the eminent actors above mentioned.

SCENE II.

  "The sky. it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
  But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
  Dashes the fire out."

The manuscript corrector of the folio, 1632, has substituted _heat_
for "cheek," which appears to me an alteration of no value whatever.
Shakspeare was more likely to have written _cheek_ than _heat_; for
elsewhere he uses the expression, "Heaven's face," "the welkin's face,"
and, though irregular, the expression is poetical.

At Miranda's exclamation,--

  "A brave vessel,
  Who had no doubt some noble creature in her,
  Dash'd all to pieces,"--

Mr. Collier does Theobald the justice to observe, that he, as well as
the corrector of the folio, 1632, adds the necessary letter _s_ to the
word "creature," making the plural substantive agree with her other
exclamation of, "Poor souls, they perished!"

Where Mr. Collier, upon the authority of his folio, substitutes
_pre_vision for "provision" in the lines of Prospero,--

  "The direful spectacle of the wreck . . .
  I have with such provision in mine art
  So safely ordered," etc.,--

I do not agree to the value of the change. It is very true that
_pre_vision means the foresight that his art gave him, but _pro_vision
implies the exercise of that foresight or _pre_vision; it is therefore
better, because more comprehensive.

Mr. Collier's folio gives as an improvement upon Malone and Steevens's
reading of the passage,--

  "And thy father
  Was Duke of Milan; and his only heir
  A princess; no worse issued,"--

the following:--

  "And thy father
  Was Duke of Milan,--thou his only heir
  And princess no worse issued."

Supposing the folio to be ingenious rather than authoritative, the
passage, as it stands in Hanmer, is decidedly better, because clearer:--

  "And thy father
  Was Duke of Milan,--thou, his only heir
  A princess--no worse issued."

In the next passage, given as emended by the folio, we have what appears
to me one bad and one decidedly good alteration from the usual reading,
which, in all the editions given hitherto, has left the meaning barely
perceptible through the confusion and obscurity of the expression.

  "He being thus _lorded_,
  Not only with what my revenue yielded,
  But what my power might else exact,--like one
  Who having _unto truth_ by telling of it
  Made such a sinner of his memory
  To credit his own lie,--he did believe
  He was indeed the Duke."

The folio says,--

"He being thus _loaded_."

And to this change I object: the meaning was obvious before; "lorded"
stands clearly enough here for made lord of or over, etc.; and though
the expression is unusual, it is less prosaic than the proposed word
_loaded_. But in the rest of the passage the critic of the folio does
immense service to the text, in reading

  "Like one
  Who having _to untruth_ by telling of it
  Made such a sinner of his memory
  To credit his own lie,--he did believe
  He was indeed the Duke."

This change carries its own authority in its manifest good sense.

Of the passage,--

  "Whereon,
  A treacherous army levied, one midnight
  Fated to the purpose, did Antonio open
  The gates of Milan, and in the dead of darkness
  The ministers for the purpose hurried thence
  Me and thy crying self,"--

Mr. Collier says that the iteration of the word "purpose," in the fourth
line, after its employment in the second, is a blemish, which his folio
obviates by substituting the word _practice_ in the first line. I think
this a manifest improvement, though not an important one.

Mr. Collier gives Rowe the credit of having altered "butt" to _boat_,
and "have quit it" to _had quit it_, in the lines,--

  "Where they prepar'd
  A rotten carcase of a _butt_ not rigg'd,
  Nor tackle, sail, nor mast,--the very rats
  Instinctively _have quit it_."

Adding, that in both changes he is supported by the corrector of the
folio, 1632. Hanmer gives the passage exactly as the latter, and as Rowe
does.

We now come to the stage-directions in the folio, to which Mr. Collier
gives, I think, a most exaggerated value. He says, that, where Prospero
says,--

  "Lend thy hand
  And pluck my magic garment from me,--so
  Lie there, my art,"--

the words, "Lay it down," are written over against the passage. Now this
really seems a very unnecessary direction, inasmuch as the text very
clearly indicates that Prospero lays down as well as plucks off his
"magic garment,"--unless we are to suppose Miranda holding it over her
arm till he resumes it. But still less do I agree with Mr. Collier in
thinking the direction, "Put on robe again," at the passage beginning,
"Now I arise," any extraordinary accession to the business, as it is
technically called, of the scene: for I do not think that his resuming
his magical robe was in any way necessary to account for the slumber
which overcomes Miranda, "in spite of her interest in her father's
story," and which Mr. Collier says the commentators have endeavored to
account for in various ways; but putting "_because_ of her interest in
her father's story," instead of "_in spite_ of," I feel none of the
difficulty which beset the commentators, and which Mr. Collier conjures
by the stage-direction which makes Prospero resume his magic robe at
a certain moment in order to put his daughter to sleep. Worthy Dr.
Johnson, who was not among the puzzled commentators on this occasion,
suggests, very agreeably to common sense, that "Experience proves that
any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber." But Mr.
Collier says, the Doctor gives this very reasonable explanation of
Miranda's sleep only because he was not acquainted with the folio
stage-direction about Prospero's coat, and knew no better. Now we are
acquainted with this important addition to the text, and yet know no
better than to agree with Doctor Johnson, that Miranda's slumbers were
perfectly to be accounted for without the coat. Mr. Collier does not
seem to know that a deeper and heavier desire to sleep follows upon the
overstrained exercise of excited attention than on the weariness of a
dull and uninteresting appeal to it.

But let us consider Shakspeare's text, rather than the corrector's
additions, for a moment. Within reach of the wild wind and spray of
the tempest, though sheltered from their fury, Miranda had watched the
sinking ship struggling with the mad elements, and heard when "rose from
sea to sky the wild farewell." Amazement and pity had thrown her into a
paroxysm of grief, which is hardly allayed by her father's assurance,
that "there's no harm done." After this terrible excitement follows the
solemn exordium to her father's story,--

  "The hour's now come;
  The very minute bids thee ope thine ear.
  Obey and be attentive."

The effort she calls upon her memory to make to recover the traces
of her earliest impressions of life,--the strangeness of the events
unfolded to her,--the duration of the recital itself, which is
considerable,--and, above all, the poignant personal interest of
its details, are quite sufficient to account for the sudden utter
prostration of her overstrained faculties and feelings, and the profound
sleep that falls on the young girl. Perhaps Shakspeare knew this, though
his commentators, old and new, seem not to have done so; and without a
professed faith, such as some of us moderns indulge in, in the mysteries
of magnetism, perhaps he believed enough in the magnetic force of the
superior physical as well as mental power of Prospero's nature over
the nervous, sensitive, irritable female organization of his child to
account for the "I know thou canst not choose" with which he concludes
his observation on her drowsiness, and his desire that she will not
resist it. The magic gown may, indeed, have been powerful,--but hardly
more so, we think, than the nervous exhaustion which, combined with
the authoritative will and eyes of her lord and father, bowed down the
child's drooping eyelids in profoundest sleep.

The strangest of all Mr. Collier's comments upon this passage, however,
is that where he represents Miranda as, up to a certain point of her
father's story, remaining "standing eagerly listening by his side." This
is not only gratuitous, but absolutely contrary to Shakspeare's text,--a
greater authority, I presume, than even that of the annotated folio.
Prospero's words to his daughter, when first he begins the recital of
their sea-sorrow, are,--

  "Sit down!
  For thou must now know further."

Does Mr. Collier's folio reject this reading of the first line? or does
he suppose that Miranda remained standing, in spite of her father's
command? Moreover, when he interrupts his story with the words, "Now I
arise," he adds, to his daughter, "Sit still," which clearly indicates
both that she was seated and that she was about to rise (naturally
enough) when her father did. We say, "Sit _down_," to a person who is
standing; and, "Sit _still_," to a person seated who is about to rise;
and in all these minute particulars, the simple text of Shakspeare, if
attentively followed, gives every necessary indication of his intention
with regard to the attitudes and movements of the persons on the stage
in this scene; and the highly commended stage-directions of the folio
are here, therefore, perfectly superfluous.

The next alteration in the received text is a decided improvement. In
speaking of the royal fleet dispersed by the tempest, Ariel says,--

  "They all have met again,
  And are upon the Mediterranean _flote_
  Bound sadly home for Naples";--

for which Mr. Collier's folio substitutes,--

  "They all have met again,
  And all upon the Mediterranean _float_,
  Bound sadly back to Naples."

Mr. Collier notices, that the improvement of giving the lines,

  "Which any print of goodness will not take,"

to Prospero, instead of Miranda, dates as far back as Dryden and
Davenant's alteration of "The Tempest," from which he says Theobald and
others copied it.

The corrected folio gives its authority to the lines of the song,--

  "Foot it featly here and there,
  And, sweet sprites, the burden bear,"--

which stands so in Hanmer, and, indeed is the usually received
arrangement of the song.

This is the last corrected passage in the first act, in the course of
which Mr. Collier gives us no fewer than sixteen, altered, emended, and
commented upon in his folio. Many of the emendations are to be found
_verbatim_ in the Oxford and subsequent editions, and three only appear
to us to be of any special value, tried by the standard of common sense,
to which we agreed, on Mr. Collier's invitation, to refer them.

The line in Prospero's threat to Caliban,--

  "I'll rack thee with old cramps,
  Fill all thy bones with _aches_, make thee roar,"--

occasioned one of Mr. John Kemble's characteristic differences with the
public, who objected, perhaps not without reason, to hearing the word
"aches" pronounced as a dissyllable, although the line imperatively
demands it; and Shakspeare shows that the word was not unusually so
pronounced, as he introduces it with the same quantity in the prose
dialogue of "Much Ado about Nothing," and makes it the vehicle of a pun
which certainly argues that it was familiar to the public ear as _ache_
and not _ake_. When Hero asks Beatrice, who complains that she is sick,
what she is sick for,--a hawk, a hound, or a husband,--Beatrice replies,
that she is sick for--or of--that which begins them all, an _ache_,--an
_H_. Indeed, much later than Shakspeare's day the word was so
pronounced; for Dean Swift, in the "City Shower," has the line,--

  "Old _aches_ throb, your hollow tooth will
  rage."

The opening of this play is connected with my earliest recollections. In
looking down the "dark backward and abysm of time," to the period when
I was but six years old, my memory conjures up a vision of a stately
drawing-room on the ground-floor of a house, doubtless long since swept
from the face of the earth by the encroaching tide of new houses
and streets that has submerged every trace of suburban beauty,
picturesqueness, or rural privacy in the neighborhood of London,
converting it all by a hideous process of assimilation into more London,
till London seems almost more than England can carry.

But in those years, "long enough ago," to which I refer,--somewhere
between Lea and Blackheath, stood in the midst of well-kept grounds a
goodly mansion, which held this pleasant room. It was always light and
cheerful and warm, for the three windows down to the broad gravel-walk
before it faced south; and though the lawn was darkened just in front of
them by two magnificent yew-trees, the atmosphere of the room itself,
in its silent, sunny loftiness, was at once gay and solemn to my small
imagination and senses,--much as the interior of Saint Peter's of Rome
has been since to them. Wonderful, large, tall jars of precious old
china stood in each window, and my nose was just on a level with the
wide necks, whence issued the mellowest smell of fragrant _pot-pourri_.
Into this room, with its great crimson curtains and deep crimson carpet,
in which my feet seemed to me buried, as in woodland moss, I used to be
brought for recompense of having been "very good," and there I used to
find a lovely-looking lady, who was to me the fitting divinity of this
shrine of pleasant awfulness. She bore a sweet Italian diminutive for
her Christian name, added to one of the noblest old ducal names of
Venice, which was that of her family.

I have since known that she was attached to the person of, and warmly
personally attached to, the unfortunate Caroline of Brunswick, Princess
of Wales,--then only unfortunate; so that I can now guess at the drift
of much sad and passionate talk with indignant lips and tearful eyes, of
which the meaning was then of course incomprehensible to me, but which I
can now partly interpret by the subsequent history of that ill-used and
ill-conducted lady.

The face of my friend with the great Venetian name was like one of
Giorgione's pictures,--of that soft and mellow colorlessness that
recalls the poet's line,--

  "E smarrisce 'l bel volto in quel colore
  Che non è pallidezza, ma candore,"--

or the Englishman's version of the same thought,--

  "Her face,--oh, call it fair, not pale!"

It seemed to me, as I remember it, cream-colored; and her eyes, like
clear water over brown rocks, where the sun is shining. But though the
fair visage was like one of the great Venetian master's portraits, her
voice was purely English, low, distinct, full, and soft,--and in this
enchanting voice she used to tell me the story of the one large picture
which adorned the room.

Over and over again, at my importunate beseeching, she told
it,--sometimes standing before it, while I held her hand and listened
with upturned face, and eyes rounding with big tears of wonder and pity,
to a tale which shook my small soul with a sadness and strangeness
far surpassing the interest of my beloved tragedy, "The Babes in the
Wood,"--though at this period of my existence it has happened to me to
interrupt with frantic cries of distress, and utterly refuse to hear,
the end of that lamentable ballad.

But the picture.--In the midst of a stormy sea, on which night seemed
fast settling down, a helmless, mastless, sailless bark lay weltering
giddily, and in it sat a man in the full flower of vigorous manhood.
His attitude was one of miserable dejection, and, oh, how I did long to
remove the hand with which his eyes were covered, to see what manner of
look in them answered to the bitter sorrow which the speechless lips
expressed! His other hand rested on the fair curls of a girl-baby of
three years old, who clung to his knee, and, with wide, wondering blue
eyes and laughing lips, looked up into the half-hidden face of her
father.--"And that," said the sweet voice at my side, "was the good Duke
of Milan, Prospero,--and that was his little child, Miranda."

There was something about the face and figure of the Prospero that
suggested to me those of my father; and this, perhaps, added to the
poignancy with which the representation of his distress affected my
childish imagination. But the impression made by the picture, the story,
and the place where I heard the one and saw the other, is among the most
vivid that my memory retains. And never, even now, do I turn the magic
page that holds that marvellous history, without again seeing the lovely
lady, the picture full of sad dismay, and my own six-year-old self
listening to that earliest Shakspearian lore that my mind and heart ever
received. I suppose this is partly the secret of my love for this,
above all other of the poet's plays;--it was my first possession in the
kingdom of unbounded delight which he has since bestowed upon me.

       *       *       *       *       *


THE GREAT ARM-CHAIR.


Shall I not to-day, Estelle, give you the history of this great
arm-chair, the only historical piece of furniture in our house? The
heavy oak frame was carved by an imprisoned poet. They took away his
pen, and in larger lines he carved this chair. Heavily moulded Sphinxes
form its arms; the strong legs and feet of some wild beast its support;
the crest, a winged figure with bandaged eyes,--a Fate or Fortune
we might call it,--that mild look not to be resisted in its gentle
strength. But blind Fortune could not so master him: his prison made for
him only a secure room, in which to study, to work out, the mysteries.

The rich covering was wrought long years ago, in some ancient convent,
by a saintly nun. Holy, pious tears dropped on it as she wrought. She
pricked out brave bright flowers with her needle, though her own life
was pale and sad. I cover this sacred work with housewifely care; but it
makes our rest there more hallowed.

This old chair we call our dreaming-chair,--to borrow a name, our
Sleepy-Hollow. It is so simple and grand in workmanship, it should be
the seat of honor in a king's palace; and yet it is in place in our
small parlor. Perhaps some day I may tell you of the ancient dames and
knights who once possessed it; but they have long since slept their last
sleep,--no summer-afternoon's nap, but a sleep so long to last, now
their long day's work is done.

Not quite finished is the old man's work who this afternoon sat in the
chair and quietly dreamed back his youth. I saw the hardened, withered
face soften, as the bright light of childhood played around it; the
meagre, hard old man forgot for a little the sharp want that pinched
him; when he waked, he still babbled of green fields.

"Did Robinson Crusoe ever come back to his father and mother?" he says
to me. "Poor boy! poor boy! I went to sea when I was young. Father and
mother didn't like it. Came back after a four-years' voyage, and off
again, soon as the ship had unloaded, on another trip up the Channel:
took all my money to fit out. Might have had the Custom-House, if there
had been anybody to speak for me; would have done my work well, and
maybe had kept it thirty or forty years. Should be glad to creep into a
hay-mow and pay somebody to feed me. Wish old Uncle Jack was good for
somethin' besides work, work,--nothin' but hard work! Wish he could talk
and say somethin'.

"Now that was good, sensible poetry you were reading, wasn't it? Good
stuff? Couldn't hear a word of it: poor old fellow can't hear much now.
Wish my father had lived longer; he would have told me things; he used
to be different to me. I could have been a sight of comfort to him in
mathematics." (His father died when the son was fifty years old; the
thirty years he had lived since seemed a long life to the old man.)
"Mayn't I look at the poetry?"

I found the place for him,--"New England."

"Yes, the farmer takes lots of comfort, walking on the road, foddering
cattle, cutting wood."

Uncle Jack believes heartily in New England corn, and in the planting
and hoeing of Indian corn he takes great delight: not to corn-laws, but
to Indian corn, the talk always drifts.

"I hear you are going to plant a couple of acres of corn, Sir. Glad of
it. This is an excellent dish of tea, Marm. This bread tastes like my
mother's bread; baked in a bake-kettle. These mangoes are nice,--such as
we used to have."

Turning to Aunt Sarah, he says,--

"Did you ever notice a difference in eggs, Marm?"

"Yes, Aunt thinks there is a difference between fresh and stale eggs."

"But I mean, Marm, that some are thin-shelled, some rough, some
round, some peaked: a hen lays 'em just so all her life. Ever see a
difference?"

It is an open question.

Then turning to the master of the house,--

"Do you like choc'late, Sir? Well, how you going to fix it when you
haven't got any milk? Well, you just beat up an egg, and pour on the
choc'late, boiling hot, stirring all the time, and you won't want any
milk, Sir. That was what kept me alive aboard the Ranger."

Now comes the story of the Ranger. He was getting in years, he said, and
wanted a home for his old age; so he built him a boat. He put a little
open stove in it, because an open fire felt kind o' comfortable to his
toes. He named it the Ranger; because when he was a little boy he took a
long walk to the beach with his father, the little Iulus following with
unequal steps, and they saw a shipwrecked vessel, named the Ranger, and
he liked the name. He kept that name in his heart many years. When at
last, by dint of much saving and scraping together, much hoeing of
Indian corn, the old stocking-foot was at last filled, all the little
odd bits, poured out and counted up, came to enough to speak to the
ship-builder. Oh, the model! how the old man's brain worked over that!
Then the timber,--each was a chosen piece; oak, apple, cherry, pine,
each tree sent a stick. The home was builded, was launched, was
christened: The Ranger. Alas, it was an ill-omened name to him! Brave
and young was he in heart, and loved right well his tossing, rolling
home; and many a hard gale did he ride out in her alone, old as he was.

Too old was he to be trusted on the treacherous deep; and friends (?)
advised and counselled, and the home of his old age was sold. (He never
got the pay!) Now, with restless, wandering feet, he makes long tramps,
trying to collect old debts. Kind-hearted old man that he is, thinking
always he is hard on 'em when he gets a promise to pay! A wife has been
sick; perhaps he had better not ask for it now. His ox has died; maybe
he had better wait. Fumbling over old papers in his pocket-book,
muttering something about a pension: he was on the list, but was never
called out, or somebody took his place.

Poor old Uncle Jack, with his dream of a pension, his dream of an
office, his dream of a home in a boat! With him "many a dream has gone
down the stream."

May some friendly hand at last close his eyes to that last long sleep,
when his turn comes to heave down!

He is always finding Indian arrowheads and hatchets and pestles. He
picks full pails of the nicest-looking huckleberries. He is always
dressed in clean, tidy clothes, a little scant and well patched. He pats
me on the head and says, "Didn't know you were Evelyn's sister; thought
it was a little three-year old." About to tell me a sad story he had
read in the newspaper, he stops suddenly and says, "Believe I won't tell
you, dear!" "Did you hear the newspipe has broke?" when the Atlantic
Telegraph Cable parted. He had plans for shoving off the Leviathan when
it stuck.

Shall I not tell you he brings me a little bunch of eels of his own
spearing? that you must be careful at table he has enough to eat, he
takes such small pieces? that he is altogether a sparse man? has rows of
pins on his sleeve that he picks up?--an old-fashioned man, whose type
is fast fading out from these "fast," "steep" times. He tells a story of
a stream of black flies which came so thick and so fast pouring on, he
looked as long as he darst to. Yet he can tell a good, big story yet,
and when somebody was talking of turtles of good size, jumped up
suddenly, "Did you ever see a terrapin, Sir?" and then walked round the
long dining-table to tell how big he was and how high he stood on his
feet. "When I was in the West Indies, Sir----Wish I could creep into a
good English hay-mow and pay somebody to feed me!"

Do you remember, Estelle, the story we read together once, out of the
"Casket" or "Gem," one of those old annuals, where a certain princess
was sent to a desolate island, whose maids of honor were all old crones,
once distinguished by their wonderful beauty? Her task was to discover
each especial grace, long since buried by the rubbish which time and
folly had heaped upon it; in each old, yellow, wrinkled hag to find
the charm which had once adorned her: as she found the grace, it was
transferred to her own youthful person. Slowly and patiently she unwound
those wrapped-up mummies, and disclosed the gems hidden in those
burial-clothes; and returned to her father's court enriched with all
those long-buried graces, now revived to their former youthful beauty,
and with the added charm which wisdom and patience give.

My task is not so difficult,--as I seek virtues, not perishable stuffs.
We will learn the history of these thickly crossing wrinkles, that,
checkering, map out the face like the streets of a busy city. We will
read the story "that youth and observation copied there." Many sit in my
chair with weather-beaten looks, but time and want and necessity have
ploughed still deeper furrows.

It is not in vain, this brave encounter with the elements,--this battle
to keep the wolf Want outside the door,--the patient, laborious building
up of the small house, made almost a comfortable home by many years of
toil,--the sufficient meal snatched from Nature by the line or the gun,
or wrung from her by hard labor of the hands. Is the face too thin and
hard, the lips compressed? Would you turn away from so much patient
endurance of a hard lot? Turn again, and read the story the clear eye
tells; listen to the words of a deep religious experience which the
thin, cracked voice relates: how in visions of the night the Comforter
has come to them, and henceforth the way of duty is clear, and the
burden of life is lightened. Will you go with me, dear, into those
homely houses, sit with me by the firesides, and hear the simple story
of New England's farmers and farmers' wives? We cannot call those poor
who are so rich in all the manly virtues, and in the deep experiences of
a faithful life.

Uncle Jack stops on his way, going up to get the oxen, and passes the
night,--says, "Other people can't find enough to do; for his part, he
should like to lie down in the hay-mow and rest,--all worn out, used up.
Now Josiah, good, conversable man, knows about geography and the country
round. Well, when you've got that, got the best of him,--likes variety
too well,--goes off, leaves the homestead like a dismantled ship. Now,
if a man only gets three good days down cellar, that's something. Don't
believe 'Siah ever does it. So many notions in's head bothers him."
(Uncle Jack is quite right; 'tis not economical to have notions;
besides, they are revolutionary, they subvert the order of things.) "Got
a cunning little heifer used to have some manners. Lost some of our
lambs; read in a book, that, take what care you might, you would lose
some lambs at times."--To-day he has gone driving the oxen round by
Perkins's.

"Had the rheumatism this winter,--guess Jack Frost pinched him."--Ah!
dear old man, an older than Jack Frost has got hold of your aged limbs!
Harder pinches old Time gives than any mortal man!

"Used to get a little bird, Harris and me, and roast it, and mother
would give us a little apple-sauce in a clam-shell, and we would go off
back the island and eat it. Harris was sent to school up to Perkins's;
couldn't stay; run away, and _borrowed_ a boat, and came home again;
afraid of his father, and hid in the barn. Dug a well in the hay,
and they used to lower him down things to eat, and water to drink in
scooped-out water-melon rinds."

       *       *       *       *       *


THE SONG OF FATIMA.


  On, sad are they who know not love,
  But, far from passion's tears and smiles,
  Drift down a moonless sea, and pass
  The silver coasts of fairy isles!

  And sadder they whose longing lips
  Kiss empty air, and never touch
  The dear warm mouth of those they love,
  Waiting, wasting, suffering much!

  But clear as amber, sweet as musk,
  Is life to those whose lives unite:
  They walk in Allah's smile by day,
  And nestle in his heart by night!



SOMETHING ABOUT HISTORY.


There is no kind of writing which is undertaken so much from will and so
little from instinct as History. It seems the great resource of baffled
ambition, of leisure, of minds disciplined rather than inspired, of men
with pecuniary means and without professional obligations. Sympathy
with or opposition to an author prompts those thus situated to write
criticism; a dominant sentiment inspires poetical composition; and
usually an impressive experience suggests adventure in the field of
fiction: but we find educated men, in independent circumstances, not
remarkable for sensibility to Nature, acute critical perception, or
dramatic talent, whose literary aspirations are vague, and who desire
to be occupied eligibly, turn to History as the most available
vantage-ground, busy themselves with wars and councils that happened
ages ago,--with kings and soldiers, institutions and adventures,
politics and dynasties, so far removed from the associations and
interests of the hour, that only a scholar's enthusiasm or ambition
could sustain the research or keep alive the enterprise thus voluntarily
assumed. It is this objective method and motive that chiefly accounts
for the numberless inert and the few vital histories. Like any
intellectual task assumed without special fitness therefor or motive
thereto,--without a comprehensive grasp of mind that impels to
historic exploration,--without a patriotic zeal that warms to national
heroism,--without, especially, a love of some principle, a conviction
of some truth, an admiration of some national development, irresistibly
urging the cultivated and ardent mind to seek for the facts, to
celebrate the persons, to evolve the truth involved in and manifest
through public events,--the annals recorded are but dry chronology,--a
monotonous, more or less authentic, perhaps quite respectable, but far
from a very important or peculiarly interesting work. Thousands of
such cumber the shelves of libraries and fill the pages of
catalogues,--dusted once a year, perhaps, to verify a date, to
authenticate the details of a treaty, or fix the statistics of a war,
but never read consecutively and with zest, because there was no genuine
relation between the writer and his book. He undertook the latter in
the spirit of a mechanical job; industry and learning may be embodied
therein, but no moral life, no human charm; yet the work is cited with
respect, the author enrolled with honor;--whereas, had he sought
in poetry or philosophy, in a novel or a drama, thus to occupy and
celebrate himself with literature, the failure would have been signal,
the attempt ignominious. There is, indeed, no safer investment for
middling literary abilities than History; for, if it fail to yield any
large harvest of renown, it is comparatively secure from the assaults
of ridicule, such as make pretension in other spheres of writing
conspicuous.

Even in what are considered the successful exemplars in this department
of literature, the errors incident to artificiality, the conventional
forms of writing, are patent. Only in passages do we recognize that
beauty or truth, that reality and genuineness, which so often wholly
pervade a poem, a story, a memoir, or even a disquisition: at some
point, the flow incident to wilful instead of soulful utterance becomes
apparent;--ambition, pride of opinion, love of display somewhere
manifest themselves. It has been said that the chief element of Hume's
mental power was skepticism; and, singular as it may appear, his doubts
about what are deemed the vital interests of humanity gave a charm to
his record of her political vicissitudes; while he made capital of
touching "situations," he displayed his own strength of intellect; but,
with all this, did not write complete and authentic history. And when
analyzed, what was the _animus_ of Gibbon's elaborate chronicle? He
"spent his time, his life, his energy," says a severe, but just critic,
"in putting a polished gloss on human tumult, a sneering gloss on human
piety." And who has not felt, in following Macaulay's animated periods
and thorough exposition and illustration of some event, trait, or
economy,--in itself of little importance and limited value,--how much
better it would have been to reserve his brilliant descriptive and keen
analytical powers for the grand episodes, the prolific crises, and the
leading characters of history, instead of indiscriminately devoting them
to a consecutive account of national incidents and persons, both great
and small, illustrious and insignificant?

A popular British author of our own day, in order to demonstrate the
law of compensation, as regards the literary vocation, cites its
inexpensiveness,--arguing, that, whereas the artist must invest capital,
however small, in colors, marble, canvas, and studio-hire, and the
professional man occupy a costly locality, the author needs but a quire
of foolscap and a pen and ink to set up in trade. While there is literal
truth in this comparison, the fact is not applicable to historical
writing, except in a very limited degree. The preparation of the most
successful works in this department, in modern times, has been attended
with an outlay impossible to the poor scholar. It has involved the
examination and reproduction of voluminous manuscript authorities,
distant travel, the purchase of rare books and family papers, and
sometimes years of busy reference, observation, and study, lucrative
only in prospect. The same amount of culture and facile vigor of
composition which less prosperous authors expend on a masterly review
would suffice to make them famous historians, if blessed with the
pecuniary means to seek foreign sources of information, or gather about
them scattered and rare materials wherewith to weave a chronicle of the
past. Hence, not only has History become the chosen field of writers
with no special gift for more individually inspired kinds of literature,
but of the educated sons of fortune. Accordingly, it is curious to
remark the contrast between the lives of historians and those of
poets; and in the average circumstances of the former there is some
justification for the title of an aristocratic guild in letters.
Compare Cowper's humble home at Olney with Gibbon's elegant library at
Lausanne,--the social environment of Hallam, Grote, or Macaulay with
the rustic isolation of Wordsworth, the economies of Shelley, or the
life-struggle of Jerrold. Of course, there can thence be inferred no
general rule; and the very differences in temperament between inventive
and reproductive writers suggest a consequent diversity of habits; but
the very idea of historical composition, on an extensive scale and as a
permanent occupation, implies the leisure which competency alone yields,
the means indispensable for gradual literary achievement, and more or
less of the luxury and social position which, when education obtains,
usually attend upon these advantages.

It results from these considerations that there is no sphere of
literature which is so often the refuge of wealthy scholars, idle men of
taste, baffled politicians of independent means, ambitious and well-read
but not specially gifted citizens who have inherited comfortable
estates. It is so dignified an employment, that it gratifies pride,--so
possible without trenchant opinions, that it does not alarm the
conservative,--so thoroughly respectable, safe, and capable of being
made illustrious, so comparatively easy to the fluent but unoriginal
mind, and practicable to follow, when methodically carried out, in
a stated, regular manner, that we can scarcely be astonished at
the alacrity with which such voluntary tasks are undertaken or the
steadiness with which they are followed; at the same time, it may be
because so few are able to command the means and opportunity, that
historical writing is so highly estimated. As a test of intellectual
power, a gauge of individual sentiment, an evidence of original genius,
it is immeasurably inferior to dramatic, philosophical, or any of the
more personal forms of literature, when inspired by deep convictions,
original ideas, or creative imagination. It requires more knowledge
than reflection, more patience than earnestness, more judgment than
sentiment; and those who have raised it to a vital significance and
profound beauty and interest have done so by virtue of endowments which,
otherwise directed, would have placed them high and firm on the roll of
genius: for it is possible to write history without this transcendent
gift,--possible to write it respectably without the slightest grandeur
or grace of mind,--by virtue of command of words, industry, care, and
good sense. We cannot imagine Shakspeare tracing out his conception
of Hamlet, or giving language to Lear or Miranda, without a soulful
experience as far above mere intellectual assiduity as humanity is above
mechanism; we cannot think of Milton elaborating his sublime epic,
without, in fancy, taking in the studious years, the Italian nights
of music, starlight, and high converse, the beautiful youth, the
self-sacrificing prime, the blind old age, the religious patriotism,
the pious loyalty, the learning and love, and the isolated meditation,
cheered by grand symphonies and hoarded wisdom, through and by which,
concentrated into melodious expression, the life of a noble mind thus
majestically expressed itself: but we can easily fancy cold and cultured
Gibbon returning from the Continent, full of classic lore, disgusted
with his failure in public life, not sympathetic enough to enjoy
heartily a career either of pleasure or of society, and so, in his
dreams of scholarship, seizing upon the idea of a long, laborious,
erudite, and elegant task; and we can also well imagine Hume, with his
love of speculation, turning gratefully to the records of the past for
subjects of reflection, analysis, and inference. In these and other
notable instances, we feel it is more an accident than an inspiration,
more from circumstances than from innate and absolute endowment and
impulse, that the historic Muse is wooed.

Within a brief period the grave has closed over one of the most
irreproachable and assiduous of American writers of History,--whose
career signally illustrates the blessing of such a resource to
unoccupied and cultivated leisure, and at the same time the fortuitous
circumstances which often originate and prolong this kind of literary
labor. In a letter to a friend abroad, written by Prescott soon after
he found himself thus congenially occupied, the case is most frankly
stated. "Ennui crept over me, when I found myself a perfectly idle man,
with nothing to do, and, what made it worse, with eyes so debilitated
that I had no power of doing anything with them. However, 'necessity is
the mother of invention,' and I resolved to turn author in spite of my
eyes; and it is a great satisfaction to me to think that the volumes I
have put together for my own amusement should have afforded some to my
countrymen, and, above all, to my friends."[A]

[Footnote A: Letter of W. H. Prescott to Miss Preble, dated Boston,
February 28, 1845. _Memoir of Harriet Preble_, by Professor R.H. LEE, p.
285-6.]

This modest and candid estimate of his vocation indicates how much more
a thing of volition and opportunity, and how much less a work of special
endowment and intuitive recognition is the literature of History than
that of Poetry, Psychology, or Philosophy, notwithstanding all these may
be fused therein. "Whatever may be the use of this sort of composition
in itself and abstractedly," observes a judicious critic,[B] "it is
certainly of great use relatively and to literary men. Consider the
position of a man of that species. He sits beside a library-fire, with
nice white paper, a good pen, a capital style, every means of saying
everything, but nothing to say. What, again, if something would happen,
and then one could describe it? Something has happened, and that
something is History." To feel fully the difference between a formal,
mechanical annalist and the revival of the past through poetic or
artistic sympathy, it is only requisite to turn from some dry chronicle
of political vicissitudes, duly registered by a dull, matter-of-fact,
conscientious antiquary, to the fresh classical or colonial romance, of
which such graceful and well-studied exemplars have been produced by
Lockhart, Bulwer, D'Azeglio, Kingsley, Ware, Longfellow, and other
bards and novelists. While the attempt, by intensity of description and
brilliant generalities, to impart to veritable history the charm we
accept in the historical romance, has caused many an old-school reader
to place Macaulay's fascinating volumes, called "The History of
England," on the same shelf with works of fiction,--Aytoun, Hugh
Miller, and William Penn's champions have given special meaning to
this principle or prejudice, whichever it may be, by challenging the
delightful author to the test of fact.

[Footnote B: Bagehot.]

In statesmen, or those who have excelled in political writing, the
ambition to write history, the desire to illustrate and record national
events, is not only a natural, but an auspicious feeling; and so it is
in educated poets in whom the sentiment of patriotism or the narrative
art gives scope and glow to such an enterprise. That Fox and Bacon,
Milton and Swift, Mackintosh, Schiller, and Lamartine, should have
partially adventured in this field seems but a legitimate result of
their endowments and experience, however fragmentary or inadequate may
have been some of the fruits of their historic studies.

When an enlightened and executive or speculative man is an obvious part
of the history of his own times, his chronicle must have a certain
significance and value. Raleigh, when he wrote the "History of the
World" in prison, gave hints by which subsequent and less obsolete
annalists have wisely profited. The scholar and the patriot coalesced in
the mind of Camden, prompting him to rescue and conserve the materials
of English history and note the fading traditions,--a purely antiquarian
service, which only those can appreciate who seek authentic data of
the far past. Such as cavil at the legal tone and crude arrangement
of Clarendon are none the less his debtors for specific memoirs, the
personal element of history; and while Burnet has been vigorously
repudiated by standard historians, he continues, and justly, to be a
prolific authority. It is conceded by all candid explorers, that, as far
as it goes, the account of England by Rapin is the best. Franklin's
old friend Ralph was commended and quoted by Fox. As the enterprise of
historical writers enlarged and their style became elaborate, these and
such as these lost in popularity what they gained in usefulness. The
charm of rhetorical elegance and broad generalizations gradually usurped
the place of simple narrative and detailed statement. In the very design
of Gibbon there is a certain poetical attraction; his work may aptly
be described as panoramic, unrolling a vast picture or succession of
pictures, too vague in outline and too monotonous in color for minute
impressions, yet, on this account, the more remarkable for general
effect. What Europe was in the Middle Ages we find more specifically in
Hallam; the Moors in Spain have been more vividly painted by subsequent
writers, whose aim was less comprehensive: but how the imperial sway of
Rome subsided into the Christian era, how a republican episode gleamed
athwart her waning power in the casual triumph of Rienzi, the
later emperors, and what occurred in their reign in Jerusalem and
Constantinople, pass emphatically before us in the stately pages which
once charmed readers of English as the model of historic eloquence, and
now excite the admiration of scholars as a monument of erudition and
elaborate but artificial writing. There was a new attraction in the
pleasing style of Robertson and the characterization of Hume; the
winsome language of the one and the transparent diction of the other
made historical reading not so much a task to cumber the memory as a
pastime to entertain the mind; in the one chronicle we followed events
gracefully unfolded, and in the other discussed persons with acuteness;
yet, when to either was subsequently applied the test of absolute
accuracy and sound deduction, large allowances were demanded for
inadequate research on the part of Robertson and partial inferences on
that of Hume. The theories of the latter indicate why and how, with
all his intellectual abilities, the sympathies of his readers were
inevitably limited; in his view of humanity we find the true cause
of all his deficiencies as an historian: "Human life," he somewhere
remarks, "is more governed by fortune than by reason, is to be regarded
more as a dull pastime than a serious occupation, and is more influenced
by particular humor than by general principles." Yet, in a philosophical
retrospect of English historians, we can trace a progressive development
from the purely antiquarian researches of Camden to the personal memoirs
of Clarendon and Burnet; thence to the comprehensive erudition and
majestic narrative of Gibbon; onward to the reasoning, lucid record of
Hume and the fascinating narrative of Robertson;--all of which qualities
of industry, characterization, broad knowledge, taste, emphasis,
and reflection blend, culminate, and intensify along the copious,
rhetorical, and vivid page of Macaulay.

