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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 40, February, 1861
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 40, February, 1861" ***

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FEBRUARY, 1861***






Among artists, William Page is a painter.

This proposition may seem, to the great public which has so long and so
well known him and his works, somewhat unnecessary. There are few
who are not familiar with his paintings. Whether these seem great or
otherwise, whether the Venus be pure or gross, we may not here discuss;
the public has, and will have, many estimates; yet on one point there
is no difference of opinion, apparently. The world willingly calls him
whose hand wrought these pictures a painter. It has done so as a matter
of course; and we accept the title.

But perhaps the title comes to us from this man's studio, charged with a
significance elevating it above the simply self-evident, and rendering
it worthy of the place we have given it as a germ proposition.

Not every one who uses pigments can say, "I also am a painter." To him
who would make visible the ideal, there are presented the marble, the
pencil, and the colors; and should he employ either of these, just in
proportion to his obedience to the laws of each will he be a sculptor,
a designer, or a painter; and the revelations in stone, in light and
shade, or on canvas, shall be his witnesses forevermore,--witnesses of
him not only as an artist, in view of his relation to the ideal world,
but as possessing a right to the especial title conferred by the means
which he has chosen to be his interpreter.

The world has too much neglected these means of interpretation. It has
condemned the science which would perfect the art, as if the false could
ever become the medium of the true. The art of painting has suffered
especially from the influence of mistaken views.

Nor could it be otherwise. Color-manifestation, of all art-utterance,
is the least simple. It requires the fulfilment of a greater number
of conditions than are involved in any other art. He who has selected
colors as his medium cannot with impunity neglect form; light and
shade must be to him as important as they are to the designer in
_chiaro-scuro;_ while above all are the mystery and power of color.

There is perplexity in this. The science of form seems to be vast enough
for any man's genius. No more than he accomplishes is demanded of the
genuine sculptor. His life has been grand with noble fulfilments. We,
and all generations, hold his name in the sacred simplicity which has
ever been the sign of the consummate. Men say, Phidias, Praxiteles, and
know that they did greatly and sufficiently.

Yet with the science which these men had we combine elements equally
great, and still truth demands the consummate. Hence success in painting
has been the rarest success which the world has known. If we search
its history page by page, the great canvas-leaves written over with
innumerable names yield us less than a score of those who have overcome
the difficulties of its science, through that, achieving art, and
becoming painters.

Yes, many men have painted, many great artists have painted, without
earning the title which excellence gives. Overbeck, the apostle artist,
whose rooms are sacred with the presence of the divine, never earned
that name. Nor did thousands who before him wrought patiently and

We think that we have among us a man who _has_ earned it.

What does this involve? Somewhat more than the ability critically to
distinguish colors and to use them skilfully.

Although practice may discipline and develop this power, there must
exist an underlying physiological fitness, or all study and experience
will be unavailing. In many persons, the organization of the eye is such
that there can be no correct perception of the value, relation, and
harmony of hues. There exists often an utter inability to perceive
differences between even the primary colors.

The late sculptor Bartholomew declared himself unable to decide which
of two pieces of drapery, the one crimson and the other green, was the
crimson. Nor was this the result of inexperience. He had been for years
familiar not only with Nature's coloring, but with the works of the best
schools of art, and had been in continual contact with the first living

The instances of this peculiar blindness are exceptional, yet not
more so than is the perfection of vision which enables the eye to
discriminate accurately the innumerable tints derived from the three

Nothing can be finer than the sense of identity and harmony resulting
from this exquisite organization. We have been told that there is a
workman at the Gobelin manufactory who can select twenty-two thousand
tints of the material employed in the construction of its famous
tapestries. This capability is, of course, almost wholly dependent upon
rare physical qualifications; yet it is the basis, the very foundation
of a painter's power.

Still, it is _but_ the foundation. An "eye for color" never yet made any
man a colorist.

Perhaps there can be no severer test of this faculty of perception than
the copying of excellent pictures. And among the few successful copies
which have been produced, Page's stand unsurpassed.

The ability to perceive Nature, when translated into art, is, however, a
possession which this painter shares with many. Nor is he alone in the
skill which enables him to realize upon his own canvas the effects which
some master has rendered.

It is in the presence of Nature itself that a power is demanded with
which mechanical superiority and physical qualifications have little to
do. Here the man stands alone,--the only medium between the ideal and
the outward world, wherefrom he must choose the signs which alone are
permitted to become the language of his expression. None can help him,
as before he was helped by the man whose success was the parent of his
own. Here is no longer copying.

In the first place, is to be found the limit of the palette. Confining
ourselves to the external, what, of all the infinitude of phenomena to
which the vision is related, so corresponds to the power of the palette
that it may become adequately representative thereof?

Passing over many minor points in which there seems to be an imperfect
relation between Nature's effects and those of pigments, we will briefly
refer to the great discrepancy occasioned by the luminosity of light. In
all the lower effects of light, in the illumination of Nature and the
revelation of colored surfaces, in the exquisite play and power of
reflected light and color, and in the depth and richness of these when
transmitted, we find a noble and complete response on the palette. But
somewhere in the ascending scale a departure from this happy relation
begins to be apparent. The _color_-properties of light are no longer
the first. Another element--an element the essential nature of which
is absorbed in the production of the phenomena of color--now asserts
itself. Hitherto the painter has dealt with light indirectly, through
the mediatorship of substances. The rays have been given to him, broken
tenderly for his needs;--ocean and sky, mountain and valley, draperies
and human faces, all things, from stars to violets, have diligently
prepared for him, as his demands have arisen, the precious light. And
while he has restrained himself to the representation of Nature subdued
to the limit of his materials, he has been victorious.

Turner, in whose career can be found almost all that the student needs
for example and for warning, is perhaps the best illustration of wise
temperance in the choice of Nature to be rendered into art. Nothing can
be finer than some of those early works wrought out in quiet pearly
grays,--the tone of Nature in her soberest and tenderest moods. In
these, too, may be observed those touches of brilliant color,--bits of
gleaming drapery, perhaps,--prophetic flecks along the gray dawn. Such
pictures are like pearls; but art demands amber, also.

When necessity has borne the artist out of this zone, the peaceful
domain of the imitator, he finds himself impelled to produce effects
which are no longer the simple phases of color, but such as the means at
his disposal fail to accomplish. In the simpler stages of coloring, when
he desired to represent an object as blue or red, it was but necessary
to use blue or red material. Now he has advanced to a point where this
principle is no longer applicable. The illuminative power of light
compels new methods of manipulation.

As examples of a thorough comprehension of the need of such a change in
the employment of means, of the character of that change, of the skill
necessary to embody its principles, and of utter success in the result,
we have but to suggest the name and works of Titian.

But the laws which Titian discovered have been unheeded for centuries;
and they might have remained so, had not the mind of William Page
felt the necessity of their revival and use. To him there could be no
chance-work. Art must have laws as definite and immutable as those of
science; indeed, the body in which the spirit of art is developed, and
through which it acts, must be science itself. He saw, that, if exact
imitation of Nature be taken as the law in painting, there must
inevitably occur the difficulty to which we have before referred,--that,
above a certain point, paint no longer undergoes transfiguration,
thereby losing its character as mere coloring material,--that, if the
ordinary tone of Nature be held as the legitimate key-note, the scope of
the palette would be exhausted before success could be achieved.

Any one of Turner's latest pictures may serve to illustrate the nature
of this difficulty. Although in his early practice he was remarkable for
his judicious restraint, it is evident that the splendors of the higher
phenomena of light had for him unlimited fascination; and he may be
traced advancing cautiously through that period of his career which was
marked by the influence of Claude, toward what he hoped would prove, and
perhaps believed to be, a realization of such splendors.

It must have been observed by those who have studied his later pictures,
that, while the low passages of the composition are wonderfully fine
and representative, all the higher parts, those supposed or intended to
stand for the radiance of dazzling light, fail utterly in representative
capacity. There is an abundance of the most brilliant pigment, but it is
still paint,--unmitigated ochre and white lead. The spectator is obliged
to recede from the picture until distance enables the eye to transmute
the offending material and reconcile the conflicting passages.

To accomplish the result of rendering the quality and effect of high
light was one of the problems to which Mr. Page years ago turned his
attention; and he found its solution in the transposition of the scale.
The pitch of Nature could not be adopted as the immutable in art. That
were impossible, unless art presumed to cope with Nature.

More than he, no man could respect the properties and qualities of the
visible world. His ideas of the truthful rendering of that which became
the subject of his pencil might seem preposterous to those who knew not
the wonderful significancy which he attached to individual forms and
tints. Yet, in imitation, where is the limit? What is possible? Must
there be any sacrifice?

Evidently there must be; and of course it follows that the less
important must be sacrificed. Nature herself has taught the artist that
the most variable of all her phenomena is that of _tone_. Other truths
of Nature have a character of permanency which the artist cannot modify
without violating the first principles of art. He is required to render
the essential; and to render the essential of that which art cannot
sacrifice, if it would, and continue art, he foregoes the non-essential
and evanescent.

Not only is this permitted,--it is demanded. It is a law through which
alone success is attainable. In obedience to it, Mr. Page adopts a key
somewhat lower than that of Nature as a point of departure, using his
degrees of color frugally, especially in the ascending scale. With this
economy, when he approaches the luminous effects of Nature, he finds,
just where any other palette would be exhausted, upon his own a reserve
of high color. With this, seeking only a corresponding effect of light
in that lower tone which assumes no rivalry with the infinite glory of
Nature, he attains to a representation fully successful.

We would not have it understood that a mere transposition of the scale
is all that is required to accomplish such a result; only this,--that in
no other way can such a result be secured. To color well, to color so
that forms upon the canvas give back tints like those of the objects
which have served as models, is only half the work. Quality, as well as
color, must be attained. Local, reflected, and transmitted color can be
imitated; but as in the attempt to represent light its luminousness is
the element which defeats the artist, so, throughout Nature, quality,
texture, are the elements which most severely test his power.

Could any indispensable truth be considered secondary, it might be
assumed that rendering truthfully the qualities of Nature is the first
and highest of art. The forms and colors of objects vary infinitely.
It might be said that the law of all existence is, in these two
particulars, that of change. From the time a human being is born until
it disappears in the grave, from the day when the first leaves break the
mould to that which sees the old tree fall, the form of each has been
modified hourly.

But that which differentiates objects more completely than any other
property is quality. The sky over us, and the waters of the earth, are
subject to infinite variations. Yet, whether in the tiny drop that
trembles at the point of a leaf or in the vast ocean-globe of our
planet, in the torpor of forest-ponds or in the wrath of cataracts,
water never loses its quality of wetness,--the open sky never that of
dryness. These two characteristics are of course entirely the reverse
of each other,--as unlike as are the properties of transparency and
opacity,--which they involve.

So, throughout Nature, one truth, that of texture, is the
distinguishing; and this distinctive element is that which cannot be
sacrificed; for through it are Nature's finest laws manifested. And the
painter finds in his obedience to her demands his highest power over
the material which serves him in his efforts to embody the true and the

It is, then, this which compels us to estimate Mr. Page a painter,--a
man especially organized for his profession,--chosen by its
demands,--set apart, by his wonderful adaptation to its requirements,
from all the world. In virtue of this specialty, the necessity arose
early in his life to seek excellence in his department of art,--to
search the depths of its philosophy and discover its vital
principles,--to analyze its methods and expose its errors. It led him to
investigate the relation between the phenomena of Nature and the
effects of painting; it guided him to a clear perception of the laws
of art-translation; above all, it compelled him to practise what he
believed to be the true.

Thus much of the painter;--now what of the artist?

It does not necessarily follow, that, because a man is a great painter,
he is also a great artist. Yet we may safely infer, that, if he has been
true in one department of the several which constitute art, he cannot
have been false in others. Should there be a shortcoming, it must be
that of a man whose mission does not include that wherein he fails.
Fidelity to himself is all we should demand. We say this for those who
are disposed to depreciate what an artist actually accomplishes, because
in some one point Turner or Overbeck surpasses him. Nor do we say it
apologetically. The man, who, basing his action upon the evident purpose
of the organization which God has given him, fulfils his destiny,
requires no apology.

We have seen something of the faithfulness which has marked Mr. Page's
pursuit of excellence in the external of his art. He has wrought that
which proves his claim to a broader title than that of painter. Were
it not for the vagueness which involves the appellation of historical
painter, it might be that. Even were we obliged to confine our interest
and study to the portraiture which he has executed, we might, in view of
its remarkable character, designate it as historical.

Than a really great portrait, no work of art can be more truly
historical. We feel the subjectiveness of compositions intended to
transmit facts to posterity,--and unless we know the artist, we are at a
loss as to the degree of trust which we may place in his impressions.
A true portrait is objective. The individuality of the one whom it
represents was the ruling force in the hour of its production; and to
the spirit of a household, a community, a kingdom, or an age, that
individuality is the key. There is, too, in a genuine portrait an
internal evidence of its authenticity. No artist ever was great enough
to invent the combination of lines, curves, and planes which composes
the face of a man. There is the accumulated significance of a
lifetime,--subtile traces of failures or of victories wrought years ago.
How these will manifest themselves, no experience can point out, no
intuition can foresee or imagine. The modifications are infinite, and
each is completely removed from the region of the accidental.

But, although details and their combinations in the human face and form
cannot be wrought from the imagination, the truthfulness or falsity of
their representation is instantly evident. It is because of this, that
the unity of a portrait carries conviction of its truth and of the
unimpeachability of its evidence, that this phase of art becomes
so valuable as history. Compared with the worth of Titian's Philip
II.,--the Madrid picture, of which Mr. Wild has an admirable
study,--what value can be attached to any historical composition of its

It has not been the lot of Mr. Page to paint a mighty man, so inlocked
with the rugged forces of his age. His sitters have come from more
peaceful, nobler walks of life,--and their portraits are beloved even
more than they are admired. Not yet are they the pride of pompous
galleries, but the glory and saintliness of homes.

Could we enter these homes, and discuss freely the character of their
treasures, we would gladly linger in the presence of the more precious.
But so inseparably associated are they with their originals, so much
more nearly related to them than to the artist, that no fitting analysis
can be made of the representation without involving that of the
individual represented.

Three portraits have, however, such wonderful excellence, and through
this excellence have become so well known, that we may be forgiven for
alluding to them. In a former paper, the writer spoke of the portrait of
a man in his divinest development. The first of these three works is the
representation of a woman, and is truly "somewhat miraculous." It is a
face rendered impressive by the grandest repose,--a repose that pervades
the room and the soul,--a repose not to be mistaken for serenity, but
which is power in equilibrium. No brilliancy of color, no elaboration of
accessories, no intricacy of composition attracts the attention of
the observer. There is no need of these. But he who is worthy of the
privilege stands suddenly conscious of a presence such as the world has
rarely known. He feels that the embodiment before him is the record of
a great Past, as well as the reflection of a proud Present,--a Past
in which the soul has ever borne on through and above all obstacles of
discouragement and temptation to a success which was its inheritance.
He sees, too, the possibilities of the near Future; how from that fine
equipoise the soul might pass out into rare manifestations, appearing
in the sweetness and simplicity of a little child, in the fearful
tumultuousness of a Lady Macbeth, in the passionate tenderness of a
Romeo, or in the Gothic grandeur of a Scotch sorceress,--in the love of
kindred, in the fervor of friendship, and in the nobleness of the truest

Another portrait--can it have been painted in this century?--presents a
widely different character. We have seen the rendering of a nature made
too solemn by the possession of genius to admit of splendor of coloring.
This picture is that of ripe womanhood, manifesting itself in the
fulness of summer's goldenest light. Color, in all its richness as
color, in all its strength as a representative agent, in all its glory
as the minister of light, in all its significance as the sign and
expression of plenitude of life,--life at one with Nature;--thus we
remember it, as it hung upon the wall of that noble room in the Roman
home of Crawford.

A later portrait, and one artistically the finest of Mr. Page's
productions, although executed in Rome, has found a home in Cambridge.
Here no grave subdual of color was called for, nor was there any need of
its fullest power,--but, instead thereof, we have color in the purity
of its pearl expression. A mild lustre, inexpressibly clear, seems to
pervade the picture, and beam forth the revelation of a white soul.
Shadows there are none,--only still softer light, to carry back the
receding forms. But interest in technicalities is lost in the nobler
sense of sweet influences. We are at peace in the presence of a peace
which passeth all understanding. We are holy in the ineffable light
of immortal holiness. We are blessed in the consciousness of complete

Surely, none but a great painter could have achieved such success;
surely, no mere painter could thus have appealed to us.

These works we have chosen to represent the artist's power in the
direction of portraiture,--not only because of their wonderful merit as
embodiments of individualism, but to illustrate a law which has not yet
had its due influence in art, but which must be the very life of its
next revival, when painting shall be borne up until it marks the

We refer to the expressional power of color,--not the conventional
significance whereby certain colors have been associated arbitrarily
with mental conditions. This last has often violated all the principles
of natural relation; yet no fact is more generally accepted than
this,--that colors, from the intensity of the primitives to the last
faint tints derived therefrom, bear fixed and demonstrable relations to
the infinite moods and phases of human life. As among themselves the
hues of the palette exist in immutable conditions of positive affinity
or repulsion, so are they all related to the soul as definitely in
harmony or in discord. There has been imperfect recognition of this at
various times in the history of painting since the age of Giotto,--the
most notable examples having occurred in the Venetian school.

But even in that golden age of art, this property of color was but
rarely perceived and called into use under the guidance of principles.
Still, the sense of the value and the harmonies of colors was so keen
among the Venetian artists, that, intuitively, subjects were chosen
which required an expression admitting of the most lavish use and
magnificent display of color.

Paul Veronese, the splendor of whose conceptions seemed ever to select
the pomp and wealth of banquets and ceremonies,--Giorgione, for whom the
world revolved in an atmosphere of golden glory,--each had a fixed ideal
of noble coloring; and it is questionable whether either ever modified
that ideal for the sake of any expressional purpose.

Titian, from whom no property or capability of color was concealed,
could not forego the power which he secured through obedience to the law
of its relation to the human soul. Were we asked which among pictures is
most completely illustrative of this obedience, we should answer, "The
Entombment," in the Louvre. Each breadth of color mourns,--sky and earth
and all the conscious air are laden with sorrow.

In portraiture, however, the great master was inclined to give the full
perfection of the highest type of coloring. That rich glow which is
bestowed by the Venetian sun did, indeed, seem typical of the life
beneath it; and Titian may have been justified in bringing thither
those who were the recipients of his favors. One only did he not
invite,--Philip II.; him he placed, dark and ominous, against a sky
barred with blood.

Is it in virtue of conformity to law, and under the government of the
principles of correspondence, that Mr. Page has wrought with mind and

Otherwise it cannot be; for, in the three portraits to which allusion
has been made, such subtile distinctions of character find expression in
equally subtile differences of tint, that no touch could have been given
from vague apprehensions of truth. No ambiguity perplexes the spectator;
he beholds the inevitable.

Other works than those of portraiture have won for Mr. Page the
attention of the world. This attention has elicited from individuals
praise and dispraise, dealt out promptly, and with little qualification.
But we have looked in vain for some truly appreciative notice of the
so-called historical pictures executed by this artist. We do not object
to the prompt out-speaking of the public. So much is disposed of, when
the mass has given or withheld its approval. We know whether or not the
work appeals to the hearts of human beings. Often, too, it is the most
nearly just of any which may be rendered. Usually, the conclusions
of the great world are correct, while its reasonings are absurd. Its
decisions are immediate and clear; its arguments, subsequent and vague.

This measure, however, cannot be meted to all artists. A painter may
appeal to some wide, yet superficial sympathy, and attain to no other

That Mr. Page might have found success in this direction will not be
denied by any one who has seen the engraving of a girl and lamb, from
one of his early works. It is as sweet and tenderly simple as a face by
Francia. But not only did he refuse to confine himself to this style
of art, as, when that engraving is before us, we wish he had done,--he
passed out of and away from it. And those phases which followed
have been such as are the least fitted to stand the trial of public
exhibition. His pictures do not command the eye by extraordinary
combinations of assertive colors,--nor do they, through great pathos,
deep tenderness, or any overcharged emotional quality, fascinate and
absorb the spectator.

Much of the middle portion of this artist's professional life is marked
by changes. It was a period of growth,--of continual development and of
obvious transition. Not infrequently, the transition seemed to be from
the excellent to the crude. Nevertheless, we doubt not, that, through
all vicissitudes, there has been a steady and genuine growth of Mr.
Page's best artistic power, and that he has been true to his specialty.

We should like to believe that the Venetian visit of 1853 was the
closing of one period of transition, and the beginning of a new era in
Mr. Page's artistic career. It is pleasant to think of the painter's
pilgrimage to that studio of Titian, Venice,--for it was all his,--not
in nebulous prophetic youth,--not before his demands had been revealed
to his consciousness,--not before those twenty long years of solitary,
hard, earnest work,--but in the full ripeness of manhood, when prophecy
had dawned into confident fulfilment, when the principles of his
science had been found, and when of this science his art had become the
demonstration. It was fine to come then, and be for a while the guest of

There is evidence that he began after this visit to do what for years he
had been learning to do,--yet, of course, as is ever the case with the
earnest man, doing as a student, as one who feels all truth to be of the

The result has been a series of remarkable pictures. There are among
these the specimens of portraiture, a few landscapes, and a number of
ideal, or, as they have been called, historical works. Of these last
named there is somewhat to be said; and those to which we shall refer
are selected for the purpose of illustrating principles, rather than for
that of description. These are all associated with history. There are
three representations of Venus, and several renderings of Scriptural

If these pictures are valuable, they are so in virtue of elements which
can be appreciated. To present these elements to the world, to appeal to
those who can recognize them, is, it is fair to assume, the object of
exposition. Not merely praise, but the more wholesome meed of justice,
is the desire of a true artist; and as we deal with such a one, we do
not hesitate to speak of his works as they impress us.

First of all, in view of the artist's skill as a painter, it is well
to regard the external of his work. Here, in both Scriptural and
mythological subjects, there is little to condemn. The motives have been
bravely and successfully wrought out; the work is nobly, frankly done.
The superiority of methods which render the texture and quality of
objects becomes apparent. There is no attempt at illusion; yet the
representation of substances and spaces is faultless,--as, for instance,
the sky of the "Venus leading forth the Trojans." Nor have we seen that
chaste, pearly lustre of the most beautiful human skin so well rendered
as in the bosom of the figure which gleams against the blue.

But there is a pretension to more than technical excellence in the
mythological works; there is a declaration of physical beauty in the
very idea; in both these and the Scriptural there is an assumption of
historical value.

While we believe that the problem of physical beauty can be solved and
demonstrated, and the representations of Venus can be proved to possess
or to lack the beautiful, we choose to leave now, as we should be
compelled to do after discussion, the decision of the question to
those who raise it. It is of little avail to prove a work of art
beautiful,--of less, to prove it ugly. Spectators and generations cannot
be taken one by one and convinced. But where the operation of judgment
is from the reasoning rather than from the intuitive nature, facts,
opinions, and impressions may exert healthful influences.

The Venus of Page we cannot accept,--not because it may be unbeautiful,
for that might be but a shortcoming,--not because of any technical
failure, for, with the exception of weakness in the character of waves,
nothing can be finer,--not because it lacks elevated sentiment, for this
Venus was not the celestial,--but because it has nothing to do with
the present, neither is it of the past, nor related in any wise to any
imaginable future.

The present has no ideal of which the Venus of the ancients is a
manifestation. Other creations of that marvellous Greek mind might be
fitly used to symbolize phases of the present. Hercules might labor now;
there are other stables than the Augean; and not yet are all Hydras
slain. Armor is needed; and a Vulcan spirit is making the anvil ring
beneath the earth-crust of humanity. But Venus, the voluptuous, the
wanton,--no sensuousness pervading any religion of this era finds in her
its fitting type and sign. She, her companions, and her paramours, with
the magnificent religion which evolved them, were entombed centuries
ago; and no angel has rolled the stone from the door of their sepulchre.
They are dead; the necessity which called the Deistic ideal into
existence is dead; the ideal itself is dead, since Paul preached in
Athens its funeral sermon.

As history of past conditions, no value can be attached to
representations produced in subsequent ages. In this respect all these
pictures must be false. The best can only approximate truth. Yet his
two pictures of Scriptural subjects--one from the remoteness of Hebrew
antiquity, the other from the early days of Christianity--are most
valuable even as history: not the history of the flight from Egypt, nor
that of the flight into Egypt, but the history of what these mighty
events have become after the lapse of many centuries.

Herein lies the difference between Mythology and Christianity: the one
arose, culminated, and perished, soul and body, when the shadow of the
Cross fell athwart Olympus; the other is immortal,--immortal as is
Christ, immortal as are human souls, of which it is the life. No century
has been when it has not found, and no century can be when it will not
find, audible and visible utterance. The music of the "Messiah" reveals
the relation of its age to the great central idea of Christianity. Frà
Angelico, Leonardo, Bach, Milton, Overbeck, were the revelators of human
elevation, as sustained by the philosophy of which Christ was the great

Therefore, to record that elevation, to be the historian of the present
in its deepest significance, the noblest occupation. Dwelling, as an
artist must dwell, in the deep life of his theme, his work must go forth
utterly new, alive, and startling.

Thus did we find the "Flight into Egypt" a picture full of the spirit of
that marvellous age, hallowed by the sweet mystery which all these years
have given. Who of those who were so fortunate as to see this work of
Mr. Page will ever forget the solemn, yet radiant tone pervading the
landscape of sad Egypt, along which went the fugitives? Nothing ever
swallowed by the insatiable sea, save its human victims, is more worthy
of lament than this lost treasure.

Thus, too, is the grandest work of Mr. Page's life, the Moses with hands
upheld above the battle. Were we on the first page instead of the last,
we could not refrain from describing it. Yet in its presence the impulse
is toward silence. We feel, that, viewed even in its mere external, it
is as simple and majestic as the Hebrew language. The far sky, with its
pallid moon,--the deep, shadowy valley, with its ghostly warriors,--the
group on the near mountain, with its superb youth, its venerable age,
and its manhood too strong and vital for the destructive years;--in the
presence of such a creation there is time for a great silence.


"He's took 'ith all the sym't'ms,--thet 's one thing sure! Dretful pain
in hez back an' l'ins, legs feel 's ef they hed telegraph-wires inside
'em workin' fur dear life, head aches, face fevered, pulse at 2.40,
awful stetch in the side, an' pressed fur breath. You guess it's
neuralogy, Lurindy? I do'no' nothin' abeout yer high-flyin' names fur
rheumatiz. _I_ don't guess so!"

"But, Aunt Mimy, what _do_ you guess?" asked mother.

"I don' guess nothin' at all,--I nigh abeout know!"

"Well,--you don't think it's"----

"I on'y wish it mebbe the veryaloud,--I on'y wish it mebbe. But that's
tew good luck ter happen ter one o' the name. No, Miss Ruggles,
I--think--it's--the raal article at first hand."

"Goodness, Aunt Mimy! what"----

"Yes, I du; an' you'll all hev it stret through the femily, every one;
you needn't expect ter go scot-free, Emerline, 'ith all your rosy
cheeks; an' you'll all hev ter stay in canteen a month ter the least;
an' ef you're none o' yer pertected by vaticination, I reckon I"----

"Well, Aunt Mimy, if that's your opinion, I'll harness the filly and
drive over for Dr. Sprague."

"Lor'! yer no need ter du _thet_, Miss Ruggles,--I kin kerry yer all
through jest uz well uz Dr. Sprague, an' a sight better, ef the truth
wuz knowed. I tuk Miss Deacon Smiler an' her hull femily through the
measles an' hoopin'-cough, like a parcel o' pigs, this fall. They _du_
say Jane's in a poor way an' Nathan'l's kind o' declinin'; but, uz I
know they say it jest ter spite me, I don' so much mind. You _a'n't_
gwine now, be ye?"

"There's safety in a multitude of counsellors, you know, Aunt Mimy, and
I think on the whole I had best."

"Wal! ef that's yer delib'rate ch'ice betwixt Dr. Sprague an' me, ye
kin du ez ye like. I never force my advice on no one, 'xcept this,--I'd
advise Emerline there ter throw them socks inter the fire; there'll
never none o' them be fit ter sell, 'nless she wants ter spread the
disease. Wal, I'm sorry yer 've concluded ter hev thet old quack
Sprague; never hed no more diplomy 'n I; don' b'lieve he knows cow-pox
from kine, when he sees it. The poor young man's hed his last well day,
I'm afeard. Good-day ter ye; say good-bye fur me ter Stephen. I'll call
ag'in, ef ye happen ter want any one ter lay him eout."

And, staying to light her little black pipe, she jerked together the
strings of her great scarlet hood, wrapped her cloak round her like a
sentinel at muster, and went puffing down the hill like a steamboat.

Aunt Mimy Ruggles wasn't any relation to us, I wouldn't have you think,
though our name was Ruggles, too. Aunt Mimy used to sell herbs, and she
rose from that to taking care of the sick, and so on, till once Dr.
Sprague having proved that death came through her ignorance, she had to
abandon some branches of her art; and she was generally roaming round
the neighborhood, seeking whom she could devour in the others. And so
she came into our house just at dinner-time, and mother asked her to sit
by, and then mentioned Cousin Stephen, and she went up to see him, and
so it was.

Now it can't be pleasant for any family to have such a thing turn up,
especially if there's a pretty girl in it; and I suppose I was as pretty
as the general run, at that time,--perhaps Cousin Stephen thought a
trifle prettier; pink cheeks, blue eyes, and hair the color and shine of
a chestnut when it bursts the burr, can't be had without one 's rather
pleasant-looking; and then I'm very good-natured and quick-tempered, and
I've got a voice for singing, and I sing in the choir, and a'n't afraid
to open my mouth. I don't look much like Lurindy, to be sure; but
then Lurindy's an old maid,--as much as twenty-five,--and don't go to
singing-school.--At least, these thoughts ran through my head as I
watched Aunt Mimy down the hill.--Lurindy a'n't so very pretty,
I continued to think,--but she's so very good, it makes up. At
sewing-circle and quilting and frolics, I'm as good as any; but somehow
I'm never any 'count at home; that's because Lurindy is by, at home.
Well, Lurindy has a little box in her drawer, and there's a letter in
it, and an old geranium-leaf, and a piece of black silk ribbon that
looks too broad for anything but a sailor's necktie, and a shell. I
don't know what she wants to keep such old stuff for, I'm sure.

We're none so rich,--I suppose I may as well tell the truth, that we're
nearly as poor as poor can be. We've got the farm, but it's such a small
one that mother and I can carry it on ourselves, with now and then a
day's help or a bee,--but a bee's about as broad as it is long,--and
we raise just enough to help the year out, but don't sell. We've got
a cow and the filly and some sheep; and mother shears and cards, and
Lurindy spins,--I can't spin, it makes my head swim,--and I knit,
knit socks and sell them. Sometimes I have needles almost as big as a
pipe-stem, and choose the coarse, uneven yarn of the thrums, and
then the work goes off like machinery. Why, I can knit two pair, and
sometimes three, a day, and get just as much for them as I do for the
nice ones,--they're warm. But when I want to knit well, as I did the day
Aunt Mimy was in, I take my best blue needles and my fine white yarn
from the long wool, and it takes me from daybreak till sundown to knit
one pair. I don't know why Aunt Jemimy should have said what she did
about my socks; I'm sure Stephen hadn't been any nearer them than he had
to the cabbage-bag Lurindy was netting, and there wasn't such a nice
knitter in town as I, everybody will tell you. She always did seem to
take particular pleasure in hectoring and badgering me to death.

Well, I wasn't going to be put down by Aunt Mimy, so I made the needles
fly while mother was gone for the doctor. By-and-by I heard a knock up
in Stephen's room,--I suppose he wanted something,--but Lurindy didn't
hear it, and I didn't so much want to go, so I sat still and began to
count out loud the stitches to my narrowings. By-and-by he knocked

"Lurindy," says I, "a'n't that Steve a-knocking?"

"Yes," says she,--"why don't you go?"--for I had been tending him a good
deal that day.

"Well," says I, "there's a number of reasons; one is, I'm just binding
off my heel."

Lurindy looked at me a minute, then all at once she smiled.

"Well, Emmy," says she, "if you like a smooth skin more than a smooth
conscience, you're welcome,"--and went up-stairs herself.

I suppose I had ought to 'a' gone, and I suppose I'd ought to wanted to
have gone, but somehow it wasn't so much fear as that I didn't want to
see Stephen himself now. So Lurindy stayed up chamber, and was there
when mother and the doctor come. And the doctor said he feared Aunt Mimy
was right, and nobody but mother and Lurindy must go near Stephen, (you
see, he found Lurindy there,) and they must have as little communication
with me as possible. And his boots creaked down the back-stairs, and
then he went.

Mother came down a little while after, for some water to put on
Stephen's head, which was a good deal worse, she said; and about the
middle of the evening I heard her crying for me to come and help them
hold him,--he was raving. I didn't go very quick; I said, "Yes,--just
as soon as I've narrowed off my toe"; and when at last I pushed back my
chair to go, mother called in a disapproving voice and said that they'd
got along without me and I'd better go to bed.

Well, after I was in bed I began to remember all that had happened
lately. Somehow my thoughts went back to the first time Cousin Stephen
came to our place, when I was a real little girl, and mother'd sent me
to the well and I had dropped the bucket in, and he ran straight down
the green slippery stones and brought it up, laughing. Then I remembered
how we'd birds-nested together, and nutted, and come home on the
hay-carts, and how we'd been in every kind of fun and danger together;
and how, when my new Portsmouth lawn took fire, at Martha Smith's
apple-paring, he caught me right in his arms and squeezed out the fire
with his own hands; and how, when he saw once I had a notion of going
with Elder Hooper's son James, he stepped aside till I saw what a nincom
Jim Hooper was, and then he appeared as if nothing had happened, and
was just as good as ever; and how, when the ice broke on Deacon Smith's
pond, and I fell in, and the other boys were all afraid, Steve came and
saved my life again at risk of his own; and how he always seemed to
think the earth wasn't good enough for me to walk on; and how I'd
wished, time and again, I might have some way to pay him back; and here
it was, and I'd failed him. Then I remembered how I'd been to his place
in Berkshire,--a rich old farm, with an orchard that smelled like the
Spice Islands in the geography, with apples and pears and quinces
and peaches and cherries and plums,--and how Stephen's mother, Aunt
Emeline, had been as kind to me as one's own mother could be. But now
Aunt Emeline and Uncle 'Siah were dead, and Stephen came a good deal
oftener over the border than he'd any right to. Today, he brought some
of those new red-streaks, and wanted mother to try them; next time,
they'd made a lot more maple-sugar on his place than he wanted; and next
time, he thought mother's corn might need hoeing, or it was fine weather
to get the grass in: I don't know what we should have done without him.
Then I thought how Stephen looked, the day he was pall-bearer to Charles
Payson, who was killed sudden by a fall,--so solemn and pale, nowise
craven, but just up to the occasion, so that, when the other girls burst
out crying at sight of the coffin and at thought of Charlie, I cried,
too,--but it was only because Stephen looked so beautiful. Then I
remembered how he looked the other day when he came, his cheeks were
so red with the wind, and his hair, those bright curls, was all blown
about, and he laughed with the great hazel eyes he has, and showed his
white teeth;--and now his beauty would be spoiled, and he'd never care
for me again, seeing I hadn't cared for him. And the wind began to
come up; and it was so lonesome and desolate in that little bed-room
down-stairs, I felt as if we were all buried alive; and I couldn't get
to sleep; and when the sleet and snow began to rattle on the pane, I
thought there wasn't any one to see me and I'd better cry to keep it
company; and so I sobbed off to dreaming at last, and woke at sunrise
and found it still snowing.

Next morning, I heard mother stepping across the kitchen, and when I
came out, she said Lurindy'd just gone to sleep; they'd had a shocking
night. So I went out and watered the creatures and milked Brindle, and
got mother a nice little breakfast, and made Stephen some gruel. And
then I was going to ask mother if I'd done so very wrong in letting
Lurindy nurse Stephen, instead of me; and then I saw she wasn't thinking
about that; and besides, there didn't really seem to be any reason why
she shouldn't;--she was a great deal older than I, and so it was more
proper; and then Stephen hadn't ever _said_ anything to me that should
give me a peculiar right to nurse him more than other folks. So I just
cleared away the things, made everything shine like a pin, and took
my knitting. I'd no sooner got the seam set than I was called to send
something up on a contrivance mother'd rigged in the back-entry over a
pulley. And then I had to make a red flag, and find a stick, and hang it
out of the window by which there were the most passers. Well, I did it;
but I didn't hurry,--I didn't get the flag out till afternoon; somehow I
hated to, it always seemed such a low-lived disease, and I was mortified
to acknowledge it, and I knew nobody'd come near us for so long,--though
goodness knows I didn't want to see anybody. Well, when that was done,
Lurindy came down, and I had to get her something to eat, and then she
went up-stairs, and mother took _her_ turn for some sleep; and there
were the creatures to feed again, and what with putting on, and taking
off, and tending fires, and doing errands, and the night's milking, and
clearing the paths, I didn't knit another stitch that day, and was glad
enough, when night came, to go to bed myself.

Well, so we went on for two or three days. I'd got my second sock pretty
well along in that time,--just think! half a week knitting half a
sock!--and was setting the heel, when in came Aunt Mimy.

"I a'n't afeard on it," says she; "don't you be skeert. I jest stepped
in ter see ef the young man wuz approachin' his eend."

"No," said I, "he isn't, any more than you are, Aunt Mimy."

"Any more 'n I be?" she answered. "Don't you lose yer temper, Emerline.
We're all approachin' it, but some gits a leetle ahead; it a'n't no
disgrace, ez I knows on. What yer doin' of? Knittin' sale-socks yet?
and, my gracious! still ter work on the same pair! You'll make yer
fortin', Emerline!"

I didn't say anything, I was so provoked.

"I don' b'lieve you know heow ter take the turns w'en yer mother a'n't
by to help," she continued. "Can't ye take up the heel? Widden ev'ry
fourth. Here, let me! You won't? Wal, I alluz knowed you wuz mighty
techy, Emerline Ruggles, but ye no need ter fling away in thet style.
Neow I'll advise ye ter let socks alone; they're tew intricate fur
sech ez you. Mitt'ns is jest abeout 'ithin the compass uv your
mind,--mitt'ns, men's single mitt'ns, put up on needles larger 'n them
o' yourn be, an' by this rule. Seventeen reounds in the wrist,--tew an'
one's the best seam"----

"Now, Miss Jemimy, just as if I didn't know how to knit mittens!"

"Wal, it seems you don't," said she, "though I don' deny but you may
know heow ter give 'em; an' ez I alluz like ter du w'at good I kin, I'm
gwine ter show ye."

"Show away," says I; "but I'll be bound, I've knit and sold and eaten up
more mittens than ever you put your hands in!"

"Du tell! I'm glad to ha' heern you've got sech a good digestion," says
she, hunting up a piece of paper to light her pipe. "Wal, ez I
wuz sayin'," says she, "tew an' one's the best seam, handiest an'
'lastickest; twenty stetches to a needle, cast up so loose thet the fust
one's ter one eend uv the needle an' the last ter t'other eend,--thet
gives a good pull."

"I guess your smoke will hurt Stephen's head," said I, thinking to
change her ideas.

"Oh, don't you bother abeout Stephen's head; ef it can't stan' thet,'t
a'n't good fur much. Wal, an' then you set yer thumb an' knit plain,
'xcept a seam-stetch each side uv yer thumb; an' you widden tew
stetches, one each side,--s'pose ye know heow ter widden? an'
narry?--ev'ry third reound, tell yer 've got nineteen stetches acrost
yer thumb; then ye knit, 'ithout widdenin', a matter uv seven or eight
reounds more,----you listenin', Emerline?"

"Lor', Miss Jemimy, don't you know better than to ask questions when I'm
counting? Now I've got to go and begin all over again."

"Highty-tighty, Miss! You're a weak sister, ef ye can't ceount an' chat,
tew. Wal, ter make a long matter short, then ye drop yer thumb onter
some thread an' cast up seven stetches an' knit reound fur yer hand, an'
every other time you narry them seven stetches away ter one, fur the

"Dear me, Aunt Mimy! do be quiet a minute! I believe mother's

"I'll see," said Aunt Mimy,--and she stepped to the door and listened.

"No," says she, coming back on tiptoe,--"an' you didn't think you heern
any one neither. It's ruther small work fur ter be foolin' an old woman.
Hows'ever, I don' cherish grudges; so, ez I wuz gwine ter say, ye knit
thirty-six reounds above wheer ye dropped yer thumb, an' then ye toe off
in ev'ry fifth stetch, an' du it reg'Iar, Emerline; an' then take up yer
thumb on tew needles, an' on t'other you pick up the stetches I told yer
ter cast up, an' knit twelve reounds, an' thumb off 'ith narryin' ev'ry

"Well, Miss Jemimy, I guess I shall know how to knit mittens, now!"

"Ef ye don't, 't a'n't my fault. When you've fastened off the eends, you
roll 'em up in a damp towel, an' press 'em 'ith a middlin' warm iron on
the wrong side. There!"

After this, Miss Mimy smoked awhile in silence, satisfied and gratified.
At last she knocked the ashes out of her pipe.

"Wal," says she, "I must be onter my feet. I'd liked ter seen yer ma,
but I won't disturb her, an' you can du ez well. Yer ma promised me a
mess o' tea, an' I guess I may ez well take it neow ez any day."

"Why, Miss Mimy," said I, "there a'n't above four or five messes left,
and we can't get any more till I sell my socks."

"Wal, never mind, then, you can le' me take one, an' mebbe I kin make up
the rest at Miss Smilers's."

So I went into the pantry to get it, and Aunt Mimy followed me, of

"Them's nice-lookin' apples," said she. "Come from Stephen's place? Poor
young man, he won't never want 'em! S'pose he won't hev no objection
ter my tryin' a dozen,"--and she dropped that number into her great

"Nice-lookin' butter, tew," said she. "Own churnin'? Wal, you _kin_
du sunthin', Emerline. W'en I wuz a heousekeeper, I used ter keep the
femily in butter an' sell enough to Miss Smith--she thet wuz Mary
Breown--ter buy our shoes, all off uv one ceow. S'pose I take this pat?"

I was kind of dumfoundered at first; I forgot Aunt Mimy was the biggest
beggar in Rockingham County.

"No," says I, as soon as I got my breath, "I sha'n't suppose any such
thing. You're as well able to make your butter as I am to make it for

"Wal, Emerline Ruggles! I alluz knowed you wuz close ez the bark uv a
tree; it's jest yer father's narrer-contracted sperrit; you don' favor
yer ma a speck. She's ez free ez water."

"If mother's a mind to give away her eye-teeth, it don't follow that I
should," said I; "and I won't give you another atom; and you just clear

"Wal, you kin keep yer butter, sence you're so sot on it, an' I'll take
a leetle dust o' pork instead."

"Let's see you take it!" said I.

"I guess I'll speak 'ith yer ma. I shall git a consider'ble bigger
piece, though I don't like ter add t' 'er steps."

"Now look here, Miss Mimy," says I,--"if you'll promise not to ask for
another thing, and to go right away, I'll get you a piece of pork."

So I went down cellar, and fished round in the pork-barrel and found
quite a respectable piece. Coming up, just as my head got level with the
floor, what should I see but Miss Jemimy pour all the sugar into her
bag and whip the bowl back on the shelf, and turn round and face me as
innocent as Moses in the bulrushes. After she had taken the pork, she
looked round a minute and said,--

"Wal, arter all, I nigh upon forgot my arrant. Here's a letter they giv'
me fur Lurindy, at the post-office; ev'rybody else's afeard ter come up
here";--and by-and-by she brought it up from under all she'd stowed away
there. "Thet jest leaves room," says she.

"For what?" says I.

"Fur tew or three uv them eggs."

I put them into her bag and said,

"Now you remember your promise, Aunt Mimy!"

"Lor' sakes!" says she, "you're in a mighty berry ter git me off. Neow
you've got all you kin out uv me, the letter, 'n' the mitt'ns, I may go,
may I? I niver see a young gal so furrard 'ith her elders in all my born
days! I think Stephen Lee's well quit uv ye, fur my part, ef he hed to
die ter du it. I don't 'xpect ye ter thank me fur w'at instruction I
gi'n ye;--there's some folks I niver du 'xpect nothin' from; you can't
make a silk pus out uv a sow's ear. W'at ye got thet red flag out
the keepin'-room winder fur? 'Cause Lurindy's nussin' Stephen? Wal,

And so Aunt Mimy disappeared, and the pat of butter with her.

I called Lurindy and gave her the letter, and after a little while I
heard my name, and Lurindy was sitting on the top of the stairs with her
head on her knees, and mother was leaning over the banisters. Pretty
soon Lurindy lifted up her head, and I saw she had been crying, and
between the two I made out that Lurindy'd been engaged a good while to
John Talbot, who sailed out of Salem on long voyages to India and China;
and that now he'd come home, sick with a fever, and was lying at the
house of his aunt, who wasn't well herself; and as he'd given all his
money to help a shipmate in trouble, she couldn't hire him a nurse, and
there he was; and, finally, she'd consider it a great favor, if Lurindy
would come down and help her.

Now Lurindy'd have gone at once, only she'd been about Stephen, so that
she'd certainly carry the contagion, and might be taken sick herself, as
soon as she arrived; and mother couldn't go and take care of John, for
the same reason; and there was nobody but me. Lurindy had a half-eagle
that John had given her once to keep; and I got a little bundle together
and took all the precautions Dr. Sprague advised; and he drove me off
in his sleigh, and said, as he was going about sixteen miles to see
a patient, he'd put me on the cars at the nearest station. Well, he
stopped a minute at the post-office, and when he came out he had another
letter for Lurindy. I took it, and, after a moment, concluded I'd better
read it.

"What are you about?" says the Doctor; "your name isn't Lurindy, is it?"

"I wish it was," says I, "and then I shouldn't be here."

"Oh! you're sorry to leave Stephen?" says he. "Well, you can comfort
yourself with reflecting that Lurindy's a great deal the best nurse."

As if that was any comfort! If Lurindy was the best nurse, she'd ought
to have had the privilege of taking care of her own lover, and not of
other folks's. Besides, for all I knew, Stephen would be dead before
ever I came back, and here I was going away and leaving him! Well, I
didn't feel so very bright; so I read the letter. The Doctor asked me
what ailed John Talbot. I thought, if I told him that Miss Jane Talbot
wrote now so that Lurindy shouldn't come, and that he was sick just as
Stephen was, he wouldn't let me go. So I said I supposed he'd burnt his
mouth, like the man in the South, eating cold pudding and porridge; men
always cried out at a scratch. And he said, "Oh, do they?" and laughed.

After about two hours' driving, there came a scream as if all the
panthers in Coos County were let loose to yell, and directly we stopped
at a little place where a red flag was hung out. I asked the Doctor if
they'd got the small-pox here, too; but before he could answer, the
thunder running along the ground deafened me, and in a minute he had put
me inside the cars and was off.

I was determined I wouldn't appear green before so many folks, though
I'd never seen the cars before; so I took my seat, and paid my fare to
Old Salem, and looked about me. Pretty soon a woman came bustling in
from somewhere, and took the seat beside me. There she fidgeted round so
that I thought I should have flown.

"Miss," says she, at length, "will you close your window? I never travel
with a window open; my health's delicate."

I tried to shut it, but it wouldn't go up or down, till a gentleman put
out his cane and touched it, and down it slid, like Signor Blitz. It did
seem as if everything about the cars went by miracle. I thanked him, but
I found afterward it would have been more polite not to have spoken.
After that woman had done everything she could think of to plague and
annoy the whole neighborhood, she got out at Ipswich, and somebody
met her that looked just like our sheriff; and I shouldn't be a bit
surprised to hear that she'd gone to jail. When she got out, somebody
else got in, and took the same seat.

"Miss," says she, "will you have the goodness to open your window? this
air is stifling."

And she did everything that the other woman didn't do. When she found
I wouldn't talk, she turned to the young gentleman and lady that sat
opposite, and that looked as if there was a great deal too much company
in the cars, and found they wouldn't talk either, and at last she caught
the conductor and made him talk.

AH this while we were swooping over the country in the most terrific
manner. I thought how frightened mother and Lurindy'd be, if they should
see me. It was no use trying to count the cattle or watch the fences,
and the birch-trees danced rigadoons enough to make one dizzy, and
we dashed through everybody's back-yard, and ran so close up to the
kitchens that we could have seen what they had for dinner, if we had
stayed long enough; and finally I made up my mind that the engine had
run away with the driver, and John Talbot would never have me to tend
him; and I began to wonder, as I saw the sparks and cinders and great
clouds of steam and smoke, if those tornadoes that smash round so out
West in the newspapers weren't just passenger-trains, like us, off the
track,--when all at once it grew as dark as midnight.

"Now," says I to myself, "it's certain. They've run the thing into the
ground. However, we can't go long now."

And just as I was thinking about Korah and his troop, I remembered what
the Doctor had told me about Salem Tunnel, and it began to grow lighter,
and we began to go slower, and I picked up my wits and looked about
me again. I had only time to notice that the young gentleman and lady
looked very much relieved, and to shake my shawl from the clutch of the
woman beside me, when we stopped at Salem, safe and sound.

I had a good deal of trouble to find Miss Talbot's house, but find it I
did; and the first thing she gave me was a scolding for coming, thinking
I was Lurindy, and her tongue wasn't much cooler when she found I
wasn't; and then finally she said, as long as I was there, I might stay;
and I went right up to see John, and a sight he was!

It was about three months I stayed and took the greater part of the care
of him. Sometimes in the midnight, when he was quite beside himself, and
dreaming out loud, it was about as good as a story-book to hear him. He
told me of some great Indian cities where there were men in white, with
skins swarthier than old red Guinea gold, and with great shawls all
wrought in palm-leaves of gold and crimson bound on their heads, who
could sink a ship with their lacs of rupees; and of islands where the
shores came down to the water's edge and unrolled like a green ribbon,
and brooks came sparkling down behind them, and great trees hung above
like banners, and beautiful women came off on rafts and skiffs loaded
with fruit,--the islands set like jewels on the back of the sea, and the
sky covered them with light and hung above them bluer than the hangings
of the Tabernacle, and they sent long rivers of spice out on the air to
entice the sailor back,--islands where night never came. Sometimes, when
he talked on so, I remembered that I'd felt rather touched up when I
found that Lurindy'd had a sweetheart all this time, and mother knew it,
and they'd never told me, and I wondered how it happened. Now it came
across me, that, quite a number of years before, Lurindy had gone to
Salem and worked in the mills. She didn't stay long, because it didn't
agree with her,--the neighbors said, because she was lazy. Lurindy lazy,
indeed! There a'n't one of us knows how to spell the first syllable
of that word. But that's where she must have got acquainted with
John Talbot. He'd been up at our place, too; but I was over to Aunt
Emeline's, it seems. But one night, about this time, I thought he was
dying, he'd got so very low; and I thought how dreadful it was for
Lurindy never to see him again, and how it was all my selfish fault, and
how maybe he wouldn't 'a' died, if he'd had her to have taken care of
him; and I suppose no convicted felon ever endured more remorse than I
did, sitting and watching that dying man all that long and lonely night.
But with the morning he was better,--they always are a great deal worse
when they are getting well from it; he laughed when the doctor came, and
said he guessed he'd weathered that gale; and by-and-by he got well.

He meant to have gone up and seen Lurindy, after all, but his ship was
ready for sea just as he was; and I thought it was about as well, for
he wasn't looking his prettiest. And so he declared I was the neatest
little trimmer that ever trod water, and he believed he should know a
Ruggles by the cut of her jib, (I wonder if he'd have known Aunt Mimy,)
and if ever he went master, he'd name his ship for me, and call it the
Sister of Charity. And he kissed me on both cheeks, and looked serious
enough when he sent his love to Lurindy, and went away; and no sooner
was he gone than Miss Talbot said I'd better have the doctor myself; and
I didn't sit up again for about three weeks.

All this time I hadn't heard a word from home, and, for all I knew,
Stephen might be dead and buried. I didn't feel so very light-hearted,
you may be sure, when one day Miss Talbot brought me a letter. It was
from mother, and it seemed Stephen'd only had a bad fever, and had been
up and gone home for more than a week. So I wrote back, as soon as I
could, all about John, and how he'd gone to sea again, and how Miss
Talbot, who set sights by John, was rather lonely, and I thought I'd
keep her company a little longer, and try a spell in the mills, seeing
that our neighbors didn't think a girl had been properly accomplished
till she'd had a term or two in the factory. The fact was, I didn't want
to go home just then; I thought, maybe, if I waited a bit, my face would
get back to looking as it used to. So I worked in the piece-room, light
work and good pay, sent mother and Lurindy part of my wages, and paid my
board to Miss Talbot. She'd become quite attached to me, and I to her,
for all she was such an old-maidish thing; but I'd got to thinking an
old maid wasn't such a very bad thing, after all. Fourth of July came at
last, and the mills were closed, and I went with some of the other girls
on an excursion down the harbor; and when I got home, Miss Talbot told
me my Cousin Stephen had been down to see me, and had been obliged to go
home in the last train. I wondered why Stephen didn't stay, and then it
flashed upon me that she'd told him all about it, and he didn't want to
see me afterwards. I knew mother and Lurindy suspected why I didn't come
home, and now, thinks I, they _know_; but I asked no questions.

When September came, I saw it wasn't any use delaying, and I might as
well go back to knitting sale-socks then as any time. However, I didn't
go till October. You needn't think I'd stayed away from the farm all
that time, while the tender things were opening, the tiny top-heavy
beans pushing up, the garden-sarse greening, the little grass-blades
two and two,--while all the young creatures were coming forward, the
chickens breaking the shell, and the gosling-storm brewing and dealing
destruction,--while the strawberries were growing ripe and red up in the
high field, and the hay and clover were getting in,--you needn't think
I'd stayed away from all that had been pleasant in my life, without many
a good heart-ache; and when at last I saw the dear old gray house again,
all weather-beaten and homely, standing there with its well-sweep among
the elms, I fairly cried. Mother and Lurindy ran out to meet me, when
they saw the stage stop, and after we got into the house it seemed if
they would never get done kissing me. And mother stirred round and made
hot cream-biscuits for tea, and got the best china, and we sat up till
nigh midnight, talking, and I had to tell everything John did and said
and thought and looked, over and over again.

By-and-by I unpacked my trunk, and there was a little parcel in the
bottom of it, and I pulled it up.

"There, Lurindy," says I, "John told me to tell you to have your
wedding-dress ready against he came home,--he's gone mate,--and here it
is." And I unrolled the neatest brown silk you ever saw, just fit for
Lurindy, she's so pale and genteel, and threw it into her lap. I'd
stayed the other month to get enough to buy it.

The first thing Lurindy did, by way of thanks, was to burst into tears
and declare she never could take it, that she never should marry now;
and the more I urged her, the more she cried. But at last she said she'd
accept it conditionally,--and the condition was, I should be married
when she was.

"Well," says I, "agreed, if you'll provide the necessary article;
because I can't very well marry my shadow, and I don't know any one else
that would be fool enough to have such a little fright."

At that Lurindy felt all the worse, and it took all the spirits I had to
build up hers and mother's. I suppose I was sorry to see they felt
so bad, (and they hadn't meant that I should,) because it gave the
finishing stroke to my conviction; and after I was in bed, I grew
sorrier still; and if I cried, 't wasn't on account of myself, but I saw
how Lurindy 'd always feel self-accused, though she hadn't ought to,
whenever she looked at me, and how all her life she'd feel my scarred
face like a weight on her happiness, and think I owed it to John, and
how intolerable such an obligation, though it was only a fancied one,
would be; and I saw, too, that it all came from my not going up-stairs
that first time when Stephen knocked,--because if I had gone, I should
have been there when the doctor came, and Lurindy 'd have gone to have
taken care of John herself, and it would have been her face that was
ruined instead of mine; and though it was a great deal better that
it should be mine, still she'd have been easier in her mind;--and so
thinking and worrying, I fell asleep.

Next day was baking-day, and Stephen was coming in the afternoon, and it
was almost five o'clock when we got cleared up, and I went up-stairs to
change my dress. I thought 't wasn't any use to trim myself out in bows
and ruffles now, so I just put on my brown gingham and a white linen
collar; but Lurindy came and tied a pink ribbon at my throat, and fixed
my hair herself, and looked down and said,--

"Well, I don't see but you're about as pretty as ever you was."

That almost finished me; but I contrived to laugh, and got down-stairs.
Mother 'd run over to the village to get some yarn to knit up, for she
'd used all our own wool. It was getting dark, and I had just brought in
another log, and hung the kettle on the crane. The log hadn't taken fire
yet, and there was only a light glimmer, from the coals, on the ceiling.
I heard the back-door-latch click, and thought it was mother, and
commenced humming in the middle of a tune, as if I'd been humming the
rest and had just reached that part; but the figure standing there was a
sight too tall for mother.

"Oh, Stephen," says I,--and my heart jumped in my throat, but I just
swallowed it down, and thanked Heaven that the evening was so dark,--"is
that you?"

"Yes," says he, stepping forward, and putting out his hands, and making
as if he would kiss me. Just for a minute I hung back, then I went and
gave him my hand in a careless way.

"Yes," says he; "and I can't say that you seem so very glad to see me."

"Oh, yes," I answered, "I am glad. Did you drive over?"

"Well," says he, "maybe you are; but I should call it a mighty cool
reception, after almost a year's absence. However, I suppose it's the
best manners not to show any cordiality; you've had a chance to learn
more politeness down at Salem than we have up here in the country."

I was a little struck up by Stephen's running on so,--he was generally
so quiet, and said so little, and then in such short sentences. But in a
minute I reckoned he thought I was nervous, and was trying to put me at
my ease,--and he knew of old that the best way to do that was to rouse
my temper.

"I ha'n't seen anybody at Salem better-mannered 'n mother and Lurindy,"
said I.

"Come home for Thanksgiving?" asked Stephen, hanging up his coat.

I kept still a minute, for I couldn't for the life of me see what I had
to give thanks for. Then it came over me what a cheery, comfortable home
this was, and how Stephen would always be my kind, warm-hearted friend,
and how thankful I ought to be that my life had been spared, and that I
was useful, that I'd made such good friends as I had down to Salem, and
that I wasn't soured against all mankind on account of my misfortune.

"Yes, Stephen," says I, "I've come home for Thanksgiving; and I have a
great deal to give thanks for."

"So have I," said he.

"Stephen," says I, "I don't exactly know, but I shouldn't wonder if I'd
had a change of heart."

"Don't know of anybody that needed it less," says Stephen, warming his
hands. "However, if it makes you any more comfortable, I sha'n't object;
except the part of it that belongs to me,--I sha'n't have that changed."

The fire'd begun to brighten now, and the room was red and
pleasant-looking; still I knew he couldn't see me plainly, and I waited
a minute, and lingered round, pretending I was doing something, which
I wasn't; I hated to break the old way of things; and then I took the
tongs and blew a coal and lighted the dip and held it up, as if I was
looking for something. Pretty soon I found it; it was a skein of linen
thread I was going to wind for Lurindy. Then I got the swifts and came
and sat down in front of the candle.

"There," says I, "the swifts is broken. What shall I do?"

"I'll hold the thread, if that's your trouble," says Stephen, and came
and sat opposite to me while I wound.

I wondered whether he was looking at me, but I didn't durst look
up,--and then I couldn't, if my life had depended upon it. At last we
came to the end; then I managed to get a glance edgeways. He hadn't been
looking at all, I don't believe, till that very moment, when he raised
his eyes.

"Are folks always so sober, when they've had a change of heart?" he
asked, with his pleasant smile.

"They are, when they've had a change of face," I was going to say; but
just then mother came in with her bundle of yarn, and Lurindy came down,
and there was such a deal of welcoming and talking, that I slipped round
and laid the table and had the tea made before they thought of it. I'd
about made up my mind now that Stephen would act as if nothing had
happened, and pretend to like me just the same, because he was so
tender-hearted and couldn't bear to hurt my feelings nor anybody's; and
I'd made up my mind, too, that, as soon as he gave me a chance, I'd tell
him I was set against marriage: leastwise, I wouldn't have him, because
I wouldn't have any man marry me out of pity; and the more I cared for
him, the more I couldn't hamper an ugly face on him forever. So, you
see, I had quite resolved, that, cost me what it would, I'd say 'No,' if
Stephen asked me. Well, it's a very good thing to make resolutions; but
it's a great deal better to break them, sometimes.

Having come to my conclusions, I grew as merry as any of them; and when
mother put two spoons into Stephen's cup, I told him he was going to
have a present. And he said he guessed he knew what it was; and I said
it must be a mitten, I'd heard that Martha Smith had taken to knitting
lately; and he confounded Martha Smith. Mother and Lurindy were very
busy talking about the yarn, and how Mr. Fisher wanted the next socks
knit; and Stephen asked me what that dish was beside me. I said, it was
lemon-pie, and the top-crust was made of kisses, and would he have
some? And he said, he didn't care for anybody's kisses but mine, and he
believed he wouldn't. And I told him the receipt of this came from the
Queen's own kitchen. And he said, he didn't know that the Queen of
England was any better than the Queen of Hearts. Then I said, I supposed
he remembered how the latter lady was served by the Knave of Hearts
in 'Mother Goose'? And he replied, that he wasn't going to be
Jack-at-a-pinch for anybody. And so on, till mother finished tea.

After tea, I sat up to the table and ended some barley-trimming that I'd
just learned how to make; and as the little kernels came tumbling out
from under my fingers, Stephen sat beside and watched them as if it
was a field of barley, growing, reaped, and threshed under his eyes.
By-and-by I finished it; and then, rummaging round in the table-drawer,
I found the sock that I was knitting, waiting at the very stitch where I
left it, 'most a year ago.

"Well, if that isn't lucky!" said I. And I sat down on a stool by the
fireside, determined to finish that sock that night; and no sooner had
I set the needles to dancing, like those in the fairy-story, than open
came the kitchen-door again, and in, out of the dark, stepped Aunt Mimy.

"Good-evenin', Miss Ruggles!" says she. "Heow d' ye du, Emerline? hope
yer gwine ter stay ter hum a spell. Why, Stephen, 's this you? Quite a
femily-party, I declare fur't! Wai, Miss Ruggles, I got kind o' tired
settin' in the dark, an', ez I looked out an' see the dips blazin' in
yer winder, thinks I, I'll jest run up an' see w'at's ter pay."

"Why, there's only one dip," says Lurindy.

"Wal, thet's better 'n none," answered Miss Mimy.

I had enough of the old Adam left in me to be riled at her way of
begging as much as ever I was; but I saw that Stephen was amused; he
hadn't ever happened to be round, when Aunt Mimy was at her tricks.

"No, Miss Ruggles," continued she, "I thank the Lord I ha'n't got a
complainin' sperrit, an' hed jest ez lieves see by my neighbor's dip ez
my own, an', mebbe ye 'll say, a sight lieveser."

And then Miss Mimy pulled out a stocking without beginning or end, and
began to knit as fast as she could rattle, after she 'd fixed one needle
in a chicken-bone, and pinned the chicken-bone to her side.

"Wal, Emerline," says she, "I s'pose ye've got so grand down ter the
mills, thet, w'at 'ith yer looms an' machines an' tic-doloreux, ye won't
hev nothin' ter say ter the old way uv knittin' socks."

"Does this look like it, Aunt Mimy?" says I, shaking my needles by way
of answer. "I'm going to finish this pair to-night."

"Oh," says she, "you be, be you? Wal, ef I don't e'en a'most vum it's
the same one! ef ye ha'n't been nigh abeout a hull year a-knittin' one
pair uv socks!"

"How do you know they're the same pair?" asked I.

"By a mark I see you sot in 'em ter the top, ef ye want ter know, afore
I thought it would be hangin' by the eyelids the rest uv yer days. Wal,
I never 'xpected ye'd be much help ter yer mother; ye're tew fond uv
hikin' reound the village."

"Indeed, Miss Mimy," said Lurindy, kind of indignant, "she's always been
the greatest help to mother."

"I don't know how I should have made both ends meet this year, if it
hadn't been for her wages," said mother.

Stephen was whittling Miss Mimy's portrait on the end of a stick, and
laughing. I was provoked with mother and Lurindy for answering the
thing, and was just going to speak up, when I caught Stephen's eye, and
thought better of it. Pretty soon Aunt Mimy produced a bundle of herbs
from her pocket, and laid them on the table.

"Oh, thank you, Aunt Jemimy," says mother. "Pennyroyal and catnip's
always acceptable."

"Yes," said Aunt Mimy. "An' I'll take my pay in some uv yer dried
apples. Heow much does Fisher give fur socks, Miss Ruggles?" she asked,

"Fifty cents and I find,--fifteen and he finds."

"An' ye take yer pay out uv the store? Varry reasonable. I wuz thinkin'
uv tryin' my han' myself;--business's ruther dull, folks onkimmon well
this fall. Heow many strings yer gwine ter give me fur the yarbs?"

Then mother went up garret to get the apples and spread the herbs to
dry, and Lurindy wanted some different needles, and went after her.
Stephen'd just heaped the fire, and the great blaze was tumbling up
the chimney, and Miss Mimy lowered her head and looked over her great
horn-bowed spectacles at me.

"Wal, Emerline Ruggles," says she, after a while, going back to her
work, "you've lost all _your_ pink cheeks!"

I suppose it took me rather sudden, for all at once a tear sprung and
fell right down my work. I saw it glistening on the bright needles a
minute, and then my eyes filmed so that I felt there was more coming,
and I bent down to the fire and made believe count my narrowings. After
all, Aunt Mimy was kind of privileged by everybody to say what she
pleased. But Stephen didn't do as every one did, always.

"Emmie's beauty wasn't all in her pink cheeks, Miss Mimy," I heard him
say, as I went into the back-entry to ask mother to bring down the mate
of my sock.

"Wal, wherever it was, there's precious little of it left!" said she,
angry at being took up, which maybe she never was before in her life.

"You don't agree with her friends," said he, cutting in the stick the
great mole on the side of her nose; "_they_ all think she's got more
than ever she had."

Mother tossed me down the mate, and I went back.

"Young folks," said Aunt Mimy, after two or three minutes' silence, "did
ye ever hear tell o' 'Miah Kemp?"

"Any connection of old Parson Kemp in the other parish?" asked Stephen.

"Yes," said Aunt Mimy,--"his brother. Wal, w'en I wuz a young gal,
livin' ter hum,--my father wuz ez wealthy ez any farmer thereabeouts, ye
know,--I used ter keep company 'ith 'Miah Kemp. 'Miah wuz a stun-mason,
the best there wuz in the deestrik, an' the harnsomest boy there
tew,--though I say it thet shouldn't say it,--he hed close-curlin' black
hair, an' an arm it done ye good ter lean on. Wal, one spring-night,--I
mind it well,--we wuz walkin' deown the lane together, an' the wind
wuz blowin', the laylocks wuz in bloom, an' all overhead the lane wuz
rustlin' 'ith the great purple plumes in the moonlight, an' the air wuz
sweeter 'ith their breath than any air I've ever taken sence, an' ez we
wuz walkin', 'Miah wuz askin' me fur ter fix eour weddin'-day. Wal, w'en
he left me at the bars, I agreed we'd be merried the fifteenth day uv
July comin', an' I walked hum; an' I mind heow I wondered ef Eve wuz
so happy in Paradise, or ef Paradise wuz half so beautiful ez thet
scented lane. The nex' mornin', ez I wuz milkin', the ceow tuk fright
an' begun ter cut up, an' she cut up so thet I run an' she arter me,--an'
the long an' the short uv it wuz thet she tossed me, an' w'en they got
me up they foun' I hedn't but one eye. Wal, uv course, my looks wuz
sp'iled,--fur I'd been ez pretty'z Emerline wuz,--you wuz pretty once,
Emerline,--an' I sent 'Miah Kemp word I'd hev no more ter du 'ith him
nor any one else neow. 'Miah, he come ter see me; but I wuz detarmined,
an' I stuck ter my word. He did an' said everything thet mortal man
could,--thet he loved me better'n ever, an' thet 't would be the death
uv him, an' tuk on drefful. But w'en he'd got through, I giv' him the
same answer, though betwixt ourselves it a'most broke my heart ter say
it. I kep' a stiff upper-lip, an' he grew desp'rate, an' tuk all sorts
uv dangerous jobs, blastin' rocks an' haulin' stuns. One night,--'t wuz
jest a year from the night I'd walked 'ith him in thet lane,--I wuz
stan'in' by the door, an' all ter once I heerd a noise an' crash ez ef
all the thunderbolts in the Almighty's hand hed fallen together, an' I
run deown the lane an' met the men bringin' up sunthin' on an old door.
They hed been blastin' Elder Payson's rock, half-way deown the new well,
an' the mine hedn't worked, an' 'Miah'd gone deown ter see w'at wuz in
it; an' jest ez he got up ag'in, off it went, an' here he wuz 'ith a
great splinter in his chist,--ef the rest uv it wuz him. They couldn't
kerry him no furder, an' sot him deown; an' there wuz all the trees
a-wavin' overhead ag'in, an' all the sweet scents a-beatin' abeout the
air, jest uz it wuz a year ago w'en he parted from me so strong an'
whole an' harnsome; all the fleowers wuz a-blossomin', all the winds wuz
blowin' an' this lump uv torn flesh an' broken bones wuz 'Miah. I laid
deown on the grass beside him, an' put my lips close to hisn, an' I
could feel the breath jest stirrin' between; an' the doctor came an'
said 't warn't no use; an' they threw a blanket over us, an' there I
laid tell the sun rose an' sparkled in the dew an' the green leaves an'
the purple bunches, an' the air came frolickin' fresh an' sweet abeout
us; an' though I'd knowed it long, layin' there in the dark, neow I see
fur sartain thet there warn't no breath on them stiff lips, an' the
forehead was cold uz the stuns beneath us, an' the eyes wuz fixed an'
glazed in thet las' look uv love an' tortur' an' reproach thet he giv'
me. They say I went distracted; an' I _du_ b'lieve I've be'n cracked
ever sence."

Here Aunt Mimy, who had told her whole story without moving a muscle,
commenced rocking violently back and forth.

"I don't often remember all this," says she, after a little, "but las'
spring it all flushed over me; an' w'en I heerd heow Emerline'd
be'n sick,--I hear a gre't many things ye do' no' nothin' abeout,
children,--I thought I'd tell her, fust time I see her."

"What made you think of it last spring?" asked Stephen.

"The laylocks wuz in bloom," said Miss Mirny,--"the laylocks wuz in

Just then mother came down with the apples, and some dip-candles, and
a basket of broken victuals; and Miss Mimy tied her cloak and said she
believed she must be going. And Stephen went and got his hat and coat,
and said,--

"Miss Mimy, wouldn't you like a little company to help you carry your
bundles? Come, Emmie, get your shawl."

So I ran and put on my things, and Stephen and I went home with Aunt

"Emmie," says Stephen, as we were coming back, and he'd got hold of my
hand in his, where I'd taken his arm, "what do you think of Aunt Mimy

"Oh," says I, "I'm sorry I've ever been sharp with her."

"I don't know," said Stephen. "'Ta'n't in human nature not to pity her;
but then she brought her own trouble on herself, you see."

"Yes," said I.

"I don't know how to blast rocks," says Stephen, when we'd walked a
little while without saying anything,--"but I suppose there is something
as desperate that I can do."

"Oh, you needn't go to threatening me!" thinks I; and, true enough, he
hadn't any need to.

"Emmie," says he, "if you say 'No,' when I ask you to have me, I sha'n't
ask you again."

"Well?" says I, after a step or two, seeing he didn't speak.

"Well?" says he.

"I can't say 'Yes' or 'No' either, till you ask me," said I.

He stopped under the starlight and looked in my eyes.

"Emmie," says he, "did you ever doubt that I loved you?"

"Once I thought you did," said I; "but it's different now."

"I _do_ love you," said he, "and you know it."

"Me, Stephen?" said I,--"with my face like a speckled sparrow's egg?"

"Yes, you," said he; and he bent down and kissed me, and then we walked

By-and-by Stephen said, When would I come and be the life of his house
and the light of his eyes? That was rather a speech for Stephen; and
I said, I would go whenever he wanted me. And then we went home very
comfortably, and Stephen told mother it was all right, and mother and
Lurindy did what they'd got very much into the habit of doing,--cried;
and I said, I should think I was going to be buried, instead of married;
and Stephen took my knitting-work away, and said, as I had knit all our
trouble and all our joy into that thing, he meant to keep it just as it
was; and that was the end of my knitting sale-socks.

I suppose, now I've told you so far, you'd maybe like to know the rest.
Well, Lurindy and John were married Thanksgiving morning; and just as
they moved aside, Stephen and I stepped up and took John and Aunt Mimy
rather by surprise by being married too.

"Wal," says Aunt Mimy, "ef ever you hang eout another red flag, 't won't
be because Lurindy's nussin' Stephen!"

I don't suppose there's a happier little woman in the State than me. I
should like to see her, if there is. I go over home pretty often; and
Aunt Mimy makes just as much of my baby--I've named him John--as mother
does; and that's enough to ruin any child that wasn't a cherub born. And
Miss Mimy always has a bottle of some new nostrum of her own stilling
every time she sees any of us; we've got enough to swim a ship, on the
top shelf of the pantry to-day, if it was all put together. As for
Stephen, there he comes now through the huckleberry-pasture, with the
baby on his arm; he seems to think there never was a baby before; and
sometimes--Stephen's such a homebody--I'm tempted to think that maybe
I've married my own shadow, after all. However, I wouldn't have it other
than it is. Lurindy, she lives at home the most of the time; and once in
a while, when Stephen and mother and I and she are all together, and as
gay as larks, and the baby is creeping round, swallowing pins and hooks
and eyes as if they were blueberries, and the fire is burning, and the
kettle singing, and the hearth swept clean, it seems as if heaven had
actually come down, or we'd all gone up without waiting for our robes;
it seems as if it was altogether too much happiness for one family. And
I've made Stephen take a paper on purpose to watch the ship-news; for
John sails captain of a fruiter to the Mediterranean, and, sure enough,
its little gilt figure-head that goes dipping in the foam is nothing
else than the Sister of Charity.


The crowd was decidedly a heterogeneous one on the edge of which I stood
at eight o'clock, A.M., one scorching July morning, under an awning at
the end of a rickety pier, waiting for the excursion-steamer which was
to convey us to the distant sand-banks over which the clear waters lap,
away down below the green-sloped highlands of Neversink,--sea-shoal
banks, from which silvery fishes were warning us off with their waving

Now the crowd, being a heterogeneous one, as I have said, had the vulgar
element pervading it to a dominant extent. It consisted mainly of such
"common people," indeed, that no person of exquisite refinement would
have thought of feeling his way through it, unless his hands were
protected by what Aminadab Sleek calls "little goat-gloves." And
yet there is another style of mitten, a large, unshapely, bloated
knuckle-fender, stuffed with curled hair, that might be far more
appropriate to the operation of shouldering in among such "muscular
Christians" as the majority around, on the occasion to which I refer.

In the resorts to which habitual tipplers have recourse for consolation
of the spirituous kind, a cheap variety is usually on hand to meet
exigencies,--the exigency of a commercial crisis, for instance, when the
last lonely dime of the drinker is painfully extracted from the pocket,
to be replaced by seven inconsiderable cents. This abomination is termed
"all sorts" by the publican and his indispensable sinner. It is the
accumulation of the drainage of innumerable gone drinks,--fancy and
otherwise. The exquisite in the "little goat-gloves" would not hob-nob
with me in that execrable beverage; no more would I with him; and yet
one of its components may be the aristocratic Champagne. In the social
elements of a water-excursion-party may be found the "all sorts" of a
particular kind of city-life,--the good of it and the bad of it, with
a dash of something that is very low. But I am going to talk about the
thing as I found it,--the rough side of the social mill-stone; and,
seeing that I have suffered nothing by contact with it, I suppose no
harm will come to such as listen to the little I have got to say on the

A benevolent desire to launch far and wide the already well-spread
reputation of the New York rowdy impels the present writer to declare
his conviction, that, should Physiology offer a premium for the
production of a perfect and unmitigated specimen of _polisson_,
Experience would seek for it among the choice representatives of the
class in question,--ay, and find it, too. Nor would the ardor of search
be chilled by the suggestion of scarcity conveyed in the practical
sarcasm of the sly old cynic, when he scorched human nature with a horn
lantern by instituting a search with it on the sun-bright highways for
an unauthenticated type of man. And yet the rowdy, like many another
ugly and repulsive thing, may have his use. In the East Indies, it is
customary to keep a live turtle in the wayside water-tanks which are so
precious in that thirsty land, the movements of the animal, as well as
the industry with which it devours all noxious particles which chance
may have conveyed into the waters, serving to keep them in a condition
of purity and health. The rowdy is the turtle in the tank,--so far,
at least, as being an ugly beast to look at and a great promoter of
commotion,--by which latter service he keeps the community alive to
the presence of impure particles in the social element, if he does not
assist in getting rid of them. An alligator in an aquarium might furnish
a better comparison for him in other respects.

Of this class there are many branches; but the one with which I have to
deal at present is to be studied to most advantage by visiting some pier
of the great river-frontage of New York, to which excursion-boats rush
emulously at appointed hours, crossing and jostling each other with
proper respect for their individual rights as free commoners of
the well-tilled waters. Here, as, with audacious disregard of the
chance-medley of smashed guards and obliterated paddle-boxes, the great
water-wagons graze wheels upon the ripple-paved turnpike of the river,
the steamboat-runner, squalidly red from the effects of last night's
carouse, and reeking sensibly of the alcoholic "morning call," may be
recognized by the native manner in which he makes the pier peculiarly
his own,--by the inflammatory character--which unremitting dissipation
has imparted to the inhaling apparatus of his unclassical features,--by
the filthy splendor of his linen, which a low-buttoning waistcoat,
gorgeous and dirty likewise, unbosoms disadvantageously to the gaze of
the beholder,--by the invariable "diamond" pin, of gift-book style, with
which the juncture of the first-mentioned integument is effected, if
not adorned,--and, above all, by the massive guards and guy-chains with
which his watch is hitched on to the belaying arrangements of Chatham
Street garments, the original texture and tint of which have long been
superseded by predominant grease. Hand and elbow with the professional
city-rowdy the steamboat-runner is ever to be found: at the cribs, where
the second-rate men of the "fancy" hold their secret meetings; clinging
about the doors of the Court of Sessions, where, as eavesdroppers,--for
they are known to the door-keeper, and rejected from the friendship of
that stern officer,--they strive, with ear at keyhole, to catch a word
or two which may give them a clue to the probable fate of "Jim," who
is in the dock there, on his trial for homicide or some such light
peccadillo; loitering round the dog-pit institutions, where
the quadrupeds look so amazingly like men and the men like
quadrupeds,--especially in that one where the eye of taste may be
gratified by the supernatural symmetry of the stuffed bull-terriers in
glass cases, the enormity of which specimens is accounted for by the
gentlemanly proprietor, who tells us that "the man as stuffed 'em never
stuffed anythink else afore, only howls."

I suppose it must have been the tacit acknowledgment of some superiority
by me inappreciable, that accorded to one individual of the small
assemblage of roughs under notice a decidedly influential position among
the congenial spirits hovering around. The superior blanchness of this
person's linen would seem to indicate that his association with mere
runners was but occasional and for commercial ends. Also might that
conclusion have been deduced from the immaculacy of his cream-white
Panama hat. That was a jaunty article, with upturned brim, the pride
of which was discernible in the very simplicity with which it sat,
unadulterated by band or trimmings, upon the closely cropped,
mole-colored head of the wearer. Thirty dollars, at least, must have
been its marketable value. Instead of being fitted with chain-tackle,
the watch of this superior person maintained its connection with the
open air by means of a broad watered ribbon plummeted straight down his
leg with a seal hardly inferior in size to a deep-sea lead. This daring
recurrence to first principles is much to be observed, of late, among
the choice spirits of the so-called "sporting" fraternity of New York.

This man, as I supposed, and as I subsequently heard from my friend
Locus, of the police, who came upon the pier, was not a runner now, but
had risen from that respectable rank by large exercise of the virtues so
intimately associated with it. In attributing an exalted position to him
I was right. He was the keeper of a house of entertainment for emigrants
in one of the down-town tributaries to Broadway, where tickets could
also be had for California and most other parts of the world, at an
advance of not more than one-third on the rates charged at the regular
steamboat-offices. Considering the respectability of this person's
occupation, I was surprised when Locus referred to him, familiarly, as
"Flashy Joe," adding that he was widely known, if not respected, and
that he would, probably, be entitled some day to have his portrait
placed in a gallery of which he, Locus, knew, but into which my
aesthetic researches have not hitherto led me.

There was another noticeable character in the rough part of the
heterogeneous crowd. This man, while on a footing of the greatest
intimacy with the runners, was far inferior to them in the matter
of dress. Locus, in reply to my queries, informed me that he was a
professional oyster-opener; but, judging from his appearance in general,
I should have guessed that he was a professional oyster-catcher also,--a
human dredge, employed chiefly at the bottom of the sea. A perfect
Hercules in build, "Lobster Bob," as Locus called him, made his
appearance on the wharf with two enormous creels of oysters, one
balanced on each hip, with the careless ease of unconscious strength,
His costume consisted solely of a ragged blue cotton shirt and trousers,
immense knobby cowskin boots white with age, and a mouldy drab felt hat.
The button-less blue shirt flapped widely open from his brawny chest;
and his shirt-sleeves, rolled up to the shoulder, gave full display to a
pair of arms of a mould not usually to be found outside the prize-ring,
and but seldom within the sanctuary of that magic circle. As if in
compensation for the merely nominal allowance of costume tolerated by
this crustacean professor, his chest and arms were entirely covered with
a wild arabesque of tattoo-work, in blue and red. Many and original
artists must have been employed in the embellishment of Robert's tawny
hide. The one to whose sense of the fitness of things was intrusted
the illustration of his right arm had seized boldly upon the oval
protuberance of the biceps, a few skilfully disposed dots and dashes
upon which had converted it into a face which was no bad reproduction of
Bob's own. On the broad flexors of his sun-bronzed fore-arm there blazed
a grand device which might have puzzled a whole college of heralds to
interpret,--a combination of eagles and banners and shields, coruscating
with stars and radiant with stripes. But more suggestive than any of
these shams was the stern reality of a purple scar which ran round the
back of his neck, from ear to ear. More than one man must have been
hurt, when that scar was made.

Notwithstanding the bull-dog projection of this formidable giant's lower
jaw, there sometimes beamed on his face that good-natured expression
often observable in men whose unusual muscular development places them
on a footing of physical superiority to those with whom they shoulder
along the road of life. When the runners "chaffed" him, nevertheless,
it was in a mild way, and with manifest respect for his muscle,--a
sentiment in no way diminished when he suddenly clutched one of the
least cautious among them by the nape of the neck, and held him out at
arm's-length, for some seconds, over the drowny water that kept lazily
licking at the green moss on the old stakes of the rickety pier.

Even unto the Prince of Darkness, saith proverbial philosophy, let us
concede his due. If, then, a single ray of good illuminates at some
happy moment the dark spirit of these roughs, let it be recorded with
that bare, unfledged truth which is so much better a bird than uncandor
with the finest of feathers upon him.

Feeling his way into the circle with a stick, there came a poor blind
man, of diminutive stature, squeezing beneath his left arm a suffocating
accordion, which, every now and then, as he stumbled against the uneven
planks of the wharf, gave a querulous squeak, doleful in its cadence as
the feeble quavers evoked by Mr. William Davidge, comedian, from
the asthmatic clarionet of Jem Bags, in the farce of the "Wandering

"Come, b'hoys!" cried Lobster Bob, "let's have a squeeze of music from
Billy, afore the boat comes up"; and, plumping down one of his creels in
the middle of the crowd, he lifted up the musician, and seated him upon
the rough, cold oysters,--a throne fitter, certainly, for a follower of
Neptune than a votary of Apollo. One of the roughs danced an ungraceful
measure to the music of the accordion, mimicking, as he did so, the
queer contortions into which the musician twisted his features in
perfect harmony with his woful strains. All of them were gentle to the
blind man, though, as if his darkness had brought to them a ray of
light; and presently one of them takes off the musician's cap, drops
into it a silver dime, and goes the rounds of the throng with many
jocose appeals in favor of the owner, to whom he presently returns it
in a condition of silver lining analogous to, but more substantial than
that of the poet's cloud.

But now the poor music of the accordion was quite extinguished by the
bellowing of the brazen horns of the "cotillon band" on the deck of our
expected steamer, as she rounded to from the upper piers at which she
had been taking in excursionists. This caused a stir in the crowd under
the awning, many of whom were fathers of families taking their wives and
children out for a rare holiday. The smallest babies had not been left
at home, but were there in all their primary scarletude, set off by the
whitest of lace-frilled caps trimmed with the bluest of ribbons. And now
came the time for these small choristers to take up the "wondrous tale";
for the big horns had ceased to wrangle, and the crushing and rushing of
the crowd woke up infancy to a sense of its wrongs and a consciousness
of the necessity for action.

There were some nice-looking girls around, neatly dressed, too, though
by no means in their Sunday-best; for _la petite New-Yorkaise_ is aware
of the mishaps to be encountered by those who venture far out to sea in
ships. They had sweethearts with them, for the most part, or brothers,
or cousins, mayhap: but they were sadly neglected by these protectors,
as we stood under the awning on the pier; for the male mind was full of
fishing, and the male hands were employed in making up tackle with a
most unscientific kind of skill.

And now the final rush came, as the steamer made fast alongside the
outermost of the boats already lying at the pier, across the decks of
which our heterogeneous crowd began to make its way with as little
scrambling as possible, on account of the petticoat-hoops, which
are capital monitors in a turmoil. Women swayed their babies like
balancing-poles, as they tottered along the gangway-plank. Men tried to
secure themselves from being brushed into eternity by the powerful sweep
of skirts. My own personal reminiscence of this transit from the wharf
to the gallant bark of our choice is melancholy and vague, being marked
chiefly to memory by the complicated curse bestowed upon me by a hideous
old Irish-woman, whose oranges I accidentally upset in the crowd, and by
whom I was subsequently derided with buffo song and scurrilous dance as
long as the steamer remained within hearing and sight.

Away we are steaming down the bay, at last, a motley party of men,
women, and children of all sizes and sorts: husbands, wives, milliners
and their lovers; young men who have brought no young women with them,
because they have come for fishing and fishing only; and advanced
fathers, who, making a virtue of having brought out wife and child for
a holiday, now leave them a good deal to take care of themselves, and
devote all their energies to being pleasant as remotely from them as
circumstances will allow. Roughs, to the number of a dozen or so, mostly
steamboat-runners and their congeners, are of the party, headed by
Flashy Joe. Lobster Bob has set up his oyster-plank in a central
situation. Venders of unfresh-looking refreshments have established
themselves on board; and the bar-keeper, near the forecastle, is
preparing himself for the worst.

By-and-by I noticed a good-looking specimen of Young New York on board,
and was introduced to him by a cigar. He was a handsome boy, with dark,
oval face, and Arabian eyes. The silky black line that just marked the
curve of his upper lip gave promise of a splendid moustache; his closely
crisped black hair was but just visible below the rim of his jaunty
straw hat, the band of which was a tasselled cord of crimson silk; while
his lithe figure was suggested rather than displayed by the waving lines
of his loose brown jacket with tapering _gigot_ sleeves. His low-cut
shirt-collar and narrow silken neck-tie were in the style called
"English," as quite decidedly, also, were his cross-barred trousers of
balloony build; nor, although thus flinging himself for diversion into
the vortex of the lower crowd, had he foregone the luxury of tan-colored
kid gloves and patent-leather shoes. He was a bright boy, and precocious
as a lady-killer; for, already, before we had left far behind us the
pleasant slopes of Bay Ridge, with its peeping villa-parapets of
brown and white, and its umbrageous masses of chromatic green, he
had evidently engaged the affections of an _espiègle_ little
straw-bonnet-maker, who did her hair something like his own, in a
close-curled crop, and had her pretty little person safely shut up in a
high-necked dress.

That young lady had a suitor with her, who was clearly not a sweetheart,
however, by a good deal, but merely a follower tolerated for the day,
and on the score of convenience only. He was a tall, gaunt, pale young
man, with long hands and feet, slouching shoulders and narrow chest,
and a strange, indescribable nullity of expression dwelling upon his
features. He did not appear to be encouraged much by little Straw-Goods,
whose mind was probably occupied with prospective possibilities of being
led out to the festive dance by Young New York. Altogether, he was an
unsatisfactory-looking young man, his unfinished look reminding one of
raw material, though it would have been hard to say for what.

But the band had now ceased mellowing out the favorite medley which
begins with "Casta Diva" and runs over into the lovely cadences of
"Gentle Annie"; and the abrupt transition from that mournful strain to a
light cotillon air warned four hundred holiday-people that the festive
dance was about to begin on the wide floor between the engine-room and
the saloon. Cotillons are a leading pastime among the people; and as the
water was pretty smooth down the bay, and a splendid breeze rushed aft
between-decks, many laughing girls and well-dressed matronly women now
made their appearance on the floor. Dancing without noise is a luxury as
yet uncalled for. Dancers must have music, we know,--and what is
music, but wild noise caught and trained? But these cotillons were
unnecessarily boisterous, on account of the roughs, who, looked upon as
outsiders by the better-behaved portion of the throng, got up a wild
war-step of their own on the skirts of the legitimate dance, dishonestly
appropriating to their coarse movements the music intended for it
alone, as they stamped and shouted, and wheeled round with a ludicrous
affectation of grace, in the space between the dancers and the bulkheads
of the deck. One of these roughs, a drunken, young fellow of wiry build,
whose hair, face, eyes, nose, ears, and hands were all of the color of
tomato-catchup, might have made an excellent low comedian, had destiny
led him upon the "boards." He had just been complaining to his
companions that his hand had been refused for the dance by a girl at
whom he pointed the red finger of wrath,--a pale, but very interesting
seamstress, who was whirling about with a much decenter young man than
the red one is ever likely to be. And then he nobly took his revenge
by the clever, but unprincipled way in which he caricatured the rather
remarkable dancing of the young man who was the object of his hate, and
whose style of movement it would not be consistent with this writer's
duty to deny was amenable to severity, and must, in any society, have
subjected him who indulged in it to the scorn of the flouter and the
contempt of all high-minded men.

All through the dance, it was a thing to be remembered, how superior in
deportment the women were to the men. Probably it was from a natural
instinct for grace, and abhorrence of the ludicrous, that they merely
skimmed through the figures, without any of the demonstrations displayed
by their beaux. It was pleasant to look at the nice little straw-goods
damsel with the boyish hair, and to mark the contrast between her kitten
glidings and the premeditated atrocities of Raw Material, as he wove and
unwove his ungainly legs before her, in a manner appalling to witness.
She had only a common palm-leaf fan, I remarked,--worth, probably, about
two cents. But Young New York, as he waited patiently for the deadly
ocean-malady to fall upon Raw Material, who was unquestionably a subject
for it, and was drinking, besides, drew tightly up his tan-colored
gloves, and, twirling with finger and thumb the air just about where
it must some day be displaced by the future tendrils of the coming
moustache, affirmed upon oath his intention of presenting her with a fan
more worthy of her well-kept little hand, ere kind Fortune could have
time to drop another excursion-ticket into her work-basket.

Should the solemn question arise as to how I knew that one of these
young women was in the straw-bonnet line, another a milliner, a third
a dress-maker, and so forth, I will answer it by stating that the left
forefinger of the seamstress, long since vulcanized into a little
file, furnishes the infallible sign which indicates the class. To the
practised eye, the varieties are known by many a token: by the smart
little close-grained cereal bonnet which little Straw-Goods put away
before she came into the dance; by the spicy creation of silk and
ribbons which roosts demurely, like a cedar-bird, on the back hair of
the pale girl, who is a milliner; by the superior manner in which the
hoops are disguised in the structure surrounding that blonde young wife
with the pink baby, who is a dressmaker. Let the lofty read studiously
the signs that in the heavens are portentous of storm or of shine; I,
who am of commoner clay, must content myself with deciphering those that
are of earth.

But a "sea-change" was upon us. Last night there was a tornado of
rain and thunder and wind, and the effects of the latter were now
perceptible, as we began to rock through the ground-swell off Sandy
Hook, and down past the twin light-houses on the high, sunny ridges
of Neversink. The music ceased, the dancers deserted the 'tween-decks
floor, and, as the rocking of the boat increased, there arose in the
direction of the ladies' cabin audible suggestions of woe.

And now the twin beacon-towers of Neversink were far, far behind, having
taken a position with regard to us which may be described, in military
phrase, as an _échelon_ movement upon our flank, and we went surging
through a fleet of little green fishing-boats, manned each by a single
fisherman in a red shirt, whose two horny hands appeared to be a couple
too few for the hauling in of the violet and silver _porgies_, with
which the well of his little green craft was alive and flapping. In the
middle of this fleet we rounded to, the anchor was let go, and we were
hard and fast upon the Fishing-Banks.

The first thing done, on these excursions, by those who come to
fish,--which includes nearly all the men,--is to establish a claim
somewhere along the railing of the steamer, by attaching to it a strong
whip-cord fishing-line, with a leaden sinker and hook of moderate
size,--the latter lashed on, in most instances, with a disregard for art
which must be intensely disgusting to any man whose piscatorial memories
are associated with the wily salmon and the epicurean trout. Triangular
tin boxes are brought along by the fishermen to hold their bait, which
consists of soft clams, liberally sprinkled with salt to keep them in a
wholesome condition for the afternoon take. Attaching a line to any
part of the rail or combings, or to any projecting point of the boat,
establishes the _droit de pêche_ at that particular spot,--a right
respected with such rigorous etiquette, that the owner may then go his
way with confidence, to inspect the resources of the bar, or join the
gay throng of dancers between-decks.

There must be something singularly fascinating in this curious pastime
of fishing with a hand-line from the jumping-off places of a steamboat
or pier. Doubtless it is from a defective sympathetic organization
that the writer of these pages does not himself "seem to see it."
Nevertheless, I look upon the illusion with a respect almost bordering
upon fear, although not quite in that spirit of veneration which moves
illogical savages to fall down and worship the stranger lunatic whom
chance has led to their odorous residences. Dwelling one summer on the
New Jersey shore, I used to loiter, day after day, upon a deserted
wharf, at the end of which was ever to be seen a broad-beamed fisherman,
sitting upon an uncomfortably wooden chair, from which he dabbled
perpetually with his whip-cord line in the shallow water that washed the
slimy face-timbers of the wharf. There he sat, day after day, and
all day, and, for aught I know, all through the summer-night, a
big-timbered, sea-worthy man, reading contentedly a daily paper of local
growth, and pulling up never a better bit of sea-luck than the puny,
mean-spirited fishling called by unscientific persons the _burgall_.
I would at any time have freely given ten cents for the privilege of
overhauling old broad-beam's carpet-bag, which he always placed before
him on the string-piece, with a view, I suppose, of frustrating anything
like a guerrilla plunder-movement upon his widely extended rear. Ay,
there must be something strangely entrancing in dragging the shoal
waters with a hand-line, for unsuspicious, easily duped members of the
acanthopterygian tribe of fishes,--under which alarming denomination
come, I believe, nearly all the finny fellows to be met with on these
sand-banks, from the bluefish to the burgall. Only think how stuck up
they would be above the lowly mollusks of the same waters, if they
knew themselves as Acanthopterygii, and were aware that their
great-grandfather was an Acanthopteryx before them, and so away back in
the age of waters that once were over all! "Very ancient and fish-like"
is their genealogy, to be sure!

In the far-away days, when Neversink _was_, but the twin beacon-towers
that now watch upon its heights were _not_,--when Sandy Hook was a hook
only, and not a telegraph-station, from which the first glimpse of an
inward-bound argosy is winked by lightning right in at the window of the
down-town office where Mercator sits jingling the coins in his trousers'
pockets,--in those days, the only excursion-boats that rocked upon the
ground-swell over the pale, sandy reaches of the Fishing-Banks were the
tiny barklets that shot out on calm days from the sweeping coves, with
their tawny tarred-and-feathered crews: for of such grotesque result of
the decorative art of Lynch doth ever remind me the noble Indian warrior
in his plumes and paint. Unfitted, by the circumscribed character of
their sea-craft, their tackle, and their skill, for pushing their
enterprise out into the deeper water, where the shark might haply say to
the horse-mackerel,--"Come, old horse, let you and me hook ourselves on,
and take these foolish tawny fellows and their brown cockle-shell down
into the under-tow,"--they supplied their primitive wants by enticing
from the shallows the beautiful, sunny-scaled shoal-fish, well named by
ichthyologists _Argyrops_, the "silver-eyed." But the poor Indian,
who knew no Greek,--poor old savage, lament for him with a scholarly
_eheu!_--called this shiner of the sea, in his own barbarous lingo,
_Scuppaug_. Can any master of Indian dialects tell us whether that word,
too, means "him of the silver eye"? If it does, revoke, O student, your
shrill _eheu_ for the Greekless and untrousered savage of the canoe,
suppress your feelings, and go steadily into rhabdomancy with several
divining-rods, in search of the Pierian spring which must surely exist
somewhere among the guttural districts of the Ojibbeway tongue.

And here there is diversion for philologist as well as fisherman; for
while the latter is catching the fish, the former may seize on the fact,
that in this word, _Scuppaug_, is to be found the origin of the two
separate names by which Argyrops, the silver-eyed, is miscalled in local
vernacular. True to the national proclivity for clipping names, the
fishermen of Rhode Island appeal to him by the first syllable only of
his Indian one,--for in the waters thereabout he is talked of by the
familiar abbreviation, _Scup._ But to the excursionists and fishermen of
New York he is known only as _Porgy,_ or _Paugie_, a form as obviously
derived from the last syllable of his Indian name as the emphatic
"siree" of our greatest orators is from the modest monosyllable "sir."
_Porgy_ seems to be the accepted form of the word; but letters of the
old, unphonetic kind are poor guides to pronunciation. And a beautiful,
clean-scaled fish is Porgy,--whose _g_, by-the-by, as I learned from a
funny man in the heterogeneous crowd, is pronounced "hard, as in 'git
eowt.'" A lovely fish is he, as he comes dripping up the side of the
vessel from his briny pastures. Silver is the pervading gleam of his
oval form; but while he is yet wet and fresh, the silver is flushed with
a chromatic radiance of gold, and violet, and pale metallic green, all
blending and harmonizing like the mother-o'-pearl lustre in some rare
sea-shell. The true value of this fish is not of a commercial kind,
for he cannot be deemed particularly exquisite in a gastronomic sense;
neither is he staple as a provision of food. His virtue lies in the
inducement offered to him by the citizen of moderate means, who, for
a trifling outlay, can secure for himself and family the invigorating
influence of the salt sea-breezes, by having a run down outside the Hook
any fine day in summer, with an object. The average weight of the porgy
of these banks may be set down at about a pound.