The Italian historians prolong, in style at least, the method of their
classic predecessors: _"La Storia del Guicciardini è considerata come
opera classica,"_--we are told by one of the critics of that nation; who
adds, "His descriptions are always accurate, clear, and expressed with
eloquence; the causes of events and their consequences are enumerated
with rare acuteness; and his personages are delineated in their true
characters, the historian descending into the deepest penetralia of
their hearts: but the most eminent merit of this History consists in the
moral and political considerations with which it abounds; it is like
Tacitus." In like manner, Machiavelli is compared to Thucydides; while
Varchi's long periods, adulation of the Medici, and municipal details
are condemned by the same authority: yet one familiar with modern
literature in this department will, despite this general commendation of
native critics, be apt to ascribe the conservative charm of the Italian
historians to their style rather than their method or matter.

It is remarkable how late the French writers won laurels in the field
of historical composition, and how long France, with all her national
vanity, has lacked a complete and classical chronicle,--brilliant and
invaluable fragments whereof abound. According to the most esteemed
French critics, until this century the nation actually knew nothing
of its own history; and it is characteristic of their speculative
and methodical mind and taste, that History became popular and
philosophical, a novelty and a reform, simultaneously. Guizot, Thierry,
Sismondi, and others, created a new era in this branch of letters;
Thiers and Michelet enlarged its sphere and increased its charms; and
yet, while the graphic simplicity of Froissart, the critical insight and
ingenious generalizations of Guizot, and the poetical glow and richness
of Michelet have made the history of France both highly suggestive as
regards the development of civilization, and picturesque and dramatic as
a narrative, the greatest allowance for brilliant theorizing, political
sympathies, and an errant fancy are indispensable in order to attain to
a clear view of genuine facts and absolute principles. It has been said
that "leading ideas" are fatal to accuracy of statement; and these
dominate in the minds of French philosophical annalists; while the more
sympathetic class are fond of rhetorical display and fanciful episodes.
A recent critic, after bestowing merited encomiums on Michelet, gives
the following instance of his absurd generalizations, which occur in the
midst of grave historical statements and descriptions: "Wool and flesh
are the primitive foundations of England and the English race; ere
becoming the world's manufactory of hardware and tissues, England was a
victualling-shop; before they became a commercial, they were a breeding
and a pastoral people,--a race fatted on beef and mutton; hence their
freshness of tint, their beauty and strength: _their greatest man,
Shakspeare, was originally a butcher_."

Less prominent and more recent names on the roll of historic literature
are as distinctly associated with special excellences and defects. Thus,
Grote keeps attention more by the intelligence of his comments than by
the flow of his narration; he is far more political than picturesque;
and while he gives a masterly analysis of the Athenian system of
government, so as to place it in a new light even to the scholar's
apprehension, he discusses the arts and the literature so inspiring
to most cultivated minds, when describing Greece, with comparative
indifference. Those who would examine English annals unbiased by
Protestant zeal, and realize how the events and characters look to a
Roman Catholic vision, may gather from Lingard some views which may
not disadvantageously modify their interpretation of familiar men and
occurrences. Two English writers have hastily compiled her annals
during certain epochs; but while they are equally chargeable with
superficiality, the manner in which the work is done is by no means
similar. Smollet's continuation of Hume was confessedly a bookseller's
job: four octavo volumes in only ten times the number of months, even in
our days of locomotive celerity, would be thought rather a suspicious
piece of literary handiwork; and besides the indecent haste, so
incompatible with thoroughness, the misrepresentations of Smollet are
patent. Goldsmith, as unambitious in research as he was genial in
expression, made so agreeable a story, that, with all its imperfection,
his sketch still finds readers; while the rarely quoted work of Henry
most conveniently enumerates, at the end of each reign, details
economical and social which identify and illustrate both period and
progress in Anglo-Saxon civilization. As a copious and consecutive
record of the salient incidents in modern Continental history,--so
needful now for reference, and the diverse phases of which are so widely
chronicled in the memoirs, the journals, the diplomatic correspondence,
and what may be called the incidental history of the period,--the plan
of Alison's work might have achieved a triumph of industry and skill,
valuable as well as interesting to general readers and professional
writers: but the political opinions, with the partial feelings they
engender, continually distort the view and influence the estimate of
this positive yet pleasant historian; while his almost wilful blunders,
like the errors of Lord Mahon in regard to the American War, have
been repeatedly demonstrated. Mackintosh philosophized about events,
measures, and men, better than he described either. Sharon Turner nobly
illustrates the value of intrepid research and patient collation.
Mitford represents the aristocratic as Grote the democratic element in
Grecian history. Tytler wrote of the past in the life of nations with
the exclusive reliance on written proof that a conveyancer places upon
title-deeds, and beside the glowing and harmonious pictures of later
annalists such writing now appears obsolete. Napier describes battles
scientifically, and Carlyle revolutions melodramatically,--each with
original power, in their respective methods,--while Miss Strickland
brings to the record of queenly sorrows and duties a woman's sympathetic
prepossessions.

Since those quaintly simple and emphatic statements which, under the
name of Froissart's Chronicles, seem to perpetuate the instinctive
notion of History, as an honest and earnest, but unadorned and
unelaborate narrative of military and political facts,--not only has
there been a continual refinement of style and enlargement of scope and
art, but a greater complexity and subdivision in the historian's labors.
Abstract political ideas, purely intellectual phenomena, have found
their annalists, as well as executive enterprise; events have been
analyzed, as well as described,--characters discussed, as well as
pictured,--the elements of society laid bare with as much zeal and
scrutiny as its development has been traced and delineated. European
historical students read anew the records of the past by the light
of philosophy; more subtile divisions than the geographer indicates
organize the record; events are narrated with reference to a dominant
idea; governments are chronicled through their ultimate results, and
not exclusively with regard to their locality; rulers are considered
in groups; a faith is made the nucleus of an historical development,
instead of a nation. Thus, we have Ranke's "Popes" and D'Aubigne's
"Reformation," Hallam's "Middle Ages" and "English Constitution"; De
Quincey treats of "The Caesars"; Vico demonstrates that History is a
science with positive laws; Gervinus illustrates it as a development of
certain inevitably progressive ideas; Niebuhr interprets it by fresh
tests and ordeals; Dr. Arnold teaches it by an original method; Humboldt
points out its naturalistic tendencies and origin; Herder and Hegel, De
Tocqueville and Guizot, the eminent writers on Civilization, on Art, on
Education, Political Economy, Literature, and Natural History, more
and more exhibit the facts of humanity and of time under such new
combinations, by so many parallel truths and principles, that it is
difficult to conceive that History, as now understood by the educated
and the reflective, is the same thing once crudely embodied in a ballad
or mystically conserved by an inscription. To multiply relations is the
destiny of our age, and to converge all that is discovered through the
laws of Science upon the records and relics of the past is a process now
habitual and pervasive.

And yet how little positive satisfaction does the lover of truth, the
aspirant for what is authentic and significant, find in current and even
popular histories! Certain general notions of the character of nations
we, indeed, distinctly and correctly attain: that Chinese civilization
is stationary, the French instinctively a military race, the Swiss
mercenary, and adventurous in engineering and religious reform,--that
modern German literature was as sudden as simultaneous in its
development,--that Holland redeemed her foundations from the sea,--that
Italy owes to art, and England to manufactures, her growth and grandeur.
These and such as these are problems which the history of the respective
countries, however inadequately told, reveals with authenticity; but
when we go beyond and below the patent facts of local civilization, to
the analysis of character, and, through it, of destiny, few and far
between are the satisfactory records whence we can draw legitimate
materials for inference and conjecture. The most attractive method
is apt to be that upon which least reliance can be placed. We seldom
consult Sir Walter's essays at serious history, while the novels he
created out of historic material are as familiar as they are endeared;
but their imaginative charm is in the inverse ratio of their
authenticity. With every new candidate for public favor in this sphere
of literature, there arises a "mooted question" whereon the historian
and his readers are irreconcilably divided. The character of Penn, of
Marlborough, and of the facts of the Massacre at Glencoe are still
vehemently discussed, whenever Macaulay's popular History is referred
to. Froude advances a new and plausible theory of the character of Henry
VIII.; few of Bancroft's American readers accept his estimate of John
Jay, Sam Adams, or Dr. Johnson, or of the political character of the
Virginia Colonists; and Palfrey and Arnold interpret quite diversely
the influence and career of Roger Williams. Nor are such discrepancies
surprising, when we remember how the history which transpires now and
here fails of harmonious report. Every battle, diplomatic arrangement,
political event, nay, each personal occurrence, which forms the staple
of to-day's journalism and talk, is regarded from so many different
points of view, and stated under so many modifying influences, that only
judicial minds have a prospect of reaching the exact truth. Hence the
true way to profit by History is eclectic.

Let the erudition of the German, the genial animation of the French,
the Saxon good sense, the Italian grace be enjoyed, and whatsoever of
glamour or of inadequacy these charms hide be duly estimated; reflection
and sympathy will often separate the gold of truth from the alloy of
prejudice or fantasy. Above all, let this eclectic test be applied
beyond nominal history,--to the geological data on the ancient
rock,--the handwriting of the ages upon race, costume, language,--the
incidental, but genuine history innate in all true literature, vivid
elements whereof live in passages of Milton's controversial writings, in
Petrarch's sonnets, De Foe's fictions, our Revolutionary correspondence,
South's sermons, Swift's diaries, Burke's speeches, French memoirs,
Walpole's letters, in the poems, plays, and epistles of the past, and
every fact and person which society and life offer to our cognizance or
sympathy.

"When we are much attached to our ideas, we endeavor to attach
everything to them," says Madame de Staël. "The secret of writing well,"
observes a Scotch professor, "is to write from a full mind." These
two maxims seem to us to illustrate the whole subject of historical
composition; an earnest votary thereof will instinctively find material
in every interest and influence that sways events or moulds character,
and from the assimilation of all these will educe a vital and harmonious
picture and philosophy. There is an historical as well as a judicial or
poetic type of mind; and to such there is no object too trifling, no
fact too remote, not directly or indirectly to minister to the unwritten
history which vaguely shapes itself to his intelligence. In his reading
and travel it is by no means to the ostensible monuments and trophies of
the past that his observation and inquiry are confined: the Letters of
Madame de Sévigné give him authentic hints for the social tendencies
of France and their influence upon politics, as the blood-stains at
Holyrood identify the place of Rizzio's murder; the "Edinburgh
Review" reveals the spirit of the Reform movement as clearly as the
Parliamentary records its letter; the South-Sea House and the Temple are
as suggestive as Whitehall and the Abbey,--for trade and jurisprudence,
in the retrospect, are as much a part of the by-gone life and present
character of a nation, as the fate and the fame of her dead kings; and a
Spanish ballad is as valuable an illustration as a Madrid state-paper;
while the life of Harry Vane vindicates the Puritan nature as clearly
as the letter of a Venetian ambassador exhibits the domestic life of a
Pope.

The redeeming influence of strong personal sympathy and earnest
conviction, both in the choice of a subject and the method of its
treatment, has been signally illustrated by a countryman of our own.
The interest of the general reader and the approbation of historical
scholars were at once enlisted by Motley's "Rise and Fall of the Dutch
Republic." That work differs from and is superior to any American
historical composition by virtue of a certain fluent animation, a
certain decided and sustained tone, such as can be derived only from an
absolute relation between the author's mind and heart and his subject.
Accordingly his record not only seizes upon the attention, but wins the
sympathy of the reader, who recognizes a vital and genuine spirit in the
work, which gives it unity, completeness, and a living style, whereby
its incidents, characters, and philosophy are unfolded, not only with
art, but with nature, and so made real, attractive, and significant.
That we are right in ascribing these merits to the affinity between the
author and his work is amply evidenced by his own confession in a letter
called forth by the death of Prescott, in which he says,--

"It seems to me but as yesterday, though it must be now twelve years
ago, that I was talking with our ever-lamented friend Stackpole about my
intention of writing a history upon a subject to which I have since that
time been devoting myself. I had then made already some general studies
in reference to it, without being in the least aware that Prescott had
the intention of writing the history of Philip II. Stackpole had heard
the fact, and that large preparations had already been made for the
work, although 'Peru' had not yet been published. I felt, naturally,
much disappointed. I was conscious of the immense disadvantage to myself
of making my appearance, probably at the same time, before the public,
with a work not at all similar in plan to 'Philip II.,' but which must,
of necessity, traverse a portion of the same ground. My first thought
was, inevitably as it were, only of myself. It seemed to me that I had
nothing to do but to abandon at once a cherished dream, and probably to
renounce authorship. _For I had not first made up my mind to write a
history, and then cast about to take up a subject. My subject had taken
up me, drawn me on, and absorbed me into itself. It was necessary for
me, it seemed, to write the book I had been thinking much of,--even if
it were destined to fall dead from the press,--and I had no inclination
or interest to write any other_."

The same inspiration is partially obvious in those portions of every
history which come home to the writer's experience: as, for instance,
some of the military episodes in Colletta's "History of Naples," he
having been a soldier,--and the descriptive phases of Parkman's "History
of Pontiac," the author having been a Prairie traveller, and familiar
with the woods and the bivouac. In like manner, it is the idiosyncrasy
of historians which gives original value to their labors: Botta's
knowledge of American localities and civilization was meagre, but his
sympathy with the patriots of the Revolution was strong, and this gave
warmth and effect to his "Guerra Americana"; Niebuhr was specially
gifted to develop what has been called the law of investigation, and
hence he penetrates the Roman life, and lays bare much of its unapparent
meaning and spirit. So apt and patient are the Germans in research, that
they have been justly said to "quarry" out the past; while so native are
rhetoric, theorizing, and fancifulness to the French, that they make
history, as they do life and government, theatrical and picturesque,
rather than gravely real and practically suggestive.

A peculiar feature in the labors of modern historians is the research
expended upon what the elder annalists regarded as purely incidental
and extraneous. The collation of archives, official correspondence, and
state-papers is now but the rough basis of research; memoirs are equally
consulted,--localities minutely examined,--the art and literature of a
given era analyzed,--the geography, climate, and ethnology of the scene
made to illustrate the life and polity,--social phases, educational
facts estimated as not less valuable than statistics of armies and
judicial enactments. Michelet has some charming rural pictures and
female portraits in his History of France; Macaulay thinks no custom
or economy of a reign insignificant in the great historical aggregate.
Topography, botany, artistic knowledge are not less parts of the
chronicler's equipment than philology, rhetoric, and philosophy; a
newspaper is not beneath nor a traveller's gossip beyond his scope;
architecture reveals somewhat which diplomacy conceals; an inscription
is not more historical than the average temperature or the staple
productions. Whatever affects national character and destiny, whatever
accounts for national manners or confirms individual sway, is brought
into the record. Diaries, like those of Pepys and Evelyn, the tithe-book
of a county, the taste in portraiture, the costume and the play-bill
yield authentic hints not less than the census, the parliamentary
edicts, or the royal signatures; the popular poem, the social favorite,
the _cause célèbre_, what pulpit, bar, peasant and beau, doctor and lady
_à la mode_ do, say, and are, then and there, must coalesce with
the battle, the legislation, and the treaty,--or these last are but
technical landmarks, instead of human interests.

Even our most generalized historical ideas are made emphatic only
through association and observation. How the vague sense of Roman
dominion is deepened as we trace the outline of a camp, the massive
ranges of a theatre, or the mouldy effigy on a coin, in some region
far distant from the Imperial centre,--as at Nismes or Chester! How
complete becomes the idea of mediaeval life, contemplated from the
ramparts of a castle, in the "dim, religious light" of an old monastic
chapel, or amid the obsolete trappings and weapons of an armory! What
a distinct and memorable revelation of ancient Greece is the Venus or
Apollo, a Parthenon frieze or a fateful drama! The best political essays
on the French Revolution are based on the economical and social facts
recorded in the Travels of Arthur Young. The equivocal action of
Massena, when he commanded Paris against the Allies, is explained in
the recently published letter of Joseph Bonaparte, wherein we learn his
deficiency of muskets. Humboldt accounted for the defects of Prescott's
"Conquest of Mexico" by the fact that the historian had never visited
that country. Napoleon gave a key to the misfortunes of Italy, when he
said, "It is a peninsula too long for its breadth." And the significance
of the Seven Years' War is expressed in a single phrase by Milton's last
biographer, when he defines it as the "consummation politically and the
attenuation spiritually of the movement begun in Europe by the Lutheran
Reformation."

Indeed, so intimate is the connection between private life and public
events, between political and social phenomena, that the historical mind
finds material in all literature, and the very attempt to keep to a high
strain and to bend facts to theory limits the authenticity of professed
annalists. What Macaulay says of an eminent party-leader is modified to
those who have studied the character through his memoirs or writings.
The charming narrative of Robertson, the characterization of Hume, the
stately periods of Gibbon, fail to win implicit confidence, when the
scene, the age, or the personages described are known to the reader
through original authorities. When Bancroft declares a treaty of
Colonial governors against Indian ravages the germ of democratic
government, we know that it is his attachment to a theory, and not the
actual circumstances, which leads to such an inference; for the very
authority he cites merely indicates a defensive alliance among rulers,
not a coalition of the ruled. And so when to an account of the Battle
of Lexington he appends a rhetorical argument connecting that event, so
meagre and simple in itself and so wonderful in its consequences, with
the progress of truth and humanity in political science and reformed
religion, we feel that the reasoning is forced and irrelevant,--more an
experiment in fine writing than an evolution of absolute truth.

Thus continually is the independent reader of history taught
eclecticism: he makes allowance for the want of careful research in this
writer, for the love of effect in that,--for the skepticism of one,
and the credulity of another,--for enthusiasm here, and fastidiousness
there,--and especially for the greater or less attachment to certain
opinions, and the absence or presence of strong convictions and genuine
sympathies. Hence, to read history aright, we must read human nature as
well; we must bring the light of philosophy and of faith, the calmness
of judgment and the insight of love, to the record; collateral
revelations drawn from our own experience, modified acceptance of both
statement and inference, superiority to the blandishments of style,
are as needful for the right interpretation of a chronicle as of a
scientific problem. Thus history is perpetually rewritten; fresh
knowledge opens new vistas in the past as well as the future; the
discovery of to-day may rectify, in important respects, the statement
which has been unchallenged for centuries; one new truth leavens a
thousand old formulas; and nothing is more gradual than the elucidation
of historical events and characters. Even our own brief annals suggest
how large must be the historian's faith in time: only within a year or
two has it been possible to demonstrate the justice of Washington's
estimate of Lee, and how completely the sagacious provision of Schuyler
secured the capture of Burgoyne. Since the American Revolution, one of
these men has been as much overrated as the other has failed of
just appreciation--because the documentary wisdom requisite for an
enlightened judgment has not until now been patent.[C]

[Footnote C: See Lossing's _Life and Correspondence of General
Schuyler_, and Professor Moore's paper on Charles Lee.]

With the imposing array of professed histories and historians in view,
it is curious to revert to the actual sources of our own historic
ideas,--those which are definite and pervasive. The vast number of
intelligent readers, who have made no special study of this kind
of literature, probably derive their most distinct and attractive
impressions of the past from poetry, travel, and the choicest works of
the novelist; local association and imaginative sympathy, rather than
formal chronicles, have enlightened and inspired them in regard to
Antiquity and the great events and characters of modern Europe. This
fact alone suggests how inadequate for popular effect have been the
average labors of historians; and so fixed is the opinion among scholars
that it is impossible for the annalist to be profound and interesting,
authentic and animated, at the same time, that a large class of the
learned repudiate as spurious the renown of Macaulay,--although his
research and his minuteness cannot be questioned, and only in a few
instances has his accuracy been successfully impugned. They distrust him
chiefly because he is agreeable, doubt his correctness for the reason
that his style fascinates, and deem admiration for him inconsistent with
their own self-respect, because he is such a favorite as no historian
ever was before, and his account of a parliament, a coinage, or a feud
as winsome as a portraiture of a woman. In one of his critical essays,
Macaulay himself gives a partial explanation of this protest of the
minority in his own case. "People," he remarks, "are very loath to admit
that the same man can unite very different kinds of excellence. It is
soothing to envy to believe that what is splendid cannot be solid and
what is clear cannot be profound." And it has been most justly said of
his own method of writing history, "He must make _everything_ clear and
bright, and bring it into the range of his analysis; his exaggeration
chiefly applies to individual characters, not to general facts"; and the
reason given for the decided preference manifested for his vivid record
is not less true than philosophical,--"We learn so much from him
_enjoyably_." It is precisely the lack of this pleasurable trait which
makes the greater part of the annals of the past a dead letter to the
world, and wins to romance, ballad, epic, fiction, relic, and poetry the
keen attention which facts coldly "set in a note-book" never enlisted.
How many of us unconsciously have adopted the portraits of the early
English kings as Shakspeare drew them! To what a host of living souls is
the history of Scotland what the author of "Waverley" makes it! Charles
I. haunts the fancy, not as drawn by Hume, but as painted by Vandyck.
The institutions of the Middle Ages are realized to every reflective
tourist through the architecture of Florence more than by the municipal
details of Hallam. Pyramids, obelisks, mummies have brought home
Egyptian civilization; the "old masters," that of Europe in the
fifteenth century; the ruins of the Colosseum, Roman art and barbarism,
as they never were by Livy or Gibbon. Lady Russell's letters tell us of
the Civil War in England,--Saint Mark's, at Venice, of Byzantine taste
and Oriental commerce,--the Escurial and the Alhambra, Versailles, a
castle on the Rhine, and a "modest mansion on the banks of the Potomac,"
of their respective eras and their characteristics, social, political,
religious,--more than the most elaborate register, muster-roll, or
judicial calendar. For around and within these memorials lingers the
life of Humanity; they speak to the eye as well as to memory,--to the
heart as well as the intelligence; they draw us by human associations
to the otherwise but technical statement; they lure us to repeople
solitudes and reanimate shadows; and having become intimate with the
scenes, the effigies, the monuments of the Past, we have, as it were, a
vantage-ground of actual experience an impulse from personal observation
and, perhaps, a sympathy born of local inspiration, whereby the phantoms
of departed ages are once more clothed with flesh, and their sorrows and
triumphs are renewed in the soul of enlightened contemplation.

       *       *       *       *       *


MY NEIGHBOR, THE PROPHET.


The point of commencement for a story is altogether arbitrary. Some
writers stick to Nature and go back to the Creation; others take a few
dozen of the grandfatherly old centuries for granted; others seize Time
by the forelock and bounce into the middle of a narrative; but, as I
said before, the beginning is a mere matter of taste and convenience.
I choose to open my tale with the day on which I took possession of my
newly purchased country-house.

It was a pretty little cottage, wooden, old-fashioned, a story and a
half high, with a long veranda, a shady door-yard, and a sunny garden. I
bought it as it was, furniture included, of a gentleman who was about
to remove southward on account of his wife's health, or, to speak
more exactly, on account of her want of it. I laugh here to think
how surprised you will be when you learn that these matters have no
connection with my story. All the important events which I propose
to relate might have happened had this gentleman never sold nor I
purchased; and, as a proof of it, I can adduce the fact that they
actually did occur some years before we enjoyed the honor of each
other's acquaintance. But I could not resist the temptation of the
episode. I am as delighted at getting into my first house as was my
little son when he poked his chubby legs into his first trousers.

"Who is my nearest neighbor?" I asked of the former proprietor, when he
made his parting call.

"What, the occupant of the new house just below you? I can tell you very
little of him. I haven't made his acquaintance, and don't know his name.
We call him the Mormon."

"Mercy on us! You don't mean to hint at anything in the way of polygamy,
I hope. He doesn't keep an omnibus with seats for twenty, does he?"

"No, not so bad as that. In fact, I don't know much about him. I thought
you were aware of his--his style of living," stammered my friend. "Oh,
I dare say he is respectable enough. But then we noticed three or four
women about the house, and only one man; and so we clapped the title of
Mormon on him. Nicknaming is funny work, you know,--a short and easy way
to be witty. I believe, however, that he does pretend to be a prophet."

"The Pilgrim Fathers protect us! Why, he may attempt to proselytize us
by force. He may declare a religious war against us. It would be no
joke, if he should invade us with the sword in one hand, and the Koran,
or whatever he may call his revelation, in the other."

"Oh, don't be alarmed. He is quite harmless, and even unobtrusive. A
sad-faced, pale, feeble-looking, white-bearded old man. He won't attack
you, or probably even speak to you. I will tell you all I know of
him. The house was built under his direction about six months ago.
I understand that the women own it, and that they are not relatives
according to the flesh, but simply sisters in faith. They have some
queer sort of religion which I am shamefully ignorant of. At all events,
they believe this old gentleman to be a prophet, and consider it a duty
or a pleasure to support him. That is the extent of my knowledge. I hope
it doesn't disgust you with your neighborhood?"

"By no means. May you find as pleasant a one, wherever you settle!"

"Thank you. Well, it is nearly train-time, and I suppose I must leave
you and my old place. I wish you every happiness in it."

And so the old proprietor sighingly departed, leaving the new one
smiling on the doorstep. I was just thinking how nicely the world is
arranged, so that one man's trouble may turn out another man's blessing,
(the illness in this gentleman's family, for instance, being the cause
of my getting a neat country-house cheap,) when my attention was
arrested by the appearance of a thin, feeble-looking, white-bearded old
man, who passed down the street with head bent and hands joined behind
him. I stared at him till he got by; then I ran down to the gate and
looked after him earnestly; and at last I darted forward, hatless, in
eager pursuit. He heard my approaching steps, and put his snowy beard
against his right shoulder in the act of taking a glance rearward. I now
recognized the profile positively, and began conversation.

"Is it possible? My dear Doctor Potter, how are you? Don't you know me?
Your old friend Elderkin."

"Sir? Elderkin? Oh!--ah!--yes! How do you do, Mr. Elderkin?" he
stammered, seeming very awkward, and hardly responding at all to my
vigorous hand-shaking.

"I am delighted to see you again," I continued. "I have had no news of
you these five years. Do you live in this neighborhood?"

"I--I reside in the next house, Sir," he replied, not looking me in the
face, but glancing around uneasily, as if he wanted to run away.

"What! are you the prophet?" I blurted out before I could stop myself.

"I am, Mr. Elderkin," he said, blushing until I thought his white hair
would turn crimson.

We stared at each other in silence for ten seconds, each wishing himself
or his interlocutor at the antipodes.

"I congratulate you on your gift," I remarked, as soon as I could speak.
"I will see you again soon, and have a talk on the subject. We have
discussed similar matters before. Good day, Doctor."

"Good day, Mr. Elderkin," he replied, drawing himself up with a poor
pretence at self-respect.

He was greatly changed. Heterodoxy had not been so fattening to him as
Orthodoxy. When I knew him, six years before, as pastor of a flourishing
church, Doctor of Divinity, and staunch Calvinist, he had a plump and
rosy face, a portly form, and vigorous carriage. He was a great favorite
with the ladies, as clergymen are apt to be, and consequently never
lacked for delicate and appetizing sustenance. He was esteemed,
self-respectful, and happy; and all these things tend to good health and
good looks. I propose to make myself famous as the Gibbon of the decline
and fall of this reverend gentleman, once so honorably established on
the everlasting hills of Orthodoxy, and now so overthrown and trampled
under foot by the Alaric of Spiritualism. I do not expect, indeed, that
anybody will take warning by my friend's sad history; nor do I insist
that people in general would find it advantageous to learn much wisdom
from the experience of others; for it is very clear, that, if we
attempted only what our neighbors or our fathers had succeeded in doing,
we should kill all chance of variety or improvement. It would be a
stupidly wise world; there would be no sins, and, very possibly, no
virtues; instead of "Everything happens," it would be "Nothing happens."
Believing and hoping, therefore, that Dr. Potter's calamities will not
be the smallest check upon any person who shall feel disposed to follow
in his footsteps, I present the story to the public, not at all as a
lesson, but merely as an item of curious information.

Oddly enough, it was on that day of delusions, the first of April, that
I stumbled into the Doctor's revival of the age of miracles. I had been
engaged for three months on a geological survey in a Western Territory,
during which time I had received very brief and vague news from the
little city which was then my place of abode, and had not even had
a hint of the signs and wonders which there awaited my astonished
observation. Reaching home, I made it my first business to call on my
reverend friend; for the Doctor, it must be known, was one of my most
valued intimates, had baptized me, had counselled me, had travelled with
me in foreign lands; we had many interests, many sympathies in common,
and no differences except with regard to the extent of the Flood, the
date of the Creation, and other matters of small personal importance.
I found him in his study, surrounded by those seven hundred and odd
volumes, the learning and excellent spirit of which gave to his sermons
such a body of venerable divinity, such a bouquet of savory eloquence.
He was walking to and fro rapidly, studying a slip of manuscript with an
air of serious ecstasy. He did not look up until I had seized his hand,
and even then he stared at me as a man might be supposed to stare who
had been passing a fortnight with angels or other spiritual existences
and unexpectedly found himself among natural and reasonable beings
again.

"Ah, my dear Elderkin," he said at last, "I am glad to see you. How are
you, and how have you been? Excuse me for not recognizing you at once. I
had just lost myself in the consideration of a mystery which I believe
to be of the sublimest importance. Oh, my dear friend, I hope you will
be brought to attend to these things! They are above and beyond all your
geologies; they preceded and will outlive them."

"Indeed!" I replied. "Nothing in the way of chaos, I hope?"

"Look here at this sheet of foolscap," he exclaimed, waving it
excitedly. "Do you remember the belief which I have often expressed to
you,--the belief that the dispensation of miracles has never yet ceased
from earth,--that we have still a right to expect signs, wonders,
instantaneous healings, and unknown tongues,--and that, but for our
wretched incredulity, these things would constantly happen among us? You
have disputed it and ridiculed it, but here I hold a proof of its truth.
A month ago this blessing was vouchsafed to me. It was at one of our
Wednesday-evening exercises. I had just been speaking of supernatural
gifts, and of the duty which we lie under of expecting and demanding
them. The moment I sat down, a stranger (a gentleman whom I had
previously noticed at church) rose up with a strangely beaming look and
broke out in a discourse of sounds that were wholly unintelligible. You
need not smile. It was a true language, I am confident; it flowed forth
with a moving warmth and fluency; and the gestures which accompanied it
were earnest and most expressive."

"That was fortunate," said I; "otherwise you must have been very little
edified. But isn't it rather odd that the man should use earthly
gestures with an unearthly language?"

The Doctor shook his head reprovingly, and continued,--

"Deacon Jones, the editor of the 'Patriot,' is a phonographer. He took
down the close of the stranger's address, and next day brought it to me
written out in the ordinary alphabet. Let me read it to you. As you are
acquainted with several modern languages, perhaps you can give me a key
to an interpretation."

"I don't profess to know the modern languages of the other world," said
I. "However, let us hear it."

"Isse ta sopon otatirem isais ka rabatar itos ma deok," began the
Doctor, with a gravity which almost made me think him stark mad. "De
noton irbila orgonos ban orgonos amartalannen fi dunial maran ta
calderak isais deluden homox berbussen carantar. Falla esoro anglas
emoden ebuntar ta diliglas martix yehudas sathan val caraman
mendelsonnen lamata yendos nix poliglor opos discobul vanitarok ken
laros ma dasta finomallo in salubren to mallomas. Isse on esto opos fi
sathan."

And so he read on through more than a page and a half of closely written
manuscript, his eyes flashing brighter at each line, and his right hand
gesturing as impressively as if he understood every syllable.

"Bless you, it's nothing new," said I. "There's an institution at
Hartford where they cure people of talking that identical language."

"Just what I expected you to say," he replied, flushing up. "I know
you,--you scientific men,--you materialists. When you can't explain a
phenomenon, you call it nonsense, instead of throwing yourselves with
childlike faith into the arms of the supernatural. That is the sum and
finality of your so-called science. But, come, be rational now. Don't
you catch a single glimpse or suspicion of meaning in these remarkable
words?"

"I am thankful to say that I don't," declared I. "If ever I go mad, I
may change my mind."

"Well now, I _do_" he asseverated loudly. "There are words here that I
believe I understand, and I am not ashamed to own it. Why, look at it,
yourself," he added, pleadingly. "That word _sathan_, twice repeated,
can it be anything else than _Satan_? _Yehudas_, what is that but
_Jews?_ And then _homox_, how very near to the Latin _homo!_ I think,
too, that I have even got a notion of some of the grammatical forms of
the language. That termination of _en_, as in _deluden, salubren,_ seems
to me the sign of the present tense of the plural form of the verb. That
other termination of _tar_, as in _ebuntar, carantar_, I suppose to be
the sign of the infinitive. Depend upon it that this language is one
of absolute regularity, undeformed by the results of human folly and
sorrow, and as perfect as a crystal."

"But not as clear," I observed,--"at least, not to our apprehension.
Well, how was this extraordinary revelation received by the audience?"

"In dumb silence," said the Doctor. "Faith was at too low an ebb among
us to reach and encircle the amazing fact. I had to call out the
astonished brethren by name; and even then they responded briefly and
falteringly. But the leaven worked. I went round the next day and
talked to all my leading men. I found faith sprouting like a grain
of mustard-seed. I found my people waking up to the great idea of a
continuous, deathless, present miracle-demonstration. And these dim
suspicions, these far-off longings and fearful hopes, were, indeed,
precursors of such a movement of spirits, such a shower of supernatural
mercies, as the world has not perhaps seen for centuries. Yes, there
have been wonders wrought among us, and there are, I am persuaded,
greater wonders still to come. What do you think must be my feelings
when I see my worthiest parishioners rise in public and break out with
unknown tongues?"

"I should suppose you would rather see them break out with the
small-pox," I answered.

"Ah, Professor! wait, wait, and soon you will not laugh," said the
Doctor, solemnly.

"Perhaps not. I am a sincere friend of yours, and a tolerably
good-hearted sort of man, I hope. I shall probably feel more like
crying. But the world may laugh long and loud, Doctor. All who hate the
true revelation may laugh to see it mocked and caricatured by those who
profess and mean to honor it. Just consider, while it is yet time to
mend matters, how imprudent you are. Why, what do you know of the man
who has been your Columbus in this sea of wonders? Are you sure that he
is not a sharper, or an impostor, or a lunatic?"

"Impossible! He brought letters to three of our most respectable
families. His name is Riley, John M. Riley, of New York; and he is
son of the wealthy old merchant, James M. Riley, who has been such a
generous donor to all good works. As for his being a lunatic, you shall
hear his conversation."

"I should be a very poor judge of it, if he always speaks in his unknown
tongues."

"English! English! he talks English as good as your own. A more
gentlemanly person, a more intelligent mind, a meeker and more believing
spirit, I have not met this many a day. He is still here, and he is my
right hand in the work. I shall soon have the pleasure of making you
acquainted with him."

"Thank you; I shall be delighted," said I. "Only be good enough to hint
to him that I like to understand what is said to me. If he comes at me
with unknown tongues, I shall wish him in unknown parts. I can't stand
mysteries. I am a geologist, and believe that there are rocks all the
way down, and that we had much better stand on them than wriggle in mere
chaotic space. Good morning, Doctor. I shall come again soon; I shall
keep a lookout on you."

"Good morning," he replied, kindly. "I hope to see you in a better frame
before many days."

I hurried back to my hotel, and questioned the landlord about this
revival of the age of miracles. He gave me a long account of the affair,
and then every neighbor who strolled in gave me another, until by
dinner-time I had heard wonders and absurdities enough to make a new
"Book of Mormon." The lunacies of this Riley had entered into Dr. Potter
and his parishioners, like the legion of devils into the herd of swine,
and driven them headlong into a sea of folly. There had been more
tongues spoken during the past month in this little Yankee city than
would have sufficed for our whole stellar system. Blockheads who were
not troubled with an idea once a fortnight, and who could neither write
nor speak their mother English decently, had undertaken to expound
things which never happened in dialects which nobody understood. People
who hitherto had been chiefly remarkable for their ignorance of the
past and the slowness of their comprehension of the present fell to
foretelling the future, with a glibness which made Isaiah and Ezekiel
appear like minor prophets, and a destructiveness which nothing would
satisfy out the immediate advent of the final conflagration. Gouty
brothers whose own toes were a burden to them, and dropsical sisters
with swelled legs, hobbled from street to street, laying would-be
miraculous hands on each other, on teething children, on the dumb and
blind, on foundered horses and mangy dogs even, or whatsoever other
sickly creature happened to get under their silly noses. The doctors
lost half their practice in consequence of the reliance of the people on
these spiritual methods of physicking. Children were taken out of school
in order that they might attend the prophesyings and get all knowledge
by supernatural intuition. Logic and other worldly methods of arriving
at truth were superseded by dreams, discernings of spirits, and similar
irrational processes. The public madness was immense, tempestuous, and
unequalled by anything of the kind since the "jerks" which appeared in
the early part of this century under the thundering ministrations of
Peter Cartwright. That nothing might be lacking to make the movement a
fact in history, it had acquired a name. As its disciples used the word
"dispensation" freely, the public called them Dispensationists, and
their faith Dispensationism, while their meetings received the whimsical
title of Dispensaries.

Amid this clamor of daft delusion, Dr. Potter congratulated his people
on the resurrection of the age of miracles, and preached in furtherance
of the work with a fervid sincerity and eloquence rarely surpassed by
men who support the claims of true religion and right reason. Had he
brought the same zeal to bear against mathematics, it seems to me he
might have shaken the popular faith in the multiplication-table. The
wonders transacting in his church being noised abroad, the town was soon
crowded with curious strangers, mostly laymen, but several clergymen,
some anxious to believe, others ready to sneer, but all resolute to see.
As might have been expected, the nature of the excitement alarmed the
wiser pastors of the vicinity for the cause of Orthodoxy. They saw that
several of the asserted miracles were simply hoaxes or delusions; they
suspected that the unknown tongues might be nothing but the senseless
bubbling of overheated brainpans; they perceived that the Doctor in
his enthusiastic flights was soaring clear into the murky clouds of
Spiritualism; and they dreaded lest the scoffing world should make a
weapon out of these absurdities for an attack upon the Christian faith.
They began to preach against the fanaticism; and, of course, my friend
denounced them as infidels. High war ensued among the principalities and
powers of theology in all that portion of Yankeedom.

The reaction roused by the unbelieving clergymen reached the Doctor's
congregation, and emboldened all the sensible members to combine into
an anti-miracle party. At a meeting of these persons a committee was
appointed to wait upon the pastor and respectfully request him to
dismiss Riley, to cease his efforts after the supernatural, and to
return to his former profitable manner of ministration. Dr. Potter was
amazed and indignant; he replied, that he should preach the truth as it
was revealed to himself; he scouted the dictation of the committee, and
fell back upon the solemn duty of his office; he ended by informing the
gentlemen that they were unbelievers and materialists. Naturally the
dissenters grew all the more fractious for this currying, and held
another meeting, in which the reaction kicked up higher than ever. Being
resolved now to proceed to extremities, and, if necessary, to form a new
congregation, they drew up the following recantation and sent it to Dr.
Potter,--not with any hope that he would put his name to it, but for the
purpose of ridiculing his infatuation, and driving him to resign his
pulpit.

"I, the undersigned, pastor of the First Church in Troubleton, having
been led far from the truth by the absurdities of modern miracleism
and spiritualism, and having seen the error of my ways, do penitently
subscribe to the accompanying articles.

"1st. I promise to cease all intercourse with a blasphemous blockhead
named John M. Riley, who has been the human cause of my downfall.

"2d. I promise to avoid in future all rhapsodies, ecstasies, frenzies,
and whimseys which throw ridicule on true religion by caricaturing its
influences.

"3d. I promise to regard with the profoundest contempt and indifference
both my own dreams or somnambulisms and those of other people.

"4th. I promise not to unveil the secret things of Infinity, nor to
encourage others to unveil them, but to mind my own finite business, and
to rest satisfied with the revelations that are contained in the Bible.

"5th. I promise not to speak unknown tongues as long as I can speak
English, and not to listen to other people who commit the like
absurdity, unless I know them to be Frenchmen or Dutchmen or other
foreigners of some human species.

"6th. I promise not to heal the sick by any unnatural and miraculous
means, but rather to call in for their aid properly educated physicians,
giving the preference to those of the allopathic persuasion.

"7th. I promise not to work signs in heaven nor wonders on earth, but
to let all things take the course allotted to them by a good and wise
Providence."

Of course Dr. Potter looked upon this production as the height of
irreverence and irreligion, and proposed to excommunicate the authors
of it. Hence the dissenters declared themselves seceders, and took
immediate steps to form a new society.

It was at this stage of the excitement that I returned to Troubleton and
made my call upon the Doctor. I felt anxious to save my old friend and
worthy pastor. I saw, that, if he continued in his present courses,
he would strip himself, one after the other, of his influence, his
position, his religion, and his reason. That very evening, after the
usual conference-meeting was over, I called again on him, and found him
in a truly lyrical frame of spirit.

"Ah, my dear friend, there is no end to it!" exclaimed he. "The doors
are opening, one beyond another. Wonder shows forth after wonder,
miracle after miracle. Behind the veil! behind the veil!"

"Indeed!" said I, rather vexed. "You'll find yourself behind a grate
some day."

"There is now no question of the physical value as well as the spiritual
sublimity of these revelations," he continued, without observing my
sneer. "Life and death, the sparing of precious blood, the prevention of
crime, the punishment of the guilty,--you can appreciate these things, I
presume."

"When I am in my senses," returned I. "But what is the row? if I may use
that worldly expression. Has Mr. John M. Riley been brought to confess
any state-prison offences?"

"Ah, Elderkin!" sighed the Doctor, letting go my hand with a look of sad
reproach. "But no: you cannot remain forever in this skepticism; you
will be brought over to us before long. Let me tell you what has
happened. But, remember, you must keep the secret until to-morrow, as
you value precious lives. Mr. Riley has just left me. He has made me a
revelation, a prophecy, which will be proof to all men of the origin
of our present experiences. He has had a vision, thrice repeated. It
foretold that this very night a robbery and murder would be attempted in
the city of New Haven. The evil drama will open between two and three
o'clock. There will be three burglars. The house threatened is situated
in the suburbs, to the east of the city, and about a mile from the
colleges."

"Is it? And what are you going to do about it?--telegraph?"

"No. We will be there in person. We will ourselves prevent the crime and
seize the criminals. I shall have a word in season for that family, Sir.
I wish to improve the occasion for its conversion to a full belief in
these sublime mysteries. Mr. Riley, with three of my people, will meet
me at the station. We shall be in New Haven by eleven, stay an hour or
two in some hotel, and at half past one go to the house."

"My dear Sir, I remonstrate," exclaimed I. "You will get laughed at. You
will get shot at. You will get into disgrace. You will get into jail.
For pity's sake, give up this quixotic expedition, and grant me an
absolution before the fact for kicking Riley out of doors."

The Doctor turned his face away from me and walked to a window. His air
of profound, yet uncomplaining grief, struck me with compunction, and,
following him, I held out my hand.

"Come, excuse me," said I. "Look here,--if this comes true, I'll quit
geology and go to working miracles to-morrow. I'll come over to your
faith, if I have to wade through my reason."

"Will you?" he responded, joyfully. "You will never repent it. There,
shake hands. I am not angry. Your unbelief is natural, though saddening.
To-morrow night, then, come and see me again and I will tell you the
whole adventure. I must be off to the train now. Excuse me for leaving
you. Would you like to sit here awhile and look at Humby's 'Modern
Miracles'?"

"No, thank you. Prefer to look at your miracles. I am going with you."

"Going with me? Are you? I'm delighted!" he cried, not in the least
startled or embarrassed by the proposition. "Now you shall see with your
own eyes."

"Yes, if it isn't too dark, I will,--word of a geologist. Well, shall we
start?"

"But won't you have a weapon? We go armed, of course, inasmuch as the
scoundrels may show fight when we come to arrest them."

"I don't want it," said I, gently pushing away a pocket-pistol, about as
dangerous as a squirt. "All the burglars you see to-night may shoot at
me, and welcome."

We walked to the station, and found our party waiting for the Boston
train. The Doctor introduced me, with much affectionate effusion and
many particulars concerning my family and early history, to the man of
unearthly lingoes. He was a tall, lean, flat-chested, cadaverous being,
of about forty, his sandy hair nicely sleeked, thin yellow whiskers
spattered on his hollow cheeks, his nose short and snub, his face
small, wilted, and so freckled that it could hardly be said to have
a complexion. In short, by its littleness, by its yellowness, by its
appearance of dusty dryness, this singular physiognomy reminded me so
strongly of a pinch of snuff, that I almost sneezed at sight of it. His
diminutive green eyes were fringed with ragged flaxen lashes, and seemed
to be very loose in their reddened lids, as if he could cry them out at
the shortest notice. I observed that he never looked his interlocutors
in the face, but stared chiefly at their feet, as if surmising whether
they would kick, or gazed into remote distance, as if trying to see
round the world and get a view of his own back. His dress was a full
suit of black, fine in texture, but bagging about him in a way that made
you wonder whether he had not lost a hundred-weight or so in training
for his spiritual battles. His manners were quiet, and would not have
been disagreeable, but for an air of uncomfortably stiff solemnity,
which draped him from head to foot like a robe of moral oilcloth, and
might almost be said to rustle audibly. Whether he was a practical
joker, a swindler, a fanatic, or a madman, my spiritual vision was not
keen enough to discover at first sight. Beside him and ourselves the
party consisted of a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick-maker,
all members of the Doctor's church and indefatigable workers of
miracles,--plain men and foolish, but respectable in standing and
sincere in their folly. Mr. Riley was so commonplace as to address me in
English, probably because he wanted an answer.

"Do you accompany us, Sir, on this blessed crusade against crime and
unbelief?" he asked.

"My friend, Dr. Potter, has granted me that inestimable privilege,"
responded I.

"I hope--in fact, I firmly believe--that Providence will aid us," he
continued.

"I hope so, too," said I. "But wouldn't it be advisable to have a
policeman, too?"

"By no means! Certainly not!" he returned, with considerable excitement.
"All we want is a band of saints, of justified souls, of men fitted for
the martyr's crown."

"Oh, that's all, is it, Sir? Well, shall we get into the cars? There
they are."

The train was full, and our party had to scatter, but Mr. Riley and I
got seats together.

"I have not seen you at our meetings, Sir," he continued. "Allow me to
ask, are you a believer in Dispensationism?"

"Not so strong as I might be. However, I have been absent from
Troubleton for three months, and only returned yesterday."

"Ah! you have lost precious opportunities. You must lose no more. Life
is short."

"And uncertain," I added. "Especially in railroad travelling."

"My dear Sir, I hope this road is prudently conducted," he said, with a
look of some little anxiety.

"Not many accidents," I answered. "And then, you know, we are always
in the hands of Providence. No fear of slipping through the fingers
unnoticed."

"No, Sir, certainly not," he remarked, wrapping his moral oilcloth about
him again. "Have you felt any extraordinary spiritual impressions since
you returned?"

"Nothing lasting, I think. Nothing that a night's sleep wouldn't take
off the edge of."

"No desire to lay hands on some sin-stricken wretch and cure him of the
evil that is in him?"

Now I did feel a strong desire to lay hands on this very Riley and pull
out his snub nose for him; but I forbore to say so, and simply shook my
head despondently.

"I know, that, if you would come to our Dispensaries and join in our
exercises, you would be sensible of a softening," he observed.

"Yes, in the brain," thought I; but I still remained silent.

"You should meditate upon the value of manifestations, unknown tongues,
the laying on of hands, visions, ecstasies, and such like matters," he
continued.

"So I have," said I.

"And with no result?"

"Nothing that particularly astonishes me. I think that I hate humbug
more than I did."

"That's a good sign," he replied, after a brief, sharp glance of inquiry
at me. "This vain world is a humbug, as you phrase it. Dead Orthodoxy is
a humbug. Human reason is a humbug. We are all humbugs, unless we are
made true by Dispensation. This age will be a humbug, unless it can
be wrought into an age of miracles. If you could be brought to hate
earnestly all these things, it would be a hopeful sign."

I was on the point of disputing the hypothesis, but prudently checked
myself. Suddenly he removed my hat and put his broad, hard palm upon my
organs with an impudent dexterity which made me doubt whether he had not
been a pickpocket or a phrenological lecturer.

"I lay my hand upon your head and desire you to note the effect," said
he. "Can no life come into these dry bones? Shall they not live?
Yea, they shall live! Do you feel no irrepressible emotion, Sir,--no
shaking?"

"Not a shake," replied I,--"unless it be from the bad grading."

"Evil is mighty, but the good must eventually prevail," he observed,
impertinently cocking his snub nose toward heaven.

"I believe you are quite right in both propositions," I admitted.
"Cardinal points of mine. But excuse me, Sir, if you could spare my hat,
I should like to put it on my head."

I had lost patience with the man, partly because it irks me to have
strangers take liberties with my person, and also because I had reached
the conclusion that he was simply a shallow dissembler and rascal. In
a minute more I had cause to reconsider my charge of hypocrisy, and to
question whether he might not lay claim to the nobler distinction of
lunacy. The conductor came down the car, picking out Troubletonians with
his undeceivable eye, and leaned toward us with outstretched fingers.
Mr. Riley rose to his whole gaunt height at a jerk, and laid his hand on
the official's arm with a fierce, bony gripe, which seemed to startle
him as if it were the clutch of a skeleton.

"There is my ticket," said he. "Where is yours? Have you one for the
Holy City? None? Then you are lost, lost, lost!"

The last words rose to a high, clear shriek, which pierced the heavy
rumble of the train and rang throughout the car. The conductor, in spite
of the coolness which becomes second nature to men of his profession,
turned slightly pale and shrank back before this wild apostrophe, with
a thrill of spiritual horror at the solemn meaning of the words, (I
thought,) and not because he considered the man a maniac. The fanaticism
of Troubleton had already flown far and cast a vague shadow of dread
over a large community.

Turning abruptly from the conductor, my companion flung out his long
arms toward the staring passengers, and continued in his strident,
startling tenor:--"I have warned him. I call you all to witness that I
have warned this man of his fearful peril. His blood be on his own head!
The blood of your souls will be upon your heads, unless you turn to
Dispensationism. I have said it. Amen!"

Before he had sat down again I was in the alley on my way to another
car, not anxious to become known as the intimate of this extraordinary
apostle. I found an empty seat by the Doctor, dropped into it, and told
my story.

"My dear friend, give the fellow up," I concluded. "He's as mad as he
can possibly be."

"So Festus thought of Paul," returned my poor comrade, with hopeless
fatuity.

"Festus be d----d!" said I, losing my temper, and swearing for the first
time since I graduated.

"I fear he was so," remarked the Doctor, severely. "Let me urge you to
take warning from his fate."

"I beg your pardon, and that of Festus," I apologized. "But when I see
you losing your reason, I can't keep my patience, and don't wish to."

"You will wonder at these feelings before many hours," he responded
gently. "To-morrow you will be a believer."

"That makes no difference with me now," said I. "I am just as skeptical
as if I hadn't a chance of conversion. Why, Doctor,--well, come
now,--I'll argue the case with you. In the first place, all Church
history is against you. There isn't a respectable author who upholds the
doctrine of modern miracles."

"Mistake!" he exclaimed. "I wish I had you in my library. I could face
you with writer on writer, fact on fact, all supporting my views. I can
prove that miracles have not ceased for eighteen centuries; that they
appeared abundantly in the days of the venerable Catholic fathers; that
a stream of prophecies and healings and tongues ran clear through the
Dark Ages down to the Reformation; that the superhuman influence flamed
in the dreams of Huss, the ecstasies of Xavier, and the marvels of Fox
and Usher. Look at the French Prophets, or Tremblers of the Cevennes,
who had prophesyings and healings and discoverings of spirits and
tongues and interpretations. Look at the ecstatic Jansenists, or
Convulsionists of St. Médard, who were blessed with the same holy gifts.
Look at the Quakers, from Fox downward, who have held it as a constant
principle to expect powers, revelations, discernings of spirits, and
instantaneous healings of diseases. Why, here we are in our own days;
here we are with our chain of miracles still unbroken; here we are in
the midst of this geological and unbelieving nineteenth century."

"Yes, here we are," said I; "and we must make the best of it. It's a bad
affair, of course, to live in scientific times; and it's a great pity
that we were not born in the Dark Ages; but it is too late to try to
help it."

"Ah! you answer with a sneer; you are materialistic and infidel."

"Stop, Doctor! Let me make a bargain with you. If you won't call me
names, I won't call you names. You are not in the pulpit now, and you
have no right to domineer over me."

"But what do you say to all these signs and wonders which I have
mentioned?"

"What do you say to the Rochester knockings and the Stratford mysteries
and the Mormon miracles?"

"All deceptions, or works of the Devil," affirmed the Doctor, without a
moment's hesitation.

"Excuse me for smiling," I replied "It is pleasant to observe what a
quick spirit you have for discerning the true wonders from the false."

"You will see, you will see," he answered, and relapsed into a grave
silence.

We reached New Haven and took rooms at the New Haven Hotel. I had
anticipated a little nap before going out on our expedition; but I had
not made allowance for the proselyting zeal of Dispensationists. My poor
bewildered friend Potter uttered something which he sincerely meant to
be a prayer, but which sounded to me painfully like blasphemy. Next they
sang a queer hymn of theirs in discordant chorus. After that, Mr. Riley
rolled up his sleeves and his eyes, flung his arms about, wept and
shrieked unknown tongues for twenty minutes. Then the butcher, the
baker, and candlestick-maker had a combined convulsion on the floor,
rolling over each other and upsetting furniture. By this time the hotel
was roused and the landlord made us a call.

"What the Old Harry are you about?" he demanded, angrily. "Don't you
know it's after midnight?"

"We are holding a Dispensary," said Mr. Riley, solemnly.

"Well, I'll dispense with your company, if you don't stop it," returned
mine host. "There's a nervous lady in the next room, and you've worried
her into fits."

"Let me see her," cried the Doctor, eagerly. "It may be that the power
of our faith is upon her. Which is her door?"

"You're drunk, Sir," returned the landlord, severely. "Keep quiet now,
or I'll have you put to bed by the porters."

So saying, he shut the door and went muttering down-stairs. This
untoward incident put an end to our exercises. A whispered palaver on
Dispensationism followed, during which I tilted my chair back against
the wall and stole a pleasant little nap.

It was about half past one when the Doctor shook me up and said, "It is
time." We slipped down-stairs in our stockinged feet, got the front-door
open without awakening the porter, shut it carefully after us, and put
on our boots outside. Mr. Riley immediately started up College Street,
which, as all the world is aware, runs northerly to the Canal Railroad,
where it changes to Prospect Street and goes off in a half-wild state up
country. At the end of College Street we left the city behind us, struck
the rail-track, forsook that presently for a desert sort of road known
as Canal Street, and kept on in a northwesterly direction for half a
mile farther. It was a dark, cool, and blustering night, such as the New
Englanders are very apt to have on the second of April. The wind blew
violently down the open country, shaking the scattered trees as if
it meant to wake them instantly out of their winter's slumber, and
screeching in the murky distances like a tomcat of the housetops, or
rather like a continent of tomcats. The Doctor lost his hat, chased it a
few rods, and then gave it up, lest he should miss his burglars. Once I
halted and watched, thinking that I saw two or three dark shapes dogging
us not far behind, but concluded that I had been deceived by the
black-art of magical Night, and hastened on after my crazy comrades.
Presently Riley stopped, pointed to a dark mass on our right which
seemed about large enough to be a story-and-a-half cottage, and
whispered, "Here we are, brethren."

"No doubt about that," said I. "But what the mischief is to come of it?"

"Oh! let's go back and call the police," urged the baker, in a tremulous
gurgle.

"Too late!" returned Riley. "It is given to me to see the burglars. They
are inside. They are taking the silver out of the closet. There will be
murder in five minutes."

"If there must be murder, why, of course we ought to have a hand in it,"
I suggested. "Our motives at least will be good."

"Right!" said Riley. "Come on, brethren! We must prove our faith by our
works."

But the baker hung back in a most dough-faced fashion, while the butcher
and the candlestick-maker encouraged him in his cowardice. At last it
was agreed that this unheroic trio should wait in the yard as a reserve,
while Riley, the Doctor, and I went in to worry the burglars. Leaving
the weaker brethren in a clump of evergreen shrubbery, we, the
forlorn-hope, stole around the house to get at a back-door which Prophet
Riley had plainly seen in his dream, and which he foretold us we should
find unlocked. I was not much amazed to discover a back-door, inasmuch
as most houses have one, but I really was surprised to learn that it was
unfastened. My astonishment at this circumstance, however, was over-
balanced by my alarm at finding that the Doctor still persisted in his
intention of entering; for I had hoped that at the last moment his
faith would give way, and let him slide down from the elevation of his
ridiculous and reckless purpose.

"But you are not really going in?" I whispered, jerking at his
coat-tails.

"Certainly," he replied. "The robbers are surely there. The door was
unlocked."

"Mere carelessness of the servants. Stop! Come back! Nonsense! Madness!
You'll get into a scrape. Respectable family. Good gracious, what a pack
of fools!"

While I was rapidly muttering these observations, he was pulling away
from me and stealing into the house after his prophet. Finding that
there was no stopping him, I followed, in obedience, perhaps, to that
great and no doubt beneficent, but as yet unexplained, instinct which
causes sheep to leap after their bellwether. We were in a basement, or
semi-subterranean story. I felt the walls of a narrow passage on
either side of me, and can swear to a kitchen near by, for I smelt its
cooking-range. I walked on the foremost end of my toes, and would have
paid five dollars for a pair of list slippers. Rather than take another
such little promenade as I had in that passage, I would submit to be
placed on the middle sleeper of a railroad-bridge, with an express-train
coming at me without a cowcatcher. Presently I overtook the Doctor's
coat-tails again, and found that they were ascending a staircase. At the
top of the stairs was a door, and on the other side of the door was a
room, the uses of which I won't undertake to swear to, for I never saw
it, although I was in it longer than I wanted to be. All I know is
that it seemed to be as full of chairs, and tables, and sofas, and
sideboards, and stoves, and crickets, as if it had been a shop for
second-hand furniture. I was just rubbing my shins after an encounter
with a remarkably solid object, nature uncertain, when somebody near me
fell over something with a crash and a groan. Immediately somebody else
seized me by the cravat and began to throttle me. Whoever it was, I
floored him with a right-hander, and sent him across the other person,
as I judged by the combined grunt, and the desperate, though dumb
struggle which followed. Now there were two of them down, and how many
standing I could not guess. An instant afterward, a muffled voice, like
that of a man only half awake, shouted from a room behind me, "Who's
there? Get out! I'm a-coming!" This seemed to encourage the individuals
who were having a rough-and-tumble on the carpet, for they commenced
roaring simultaneously, "Help! murder! thieves! fire!" without, however,
relaxing hostilities for a moment.

The next pleasant incident was a pistol-shot, the ball of which whizzed
so near my head that it made me dodge, although I have not the least
notion who fired it or whom it was aimed at. Female screams and
masculine shouts now sounded from various directions. Thinking that
I had done all the good in my power, I concluded to get out of this
confusion; but either the doorway by which we entered had suddenly
walled itself up, or else I had lost my reckoning; for, stumble where I
would, feel about as I would, I could not find it. I did, indeed, come
to an opening in the wall, but there was no staircase the other side of
it, and it simply introduced me to another invisible apartment. I had no
chance to reflect upon the matter and decide of my own free will whether
I would go in or not. A sudden rush of fighting, howling persons swept
me along, jammed me against a pillar, pushed me over a table, and forced
me to engage in a furious struggle, exceedingly awkward by reason of the
darkness and the extraordinary amount of furniture. A tremendous punch
in the side of the head upset me and made me lose my temper. Rising in a
rage, I grappled some man, tripped up his heels, got on his chest, and
never left off belaboring him until I felt pretty sure that he would
keep quiet during the rest of the _soiree_. I hope sincerely that this
suffering individual was Mr. John M. Riley; but, from the rotundity of
stomach which I bestrode, I very much fear that it was the Doctor.

All this while the house resounded with outcries of, "Who's there?"
"What's the matter?" "Father!" "Henry!" "Jenny!" "Maria!" "Thieves!"
"Murder!" "Police!" and so forth. Of course I did not feel disposed to
tell who was there; and in actual fact I could not have explained
what was the matter. Accordingly I left all these inquisitive people
unsatisfied, and busied myself solely with my fallen antagonist.
Quitting him at last in a state of quiescence, I knocked over a person
who had been attacking me in the rear, and then blundered into a
passage, which I suppose to have been the front-hall, just as a light
glimmered up in the rooms behind me. It gives one a very odd sensation
to tread on a prostrate body, not knowing whether it is dead or alive,
whether it is a man or a woman. I had that sensation in ascending a
stairway which seemed to be the only egress from the aforesaid passage.
The individual made no movement, and I did not stop to count his or her
pulses. Without feeling at all disposed to take my oath on the matter, I
rather suspect that a negro servant-girl had fainted away there in the
act of trying to run off in her nightgown. Upstairs I tumbled, resolved
to get upon the roof and slide down the lightning-rod, or else jump from
a window. Pushing open a door, which I fell against, I found myself in
a pretty little bedroom lighted by a single candle, articles of female
costume banging across chairs and scattered over dressing-tables, while
on the floor, just as she had swooned in her terror, lay a blonde girl
of nineteen or twenty, pale as marble, but beautiful. Right through my
alarm jarred a throb of mingled self-reproach and pity and admiration. I
tossed a pile of bedclothes over her, kissed the long light-brown hair
which rippled on the straw matting, daguerreotyped the face on my memory
with a glance, blew out the light, opened a window, and slipped out of
it. It is unpleasant to drop through darkness, not knowing how far you
will fall, nor whether you will not alight on iron pickets. Fortunately,
I came down in a fresh flower-bed, with no unpleasant result, except a
sensation of having nearly bitten my tongue off. I had scarcely steadied
myself on my feet, when a tall figure made a rush from some near
ambuscade and seized me by the collar. Supposing him to be one of our
reserve force, I quietly suffered him to lead me forward, and was on the
point of whispering my name, when my eye caught a glimmer of metal, and
I knew that I was in the hands of a policeman.

"Come in and help," said I. "The house is full of rascals."

Thinking me one of the family, he loosed his hold on my broadcloth and
hurried away to the back-door. Whoever reads this story has already
taken it for granted that I did not follow him, but that I did, on the
contrary, make for the city and never cease travelling until I had
reached the hotel. Let no man reproach me with forsaking my friend, the
Doctor, in his extremity. I was brought up to reverence the law and to
entertain a virtuous terror of policemen; and, besides, what could I
have effected in that horrible labyrinth of dark rooms and multitudinous
furniture? I rang up the porter, went to bed, and lay awake alt the rest
of the night, listening for the return of my companions. No one came:
no Doctor, no Riley, no butcher, no baker, no candlestick-maker. I was
apparently the sole survivor of our little army. In the morning I walked
over to the police-station, peeped cautiously through the grated door of
a long room where the night's gatherings are lodged, and discovered my
five friends, tattered and bruised, but holding a lively Dispensary in
one corner. From that moment I despaired of the Doctor and resolved to
let him manage his own monomania. I was still peeping when two of the
police and a sly-looking man in citizen's dress came up and stared
boldly at the prisoners.

"Well, Old Cock, do you see your game?" asked one of the "force."

"Thaht's him," returned the Old Cock, speaking with the soft drawl of
the New York cockney. "Tall fellah thah with thah black eye, thaht's
a-goin' it now. Thundah, what a roarah!"

"Well, what is he?" inquired the second of the New-Haveners.

"Joseph Hull, 'ligious lunatic," said the Old Cock. "Was in thah
Bloomingdale Asylum. Cut off one night about foah months ago and stole a
suit o' clothes that belonged to John M. Riley, with a lot o' money and
papahs and lettahs in thah pockets. How'd you get hold of him?"

"Broke into a house eout here last night," related the first
New-Havener. "He and them other fellers, and one more that we ha'n't
found. I was on my beat 'bout one o'clock, and see 'em puttin' up
College Street full chisel. I thought they looked kinder dangerous. So I
called Doolittle here, and Jarvis, and Jacobs, and we after 'em. Chased
'em 'bout a mild and treed 'em at Square Russoll's, way up Canal, eout
in the country. Three was in the yard and gin right up without doublin'
a fist, though they had their pockets chuck full o' little pistols. We
locked 'em into the cellar, and then, went upstairs, where there was a
devil of a yellin' and fightin'. Hanged if I know what they come there
for. They'd been pitchin' into one another and knockin' one another's
heads off, besides smashin' furnichy and chimbly crockery, but hadn't
stole a thing. The fat one and the long one--them two with white
chokers--was lyin' on the floor pootty much used up. There was another
that got up-stairs and jumped out a winder. Jarvis was outside and
collared him, but thought he was Russell's son-in-law,--ho, ho, ho!--and
let him off,--ho, ho, ho! Tell ye, Jarvis feels thunderin' small 'bout
it. Ha'n't been reound this mornin'."

"Well, I'll leave my warrant with your big-wigs, and come after my man
when they've got through with him," said the New York detective, turning
away.

Fearing the return of the enlightened Jarvis, I now left, and,
taking the first train to Troubleton, informed some of the leading
Dispensationists concerning their pastor's calamity. By dint of heavy
bail and strong representations they saved him, together with the
butcher and baker and candlestick-maker, from the disgrace of prison and
the lunatic asylum. But the adventure was the ruin of Dispensationism.
Mr. Joseph Hull had to give up Mr. John M. Riley's valuables, and return
to his seclusion at Bloomingdale. Deprived of the apostle who had set
them on fire, and overwhelmed by public ridicule, the Dispensationists
lost their faith, got ashamed of their minister, and turned him adrift.
He disappeared in the great whirl of men and other circumstances which
fills this wonderful country. From time to time, during five years, I
had made inquiries concerning him of mineralogists, botanists, and
other vagrant characters, without getting the smallest hint as to his
whereabouts. At last he had turned up as the private prophet of three
middle-aged widows.

"Jenny," said I to my wife, "do you remember the night I frightened you
so and kissed you as you lay in a fainting-fit?"

"You always say you kissed me, but I don't believe it," returned that
dear woman whom I love, honor, and cherish. "Yes, I remember the night
well enough."

"Well, that poor Doctor Potter, who was my Mahomet on that occasion,
and led me to victory in your parlor, and was the indirect means of my
getting my houri,--I have heard from him. He is our next neighbor."

"Mercy on us, Frederic! I hope not! What mischief won't he do to people
who are so handy?"

"Don't be worried, my dear," said I. "I sha'n't go over to his religion
again,--unless, indeed, you should insist upon it. But here he is, and
still a supernaturalist. I am anxious to know just how mad he is. I
shall call on him in a day or two."

So I did. One of the three widows met me with a tearful countenance and
told me that Doctor Potter had disappeared. So he had. I think that he
was ashamed to meet me again, and therefore ran away. The widows thought
not. They came to the conclusion, that, like Enoch and Elijah before
him, he had been translated. They cried for him a good deal more than he
was worth, quarreled scandalously among themselves, sold their house at
a loss, and dispersed. I know nothing more of them. Neither do I know
anything further of my neighbor, the prophet.

       *       *       *       *       *


THE PILOT'S STORY.


I.

  It was a story the pilot told, with his back to his hearers,--
  Keeping his hand on the wheel and his eye on the globe of the jack-staff,
  Holding the boat to the shore and out of the sweep of the current,
  Lightly turning aside for the heavy logs of the drift-wood,
  Widely shunning the snags that made us sardonic obeisance.

II.

  All the soft, damp air was full of delicate perfume
  From the young willows in bloom on either bank of the river,--
  Faint, delicious fragrance, trancing the indolent senses
  In a luxurious dream of the river and land of the lotus.
  Not yet out of the west the roses of sunset were withered;
  In the deep blue above light clouds of gold and of crimson
  Floated in slumber serene, and the restless river beneath them
  Rushed away to the sea with a vision of rest in its bosom.
  Far on the eastern shore lay dimly the swamps of the cypress;
  Dimly before us the islands grew from the river's expanses,--
  Beautiful, wood-grown isles,--with the gleam of the swart inundation
  Seen through the swaying boughs and slender trunks of their willows;
  And on the shore beside its the cotton-trees rose in the evening,
  Phantom-like, yearningly, wearily, with the inscrutable sadness
  Of the mute races of trees. While hoarsely the steam from her
     'scape-pipes
  Shouted, then whispered a moment, then shouted again to the silence,
  Trembling through all her frame with the mighty pulse of her engines,
  Slowly the boat ascended the swollen and broad Mississippi,
  Bank-full, sweeping on, with nearing masses of drift-wood,
  Daintily breathed about with hazes of silvery vapor,
  Where in his arrowy flight the twittering swallow alighted,
  And the belated blackbird paused on the way to its nestlings.

III.

  It was the pilot's story:--"They both came aboard there, at Cairo,
  From a New Orleans boat, and took passage with us for Saint Louis.
  She was a beautiful woman, with just enough blood from her mother,
  Darkening her eyes and her hair, to make her race known to a trader:
  You would have thought she was white. The man that was with her,--you
     see such,--
  Weakly good-natured and kind, and weakly good-natured and vicious,
  Slender of body and soul, fit neither for loving nor hating.
  I was a youngster then, and only learning the river,--
  Not over-fond of the wheel. I used to watch them at _monte_,
  Down in the cabin at night, and learned to know all of the gamblers.
  So when I saw this weak one staking his money against them,
  Betting upon the turn of the cards, I knew what was coming:
  _They_ never left their pigeons a single feather to fly with.
  Next day I saw them together,--the stranger and one of the gamblers:
  Picturesque rascal he was, with long black hair and moustaches,
  Black slouch hat drawn down to his eyes from his villanous forehead:
  On together they moved, still earnestly talking in whispers,
  On toward the forecastle, where sat the woman alone by the gangway.
  Roused by the fall of feet, she turned, and, beholding her master,
  Greeted him with a smile that was more like a wife's than another's,
  Rose to meet him fondly, and then, with the dread apprehension
  Always haunting the slave, fell her eye on the face of the gambler,
  Dark and lustful and fierce and full of merciless cunning.
  Something was spoken so low that I could not hear what the words were;
  Only the woman started, and looked from one to the other,
  With imploring eyes, bewildered hands, and a tremor
  All through her frame: I saw her from where I was standing, she shook so.
  'Say! is it so?' she cried. On the weak, white lips of her master
  Died a sickly smile, and he said,--'Louise, I have sold you.'
  God is my judge! May I never see such a look of despairing,
  Desolate anguish, as that which the woman cast on her master,
  Griping her breast with her little hands, as if he had stabbed her,
  Standing in silence a space, as fixed as the Indian woman,
  Carved out of wood, on the pilot-house of the old Pocahontas!
  Then, with a gurgling moan, like the sound in the throat of the dying,
  Came back her voice, that, rising, fluttered, through wild incoherence,
  Into a terrible shriek that stopped my heart while she answered:--
  'Sold me? sold me? sold----And you promised to give me my freedom!--
  Promised me, for the sake of our little boy in Saint Louis!
  What will you say to our boy, when he cries for me there in Saint Louis?
  What will you say to our God?--Ah, you have been joking! I see it!--
  No? God! God! He shall hear it,--and all of the angels in heaven,--
  Even the devils in hell!--and none will believe when they hear it!
  Sold me!'--Fell her voice with a thrilling wail, and in silence
  Down she sank on the deck, and covered her face with her fingers."

IV.

  In his story a moment the pilot paused, while we listened
  To the salute of a boat, that, rounding the point of an island,
  Flamed toward us with fires that seemed to burn from the waters,--
  Stately and vast and swift, and borne on the heart of the current.
  Then, with the mighty voice of a giant challenged to battle,
  Rose the responsive whistle, and all the echoes of island,
  Swamp-land, glade, and brake replied with a myriad clamor,
  Like wild birds that are suddenly startled from slumber at midnight;
  Then were at peace once more, and we heard the harsh cries of the
     peacocks
  Perched on a tree by a cabin-door, where the white-headed settler's
  White-headed children stood to look at the boat as it passed them,
  Passed them so near that we heard their happy talk and their laughter.
  Softly the sunset had faded, and now on the eastern horizon
  Hung, like a tear in the sky, the beautiful star of the evening.

  V.

  Still with his back to us standing, the pilot went on with his story:--
  "Instantly, all the people, with looks of reproach and compassion,
  Flocked round the prostrate woman. The children cried, and their mothers
  Hugged them tight to their breasts; but the gambler said to the
     captain,--
  'Put me off there at the town that lies round the bend of the river.
  Here, you! rise at once, and be ready now to go with me.'
  Roughly he seized the woman's arm and strove to uplift her.
  She--she seemed not to heed him, but rose like one that is dreaming,
  Slid from his grasp, and fleetly mounted the steps of the gangway,
  Up to the hurricane-deck, in silence, without lamentation.
  Straight to the stern of the boat, where the wheel was, she ran, and
     the people
  Followed her fast till she turned and stood at bay for a moment,
  Looking them in the face, and in the face of the gambler.
  Not one to save her,--not one of all the compassionate people!
  Not one to save her, of all the pitying angels in heaven!
  Not one bolt of God to strike him dead there before her!
  Wildly she waved him back, we waiting in silence and horror.
  Over the swarthy face of the gambler a pallor of passion
  Passed, like a gleam of lightning over the west in the night-time.
  White, she stood, and mute, till he put forth his hand to secure her;
  Then she turned and leaped,--in mid air fluttered a moment,--
  Down, there, whirling, fell, like a broken-winged bird from a tree-top,
  Down on the cruel wheel, that caught her, and hurled her, and
     crushed her,
  And in the foaming water plunged her, and hid her forever."

  VI.