Five minutes after we came to anchor, there must have been at least two
hundred and fifty whip-cord lines stretching out into the three-fathom
water from every available rail and fender of the old boat. Most of the
men had brought their tackle with them, and their tin canisters of bait.
To those who had not, the articles were ready at hand; for speculators
had mingled in the crowd, one of whom affixed his "shingle" to a post
between-decks, setting forth,--"Fishing-Lines and Hooks, with Sinkers
and Bait,"--the latter consisting of clams in the shell, contained in
a barrel big enough for the supply of the whole flotilla of green boats
and red shirts, which still hung around us like swallows in the wake of
an osprey. Two or three of our excursionists--men, perhaps, whose
minds indulged in dear memories of a brook that babbles by a mill--had
fishing-rods with them, and made great ado with scientific lunges and
casts, producing much discord, indeed, by flicking away wildly outside
their proper sea-limits. Most industrious among the hand-fishers I
remarked a small, spare man, who, under the careful supervision of a
buxom young wife in a "loud" tartan silk, baited no hook nor broke water
with his lead until he had first folded and put carefully away between
the handle and lid of the family prog-basket his tight little black
frock-coat, and passed his small legs through the tough creases of a
pair of stout blue "Denim" overalls. These, pulled up to his neck, and
hitched on there with shoulder-straps, served for waistcoat and trousers
and all, imparting to him the cool atmospheric effect so much admired in
that curious picture of Gainsborough's, known to connoisseurs as "The
Blue Boy." Then he fished the waters with a will; and it was but a
scurvy remark of Flashy Joe, who said that "it was about an even chance
whether he took porgy or porgy took _him_." But it seems to me that this
unskilled labor of fishing from a steamboat must be epidemic, if not
contagious; for even Young New York, who in the early forenoon doubted
visibly his discretion at having got himself into such an ugly scrape as
an "excursion-spree," put off his delicate gloves, and set to hauling,
hand over hand, as if for a bet.

But I believe I have committed a breach of etiquette in giving
precedence to Scuppaug over the skipper, a very large and thoroughly
pickled old man, who now bustled deliberately about the decks, with as
few clothes on his broad back and stern-post legs as were consistent
with decorum and with the requirements of those by-laws of society which
extend even to Sandy Hook and the rest of the Jerseys, as well as to the
fishing-banks that shoal out from the same. Strictly speaking, this old
man of our part of the sea was not the captain of the boat, but the
pilot, who takes command of her when she abandons her proper line on
the rivers, and ventures to that "far Cathay" of city-navigators
indefinitely spoken of as "outside the Hook." The smooth-water captain
of the steamer, who was nobody to talk of now, was a slim, pale young
man, in a black dresscoat, tall, silky hat, and shoes of a material
which has long years ago been patented, on account of its matchless
ability to shine. This commander remained permanently within the
"office," where he was probably very poorly by himself during all this
"high old time." The stout old pilot was the real skipper; and now that
the vessel had come to anchor, he turned from his lighter duties to the
grave pastime of the day, and fished earnestly through a large hole in
the paddlebox,--the porgies that came to his allurements arriving at
their destination by a series of flapping manoeuvres from blade to blade
of the wheel. For so burly a man, and one with such a chest for the
stowage of sea-breezes and monsoons, the skipper was provided with a
wonderfully small voice, suggesting, as he lectured upon sea-fishing to
the novices who were getting into "snarls" with their tackle hard by
where he sat, the circumstance of a tree-toad discoursing from the
hollow of a brave old oak.

"If you want to ketch good fish," said he, sententiously, to Young New
York, whose hook persisted in baiting itself with his thumb,--"if you
want to ketch reel snorters, you must have a heavy line, heavy lead, and
gimp tackle. Then take your own time, haul in, hand over hand, and no
matter what the heft, you'll be sure to fetch him."

Young New York produced from his breast-pocket the blue enamelled case
in which reposed his ivory tablets, and, seating himself upon the
chain-box, wrote down with golden pencil the dictum of the sage.

Notwithstanding the storm of yesterday, from which the discontented
foreboded a stampede of the fish to deeper waters, porgies to an
extraordinary amount were soon heaped on the decks, at the feet of each
fisherman, the more careful of whom put them into baskets or barrels.
But in general they were thrown carelessly on the deck, with a string
passed through their gills to keep them from straying out of their
proper lots. When these bright fishes are lying the deck, it is curious
to watch them flushing and gasping there, with that singular, dubious
expression of mouth peculiar to fishes out of water, as if more struck
by the absence of that element than by their novel position among the
accessories of dry life. Now and then a blackfish was hauled in,--an
event greeted with a loud cheer from all parts of the boat. When a very
large one was announced, people came rushing from all quarters to see
it; but the greatest tribute to largeness in a fish that I remember
anywhere to have seen was the altered expression on the face of a baby
some six months old, whose features settled permanently down into the
collapse of imbecility, from the moment of the arrival on the upper deck
of a blackfish two feet long.

By this time the scene on the forecastle was quite a picture of the
Dutch school. Grouped everywhere among the fish and fishers were
matronly women and unbonneted damsels, most of them with handkerchiefs
tied upon their heads; for they had got over their sea-sickness, now,
and were coming by twos and threes from the saloon, to breathe a little
fresh air and look on at the sport. One pretty, Jewish-looking girl,
wrapped in a red and white shawl, was sitting on the big anchor near
the bows, and three or four others looked quite picturesque, as they
reclined on the heavy coils of the great cable. More central to the
picture than was at all advantageous to it sat our friend Raw Material,
with his head jammed recklessly into the capstan, abandoning himself
to his misery. For the inevitable malady had fallen upon him among the
first; and as he sat there, helpless and without hope, upon one of
those life-preserving stools that remind one, by their shape, of the
"properties" of Saturn in the mythology of old, he looked like Languor
on an hour-glass, timing the duration of Woe. All along the bulwarks
on both sides of the boat, men and boys were crowding upon each other,
casting out and hauling in their lines with unflagging spirit. Slim
city-children, blistered wholesomely as to their legs, from knee to
ankle, by the sun and the salt air, harnessed themselves to little heaps
of fish, and were driven about the upper deck in various fashionable
styles, including four-in-hand and tandem, by other slim city-children,
whose lower extremities had been treated in the same beneficial manner
by the same eminent physicians. The musicians had laid away their
cornopeans and other cunningly twisted horns upon the broad disk of the
big drum, in a dark alcove between-decks, and were fishing savagely in
German and broken English, according to the nationality with which their
affairs happened to get entangled. Even the colored _chef de cuisine_,
a muscular mulatto, with a beard of a rash disposition, coming out on
wrong parts of his face in little eruptive pustules of black wool,
sported his lines out of the galley-airholes, and his porgies were
simmering in the pan while their memories were yet green in the
submarine parishes from which they came. Have these finny creatures
their full revenge upon fishermankind, when a smack sinks foundered into
the swallowing deep? Do the midnight revellers in the sea-caverns
call out in broad Scuppaug to the attendant mermaid for a "half-dozen
large-sized jolterheads on the half monkey-jacket?" To these queries I
hope that Poetical Justice, if still living, will forward a reply at
her earliest convenience. Porgy now began to pervade the air with an
astringent perfume of the sea: none of your Fulton Market smells of
stagnating fish, but a clean, wholesome, coralline odor, such as we
may imagine supplied to the Peris "beneath the dark sea" by the scaly
fellows in the toilet line down there, who are likely to keep it for
sale in conch-shells,--quarts and pints. Porgy prevailed to that extent,
in fact, that it came to be talked of, by-and-by, as a circulating
medium; and a hard-fisted mechanic averred his intention of compensating
his landlady for his board with porgy, for the week that was passing

For some time, luck appeared to favor the starboard side of the boat,
at which the take was much greater than at the other. Hence, discontent
began to crawl in at the port-gangways, and the fishermen on that
side were gradually edging over to the other, to look for a chance of
stealing in their lines clandestinely between the ranks. This led to
an interchange of bad compliments, as well as to a very perceptible
slanting of the deck, and the captain piped out to the hands to shift
the chain-box. And by this action was resolved for me a riddle with
regard to the properties and uses of a prematurely stout man of fabulous
girth, who had been dimly revealed to me, once or twice in the course
of the voyage, through some long vista of the 'tween-decks, but seemed
always to melt into air,--or, more probably, oil,--upon any advance
being made to a closer inspection. Now, as a couple of the deck-hands
hauled and howled unsuccessfully at the unwieldy chain-box, this
mysterious person suddenly appeared, as if spirited up, and, throwing
himself stomach on to the loaded vehicle, shot across with it to the
other side of the deck with wonderful velocity, retiring, then, with a
gliding movement, so as to preserve the rectitude of the deck, which
now seemed inclined to slope rather too much the other way. I will not
undertake to say, for certain, that the stout man was paid for doing
this; but, as his hands were small and remarkably white, indications
that he toiled not with _them_, and as he made his appearance on deck
only when movable ballast was wanted, I am bound to suppose that he
secured a living by sitting heavily and throwing himself on for weight,
in circumstances under which such actions command a standard value.

Three hours having gone by since we came to anchor, the healthful toil
of fishing in the salt sea produced its natural result,--a ravenous
appetite for food and drink; and a common consent to partake of
refreshments now began to develop itself. The wives had much to do with
this, as they detailed themselves along the railings, influencing
their husbands with hints about the hamper and flask. For most of the
family-people had brought their provisions with them; and, in many
cases, the basket was flanked by a stone jar which looked as if it might
contain lager-beer,--as, in several instances, it did. Where there were
many small children in a party, however, I noticed that the beverage
obtained from the jar was milk,--real Orange County cow-produce, let us
hope, and none of that sickly town-abomination, the vending of which
ought to be made by our legislators a felony, at least. Ham-sandwiches,
greatly enhanced in flavor by the circumstance of their outer surfaces
being impressed with a reverse of yesterday's news, from the contact of
the pieces of newspaper in which they were wrapped up, formed the staple
of the feast. Large bowls of the various, seasonable berries were also
in request; and all the shady places of the ship were soon occupied by
families, who distributed themselves in independent groups, as people
do in the sylvan localities dedicated to picnics. All were hungry and
happy, all better in mind and body,--illustrating the wise providence of
the instinct that whispers to the over-wrought artisan and bids him go
sometimes forth on a summer's day to the woods and waters,--a move which
the marine character of the subject impels me to speak of nautically,
but reverently, as taking himself and family into the graving-dock of
Nature, for the necessary repairs.

Some of the girls now stole slyly about among the lines, and popped the
baits timidly into the blue water. The pale seamstress, who has quite
a rose-flush on her cheek now, has hooked a good-sized porgy, and her
screams in this terrible predicament have brought several smart young
men to her rescue. Another girl, pretty and well-dressed,--in the
glove-making line, as I guess from the family she is with, all of
whom, from paterfamilias to baby, are begloved in a manner entirely
irrespective of expense,--is kneeling pensively on the stern-benches
of the upper deck, paying out the line with confidence in herself, but
evidently hoping for masculine assistance in the process of hauling it

And where were our dear friends, the roughs, all this time? and how came
it that they were so quiet? They have been asleep,--snoring off the
effects of last night's diversions, and fortifying their constitutions
against the influences to come. Ever since the music ceased playing,
these fellows have been rolled away, singly or in heaps, in crooked
corners, into which they seem to fit naturally. But now they began to
rally, waking up and stretching themselves and yawning,--the last two
actions appearing to be the leading operations of a rowdy's toilet; and,
gathering round Lobster Bob, who has been steadily employed in opening
oysters for all who have a midsummer faith in those mollusks, they
commenced rapidly swallowing great quantities of the various kinds,
which they seasoned to an alarming extent with coarse black pepper
and brownish salt. The fierce thirst, which, with these men, is not a
consequence, because it is a thing that was and is and ever will be, was
brought vividly to their minds by this unnecessary adstimulation; and
now the bar-keeper, whose lager-beer was wellnigh exhausted, from its
connection with ham-sandwiches, had enough to do to furnish them with
whiskey, of which stimulant there was but too large a supply on hand.
The consequence of this was soon apparent in the ugly hilarity with
which the rowdies entered upon the enjoyment of the afternoon. First, in
spite of the remonstrances of the Teuton whose proper chattel it was,
they seized upon the large drum, with which they made an astounding din
in the public promenades of the vessel, abetted, I am sorry to say, by
some who ought to have known better,--and did, probably, before the
whiskey had curdled their wits. In this proceeding, as in all their
movements, they were marshalled by Flashy Joe, whose comparatively
spruce appearance, when he came on board in the morning, had been a good
deal deteriorated by broken slumbers in places not remote from coals,
and by the subsequent course of drinks. Quiet people were beginning to
express some dissatisfaction with the noise made by these fellows, who,
however, kept pretty much by themselves, as yet, and had got only to the
musical stage of the proceedings, chorusing with unearthly yells a song
contributed to the harmony of the afternoon by the first ruffian, the
burden of which ran,--

  "When this old hat was ny-oo, my boys,
  When this old hat was ny-oo-ooo!"

No voice in this chorus dwelt more decidedly by itself than the shrill
one belonging to the small, spare man already spoken of as having a
buxom young wife and blue cotton overalls. During his wife's adjournment
to the ladies' cabin, this person, I am obliged to record, had become
boisterously drunk,--a condition in which the contradictory elements
that make up the characters of most men are generally developed to an
instructive extent. In his first paroxysm, the fighting man within him
was all aroused, as is generally the case with diminutive men, when
under the influence of drink. Already he had tucked his sleeves up to
fight a large German musician, who could have put him into the bell of
his brass-horn and played him out, without much trouble. But the song
pacified him; and, with a misty sense of his importance in a convivial
point of view, on account of the manner in which he had acquitted
himself in the chorus, he now essayed a higher flight, and treated the
party to a new version of "The Pope," oddly condensed into one verse, as

  "The Pope, he leads a happy life,
  He fears no married care nor strife,
  His wives are many as be will:
  I would the Sultan's place, then, fill!"

At this moment the buxom young wife descended suddenly from the upper
deck by the forecastle-ladder, like Nemesis from a thunder-cloud, and,
seizing upon the small warbler, to whom she administered a preliminary
shake which must have sadly changed the current of his ideas, drove him
ignominiously before her toward the stern of the vessel, rapping him
occasionally about the ears with the hard end of her fan, to keep him on
a straight course. Persons who traced the matter farther said that he
was driven all the way to the upper deck, pushed with gentle violence
into a state-room, the door locked upon him, and the key pocketed by the
lady, who said triumphantly, as she walked away,--"That's the Sultan's
place for _him_, I guess!" The moral to this little episode is but
a horn-book one, and without any pretension to didactic force: That
respectable citizens, like the small, spare man, would do well, on
excursion-trips or elsewhere, to avoid whiskey and black-guards; and
that wives might be saved a deal of trouble by keeping their eyes
permanently on their husbands, when the latter are of uncertain ways.

This little domestic drama had hardly been played out, when a more
serious one--almost a tragedy--was enacted on the forecastle. It
originated in the misconduct of the red man, who, seized with a desire
to catch porgies, went a short way to work for tackle, by snatching away
the line of a peaceable, but stout Frenchman, who was paralyzed for a
moment by the novelty of the thing, but, immediately recovering himself,
expressed his dissent by smashing an earthen-ware dish, containing a
great mess of raw clams for bait, upon the head of the red man, as he
stooped over the railing to fish. This led to a general fight, in which
blood flowed freely, and the roughs were getting rather the upper-hand.
Knives were drawn by some of the Germans and others in self-defence,
and great consternation reigned in the afterpart of the boat and
the neighborhood of the ladies' cabin. Then the slim captain of the
boat--the one in the black dress-coat--hurriedly whispered something to
Lobster Bob, who rushed away aft, where the fight was now agglomerating,
headed by the red man and Flashy Joe, both covered with blood, and
looking like demons, as they wrestled and bit through the Crowd. Just
as they hustled past a large chest intended for the stowage of
life-preservers, Lobster Bob kicked the lid of it open with a bang, and,
seizing up the red man, neck and crop, with his huge, tattooed hands,
dropped him into it and shut down the lid, which was promptly sat upon
by the large, stout, smiling man already favorably spoken of in these
pages, who suddenly made his appearance from nowhere in particular. The
picture of contentment, he sat there like one who knew how, caressing
slowly his large knees with his short, plump hands, until the cries from
the chest began to wax feeble, when he slowly arose, vanished, and I
never saw him again. The red rowdy was then dragged, half-suffocated,
from his imprisonment, and as much life as he ought ever to be intrusted
with restored to him by the stout old skipper, who was at hand with a
couple of buckets full of cold salt-water, with which he drenched him
liberally, as he slunk away. A diversion thus effected, the disturbance
was quelled. All was quiet in a short time, and the word was passed to
heave the anchor and 'bout ship for home.

On the way back, we took a pleasant course inside the Hook, which
brought the charming scenery of the Jersey shore and of Staten Island
before us, as a pleasant drop-curtain on the melodrama just closed. The
music again struck up, and dancing was resumed with fresh vigor,--the
waltzing of all other couples being quite eclipsed by that of Young New
York and little Straw-Goods, who had effectually got rid of her tipsy
persecutor ever since the ground-swell, and was keeping rather in the
background of late, with a sober-minded lady whom she called "aunty."
With the exception of the few who took to whiskey and bad company, all
appeared contented, and the better for their sea-holiday. The very
musicians played with greater spirit than they did before, owing,
perhaps, to their remarkable success in the porgy-fishery. One of the
horn-players, far too knowing to let his fish out of sight, has propped
his music-book up against a pyramid of them, as upon a desk. The
good-looking man who plays upon the double-bass is equally prudent with
regard to his trophies, which he has hung up around the post on which
is pinned the score to which he looks for directions when it becomes
necessary to bind together with string-music the pensive interchanges of
the sax-horn and bassoon.

And now, as our vessel neared the wharf from which we had started while
the sun was yet in the east, I looked forward to see what signs of
the times were astir on the forecastle. All had deserted it, and
were tending aft, with their tackle, their fish, and their
prog-baskets,--all, at least, except Raw Material, of whom we enjoyed
now an uninterrupted view, as he sat in his old position, with his head
jammed obstinately into the capstan. But how was this?--he was round at
the opposite side of it now; and I puzzled myself for a moment, thinking
whether this change of bearings could be accounted for by the fact of
the boat being headed the other way.

But Young New York, who is far more nautical than I am, and has a big
brother in one of the yacht-clubs, derided the idea, and said he must
have gone round with the handspikes, when the anchor was hove.

And there he remained, as we went our way,--a modern Spartan slave in a
kind of marine pillory,--conveying to the red-legged children of Gotham,
as they toddled ashore, a useful lesson on the doubtful relations
existing between whiskey and pleasure.


  The beaver cut his timber
  With patient teeth that day,
  The minks were fish-wards, and the cows
  Surveyors of highway,--

  When Keezar sat on the hillside
  Upon his cobbler's form,
  With a pan of coals on either hand
  To keep his waxed-ends warm.

  And there, in the golden weather,
  He stitched and hammered and sung;
  In the brook he moistened his leather,
  In the pewter mug his tongue.

  Well knew the tough old Teuton
  Who brewed the stoutest ale,
  And he paid the good-wife's reckoning
  In the coin of song and tale.

  The songs they still are singing
  Who dress the hills of vine,
  The tales that haunt the Brocken
  And whisper down the Rhine.

  Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
  The swift stream wound away,
  Through birches and scarlet maples
  Flashing in foam and spray,--

  Down on the sharp-horned ledges
  Plunging in steep cascade,
  Tossing its white-maned waters
  Against the hemlock's shade.

  Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
  East and west and north and south;
  Only the village of fishers
  Down at the river's mouth;

  Only here and there a clearing
  With its farm-house rude and new,
  And tree-stumps, swart as Indians,
  Where the scanty harvest grew.

  No shout of home-bound reapers,
  No vintage-song he heard,
  And on the green no dancing feet
  The merry violin stirred.

  "Why should folk be glum," said Keezar,
  "When Nature herself is glad,
  And the painted woods are laughing
  At the faces so sour and sad?"

  Small heed had the careless cobbler
  What sorrow of heart was theirs
  Who travailed in pain with the births of God,
  And planted a state with prayers,--

  Hunting of witches and warlocks,
  Smiting the heathen horde,--
  One hand on the mason's trowel,
  And one on the soldier's sword!

  But give him his ale and cider,
  Give him his pipe and song,
  Little he cared for church or state,
  Or the balance of right and wrong.

  "'Tis work, work, work," he muttered,--
  "And for rest a snuffle of psalms!"
  He smote on his leathern apron
  With his brown and waxen palms.

  "Oh for the purple harvests
  Of the days when I was young!
  For the merry grape-stained maidens,
  And the pleasant songs they sung!

  "Oh for the breath of vineyards,
  Of apples and nuts and wine!
  For an oar to row and a breeze to blow
  Down the grand old river Rhine!"

  A tear in his blue eye glistened
  And dropped on his beard so gray.
  "Old, old am I," said Keezar,
  "And the Rhine flows far away!"

  But a cunning man was the cobbler;
  He could call the birds from the trees,
  Charm the black snake out of the ledges,
  And bring back the swarming bees.

  All the virtues of herbs and metals,
  All the lore of the woods he knew,
  And the arts of the Old World mingled
  With the marvels of the New.

  Well he knew the tricks of magic,
  And the lapstone on his knee
  Had the gift of the Mormon's goggles
  Or the stone of Doctor Dee.

  For the mighty master Agrippa
  Wrought it with spell and rhyme
  From a fragment of mystic moonstone
  In the tower of Nettesheim.

  To a cobbler Minnesinger
  The marvellous stone gave he,--
  And he gave it, in turn, to Keezar,
  Who brought it over the sea.

  He held up that mystic lapstone,
  He held it up like a lens,
  And he counted the long years coming
  By twenties and by tens.

  "One hundred years," quoth Keezar,
  "And fifty have I told:
  Now open the new before me,
  And shut me out the old!"

  Like a cloud of mist, the blackness
  Rolled from the magic stone,
  And a marvellous picture mingled
  The unknown and the known.

  Still ran the stream to the river,
  And river and ocean joined;
  And there were the bluffs and the blue sea-line,
  And cold north hills behind.

  But the mighty forest was broken
  By many a steepled town,
  By many a white-walled farm-house
  And many a garner brown.

  Turning a score of mill-wheels,
  The stream no more ran free;
  White sails on the winding river,
  White sails on the far-off sea.

  Below in the noisy village
  The flags were floating gay,
  And shone on a thousand faces
  The light of a holiday.

  Swiftly the rival ploughmen
  Turned the brown earth from their shares;
  Here were the farmer's treasures,
  There were the craftsman's wares.

  Golden the good-wife's butter,
  Ruby her currant-wine;
  Grand were the strutting turkeys,
  Fat were the beeves and swine.

  Yellow and red were the apples,
  And the ripe pears russet-brown,
  And the peaches had stolen blushes
  From the girls who shook them down.

  And with blooms of hill and wild-wood,
  That shame the toil of art,
  Mingled the gorgeous blossoms
  Of the garden's tropic heart.

  "What is it I see?" said Keezar:
  "Am I here, or am I there?
  Is it a fête at Bingen?
  Do I look on Frankfort fair?

  "But where are the clowns and puppets,
  And imps with horns and tail?
  And where are the Rhenish flagons?
  And where is the foaming ale?

  "Strange things, I know, will happen,--
  Strange things the Lord permits;
  But that droughty folk should be jolly
  Puzzles my poor old wits.

  "Here are smiling manly faces,
  And the maiden's step is gay;
  Nor sad by thinking, nor mad by drinking,
  Nor mopes, nor fools are they.

  "Hero's pleasure without regretting,
  And good without abuse,
  The holiday and the bridal
  Of beauty and of use.

  "Here's a priest and there is a Quaker,--
  Do the cat and the dog agree?
  Have they burned the stocks for oven-wood?
  Have they cut down the gallows-tree?

  "Would the old folk know their children?
  Would they own the graceless town,
  With never a ranter to worry
  And never a witch to drown?"

  Loud laughed the cobbler Keezar,
  Laughed like a school-boy gay;
  Tossing his arms above him,
  The lapstone rolled away.

  It rolled down the rugged hill-side,
  It spun like a wheel bewitched,
  It plunged through the leaning willows,
  And into the river pitched.

  There, in the deep, dark water,
  The magic stone lies still,
  Under the leaning willows
  In the shadow of the hill.

  But oft the idle fisher
  Sits on the shadowy bank,
  And his dreams make marvellous pictures
  Where the wizard's moonstone sank.

  And still, in the summer twilights,
  When the river seems to run
  Out from the inner glory,
  Warm with the melted sun,

  The weary mill-girl lingers
  Beside the charmed stream,
  And the sky and the golden water
  Shape and color her dream.

  Fair wave the sunset gardens,
  The rosy signals fly;
  Her homestead beckons from the cloud,
  And love goes sailing by!


"In the name of the Prophet:--Figs!"

"Eh, bien, Sare! wiz you Field and ze uzzers! Zey is ver' good men, sans
doute, an' zey know how make ze money; mais--gros matérialistes, I tell
you, Sare! Vat zen? I sall sink I know, I! Oui, Monsieur, I, César
Prévost, who has ze honneur to stand before you,--I am ze original
inventeur of ze Télégraphique Communication wiz Europe!"

It was about the period when, with the fast world of cities, De Sauty
was beginning to become type of an "ism"; already the attention of
excitement-hunters had travelled far from Trinity Bay, and Cyrus Field
had yielded his harvest. Nevertheless, to me, who had just come to
town from a quiet country seclusion into which news made its entry
teredo-fashion only, the performances of the Agamemnon and Niagara were
matters of fresh and vivid interest. So I purchased Mr. Briggs's book,
and went to Guy's, to cut the leaves over a steak and a bottle of
Edinburgh ale. It was while I was thus engaged that the little Frenchman
had accosted me, calling my attention to his wares with such perfect
courtesy, such airy grace, that I was forced to look at his baskets.
And looking, I was induced to lay down my book and examine them more
closely; for they were really pretty,--made of extremely white and
delicate wood, showing an exquisite taste in their design, and being
neatly and carefully finished. Then it was, that, having apparently
noticed the title of my book, M. César Prévost had used the language
above quoted, and with such _empressement_ of manner, that my attention
was diverted from his wares to himself. I looked at him with some

He was a little old Frenchman, lean as a haunch of dried venison, and
scarcely less dark in complexion,--though his color was nearer that of
rappee snuff, and had not the rich blood-lined purple of venison. His
face was wofully meagre, and seemed scored and overlaid with care-marks.
Nevertheless, there was an energetic, nervous, almost humorsome mobility
about his mouth; while his little beady black eyes, quick, warm,
scintillant, had ten times the life one would have expected to find
keeping company with his fifty years. In dress, he was very threadbare,
and, sooth to say, not over-clean; yet he was jaunty, and moved with the
air of a man much better clad. I was impressed with his appearance, and
especially with his voice, which was vibrant, firm, and excellently
intoned. It is my foible, perhaps, but I am always charmed with
_bonhommie_, I class originality among the cardinal virtues, and I am
as eager in the chase after eccentricity as a veteran fox-hunter is in
pursuit of Reynard. M. César promised a compensative proportion of all
three qualities, could I only "draw him out"; and besides, he was not
like Mr. Canning's "Knife-Grinder,"--for, evidently, he _had_ a story to

Observing my scrutiny, he smiled; a singular, ironical smile it was, yet
without a particle of bitterness or of cynicism.

"Eh, bien!" said he; "you stare, Monsieur! you sink me an excentrique.
Vraiment! I am use to zat,--I am use to have persons smile
reeseeblement, to tap zere fronts, an' spek of ze strait-jackets. Never
fear,--I am toujours harmless! Mais, Monsieur, it is true, vat I tell
you: I am ze origi_nal_ inventeur of ze Atlantic Telegraph! You mus'
not comprehend me, Sare, to intend somesing vat persons call ze
Telegraph,--such like ze Electric Telegraph of Monsieur Morse,--a
vulgaire sing of ze vire and ze acid. Mon Dieu, non! far more
perfect,--far more grrand,--far more _original!_ Ze acid may burn ze
finger,--ze vire vill become rrusty,--ze isolation subject always to ze
atmosphere. Ah, bah! Vat make you in zat event? As ze pure lustre of ze
diamant of Golconde to ze distorted rays of a morsel of bottle-glass, so
my grrand invention to ze modes of ze telegraph in vogue at present!"

"Monsieur, you shall tell me about it," said I, pointing to a seat on
the other side of the table; "sit down there, and tell me about your
invention, and in your native language,--that is, if you can spare the
time to do so, and to drink a glass of Bordeaux with me."

He accepted my invitation as a gentleman would, sipped his wine like a
connoisseur, passed me a few compliments, such as any French gentleman
might toss to you, if you had asked him to join you in a glass of wine
in one of his city's _cafés_, and then proceeded with his story. My
translation gives but a faint echo of the impression made upon me by
his life, vigor, and originality; but still I have striven to do him as
little injustice as possible.

"Monsieur, it is ten years since I accomplished, put in practice, and
evoked practical results from this international communication, which
your two peoples have failed to establish, in spite of all their money,
their great ships, and the united wisdom of their _savans_. I am a
Frenchman, Monsieur,--and, you know, France is the congenial soil of
Science. In that country, where they laugh ever and _se jouent de tout_,
Science is sacred;--the Academy has even _pas_ of the army; honors there
are higher prized than the very wreaths of glory. Among the votaries
of Science in France, César Prévost was the humblest,--_serviteur,
Monsieur._ Nevertheless, though my place was only in the outermost porch
of the temple, I was a faithful, devoted, self-sacrificing worshipper of
the goddess; and therefore, because earnest fidelity has ever its crown
of reward, it happened to me to make a grand discovery,--a discovery
more momentous, it may be, than that of gunpowder or the telescope,--ten
million hundred times more worth than the vaunted great achievement of
M. le Professeur Morse. Not that its whole import came to me at once.
No, Monsieur, it is full twenty years now since the first light of it
glimmered upon César Prévost's mind, and he gave ten years of his life
to it--ten faithful years--before it was perfect to his satisfaction.
Ah, Monsieur, and 'tis more than one year now that I have been what you
see me, in consequence of it. _Eh, bien!_ I shall die so,--rightly,--but
my discovery shall live forever.

"But pardon, Monsieur,--I see that you are impatient. You shall
immediately hear all I have to say,--after I have, in a few words, given
you a brief insight into the nature of my invention. Come, then!--Has it
ever occurred to Monsieur to reflect upon that something which we call
_Sympathy?_ The philosophers, you know, and the physiologists, the
followers of that _coquin_, Mesmer, and the _bêtes_ Spiritualists, as
they now dub themselves,--these have written, talked, and speculated
much about it. I doubt not these fellows have aided Monsieur
in perplexing his brain respecting the diverse, the world-wide
ramifications of this physiological problem. The limits, indeed,
of Sympathy have not been, cannot be, rightly set or defined; and
there are those who embrace under such a capitulation half the
dark mysteries that bother our heads when we think of Life's
under-current,--instinct,--clairvoyance,--trance,--ecstasy,--all the
dim and inner sensations of the Spirit, where it touches the Flesh as
perceptibly, but as unseen and unanalyzed, as the kiss of the breeze at
evening. _Sans doute,_ Monsieur, 'tis very wonderful, all this,--and
then, also, 'tis very convenient. Our ships must have a steersman, you
know. And, _par exemple,_ unless we call it sympathetic, that strange
susceptibility which we see in many persons, detect in ourselves
sometimes, what name have we to give it at all? Unless we call it
sympathy, how shall we define those mysterious premonitions, shadowy
warnings, solemn foretokens, that fall upon us now and then as the dew
falls upon the grass-leaf, that make our blood to shiver and our flesh
to quake, and will not by any means permit themselves to be passed by
or nullified? 'T is a fact that is irrepressible; and, in persons with
imagination of morbid tendency, this spontaneous sympathy takes a
hold so strong as to present visibly the image about which there is
concern,--and, behold! your veritable spectre is begotten! So, again, of
your 'love at first sight,' _comme on dit_,--that inevitable attraction
which one person exerts towards another, in spite, it may be, both of
reason and judgment. If this be not child of sympathy, what parentage
shall we assign it? And antipathy, Monsieur, the medal's reverse,--your
_bête noire_, for instance,--expound me that! Why do you so shudder at
sight of this or that innocent object? You cannot reason it away,--'t is
always there; you cannot explain it, nor diagnose its symptoms,--'t is
a part of you, governed by the same laws that govern your 'elective
affinities' throughout. But note, Monsieur! You and I and man in general
are not alone in this: the whole organic world--nay, some say the entire
universe, inorganic as well as organic--is subject to these impalpable
sympathetic forces. Is the hypothesis altogether fanciful of chemical
election and rejection,--of the kiss and the kick of the magnet? Your
Sensitive-Plant, your Dionea, your Rose of Jericho, your Orinoco-blossom
that sets itself afloat in superb faith that the ever-moving waters
will bring it to meet its mate and lover,--are not these instances of
sympathy? And tell me by what means your eye conquers the furious dog
that would bite you,--tell me how that dog is able to follow your
traces, and to find the quail or the fox for you,--tell me how the cat
chills the bird it would spring upon,--how the serpent fascinates its
victim with a flash of its glittering eye. Our 'dumb beasts' yet have a
language of their own, unguessed of us, yet perfectly intelligible
to them,--how? We call this, Instinct. _Eh, bien, Monsieur!_ what is
Instinct, but Sympathy?

"Bah! it amounts to nothing, all this, if we only look at it in such
relations. For centuries have _stupides_ bothered their brains about
such matters, seeking to account for them. As well devote one's time to
puzzling over 'Aelia Laelia'! Mysteries were not meant to be put in
the spelling-books, Monsieur. Ah, bah! a far different path did
César Prévost pursue! He studied these phenomena, not to _explain_
them,--being too wise to dream of living _par amours_ with such barren
virgins as are Whence and Why (your Bacon was very shrewd, Monsieur).
What cared I about _causes_? Let Descartes, and Polignac, and Reid, and
Cudworth, _et id omne genus_, famish themselves in this desert; but ask
it not of César Prévost! He is always considerate to the impossible. He
says this, always:--Here we have certain interesting phenomena; their
causes are involved in mystery impenetrable; their esoteric nature is
beyond the reach of any microscope;--what then? My Heaven! let us do
what we _can_ with them. Let us seek out their _relations_; let us
investigate the laws regulating their interdependence,--if there be such
laws; and _aprés_, let us inquire if there be any _practical results_
obtainable from such relations and laws.

"You follow me, Monsieur? _Eh, bien!_ This was the system, and César
Prévost came speedily to _one_ law,--a law so important, that, like
Aaron's serpent, it put all the rest out of sight forever, engrossing
thereafter his whole attention. This law, which pervades the entire
animal economy, and is of course important in proportion to its
universality, is as follows:--_The sympathetic harmony between animals,
other things being equal, is _IN INVERSE PROPORTION _to their rank
in that scale of comparison in which man is taken as the maximum of
perfection._ Consequently, man is most deficient in this instinctive
something, which, for lack of a better term, I have ventured to style
'sympathetic harmony,' while the simplest organization has it most
developed. This last, you perceive, Monsieur, is only inductively
true;--when we get below a certain stage in the scale, we find the
difficulties of observation increase in a larger ratio than the
augmented sympathy, and so we are not compensated; 't is, for instance,
like the telescope, where, after you have reached a certain power, the
deficiency of light overbalances the degree of multiplication. Knowing
this, my first aim was to find out what animal would suit best,--what
one that could be easily observed was most susceptible, most
sympathetic. 'T was a long labor, Monsieur; I shall not tire you with
the details. Enough that I found in the _snail_ the instrument I
needed,--and in the snail of the Rocky Mountains the most perfect of his
kind. You smile, Monsieur. _Eh, bien!_ 't is not philosophic to laugh at
the means by which one achieves something. Smile how you will, 't is a
fact that in the snail which is so common and grows to such an enormous
size in the valleys and on the slopes of your great Cordilleras I found
an animal combining a maximum of sympathetic harmony with the greatest
facility of being observed, the best health and habits, and the utmost
simplicity of _prononcée_ manifestation. But, you ask, what seek I,
then? My Heaven, Monsieur! there was the grand Idea,--the Idea upon
which I build my pride,--the Idea that is _mine!_ When it came to me,
Monsieur, this Idea, a great calm filled all my soul, and I felt then
the spirit of Kepler, when he said he could wait during centuries to
be recognized, since the laws he had demonstrated were eternal and
immutable as the Great God Himself! Yes, Monsieur! For in that crude,
undeveloped Idea were already germinating the wonders of an achievement
grander than any of Schwartz, or Guttenberg, or Galileo. Oh, this
beautiful, grand simplicity of Science, which was able, from the snail
itself, the very type and symbol and byword of torpidity and inaction,
to evolve what was to conquer time and space,--to outrun the wildest
imaginings of Puck himself!"

----What a coltish fire of enthusiasm pranced in the worthy little
Frenchman's veins, to be sure!

"_Eh, bien!_ Now, distance made no matter; it was forever subdued.
I could as soon send messages to the Sun itself as to my next-door
neighbor! Smile on, Monsieur! César Prévost shall not be piqued at your
incredulity. He also was amazed, prostrated, when all the stupendous
consequences of his discovery first flashed upon his mind; and it was
very long before he could rid his mind of the notion that he was become
victim to the phantasms of a ridiculous dream. _Eh, bien!_ 't was very
simple, once analyzed. Know one fact, and you have all. And this one
fact, so simple, yet so grand, was just this:--_That a male and female
snail, having been once, by contact, put in communication with one
another, so as to become what magnetizers call en rapport the one with
the other, continue ever after to sympathize, no matter what space may
divide them._ 'T is in a nutshell, you perceive,--and giving me the
entire principle of an unlimited telegraphic communication. All that was
to do was to systematize it. Tedious work, you may conceive, Monsieur;
yet I did not shrink from it, nor find it irksome, for my assured
result was ever leading me onward. Ah, bah! what did I not dream

"I was not rich, and so, to save the trouble and expense of importing
my snails to Paris,--vast trouble and expense, of course, since my
experiments were so numerous,--I came across the Atlantic, and fixed
myself at a point near St. Louis, where I could study in peace and have
the subjects of my experiments close at hand. I used to pay the trappers
liberally to get my snails for me, instructing them how to gather and
how to transport them; and to divert all suspicion from my real
objects, I pretended to be a _gourmet_, who used the snails solely for
gastronomic purposes,--whereby, Monsieur," said César Prévost, with
a humorous smile, "I was unfortunate enough to inspire the hearty
_garçons_ with a supreme contempt for me, and they used to say I 'vas
not bettaire zan one blarsted Digger Injun!' _Mon Dieu!_ what martyrs
the votaries of Science have been, always!

"_Eh, bien!_ I shall not bother you with my experiments. In brief, let
me give you only results, so as to be just comprehensible. Given my law,
I had to find, _first,_ the manner exactly in which snails manifest
their sympathy, the one for the other,--_c'est à dire,_ how Snail A
tells you that something is happening to his comrade, Snail B. There was
a constant law for this, hard to find, but I achieved it. _Second,_
to make my telegraph perfect, and pat my system beyond the touch of
accident, I had to discover how to _destroy_ the _rapport_ between
Snails A and B. Unless I could do this, I could never be sure my
instruments were perfectly isolated, so to speak. 'Twas a difficult
task, Monsieur; for the snail is the most constant in its attachments of
all the animal kingdom, and I have known them to die, time and again,
because their mates had died,--

  "'Pining away in a green and yaller melancholie,'

"as your grand poet has it, Monsieur. Still, I succeeded, and I am very
proud to announce it;--'twas a great feat, indeed--no less than to
_subvert an instinct!_ _Third_, I found out the way to keep them
perfectly isolated, so as to prevent any subvention of a higher
influence from weakening or destroying the previous _rapport_.
_Fourth,_ what sort of influence brought to bear upon Snail B would be
sympathetically indicated most palpably in Snail A. So, Monsieur, you
may fancy I had my hands full.

"But I succeeded, after long labor. Then I spent much time in seeking to
perfect an Alphabetical System, and also a Recording Apparatus, capable
of exactly setting forth the _quality_ of the sympathy manifested, as
well as the _number_ of the manifestations. When these things were
all perfected, I should have a complete system of Telegraph, which no
circumstances of time, distance, or atmosphere could impair, which would
put on record its every step, and permit no opportunity for error or for

"_Eh, bien!_ Man proposes,--God disposes. Monsieur, when I began my
experiments, when I devoted myself, my energies, and my life itself
to developing and utilizing my discovery, my motives were purely,
exclusively scientific. My sole aim was to win the position of an
eminent _savant,_ who, by conferring a signal benefit upon the race,
should merit the common applause of mankind. But, as time wore on, as
my labors began to be successful, as the grand possibilities of my
achievement arrayed themselves before me, other dreams usurped my
brain. I, the inventor of this thing, so glorious in its aspect, so
incomputable in its results,--was I to permit myself to go without
reward? Fame? Ah, bah! what bread would Fame butter? 'Twas a bubble, a
name, an empty, profitless sound, this _coquin_ of Fame! _'Proximus
sum egomet mihi,'_ says Terence,--or, as your English proverb has
it, 'Charity begins at home.' I bethought me of the usual fate of
discoverers and inventors,--neglected, scoffed at, ill-used, left to
starve. The blesser of the world with infinite riches must nibble his
crust _au sixième._ Why, then? Because, in their sublime eagerness to
serve others, they forget to care for themselves. _Eh, bien!_ One must
still keep his powder dry, said your great Protector. This discovery was
to double the effectiveness of men's hands,--therefore, was grandly to
enrich them. But could it not be also made a notable instrument for
wealth in _one_ man's hands? Ah! brave thought! How, if, none the less
resolved to give man eventually the benefit of my Idea, I should yet
keep it in abeyance, till I had made my own sufficient profit out of it?
It could be done;--surely, to use it well were less difficult than to
have invented it. So dreams of wealth and luxury began to fill my brain.
I would enrich myself till I had become a _power_, emphatically,--till
all purchasable things were within my reach. Then I should likewise
become a benefactor of the race; for my intentions were liberal, and
intelligence sustained adequately can effect miracles. Then, when I had
made myself veritably the Apostle of Riches, I would put the capstone
to man's debt to me, by endowing him with knowledge in the uses of this
great instrument whereby I had made myself so great. Ah, Monsieur, you
see, Haroun Alraschid had set me on his throne for an hour by way of
jest, and I imagined myself Caliph in Bagdad forever!

"Full of such purposes, and of the fiery impatience of yearning begotten
of them, I hastened to bring my work to efficiency for use. I had worked
in silence, alone, secretly; for I dreaded to have my discovery guessed,
my aims anticipated and foreclosed upon. But, hasten how I would,
the processes were too slow for my means,--and just when, like the
alchemist, my crucible promised the grand projection, came the dreaded
explosion. My money exhausted itself! I found myself, a stranger in a
strange land, without a dollar. _Eh, bien, Monsieur!_ 't is not in César
Prévost to despair. Ah, in those days, especially, had I a heart big
with the strength of hope! To accomplish my ends, a partner was needed
at best, money or no money; so now it was only necessary for me to find
one who to the essential qualities of heart and brain conjoined a purse
of sufficient size. Before long, I came across the very man. Monsieur,
when I recall the past, I behold many instances where I erred and was
foolish; but the single bitter reflection I have is, that my own ruin
involved the ruin of John Meavy, my partner and good comrade. I remember
what he was when I found him,--happy, prosperous, large-hearted,--in
every sense a noble man. I ruined him! Ah, could I but--_Eh, bien!_ 't
is too late, now; he is dead; _requiescat!_ I have the bliss to know he
found no fault with the end.--_Passons!_

"When I first knew John Meavy, he was a merchant, living with the quiet
ease of a well-to-do bachelor. Though he had been brought up to trade,
the stain of money was not upon him. Generous, charitable, liberal of
thought, he was the gentlest enthusiast in other men's behalf that ever
the sun shone on. It was the fact that he possessed fifty thousand
dollars and was trustworthy that first drew rue towards him; but I
had not known him long ere I gave him my ardent love, and thereafter
thoughts of wealth were pleasant to me as much for his sake as for my
own. John was a student, and a lover of Science, as well as a man of
trade; and, in the first moments of our intercourse, I took care to let
drop words that I knew would attract his curiosity and interest. Like
all you Americans, John Meavy was a man of perfect faith in all that
regarded 'Progress,' and especially did he believe in the infinite
perfectibility of Science in the hands of an energetic people. This
was the chord upon which I played, and the responsive note was easily
evoked. He sought me out, came to me eagerly, and, by degrees, I
divulged to him all my plans. He was ambitious to work for mankind, and
I convinced him that I could give him the means to do so. My faith,
Monsieur! that John Meavy had not one least morsel of selfishness in all
his character! How far was he from dreaming of wealth for its own sake,
and for the voluptuous surroundings with which my fancy enlarged upon
it! No, indeed,--my invention to John Meavy was nothing; but, as a means
to profit you and me and the rest of us, 't was a thing of the grandest
import. So, at first, he would not have had us keep our secret for a
day; but I--by a sophistry that is only sophistic when we add to the
consideration man's impotent and easily perverted will--brought him into
my plans, showing him what an instrument for good vast riches would be
in his hands. And he was the more easily persuaded because of the very
grand purity of his nature. _Sans doute_, he felt it to be altogether
true, what I told him, that, in _his_ hands, a hundred million dollars
would be worth more to mankind at large than the whole French kingdom.
_Mais, Monsieur_, you cannot own a hundred millions and be good. As
well expect to find the same virtue in London that prevails in a quiet
country-town. You cannot filter oceans, Monsieur, and the dead fish in
them _will_ cause a stink. But I did not know this till afterwards.

"So, having inoculated John, I bestowed upon him my confidence without
reserve; for I knew he was one to appreciate such treatment, and would
repay me in kind. 'Here it all is, _mon ami_,' said I; 'this is my
invention; these the means for reducing it to practice; money is all I
need. If you will join me, and provide the funds required, we will enter
into a partnership for ten years, enrich ourselves, and then give it to
all the world.'

"'Ten years! must the world wait so long?'

"'The world has waited six thousand years for this century, _camarade_.
We shall require so long to enrich ourselves. And then, remember,--the
longer they are kept out of it, the more perfect will our invention
be, and, consequently, the greater their profit from it. Science has
suffered too much already by its seven-months' children, my good friend.
_Eh, bien!_ What say you? Will you be my partner?'

"'Yes, César. 'T is a noble scheme, such as only a noble man could
originate. But, Prévost, do not speak to me of an equal partnership. I
must not pattern after my country's way of overlooking the inventor. Let
us go into business upon this basis:--Prévost one share, John Meavy one
share, Invention one share.'

"'Bah! John Meavy!' I cried. 'If I have discovered something, so also
have you, namely: a pocket deep enough, a heart honest enough, and a
faith strong enough to make that something available;--I expected sooner
to find the philosopher's-stone than all these, good friend. No, John
Meavy,--if you share with me, you share equally. Then I shall be sure
that you are equally interested with myself; so we shall succeed.'

"_Eh, bien!_ We arranged it; and that very day, after I had pointed out
to John the state of my experiments, my noble comrade took me with him
to his place of business, put all his books open before me, explained
exactly the condition of his affairs, and concluded by giving me a check
for five thousand dollars. 'There,' said he, 'take that, pay your
debts, provide for yourself, and go on and reduce your invention to the
practical working you speak about. Meantime, I will wind up my business
in readiness to join you. Six months from now, the firm of Prévost and
Meavy, established to-day, will begin business together.'

"_Mon pauvre_ John Meavy!

"_Eh bien, Monsieur!_" resumed the little Frenchman, after a short
pause,--"one cannot help one's self, after it is too late. _Allons,
donc!_--I had lately, thinking over the matter in the light of my
intense desire to begin a career, and under the pressure of urgent
poverty, given up the notion of bringing my invention to absolute
perfection as a system of telegraphing. Instead of elaborating a
complete alphabet, I proposed to carry into effect a substitute already
perfected, one simple almost beyond belief, needing few preparations,
involving trifling cost, and capable of being made immediately
operative. Further experience has taught me that the very same means,
aided by a little deeper generalization, and an arbitrary set of
signals, would have given me an entire alphabet. But just now I had no
time to extend my experiments, needing all my time to make sure and
acquire skill in what was already achieved. I must insure against the
chance of mistake; for when we were applying our invention to the
acquisition of money, any error would necessarily be fatal.

"The six months went rapidly by, and before they were over I was all
ready. But John said, 'Wait!' He saw no need of hurry; and his affairs
were not quite settled. _Eh, bien!_ I tranquillized my eager, impatient
soul by gaining an insight into the art of book-keeping and the theory
and practice of trade. At last the probationary period expired, and,
prompt to the hour, my comrade announced his readiness to begin our
business. The friends of John Meavy were reluctant to have him leave St.
Louis. They did not know what enterprise he was about to join in; but
they heard that I had some share in it, and they did not scruple to hint
that I might be an adventurer, who would 'diddle' him out of his money.
However, John only smiled, and told me all they said, in his frank way,
as if it were some good joke. So, finally, we took leave of St. Louis,
and came to New York, to organize the great house of Meavy & Prévost:
John bearing his share in the concern, forty odd thousand dollars, with
many letters to persons of eminence and influence; and I carefully
seeing to _my_ share,--a few scientific works, some valuable chemical
apparatus, and two dozen jars full of Rocky Mountain snails! _Eh, bien,
Monsieur!_ my stock in trade was _magnifique_, in comparison with that
with which my compatriot Girard commenced business.

"By John's advice, we began our operations in a plain, quiet way, as
exporters of breadstuffs. This we did, first, that the firm might make
itself well enough known, and gain the confidence of the Bourse, so that
the doors might be open to our subsequent operations; that I, secondly,
might learn the business, and secure the proper recognition as John's
partner. Meantime, John was making himself familiar with the way to
practise my invention; and both of us, gaining daily assurance of our
power by reason of the discovery, were also daily increasing in love and
confidence for each other. Happy days, those, Monsieur! _Eh, bien!_ had
the invention only proved a fiction then!

"In another six months we had matured our plans, and, as our present
business seemed lamentably slow in the light of my gigantic projects, I
was eager enough to begin work in earnest. I had proved our telegraph
thoroughly, and, ere I set out for London, to establish there a branch
of the house of John Meavy & Co., I advised my good comrade to venture
largely, so as to turn our capital over as often as possible, for there
was no room for doubt or fear. But John did not guess how high I dreamed
of rising in fortune; _he_ had no ambition to rival the Rothschilds.

"Monsieur, let me explain to you now the system of work we had agreed
upon, and each slightest detail of which was perfectly familiar to
us from constant manipulation, so that mistake or mishap, from any
conceivable cause, was utterly impossible.

"Our business, nominally the buying of breadstuffs for exportation, was
really one of speculation upon the New York market _as affected_ by the
European markets,--a species of brokerage, which, ostensibly and in
the eyes of the world attended by great risk, was really a thing of
specifically safe and certain profits, thanks to the telegraphic system,
the secret of which we alone possessed. In our tentative efforts, we
fixed upon _flour_ as the best-adapted subject for our experiments,
being a commodity simple to deal with, and requiring fewer complications
in our arrangements than anything else. But, in my own private mind, I
had resolved, that, as soon as our capital had grown large enough,
and our credit was become sufficiently extensive, we would change our
business to that of buying and selling cotton, as a better speculative;
or, perhaps, would enter upon that grand arena of sudden fortune and
sudden ruin, the stock-market. For the present, however, flour suited
us well enough. It is well known, that, at that time, much more than at
present, the price of breadstuffs in New York was regulated by the price
in Liverpool. But Monsieur is not a merchant, I think? _Eh, bien_!--then
I must take care to make myself intelligible. You know, Monsieur, that,
in the stock-market especially, and more or less in every other kind of
speculation, the greater part of the transactions are _fictitious_, to
a certain extent. _Par exemple:_ you buy or you sell so many barrels of
flour, at such a price, _on time_, as it is called,--that is, you engage
to receive, or to deliver, so many barrels, at the prices and in the
times agreed upon, in the hope, that, before the period of your contract
comes round, prices will have so varied as to enable you to buy, or
sell, the quantity bargained for, upon terms that will give you a
profit. In a word, you simply agree to _run the risk_ of a change
of prices such as to give you a profitable return. The operation is
identical with that of betting that such a card will be turned, or
that such a horse will win in a race, or such a candidate be elected
President. On 'Change we are charitable enough to suppose each
speculator possessed of _data_ such as to make his venture seem
reasonable to himself. This is the system, and, though very like
gambling, it has the advantage of presenting to men of small means the
chance of large profits, provided they are willing to run the risk;
since, while with a capital of ten thousand dollars I could make an
_actual_ purchase of only two thousand barrels of flour at five dollars
a barrel, the profit on which, at an advance of twenty-five cents per
barrel, would be very small,--by risking _all_ my money upon a single
venture, and leaving myself a 'margin' of fifty cents to cover the
greatest probable decline in price per barrel, I may purchase 'on time'
all of twenty thousand barrels, the profit upon which, at the same rate,
would be equal to fifty per cent of my entire capital. This is the
legitimate system by which such rapid fortunes are made and lost upon
'Change. Now suppose, that, operating in this way, you are in possession
of a secret means of intelligence, instantaneous, to be relied on,
peculiar to yourself,--does not Monsieur perceive that it insures one
a fortune incalculable, and to be made within the shortest time? If I
to-day learn that to-morrow's steamer will bring news that cotton has
advanced one cent a pound, of course I am justified in buying cotton to
the utmost extent that my capital and credit will afford me means, being
sure of selling it to-morrow at a higher price; and if I am continually
in the receipt of similar information, I can turn my capital over fifty
times in a year, and double it every time. There is actually _no limit_
to the possible fortune of a man who is so favored, provided he conjoins
prudence and boldness to his manner of transacting business. The
supplying of such secret and unshared information to the firm of John
Meavy & Co. was the end of my invention, Monsieur. I was to go to
Liverpool, and act as signaller, while he was to stay in New York,
receive the information, and buy or sell in accordance with it.

"Our apparatus was very simple. At each terminus of our line, so to
speak, we had a room, inaccessible save to ourselves. These rooms,
darkened, and carefully kept at a fixed temperature, contained nothing,
save, in one corner of each, a chronometer regulated with precision,
and, in opposite corners, a set of boxes, containing each a snail. At
the signalling end, at a fixed hour, which the chronometer gives with
the greatest accuracy, and when I know that my partner, by agreement,
will be present at the other end to receive intelligence, I go into my
room, informed as to the condition of the Liverpool market, and prepared
to transmit particulars of the same to him. Here are two boxes, divided
into three compartments each, and a _male_ snail in each compartment.
If flour is down, offering a chance for profit in New York upon 'time'
sales, I approach the box marked _minus_, the three snails of which are
called _x_, _y_, and _z_. I take up a little tube,--such a one as is
used by chemists to drop infinitesimal portions of any liquid; I dip
this into a vial marked _No_. 1, containing a solution of salt in
water,--there is a row of these vials, the solution in each being of a
different strength,--and then, with the moistened tube, I touch snail
_x_, or snail _y_, or snail _z_, or any two of them, or all three, once,
twice, three times, or repeatedly, according to the news I wish to
signal,--noting the effect of the poison, and recording the particulars
in a book kept for the purpose,--recording them with a nicety of
intelligent discrimination such as can be obtained only by long and
practised observation. I send an abstract of this record by every mail
to my partner, so as to verify our results and to detect immediately any
derangement. At _his_ end of our line the brave John Meavy waits before
two similar boxes, in each compartment of which is a _female_ snail. He
is a skilled observer, and his quick eve beholds snails _a_, _b_, _c_
exactly (through sympathy) _repeating_ the effects I am producing in
_x_, _y_, _z_,--though the distance between them is over three thousand
miles! He knows the meaning of these slight effects, and, going upon
'Change, buys or sells with a perfect assurance of profit.

"Such was my telegraph, in its rudest outline; but I had systematized it
to a degree of far greater nicety. I provided entirely against man's
imperfect and defective powers of observation. These movements and
squirmings, which in snails _x_, _y_, _z_, were the effect of a physical
cause, (salt-water.) were, in snails _a_, _b_, _c_, the result of
sympathy for _x_, _y_, _z_, as I have said,--a result constant,
determinate, and always to be depended upon. That is the _law_ of
their _rapport_,--not a _theory_, but a _law_, established by long,
exhaustive, and conclusive experimentation. The reason for it I
cannot assign,--did not pretend to investigate; but the _fact_ I had
ascertained: _x_, _y_, _z_, so touched, squirm, contract, and expand
their articulations, and exude from their pores a certain slimy sweat,
of agony it may be,--anyhow, a slimy exudation comes from them,
--and, _simultaneously_, and _just as much_ in kind, degree, quality,
everything, snails _a_, _b_, _c_ repeat the process. Such is the law,
constant as gravitation. Consequently, all that the _operator_ has to
concern himself about is, to understand that so many touches, with fluid
of such intensity, to so many snails, and repeated so often, produce
such and such an effect upon them, as, collectively considered, to
convey, through _a_, _b_, _c_, a certain piece of information. Knowing
this, skill in manipulation and accurate memory are all the qualities
he requires to conjoin to such knowledge. But the _observer_ has a much
more delicate office to perform, and, until I invented my recording
apparatus, the functions of this post could be discharged only roughly
and imperfectly, so evanescent and complex the manifestations. But I
discovered a _chemical_ observer, employing tests that nothing could
escape, nor anything deceive. The clock that indicates the hour for
receipt of news puts in motion the filaments of certain delicate
machinery connected with the boxes wherein are _a_, _b_, _c_. These
snails are placed upon a gauze-like substance, which, though firm enough
to support them undisturbed, permits both their natural excretions, and
their exudations under excitement, to filter through readily. As soon
as the hour comes, the machinery moves, and there begins to pass the
_recording paper_, so to speak, which I invented,--a paper not meant
to receive any vulgar mechanical impression, but one which, to the
instructed eye, and by the aid of the microscope, sets forth in _plain
language_ the nature of the functional disturbance in each snail, its
quality, its intensity, and its duration. I do not exaggerate, Monsieur.
This paper, in a word, is chemically prepared, saturated in a substance
that renders it perfectly sympathetic to whatever fluid exudes from the
snail, and thus, and by means of its motion, it records the quantity and
quality of the impression with unvarying accuracy. The observing hour
over, the clock-work stops, the paper is examined, and the result
recorded carefully. _Par exemple:_ I touch snail _x_, once, twice, three
times, with the weak solution, No. 1; John Meavy, receiving this fact,
through the sympathetic report of snail _a_, the chemical paper, and the
microscope, reads, as plainly as if it had been printed in pica type:
'_Flour declined threepence_.' If the fluid used is stronger, the
touches more numerous, and bestowed upon _y_ and _z_ also,--then the
decline or advance is proportionately great. Is it not a grandly simple
thing, this telegraph of mine, Monsieur?"

----I was dazzled, perplexed,--so entirely new, strange, incredible was
all this to me; but I expressed to the little Frenchman, in what terms I
could command, my profound sense of his genius and originality.

"_Eh, bien!_ I went to Europe," resumed he, "and John Meavy, my brave
comrade, stayed in New York, buying and selling flour, and turning over
his capital with a rapidity of success that surprised everybody; while
his modest demeanor, his chivalry of manner, and his noble generosity
won the admission of all, that Prosperity chose well, when she elected
John for her favorite.

"At the end of a year we were worth nearly half a million of dollars,
and our credit was perfect. Then, however, John wrote for me to come
home. He was engaged to be married, he said, wanted me to be present at
the ceremony, and wished my aid in effecting some changes in our mode of
business. I was not unwilling, for I also had some suggestions to make.
I was tired of my place as operator; I yearned to quit my post of simple
spectator, and to plunge head-foremost into the strife of money-getting.
Apart from my irksome position, I felt myself more fit for John's
post than he was. As the capital we worked with increased, John waxed
cautious, and, most illogically, announced himself afraid to venture,
--as if his risk were not as great with ten thousand as with a million!
This did not suit me. I felt myself capable of using money as mere
counters, I divested it of all the terrors of magnitude, and thus I knew
I could do as much in proportion with five million dollars as with
five dollars. And the result, I was perfectly aware, would be to those
achieved by John as the elephant in his normal strength compares with
the elephant whose strength is to his size as the flea's strength to
_his_ size. John could take the flea's leap with five dollars, but was
satisfied with the elephant's leap with five million dollars.

"So I took the next steamer, reached New York safely, and was most
cordially welcomed by my noble John Meavy, who seemed exuberant with the
happiness in store for him. Before he would say a word about business,
he insisted upon taking me to his betrothed's, and introduced me to his
lovely Cornelia. He had chosen well, Monsieur: his bride was worthy a
throne; she was worthy John Meavy himself,--a woman refined, charming,
entirely perfect. At John's solicitation, I was his groomsman; I
accompanied him upon his wedding-tour; and mine was the last hand he
clasped, as he stood on the steamer's deck, on his way to Europe to take
my place at the head of the Liverpool house. How many kind words he
lavished upon me! how many a good and kindly piece of advice he murmured
in my ear at that farewell moment! Ah! I do not think John wished to go
thither; he was ever a home-body; and I am sure his wife disliked it
much. But they saw it was my desire, they seemed to regard me as the
builder-up of their fortunes, and they yielded without a murmur. _Bête_
that I was! Yet I was not selfish, Monsieur. Building up in dreams my
fortune Babel-high, I built up also ever the fortune of John Meavy and
his peerless wife to a point just as near the clouds. _Eh, bien!_ it
amounted to nothing in the end, all this; but--I was not selfish!

"Our business was nominally the old one; but, in fact, in accordance
with the new arrangements John and I had agreed upon, I was to begin
cotton-speculation, and John was to keep me informed regarding the
fluctuations of the Liverpool market in that staple. My first efforts,
though successful of necessity, were small, I wished John to gain
confidence in my mode of conducting the business, before I ventured upon
more extensive operations.

"Meantime, John's letters put me in continual fine spirits. He kept his
telegraphic apparatus at home, and so was much with Cornelia. He and his
wife, he said, were very happy; people could not love one another more
than they did. He blessed me a thousand times, because my invention had
taken him to New York, and so had enabled him to meet Cornelia. But--ah,
these 'buts,' Monsieur!--if you will search long enough the brightest,
the clearest blue sky, you will always find some little speck, some
faint film of cloud,--'t is your 'but,' Monsieur!--John fancied his
wife was not altogether so happy as it was possible for her to be. She
did not like the cold, colorless Liverpool, nor the foggy people there.
She pined a little, perhaps, for old home-associations, wrote John.
Could I not think of some means to increase her content? I knew the
human heart so well; I was such a genius, moreover. Ah, bah! Monsieur,
't is the old song: I felt myself capable of sweeping the little cloud
from the sky also, as I had done everything else,--I, this sublime
genius! Monsieur, a moment look upon him, this genius, this triple blind
fool! _Eh, bien!_ I considered:--Cornelia, like all tender, susceptible
people, owes much to _little things_. She will not have to remain there
long; meantime, can I not revive in her mind the associations to which
she is used, and so both make her happy and bless my good comrade, John
Meavy? How, then? Once, during John's wedding-trip, we had stopped one
evening in a little country-town, and while we were there, talking
pleasantly by the open window, a mocking-bird, caged before a house
across the way, had struck up a perfect symphony of his rich and
multitudinous song. Cornelia was delighted beyond measure, and seemed to
yearn for the bird. John tried to buy it; but it was a pet; its owners
were well-to-do, and would not sell: so Cornelia had to go away without
it, and I fancied she was greatly chagrined, though, of course, she said
nothing, and seemed soon to forget it. So now the notion came to me:--I
will send Cornelia a mocking-bird. Its music will charm her,--its notes
will recall a thousand sounds of home,--it will give her occupation,
something to think about and to care for, until more important cares
intervene,--and so it will help to banish this _triste_ mood of _ennui.
Eh, bien!_ I soon had a very fine bird. Ah, Monsieur, I cannot tell
you what a fine bird was that fellow,--_Don Juan_ his name,--such an
arch-rascal! such a merry eye he had! such a proud, Pompadour throat!
such volumes of song! such splendid powers of mimicry! I kept him
with me a week to test his gifts, and I began to envy Cornelia her
treasure,--he was so tame, so bold, so intelligent. In that week, by
whistling to him in my leisure hours, I taught him to perform almost
perfectly that lively _aria_ of Meyerbeer's, _'Folle è quei che l'oro
aduna,'_ and also to mimic beautifully the chirping of a cricket. Well,
I sent _Don Juan_ out, and received due information of his safe arrival.
The medicine acted like a charm. Cornelia wrote me a grateful letter,
full of enthusiastic praises of 'her pet, her darling, the dearest,
sweetest, cutest little bird that ever anybody owned.' And I was more
than rewarded by the heartfelt thanks of my noble John Meavy. _Diantre!_
had I only wrung the thing's neck!

"_Eh, bien!_ The period upon which I calculated for my grand speculative
_coup_ had nearly arrived. Owing to a variety of circumstances, the
cotton-market had for some months been in a very perturbed condition;
and I, who had closely scrutinized its aspects, felt sure that before
long there would be some decided movement that would make itself felt
to all the financial centres. This movement I resolved to profit by, in
order to achieve riches at a single stroke. I had recommended John to
increase his observations, and keep me carefully preadvised of every
change. But I did not tell him how extensively I meant to operate, for
I knew 't would make him anxious, and, moreover, I wished to dazzle him
with a sudden magnificent achievement. Well, things slowly drew towards
the point I desired. There was a certain war in embryo, I thought, the
inevitable result of which would be to beat down the price of cotton to
a minimum. Would the war come off? A steamer arrived with such news as
made it certain that another fortnight would settle the question. How
anxiously, how tremulously I watched my telegraph then,--noting down all
the fluctuations so faithfully reported to me by John Meavy,--all my
brain on fire with visions of unwonted, magnificent achievement! For
two days the prices wavered and rippled to and fro, like the uncertain
rippling of the waters at turning of the tide. Then, on the morning of
the third day, the long-expected change was announced, and in a way that
startled me, prepared though I was,--so violent was the decline. Down,
down, down, down to the very lowest! reported my faithful snails. I did
not need to consult the sympathetic paper, for the agonized writhings of
the poor animals spoke plainly enough to the naked eye. I seized my hat,
rushed to my office, and began my grand _coup. Eh, bien!_ I shall not go
into details. Suffice it to say, for three days I was in communication
with cotton men all over the country; and, without becoming known abroad
as the party at work, I sold 'on time' such a quantity of 'the staple'
that my operations had the effect to put down the prices everywhere; and
if John Meavy's report were correct, our profits during those three days
would exceed three millions of dollars! Having now done all I could, and
feeling completely worn out, I went home, for the first time since
the news, flung myself upon a bed, and slept an unbroken sleep during
twenty-four hours. After that, refreshed and gay, I went once more to
the operating-room to see what further reports had arrived since I had
received the decisive intelligence. Decisive, indeed! Monsieur, when I
looked through the glass lids into the boxes, there lay my snails, stiff
and dead! Not only my faithful ones, _a, b, c,_ but likewise the _plus_
ones, _d, e, f!_ Yes, there they lay, _plus_ and _minus,_ each in his
compartment, convulsed and distorted, as if their last agonies had been
terrible to endure! Stiff and dead! _Mon Dieu, Monsieur!_ and I had
pledged the name and credit of the house of John Meavy and Co. to an
extent from which there _could_ be no recovery, if aught untoward had
happened! _Eh, bien. Monsieur!_ César Prévost is fortunate in a very
elastic temperament. Yet I did not dare think of John Meavy. However, if
the thing was done, it was too late for remedy now. _Eh, bien!_ I
would wait. Meantime, I carefully examined to see if any cause was
discoverable to have produced these deaths. None. 'T was irresistible,
then, that the cause was at John's end. What? An accident,--perhaps,
nervous, he had dosed them too heavily; but--I dared not think about
it,--I would only--wait!

"_Eh, bien, Monsieur!_ It would be seven days yet before I could get
news. I waited,--waited calmly and composedly. _Mon Dieu!_ they talk of
heroism in leading a forlorn hope,--César Prévost was a hero for those
eight days. I do not think about them even now.

"On the third day came a steamer with news of uncertain import, but on
the whole favorable. By the same advice a letter reached me from my old
comrade, John Meavy: his affairs were prosperous, he and his wife very
happy, and _Don Juan_ more charming than ever.

"Monsieur, the fourth day came,--the fifth,--the sixth,--the
seventh,--finding me still waiting. No one, to see me, could have
guessed I had not slept for a week. _Eh, bien!_ I will not dwell upon

"The morning of the eighth day came. I breakfasted, read my paper,
smoked my cigar, and walked leisurely to my counting-room. I answered
the letters. I sauntered round to bank, paid a note that had fallen due,
got a check cashed, and, having counted the money and secured it in my
pocket-book, I walked out and stood upon the bank-steps, talking with a
business-friend, who inquired after John Meavy. 'T was a pleasant theme
to converse about, this,--for _me!_

"A news-boy came running down Wall Street, with papers under his arm.
'Here you are!' he cried. 'Extray! Steamer just in! Latest news from
Europe! All 'bout the new alliance! Consols firm,--cotton riz! Extray,

"I bought one, and the boy ran off as I paid him and snatched the paper
from his hand.

"'You gave that rascal a gold dollar for a half-dime,' said my friend.

"'Did I?'

"A gold dollar! I wondered very quaintly what he would say, when, in a
few days, he heard of the failure of John Meavy & Co. for three millions
of dollars. A gold dollar!

"_Eh, bien, Monsieur!_ I shall not dwell upon it. Enough,--we were
ruined. I had played my grand _coup,_ and lost. For myself, nothing.
But--John Meavy! Oh, Monsieur, I could not think! I went to my office,
and sat there all day, stupid, only twirling my watch-key, and repeating
to myself,--'A gold dollar! a gold dollar!' The afternoon had nearly
gone when one of my clerks roused me:--'A letter for you, Mr. Prévost;
it came by the steamer to-day.'

"Monsieur," said the little Frenchman, producing a well-worn
pocket-book, and taking out from it a tattered, yellow sheet, which he
unfolded before me,--"Monsieur, you shall read that letter."

It was this:--


"You must blame me and poor _Don Juan_ for the suspension of your
Telegraph. I write, myself, to tell you how careless I have been; for
poor John is in such a state of agitation, and seems to fear such
calamities, that I will not let him write;--though what evil can come
of it, beyond the inconvenience, I cannot see, nor will he tell me. You
must answer this immediately, so as to prove to John that nothing has
gone wrong; and so give me a chance to scold this good husband of mine
for his vain and womanish apprehensions. But let me tell you how it
happened to the poor snails,--_Don Juan_ is so tame, that I do not
pretend to keep him shut up in his cage, but let him fly about our
sitting-room, just as he pleases. The next room to this, you know, is
the one where we kept the snails. I have been helping John with these
for some time, and it is my custom, when he goes on 'Change, to look
after the ugly creatures, and especially to open the boxes and give them
air. Well, this morning,--you must not scold me, César, for I have wept
enough for my carelessness, and as I write am trembling all over like
a leaf,--this morning, I went into the snail-room as usual, opened the
boxes, noted how well all six looked, and then, going to the window,
stood there for some minutes, looking out at the people across the way
preparing for the illumination to-night, (for we are going to have peace
at last, and every one is so rejoiced!) and forgetting entirely that I
had left open both the door of this room and that of the sitting-room
also, until I heard the flutter of _Don Juan's_ wings behind me. I
turned, and was horror-stricken to find him perched on the boxes,
and pecking away at the poor snails, as if they were strawberries! I
screamed, and ran to drive him off, but I was too late,--for, just as I
caught him, the greedy fellow picked up and swallowed the last one of
the entire six! I felt almost like killing _him,_ then; but I could
not,--nor could _you_ have done it, César, had you but seen the arch
defiance of his eye, as he fluttered out of my hands, flew back to his
cage, and began to pour forth a whole world of melody!

"My dear César, I know my carelessness was most culpable, but it
_cannot_ be so bad as John fears. Oh, if anything should happen now, by
my fault, when we are so prosperous and happy, I could never forgive
myself! Do write to me as soon as possible, and relieve the anxiety of

"Affectionately yours, CORNELIA."

The little Frenchman looked at me with a glance half sad, half comical,
as I returned the letter to him.

"_Eh, bien, Monsieur!_" said he, shrugging his shoulders,--"you've heard
my story. 'Twas fate,--what could one do?"

"But that is not all,--John Meavy,"--said I.

The little Frenchman looked very grave and sad.

"Monsieur, my brave _camarade,_ John Meavy, had been brought up in a
stern school. His ideas of credit and of mercantile honor were pitched
very high indeed. He imagined himself disgraced forever, and--he did not
survive it."

"You do not mean"----

"I mean, Monsieur, that I lost the bravest and truest and most generous
friend that ever man had, when John Meavy died. And that dose of Prussic
Acid should properly have gone to me, whose fault it all was, instead
of to him, so innocent. _Eh, bien, Monsieur!_ his lot was the happiest,
after all."

"But Cornelia?" said I, after a pause.

The little Frenchman rose, with a quiet and graceful air, full of
sadness, yet of courtesy; and I knew then that he was no longer my guest
and entertainer, but once more the chapman with his wares.

"Monsieur, Cornelia is under my protection. You will comprehend
_that_--after that--she has not escaped with impunity. Some little
strings snapped in the harp. She is _touchée_, here," said he, resting
one finger lightly upon his forehead,--"but 'tis all for the best, _sans
doute._ She is quiet, peaceable,--and she does not remember. She sits in
my house, working, and the bird sings to her ever. 'Tis a gallant bird,
Monsieur. And though I am poor, I can yet make some provision for her
comfort. She has good taste, and is very industrious. These baskets are
all of her make; when I have no other employ, I sell them about, and
use the money for her. _Eh, bien!_ 'tis a small price,--fifty cents; if
Monsieur will purchase one, he will possess a basket really handsome,
and will have contributed something to the comfort of one of the
Good God's _protégées. Mille remerciements, Monsieur,_--for this
purchase,--for your entertainment,--for your courtesy!

"_Bon jour, Monsieur!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

About half an hour after this, I had occasion to traverse one of the
corridors of Barnan's Hotel, when I saw a group of gentlemen, most of
whom sported "Atlantic Cable Charms" on their watchchains, gathered
about a person who had secured their rapt attention to some story he was

"_Eh, bien, Messieurs!_" I heard him say, in a peculiar naïve broken
English, "it would be yet seven days before I could get ze news,--and--I
wait. Oui! calm_lie_, composed_lie_, with insouciance beyond guess, I

"I wonder," said I to myself, as I passed on, "I wonder if M. César
Prévost's account of his remarkable invention of the First Atlantic
Telegraph have not some subtile connection with his desire to find as
speedy and remunerative a sale as possible for his pretty baskets!"


It is seldom that a woman becomes the world's talk but by some great
merit or fault of her own, or some rare qualification so bestowed by
Nature as to be incapable of being hidden. Great genius, rare beauty, a
fitness for noble enterprise, the venturous madness of passion, account
for ninety-nine cases in the hundred of a woman becoming the subject of
general conversation and interest. Lady Byron's was the hundredth case.
There was a time when it is probable that she was spoken of every day in
every house in England where the family could read; and for years the
general anxiety to hear anything that could be told of her was almost as
striking in Continental society and in the United States as in her own
country. Yet she had neither genius, nor conspicuous beauty, nor "a
mission," nor any quality of egotism which could induce her to brave the
observation of the world for any personal aim. She had good abilities,
well cultivated for the time when she was young; she was rather pretty,
and her countenance was engaging from its expression of mingled
thoughtfulness and brightness; she was as lady-like as became her birth
and training; and her strength of character was so tempered with modesty
and good taste that she was about the last woman that could have been
supposed likely to become celebrated in any way, or, yet more, to be
passionately disputed about and censured, in regard to her temper and
manners: yet such was her lot. No breath of suspicion ever dimmed her
good repute, in the ordinary sense of the expression: but to this day
she is misapprehended, wherever her husband's genius is adored; and she
is charged with precisely the faults which it was most impossible for
her to commit. For the original notoriety she was not answerable; but
for the protracted misapprehension of her character she was. She early
decided that it was not necessary or desirable to call the world into
council on her domestic affairs; her husband's doing it was no reason
why she should; and for nearly forty years she preserved a silence,
neither haughty nor sullen, but merely natural, on matters in which
women usually consider silence appropriate. She never inquired what
effect this silence had on public opinion in regard to her, nor
countenanced the idea that public opinion bore any relation whatever to
her private affairs and domestic conduct. Such independence and such
reticence naturally quicken the interest and curiosity of survivors;
and they also stimulate those who knew her as she was to explain her
characteristics to as many as wish to understand them, after disputing
about them for the lifetime of a whole generation.

Anne Isabella Noel Milbanke (that was her maiden name) was an only
child. Her father, Sir Ralph Milbanke, was the sixth baronet of that
name. Her mother was a Noel, daughter of Viscount and Baron Wentworth,
and remotely descended from royalty,--that is, from the youngest son of
Edward I. After the death of Lady Milbanke's father and brother, the
Barony of Wentworth was in abeyance between the daughter of Lady
Milbanke and the son of her sister till 1856, when, by the death of that
cousin, Lord Scarsdale, Lady Byron became possessed of the inheritance
and title. During her childhood and youth, however, her parents were not
wealthy; and it was understood that Miss Milbanke would have no fortune
till the death of her parents, though her expectations were great.
Though this want of immediate fortune did not prove true, the report of
it was probably advantageous to the young girl, who was sought for other
things than her fortune. When Lord Byron thought of proposing, the
friend who had brought him to the point of submitting to marriage
objected to Miss Milbanke on two grounds,--that she had no fortune, and
that she was a learned lady. The gentleman was as wrong in his facts
as mischievous in his advice to the poet to many. Miss Milbanke had
fortune, and she was not a learned lady. Such men as the two who held
a consultation on the points, whether a man entangled in intrigues and
overwhelmed with debts should release himself by involving a trusting
girl in his difficulties, and whether the girl should be Miss Milbanke
or another, were not likely to distinguish between the cultivated
ability of a sensible girl and the pedantry of a blue-stocking; and
hence, because Miss Milbanke was neither ignorant nor silly, she was
called a learned lady by Lord Byron's associates. He bore testimony, in
due time, to her agreeable qualities as a companion,--her brightness,
her genial nature, her quiet good sense; and we heard no more of her
"learning" and "mathematics," till it suited her enemies to get up a
theory of incompatibility of temper between her and her husband. The
fact was, she was well-educated, as education was then, and had the
acquirements which are common in every house among the educated classes
of English society.

She was born in 1792, and passed her early years chiefly on her father's
estates of Halnaby, near Darlington, Yorkshire, and Seaham, in Durham.
She retained a happy recollection of her childhood and youth, if one may
judge by her attachment to the old homes, when she had lost the power of
attaching herself, in later life, to any permanent home. When an offer
of service was made to her, some years since, by a person residing on
the Northumberland coast, the service she asked was that a pebble might
be sent her from the beach at Seaham, to be made into a brooch, and worn
for love of the old place.

Her father, as a Yorkshire baronet, spent his money freely. A good deal
of it went in election-expenses, and the hospitality of the house was
great. It was too orderly and sober and old-fashioned for Lord Byron's
taste, and he quizzed it accordingly; but he admitted the kindliness of
it, and the amiability which made guests glad to go there and sorry to
come away. His special records of Miss Milbanke's good-humor, spirit,
and pleasantness indicate the source of subsequent misrepresentations of
her. Till he saw it, he could not conceive that order and dutifulness
could coexist with liveliness and great charms of mind and manners; and
when the fact was out of sight, he went back to his old notion, that
affectionate parents and dutiful daughters must be dull, prudish, and

"Bell" was beloved as only daughters are, but so unspoiled as to be
sought in marriage as eagerly as if she had been a merry member of a
merry tribe. Lord Byron himself offered early, and was refused, like
many other suitors. Her feelings were not the same, however, to him as
to others. It is no wonder that a girl not out of her teens should be
captivated by the young poet whom the world was beginning to worship for
his genius as very few men are worshipped in their prime, and who could
captivate young and old, man, woman, and child, when he chose to try.
As yet, his habits of life and mind had not told upon his manners,
conversation, and countenance as they did afterwards. The beauty of his
face, the reserved and hesitating grace of his manner, and the pith and
strength of such conversation as he was tempted into might well win
the heart of a girl who was certainly far more fond of poetry than of
mathematics. Yet she refused him. Perhaps she did not know him enough.
Perhaps she did not know her own feelings at the moment. She afterwards
found that she had always loved him. His renewed offers at the close
of two years made her very happy. She was drawing near the end of her
portion of life's happiness; and she seems to have had no suspicion of
the baselessness of her natural and innocent bliss. It is probable that
nobody about her knew, any more than herself, how and why Lord Byron
offered to her a second time, till Moore published the facts in his
"Life" of the poet. The thrill of disgust which ran through every good
heart, on reading the story, made all sympathizers ask how she
could bear to learn how she had been treated in the confidences of
profligates. Perhaps she had known it long before, as her husband had
repeatedly tried his powers of terrifying and depressing her; but, at
all events, she could bear anything,--not only with courage and in
silence, but with calmness and inexhaustible mercy. According to Moore's
account, a friend of Byron's urged him to marry, as a remedy for the
melancholy restlessness and disorder of his life; "and, after much
discussion, he consented." The next proceedings were in character with
this "consent." Byron named Miss Milbanke: the friend objected, on the
grounds of her possession of learning and supposed want of fortune; and
Byron actually commissioned his adviser to propose for him to the lady
he did not prefer. She refused him; and then future proceedings were
determined by his friend's admiration of the letter he had got ready for
Miss Milbanke. It was such a pretty letter, it would be a pity not to
send it. So it was sent.

If she could have known, as she hung over that letter, what eyes had
read lines that should have been her own secret property, and as what
kind of alternative the letter had been prepared, what a different life
might hers have been! But she could not dream of being laid hold of as a
speculation in that style, and she was happy,--as women are for once in
their lives, and as she deserved to be. There was another alternative,
besides that of two ladies to be weighed in the balance. Byron was
longing to go abroad again, and he would have preferred that to
marrying; but the importunity of his friends decided him for marriage.
In a short time, and for a short time, Miss Milbanke's influence was too
strong for his wayward nature and his pernicious friends to resist. His
heart was touched, his mind was soothed, and he thought better of women,
and perhaps of the whole human race, than he had ever done before. He
wrote to Moore, who owned he had "never liked her," and who boded evil
things from the marriage, that she was so good that he wished he was
better,--that he had been quite mistaken in supposing her of "a very
cold disposition." These gentlemen had heard of her being regarded as "a
pattern lady in the North"; and they had made up an image of a prude and
a blue in their own minds, which Byron presently set himself to work to
pull down. He wrote against Moore's notion of her as "strait-laced," in
a spirit of justice awakened by his new satisfactions and hopes: but
there are in the narrative no signs of love on his part,--nothing more
than an amiable complacency in the discovery of her attachment to him.

The engagement took place in September, 1814, and the marriage in the
next January. Moore saw him in the interval, and had no remaining hope,
from that time, that Byron could ever make or find happiness in
married life. He was satisfied that love was, in Byron's case, only an
imagination; and he pointed to a declaration of Byron's, that, when in
the society of the woman he loved, even at the happiest period of his
attachment, he found himself secretly longing to be alone. Secretly
during the courtship, but not secretly after marriage.

"Tell me, Byron," said his wife, one day, not long after they were
married, and he was moodily staring into the fire,--"am I in your way?"

"Damnably," was the answer.

It will be remembered by all readers that the reason he assigned for the
good terms on which he remained with his half-sister, Mrs. Leigh, was
that they seldom or never saw each other.

When Moore saw him in London, he was in a troubled state of mind about
his affairs. His embarrassments were so pressing that he meditated
breaking off the match; but it was within a month of the wedding-day,
and he said he had gone too far to retract.--How it was that Sir Ralph
Milbanke did not make it his business to ascertain all the conditions
of a union with a man of Byron's reputation it is difficult to imagine.
Every movement of the idolized poet was watched, anecdotes of his life
and ways were in all mouths; and a prudent father, if encouraging his
addresses at all, should naturally have ascertained the chances of his
daughter having an honorable and happy home. Sir Ralph probably thought
so, when there were ten executions in the house in the first few months
after the marriage. Those difficulties, however, did not affect the
happiness of the marriage unfavorably. The wife was not the less of the
heroic temperament for being "a pattern young lady." She was one whose
spirit was sure to rise under pressure, and who was always most cheerful
when trouble called forth her energies on behalf of others. Liberal with
her own property, making light of privation, full of clear and practical
resource in emergency, she won her husband's admiration in the midst of
the difficulties into which he had plunged her. For a time he was not
ashamed of that admiration; and his avowals of it are happily on record.

They were married on the second of January. The wedding-day was
miserable. Byron awoke in one of his melancholy moods, and wandered
alone in the grounds till called to be married. His wayward mind was
full of all the associations that were least congenial with the day.
His thoughts were full of Mary Chaworth, and of old scenes in his life,
which he fancied he loved because he was now leaving them behind.
He declared that his poem of "The Dream" was a true picture of his
wedding-morning; and there are circumstances, not told in his "Life,"
which render this probable. After the ceremony and breakfast, the young
couple left Seaham for Sir Ralph's seat at Halnaby. Towards dusk of that
winter-day, the carriage drove up to the door, where the old butler
stood ready to receive his young lady and her bridegroom. The moment the
carriage-door was opened, the bridegroom jumped out and walked away.
When his bride alighted, the old servant was aghast. She came up
the steps with the listless gait of despair. Her face and movements
expressed such utter horror and desolation, that the old butler longed
to offer his arm to the lonely young creature, as an assurance of
sympathy and protection. Various stories got abroad as to the cause of
this horror, one probably as false as another; and, for his own part,
Byron met them by a false story of Miss Milbanke's lady's-maid having
been stuck in, bodkin-wise, between them. As Lady Byron certainly soon
got over the shock, the probability is that she satisfied herself that
he had been suffering under one of the dark moods to which he was
subject, both constitutionally and as the poet of moods.

It is scarcely possible at our time of day to make sufficient allowance
for such a woman having entered upon such a marriage, in spite of the
notoriety of the risks. Byron was then the idol of much more than the
literary world. His poetry was known by heart by multitudes of men and
women who read very little else; and one meets, at this day, elderly
men, who live quite outside of the regions of literature, who believe
that there never could have been such a poet before, and would say, if
they dared, that there will never be such another again. He appeared at
the moment when society was restless and miserable, and discontented
with the Fates and the universe and all that it contained. The general
sensibility had not for long found any expression in poetry. Literature
seemed something quite apart from experience, and with which none but
a particular class had any concern. At such a time, when Europe
lay desolate under the ravage and incessant menace of the French
Empire,--when England had an insane King, a profligate Regent, an
atrocious Ministry, and a corrupt Parliament,--when the war drained the
kingdom of its youth, and every class of its resources,--when there was
chronic discontent in the manufacturing districts, and hunger among the
rural population, with a perpetual extension of pauperism, swallowing
up the working and even the middle classes,--when everybody was full of
anxiety, dread, or a reactionary recklessness,--there suddenly appeared
a new strain of poetry which seemed to express every man's mood. Every
man took up the song. Byron's musical woe resounded through the land.
People who had not known exactly what was the matter with them now found
that life was what Byron said it was, and that they were sick of it. I
can well remember the enthusiasm,--the better, perhaps, for never having
shared it. At first I was too young, and afterwards I found too much of
moods and too little of matter to create any lasting attachment to
his poetry. But the music of it rang in all ears, and the rush of its
popularity could not be resisted by any but downright churlish persons.
I remember how ladies, in morning calls, recited passages of Byron to
each other,--and how gentlemen, in water-parties, whispered his short
poems to their next neighbor. If a man was seen walking with his head
down and his lips moving, he was revolving Byron's last romance; and
children who began, to keep albums wrote, in double lines on the first
page, some stanza which caught them by its sound, if they were not up to
its sense. On some pane in every inn-window there was a scrap of Byron;
and in young ladies' portfolios there were portraits of the poet,
recognizable, through all bad drawing and distortion, by the cast of the
beautiful features and the Corsair style. Where a popularity like this
sprang up, there must be sufficient reason for it to cause it to involve
more or less all orders of minds; and the wisest and most experienced
men, and the most thoroughly trained scholars, fell into the general
admiration, and keenly enjoyed so melodious an expression of a general
state of feeling, without asking too pertinaciously for higher views and
deeper meanings. Old Quakers were troubled at detecting hidden copies
and secret studies of Byron among young men and maidens who were to be
preserved from all stimulants to the passions; and they were yet more
troubled, when, looking to see what the charm was which so wrought upon
the youth of their sect, they found themselves carried away by it,
beyond all power to forget what they had read. The idolatry of the poet,
which marked that time, was an inevitable consequence of the singular
aptness of his utterance. His dress, manners, and likings were adopted,
so far as they could be ascertained, by hundreds of thousands of youths
who were at once sated with life and ambitious of fame, or at least of a
reputation for fastidious discontent; young ladies declared that Byron
was everything that was great and good; and even our best literature of
criticism shows how respectful and admiring the hardest reviewers grew,
after the poet had become the pet and the idol of all England. At such a
time, how should "Bell" Milbanke resist the intoxication,--even before
the poet addressed himself particularly to her? A great reader in the
quietness of her home, where all her tastes were indulged,--a lover of
poetry, and so genial and sympathizing as to be always sure to be filled
with the spirit of her time,--how could she fail to idolize Byron as
others did? And what must have been her exaltation, when he told her
that the welfare of his whole life depended upon her! Between her
exaltation, her love, her sympathy, and her admiration, she might well
make allowance for his eccentricities first, and for worse afterwards.
Thus, probably, it was that she got over the shock of that
wedding-drive, and was again the bright, affectionate, trusting and
winning woman whom he had described before and was to describe again to
his skeptical friend Moore.

Before six weeks were over, he wrote to Moore (after some previous
hankerings) that he should go abroad soon, "and alone, too." He did not
go then. In April the death of Lord Wentworth occurred, causing Sir
Ralph and Lady Milbanke to take the name of Noel, according to Lord
Wentworth's will, and assuring the prospect of ultimate accession of
wealth. Meantime, the new expenses of his married life, entered upon
without any extrication from old debts, caused such embarrassment, that,
after many other humiliations had been undergone, he offered his
books for sale. As Lady Byron maintained a lifelong silence about the
sufferings of her married life, little is known of that miserable year
beyond what all the world saw: executions in the house; increasing gloom
and recklessness in the husband; a bright patience and resoluteness in
the wife; and an immense pity felt by the poet's adorers for his trials
by a persecuting Fate. During the summer and autumn, his mention of his
wife to his correspondents became less frequent and more formal. His
tone about his approaching "papaship" tells nothing. He was not likely
to show to such men any good or natural feelings on the occasion. In
December, his daughter, Augusta Ada, was born; and early in January, he
wrote to Moore so melancholy a "Heigho!" on occasion of his having been
married a year, as to incite that critical observer to write him an
inquiry about the state of his domestic spirits. The end was near, and
the world was about to see its idol and his wife tested in moral action
of a very stringent kind.

By means of the only publication ever made or authorized by Lady Byron
on the subject of her domestic life, her vindication of her parents,
contained in the Appendix of Moore's "Life" of the poet, we know, that,
during her confinement, Lord Byron's nearest relatives were alarmed by
tokens of eccentricity so marked, that they informed her, as soon as she
was recovered, that they believed him insane. His confidential servant
bore the same testimony; and she naturally believed it, when she resumed
her place in the household, and saw how he was going on. On the sixth of
January, the day after he wrote the "Heigho!" to Moore, he desired his
wife, in writing, to go to her parents on the first day that it was
possible for her to travel. Her physicians would not let her go earlier
than the fifteenth; and on that day she went. She never saw her husband

She had, in agreement with his family, consulted Dr. Baillie on her
husband's behalf; and he, supposing the insanity to be real, advised,
before seeing Lord Byron, that she should obey his wish about absenting
herself, as an experiment,--and that, in the interval, she should
converse only on light and cheerful topics. She observed these
directions, and, in the spirit of them, wrote two letters, on the
journey, which bore no marks of the trouble which existed between them.
These letters were afterwards used, even circulated, to create a belief
that Lady Byron had been suddenly persuaded to desert her husband,
though he at least was well aware that the fact was not so. It soon
appeared that he was not insane. Such was the decision of physicians,
relatives, and presently of Lady Byron herself. While there was any
room for supposing disease to be the cause of his conduct, she and
her parents were anxious to use all tenderness with him, and devote
themselves to his welfare; but when it became necessary to consider him
sane, his wife declared that she could not return to him.

It is not necessary to dwell on the imputations Lord Byron spread abroad
at the time, and his biographer afterwards, against the parents of his
wife, and everybody belonging to them who could be supposed to have
the slightest influence over Lady Byron's views or feelings. Those
allegations were publicly shown by her to be false, nearly thirty years
ago. I refer to them now solely because they were the occasion of the
only public disclosure Lady Byron ever voluntarily made on any part of
the subject of her married life. It is needless to exhibit how different
in this respect was the conduct of her husband and his friends.

It became known by that statement, after some years, that, when Lady
Noel went to London, to see what could and ought to be done, she
obtained good legal opinions on the case, so far as she knew it. Those
opinions declared Lady Byron fully justified in refusing to rejoin her
husband. The parents, however, never knew the whole; and it was on yet
more substantial grounds that Lady Byron formed her resolution. The
facts were submitted, as the world has since known, as an A.B. case, to
Dr. Lushington and Sir Samuel Romilly; and those able lawyers and good
men peremptorily decided, that the wife, whoever she might be, must
never see her husband again. When they learned whose case it was, they
not only gave their full sanction to her refusal to return, but
declared that they would never countenance in any way a change in that
resolution. Dr. Lushington's statement to this effect appears in the
Appendix to Moore's "Life," as a part of Lady Byron's vindication of her

It was very hard on her to be compelled to speak at all. For six years
she had kept silence utterly, bearing all imputations without reply. But
when it was brought to her notice that her parents were charged with the
gravest offences by her husband's biographer, after the death of both,
and when no other near relative was in existence, she had no choice. She
must exonerate them. The testimony was, as she said, "extorted" from
her. The respect which had been felt for her during the first years of
silence was not impaired by this disclosure; but it was by one which
occurred a few years later. A statement on her domestic affairs was
published, in her name, in a magazine of large circulation.[A] It
did not really explain anything, while it seemed to break through a
dignified reserve which had won a high degree of general esteem. It
was believed that feminine weakness had prevailed at last; and her
reputation suffered accordingly with many who had till then regarded her
with favor and even reverence.

[Footnote A: _New Monthly Magazine_, 1836.]

This was the climax of the hardship of her case. She had no concern
whatever with this act of publication. It was one of poor Campbell's
disastrous pranks. He could not conceive how he could have done such a
thing, and was desperately sorry; but there was little good in that. The
mischief was done which could never be thoroughly repaired. She once
more suffered in silence; for she was not weak enough to complain of
irremediable evils. Nine years afterwards she wrote to a friend, who had
been no less unjustifiably betrayed,--"I am grieved for you, as regards
the actual position; but it will come right. I was myself made to
_appear_ responsible for a publication by Campbell, most unfairly, some
years ago; so that, if I had not imagination enough to enter into your
case, experience would have taught me to do so."

Those who are old enough to remember the year 1816 will easily recall
the fluctuations of opinion which took place as to the merits of the
husband and the wife, whose separation was as interesting to ten
thousand households as any family event of their own. Then, and for a
few years after, was Lady Byron the world's talk,--innocently, most
reluctantly, and unavoidably.

At first, while her influence left its impression on his mind, Lord
Byron did her some sort of justice,--fitful and partial, but very
precious to her then, no doubt,--and almost as precious now to the
friends who understood her. It was not till he was convinced that she
would never return, not till he began to quail under the world's ill
opinion, and especially, not till he felt secure that he might rely on
his wife's fidelity and mercy, her silence and magnanimity, that he
changed his tone to one of aspersion and contempt, and his mode of
attack to that of charming, amusing, or inflaming the public with verses
against her and her friends. We have his own testimony to her domestic
merits in the interval between the parting and his lapse into a state of
malignant feeling. In March, 1816, within two months after her leaving
him, Byron wrote thus to Moore:--

"I must set you right in one point, however. The fault was _not_--no,
nor even the misfortune--in my 'choice' (unless in choosing at all);
for I do not believe--and I must say it, in the very dregs of all this
bitter business--that there ever was a better, or even a brighter, a
kinder, or a more amiable and agreeable being than Lady B. I never had,
nor can have, any reproach to make her, while with me. Where there is
blame, it belongs to myself; and, if I cannot redeem, I must bear it."

To us, this is enough; and nothing that he wrote afterwards, in angry
and spiteful moods, can have the slightest effect on our impression of
her: but the case was otherwise at the time. Lord Byron's praise of her
to Moore was not known till the "Life" appeared; whereas pieces like
"The Chanty Ball," coming out from time to time, made the world suppose
that Lady Byron was one of those people, satirized in all literatures,
who violate domestic duty, and make up for it by philanthropic effort
and display. It is the prevalence of this impression to this day which
makes it necessary to present the reality of the case after the lapse of
many years. During Lady Byron's life, no one had a right to speak, if
she chose to be silent; but the more modest and shrinking she was
in regard to her own vindication, the stronger is the appeal to the
fidelity of her friends to see that her reputation does not suffer
through her magnanimity. We have guidance here in her own course in the
case of her parents. Abhorrent as all publicity was to her, she felt and
avowed the obligation to publish those facts of her life in which their
reputation was concerned. The duty is far more easy, but not less
imperative, to practise the same fidelity in regard to her, now that the
truth can be told of her without shocking her modesty. We may hear some
commonplaces about the feelings of the dead and the sensibilities of
survivors, as always happens in such cases: but the sensibilities of
survivors ought to relate, in the first place, to the fair fame of the
dead; and the feelings of the dead, having been duly respected during
life, merge after death into the general beauty of the self-sacrificing
character which would not utter the word by which the adverse judgment
of the world might have been reversed in a moment. While, at this day,
she is regarded as the cause of her husband's sins, by her coldness,
formality, and what not,--fidelity and love to her memory absolutely
require, not fresh disclosures of a private character, but a new
presentment of the evidence long ago given to the world by herself and
by her husband's very partial biographer. This is what I have done,
after thirty years more of life have proved the quality of her mind and

As she loved early, she loved steadily and forever. It was through that
love that her magnanimity was so transcendent. When Lord Byron was
dying, he said to his confidential servant, Fletcher, "Go to Lady
Byron,--you will see her, and say"----and here his voice faltered, and
for nearly twenty minutes he muttered words which it was impossible to
catch. The man was obliged to tell him that he had not understood a
syllable. Byron's distress was great; but, as he said, it was too late.
Fletcher, on his return to England, did "go to Lady Byron," and did
see her: but she could only pace the room in uncontrollable agitation,
striving to obtain voice to ask the questions which were surging in her
heart. She could not speak, and he was obliged to leave her. To those
with whom she conversed freely, and to whom she wrote familiarly, it
was strangely interesting to hear, or to read, lines and phrases from
Byron's poems dropped, like native speech, from her tongue or her pen.
Those well-remembered lines or phrases seemed new, and were wonderfully
moving, when coming from her to whom they must have been so much more
than to any one else. How she surmounted such acts as the publication of
"Fare thee well!" and certain others of his safe appeals to the public,
no one could exactly understand. That she forgave them, and loved him to
the end, is enough for us to know; for our interest is in the greatness
of her heart, and not in the littleness of his.