  Still with his back to us all the pilot stood, but we heard him
  Swallowing hard, as he pulled the bell-rope to stop her. Then, turning,--
  "This is the place where it happened," brokenly whispered the pilot.
  "Somehow, I never like to go by here alone in the night-time."
  Darkly the Mississippi flowed by the town that lay in the starlight,
  Cheerful with lamps. Below we could hear them reversing the engines,
  And the great boat glided up to the shore like a giant exhausted.
  Heavily sighed her pipes. Broad over the swamps to the eastward
  Shone the full moon, and turned our far-trembling wake into silver.
  All was serene and calm, but the odorous breath of the willows
  Smote like the subtile breath of an infinite sorrow upon us.



A DAY WITH THE DEAD.


"Good morning!" said the old custodian, as he stood in the door of the
lodge, brushing out with his knuckles the cobwebs of sleep entangled in
his eyelashes, and ventilating the apartments of his fleshly tabernacle
with prolonged oscitations. "You are on hand early _this_ time, a'n't
you? You're the first live man I've seen since I got up."

So saying, he vanished, and reappearing in a moment with a huge brass
key, entered the arch, unlocked the gate which closed the aperture
fronting the east like the cover of a porthole, and sent it with a heavy
push wide open.

Wading through the flood of sunlight which poured into the
passage-way----But stop! I was about,--who knows?--in imitation of
divers admired models, to tell the reader in choicest poetic diction how
the City of the Dead, with its magnificent streets, shining palaces, and
lofty monuments, burst upon my dazzled vision,--how I walked for half a
mile along a spacious avenue, beneath an arcade of giant elms hung with
wreaths of mist and vocal with singing, feathery fruit,--past marble
tombs whose yards were filled with bright and fragrant flowers,--
among waving grassy knolls spread with the silver nets of spiders and
sparkling dew,--through vales of cool twilight and ravines of sombre
dusk,--and so on for more than a page, until finally, step by step,
through laboriously elegant sentences, I worked my way up to the top
of a lofty hill, the view from which to be graphically described as a
picture and a poem dissolved together into mingled glory and mirage, and
inundating with a billowy sea of beauty the landscape below;--and then
further depicting to the delighted fancy of the reader, how on one
side was a most remarkable river,--such as was never heard of before,
probably,--in fact, a web of water framed between the hills, its rushing
warp-currents, as it rolled along, woven by smoking steam-shuttles with
a woof of foam,--how, at the entrance of a bay, flocks of snowy sails,
with black, shining beaks, and sleek, unruffled plumage, were swimming
out to sea,--how another river, not quite so unique as the last, was
also in sight, coiling among emerald steeps and crags and precipices
and forest,--while beyond, green woodlands, checkered fields, groves,
orchards, villages, hills, farms, and villas, all glowed in an
exceedingly charming manner in the morning sun;--and then, still
further, to say something as brilliant as possible about a certain
city, designated as the Great Metropolis,--how it resembled, perhaps,
a Cyclopean type-form, with blocks of buildings for letters, domes,
turrets, and towers for punctuation-points, church-spires for
interrogation and exclamation marks, and squares and avenues for
division-spaces between the paragraphs, set up and leaded with
streets into a vast editorial page of original matter on Commerce and
Manufactures, rolled every morning with the ink of toil, and printing
before night an edition of results circulated to the remotest quarters
of the globe. And the tall chimneys yonder were to be called--let me
see--oh, the smoking cathedral-towers of the Holy Catholic Church of
Labor, islanding the air with clouds of incense more grateful to the
Deity than the fume of priest-swung censers. All this, and much more of
a similar nature, including an eloquent address to the ocean hard by,
it is possible I was about to say. But, unwilling to smother the reader
beneath a mountain of rhetorical flowers,--which accident might happen,
should I resolve to be "equal to the occasion,"--I shall contain myself,
and state, in the way of a curt preface, in plain prose, and directly to
the point, that I entered a remarkably large and populous cemetery,
no matter where, very early one morning,--in fact, you have the
gate-keeper's word for it that I was the first person there,--that I
climbed to the summit of a high hill and enjoyed the view of a beautiful
landscape, just after sunrise; and with this finally said and done, let
us proceed.

As I stood listening to the music of the sea-breeze in the pine-forests
below, and watching the ships sinking into the ocean from view or
dropping through the sky into sight at the rim of the horizon, and the
clouds changing their picturesque sunrise-dress for a uniform of sober
white, forming into rank and file, marching and countermarching, sending
off scouts into the far distance and foraging-parties to scour the
yellow fields of air, pitching their tents and placing sentinels on
guard around the camp,--amusing myself with fashioning quaint, arabesque
fancies,--a sort of intellectual whittling-habit I have when idle,--I
was roused from my reverie by the creaking of an iron gate.

Descending a few steps into a cluster of trees, I saw through their
leafy lattice-work, in an inclosure ornamented with rose-bushes and
other flowering shrubs, a young woman, richly dressed in black, kneeling
by the side of a new-made grave. The mound, evidently covering a
full-grown person, was nicely laid at the top with carefully cut sods,
the dark edges of which projected a little over the lighter-colored
gravel that sloped gradually down to the greensward. I was not long in
becoming satisfied that the person I saw was a young widow at the grave
of her husband, now three or four weeks dead, hither on her accustomed
morning visit to display her love and affection for his memory.

Bowing her head, for a few moments she gave way to sobs and weeping, and
then, removing the cover from a little willow basket, which stood by her
side, she took from it handfuls of bright flowers, and began to adorn
the table of sods upon the top of the mound.

As I regard her thus employed, weaving the tokens of her affection into
garlands, chaplets, and fanciful devices, arranging their symbolic
characters into interpretable monograms and hieroglyphs, matching their
colors and blending their hues and shades with the skill of an artist,
she becomes more and more absorbed in her work, the tears disappear from
her eyes, and the morning light flushes her pale and beautiful face. Is
she thinking now, I wonder, of the dead husband, or of something else?
What has she found among the flowers so consoling? Do they suggest
pleasant fancies, or recall the memories of happy days? Have they,
perhaps, a double meaning,--souvenirs of felicity as well as symbols
of sorrow? Are they opiates obliterating actual suffering, or prophets
uttering hopeful predictions? Or is it none of these things, and does
she find her work pleasant only because duty makes its performance
cheerful labor? I cannot say _what_ it is, but _something_ has assuaged
her grief; for I see her smiling now, as she holds a rosebud in her
fingers, and gazes at it abstractedly; and her thoughts and feelings,
whatever they may be, are indubitably not of a mournful character;--in
fact, I am sure that she never was happier in her life than she is at
this moment.

"Happy, do you say?"

Yes, I say happy.

The nature of woman, it is conceded by all men, is a curious,
interesting, and perplexing, if not, in respect of positive practical
results, a most unsatisfactory study. But nothing puzzles us so much
to comprehend as the fact just alluded to. The tenderest female
constitution will sustain a burden of grief which would crush a robust
and iron-nerved man, and drive him to despair and suicide. A woman
rarely succumbs to a calamity; however sudden and overwhelming the
initial shock may be, she revives and grows cheerful and happy under it
in a way and to a degree marvellous to behold. What singular secret is
there among the psychological mysteries of her nature which is able to
account for this phenomenon?--A gentle, timid girl of sixteen, whom the
sight of a spider or a live snake would have frightened into hysterics,
I had once an opportunity, on a tour through Italy, to observe, while
she took little or no notice of other works of art, would gaze, as if
fascinated, at the writhings of Laocoön and his sons in the folds and
fangs of the serpents, at the sculptured death of the Gladiator, and
even at the ghastly, repulsive pictures of martyrdoms and barbaric
mutilations and tortures,--the hideous monstrosities of a diseased and
degraded imagination found in the churches and convents of Rome, which
made others turn their backs with a shivering of the bones and a
creeping of the flesh. On expressing surprise at such a singular
exhibition of taste, I received this innocent, unpremeditated
reply:--"Why, I don't like them; the sight of them almost freezes my
blood; but--somehow I do like to look at them, _for I always feel better
after it_!" Now is there not involved in this artless answer a possible
explanation of the above-mentioned fact? Has not woman, hidden somewhere
among her other (of course angelic)--affections, a positive _love_ of
sickness, death, sorrow, and suffering, which man does not possess? Is
not the pain they cause, in her case, qualified by actual pleasure?
Do they not act as a stimulus upon her sensitive nervous system, and
produce, somehow, a _delightfully intoxicated state of the feelings_?
Would not this explain her otherwise unaccountable fondness for
witnessing the execution of murderers, for the horrible in novels
and the deaths and catastrophes in the newspapers, that she has a
constitutional relish for such horrid things, and that she enjoys them,
not because they are _in se_ productive of pleasure, but just, as is the
case with her "crying," _because she feels better after it_? And I think
it would be found, if an investigation of the subject were instituted,
that a foreknowledge of this inevitable result, derived from intuition
or experience, is the agent which breaks up the clouds of her sorrow:
so that, while the grief of a man stricken down by misfortune is an
equinoctial storm, dark and dismal, which lasts for weeks and months,
the grief of woman is a succession of refreshing April showers, each of
brief duration, and the spaces between them filled with sunshine and
rainbows.

But the sweets of that widow's present sorrow will be soon extracted.
How many weeks will she find it a pleasure to make morning visits here
and plait pretty flowers on the grave of her husband?--The grave in the
next inclosure furnishes an answer to the question. A few months ago,
it, too, was tended at sunrise by just such a tearful woman; but now the
wreaths of evergreen are yellow, and the weeds are springing up among
the withered garlands. The living partner has visited already the
"mitigated grief" department of the mourning store, and the severed
cords of her affections have been spliced and made almost as good as
new. Not that I would not have it so; not that I believe the grief of
woman to be less real and sincere than man's, though it _be_ enjoyed;
not that I would have her thrum a long mournful threnody on the
harpstrings of her heart, and waste on the dead, who need them not,
affections which, Heaven knows, the living need too much.

Retracing my steps, and descending the opposite slope of the hill, I
entered a beautiful vale covered with stately tombs and containing a
little lake, in the middle of which a fountain was springing high into
the air. In a spot so much frequented at a later hour of the day only a
single human being was in sight,--a young man, perhaps five-and-twenty
years of age, jauntily dressed, and his upper lip adorned with a long
moustache, who was leaning lazily upon a marble balustrade, and staring,
with a stupid, vacant look, at the massive monument it surrounded. As
nothing appeared at the moment more attractive to my eyes, I fixed them
upon him. No great skill in deciphering human character is required to
tell his past or foretell his future history, or even to read the few
poor spent thoughts that flicker in his brain. His father--some city
merchant--died last year, and left him a man of leisure, with a fortune
on his hands to spend in idleness and dissipation. This is the first
anniversary of the old gentleman's decease and departure to another and
better world, and the hopeful heir of his bank-stock and buildings has,
as a matter of etiquette, come out here from the city this morning to
pass an hour of solemn meditation--as he calls the sixty minutes in
which he does not smoke or swear--by the old man's grave. I observe him
every moment forming a firm resolution to fix his feeble thoughts upon
sober things and his latter end, and breaking it the second afterwards:
the effort is too much for the exhausted condition of his mind, and
results in a total failure. He is evidently well pleased that any
attention is directed towards him, and fancies that I regard him as a
very dutiful son, and his appearance here, so early in the morning
and long before breakfast, a remarkable example of posthumous filial
affection. To intensify, if possible, this sentiment in my breast, he
has just now pulled out a white cambric handkerchief and pretends to be
wiping tears from his eyes. Poor fellow! you have no natural talent for
the solemn parts in acting, or you would know that the expression
which your face now wears is not that of sorrow, solemnity, meekness,
gentleness, humility, or any other sober Christian grace or virtue. But
I leave you, for I see something more attractive now. Stand thy hour
out, young man! we shall meet again.

"In the other world?"

No: to-morrow evening, as I am taking my accustomed walk into the
country, I shall be wellnigh run over by a swiftly driven team; I shall
spring suddenly aside, when thou wilt pass, O bogus son of Jehu, with
thy dog-cart and two-forty span of bays, dashing down the road, thy
thoughts fixed on horse-flesh instead of eternity, and thy soul bounded,
north by thy cigar, east and west by the wheels thy vehicle, and south
by the dumb beasts that drag thee along.

But, not to introduce the reader to more solemn scenes of affliction and
sorrow which are witnessed here during the first vigil of the day, we
pass to a later hour. The mourners who come hither in the early morning
to decorate the graves of the recent dead, and to weep over them
undisturbed by visitors, have now departed. The sun is already high, the
dew has disappeared from the trees and the shrubs, and the paths and
walks and avenues begin to be thronged with loungers and sight-seers
from the city.

I had stopped at the forks of a lane and was hesitating which branch
to take and what to do with myself, when a tall and beautiful Willow,
standing upon a knoll a few rods distant, with thick drooping boughs
sweeping the ground on every side, beckoned to me. On approaching him,
he extended a branch, shook me cordially by the hand, and invited me
to accept the shelter and hospitality of his roof. The proposal so
generously made was at once accepted with profuse thanks, and, parting
the boughs, I entered the tent and threw myself upon the soft grass.

Do you ever talk with trees? It is a custom of mine, and I usually find
their conversation much more entertaining and profitable than that of
most men I know. "Good morning!" I say to an acquaintance. "Fine day,"
he replies; "how's business?" And so on for an hour, over themes of
every nature, the current of conversation rippled with trite truisms,
and whirling in the surface-eddies of Tupper's "Proverbial Philosophy."
But the tree takes the whole of the Tupperian philosophy for granted at
the start, and the truisms which most men utter, and takes _you_ for
granted likewise,--supposing neither half of your eyeballs blind,
and that you have a soul as well as a body,--and enters at once into
conversation upon the high table-land of science, reason, and poetry.
The entire talk of a fashionable tea-party, strained from its lees of
scandal, filtered through a sober reflection of the following morning,
is not equal in value to the quivering of a single leaf. A tree will
discourse with you upon botany, physiology, music, painting, philosophy,
and a dozen arts and sciences besides, none of which it simply chats
about, but all of which it _is_: and if you do not understand its
language and comprehend what it tells you about them, so much the worse
for you; it is not the fault of the tree.

I say, I talk with trees for this reason,--because their wisdom is so
much greater than that of my ordinary acquaintances,--and further,
(to put the major after the minor premise,) because they are virtually
living beings, endowed with instinct, feeling, reason, and display every
essential attribute of sentient creatures,--in fact, because they have
souls as well as men, only they are clothed in vegetable flesh.

"That is transcendental moonshine, and you don't believe a word of it!"

Well, my friend, allow me, then, to tell you, in all charity and with
bowels of compassion, that you hold dangerous and fatal views respecting
one of the cardinal doctrines of mythology,--yes, to be plain, you are a
Joveless infidel, and in fearful danger of being locked out of Elysium;
and I shall offer up a smoking sacrifice, the next time I get a sirloin,
and pour out a solemn libation, in the presence of my whole family
seated around the domestic altar early in the morning, for your speedy
conversion.

Know, then, O obtuse, faithless, and perverse skeptic, that these
things are so: that ocular and auricular evidence, indubitable and
overwhelming, exists, that the arboreal and human natures are in
substance one. Know that once on a time, as Daphne, the lovely daughter
of Peneus, was amusing herself with a bow and arrows in a forest of
Thessaly, she was surprised by a rude musician named Phoebus. Timid and
bashful, as most young ladies are, she turned and fled as fast as her
[Greek: skelae] could carry her. After running, closely pursued by the
eager Delphian, for several miles, and becoming very much fatigued, she
felt inclined to yield: but wishing to faint in a reputable manner, she
lifted up her hands and asked the gods to help her. Her call was heard
in a jiffy, and quicker than you could say, "Presto: change!" she was a
Laurel-tree, which Phoebus married on the spot. This was the Eve of the
Laurel family, so that all these trees you meet in the world at present
must be rational beings, since they are the descendants of the beautiful
Greek maiden Daphne. And to satisfy you that this is no foolish legend,
but, on the contrary, a well-authenticated fact, clinched and riveted
in the boiler-head of historical truth, permit me to assure you,--for I
have seen it myself,--that in the Villa Borghese, near Rome in Italy,
is an exact representation of the wonderful incident, cut in Carrara
marble,--the bark of the Laurel growing over the vanishing girl, and her
hands and fingers sprouting into branches and leaves,--supposed to
have been copied from a photograph taken on the spot,--for there is a
photograph in existence exactly like the marble statue.

We know positively--for we have an equally minute account of the
transaction--that the Cypress originated in a similar way. And is it
not reasonable to infer, therefore, though we may not find the facts
stated in _every_ case, that all trees were created out of men and
women, their bodies being miraculously clothed in woody tissue? In the
time of Virgil this was certainly the established orthodox belief; for
he relates an anecdote, expressing no doubt whatever of its truth, of a
party of travellers who commenced one day in a forest the indiscriminate
destruction of some young trees, when their roots forthwith began
to bleed, and voices proceeded from them, begging to be spared from
laceration. And, in fact, hundreds of instances, similarly weighty as
evidence, from equally veracious and trustworthy classic authors, might
be cited to the point, did time and space permit. But we hasten to the
other proof of their essential humanity, which I set out with assuming
as an undoubted fact, and which is already foreshadowed in the adventure
of the Trojan wanderers just related,--namely, that they possess the
faculty of speech.

Tasso, the author of a well-known metrical history, states distinctly,
as you shall see in half a moment, that a tree upon one occasion
discoursed with Major General Tancred,--

  "Pur tragge alfin la spada e con gran forza
  Percuote l' alta pianta. Oh, maraviglia!
  ----quasi di tomba, uscir ne sente
  Un indistinto gemito dolente,
  Che poi _distinto in voci_."

And then it goes on to tell the General how it once rejoiced in
extensive hoops, wore a coal-scuttle on its head, and rubbed its face
with prepared chalk,--(w-w-w-hy! what _was_ I saying? such a mistake! I
should say)--was a woman by the name of Clorinda, and is still animated
and sentient both in trunk and limbs, and that he will presently be
guilty of murder, if he continues to hack her with his sword.

The celebrated explorer, Sir John Mandeville, relates in the history
of his discoveries that he heard whole groves of trees talking _to one
another_. And when we come down to the present day, R.W. Emerson, of
Concord, asseverates that trees have conversed with him,--that they
speak Italian, English, German, Basque, Castilian, and several other
languages perfectly,--

  "Mountain speech to Highlanders,
  Ocean tongues to islanders,"--

and that he himself was on one occasion transformed into a Pine (_Pinus
rigida_) and talked quite a large volume of philosophy while in that
condition. Walter Whitman, Esq., author of "Leaves of Grass," relates
similar personal experience. Tennyson, (Alfred,) now the Laureate of
England, and upon whom the University of Oxford, a few years ago,
conferred the title of Doctor of Laws, gives us a long conversation he
once held with an Oak, reporting the exact words it said to him: they
are excellent English, and corroborate what I said above respecting the
wisdom of trees.

If all this evidence, and I might add much more equally conclusive, did
I think it necessary, does not, O skeptic, convince you of the humanity
of trees, why, let me say that you hold for true a hundred things not
based upon half so good testimony as this,--that I have seen juries
persuaded of facts, and bring in verdicts in accordance with them, not
nearly so well authenticated as these,--and that I have heard clergymen
preach sermons two hours long, constructed out of arguments which they
positively persisted you should regard as decisive, that were, to say
the least, no _better_ than those here advanced. And now, if these
things be so, in the words of the great Grecian, John P., _what are you
going to do about it_?

Trees, like animals, are righteously sacrificed only when required to
supply our wants. A man does not go out into the fields and mutilate or
destroy his horses and oxen: let him treat the oaks and the elms with
the same humanity. I would that enough of the old mythology to which I
have alluded, and which our fathers called religion, still lived among
us to awaken a virtuous indignation in our breasts when we witnessed the
wanton destruction of trees. I once remonstrated with a cruel wretch
whom I saw engaged in taking the life of some beautiful elms inhabiting
a piece of pasture-land. He replied, that in the hot days of summer the
cattle did nothing but lie under them and chew their cud, when they
should be at work feeding on the grass,--that his oxen did not get fat
fast enough, nor his cows give as much milk as they should give,--"and
so," said he, "I'm goin' to fix 'em,"--and down came every one of the
hospitable old trees. We are not half so humane in our conduct towards
the inferior races and tribes as the old Romans whom we calumniate with
the epithet of Pagans. The Roman Senate degraded one of its members for
putting to death a bird that had taken refuge in his bosom: would not
the Senate of the United States "look pretty," undertaking such a thing?
A complete Christian believes not only in the dogmas of the Bible, but
_also_ in the mythology, or religion of Nature, which teaches us, no
less than it taught our fathers, to regard wanton cruelty towards any
vegetable or animal creature which lives in the breath and smile of the
Creator, as a sin against Heaven.

Having in the above paragraph got into the parson's private preserve,
as I shall be liable anyhow to an action for trespass, I am tempted to
commit the additional transgression of poaching, and to give you a
few extracts from a _sermon_ a friend of mine once delivered. [It was
addressed to a small congregation of Monothelites in a village "out
West," just after the annual spring freshet, when half the inhabitants
of the place were down with the chills and fever. It was his maiden
effort,--he having just left the Seminary,--and did not "take" at
all, as he learned the next day, when Deacon Jenners (the pious
philanthropist of the place) called to tell him that his style of
preaching "would never do," that his thoughts were altogether of too
worldly a nature, and his language, decidedly unfit for the sacred
"desk." Besides,--though he would not assume the responsibility
of deciding that point before he had consulted with the Standing
Committee,--he did not think his sentiments exactly orthodox. My friend
was disgusted on the spot, and, being seized with a chill shortly
afterwards, concluded not to accept the "call," and, packing his
trunk, started in quest of a healthier locality and a more enlightened
congregation.]

"And here permit me to add a word or two for the purpose of correcting a
very prevalent error.

"Most men, I find, suppose that this earth belongs to them,--to the
human race alone. It does not,--no more than the United States belong to
Rhode Island. Human life is not a ten-thousand-millionth of the life on
the planet, nor the race of men more than an infinitesimal fraction of
the creatures which it nourishes. A swarm of summer flies on a field of
clover, or the grasshoppers in a patch of stubble, outnumber the men
that have lived since Adam. And yet we assume the dignity of lords and
masters of the globe! Is not this a flagrant delusion of self-conceit?
Let a pack of hungry wolves surround you here in the forest, and who is
master? Let a cloud of locusts descend upon a hundred square miles
of this territory, and what means do you possess to arrest their
ravages?...

"As a matter of _fact_, then, we do not own the world. And now let
me say, that, as a matter of _right_, we ought not: man was the last
created of creatures. When our race appeared on the earth, it had been
for millions of years in quiet, exclusive, undisputed possession of the
birds, beasts, fishes, and insects: it was _their_ world then, and we
were intruders and trespassers upon their domain....

"If, then, the other races have a right to exist on the planet as much
as we, what follows? Surely, that they have a right to their share and
proportion of the ground and its fruits, and the blessings of Heaven by
which life here is sustained: man has no right to expect a monopoly of
them. If we get a week of sunshine which supplies our wants, we have no
reason to complain of the succeeding week of rain which supplies the
wants of other races. If we raise a crop of wheat, and the insect
foragers take tithes of it, we have no right to find fault: a share of
it belongs to them. If you plant a field with corn, and the weeds spring
up also along with it, why do you complain? Have not the weeds as much
right there as the corn? If you encamp in one of the numberless swamps
which surround this settlement, and get assailed by countless millions
of robust mosquitoes, why do you rave and swear (as I know most of you
would do under such circumstances) and want to know 'what in the ----
mosquitoes were made for'? Why, to puncture the skin of blockheads and
blasphemers like you, and suck the last drop of blood from their veins.
Why, let me ask you, did you go out there? That place belonged to the
mosquitoes, not to you; and you knew you were trespassing upon their
land. The mosquitoes exist for themselves, and were created for the
enjoyment of their own mosquito-life. Why was _man_ created? The Bible
does not answer the question directly; the divines in the Catechism say,
'To glorify God.' Now I should like to know if a Westminster Catechism
of the mosquitoes would'nt make as good an answer for them?

"And here I am just in the act of annihilating with a logical stroke
a multitude of grumblers and croakers. If this world does not belong
exclusively to man, and the other races have as much right here as he,
and, consequently, a claim to their proportion of land, water, and sky,
and their share of food for the sustenance of life, what follows?

"A great many men, taking northeast storms, bleak winds,
thunder-showers, flies, mosquitoes, Canada thistles, hot sunshine, cold
snows, weeds, briers, thorns, wild beasts, snakes, alligators, and such
like things, which they don't happen to like, and putting them all
together, attempt to persuade you that this green earth is a complete
failure, a wreck and blasted ruin. Don't you believe that, for it's
wicked infidelity. I tell you the world is not all so bad as Indiana,
and especially that part of the State which you, unfortunately, inhabit.
I have seen, my friends, a large portion of the planet, and if there is
another spot anywhere quite so infernal as Wabashville, why, I solemnly
assure you I never found it.--And now for the point which shall prick
your conscience and penetrate your understanding! Do the bears and
wolves, the coons and foxes, the owls and wild-geese, find this region
unhealthy, and get the chills and fever, and go around grumbling and
cursing? Don't they find this climate especially salubrious and suited
exactly to their constitutions? Well, then, that's because they belong
here, _and you don't_. This region was never intended for the habitation
of man: it belongs exclusively to the wild beasts and the fowls of the
air, and you have no business here. [Manifest signs of disapprobation
on part of Deacon Taylor, an extensive owner of town-lots.] And if you
persist in remaining here, what moral right have you to complain of
God?...

"Remember, then, in conclusion, that, for millions of years before our
race existed, mosquitoes, weeds, briers, thorns, thistles, snow-storms,
and northeast winds prevailed upon this planet, and that during all this
time it was pronounced by the Deity himself to be '_very good_.' If,
then, the earth appears to be evil, is it not because 'thine eye is
evil'? We share this world, my friends, with other races, whose wants
are different from ours; and we are all of equal importance in the eyes
of our Maker, who distributes to each its share of blessings--man and
monster both alike--with impartial favor. Is not thus the fallacy of the
corruption of Nature exposed, and the lie against our Creator's wisdom,
love, and goodness dragged into noonday light?"

       *       *       *       *       *

But it is time to recommence our rambles through the City of the Dead.

Right here I come across on a tombstone,--"All our children. Emma, aged
1 mo. 23 days. John, 3 years 5 days. Anna, aged 1 year 1 mo." As a
physiologist, I might make some very instructive comments upon this; but
I forbear.

And here, upon another, a few rods farther on, is an epitaph in verse:--

  (FIRST VERSE.)

  "Calm be her slumbers near kindred are sighing,
  A husband deplores in deep anguish of heart,
  Beneath the cold earth _unconsciously lying_,
  No murmur can reach her, no tempest can start."

  (SECOND VERSE.)

  "Calm be her sleep as the silence of even
  When hearts unto deep invocation give birth.
  With a prayer she has _knelt at the portal of heaven_
  And found the admission she hoped for on earth_."

Not to speak of the "poetry" just here, how charmingly consistent with
each other are the ideas contained in the passages I have italicized! In
the first verse, you observe, the inmate is sleeping unconscious beneath
the ground: in the second verse, she has ascended to heaven and
found admittance to mansions in the skies!--A similar confusion and
contradiction of ideas occur in most of the epitaphs I see. Does our
theology furnish us with no clear conception of the state of the soul
after death? The Catholic Church teaches that the spirit at death
descends into the interior of the earth to a place called Hades, where
it is detained until the day of judgment, when it is reunited with the
dust of the body, and ascends to a heaven in the sky. This doctrine
has the merit of being positive, clear, and comprehensible, and,
consequently, whenever expressed, it always means something exact and
well-defined. Has the Protestant Church equally definite notions on the
subject, or, in fact, any fixed opinions respecting it whatever? If not,
why, as a matter of good taste, for no weightier reason, in records
almost imperishable like these, leave the matter alone! Silence
is better than nonsense. Suppose a few thousand years hence our
civilization to have become extinct, and that some antiquary from the
antipodes should visit this desolate hill to excavate, like Layard at
Nineveh, for relics of the old Americans. Suppose, having collected a
ship-load of broken tombstones, he should forward them to the Polynesian
Museum, and set the _savans_ of the age at work deciphering their
inscriptions, what sense would be made out of these epitaphs? How would
they interpret our notions of a future state? Taking our own monuments,
cut with our own hands, inscribed with our own signs-manual, what would
they infer our system of religion to have been? If the Egyptians were as
vague and careless as we in this matter, our archaeologists must have
made some amusing blunders.

Here are two epitaphs which suggest something else:--

  No. I.

  "I loved him in his beauty,
  A _mother_ boy while here,
  I knew he was an angel bright
  Formed for another sphere."

  No. II.

  "Farewell my wife and children dear
  God calls you home to rest.
  Still Angels _wisper_ in my ear
  We'll meet in heavenly bliss."

I want to make two annotations upon these. In No. 1 you will notice that
a possessive _'s_ is wanting, and in No. 2 that the _h_ is omitted from
_whisper_. A marble-cutter told me once, that a Pennsylvania Dutchman
came to him one day to have an inscription cut upon a gravestone for his
daughter, whose name was Fanny. The father, upon learning that the price
of the inscription would be ten cents a letter, insisted that Fanny
should be spelt with one _n_, as he should thereby save a dime! The
marble-cutter, unable to overcome the obstinacy of the frugal Teuton,
and unwilling to set up such a monument of his ignorance of spelling,
compromised the matter by conforming to the current orthography, and
inserted the superfluous consonant for nothing. And my second annotation
shall consist of an inquiry: What is there in corrupt and diseased human
nature which makes persons prefer such execrable rhyme as that quoted
above, and that which I find upon two-thirds of the tombstones here, to
decent English prose, which one would suppose might have been produced
at a much less expenditure of intellectual effort? But since it is an
unquestionable fact that we are thus totally depraved in taste and
feeling, why don't some of our bards, to whom the Muse has not been
propitious in other departments of metrical composition, and who, to be
blunt, are good for nothing else, such as ----, or ----, and many
others you know, come out here among the marble-cutters and open an
_epitaph-shop_? Mournful stanzas might then be procured of every size
and pattern, composed with decent reverence for the rules of grammar,
respect for the feet and limbs of the linear members, and possibly some
regard for consistency in the ideas they might chance occasionally to
express. Genin the hatter, and Cockroach Lyon, each keeps a poet. Why
cannot the marble-cutters procure some of the Heliconian fraternity as
partners? Bards would thus serve the cause of education, benefit future
antiquaries, and earn more hard dimes ten times over than they do in
writing lines for the blank corners of newspapers and the waste spaces
between articles in magazines. I throw this hint out of the window of
the "Atlantic," in the fervent hope that it will be seen, picked up,
and pocketed by some reformer who is now out of business; and I would
earnestly urge such individual to agitate the question with all his
might, and wake up the community to the vital importance, by making use
of "poetic fire" and "inspired frenzy" now going to waste, or some other
instrumentality, of a reformation in epitaphic necrology.

Seriously, modern epitaphs are a burlesque upon religion, a caricature
of all things holy, divine, and beautiful, and an outrage upon the
common sense and culture of the community. A collection of comic
churchyard poetry might be made in this place which would eclipse the
productions of Mr. K.N. Pepper, and cause a greater "army of readers to
explode" than his "Noad to a Whealbarrer" or the "Grek Slaiv" has done.

       *       *       *       *       *

During our rambles among the tombstones the sun has long since passed
the meridian, and the streets and avenues of the cemetery are crowded
with carriages and thronged with pedestrians, the tramping of horses'
feet, the rumbling of wheels, and the voices of men fill the air, and
the place which was so silent and deserted this morning is now as noisy
and bustling as the metropolis yonder. And soon begin to arrive thick
and fast the funeral trains. Many of the black-plumed hearses are
followed by only a single hired coach or omnibus, others by long trails
of splendid equipages. Upon the broad slope of a hill, whither the
greater number of the processions move, entirely destitute of trees
and flooded with sunshine, many thousand graves, mostly unmarked by
headstones, lie close together, resembling in appearance a corn-field
which has been permitted to run to grass unploughed. Standing upon an
elevated point near the summit, and looking down those acres of hillocks
to where the busy laborers are engaged in putting bodies into the
ground, covering them with earth, and rounding the soil over them, one
is perhaps struck for the first time with the full force, meaning,
and beauty of the language of Paul in his first letter to the
Corinthians:--"That which thou sowest is not that body which shall be,
but bare grain. It [the human body] is sown in corruption, is sown in
dishonor, is sown in weakness. It is sown a natural body; it is raised
[or springs up, to complete the figure] a spiritual body. Flesh
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven."--I once heard a
distinguished botanist dispute the accuracy of this simile, inasmuch, he
said, as the seed, when it is sown in the ground, does not _die_, but in
fact then first begins to _live_ and to display the vital force which
was previously asleep in it; while the human body decays and is resolved
into its primitive gaseous, mineral, and vegetable elements, the
particles of which, disseminated everywhere, and transferred through
chemical affinities into other and new organisms, lose all traces of
their former connection.--In answer to such a finical criticism as this,
intended to invalidate the authority of the great Apostolic Theologian,
I replied, that Paul was not an inspired _botanist_,--in fact, that
he probably knew nothing whatever about botany as a science,--but an
inspired religious teacher, who employed the language of his people and
the measure of knowledge to which his age had attained, to expound to
his contemporaries the principles of his Master's religion. I am not
familiar with the nicer points of strict theological orthodoxy, but,
from modern sermons and commentaries, I should infer that few doctors
of even the most straitest school of divinity hold to the doctrine of
verbal inspiration. That the Prophets and Apostles were acquainted with
botany, chemistry, geology, or any other modern science, is a notion
as unfounded in truth as it is hostile and foreign to the object and
purpose of Revelation, which is strictly confined to religion and
ethics. Those persons, therefore, (and they are a numerous class,) who
resort to the Bible, assuming that it professes to be an inspired manual
of universal knowledge, and then, because they find in its figurative
Oriental phraseology, or in its metaphors and illustrations, some
inaccuracies of expression or misstatements of scientific facts, would
throw discredit upon the essential religious dogmas and doctrines which
it is its object to state and unfold, are, to say the least, extremely
disingenuous, if not deficient in understanding.

But a much more prolific source of injury to the character of the Bible
than that just mentioned is the injudicious and impertinent labors of
many who volunteer in its defence. "Oh, save me from my friends!" might
the Prophets and Apostles, each and all, too often exclaim of their
supporters.--It is said that all men are insane upon some point: so are
classes and communities. The popular monomania which at present prevails
among a class of persons whose zeal surpasses their prudence and
knowledge is a foolish fear and trembling lest the tendencies of science
should result in the overthrow of the Bible. They seem, somehow, to be
fully persuaded that the inspired word of God has no inherent power to
stand alone,--that it has fallen among thieves and robbers,--is being
pelted with fossil coprolites, suffocated with fire-mist and primitive
gases, or beaten over the head with the shank-bones of Silurian
monsters, and is bawling aloud for assistance. Therefore, not stopping
to dress, they dash out into the public notice without hat or coat, in
such unclothed intellectual condition as they happen to be in,--in their
shirt, or stark naked often,--and rush frantically to its aid.

The most melancholy case of this intellectual _delirium tremens_
that probably ever came under the notice of any reader is found in a
professed apology for the Scriptures, recently published, under
the pompous and bombastic title of "COSMOGONY, OR THE MYSTERIES OF
CREATION."--A volume of such puerile trash, such rubbish, twaddle,
balderdash, and crazy drivelling[A] as this, was never before vomited
from the press of any land, and beside it the "REVELATIONS" of Andrew
Jackson Davis, the "Poughkeepsie Seer," rises to the lofty grandeur of
the "Novum Organon,"--a sight that makes one who really respects the
Bible hang his head for shame.

[Footnote A: As the reader may never have seen this unique volume, and
will be amused by a specimen of its grammar, rhetoric, wisdom, and
learning, let him take a _morceau_ or two from the commencement of
a chapter entitled, "_Naturalists.--Their Classification of Man and
Beasts_."--"We look upon the animal in no different light from that of
a vegetable, a plant, or a rock-crystal, which forms under the Creative
hand, performs its part for the use of man, dissolves and reproduces by
its parts another comfort for him. The animal bears _no resemblance_ to
man, not even in his brain."--"One tree may bear apples, and another
acorns, but they are not to be compared, the one as bearing a relation
to the other, because they have each a body and limbs. They are distinct
trees, and one will always produce apples and the other acorns, as long
as they produce anything." (Indeed!)--"The usual classification of
animals, is that of Vertebrata, Articulata, Mollusca, and Radiata.
This is not only offensive to man,--_but is impiety towards God_."
(Why?)--"We are told by these naturalists that man belongs to the class
called 'Vertebrata.' So does the snake, the monkey, the lizard and
crocodile, and many other low and mean animals.--Have these creatures
the reasoning faculties of man? Do they walk erect like man? Have they
feet, hands, legs, arms, _hair upon their heads, or beards upon their
faces_? Do they speak languages and _congregate and worship at the
altar_?" (!!)--"Those who are ambitious of such relations, may plant
their heraldic coat-of-arms in the serpent, the lizard, the crocodile,
or the monkey, but we disclaim such relationship--we do not think it
_good taste or good morals_ to place the fair daughters of Eve on
a level with horrid and hideous animals, simply from some apparent
similarity, which we are certain never existed."]