Her life thenceforth was one of unremitting bounty to society,
administered with as much skill and prudence as benevolence. As we
have seen, her parents died a few years after her return to them for
protection. She lived in retirement, changing her abode frequently,
partly for the benefit of her child's education and the promotion of her
benevolent schemes, and partly from a restlessness which was one of the
few signs of injury received from the spoiling of associations with
_home._ She felt a satisfaction which her friends rejoiced in, when her
daughter married Lord King, at present the Earl of Lovelace, in 1835;
and when grief upon grief followed in the appearance of mortal disease
in her only child, her quiet patience stood her in good stead, as
before. She even found strength to appropriate the blessings of the
occasion, and took comfort, as did her dying daughter, in the intimate
friendship which grew closer as the time of parting drew nigh. Lady
Lovelace died in 1852; and for her few remaining years, Lady Byron
was devoted to her grandchildren. But nearer calls never lessened her
interest in remoter objects. Her mind was of the large and clear quality
which could comprehend remote interests in their true proportions, and
achieve each aim as perfectly as if it were the only one. Her agents
used to say that it was impossible to mistake her directions; and thus
her business was usually well done. There was no room, in her case, for
the ordinary doubts, censures, and sneers about the misapplication of
bounty. Her taste did not lie in the "Charity Ball" direction; her funds
were not lavished in encouraging hypocrisy and improvidence among the
idle and worthless; and the quality of her charity was, in fact,
as admirable as its quantity. Her chief aim was the extension and
improvement of popular education; but there was no kind of misery that
she heard of that she did not palliate to the utmost, and no kind of
solace that her quick imagination and sympathy could devise that she did
not administer. In her methods, she united consideration and frankness
with singular success. For one instance among a thousand:--A lady with
whom she had had friendly relations some time before, and who became
impoverished in a quiet way by hopeless sickness, preferred poverty,
with an easy conscience, to a competency attended by some uncertainty
about the perfect rectitude of the resource. Lady Byron wrote to an
intermediate person exactly what she thought of the case. Whether the
judgment of the sufferer was right or mistaken was nobody's business but
her own: this was the first point. Next, a voluntary poverty could never
be pitied by anybody: that was the second. But it was painful to others
to think of the mortification to benevolent feelings which attends
poverty; and there could be no objection to arresting that pain.
Therefore she, Lady Byron, had lodged in a neighboring bank the sum of
one hundred pounds, to be used for benevolent purposes; and in order to
preclude all outside speculation, she had made the money payable to the
order of the intermediate person, so that the sufferer's name need not
appear at all. Five-and-thirty years of unremitting secret bounty like
this must make up a great amount of human happiness: but this was only
one of a wide variety of methods of doing good. It was the unconcealable
magnitude of her beneficence, and its wise quality, which made her a
second time the theme of English conversation in all honest households
within the four seas. Years ago, it was said far and wide, that Lady
Byron was doing more good than anybody else in England; and it was
difficult to imagine how anybody could do more. Lord Byron spent every
shilling that the law allowed him out of her property, while he lived,
and left away from her every shilling that he could deprive her of by
his will; yet she had eventually a large income at her command. In the
management of it she showed the same wise consideration that marked all
her practical decisions. She resolved to spend her whole income, seeing
how much the world needed help at the moment. Her care was for the
existing generation, rather than for a future one, which would have
its own friends. She usually declined trammelling herself with annual
subscriptions to charities, preferring to keep her freedom from year to
year, and to achieve definite objects by liberal bounty, rather than to
extend partial help over a large surface which she could not herself

It was her first industrial school that awakened the admiration of the
public, which had never ceased to take an interest in her, while sorely
misjudging her character. We hear much now--and everybody hears it with
pleasure--of the spread of education in "common things." But, long
before Miss Coutts inherited her wealth, long before a name was found
for such a method of training, Lady Byron had instituted the thing, and
put it in the way of making its own name. She was living at Ealing, in
Middlesex, in 1834; and there she opened one of the first industrial
schools in England, if not the very first. She sent out a master to
Switzerland, to be instructed in De Fellenburg's method. She took on
lease five acres of land, and spent several hundred pounds in rendering
the buildings upon it fit for the purposes of the school. A liberal
education was afforded to the children of artisans and laborers, during
the half of the day when they were not employed in the field or garden.
The allotments were rented by the boys, who raised and sold produce
which afforded them a considerable yearly profit, if they were good
workmen. Those who worked in the field earned wages,--their labor being
paid by the hour, according to the capability of the young laborer.
They kept their accounts of expenditure and receipts, and acquired good
habits of business, while learning the occupation of their lives. Some
mechanical trades were taught, as well as the arts of agriculture. Part
of the wisdom of the management lay in making the pupils pay. Of one
hundred pupils, half were boarders. They paid little more than half the
expense of their maintenance; and the day-scholars paid three-pence per
week. Of course, a large part of the expense was borne by Lady Byron,
besides the payments she made for children who could not otherwise have
entered the school. The establishment flourished steadily till 1852,
when the owner of the land required it back for building-purposes.
During the eighteen years that the Ealing schools were in action, they
did a world of good in the way of incitement and example. The Poor-Law
Commissioners pointed out their merits. Land-owners and other wealthy
persons visited them, and went home and set up similar establishments.
During those years, too, Lady Byron had herself been at work in various
directions, to the same purpose.

A more extensive industrial scheme was instituted on her Leicestershire
property; and not far off, she opened a girls' school, and an infant
school; and when a season of distress came, as such seasons are apt to
befall the poor Leicestershire stocking-weavers, Lady Byron fed the
children for months together, till they could resume their payments.
These schools were opened in 1840. The next year, she built a
school-house on her Warwickshire property; and five years later, she set
up an iron school-house on another Leicestershire estate. By this time,
her educational efforts were costing her several hundred pounds a year
in the mere maintenance of existing establishments; but this is the
smallest consideration in the case. She has sent out tribes of boys and
girls into life fit to do their part there with skill and credit and
comfort. Perhaps it is a still more important consideration, that scores
of teachers and trainers have been led into their vocation, and duly
prepared for it, by what they saw and learned in her schools. As for the
best and the worst of the Ealing boys,--the best have, in a few cases,
been received into the Battersea Training School, whence they could
enter on their career as teachers to the greatest advantage; and the
worst found their school a true reformatory, before reformatory schools
were heard of. At Bristol she bought a house for a reformatory
for girls; and there her friend, Miss Carpenter, faithfully and
energetically carries out her own and Lady Byron's aims, which were one
and the same.

There would be no end, if I were to catalogue the schemes of which these
are a specimen. It is of more consequence to observe that her mind was
never narrowed by her own acts, as the minds of benevolent people are so
apt to be. To the last, her interest in great political movements, at
home and abroad, was as vivid as ever. She watched every step won in
philosophy, every discovery in science, every token of social change and
progress, in every shape. Her mind was as liberal as her heart and hand,
No diversity of opinion troubled her; she was respectful to every sort
of individuality, and indulgent to all constitutional peculiarities.
It must have puzzled those who kept up the notion of her being
"strait-laced," to see how indulgent she was even to epicurean
tendencies,--the remotest of all from her own.

But I must stop; for I do not wish my honest memorial to degenerate into
panegyric.--Among her latest known acts were her gifts to the Sicilian
cause, and her manifestations on behalf of the antislavery cause in the
United States. Her kindness to William and Ellen Craft must be well
known there; and it is also related in the newspapers that she
bequeathed a legacy to a young American, to assist him under any
disadvantages he might suffer as an abolitionist.

All these deeds were done under a heavy burden of ill-health. Before
she had passed middle life, her lungs were believed to be irreparably
injured by partial ossification. She was subject to attacks so serious,
that each one for many years was expected to be the last. She arranged
her affairs in correspondence with her liabilities; so that the same
order would have been found, whether she died suddenly or after long

She was to receive one more accession of outward greatness before she
departed. She became Baroness Wentworth in November, 1856. This is one
of the facts of her history; but it is the least interesting to us, as
probably to her. We care more to know that her last days were bright in
honor, and cheered by the attachment of old friends, worthy to pay the
duty she deserved. Above all, it is consoling to know that she who so
long outlived her only child was blessed with the unremitting and tender
care of her granddaughter. She died on the sixteenth of May, 1860.

The portrait of Lady Byron, as she was at the time of her marriage, is
probably remembered by some of my readers. It is very engaging.
Her countenance afterwards became much worn; but its expression of
thoughtfulness and composure was very interesting. Her handwriting
accorded well with the character of her mind. It was clear, elegant,
and womanly. Her manners differed with circumstances. Her shrinking
sensitiveness might embarrass one visitor, while another would be
charmed with her easy, significant, and vivacious conversation. It
depended much on whom she talked with. The abiding certainty was, that
she had strength for the hardest of human trials, and the composure
which belongs to strength. For the rest, it is enough to point to her
deeds, and to the mourning of her friends round the chasm which her
departure has made in their life, and in the society in which it is
spent. All that could be done in the way of personal love and honor was
done while she lived; it only remains now to see that her name and fame
are permitted to shine forth at last in their proper light.


It is a good thing, said an aged Chinese Travelling Philosopher, for
every man, sooner or later, to get back again to his own tea-cup.
And Ling Ching Ki Hi Fum (for that was the name of the profound old
gentleman who said it) was right. Travel may be "the conversion of
money into mind,"--and happy the man who has turned much coin into that
precious commodity,--but it is a good thing, after being tossed about
the world from the Battery to Africa,--that dry nurse of lions, as
Horace calls her,--to anchor once more beside the old familiar tea-urn
on the old familiar tea-table. This is the only "steamy column" worth
hailing with a glad welcome after long absence from home, and fully
entitled to be heartily applauded for its "bubbling and loud-hissing"

We are not a Marco Polo or a William de Rubruquis, and we have no
wonders to tell of the Great Mogul or the Great Cham. We did not sail
for Messrs. Pride, Pomp, Circumstance, and Company; consequently, we
have no great exploits to recount. We have been wrecked at sea only once
in our many voyages, and, so far as we know our own tastes, do not care
to solicit aid again to be thrown into the same awkward situation. But
for a time we have been

  "Placed far amid the melancholy main,"

and now we are among our own tea-cups. This is happiness enough for a
cold winter's night. Mid-ocean, and mid tea-cups! Stupendous change,
let us tell you, worthy friend, who never yet set sail where sharks and
other strange sea-cattle bob their noses above the brine,--who never
lived forty days in the bowels of a ship, unable to hold your head up to
the captain's bluff "good morning" or the steward's cheery "good night."
Sir Philip Sidney discourses of a riding-master he encountered in
Vienna, who spoke so eloquently of the noble animal he had to deal with,
that he almost persuaded Sir Philip to wish himself a horse. We have
known ancient mariners expatiate so lovingly on the frantic enjoyments
of the deep sea, that very youthful listeners have for the time resolved
to know no other existence. If the author of the "Arcadia" had been
permitted to become a prancing steed, he might, after the first
exhilarating canter, have lamented his equine state. How many a first
voyage, begun in hilarious impatience, has caused a bitter repentance!
The sea is an overrated element, and we have nothing to say in its
favor. Because we are out of its uneasy lap to-night, we almost resemble
in felicity Richter's _Walt_, who felt himself so happy, that he was
transported to the third heaven, and held the other two in his hand,
that he might give them away. To-morrow morning we shall not hear that
swashing, scaring sound directly overhead on the wet deck, which has so
often murdered our slumbers. Delectable the sensation that we don't care
a rope's-end "how many knots" we are going, and that our ears are so far
away from that eternal "Ay, ay, Sir!" "The whales," says old Chapman,
speaking of Neptune, "exulted under him, and knew their mighty king."
Let them exult, say we, and be blowed, and all due honor to their salt
sovereign! but of their personal acquaintance we are not ambitious. We
have met them now and then in the sixty thousand miles of their watery
playing-places we have passed over, and they are not pretty to look at.
Roll on, et cetera, et cetera,--and so will we, for the present, at
least, as far out of _your_ reach as possible.

Yes, wise denizen of the Celestial Empire, it is a good, nay, a great
thing, to return even to so small a home-object as an old tea-cup. As
we lift the bright brim to our so long absent lips, we repeat it. As we
pour out our second, our third, and our fourth, we say it again. Ling
Ching, you were right!

And now, as the rest of the household have all gone up bed-ward, and
left us with their good-night tones,

  "Like flowers' voices, if they could but speak,"

we dip our pen into the cocked hat of the brave little bronze warrior
who has fed us many a year with ink from the place where his brains
ought to be. Pausing before we proceed to paper, we look around on our
household gods. The coal bursts into crackling fits of merriment, as we
thrust the poker between the iron ribs of the grate. It seems to say,
in the jolliest possible manner of which it is capable, "Oh, go no more
a-roaming, a-roaming, across the windy sea!" How odd it seems to be
sitting here again, listening to the old clock out there in the entry!
Often we seemed to hear it during the months that have flown away, when
we knew that "our ancient" was standing sentinel for Time in another
hemisphere. One night, dark and stormy on the Mediterranean, as we lay
wakeful and watchful in the little steamer that was bearing us painfully
through the noisy tempest towards Saint Peter's and the Colosseum,
suddenly, above the tumult of the voyage, our household monitor began
audibly and regularly, we thought, to mark the seconds. Then it must
have been only fancy. Now it is something more, and we know that our
mahogany friend is really wagging his brassy beard just outside the
door. We remember now, as we lay listening that rough night at sea, how
Milton's magic sounding line came to us beating a sad melody with the
old clock's imagined tramp,--

  "The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint."

Let the waves bark to-night far out on "the desolate, rainy seas,"--the
old clock is all right in the entry!

Landed, and all safe at last! our much-abused, lock-broken, unhinged
portmanteau unpacked and laid ignobly to rest under the household eaves!
Stay a moment,--let us pitch our inky passport into the fire. How it
writhes and grows black in the face! And now it will trouble its owner
no more forever. It was a foolish, extravagant companion, and we are
glad to be rid of it. One little blazing fragment lifts itself out
of the flame, and we can trace on the smouldering relic the stamp of
Austria. Go back again into the grate, and perish with the rest, dark

"We look round our quiet apartment, and wonder if it be all true, this
getting home again. We stir the fire once more to assure ourself that we
are not somewhere else,--that the street outside our window is not
known as Jermyn Street in the Haymarket,--or the Via Babuino near the
Pincio,--or Princes Street, near the Monument. How do we determine that
we are not dreaming, and that we shall not wake up to-morrow morning and
find ourself on the Arno? Perhaps we are _not_ really back again where
there are no

  "Eremites and friars,
  White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery."

Perhaps we are a flamingo, a banyan-tree, or a mandarin. But there
stands the tea-cup, and our identity is sure!

Here at last, then, for a live certainty! But how strange it all seems,
resting safely in our easy slippers, to recall some of the far-off
scenes so lately present to us! Yesterday was it, or a few weeks ago,
that this "excellent canopy," our modest roof, dwelt three thousand
miles away to the westward of us? At this moment stowed away in a
snuggery called our own; and then--how brief a period it seems! what a
small parenthesis in time--putting another man's latch-key into another
man's door, night after night, in a London fog, and feeling for the
unfamiliar aperture with all the sensation of an innocent housebreaker!
Muffled here in the oldest of dressing-gowns, that never lifted its
blessed arms ten rods from the spot where it was born; and only a few
weeks ago lolling out of C.R.'s college-window at Oxford, counting the
deer, as they nibbled the grass, and grouped themselves into beautiful
pictures on the sward of ancient Magdalen!

As we look into the red fire in the grate, we think of the scarlet
coats we saw not long ago in Stratford,--when E.F., kindest of men and
merriest of hosts, took us to the "meet." We gaze round the field again,
and enjoy the enlivening scene. White-haired and tall, our kind-hearted
friend walks his glossy mare up and down the turf. His stalwart sons,
with sport imbrowned, proud of their sire, call our attention to the
sparkle in the old man's eye. We are mounted on a fiery little animal,
and are half-frightened at the thought of what she may do with us when
the chase is high. Confident that a roll is inevitable, and that, with a
dislocated neck, enjoyment would be out of the question, we pull bridle,
and carefully dismount, hoping not to attract attention. Whereat all our
jolly English cousins beg to inquire, "What's the row?" We whisper to
the red-coated brave prancing near us, that "we have changed our mind,
and will not follow the hunt to-day,--another time we shall be most
happy,--just now we are not quite up to the mark,--next week we shall be
all right again," etc., etc. One of the lithe hounds, who seems to have
steel springs in his hind legs, looks contemptuously at the American
stranger, and turns up his long nose like a moral insinuation. Off they
fly! we watch the beautiful cavalcade bound over the brook and sweep
away into the woodland passes. Then we saunter down by the Avon, and
dream away the daylight in endless visions of long ago, when sweet Will
and his merry comrades moved about these pleasant haunts. Returning to
the hall, we find we have walked ten miles over the breezy country,
and knew it not,--so pleasant is the fragrant turf that has been often
pressed by the feet of Nature's best-beloved high-priest! Round the
mahogany tree that night we hear the hunters tell the glories of their
sport,--how their horses, like Homer's steeds,

  "Devoured up the plain";

and we can hear now, in imagination, the voices of the deep-mouthed
hounds rising and swelling among the Warwick glens.

Neither can we forget, as we sit here musing, whose green English
carpet, down in Kent, we so lately rested on under the trees,--nor how
we wandered off with the lord of that hospitable manor to an old castle
hard by his grounds, and climbed with him to the turret-tops,--nor how
we heard him repeople in fancy the aged ruin, as we leaned over the
wall and looked into the desolate court-yard below. The world has given
audience to this man, thought we, for many a year; but one who has never
heard the sound of his laughing voice knows not half his wondrous power.
When he reads his "Christmas Carol," go far to hear him, judicious
friend, if you happen to be in England, and let us all hope together
that we shall have that keen gratification next year in America. To know
him is to love and esteem him tenfold more than if you only read of him.

Let us bear in mind, too, how happily the hours went by with us so
recently in the vine-embowered cottage of dear L.H., the beautiful old
man with silver hair,--

  "As hoary frost with spangles doth attire
  The mossy branches of an oak."

The sound of the poet's voice was like the musical fall of water in our
ears, and every sentence he uttered then is still a melody. As we sit
dreamily here, he speaks to us again of "life's morning march, when his
bosom was young," and of his later years, when his struggles were many
and keen, and only his pen was the lever which rolled poverty away from
his door. We can hear him, as we pause over this leaf, as we heard the
old clock that night at sea. He tells us of his cherished companions,
now all gone,--of Shelley, and Keats, and Charles Lamb, whom he
loved,--of Byron, and Coleridge, and the rest. As we sit at his little
table, he hands us a manuscript, and says it is the "Endymion," John
Keats's gift to himself. He reads to us from it some of his favorite
lines, and the tones of his voice are very tender over his dead friend's
poem. As we pass out of his door that evening, the moon falls on his
white locks, his thin hand rests for a moment on our shoulder, and we
hear him say very kindly, "God bless you!"

In London, not long after this, we meet again the bard of "Rimini," and
his discourse is still sweet as any dulcimer. Another old man is with
him, a poet also, whose songs are among the bravest in England's
Helicon. We observe how these two friends love each other, and as they
stand apart in the anteroom, the eldest with his arm around his brother
bard, we think it is a very pleasant sight, and not to be forgotten
ever. And when, a few months later, we are among the Alpine hills, and
word comes to us that L.H. is laid to rest in Kensal Green Churchyard,
we are grateful to have looked upon his cheerful countenance, and to
have heard him say, "God bless you!"

We cry your mercy, gayest of cities, with your bright Bois de Boulogne,
and your splendid _café's!_ We do not much affect your shows, but we
cannot dismiss forever the cheerful little room, cloud-environed almost,
up to which we have so often toiled, after days of hard walking among
the gaudy streets of the French capital. One pleasant scene, at least,
rises unbidden, as we recall the past. It is a brisk, healthy morning,
and we walk in the direction of the Tuileries. Bending our steps toward
the Palace, (it is yet early, and few loiterers are abroad in the leafy
avenues,) we observe a group of three persons, not at all distinguished
in their appearance, having a roystering good time in the Imperial
Garden. One of them is a little boy, with a chubby, laughing face, who
shouts loudly to his father, a grave, thoughtful gentleman, who runs
backwards, endeavoring to out-race his child. The mother, a fair-haired
woman, with her bonnet half loose in the wind, strives to attract the
boy's attention and win him to her side. They all run and leap in the
merry morning-air, and, as we watch them more nearly, we know them to
be the royal family out larking before Paris is astir. Play on, great
Emperor, sweet lady, and careless boy-prince! You have hung up a picture
in our gallery of memory, very pleasant to look at, this cold night in
America. May you always be as happy as when you romped together in the

The days that are fled still knock at the door and enter. We are walking
on the banks of the Esk, toward a friendly dwelling in Lasswade,--_Mavis
Bush_ they call the pretty place at the foot of the hill. A slight
figure, clad in black, waits for us at the garden-gate, and bids us
welcome in accents so kindly, that we, too, feel the magic influence of
his low, sweet voice,--an effect which Wordsworth described to us years
before as eloquence set to music. The face of our host is very pale,
and, when he puts his thin arm within ours, we feel how frail a body may
contain a spirit of fire. We go into his modest abode and listen to his
wonderful talk, wishing all the while that the hours were months, that
we might linger there, spellbound, day and night, before the master of
our English tongue. He proposes a ramble across the meadows to Roslin
Chapel, and on the way he discourses of the fascinating drug so
painfully associated with his name in literature,--of Christopher
North, in whose companionship he delighted among the Lakes,--of Elia,
whom he recalled as the most lovable man among his friends, and whom he
has well described elsewhere as a Diogenes with the heart of a Saint
John. In the dark evening he insists upon setting out with us on our
return to Edinburgh. When it grows late, and the mists are heavy on the
mountains, we stand together, clasping hands of farewell in the dim
road, the cold Scotch hills looming up all about us. As the small figure
of the English Opium-Eater glides away into the midnight distance, our
eyes strain after him to catch one more glimpse. The Esk roars, and we
hear his footsteps no longer.

The scene changes, as the clock strikes in the entry. We are lingering
in the piazza of the Winged Lion, and the bronze giants in their turret
overlooking the square raise their hammers and beat the solemn march of
Time. As we float away through the watery streets, old Shylock
shuffles across the bridge,--black barges glide by us in the silent
canals,--groups of unfamiliar faces lean from the balconies,--and we
hear the plashing waters lap the crumbling walls of Venice, with its
dead Doges and decaying palaces.

Again we stir the fire, and feel it is home all about us. But we like
to sit here and think of that rosy evening, last summer, when we came
walking into Interlachen, and beheld the ghost-like figure of the
Jungfrau issuing out of her cloudy palace to welcome the stars,--of a
cool, bright, autumnal morning on the western battlements overlooking
Genoa, the blue Mediterranean below mirroring the silent fleet that lay
so motionless on its bosom,--of a midnight visit to the Colosseum with
a band of German students, who bore torches in and out of the time-worn
arches, and sang their echoing songs to the full moon,--of days, how
many and how magical! when we awoke every morning to say, "We are in

But it grows late, and it is time now to give over these reflections. So
we wind up our watch, and put out the candle.

       *       *       *       *       *


What is a dry-goods jobber? No wonder you ask. You have been hunting,
perhaps, for our peripatetic postoffice, and have stumbled upon Milk
Street and Devonshire Street and Franklin Street. You are almost ready
to believe in the lamp of Aladdin, that could build palaces in a night.
Looking up to the stately and costly structures which have usurped the
place of once familiar dwellings, and learning that they are, for the
most part, tenanted by dry-goods jobbers, you feel that for such huge
results there must needs be an adequate cause, and so you ask, What is a
dry-goods jobber?

It is more than a curious question. For parents desirous of finding
their true sphere for promising and for unpromising sons, it is
eminently a practical question. It is a question comprehensive of
dollars and cents,--also of bones and sinews, of muscles, nerves, and
brains, of headache, heartache, and the cyclopaedia of being, doing,
and enduring. An adequate answer to such a question must needs ask your
indulgence, for it cannot be condensed into a very few words.

A dry-goods jobber is a wholesale buyer and seller, for cash or for
approved credit, of all manner of goods, wares, and materials, large
and small, coarse and fine, foreign and domestic, which pertain to the
clothing, convenience, and garnishing, by night and by day, of men,
women, and children: from a button to a blanket; from a calico to a
carpet; from stockings to a head-dress; from an inside handkerchief to a
waterproof; from a piece of tape to a thousand bales of shirtings; not
forgetting linen, silk, or woollen fabrics, for drapery or upholstery,
for bed or table, including hundreds of items which time would fail me
to recite. All these the dry-goods jobber provides for his customer, the
retailer, who in his turn will dispense them to the consumer.

A really competent and successful dry-goods jobber, in the year of
grace, one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-one, is a new creation. He
is begotten of the times. Of him, as truly as of the poet, and with yet
more emphasis, it must be said, He is born, not made. He is a poet, a
philosopher, an artist, an engineer, a military commander, an advocate,
an attorney, a financier, a steam-engine, a telegraph-operator, a
servant-of-all-work, a Job, a Hercules, and a Bonaparte, rolled into

"Exaggeration!" do you say? Not at all.--You asked for information? You
shall have it, to your heart's content.

To a youth, for a time interrupted in his preparation for college, I

Never mind; this falls in exactly with my well-considered plan. You
shall go into a dry-goods store till your eyes recover strength; it will
be the best year's schooling of your life.

"How so?" was the dubious answer; "what can I learn there?"

Learn? Everything,--common sense included, which is generally excluded
from the University curriculum: for example, time, place, quantity, and
the worth of each. You shall learn length, breadth, and thickness; hard
and soft; pieces and yards; dozens and the fractions thereof; order and
confusion, cleanliness and dirt,--to love the one and hate the other;
materials, colors, and shades of color; patience, manners, decency
in general; system and method, and the relation these sustain to
independence; in short, that there is a vast deal more out of books than
in books; and, finally, that the man who knows only what is in books is
generally a lump of conceit, and of about as much weight in the scales
of actual life as the ashes of the Alexandrian library, or the worms in
any parchments that may have survived that conflagration.

"Whew!" was his ejaculation; "I didn't know there was so much."

I dare say not. Most of your limited days have passed under the training
of men who are in the like predicament,--whose notion of the chief end
of man is, to convert lively boys into thick dictionaries,--and who
honestly believe that the chief want of the age is your walking
dictionary. Any other type of humanity, they tell us, "won't pay."
Much they know of what will and what won't pay! This comes of partial
education,--of one-sided, of warped, and biased education. It puts one
out of patience, this arrogance of the University, this presuming
upon the ignorance of the million, this assertion of an indispensable
necessity to make the boy of the nineteenth century a mere expert in
some subdivision of one of the sciences. The obstinacy of an hereditary
absolutism, which the world has outgrown, still lingers in our schools
of learning. Let us admit the divine right of Science, admit the fitness
of a limited number of our youth to become high-priests in her temple,
but no divine right of fossil interpreters of Science to compel the
entire generation to disembowel their sons and make of these living
temples mere receptacles of Roman, Grecian, or Egyptian relics. We
don't believe that "mummy is medicinal," the Arabian doctor Haly to the
contrary notwithstanding. If it ever was, its day has gone by. Therefore
let all sensible people pray for a Cromwell,--not to pull down
University Science, but to set up the Commonwealth of Common Sense, to
subordinate the former to the latter, and to proclaim an education for
our own age and for its exigencies. Your dry-goods jobber stands in
violent contrast to your University man in the matter of practical
adaptation. His knowledge is no affair of dried specimens, but every
particle of it a living knowledge, ready, at a moment's warning, for all
or any of the demands of life.

You are perhaps thinking,--"Yes, that is supposable, because the lessons
learned by the jobber are limited to the common affairs of daily life,
are not prospective; because, belonging only to the passing day, they
are easily surveyed on all sides, and their full use realized at once;
in short, a mere matter of buying and selling goods: a very inferior
thing, as compared with the dignified and scholarly labors of the

How mistaken this estimate is will appear, as we advance to something
like a comprehensive survey of the dry-goods jobber's sphere.

First, then, he is a buyer of all manner of goods, wares, and materials
proper to his department in commerce. He is minutely informed in the
history of raw materials. He knows the countries from which they
come,--the adaptation of soils and climates to their raising,--the skill
of the cultivators,--the shipping usages,--the effect of transportation
by land and sea on raw materials, and on manufactured articles,--with
all the mysteries of insurance allowances and usages, the debentures
on exportation, and the duties on importation, in his own and in other
lands. His forecast is taxed to the utmost, as to what may be the
condition of his own market, six, twelve, or eighteen months from the
time of ordering goods, both as to the quantity which may be in market,
and as to the fashion, which is always changing,--and also as to the
condition of his customers to pay for goods, which will often depend
upon the fertility of the season. As respects home-purchases, he is
compelled to learn, or to suffer for the want of knowing, that the
difference between being a skilful, pleasant buyer and the opposite is a
profit or loss of from five to seven and a half or ten per cent.,--or,
in other words, the difference, oftentimes, between success and ruin,
between comfort and discomfort, between being a welcome and a hated
visitor, between being honored as an able merchant and contemned as a
mean man or an unmitigated bore.

Is your curiosity piqued to know wherein buyers thus contrasted may
differ? They differ endlessly, like the faces you meet on the street.
Thus, one man is born to an open, frank, friendly, and courteous manner;
another is cold, reserved, and suspicious. One is prompt, hilarious,
and provocative of every good feeling, whenever you chance to meet; the
other is slow, morose, and fit to waken every dormant antipathy in your
soul. An able buyer is, or becomes, observing to the last degree. He
knows the slightest differences in quality and in style, and possesses
an almost unerring taste,--knows the condition of the market,--knows
every holder of the article he wants, and the lowest price of each. He
knows the peculiarities of the seller,--his strong points and his weak
points, his wisdom and his foibles, his very temperament, and how it is
acted upon by his dinner or the want of it. He knows the estimate put
upon his own note by that seller. He knows what his note will sell for
in the street. He knows to a feather's weight the influence of each of
these items upon the mind of the seller of whom he wishes to make a
purchase. Talk about diplomacy!--there's not a man in any court in
Europe who knows his position, his fulcrum, and his lever, and the use
he can make of them, as this man knows. He can unravel any combination,
penetrate any disguise, surmount any obstacle. Beyond all other men, he
knows when to talk, and when to refrain from talking,--how to throw the
burden of negotiation on the seller,--how to get the goods he wants
at his own price, not at _his_ asking, but on _the suggestion of the
seller_, prompted by his own politely obvious unwillingness to have the
seller part with his merchandise at any price not entirely acceptable to

The incompetent man, on the other hand, is presuming, exacting, and
unfeeling. He not only desires, but asserts the desire, in the
very teeth of the seller, to have something which that seller has
predetermined that he shall not have. He fights a losing game from the
start. He will probably begin by depreciating the goods which he knows,
or should know, that the seller has reason to hold in high esteem. He
will be likely enough to compare them to some other goods which he knows
to be inferior. He will thus arouse a feeling of dislike, if not of
anger, where his interest should teach him to conciliate and soothe; and
if he sometimes carry his point, his very victory is in effect a defeat,
since it procures him an increased antipathy. This the judicious
buyer never does. He repudiates, as a mere half-truth, and a relic of
barbarism, the maxim, "There is no friendship in trade."

"But," you are asking, "do only those succeed who are born to these
extraordinary endowments? And those who do succeed, are they, in
fact, each and all of them, such wonderfully capable men as you have

If by success you mean mere money-making, it is not to be denied that
some men do that by an instinct, little, if at all, superior to that of
the dog who smells out a bone. There are exceptions to all rules; and
there are chances in all games, even in games of skill. Lord Timothy
Dexter, as he is facetiously called, shipped warming-pans to the West
Indies, in defiance of all geographical objections to the venture, and
made money by the shipment,--not because warming-pans were wanted there,
but because the natives mistook and used them for molasses-ladles. It
must be owned that a portion of the successful ones are _lucky_,--that
a portion of them use the blunt weapon of an indomitable will, as an
efficient substitute for the finer edge of that nice tact and good
manners which they lack. Their very rudeness seems to commend them to
the rude natures which confound refinement with trickery and assume that
brutality must needs be honest.

But there are other things to be said of buying. The dry-goods jobber
frequents the auction-room. If you have never seen a large sale of
dry-goods at auction, you have missed one of the remarkable incidents
of our day. You are not yet aware of how much an auctioneer and two or
three hundred jobbers can do and endure in the short space of three
hours. You must know that fifty or a hundred thousand dollars' worth of
goods may easily change owners in that time. You are not to dream of the
leisurely way of disposing of somebody's household-furniture or library,
which characterizes the doings of one or two of our fellow-citizens who
manage such matters within speaking distance of King's Chapel: but are
rather to picture to yourself a congregation of three hundred of the
promptest men in our Atlantic cities, with a sprinkling of Westerners
quite as wide awake for bargains, each of them having marked his
catalogue; an auctioneer who considers the sale of a hundred lots an
hour his proper _rôle_, and who is able to see the lip, eye, or finger
of the man whose note he covets, in spite of all sounds, signs, or
opaque bodies. The man of unquiet nerves or of exacting lungs would
do well to leave that arena to the hard-heads and cool-bloods who can
pursue their aim and secure their interests: undisturbed either by
the fractional rat-a-tat-tat of the auctioneer's "Twenty-seven
af--naf--naf--naf,--who'll give me thirty?" or by the banter and
comicalities which a humor-loving auctioneer will interject between
these bird-notes, without changing his key, or arresting his sale a
moment. If you would see the evidence of comprehensive and minute
knowledge, of good taste, quick wit, sound judgment, and electrical
decision, attend an auction-sale in New York some morning. There will be
no lack of fun to season the solemnity of business, nor of the mixture
of courtesy and selfishness usual in every gathering, whether for
philanthropic, scientific, or commercial purposes. Many dry-goods
jobbers will attend the sale with no intention of buying, but simply to
note the prices obtained, and, having traced the goods to their owners,
to get the same in better order and on better terms; the commission paid
to the auctioneer being divided, or wholly conceded by the seller to the
buyer, according to his estimate of the note.

A dry-goods buyer will sometimes spend a month in New York, the first
third or half of which he will devote to ascertaining what goods are in
the market, and what are to arrive; also to learning the mood of the
English, French, and Germans who hold the largest stocks. Sometimes
these gentlemen will make an early trial of their goods at auction.
Unsatisfactory results will rouse their phlegm or fire, and they declare
they will not send another piece of goods to auction, come what may. For
local or temporary reasons, buyers sometimes persist in holding back
till the season is so far advanced that the foreign gentlemen become
alarmed. Their credits in London, Paris, and Amsterdam are running out;
they are anxious to make remittances; and then ensues one of those
dry-goods panics so characteristic of New York and its mixed multitude;
an avalanche of goods descends upon the auction-rooms, and prices
drop ten, twenty, forty per cent., it may be, and the unlucky or
short-sighted men who made early purchases are in desperate haste to run
off their stocks before the market is irreparably broken down. Whether,
therefore, to buy early or late, in large or in small quantities, at
home or abroad,--are questions beset with difficulty. He who imports
largely may land his goods in a bare market and reap a golden harvest,
or in a market so glutted with goods that the large sums he counts out
to pay the duties may be but a fraction of the loss he knows to be

In addition to the problems belonging to time and place of purchasing,
to quantities and prices, there is a host of other problems begotten of
styles, of colors, of assortments, of texture and finish, of adaptation
to one market or another. The profit on a case of goods is often
sacrificed by the introduction or omission of one color or figure,
the presence or absence of which makes the merchandise desirable or
undesirable. Little less than omniscience will suffice to guard against
the sometimes sudden, and often most unaccountable, freaks of fashion,
whose fiat may doom a thing, in every respect admirably adapted to its
intended use, to irretrievable condemnation and loss of value. And when
you remember that the purchases of dry-goods must be made in very large
quantities, from a month to six or even twelve months before the buyer
can sell them, and that his sales are many times larger than his
capital, and most of them on long credit, you have before you a
combination of exigencies hardly to be paralleled elsewhere.

The crisis of 1857 brought a general collapse. Scores and scores of
jobbers failed; very few dared to buy goods. Mills were compelled to run
on short time, or to cease altogether. The country became bare of
the common necessaries of life. In process of time trade rallied.
Manufacturing recommenced; orders for goods poured in; and for a
twelve-month and more the manufacturer has had it all his own way. His
goods are all sold ahead, months ahead of his ability to manufacture.
He makes his own price, and chooses his customer. This operates not
unkindly on the jobbers who are wealthy and independent; but for those
who have but lately begun to mount the hill of difficulty, it offers one
more impediment. For, to men who have a great many goods to sell, it
is a matter of moment to secure the customers who can buy in large
quantities, and whose notes will bring the money of banks or private
capitalists as soon as offered. Against such buyers, men of limited
means and of only average business-ability have but a poor chance.
There will always be some articles of merchandise in the buying or
selling of which they cannot compete.

When a financial crisis overtakes the community, we hear much and sharp
censure of all _speculation_. Speculators, one and all, are forthwith
consigned to an abyss of obloquy. The virtuous public outside of trade
washes its hands of all participation in the iniquity. This same
virtuous public knows very little of what it is talking about. What is
speculation? Shall we say, in brief and in general, that it consists in
running risks, in taking extra-hazardous risks, on the chance of making
unusually large profits? Is it that men have abandoned the careful ways
of the fathers, and do not confine themselves to small stores, small
stocks, and cash transactions? And do you know who it is that has
compelled this change? That same public who denounce speculation in one
breath, and in the next clamor for goods at low prices, and force
the jobber into large stores and large sales at small profits as the
indispensable condition of his very existence.

Those who thus rail at speculation are generally quite unaware that
their own inexorable demand for goods at low prices is one of the
principal efficient causes of that of which they complain. They do not
know that the capacious maw of the insatiable public is yearly filled
with millions on millions of shirtings and sheetings, and other articles
of prime necessity, without one farthing of profit to the jobber. The
outside world reason from the assumption, that the jobber might, but
will not, avoid taking considerable risks. They do not consider,
for they do not know, how entirely all is changed from the days and
circumstances in which a very small business would suffice to maintain
the merchant. They do not consider, that, an immense amount of goods
being of compulsion sold without profit, a yet other huge amount must
be so sold as to compensate for this. Nor do they consider that the
possibility of doing this is often contingent upon the buyer's carefully
calculated probability of a rise in the article he is purchasing. Many a
time is the jobber enabled and inclined to purchase largely only by the
assurance that from the time of his purchase the price will be advanced.

The _selling_ of dry-goods is another department in high art about which
the ignorance of outsiders is ineffable. I was once asked, in the way
of courtesy and good neighborhood, to call on a clergyman in our
vicinity,--which I did. Desirous of doing his part in the matter of good
fellowship and smooth conversation, he began thus:--

"Well, now, Mr. Smith, you know all about business: I suppose, if I were
to go into a store to buy goods, nineteen men out of twenty would cheat
me, if they could; wouldn't they?"

"No, Sir!" I answered, with a swelling of indignation at the injustice,
a mingling of pity for the ignorance, and a foreboding of small benefit
from the preaching of a minister of the gospel who knew so little of the
world he lived in. "No, Sir; nineteen men in twenty would not cheat you,
if they could; for the best of all reasons,--it would be dead against
their own interest."

Not a day passes but the question is asked by our youths who are being
initiated in the routine of selling goods,--"Is this honest? Is that
honest? Is it honest to mark your goods as costing more than they do
cost? Is it honest to ask one man more than you ask another? Ought not
the same price to be named to every buyer? Isn't it cheating to get
twenty-five per cent. profit? Can a man sell goods without lying? Are
men compelled to lie and cheat a little in order to earn an honest
living?" What is the reason that these questions will keep coming up?
That they can no more be laid than Banquo's ghost? Here are some of the
reasons. First, and foremost, multitudes of young men, whose parents
followed the plough, the loom, or the anvil, have taken it into their
heads, that they will neither dig, hammer, nor ply the shuttle. To soil
their hands with manual labor they cannot abide. The sphere of commerce
looks to their longing eyes a better thing than lying down in green
pastures, or than a peaceful life beside still waters, procured by
laborious farming, or by any mechanical pursuit. Clean linen and stylish
apparel are inseparably associated in their minds with an easy and
elegant life, and so they pour into our cities, and the ranks of the
merchants are filled, and over-filled, many times. Once, the merchant
had only to procure an inviting stock, and his goods sold themselves.
He did not go after customers; they came to him; and it was a matter of
favor to them to supply their wants. Now, all that is changed. There are
many more merchants than are needed; buyers are in request; and buyers
whose credit is the best, to a very great extent, dictate the prices at
which they will buy. The question is no longer, How large a profit can
I get? but, How small a profit shall I accept? The competition for
customers is so fierce that the seller hardly dares ask any profit, for
fear his more anxious neighbor will undersell him. In order to attract
customers, one thing after another has been made "a leading article,"
a bait to be offered at cost or even less than cost,--that being
oftentimes the condition on which alone the purchaser will make a
beginning of buying.

"Jenkins," cried an anxious seller, "you don't buy anything of me, and I
can sell you as cheap as any. Here's a bale of sheetings now, at eight
cents, will do you good."

"How many have you got?"

"Oh, plenty."

"Well, how many?"

"Fifteen bales."

"Well, I'll take them."

"Come in and buy something more."

"No, nothing more to-day."

There was a loss of seventy-five dollars, and he did not dare buy more.

It will be obvious that the selling a part of one's goods at less than
cost enhances the necessity of getting a profit on the rest. But how
to do this, under the sharp scrutiny of a buyer who knows that his own
success, not to say his very existence, depends upon his paying no
profit possible to be avoided,--no profit, at all events, not certainly
paid by some sharp neighbor who is competing with him for the same

"But is there anything in all this," you are asking, "to preclude the
jobber's telling the truth?" Nothing. "Anything to preclude strict
honesty?" Nothing. "Why, then, do the questions you have quoted
continually recur?"

I answer: In order to get his share of the best custom in his line, the
dry-goods jobber has taken a store in the best position in town, at a
rent of from three to fifty thousand dollars a year; has hired men and
boys at all prices, from fifty dollars to five thousand,--and enough of
these to result in an aggregate of from five to fifty thousand dollars
a year for help, without which his business cannot be done. Add to
this the usual average for store-expenses of every name, and for
the family-expenses of two, five, or seven partners, and you find a
dry-goods firm under the necessity of getting out of their year's sales
somewhere from fifteen to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars profit,
before they shall have saved one cent to meet the losses of an
unfavorable season.

Now, though there is nothing even in all these urgencies to justify a
single lie or fraud, there is much to sharpen a man's wits to secure the
sale of his goods,--much to educate him in all manner of expedients to
baffle the inquiries of customers who would be offended, if they could
discover that he ever charged them the profit without which he could
never meet his expenses. And the jobber's problem is complicated by the
folly, universally prevalent among buyers, of expecting some partiality
or peculiarity of favor over their neighbors who are just as good as
themselves. Every dry-goods jobber knows that his customer's foolish
hope and expectation often demand three absurdities of him: first, the
assurance that he has the advantage over all other jobbers in a better
stock of goods, better bought; secondly, that he has a peculiar
friendship for himself; and thirdly, that, though of other men he must
needs get a profit, in his special instance he shall ask little or
none; and that, such is his regard for him, it is a matter of no moment
whether he live in Lowell or Louisiana, in New Bedford or Nebraska, or
whether he pay New England bank-notes within thirty days, or wild-cat
money and wild lands, which may be converted into cash, with more or
less expense and loss, somewhere between nine months and nine-and-twenty

And yet the uninitiated "can't understand how an honest merchant can
have two prices for the same goods." An honest man has but one price
for the same goods, and that is the cash price. All outside of that is
barter,--goods for notes. His first inquiry is, What is the market-value
of the note offered? True, he knows that many of the notes he takes
cannot be sold at all; but he also knows that the notes he is willing to
take will in the aggregate be guarantied by a reservation of one, two,
or three per cent., and that the note of the particular applicant for
credit will tend to swell or to diminish the rate; and he cannot afford
to exchange his goods for any note, except at a profit which will
guaranty its payment when due,--which, in other words, will make the
note equal in value to cash.

Now it is just because all business-contingencies cannot be worked into
an unvarying form, as regular as the multiplication-table, and as plain
to the apprehension of all men, that a vast amount of lying and of
dishonesty is imputed, where it does not exist. Merchants are much like
other men,--wise and unwise, far-sighted and short-sighted, selfish
and unselfish, honest and dishonest. But that they are as a class more
dishonest than other men is so far from being true, that I much doubt if
we should overstrain the matter, if we should affirm that they are
the most honest class of men in the community. There is much in their
training which contributes directly, and most efficiently, to this
result. Their very first lessons are in feet and inches, in pounds and
ounces, in exact calculations, in accounts and balances. Carelessness,
mistakes, inaccuracies, they are made to understand, are unpardonable
sins. The boy who goes into a store learns, for the first time, that
half a cent, a quarter of a cent, an eighth of a cent, may be a matter
of the gravest import. He finds a thorough book-keeper absolutely
refusing himself rest till he has detected an error of ten cents in a
business of six months. And every day's experience enforces the lesson.
It is giving what is due, and claiming what is due, from year's end to
year's end. Among merchants it is matter of common notoriety, that the
prompt and exact adherence to orders insisted on by merchants, and
prompt advice of receipt of business and of progress, cannot be expected
from our worthy brethren at the bar. (The few honorable exceptions are
respectfully informed that they are not referred to.) We do not expect
them to weigh or measure the needless annoyance to which they often
subject us, because they have never been, like ourselves, trained to
the use of weights and measures; and therefore we are not willing to
stigmatize them as dishonest, though they do, in fact, often steal
our time and strength and patience, by withholding an answer to a

None but those who are in the business know the assiduous attention with
which the dry-goods jobber follows up his customers. None but they know
the urgent necessity of doing this. The jobber may have travelled a
thousand miles to make his customer's acquaintance, and to prevail upon
him to come to Boston to make his purchases; and some neighbor, who
boards at the hotel he happens to make his resting-place, lights upon
him, shows him attention, tempts him with bargains not to be refused,
prevails upon him to make the bulk of his purchases of him, before
his first acquaintance even hears of his arrival. To guard against
disappointments such as this, the jobber sends his salesmen to live at
hotels, haunts the hotels himself, studies the hotel-register far more
assiduously than he can study his own comfort, or the comfort of his
wife and children. Of one such jobber it was said, facetiously,--"He
goes the round of all the hotels every morning with a lantern, to wake
up his customers." I had an errand one day at noon to such a devotee.
Inquiring for him in the counting-room, I was told by his book-keeper
to follow the stairs to the top of the store, and I should find him. I
mounted flight after flight to the attic, and there I found, not only
the man, but also one or two of his customers, surrounding a huge
packing-case, upon which they had extemporized a dinner, cold turkey
and tongue, and other edibles, taken standing, with plenty of fun for a
dessert. The next time we happened to meet, I said,--"So you take not
only time, but also customers, by the forelock!"

"Yes, to be sure," was his answer; "let 'em go to their hotel to dinner
in the middle of a bill, and somebody lights upon 'em, and carries 'em
off to buy elsewhere; or they begin to remember that it is a long way
home, feel homesick, slip off to New York as being so far on the way,
and that's the last you see of 'em. No, we're bound to see 'em through,
and no let-up till they've bought all they've got on their memorandum."

We have not yet touched the question of credit. To whom shall the jobber
sell his goods? It is the question of questions. Many a man who has
bought well, who in other respects has sold well, who possessed all
the characteristics which recommend a man to the confidence and to the
good-will of his fellows, has made shipwreck of his fortunes because of
his inability to meet this question. He sold his goods to men who never
paid him. To say that in this the most successful jobbers are governed
by an instinct, by an intuitive conviction which is superior to all
rules of judgment, would be to allege what it would be difficult to
prove. It would be less difficult to maintain that every competent
merchant, however unconscious of the fact, has a standard of judgment by
which he tries each applicant for credit. There are characteristics of
men who can safely be credited, entirely familiar to his thoughts. He
looks upon the man and instantly feels that he is or is not the man
for him. He thinks his decision an instinct, or an intuition, because,
through much practice, these mental operations have become so rapid as
to defy analysis. Not being infallible, he sometimes mistakes; and when
he so mistakes, he will be sure to say,--I made that loss because I
relied too much upon this characteristic, or because I did not allow
its proper weight to the absence of some other,--because I thought his
shrewdness or his honesty, his enterprise or his economy, would save
him: implying that he had observed some non-conformity to his standard,
but had relied upon some excellency in excess to make up for it.

What are the perplexities which beset the question, To whom shall the
jobber sell his goods? They are manifold; and some of them are peculiar
to our country. Our territory is very extensive; our population very
heterogeneous; the economy and close calculation which recommend a man
in Massachusetts may discredit him in Louisiana. The very countenance is
often a sure indication of character and of capacity, when it is one of
a class and a region whose peculiarities we thoroughly understand;
but coming to us from other classes and regions, we are often at
fault,--more especially in these latter days, when all strong-mindedness
is presumed to be foreshadowed in a stiff beard. Time was when something
could be inferred from a lip, a mouth, a chin,--when character could be
found in the contour and color of a cheek; but that time has passed.
The time was, when, among a homogeneous people, a few time-honored
characteristics were both relied on and insisted on: for example, good
parentage, good moral character, a thorough training, and superior
capacity, joined to industry, economy, sound judgment, and good manners.
But Young America has learned to make light of some of these, and to
dispense altogether with others of them.

Once the buyer was required to prove himself an honest, worthy, and
capable man. If he wanted credit, he must humbly sue for it, and prove
himself deserving of it; and no man thought of applying for it who was
not prepared to furnish irrefragable evidence. Once, a reference to some
respectable acquaintance would serve the purpose; and neighbors held
themselves bound to tell all they knew. The increase of merchants, and
fierce competition for customers, have changed this. Men now
regard their knowledge of other men as a part of their capital or
stock-in-trade. Their knowledge has been acquired at much cost of labor
and money; and they hold themselves absolved from all obligation to
give away what they have thus expensively acquired. Moreover, their
confidence has sometimes been betrayed, and their free communications
have been remorselessly used to their disadvantage. Alas, it cannot
be denied that even dry-goods jobbers, with all their extraordinary
endowments, are not quite perfect! for some of them will "state the
thing that is not," and others "convey" their neighbor's property into
their own coffers: men who prefer gain to godliness, and mistake much
money for respectability.

There are very few men, in certain sections of the country, who will
absolutely refuse to give a letter of introduction to a neighbor on the
simple ground of ill-desert. Men dread the ill-will of their neighbor,
and particularly the ill-will of an unscrupulous neighbor; so, when such
a neighbor asks a letter, they give it. I remember such a one bringing a
dozen or more letters, some of which contained the highest commendation.
The writer of one of these letters sent a private note, through the
mail, warning one of the persons addressed against the bearer of his own
commendatory letter. Those who had no warning sold, and lost. It would
be difficult to find a man, however unworthy, who could not, from some
quarter, obtain a very respectable letter of introduction. One of the
greatest rogues that ever came to Boston brought letters from two of
the foremost houses in New York to two firms second to none in Boston.
Neither of these gentlemen was in fault in the matter; the train had
been laid by some obliging cousin in a banking-house in London.

In making up our account of the difficulties with which a dry-goods
jobber has to deal, in conducting a successful business, it must be
distinctly stated, that on no man can he count for information which
will, however remotely or slightly, compromise the interest of the one
inquired of. Never, perhaps, was it so true as now, that "the seller has
need of a hundred eyes." The competent jobber uses his eyes first of all
upon the person of the man who desires to buy of him. He questions him
about himself, with such directness or indirectness as instinct and
experience dictate. He learns to discriminate between the sensitiveness
of the high-toned honest man and the sensitiveness of the rogue. Many
men of each class are inclined to resent and resist the catechism.
Strange as it may seem, the very men who would inexorably refuse a
credit to those who should decline to answer their inquiries are the men
most inclined to resent any inquiry about themselves. While they demand
the fullest and most particular information from their customers,
they wonder that others will not take them on their own estimate of

The jobber next directs his attention to the buyer's knowledge of goods:
of their quality, their style, their worth in market, and their fitness
for his own market; all of which will come to light, as he offers to
his notice the various articles he has for sale. He will improve the
opportunity to draw him out in general conversation, so guiding it as to
touch many points of importance, and yet not so as to betray a want of
confidence. He sounds him as to his knowledge of other merchants at home
and in the city; takes the names of his references,--of several, if he
can get them; puts himself in communication with men who know him, both
at his home and in the city. If he can harmonize the information derived
from all these sources into a consistent and satisfactory whole, he will
then do his utmost to secure his customer, both by selling him his goods
at a profit so small that he need have little fear of any neighbor's
underselling him, and also by granting every possible accommodation as
to the time and manner of payment.

A moderately thoughtful man will by this time begin to think the
elements of toil and of perplexity already suggested sufficient for the
time and strength of any man, and more than he would wish to undertake.
But experience alone could teach him in how many ways indulged customers
can and do manage to make the profit they pay so small, and the toil
and vexation they occasion so great, that the jobber is often put upon
weighing the question, Should I not be richer without them? Thus, for
example, some of them will affect to doubt that the jobber wishes to
sell to them, and propose, as a test, that he shall let them have
some choice article at the cost, or at less than the cost, now on one
pretext, and now on another,--intimating an indisposition to buy, if
they cannot be indulged in that one thing. If they carry their point,
that exceptional price is thenceforth claimed as the rule. Another day
the concession will be asked on something else; and by extending this
game so as to include a number of jobbers, these shrewd buyers will
manage to lay in an assorted stock on which there will have been little
or no profit to the sellers. To cap the climax of vexation, these
persons will very probably come in, after not many days, and propose
to cash their notes at double interest off. Only an official of
the Inquisition could turn the thumb-screw so many times, and so

But we have yet to consider the collection of debts. The jobber who has
not capital so ample as to buy only for cash is expected invariably to
settle his purchases by giving his note, payable at bank on a fixed day.
He pays it when due, or fails. Not so with his customers: multitudes
of them shrink from giving a note payable at bank, and some altogether
refuse to do so. They wish to buy on open account; or to give a note to
be paid at maturity, if convenient,--otherwise not. The number of really
prompt and punctual men, as compared with those who are otherwise, is
very small. The number of those who never fail is smaller still. The
collection-laws are completely alike, probably, in no two States. Some
of them appear to have been constructed for the accommodation, not of
honest creditors, but of dishonest debtors. In others, they are such as
to put each jobber in fear of every other,--a first attachment taking
all the property, if the debt be large enough, leaving little or
nothing, usually, for those who have been willing to give the debtor
such indulgence as might enable him to pay in full, were it granted by
all his creditors.

No jobber can open his letters in the morning in the certainty of
finding no tidings of a failure. No jobber, leaving his breakfast-table,
can assure his wife and children, sick or well, that he will dine or sup
with them; any one of a dozen railroad-trains may, for aught he knows,
be sweeping him away to some remote point, to battle with the mischances
of trade, the misfortunes of honest men, or the knavery of rogues and
the meshes of the law. Once in the cars, he casts his eye around in
uneasy expectation of finding some one or more of his neighbors bound on
the same errand. While yet peering over the seats in front of him, he is
unpleasantly startled by a slap on the shoulder, and, "Ah, John!
bound East? What's in the wind? Any ducks in these days?"
"Why,--yes,--no,--that is, I'm going down along,--little uncertain how
far,--depends on circumstances." "So, so,--I see,--mum's the word."
Well, neither is quite ready to trust the other,--neither quite ready to
know the worst; so long as a blow is suspended, it may not fall; and so,
with desperate exertions, they change the subject, converse on things
indifferent,--or subside into more or less moody meditations upon their
respective chances and prospects.

Any jobber who has seen service will tell you stories without number of
these vexatious experiences, sometimes dashed with the comical in no
common measure. He will tell you of how they arrived at the last town
on the railroad, some six or seven of them; of how not a word had been
lisped of their destination; of the stampede from the railroad-station
to the tavern; of the spirited bids for horses and wagons; of the
chop-fallen disappointment of the man for whom no vehicle remained; of
his steeple-chase a-bareback; and of their various successes with writs
and officers, in their rush for the store of the delinquent debtor. Of
three such Jehus, the story goes, that, two of them having bought the
monopoly of the inside of the only vehicle, and, in so doing, as they
thought, having utterly precluded any chance for the third, their
dauntless competitor instantly mounted with the driver, commenced
negotiations for the horse, which speedily resulted in a purchase, and
thereupon detached the horse from the vehicle, drove on, and effected a
first attachment, which secured his debt.

The occurrence of "a bad year" compels many a jobber to abandon his
store and home for one, two, or three months together, and visit his
customers scattered all over the land, to make collections. Then it is
that the power of persuasion, if possessed, is brought into efficient
use; discrimination, too, is demanded; good judgment, and power of
combination. For a debt that cannot be paid in money may possibly be
paid partly in money, or in merchandise of some sort, and in part
secured; and, among the securities offered, to choose those which will
involve the least delay is generally no easy matter.

To those who, without experience, are commencing a jobbing-business,
a capital of thirty, forty, or fifty thousand dollars seems an
inexhaustible fund. Experience teaches that an incautious and unskilful
man may easily bury even the largest of these sums in a single season.
If not actually lost, it has in effect ceased to be capital, because it
cannot be collected, and the notes he has taken are such as will not be

Success in the jobbing-business makes such demand on talent and capacity
as outsiders seldom dream of. Half-a-dozen Secretaries of State, with a
Governor and a President thrown in, would not suffice to constitute a
first-class jobbing-firm. The general or special incompetency of these
distinguished functionaries in their several spheres may probably be
covered by the capacity of their subordinates. The President of these
United States--of late years, at all events--is not supposed to be in
a position to know whether the will is or is not "a self-determining
power." But no jobbing-firm can thus cloak its deficiencies, or shirk
its responsibilities. Goods must be bought, and sold, and paid for; and
a master-spirit in each department, capable of penetrating to every
particular, and of controlling every subordinate, cannot be dispensed
with. He must know that every man to whom he delegates any portion of
his work is competent and trustworthy. He must be able to feel that the
thing which he deputes to each will be as surely and as faithfully done
as though done by his own hand. No criticism is more common or more
depreciatory than that "Such a one will not succeed, because he has
surrounded himself with incompetent men."

It is much to be regretted that it cannot be said, that no man can
succeed in the jobbing-business who is not a model of courtesy.
Unhappily, our community has not yet reached that elevation. But this
may with truth be affirmed,--that many a man fails for the want of
courtesy, and for the want of that good-will to his fellows from which
all real courtesy springs. There is small chance for any man to succeed
who does not command his own spirit. There is no chance whatever for
an indolent man; and, in the long run, little or no chance for the
dishonest man. The same must be said for the timid and for the rash man.
Nor can we offer any encouragement to the intermittent man. From year's
end to year's end, the dry-goods jobber finds himself necessitated to be
studying his stock and his ledger. He knows, that, while men sleep, the
enemy will be sowing tares. In his case, the flying moments are the
enemy, and bad stock and bad debts are the tares. To weed out each of
these is his unceasing care. And as both the one and the other are
forever choking the streams of income which should supply the means of
paying his own notes, his no less constant care is to provide such other
conduits as shall insure him always a full basin at the bank. Nobody but
a jobber can know the vexation of a jobber who cannot find money to cash
his notes when they are beginning to be thrown into the market at a
price a shade lower than his neighbor's notes are sold at.

In conclusion, a few material facts should be stated.

As a general proposition, it is not to be denied, that those who are
in haste to get rich will find in the dry-goods jobbing-business many
temptations and snares into which one may easily fall. A young man who
is not fortified by a faithful home-training, and by sound religious
principle, will be likely enough to degenerate into a heartless

While the young man who has been well trained at home, who appreciates
good manners, good morals, and good books, will derive immense advantage
in acquiring that quick discernment, that intuitive apprehension of
the rights and of the pleasure of others, and that nice tact, which
characterize the highest style of merchants,--he who has not been thus
prepared will be more than likely to mistake _brusquerie_ for manliness,
and brutality for the sublime of independence. As in a great house there
are vessels unto honor and also unto dishonor, so in the purlieus of
the dry-goods trade there are gentlemen who would honor and adorn any
society, and also men whose manners would shame Hottentots,--whose
language, innocent of all preference for Worcester or Webster, a terror
to all decent ideas, like scarecrows in corn-fields, is dressed in the
cast-off garments of the refuse of all classes.

Success in retailing does not necessarily qualify a man to succeed in
the dry-goods jobbing-business. The game is played on a much larger
scale; it includes other chances, and demands other qualifications,
natural and acquired. Instances are not wanting of men who, in the
smaller towns, had made to themselves a name and acquired an honorable
independence, sinking both capital and courage in their endeavors to
manage the business of a city-jobber.

It should be well remembered, that, while it is not indispensable to
success in the jobbing-business that each partner should be an expert
in every department of the business, in buying, selling, collecting,
paying, and book-keeping, it is absolutely necessary that each should
be such in his own department,--and that the firm, as a unit, should
include a completely competent man for each and every one of these
departments. The lack of the qualities which are indispensable to any
one of these may, and probably will, prove an abyss deep enough to
ingulf the largest commercial ship afloat.

Finally, to avoid disappointment, the man who would embark in the
dry-goods trade should make up his mind to meet every variety of
experience known to mortals, and to be daunted by nothing. He will
assuredly find fair winds and head winds, clear skies and cloudy skies,
head seas and cross seas as well as stern seas. A wind that justifies
studding-sails may change, without premonition, to a gale that will make
ribbons of top-sails and of storm-sails. The best crew afloat cannot
preclude all casualties, or exclude sleepless nights and cold sweats now
and then; but a quick eye, a cool head, a prompt hand, and indomitable
perseverance will overcome almost all things.


  The wet trees hang above the walks
  Purple with damps and earthish stains,
  And strewn by moody, absent rains
  With rose-leaves from the wild-grown stalks.

  Unmown, in heavy, tangled swaths,
  The ripe June-grass is wanton blown;
  Snails slime the untrodden threshold-stone,
  Along the sills hang drowsy moths.

  Down the blank visage of the wall,
  Where many a wavering trace appears
  Like a forgotten trace of tears,
  From swollen caves the slow drops crawl.

  Where everything was wide before,
  The curious wind, that comes and goes,
  Finds all the latticed windows close,
  Secret and close the bolted door.

  And with the shrewd and curious wind,
  That in the arched doorway cries,
  And at the bolted portal tries,
  And harks and listens at the blind,--

  Forever lurks my thought about,
  And in the ghostly middle-night
  Finds all the hidden windows bright,
  And sees the guests go in and out,--

  And lingers till the pallid dawn,
  And feels the mystery deeper there
  In silent, gust-swept chambers, bare,
  With all the midnight revel gone;

  But wanders through the lonesome rooms,
  Where harsh the astonished cricket calls,
  And, from the hollows of the walls
  Vanishing, stare unshapen glooms;

  And lingers yet, and cannot come
  Out of the drear and desolate place,
  So full of ruin's solemn grace,
  And haunted with the ghost of home.




Early the next morning Abel Stebbins made his appearance at Dudley
Venner's, and requested to see the maän o' the haouse abaout somethin'
o' consequence. Mr. Venner sent word that the messenger should wait
below, and presently appeared in the study, where Abel was making
himself at home, as is the wont of the republican citizen, when he hides
the purple of empire beneath the apron of domestic service.

"Good mornin', Squire!" said Abel, as Mr. Venner entered. "My name's
Stebbins, 'n' I'm stoppin' f'r a spell 'ith ol' Doctor Kittredge."

"Well, Stebbins," said Mr. Dudley Venner, "have you brought any special
message from the Doctor?"

"Y' ha'n't heerd nothin' abaout it, Squire, d' ye mean t' say?" said
Abel,--beginning to suspect that he was the first to bring the news of
last evening's events.

"About--what?" asked Mr. Venner, with some interest.

"Dew tell, naow! Waal, that beats all! Why, that 'ere Portagee relation
o' yourn 'z been tryin' t' ketch a fellah 'n a slippernoose, 'n' got
ketched himself,--that's all. Y' ha'n't heerd noth'n' abaout it?"

"Sit down," said Mr. Dudley Venner, calmly, "and tell me all you have to

So Abel sat down and gave him an account of the events of the last
evening. It was a strange and terrible surprise to Dudley Venner to find
that his nephew, who had been an inmate of his house and the companion
of his daughter, was to all intents and purposes guilty of the gravest
of crimes. But the first shock was no sooner over than he began to think
what effect the news would have on Elsie. He imagined that there was a
kind of friendly feeling between them, and he feared some crisis would
be provoked in his daughter's mental condition by the discovery. He
would wait, however, until she came from her chamber, before disturbing
her with the evil tidings.

Abel did not forget his message with reference to the equipments of the
dead mustang.

"The' was some things on the hoss, Squire, that the man he ketched
said he didn' care no gre't abaout; but perhaps you'd like to have 'em
fetched to the mansion-haouse. Ef y' _didn'_ care abaout 'em, though,
I shouldn' min' keepin' on 'em; they might come handy some time or
'nother: they say, holt on t' anything for ten year 'n' there'll be some
kin' o' use for't."

"Keep everything," said Dudley Venner. "I don't want to see anything
belonging to that young man."

So Abel nodded to Mr. Venner, and left the study to find some of the men
about the stable to tell and talk over with them the events of the
last evening. He presently came upon Elbridge, chief of the equine
department, and driver of the family-coach.

"Good mornin', Abe," said Elbridge. "What's fetched y' daown here so
all-fired airly?"

"You're a darned pooty lot daown here, you be!" Abel answered. "Better
keep your Portagees t' home nex' time, ketchin' folks 'ith slippernooses
raoun' their necks, 'n' kerryin' knives 'n their boots!"

"What 'r' you jawin' abaout?" Elbridge said, looking up to see if he was
in earnest, and what he meant.

"Jawin' abaout? You'll find aout 'z soon 'z y' go into that 'ere stable
o' yourn! Y' won't curry that 'ere long-tailed black hoss no more; 'n'
y' won't set y'r eyes on the fellah that rid him, ag'in, in a hurry!"

Elbridge walked straight to the stable, without saying a word, found the
door unlocked, and went in.

"Th' critter's gone, sure enough!" he said. "Glad on't! The darndest,
kickin'est, bitin'est beast th't ever I see, 'r ever wan' t' see ag'in!
Good reddance! Don' wan' no snappin'-turkles in my stable! Whar's the
man gone th't brought the critter?"

"Whar he's gone? Guess y' better go 'n aäsk my ol' man; he kerried him
off laäs' night; 'n' when he comes back, mebbe he'll tell ye whar he's
gone tew!"

By this time Elbridge had found out that Abel was in earnest, and had
something to tell. He looked at the litter in the mustang's stall, then
at the crib.

"Ha'n't ëat b't haälf his feed. Ha'n't been daown on his straw. Must ha'
been took aout somewhere abaout ten 'r 'leven o'clock. I know that 'ere
critter's ways. The fellah's had him aout nights afore; b't I never
thought nothin' o' no mischief. He's a kin' o' haälf Injin. What is 't
the chap's been a-doin' on? Tell 's all abaout it."

Abel sat down on a meal-chest, picked up a straw and put it into his
mouth. Elbridge sat down at the other end, pulled out his jackknife,
opened the penknife-blade, and began sticking it into the lid of the
meal-chest. The Doctor's man had a story to tell, and he meant to
get all the enjoyment out of it. So he told it with every luxury of
circumstance. Mr. Venner's man heard it all with open mouth. No listener
in the gardens of Stamboul could have found more rapture in a tale heard
amidst the perfume of roses and the voices of birds and tinkling of
fountains than Elbridge in following Abel's narrative, as they sat there
in the aromatic ammoniacal atmosphere of the stable, the grinding of the
horses' jaws keeping evenly on through it all, with now and then the
interruption of a stamping hoof, and at intervals a ringing crow from
the barnyard.

Elbridge stopped a minute to think, after Abel had finished.

"Who's took care o' them things that was on the hoss?" he said, gravely.

"Waäl, Langden, he seemed to kin' o' think I'd ought to have 'em,--'n'
the Squire, he didn' seem to have no 'bjection; 'n' so,--waäl, I
cal'late I sh'll jes' holt on to 'em myself; they a'n't good f'r much,
but they're cur'ous t' keep t' look at."

Mr. Venner's man did not appear much gratified by this arrangement,
especially as he had a shrewd suspicion that some of the ornaments of
the bridle were of precious metal, having made occasional examinations
of them with the edge of a file. But he did not see exactly what to do
about it, except to get them from Abel in the way of bargain.

"Waäl, no,--they _a'n't_ good for much 'xcep' to look at. 'F y' ever rid
on that seddle once, y' wouldn' try it ag'in, very spry,--not 'f y'
c'd haälp y'rsaälf. I tried it,--darned 'f I sot daown f'r th' nex'
week,--ëat all my victuals stan'in'. I sh'd like t' hev them things wal
enough to heng up 'n the stable; 'f y' want t' trade some day, fetch 'em
along daown."

Abel rather expected that Elbridge would have laid claim to the saddle
and bridle on the strength of some promise or other presumptive title,
and thought himself lucky to get off with only promising that he would
think abaout tradin'.

When Elbridge returned to the house, he found the family in a state of
great excitement. Mr. Venner had told Old Sophy, and she had informed
the other servants. Everybody knew what had happened, excepting Elsie.
Her father had charged them all to say nothing about it to her; he would
tell her, when she came down.

He heard her step at last,--a light, gliding step,--so light that her
coming was often unheard, except by those who perceived the faint rustle
that went with it. She was paler than common this morning, as she came
into her father's study.

After a few words of salutation, he said, quietly,--

"Elsie, my dear, your cousin Richard has left us."

She grew still paler, as she asked,--

"_Is he dead?_"

Dudley Venner started to see the expression with which Elsie put this

"He is living,--but dead to us from this day forward," said her father.

He proceeded to tell her, in a general way, the story he had just heard
from Abel. There could be no doubting it;--he remembered him as the
Doctor's man; and as Abel had seen all with his own eyes,--as Dick's
chamber, when unlocked with a spare key, was found empty, and his bed
had not been slept in, he accepted the whole account as true.

When he told of Dick's attempt on the young schoolmaster, ("You know
Mr. Langdon very well, Elsie,--a perfectly inoffensive young man, as I
understand,") Elsie turned her face away and slid along by the wall to
the window which looked out on the little grass-plot with the white
stone standing in it. Her father could not see her face, but he knew by
her movements that her dangerous mood was on her. When she heard the
sequel of the story, the discomfiture and capture of Dick, she turned
round for an instant, with a look of contempt and of something like
triumph upon her face. Her father saw that her cousin had become odious
to her. He knew well, by every change of her countenance, by her
movements, by every varying curve of her graceful figure, the
transitions from passion to repose, from fierce excitement to the dull
languor which often succeeded her threatening paroxysms.

She remained looking out at the window. A group of white fan-tailed
pigeons had lighted on the green plot before it and clustered about one
of their companions who lay on his back, fluttering in a strange way,
with outspread wings and twitching feet. Elsie uttered a faint cry;
these were her special favorites, and often fed from her hand. She threw
open the long window, sprang out, caught up the white fan-tail, and held
it to her bosom. The bird stretched himself out, and then lay still,
with open eyes, lifeless. She looked at him a moment, and, sliding in
through the open window and through the study, sought her own apartment,
where she locked herself in, and began to sob and moan like those that
weep. But the gracious solace of tears seemed to be denied her, and her
grief, like her anger, was a dull ache, longing, like that, to finish
itself with a fierce paroxysm, but wanting its natural outlet.

This seemingly trifling incident of the death of her favorite appeared
to change all the current of her thought. Whether it were the sight
of the dying bird, or the thought that her own agency might have been
concerned in it, or some deeper grief, which took this occasion to
declare itself,--some dark remorse or hopeless longing,--whatever it
might be, there was an unwonted tumult in her soul. To whom should
she go in her vague misery? Only to Him who knows all His creatures'
sorrows, and listens to the faintest human cry. She knelt, as she had
been taught to kneel from her childhood, and tried to pray. But her
thoughts refused to flow in the language of supplication. She could not
plead for herself as other women plead in their hours of anguish. She
rose like one who should stoop to drink, and find dust in the place of
water. Partly from restlessness, partly from an attraction she hardly
avowed to herself, she followed her usual habit and strolled listlessly
along to the school.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of course everybody at the Institute was full of the terrible adventure
of the preceding evening. Mr. Bernard felt poorly enough; but he had
made it a point to show himself the next morning, as if nothing had
happened. Helen Darley knew nothing of it all until she had risen, when
the gossipy matron of the establishment made her acquainted with all its
details, embellished with such additional ornamental appendages as it
had caught up in transmission from lip to lip. She did not love to
betray her sensibilities, but she was pale and tremulous and very nearly
tearful when Mr. Bernard entered the sitting-room, showing on his
features traces of the violent shock he had received and the heavy
slumber from which he had risen with throbbing brows. What the poor
girl's impulse was, on seeing him, we need not inquire too curiously. If
he had been her own brother, she would have kissed him and cried on
his neck; but something held her back. There is no galvanism in
kiss-your-brother; it is copper against copper: but alien bloods develop
strange currents, when they flow close to each other, with only the
films that cover lip and cheek between them. Mr. Bernard, as some of us
may remember, violated the proprieties and laid himself open to reproach
by his enterprise with a bouncing village-girl, to whose rosy cheek an
honest smack was not probably an absolute novelty. He made it all up by
his discretion and good behavior now. He saw by Helen's moist eye and
trembling lip that her woman's heart was off its guard, and he knew,
by the infallible instinct of sex, that he should be forgiven, if
he thanked her for her sisterly sympathies in the most natural
way,--expressive, and at the same time economical of breath and
utterance. He would not give a false look to their friendship by any
such demonstration. Helen was a little older than he was, but the
aureole of young womanhood had not yet begun to fade from around her.
She was surrounded by that enchanted atmosphere into which the girl
walks with dreamy eyes, and out of which the woman passes with a
story written on her forehead. Some people think very little of these
refinements; they have not studied magnetism, and the law of the square
of the distance.

So Mr. Bernard thanked Helen for her interest without the aid of the
twenty-seventh letter of the alphabet,--the love labial,--the limping
consonant which it takes two to speak plain. Indeed, he scarcely let her
say a word, at first; for he saw that it was hard for her to conceal her
emotion. No wonder; he had come within a hair's-breadth of losing his
life, and he had been a very kind friend and a very dear companion to

There were some curious spiritual experiences connected with his last
evening's adventure, which were working very strongly in his mind. It
was borne in upon him irresistibly that he had been _dead_ since he had
seen Helen,--as dead as the son of the Widow of Nain before the bier was
touched and he sat up and began to speak. There was an interval
between two conscious moments which appeared to him like a temporary
annihilation, and the thoughts it suggested were worrying him with
strange perplexities.

He remembered seeing the dark figure on horseback rise in the saddle and
something leap from its hand. He remembered the thrill he felt as the
coil settled on his shoulders, and the sudden impulse which led him to
fire as he did. With the report of the pistol all became blank, until
he found himself in a strange, bewildered state, groping about for the
weapon, which he had a vague consciousness of having dropped. But,
according to Abel's account, there must have been an interval of some
minutes between these recollections, and he could not help asking, Where
was the mind, the soul, the thinking principle, all this time?

A man is stunned by a blow with a stick on the head. He becomes
unconscious. Another man gets a harder blow on the head from a bigger
stick, and it kills him. Does he become unconscious, too? If so, _when
does he come to his consciousness_? The man who has had a slight or
moderate blow comes to himself when the immediate shock passes off and
the organs begin to work again, or when a bit of the skull is pried up,
if that happens to be broken. Suppose the blow is hard enough to spoil
the brain and stop the play of the organs, what happens then?

A British captain was struck by a cannon-ball on the head, just as
he was giving an order, at the Battle of the Nile. Fifteen months
afterwards he was trephined at Greenwich Hospital, having been
insensible all that time. Immediately after the operation his
consciousness returned, and he at once began carrying out the order
he was giving when the shot struck him. Suppose he had never been
trephined, when would his intelligence have returned? When his breath
ceased and his heart stopped beating?

When Mr. Bernard said to Helen, "I have been dead since I saw you," it
startled her not a little; for his expression was that of perfect good
faith, and she feared that his mind was disordered. When he explained,
not as has been done just now, at length, but in a hurried, imperfect
way, the meaning of his strange assertion, and the fearful Sadduceeisms
which it had suggested to his mind, she looked troubled at first, and
then thoughtful. She did not feel able to answer all the difficulties he
raised, but she met them with that faith which is the strength as well
as the weakness of women,--which makes them weak in the hands of man,
but strong in the presence of the Unseen.

"It is a strange experience," she said; "but I once had something like
it. I fainted, and lost some five or ten minutes out of my life, as much
as if I had been dead. But when I came to myself, I was the same person
every way, in my recollections and character. So I suppose that loss of
consciousness is not death. And if I was born out of unconsciousness
into infancy with many _family_-traits of mind and body, I can believe,
from my own reason, even without help from Revelation, that I shall be
born again out of the unconsciousness of death with my _individual_
traits of mind and body. If death is, as it should seem to be, a loss of
consciousness, that does not shake my faith; for I have been put into a
body once already to fit me for living here, and I hope to be in some
way fitted after this life to enjoy a better one. But it is all trust in
God and in his Word. These are enough for me; I hope they are for you."

Helen was a minister's daughter, and familiar from her childhood with
this class of questions, especially with all the doubts and perplexities
which are sure to assail every thinking child bred in any inorganic
or not thoroughly vitalized faith,--as is too often the case with the
children of professional theologians. The kind of discipline they are
subjected to is like that of the Flat-Head Indian pappooses. At five or
ten or fifteen years old they put their hands up to their foreheads and
ask, What are they strapping down my brains in this way for? So they
tear off the sacred bandages of the great Flat-Head tribe, and there
follows a mighty rush of blood to the long-compressed region. This
accounts, in the most lucid manner, for those sudden freaks with which
certain children of this class astonish their worthy parents at the
period of life when they are growing fast, and, the frontal pressure
beginning to be felt as something intolerable, they tear off the holy

The hour for school came, and they went to the great hall for study.
It would not have occurred to Mr. Silas Peckham to ask his assistant
whether he felt well enough to attend to his duties; and Mr. Bernard
chose to be at his post. A little headache and confusion were all that
remained of his symptoms.

Later, in the course of the forenoon, Elsie Venner came and took her
place. The girls all stared at her,--naturally enough; for it was hardly
to have been expected that she would show herself, after such an event
in the household to which she belonged. Her expression was somewhat
peculiar, and, of course, was attributed to the shock her feelings had
undergone on hearing of the crime attempted by her cousin and daily
companion. When she was looking on her book, or on any indifferent
object, her countenance betrayed some inward disturbance, which knitted
her dark brows, and seemed to throw a deeper shadow over her features.
But, from time to time, she would lift her eyes toward Mr. Bernard, and
let them rest upon him, without a thought, seemingly, that she herself
was the subject of observation or remark. Then they seemed to lose their
cold glitter, and soften into a strange, dreamy tenderness. The deep
instincts of womanhood were striving to grope their way to the surface
of her being through all the alien influences which overlaid them.
She could be secret and cunning in working out any of her dangerous
impulses, but she did not know how to mask the unwonted feeling which
fixed her eyes and her thoughts upon the only person who had ever
reached the spring of her hidden sympathies.

The girls all looked at Elsie, whenever they could steal a glance
unperceived, and many of them were struck with this singular expression
her features wore. They had long whispered it around among each other
that she had a liking for the master; but there were too many of them of
whom something like this could be said, to make it very remarkable. Now,
however, when so many little hearts were fluttering at the thought
of the peril through which the handsome young master had so recently
passed, they were more alive than ever to the supposed relation between
him and the dark school-girl. Some had supposed there was a mutual
attachment between them; there was a story that they were secretly
betrothed, in accordance with the rumor which had been current in the
village. At any rate, some conflict was going on in that still, remote,
clouded soul, and all the girls who looked upon her face were impressed
and awed as they had never been before by the shadows that passed over

One of these girls was more strongly arrested by Elsie's look than the
others. This was a delicate, pallid creature, with a high forehead, and
wide-open pupils, which looked as if they could take in all the shapes
that flit in what, to common eyes, is darkness,--a girl said to be
_clairvoyant_ under certain influences. In the _recess_, as it was
called, or interval of suspended studies in the middle of the forenoon,
this girl carried her autograph-book,--for she had one of those
indispensable appendages of the boarding-school miss of every
degree,--and asked Elsie to write her name in it. She had an
irresistible feeling, that, sooner or later, and perhaps very soon,
there would attach an unusual interest to this autograph. Elsie took the
pen and wrote, in her sharp Italian hand,

  _Elsie Venner, Infelix._

It was a remembrance, doubtless, of the forlorn queen of the "Aeneid";
but its coming to her thought in this way confirmed the sensitive
school-girl in her fears for Elsie, and she let fall a tear upon the
page before she closed it.

Of course, the keen and practised observation of Helen Darley could not
fail to notice the change of Elsie's manner and expression. She had long
seen that she was attracted to the young master, and had thought, as
the old Doctor did, that any impression which acted upon her affections
might be the means of awakening a new life in her singularly isolated
nature. Now, however, the concentration of the poor girl's thoughts upon
the one object which had had power to reach her deeper sensibilities was
so painfully revealed in her features, that Helen began to fear once
more, lest Mr. Bernard, in escaping the treacherous violence of an
assassin, had been left to the equally dangerous consequences of a
violent, engrossing passion in the breast of a young creature whose love
it would be ruin to admit and might be deadly to reject. She knew her
own heart too well to fear that any jealousy might mingle with her new
apprehensions. It was understood between Bernard and Helen that they
were too good friends to tamper with the silences and edging proximities
of love-making. She knew, too, the simply human, not masculine, interest
which Mr. Bernard took in Elsie; he had been frank with Helen, and more
than satisfied her that with all the pity and sympathy which overflowed
his soul, when he thought of the stricken girl, there mingled not one
drop of such love as a youth may feel for a maiden.

It may help the reader to gain some understanding of the anomalous
nature of Elsie Venner, if we look with Helen into Mr. Bernard's
opinions and feelings with reference to her, as they had shaped
themselves in his consciousness at the period of which we are speaking.

At first he had been impressed by her wild beauty, and the contrast of
all her looks and ways with those of the girls around her. Presently a
sense of some ill-defined personal element, which half attracted and
half repelled those who looked upon her, and especially those on whom
she looked, began to make itself obvious to him, as he soon found it was
painfully sensible to his more susceptible companion, the lady-teacher.
It was not merely in the cold light of her diamond eyes, but in all her
movements, in her graceful postures as she sat, in her costume, and, he
sometimes thought, even in her speech, that this obscure and exceptional
character betrayed itself. When Helen had said, that, if they were
living in times when human beings were subject to possession, she should
have thought there was something not human about Elsie, it struck an
unsuspected vein of thought in his own mind, which he hated to put in
words, but which was continually trying to articulate itself among the
dumb thoughts which lie under the perpetual stream of mental whispers.

Mr. Bernard's professional training had made him slow to accept
marvellous stories and many forms of superstition. Yet, as a man of
science, he well knew that just on the verge of the demonstrable facts
of physics and physiology there is a nebulous border-land which what
is called "common sense" perhaps does wisely not to enter, but which
uncommon sense, or the fine apprehension of privileged intelligences,
may cautiously explore, and in so doing find itself behind the scenes
which make up for the gazing world the show which is called Nature.

It was with something of this finer perception, perhaps with some degree
of imaginative exaltation, that he set himself to solving the problem
of Elsie's influence to attract and repel those around her. His letter
already submitted to the reader hints in what direction his thoughts
were disposed to turn. Here was a magnificent organization, superb
in vigorous womanhood, with a beauty such as never comes but after
generations of culture; yet through all this rich nature there ran some
alien current of influence, sinuous and dark, as when a clouded streak
seams the white marble of a perfect statue.

It would be needless to repeat the particular suggestions which had come
into his mind, as they must probably have come into those of the reader
who has noted the singularities of Elsie's tastes and personal traits.
The images which certain poets had dreamed of seemed to have become a
reality before his own eyes. Then came that unexplained adventure of The
Mountain,--almost like a dream in recollection, yet assuredly real in
some of its main incidents,--with all that it revealed or hinted. This
girl did not fear to visit the dreaded region, where danger lurked in
every nook and beneath every tuft of leaves. Did the tenants of the
fatal ledge recognize some mysterious affinity which made them tributary
to the cold glitter of her diamond eyes? Was she from her birth one of
those frightful children, such as he had read about, and the Professor
had told him of, who form unnatural friendships with cold, writhing
ophidians? There was no need of so unwelcome a thought as this; she had
drawn him away from the dark opening in the rock at the moment when he
seemed to be threatened by one of its malignant denizens; that was all
he could be sure of; the counter-fascination might have been a dream, a
fancy, a coincidence. All wonderful things soon grow doubtful in our own
minds, as do even common events, if great interests prove suddenly to
attach to their truth or falsehood.

--I, who am telling of these occurrences, saw a friend in the great
city, on the morning of a most memorable disaster, hours after the time
when the train which carried its victims to their doom had left. I
talked with him, and was for some minutes, at least, in his company.
When I reached home, I found that the story had gone before that he was
among the lost, and I alone could contradict it to his weeping friends
and relatives. I did contradict it; but, alas! I began soon to doubt
myself, penetrated by the contagion of their solicitude; my recollection
began to question itself; the order of events became dislocated; and
when I heard that he had reached home in safety, the relief was almost
as great to me as to those who had expected to see their own brother's
face no more.

Mr. Bernard was disposed, then, not to accept the thought of any odious
personal relationship of the kind which had suggested itself to him when
he wrote the letter referred to. That the girl had something of the
feral nature, her wild, lawless rambles in forbidden and blasted regions
of The Mountain at all hours, her familiarity with the lonely haunts
where any other human foot was so rarely seen, proved clearly enough.
But the more he thought of all her strange instincts and modes of being,
the more he became convinced that whatever alien impulse swayed her will
and modulated or diverted or displaced her affections came from some
impression that reached far back into the past, before the days when the
faithful Old Sophy had rocked her in the cradle. He believed that she
had brought her ruling tendency, whatever it was, into the world with

When the school was over and the girls had all gone, Helen lingered in
the school-room to speak with Mr. Bernard.

"Did you remark Elsie's ways this forenoon?" she said.

"No, not particularly; I have not noticed anything as sharply as I
commonly do; my head has been a little queer, and I have been thinking
over what we were talking about, and how near I came to solving the
great problem which every day makes clear to such multitudes of people.
What about Elsie?"

"Bernard, her liking for you is growing into a passion. I have studied
girls for a long while, and I know the difference between their passing
fancies and their real emotions. I told you, you remember, that Rosa
would have to leave us; we barely missed a scene, I think, if not a
whole tragedy, by her going at the right moment. But Elsie is infinitely
more dangerous to herself and others. Women's love is fierce enough, if
it once gets the mastery of them, always; but this poor girl does not
know what to do with a passion."

Mr. Bernard had never told Helen the story of the flower in his Virgil,
or that other adventure which he would have felt awkwardly to refer to;
but it had been perfectly understood between them that Elsie showed in
her own singular way a well-marked partiality for the young master.

"Why don't they take her away from the school, if she is in such a
strange, excitable state?" said Mr. Bernard.

"I believe they are afraid of her," Helen answered. "It is just one of
those cases that are ten thousand thousand times worse than insanity. I
don't think, from what I hear, that her father has ever given up hoping
that she will outgrow her peculiarities. Oh, these peculiar children for
whom parents go on hoping every morning and despairing every night! If I
could tell you half that mothers have told me, you would feel that the
worst of all diseases of the moral sense and the will are those which
all the Bedlams turn away from their doors as not being the subjects of

"Do you think her father has treated her judiciously?" said Mr. Bernard.

"I think," said Helen, with a little hesitation, which Mr. Bernard did
not happen to notice,--"I think he has been very kind and indulgent, and
I do not know that he could have treated her otherwise with a better
chance of success."

"He must of course be fond of her," Mr. Bernard said; "there is nothing
else in the world for him to love."

Helen dropped a book she held in her hand, and, stooping to pick it up,
the blood rushed into her cheeks.

"It is getting late," she said; "you must not stay any longer in
this close school-room. Pray, go and get a little fresh air before



The events told in the last two chapters had taken place toward the
close of the week. On Saturday evening the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather
received a note which was left at his door by an unknown person who
departed without saying a word. Its words were these:--

"One who is in distress of mind requests the prayers of this
congregation that God would be pleased to look in mercy upon the soul
that he has afflicted."

There was nothing to show from whom the note came, or the sex or age or
special source of spiritual discomfort or anxiety of the writer. The
handwriting was delicate and might well be a woman's. The clergyman was
not aware of any particular affliction among his parishioners which was
likely to be made the subject of a request of this kind. Surely neither
of the Venners would advertise the attempted crime of their relative in
this way. But who else was there? The more he thought about it, the more
it puzzled him; and as he did not like to pray in the dark, without
knowing for whom he was praying, he could think of nothing better than
to step into old Doctor Kittredge's and see what he had to say about it.

The old Doctor was sitting alone in his study when the Reverend Mr.
Fairweather was ushered in. He received his visitor very pleasantly,
expecting, as a matter of course, that he would begin with some new
grievance, dyspeptic, neuralgic, bronchitic, or other. The minister,
however, began with questioning the old Doctor about the sequel of the
other night's adventure; for he was already getting a little Jesuitical,
and kept back the object of his visit until it should come up as if
accidentally in the course of conversation.

"It was a pretty bold thing to go off alone with that reprobate, as you
did," said the minister.

"I don't know what there was bold about it," the Doctor answered. "All
he wanted was to get away. He was not quite a reprobate, you see; he
didn't like the thought of disgracing his family or facing his uncle. I
think he was ashamed to see his cousin, too, after what he had done."

"Did he talk with you on the way?"

"Not much. For half an hour or so he didn't speak a word. Then he asked
where I was driving him. I told him, and he seemed to be surprised into
a sort of grateful feeling. Bad enough, no doubt,--but might be worse.
Has some humanity left in him yet. Let him go. God can judge him,--I

"You are too charitable, Doctor," the minister said. "I condemn him just
as if he had carried out his project, which, they say, was to make it
appear as if the schoolmaster had committed suicide. That's what people
think the rope found by him was for. He has saved his neck,--but his
soul is a lost one, I am afraid, beyond question."

"I can't judge men's souls," the Doctor said. "I can judge their acts,
and hold them responsible for those,--but I don't know much about their
souls. If you or I had found our soul in a half-breed body, and been
turned loose to run among the Indians, we might have been playing
just such tricks as this fellow has been trying. What if you or I had
inherited all the tendencies that were born with his cousin Elsie?"

"Oh, that reminds me,"--the minister said, in a sudden way,--"I have
received a note, which I am requested to read from the pulpit to-morrow.
I wish you would just have the kindness to look at it and see where you
think it came from."

The Doctor examined it carefully. It was a woman's or girl's note, he
thought. Might come from one of the school-girls who was anxious about
her spiritual condition. Handwriting was disguised; looked a little like
Elsie Venner's, but not characteristic enough to make it certain. It
would be a new thing, if she had asked public prayers for herself, and a
very favorable indication of a change in her singular moral nature. It
was just possible Elsie might have sent that note. Nobody could foretell
her actions. It would be well to see the girl and find out whether
any unusual impression had been produced on her mind by the recent
occurrence or by any other cause.

The Reverend Mr. Fairweather folded the note and put it into his pocket.

"I have been a good deal exercised in mind lately, myself," he said.

The old Doctor looked at him through his spectacles, and said, in his
usual professional tone,--

"Put out your tongue."

The minister obeyed him in that feeble way common with persons of weak
character,--for people differ as much in their mode of performing this
trifling act as Gideon's soldiers in their way of drinking at the brook.
The Doctor took his hand and placed a finger mechanically on his wrist.

"It is more spiritual, I think, than bodily," said the Reverend Mr.

"Is your appetite as good as usual?" the Doctor asked.

"Pretty good," the minister answered; "but my sleep, my sleep,
Doctor,--I am greatly troubled at night with lying awake and thinking of
my future,--I am not at ease in mind."

He looked round at all the doors, to be sure they were shut, and moved
his chair up close to the Doctor's.

"You do not know the mental trials I have been going through for the
last few months."

"I think I do," the old Doctor said. "You want to get out of the new
church into the old one, don't you?"

The minister blushed deeply; he thought he had been going on in a very
quiet way, and that nobody suspected his secret. As the old Doctor was
his counsellor in sickness, and almost everybody's confidant in trouble,
he had intended to impart cautiously to him some hints of the change of
sentiments through which he had been passing. He was too late with his
information, it appeared; and there was nothing to be done but to throw
himself on the Doctor's good sense and kindness, which everybody knew,
and get what hints he could from him as to the practical course he
should pursue. He began, after an awkward pause,--

"You would not have me stay in a communion which I feel to be alien to
the true church, would you?"

"Have you stay, my friend?" said the Doctor, with a pleasant, friendly
look,--"have you stay? Not a month, nor a week, nor a day, if I could
help it. You have got into the wrong pulpit, and I have known it from
the first. The sooner you go where you belong, the better. And I'm very
glad you don't mean to stop half-way. Don't you know you've always come
to me when you've been dyspeptic or sick anyhow, and wanted to put
yourself wholly into my hands, so that I might order you like a child
just what to do and what to take? That's exactly what you want in
religion. I don't blame you for it. You never liked to take the
responsibility of your own body; I don't see why you should want to have
the charge of your own soul. But I'm glad you're going to the Old Mother
of all. You wouldn't have been contented short of that."

The Reverend Mr. Fairweather breathed with more freedom. The Doctor saw
into his soul through those awful spectacles of his,--into it and
beyond it, as one sees through a thin fog. But it was with a real human
kindness, after all. He felt like a child before a strong man; but the
strong man looked on him with a father's indulgence. Many and many a
time, when he had come desponding and bemoaning himself on account of
some contemptible bodily infirmity, the old Doctor had looked at him
through his spectacles, listened patiently while he told his ailments,
and then, in his large parental way, given him a few words of wholesome
advice, and cheered him up so that he went off with a light heart,
thinking that the heaven he was so much afraid of was not so very near,
after all. It was the same thing now. He felt, as feeble natures always
do in the presence of strong ones, overmastered, circumscribed, shut in,
humbled; but yet it seemed as if the old Doctor did not despise him any
more for what he considered weakness of mind than he used to despise him
when he complained of his nerves or his digestion.

Men who see _into_ their neighbors are very apt to be contemptuous; but
men who see _through_ them find something lying behind every human soul
which it is not for them to sit in judgment on, or to attempt to sneer
out of the order of God's manifold universe.

Little as the Doctor had said out of which comfort could be extracted,
his genial manner had something grateful in it. A film of gratitude
came over the poor man's cloudy, uncertain eye, and a look of tremulous
relief and satisfaction played about his weak mouth. He was gravitating
to the majority, where he hoped to find "rest"; but he was dreadfully
sensitive to the opinions of the minority he was on the point of

The old Doctor saw plainly enough what was going on in his mind.

"I sha'n't quarrel with you," he said,--"you know that very well; but
you mustn't quarrel with me, if I talk honestly with you; it isn't
everybody that will take the trouble. You flatter yourself that you will
make a good many enemies by leaving your old communion. Not so many as
you think. This is the way the common sort of people will talk:--'You
have got your ticket to the feast of life, as much as any other man that
ever lived. Protestantism says,--'Help yourself; here's a clean plate,
and a knife and fork of your own, and plenty of fresh dishes to choose
from.' The Old Mother says,--'Give me your ticket, my dear, and I'll
feed you with my gold spoon off these beautiful old wooden trenchers.
Such nice bits as those good old gentlemen have left for you!' There is
no quarrelling with a man who prefers broken victuals.' That's what the
rougher sort will say; and then, where one scolds, ten will laugh. But,
mind you, I don't either scold or laugh. I don't feel sure that you
could very well have helped doing what you will soon do. You know you
were never easy without some medicine to take when you felt ill in body.
I'm afraid I've given you trashy stuff sometimes, just to keep you
quiet. Now, let me tell you, there is just the same difference in
spiritual patients that there is in bodily ones. One set believes
in wholesome ways of living, and another must have a great list of
specifics for all the soul's complaints. You belong with the last, and
got accidentally shuffled in with the others."

The minister smiled faintly, but did not reply. Of course, he considered
that way of talking as the result of the Doctor's professional training.
It would not have been worth while to take offence at his plain speech,
if he had been so disposed; for he might wish to consult him the next
day as to "what he should take" for his dyspepsia or his neuralgia.

He left the Doctor with a hollow feeling at the bottom of his soul, as
if a good piece of his manhood had been scooped out of him. His hollow
aching did not explain itself in words, but it grumbled and worried down
among the unshaped thoughts which lie beneath them. He knew that he had
been trying to reason himself out of his birthright of reason. He knew
that the inspiration which gave him understanding was losing its throne
in his intelligence, and the almighty Majority-Vote was proclaiming
itself in its stead. He knew that the great primal truths, which each
successive revelation only confirmed, were fast becoming hidden beneath
the mechanical forms of thought, which, as with all new converts,
engrossed so large a share of his attention. The "peace," the "rest,"
which he had purchased, were dearly bought to one who had been trained
to the arms of thought, and whose noble privilege it might have been
to live in perpetual warfare for the advancing truth which the next
generation will claim as the legacy of the present.

The Reverend Mr. Fairweather was getting careless about his sermons. He
must wait the fitting moment to declare himself; and in the mean time
he was preaching to heretics. It did not matter much what he preached,
under such circumstances. He pulled out two old yellow sermons from a
heap of such, and began looking over that for the forenoon. Naturally
enough, he fell asleep over it, and, sleeping, he began to dream.

He dreamed that he was under the high arches of an old cathedral amidst
a throng of worshippers. The light streamed in through vast windows,
dark with the purple robes of royal saints, or blazing with yellow
glories around the heads of earthly martyrs and heavenly messengers. The
billows of the great organ roared among the clustered columns, as the
sea breaks amidst the basaltic pillars which crowd the great cavern of
the Hebrides. The voice of the alternate choirs of singing boys swung
back and forward, as the silver censer swung in the hands of the
white-robed children. The sweet cloud of incense rose in soft, fleecy
mists, full of penetrating suggestions of the East and its perfumed
altars. The knees of twenty generations had worn the pavement; their
feet had hollowed the steps; their shoulders had smoothed the columns.
Dead bishops and abbots lay under the marble of the floor in their
crumbled vestments; dead warriors, in their rusted armor, were stretched
beneath their sculptured effigies. And all at once all the buried
multitudes who had ever worshipped there came thronging in through the
aisles. They choked every space, they swarmed into all the chapels, they
hung in clusters over the parapets of the galleries, they clung to
the images in every niche, and still the vast throng kept flowing and
flowing in, until the living were lost in the rush of the returning dead
who had reclaimed their own. Then, as his dream became more fantastic,
the huge cathedral itself seemed to change into the wreck of some mighty
antediluvian vertebrate; its flying-buttresses arched round like ribs,
its piers shaped themselves into limbs, and the sound of the organ-blast
changed to the wind whistling through its thousand-jointed skeleton.