The belligerent pundit who has flung in the face of peaceful geologists
this octavo _camouflet_ of his scientific lucubrations professes to
have scoured the surface and ravaged the bottom (in a suit of patent
sub-marine Scriptural armor) of a no less abysmal subject than the
cryptology of Genesis,--to have undermined with his sapping intellect
and blown up with his explosive wisdom the walled secrets of time and
eternity, carrying away with him in the shape of plunder a whole cargo
of the plans and purposes of the Omnipotent in the Creation. I have not
the least doubt, if he were respectfully approached and interrogated
upon the subject, he would answer with the greatest ease and accuracy
the famous question with which Dean Swift posed the theological tailor.
The man who can tell us all about the institution of the law of gravity,
how the inspired prophet thought and felt while writing his history, and
who knows everything respecting "affinity and attraction when they
were in Creation's womb," could not hesitate a moment to measure an
arch-angel for a pair of breeches.--But I was talking of _funerals_.

       *       *       *       *       *

A friend once assured me that the heartiest laugh of which he was ever
guilty on a solemn occasion occurred at a funeral. A trusty Irish
servant, who had lived with him for many years, and for whom he had
great affection, died suddenly at his house. As he was attending the
funeral in the Catholic burial-place, and stood with his wife and
children listening to the service which the priest was reading, his
heart filled with grief and his eyes moist with tears, the inscription
on a gravestone just before him happened to attract his attention. It
was this_:--"Gloria in Excelsis Deo!_ Patrick Donahoe died July 12.
18--." Now the exclamation-point after _"Deo"_ and the statement of
the fact of Mr. D.'s demise following immediately thereafter made the
epitaph to read, "Glory to God in the highest! Patrick is dead." This,
which at another time would perhaps have caused no more than a smile,
struck him as irresistibly funny, and drove in a moment every trace
of sadness from his face and sorrow from his heart,--to give place to
violent emotions of another nature, which his utmost exertions could not
conceal.

["I beg your pardon! I've been afloat," was the graceful parenthetical
apology which a distinguished naval officer used to make, when by
mistake he let drop one of "those big words which lie at the bottom of
the best man's vocabulary," in conversation with sensitive persons whose
ears he feared it might offend. I ought possibly, at the end of the
following anecdote, to make some such excuse to the scrupulous reader,
whose notions of propriety it will perhaps slightly infringe: "I beg
your pardon! I couldn't help telling it."]

An eminent divine once described to me a scene he witnessed at a
funeral, which he said nearly caused him to expire with--well, you shall
see. An intimate acquaintance of his, who belonged to a neighboring
parish, having died, he was naturally induced to assist at the
burial-service. The rector of this parish was a man who, though
sensitive in the extreme to the absurdities of others,--being, in fact,
a regular son of Momus,--was entirely unconscious of his own amusing
eccentricities. Among these, numerous and singular, he had the habit
of suddenly stopping in the middle of a sentence, while preaching, and
calling out to the sexton, across the church, "Dooke, turn on more gas!"
or "Dooke, shut that window!" or "Dooke, do"--something else which
was pretty sure to be wanting itself done during the delivery of his
discourse. Nearly every Sunday, strangers not acquainted with his ways
were startled out of their propriety by some such unexpected behavior.

On the occasion referred to, the funeral procession having entered the
churchyard, and my informant and the officiating clergyman having taken
their places at the head of the grave, the undertaker and his assistants
having removed the coffin from the hearse, and the mourners, of whom
there was a large crowd, having gathered into a circular audience, the
Reverend Doctor ---- began the service.

"'Man that is born of a woman'--Oh, stop those carriages! don't you see
where they are going to?" (he suddenly broke out, rushing from the place
where he stood, frantically, among the bystanders; and then returning to
his former position, continued,)--"'hath but a short time to live, and
is full of misery. He cometh up'--Oh, don't let that coffin down
yet! wait till I tell you to," (addressed to the undertaker, who was
anticipating the proper place in the service,)--"'and is cut down like a
flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow,'--Please to hold the umbrella
a little further over my head," (_sotto voce_ to the man who was
endeavoring to protect his head from the sun,)-"'and never continueth in
one stay.'--Hold the umbrella a little higher, will you?" (_sotto voce_
again to the man holding the umbrella.)--"'In the midst of life we are
in death.'--Stand down from there, boys, and be quiet!" (addressed to
some urchins who were crowding and pushing one another about the grave,
in their efforts to look at the coffin.) At length he had proceeded
without further interruptions as far as the sentence, "'We therefore
commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to
dust,'"--when Dooke, the sexton,--a queer, impetuous fellow,--who was
vainly endeavoring to keep the boys away from the edge of the grave,
seized suddenly the rope with which the coffin had just been lowered
down, and, stooping forward, laid it like a whip-lash, "cut!" across the
shins of a dozen youngsters, making them leap with "Oh! oh! oh!" a
foot from the ground, and scatter in short order,--"'looking for
the'"--(turning to my friend, as he witnessed the successful exploit of
his favorite sexton, and whispering in his ear,) "_Dooke made 'em hop
that time, didn't he!_--'general resurrection in the last day, and the
life of the world to come.'"

Dooke's mode of dispersing the boys, and the officiating clergyman's
comment upon it, parenthesized into the middle of the most solemn
sentence of the burial-service, were too much for the usual stern
gravity of my clerical friend, and, under pretence of shedding tears, he
buried his face in his handkerchief and his handkerchief in his hat and
shook with laughter.

Speaking of funerals reminds me of a congenial subject.--Nothing in New
York astonishes visitors from the country so much as the magnificent
coffin-shops, rivalling, in the ostentatious and tempting display of
their wares, the most elegant stores on Broadway. Model coffins, of the
latest style and pattern, are set up on end in long rows and protected
by splendid show-cases, with the lids removed to exhibit their rich
satin lining. Fancy coffins, decorated with glittering ornaments, are
placed seductively in bright plate-glass windows, and put out for
baiting advertisements upon the side-walks: as much as to say, "Walk in,
walk in, ladies and gentlemen! Now's your chance! here's your fine, nice
coffins!"--while in ornamental letters upon extensive placards hung
about the doors, "IRON COFFINS," "ROSEWOOD COFFINS," "AIR-TIGHT
COFFINS," "MAHOGANY COFFINS," "PATENT SARCOPHAGI," address the eyes
and appeal to the purses of the passers-by. And I saw in one of these
places, the other day, painted on glass and inclosed in an elegant gilt
frame, "ICE COFFINS," which struck me as queer enough. As though it were
not sufficiently cool to be dead!

It seems to me, that, in this matter, the undertakers, digging a little
too deep below the surface of the present age, have thrown out some of
the mystical and grotesque remains of a very antique religious faith,
which look as singular just now to the eyes of common people as would an
Egyptian temple with its sacred Apis in Broadway, or a Sphinx on Boston
Common. To the eyes of an old Egyptian, no object could be more grateful
than the sarcophagus in which he was to repose at death. He purchased it
as early in life as he could raise the means, and displayed it in his
parlor as an attractive and costly ornament. Indeed, I do not know but
it was useful as well, and the children kept their playthings in it, or
the young ladies their knitting-work and embroidery.

Are we not, in this class of our tastes and feelings, becoming rapidly
Egyptianized? Why, I expect in a year or two to see coffins introduced
into the parlors of the Fifth Avenue, and to find them, when their
owners fail or absquatulate, advertised for sale at auction, with the
rest of the household furniture, at a great sacrifice on the original
cost.

"--> ONE SUPERB COFFIN OF ELEGANT PATTERN AND SUPERIOR WORKMANSHIP, AS
GOOD AS NEW. TWO DITTO, SLIGHTLY DAMAGED."

And then the fashion will become popular with the less aristocratic
portion of the community, and you will see crowds of servant-girls and
street-loungers around the windows of our magnificent coffin-bazaars,
and hear from them such exclamations as these: "Oh! do look here,
Matilda! Wouldn't you like to have such a nice coffin as that?" or,
"What a dear, sweet sarcophagus that one is there!" or, "Faith, I should
like to own that air-tight!"

       *       *       *       *       *

But the day is now far advanced. The funeral processions have ceased to
arrive, and the husbandmen, having sown the immortal seed furnished by
the metropolis, with shovels and empty dinner-pails, are on their way,
whistling and talking in groups, homeward. The number of loungers and
sight-seers is rapidly diminishing as the light in the more thickly
shaded walks becomes dim, and the clock at the gateway indicates the
near approach of the hour when the portals will be closed.

--Alone with the dead! Alone in the night among tombs and graves! How
many readers do not at the sight of these words feel an involuntary
_soupçon_ of a shudder? Would not the cause of this indefinable secret
dread of the darkness which covers a graveyard be a curious matter
of inquiry? Let one ever so cultivated and skeptical, familiar as a
physician or a soldier with the spectacle of death, ever so full of
mental and physical courage, passing alone late at night through a
graveyard, hear the least sound among the graves, or see a moving object
of any kind, especially a white one, and he will instantly feel an
_alloverishness_ foreign to ordinary experience, and I will not answer
for him that his hair does not stand on end and his flesh grow rough as
a nutmeg-grater. A company of three or four persons would feel far less
disturbed. This proves the emotion to be genuine _fear_. And with this
recognized as a fact, ask the question, Of what are you afraid? What
makes your feet stick to the ground so fast, or inspires you to take to
your legs and run for your life? "A ridiculous, foolish superstition,"
reason answers.

I do not intend by this to intimate that you, reader, bold and
courageous person that I know you to be, would not dare to go through a
graveyard at night. By no means. I only predicate the existence within
you of this ridiculous, foolish superstition, and maintain that you
would do so under _all_ circumstances with peculiar feelings which you
did not possess before you entered it and which you will not possess
as soon as you have left it, and under _certain_ circumstances with a
trembling of the nerves and a palpitation of the heart, and that the
occasion _might_ occur when you would be still _more_ strongly and
strangely affected. To illustrate the latter case I have an anecdote
_à-propos_.

A college class-mate, (Poor B----! the shadows of the Pyramids now fall
upon his early grave!) a young man easily agitated, to be sure, and
possibly timid, on his way home, late one autumn night, from the
house of a relative in the country, was hurrying past a dismal old
burying-yard in the midst of a gloomy wood, when he was suddenly
startled by a strange noise a short distance from the road. Turning
his head, alarmed, in the direction whence it proceeded, he was
horror-struck at seeing through the darkness a white object on the
ground, struggling as if in the grasp of some terrible monster.
Instantly the blood froze in his veins; he stood petrified,--the
howlings of the wind, clanking of chains, and groans of agony, filling
his ears,--with his eyes fixed in terror upon the white shape rolling
and plunging and writhing among the tombs. Attempting to run, his feet
refused to move, and he swooned and fell senseless in the road. A party
of travellers, happening shortly to pass, stumbled over his body.
Raising him upon his feet, they succeeded by vigorous shakes in
restoring him to a state of consciousness.

While explaining to them the cause of his fright, the noise was renewed.
The men, although somewhat alarmed, clubbed their individual courage,
climbed the wall, and found--nearly in the centre of the graveyard--_an
old white horse_ thrown down by his fetters and struggling violently to
regain his feet.

B---- assured me, the explanation of the spectacle instinctively
occurring to his mind at the moment as indubitable was that some
reprobate had just been buried there, and that the Devil, coming for
his body, was engaged in binding his unwilling limbs, preparatory to
carrying him away!

The reader may smile at the weakness and folly displayed in this case,
but the assertion may nevertheless be safely ventured, that there is not
one person in a hundred who would not under the same circumstances have
been greatly disturbed, or would have invented a much less frightfully
absurd solution of the phenomenon than poor B----'s.

I think the singular feelings associated with graveyard darkness, which
the wisest and bravest of men find slumbering beneath all their courage
and philosophy, would be found upon investigation to proceed principally
from two sources,--a constitutional inclination to religious
superstition, and an acquired educational belief in the reality of the
dreams and fancies of poets, mingled, of course, with some natural
cowardice.

The dryest and hardest men have more poetry in them than they or we
begin to suspect. Indeed, if we could take our individual or collective
culture to pieces and award to each separate influence its due and just
share of results, I should not be surprised at finding that the poet had
done more in the way of fashioning our education than the scientist
or any other teacher. Milton, to give but a single example, with his
speculations concerning the Fall,--its effects upon humanity, the brute
creation, and physical nature,--and his imaginary conflicts between
the hostile armies of heaven, and his celestial and Satanic
personifications, has had so much influence in Anglo-Saxon culture, that
nine-tenths of the people believe, without knowing it, as firmly in
"Paradise Lost" as in the text of the Bible. The Governor of Texas,
citing in his proclamation a familiar passage in Shakspeare as emanating
from the inspired pen of the Psalmist, is not to so great extent
an example of ignorance as an illustration of the lofty peerage
instinctively assigned the great dramatist in the ordinary associations
of our thoughts. This faith in the visionary world of poets is instilled
into us (and it is for this reason that Rousseau, in his masterly
work on education, the "Émile," reprobates the custom as promotive of
superstition) in early infancy by our parents and nurses with their
stories of nymphs, fairies, elves, dwarfs, giants, witches, hobgoblins,
and the like fabulous beings, and, as soon as we are able to read, by
the tales of genii, sorcerers, demons, ghouls, enchanted caves and
castles, and monsters and monstrosities of every name. The exceedingly
impressible and poetical nature of children (for all children are poets
and talk poetry as soon as they can lisp) appropriates and absorbs with
intense relish these fanciful myths, and for years they believe more
firmly in their truth than in the realities of the actual world. And I
more than suspect that this child-credulity rather slumbers in the grown
man, smothered beneath superimposed skepticisms and cognitions, than is
ever eradicated from his mind, and thus, upon the shock of an emergency
disturbing him suddenly to the foundation, is ready to burst up through
the crevices of his shattered practical experience and appear on the
surface of his judgment and understanding.

In addition, then, to an instinctive tendency to religious superstition,
(of which I shall here say nothing,) to the fairy mythology of the
nursery, and the phantom machinery invented by poets to clothe with the
semblance of reality their dreams and fancies, can be traced in a great
measure the existence in the mind of the _credulity_ which renders the
_fear_ in question possible, opening an introduction for it into the
heart excited by inexplicable phenomena or circumstanced where such
phenomena might, according to our superstitious beliefs, easily occur.

Without entering into an analysis of the _fear_ itself, beyond the
remark that any extraordinary sight or sound not immediately explicable
by the eye or ear to the understanding (as a steamboat to the Indians or
a comet to our ancestors) is a legitimate cause of the emotion, as well
as the _possibility_ of the occurrence of such sights and sounds,
for believing which we have seen man prepared, first by natural
superstitious inclination, and secondly by a peculiar education,--I will
only further add, for the purpose of a brief introduction to an anecdote
I wish to relate, that there is another fountain of knowledge, from
which we drink at a later period than childhood, as well as then, whose
waters are strongly impregnated with this superstitious, fear-provoking
credulity: I mean the stories of _ghosts_ which have been seen and heard
in all ages and countries, revealing important secrets, pointing out
the places where murder has been committed or treasure concealed,
foretelling deaths and calamities, and forewarning men of impending
dangers. Hundreds of books familiar to all have been written upon this
subject and form an extensive department of our literature, especially
of our older literature.

The philosopher attempts to account for such phenomena by referring them
to optical illusions or a disordered condition of the brain, making them
_subjective_ semblances instead of _objective_ realities. But one is
continually being puzzled and perplexed with evidence contradicting this
hypothesis, which, upon any other subject _a priori_ credible to the
reason and judgment, would be received as satisfactory and decisive
without a moment's hesitation. In truth, with all the light which
science is able to shed upon it, and all the resolute shutting of the
eyes at points which no elucidating theory is available to explain,
there are facts in this department of supernaturalism which stagger the
unbelief of the stoutest skeptic.

It is constantly urged, among other objections to the credibility
of supernatural apparitions, that the names of the witnesses have
singularly and suspiciously disappeared,--that you find them, upon
investigation, substantiated thus: A very worthy gentleman told another
very worthy gentleman, who told a very intelligent lady, who told
somebody else, who told the individual who finally communicated the
incident to the world. There are, however, as just intimated, instances
in which such ambiguity is altogether wanting. Among these is one so
well authenticated by well-known witnesses of undoubted veracity, that,
having never before been published, I venture to relate it here.

My informant was Professor Tholuck, of Halle University, the most
eminent living theologian in Germany, and the principal ecclesiarch of
the Prussian Church. He prefaced the account by assuring me that it
was received from the lips of De Wette himself, immediately after the
occurrence,--that De Wette was an intimate personal friend, a plain,
practical man, of remarkably clear and vigorous intellect, with no more
poetry and imagination in his nature than just sufficient to keep him
alive,--in a word, that he would rely upon his coolness of judgment
and accuracy of observation, under any possible combination of
circumstances, as confidently as upon those of any man in the world.

Dr. De Wette, the famous German Biblical critic, returning home one
evening between nine and ten o'clock, was surprised, upon arriving
opposite the house in which he resided, to see a bright light burning in
his study. In fact, he was rather more than surprised; for he distinctly
remembered to have extinguished the candles when he went out, an hour or
two previously, locked the door, and put the key in his pocket, which,
upon feeling for it, was still there. Pausing a moment to wonder by
what means and for what purpose any one could have entered the room, he
perceived the shadow of a person apparently occupied about something in
a remote corner. Supposing it to be a burglar employed in rifling his
trunk, he was upon the point of alarming the police, when the man
advanced to the window, into full view, as if for the purpose of looking
out into the street. _It was De Wette himself!_--the scholar, author,
professor,--his height, size, figure, stoop,--his head, his face, his
features, eyes, mouth, nose, chin, every one,--skullcap, study-gown,
neck-tie, all, everything: there was no mistaking him, no deception
whatever: there stood Dr. De Wette in his own library, and he out in
the street:--why, he must be _somebody else!_ The Doctor instinctively
grasped his body with his hands, and tried himself with the
psychological tests of self-consciousness and identity, doubtful, if
he could believe his senses and black were not white, that he longer
existed his former self, and stood, perplexed, bewildered, and
confounded, gazing at his other likeness looking out of the window. Upon
the person's retiring from the window, which occurred in a few moments,
De Wette resolved not to dispute the possession of his study with
the other Doctor before morning, and ringing at the door of a house
opposite, where an acquaintance resided, he asked permission to remain
over night.

The chamber occupied by him commanded a full view of the interior of
his library, and from the window he could see his other self engaged
in study and meditation, now walking up and down the room, immersed in
thought, now sitting down at the desk to write, now rising to search
for a volume among the book-shelves, and imitating in all respects
the peculiar habits of the great Doctor engaged at work and busy with
cogitations. At length, when the cathedral clock had finished striking
through first four and then eleven strokes, as German clocks are wont
to do an hour before twelve, De Wette Number Two manifested signs of
retiring to rest,--took out his watch, the identical large gold one the
other Doctor in the other chamber felt sure was at that moment safe
in his waistcoat-pocket, and wound it up, removed a portion of his
clothing, came to the window, closed the curtains, and in a few moments
the light disappeared. De Wette Number One, waiting a little time until
convinced that Number Two had disposed himself to sleep, retired also
his-self to bed, wondering very much what all this could mean.

Rising the next morning, he crossed the street, and passed up-stairs to
his library. The door was fastened; he applied the key, opened it, and
entered. No one was there; everything appeared in precisely the same
condition in which he had left it the evening before,--his pen lying
upon the paper as he had dropped it on going out, the candles on the
table and the mantel-piece evidently not having been lighted, the
window-curtains drawn aside as he had left them; in fine, there was not
a single trace of any person's having been in the room. "Had he been
insane the night before? He must have been. He was growing old;
something was the matter with his eyes or brain; anyhow, he had been
deceived, and it was very foolish of him to have remained away all
night." Endeavoring to satisfy his mind with some such reflections
as these, he remembered he had not yet examined his bed-room. Almost
ashamed to make the search, now convinced it was all an hallucination of
the senses, he crossed the narrow passageway and opened the door. He
was thunderstruck. The ceiling, a lofty, massive brick arch, had fallen
during the night, filling the room with rubbish and crushing his bed
into atoms. De Wette the Apparition had saved the life of the great
German scholar.

Tholuck, who was walking with me in the fields near Halle when relating
the anecdote, added, upon concluding, "I do not pretend to account
for the phenomenon; no knowledge, scientific or metaphysical, in my
possession, is adequate to explain it; but I have no more doubt it
actually, positively, literally did occur, than I have of the existence
of the sun _im Himmel da_."



CULTURE.


The word of ambition at the present day is Culture. Whilst all the world
is in pursuit of power, and of wealth as a means of power, culture
corrects the theory of success. A man is the prisoner of his power. A
topical memory makes him an almanac; a talent for debate, a disputant;
skill to get money makes him a miser, that is, a beggar. Culture reduces
these inflammations by invoking the aid of other powers against the
dominant talent, and by appealing to the rank of powers. It watches
success. For performance Nature has no mercy, and sacrifices the
performer to get it done,--makes a dropsy or a tympany of him. If she
wants a thumb, she makes one at the cost of arms and legs, and any
excess of power in one part is usually paid for at once by some defect
in a contiguous part.

Our efficiency depends so much on our concentration, that Nature
usually, in the instances where a marked man is sent into the world,
overloads him with bias, sacrificing his symmetry to his working power.
It is said, no man can write but one book; and if a man have a defect,
it is apt to leave its impression on all his performances. If she create
a policeman like Fouché, he is made up of suspicions and of plots to
circumvent them. "The air," said Fouché, "is full of poniards." The
physician Sanctorius spent his life in a pair of scales, weighing his
food. Lord Coke valued Chaucer highly, because the Canon Yeman's Tale
illustrates the Statute _Hen. V. Chap. 4_, against Alchemy. I saw a man
who believed the principal mischiefs in the English state were derived
from the devotion to musical concerts. A freemason, not long since, set
out to explain to this country, that the principal cause of the success
of General Washington was the aid he derived from the freemasons.

But, worse than the harping on one string, Nature has secured
individualism by giving the private person a high conceit of his weight
in the system. The pest of society is egotists. There are dull and
bright, sacred and profane, coarse and fine egotists. 'Tis a disease
that, like influenza, falls on all constitutions. In the distemper
known to physicians as _chorea_, the patient sometimes turns round
and continues to spin slowly on one spot. Is egotism a metaphysical
varioloid of this malady? The man runs round a ring formed by his own
talent, falls into an admiration of it, and loses relation to the world.
It is a tendency in all minds. One of its annoying forms is a craving
for sympathy. The sufferers parade their miseries, tear the lint from
their bruises, reveal their indictable crimes, that you may pity them.
They like sickness, because physical pain will extort some show of
interest from the bystanders; as we have seen children, who, finding
themselves of no account when grown people come in, will cough till they
choke, to draw attention.

This distemper is the scourge of talent,--of artists, inventors, and
philosophers. Eminent spiritualists shall have an incapacity of putting
their act or word aloof from them, and seeing it bravely for the nothing
it is. Beware of the man who says, "I am on the eve of a revelation!" It
is speedily punished, inasmuch as this habit invites men to humor it,
and, by treating the patient tenderly, to shut him up in a narrower
selfism, and exclude him from the great world of God's cheerful fallible
men and women. Let us rather be insulted, whilst we are insultable.
Religious literature has eminent examples; and if we run over our
private list of poets, critics, philanthropists, and philosophers, we
shall find them infected with this dropsy and elephantiasis, which we
ought to have tapped.

This goitre of egotism is so frequent among notable persons, that we
must infer some strong necessity in Nature which it subserves,--such as
we see in the sexual attraction. The preservation of the species was a
point of such necessity, that Nature has secured it at all hazards by
immensely overloading the passion, at the risk of perpetual crime and
disorder. So egotism has its root in the cardinal necessity by which
each individual persists to be what he is.

This individuality is not only not inconsistent with culture, but is the
basis of it. Every valuable nature is there in its own right; and the
student we speak to must have a mother-wit invincible by his culture,
which uses all books, arts, facilities, and elegancies of intercourse,
but is never subdued and lost in them. He only is a well-made man who
has a good determination. And the end of culture is, not to destroy
this,--God forbid!--but to train away all impediment and mixture,
and leave nothing but pure power. Our student must have a style and
determination, and be a master in his own specialty. But, having this,
he must put it behind him. He must have a catholicity, a power to see
with a free and disengaged look every object. Yet is this private
interest and self so overcharged, that, if a man seeks a companion
who can look at objects for their own sake, and without affection
or self-reference, he will find the fewest who will give him that
satisfaction; whilst most men are afflicted with a coldness, an
incuriosity, as soon as any object does not connect with their
self-love. Though they talk of the object before them, they are thinking
of themselves, and their vanity is laying little traps for your
admiration.

But after a man has discovered that there are limits to the interest
which his private history has for mankind, he still converses with his
family, or a few companions,--perhaps with half a dozen personalities
that are famous in his neighborhood. In Boston, the question of life is
the names of some eight or ten men. Have you seen Mr. Allston, Doctor
Channing, Mr. Adams, Mr. Webster, Mr. Greenough? Have you heard Everett,
Garrison, Father Taylor, Theodore Parker? Have you talked with Messieurs
Turbinewheel, Summitlevel, and Lacofrupees? Then you may as well die. In
New York, the question is of some other eight, or ten, or twenty. Have
you seen a few lawyers, merchants, and brokers,--two or three scholars,
two or three capitalists, two or three editors of newspapers? New
York is a sucked orange. All conversation is at an end, when we have
discharged ourselves of a dozen personalities, domestic or imported,
which make up our American existence. Nor do we expect anybody to be
other than a faint copy of these heroes.

Life is very narrow. Bring any club or company of intelligent men
together again after ten years, and if the presence of some penetrating
and calming genius could dispose them to frankness, what a confusion
of insanities would come up! The "causes" to which we have sacrificed,
Tariff or Democracy, Whiggism or Abolition, Temperance or Socialism,
would show like roots of bitterness and dragons of wrath: and our
talents are as mischievous as if each had been seized upon by some bird
of prey, which had whisked him away from fortune, from truth, from the
dear society of the poets, some zeal, some bias, and only when he was
now gray and nerveless was it relaxing its claws, and he awaking to
sober perceptions.

Culture is the suggestion from certain best thoughts, that a man has a
range of affinities, through which he can modulate the violence of any
master-tones that have a droning preponderance in his scale, and succor
him against himself. Culture redresses his balance, puts him among his
equals and superiors, revives the delicious sense of sympathy, and warns
him of the dangers of solitude and repulsion.

'Tis not a compliment, but a disparagement, to consult a man only on
horses, or on steam, or on theatres, or on eating, or on books, and,
whenever he appears, considerately to turn the conversation to the
bantling he is known to fondle. In the Norse heaven of our forefathers,
Thor's house had five hundred and forty floors: and Man's house has five
hundred and forty floors. His excellence is facility of adaptation,
and of transition through many related points to wide contrasts and
extremes. Culture kills his exaggeration, his conceit of his village or
his city. We must leave our pets at home when we go into the street, and
meet men on broad grounds of good meaning and good sense. No performance
is worth loss of geniality. 'Tis a cruel price we pay for certain fancy
goods called fine arts and philosophy. In the Norse legend, Allfadir did
not get a drink of Mimir's spring, (the fountain of wisdom,) until he
left his eye in pledge. And here is a pedant that cannot unfold his
wrinkles, nor conceal his wrath at interruption by the best, if their
conversation do not fit his impertinency,--here is he to afflict us with
his personalities. 'Tis incident to scholars, that each of them fancies
he is pointedly odious in his community. Draw him out of this limbo of
irritability. Cleanse with healthy blood his parchment skin. You restore
to him his eyes which he left in pledge at Mimir's spring. If you are
the victim of your doing, who cares what you do? We can spare your
opera, your gazetteer, your chemic analysis, your history, your
syllogisms. Your man of genius pays dear for his distinction. His head
runs up into a spire, and, instead of a healthy man, merry and wise, he
is some mad dominie. Nature is reckless of the individual. When she has
points to carry, she carries them. To wade in marshes and sea-margins is
the destiny of certain birds; and they are so accurately made for this,
that they are imprisoned in those places. Each animal out of its
habitat would starve. To the physician, each man, each woman, is an
amplification of one organ. A soldier, a locksmith, a bank-clerk, and
a dancer could not exchange functions. And thus we are victims of
adaptation.

The antidotes against this organic egotism are--the range and variety
of attractions, as gained by acquaintance with the world, with men of
merit, with classes of society, with travel, with eminent persons, and
with the high resources of philosophy, art, and religion: books, travel,
society, solitude.

The hardiest skeptic, who has seen a horse broken, a pointer trained, or
who has visited a menagerie, or the exhibition of the Industrious Fleas,
will not deny the validity of education. "A boy," says Plato, "is the
most vicious of all wild beasts"; and, in the same spirit, the old
English poet Gascoigne says, "A boy is better unborn than untaught." The
city breeds one kind of speech and manners; the back-country a different
style; the sea another; the army a fourth. We know that an army which
can be confided in may be formed by discipline,--that by systematic
discipline all men may be made heroes. Marshal Lannes said to a French
officer, "Know, Colonel, that none but a poltroon will boast that he
never was afraid." A great part of courage is the courage of having done
the thing before. And, in all human action, those faculties will be
strong which are used. Robert Owen said, "Give me a tiger, and I will
educate him." 'Tis inhuman to want faith in the power of education,
since to meliorate is the law of Nature; and men are valued precisely as
they exert onward or meliorating force. On the other hand, poltroonery
is the acknowledging an inferiority to be incurable.

Incapacity of melioration is the only mortal distemper. There are people
who can never understand a trope, or any second or expanded sense given
to your words, or any humor,--but remain literalists, after hearing the
music and poetry and rhetoric and wit of seventy or eighty years. They
are past the help of surgeon or clergy. But even these can understand
pitchforks and the cry of "Fire!"--and I have noticed in some of this
class a marked dislike of earthquakes.

Let us make our education brave and preventive. Politics is an
after-work, a poor patching. We are always a little late. The evil is
done, the law is passed, and we begin the up-hill agitation for repeal
of that of which we ought to have prevented the enacting. We shall
one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our
root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only
medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up,--namely, in Education.

Our arts and tools give to him who can handle them much the same
advantage over the novice as if you extended his life ten, fifty, or a
hundred years. And I think it the part of good sense to provide every
fine soul with such culture, that it shall not, at thirty or forty
years, have to say, "This which I might do is made hopeless through my
want of weapons."

But it is conceded that much of our training fails of effect,--that all
success is hazardous and rare,--that a large part of our cost and pains
is thrown away. Nature takes the matter into her own hands, and, though
we must not omit any jot of our system, we can seldom be sure that it
has availed much, or that as much good would not have accrued from a
different system.

Books, as containing the finest records of human wit, must always enter
into our notion of culture. The best heads that ever existed, Pericles,
Plato, Julius Caesar, Shakspeare, Goethe, Milton, were well-read,
universally educated men, and quite too wise to undervalue letters.
Their opinion has weight, because they had means of knowing the opposite
opinion. We look that a great man should be a good reader, or in
proportion to the spontaneous power should be the assimilating power.
Good criticism is very rare, and always precious. I am always happy to
meet persons who perceive the transcendent superiority of Shakspeare
over all other writers. I like people who like Plato. Because this love
does not consist with self-conceit.

But books are good only as far as a boy is ready for them. He sometimes
gets ready very slowly. You send your child to the schoolmaster; but
'tis the schoolboys who educate him. You send him to the Latin
class; but much of his tuition comes on his way to school, from the
shop-windows. You like the strict rules and the long terms; and he finds
his best leading in a by-way of his own, and refuses any companions but
of his choosing. He hates the grammar and _Gradus_, and loves guns,
fishing-rods, horses, and boats. Well, the boy is right; and you are not
fit to direct his bringing-up, if your theory leaves out his gymnastic
training. Archery, cricket, gun and fishing-rod, horse and boat, are all
educators, liberalizers; and so are dancing, dress, and the street-talk;
and--provided only the boy has resources, and is of a noble and
ingenuous strain--these will not serve him less than the books. He
learns chess, whist, dancing, and theatricals. The father observes that
another boy has learned algebra and geometry in the same time. But the
first boy has acquired much more than these poor games along with them.
He is infatuated for weeks with whist and chess; but presently will find
out, as you did, that, when he rises from the game too long played, he
is vacant and forlorn, and despises himself. Thenceforward it takes
place with other things, and has its due weight in his experience. These
minor skills and accomplishments--for example, dancing--are tickets of
admission to the dress-circle of mankind, and the being master of them
enables the youth to judge intelligently of much on which otherwise he
would give a pedantic squint. Landor said, "I have suffered more from my
bad dancing than from all the misfortunes and miseries of my life
put together." Provided always the boy is teachable, (for we are not
proposing to make a statue out of punk,) football, cricket, archery,
swimming, skating, climbing, fencing, riding, are lessons in the art of
power, which it is his main business to learn,--riding specially, of
which Lord Herbert of Cherbury said, "A good rider on a good horse is as
much above himself and others as the world can make him." Besides, the
gun, fishing-rod, boat, and horse constitute, among all who use them,
secret freemasonries.

They are as if they belonged to one club.

There is also a negative value in these arts. Their chief use to the
youth is, not amusement, but to be known for what they are, and not to
remain to him occasions of heartburn. We are full of superstitions. Each
class fixes its eyes on the advantages it has not: the refined, on rude
strength; the democrat, on birth and breeding. One of the benefits of a
college-education is, to show the boy its little avail. I knew a leading
man in a leading city, who, having set his heart on an education at the
university and missed it, could never quite feel himself the equal
of his own brothers who had gone thither. His easy superiority to
multitudes of professional men could never quite countervail to him this
imaginary defect. Balls, riding, wine-parties, and billiards pass to a
poor boy for something fine and romantic, which they are not; and a free
admission to them on an equal footing, if it were possible, only once or
twice, would be worth ten times its cost, by undeceiving him.

I am not much an advocate for travelling, and I observe that men run
away to other countries because they are not good in their own, and run
back to their own because they pass for nothing in the new places. For
the most part, only the light characters travel. Who are you that have
no task to keep you at home? I have been quoted as saying captious
things about travel; but I mean to do justice. I think there is a
restlessness in our people which argues want of character. All educated
Americans, first or last, go to Europe,--perhaps because it is their
mental home, as the invalid habits of this country might suggest. An
eminent teacher of girls said, "The idea of a girl's education is
whatever qualifies them for going to Europe." Can we never extract this
tape-worm of Europe from the brain of our country-men? One sees very
well what their fate must be. He that does not fill a place at home
cannot abroad. He only goes there to hide his insignificance in a larger
crowd. You do not think you will find anything there which you have
not seen at home? The stuff of all countries is just the same. Do you
suppose there is any country where they do not scald milkpans, and
swaddle the infants, and burn the brushwood, and broil the fish? What is
true anywhere is true everywhere. And let him go where he will, he can
find only so much beauty or worth as he carries.

Of course, for some men travel may be useful. Naturalists, discoverers,
and sailors are born. Some men are made for couriers, exchangers,
envoys, missionaries, bearers of despatches, as others are for farmers
and working-men. And if the man is of a light and social turn, and
Nature has aimed to make a legged and winged creature, framed for
locomotion, we must follow her hint, and furnish him with that breeding
which gives currency as sedulously as with that which gives worth. But
let us not be pedantic, but allow to travel its full effect. The boy
grown up on the farm which he has never left is said in the country to
have had _no chance_, and boys and men of that condition look upon work
on a railroad or drudgery in a city as opportunity. Poor country-boys of
Vermont and Connecticut formerly owed what knowledge they had to their
peddling-trips to the Southern States. California and the Pacific Coast
are now the university of this class, as Virginia was in old times. "To
have _some chance_" is their word. And the phrase, "to know the world,"
or to travel, is synonymous with all men's ideas of advantage and
superiority. No doubt, to a man of sense travel offers advantages. As
many languages as he has, as many friends, as many arts and trades,
so many times is he a man. A foreign country is a point of comparison
where-from to judge his own. One use of travel is, to recommend the
books and works of home; (we go to Europe to be Americanized;) and
another, to find men. For as Nature has put fruits apart in latitudes,
a new fruit in every degree, so knowledge and fine moral quality she
lodges in distant men. And thus, of the six or seven teachers whom each
man wants among his contemporaries, it often happens that one or two of
them live on the other side of the world.

Moreover, there is in every constitution a certain solstice, when the
stars stand still in our inward firmament, and when there is required
some foreign force, some diversion or alternative, to prevent
stagnation. And, as a medical remedy, travel seems one of the best. Just
as a man witnessing the admirable effect of ether to lull pain, and,
meditating on the contingencies of wounds, cancers, lockjaws, rejoices
in Dr. Jackson's benign discovery, so a man who looks at Paris, at
Naples, or at London, says, "If I should be driven from my own home,
here, at least, my thoughts can be consoled by the most prodigal
amusement and occupation which the human race in ages could contrive and
accumulate."