And presently the sound lulled, and softened and softened, until it was
as the murmur of a distant swarm of bees. A procession of monks wound
along through an old street, chanting, as they walked, In his dream he
glided in among them and bore his part in the burden of their song.
He entered with the long train under a low arch, and presently he was
kneeling in a narrow cell before an image of the Blessed Maiden holding
the Divine Child in her arms, and his lips seemed to whisper,--

_Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!_

He turned to the crucifix, and, prostrating himself before the spare,
agonizing shape of the Holy Sufferer, fell into a long passion of tears
and broken prayers. He rose and flung himself, worn-out, upon his hard
pallet, and, seeming to slumber, dreamed again within his dream. Once
more in the vast cathedral, with throngs of the living choking its
aisles, amidst jubilant peals from the cavernous depths of the great
organ, and choral melodies ringing from the fluty throats of the singing
boys. A day of great rejoicings,--for a prelate was to be consecrated,
and the bones of the mighty skeleton-minster were shaking with anthems,
as if there were life of its own within its buttressed ribs. He looked
down at his feet; the folds of the sacred robe were flowing about them:
he put his hand to his head; it was crowned with the holy mitre. A long
sigh, as of perfect content in the consummation of all his earthly
hopes, breathed through the dreamer's lips, and shaped itself, as it
escaped, into the blissful murmur--

_Ego sum Episcopus!_

One grinning gargoyle looked in from beneath the roof through an opening
in a stained window. It was the face of a mocking fiend, such as the old
builders loved to place under the eaves to spout the rain through their
open mouths. It looked at him, as he sat in his mitred chair, with its
hideous grin growing broader and broader, until it laughed out aloud,--
such a hard, stony, mocking laugh, that he awoke out of his second dream
through his first into his common consciousness, and shivered, as he
turned to the two yellow sermons which he was to pick over and weed of
the little thought they might contain, for the next day's service.

The Reverend Chauncy Fairweather was too much taken up with his own
bodily and spiritual condition to be deeply mindful of others. He
carried the note requesting the prayers of the congregation in his
pocket all day; and the soul in distress, which a single tender petition
might have soothed, and perhaps have saved from despair or fatal error,
found no voice in the temple to plead for it before the Throne of Mercy!

       *       *       *       *       *


If, as is believed by many statisticians, the census of 1860 should
show that the centre of population and power in these United States is
steadily advancing westward, and that by the year 1880 it will be
at some point on the Great Lakes, then, certainly, the history and
resources of those inland seas cannot fail to be interesting to the
general reader.

It happens that the Indian traditions of this region possess more of the
coherence of history than those of other parts of the country; and, as
preserved by Schoolcraft and embalmed in the poetry of Longfellow, they
show well enough by the side of the early traditions of other primitive
peoples. The conquest of the Lake-shore region by San-ge-man and his
Ojibwas may be as trustworthy a tale as the exploits of Romulus and
Remus; and when we emerge into the light of European record, we find the
Jesuit missionaries preaching the gospel at St. Ignace and the Sault St.
Mary almost as early as the so-called Cavaliers were planting tobacco at
Jamestown, or the Pilgrims smiting the heathen at Plymouth.

The first white persons who penetrated into the Upper Lake region were
two young fur-traders who left Montreal for that purpose in 1654, and
remained two years among the Indian tribes on those shores. We are
not informed of the details of this journey; but it appears that they
returned with information relative to Lake Superior, and perhaps Lake
Michigan and Green Bay; for in 1659 the fur-traders are known to have
extended their traffic to that bay. The first settlement of Wisconsin
may be dated in 1665, when Claude Allouez established a mission at La
Pointe on Lake Superior. This was before Philadelphia was founded by
William Penn.

The first account we have of a voyage on Lake Michigan was by Nicholas
Perrot, who, accompanied by some Pottawattomies, passed from Green Bay
to Chicago, in 1670. Two years afterwards the same voyage was undertaken
by Allouez and Dablon. They stopped at the mouth of the Milwaukie River,
then occupied by Kickapoo Indians. In 1673, Fathers Marquette and Joliet
went from Green Bay to the Neenah or Fox River, and, descending the
Wisconsin, discovered the Mississippi on the 17th of June.

In 1679, La Salle made his voyage up the Lakes in the Griffin, the first
vessel built above the Falls of Niagara. This vessel, the pioneer of the
great fleet which now whitens those waters, was about sixty tons burden,
and carried five guns and thirty-four men. La Salle loaded her at Green
Bay with a cargo of furs and skins, and she sailed on the 18th of
September for Niagara, where she never arrived, nor was any news of her
ever received. The Griffin, with her cargo, was valued at sixty thousand
livres. Thus the want of harbors on Lake Michigan began to be felt
nearly two hundred years ago; and the fate of the Griffin was only a
precursor of many similar calamities since.

About 1760 was the end of what may be called the religious epoch in
the history of the Northwest, when the dominion passed from French to
English hands, and the military period commenced. This lasted about
fifty years, during which time the combatants were French, English,
Indians, and Americans. Much blood was shed in desultory warfare.
Detroit, Mackinac, and other posts were taken and retaken; in fact,
there never was peace in that land till after the naval victory of Perry
in 1813, when the command of the Lakes passed to the Americans.

Our military and naval expeditions in the Northwest were, however,
remarkably unfortunate in that war. For want of a naval force on the
Lakes,--a necessity which had been pointed out to the Government by
William Hull, then Governor of the Northwest Territory, before the
declaration of war,--the posts of Chicago, Mackinac, and Detroit were
taken by the British and their Indian allies in 1812, and kept by them
till the next year, when the energy and perseverance of Perry and his
Rhode-Islanders created a fleet upon Lake Erie, and swept the British
vessels from that quarter.

In 1814, an American squadron of six brigs and schooners sailed from
Lake Erie to retake the post of Mackinac. Colonel Croghan commanded the
troops, which were landed under cover of the guns of the squadron. They
were attacked in the woods on the back of the island by the British and
Indians. Major Holmes, who led the Americans, was killed, and his men
retreated in confusion to the ships, which took them on board and sailed
away. The attack having failed, Captain Sinclair, who commanded the
squadron, returned to Lake Erie with the brigs Niagara and Saint
Lawrence and the schooners Caledonia and Ariel, leaving the Scorpion and
Tigress to operate against the enemy on Lake Huron. The British schooner
Nancy, being at Nattawasaga, under the protection of a block-house
mounting two twenty-four pounders, the American schooners proceeded to
attack her, and, after a short action, destroyed the vessel and the
block-house, the British escaping in their boats. Soon, after, the
American schooners returned to the neighborhood of St. Joseph, where
they were seen by some Indians, who reported at Mackinac that they were
about five leagues apart. An expedition was directly fitted out to
capture them; and Major Dickson, commander of the post, and Lieutenant
Worsley, who had retreated from the block-house above-mentioned, started
with one hundred men in four boats.

On the third of September, at six o'clock, P.M., they found the Tigress
at anchor, and came within one hundred yards unobserved, when a smart
fire of grape and musketry was opened upon them. They advanced, and, two
boats hoarding her on each side, she was carried, after a short contest,
in which the British lost seven men, killed and wounded, and the
Americans, out of a crew of twenty-eight, had three killed and two
wounded. The prisoners having been sent to Mackinac, the Tigress was got
under way the next day, still keeping the American colors flying, and
proceeded in search of the Scorpion. On the fifth, they came in sight
of her, and, as those on board knew nothing of what had happened to the
Tigress, were suffered to approach within two miles. At daylight the
next morning, the Tigress was again got under way, and running alongside
her late consort, the British carried her by boarding, after a short
scuffle, in which four of the Scorpion's crew were killed and wounded,
and one of the British wounded. The schooners were fine new vessels, of
one hundred tons burden each, and had on board large quantities of arms
and ammunition.

This account of the earliest naval action on the Upper Lakes is taken
from a British source; for, as may well be imagined, it has never found
its way into any American Naval History or Fourth of July Oration.

It appears as if the American Government, during the War of 1812, either
from ignorance of the value of the Northwest, or, as some think, from
a fear lest it might, if conquered, become free territory, were very
inefficient in their efforts in that direction. As, however, the same
imbecility was displayed in other quarters, for example, at Washington,
where they allowed the capital to be taken by a handful of British
troops, and as the Yankee who was in the fight said, "They didn't seem
to take no interest," we must acquit the administration of Mr. Madison
of anything worse than going to war without adequate preparation.

After the War of 1812 was over, the Northwestern Territory was held by
our Government by a kind of military occupation for some twenty years,
when, the Indian title having been extinguished, white settlers began
to occupy Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The Sacs and Foxes, having
repented of their surrender of this fair country, reentered it in 1832,
but after a short contest were expelled and driven westward, and the
working period commenced. Large cities have sprung up on the Lake
shores, and the broad expanse of Lake Michigan is now whitened by a
thousand sails; and even the rocky cliffs of Superior echo the whistle
of the propeller, instead of the scream of the bald eagle.

Perhaps the ship-owners of the Atlantic cities are hardly aware of the
growth of this Lake commerce within the last twenty years, and that it
is now nearly equal in amount to the whole foreign trade of the country.
Before entering on the statistics of this trade, however, we will give a
brief description of the Lakes themselves.[A]

[Footnote A: We are indebted for our facts and details to Lapham's
_Wisconsin_, Foster and Whitney's _Report_, Agassiz's _Lake Superior_,
and works of similar character.]

Lake Superior, the largest expanse of fresh water on the globe, is 355
miles in length, 160 in breadth, with a depth of 900 feet. It contains
32,000 square miles of surface, which is elevated 627 feet above the
surface of the ocean, while portions of its bed are several hundred
feet below it. Its coast is 1500 miles in extent, with irregular, rocky
shores, bold headlands, and deep bays. It contains numerous islands, one
of which, Isle Royale, has an area of 230 square miles. The shores
of this lake are rock-bound, sometimes rising into lofty cliffs and
pinnacles, twelve or thirteen hundred feet high. Where the igneous rocks
prevail, the coast is finely indented; where the sandstones abound, it
is gently curved. Lake Superior occupies an immense depression, for
the most part excavated out of the soft and yielding sandstone. Its
configuration on the east and north has been determined by an irregular
belt of granite, which forms a rim, effectually resisting the further
action of its waters. The temperature of the water in summer is about

Lake Huron connects with Superior by the St. Mary's River, and is 260
miles long and 160 broad; its circumference is 1100 miles, its area
20,400. Georgian Bay, 170 miles long and 70 broad, forms the northeast
portion, and lies within British jurisdiction. Saginaw, a deep and
wide-mouthed bay, is the principal indentation on the western coast. The
rim of this lake is composed mostly of detrital rocks, which are rarely
exposed. In the northern portion of the lake, the trap-rocks on the
Canada side intersect the coast. The waters are as deep as those of
Superior, and possess great transparency. They rarely attain a higher
temperature than 50°, and, like those of Superior, have the deep-blue
tint of the ocean. The northern coast of Lake Huron abounds in clusters
of islands; Captain Bayfield is said to have landed on 10,000 of them,
and to have estimated their number at 30,000.

Lake Michigan, called by the early voyagers Lac des Illinois, is next in
size to Superior, being 320 miles in length and 100 in breadth, with a
circumference, including Green Bay, of 1300 miles. It contains 22,000
miles of surface, with a depth of 900 feet in the deeper parts, though
near the shore it grows gradually shoal. The rocks which compose its rim
are of a sedimentary nature, and afford few indentations for harbors.
The shores are low, and lined in many places with immense sand-banks.
Green Bay, or Bale des Puans of the Jesuits, on the west coast, is 100
miles long and 20 broad. Great and Little Traverse Bays occur on the
eastern coast, and Great and Little Bays des Noquets on the northern.
One cluster of islands is found at the outlet of the main lake, and
another at that of Green Bay. Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great
Lakes which lies wholly within American jurisdiction.

Lake Erie is 240 miles in length, 60 in breadth, and contains an area
of 9,600 square miles. It lies 565 feet above the sea-level, and is
the shallowest of all the Lakes, being only 84 feet in mean depth. Its
waters, in consequence, have the green color of the sea in shallow bays
and harbors. It is connected with Lake Huron by the St. Clair River and
Lake, a shallow expanse of water, twenty miles wide, and by Detroit

Lake Ontario is 180 miles in length and 55 in breadth, containing 6,300
square miles. It is connected with Lake Erie by the Niagara River, and
also by the Welland Canal, which admits the passage of vessels of large
burden. This lake lies at a lower level than the others, being only 230
feet above the sea. It is, however, about 500 feet in depth.

The whole area of these lakes is over 90,000 miles, and the area of land
drained by them, 335,515 miles.

The presence of this great body of water modifies the range of the
thermometer, lessening the intensity of the cold in winter and of the
heat in summer, and gives a temperature more uniform on the Lake coasts
than is found in a corresponding latitude on the Mississippi.

The difference between the temperature of the air and that of the
Lakes gives rise to a variety of optical illusions, known as _mirage._
Mountains are seen with inverted cones; headlands project from the shore
where none exist; islands clothed with verdure, or girt with cliffs,
rise up from the bosom of the lake, remain awhile, and disappear.
Hardly a day passes, during the summer, without a more or less striking
exhibition of this kind. The same phenomena of rapidly varying
refraction may often be witnessed at sunset, when the sun, sinking into
the lake, undergoes a most striking series of changes. At one moment it
is drawn out into a pear-like shape; the next it takes an elliptical
form; and just as it disappears, the upper part of its disk becomes
elongated into a ribbon of light, which seems to float for a moment upon
the surface of the water.

Thunder-storms of great violence are not unusual, and sudden gusts of
wind spring up on the Lakes, and those who navigate them pass sometimes
instantaneously from a current of air blowing briskly in one direction
into one blowing with equal force from the opposite quarter. The lower
sails of a vessel are sometimes becalmed, while a smart breeze fills the

The storms which agitate the Lakes, though less violent than the
typhoons of the Indian Ocean or the hurricanes of the Atlantic, are
still very dangerous to mariners; and, owing to the want of sea-room,
and the scarcity of good harbors, shipwrecks are but too common, and
frequently attended with much loss of life. A short, ugly sea gets up
very quickly after the wind begins to blow hard, and subsides with equal
celerity when the wind goes down.

The fluctuations in the level of the waters of these lakes have
attracted much attention among scientific observers; and as early as
1670, Father Dablon, in his "Relations," says,--"As to the tides, it is
difficult to lay down any correct rule. At one time we have found the
motion of the waters to be regular, and at others extremely fluctuating.
We have noticed, however, that at full moon and new moon the tides
change once a day for eight or ten days, while during the remainder of
the time there is hardly any change perceptible.... Three things
are remarkable: 1st. That the currents set almost constantly in one
direction, namely, towards the Lake of the Illinois, [Michigan,] which
does not prevent their ordinary rise and fall; 2d. That they almost
invariably set _against_ the wind,--sometimes with as much force as the
tides at Quebec,--and we have seen ice moving against the wind as
fast as boats under full sail; 3d. That among these currents we have
discovered the emission of a quantity of water which seems to spring up
from the bottom."

Father Dablon is of opinion that the waters of Lake Superior enter
into the Straits by a subterranean passage. This theory, he says, is
necessary to explain two things, namely: 1st. Without such a passage, it
is impossible to say what becomes of the waters of Lake Superior. This
vast lake has but one visible outlet, namely, the River of St. Mary;
while it receives the waters of a large number of rivers, some of which
are of greater dimensions than the St. Mary. What, then, becomes of the
surplus water? 2d. The difficulty of explaining whence come the waters
of Huron and Michigan. Very few rivers flow into these lakes, and
their volume of water is such as to fortify the belief that it must be
supplied through the subterranean river entering the Straits.

A large number of facts have been collected by Messrs. Foster and
Whitney on the subject of these oscillations of the Lake level; and,
in fact, these phenomena have been for a long time familiar to the
residents on the Lake shores. They are generally attributed by
scientific men to atmospheric disturbances, which, by increasing or
diminishing the atmospheric pressure, produce a corresponding rise
or fall in the water-level. These are the sudden and irregular

The gradual fluctuations are probably caused by the variable amount of
rain which falls in the vast area of country drained by the Lakes. Thus,
at Fort Brady, where the mean of five years' observations is 29.68
inches, the extremes are 36.92 and 22.44.

An idea has been long prevalent among the old residents, derived from
the Indians, that there is a variation of the Lake surface which extends
over a period of fourteen years,--that is, the Lakes rise for seven
years, and fall for seven years. The records kept by accurate observers
at various points on the Lakes for the last ten years do not seem to
confirm this theory; but it has been well established by the recent
observations of Colonel Graham, at both ends of Lake Michigan, that
there is a semi-diurnal lunar tide on that lake of at least one third of
a foot.

The evaporation from this great water-surface must be immense. It has
been estimated at 11,800,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum; and in this
way alone can we account for the difference between the volume of water
which enters the Lakes and that which leaves them at the Falls of
Niagara. Immense as is the quantity of water which pours over the Falls,
it is small in comparison with the floods which combine to make up the
Upper Lakes.

In the year 1832, about the close of the Black Hawk War, the tonnage of
the Lakes was only 7,000 tons. In 1845 it had increased to 132,000 tons,
and in 1858 it was 404,301 tons. Or, if we take Chicago, the chief city
of the Lakes, we find that her imports and exports were,--

  Imports.                     Exports.
  In 1836,              $   325,203                 $    1,000
  "  1851,               24,410,400                  5,395,471
  "  1859, estimated     60,000,000                 24,280,890

In the year 1858, there were on the Lakes,--

  American vessels, 1,194.  Tonnage, 399,443
  Canadian   "        321.     "      59,580

  Value of American tonnage on the
  Lakes,                         $16,000,000

  Value of Lake commerce, import
  and exports,                  $600,000,000

  Number of seamen employed,          13,000

Taking the island of Mackinac as the geographical centre of this
navigation, we find the distances as follows:--

  From Mackinac to head of Lake Superior    550
  "       "      " Chicago                  350
  "       "      " East end of Georgian
  Bay                  300
  "       "      " Buffalo                  700
  "       "      " Gulf of St. Lawrence   1,600

Or ninety thousand miles of lakes and rivers, extending half across the

The following table shows the amount of tonnage belonging to different
cities in 1857:--

  Tons.                        Tons.
  New York,        1,377,424    Charleston,     56,430
  Boston,            447,966    Detroit,        57,707
  Bath,              189,932    New Bedford,   152,799
  Baltimore,         191,618    New Orleans,   173,167
  Providence,         15,152    Cleveland,      63,361
  Philadelphia,      211,380    Chicago,        67,316
  Buffalo,           100,226    Milwaukie,      22,339

This shows that Chicago had in 1857, being then twenty-five years old, a
larger tonnage than Charleston, the capital of the Palmetto Kingdom; and
Milwaukie, still younger than Chicago, owned a larger amount of tonnage
than the old and wealthy city of Providence.

In 1857, the export of grain from the Lake ports was sixty-five million
bushels; in 1860, it was estimated at one hundred millions.

The coal-trade of Cleveland, in 1858, was 129,000 tons. A large amount
was also shipped from Erie.

In 1858, the salt-trade of the Lakes amounted to more than six hundred
thousand barrels, most of which was shipped from the port of Oswego on
Lake Ontario.

The lumber received at Chicago in 1858 amounted to: Boards, 273,000,000
feet; shingles, 254,000,000; lath, 45,000,000: worth $2,442,500.

The present navigable outlets to this great commerce are three in
number. First, the Erie Canal, from Buffalo to Albany, which, in its
enlarged form, takes probably two-thirds of the productions of the Lake
regions. Second, the River St. Lawrence, which, by means of the Welland
Canal, secures a good share of the trade. Third, the Illinois and
Michigan Canal, which conveys large quantities of lumber, salt, and
other heavy goods to the Illinois River and the Mississippi. Of course,
more or less produce is taken to the seaboard by the railroads; but,
even if they could compete in price with water-carriage, it is evident
that they are incapable of moving the surplus grain of the Northwest,
as it now is. Another great navigable outlet to the Lakes is needed, so
that vessels of the largest class may sail from the elevators of Chicago
to the Liverpool docks without breaking bulk; and in reference to this,
a survey has recently been made by Thomas C. Clarke, under the direction
of the Canadian Government, for a ship-navigation between Montreal and
Lake Huron, by way of the Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing, and French
River. The Report shows that the cost of the work for vessels of one
thousand tons burden would be twelve million dollars,--and that it would
cut off a distance nearly equal to the whole length of Lakes Erie and
Ontario, thus saving from three hundred and fifty to four hundred miles
of navigation. In view of the fact that the navigation of St. Clair and
Erie is the most troublesome and dangerous part of the voyage, this plan
certainly deserves attention.

It is easy to see what a prolific nursery of seamen this Lake commerce
must be, and how valuable a resource in a war with any great naval
power. It is a resource which was wholly wanting to us in the War of
1812, when Commodore Perry had to bring his sailors from the seaboard
with great difficulty and expense. In any future war with England,
supposing such an unhappy event to take place, our great numerical
superiority upon the Lakes in both vessels and sailors would not only
insure our supremacy there, but also afford a large surplus of men for
our ocean marine.

But it may be said that these men are only fresh-water sailors, after
all, and are not to be relied upon for ocean-navigation. We know there
used to be a notion prevailing, that neither Lake vessels nor Lake men
would do for salt water; but in 1856, the schooner Dean Richmond took a
cargo of wheat from Chicago to Liverpool, beating a large fleet of ocean
craft from Quebec across the Atlantic, and otherwise behaving so well
as to cause the sale of the vessel in England. This voyage encouraged
others to try the experiment, and in 1859 from thirty to forty Lake
vessels loaded for ocean ports.

That this trade will be very much increased there is no doubt, since
it affords occupation for the Lake marine in the winter, when the Lake
ports are closed by ice.

On the western shore of Lake Michigan there are large settlements of
Norwegians and Swedes, many of whom follow the Lakes as fishermen and
sailors. Descendants of the old Northern sea-kings, they are as hardy
and adventurous here as in their Scandinavian homes, and run their
vessels earlier and later in the season than other men are willing to

Science might have anticipated, however, that vessels built for
fresh-water navigation, and loaded at Lake ports, would have an
advantage on the ocean over those loaded on salt water. As is the
density of the water of any sea, so is the displacement, or the sinking
of the vessel therein. Therefore a vessel can carry a larger cargo in
salt water than she can in fresh; and so, a Lake craft, loading at
Chicago as deep as she can swim, will find herself, when she reaches
the ocean, much more buoyant and lively. So, also, as, the more sail a
vessel carries, the deeper she penetrates the water, it follows, that,
the more dense the water, the more sail she can carry.

In proof of these statements, the "Merchants' Magazine" tells us, that
English vessels bound up the Black Sea take smaller cargoes than those
going to the Mediterranean, because, the former being much less salt
than the latter, vessels are less buoyant thereon, and can carry less.
This difference in buoyancy will probably be enough to offset the higher
seas and rougher weather of the Atlantic.

Thus it appears that this great basin extends through so many degrees of
latitude that its lakes and streams connect with the mineral regions and
pine forests of the North, the wheat- and corn-lands and cattle-ranges
of the Middle States, and the cotton-and sugar-plantations of the

The pine forests of Maine, it is well known, have been for some time
failing, under the great demand upon them; and the only resource will
soon be in those of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, from which many
cargoes have been already sent to the Atlantic ports. The amount of
lumber made in these pineries in 1860 is estimated at twelve hundred
million feet, worth between eight and nine millions of dollars. Most of
this goes to the country west of the Lakes,--to Chicago, to St. Louis,
and even down the river to New Orleans. Since railroads have penetrated
the great prairies and made them habitable, the demand for pine lumber
has greatly increased both for building and fencing; and it has been
estimated, that, if every quarter-section of land in Iowa and Illinois
were surrounded with a "three-board" fence, it would consume every foot
of pine-timber in Michigan.

As to the copper and iron mines of Lake Superior, many dabblers in fancy
stocks are but too well acquainted with them, and many burned fingers
testify against those investments of capital. Still, the amount of
mineral is immense, and the quality of the purest; and these mines will
no doubt pay well, if worked with skill and capital.

Since 1845, one hundred and sixteen copper-mining companies have been
organized in Michigan, under the general law of the State; and the
amount of capital invested in them is estimated at six millions of
dollars. Most of this is lost. On the other hand, the "Cliff" and
"Minnesota" mines have returned over two millions of dollars in
dividends. The latter is said to have paid, in 1858, a dividend of
$300,000 on a paid-up capital of $66,000. Mining is a lottery, and this
brilliant prize cannot conceal the fact that blanks fall to the lot of
by far the more numerous part of the ticket-holders.

The opening of the Sault Canal has very much aided in developing the
resources of the Upper Peninsula. In 1845, the Lake Superior fleet
consisted of three schooners. In 1860, one hundred vessels passed
through the canal, loaded with supplies for the mining country, and
returned with cargoes of copper and iron ore and fish. The copper is
smelted in Detroit, Cleveland, and Boston. In 1859, 3,000 tons were
landed in Detroit, producing from 60 to 70 per cent of ingot copper,
being among the purest ores in the world.

The iron ore of this region is also of extraordinary purity; and for
all purposes where great strength and tenacity are required, it is
unrivalled, as the following table, showing the relative strength, per
square inch, as compared with other kinds of iron, will prove:--

  Best Swedish ...... 58.184
  English cable...... 59.105
  Essex Co., N.Y..... 59.962
  Lancaster, Pa...... 58.661
  Common English .... 30.000
  Best Russia ....... 76.069
  Lake Superior ..... 89.582

With such iron to be had of American manufacture, why should we use
a rotten English article for car-wheels and boiler-plates, and so
sacrifice the lives of thousands every year? Because, by an unwise
legislation, the foreign article is made a little cheaper to the
American consumer.

There are ten large forges in operation in Michigan, with a capital of
over two millions of dollars; and the shipments of ore from Marquette
in 1859 were over 75,000 tons. The country back of Marquette is full
of mountains of iron ore, yielding 60 or 70 per cent, of pure metal,
sufficient to supply the world for ages.

Traces have been found, through the whole of this copper-region, of a
rude species of mining practised here long before it became known to the
whites. The existing races of Indians had not even a tradition by whom
it was done; and the excavations were unknown to them, until pointed out
by the white man. Messrs. Foster and Whitney, in their survey of the
copper-lands, found a pine-stump ten feet in circumference, which must
have grown, flourished, and died since the mound of earth upon which it
stood was thrown out. Mr. Knapp discovered, in 1848, a deserted mine or
excavation, in which, under eighteen feet of rubbish, he found a mass
of native copper weighing over six tons, resting on billets of oak
supported by sleepers of the same material. The ancient miners had
evidently raised the mass about five feet, and then abandoned it. Around
it, among the accumulation of rubbish, were found a large number of
stone hammers, and some copper chisels, but no utensils of iron. In some
instances, explorers have been led to select valuable mining-sites by
the abundance of these stone hammers found about the ground. Traces
of tumuli have also been found in these regions, which would seem
to indicate some connection between these ancient miners and the
mound-builders of the Mississippi Valley,--especially as in those
western mounds copper rings have frequently been found.

The economical value of the Lake fisheries is considerable. The total
catch of white-fish, trout, and pickerel, the only kinds which are
packed, to any extent, was estimated for 1859 at 110,000 barrels,
worth about $880,000. These find a market through the States of Ohio,
Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois; besides a large quantity which are
consumed in a fresh state, in the Lake cities and towns.

The White-Fish, (_Coregonus Albus,_) which is the most valuable of all,
somewhat resembles the shad in appearance and taste. It is taken in
seines and other nets,--never with the hook. The white-fish of Lake
Superior are larger, fatter, and of finer flavor than any others. In
this lake they have sometimes been taken weighing fifteen pounds. At the
Sault they are taken in the rapids with dip-nets, by the Chippewas who
live in that vicinity, and are of very fine flavor; those of Detroit
River and the Straits of Mackinac are also very good; but when you go
south, into Lake Erie or Michigan, the quality of the fish deteriorates.
Few travellers ever taste a white-fish in perfection. As eaten upon
hotel-tables at Buffalo or Chicago, it is a poor and tasteless fish.
But, as found at the old French boarding-houses at Mackinac or the
Sault, or, better still, cooked fresh from the icy waters on the
rocky shores of Superior, it is, to our thinking, the best fish that
swims,--better than the true salmon or brook-trout. The famous fish once
so plenty in Otsego Lake, but now nearly extinct, was a _Coregonus_, and
first cousin to this one of the Great Lakes.

So Sebago Lake, near Portland, some fifty years ago, boasted of a
delicious red-fleshed trout, of large size, which has in these latter
times, from netting or some other improper fishing, nearly or quite
disappeared from those waters, leaving upon the palates of old anglers
the remembrance of a flavor higher and richer than anything now

The Lake Trout, or Mackinac Salmon, is the largest of the family of
_Salmonidoe_, growing, it is said, sometimes to the weight of one
hundred pounds. From twenty to thirty pounds is not uncommon, which is
much larger than the average of _Salmo Salar_, the true salmon. Truth
compels us to add, however, that our salmon of the Lakes is inferior to
his kinsman of the salt water; though, as in the case of the
white-fish, he has been slandered by ignorant people, such as newspaper
letter-writers, and the like. When taken from the clear, cold waters of
Lake Huron or the Straits, and boiled as nearly alive as humanity will
permit, _Salmo Namaycush_ is nearly equal to the true salmon; but after
two or three days in ice, "how stale, flat, and unprofitable!"

The Muskelunge (_Esox Estor_) is peculiar to this basin, and is the
largest of the pickerels, weighing from ten to eighty pounds. It is a
very handsome and game fish, and is the king, or tyrant, of the water,
devouring without mercy everything smaller than itself; though its
favorite food is the white-fish, which, perhaps, accounts for the
superior flavor of this huge pike, which is one of the very best of
fresh-water fishes.

Another excellent fish for the table is the Pike-Perch, (_Lucio-Perca_)
or Glass-Eyed Pike, from his large, brilliant eyes. In Ohio, it is
called the salmon, and by the Canadians the pickerel, while, with
singular perversity, they persist in calling our pickerel a pike. It is
a very firm, well-flavored fish, weighing from two to ten pounds, and is
found in all the Great Lakes.

Professor Agassiz was the first to describe a large and valuable species
of pike, which he found in Lake Superior,--the Northern Pike (_Esox
Boreus_). This is the most common species of pike in the St. Lawrence
basin, though usually confounded with the common pickerel (_Esox
Reticulatus_). It grows to the size of fifteen or twenty pounds, and is
a better table-fish than _Esox Reticulatus_. It may be distinguished by
the rows of spots sides, of a lighter color than the ground upon which
they are arranged. It differs from the Muskelunge in having the lower
jaw full of teeth; whereas in the Muskelunge the anterior half of the
lower jaw is toothless.

All the streams which empty into Lake Superior, those of the north shore
of Lake Huron, the west shore of Lake Michigan as far as Lake Winnebago,
and all the streams of Lake Ontario, contain the Speckled Trout (_Salmo
Fontinalis_); while they are not found in the streams on the southern
coasts of Lake Michigan, or (so far as we know) in the streams of Lake
Erie. What can determine this limitation of the range of the species? It
cannot be latitude, since trout are found in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
It is not longitude, since they occur in the head-waters of the Iowa
rivers. So Professor Agassiz found that Lake Superior contained species
which were not to be found in the other lakes, and that the other lakes,
again, contained species which did not occur in Lake Superior. He says,
in his work on Lake Superior,

"It is the great question of the unity or plurality of creations; it is
not less the question of the origin of animals from single pairs or in
large numbers; and, strange to say, a thorough examination of the fishes
of Lake Superior, compared with those of the adjacent waters, is likely
to throw more light upon such questions, than all traditions, however
ancient, however near in point of time to the epoch of Creation itself."

In Lake Superior is likewise found that remarkable salmon, the
Siscowet,--which is so fat and luscious as to be uneatable in a fresh
state, and requires to be salted to render it fit for food. It commands
a much higher price by the barrel than the lake-trout or white-fish, and
is rarely to be met with out of the Lake cities.

In this basin is also found the Gar-Pike, (_Lepidosteus,_) a singular
animal, which is the only living representative of the fishes that
existed in the early ages of the earth's history,--and which, by its
formidable array of teeth, its impenetrable armor, and its swiftness and
voracity, gives us some idea of the terrible creatures which peopled the
waters of that period.

We have thus hastily sketched the character and indicated the resources
of that great Northwest, which, little more than fifty years ago a
wilderness, is now a cluster of republics holding more than the balance
of power in the Union. Idle speculatists, terrified by the violence of
South Carolina, and believing that on her withdrawal the sky is to fall,
are already predicting the dismemberment of East and West. But we think
the chance of it is growing less, year by year. The two are now bound
indissolubly together by lines of railroad, which, during a part of the
year, are the most convenient outlet of the West toward the sea. Those
States, just as they are arriving at a controlling influence in the
affairs of a great and powerful nation, are hardly likely to seclude
themselves from the rest of the world in what would, from its position,
be at best an insignificant republic.

       *       *       *       *       *


We do not believe that any government--no, not the Rump Parliament on
its last legs--ever showed such pitiful inadequacy as our own during the
past two months. Helpless beyond measure in all the duties of practical
statesmanship, its members or their dependants have given proof of
remarkable energy in the single department of peculation; and there, not
content with the slow methods of the old-fashioned defaulter, who helped
himself only to what there was, they have contrived to steal what there
was going to be, and have peculated in advance by a kind of official
post-obit. So thoroughly has the credit of the most solvent nation in
the world been shaken, that an administration which still talks of
paying a hundred millions for Cuba is unable to raise a loan of five
millions for the current expenses of Government. Nor is this the worst;
the moral bankruptcy at Washington is more complete and disastrous than
the financial, and for the first time in our history the Executive is
suspected of complicity in a treasonable plot against the very life of
the nation.

Our material prosperity for nearly half a century has been so
unparalleled, that the minds of men have become gradually more and more
absorbed in matters of personal concern; and our institutions have
practically worked so well and so easily, that we have learned to trust
in our luck, and to take the permanence of our government for granted.
The country has been divided on questions of temporary policy, and the
people have been drilled to a wonderful discipline in the manoeuvres
of party-tactics; but no crisis has arisen to force upon them a
consideration of the fundamental principles of our system, or to arouse
in them a sense of national unity, and make them feel that patriotism
was anything more than a pleasing sentiment,--half Fourth of July and
half Eighth of January,--a feeble reminiscence, rather than a living
fact with a direct bearing on the national well-being. We have had long
experience of that unmemorable felicity which consists in having no
history, so far as history is made up of battles, revolutions, and
changes of dynasty; but the present generation has never been called
upon to learn that deepest lesson of politics which is taught by a
common danger, throwing the people back on their national instincts, and
superseding party-leaders, the peddlers of chicane, with men adequate to
great occasions and dealers in destiny. Such a crisis is now upon us;
and if the virtue of the people make up for the imbecility of the
Executive, as we have little doubt that it will, if the public spirit of
the whole country be awakened in time by the common peril, the present
trial will leave the nation stronger than ever, and more alive to its
privileges and the duties they imply. We shall have learned what is
meant by a government of laws, and that allegiance to the sober will
of the majority, concentrated in established forms and distributed by
legitimate channels, is all that renders democracy possible, is its only
conservative principle, the only thing that has made and can keep us a
powerful nation instead of a brawling mob.

The theory, that the best government is that which governs least, seems
to have been accepted literally by Mr. Buchanan, without considering the
qualifications to which all general propositions are subject. His course
of conduct has shown up its absurdity, in cases where prompt action is
required, as effectually as Buckingham turned into ridicule the famous

  "My wound is great, because it is so small,"
  by instantly adding,--

  "Then it were greater, were it none at all."

Mr. Buchanan seems to have thought, that, if to govern little was to
govern well, then to do nothing was the perfection of policy. But there
is a vast difference between letting well alone and allowing bad to
become worse by a want of firmness at the outset. If Mr. Buchanan,
instead of admitting the right of secession, had declared it to be, as
it plainly is, rebellion, he would not only have received the unanimous
support of the Free States, but would have given confidence to the
loyal, reclaimed the wavering, and disconcerted the plotters of treason
in the South.

Either we have no government at all, or else the very word implies the
right, and therefore the duty, in the governing power, of protecting
itself from destruction and its property from pillage. But for Mr.
Buchanan's acquiescence, the doctrine of the right of secession would
never for a moment have bewildered the popular mind. It is simply
mob-law under a plausible name. Such a claim might have been fairly
enough urged under the old Confederation; though even then it would
have been summarily dealt with, in the case of a Tory colony, if
the necessity had arisen. But the very fact that we have a National
Constitution, and legal methods for testing, preventing, or punishing
any infringement of its provisions, demonstrates the absurdity of any
such assumption of right now. When the States surrendered their power to
make war, did they make the single exception of the United States, and
reserve the privilege of declaring war against them at any moment? If we
are a congeries of mediaeval Italian republics, why should the General
Government have expended immense sums in fortifying points whose
strategic position is of continental rather than local consequence?
Florida, after having cost us nobody knows how many millions of dollars
and thousands of lives to render the holding of slaves possible to her,
coolly proposes to withdraw herself from the Union and take with her one
of the keys of the Mexican Gulf, on the plea that her slave-property is
rendered insecure by the Union. Louisiana, which we bought and paid for
to secure the mouth of the Mississippi, claims the right to make her
soil French or Spanish, and to cork up the river again, whenever the
whim may take her. The United States are not a German Confederation, but
a unitary and indivisible nation, with a national life to protect, a
national power to maintain, and national rights to defend against any
and every assailant, at all hazards. Our national existence is all that
gives value to American citizenship. Without the respect which nothing
but our consolidated character could inspire, we might as well be
citizens of the toy-republic of San Marino, for all the protection
it would afford us. If our claim to a national existence was worth a
seven-years' war to establish, it is worth maintaining at any cost; and
it is daily becoming more apparent, that the people, so soon as they
find that secession means anything serious, will not allow themselves to
be juggled out of their rights, as members of one of the great powers of
the earth, by a mere quibble of Constitutional interpretation.

We have been so much accustomed to the Buncombe style of oratory, to
hearing men offer the pledge of their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor
on the most trivial occasions, that we are apt to allow a great latitude
in such matters, and only smile to think how small an advance any
intelligent pawn-broker would be likely to make on securities of this
description. The sporadic eloquence that breaks out over the country on
the eve of election, and becomes a chronic disease in the two houses of
Congress, has so accustomed us to dissociate words and things, and to
look upon strong language as an evidence of weak purpose, that we attach
no meaning whatever to declamation. Our Southern brethren have been
especially given to these orgies of loquacity, and have so often
solemnly assured us of their own courage, and of the warlike
propensities, power, wealth, and general superiority of that part of the
universe which is so happy as to be represented by them, that, whatever
other useful impression they have made, they insure our never forgetting
the proverb about the woman who talks of her virtue. South Carolina,
in particular, if she has hitherto failed in the application of her
enterprise to manufacturing purposes of a more practical kind, has
always been able to match every yard of printed cotton from the North
with a yard of printed fustian, the product of her own domestic
industry. We have thought no harm of this, so long as no Act of Congress
required the reading of the "Congressional Globe." We submitted to the
general dispensation of long-windedness and short-meaningness as to any
other providential visitation, endeavoring only to hold fast our faith
in the divine government of the world in the midst of so much that was
past understanding. But we lost sight of the metaphysical truth,
that, though men may fail to convince others by a never so incessant
repetition of sonorous nonsense, they nevertheless gradually persuade
themselves, and impregnate their own minds and characters with a belief
in fallacies that have been uncontradicted only because not worth
contradiction. Thus our Southern politicians, by dint of continued
reiteration, have persuaded themselves to accept their own flimsy
assumptions for valid statistics, and at last actually believe
themselves to be the enlightened gentlemen, and the people of the Free
States the peddlers and sneaks they have so long been in the habit of
fancying. They have argued themselves into a kind of vague faith that
the wealth and power of the Republic are south of Mason and Dixon's
line; and the Northern people have been slow in arriving at the
conclusion that treasonable talk would lead to treasonable action,
because they could not conceive that anybody should be so foolish as to
think of rearing an independent frame of government on so visionary
a basis. Moreover, the so often recurring necessity, incident to our
system, of obtaining a favorable verdict from the people, has fostered
in our public men the talents and habits of jury-lawyers at the expense
of statesmanlike qualities; and the people have been so long wonted to
look upon the utterances of popular leaders as intended for immediate
effect and having no reference to principles, that there is scarcely a
prominent man in the country so independent in position and so clear of
any suspicion of personal or party motives, that they can put entire
faith in what he says, and accept him either as the leader or the
exponent of their thoughts and wishes. They have hardly been able to
judge with certainty from the debates in Congress whether secession were
a real danger, or only one of those political feints of which they have
had such frequent experience.

Events have been gradually convincing them that the peril was actual and
near. They begin to see how unwise, if nothing worse, has been the weak
policy of the Executive in allowing men to play at Revolution till they
learn to think the coarse reality as easy and pretty as the vaudeville
they have been acting. They are fast coming to the conclusion that the
list of grievances put forward by the secessionists is a sham and
a pretence, the veil of a long-matured plot against republican
institutions. And it is time the traitors of the South should know that
the Free States are becoming every day more united in sentiment and more
earnest in resolve, and that, so soon as they are thoroughly satisfied
that secession is something more than empty bluster, a public spirit
will be aroused that will be content with no half-measures, and which no
Executive, however unwilling, can resist.

The country is weary of being cheated with plays upon words. The United
States are a nation, and not a mass-meeting; theirs is a government,
and not a caucus,--a government that was meant to be capable, and is
capable, of something more than the helpless _please don't_ of a village
constable; they have executive and administrative officers that are not
mere puppet-figures to go through the motions of an objectless activity,
but arms and hands that become supple to do the will of the people so
soon as that will becomes conscious and defines its purpose. It is time
that we turned up our definitions in some more trustworthy dictionary
than that of avowed disunionists and their more dangerous because more
timid and cunning accomplices. Rebellion smells no sweeter because it
is called Secession, nor does Order lose its divine precedence in human
affairs because a knave may nickname it Coercion. Secession means chaos,
and Coercion the exercise of legitimate authority. You cannot dignify
the one nor degrade the other by any verbal charlatanism. The best
testimony to the virtue of coercion is the fact that no wrongdoer ever
thought well of it. The thief in jail, the mob-leader in the hands of
the police, and the murderer on the drop will be unanimous in favor of
this new heresy of the unconstitutionality of Constitutions, with its
Newgate Calendar of confessors, martyrs, and saints. Falstaff's famous
regiment would have volunteered to a man for its propagation or its
defence. Henceforth let every unsuccessful litigant have the right to
pronounce the verdict of a jury sectional, and to quash all proceedings
and retain the property in controversy by seceding from the court-room.
Let the planting of hemp be made penal, because it squints toward
coercion. Why, the first great Secessionist would doubtless have
preferred to divide Heaven peaceably, would have been willing to send
Commissioners, must have thought Michael's proceedings injudicious, and
could probably even now demonstrate the illegality of hell-fire to any
five-year-old imp of average education and intelligence. What a fine
world we should have, if we could only come quietly together in
convention, and declare by unanimous resolution, or even by a
two-thirds' vote, that edge-tools should hereafter cut everybody's
fingers but his that played with them,--that, when two men ride on one
horse, the hindmost shall always sit in front,--and that, when a man
tries to thrust his partner out of bed and gets kicked out himself, he
shall be deemed to have established his title to an equitable division,
and the bed shall be thenceforth his as of right, without detriment to
the other's privilege in the floor!

If secession be a right, then the moment of its exercise is wholly
optional with those possessing it. Suppose, on the eve of a war with
England, Michigan should vote herself out of the Union and declare
herself annexed to Canada, what kind of a reception would her
Commissioners be likely to meet in Washington, and what scruples should
we feel about coercion? Or, to take a case precisely parallel to that of
South Carolina,--suppose that Utah, after getting herself admitted to
the Union, should resume her sovereignty, as it is pleasantly called,
and block our path to the Pacific, under the pretence that she did not
consider her institutions safe while the other States entertained such
unscriptural prejudices against her special weakness in the patriarchal
line. Is the only result of our admitting a Territory on Monday to be
the giving it a right to steal itself and go out again on Tuesday? Or
do only the original thirteen States possess this precious privilege of
suicide? We shall need something like a Fugitive Slave Law for runaway
republics, and must get a provision inserted in our treaties with
foreign powers, that they shall help us catch any delinquent who may
take refuge with them, as South Carolina has been trying to do with
England and France. It does not matter to the argument, except so far as
the good taste of the proceeding is concerned, at what particular time
a State may make her territory foreign, thus opening one gate of our
national defences and offering a bridge to invasion. The danger of the
thing is in her making her territory foreign under any circumstances;
and it is a danger which the Government must prevent, if only
for self-preservation. Within the limits of the Constitution two
sovereignties cannot coexist; and yet what practical odds does it
make, if a State becomes sovereign by simply declaring herself so?
The legitimate consequence of secession is, not that a State becomes
sovereign, but that, so far as the General Government is concerned, she
has outlawed herself, nullified her own existence as a State, and become
an aggregate of riotous men who resist the execution of the laws.

We are told that coercion will be civil war; and so is a mob civil war,
till it is put down. In the present case, the only coercion called for
is the protection of the public property and the collection of the
federal revenues. If it be necessary to send troops to do this, they
will not be sectional, as it is the fashion nowadays to call people who
insist on their own rights and the maintenance of the laws, but federal
troops, representing the will and power of the whole Confederacy. A
danger is always great so long as we are afraid of it; and mischief like
that now gathering head in South Carolina may soon become a danger, if
not swiftly dealt with. Mr. Buchanan seems altogether too wholesale a
disciple of the _laissez-faire_ doctrine, and has allowed activity in
mischief the same immunity from interference which is true policy only
in regard to enterprise wisely and profitably directed. He has been
naturally reluctant to employ force, but has overlooked the difference
between indecision and moderation, forgetting the lesson of all
experience, that firmness in the beginning saves the need of force in
the end, and that forcible measures applied too late may be made to seem
violent ones, and thus excite a mistaken sympathy with the sufferers by
their own misdoing. The feeling of the country has been unmistakably
expressed in regard to Major Anderson, and that not merely because he
showed prudence and courage, but because he was the first man holding
a position of trust who did his duty to the nation. Public sentiment
unmistakably demands, that, in the case of Anarchy vs. America, the
cause of the defendant shall not be suffered to go by default. The
proceedings in South Carolina, parodying the sublime initiative of
our own Revolution with a Declaration of Independence that hangs the
franchise of human nature on the kink of a hair, and substitutes for
the visionary right of all men to the pursuit of happiness the more
practical privilege of some men to pursue their own negro,--these
proceedings would be merely ludicrous, were it not for the danger that
the men engaged in them may so far commit themselves as to find the
inconsistency of a return to prudence too galling, and to prefer the
safety of their pride to that of their country.

It cannot be too distinctly stated or too often repeated, that the
discontent of South Carolina is not one to be allayed by any concessions
which the Free States can make with dignity or even safety. It is
something more radical and of longer standing than distrust of the
motives or probable policy of the Republican Party. It is neither more
nor less than a disbelief in the very principles on which our government
is founded. So long as they practically retained the government of the
country, and could use its power and patronage to their own advantage,
the plotters were willing to wait; but the moment they lost that
control, by the breaking up of the Democratic Party, and saw that their
chance of ever regaining it was hopeless, they declared openly the
principles on which they have all along been secretly acting. Denying
the constitutionality of special protection to any other species of
property or branch of industry, and in 1832 threatening to break up
the Union unless their theory of the Constitution in this respect were
admitted, they went into the late Presidential contest with a claim for
extraordinary protection to a certain kind of property already the
only one endowed with special privileges and immunities. Defeated
overwhelmingly before the people, they now question the right of the
majority to govern, except on their terms, and threaten violence in the
hope of extorting from the fears of the Free; States what they failed
to obtain from their conscience and settled convictions of duty. Their
quarrel is not with the Republican Party, but with the theory of

The South Carolina politicians have hitherto shown themselves adroit
managers, shrewd in detecting and profiting by the weaknesses of men;
but their experience has not been of a kind to give them practical
wisdom in that vastly more important part of government which depends
for success on common sense and business-habits. The members of the
South Carolina Convention have probably less knowledge of political
economy than any single average Northern merchant whose success depends
on an intimate knowledge of the laws of trade and the world-wide
contingencies of profit and loss. Such a man would tell them, as the
result of invariable experience, that the prosperity of no community was
so precarious as that of one whose very existence was dependent on
a single agricultural product. What divinity hedges cotton, that
competition may not touch it,--that some disease, like that of the
potato and the vine, may not bring it to beggary in a single year, and
cure the overweening conceit of prosperity with the sharp medicine of
Ireland and Madeira? But these South Carolina economists are better at
vaporing than at calculation. They will find to their cost that the
figure's of statistics have little mercy for the figures of speech,
which are so powerful in raising enthusiasm and so helpless in raising
money. The eating of one's own words, as they must do, sooner or later,
is neither agreeable nor nutritious; but it is better to do it before
there is nothing else left to eat. The secessionists are strong in
declamation, but they are weak in the multiplication-table and the
ledger. They have no notion of any sort of logical connection between
treason and taxes. It is all very fine signing Declarations of
Independence, and one may thus become a kind of panic-price hero for a
week or two, even rising to the effigial martyrdom of the illustrated
press; but these gentlemen seem to have forgotten, that, if their
precious document should lead to anything serious, they have been
signing promises to pay for the State of South Carolina to an enormous
amount. It is probably far short of the truth to say that the taxes of
an autonomous palmetto republic would be three times what they are now.
To speak of nothing else, there must be a military force kept constantly
on foot; and the ministers of King Cotton will find that the charge made
by a standing army on the finances of the new empire is likely to be
far more serious and damaging than can be compensated by the glory of a
great many such "spirited charges" as that by which Colonel Pettigrew
and his gallant rifles took Fort Pinckney, with its garrison of one
engineer officer and its armament of no guns. Soldiers are the most
costly of all toys or tools. The outgo for the army of the Pope, never
amounting to ten thousand effective men, in the cheapest country in the
world, has been half a million of dollars a month. Under the present
system, it needs no argument to show that the Non-slaveholding States,
with a free population considerably more than double that of the
Slave-holding States, and with much more generally distributed wealth
and opportunities of spending, pay far more than the proportion
predicable on mere preponderance in numbers of the expenses of a
government supported mainly by a tariff on importations. And it is not
the burden of this difference merely that the new Cotton Republic must
assume. They will need as large, probably a larger, army and navy than
that of the present Union; as numerous a diplomatic establishment; a
postal system whose large yearly deficit they must bear themselves; and
they must assume the main charges of the Indian Bureau. If they adopt
free trade, they will alienate the Border Slave-States, and even
Louisiana; if a system of customs, they have cut themselves off from
the chief consumers of foreign goods. One of the calculations of the
Southern conspirators is to render the Free States tributary to their
new republic, by adopting free trade and smuggling their imported goods
across the border. But this is all moonshine; for, even if smuggling
could not be prevented as easily as it now is from the British
Provinces, how long would it be before the North would adapt its tariff
to the new order of things? And thus thrown back upon direct taxation,
how many years would it take to open the eyes of the poorer classes
of Secessia to the hardship of their position and its causes? Their
ignorance has been trifled with by men who cover treasonable designs
with a pretence of local patriotism. Neither they nor their misleaders
have any true conception of the people of the Free States, of those
"white slaves" who in Massachusetts alone have a deposit in the Savings
Banks whose yearly interest would pay seven times over the four hundred
thousand dollars which South Carolina cannot raise.