Akin to the benefit of foreign travel, the aesthetic value of railroads
is to unite the advantages of town and country life, neither of which we
can spare. A man should live in or near a large town, because, let his
own genius be what it may, it will repel quite as much of agreeable and
valuable talent as it draws, and, in a city, the total attraction of all
the citizens is sure to conquer, first or last, every repulsion, and
drag the most improbable hermit within its walls some day in the
year. In town he can find the swimming-school, the gymnasium, the
dancing-master, the shooting-gallery, opera, theatre, and panorama,--the
chemist's shop, the museum of natural history, the gallery of fine arts,
the national orators in their turn, foreign travellers, the libraries,
and his club. In the country he can find solitude and reading, manly
labor, cheap living, and his old shoes,--moors for game, hills for
geology, and groves for devotion. Aubrey writes, "I have heard Thomas
Hobbes say, that, in the Earl of Devon's house, in Derbyshire, there was
a good library and books enough for him, and his Lordship stored the
library with what books he thought fit to be bought. But the want
of good conversation was a very great inconvenience, and, though he
conceived he could order his thinking as well as another, yet he found
a great defect. In the country, in long time, for want of good
conversation, one's understanding and invention contract a moss on them,
like an old paling in an orchard."

Cities give us collision. 'Tis said, London and New York take the
nonsense out of a man. A great part of our education is sympathetic and
social. Boys and girls who have been brought up with well-informed and
superior people show in their manners an inestimable grace. Fuller says,
that "William, Earl of Nassau, won a subject from the King of Spain
every time he put off his hat." You cannot have one well-bred man
without a whole society of such. They keep each other up to any
high point. Especially women: it requires a great many cultivated
women,--saloons of bright, elegant, reading women, accustomed to ease
and refinement, to spectacles, pictures, sculpture, poetry, and to
elegant society,--in order that you should have one Madame de Staël.
The head of a commercial house, or a leading lawyer or politician, is
brought into daily contact with troops of men from all parts of the
country,--and those, too, the driving-wheels, the business-men of each
section,--and one can hardly suggest for an apprehensive man a
more searching culture. Besides, we must remember the high social
possibilities of a million of men. The best bribe which London offers
to-day to the imagination is, that, in such a vast variety of people
and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic
character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope
to confront their counterparts.

I wish cities could teach their best lesson,--of quiet manners. It is
the foible especially of American youth,--pretension. The mark of the
man of the world is absence of pretension. He does not make a speech; he
takes a low business-tone, avoids all brag, is nobody, dresses plainly,
promises not at all, performs much, speaks in monosyllables, hugs his
fact. He calls his employment by its lowest name, and so takes from evil
tongues their sharpest weapon. His conversation clings to the weather
and the news, yet he allows himself to be surprised into thought, and
the unlocking of his learning and philosophy. How the imagination is
piqued by anecdotes of some great man passing incognito, as a king in
gray clothes!--of Napoleon affecting a plain suit at his glittering
levee!--of Burns, or Scott, or Beethoven, or Wellington, or Goethe,
or any container of transcendent power, passing for nobody!--of
Epaminondas, "who never says anything, but will listen eternally!"--of
Goethe, who preferred trifling subjects and common expressions in
intercourse with strangers, worse rather than better clothes, and to
appear a little more capricious than he was! There are advantages in the
old hat and box-coat. I have heard, that, throughout this country, a
certain respect is paid to good broadcloth: but dress makes a little
restraint; men will not commit themselves. But the box-coat is like
wine; it unlocks the tongue, and men say what they think. An old poet
says,--

  "Go far and go sparing;
  For you'll find it certain,
  The poorer and the baser you appear,
  The more you'll look through still."[A]

[Footnote A: Beaumont and Fletcher: The Tamer Tamed.]

Not much otherwise Milnes writes, in the "Lay of the Humble":--

  "To me men are for what they are,
  They wear no masks with me."

'Tis odd that our people should have--not water on the brain,--but
a little gas there. A shrewd foreigner said of the Americans, that
"whatever they say has a little the air of a speech." Yet one of the
traits down in the books, as distinguishing the Anglo-Saxon, is a trick
of self-disparagement. To be sure, in old, dense countries, among a
million of good coats, a fine coat comes to be no distinction, and you
find humorists. In an English party, a man with no marked manners or
features, with a face like red dough, unexpectedly discloses wit,
learning, a wide range of topics, and personal familiarity with good men
in all parts of the world, until you think you have fallen upon some
illustrious personage. Can it be that the American forest has refreshed
some weeds of old Pictish barbarism just ready to die out,--the love of
the scarlet feather, of beads, and tinsel? The Italians are fond of
red clothes, peacock-plumes, and embroidery; and I remember, one rainy
morning in the city of Palermo, the street was in a blaze with scarlet
umbrellas. The English have a plain taste. The equipages of the grandees
are plain. A gorgeous livery indicates new and awkward city-wealth. Mr.
Pitt, like Mr. Pym, thought the title of _Mister_ good against any king
in Europe. They have piqued themselves on governing the whole world in
the poor, plain, dark committee-room which the House of Commons sat in
before the fire.

Whilst we want cities as the centres where the best things are found,
cities degrade us by magnifying trifles. The countryman finds the town
a chop-house, a barber's shop. He has lost the lines of grandeur of the
horizon, hills and plains, and, with them, sobriety and elevation. He
has come among a supple, glib-tongued tribe, who live for show, servile
to public opinion. Life is dragged down to a fracas of pitiful cares and
disasters. You say the gods ought to respect a life whose objects
are their own; but in cities they have betrayed you to a cloud of
insignificant annoyances:--

  "Mirmidons, race féconde,
  Mirmidons,
  Enfins nous commandons;
  Jupiter livre le monde
  Aux mirmidons, aux mirmidons."[B]

  [Footnote B: Béranger.]

  'Tis heavy odds
  Against the gods,
  When they will match with myrmidons.
  We spawning, spawning myrmidons,
  Our turn to-day; we take command:
  Jove gives the globe into the hand
  Of myrmidons, of myrmidons.

What is odious but noise, and people who scream and bewail?--people
whose vane points always east, who live to dine, who send for the
doctor, who raddle themselves, who toast their feet on the register,
who intrigue to secure a padded chair and a corner out of the draught?
Suffer them once to begin the enumeration of their infirmities, and the
sun will go down on the unfinished tale. Let these triflers put us out
of conceit with petty comforts. To a man at work, the frost is but a
color; the rain, the wind, he forgot them when he came in. Let us learn
to live coarsely, dress plainly, and lie hard. The least habit of
dominion over the palate has certain good effects not easily estimated.
Neither will we be driven into a quiddling abstemiousness. 'Tis a
superstition to insist on a special diet. All is made at last of the
same chemical atoms.

A man in pursuit of greatness feels no little wants. How can you mind
diet, bed, dress, or salutes or compliments, or the figure you make in
company, or wealth, or even the bringing things to pass, when you think
how paltry are the machinery and the workers? Wordsworth was praised to
me, in Westmoreland, for having afforded to his country neighbors an
example of a modest household, where comfort and culture were secured
without display. And a tender boy who wears his rusty cap and outgrown
coat, that he may secure the coveted place in college and the right
in the library, is educated to some purpose. There is a great deal of
self-denial and manliness in poor and middle-class houses, in town and
country, that has not got into literature, and never will, but that
keeps the earth sweet,--that saves on superfluities, and spends on
essentials,--that goes rusty, and educates the boy,--that sells the
horse, but builds the school,--works early and late, takes two looms in
the factory, three looms, six looms, but pays off the mortgage on the
paternal farm, and then goes back cheerfully to work again.

We can ill spare the commanding social benefits of cities; they must be
used,--yet cautiously, and haughtily,--and will yield their best values
to him who best can do without them. Keep the town for occasions, but
the habits should be formed to retirement. Solitude, the safeguard of
mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter
where moult the wings which will bear it farther than suns and stars. He
who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from travelling
with the souls of other men,--from living, breathing, reading, and
writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions. "In the morning,
solitude," said Pythagoras,--that Nature may speak to the imagination,
as she does never in company, and that her favorite may make
acquaintance with those divine strengths which disclose themselves to
serious and abstracted thought. 'Tis very certain that Plato, Plotinus,
Archimedes, Hermes, Newton, Milton, Wordsworth did not live in a crowd,
but descended into it from time to time as benefactors: and the wise
instructor will press this point of securing to the young soul, in the
disposition of time and the arrangements of living, periods and habits
of solitude. The high advantage of university-life is often the mere
mechanical one, I may call it, of a separate chamber and fire,--which
parents will allow the boy without hesitation at Cambridge, but do not
think needful at home. We say solitude, to mark the character of the
tone of thought; but if it can be shared between two, or more than two,
it is happier, and not less noble. "We four," wrote Neander to his
sacred friends, "will enjoy at Halle the inward blessedness of a
_civitas Dei_, whose foundations are forever friendship. The more I know
you, the more I dissatisfy and must dissatisfy all my wonted companions.
Their very presence stupefies me. The common understanding withdraws
itself from the one centre of all existence."

Solitude takes off the pressure of present importunities, that more
catholic and humane relations may appear. The saint and poet seek
privacy to ends the most public and universal: and it is the secret of
culture, to interest the man more in his public than in his private
quality. Here is a new poem, which elicits a good many comments in
the journals and in conversation. From these it is easy, at last, to
eliminate the verdict which readers passed upon it; and that is, in the
main, unfavorable. The poet, as a craftsman, is interested only in the
praise accorded to him, and not in the censure, though it be just; and
the poor little poet hearkens only to that, and rejects the censure, as
proving incapacity in the critic. But the poet _cultivated_ becomes a
stockholder in both companies,--say Mr. Curfew,--in the Curfew stock,
and in the _humanity_ stock; and, in the last, exults as much in the
demonstration of the unsoundness of Curfew as his interest in the former
gives him pleasure in the currency of Curfew. For the depreciation of
his Curfew stock only shows the immense values of the humanity stock.
As soon as he sides with his critic against himself, with joy, he is a
cultivated man.

We must have an intellectual quality in all property and in all action,
or they are nought. I must have children, I must have events, I must
have a social state and history, or my thinking and speaking want body
or basis. But to give these accessories any value, I must know them as
contingent and rather showy possessions, which pass for more to the
people than to me. We see this abstraction in scholars, as a matter
of course: but what a charm it adds when observed in practical men!
Bonaparte, like Caesar, was intellectual, and could look at every object
for itself, without affection. Though an egotist _à l'outrance_, he
could criticize a play, a building, a character, on universal grounds,
and give a just opinion. A man known to us only as a celebrity in
politics or in trade gains largely in our esteem, if we discover that he
has some intellectual taste or skill: as when we learn of Lord Fairfax,
the Long Parliament's general, his passion for antiquarian studies; or
of the French regicide Carnot, his sublime genius in mathematics; or of
a living banker, his success in poetry; or of a partisan journalist,
his devotion to ornithology. So, if, in travelling in the dreary
wildernesses of Arkansas or Texas, we should observe on the next seat a
man reading Horace, or Martial, or Calderon, we should wish to hug him.
In callings that require roughest energy, soldiers, sea-captains, and
civil engineers sometimes betray a fine insight, if only through a
certain gentleness when off duty: a good-natured admission that there
are illusions, and who shall say that he is not their sport? We only
vary the phrase, not the doctrine, when we say that culture opens the
sense of beauty. A man is a beggar who only lives to the useful, and,
however he may serve as a pin or rivet in the social machine, cannot be
said to have arrived at self-possession. I suffer, every day, from the
want of perception of beauty in people. They do not know the charm with
which all moments and objects can be embellished,--the charm of manners,
of self-command, of benevolence. Repose and cheerfulness are the badge
of the gentleman,--repose in energy. The Greek battle-pieces are calm;
the heroes, in whatever violent actions engaged, retain a serene
aspect: as we say of Niagara, that it falls without speed. A cheerful,
intelligent face is the end of culture, and success enough; for it
indicates the purpose of Nature and wisdom attained.

When our higher faculties are in activity, we are domesticated,
and awkwardness and discomfort give place to natural and agreeable
movements. It is noticed that the consideration of the great periods and
spaces of astronomy induces a dignity of mind and an indifference
to death. The influence of fine scenery, the presence of mountains,
appeases our irritations and elevates our friendships. Even a high dome,
and the expansive interior of a cathedral, have a sensible effect
on manners. I have heard that stiff people lose something of their
awkwardness under high ceilings and in spacious halls. I think sculpture
and painting have an effect to teach us manners and abolish hurry.

But, over all, culture must reinforce from higher influx the empirical
skills of eloquence, or of politics, or of trade and the useful arts.
There is a certain loftiness of thought and power to marshal and
adjust particulars, which can come only from an insight of their whole
connection. The orator who has once seen things in their divine order
will never quite lose sight of this, and will come to affairs as from a
higher ground, and, though he will say nothing of philosophy, he will
have a certain mastery in dealing with them, and an incapableness of
being dazzled or frighted, which will distinguish his handling from that
of attorneys and factors. A man who stands on a good footing with the
heads of parties at Washington reads the rumors of the newspapers and
the guesses of provincial politicians with a key to the right and
wrong in each statement, and sees well enough where all this will end.
Archimedes will look through your Connecticut machine at a glance, and
judge of its fitness. And much more, a wise man who knows not only what
Plato, but what Saint John can show him, can easily raise the affair
he deals with to a certain majesty. Plato says, Pericles owed this
elevation to the lessons of Anaxagoras. Burke descended from a higher
sphere when he would influence human affairs. Franklin, Adams,
Jefferson, Washington, stood on a fine humanity, before which the brawls
of modern senates are but pot-house politics.

But there are higher secrets of culture, which are not for the
apprentices, but for proficients. These are lessons only for the brave.
We must know our friends under ugly masks. The calamities are our
friends. Ben Jonson specifies in his address to the Muse:--

  "Get him the time's long grudge, the court's ill-will,
  And, reconciled, keep him suspected still,
  Make him lose all his friends, and, what is worse,
  Almost all ways to any better course;
  With me thou leav'st a better Muse than thee,
  And which thou brought'st me, blessed Poverty."

We wish to learn philosophy by rote, and play at heroism. But the wiser
God says, Take the shame, the poverty, and the penal solitude that
belong to truth-speaking. Try the rough water, as well as the smooth.
Rough water can teach lessons worth knowing. When the state is unquiet,
personal qualities are more than ever decisive. Fear not a revolution
which will constrain you to live five years in one. Don't be so tender
at making an enemy now and then. Be willing to go to Coventry sometimes,
and let the populace bestow on you their coldest contempts. The finished
man of the world must eat of every apple once. He must hold his hatreds
also at arm's length, and not remember spite. He has neither friends nor
enemies, but values men only as channels of power.

He who aims high must dread an easy home and popular manners. Heaven
sometimes hedges a rare character about with ungainliness and odium, as
the burr that protects the fruit. If there is any great and good thing
in store for you, it will not come at the first or the second call, nor
in the shape of fashion, ease, and city drawing-rooms. Popularity is for
dolls. "Steep and craggy," said Porphyry, "is the path of the gods."
Open your Marcus Antoninus. In the opinion of the ancients, he was the
great man who scorned to shine, and who contested the frowns of Fortune.
They preferred the noble vessel too late for the tide, contending with
winds and waves, dismantled and unrigged, to her companion borne into
harbor with colors flying and guns firing. There is none of the social
goods that may not be purchased too dear, and mere amiableness must not
take rank with high aims and self-subsistency.

Bettine replies to Goethe's mother, who chides her disregard of
dress,--"If I cannot do as I have a mind, in our poor Frankfort, I shall
not carry things far." And the youth must rate at its true mark the
inconceivable levity of local opinion. The longer we live, the more we
must endure the elementary existence of men and women: and every brave
heart must treat society as a child, and never allow it to dictate.

"All that class of the severe and restrictive virtues," said Burke, "are
almost too costly for humanity." Who wishes to be severe? Who wishes
to resist the eminent and polite, in behalf of the poor and low and
impolite? and who that dares do it can keep his temper sweet, his frolic
spirits? The high virtues are not debonair, but have their redress in
being illustrious at last. What forests of laurel we bring, and the
tears of mankind, to those who stood firm against the opinion of their
contemporaries! The measure of a master is his success in bringing all
men round to his opinion twenty years later.

Let me say here, that culture cannot begin too early. In talking with
scholars, I observe that they lost on ruder companions those years of
boyhood which alone could give imaginative literature a religious and
infinite quality in their esteem. I find, too, that the chance for
appreciation is much increased by being the son of an appreciator, and
that these boys who now grow up are caught not only years too late, but
two or three births too late, to make the best scholars of. And I think
it a presentable motive to a scholar, that, as, in an old community, a
well-born proprietor is usually found, after the first heats of youth,
to be a careful husband, and to feel an habitual desire that the estate
shall suffer no harm by his administration, but shall be delivered
down to the next heir in as good condition as he received it,--so,
a considerate man will reckon himself a subject of that secular
melioration by which mankind is mollified, cured, and refined, and will
shun every expenditure of his forces on pleasure or gain, which will
jeopardize this social and secular accumulation.

The fossil strata show us that Nature began with rudimental forms,
and rose to the more complex as fast as the earth was fit for their
dwelling-place,--and that the lower perish, as the higher appear. Very
few of our race can be said to be yet finished men. We still carry
sticking to us some remains of the preceding inferior quadruped
organization. We call these millions men; but they are not yet men.
Half-engaged in the soil, pawing to get free, man needs all the music
that can be brought to disengage him. If Love, red Love, with tears
and joy,--if Want with his scourge,--if War with his cannonade,--if
Christianity with its charity,--if Trade with its money,--if Art with
its portfolios,--if Science with her telegraphs through the deeps of
space and time, can set his dull nerves throbbing, and by loud taps on
the tough chrysalis can break its walls and let the new creature emerge
erect and free,--make way, and sing paean! The age of the quadruped is
to go out,--the age of the brain and of the heart is to come in.
The time will come when the evil forms we have known can no more be
organized. Man's culture can spare nothing, wants all the material. He
is to convert all impediments into instruments, all enemies into power.
The formidable mischief will only make the more useful slave. And if one
shall read the future of the race hinted in the organic effort of Nature
to mount and meliorate, and the corresponding impulse to the Better in
the human being, we shall dare affirm that there is nothing he will not
overcome and convert, until at last culture shall absorb the chaos and
gehenna. He will convert the Furies into Muses, and the hells into
benefit.



THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.


  Between the dark and the daylight,
  When the night is beginning to lower,
  Comes a pause in the day's occupations
  That is known as the Children's Hour.

  I hear in the chamber above me
  The patter of little feet,
  The sound of a door that is opened,
  And voices soft and sweet.

  From my study I see in the lamplight,
  Descending the broad hall-stair,
  Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
  And Edith with golden hair.

  A whisper, and then a silence:
  Yet I know by their merry eyes
  They are plotting and planning together
  To take me by surprise.

  A sudden rush from the stairway,
  A sudden raid from the hall!
  By three doors left unguarded
  They enter my castle wall!

  They climb up into my turret
  O'er the arms and back of my chair;
  If I try to escape, they surround me;
  They seem to be everywhere.

  They almost devour me with kisses,
  Their arms about me entwine,
  Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
  In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

  Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
  Because you have scaled the wall,
  Such an old moustache as I am
  Is not a match for you all?

  I have you fast in my fortress,
  And will not let you depart,
  But put you down into the dungeons
  In the round-tower of my heart.

  And there will I keep you forever,
  Yes, forever and a day,
  Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
  And moulder in dust away!



THREE-MILE CROSS.


It seems but yesterday, although more than thirteen years have gone
by, since I first opened the little garden-gate and walked up the path
leading to Mary Russell Mitford's cottage at Three-Mile Cross. A friend
in London had given me his card to the writer of "Our Village," and I
had promised to call on my way to Oxford, and have a half-hour's chat
over her geraniums with the charming person whose sketches I had read
with so much interest in my own country. Her cheerful voice at the
head of the stairs, telling her little maid to show me the way to her
sitting-room, sounded very musically, and I often observed in later
interviews how like a melody her tones always appeared in conversation.
Once when she read a lyrical poem, not her own, to a group of friends
assembled at her later residence, in Swallowfield, of which number it
was my good-fortune to be one, the verses came from her lips like an
exquisite chant. Her laugh had a ringing sweetness in it, rippling out
sometimes like a beautiful chime of silver bells; and when she told
a comic story, which she often did with infinite tact and grace, she
joined in with the jollity at the end, her eyes twinkling with delight
at the pleasure her narrative was always sure to bring. Her enjoyment of
a joke was something delicious, and when she heard a good thing for
the first time her exultant mirth was unbounded. As she sat in her
easy-chair, listening to a Yankee story which interested her, her "Dear
me! dear me! dear me!" (three times repeated always)

  "Rang like a golden jewel down a golden stair."

The sunny summer-day was falling full on her honeysuckles, lilies, and
roses, when I first saw her face in the snug cottage at Three-Mile
Cross. As we sat together at the open casement, looking down on the
flowers that sent up their perfumes to her latticed window like fragrant
tributes from a fountain of distilled sweet waters, she pointed out,
among the neighboring farm-houses and villas, the residences of her
friends, in all of whom she seemed to have the most affectionate
interest. I noticed, as the village children went by her window, they
all stopped to bow and curtsy. One curly-headed urchin made bold to take
off his well-worn cap and wait to be recognized as "little Johnny,"--"no
great scholar," said the kind-hearted old lady to me, "but a sad rogue
among our flock of geese. Only yesterday, the young marauder was
detected by my maid with a plump gosling stuffed half-way into his
pocket!" While she was thus discoursing of Johnny's peccadilloes, the
little fellow looked up with a knowing expression, and very soon caught
in his cap a gingerbread dog, which the old lady threw to him from the
window. "I wish he loved his book as well as he relishes sweet cake,"
sighed she, as the boy kicked up his heels and disappeared down the
lane.

Full of anecdote, her conversation that afternoon ran on in a perpetual
flow of good-humor, until it was time for me to be on my way toward the
University City. From that time till she died, our friendship continued,
and, during other visits to England, I saw her frequently, driving about
the country with her in her pony-chaise, and spending many happy hours
under her cottage-roof. She was always the same cheerful spirit,
enlivening our intercourse with shrewd and pertinent observations and
reminiscences, some of which it may not be out of place to reproduce
here. Country life, its scenery and manners, she was never tired of
depicting; but not infrequently she loved to talk of those celebrities
in literature and art whom she had known intimately, with a vivacity and
sweetness of temper never-failing and delightful. I well remember, one
autumn evening, when half a dozen friends were sitting in her library
after dinner, talking with her of Tom Taylor's Life of Haydon, then
lately published, how graphically she described to us the eccentric
painter, whose genius she was among the fore-most to recognize.
The flavor of her discourse I cannot reproduce; but I was too much
interested in what she was saying to forget the main incidents she drew
for our edification, during those pleasant hours now far away in the
past.

"I am a terrible forgetter of dates," she used to say, when any one
asked her of the time when; but for the _manner how_ she was never at a
loss. "Poor Haydon!" she began. "He was an old friend of mine, and I am
indebted to Sir William Elford, one of my dear father's correspondents
during my girlhood, for a suggestion which sent me to look at a picture
then on exhibition in London, and thus was brought about my knowledge of
the painter's existence. He, Sir William, had taken a fancy to me, and
I became his child-correspondent. Few things contribute more to that
indirect after-education, which is worth all the formal lessons of the
school-room a thousand times told, than such good-humored condescension
from a clever man of the world to a girl almost young enough to be his
granddaughter. I owe much to that correspondence, and, amongst other
debts, the acquaintance of Haydon. Sir William's own letters were most
charming,--full of old-fashioned courtesy, of quaint humor, and
of pleasant and genial criticism on literature and on art. An
amateur-painter himself, painting interested him particularly, and
he often spoke much and warmly of the young man from Plymouth, whose
picture of the 'Judgment of Solomon' was then on exhibition in London.
'You must see it,' said he, 'even if you come to town on purpose.'"--The
reader of Haydon's Life will remember that Sir William Elford, in
conjunction with a Plymouth banker named Tingecombe, ultimately
purchased the picture. The poor artist was overwhelmed with astonishment
and joy when he walked into the exhibition-room and read the label,
"Sold," which had been attached to his picture that morning before
he arrived. "My first impulse," he says in his Autobiography, "was
gratitude to God."

"It so happened," continued Miss Mitford, "that I merely passed through
London that season, and, being detained by some of the thousand and one
nothings which are so apt to detain women in the great city, I arrived
at the exhibition, in company with a still younger friend, so near the
period of closing, that more punctual visitors were moving out, and the
doorkeeper actually turned us and our money back. I persisted, however,
assuring him that I only wished to look at one picture, and promising
not to detain him long. Whether my entreaties would have carried
the point or not, I cannot tell; but half a crown did; so we stood
admiringly before the 'Judgment of Solomon.' I am no great judge of
painting; but that picture impressed me then, as it does now, as
excellent in composition, in color, and in that great quality of telling
a story which appeals at once to every mind. Our delight was sincerely
felt, and most enthusiastically expressed, as we kept gazing at the
picture, and seemed, unaccountably to us at first, to give much pleasure
to the only gentleman who had remained in the room,--a young and very
distinguished-looking person, who had watched with evident amusement our
negotiation with the doorkeeper. Beyond indicating the best position to
look at the picture, he had no conversation with us; but I soon surmised
that we were seeing the painter, as well as his painting; and when, two
or three years afterwards, a friend took me by appointment to view the
'Entry into Jerusalem,' Haydon's next great picture, then near its
completion, I found I had not been mistaken.

"Haydon was, at that period, a remarkable person to look at and listen
to. Perhaps your American word _bright_ expresses better than any other
his appearance and manner. His figure, short, slight, elastic, and
vigorous, looked still more light and youthful from the little
sailor's-jacket and snowy trousers which formed his painting costume.
His complexion was clear and healthful. His forehead, broad and
high, out of all proportion to the lower part of his face, gave an
unmistakable character of intellect to the finely placed head. Indeed,
he liked to observe that the gods of the Greek sculptors owed much of
their elevation to being similarly out of drawing! The lower features
were terse, succinct, and powerful,--from the bold, decided jaw, to the
large, firm, ugly, good-humored mouth. His very spectacles aided the
general expression; they had a look of the man. But how shall I attempt
to tell you of his brilliant conversation, of his rapid, energetic
manner, of his quick turns of thought, as he flew on from topic to
topic, dashing his brush here and there upon the canvas? Slow and quiet
persons were a good deal startled by this suddenness and mobility. He
left such people far behind, mentally and bodily. But his talk was so
rich and varied, so earnest and glowing, his anecdotes so racy, his
perception of character so shrewd, and the whole tone so spontaneous and
natural, that the want of repose was rather recalled afterwards than
felt at the time. The alloy to this charm was a slight coarseness of
voice and accent, which contrasted somewhat strangely with his constant
courtesy and high breeding. Perhaps this was characteristic. A defect
of some sort pervades his pictures. Their great want is equality and
congruity,--that perfect union of qualities which we call _taste_. His
apartment, especially at that period when he lived in his painting-room,
was in itself a study of the most picturesque kind. Besides the great
picture itself, for which there seemed hardly space between the walls,
it was crowded with casts, lay figures, arms, tripods, vases, draperies,
and costumes of all ages, weapons of all nations, books in all tongues.
These cumbered the floor; whilst around hung smaller pictures, sketches,
and drawings, replete with originality and force. With chalk he could do
what he chose. I remember he once drew for me a head of hair with nine
of his sweeping, vigorous strokes! Among the studies I remarked that
day in his apartment was one of a mother who had just lost her only
child,--a most masterly rendering of an unspeakable grief. A sonnet,
which I could not help writing on this sketch, gave rise to our long
correspondence, and to a friendship which never flagged. Everybody feels
that his life, as told by Mr. Taylor, with its terrible catastrophe, is
a stern lesson to young artists, an awful warning that cannot be set
aside. Let us not forget that amongst his many faults are qualities
which hold out a bright example. His devotion to his noble art, his
conscientious pursuit of every study connected with it, his unwearied
industry, his love of beauty and of excellence, his warm family
affection, his patriotism, his courage, and his piety, will not easily
be surpassed. Thinking of them, let us speak tenderly of the ardent
spirit whose violence would have been softened by better fortune, and
who, if more successful, would have been more gentle and more humble."

And so with her vigilant and appreciative eye she saw, and thus in her
own charming way she talked of the man, whose name, says Taylor, as a
popularizer of art, stands without a rival among his brethren.

       *       *       *       *       *

Her passion for the Drama continued through life, and to see a friend's
play would take her up to London when nothing else would tempt her to
leave her cottage. It was delightful to hear her talk of the old actors,
many of whom she had known. She loved to describe John Kemble, Mrs.
Siddons, Miss O'Neill, and Edmund Kean, as they were wont to electrify
the town. Elliston was a great favorite, and she had as many good things
to tell of him as Elia ever had. One autumn afternoon she related all
the circumstances attending the "first play" she ever saw,--which, by
the way, was a tragedy enacted in a barn somewhere in the little town of
Alresford, where she was born. The winking candles dividing the stage
from the audience, she used to say, were winking now in her memory,
although fifty years had elapsed since her father took her, a child of
four years, to see "Othello." Her talent at mimicry made her always most
interesting, when she spoke of Munden and his pleasant absurdities on
the stage. For Bannister, Johnstone, Fawcett, and Emery she had a most
exquisite relish, and she said they had made comedy to her a living art
full of laughter and tears. Her passion for the stage, and overclouded
prospects for the future, led her in early youth to write a play. She
had already written a considerable number of verses which had been
printed, and were honored by being severely castigated by Gifford in the
"Quarterly."

"I didn't mind the great reviewer's blows at all," she used to say. "My
poems had been republished in America; and Coleridge had prophesied that
I should one day write a tragedy."

Talfourd was then, though a young man, a most excellent critic, and lent
a helping hand to the young authoress. Her anxieties attending the first
representation of her play at Covent Garden she was always fond of
relating, and in such a manner that we who listened fell into such
boisterous merriment with her, that I have known carriages stop in front
of her window, and their inmates put out anxiously inquiring heads, to
learn, if possible, what it all meant inside the cottage.

She never forgot "the warm grasp of Mrs. Charles Kemble's hand, when she
saw her, all life and heartiness, at her house in Soho Square,--or the
excellent acting of Young and Kemble and Macready, who did everything
actors could do to secure success for her."

"These are the things," she once wrote, "one thinks of, when sitting
calm and old by the light of a country fire."

The comic and the grotesque that were mingled up with her first
experiences of the stage as a dramatic author were inimitably rendered
by herself, whenever she sat down to relate the story of that visit to
London for the purpose of bringing out her tragedy. The rehearsals,
where "the only grave person present was Mr. Liston!--the tragic
heroines sauntering languidly through their parts in bonnets and thick
shawls,--the untidy ballet-girls" (there was a dance in "Foscari")
"walking through their quadrille to the sound of a solitary
fiddle,"--she was never weary of calling up for the amusement of her
listeners.

The old dramatists she had grown up to worship,--Shakspeare first, as in
all loyalty bound, and after him Fletcher. "Affluent, eloquent, royally
grand," she used to call both Beaumont and Fletcher; and whole scenes
from favorite plays she knew by heart. Dr. Valpy was her neighbor, he
being in the days of her youth headmaster of Reading School. A family
intimacy of long standing had existed between her father's household and
that of the learned and excellent scholar, so that his well-known taste
for the English dramatists had no small influence on Doctor Mitford's
studious daughter. "He helped me also," she said, "to enter into the
spirit of those mighty masters who dealt forth the stern Tragedies of
Destiny."

One of the dearest friends of her youth was Miss Porden, (afterwards
married, as his first wife, to Sir John Franklin,) and at her suggestion
Miss Mitford wrote "Rienzi." I have heard her say, that, going up
to London to bring out that play, she saw her old friend, then Mrs.
Franklin, working a flag for the captain's ship, then about to sail on
one of his early adventurous voyages. The agitation of parting with
her husband was too great for her delicate temperament, and before the
expedition was out of the Channel Mrs. Franklin was dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

Often and often, when the English lanes were white with blossoms, I
have sat by her side while her faithful servant guided her low-wheeled
pony-chaise among the pleasant roads about Reading and Swallowfield.
Once we went to a cricket-ground together, and as we sat under the
trees, looking on as the game proceeded, she, who fell in love with
Nature when a child, and had studied the landscape till she knew
familiarly every flower and leaf that grows on English soil, assembled
all that was best in poesy from her memory to illustrate the beautiful
scene before us, and to prove how much better and more truly the great
end of existence is answered in a rural life than in the vexatious cares
of city occupation. As we sat looking at the vast lawn, magnificent in
its green apparel, she quoted Irving as one who had understood English
country-life perhaps more deeply and fully than any other foreign author
who had ever written.

Speaking, one day, of the slowness of poetical fame, she said,--

"It always takes ten years to make a poetical reputation in England; but
America is wiser and bolder, and dares say at once, '_This is fine!_'"

She rejoiced greatly in several of the American poets, and was never
weary of quoting certain ringing couplets which she has celebrated in
her "Notes of a Literary Life." "Is there anything under the sun," she
exclaims, "that Dr. Holmes cannot paint?"

During the last six years of her life she became a great invalid and
moved about only with severe pain. "It is not age," she said, "that has
thus prostrated me, but the hard work and increasing anxieties of thirty
years of authorship, during which my poor labors were all that my dear
father and mother had to look to; besides which, for the greater part of
that time I was constantly called upon to attend the sick bed, first of
one parent, and then of the other. I have only to be intensely thankful
that the power of exertion did not fail until the necessity for such
exertion was removed."

"I love poetry and people as well at sixty as I did at sixteen," she
said one day, when I gave her a new volume by an American friend, "and
can never be sufficiently grateful to God for having permitted me to
retain the two joy-giving faculties of admiration and sympathy." The
"Ballad of Cassandra Southwick" she esteemed as one of the finest things
of our time; and of "Astrea" she said,--"Nobody in England can write
the glorious resonant metre of Dryden like that strain, nowadays."

Pope was a great favorite with her, and she took me one morning to an
old house where he was a frequent guest, and where Arabella Fermor, the
heroine of the "Rape of the Lock," passed her married life. On the way
she often quoted the poet, whose works she seemed to know by heart.
Returning at sunset, she was very anxious that I should hear my first
nightingale among the woody lanes of her pretty country; but we were
both disappointed. We listened long, but, although the air was full of
birdsongs that evening, the sweet-voiced warbler was not of the choir.
She talked much, as we rode along, of Kingsley and Ruskin, both of whom
she loved as friends as well as authors. "John Ruskin," she said, "is
good and kind, and charming beyond the common lot of mortals, and there
are pages of his prose, to my thinking, more eloquent than any thing out
of Jeremy Taylor."

Speaking of Humor, she said,--"Between ourselves, I always have a little
doubt of genius, when there is none of that quality: certainly, in the
very highest poetry, the two go together."

She greatly admired Béranger, and often spoke of him as the beautiful
old man, the truest and best type of perfect independence. Hazlitt she
ranked highly as an essayist, and she mentioned that she had heard both
Charles Lamb and Talfourd praise him as not only the most brilliant, but
the soundest of critics.

Among modern romances, those by the author of "The Scarlet Letter"
seemed to impress her almost more than any others; and when "The House
of the Seven Gables" was translated into Russian, she was filled with
delight. Indeed, she was always among the first to cry, "Bravo!" over
any good words for American literature.

"Do coax Mr. Hawthorne and Dr. Holmes," she said one day, "into visiting
England. I want them to be welcomed as they deserve, and as they are
sure to be."

Her interest in the French Emperor's career amounted to enthusiasm, and
one day she told us a very pretty story about him which she knew to
be true. She said, when he was in England after Strasbourg and before
Boulogne, he spent a twelvemonth at Leamington, living in the quietest
manner. One of the principal persons in that town, Mr. H., a very
liberal and accomplished man, made a point of showing every attention in
his power to the Prince; and they very soon became intimate. There
was in the town an old officer of the Emperor's Polish Legion, who,
compelled to leave France after Waterloo, had taken refuge in England,
and, having a natural talent for languages, maintained himself by
teaching French, Italian, and German in different families. The old
exile and the young one found each other out, and the language-master
was soon an habitual guest at the Prince's table, where he was treated
with the most affectionate attention. At last Louis Napoleon was obliged
to repair to London, but before he went he called on his friend Mr. H.
to take leave. After warm thanks to him for all the pleasure he had
experienced in his society, the Prince said,--

"I am about to prove to you my entire reliance upon your unfailing
kindness by leaving you a legacy. I wish to ask that you would transfer
to my poor old friend the goodness you have lavished on me. His health
is failing,--his means are small; pray, call upon him sometimes, and see
that the lodging-house people do not neglect him. Draw upon me for what
may be wanting for his needs or for his comforts."

Mr. H. promised, and faithfully replaced the Prince in his kind
attentions to his old friend. The poor old man grew ill at last, and
died, Mr. H. defraying all the charges of his illness and of his
funeral. "I would willingly have paid them myself," said he, "but I knew
that would have offended and grieved the Prince. I found that provision
had been made at his banker's to answer my drafts to a much larger
amount than the actual debt."

Miss Mitford used to say that she kept this anecdote for non-admirers of
the Emperor.

One day she came limping into the room, with her dog Fanchon following
in the same lame plight,--she laughing heartily at their similarity of
gait, and holding up a letter just in from the post.

"Here," said she, "is an epistle from my dear old friend, Lady M.,"
(Gibbon's correspondent,) "who at the age of eighty-three is caught
by new books, and is as enthusiastic as a girl. She commissions me to
inquire of you all about your new authoress, the writer of 'Uncle Tom's
Cabin,' who she is, and all you know of her. So let me hear what you
have to say about the lady."

During a brief visit to her cottage not long before she died, the chase
was started one evening to find, if possible, the origin of the line
quoted by Byron,--

"A fellow-feeling makes one wondrous kind."

In vain we searched among the poets, and at last all the party gave up
in despair. I went up to London soon after, thinking no more of the lost
line. In a few days, however, came a brief note, as follows:--

"Hurrah, dear friend! I have found the line without any other person's
aid or suggestion! Last night it occurred to me that it was in some
prologue or epilogue; and my little book-room being very rich in the
drama, I have looked through many hundreds of those bits of rhyme, and
at last made a discovery, which, if it have no other good effect, will
at least have 'emptied my head of Corsica,' as Johnson said to Boswell;
for never was the great biographer more haunted by the thought of Paoli
than I by that line. It occurs in an epilogue by Garrick, on quitting
the stage, June, 1776, when the performance was for the benefit of sick
and aged actors.

"Not finding it quoted in Johnson convinced me that it would probably
have been written after the publication of the Dictionary, and
ultimately guided me to the right place. It is singular that epilogues
were just dismissed at the first representation of one of my plays,
'Foscari,' and prologues at another, 'Rienzi.'

"Ever most affectionately yours,

"M.R. MITFORD.

"P.S. I am still a close prisoner in my room. But when fine weather
comes, I will get down in some way or other, and trust myself to that
which never hurts anybody, the honest open air. Spring, and even the
approach of spring, sets me dreaming. I see leafy hedges in my sleep,
and flowery banks, and then I long to make the vision a reality.
I remember that my dog Flush, Fanchon's father, who was a famous
sporting-dog, used, at the approach of the covering season, to hunt in
his sleep, doubtless by the same instinct that works in me. So, as soon
as the sun tells the same story with the primroses, I shall make a
descent after some fashion, and, no doubt, aided by Sam's stalwart arm,
successfully."

       *       *       *       *       *

After leaving Three-Mile Cross for Swallowfield, her health, never of
late years robust, seemed failing. In one of her letters to me she gives
this pleasant picture of her home:--

"Ill as I am, my spirits are as good as ever; and just at this moment I
am most comfortably seated under the acacia-tree at the corner of the
house,--the beautiful acacia literally loaded with its snowy chains. The
flowering-trees this summer, the lilacs, laburnums, and rhododendrons,
have been one mass of blossoms, but none are so graceful as this
waving acacia. On one side is a syringa, smelling and looking like an
orange-tree,--a jar of roses on the table before me,--fresh gathered
roses,--the pride of my gardener's heart. Little Fanchon is at my
feet, too idle to eat the biscuits with which I am trying to tempt
her,--biscuits from Boston, sent to me by kind Mrs. S., and which
Fanchon ought to like; but you know her laziness of old, and she
improves in it every day."

It was about this period that Walter Savage Landor sent to her these
exquisite lines:--

  "The hay is carried; and the Hours
  Snatch, as they pass, the linden-flowers;
  And children leap to pluck a spray
  Bent earthward, and then run away.
  Park-keeper! catch me those grave thieves,
  About whose frocks the fragrant leaves,
  Sticking and fluttering here and there,
  No false nor faltering witness bear.

  "I never view such scenes as these
  In grassy meadow girt with trees,
  But comes a thought of her who now
  Sits with serenely patient brow
  Amid deep sufferings: none hath told
  More pleasant tales to young and old.
  Fondest was she of Father Thames,
  But rambled to Hellenic streams;
  Nor even there could any tell
  The country's purer charms so well
  As Mary Mitford.

  "Verse! go forth
  And breathe o'er gentle hearts her worth.
  Needless the task: but should she see
  One hearty wish from you and me,
  A moment's pain it may assuage,--
  A rose-leaf on the couch of Age."

In the early days of the year 1855 she sent, in her own handwriting,
kind greetings to her old friends only a few hours before she died.
Sweetness of temper and brightness of mind, her never-failing
characteristics, accompanied her to the last; and she passed on in her
usual cheerful and affectionate mood, her sympathies uncontracted by
age, narrow fortune, and pain.



THE PROFESSOR'S STORY.


CHAPTER XVII.

OLD SOPHY CALLS ON THE REVEREND DOCTOR.


The two meeting-houses which faced each other like a pair of
fighting-cocks had not flapped their wings or crowed at each other for a
considerable time. The Reverend Mr. Fairweather had been dyspeptic and
low-spirited of late, and was too languid for controversy. The Reverend
Doctor Honeywood had been very busy with his benevolent associations,
and had discoursed chiefly on practical matters, to the neglect of
special doctrinal subjects. His senior deacon ventured to say to him
that some of his people required to be reminded of the great fundamental
doctrine of the worthlessness of all human efforts and motives. Some of
them were altogether too much pleased with the success of the Temperance
Society and the Association for the Relief of the Poor. There was a
pestilent heresy about, concerning the satisfaction to be derived from
a good conscience,--as if anybody ever did anything which was not to be
hated, loathed, despised, and condemned.

The old minister listened gravely, with an inward smile, and told his
deacon that he would attend to his suggestion. After the deacon had
gone, he tumbled over his manuscripts, until at length he came upon his
first-rate old sermon on "Human Nature." He had read a great deal of
hard theology, and had at last reached that curious state which is so
common in good ministers,--that, namely, in which they contrive to
switch off their logical faculties on the narrow side-track of their
technical dogmas, while the great freight-train of their substantial
human qualities keeps in the main highway of common-sense, in which
kindly souls are always found by all who approach them by their human
side.

The Doctor read his sermon with a pleasant, paternal interest: it was
well argued from his premises. Here and there he dashed his pen through
a harsh expression. Now and then he added an explanation or qualified
a broad statement. But his mind was on the logical side-track, and he
followed the chain of reasoning without fairly perceiving where it would
lead him, if he carried it into real life.

He was just touching up the final proposition, when his granddaughter,
Letty, once before referred to, came into the room with her smiling face
and lively movement. Miss Letty or Letitia Forrester was a city-bred
girl of some fifteen or sixteen years old, who was passing the summer
with her grandfather for the sake of country air and quiet. It was a
sensible arrangement; for, having the promise of figuring as a belle
by-and-by, and being a little given to dancing, and having a voice which
drew a pretty dense circle around the piano when she sat down to play
and sing, it was hard to keep her from being carried into society before
her time, by the mere force of mutual attraction. Fortunately, she had
some quiet as well as some social tastes, and was willing enough to pass
two or three of the summer months in the country, where she was much
better bestowed than she would have been at one of those watering-places
where so many half-formed girls get prematurely hardened in the vice of
self-consciousness.

Miss Letty was altogether too wholesome, hearty, and high-strung a young
girl to be a model, according to the flat-chested and cachectic pattern
which is the classical type of certain excellent young females, often
the subjects of biographical memoirs. But the old minister was proud of
his granddaughter for all that. She was so full of life, so graceful, so
generous, so vivacious, so ready always to do all she could for him and
for everybody, so perfectly frank in her avowed delight in the pleasures
which this miserable world offered her in the shape of natural beauty,
of poetry, of music, of companionship, of books, of cheerful cooperation
in the tasks of those about her, that the Reverend Doctor could not
find it in his heart to condemn her because she was deficient in those
particular graces and that signal other-worldliness he had sometimes
noticed in feeble young persons suffering from various chronic diseases
which impaired their vivacity and removed them from the range of
temptation.

When Letty, therefore, came bounding into the old minister's study,
he glanced up from his manuscript, and, as his eye fell upon her,
it flashed across him that there was nothing so very monstrous and
unnatural about the specimen of congenital perversion he was looking at,
with his features opening into their pleasantest sunshine. Technically,
according to the fifth proposition of the sermon on Human Nature, very
bad, no doubt. Practically, according to the fact before him, a very
pretty piece of the Creator's handiwork, body and soul. Was it not a
conceivable thing that the divine grace might show itself in different
forms in a fresh young girl like Letitia, and in that poor thing he had
visited yesterday, half-grown, half-colored, in bed for the last year
with hip-disease? Was it to be supposed that this healthy young girl,
with life throbbing all over her, _could_, without a miracle, be good
according to the invalid pattern and formula?

And yet there were mysteries in human nature which pointed to some
tremendous perversion of its tendencies,--to some profound, radical vice
of moral constitution, native or transmitted, as you will have it, but
positive, at any rate, as the leprosy, breaking out in the blood of
races, guard them ever so carefully. Did he not know the case of a young
lady in Rockland, daughter of one of the first families in the place,
a very beautiful and noble creature to look at, for whose bringing-up
nothing had been spared,--a girl who had had governesses to teach her at
the house, who had been indulged almost too kindly,--a girl whose father
had given himself up to her, he being himself a pure and high-souled
man?--and yet this girl was accused in whispers of having been on the
very verge of committing a fatal crime; she was an object of fear to all
who knew the dark hints which had been let fall about her, and there
were some that believed--Why, what was this but an instance of the total
obliquity and degeneration of the moral principle? and to what could it
be owing, but to an innate organic tendency?

"Busy, grandpapa?" said Letty, and without waiting for an answer
kissed his cheek with a pair of lips made on purpose for that little
function,--fine, but richly turned out, the corners tucked in with a
finish of pretty dimples, the rosebud lips of girlhood's June.

The old gentleman looked at his granddaughter. Nature swelled up from
his heart in a wave that sent a glow to his cheek and a sparkle to his
eye. But it is very hard to be interrupted just as we are winding up a
string of propositions with the grand conclusion which is the statement
in brief of all that has gone before: our own starting-point, into which
we have been trying to back our reader or listener as one backs a horse
into the shafts.

"_Video meliora, proboque_,--I see the better, and approve it;
_deteriora sequor_,--I follow after the worse: 'tis that natural
dislike to what is good, pure, holy, and true, that inrooted
selfishness, totally insensible to the claims of"--

Here the worthy man was interrupted by Miss Letty.

"Do come, if you can, grandpapa," said the young girl; "here is a poor
old black woman wants to see you so much!"

The good minister was as kind-hearted as if he had never groped in the
dust and ashes of those cruel old abstractions which have killed out so
much of the world's life and happiness, "With the heart man believeth
unto righteousness"; a man's love is the measure of his fitness for good
or bad company here or elsewhere. Men are tattooed with their special
beliefs like so many South-Sea Islanders; but a real human heart, with
Divine love in it, beats with the same glow under all the patterns of
all earth's thousand tribes!

The Doctor sighed, and folded the sermon, and laid the Quarto Cruden on
it. He rose from his desk, and, looking once more at the young girl's
face, forgot his logical conclusions, and said to himself that she was
a little angel,--which was in violent contradiction to the leading
doctrine of his sermon on Human Nature. And so he followed her out of
the study into the wide entry of the old-fashioned country-house.

An old black woman sat on the plain oaken settle which humble visitors
waiting to see the minister were wont to occupy. She was old, but how
old it would be very hard to guess. She might be seventy. She might be
ninety. One could not swear she was not a hundred. Black women remain at
a stationary age (to the eyes of _white_ people, at least) for thirty
years. They do not appear to change during this period any more than
so many Trenton trilobites. Bent up, wrinkled, yellow-eyed, with long
upper-lip, projecting jaws, retreating chin, still meek features, long
arms, large flat hands with uncolored palms and slightly webbed fingers,
it was impossible not to see in this old creature a hint of the
gradations by which life climbs up through the lower natures to the
highest human developments. We cannot tell such old women's ages because
we do not understand the physiognomy of a race so unlike our own.
No doubt they see a great deal in each other's faces that we
cannot,--changes of color and expression as real as our own, blushes and
sudden betrayals of feeling,--just as these two canaries know what
their single notes and short sentences and full song with this or that
variation mean, though it is a mystery to us unplumed mortals.

This particular old black woman was a striking specimen of her
class. Old as she looked, her eye was bright and knowing. She wore a
red-and-yellow turban, which set off her complexion well, and hoops of
gold in her ears, and beads of gold about her neck, and an old funeral
ring upon her finger. She had that touching stillness about her which
belongs to animals that wait to be spoken to and then look up with a
kind of sad humility.

"Why, Sophy!" said the good minister, "is this you?"

She looked up with the still expression on her face. "It's old Sophy,"
she said.

"Why," said the Doctor, "I did not believe you could walk so far as this
to save the Union. Bring Sophy a glass of wine, Letty. Wine's good for
old folks like Sophy and me, after walking a good way, or preaching a
good while."

The young girl stepped into the back-parlor, where she found the
great pewter flagon in which the wine that was left after each
communion-service was brought to the minister's house. With much toil
she managed to tip it so as to get a couple of glasses filled. The
minister tasted his, and made old Sophy finish hers.

"I wan' to see you 'n' talk wi' you all alone," she said presently.

The minister got up and led the way towards his study. "To be sure," he
said; he had only waited for her to rest a moment before he asked her
into the library. The young girl took her gently by the arm, and helped
her feeble steps along the passage. When they reached the study, she
smoothed the cushion of a rocking-chair, and made the old woman sit
down in it. Then she tripped lightly away, and left her alone with the
minister.

Old Sophy was a member of the Reverend Doctor Honeywood's church.
She had been put through the necessary confessions in a tolerably
satisfactory manner. To be sure, as her grandfather had been a cannibal
chief, according to the common story, and, at any rate, a terrible wild
savage, and as her mother retained to the last some of the prejudices
of her early education, there was a heathen flavor in her Christianity,
which had often scandalized the elder of the minister's two deacons.
But the good minister had smoothed matters over: had explained that
allowances were to be made for those who had been long sitting without
the gate of Zion,--that, no doubt, a part of the curse which descended
to the children of Ham consisted in "having the understanding darkened,"
as well as the skin,--and so had brought his suspicious senior deacon to
tolerate old Sophy as one of the communion of fellow-sinners.

       *       *       *       *       *

----Poor things! How little we know the simple notions with which these
rudiments of souls are nourished by the Divine Goodness! Did not Mrs.
Professor come home this very blessed morning with a story of one of her
old black women?

"And how do you feel to-day, Mrs. Robinson?"

"Oh, my dear, I have this singing in my head all the time." (What
doctors call _tinnitus aurium_.)

"She's got a cold in the head," said old Mrs. Rider.

"Oh, no, my dear! Whatever I'm thinking about, it's all this singing,
this music. When I'm thinking of the dear Redeemer, it all turns into
this singing and music. When the clark came to see me, I asked him if
he couldn't cure me, and he said, No,--it was the Holy Spirit in me,
singing to me; and all the time I hear this beautiful music, and it's
the Holy Spirit a-singing to me."----

       *       *       *       *       *

The good man waited for Sophy to speak; but she did not open her lips as
yet.

"I hope you are not troubled in mind or body," he said to her at length,
finding she did not speak.

The poor old woman took out a white handkerchief, and lifted it to her
black face. She could not say a word for her tears and sobs.

The minister would have consoled her; he was used to tears, and could in
most cases withstand their contagion manfully; but something choked his
voice suddenly, and when he called upon it, he got no answer, but a
tremulous movement of the muscles, which was worse than silence.

At last she spoke.

"Oh, no, no, no! It's my poor girl, my darling, my beauty, my baby,
that's grown up to be a woman; she will come to a bad end; she will do
something that will make them kill her or shut her up all her life. Oh,
Doctor, Doctor, save her, pray for her! It a'n't her fault. It a'n't
her fault. If they knew all that I know, they wouldn't blame that poor
child. I must tell you, Doctor: if I should die, perhaps nobody else
would tell you. Massa Venner can't talk about it. Doctor Kittredge won't
talk about it. Nobody but old Sophy to tell you, Doctor; and old Sophy
can't die without telling you."

The kind minister soothed the poor old soul with those gentle, quieting
tones which had carried peace and comfort to so many chambers of
sickness and sorrow, to so many hearts overburdened by the trials laid
upon them.

Old Sophy became quiet in a few minutes, and proceeded to tell her
story. She told it in the low half-whisper which is the natural voice
of lips oppressed with grief and fears; with quick glances around the
apartment from time to time, as if she dreaded lest the dim portraits on
the walls and the dark folios on the shelves might overhear her words.

It was not one of those conversations which a third person can report
minutely, unless by that miracle of clairvoyance known to the readers
of stories made out of authors' brains. Yet its main character can be
imparted in a much briefer space than the old black woman took to give
all its details.

She went far back to the time when Dudley Venner was born,--she being
then a middle-aged woman. The heir and hope of a family which had been
narrowing down as if doomed to extinction, he had been surrounded with
every care and trained by the best education he could have in New
England. He had left college, and was studying the profession which
gentlemen of leisure most affect, when he fell in love with a young girl
left in the world almost alone, as he was. The old woman told the story
of his young love and his joyous bridal with a tenderness which had
something more, even, than her family sympathies to account for it. Had
she not hanging over her bed a small paper-cutting of a profile--jet
black, but not blacker than the face it represented--of one who would
have been her own husband in the small years of this century, if the
vessel in which he went to sea, like Jamie in the ballad, had not sailed
away and never come back to land? Had she not her bits of furniture
stowed away which had been got ready for her own wedding,--_two_
rocking-chairs, one worn with long use, one kept for him so long that it
had grown a superstition with her never to sit in it,--and might he not
come back yet, after all? Had she not her chest of linen ready for her
humble house-keeping, with store of serviceable huckaback and piles of
neatly folded kerchiefs, wherefrom this one that showed so white against
her black face was taken, for that she knew her eyes would betray her in
"the presence"?

All the first part of the story the old woman told tenderly, and yet
dwelling upon every incident with a loving pleasure. How happy this
young couple had been, what plans and projects of improvement they had
formed, how they lived in each other, always together, so young and
fresh and beautiful as she remembered them in that one early summer when
they walked arm in arm through the wilderness of roses that ran riot in
the garden,--she told of this as loath to leave it and come to the woe
that lay beneath.

She told the whole story;--shall I repeat it? Not now. If, in the
course of relating the incidents I have undertaken to report, _it tells
itself_, perhaps this will be better than to run the risk of producing a
painful impression on some of those susceptible readers whom it would be
ill-advised to disturb or excite, when they rather require to be amused
and soothed. In our pictures of life, we must show the flowering-out of
terrible growths which have their roots deep, deep underground. Just
how far we shall lay bare the unseemly roots themselves is a matter of
discretion and taste, in which none of us are infallible.

The old woman told the whole story of Elsie, of her birth, of her
peculiarities of person and disposition, of the passionate fears and
hopes with which her father had watched the course of her development.
She recounted all her strange ways, from the hour when she first tried
to crawl across the carpet, and her father shrank from her with an
involuntary shudder as she worked her way towards him. With the memory
of Juliet's nurse she told the story of her teething, and how, the woman
to whose breast she had clung dying suddenly about that time, they
had to struggle hard with the child before she would learn the
accomplishment of feeding with a spoon. And so of her fierce plays and
fiercer disputes with that boy who had been her companion, and the whole
scene of the quarrel when she struck him with those sharp white teeth,
frightening her, old Sophy, almost to death; for, as she said, the boy
would have died, if it hadn't been for the old Doctor's galloping over
as fast as he could gallop and burning the places right out of his arm.
Then came the story of that other incident, sufficiently alluded to
already, which had produced such an ecstasy of fright and left such a
nightmare of apprehension in the household. And so the old woman came
down to this present time. That boy she never loved nor trusted was
grown to a dark, dangerous-looking man, and he was under their roof. He
wanted to marry our poor Elsie, and Elsie hated him, and sometimes she
would look at him over her shoulder just as she used to look at that
woman she hated; and she, old Sophy, couldn't sleep for thinking she
should hear a scream from the white chamber some night and find him in
spasms such as that woman came so near dying with. And then there was
something about Elsie she did not know what to make of: she would sit
and hang her head sometimes, and look as if she were dreaming; and she
brought home books they said a young gentleman up at the great school
lent her; and once she heard her whisper in her sleep, and she talked as
young girls do to themselves when they're thinking about somebody they
have a liking for and think nobody knows it.

She finished her long story at last. The minister had listened to it in
perfect silence. He sat still even when she had done speaking,--still,
and lost in thought. It was a very awkward matter for him to have a hand
in. Old Sophy was his parishioner, but the Venners had a pew in the
Reverend Mr. Fairweather's meeting-house. It would seem that he, Mr.
Fairweather, was the natural adviser of the parties most interested. Had
he sense and spirit enough to deal with such people? Was there enough
capital of humanity in his somewhat limited nature to furnish sympathy
and unshrinking service for his friends in an emergency? or was he too
busy with his own attacks of spiritual neuralgia, and too much occupied
with taking account of stock of his own thin-blooded offences, to forget
himself and his personal interests on the small scale and the large,
and run a risk of his life, if need were, at any rate give himself up
without reserve to the dangerous task of guiding and counselling these
distressed and imperilled fellow-creatures?

The good minister thought the best thing to do would be to call and talk
over some of these matters with Brother Fairweather,--for so he would
call him at times, especially if his senior deacon were not within
earshot. Having settled this point, he comforted Sophy with a few words
of counsel and a promise of coming to see her very soon. He then called
his man to put the old white horse into the chaise and drive Sophy back
to the mansion-house.

When the Doctor sat down to his sermon again, it looked very differently
from the way it had looked at the moment he left it. When he came to
think of it, he did not feel quite so sure _practically_ about that
matter of the utter natural selfishness of everybody. There was Letty,
now, seemed to take a very unselfish interest in that old black woman,
and indeed in poor people generally; perhaps it would not be too much to
say that she was always thinking of other people. He thought he had
seen other young persons naturally unselfish, thoughtful for others; it
seemed to be a family trait in some he had known.

But most of all he was exercised about this poor girl whose story Sophy
had been telling. If what the old woman believed was true,--and it
had too much semblance of probability,--what became of his theory of
ingrained moral obliquity applied to such a case? If by the visitation
of God a person receives any injury which impairs the intellect or the
moral perceptions, is it not monstrous to judge such a person by our
common working standards of right and wrong? Certainly, everybody will
answer, in cases where there is a palpable organic change brought about,
as when a blow on the head produces insanity. Fools! How long will it be
before we shall learn that for every wound which betrays itself to the
sight by a scar, there are a thousand unseen mutilations that cripple,
each of them, some one or more of our highest faculties? If what Sophy
told and believed was the real truth, what prayers could be agonizing
enough, what tenderness could be deep enough, for this poor, lost,
blighted, hapless, blameless child of misfortune, struck by such a doom
as perhaps no living creature in all the sisterhood of humanity shared
with her?

The minister thought these matters over until his mind was bewildered
with doubts and tossed to and fro on that stormy deep of thought heaving
forever beneath the conflict of windy dogmas. He laid by his old sermon.
He put back a pile of old commentators with their eyes and mouths and
hearts full of the dust of the schools. Then he opened the book of
Genesis at the eighteenth chapter and read that remarkable argument
of Abraham's with his Maker, in which he boldly appeals to first
principles. He took as his text, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth
do right?" and began to write his sermon, afterwards so famous,--"On the
Obligations of an Infinite Creator to a Finite Creature."

It astonished the good people, who had been accustomed so long to repeat
mechanically their Oriental hyperboles of self-abasement, to hear their
worthy minister maintaining that the dignified attitude of the old
Patriarch, insisting on what was reasonable and fair with reference to
his fellow-creatures, was really much more respectful to his Maker, and
a great deal manlier and more to his credit, than if he had yielded the
whole matter, and pretended that men had not rights as well as duties.
The same logic which had carried him to certain conclusions with
reference to human nature, this same irresistible logic carried him
straight on from his text until he arrived at those other results, which
not only astonished his people, as was said, but surprised himself. He
went so far in defence of the rights of man, that he put his foot into
several heresies, for which men had been burned so often, it was time,
if ever it could be, to acknowledge the demonstration of the _argumentum
ad ignem_. He did not believe in the responsibility of idiots. He did
not believe a new-born infant was morally answerable for other people's
acts. He thought a man with a crooked spine would never be called to
account for not walking erect. He thought, if the crook was in his
brain, instead of his back, he could not fairly be blamed for any
consequence of this natural defect, whatever lawyers or divines might
call it. He argued, that, if a person inherited a perfect mind, body,
and disposition, and had perfect teaching from infancy, that person
could do nothing more than keep the moral law perfectly. But supposing
that the Creator allows a person to be born with an hereditary or
ingrafted organic tendency, and then puts this person into the hands of
teachers incompetent or positively bad, is not what is called _sin_ or
transgression of the law necessarily involved in the premises? Is not
a Creator bound to guard his children against the ruin which inherited
ignorance might entail on them? Would it be fair for a parent to put
into a child's hands the title-deeds to all its future possessions, and
a bunch of matches? And are not men children, nay, babes, in the eye of
Omniscience?--The minister grew bold in his questions. Had not he as
good right to ask questions as Abraham?

This was the dangerous vein of speculation in which the Reverend Doctor
Honeywood found himself involved, as a consequence of the suggestions
forced upon him by old Sophy's communication. The truth was, the good
man had got so humanized by mixing up with other people in various
benevolent schemes, that, the very moment he could escape from his old
scholastic abstractions, he took the side of humanity instinctively,
just as the Father of the Faithful did,--all honor be to the noble old
Patriarch for insisting on the worth of an honest man, and making the
best terms he could for a very ill-conditioned metropolis, which might
possibly, however, have contained ten righteous people, for whose sake
it should be spared!

The consequence of all this was, that he was in a singular and seemingly
self-contradictory state of mind when he took his hat and cane and went
forth to call on his heretical brother. The old minister took it for
granted that the Reverend Mr. Fairweather knew the private history of
his parishioner's family. He did not reflect that there are griefs
men _never_ put into words,--that there are fears which must not be
spoken,--intimate matters of consciousness which must be carried, as
bullets that have been driven deep into the living tissues are sometimes
carried, for a whole life-time,--_encysted_ griefs, if we may borrow the
chirurgeon's term, never to be reached, never to be seen, never to be
thrown out, but to go into the dust with the frame that bore them about
with it, during long years of anguish, known only to the sufferer and
his Maker. Dudley Venner had talked with his minister about this child
of his. But he had talked cautiously, feeling his way for sympathy,
looking out for those indications of tact and judgment which would
warrant him in some partial communication, at least, of the origin of
his doubts and fears, and never finding them.

There was something about the Reverend Mr. Fairweather which repressed
all attempts at confidential intercourse. What this something was,
Dudley Venner could hardly say; but he felt it distinctly, and it sealed
his lips. He never got beyond certain generalities connected with
education and religious instruction. The minister could not help
discovering, however, that there were difficulties connected with this
girl's management, and he heard enough outside of the family to convince
him that she had manifested tendencies, from an early age, at variance
with the theoretical opinions he was in the habit of preaching, and in
a dim way of holding for truth, as to the natural dispositions of the
human being.

About this terrible fact of congenital obliquity his new beliefs began
to cluster as a centre, and to take form as a crystal around its
nucleus. Still, he might perhaps have struggled against them, had it not
been for the little Roman Catholic chapel he passed every Sunday, on his
way to the meeting-house. Such a crowd of worshippers, swarming into the
pews like bees, filling all the aisles, running over at the door like
berries heaped too full in the measure,--some kneeling on the steps,
some standing on the side-walk, hats off, heads down, lips moving, some
looking on devoutly from the other side of the street! Oh, could he
have followed his own Bridget, maid of all work, into the heart of that
steaming throng, and bowed his head while the priests intoned their
Latin prayers! could he have snuffed up the cloud of frankincense, and
felt that he was in the great ark which holds the better half of the
Christian world, while all around it are wretched creatures, some
struggling against the waves in leaky boats, and some on ill-connected
rafts, and some with their heads just above water, thinking to ride out
the flood which is to sweep the earth clean of sinners, upon their own
private, individual life-preservers!

Such was the present state of mind of the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather,
when his clerical brother called upon him to talk over the questions to
which old Sophy had called his attention.


CHAPTER XVIII.

THE REVEREND DOCTOR CALLS ON BROTHER FAIRWEATHER.


For the last few months, while all these various matters were going on
in Rockland, the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather had been busy with the
records of ancient councils and the writings of the early fathers. The
more he read, the more discontented he became with the platform upon
which he and his people were standing. They and he were clearly in
a minority, and his deep inward longing to be with the majority was
growing into an engrossing passion. He yearned especially towards the
good old unquestioning, authoritative Mother Church, with her articles
of faith which took away the necessity for private judgment, with her
traditional forms and ceremonies, and her whole apparatus of stimulants
and anodynes.

About this time he procured a breviary and kept it in his desk under
the loose papers. He sent to a Catholic bookstore and obtained a small
crucifix suspended from a string of beads. He ordered his new coat to be
cut very narrow in the collar and to be made single-breasted. He began
an informal series of religious conversations with Miss O'Brien, the
young person of Irish extraction already referred to as Bridget, maid
of all work. These not proving very satisfactory, he managed to fall in
with Father McShane, the Catholic priest of the Rockland church. Father
McShane encouraged his nibble very scientifically. It would be such
a fine thing to bring over one of those Protestant heretics, and a
"liberal" one too!--not that there was any real difference between
them, but it sounded better to say that one of these rationalizing
free-and-equal religionists had been made a convert than any of those
half-way Protestants who were the slaves of catechisms instead of
councils and of commentators instead of popes. The subtle priest played
his disciple with his finest tackle. It was hardly necessary: when
anything or anybody wishes to be caught, a bare hook and a coarse line
are all that is needed.

If a man has a genuine, sincere, hearty wish to get rid of his liberty,
if he is really bent upon becoming a slave, nothing can stop him. And
the temptation is to some natures a very great one. Liberty is often a
heavy burden on a man. It involves that necessity for perpetual choice
which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded. In common life
we shirk it by forming _habits_, which take the place of
self-determination. In politics party-organization saves us the pains of
much thinking before deciding how to cast our vote. In religious matters
there are great multitudes watching us perpetually, each propagandist
ready with his bundle of finalities, which having accepted we may be
at peace. The more absolute the submission demanded, the stronger the
temptation becomes to those who have been long tossed among doubts and
conflicts.

So it is that in all the quiet bays which indent the shores of the great
ocean of thought, at every sinking wharf, we see moored the hulks
and the razees of enslaved or half-enslaved intelligences. They rock
peacefully as children in their cradles on the subdued swell that comes
feebly in over the bar at the harbor's mouth, slowly crusting with
barnacles, pulling at their iron cables as if they really wanted to be
free, but better contented to remain bound as they are. For these no
more the round unwalled horizon of the open sea, the joyous breeze
aloft, the furrow, the foam, the sparkle that track the rushing keel!
They have escaped the dangers of the wave, and lie still henceforth,
evermore. Happiest of souls, if lethargy is bliss, and palsy the chief
beatitude!

America owes its political freedom to religious Protestantism. But
political freedom is reacting on religious prescription with still
mightier force. We wonder, therefore, when we find a soul which was
born to a full sense of individual liberty, an unchallenged right
of self-determination on every new alleged truth offered to its
intelligence, voluntarily surrendering any portion of its liberty to
a spiritual dictatorship which always proves to rest, in the last
analysis, on _a majority vote_, nothing more nor less, commonly an old
one, passed in those barbarous times when men cursed and murdered each
other for differences of opinion, and of course were not in a condition
to settle the beliefs of a comparatively civilized community.

In our disgust, we are liable to be intolerant. We forget that weakness
is not in itself a sin. We forget that even cowardice may call for our
most lenient judgment, if it spring from innate infirmity. Who of us
does not look with great tenderness on the young chieftain in the "Fair
Maid of Perth," when he confesses his want of courage? All of us love
companionship and sympathy; some of us may love them too much. All of us
are more or less imaginative in our theology. Some of us may find the
aid of material symbols a comfort, if not a necessity. The boldest
thinker may have his moments of languor and discouragement, when he
feels as if he could willingly exchange faiths with the old beldame
crossing herself at the cathedral-door,--nay, that, if he could drop
all coherent thought, and lie in the flowery meadow with the brown-eyed
solemnly unthinking cattle, looking up to the sky, and all their simple
consciousness staining itself blue, then down to the grass, and life
turning to a mere greenness, blended with confused scents of herbs,--no
individual mind-movement such as men are teased with, but the great
calm cattle-sense of all time and all places that know the milky smell
of herds,--if he could be like these, he would be content to be driven
home by the cow-boy, and share the grassy banquet of the king of ancient
Babylon. Let us be very generous, then, in our judgment of those
who leave the front ranks of thought for the company of the meek
non-combatants who follow with the baggage and provisions. Age, illness,
too much wear and tear, a half-formed paralysis, may bring any of us to
this pass. But while we can think and maintain the rights of our own
individuality against every human combination, let as not forget to
caution all who are disposed to waver that there is a cowardice which is
criminal, and a longing for rest which it is baseness to indulge. God
help him over whose dead soul in his living body must be uttered the sad
supplication, _Requiescat in pace_!

       *       *       *       *       *

A knock at the Reverend Mr. Fairweather's study-door called his eyes
from the book on which they were intent. He looked up, as if expecting a
welcome guest.

The Reverend Pierrepont Honeywood, D.D., entered the study of the
Reverend Chauncy Fairweather. He was not the expected guest. Mr.
Fairweather slipped the book he was reading into a half-open drawer,
and pushed in the drawer. He slid something which rattled under a paper
lying on the table. He rose with a slight change of color, and welcomed,
a little awkwardly, his unusual visitor.

"Good evening, Brother Fairweather!" said the Reverend Doctor, in a
very cordial, good-humored way. "I hope I am not spoiling one of those
eloquent sermons I never have a chance to hear."

"Not at all, not at all," the younger clergyman answered, in a languid
tone, with a kind of habitual half-querulousness which belonged to
it,--the vocal expression which we meet with now and then, and which
says as plainly as so many words could say it, "I am a suffering
individual. I am persistently undervalued, wronged, and imposed upon by
mankind and the powers of the universe generally. But I endure all. I
endure _you_. Speak. I listen. It is a burden to me, but I even approve.
I sacrifice myself. Behold this movement of my lips! It is a smile."

The Reverend Doctor knew this forlorn way of Mr. Fairweather's, and was
not troubled by it. He proceeded to relate the circumstances of his
visit from the old black woman, and the fear she was in about the young
girl, who being a parishioner of Mr. Fairweather's, he had thought it
best to come over and speak to him about old Sophy's fears and fancies.

In telling the old woman's story, he alluded only vaguely to those
peculiar circumstances to which she had attributed so much importance,
taking it for granted that the other minister must be familiar with
the whole series of incidents she had related. The old minister was
mistaken, as we have before seen. Mr. Fairweather had been settled in
the place only about ten years, and, if he had heard a strange hint now
and then about Elsie, had never considered it as anything more than
idle and ignorant, if not malicious, village-gossip. All that he fully
understood was that this had been a perverse and unmanageable child, and
that the extraordinary care which had been bestowed on her had been so
far thrown away that she was a dangerous, self-willed girl, whom all
feared and almost all shunned, as if she carried with her some malignant
influence.

He replied, therefore, after hearing the story, that Elsie had always
given trouble. There seemed to be a kind of natural obliquity about
her. Perfectly unaccountable. A very dark case. Never amenable to good
influences. Had sent her good books from the Sunday-school library.
Remembered that she tore out the frontispiece of one of them, and kept
it, and flung the book out of the window. It was a picture of Eve's
temptation; and he recollected her saying that Eve was a good
woman,--and she'd have done just so, if she'd been there. A very sad
child,--very sad; bad from infancy.--He had talked himself bold, and
said all at once,--

"Doctor, do you know I am almost ready to accept your doctrine of the
congenital sinfulness of human nature? I am afraid that is the only
thing which goes to the bottom of the difficulty."

The old minister's face did not open as approvingly as Mr. Fairweather
had expected.

"Why, yes,--well,--many find comfort in it,--I believe;--there is much
to be said,--there are many bad people,--and bad children,--I can't
be so sure about bad babies,--though they cry very malignantly at
times,--especially if they have the stomach-ache. But I really don't
know how to condemn this poor Elsie; she may have impulses that act
in her like instincts in the lower animals, and so not come under the
bearing of our ordinary rules of judgment."

"But this depraved tendency, Doctor,--this unaccountable perverseness.
My dear Sir, I am afraid your school is in the right about human nature.
Oh, those words of the Psalmist, 'shapen in iniquity,' and the rest!
What are we to do with them,--we who teach that the soul of a child is
an unstained white tablet?"

"King David was very subject to fits of humility, and much given to
self-reproaches," said the Doctor, in a rather dry way. "We owe you and
your friends a good deal for calling attention to the natural graces,
which, after all, may, perhaps, be considered as another form of
manifestation of the divine influence. Some of our writers have pressed
rather too hard on the tendencies of the human soul toward evil as such.
It may be questioned whether these views have not interfered with the
sound training of certain young persons, sons of clergymen and others.
I am nearer of your mind about the possibility of educating children so
that they shall become good Christians without any violent transition.
That is what I should hope for from bringing them up 'in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord.'"

The younger minister looked puzzled, but presently answered,--

"Possibly we may have called attention to some neglected truths; but,
after all, I fear we must go to the old school, if we want to get at the
root of the matter. I know there is an outward amiability about many
young persons, some young girls especially, that seems like genuine
goodness; but I have been disposed of late to lean toward your view,
that these human affections, as we see them in our children,--ours, I
say, though I have not the fearful responsibility of training any of my
own,--are only a kind of disguised and sinful selfishness."