But even if we leave other practical difficulties out of sight, what
chance of stability is there for a confederacy whose very foundation
is the principle that any member of it may withdraw at the first
discontent? If they could contrive to establish a free-trade treaty with
their chief customer, England, would she consent to gratify Louisiana
with an exception in favor of sugar? Some of the leaders of the
secession movement have already become aware of this difficulty, and
accordingly propose the abolition of all State lines,--the first step
toward a military despotism; for, if our present system have one
advantage greater than another, it is the neutralization of numberless
individual ambitions by adequate opportunities of provincial
distinction. Even now the merits of the Napoleonic system are put
forward by some of the theorists of Alabama and Mississippi, who
doubtless have as good a stomach to be emperors as ever Bottom had to a
bottle of hay, when his head was temporarily transformed to the likeness
of theirs,--and who, were they subjects of the government that looks so
nice across the Atlantic, would, ere this, have been on their way
to Cayenne, a spot where such red-peppery temperaments would find
themselves at home.

The absurdities with which the telegraphic column of the newspapers has
been daily crowded, since the vagaries of South Carolina finally settled
down into unmistakable insanity, would give us but a poor opinion of the
general intelligence of the country, did we not know that they were due
to the necessities of "Our Own Correspondent." At one time, it is Fort
Sumter that is to be bombarded with floating batteries mounted on rafts
behind a rampart of cotton-bales; at another, it is Mr. Barrett, Mayor
of Washington, announcing his intention that the President-elect shall
be inaugurated, or Mr. Buchanan declaring that he shall cheerfully
assent to it. Indeed! and who gave them any choice in the matter?
Yesterday, it was General Scott who would not abandon the flag which he
had illustrated with the devotion of a lifetime; to-day, it is General
Harney or Commodore Kearney who has concluded to be true to the country
whose livery he has worn and whose bread he has eaten for half a
century; to-morrow, it will be Ensign Stebbins who has been magnanimous
enough not to throw up his commission. What are we to make of the
extraordinary confusion of ideas which such things indicate? In what
other country would it be considered creditable to an officer that he
merely did not turn traitor at the first opportunity? There can be no
doubt of the honor both of the army and navy, and of their loyalty to
their country. They will do their duty, if we do ours in saving them a
country to which they can be loyal.

We have been so long habituated to a kind of local independence in the
management of our affairs, and the Central Government has fortunately
had so little occasion for making itself felt at home and in the
domestic concerns of the States, that the idea of its relation to us as
a power, except for protection from without, has gradually become vague
and alien to our ordinary habits of thought. We have so long heard the
principle admitted, and seen it acted on with advantage to the general
weal, that the people are sovereign in their own affairs, that we
must recover our presence of mind before we see the fallacy of the
assumption, that the people, or a bare majority of them, in a single
State, can exercise their right of sovereignty as against the will of
the nation legitimately expressed. When such a contingency arises, it is
for a moment difficult to get rid of our habitual associations, and to
feel that we are not a mere partnership, dissolvable whether by mutual
consent or on the demand of one or more of its members, but a nation,
which can never abdicate its right, and can never surrender it while
virtue enough is left in the people to make it worth retaining. It
would seem to be the will of God that from time to time the manhood of
nations, like that of individuals, should be tried by great dangers or
by great opportunities. If the manhood be there, it makes the great
opportunity out of the great danger; if it be not there, then the great
danger out of the great opportunity. The occasion is offered us now of
trying whether a conscious nationality and a timely concentration of the
popular will for its maintenance be possible in a democracy, or whether
it is only despotisms that are capable of the sudden and selfish energy
of protecting themselves from destruction.

The Republican Party has thus far borne itself with firmness and
moderation, and the great body of the Democratic Party in the Free
States is gradually being forced into an alliance with it. Let us not be
misled by any sophisms about conciliation and compromise. Discontented
citizens may be conciliated and compromised with, but never open rebels
with arms in their hands. If there be any concessions which justice may
demand on the one hand and honor make on the other, let us try if we can
adjust them with the Border Slave-States; but a government has already
signed its own death-warrant, when it consents to make terms with
law-breakers. First reëstablish the supremacy of order, and then it will
be time to discuss terms; but do not call it a compromise, when you
give up your purse with a pistol at your head. This is no time for
sentimentalisms about the empty chair at the national hearth; all the
chairs would be empty soon enough, if one of the children is to amuse
itself with setting the house on fire, whenever it can find a match.
Since the election of Mr. Lincoln, not one of the arguments has lost its
force, not a cipher of the statistics has been proved mistaken, on
which the judgment of the people was made up. Nobody proposes, or
has proposed, to interfere with any existing rights of property;
the majority have not assumed to decide upon any question of the
righteousness or policy of certain social arrangements existing in
any part of the Confederacy; they have not undertaken to constitute
themselves the conscience of their neighbors; they have simply
endeavored to do their duty to their own posterity, and to protect them
from a system which, as ample experience has shown, and that of
our present difficulty were enough to show, fosters a sense of
irresponsibleness to all obligation in the governing class, and in the
governed an ignorance and a prejudice which may be misled at any moment
to the peril of the whole country.

But the present question is one altogether transcending all limits of
party and all theories of party-policy. It is a question of national
existence; it is a question whether Americans shall govern America, or
whether a disappointed clique shall nullify all government now, and
render a stable government difficult hereafter; it is a question, not
whether we shall have civil war under certain contingencies, but whether
we shall prevent it under any. It is idle, and worse than idle, to
talk about Central Republics that can never be formed. We want neither
Central Republics nor Northern Republics, but our own Republic and that
of our fathers, destined one day to gather the whole continent under a
flag that shall be the most august in the world. Having once known what
it was to be members of a grand and peaceful constellation, we shall not
believe, without further proof, that the laws of our gravitation are to
be abolished, and we flung forth into chaos, a hurlyburly of jostling
and splintering stars, whenever Robert Toombs or Robert Rhett, or any
other Bob of the secession kite, may give a flirt of self-importance.
The first and greatest benefit of government is that it keeps the
peace, that it insures every man his right, and not only that, but the
permanence of it. In order to this, its first requisite is stability;
and this once firmly settled, the greater the extent of conterminous
territory that can be subjected to one system and one language and
inspired by one patriotism, the better. That there should be some
diversity of interests is perhaps an advantage, since the necessity of
legislating equitably for all gives legislation its needful safeguards
of caution and largeness of view. A single empire embracing the whole
world, and controlling, without extinguishing, local organizations and
nationalities, has been not only the dream of conquerors, but the ideal
of speculative philanthropists. Our own dominion is of such extent and
power, that it may, so far as this continent is concerned, be looked
upon as something like an approach to the realization of such an ideal.
But for slavery, it might have succeeded in realizing it; and in
spite of slavery, it may. One language, one law, one citizenship over
thousands of miles, and a government on the whole so good that we seem
to have forgotten what government means,--these are things not to be
spoken of with levity, privileges not to be surrendered without a
struggle. And yet while Germany and Italy, taught by the bloody and
bitter and servile experience of centuries, are striving toward unity as
the blessing above all others desirable, we are to allow a Union,
that for almost eighty years has been the source and the safeguard of
incalculable advantages, to be shattered by the caprice of a rabble that
has outrun the intention of its leaders, while we are making up our
minds what coercion means! Ask the first constable, and he will tell
you that it is the force necessary for executing the laws. To avoid
the danger of what men who have seized upon forts, arsenals, and other
property of the United States, and continue to hold them by military
force, may choose to call civil war, we are allowing a state of things
to gather head which will make real civil war the occupation of the
whole country for years to come, and establish it as a permanent
institution. There is no such antipathy between the North and the South
as men ambitious of a consideration in the new republic, which their
talents and character have failed to secure them in the old, would fain
call into existence by asserting that it exists. The misunderstanding
and dislike between them is not so great as they were within living
memory between England and Scotland, as they are now between England and
Ireland. There is no difference of race, language, or religion. Yet,
after a dissatisfaction of near a century, and two rebellions, there is
no part of the British dominion more loyal than Scotland, no British
subjects who would be more loath to part with the substantial advantages
of their imperial connection than the Scotch; and even in Ireland, after
a longer and more deadly feud, there is no sane man who would consent
to see his country irrevocably cut off from power and consideration
to obtain an independence which would be nothing but Donnybrook Fair
multiplied by every city, town, and village in the island. The same
considerations of policy and advantage which render the union of
Scotland and Ireland with England a necessity apply with even more force
to the several States of our Union. To let one, or two, or half a dozen
of them break away in a freak of anger or unjust suspicion, or, still
worse, from mistaken notions of sectional advantage, would be to fail in
our duty to ourselves and our country, would be a fatal blindness to
the lessons which immemorial history has been tracing on the earth's
surface, either with the beneficent furrow of the plough, or, when that
was unheeded, the fruitless gash of the cannon-ball.

When we speak of coercion, we do not mean violence, but only the
assertion of constituted and acknowledged authority. Even if seceding
States could be conquered back again, they would not be worth the
conquest. We ask only for the assertion of a principle which shall give
the friends of order in the discontented quarters a hope to rally round,
and the assurance of the support they have a right to expect. There is
probably a majority, and certainly a powerful minority, in the seceding
States, who are loyal to the Union; and these should have that support
which the prestige of the General Government can alone give them. It is
not to the North or to the Republican Party that the malcontents are
called on to submit, but to the laws, and to the benign intentions of
the Constitution, as they were understood by its framers. What the
country wants is a permanent settlement; and it has learned, by repeated
trial, that compromise is not a cement, but a wedge. The Government did
not hesitate to protect the doubtful right of property of a Virginian
in Anthony Burns by the exercise of coercion, and the loyalty of
Massachusetts was such that her own militia could be used to enforce an
obligation abhorrent, and, as there is reason to believe, made purposely
abhorrent, to her dearest convictions and most venerable traditions; and
yet the same Government tampers with armed treason, and lets _I dare
not_ wait upon _I would_, when it is a question of protecting the
acknowledged property of the Union, and of sustaining, nay, preserving
even, a gallant officer whose only fault is that he has been too true
to his flag. While we write, the newspapers bring us the correspondence
between Mr. Buchanan and the South Carolina "Commissioners," and surely
never did a government stoop so low as ours has done, not only in
consenting to receive these ambassadors from Nowhere, but in suggesting
that a soldier deserves court-martial who has done all he could to
maintain himself in a forlorn hope, with rebellion in his front and
treachery in his rear. Our Revolutionary heroes had old-fashioned
notions about rebels, suitable to the straightforward times in which
they lived,--times when blood was as freely shed to secure our national
existence as milk-and-water is now to destroy it. Mr. Buchanan might
have profited by the example of men who knew nothing of the modern
arts of Constitutional interpretation, but saw clearly the distinction
between right and wrong. When a party of the Shays rebels came to
the house of General Pomeroy, in Northampton, and asked if he could
accommodate them,--the old soldier, seeing the green sprigs in their
hats, the badges of their treason, shouted to his son, "Fetch me my
hanger, and I'll _accommodate_ the scoundrels!" General Jackson, we
suspect, would have accommodated rebel commissioners in the same
peremptory style.

While our government, like Giles in the old rhyme, is wondering whether
it is a government or not, emissaries of treason are cunningly working
upon the fears and passions of the Border States, whose true interests
are infinitely more on the side of the Union than of Slavery. They are
luring the ambitious with visionary promises of Southern grandeur
and prosperity, and deceiving the ignorant into the belief that the
principles and practice of the Free States were truly represented by
John Brown. All this might have been prevented, had Mr. Buchanan in his
Message thought of the interests of his country instead of those of his
party. It is not too late to check and neutralize it now. A decisively
national and patriotic policy is all that can prevent excited men from
involving themselves so deeply that they will find "returning as tedious
as go o'er," and be more afraid of cowardice than of consequences.

Slavery is no longer the matter in debate, and we must beware of
being led off upon that side-issue. The matter now in hand is the
reëstablishment of order, the reaffirmation of national unity, and the
settling once for all whether there can be such a thing as a government
without the right to use its power in self-defence. The Republican Party
has done all it could lawfully do in limiting slavery once more to the
States in which it exists, and in relieving the Free States from forced
complicity with an odious system. They can be patient, as Providence is
often patient, till natural causes work that conviction which conscience
has been unable to effect. They believe that the violent abolition of
slavery, which would be sure to follow sooner or later the disruption
of our Confederacy, would not compensate for the evil that would be
entailed upon both races by the abolition of our nationality and the
bloody confusion that would follow it. More than this, they believe
that there can be no permanent settlement except in the definite
establishment of the principle, that this government, like all others,
rests upon the everlasting foundations of just Authority,--that that
authority, once delegated by the people, becomes a common stock of Power
to be wielded for the common protection, and from which no minority
or majority of partners can withdraw its contribution under any
conditions,--that this Power is what makes us a nation, and implies
a corresponding duty of submission, or, if that be refused, then a
necessary right of self-vindication. We are citizens, when we make laws;
we become subjects, when we attempt to break them after they are
made. Lynch-law may be better than no law in new and half-organized
communities, but we cannot tolerate its application in the affairs of
government. The necessity of suppressing rebellion by force may be a
terrible one, but its consequences, whatever they may be, do not weigh
a feather in comparison with those that would follow from admitting the
principle that there is no social compact binding on any body of men too
numerous to be arrested by a United States Marshal.

As we are writing these sentences, the news comes to us that South
Carolina has taken the initiative, and chosen the arbitrament of war.
She has done it because her position was desperate, and because she
hoped thereby to unite the Cotton States by a complicity in blood, as
they are already committed by a unanimity in bravado. Major Anderson
deserves more than ever the thanks of his country for his wise
forbearance. The foxes in Charleston, who have already lost their tails
in the trap of Secession, wished to throw upon him the responsibility of
that second blow which begins a quarrel, and the silence of his guns has
balked them. Nothing would have pleased them so much as to have one of
his thirty-two-pound shot give a taste of real war to the boys who are
playing soldier at Morris's Island. But he has shown the discretion of a
brave man. South Carolina will soon learn how much she has undervalued
the people of the Free States. Because they prefer law to bowie-knives
and revolvers, she has too lightly reckoned on their caution and
timidity. She will find, that, though slow to kindle, they are as slow
to yield, and that they are willing to risk their lives for the defence
of law, though not for the breach of it. They are beginning to question
the value of a peace that is forced on them at the point of the bayonet,
and is to be obtained only by an abandonment of rights and duties.

When we speak of the courage and power of the Free States, we do not
wish to be understood as descending to the vulgar level of meeting brag
with brag. We speak of them only as among the elements to be gravely
considered by the fanatics who may render it necessary for those who
value the continued existence of this Confederacy as it deserves to be
valued to kindle a back-fire, and to use the desperate means which God
has put into their hands to be employed in the last extremity of free
institutions. And when we use the term Coercion, nothing is farther from
our thoughts than the carrying of blood and fire among those whom
we still consider our brethren of South Carolina. These civilized
communities of ours have interests too serious to be risked on a
childish wager of courage,--a quality that can always be bought cheaper
than day-labor on a railway-embankment. We wish to see the Government
strong enough for the maintenance of law, and for the protection, if
need be, of the unfortunate Governor Pickens from the anarchy he has
allowed himself to be made a tool of for evoking. Let the power of the
Union be used for any other purpose than that of shutting and barring
the door against the return of misguided men to their allegiance. At the
same time we think legitimate and responsible force prudently exerted
safer than the submission, without a struggle, to unlawful and
irresponsible violence.

Peace is the greatest of blessings, when it is won and kept by manhood
and wisdom; but it is a blessing that will not long be the housemate of
cowardice. It is God alone who is powerful enough to let His authority
slumber; it is only His laws that are strong enough to protect and
avenge themselves. Every human government is bound to make its laws
so far resemble His, that they shall be uniform, certain, and
unquestionable in their operation; and this it can do only by a timely
show of power, and by an appeal to that authority which is of divine
right, inasmuch as its office is to maintain that order which is the
single attribute of the Infinite Reason that we can clearly apprehend
and of which we have hourly example.

       *       *       *       *       *


Personal History of Lord Bacon, From Unpublished Papers. By WILLIAM
HEPWORTH DIXON, of the Inner Temple. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 12mo. pp.

The life of Bacon, as it has been ordinarily written, presents contrasts
so strange, that thoughtful readers have been compelled either to doubt
the accuracy of the narrative, or to admit that in his case Nature
departed from her usual processes, and embodied antithesis in a man. The
character suggested by the events of his life has long been in direct
opposition to the character impressed on his writings; and Macaulay, who
gave to the popular opinion its most emphatic and sparkling expression,
increased this difference by exaggerating the opposite elements of the
human epigram, and ended in manufacturing the most brilliant monstrosity
that ever bore the name of a person. Lord Campbell followed with a
biography having all the appearance of conscientious research and
judicial impartiality, but which was really nothing more than a weak
translation of Macaulay's vivid sentences into such English "as it had
pleased God to endow him withal." Bacon, to all inquiring men, still
remained outside of the statements of both; and after the lapse of
nearly two centuries, the slight biographical sketch by his chaplain,
Dr. Rawleigh, conveyed a juster idea of the man than all the
biographies by which it had been succeeded, but not superseded.

Mr. Dixon's "Personal History of Lord Bacon" is the first attempt to
vindicate his fame by original research into unpublished documents. It
is a mortifying reflection to all who speak the English tongue, that
this task should have been deferred so long. There has been no lack
of such research in regard to insignificant individuals who have been
accidentally connected with events which come within the cognizance
of English historians; but the greatest Englishman among all English
politicians and statesmen since the Norman Conquest has heretofore been
honored with no biographer who considered him worthy the labor which has
been lavished on inferior men. The readers of Macaulay's four volumes
of English history have often expressed their amazement at his minute
knowledge of the political mediocrities of the time of James II.
and William III. He spared neither time nor labor in collecting and
investigating facts regarding comparatively unknown persons who happened
to be connected with his subject; but in his judgment of a man who,
considered simply as a statesman, was infinitely greater than Halifax
or Dauby, he depends altogether on hearsay, and gives that hearsay
the worst possible appearance. In his article on Bacon, he not merely
evinces no original research, but he so combines the loose statements he
takes for granted, that, in his presentation of them, they make out
a stronger case against Bacon than is warranted by their fair
interpretation. Indeed, leaving out the facts which Macaulay suppresses
or is ignorant of, and taking into account only those which he includes,
his judgment of Bacon is still erroneous. Long before we read Mr.
Dixon's book, we had reversed Macaulay's opinion merely by scrutinizing,
and restoring to their natural relations, Macaulay's facts.

But Mr. Dixon's volume, while in style and matter it is one of the most
interesting and entertaining books of the season, is especially valuable
for the new light it sheds on the subject by the introduction of
original materials. These materials, to be sure, were within the reach
of any person who desired to write an impartial biography; but Mr. Dixon
no less deserves honor for withstanding the prejudice that Bacon's
moral character was unquestionably settled as base, and for daring to
investigate anew the testimony on which the judgment was founded. And
there can be no doubt that he has dispelled the horrible chimera, that
the same man can be thoroughly malignant or mean in his moral nature and
thoroughly beneficent or exalted in his intellectual nature. While we do
not doubt that depravity and intelligence can make an unholy alliance,
we do doubt that the intelligence thus prompted can exhibit, to an eye
that discerns spirits, all the vital signs of benevolence. If, in the
logic of character, Iago or Jerry Sneak be in the premises, it is
impossible to find Bacon in the conclusion.

The value of Mr. Dixon's book consists in its introduction of new facts
to illustrate every questionable incident in Bacon's career. It is
asserted, for instance, that Bacon, as a member of Parliament, was
impelled solely by interested motives, and opposed the government merely
to force the government to recognize his claims to office. Mr. Dixon
brings forward facts to prove that his opposition is to be justified
on high grounds of statesmanship; that he was both a patriot and a
reformer; that great constituencies were emulous to make him their
representative; that in wit, in learning, in reason, in moderation, in
wisdom, in the power of managing and directing men's minds and passions,
he was the first man in the House of Commons; that the germs of great
improvements are to be found in his speeches; that, when he was
overborne by the almost absolute power of the Court, his apparent
sycophancy was merely the wariness of a wise statesman; that Queen
Elizabeth eventually acknowledged his services to the country, and, far
from neglecting him, repeatedly extended to him most substantial
marks of her favor. This portion of Mr. Dixon's volume, founded on
state-papers, will surprise both the defamers and the eulogists of
Bacon. It contains facts of which both Macaulay and Basil Montagu were

Of Bacon's relations with Essex we never had but one opinion. All the
testimony brought forward to convict Bacon of treachery to Essex seemed
to us inconclusive. The facts, as stated by Macaulay and Lord Campbell,
do not sustain their harsh judgment. A parallel may be found in the
present political condition of our own country. Let us suppose Senator
Toombs so fortunate as to have had a wise counsellor, who for ten years
had borne to him the same relation which Bacon bore to Essex. Let us
suppose that it was understood between them that both were in favor
of the Union and the Constitution, and that nothing was to be done to
forward the triumph of their party which was not strictly legal. Then
let us suppose that Mr. Toombs, from the impulses of caprice and
passion, had secretly established relations with desperate disunionists,
and had thus put in jeopardy not only the interests, but the lives, of
those who were equally his friends and the friends of the Constitution.
Let us further suppose that he had suddenly placed himself at the
head of an armed force to overturn the United States government at
Washington, while he was still a Senator from Georgia, sworn to support
the Constitution of the United States, and that his cheated friend and
counsellor had just left the President of the United States, after a
long conference, in which he had attempted to show, to an incredulous
listener, that Senator Toombs was a devoted friend to the Union, though
dissatisfied with some of the members of the Administration. This is a
very faint illustration of the political relations between Essex
and Bacon, admitting the generally received facts on which Bacon is
execrated as false to his friend. Mr. Dixon adduces new facts which
completely justify Bacon's conduct. If Bacon, like Essex, had been ruled
by his passions, he would have been a far fiercer denouncer of Essex's
treason. He had every reason to be enraged. He was a wise man duped by a
foolish one. He was in danger of being implicated in a treason which he
abhorred, through the perfidy of a man who was generally considered as
his friend and patron, and who was supposed to act from his advice. As
Bacon doubtless knew what we now for the first time know, every candid
reader must be surprised at the moderation of his course. Essex would
not have hesitated to shoot or stab Bacon, had Bacon behaved to him as
he had behaved to Bacon. But we pardon, it seems, the most hateful
and horrible selfishness which springs from the passions; our moral
condemnation is reserved for that faint form of selfishness which may be
suspected to have its source in the intellect.

In regard to the other charges against Bacon, we think that Mr. Dixon
has brought forward evidence which must materially modify the current
opinions of Bacon's personal character. He has proved that Bacon, as a
practical statesman, was in advance of his age, rather than behind it.
He has proved that his philosophy penetrated his politics, and that he
gave wise advice, and recommended large, liberal, and humane measures to
a generation which could not appreciate them. He has proved that he did
everything that a man in his situation could do for the cause of truth
and justice which did not necessitate his retirement from public life.
The abuses by which he may have profited he not only did not defend,
but tried to reform. Among the statesmen of his day he appears not only
intellectually superior, but conventionally respectable,--a fact which
would seem to be established by the bare statement, that he died
wretchedly poor, while most of them died enormously rich.

But Mr. Dixon, in his advocacy of Bacon, overlooks the circumstance,
that no man could hold high office under James I., without complying
with abuses calculated to damage his reputation with posterity. We have
no doubt that Bacon's compliance was connected with considerations which
Mr. Dixon entirely ignores. Far from discriminating between Bacon the
philosopher and Bacon the politician, we have always thought that they
were intimately connected. Bacon's Method, the thing on which, as a
philosopher, he especially prided himself, was defective. It left out
that power by which all discoveries have since his time been made,
namely, scientific genius. Its successful working depended on an immense
collection of facts, which no individual, and no society of individuals,
could possibly make. He himself was never weary of asserting that the
Method could never produce its beneficent effects, unless it were
assisted by the revenues of a nation. Of the course which physical
science really followed he had no prevision. Copernicus, Kepler,
Galileo, Gilbert, he never appreciated. He was an intellectual autocrat,
who had matured his own scheme of interpreting Nature, and thought,
that, if it were systematically carried out, the inmost secrets of
Nature could he mastered. His desire to be Lord Chancellor of England
was subsidiary to his larger desire to be Lord Chancellor of Nature
herself. He hoped, by managing James and Buckingham, to flatter them
into aiding, by the revenues of the State, his grand philosophical
scheme. Combine the facts which Mr. Dixon has disinterred with the facts
which every thoughtful reader of Bacon's philosophical works already
knows, and the vindication of Bacon as a man is complete.

We are inclined to think that he failed in both of the objects of his
highest ambition. His philosophic Method is demonstrably a failure; his
attempt to convert James and Buckingham to his views resulted in his own
unjust disgrace with contemporaries and posterity. The truth is, that,
cool, serene, comprehensive, and unimpassioned as he appears, he was
from his youth actuated by a fanaticism which seems less intense than
the fanaticism of a man like Cromwell only because it was infinitely
more broad. Had he succeeded in the design he proposed to himself,
his intellectual domination would not be confined to England, or the
kingdoms of the civilized world, but would be commensurate with the
whole domain of Nature and man.

We are so grateful to Mr. Dixon for what he has done, that we are not
disposed to quarrel with him for what he has left undone. He has added
such a mass of incontrovertible facts to the materials which must enter
into the future biography of Bacon, that his book cannot fail to exact
cordial praise from the most captious critics. Bacon, in his aspirations
and purposes, was a very much greater man than he appears in Mr. Dixon's
biography; but still to Mr. Dixon belongs the credit of rescuing his
personal reputation from undeserved ignominy. If we add to this his
vivid pictures of the persons and events of the Elizabethan age, and his
bright, sharp, and brief way of flashing his convictions and discoveries
on the mind of the reader, we indicate merits which will make his volume
generally and justly popular. The letters of Lady Ann Bacon, the mother
of the philosopher and statesman-letters for which we are indebted to
Mr. Dixon's exhaustive research--would alone be sufficient to justify
the publication of his interesting book.

_Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle, Minister of Inveresk_. With
Memorials of the Men and Events of his Time. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
12mo. pp. 480.

Who was he? and what was he like?--Sir Walter Scott answered these
interrogatories more than thirty years ago, in this wise. He says, in
his "Review of the Life and Works of John Home,"--"Dr. Carlyle was, for
a long period, clergyman of Musselburgh; his character was as excellent
as his conversation was amusing and instructive; his person and
countenance, even at a very advanced age, were so lofty and commanding,
as to strike every artist with his resemblance to the Jupiter Tonans of
the Pantheon."

Sixty years ago, this old Scottish clergyman sat down, one January day,
in Musselburgh, and began to write his "Autobiography." He had lived
seventy-nine years among scenes of great interest, and had known men of
remarkable genius. He wrote and died. The manuscript he left has been
often read and enjoyed by clever men and women, who in their turn have
gone to the churchyard to sleep with the venerable old man the story of
whose life they had perused. Sir Walter himself once caught a glimpse
of the time-stained sheets. All are now dead who could by any chance he
pained by the publication of facts in which their relatives look part
long years ago. So the world has now another volume to add to the store
of biography, and the future historian will have another treasury of
facts from which to illumine his pages.

Himself the son of a clergyman, Alexander Carlyle had a good
school-drilling in Prestonpans, where he was born. One of the stories of
his childhood is very amusing, inasmuch as it pictures a dozen old women
listening to young Alexander, aged six, who reads the Song of Solomon to
them in a graveyard, he all the while perched on a tombstone. My Lord
Grange was the principal man in Prestonpans parish; and Master Carlyle,
with his excellent father, had great reverence for the patron who had
been the cause of the family's transplantation from Annandale. My
Lady was a very lively person, daughter of the man who shot President
Lockhart in the dark because he had infuriated him in an arbitration
case in the court. This great family attracted the boyish wonder of
young Carlyle, and some of the gossiping stories that he heard in
his father's house made his juvenile ears tingle. Poor Lady Grange!
Quarrelling with her husband one day, on his return from London, where
pretty Fanny Lindsay, who kept a coffee-house in the Haymarket, had
bewitched him, she never knew peace again. Her temper, never very
soothing or placable, got entire possession of her life, and she rained
stormy gusts of passion on her guilty lord. He trembled and endured,
till he found a razor concealed under his wife's pillow, and then he
determined to remove his violent helpmeet to a safe seclusion. By main
force, with the aid of accomplices, he seized the lady in his house in
Edinburgh, and bore her through Stirling to the Highlands. Thence she
was taken to St. Kilda's desolate island, far off in the Western Ocean,
and there kept for the remainder of her days, scantily furnished with
only the coarsest fare. Her condition was most wretched to the last.
In those days, licentiousness and religious enthusiasm were not
incompatible associates, and Lord Grange frequently spent his evenings
with the Minister of Prestonpans, praying, and settling high points of
Calvinism with the old pastor. Good Mrs. Carlyle used to complain that
they did not part without wine, and that late hours were consequent upon
the claret they liberally imbibed after their pious discussions.

Dr. Doddridge's famous Colonel Gardiner came to reside in Minister
Carlyle's parish, and told the story of his remarkable conversion, with
his own lips, to the clergyman. The hook which turned him from his
wicked career was Gurnall's "Christian Armor," a volume placed many
years before, by a mother's hand, in his trunk, and until then
neglected. Young Carlyle hoard Gardiner tell the story of his change of
life several times to different sets of people, and he thought Doddridge
had marred the tale by introducing the incident of a blaze of light,
which the Colonel himself never spoke of having seen, when he related
his conversion.

When Alexander was eleven years old, he took a little journey with his
father and another clergyman by the name of Jardine; and the two pious,
elderly gentlemen, having a great turn for fun and buffoonery, made
sport wherever they went. Turning their wigs hind-part foremost, and
making faces, they delighted in diverting the children they encountered
on the way.

Of many of the incidents of the Porteous Mob young Carlyle was a
witness. He was in the Tolbooth Church, at Edinburgh, when Robertson, a
condemned smuggler, who was brought in to listen to the discourse and
prayers before execution, made his escape. The congregation were coming
into church while all the bells were ringing, when the criminal,
watching his opportunity, sprang suddenly over a pew, and was next heard
of in Holland. When, a few weeks afterwards, Wilson, another smuggler,
was executed, Carlyle, with some of his school-fellows, was in a window
on the north side of the Grass-Market, and heard Porteous order his
guard to fire on the people. A young lad, who had been killed by a slug
entering his head, was brought into the house where the boys were on
that occasion.

In the summer of 1737, young Carlyle might have been seen during the
evening hours walking anxiously about the Prestonpans fields. That
season he had lost one of his fellow-pupils and dearest friends, and
they had often agreed together that whichever might die first should
appear there to the other, and reveal the secrets beyond the barrier.
And so the survivor paced the meadows, hoping to meet his old companion,
who never appeared. In November of that year he was at college, and his
acquaintance with Robertson, afterwards the eminent historian, then
began. John Home, celebrated at a later period as the author of
"Douglas," also became an intimate friend. He now decided to choose a
profession, and had wellnigh concluded an agreement with two surgeons
to study theirs, when he became disgusted with the meanness of the
doctors, who had bought for dissection the body of a child of a poor
tailor for six shillings, the price asked being six shillings and
sixpence, from which they made the needy man abate the sixpence. Turning
from the niggardly surgeons, he enrolled his name as a student of
divinity, and was frequently in Edinburgh attending the lectures at
Divinity Hall. Wonderfully cheap was the living in those days, when,
at the Edinburgh ordinaries, a good dinner could be had for fourpence,
small beer included. John Witherspoon, years after a member of the
American Congress, then a frank, generous young fellow, was a companion
of Carlyle at this period, and they often went fishing together in the
streams near Gifford Hall.

The city of Glasgow, whither young Carlyle had gone to pursue his
studies, was at this time far inferior in point of commerce to what it
afterwards became. The tobacco-trade with the American colonies and the
traffic in sugar and rum with the West Indies were the chief branches of
business. Carlyle did not find the merchants of those days interesting
or learned people, though they held a weekly club, where they discussed
the nature and principle of trade, and invited Alexander to join it. But
he found life in Glasgow very dull, and was constantly complaining that
there was neither a teacher of French nor of music in the town. There
was but one concert during the two winters he spent there. Post-chaises
and hackney-coaches were unknown, their places being supplied by three
or four old sedan-chairs, which did a brisk business in carrying
midwives about in the night, and old ladies to church and the
dancing-assemblies. The principal merchants began their business early
in the morning, and took dinner about noon with their families at home.
Afterwards they resorted to the coffee-house, to read the newspapers
and enjoy a bowl of punch. Until an arch fellow from Dublin came to be
master of the chief coffee-house, nine o'clock was the hour for these
worthy mercantile gentlemen to be at home in the evening. The seductive
Irish stranger began his wiles by placing a few nice cold relishing
things on the table, and so gradually led the way to hot suppers and
midnight symposia. Towards the end of his college-session, Carlyle was
introduced to a club which gave him great satisfaction. The principal
member was Robert Simson, the celebrated mathematician. Simson was a
great humorist, and was particularly averse to the company of ladies.
Matthew Stewart, afterwards Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh, was a
constant attendant at this club.

On the breaking out of the Rebellion of 1745, the young
divinity-student, having returned to Edinburgh, joined the Volunteers,
and entered warmly into all the bustle and business of those exciting
days. In the Battle of Prestonpans he took part, and was active to the
end. When Prince Charles Edward issued a proclamation of pardon to the
Volunteers, Carlyle went down to the Abbey Court to see him. The Prince
mounted his horse, while the young man stood by, and rode away to the
east side of Arthur's Seat. Charles was at that time a good-looking
gentleman, of about five feet ten inches, with dark red hair and black

One Monday morning in October, a hundred and fifteen years ago, young
Carlyle set out for Rotterdam, on his way to Leyden, to join the British
students there. Among them he found Charles Townshend and John Wilkes,
names afterwards famous in English politics. With Wilkes he became
intimate, and many a spirited talk they had together in their daily

But we cannot dwell upon the incidents of Carlyle's student-life on the
Continent. Soon after his return to Scotland he made acquaintance with
Smollett, whose lively, agreeable manners rendered him universally
popular. Thomson, the author of "The Seasons," and Armstrong the poet,
were also at this time among his friends. In 1746 he preached his
first sermon before the Presbytery of Haddington, and got "universal
approbation," especially from one young lady, to whom he had been long
attached. Robertson the historian and Home the dramatist were now among
his neighbors, and no doubt used their influence in getting the young
clergyman a living. He finally settled at Inveresk, where his life was
a very pleasant round of cares and duties. Hume, Adam Smith, Blair,
Smollett, and Robertson now figure largely in his personal record, so
that he had no lack of genial companions. Adam Smith he describes as "a
very absent man in society, moving his lips, talking to himself,
and smiling, in the midst of large companies." Robertson was a very
different person, and held all the conversation-threads in his own
fingers, forgetting, alas! sometimes, that he had not been present in
many a scene which he described as an eye-witness.

Carlyle went some distance on the way toward London with Home, when he
carried his tragedy of "Douglas" for examination to the critics. Six
other clergymen, accompanied the precious manuscript on that expedition,
and the fun was prodigious. Garrick read the play and pronounced it
totally unfit for the stage! "Douglas" was afterwards brought out in
Edinburgh with unbounded success. David Hume ran about crying it up as
the first performance he world had seen for half a century.

Carlyle's visit to Shenstone is very graphically described in the
"Autobiography." The poet was then "a large, heavy, fat man, dressed in
white clothes and silver lace." One night in Edinburgh, Dr. Robertson
gave a small supper-party to "the celebrated Dr. Franklin," and Carlyle
met him that evening at table. They came together afterwards several

But we must refer our readers to the book itself, our limits not
allowing more space for a glance at one of the most entertaining works
in modern biography.

_The Laws of Race, as connected with Slavery_. By the Author of "The Law
of the Territories," "Rustic Rhymes," etc. Philadelphia: W.P. Hazard.
1860. 8vo. pp. 70.

There is no lack of talk and writing among us on political topics; but
there is great lack of independent and able thought concerning them.
The disputes and the manoeuvres of parties interfere with the study and
recognition of the active principles which silently mould the national
character and history. The double-faced platforms of conventions, the
loose manifestoes of itinerant candidates for the Presidency, the
rhetorical misrepresentations of "campaign documents," form the staple
of our political literature.

The writer of the pamphlet before us is one of the few men who not only
think for themselves, nut whose thoughts deserve attention. His essay
on "The Law of the Territories" was distinguished not more by its sound
reasoning than by the candor of its statements and the calmness of its
tone and temper. If his later essay, on "The Laws of Race, as connected
with Slavery," be on the whole less satisfactory, this is to be
attributed, not to any want in it of the same qualities of thought
and style as were displayed in his earlier work, but to the greater
complexify and difficulty of the subject itself. The question of Race,
so far as it affects actual national conditions, is one of the deepest
and most intricate which can be presented to the student of politics. It
is impossible to investigate it without meeting with difficulties which
in the present state of knowledge cannot be solved, or without opening
paths of speculation which no human foresight can trace to their end.
This is, indeed, no reason for not attempting its discussion; and Mr.
Fisher, in treating it in its relation to Slavery, has done good work,
and has brought forward important, though much neglected considerations.
He endeavors to place the whole subject of the relations of the white
and the black races in this country on philosophic grounds, and to
deduce the principles which must govern them from the teachings of
ethnological science, or, in other words, from natural laws which human
device can neither abrogate nor alter.

From these teachings he derives the three following conclusions.

"The white race must of necessity, by reason of its superiority, govern
the negro, wherever the two live together.

"The two races can never amalgamate, and form a new species of man, but
must remain forever distinct,--though mulattoes and other grades always
exist, because constantly renewed.

"Each race has a tendency to occupy exclusively that portion of the
country suited to its nature."

If true, these conclusions are of the utmost importance. They are higher
laws, which "must rule our politics and our destiny, either by the
Constitution or over it, either with the Union or without it; and no
wit or force of man is strong enough to resist them." It is to the
exposition of the results which follow from these conclusions, assuming
them to be true, that the larger part of the present essay is devoted.

That these propositions express, or at least point the way to essential
truths, we are fully persuaded. But we are not ready to accept all the
inferences which the author draws from them, or to admit that they
afford sufficient basis for some of his minor assumptions.

Arguing from his first conclusion, the author draws the inference that
"slavery is the necessary result" of the nature of the black and of the
white man. "The negro is by nature indolent and improvident." "He is
also ignorant." "He requires restraint and guidance"; "otherwise he
would sink into helpless, hopeless vice, idleness, and misery." But in
these words, and in others to the same purport, Mr. Fisher assumes that
the nature of the black is incapable of such improvement as to make what
he calls the necessary condition of servitude needless in the interest
of either race. We are surprised that so good a reasoner should speak
of the ignorance of the black as a natural disqualification for
independence, and the more so, because, in another passage, Mr. Fisher
says, with truth, "We darken his mind with ignorance." That some form
of subjection of the negro may be necessary for a time that extends far
into the future is a point we will not dispute; but that slavery, as
that word is generally understood, is the necessary result of his nature
and of our nature we believe to be utterly untrue. The whole history
of American slavery, far from exhibiting the negro as incapable of
improvement, shows him making a slow and irregular advance in the
development of intellectual and moral qualities, under circumstances
singularly unfavorable. It is the plea of the advocates of the
slave-trade, that the black is civilized by contact with the white.
The plea is not without truth. It is the universal testimony of
slave-owners, and the common observation of travellers, that the city
and house slaves, that is, those who are brought into most constant and
close relations with the whites, show higher mental development than
those who are confined to the fields. The experiment of education,
continued for more than one generation, has never been tried. The black
is in many of his endowments inferior to the white; but until he and
his children and his children's children have shown an incapacity to be
raised by a suitable training, honestly given, to an intellectual and
moral condition that shall fit them for self-dependence, we have no
right to assert that slavery is a necessary condition, if in the meaning
of necessary we include the idea of permanence. It is not needful to
present here other objections to this sweeping assertion. They are old,
well-known, and unanswerable.

But leaving this and other points on which we find ourselves at issue
with Mr. Fisher, we come to what we regard as the most important part of
his pamphlet,--the results which he shows to follow from the law, that
"each race has a tendency to occupy exclusively that portion of the
country suited to its nature." In the States that lie on the Gulf of
Mexico the negro "has found a congenial climate and obtained a permanent
foothold." "The negro multiplies there; the white man dwindles and
decays." We should be glad to quote at length the striking pages in
which Mr. Fisher shows the prospect of the ultimate and not distant
ascendency of the black race in this new Africa. The considerations he
presents are of vital consequence to the South, of consequence only less
than vital to the North. But by the side of "New-Africa" are States and
Territories in which the black race has little or no foothold. Free,
civilized, and prosperous communities are brought face to face, as it
were, with the mixed and degenerating populations of the Slave country.
In the Free States the white race is increasing in numbers and advancing
in prosperity with unexampled rapidity. In the Slave States the black
race is growing in far greater proportion than the white, the most
important elements of prosperity are becoming exhausted, and the
forces of civilization are incompetent to hold their own against the
ever-increasing weight of barbarism. Shall this new Africa push its
boundaries beyond their present limits? Shall more territory be yielded
to the already wide-spread African, race? It is not the question,
whether the unoccupied spaces of the South and West shall be settled by
Northern white emigrants with their natural property, or by Southern
white emigrants with their legal property,--and there an end; but it
is the question, whether New England or New Africa shall extend her
limits,--whether the country shall be occupied a century hence by a
civilized or by a barbarous race. Every rood of ground yielded to the
pretensions of the masters of slaves is so much of the heirloom of
freedom and of civilization lost without hope of recovery. Slavery is

As an institution, such as it has developed itself in our Southern
States, it has already, given tokens of decay. But the qualities of race
are so slowly affected by change as to admit of being called constant
and permanent. The predominant influence of the blacks in the Cotton
States is already (even putting aside the results of slavery) exhibiting
itself in the lowering of the whites. These States are becoming
uninhabitable for the whites,--not by reason of climate, or of slavery
as an institution, but by reason of the operation of the inevitable
increase of the slaves. They must have the land, and the stronger race
will be driven out by the weaker, on account of the preponderance of
their numbers and the _vis inertice_ of their natures. There is no room
in the United States, or in any of their unsettled territory, for the
expansion of this transatlantic Africa. Where the black race is now
settled it will stay, but it must be confined within its present limits.

We do not look upon the simple secession of the Slave States, or of
any one of them, as dangerous, so far as the extension of slavery is
concerned,--rather, on the contrary, as likely to end the great debate
by securing all unoccupied territory to the North, to freedom, and to
the white races. It is only, if an attempt should be made, for the sake
of what is miscalled peace, and for the sake of the Union, to conciliate
the misguided and unfortunate people of the South by compromise or
concession, that we fear the consequences.

The responsibility under which we are to act is not for our own moral
convictions alone, but also for the happiness of all future times. There
is no room for concession, no space for compromise, in the settlement of
the question of the prevalence of the black or of the white race on this
continent,--in other words, the prevalence of liberty and Christianity
and all their attendant blessings, or that of ignorance and barbarism
with their train. "We will decide this question," says Mr. Fisher, whose
words were written before the necessity for decision was so distinctly
presented as at present, "we will decide it, if we can, as a united
people; but if we cannot, if cotton and slavery and the negro have
already weakened our Southern brethren by their spells and enchantments,
so that the South cannot decide according to the traditions and impulses
of our race, then we of the North will still decide it, as by right we
may,--by right of reason, of race, and of law."

_The Conduct of Life_. By R.W. EMERSON Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 16mo.
pp. 288.

It is a singular fact, that Mr. Emerson is the most steadily attractive
lecturer in America. Into that somewhat cold-waterish region adventurers
of the sensation kind come down now and then with a splash, to become
disregarded King Logs before the next season. But Mr. Emerson always
draws. A lecturer now for something like a quarter of a century, one
of the pioneers of the lecturing system, the charm of his voice, his
manner, and his matter has never lost its power over his earlier
hearers, and continually winds new ones in its enchanting meshes. What
they do not fully understand they take on trust, and listen, saying to
themselves, as the old poet of Sir Philip Sidney,--

  "A sweet, attractive, kind of grace,
  A full assurance given by looks,
  Continual comfort in a face,
  The lineaments of gospel books."

We call it a singular fact, because we Yankees are thought to be fond of
the spread-eagle style, and nothing can be more remote from that than
his. We are reckoned a practical folk, who would rather hear about a
new air-tight stove than about Plato; yet our favorite teacher's
practicality is not in the least of the Poor Richard variety. If he
have any Buncombe constituency, it is that unrealized commonwealth of
philosophers which Plotinus proposed to establish; and if he were to
make an almanac, his directions to farmers would be something like
this:--"OCTOBER: _Indian Summer_; now is the time to get in your early
Vedas." What, then, is his secret? Is it not that he out-Yankees us all?
that his range includes us all? that he is equally at home with the
potato-disease and original sin, with pegging shoes and the Over-soul?
that, as we try all trades, so has he tried all cultures? and above all,
that his mysticism gives us a counterpoise to our super-practicality?

There is no man living to whom, as a writer, so many of us feel
and thankfully acknowledge so great an indebtedness for ennobling
impulses,--none whom so many cannot abide. What does he mean? ask these
last. Where is his system? What is the use of it all? What the deuse
have we to do with Brahma? Well, we do not propose to write an essay on
Emerson at the fag-end of a February "Atlantic," with Secession longing
for somebody to hold it, and Chaos come again in the South Carolina
teapot. We will only say that we have found grandeur and consolation in
a starlit night without caring to ask what it meant, save grandeur and
consolation; we have liked Montaigne, as some ten generations before us
have done, without thinking him so systematic as some more eminently
tedious (or shall we say tediously eminent?) authors; we have thought
roses as good in their way as cabbages, though the latter would have
made a better show in the witness-box, if cross-examined as to their
usefulness; and as for Brahma, why, he can take care of himself, and
won't bite us at any rate.

The bother with Mr. Emerson is, that, though he writes in prose, he is
essentially a poet. If you undertake to paraphrase what he says, and to
reduce it to words of one syllable for infant minds, you will make
as sad work of it as the good monk with his analysis of Homer in the
"Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum." We look upon him as one of the few men
of genius whom our age has produced, and there needs no better proof of
it than his masculine faculty of fecundating other minds. Search for his
eloquence in his books and you will perchance miss it, but meanwhile you
will find that it has kindled all your thoughts. For choice and pith of
language he belongs to a better age than ours, and might rub shoulders
with Fuller and Browne,--though he does use that abominable word,
_reliable_. His eye for a fine, telling phrase that will carry true is
like that of a backwoodsman for a rifle; and he will dredge you up a
choice word from the ooze of Cotton Mather himself. A diction at once so
rich and so homely as his we know not where to match in these days of
writing by the page; it is like homespun cloth-of-gold. The many cannot
miss his meaning, and only the few can find it. It is the open secret of
all true genius. What does he mean, quotha? He means inspiring hints, a
divining-rod to your deeper nature, "plain living and high thinking."
We meant only to welcome this book, and not to review it. Doubtless we
might pick our quarrel with it here and there; but all that our readers
care to know is, that it contains essays on Fate, Power, Wealth,
Culture, Behavior, Worship, Considerations by the Way, Beauty, and
Illusions. They need no invitation to Emerson. "Would you know," says
Goethe, "the ripest cherries? Ask the boys and the blackbirds." He does
not advise you to inquire of the crows.



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