The old minister groaned in spirit. His heart had been softened by
the sweet influences of children and grandchildren. He thought of
a half-sized grave in the burial-ground, and the fine, brave,
noble-hearted boy he laid in it thirty years before,--the sweet,
cheerful child who had made his home all sunshine until the day when he
was brought home, his long curls dripping, his fresh lips purpled in
death,--foolish dear little blessed creature to throw himself into the
deep water to save the drowning boy, who clung about him and carried him
under! Disguised selfishness! And his granddaughter too, whose disguised
selfishness was the light of his household!

"Don't call it my view!" he said, "Abstractly, perhaps, all Nature may
be considered vitiated; but practically, as I see it in life, the divine
grace keeps pace with the perverted instincts from infancy in many
natures. Besides, this perversion itself may often be disease, bad
habits transmitted, like drunkenness, or some hereditary misfortune, as
with this Elsie we were talking about."

The younger minister was completely mystified. At every step he made
towards the Doctor's recognized theological position, the Doctor took
just one step towards his. They would cross each other soon at this
rate, and might as well exchange pulpits,--as Colonel Sprowle once
wished they would, it may be remembered.

The Doctor, though a much clearer-headed man, was almost equally
puzzled. He turned the conversation again upon Elsie, and endeavored
to make her minister feel the importance of bringing every friendly
influence to bear upon her at this critical period of her life. His
sympathies did not seem so lively as the Doctor could have wished.
Perhaps he had vastly more important objects of solicitude in his own
spiritual interests.

A knock at the door interrupted them. The Reverend Mr. Fairweather rose
and went towards it. As he passed the table, his coat caught something,
which came rattling to the floor. It was a crucifix with a string of
beads attached. As he opened the door, the Milesian features of Father
McShane presented themselves, and from their centre proceeded the
clerical benediction in Irish-sounding Latin, _Pax vobiscum!_

The Reverend Doctor Honeywood rose and left the priest and his disciple
together.

       *       *       *       *       *



REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.


_Autobiographical Recollections_. By the late CHARLES ROBERT LESLIE,
R.A. Edited, with a Prefatory Essay on Leslie as an Artist, and
Selections from his Correspondence, by TOM TAYLOR, Esq., Editor of the
"Autobiography of Haydon." With Portrait. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
1860. pp. lviii., 363.

Those who remember the excellent judgment with which Mr. Taylor selected
his material for the Autobiography of Haydon from the papers left by
that artist need not be told that this work is executed with spirit and
discrimination. It is a delicate task to publish just so much of the
letters and reminiscences of a man lately dead as shall consist with
good taste and gentlemanly feeling, to discriminate between legitimate
anecdote and what at second-hand becomes tale-bearing gossip, and not to
break faith with the dead by indiscreet confidences about the living.
If the dead have any privilege, it ought to be that of holding their
tongues; yet an unseemly fashion has prevailed lately of making
them gabble for years in Diaries, Remains, Correspondences, and
Recollections, perpetuating in a solid telltale record all they may
have said and written thoughtlessly or in a momentary pet, giving to a
fleeting whim the printed permanence of a settled opinion, and robbing
the grave of what is sometimes its only consoling attribute, the dignity
of reserve. We know of no more unsavory calling than this, unless it be
that of the Egyptian dealers in mummy, peddling out their grandfathers
to be ground into pigment. Obsequious to the last moment, the jackal
makes haste to fill his belly from the ribs of his late lion almost
before he is cold.

Mr. Taylor is too manly and well-bred to be guilty of any indiscretions,
much more of any indecencies. He let Haydon tell his own story, nor
assumed the function of a judge. And wisely, as we think; for, commonly,
when men take it upon themselves uncalled, their inability to conceive
the special weakness that is not theirs, (and which, perhaps, was but
the negative of a strength equally alien to them.) their humanly narrow
and often professionally back-attic view of character and circumstance,
their easy after-dinner superiority to what was perhaps a loathing
compromise with famine and the jail, fit them rather for the office of
_advocatus diaboli_ than of the justice which must be all-seeing that it
may be charitable. It is so hard to see that a sin is sometimes but a
thwarted and misdirected virtue! When Burns sighed that "the light that
led astray was light from Heaven," he was but unconsciously repeating
what a poet who of all men least needed the apology had said centuries
before.

We do not admit, that, because a man has published a volume or a
picture, he has published himself, excommunicated his soul from the
sanctuary of privacy, and made his life as common as a tavern-threshold
to every blockhead in the parish,--or that any Pharisee who kept
carefully to windward of his virtues, out of the way of infection, has
thereby earned the right to mismoralize his failings after he is dumbly
defenceless. The moral compasses that are too short for the aberration
may be, must be, unequal to the orbit. We would not deny that Burns was
a chamberer and a drunkard because he was a great poet; but we would not
admit that whiskey and wenches made him any the less the most richly
endowed genius of his century, with just title to the love and
admiration of men. It is not for us to decide whether he, who, by
doubling the suggestive and associative power of any thought, fancy,
feeling, or natural object, has so far added permanently to the sum of
human happiness, is not as sure of a welcome and a well-done from the
Infinite Fatherliness as he that has turned an honest penny by printing
a catechism; but we are sure that it is a shallow cant which holds up
the errors of men of genius as if they were especial warnings, and
proofs of how little the rarest gifts avail. Is it intended to put men
on their guard against being geniuses? That is scarcely called for till
those who yield to the temptation become more numerous. Do they mean,
We, too, might have been geniuses, but we chose rather to be good and
dull? Self-denial is always praiseworthy, and we reconcile ourselves to
the Ovid lost in consideration of the Deacon gained. But if it be meant
that the danger was in the genius, we deny it altogether. Burns's genius
was the one good thing he had, and it was always, as it always must be,
good, and only good, the leaven of uncontaminate heaven in him that
would not let him sink contentedly into the sty of oblivion with the
million other tipplers and loose-livers of his century. It was his
weakness of character, and not his strength or pride of intellect, that
betrayed him; and to call his faults errors of genius is a mischievous
fallacy. If they were, then they were no lesson for the rest of us; if
they were not, to call them so is to encourage certain gin-and-water
philosophers who would fain extenuate their unpleasant vices by the plea
that they are the necessary complement of unusual powers,--as if the
path to immortality were through the kennel, and fine verses were to be
written only at the painful sacrifice of bilking your washerwoman.

We are over-fond of drawing monitory morals from the lives of gifted
persons, tacking together our little ten-by-twelve pinfolds to impound
breachy human nature in, but it is only because we know more than we
have any business to know of the private concerns of such persons
that we have the opportunity. We are thankful that the character of
Shakspeare is wrapped safely away from us in un-Boswellable night.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge the man stood forever in the way of Samuel
Taylor Coleridge the poet and metaphysician, and the fault of the
poppy-juice in his nature is laid at the door of the laudanum he bought
of the apothecary. Yet all the drowsy juices of Circe's garden could not
hinder De Quincey from writing his twenty-five volumes. To us nothing is
more painful, and nothing seems more cruelly useless, than the parading
of mortal weaknesses, especially of those to whom we are indebted
for delight and teaching. For an inherent weakness has no lesson of
avoidance in it, being helpless from the first, and by the doom of its
own nature growing more and more helpless to the last, not more so in
the example than in him who is to profit by it, and who is more likely
to have his appetite flattered by good company than his fear aroused by
the evil consequence. Because the swans have a vile habit of over-eating
themselves, shall we nail them to the barn-door as a moral lesson to the
crows?

There is, doubtless, a great deal to be taught by biography; but it is
by the mistakes of men that we learn, and not by their weaknesses. To
see clearly an error of judgment and its consequences may be of positive
service to us in the conduct of life, while a vice of temperament
concerns us not at all in private men, and only so far in statesmen
and rulers as it may have been influential in history as a modifier of
action, or is essential to an understanding of it as an explainer of
motive.

The Autobiography of Leslie seems to us in some sort the complement
of Haydon's, and throws the defiant struggle of that remarkable
self-portraiture into stronger relief by the contrast of its equable
good-fortune and fireside tranquillity. The causes of the wide
difference in the course and the result of these two lives are on the
surface and are instructive. Comparing the two men at the outset, we
should have said that all the chances were on Haydon's side. If he had
not genius, he had at least the temperament and external characteristics
that go along with it. He had what is sometimes wanting to it in its
more purely aesthetic manifestation, the ambition that spurs and the
unflagging energy that seemed a guerdon of unlimited achievement.
Yet the ambition fermented into love of notoriety and soured into a
fraudulent self-assertion, that grew boastful as it grew distrustful of
its claims and could bring less proof in support of them; the energy
degenerated into impudence, evading the shame of spendthrift bankruptcy
to-day by shifts that were sure to bring a more degrading exposure
tomorrow; and the whole ended at last in a suicide whose tragic pang
is deadened to us by the feeling that so much of the mixed motive that
drove him to it as was not cowardice was a hankering after melodramatic
effect, the last throb of a passion for making his name the theme of
public talk, and his fate the centre of a London day's sensation.
Chatterton makes us lenient to a life of fraud by the dogged and cynical
uncomplainingness of the despair that drove him to cut it short; but
Haydon continues his self-autopsy to the last moment, and in pulling the
trigger seems to be only firing the train for an explosion that shall
give him a week longer of posthumous notoriety. The egotism of Pepys was
but a suppressed garrulity, which habitual caution, fostered by a period
of political confusion and the mystery of office, drove inward to a kind
of soliloquy in cipher; that of Montaigne was metaphysical,--in studying
his own nature and noting his observations he was studying man, and that
with a singular insouciance of public opinion; but Haydon appears to
have written his journals with a deliberate intention of their some day
advertising himself, and his most private aspirations are uttered with
an eye to the world. Yet it was a genuine instinct that led him to the
pen, and his lifelong succession of half-successes that are worse than
defeats was due to the initial error of mistaking a passion for a power.
A fine critic, a vivid sketcher of character, and a writer of singular
clearness, point, and eloquence was spoiled to make an artist, sometimes
noble in conception, but without sense of color, and utterly inadequate
to any but the most confused expression of himself by the pencil. His
very sense of the power which he was conscious of somewhere in himself
harassed and hampered him, as time after time he refused to see that his
failure was due, not to injustice or insensibility on the part of the
world, but to his having chosen the wrong means of making his ability
felt and acknowledged. His true place would have been that of Professor
and Lecturer in the Royal Academy. The world is not insensible or
unjust, but it knows what it wants, and will not long be put off with
less. There is always a public for success; there never is, and never
ought to be, for inadequacy. Haydon was in some respects a first-rate
man, but the result of his anxious, restless, and laborious life was
almost zero, as far as concerned its definite aims. It does not convey
the moral of neglected genius, or of loose notions of money-obligations,
ending in suicide, but simply of a mischosen vocation, leading sooner or
later to utter and undeniable failure. _Pas même académicien_! Plenty of
neglected geniuses have found it good to be neglected, plenty of Jeremy
Diddlers (in letters and statesmanship as often as in money-matters)
have lived to a serene old age, but the man who in any of the unuseful
arts insists on doing what Nature never asked him to do has no place in
the world. Leslie, a second-rate man in all respects, but with a genuine
talent rightly directed, an obscure American, with few friends, no
influential patrons, and a modesty that would never let him obtrude his
claims, worked steadily forward to competence, to reputation, and the
Council of the Academy. The only blunder of his life was his accepting
the Professorship of Drawing at West Point, a place for which he was
unsuited. But this blunder he had the good sense and courage to correct
by the frank acknowledgment of resignation. Altogether his is a career
as pleasant as Haydon's is painful to contemplate, the more so as we
feel that his success was fairly won by honest effort directed by
a contented consciousness of the conditions and limitations of his
faculty.

Nothing can be more agreeable than the career of a successful artist.
His employment does not force upon him the solitude of an author; it
is eminently companionable; from its first design, through all the
processes that bring his work to perfection, he is not shut out from the
encouragement of sympathy; his success is definite and immediate; he
can see it in the crowd around his work at the exhibition; and his very
calling brings him into pleasant contact with beauty, taste, and (if a
portrait-painter) with eminence in every department of human activity.

Leslie's passage through the world was of that equal temper which is
happiest for the man and unhappiest for the biographer. With no dramatic
surprises of fortune, and no great sorrows, his life had scarce any
other alternation than that it went round with the earth through night
and day, and would have been tame but for his necessary labor in an
art which he loved wisely and with the untumultuous sentiment of
an after-honey-moon constancy. We should say that his leading
characteristic was Taste, an external quality, it is true, but one which
is often the indication of more valuable ones lying deeper. In the
conduct of life it insures tact, and in Art a certain gentlemanlike
equipoise, incapable of what is deepest and highest, but secure also
from the vulgar, the grotesque, and the extravagant. Leslie, we think,
was more at home with Addison than with Cervantes.

His autobiographical reminiscences are very entertaining, especially
that part of them which describes a voyage home to America, varied by
a winter in Portugal, during the early part of his life. The Scotch
captain, who, with his scanty merchant-crew, beats off a Bordeaux
privateer, and then, crippled and half-sinking, clears for action with
what he supposes to be a French frigate, but which turns out to be
English, is a personage whose acquaintance it is pleasant to make. The
sketches of life in Lisbon, too, are very lively, and the picture of
the decayed Portuguese nobleman's family, for whose pride of birth an
imaginary dinner-table was set every day in the parlor with the remains
of the hereditary napery and plate, the numerous covers hiding nothing
but the naked truth, while their common humanity, squatting on the floor
in the kitchen, fished its scanty meal from an earthen pot with pewter
spoons, is pathetically humorous and would have delighted Caleb
Balderstone. In after-life, Leslie's profession made him acquainted with
some of the best London life of his time, and the volume is full of
agreeable anecdotes of Scott, Irving, Turner, Rogers, Wilkie, and
many more. It contains also several letters of Irving, of no special
interest, and some from a sort of Lesmahago of a room-mate of Leslie's,
named Peter Powell, so queer, individual, and shrewd, that we are sorry
not to have more of them and their writer. Altogether the book is one of
the pleasantest we have lately met with.


_The Old Battle-Ground_. By J.T. TROWBRIDGE, Author of "Father
Brighthopes," "Neighbor Jackwood," etc. New York: Sheldon & Company.
1860. pp. 276.

Mr. Trowbridge's previous works have made him known to a large circle of
appreciating readers as a writer of originality and promise. His "Father
Brighthopes" we have never read, but we have heard it spoken of as one
of the most wholesome children's books ever published in America, and
our knowledge of the author makes us ready to believe the favorable
opinion a just one. Parts of "Neighbor Jackwood" we read with sincere
relish and admiration; they showed so true an eye for Nature and so
thorough an appreciation of the truly humorous elements of New England
character, as distinguished from the vulgar and laughable ones. The
domestic interior of the Jackwood family was drawn with remarkable truth
and spirit, and all the working characters of the book on a certain
average level of well-to-do rusticity were made to think and talk
naturally, and were as full of honest human nature as those of the
conventional modern novel are empty of it. An author who puts us in the
way to form some just notion of the style of thought proper to so large
a class as our New England country-people, and of the motives likely to
influence their social and political conduct, does us a greater service
than we are apt to admit. And the power to conceive the leading
qualities that make up an average representative and to keep them
always clearly in view, so as to swerve neither toward tameness nor
exaggeration, is by no means common. This power, it seems to us, Mr.
Trowbridge possesses in an unusual degree. The late Mr. Judd, in his
remarkable romance of "Margaret," gave such a picture as has never been
equalled for truth of color and poetry of conception, of certain phases
of life among a half-gypsy family in the outskirts of a remote village,
and growing up in the cold penumbra of our civilization and material
prosperity. But his scene and characters were exceptional, or, if
typical, only so of a very limited class, and his book, full of fine
imagination as it is, is truly a romance, an ideal and artistic
representation, rather a poem than a story of manners general and
familiar enough to be called real.

Mr. Trowbridge, we think, fails in those elements of (we had almost said
creative) power in which Mr. Judd was specially rich. If the latter had
possessed the shaping spirit as fully as he certainly did the essential
properties of imagination, he would have done for the actual, prosaic
life of New England what Mr. Hawthorne has done for the ideal essence
that lies behind and beneath it. But, with all his marvellous fidelity
of dialect, costume, and landscape, and his firm clutch of certain
individual instincts and emotions, his characters are wanting in any
dramatic unity of relation to each other, and seem to be "moving about
in worlds not realized," each a vivid reality in itself, but a very
shadow in respect of any prevailing intention of the story. With the
innate sentiments of a kind of aboriginal human nature Mr. Judd was
at home; with the practical working of every-day motives he seemed
strangely unfamiliar. It is just here that Mr. Trowbridge's strength
and originality lie; but, with that not uncommon tendency to overvalue
qualities that we do not possess, and to attempt their display, to the
neglect, and sometimes at the cost, of others quite as valuable, but
which seem cheap, because their exercise is easy and habitual,--and
therefore, we may be sure, natural and pleasing,--he insists on being a
little metaphysical and over-fine. What he means for his more
elevated characters are tiresome with something of that melodramatic
sentimentality with which Mr. Dickens has infected so much of the
lighter literature of the day. Here and there the style suffers from
that overmuchness of unessential detail and that exaggeration of
particulars which Mr. Dickens brought into fashion and seems bent on
wearing out of it,--a style which is called graphic and poetical by
those only who do not see that it is the cheap substitute, in all
respects equal to real plate, (till you try to pawn it for lasting
fame,) introduced by writers against time, or who forget that to be
graphic is to tell most with fewest penstrokes, and to be poetical is
to suggest the particular in the universal. We earnestly hope, that,
instead of trying to do what no one can do well, Mr. Trowbridge will
wisely stick close to what he has shown that no one can do better.

"The Old Battle-Ground," whose name bears but an accidental relation to
the story, is an interesting and well-constructed tale, in which Mr.
Trowbridge has introduced what we believe is a new element in American
fiction, the French Canadian. The plot is simple and not too improbable,
and the characters well individualized. Here, also, Mr. Trowbridge
is most successful in his treatment of the less ambitiously designed
figures. The relation between the dwarf Hercules fiddler and the
heroine Marie seems to be a suggestion from Victor Hugo's Quasimodo and
Esmeralda, though the treatment is original and touching. Indeed, there
is a good deal of pathos in the book, marred here and there with the
sentimental extract of Dickens-flowers, unpleasant as _patchouli_.
Generally, however, it has the merit of unobtrusiveness,--a rare piece
of self-denial nowadays, when authors have found out, and the public has
not, how very easy it is to make the public cry, and how much the simple
creature likes it, as if it had not sorrows enough of its own. But it is
in his more ordinary characters that Mr. Trowbridge fairly shows himself
as an original and delightful author. His boys are always masterly.
Nothing could be truer to Nature, more nicely distinguished as to
idiosyncrasy, while alike in expression and in limited range of ideas,
or more truly comic, than the two that figure in this story. Nick
Whickson, too, the good-natured ne'er-do-well, who is in his own and
everybody's way till he finds his natural vocation as an aid to a dealer
in horses, is a capital sketch. The hypochondriac Squire Plumworthy
is very good, also, in his way, though he verges once or twice on the
"heavy father," with a genius for the damp handkerchief and long-lost
relative line.

We are safe in assigning to Mr. Trowbridge a rank quite above that of
our legion of washy novelists; he seems to have a definite purpose and
an ambition for literary as well as popular success, and we hope that
by study and observation he will be true to a very decided and peculiar
talent. We violate no confidence in saying that the graceful poem, "At
Sea," which first appeared in the "Atlantic," and which, under the name
of now one, now another author, has been deservedly popular, was written
by Mr. Trowbridge.



JULY REVIEWED BY SEPTEMBER.


The Editors of the "Atlantic," of course, have universal knowledge
(with few exceptions) at their fingers' ends,--that is, they possess
an Encyclopaedia, gapped here and there by friends fond of portable
information and familiar with that hydrostatic paradox in which the
motion of solids up a spout is balanced by a very slender column of the
liquidating medium. The once goodly row of quartos looks now like a set
of mineral teeth that have essayed too closely to simulate Nature by
assaulting a Boston cracker; and the intervals of vacuity among the
books, as among the incisors, deprive the owner of his accustomed
glibness in pronouncing himself on certain topics. Among the missing
volumes is one of those in M, and accordingly our miss-information [A]
on all subjects from Mabinogion to Mustard is not to be entirely relied
upon. Under these painful circumstances, and with the chance of still
further abstractions from our common stock of potential learning, we
have engaged a staff of consulting engineers, who contract, for certain
considerations, to know every useless thing from A to Z, and every
obsolete one from Omega to Alpha. In these gentlemen we repose unlimited
confidence in proportion to their salaries; for a considerable
experience of mankind has taught us that omniscience is a much commoner
and easier thing than science, especially in this favored country and
under democratic institutions, which give to every man the inestimable
right of knowing as much as he pleases. Everything was going on well
when our Man of Science unaccountably disappeared, and our Aesthetic
Editor experienced in all its terrors the Scriptural doom of being left
to himself. This latter gentleman is tolerably _shady_ in scientific
matters, nay, to say sooth, light-proof, or only so far penetrable as
to make darkness visible. Between science and nescience the difference
seems to his mind little, if _n e_, and he would accept as perfectly
satisfactory a statement that "the ponderability of air in a vitreous
table-tipping medium (the abnormal variation being assumed as $ x-b
.0000001) is exactly proportioned to the squares of the circumambient
distances, provided the perihelia are equal, and the evolution of
nituretted carbogen in the boomerang be carefully avoided during
evaporation; the power of the parallax being represented, of
course, according to the well-known theorem of Rabelais, by H.U.M.
Hemsterhuysius seems to have been familiar with this pretty experiment."
The above sentence being shown to the Aesthetic Editor aforesaid, he
acknowledges that he sees nothing more absurd than common in it, and
that the theory seems to him as worthy of trial as Hedgecock's quadrant,
which he took with him once on a journey to New York, arriving safely
with a single observation of the height of the steamer's funnel.

[Footnote A: MISS-INFORMATION. A higgledy-piggledy want of intelligence
acquired by young misses at boarding-schools.--_Supplement to Johnson's
Dictionary._]

This premised, it naturally follows that the Aesthetic Editor (the July
number falling to his turn) must take advantage of the absence of
his Guardian Man of Science to publish an article on Meteorology. A
condition of things in which the _omne scibile_ was left entirely at his
disposal, to be knocked about as he pleased, appeared to him no small
omen of a near millennium; and what subject could be more suitable to
begin with than the weather, a topic of general interest, (since we have
no choice of weather or no,) in which exact knowledge is comfortably
impossible, and in which he felt himself at home from his repeated
experiments in raising the wind in order to lower the due-point? (See
_The Weathercock, an Essay on Rotation in Office, by Sir Airy Vane._)

Meanwhile, after the mischief was all done and a Provisional Government
of Chaos Redux comfortably established in Physics, the Man of Science
turns up suddenly in the following communication. [A council was called
on the spot, the Autocrat in the chair, and it was decided, with only
one dissenting voice, that the communication should be printed as a
lesson to the peccant Editor, who, for the future, was laid under a
strict interdict in respect of all and singular the onomies and ologies,
and directed to consider the weather a matter altogether unprophetable,
except to almanac-makers,--the said Editor to superintend such
publication, and to be kept on a diet of corn-cob for the body and
Sylvanus Cobb (or his own works, at his option) for the mind, till it
be done. The chairman added, that for a second offence he should do
penance, according to ancient usage, in a blank sheet of the Magazine,
(a contribution of his own being to that end suppressed,)--a form of
punishment likely to be as irksome to himself as grateful to the readers
of that incomparable miscellany.]

"_Abercwmdwddhwm Mine_, 28th July, 1860.

"WELL-MEANING, BUT MISGUIDED, FRIEND!

"An unexpected opportunity of personally investigating a highly nauseous
kind of mephitic vapor drew me and Jones suddenly hither without time
to say farewell or make explanations. I made the journey in--10' by
electric telegraph, and am delighted that I came, for anything more
unpleasant never met my nostrils, and I am almost sure of adding a new
element to the enjoyment of the scientific world.

"I have already secured several bottles-full, and shall exhibit it at the
next meeting of the Association: of course you shall have a sniff in
advance. I should have returned before this, but unhappily the chain by
which we descended gave way a few days ago near the top, in hoisting
out the first series of my observations, and as yet there has been no
opportunity of replacing it. Communication with the upper world is kept
up by means of a small cord, however, and in this way we are supplied
with food for body and mind. As good luck would have it, our butter came
down wrapped in a half-sheet of your last volume of poems, containing my
old favorites, 'Modern Greece,' and the 'Ode to a Deserted Churn.' These
I read aloud several times to the miners, and their longing to return
sooner to a world where they could get the rest of the volume became so
strong, that, as I was about to begin my fifth reading, they consented
to an expedient of escape which I had already proposed once or twice in
vain. This was to blow us out by means of the fire-damp. The result of
the experiment I cannot yet fully report, as some confusion ensued.
Jones has disappeared, having been, as I hope and believe, discharged
upward, and I have found the remains of only one miner, so that it seems
to have been a tolerable success, though I myself was blown inward,
owing to the premature explosion of the train. In one respect the result
was highly satisfactory to me personally. Jones had all along insisted
that the vapor was antiphlogistic. Whichever way he went, I think
(fair-minded as he is) he must be by this time convinced of his error,
and I shall accordingly enter him in my Report as discharged cured.
I may add, as an interesting scientific fact, that his ascent was
accompanied by such a sudden and violent fall of the barometer (which he
had in his lap) that the instrument was broken. This would seem to prove
a considerable decrease in the weight of the atmosphere at the moment
of explosion. The darkness was oppressive at first; but a happy thought
occurred to me. You know Jones's poodle, and how obese he is? Well, he
was shot into my lap, where he lay to all appearance dead. I had some
matches in my pocket and at once kindled the end of his tail, which
makes a very good candle, quite as good as average dips, _tales,
quales_. By the light of this I proceed to note down my first series
of comments as a tail-piece to your meteorological article in the July
'Atlantic,' of which we received a copy in due course, as the magazine
has a large circulation among our friars miner down here.

"METEOROLOGY 'MADE EASY.'

"In glancing at the article on 'Meteorology' in the July number of the
'Atlantic Monthly,' I was so struck by the dashing style in which the
writer presents what he calls the 'leading principles' of the science,
that, in spite of portentous errors, I was tempted to follow his
diversified flight to its very close. Reading pencil in hand, I gathered
up a long list of mistakes in fact and in philosophy, of which the
following specimens, although but the first fruits of a not very
critical examination, may serve to illustrate the carelessness--shall
I not say ignorance?--of the writer on the topics in regard to which he
proposes to enlighten the general reader.

"1. According to our essayist, the weight of the atmosphere is about
43/1000ths that of the globe,--in other words, 1/23d part. Now a simple
calculation, or a reference to one of the standard works on Physics,
should have taught him that the weight of the entire air is less than
one-millionth part of that of the earth,--that is, _fifty thousand times
less than he states it to be_."

[We are quite sure that our (tor-)Mentor is mistaken in assuming a
uniform weight for the atmosphere. It differs in different places.
During our lecturing-tours, we have frequently observed an involuntary
depression of the eyelids (producing _almost_ an appearance of sleep) in
a part of the audience, which we were at a loss to attribute to anything
but the weight of the atmosphere. Water varies in the same way. It is
hardly necessary to say that Lake Wetter derives its name from the
superior quality of its dampness.]

"2. Of the specific gravity of the air he seems to be amusingly
uncertain,--making it first 833 times and afterwards 770 times less than
that of water; and in the same connection he says, in chosen
phrase, that 'density, or _closeness_, is another quality of the
atmosphere,'--as if it were its characteristic, and not common to all
ponderable matter."

[A very neat way of arriving at specific gravity in its densest form is
to distil the "funny column" of a weekly newspaper. To arrive at the
desired result in the speediest way, let the operation be performed in
what is known among bucolic journalists as a "humorous retort." Density
and closeness should not be spoken of as equivalent terms. The former is
a common quality of the human skull, rendering it impervious; whereas a
man may be very close and yet capable of being stuck,--with bad paper,
for example.]

"3. In mentioning the _constituents of the atmosphere_, he adopts
without explanation the loose statement of some of the books, placing
carburetted hydrogen on the same footing as to constancy and amount with
carbonic acid, and making no allusion to nitric acid. Yet chemistry has
shown, that, except in special localities, carburetted hydrogen occurs
only as a slight trace, the existence of which in most cases is rather
inferred than actually demonstrated, and that it has no important
office to perform,--while nitric acid shares with ammonia in the grand
function of the nourishment of plants. In a later paragraph the error is
aggravated by the assertion, that 'no chemical combination of oxygen and
nitrogen has ever been detected in the atmosphere, and it is presumed
none will be,'--as if every flash of lightning did not produce a notable
quantity of this compound, which, washed down by the rain, may be
detected in almost every specimen of rain-water we meet. What would
Johnstone, Boussingault, Liebig, and the other agricultural chemists say
to this?"

[For complete proof on this head, be struck by lightning. For
ourselves, we are convinced, and would rather have some other head
taken for an experiment by way of illustration. But any of our
readers who is unsatisfied has only to place himself in front of a
lightning-express-train with an ordinary conductor. To insure being
struck, let the experimenter provide himself amply with patent
safety-rods. At least, this result is pretty sure in houses, and is
worth trying out of doors.]

"In the same connection he characterizes nitrogen as a substance 'not
condensible under fifty atmospheres,' leaving the reader to infer
that the preceding ingredient on the list, oxygen, is condensible
(liquefiable) within that limit of pressure, and that nitrogen becomes
liquid at or above it; whereas neither oxygen nor nitrogen has ever yet
been compressed into a liquid, although a force of more than _fifty
times fifty_ atmospheres has been brought to act upon them."

[We consider an experiment requiring twenty-five hundred atmospheres,
when the thermometer marks 93° in the shade, indictable at common law.
To desire more than one, under such circumstances, is unreasonable, and
even wicked.]

"4. In referring to the Thermo-barometer as a means of measuring
heights, the writer confounds the late Professor Edward Forbes with
Professor James D. Forbes, recently of Edinburgh, but now Provost of
the University of St. Andrews. The former was a great Zoölogist and
Botanist, and did not occupy himself with investigations in Physics;
the latter is an eminent Physicist, the author of the viscous theory of
Glaciers; and it is he who made the observations here ascribed to the
'Professor Forbes, whose untimely death the friends of science have
had so much reason to deplore.' The author adds the further mistake
of supposing that the numerical constant, 549 feet for each degree,
determined by James Forbes for Scotland, is equally correct for all
latitudes."

[This hardly needed confutation. No university requires any numerical
constant of height as qualification for a degree; and if they did, 549
feet would be excessive, unless, perhaps, at Warsaw, where everybody is
tall enough to end in _ski_.]

"5. Our essayist discloses but an imperfect inkling of knowledge on the
subject of capillarity in barometers, when he speaks of this complex
action as equivalent to _the attraction between the mercury and the
glass tube_; and he commits a yet graver mistake, practically speaking,
in reiterating the long exploded error, that 'the weight of the
atmosphere at the level of the sea is the same all over the world.' No
fact in Meteorology is better established than that the mean pressure at
the sea-level is different for different latitudes. In the vicinity of
Cape Horn the barometer is three-fourths of an inch lower than at the
Equator, and according to Schouw the pressure increases from the Equator
up to a certain latitude (38°) in both hemispheres, and diminishes
thence towards the Poles."

[The connection between capillarity and the fat of the common bear is
well known to all manufacturers of trycoverus compounds, and they are
probably right in advertising that grease of this description restores
tone to the hair,--of course a fine beary tone. As the weight of the
bear depends on his fat, the inference to a bear-ometer is obvious. It
is a familiar fact that the bear supports life during hibernation by
sucking his paws; but it may not be so generally known that the waste
thus induced in the anterior extremities is restored by the moral
consciousness of the animal that the fat he is so carefully hoarding is
to confer a posthumous blessing on mankind. This is a touching example
of the adaptation of means to end, and Shakspeare, the great natural
philosopher, has made use of it for one of his most striking metaphors,
where he says, "that the thought of something after death must give us
paws."]

"6. Discoursing on the elasticity of the air, the writer styles it
'the most compressible of bodies,'--as if it had any advantage in this
respect over the numerous other species of gaseous matter. As to the
illustration which he gives, namely, that 'a glass vessel full of air,
placed under a receiver and then exhausted by the air-pump, will burst
into atoms,' we can only say, what every schoolboy knows, that the
_bursting_ would be _inwards_, unless, indeed, our meteorologist means
that the external receiver was to be exhausted, and in that case he
should so have expressed himself."

[The theory of exhausted receivers is, in our opinion, worthy only of
the childhood of science, when chemistry and astronomy were alchemy and
astrology, and people would believe anything. In this enlightened age of
the universal subscription-paper, exhausted givers are familiar objects,
but a receiver who finds the labors of his calling excessive is as
non-existent as the harpy, his mythological prototype.]

"7. In regard to the extent to which the compression of air has been
actually carried, he tells us that 'Brockhaus says that air has as yet
been compressed only into _one-eighth of its original bulk_.' Is
it possible that a writer on Meteorology is unacquainted with the
well-known experiments of Dulong and Arago, and the more recent ones
of Regnault, in which the compression was three times the amount here
stated, or that he requires to be referred to those of Natterer, who, by
a powerful condensing apparatus, has lately compressed _seven hundred
and twenty-six volumes of air into a single volume_?"

[Any man who has succeeded in condensing seven hundred and twenty-six
volumes into one deserves the applause of the reading public. We
trust M. Natterer will extend his benevolent labors to all the great
libraries. With the most perfect apparatus of compression, however, we
doubt if contemporary literature will yield anything like so high an
average as 1 in 726.]

"8. In the paragraphs devoted to the optical relations of the
atmosphere, our author has shown a happy faculty for making his subject
obscure. After suggesting that the refraction of the rays in the
atmosphere may be due to what he calls its 'lenticular outline,' he
defines refraction to be 'the bending of a ray passing obliquely from a
rarer into a denser medium,'--a good enough popular definition, but for
its sad defectiveness. Is he not aware that the light is also bent in
penetrating obliquely from a denser into a rarer medium, as in passing
from the surface of a low plain to the eye of a spectator on a
neighboring mountain, and that the bending is just as great in this
direction of its motion as in the other? And does he not know that it
changes its course whenever it passes from a vacuum into any ponderable
medium or in the opposite direction? In future attempts to make
science easy, let him remember that these are all equally instances of
refraction, and should be included in its definition.

"Under the same head, we are led to infer that it is only in 'the warm
and moist nights of summer,' that 'the moon, as she rises above the
horizon, appears much larger than when at the zenith'; and we are
taught, in connection with the origin of the mirage and the spectre
of the Bracken, that 'rainbows are due to this condition of the
atmosphere.' If, instead of rainbows, we may be allowed to read _halos_,
we can understand the writer, who, instead of thinking of summer
showers, appears to have had a _haze_ in his mind while penning this and
other paragraphs."

[The _dictum_ of our correspondent in regard to light passing from
a ponderable medium into a vacuum requires some qualification. An
exception should be made of "Spiritual Mediums," who, being flesh and
blood, are of course ponderable. Now, if we represent the Medium by A,
and the head of any one consulting her by B, there can be no doubt that
the latter is an absolute vacuum; but it is demonstrable that nothing
like light ever passed from the former to the latter. There is a
closer analogy between refracted light and a Brocken spectre than our
scientific friend seems willing to admit. For what follows we refer our
readers to the remarkable essay of Alderman Moon, "On the Identity of
Halocination and Lunacy."]

"9. As our author advances in this branch of his subject, he grows far
too profound for our scientific apprehension. Giving him all credit for
_wishing to be clear_, we confess to a sad mystification as to what he
calls the 'Polarity of Light,' where a beam is described as 'revolving
around poles peculiar to itself' and as producing 'beautiful
_spectres_,' and we want new illumination from him as to his theory of
colors. We agree to the statement that 'each object has a particular
reflecting surface of its own,' as we cannot see how _its_ particular
surface could be the property of another,--but why this should make the
surface 'throw back light at its own angle' we do not exactly fathom,
and we are puzzled to know _which is the owner of the said angle_,
the light or the surface. No one doubts that 'the modest blush which
crimsons the cheek of beauty,' to use the author's words, is caused by a
rush of blood to the skin; but how this produces 'a corresponding change
in its angle of reflection,' and what such a change has to do with the
result, are problems too transcendental for the _exact_ sciences."

[On all questions relating to the Poles we reserve our opinion till the
return of Dr. Hayes's expedition. But we think they have little to hope
from any future attempt at revolution, especially with such insufficient
weapons as their axes, which, though they keep up a constant stir about
them, have been long superseded by the improvements of modern military
science. We think our correspondent hasty in admitting that "each object
has a particular reflecting surface of its own." A little inquiry among
his neighbors would have satisfied him that the human brain seldom
possesses anything of the kind.]

"But these specimens must suffice as indications of the general
character of this attempt at _popularizing science_. To do this without
misleading and confounding the general reader is a task which claims
the largest and most exact knowledge, and the greatest perspicuity of
statement, no less than a flowing style and felicitous illustration.
It is a task in which true success, though apparently frequent, is in
reality extremely rare."

"P.S. I had written thus far, when the fire suddenly penetrating, I
suppose, to the nervous system of the poodle, he ran off, leaving me
in total darkness and with no hope that his tail (like too many in the
'Atlantic') would be continued. By the brief candle of a match I manage
to add this, and to subscribe myself

"Yours ever."

       *       *       *       *       *


RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS

RECEIVED BY THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.


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